Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Engaged Unpredictability

Being all in and staying the course without any guarantees …

Engaged unpredictability is the term Rhode Island School of Design president Rosanne Somerson uses. In a message to alumni in RISD XYZ Spring/Summer 2017 (thanks for sharing the magazine, Carol), she asserts that engaged unpredictability is the starting point for positive transformation. 

My experience with painting The Plainspoken Beauty of the Place is well captured in Somerson's message as she makes reference to a particular drawing assignment she gives students:

Time and again, right after [an] "antsy" point of total frustration, something completely unexpected … emerge[s]. When the body [is] forced to sit still and persevere, the brain [takes] over, spewing out new possibilities.


The "force" to persevere came from my own curiosity and commitment, but I sure did get antsy with frustration, discomfort, and flagging spirits more than once.

But then.


Something transformatively different came into play and I scrambled to keep up with the possibilities playing out through my paintbrush.

Way cool.

The Plainspoken Beauty of the Place
12x24"; acrylic, collage, ink, pencil, and pastels on canvas
abstract landscape
a brief history:



  1. First thanks for the boost and for linking with magazine.
    Reminds me first of the nursery rhyme "This is the house that Jack Built" but this IS definitely the house that Dotty built. Back to the land of make believe! Wonderful!! Kol ha kavod!

    1. Carol, thanks again for sharing the alum mag. Lots of fun reading. Thanks also for your comments above! The house that Dotty built! That's it exactly!

  2. WAY WONKY COOLNESS! Love that you reminded us of how you got here Dotty. My jaw dropped when I say the image. Had to magnify so I could "step inside", and visit those lovely hilltops.

    Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother's wonky house we go! Hahahaha

    1. Sheila, fun to have you appreciate the 'way wonky coolness' of this painting adventure—thanks! Glad you manified so you could 'step inside.' There are many fun details up close in this painting. Yup, over the hills and through the hollers to Gma's wonky house!!!

  3. How is it possible to have so much quirky whimsy and philosophical intrigue all in one painting? Love this. Love the journey it took you on. Brilliant! I want to visit this topsy turvy place!

    1. Let's plan a retreat! We can all hang out in the hills at The House, bring art supplies and some lemonade, and have ourselves a good time! Thanks for your happy thoughtful feedback, Jen.