What Good is ART?

Totem and flowers in Sequim last Sunday. We are slowly learning to celebrate the art of the cultures that were here before us, and the other cultures that are here with us.

As I put my blog together this Sunday afternoon I’m listening to a call-in show on Canadian Radio, talking about whether Shakespeare and other classics should still be taught in High School…Engagement of the younger generation seems to be one of the keys…and the Universality of the ideas that are imparted by visual art, literature, music and all the rest.

Art of photography helps us to appreciate the natural beauty of our surroundings…the art of scientific study, how to preserve Port Williams and our many beaches.

I believe that one of the duties of parents is to civilize their progeny, teach them about their duties as part of the family, part of the community, part of humanity. As Fredrick Douglass observed in the 1860’s, humans are the only picture-making animals. Pictures in every form, from poets to painters, prophets, musicians, reformers, inventors, scientists… create new ideas, new discoveries and examine old ideas, like slavery or women’s position in society, for continued relevance.

Rough Draft for The Story of my life. The family home on my mother’s side was a character in the family drama for  several hundred years and now houses the local museum
This is how I translated the idea to page 6 in The Story of My Life for the Sketchbook Project

I’ve been working with images of my ancestors, to figure out where I’ve come from and what I’ve inherited, as well as what I want to change. My fame in doll making is based on realizing that image and form making can be used to change minds and attitudes…and to examine history…Doll Making as a Transformative Process.

Practice page about Dad. I scanned a self-portrait he did as a youth. His parents, then mine, persuaded the artistic child to learn a practical vocation, too. The Army made him a doctor, my parents made me an OT.

Through Art, we learn how others have resolved problems that we face today…Shakespeare and all the other untapped cultures that we have previously ignored in Western Education…all the unrecognized work of women. Love, Honor, Achievement, Family and Country are still and will be life issues that we ponder.

The three big September hurricanes become a collage
I like the combination of drawing and collage…used lots of layers of medium on this one, submerging and unifying the elements with fine pumice gel
My 8’x8′ daily book lends itself to gessoing and working on two collages at once. I did the drawing of the woman from a photograph onto a Japanese paper that seems to disappear when attached with gel medium. I traced “Leonard Homestead” (above)  onto this paper as well. My brother showed me this trick.

Be Aware of the beauty that surrounds you: Flowers brought by friends to my latest tea party and interesting textures from yesterday’s Farmers’ Market.

I realize that the term Political Correctness has gotten a bad name of late, but isn’t it still important to continue to remind ourselves, through All forms of Art and Language, that we haven’t yet succeeded in teaching our children and ourselves to see Everything in the World as broadly as possible…Art is Very, Very Good for that!




What is Truth?


“A truth warrior in a time of Chaos.”…I’ve been reading so many different blogs, who knows where truth lies, and what effect one action will have on Everything Else? Michael Moore is arguing for Inclusiveness, rather than Separation, and I agree. Our country and the world have such complicated problems, how can we solve them if we’re so busy blaming each other? I suppose that could be a distraction technique.


Our fears are inflamed by “pundits,” too much information, social media, by natural disasters, by feeling powerless to find decent jobs or access to affordable health care and clean water and food. We need to work together to solve these problems, and chances are no one of us is going to get ALL of what we want, even the richest guys in their bunkers who think they might be able to turn the rest of the world into expendable serfs and retreat to their bunkers to ride out every challenge nature throws at us


OK, back to life-saving Art Work! I find that the more I draw and collage, the better I get, and I really do enjoy bright colors and trying out all my different kinds of markers, glues, and finishes…and bits of stories.

Yesterday Jan and I went to an Artist Book talk at the Bainbridge Island Art Museum, we stocked up at Artists’ Edge in Poulsbo, and got excited about making new book forms…well, Jan did, but I don’t think I’m neat enough in my work to make real Artist Books. I do want to try using a metal box I have, to hold translucent sheets, so the next part of the story shows through each page…Will I ever get it designed??? Stay Tuned!


Mother Nature presented yellow smoke and difficult-to-breathe air from forest fires on three sides of us. I had to stay inside with the windows closed. By the end of the week, I needed to get out, parking downtown by the water, the city pier, and the ferry dock to eat my Frugal’s cheeseburger and fries. I didn’t get much Art accomplished.


Finally some rain! Wonderful patterns of rocks, fence, grass, buildings, trees.


Abstract patterns of plants and rocks (the gold one is from a new load) in my back yard.


Another pin for the holiday show…repetitious stitching always makes me feel better.


Round Headed Dolls, and another pattern for you. These are quick and fun, especially in lots of different fabrics. Change the arm and leg styles to see how they will look.


Drag the pattern to your desktop and print it 7.5 inches wide.

I hope to accomplish more art work next week. I will function better if I can go outside and move around, not cough, not be too hot. This week I got the last of the antique family Artifacts sent to Vermont…a load off my mind. Now that I’ve put the basics of our genealogy onto computer, the younger generation is more interested. Great Family Stories, so I need to get back to the Sketchbook Project: Story of my Life.

Friends have joined me in feeling that they want to preserve their family history, but don’t know how to do so…the local Historical Societies are grateful…individual “regular” people make up a big part of history…nice to preserve.

Keep Making ART and being kind to each other…find out what other people think. Look around you and figure out what you can do to help…if we each do a little…



Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbook Project

My paternal grandmother’s parents–test run. Acrylic-painted background with indelible markers and white colored pencil for highlights…most of my markers didn’t stick on the painted background

I’ve mentioned the sketchbook project before. https://www.brooklynartlibrary.com/sbp  I’ve also mentioned my need to have a project…or several…going, in order to stay sane, so I combined two current tasks: sending the weight of my mother and father’s legacy of photos  and paperwork to an appropriate home in Vermont, and using my ancestors in the Sketchbook Project, where one buys a standard book, fills it with art and returns it to the Brooklyn Art Library. Combining jobs adds more assurance that I will do them, so I am using the Story of My Life (including ancestors) as the topic for the Sketchbook.

The finished sketchbook page. I did the portrait with indelible marker on paper, cut out the silhouette, stuck it to the page that I decorated with tissue paper collage on the bottom and non-indellible markers above

My friend, Katie, gave me an adhesive, Multi Medium Matte, made by Ranger, that she’d bought for herself…what a Friend! The books are 5″ x 7″ with 32 pages, and using acrylic paint or medium is discouraged, since it can make the pages stick together. These books go on tour all over the world and must stand up to examination by many people. So far the Ranger Adhesive seems to be working. My nephew is moving to Brooklyn for his PhD, so I’ll have him check it out after I turn in my book in March.

These are the pages you’ve seen before in the larger, experimental versions. I scanned the original 8″ pages and reduced the size. For the one on the right, I traced the finished version and glued it over dyed paper towel to suggest Vermont fall leaves. For the page on the left, I used a black and white high-contrast reduced-size print of the original page and colored it with marker, glued over a blue/white/textured background. I used strips of paper for the backgrounds, so some of the overlaid image would be stuck to the actual page for increased durability.

As you may have noticed, I do a trial run of each page first in the 8″ square spiral bound notebook in which I do my daily images. I’ve found that the ones that end up in the Sketchbook Project are simpler, both because the page size is smaller and because I’m less experimental in my use of media, wanting everything to hold up.

Trying for cheerful art to make me and you cheerful. Experiment with doing an acrylic wash background, then ultra-fine sharpie drawing, then gluing on a watercolor, with I incorporated into the original background.

I love the way Golden self-leveling gel embeds the items in a collage, especially with several layers. The Golden Pastel ground gives a toothy surface and is less likely to make sticky pages. I layer different mediums…it’s quite a luxury to have the time to experiment, to get an idea, then immediately try it out. I’ve found that I have to do some of the finer drawing before I apply colors, because the inexpensive, but many-flavored markers I bought tend to run or dissolve under the clear medium.

Another Happy image, using a drawing for a doll pattern, actually a larger version of the one on the previous page, cut and glued to the page. The bird was cut from a photo of a handbag, as were the background elements, and a piece of marbelized paper in the lower right corner, expanded with markers.

I’m very lucky to have my whole house set up as studio space…and no longer the distraction of having to go to a job or take care of anyone but myself.

A beaded pin on the left, designed around a Japanese print on fabric…I slowly build my stock of beaded pins and small dolls and wall pieces for the Holiday show that Katie and I do…stitching is SO relaxing to me. The piece on the right is about 8″ x 8″ and I’m looking for the poem I saved to write on the back…tough getting old! Small piece of African fabric and various silks, red rubber ring, small glass rings, and seed beads.

Several friends have mentioned on Facebook having difficulty lately getting themselves into the studio…I find that going in and just doing a tiny bit of work on the simplest thing helps me to stay longer. When drawing isn’t coming, I go to stitching and always have a couple of projects in the works with some mindless things to do. Once you start, it’s a whole lot easier to keep going!–ART HEALS!…or music or writing or cooking or whatever means of expression resonates with you.

Not ALL work–the First Friday Art Walk in Sequim, sitting on a bench under the planters waiting for Harriet.
The sky from my computer desk…I’m shut in again with the air conditioning on because of smoke from forest fires in Canada….only two-tenths of an inch of rain this summer…the cool blue north is pretty brown and crispy. The deer come right up to my house, eating the  lower blackberries.




Nine Fears

Humans like to leave their marks…a miniature Stonehenge at the Place Road Beach, mouth of the Elwah

The fear and depression pop out among my friends. Annie asks, “how can I go on.” We are Baby Boomers and have seen bad times come and go. We know enough history to know for sure that no country, even ours, can live up to its own hype. We understand enough science to know that the activities and outcomes on our planet are connected and we may be running up against a wall.

New estuary in Port Angeles. I live in one of the most beautiful places on earth
Katie and I picked blueberries last Monday…another perfect, sunny day
Hot Chocolate nourishes friendship
Blackberry.Pear pie on Tuesday…blackberries from my front yard, pears from Hugh’s yard in West Seattle. Nourishing my friends to care for his sister with cancer after cancer…care for those we can.

I do try hard to follow Barbara and Buddhism’s advice to do what I can and then try to enjoy every moment of this beautiful world and life.

8.22.17DollWithHair copy
A new doll with sewn-in hair. I may add stitching to follow the pattern lines
Drag the pattern onto your desktop and enlarge to fit on 8.5″x11″ paper

Making art helps to keep me sane. I’m going to do a nine-patch adaptation of some of my major fears. I try to remember that the people we think of as on the other side are also afraid.

I’ve started filling my book for the Sketchbook Project. Katie loaned me a strong adhesive. I’ve been consolidating my genealogical information…and pursuing my use of Graphic Grannie
Page 2 of my Sketchbook Project.I make the first layout of each page for myself…see last week
Still making pins and small dolls for November’s show…hopeful activity
Haunting images from magazines, a model building up side down, reflective paper…playing breeds more ideas.
I tried drawing with markers on top of a thin acrylic wash…the fine-pointed sharpies run out of ink quickly. This week try drawing with washes on top…or watercolor instead of acrylic. This artist uses her body to create her work.
I keep experimenting with new ideas and media combinations…even on a slow week, I keep making

Makah Days: Spur of the moment trip with Jan and Mary Ann…I’d never been before. The very Northwest corner of the Olympic Peninsula. The day was Perfect! Bright blue and green, sky, sea, trees…singing, dancing, canoe races, fry bread with butter and jam…in the Makah’s sovereign nation. These people are coming back from very, very hard times…I shall think of this experience as hopeful.

Living with My History

Self-portrait, Dad at 16, printed on cotton, sewn into a fabric journal page.

Genealogy has been filling my mind lately, going through family history, genealogy research, photographs…even ones from my childhood, 70 years ago, seem antique. Dad was a photographer and apparently never threw anything away…my mother saved all her family’s stories…and Dad’s too. They moved and moved, carried and carried…I’ve been working on using some of the images and stories in my art work. Now electronic storage allows me to consolidate.

Drawing/collage, story, my maternal Grandmother
The oldest of my brothers and I, the white column from paternal Grandparents old house, current twisted images from the show I saw at SAM illustrate the tangled story lines.

David and I sent several boxes of physical evidence to Historical Societies in both our parent’s birth towns in Northeastern VT. I gave more photos to Hugh this weekend. I don’t want these people and their stories, going back to the 1600’s, to be lost. We learn through stories.

Revisiting the beach at the mouth of the Elwah where I recently went with Katie. The universal urge to create Art Work…An  anonymous artist made a mark.
Hugh and Connie at the old dam site…no forest fire smoke this time
Hugh and Connie saw Meyer Lemons and thought of my birthday lemon meringue pie…which they then created for us to enjoy together…it was AMAZING!
Many, many baby pictures of me…I used my face as polka dots, along with evidence of a letter from 1942…cross-fertilization with the show at SAM
Bird leavings on Hugh’s car window, along with a reflection of me taking the photo become an abstract composition

My four brothers and I are lucky to enjoy each other’s company. Hugh and Connie were here for the weekend from Seattle…one of us living in the country (me) allows the others to enjoy pieces of it. We love to cook and eat together…Doug has been sending all of us pictures of the feasts his family has been enjoying in Palestine. At times I rebel against the constant work of getting myself back into the studio to make Art…colors images, shapes, ideas, words…Actually, I can’t live without art making…the effort pays off!

The pressure of posting new work weekly makes me work on Art. My Great Grandmother’s face on an abstract body.
I like a bright background after sepia-toned photos. I painted three journal pages orange. A pattern for a new doll interacts with David Hockney…and someone else’s legs and shoes
Tiny photos from my father’s legacy become shapes and shades…no matter what type of composition, all the basics of good design come into play.

KEEP TAKING YOURSELF BACK TO THE STUDIO…Enjoy every moment of what is around you!


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!