Sunday, June 4, 2023

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Turning Toward

From the novel A Window Across the River by Brian Morton:

Writing was … the best way 

she had ever found

to express her fascination with life,

her quarrels with life, her questions.

She sometimes thought that even if

what she wrote every day

was doomed to disappear 

during the night,

she would keep writing stories,

just to make a daily pilgrimage

to the realm 

of mystery and reverence and play.

She didn’t always reach that realm

when she was writing stories,

but merely to turn toward it

was a kind of nourishment

unlike any other.


I lightened and loosened my work in progress, with pale pale blue oil pastel and splatters of glossy high-flow acrylic. 

Then got stuck again, stymied by this work in progress. Does it still need something? It might not. And, if it does, what? 

Even not knowing, I'm filled to the brim. 

Because, oh, that turning toward. 

That realm of mystery and reverence and play.

nourishing work in progress

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

One Thought, Another Thought

One thought: Why am I even working on this painting? 

There was some smidgen of intent when I started, a smidgen since forgotten, with disappointing results. Last week, hankering for some neurographic stress relief, I figured maybe this ignominious start could serve as backdrop.

Well, maybe. But it was no slam dunk, I'll tell you that much. The neurographia relaxed me, but the painting, as a painting, then elicited a whole bunch of fussing and striving that only enhanced the visual language up to a point. A point falling short of satisfaction.

Hence the thought: Why am I even working on this painting?

Then, yesterday morning unfolded with a laugh-out-loud text exchange with Meg, some eye-catching energizing splashes of color on Instagram, and a heart-opening conversation with artist MaryAnn.

Another thought: You have permission to wreck this painting!

Alrighty then.

Here's the up-to-a-point work in progress:

work in progress
~7 x 7"; acrylic, ink, and oil pastel on sketchbook page

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Permission Slips

I think it's in Brené Brown's Dare to Lead that she introduces the concept and practice of writing herself permission slips—literal permissions written on paper. She tucks them into the pockets of her clothing. 

I remember her talking about permission slips she wrote before appearing with Oprah Winfrey on television. 

You have permission to feel excited. You have permission to giggle. You have permission to ask for a photo of yourself with Oprah.

The overarching permission is to not have to act 'cool,' but you'll notice how specific Brené gets.

About a week ago, a light popped on: I need to write me some permission slips!

Since then, when I catch myself up against internal negative energy, I pause to take stock, to identify my resistance through the act of writing myself a permission slip. I do not skip the writing part. I am as specific as I can be. And I am learning. A lot.

You have permission to take a day off from 'closing the circle' on your exercise app tomorrow if it's raining.

You have permission to ask Helene for help with the table in the Cash Flow Worksheet document she sent whose formatting keeps bedeviling you.

Yikes—the stories I tell myself. I can't take a day off? I have to figure everything out myself?


I feel relief each time I write a permission. I feel a welcome uptick in vulnerability and wholeheartedness. I am lighter of heart in general. 

I am grateful.


About the art: In a sketchbook where I dabble periodically I rediscover a start from sometime back. Don't like it. Don't know where to take it. Decide to offload and transform some uncomfortable internal dialogue using writing as mark-making. Round all the intersections of lines and relax into the therapy of neurographic artplay. Ugly duckling to swan in short order!

No Repercussions If You Fail to Deliver
6.5 x 10"; acrylic, watercolor pencils, and marker
on sketchbook paper

Friday, April 28, 2023

The Go-Aheadness of It All

Here is another thing I like

about a good friendship,

the go-aheadness of it all.

You don’t have to knock

to come in the door.

You don’t have to ask

to look in the refrigerator.

You want coffee?

Pour some.

    —Elizabeth Berg, 

       Range of Motion

Two weeks ago, we headed to downeast Maine to hang out with can't-find-better friends John and Mary for a weekend of non-stop talk, lotsa laugh-out-loud, and lively long walks hither and yon. Sunday morning, early hours, I pulled out my sketchbook and got rolling with a mostly blind-contour drawing of a reading sofa and cushioned wicker chair in our guest accommodations. Blind contour is so deliciously wonky and satisfying.

early hours sketch

Want Coffee? Pour Some
7.5 x 8.5"; ink and watercolor pencils on paper
blind contour drawing

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Friday, April 21, 2023

The Only Thing That Matters

When I studied with [D], 

he’d offer close critiques of what I’d written 

and then put my story aside and say, 

“But I might be wrong. 

And it really doesn’t matter. 

The only thing that matters 

is that you write your ass off.”

—Brian Morton, Tasha: A Son’s Memoir

And so it is with any creative pursuit, I think.

Even having come to understand that learning to paint happens by painting, and that the more I paint the more I learn, I can never get enough reminders and encouragement to just paint 'my ass off.'

Blue Skies for Days
3 x 3"; acrylic and collage on watercolor paper
abstract design