The Mighty Healing Elwah

8/7/17 The mouth of the Elwah in fog, silt from Lake Mills forming a network of ever-changing deltas

My good friend, Katie, needed to build up her healing energy this week. She is helping to care for a family member with a lot of physical and emotional needs. Katie requested some energy building time with me, in order to prepare for the difficulties of the weeks ahead.

8.7.17 KatiePlaceRdBeach
Katie wandering and picking up sticks and stones at the mouth of the Elwah

We went both to the mysterious and ever-changing mouth of the Elwah where silt from the removal of the highest dam in the US to be removed to date has created deltas and channels. Katie finds that spot very healing. We wandered in remaining smoke from the forest fires in Canada plus fog from the decreasing temperature of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, picking up sticks and stones, talking just enough. We shared a plate of fried clams and later ice cream and proceeded to what was Lake Mills, the site of the 200 foot dams that used to generate electricity, but made spawning very difficult for the salmon…no one thought there would ever be an end to salmon back when the dam was built in 1927, so no fish ladder was included.

Looking up the Elwah River where Lake Mills used to be, and down into the canyon that was dammed to produce electricity in 1927

Just as the smoke spreads way beyond its native land, so no one anticipated the problems the dams would cause to the fish. What might seem like a small thing can cause a huge catastrophe…and now that the planet is crowded way beyond its comfortable capacity, we can expect cascades of environmental crises.

Rough draft page for the Journal Project…my origins
Driving across country in my silver Honda Civic to be closer to three of my brothers in the Northwest

This week has been a time of my studying all the branches of my family’s genealogy…so strange to hear stories of ancestors living and settling Vermont in the 1600’s. For my great grandfather Stevenson, sailing to India and using his legacy to buy a “large” 200 acre farm in southern Quebec were big deals. Too bad he had no training in farming. For other parts of the family, nestling into the Northeast Kingdom of VT was all they wanted.

A dream of dying, with red sparks on black…some of the potential causes of death these days. The red sparks against black were very pretty.
The novels of Banana Yoshimoto involve food and love, and give me a lot of comfort. I like this flat illustration style. The rectangle is a window to the potted flowers on the balcony. I enjoy illustration

I hope we survive long enough as a species for this to become interesting information…I’m carrying on the Family tradition of consolidating some of the information and then passing the rest on to historical societies in VT.

My brother, Doug, his wife and children are in Palestine this week. A photo from the Old City…families keep branching. My niece and nephew have half Arab ancestors.

Think of your families and what you will pass on. What have you inherited from your antecedents? What do you want to pass on?

We are All Connected

Selfie at the Yayoi Kusana exhibit at SAM. Red Polka Dots
Looking toward town from Ediz Hook…the mountains are covered by smoke

A gray sky with a red ball of sun…Jan says that’s the way the forest fires manifested when she lived in California. As we drove to the Bainbridge Island Art Museum for an artist book lecture, some areas were so smokey/cloudy we almost turned back.

Looking from town, where one can usually see the Coast Guard base on Ediz Hook, with the low hills of Vancouver Island in the background.
Polka dots and last-of-summer chocolate and strawberry frozen yogurt

After developing a sore throat earlier in the week, seeing brown fog rising toward my house from the water, then starting a wracking cough, I realized that last summer’s pneumonia scare was probably an allergic reaction to the smoke from forest fires north of here…and I have no direct control over the forest fires in Canada. Luckily my heat pump does air conditioning as well as heating , so I’m barricaded in my house for the duration…but what if the current US rush to please the oil and gas industry has its way? The greed to extract without any apparent thought for consequences makes me grateful again that I decided not to have children…but I told myself I wouldn’t be political here…

I keep coming back to the 2 women on a beach…and some other figures: me and my niece and nephew from another photo, plus the red sun in fog
I added contrast to an earlier painting of these two women on a beach…I may be done with them for now.
Finished this nude, by adding more contrast and fixing her right leg
This is collage and paint (18″ x 18″). The image has haunted me since I took the photo in Chicago…very abstract for me. I should have printed it a bit lighter. Somehow posting online removes me enough from the original to see it as a unit.
Drawing of a photo of Andrew Wyeth’s face, practicing realism. Sharpies and markers, and a bit of diluted acrylic…preparing for the journal project…we’re not supposed to use medium in that book, because it tends to stay sticky.

Earlier this week I trecked to SAM to see Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors…the artist parlayed her obsessive compulsive disorder into World-Wide Fame as a creator of environments and paintings with obsessive dots. The show was an Experience, and I was happy to see so many people in an art museum on a Sunday. Another opportunity for questioning, What is Art? and the apparently necessary skills of self-promotion versus going deep to create something life- and mind-changing.

A study in rectangles and human-made construction in Seattle with one small sign of nature.
yayoi’s painting and sculpture, which I like.
Another painting at SAM, to which I said:???
Lots of waiting in lines for the show…an opportunity for me to sit and sketch people
This was an Obliteration room, where we were given dots to gradually obscure the white room. I snuck one out to put onto one of my sketch of the waiting line.
7.30.17Waiting at SAM
The dot from the Obliteration Room and the star sticker to insure I only attended the show once
Infinity Room
A pink flower I’ve never seen before that I found in my back yard with the Hens and Chicks…infinity everywhere. Keep Looking, Seeing, Making ART!

Pinterest is wonderful for giving me such a range of artists’ work to study…I’m interested in how MIlton Avery simplifies forms to create his pictures. How very, very prolific Louise Bourgeois was in exploring ideas and media, especially fiber. My dictate to myself: Just keep going Back to the Studio! Are we blessed or cursed by this desire to create? I’m going with Blessed…and not caring if a thousand other people are doing it better…Keep Making Art!

Why Exhibit?

I found 2 pages I forgot to include last week…collage for the sake of playing on paper.
7.20.17I used “they” as a gender-neutral term. The blue face is from a photo I took of a wall poster, then turned into a decal by lifting the ink with layers of gel medium then dissolving the paper backing. It is slightly translucent. The textured white paper represents a thought balloon.

The weeks pass more quickly now that each unit of time is a smaller proportion of my life as a whole. I’ve missed several possibilities to exhibit my work, but have continued to make new things…and today I’m going to Seattle to see an exhibit at SAM by Yayoi Kusama, mistress of mirrors, infinity rooms, polka dots…

The Sketchbook Project is giving me an excuse to write The Story of My Life, using my alter ego Graphic Grannie and tales about my ancestors and me.
I received my blank book for the Sketchbook Project from the Brooklyn Art Library. 5×7″ book with 32 pages.

Lately I’ve declined to participate in several local shows, just because it seems like too much work to schlep my art pieces around, make labels, explanations…then go back and pick it up at the end of the show. I’m following my admiration for Outsider Artists by creating solely for the joy of making art, having given up much hope for selling.

I made a big square to add to my blanket…using only dark blue fabrics that I already own. Saturday is laundry, so I add Squares then.
This is a long-term project, about two feet tall, finally finished…an antique doily, hand-dyed fabric and a beautiful piece of old velvet for the body silhouette. Copies of my ancestors on silk, pewter faces, and a few other treasures, beading.This will go into the Sequim Fiber Arts Show in October..I’ve been exhibiting there for years.
Kenai Fjords (the piece of stone Diane brought me from Alaska. This piece is 5″x5″…fun to create a tiny world.

Yayoi was able to turn a perhaps obsessive/compulsive tic for drawing polka dots into a “thing” over her years of pursuing fame and fortune as an artist from the 1950’s til today. What do people, especially women, have to sacrifice to get noticed/known. I’m currently reading Identity Unknown by Donna Seaman, which celebrates seven women who almost made it…and slipped back into obscurity after their deaths…sometimes even before. We women and people of color still haven’t Made it the way white men have.

I’ve been looking at Milton Avery work on Pinterest. This is a study for a painting from a photo I took of a woman looking out of the kitchen door of a pizza restaurant in Chicago. I’ve started the painting, but I might like the study better.

So I’m using the magic of the Internet to keep me making art, even when the results seem sort of silly…or maybe illustrative, rather than deathless ART…ongoing discussion…What is ART?

This is another photo image that has fascinated me
I tried a small painting, but couldn’t get the proportions right.
This is my latest effort…It is interesting to keep working on different interpretations of the same image…I kind of like this.

I Know that constantly getting myself back into the studio gives me the opportunity to work hands/heart/mind daily…even though some of the results are less than stellar, I find that continuing to address the materials and the ideas is like practicing piano…it can’t help but keep me more in tune…and sometimes the results speak to others…so it is good to reach out visually and receive feedback. Thanks, eileen and Germaine and all.

Sometimes I just have to PLAY…in order to keep working with color, form, story telling. I maybe could have been an illustrator…there is a style now that’s simple and non-realistic…am I developing a Style???

I’ll publish my photos from SAM next week…Stay Tuned!


The security of a Project

7.20.17Blanket piecing
Every Day Art: A blanket that was wearing out, so I’m patching with indigo-colored fabrics and hand stitching…every Saturday when I change my sheets. A bit of my summer quilt that started out as a table cloth in the lower right.

Humans, me in particular, need the security of a project, a purpose, a story to give our lives meaning…especially after we leave the life-filling presence of a Regular Job. Many use caring for grandchildren, or pets, or a garden…or exploring every corner of the planet. I was lucky to have been born knowing that I AM an Artist.

Finished the self portrait with toast, an 8″x10″ transparency, textures, painting through punchella…then I coated it with Golden self-leveling gel to imbed the collage elements…and marks…I’m liking mark-making and semi-transparency.

Artists in any medium have the benefit of constantly being able to hone our craft and never being totally satisfied with the current results, so trying again and again…even when we/I have to work smaller, so I have space to store the results.

Going through an older box of collage materials, I found these boys…I feel so sorry for those who are young now, not knowing when a mad leader in another country…or this one…may be moved to end everything for all of us.
The next page in my sketchbook…The simple white and black houses were from the same illustration, so I made some more. The bear on a bicycle from inspiration for the library chairs I painted. When Steve and Linda were visiting, she saw a black bear back in the woods on the way to Hurricane Ridge, so Steve pretended to be afraid of bears the rest of the day. I like the grid, too, and at bottom remind myself to leave some negative space.
7.17.17 Sad Eyes, continuing to play with transparency and the painting through punchella holes that I used in my self-portrait…work spawns more work. I traced the face onto a thin Japanese paper that my brother, David, uses. the paper almost disappears under gel medium, leaving only the lines.

This week I had social events every day, so I didn’t finish too much ART, but that’s OK, I’m just trying to get through the rest of my allotment of living while spending my time in satisfying pursuits…being with friends is definitely worthwhile. On Friday I went to the Art Barn, a part of the lavender festival, traveling with and meeting artist friends…others who take my and their own involvement in Making Art Seriously, so that among them I feel validated.

7.21.17 Contemplating the Virgin of Guadeloupe…An old collage I never finished. It just got muddy, but I completed it this week with three while pieces of paper, to make sense of the other elements.

I love scrolling through Pinterest to see what comes up…this morning a set of illustrations/graphic design…shall I take another Peninsula College class in Graphic Design..just to see what I missed by going to OT school and to hone my craft? Jan says that now I would have to pick a computer program in which to execute my designs…no more paste up. I always love the tactile qualities of cut and arrange…I’ll see what’s offered in the fall. I’m learning to be patient and trust my instincts to lead me into interesting directions.

7.18.17 Selfie with new haircut…one of the few times I like the way I look, mostly trying to ignore any intimations of beauty in my own person these days, though not too bad for 70.

I captured some David Hughes illustrations and some Milton Avery paintings…perhaps I should just continue to teach myself…and let the work of the experts assist, being inspired by Milton and David. I did break away from my hereditary frugality and purchase a piece of Mike McClollum’s work at Art Barn…we don’t need storage sheds of junk, but we do need ART!

Dried poppies and grass outside Susan Gansert Shaw’s Art Barn…there is beauty All Around
Compass Box I bought from Mike McCollum

Collect Experiences, not Stuff. If you must have Stuff, please buy Art!


6.17SavetheHoneyBees copy
I do my best for the bees with a constant supply of native plants in my back yard

I got back to my more regular routine after 2 weeks of family doings and being a vacationer in my own beautiful environment. Both work and play are healthy parts of a good life…and mine is very good. Even though I’m not doing my OT job any more, Art Work will always be my occupation and obsession.

The theme of the new library show is Pop Art…I was looking at Larry Rivers’ use of historical figures in his work, after reading that he’s considered a Pop artist, but decided that I didn’t want to get too distracted from whatever my current work may turn out to be.

This week I also returned to my daily half hour of yoga, which is a necessary antidote to the stiffness of being 70 and sitting at the computer and work table for hours on end. These sunny, not-too-hot days have been tempting for spending lots of time outside, and I see that the deer are enjoying the path I cleared for them…my ongoing battle to keep the Himalayan blackberries from growing up the hill and over my house. Balancing on the hill to weed and tend both front and back of the house keeps my muscles working, but makes me sore. I took a fall off the path while walking by the Elwah with Steve and Linda…left leg bruised, right ankle twisted. It could have been worse, if not for Yoga and Tai Chi…Mike keeps saying that my balance will get better, as well as my remembering the moves.

Katie likes this one because of the more subtle colors. 6.29.17 Hear Me
7.12.17 Black Bug on a Gray Ground…who knows why? I like the combination of collage, paint, drawing, layers. Started with the scrap of polka dotted tissue paper.
7.12.17 Big Brother…started with the right side eye shape and build from there. Words came last…I can’t keep politics off my mind, but am trying not to be strident about it…the end of the world as we think we would like to know it.
7.14.17 Seduction (how did I miss 7/13?) This was inspired by a photo in a magazine ad and a very thick biography of Colette I’ve been reading…the areas of light on the bodies and the romantic purples, golds, and pinks
7.15.17 Trying to attract the Attention of the Flying Goddess  Every picture tells a story, but I am not sure what the story is here. This started with the scrap of green paper printed with a vine…Maybe the way humans are so easily led.
7.15.17 Inspired by Veronica Cay. I found her on Pinterest and love her snaky lines, the multiple faces…the whole world of art at my fingertips online…look her up. She does sculpture as well
7.15.17 Hacienda with Scary Palm Trees and Colette. Started with the black shapes on a white gessoed page. All these are from my 8″ square sketchbook, experimenting with different media, influenced by my reading, working intuitively to see what comes out.
7.16.17 Red Doll Head and Scorpion. Images I’ve carried across the country, originally collected at the Women’s Studio Workshop in Upstate NY. Writing on the images becomes a partially-perceived and understood texture
7.13.17 In the Jungle…I’ll call this 7/13 because I drew the images with an extra-fine Sharpie on recycled computer paper when I was looking for inspiration. Yesterday I used my big set of colored markers, then cut them out, and mounted them on a marbleized magazine inside cover…I am SO Ripe to do animations…just need to make time for the learning curve.
7.16.17 Dream. This was an image from a powerful dream last night…I had to get up and write it down, then try to recreate it visually. In the dream the white field was suffused with light, red and yellow flares, then black scribbles, like stiff dry grass on a Russian White Night. It felt like a reoccurring dream, but I don’t remember having had it before…Could be done on a a huge canvas, but I don’t know if I have the skill to recreate the brightness of the white field, that encompassed earth and sky…keep working.

I am pleased by all the art work I did this week…it shows how returning to the Studio really pays off…not Great Art, but maybe ideas for something and then something else…and a balance in life continues to be important.

I didn’t go to art school, and often wonder how my life would have been different if I had. Of course when I was in college in the Sixties the teachers had a laisse faire attitude toward actually teaching, and I was so unsure of myself, I had difficulty making anything. Now I try to let myself go and work intuitively, though I have difficulty breaking through my stingy barriers to use the big canvases. We do what we can with what we have…at least I continue to persist…my fabric works and 3-D pieces look as if they all came from the same person…the studio sketchbook is for experimenting.

The beginning of a self-portrait experiment using a photo transfer of myself in the early Seventies onto a clear sheet…I’ve gessoed over the portraits from my Hot Flash Women series that I didn’t like, in order to dare to use them for experiments…we do what we can. Time passes so quickly from 20 to 70…do Your bucket list Now!


Family Business

Happy Fourth Cupcakes from Anita…we’re too tired to stay up to watch the fireworks. I got to talk to John Brewer, former editor of the local paper about my bid to join the city planning board.
Happy Fourth of July at Anita’s House, overlooking the Port Angeles harbor

People long-married, old friends, and siblings have the advantage of many years of shared experiences that make getting together so easy and fun!

Steve and Linda taking flower pictures on the road to Hurricane Ridge. She swore she saw a bear
The lupines were showing themselves, some Indian paintbrush, some big white ones, yellow. I imagine the show changes daily. plenty of tame deer, no mountain goats, thank goodness. Snow patches are still in evidence.
These are the big flat white flowers…I should get a book and look them up.

This week I put art-making aside and just had fun with family (and lots of delicious food), along the northern Olympic Peninsula to the Pacific Edge, Victoria, and back to Seattle.

Dragon in Victoria’s China Town, pastry at Murchies, Chinese lunch, lots of walking. I got tired.
Moss-draped trees by the Elwah. The lovely waterfall…the parking lot at Merrimer Falls was full, but we have More Places!
Lake Crescent in the sun
Rialto is seldom sunny, but the sea stacks are impressive


Steve at Rialto
Sea Stack from the great fish restaurant in LaPush…on the other side of the US from where Steve and Linda live in SC. Hugh and I ate here once when we were looking for whales.

It is good to have the flexibility to take off when the opportunity to spend time with all five of us together presents itself, along with trips to all the local touristy areas, including Victoria. I did a little sketching of faces in my purse book and got to see David and Brian’s new house, Plus: Big Surprise–Thayer came home early from Italy to be with his uncles, aunts, and parents.

Steve and Linda could not miss Ivars under the bridge…fried clams, of course
Then to Doug’s for a fabulous dinner, and eating on his new deck. Hugh, Doug, Connie.
Thayer surprised everyone by coming home from Italy early…he and his uncle, David, as well as his sister, Serene, refuse to be pleasant for photos
Sunday brunch at David and Brian’s lovely new home, with lots of wall space for David’s art. Connie,  Hugh, Thayer, Brian
David and Doug enjoying the new kitchen

\I got to catch a ride to Seattle for my second time this week with Steve and Linda, coming home on the new 123 Strait Shot…a new bus that connects Bainbridge and Port Angeles. $5 with my senior pass…one of the good things about getting older.

Next week I promise some art work…and posting on Sunday. Make Art! Appreciate the ones you love and all the good things in your life.

I am So Lucky!

Holllywood Beach in Port Angeles–fog looking north, A Berry Crepe with Katie

I love my family, my friends, and where I live! Today is the Fourth of July, which I will spend with friends and in my town of Port Angeles, WA, a beautiful town of 19,000 (same as when I moved here 12 years ago), nestled between the Olympic Mountains and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Work Together for the Common Good, Please!

Southworth/Fauntleroy Ferry, my first time, but lands near Hugh and Connie’s house in West Seattle

Last Sunday I was Lucky, Lucky to be in West Seattle with all four brothers in one place, not to mention 3 Sisters-In-Law and one niece as well…Fabulous food and card games, stories, and hanging out in the sun.

Interesting patterns on the ferry…I don’t leave my Artist Eye at home
Hugh and Connie Cooking…I got up early to make the salads
David, Hugh, Steve, me, and Doug…we are so Lucky to Enjoy Being Together!
Linda, Amal, Serene trying not to have her picture taken
Amal, Serene (avoiding photo) and Doug

Finding the Southworth Ferry was a new adventure…and people offering to help me with my bag…am I looking that old? Oh, well, there may be some advantages…I can take the Strait Shot bus from Port Angeles to Bainbridge for $5 now…we must learn to embrace What Is and never stop working for What We Want. Brain Pickings included essays on the importance of artists in helping humans deal with traumatic times.

Traffic stopped on the Hood Canal Bridge on my way home…I’m always happy to get over the last piece of water and see clouds over the Olympic Peninsula again.


Writing, Reading, drawing…my ways of seeing and understanding and learning.


Prompt page in one of my many journals. Vibrant, inspired by a photo of Man Ray with half of his mustache and beard shaved…mixed media fun…the Big Box of Markers.


The prompt, Pops, originally for Fathers’ Day, inspired by a drawn self-portrait of Dad when he was a teenager, wearing his RR outfit. I darkened some of the lines so he’d show up better. We all inherited art talent and interest from our parents and their encouragement…Give Permission to Yourself, your children, your friends to Make Art!!!