Thoughts ... June 10, 2022
Art is changing me. I am slowly learning to give myself over to it. It is exciting, but demanding. I love that there is so much to learn about art. I spent much of this year reading, Art and Physics: Parallel Visions in Space, Time & Light, by the late Leonard Shlain. It felt like fireworks going off in my head each time I picked up the book and read another section. This book combined my love of science - and particularly physics - with my love of art. It gave me new ways to think about quantum reality - a subject that has always absorbed me.
As a result of this reading I was inspired to start a new series of paintings collectively titled, Quantum Reality. I have finished two 30" x 40" paintings so far, and the process is quite different than my other works, even my abstracts. With this series, I first focus on a single aspect of quantum reality and then spend a lot of time thinking and feeling about it. I try to expand my consciousness about it and then, at some point, I start to see images or parts of images in my mind. When the images coalesce into something, I begin drawing in my sketchbook. When I arrive at a drawing that feels right, I begin painting.
When an artist wants to capture an image, we are taught to squint in order to blur what we are looking at. This helps keep the left side of our brain from telling us what we are seeing and allows us to actually see the abstract shapes, forms, and colors of the object or scene. When I am working on my quantum reality paintings I try to mentally squint, so that I am not consciously focusing and thinking, but sort of blurring thinking and feeling together. This approach helps me to come up with images that feel like what I am thinking about quantum reality - and the nature of reality as a whole.
This blurred feel-thinking does more than just help me to physically see, without the left side of my brain getting in the way. Once you become aware of how your brain actually limits your perceptions of the world around you, you become more open to letting your left brain thoughts slide away and you find yourself open to different possibilities of interpretation of what you experience.
In his book, Leonard Shlain notes that one of the difficulties with understanding quantum reality or any of the concepts of physics following from Einstein's theories of relativity is that our language is not sufficient to describe these concepts in a non-mathematical way. Shlain, however, points out various works of art over the past 100 plus years that actually do present images that could be used to describe various relativistic ways of viewing the world - even though none of those artists were aware of, or capable of understanding, Einstein's theories. It simply was that artists have a different way of seeing objects and, in some artists, this "artist's sight" has allowed them to see and portray a different version of reality ... one that happens to be closer to quantum reality.
This blurred feel-thinking that I am calling "artist's sight" is driving me to learn, read and think more ... and I am eager to discover how to bring all of this to my own art.
November 20th, 2021
Thanksgiving is around the corner and I am looking forward to having the family around the dinner table with our traditional beloved turkey dinner and fixings. I have a lot to be grateful for this year, in spite of having challenges, we are doing well and getting better. David fell last November and is still having back pain, but it is finally getting a bit less and he is able to walk two miles a day. We are looking forward to maybe being able to golf together again next spring. We really miss that time together.
Another reason I am feeling so grateful is that I have started to study art with a really good teacher, Ann Marie Campbell. I took some classes with Ann Marie a few years ago and learned a lot. Now she is teaching private classes in an atelier style. She focuses all of her attention on what I need to learn and how I learn. We are starting at the basics, with drawing, and it is drawing the way the Old Master did it. The 3-hour classes are intense and go by in a blink, then there is a ton of homework. I am working at my art harder than I ever have and am loving every minute, even though it takes so much focus and is exhausting at times.
I have come to art late in my life, but I have fallen in love with the making of it. I have enjoyed the many classes and instructors that I have had over the past 7 or 8 years. That I now have the opportunity to learn art at such a deep level is beyond anything I imagined and is a thrill. Not only am I learning skills to create my own art and my own creative vision, I am gaining information that gives me a new understanding and appreciation of the art of others.
I look forward to sharing my progress in the coming months.
September 12, 2021
I have committed the cardinal sin of not keeping up with my website. There are a hundred reasons why, on any given day, week, month, I did not log on and update my site ... none of them particularly persuasive now as I look back. Mostly, it was easy not to do it. During the pandemic and the last two years of craziness in this world, I kind of hunkered down and kept to myself.
I did paint and draw. I took online classes and Zoom classes. Hey, I learned how to Zoom, for someone of my years that is a big thing. Mostly, I played with my art, experimenting with different ways of painting. I spent several months doing still life painting from life in my studio using oils and occasionally acrylics. These were smaller studies of 9 x 12 and 11 x 14. I used canvas panels for the first time for these and I loved the convenience. Some of these studies will be for sale at Open Studio.
What I love about these smaller studies is the freedom to paint and not be tied to the worry about mistakes or how good the painting would end up. It didn't matter - they were only studies. The freedom from worry gives the pieces a certain freshness and also allows me to explore new ways of approaching subjects. While it also meant that there were mistakes, it also meant I was learning. I intend to continue doing these studies when I get time in between bigger painting projects.
I also explored painting abstracts. I have tried this a time or two in the past with dismal results. I'm not sure what is different now, but these abstracts are much better. I think I was trying too hard before. Now I approach my abstracts as a form of play and a relief from the painstaking work I do when I am painting my more representational works (which often involve a lot of prep work including a grisaille underpainting first).
The other difference is the abstracts for me are about color or texture, whereas my representational works are about composition and values. Both forms of are include consideration of all of these elements, but each approach focuses on different elements.
My new approach in abstracts must be working as I won a Best of Show award for my abstract, "Bits and Pieces", in the Abstract Art Show at the Sacramento Fine Art Center in 2020.
Most recently, I have become attracted to the painting of figures and faces. I never had much interest in either of these until now. I am curious to see where it goes.
September 30, 2020
I cannot believe how fast September has flown by, how fast the whole summer has flown by, actually. My second Open Studio weekend was a success: we had lots of people coming through, the weather was gorgeous, we had live music both days, and everyone, artists and guests alike, had fun. This year we had 10 artists, so more work went into the preparation, but I think people liked having the freedom to browse through so much art in a relaxed and inviting atmosphere.
I am looking forward to my group show at the ACAI gallery, Timeless. The other 4 artists showing with me are friends, which makes this extra fun. This will be the first time all 8 of my Driven Series paintings will be hung together. I spent two years working on these paintings and it has been interesting to work on connected subjects in this way. I actually have at least one or two more paintings I would like to do in this series, but I'm not sure when I will get to them.
I am currently working on an oil painting that will be displayed at the Sacramento Fine Arts Center's Changing Perspective show that runs from 10/29 through 11/9. As Chair of that juried show, I can show a single piece of art, as may the judge, Robert Dvorak. I can hardly wait to see what this show looks like. It will be shown in Gallery 2, while Journey of Hope, will be displayed in Gallery 1. There is a reception on November 9th and I am anticipating we will have a good crowd.
I am Chairing another show that will run from 1/28/20 - 2/14/20. This is The Art of Theater: from Hamlet to Hairspray. I am hoping this will be the first of a series of The Art of ... shows that will be a collaboration between visual arts and other art forms. We are reaching out to costume and set design artists, as well as 2D and 3D artists who just love the theater. As a lover of theater, I am very excited about this collaboration and cannot wait to see what wonderful art will result.
May 30, 2019
Davie and I just celebrated our 49th wedding anniversary yesterday! It triggers memories of our time together when we were so young, impossibly young it feels from this distance. The memories are made more poignant by the fact that Davie is in the process of finally retiring on June 15th. He has practiced dentistry for 45 years and now that whole part of his life will soon be behind him. It is an emotional time and closing a practice is not an easy task, but I really look forward to the time when it is all done and we can relax and look FORWARD.
I will be participating in Sacramento Open Studio tours again this September and I am very much looking forward to it. I have 9 other artists joining me: Carol Hawkins, Randy Raatz, Sandie Zang, John Nichols, Janel Redman, Arlene Cullum, Kate Tudesko, Nancy Compton and Dan Read. Last year was so much fun and we expect to have an even better setup this year. I'm working on some smaller oil paintings to show this year. I also will have a lot of older work that has been hanging in Davie's dental office that I will have for sale at a reduced price.
I continue to work on my Driven Series. I finished two more pieces, MetalWorks (#5) and Cincinnati (#6). I love them both. I am not quite sure what draws me to them, but it is the same thing that draws me to the junkyard at the Driven winery. I have started #7, Wheel, which I am painting as a grisaille - at this point. When that is finished, I will decide whether to add any color at all, and if so, what colors and how much. I'm really liking it as a grisaille and I've been known to stop there on a painting before. So, who knows?
I've taken some all prima oil painting classes this past winter with Victoria Brooks and am eager to get out and do some plein air painting. I've only done this a couple times in the past. It is very equipment intensive, as you have to carry everything you will need with you, and this has to be light enough so as to be manageable. I do not want to spend a lot of money on equipment that may or may not work for me, so I plan to start out easy ... painting in my backyard, or where I can just paint "out of the back of my car" as they say. This means, painting at a spot where you can park and set up right next to your car. This eliminates the need to have special lightweight equipment for carrying. It also means you can pack lots of paints and supplies to be sure you don't end up forgetting something. It is my goal by the end of summer to be sufficiently experienced to know what equipment I will need and what to look for.
The excitement of plein air painting is the ability to capture colors and shapes as you see them. There is a lot of value in using photos to paint from, but photos distort colors and eliminate the middle ground, taking the depth out of what you are painting. Painting from life is a sharper, clearer experience. It also can be challenging. I've heard lots of artists describing wind blowing sand onto their wet paintings and knocking things over, or trying to paint in a sudden rain, or insects getting caught in wet paint! I can't say I'm looking forward to any of these, but they do make great stories.
January 4, 2019
HAPPY NEW YEAR! I took down my tree, outdoor lights and indoor decorations today and it felt a bit sad. But now when I walk through the house it looks so open. The furniture is back in its usual place and the space feels full of the promise of spring. We are lucky here in Sacramento, because in the worst of years, spring is not that far away. I still have some roses blooming in my garden, though they need to be pruned to prepare them for spring. Cyclamen adds color and my cacti are blooming as well.
For me, January is the month of getting organized, figuring out what my priorities for the year will be and what I need to do to get them done. I clean out cupboards and closets, work on decluttering the garage, and organize my desk. I also go figure out what my art plan for the year will be: what juried shows, if any, will I enter? what commitments and gallery shows, if any, are lined up? what workshops do I want to take? what art am I working on and what do I want to be working on? You cannot plan out everything, but I have found that life has a way of pushing you this way and that on a pretty regular basis. Without a plan, however loose, you may find yourself looking back over the past 6 months or year and realizing you are not quite where you want to be.
I have entered 3 pieces in the Membership show at the Sacramento Fine Arts Center, which runs from 1/5 though 1/27. I hadn't entered any shows in awhile, but it felt right to enter one now. I am working on the 5th piece in my Driven Series and I plan to spend my time working on this series for the foreseeable future. For now, it is what I want to paint. I have signed up to take a 4-session class with Victoria Brooks at the Fine Arts Center, starting on 1/22. We will be working with oils and painting all prima. One of my goals is to work more in oils this year, as well as to get more engaged in plein air painting. I intend to participate in Open Studios again in September and I am working on a potential gallery show or two.
I am also serving on the Board of the Sacramento Fine Arts Center again this year. We are going through a rather exciting transition so it takes up a fair amount of time, but it also gives me great satisfaction and I really enjoy working on projects there with so many enjoyable fellow artists. And I continue to serve on the Board of Saint John's Program for Real Change and to teach bi-weekly art therapy classes for the women there.
This schedule feels pretty busy to me, especially when I want to protect my time to paint and squeeze in time to golf. But I smile as I write this because I love it all and look forward to having a very enjoyable and productive year.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS! I love this time of year. I make an extra effort to spend time with friends, especially those I haven't seen in awhile. There are all kinds of parties with my art friends, my book club, other friends and relatives. When we come together like that, we recharge. There is lots of laughter, hugs, some singing, plenty of wine and good food.
On the downside, I haven't had very much time to paint and the itch to be at my canvas, brush in hand is growing. As much as I am looking forward to each day leading up to Christmas, I equally am looking forward to that time afterwards when I can get back to my normal routines and really focus on painting. I'm knee-deep in the paintings for my Driven Series and am eager to see what I come up with over the next few months.
I hope that as you do whatever it is you do for the holidays that you have a wonderful time. And if you don't have anything special to do, or anyone special to share the holidays with, remember there are lots of people who need a little attention and cheer in their lives. I find that I always get back more than I give when I volunteer at Saint John's Program for Real Change. They are always happy to have people come in and host things like a movie night for the women and children. Feel like doing something for Saint John's? Check them out at saintjohnsprogram.org.
I have been working on an art show in Gallery 3 of the Sacramento Fine Art Center in Carmichael. The show runs from November 1st through the 30th and features the work of women from Saint John's Program for Real Change. This Program is a 12- 18 month rehabilitation and job training program for homeless women and their children.
Dr. Mark Johnson and I teach an art therapy class there every Friday that is voluntary for the women. The women in our class are new to the Program and sometimes fresh off the streets. They are fragile, wary and very courageous to take this step to turn their lives around. They are fighting drug or alcohol addiction, suffering from domestic abuse, or dealing with emotional issues and depression. The Program is hard work and the way the women grab this opportunity is inspiring.
The newest women, or the most damaged, often will paint dark, harsh colors and shapes. As women have more time in the Program, their art will reflect their transition to hopefulness. These paintings will have bible quotes, the word God or symbols of God, and words of hope. Then the paintings begin to contain more words of positivity, strength and love. Some women have never painted before and will create pink paintings covered with purple glitter and the name of a child. Some women paint pretty pictures they imagine covering the walls of the home they hope to have one day... dreams made real in paint. Some have had experience with art and painting; they strive to feel again the creativity and accomplishment that was lost when their lives took the nosedive that ended with them on the streets.
There will be a Second Saturday reception on November 10th, from 5:30 - 8:30 pm. Some of the women from the art class will be there to talk about their art. Please come out to meet them. All of the women's artwork will be for sale for $50 each. Proceeds from the sale will go to support the art classes, which are funded primarily by donations. Dr. Mark and I volunteer our time for these classes and will each have one piece in the show that are separately priced. Proceeds from the sale of these pieces also will go to fund the art classes.
Stonecreek, who performed at our Open Studio to great applause, will be performing at the Second Saturday reception.
I want to thank Diane Hornor and Skip Lee, two local artists and friends, who helped me to hang the show and did a great job with it.
#SaintJohn'sProgramfoorRealChange, #art, #Stonecreek, #homelesswomen
I had expected to write sooner than this, but days have a way of of slipping past and now it is already November. My Open Studio weekend was a big success and so much fun. We had lots of people stopping by to view the art and just hang out. We had live music, Stonecreek, on Saturday and people just loved them. It felt like a big garden party, as most of the artists were set around the backyard. We had lovely weather and everyone agreed we would do it again next year.
In October, I participated in an art show-wine tasting event in Plymouth at the home of Melinda and Otto Fox that also was a great time. Of course, I loved the wine and the 360 view was not only beautiful, but it felt like a vacation just to sit and look out. We had 8 artists this time and the works were really good.
Both events gave me an opportunity to show my work to new people and to get lots of feedback. It is interesting how people relate strongly to different paintings. It was all good feedback for me. I got a real kick when someone would spend time looking at a painting, taking it in. I've had that experience with paintings myself, so it was deeply pleasing to see someone react to one of my paintings that way.
My first Open Studio weekend is around the corner ... 11 days away, in fact (September 15th and 16th). I am curious to see how it will turn out. The other 7 artists participating with me, and I, have put a lot of work into getting ready for this event. We are hoping for a good turnout and the opportunity to talk about our art with visitors.
Three of my artist friends and I are going to check out some of the artists that will be participating in the first weekend of Open Studios (September 8th and 9th) just to see what they are doing and get a look at who is visiting them. Of course, each artist's location and set up will be as unique as the artist, but it will still be information and I do love looking at other people's art.
It fascinates me how differently people see and interpret the world around them. Art really shows that up. You can have an art class with 10 people all painting the same exact subject and getting the same exact instruction and yet, at the end, there will be 10 different interpretations of that subject and instruction. It is a pretty interesting thing to experience.
In a recent still life workshop with Terry Miura, Terry had set up 6 staging areas with 5 to 8 objects in each one. I was fascinated by how differently each artist chose which of the objects in a given staging to paint and how they chose to interpret those objects.
Generally, when communicating with each other, I think people do so, at some level, with a belief that what one is trying to say is what the other is actually hearing. But that is not necessarily the case. There was a vignette on Sesame Street once that showed a frame with two line-drawn cartoon characters meeting. One says "tree" and you can see a picture of a simple tree like a maple in the thought balloon above its head. The other character pictures, in the thought ballon above its head, a tree shaped more like an evergreen. The first character now says "green" and the tree in each character's thought balloon sprouts green leaves, but they are still different trees and the green leaves look very different. The more words the first character adds to its definition (trying to be more precise, perhaps) the more the two thought trees differ.
This vignette has always stayed in my mind because it demonstrates how important language and naming is, but also highlights that as unique individuals, there are bound to be unique interpretations of any communication. Pictures, however, can help convey meaning and intent, and they can also demonstrate emotional content. (I, for one, make liberal use of emoticons when texting as I know they will set an emotional context for the words I am saying.)
I do not ascribe to the "words OR pictures" mindset that questions which communicates best, as I think you need both to express who you are, what you think and what you feel to another person. That is why I write little stories for each of my paintings and why I write this blog.
It is also why I am looking forward to visiting with other artists during Open Studio's first weekend. By seeing their art and talking with the artists themselves - hearing their words - I will have a much greater appreciation for a person who has chosen to put their energies into creating something to be shared with others.
I hope you will take the opportunity to visit with the more than 200 artists who are participating in Open Studios this year and especially hope you stop by to visit me and the other 7 artists showing with me in Arden Park. For details and directions, check out the Verge guide to Open Studios that is available online at: Verge.com, Verge Center for the Arts, Blick's, and University Art.
Art is dominating my life right now. I have been painting a lot, which is good, but I am also absorbed with the business of art ... something I swore I was not going to do. I was quite firm that I wanted to make art, take classes to improve my artistic skills, and meet and talk art with other artists. I did not want to spend precious time marketing, selling, or running an art business ... I've retired - I don't want another job.
Yet, here I am, spending months figuring out how to create a website so people could see my art, getting and setting up a Square, so I can take credit cards should someone want to buy one of my pieces, getting a Seller's permit so that I could sell outside of galleries and participate in things like the Open Studio that is coming up in September.
I have created spreadsheets listing all of my pieces, with pertinent information about them and I have had my pieces professionally photographed by Josh King of Sacramento Giclee - I just love working with him. He does a great job with the photos, even when I bring him things that are already framed, or worse, have glass on them. I also have had Josh make prints of certain paintings, using a wonderful archival paper called, Somerset Velvet. Once I started having prints made, I had to keep track of them, so I created another spreadsheet for my art prints.
I've had to get a receipt book, labels for my pieces and stickers for pricing. I've bought and borrowed some additional display easels. I've created an email sign-up sheet. I've broken down costs as I calculate prices ...
I look back and realize that I have spent a lot of time and money getting ready for the business of art, particularly for the Open Studio tours. Even though this is my first year participating in this annual event, I have agreed to host 7 other artists in my backyard and home ... maybe ignorance is bliss ;-)
Most of the other artists participating with me are fellow members of the Two Rivers Artists Group and are painters. We all have different styles and levels of experience, but we all love creating art. If you are in the Sacramento area, please come by and visit with us. We are participating in the second weekend of Open Studio, September 15 and 16th. To find us, just check the Verge Open Studio guide or online at Verge Center for the Arts.
Through the month of August, many of us Open Studio artists are showing a piece at the Sacramento Fine Art Center, located at 5330 Gibbons Drive in Carmichael. There will be a Second Saturday reception on Saturday, August 10th, from 5:30 - 8:30 pm, so please come out to support the local artists who are showing there - and that includes me!
So, in spite of my best intentions, I am now in the business of making art. It was probably inevitable, unless I wanted my art to be a very expensive hobby. However, I am still resisting some part of that "business" mindset. I've heard artists talking about how much effort goes into marketing their art and, at times, it seems like their major focus. I fear changing something I love doing and feel such joy in sharing into something that becomes a negative factor in my life.
I've heard the stress and rejection in some artists' voices and just don't want that for myself. I was lucky enough to love my work and the people I worked with when I was employed. I cannot imagine having a different experience now that I am retired.
I guess time will tell ...
This is exciting for me. I not only have done something new, but it is something I did not think I could do ... I've created this website. Yay me!
Understanding and manipulating technology does not come easy for me, or for David. We have never owned a piece of technology that we did not seriously underutilize. We learn enough to make it go and leave it at that. Sometimes, even that is a challenge. But we don't use all of our own brains so why feel we need to use all the brains in any given device, right?
This process has not been easy. I have a serious lack of patience where technology is concerned. I do NOT like to bumble around for hours until I figure something out. For one thing, by the time you do manage to get something done, you can't recall how you got there. For another thing, time is precious and time spent futzing around on my computer is time that I am not at my easel, or in my garden, or golfing, or drinking wine by the pond with my feet up ... There are simply too many pleasurable things to do and not nearly as much time for them as I wish.
So, it is a big deal that I have spent several weeks learning what a domain name is and why I need one, testing out different website builder programs, talking to people with websites to get a feel for what they like and what they don't. I made the decision to try to do this on my own, rather than hiring someone to do it for me, because I wanted complete control over the site and access whenever I wanted it. I am an artist, so I wanted to design it myself and have it reflected me.
Once I finally chose the website builder program I wanted to use - WiX.com, I had to figure out how to do everything: choosing the pages I wanted, designing them, moving and manipulating text and boxes and strips and images ...
There were many days in which I spent hours trying to figure things out, but hit a wall I couldn't get around. I'd get headaches from thinking and concentrating so hard, so I'd quit for the day, sit out by the pond with David relating in detail all my actions and my frustration, and as often as not, sipping wine while I did so. I don't really know how David managed to look interested, or at least awake, but that is one of his charms ... he always listens when I ramble on about something.
I would like to add a real blog to my site. I'm not sure why exactly, but I feel strongly that I want to give it a try. I've decided to wait for a bit as my brain needs a rest and I need to get back to painting. I have three pieces that are close to finished, so I want to get them done and clear the way to start some new pieces.
I hope you have enjoyed visiting my site, please feel free to send me any comments or thoughts.