Monday, July 31, 2017

Is That a Clearing?

After bushwhacking with varying degrees of good humor for several days now, I think I spy a clearing ahead.

Hot damn!

My step feels lighter, my heart lifts, I hear myself humming a tune.

Not home yet, but here are some details from the thick of things:

Friday, July 28, 2017

Where Am I?

If I were working on paper I'd be at my paper trimmer, isolating a whole buncha volunteer compositions, and making a whole buncha greeting cards.

But I'm working on canvas, hiking through a holler somewhere in the hills, without a path, putting one foot in front of the other, getting scratched by prickers and slapped by low branches, all in faith that I'll eventually find my way.

Investigative details:

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Halting, Stammering, Tripping

I am



tripping over my own paintbrush,




stopping and starting,


lacking direction,

painting anyway


any way.

investigative work in progress 7/26/17

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Ongoing Investigation

Rainy day.

Some temporary found compositions from my ongoing investigation:

investigative detail
investigative detail
investigative detail
investigative detail

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


My dad worked as a chemical engineer for Esso for his entire work career. Now, even though my dad retired decades ago, when my sisters and I visit him in Maine we love eating our servings of store-brand espresso chip ice cream from china coffee cups bearing the Esso logo.

Wait. What?


You asked about gesso?


Yes, I used gesso to paint over my current work in progress last evening.

Great fun. Spread it loosely over the whole canvas, scribbled in it with a stylus, pressed a stencil or two into the wet paint, went to bed.

investigative work in progress 7/24/17
investigative detail
investigative detail
investigative detail

Monday, July 24, 2017

Investigative Work

Picked up a canvas that was last touched seven weeks ago.

Now I'm doing what I might call random unfocused investigative work, aligning myself as fully as possible with a spirit of nonattachment to any particular or preconceived outcome.

I am mucking about.

And seeing quite a bit of muck as a result, if the truth be known, though this small patch of canvas emerged as a happy little found composition.

investigative work detail 7/24/17

Friday, July 21, 2017


I can barely find words to name my inner painting landscape these days.

I yearn for something in my painting that is elusive in every way. It has thus far found its way into self-expression in only the littlest of snippets, the most fleeting of flashes.

I can't describe for you—let alone myself—what it is. I just know I'll know it when I feel and see it.

Until then, I am totally in for the ride, for whatever transpires in the here and now, trusting everything to be just what it is 'supposed' to be.

Trusting it to be just what it is.

Today it is this little postcard.

Silks, Batiks, Woolens—You Name It, I Have Some
4x5"; acrylic, ink, collage, and pastels on paper
mounted on manila stock

Thursday, July 20, 2017


I just finished reading a fascinating and compelling book by Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer entitled Extraordinary Knowing: Science, Skepticism, and the Inexplicable Powers of the Human Mind.

In a paragraph just pages from the end, Mayer introduces a concept called 'series position effect' that I won't even attempt to explain, and applies it to her own work as a psychoanalyst. I offer that as her context, which isn't mine.

Oh, but it is!

Mayer writes: The work stumbles along—sometimes remarkable, sometimes unremarkable—and your meetings approach a baseline pace that heads in a positive direction. You're perpetually reminded that trying hard doesn't get you there, and that you both get there best when you somehow manage a state of trying and not trying, knowing and not knowing, certainty and uncertainty all at once. Every time you think you've hit on a less paradoxical formula, you're humbled again.


Yup, yup, and yup.

And yup again.

inner july landscape is no longer a work in progress. It has become a postcard.

They Cut the Day up into Little Scraps
4x5"; acrylic, ink, collage, and pastels on paper
mounted on manila stock

Wednesday, July 19, 2017



From this

to this?

work in progress;
working title: inner july landscape
Didn't see that coming.

I plan to cut in half.

Then, what next?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Visual Diary

Two months ago, activated a 9x12" piece of drawing paper, willy nilly:

Till I looked back just now, had totally forgotten this out-of-the-starting-gate iteration.

At that time, took it from its start to this next stopping place, playing with house paint samples:

After which, still in May, cut the start into pieces. A few days ago, picked up what had been the bottom right quadrant in the original start and played with it till it became this:

Now today, some India ink doodling and asemic writing bring it here:

work in progress;
working title: inner july landscape

For years and years and years I kept written diaries, emotional outpourings scribbled onto paper in word after word after diary after diary.

Now a visual diary pours from places deep inside. Such a different outward manifestation.

Monday, July 17, 2017

From Stillness

Something has shifted. Something is calling. I don't exactly know what, and I don't need to. I don't need to analyze or interpret or ponder or figure out. Or use my brain at all.

I just need to pay attention. To return to beginner's mind. To be in wonder. To paint from deep inside, from the inside out, from stillness.

Today I picked up a start from several weeks ago—as long ago as May perhaps?—and let myself be present to it. The non-striving was delicious. I have no preconceived destination with this piece; I will go wherever we travel together.

Here's where we landed today.

work in progress;
working title: inner july landscape

Friday, July 14, 2017

Organic Matter

Today, I enjoyed the simple pleasure of making a greeting card. With my own hands. Using a found composition from a painting start created who knows when that then became a lifting paper over time and today turned into a little gift to send across the ocean to an online art friend.

Happy birthday, Mariëlle!

Pebbles Turning, and Waves Tapping Sea-Worn Rocks
3x4"; acrylic, ink, and pastels on paper,
mounted on card stock

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Looking at My Work

I'll pause today to look at my work, using suggestions from Jane Davies in her new book Abstract Painting: The Elements of Visual Language. If you followed my posts when I took Jane's 100 Drawings on Cheap Paper last year starting the last day of August, you know that I really had to work hard to make objective observations about visual content and not fall into describing process or materials.

She breaks observations down into visual content, emotional response, and personal references.

Visual content:
I see patterns of dots in differing sizes and densities, amorphous patches of black with some differentiation of size and two bleeding off different edges, fine gray lines, fine black lines, heavier darker curvy black lines some of which bleed off the page, white scribbles, muted green scribbles, hints of lilac, a limited and fairly neutral color palette, some veiling, an overall ovoid composition with relatively quiet(er) space in the center, and contrast coming from black and white elements.

Emotional response:
I like the tension between the overall busyness of this piece and the calming structure of the curved black lines as they run through the black amorphous shapes and hold the elements together. The neutral colors and b&w are soothing. I like the raw chaotic energy of the scribbles and dots.

Personal references:
This piece suggests outer space to me—planets and other matter orbiting and swirling in the universe. It also suggests inner space—thoughts and feelings and conflicts and ideas bumping into each other. However, while I was painting I had no idea what it might suggest.

Life Rarely Fails to Offer Some Consolation
4x5"; acrylic, ink, collage, and watercolor and oil pastels
on manila stock

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Sultry Summer Day

Low languid overcast sky, humidity high enough to wring out with my hands, driveway so hot it blisters my bare feet, not a breath of air moving through the screen door.

Not a Breath of Air
4 x 5"; acrylic, ink, and pastels on manila stock

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Soaking It All In

I have vivid memories of being with Grandma Chase when I was a child—the smell of the lotion she used on her skin; the feel of her kiss and the sound of her voice when I half woke to her late-night arrival at our home one time; her reassuring acceptance of my need to get out of bed two minutes after getting in, to go pee one more time; her sitting with me while I wrote a letter to a friend, helping me with spelling, and teaching me what a paragraph was and when to indent.

Now I am a grandma myself—Gma (/ˈ/), to be precise. On the first weekend of July I stored away a new little cluster of memories when I played in my studio with granddaughter Caroline—the smell of the shampoo she uses; the feel of her beside me and the sound of her voice as we chatted about this and that; her engagement in my painting process; her making decisions with me about color and composition, helping me cut and glue, and teaching me who she is and what she thinks about.

Birthday Pyrotechnics
3x4"; acrylic, pencil, water-soluble crayon, and ink

Monday, July 10, 2017

Flowers from My Cutting Garden

From the rich soil of a New Brunswick vacation I grew a lush garden crowded with blossoms. I've always liked the idea of a cutting garden, so I snipped flowers with wild abandon, plunking them into all manner of containers and setting them on tables, bringing their lively color and magnificence into my home.


I've painted an abstract floral series—woo hoo!

I had no plan to do so when I began. You may recall that my starting point was to "make messy" and see where that took me. It took me first to a vase of flowers, and then I got the idea to create a series with the other three quadrants of my original "mess."

Sticking to my self-imposed commitment to a series was a challenge. Pushing myself to have a desired outcome, even though the particulars were up for grabs, proved to be difficult.

I felt a considerable amount of internal uproar as I worked on this series. I sense an overall unrest or turning point of some sort in my painting.

But, rather than let cerebral peregrinations catch me up in a swirl, for now I'm just going to wake up and smell the roses, so to speak.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Soaked My Head

You know how you get to the water's edge, and the water is freezing cold, and getting wet seems best done a tiny bit at a time? And then, the inch-by-inch approach turns out to be prolonged painful torture so you just dive in?

Finally soaked my head today.

The Designated Place for Questions
4.4 x 6"; acrylic, ink, collage, and oil pastel on paper
abstract floral
$50 unframed

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Idling in Neutral

Again, just a few moments to splash around today.

Added color.


Trying hard to idle in neutral rather than get all worked up one way or the other with each little change.

Clearly, as is the case in the Big Picture as well, I have no idea where I'm heading.

work in progress;
working title: Making Messy #4

Tuesday, July 4, 2017


I love the physicality that comes into play when painting—the physical properties of opacity, transparency, viscosity, saturation, pliability, and so forth in paint, as well as the physicality of motion, resistance, flow, touch, smell, sight, and sound as my body engages in the process.

My new favorite material is food wrap.

I love lifting paint with it and using it as semitransparent collage. I got the idea to try printing typography on it.

Ha! My printer, governed by the laws of physics, said, Not happenin'.


Happily, I was able to physically remove the resulting mess from my printer, handwrite my own gosh-darned 'typography,' and get on with things.

I collaged a piece of food wrap with its hand-lettered poetry to my painting, brayered on a layer of paint, and that was it for fireworks in my studio today.

Happy 4th of July!

work in progress;
working title: Making Messy #4

Monday, July 3, 2017

Playing in the Shallows

Meg, Michael, Caroline, and Emmy joined us two days ago for a five-day visit so I've been playing in the shallows. That is, I've taken only a few minutes at a go to paint.

I don't always have the courage to dive in head first anyway, so this go-one-step-deeper-at-a-time modus operandi is working for me.

The irony is that by playing in the shallows, increasing depth is emerging in my painting.

Love the way the black donuts, white polka dots, veiling, and drips push some elements forward and others way back, and a few even appear to cast shadows.

work in progress;
working title: Making Messy #4