Friday, June 30, 2017

Little Roots, Taking Hold

Picked up the last quadrant from a start painted on vacation in New Brunswick.

With no attention to final outcome, played around with some marks, just making additions as they occurred to me.

And then, of course, attachment—little roots, taking hold!

work in progress;
working title: Making Messy #4

Thursday, June 29, 2017

In Opposition

I could tell a story about creating this painting, and—believe me—I've been in opposition with myself and telling a grouchy story for days, mostly about fussy/overthought vs. loose/intuitive. Every story needs a good conflict, ya know?

But it would just be a story.*

Instead, I'm going to take a step back, turn this little painting upside down, and practice noticing artistic elements that oppose each other visually.

A Story of Contrasts, by Dotty Seiter

• red vs. its complement
• straight edges vs. curved
• sharp edges vs. soft
• physically flat surfaces vs. textured/dimensional
• thin lines vs. thicker
• busy areas vs. quiet
• bright colors vs. dull
• dark hues vs. light
• veiled lines vs. bold.

The end!

In the Morning We Would Wake and There Would Be Coffee
4.4 x 6"; acrylic, ink, collage, and oil pastel on paper
abstract floral
$50 unframed

*I did, in fact, tell my internal grouchy story via asemic writing that shows up palimpsestically in the veiled background behind the blossoms here—I let my conflicted mood rip and move on outta me!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Can't See the Flowers for the Vase

My time in the studio today is an inquiry.

All questions, no answers yet.

detail, work in progress;
working title: Making Messy #3
detail, handpainted collage paper

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

It's a Sunny Day

With a nod to Paul Simon:

[It's] a sunny day
Not a cloud [is] in the sky
Not a negative word [is] heard
From the people passing by.

He's got that right.

Like the birdies in the trees, I'm singing all my favorite melodies.

And painting. On my way from making messy to making not messy. At least I think I am. I know there's a vase full of flowers in here somewhere.

detail, work in progress;
working title: Making Messy #3
detail, work in progress;
working title: Making Messy #3

Monday, June 26, 2017

Making More Messy

I moved on to Making Messy #3 today, with the underlying idea of wanting to continue with the floral series I've started.

But I didn't want to get to the floral part yet. I wanted to make more messy, get some good enriched soil going first.

My original Big Messy, from my last morning in Canada, looked like this.

I cut it into quadrants, and Making Messy #3 looked like this when I picked it up this morning.

I stuck to the color palette from Canada and rolled with some freeplay.

work in progress;
working title: Making Messy #3

Friday, June 23, 2017

Horticultural Happy Place

Sometimes ya gotta roll up your sleeves, risk a few prickers, do some gentle dead-heading, tease out a weed or two, and get soil under your fingernails.

Who'da thought I could rescue these blooms?

Risk a Few Prickers and a Bee Sting
4.5 x 6"; acrylic, ink, collage, and pastels on paper
abstract floral
$50 unframed

The photo below shows where I started today.

So much hands-on learning here. I had to cover up the bits I wanted to "undo" in such a way that they wouldn't bleed through. I had to interact with all four major color fields in the painting, remixing those colors from scratch based on vague memories of what I'd created six days and one country away from today's starting point.

And I did it!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Green Thumb

Dave is the master gardener in our family.

I am a humble apprentice.

The Saturated Dreams of Chlorophyll and Sunlight and Water
4.5x6"; acrylic, ink, and collage on paper
abstract floral
$50 unframed

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Now What?

I am grateful that my deepest purest self knows better than what my monkey mind offers up as truth.

That monkey-mind chatter is pretty darned convincing, though.

And loud? Oh my gosh, so loud.

And seemingly unremitting.

The chatter started up in full force yesterday when I messed up this work in progress which had been sweet and magical … up until it decidedly was not.

Big mistake. Big. Huge

Too bad I didn't think to watch the shopping scene from Pretty Woman yesterday—that video clip would have snapped me right out of the deep funk I fell into!

As it was, even in my pain, which acted as a lightning rod for every single blessed thing that didn't go the way I hoped it would yesterday, I was able to turn a deaf ear to monkey-mind's taunts for just enough moments to know that all was well, no matter the apparent evidence to the contrary.

Soon enough, I found myself at peace again, able to feel the excitement that comes from having a puzzle to solve and a what-if mindset. 

I returned to the spirit that artist Jacqui Beck so well embodies. She follows the ad-lib theater rule, which is, Always say yes. She gives the following example: 

Oh, man …  this black … I just painted so much black over this. 
Yes, I did. 
Now what?

My answer to now what was to set aside Big Mistake, pick up a second start from the same series, and start to play.

work in progress

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Post Card and Powder Post

My attention today has scattered itself every which way. Two of those ways:

1. I painted up a postcard to send to my dad. Took a surprisingly long time, with a number of unexpected challenges, to create something that spoke of simplicity and offered up some quiet space.

Those Hours Spent Alone in the Quiet
4x5"; acrylic, ink, and pencil on paper, mounted on manila stock

2. I seem to have powder post beetles boring holes in the wood frame (professional custom framing, no less) showcasing a painting of mine. And that is all I have to say about that.

pile of powdered wood 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Making Messy

I'm posting today after having been back home for two days now following our vacation, a vacation that included many sweet sweet moments in its final morning—breakfast al fresco on the eastern-facing side porch; reading while sipping coffee; and getting up to my elbows in paint, stencils, collage, matte medium, and markers.

My starting point was to dive in and make messy. Grabbed a sheet of 9 x 12" drawing paper, a fat paint marker, some titanium white, a brush, and a matte knife. Messed up the page as fast as I could.

Cut the paper into four quadrants with kitchen scissors. Developed one section a fair distance, even painting up some collage paper en route. The other pieces got progressively less attention, and attention at all only because I kept off-loading lingering bits of paint from my brush as I moved through my paces.

Stay tuned …

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Saturday Morning with Daddy

I have a distinct memory of an early childhood physics lesson.

As I walked along a sidewalk on North Street in Cranford, NJ, one Saturday morning, holding hands with my father, I came to understand at a conscious level that I had to take more steps, and faster ones, than he did to cover the same ground and not fall behind.

That's what my little body and mind were busy learning.

What my hand and heart already knew was that when I was with Daddy, the world was a wondrous place.

How lucky can a little girl be?

How lucky can a grown-way-older girl be to still share the wondrous world with her father?

Pretty danged lucky.

Happy Father's Day, Futh!

Saturday Morning Errands with Daddy
3x4"; acrylic, ink, pencil, collage, and pastels on paper,
mounted on card stock

Friday, June 16, 2017


Turns out our vacation location is just minutes up the road and a ferry ride away from the island of Grand Manan, where roughly one million pounds of wet dulse are harvested from the island's Dark Harbour annually, supplying markets around the world with this wild sea vegetable.

Dulse's health benefits include its ability to improve vision, protect the immune system, build bone health, improve the thyroid gland, and boost blood circulation.

Almost as good as painting!

Today, again, I set up my make-shift en plein mer studio in the early morning sunshine.

The best.

I experimented with half-formulated ideas related to abstraction-of-place that have been percolating for a couple of weeks now.

My venturing took me to a few unexpected ports of call but, in responding to the prevailing wind, water, and weather conditions, I think at minimum I improved my vision and boosted blood circulation.

Who knows, I may even have enhanced the health of my thyroid!

work in progress, working title: Dark Harbour Dulse

Thursday, June 15, 2017

All This

• A little unincorporated fishing village on a harbor in New Brunswick, Canada;

• a tiny post office and maybe two dozen homes surrounding the harbor in the village center;

• a church up on a hill;

• a bunch of lobster boats and a few big well boats used in the salmon aquaculture industry;

• no grocery store, no gas station, no laundromat, no coffee shop, no shops at all; 

• neighbor Paula, whom we met at Scotiabank on arrival day when we stopped in St. George to exchange money, driving by on her way to work, waving and calling out brightly, "Good morning!";

• the refreshment of pure fir-tree-filtered air filling my lungs;

• a Canadian flag snapping in the wind;

• dry, clear breezes dancing on my bare arms as the sun warms me; and

• a dazzling pas de milles performance of sparkles on the textured surface of the water.

… All this finds its way through sensory synapses 
and then embodies itself in my painting 
(along with a sheet of waxed sandwich paper 
saved from lunch in St. George on Friday!).

work in progress, working title: Musquash Marsh & Marks

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

By the Sea

This week I've parked myself directly beside the sea, on a little harbor off the Bay of Fundy. Each morning I paint in my makeshift studio on the front porch en plein mer.

makeshift studio en plein mer

Sometimes I feel at sea, getting a noseful of water, thrashing wildly.

Sometimes I feel buoyant, held up by the great grand mystery of the world as surely as I might float on a body of water—with all its attendant great grand mystery.

Today: buoyant.

work in progress
work in progress, working title: Pocologan Line & Collage

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Bay of Fundy Flow

Believe me, I did not intend to create this tidal flat of a painting start, redolent with pungent gurry. But, twenty feet of ocean level in the Bay of Fundy dropped in response to gravitational pull, and the same forces must have had sway over me, too!

work in progress

Then, in the between-breaths moments of slack tide, unidentified life forms became visible on the sea-rich muddy harbor floor.

work in progress

Mysteries were no sooner detected than the tide turned and, in what seemed almost to be time-lapse fashion but in fact was real-time drama at its most magnificent, swirls of saltwater caught the bright early June light.

work in progress

I'm both out of my depth and deep in process—at one with the ebb current, at one with the flood current, pausing to breathe in between.

work in progress, working title: Chance Harbour

Monday, June 12, 2017

Magaguadavic Maps

This week I live on a little bit of turf that is entirely new to me.

I set up an improvised studio space en plein air, and what lands on the turf of two 9/12" sheets of drawing paper is entirely new to me as well.

work in progress, working title: Beaver Harbour
work in progress, working title: Scribbled Solstice

Friday, June 9, 2017

Call and Response

I love this kind of piece. I love this very particular piece.

It started as a free-form release of energy after I completed an intensive online class last fall. I let go with color and shape, line and scribble, paint and pencil, ink and stencil all over a 9/12" sheet of paper. Then I cut the page into 9 pieces.

Over the past six months I've picked up one and then another of the pieces to develop them to completion. Several remain.

This week I selected one from the remaining and engaged in call and response: the painting would call out in some way, I'd respond, it'd call, I'd respond. At least once, I let the piece sit overnight before I could hear any call, offer any response. Bit by bit, it came together. I added collage. Had to sit awhile longer to see if I'd finished.

In the end, I impulsively picked up a texture sheet, spread a touch of paint on it with my finger, and stamped it in several places.


But the right move. Suddenly the painting was singing its own song and it was time then to select card stock and mounting paper.

From a casual beginning, with no idea how it would unfold, this painting became a card to celebrate a wedding. And isn't that how a relationship becomes a marriage? With color and scribble, attention to one thing and then another, call and response, occasional overnight refrigeration, multiple micro-decisions, impulsivity, risk, no real idea how it'll all unfold, and singing its own song?

Oh, Honey!
2.75/3.5", acrylic, ink, pencil, pastel, and collage on drawing paper,
mounted on card stock

Thursday, June 8, 2017

12/24", Day 6

I'm off to new turf tomorrow, vacationing in a little unincorporated Canadian village on a harbor off the Bay of Fundy.

12/24" #1 and #2 will be staying behind, getting a vacation from me! They are quite pleased to know they are old enough to take care of themselves, no babysitter needed.

I'll be bringing a limited collection of art supplies with me but, as with my painting life in general, I have little to no idea what will unfold in any given moment. I may paint, I may not. I may post, I may not.

Here are the adolescents, with all their current swagger and wild sense of immortality:

12/24" #2 and #1, work in progress
12/24", #2 and #1, work in progress

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

12/24", Day 5


Feeling a heaviness in my chest about making art, showing art, selling art.

When I can remember, I let myself feel the feelings.

I look them in the eye—name them, greet them, resist fighting them, let go of the urge to push them away. In fact, as you might be able to glean in the lower detail photo, I eventually elected to write some of the feelings out asemically on my canvas.

12/24" #1, work in progress
12/24" #1, work in progress, detail
12/24" #1, work in progress, detail

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

12/24", Day 4

Painting, for me, is so often an act of coming face-to-face with fear.

I choose to paint so as to confront those parts of me that might otherwise stay hidden either unconsciously or by design, but, no matter how many times I pick up a brush on a new day—over one thousand days now, and by my own choice—it is precisely that confrontation that so often scares the bejeezus out of me.

Then, I start painting anyway … and can't stop!

12/24" #1, work in progress

Monday, June 5, 2017

12/24", Day 3

I don't know if I have any memories specific to my being three years old, but I channeled my three-year-old self today in my studio.

I let her pick up whatever paint/glue/stencil/marker/ink/brush/collage caught her eye, let her do whatever the heck she wanted on both canvases.

Once or twice she looked over her shoulder but no one stopped her so she just kept playing, getting wide-eyed at the surprises that appeared and disappeared.

12/24" #1 and #2, work in progress

Friday, June 2, 2017


Last weekend I went with my son Jay to a Trustees of Reservations property in Hingham where a mirrored labyrinth sits in place for a year.

The spiral installation of reflective, stainless steel panels stands on a grassy patch where it startles the brain into taking an even closer look at the already attention-getting beauty in that setting.

The panels are roughly eight inches wide, two inches deep, and range from two to nine feet high. They are set about eight inches apart side to side, and about three feet apart face to face where they create the path of the labyrinth.

What I loved was the insistence that I take notice as the dynamic interactional puzzle of the art recreated the view every time I moved.

A New End
art installation at World's End, a Trustees of Reservations property
Hingham, MA
A New End
art installation at World's End, a Trustees of Reservations property
Hingham, MA

3 x 4"; acrylic and ink on paper, mounted on card stock

Thursday, June 1, 2017

A Few Minutes in my Studio

Today, only a few minutes available for painting, and I enjoy them thoroughly.

I round up one of my two 12/24" starts, a foam brush, quinacridone azo-gold paint, and a spray bottle, and I let them take me where they take me. No particular place I have to be, plenty of quiet both inwardly and on canvas.

12/24" #1, work in progress