Keep a Notebook for Art in Every Spot

I think this painting is finished…there’s always a point where one must stop, if only to start fresh on the next piece. I use my own history to tell stories about my life, my grandmother looking wistful, my mother preoccupied with her internal life, me looking a bit devilish while I try to release my hand. I still take care of my mother, who will be 94 soon.

An advantage of living alone is turning my whole house into studio space with a notebook in every place where I might sit. You saw the blue notebook last week, that Katie gave me with the blue suede cover, so in it I specialize in blue arrangements on the drafting table in my bedroom.

This is one of the painting studio notebooks, 8″ x 8″, with pages too thin to support paint, so I use gesso first and clips to hold the curling edges down. This page ended up about housing or home, built intuitively.
Next page, same notebook. I have since bought notebooks with thicker pages, but can’t stop this one before I finish all the pages. I am develop new images, skills, media with each piece.
This was the preliminary study for the previous piece. I keep this sketchbook on my painting and stitching work table, but made the sketch on my computer desk, glue-stick archived it in this notebook, along with comments and ideas while I watch movies and stitch.
This is where I eat, make notes from reading, rough cartoons, sometimes collage, thicker pages here since the beginning of 2018.
When Doug and Amal gave me their longer dining table I moved my round table into the corner of the windows next to my computer desk. This sketchbook has thicker pages that can be painted without curling. I’m cutting up and using old photos to keep paring down.

I am continuing to pare down materials and possessions, feeling that this is an end-of-life process that will take a while. Yesterday I was in Seattle to see the show at SAM and my brother, Hugh, in yet another Musical…Sweet Land, only the second production in the US. Hugh thought Ragtime was his last show, but here he is, doing it again…and working for Port of Seattle again, too. Artists work very hard and don’t make much money, but we love our work most of the time.


Pieces that struck my eye at SAM this time: pattern on pattern, a new mask for the collection, a multimedia room, Nichole de Ment’s landscapes in mixed media and wax. Jodi Bento says Nichole is running another Arts Organization since I worked with her at Artist trust and making art in her “spare” time, as most of us have done. There was one Basquait, his first showing on the West Coast, but for some reason I didn’t take a photo…in his case, though I love his work, the images on computer are as compelling to me as the one in person. He made a Lot of work in his short life…I wonder if the process of being famous was what wore him out.

I don’t have the problem of being famous, but keep setting up arrangements…actual English Peas this week.

It’s very hot this Sunday afternoon, for the Northwest…hasn’t rained for a long time, a young male deer and a female are sitting in the shade under the evergreens in front of my window…looks as if everyone is staying inside this afternoon. I am thankful for the heat pump’s cooling ability. It’s even hotter in VT this summer.

I move restlessly from project to project. I’m making two wall pieces with some of Diane’s rust-dyed cloth and black velveteen. I’ll give her one for her birthday yesterday…very generous of her to share. Another part of divesting is giving work away, making aging a process of blending with the cosmos. Hot Flash and Gray Ash is the turn the new evolution of my Hot Flash book is taking…stay tuned!



Stories We Tell Ourselves

7.5.18FacesBlog           6.29.18DeathsBlog

The stories we tell ourselves define our lives…from Buddhists to the frightened humans who can’t see beyond their rage…of course they need automatic weapons. My horoscope for this week wants me to be cheerful and less heavily responsible and enjoy the wonderful summer in the Northwest, which makes it fun, this Sunday in July, to sit on my deck in full sun, shelling peas and listening to the  hum of bees in my lavender.

7.4.18CollageCitiesBlog    6.5.18SaltyGirlsBlog

This is the story of Blue and adding a Feather

I am So Lucky to see colors, hear sounds, smell peas and potatoes cooking (after I walk down to the grocery store on the corner). Fresh strawberries from Johnston farms that still taste like strawberries…I’m gorging on them while they’re in season…even some of the local farms are growing the crunchy strawberries now.  I had fun sewing and playing cards and great meals with my youngest brother the last 2 days.

This is the story of the rainbow over my house with the magenta doors
This is the story of life drawings I made in my Burlington years, introduced into collage
This is the story I tell myself when I think I “should” dust before company comes, but do Everything to avoid that chore
This is my old friend Tim’s daughter, Allison, who is an artist and a student at UVM, standing on Hurricane Ridge…I now wish I’d taken pictures of the whole family…maybe they will return.

Stories for me take the form of collages with words, of painting whatever catches my interest in order to use up the big canvases I bought back when I had money, but not time. My friend, Tim, with his artist wife, Kate, and kids, Sam and Alli visited and loved my taller mountains/Hurricane Ridge. Sam will come back to hike when he gets a break from his Doctorate at Harvard. Our mutual friend, David C said that WA is like VT on steroids. Maybe why I feel at home in WA.

This is a painting from my own history…the story of three generations of women

I like working with a theme: Story
More images from VT life drawings, abstractions, city textures, black and white…one idea builds on another…all the stick-on alphabets I own…buying supplies back when I had money and no time…place markers for now, apparently

Please stop and Enjoy and smile at someone…maybe we can save ourselves in time.

I garden in pots on my deck because of the deer families that share my neighborhood.

I look above my computer and float away into wonderful cloud formations…note the gray clouds lower right in front of the white ones
Back yard, I nurture a whole world that blooms in local color, smells of lavender, and hums with bees. Native plants spread themselves. I just finished trimming the pink seed ends from the donkey-tail euphorbia
Peas for dinner, bowl trade from Maryland craft show years ago, on the seat of the blue Adirondack chair brother Steve got me so we could all sit outside
A special broccoli from Farmers’ Market yesterday, just because it’s beautiful!


MakerSpace and Other Distractions

Collage with drawing on a page prepped with black gesso…Making art and playing at the same time…maybe I’ll do an actual graphic novel.

Not a lot of new art work this week…I apologize, some weeks are like that. It was really fun to go into the library and see people of all ages reacting to the huge figure in the middle of the living room.

Georgia O’Keefe clouds from the window over my computer…inspiration is all around me!

I joined and keep saying I’m quitting a local group interested in creating one or more MakerSpaces…a kind of antidote to today’s political/ethnic divisions…areas real or virtual that can hold equipment and knowledge that are difficult for individuals to access, but available to members of the group.

I did finish one fiber piece, beading while watching movies…a perfect way to end the day! The photo is from a 1935 wedding in “Jerusalem, Palestine”

Researching information and people with whom to talk is like a treasure hunt…I LOVE that the World Wide Web was discovered and promulgated during my adult life. My interest in cities and the quality of life in them led me to Land Studio in Cleveland, OH, who led me to the Cleveland Public Library, which led me to the gentleman who is in charge of the library’s MakerSpace…and I get to talk to him in the coming week. There’s also a cool Techno MakerSpace at the public library in Edmonton, Alberta, and an art-focused one in Burlington, VT, one of my home cities.

Another spread in the blue book, thinking about Anthony Bourdain and other people I have lost

It’s fun to gather information, network here in Port Angeles, and see what might come out of the mix…and an excellent opportunity to practice Buddhist Detachment where outcomes are concerned.

And another collage, inspired by a braille page, thinking about all the different ways of telling stories

Two sets of company coming this week…I’m avoiding dusting til the Very Last minute…and still Making Art!

First stage of the painting in chalk on the canvas…colored background will unite the images. The brown chalk blends into the paint as I go.
Starting the painting, 2 sessions, the magic of paint on canvas, lines that bring life to an idea.

Stay Tuned!


Long-term Projects and a Culmination

The finished Blue Book Person in the library Living Room

I’m late posting this week, Monday morning, instead of Sunday afternoon, but this week, my projects have been long-term. We’ve completed one, and I’ve added to a few others…sometimes Life moves at a different pace, and I must go with What Is, rather than What I Think I would like…words to live by these days.

Noah and Brian unload the largest Body Parts at the library Sunday afternoon

Yesterday we finished and installed the blue-headed book figure in the Living Room of the Library. This project took 8 people and 5 months, without any bickering. When something needed to be done, someone would show up and do it…Marvelous! I WISH we could run this country, the world on that basis.

Noah, Brian, Margaret place the shoulders on the drop cloth. We built the shoulders with strapping to attach to the high beam, but weren’t quite sure exactly how it would go together.
The head, which is a book, with an open book for a hat, on top of the shoulders of books
Brian’s legs under the head. Earlier he rigged three pulleys from one of the high ceiling beams. He and his crew made the PVC pipe structures that support the shoulders and the hips. We imbedded the frames into the papier mache and had to figure out the strapping system before the papier mache went on. Jan made a box for the head from styrofoam insulation board.
The crew holds the head stable while Brian attaches the sky hook…Miraculously…it all worked and hung straight. Although we didn’t know exactly what we were doing, it all came together.
The team glued small styrofoam painted books around the head to stabilize it on the shoulders. The whole assemblage is very light.
Looking inside the head and shoulders from inside the body. The shoulders and books were all made with recycles stryrofoam, tape, and papier mache
Colleen, April, Diane inside the body, attaching the legs to the PVC frame. Lovely light quality inside the body
Thought ribbons, coming out of the book on the head and going out to all corners of the room, making use of hooks on the girders in our industrially-inspired library. Students in the summer program will write good wishes to attach to the ribbons
Brian attaching the arms. Jan made the big blue hands, we all papier-machied and painted
The figure will preside over summer programs at our library…It has taken on a life of its own…more than we ever imagined…sometimes Art is Magic!

I have a few ongoing art projects…something to fill space when a long-term project is completed. I’m not happy unless I have a number of projects. This is the life I envisioned when I worked with a Life Coach in the Nineties.

Still doing studies for the painting…this is the one I’ll use

More studies and thinking with drawing plus writing.

Anthony Bourdain was such an Engaging Explorer of the world
Working on a fabric piece with a photo of a 1935 wedding from Amal’s family, printed on silk…this seemed too busy, overwhelming the photo, so:
I started a simpler one that makes the photo more prominent. “Jerusalem, Palestine”

One more Project that happened to me this week. My front yard, on the north side of my house, has always been a field, overgrown with Himalayan Blackberries and home to many small animals, deer, and birds–right in the middle of a residential neighborhood.

Mom and baby deer grazing in my front yard, there’s a steep slope down to the field, then blackberries growing 10-12 feet tall. I worked every summer to clip them back and prevent them from taking over my house.

On 6/20, the thirteenth anniversary of my moving to Port Angeles from NY, a couple of trucks, two machines, and three men appeared on the other side of my fence.

The small digger/bulldozer ate the blackberry patch in nothing flat
I now have a graded, park-like area in front of my house instead of the scrubby tangle. The machine operators assured me that a housing development is NOT going in there. It’s the end of high school property, so maybe another playing field. The deer have already come back, but I’m afraid the parades of parents watching over baby quail have had to relocate. The east and south sides of my yard are still black berry jungles, so maybe I’ll see the bird families again.

It has been a week of projects and evolutions…nothing stays static.


Things I Learned From my Father

New ethnic dolls from the bead store grab bags

Today is Fathers’ Day. Mine died over 30 years ago…he didn’t hang around long enough for me to focus on his short-comings the way I’ve done with my mother. I am the oldest of five and the only female. Only two of us have children, and I see that they are both good fathers…and the two of us who haven’t been divorced, if that means anything.

Happy Dolls

My parents were 21 and 22 when I was born, Dad still in school…how would they know how to raise children? They came from the usual dysfunctional families and were both products of the assumptions of their times. I didn’t get a middle name, because I was supposed to use my father’s name, Hastings, as middle, when I took my husband’s name as last. As you may know, I took back my father’s last name after I divorced my abusive husband in 1982.

Collage/Mixed media, exploring Basquiat style

Dad did pay for my education at a very good college, both parents pushed me to learn a trade, so I would not be financially dependent on a husband. I remember Dad telling me to join organizations  and take the jobs nobody else wanted, so I could be in the inner circle. He paid for the Famous Artist course for me, though he told my husband that the next-oldest brother was more creative and I was more of a craftsman.
Experimenting for a big painting, inspired by one of Dad’s photos

For a psychiatrist, he wasn’t very good at speaking up about the abuse my future husband was already handing out to me and my mother, to help my gay brother with the bullying he got at school, but we were both able to break free (eventually).

Backyard patterns, a blooming ground cover and donkey-tailed euphorbia

I had the example of a father who did his regular job during the day and followed his art passion in the evenings and weekends and on vacations, and I was proud of his photographs in books and magazines and hearing railroad workers call him Doc and treat him as famous, even if in a small sphere. I think he had patients who appreciated him, too, though sometimes he seemed too retiring to stand up for himself in professional situations.

A vacation to Port Townsend to visit Mike and Katie in their new home

I followed in his footsteps in having patients and students who say I’ve done them good. I always emulated him in doing two jobs at once, to the point where now that I’ve been retired from my health-care job since the end of 2013, I still have a nagging feeling that I Must be “productive” every second to fit it all in.

Katie and I did a lot of walking, she with her bad knee and me with my bad foot. Her new neighborhood and a woman with many cement globes in her yard. Katie’s favorite North Beach, where just breathing the air makes her feel good, and we each have our favorite collectibles, rocks and beach glass.

Now that I’m 71, I’m trying to teach myself that it’s OK and even good, to slow down some and enjoy the process. I’ve already lived a decade longer than he did, and I love all my creative achievements and also the volunteering I do for the Fine Arts Center, the library, and the Planning Commission. This is the consolidation and giving back phase of my life, and I want to enjoy it thoroughly. We never know what may happen next…appreciate every moment!

Potential art material is Everywhere!




The Responsibility of the Artist?

The Blue Journal, Text as Pattern

Artists are truth tellers…except when we flatter a patron…or avoid sharing something shameful…or possibly hurtful…that we need to get out of our head and heart.

Drawing and text inspired by a photo my father took of our three generations of females

I’ve resumed reading A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra, so it will be fresh in my mind for book group on Tuesday. It’s hard to accept that these horrors can have been committed as a part of everyday life in Chechnya as recently as 2004…what horrors continue? Of what is homo sapiens capable?…in one morning on my computer I see an un-publicized massacre of successful people of color in Omaha after WW I, native young people mourning their lost lands and murdered ancestors, the young black and brown people murdered by police and in schools, all the family drama, women beaten down, that goes unrecorded and unacknowledged, the little-known torments that drive both the famous and the unknown to suicide….

Playing with abstraction and text as texture…the psychological story becomes a physical one…How to tell it best?

Many writers and visual artists use what we know best for raw material. I’m also reading Zadie Smith’s Swingtime…all sorts of questions about assigning blame, figuring out where and how to start to go on from here. My high school art teacher, Jessie Loomis, my good mother when I needed one, introduced me to Ben Shahn, who used words plus images to tell stories of unfairness on a broad scale, started me with words and images in my own work. I used my grandmother first, feeling the remove more safe than a mother who wanted to incorporate my being into hers…or hers into mine.

More text as texture

My mother is a person with only good intentions, who raised five children who are blessed with an ability to express ourselves artistically. I am working out ways of expressing my own growing up and what I have done with my life, while still being respectful and grateful to her good intentions. I’ve been looking at Basquiat, Kahlo, Rivers, always Shahn…the abstract, the stories…with Compassion, I hope. It is better to let these things out than leave them to fester…don’t tell my mother.

Everyday life: fruit as a face. Diane celebrating the end of the Library figure sewing.


What is a Maker Space, and Why do We Need Them?

More collage/drawn/written pages in the blue journal

There are all kinds of Maker Spaces, both virtual and physical. Last week a group of people who are interested in starting one…or several…in my home of Port Angeles…got together to talk about Maker Spaces. There’s a man from Sequim (the town next door) who has a virtual one, connecting people capable of teaching (things like bee keeping or seed saving) to those who want to learn.

Music at the opening of my portrait show at the Sequim Library

I have visited several art/science/technology spaces in Seattle…and my niece works in one…to bring her dream of project-managing music venues and musicians to fruition. I may not have said that right…sorry Serene. She has an engineering degree. I think project managing is something I enjoy, as I help people plan and follow-through to create such things as the blue library figure. I helped start a business/technology group back when I lived in NY and before such things were common.

I finished the dolls I started last week. Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens are good on Fabric

The people in this group in Port Angeles are interested in things like building tiny and affordable houses, organizing our town into walk-able mixed-age neighborhoods, helping developmentally-delayed people express themselves artistically and master the kinds of community tasks, like grocery shopping and taking the bus, that the rest of us hardly have to work at.

My brother, Doug’s, birthday party in Seattle yesterday. Good to hang out with family

Physical Maker Spaces can provide office and technology to new entrepreneurs, problem-solving skills to children as young as 3 or 4, or access to equipment like 3D printers and laser cutters to young businesses. The concept has potential to bring people together and to get beyond the depression and feeling of helplessness rampant in the world today. Sometimes it is necessary to just start where we are, and then to keep moving forward.

Cathy climbed up to fix a light and mowed the weeds and blackberries beside my     driveway. It’s nice to have a Handy Woman to to the things I’m not good at.

There were plenty of other distractions for me this week. We must continue to live our own lives, but at the same time working to improve things for ourselves and others, and keep communicating /demonstrating that such a things is possible.

Getaway to Port Williams Beach Thursday. I picked up small white and black pebbles to surround the special stones Katie gave me before she moved…I made an arrangement in the middle of my mini Stonehenge.

No parties or shopping for me on Memorial Day. I did a two-page spread mourning the young lives lost for questionable goals in war, like getting control of oil or making money selling weapons. Lots to think about. Can/should we have compassion for those who prefer not to think? “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” Avoid irrevocable changes!