Author Archives: LisaK

About LisaK

Welcome to my blog! Here, I share a bit of my life, art, artistic process, and inspiration. I'm an artist and a mom living on the central coast of California.

Cultivating Curiosity and Workshop Openings

Stepping into 2016, one of the ideas for the new year was the goal of cultivating more curiosity. I am someone who, once I decide to start a project I put my head down and just go, go, go. And often, after several weeks of this, I start to feel…blah. You know, all work and no play…even when the work is making art, I find that I need regular infusions of new things to wake me up. One of the ways that I’ve been trying to weave new experiences into my days is to cultivate more curiosity, to encourage curiosity when it pops into my mind. If I have the thought “I wonder what is down that street?” or “what would happen if…?” I am making an effort to turn down the street, or try the new thing. Does it seem silly that I have to make an effort to be curious? No doubt, this comes naturally to many of you, an unstoppable force, but I can be so practical and habit-driven sometimes that I forget to allow time and space for curiosity. Curiosity can start to feel indulgent with the demands of daily life. So I remind myself.


Milo is always up for an adventure.

What does this have to do with art? I find that curiosity is a habit of mind…if I don’t exercise it outside of the studio, it becomes more difficult to exercise it inside the studio. It’s like trying to run a marathon without training for it. Also, cultivating curiosity outside of the studio is a very safe, gentle form of risk-taking, and for those of us who are risk-averse (yours truly) it’s like yoga for our minds… stretching, so that we can be more limber and willing to take risks in the studio.

View from the Bay Trail, Periphery Walk.

View from the Bay Trail, Periphery Walk.

I also find that new things tickle my brain in a way that encourages new ideas. Landscape is my painting subject, and putting myself in new environments is part of my art practice. My Periphery Project has shown me parts of the Bay Area I had never seen, and triggered so many new ideas in my work. A limber, open mind is fertile ground for new ideas. So, practicing curiosity is a way to invite new ideas.


Road trip

California road trip

One of my favorite ways to practice curiosity is taking workshops. I’m currently taking a 16-week online workshop, and it makes me think in totally new ways.

Come take a workshop with me!


I’m teaching two workshops soon, and I believe there is still room in both to sign up. The first is my “Precision, Layering and Clarity” workshop at Wax Works West, April 30-May 2. This workshop is also available November 19-21. Both classes are currently open for registration.

The second workshop is the 5-day in-depth  “Transparent Layering and Mixed Media Techniques” at Idyllwild Arts Academy, June 27 – July 1. Idyllwild is currently offering an early pay discount of 5% if you sign up by April 15. But if you mention that you learned about the workshop through me, they’ll bump that discount up to 10%! They also offer an ongoing bring-a-friend discount of $50 if you register with a friend. Thank you, Idyllwild Arts! 

D.I.Y. Residency


As 2015 came to a close, I decided that I needed to shake up my studio practice. Things had started feeling stagnant. I had a few ideas for how to do this… trying a new medium, starting a new project, maybe finding a bigger studio. I decided the easiest and most immediate thing would be to diversify my practice by working in a new medium, on paper. I spent a few weeks sorting things in my garage, and clearing a space to serve as my “paper studio”. I found a set of flat files to store paper and finished works, and started gathering materials.


I started experimenting in a sketchbook, tentatively playing with new materials– guache, acrylic, watercolor, inks. I was still having trouble getting started though. This was not new territory, this resistance to starting a new body of work. Breaking into new work is difficult for me, and I usually need a little self-induced push. I decided that what I needed was a residency. I really felt that I needed the kind of dedicated time that a residency affords, and I had applied to two local residencies in 2015 but they are highly competitive and I didn’t get a spot in either one. So I decided to set one up for myself. At home. ‘Cause that’s how I roll.


I marked two weeks in January as my time, and thought about my daily life and the things that distract me or take up time. I made sure that I did not schedule anything else during those two weeks. I planned some easy meals and did the shopping ahead of time and put some food in the freezer. I did errands or decided they could wait. I cleaned the house ahead of time, and made a deal with myself that I would just let it be dirty during the week. Usually, I’m one of those people that has to have everything in order before she works so this was a big one for me! This is something I’m continuing to work on… my most damaging procrastination habits tend to be getting things clean or done before I allow myself to work. So it was good practice.


Then, for two weeks, I worked. I worked all day, and tried to exercise discipline by not indulging in distractions. This is the hardest thing about trying to do a self-initiated “residency”. Usually, with a residency, you have a work space far from the usual distractions, and that is part of the appeal and what makes it so effective. So re-creating those conditions at home was challenging, but mostly achievable. I can’t say it was perfect, but I got so much work done! I let myself just focus on process, and told myself that if I came to the end of two weeks without a single finished piece, that was okay. There were times when I just wanted to stop and there were times when I was so caught up in the work that I lost track of time. I had a few moments when I wasn’t so sure about this plan!

But by the second week, things started coming together. I didn’t have a finished piece by the end of my two weeks, but I had a direction. And momentum. And enthusiasm. I was excited about the new work.


The painting/drawing above was the first piece I finished. I now have about five of these finished, and others started. Jump-starting this new work with a D.I.Y. residency was really effective, and I already have plans to do it again soon. It’s amazing to me what can be accomplished with some dedicated time and space.

What about you? What is your favorite way to start a new project? How do you overcome the inertia of beginning?

Thanks for reading,


2016 Teaching Dates


I have a few teaching dates that I’d like to share here. I have my 3-day “Precision, Layering, and Clarity” workshop at Wax Works West scheduled for April 30 – May 2 (Sat-Mon) and again for November 18 – 20 (Fri-Sun). In this workshop, I focus on developing a rich layered depth using layers of clear encaustic, achieving more control with line and brush work, and creating a smooth surface. Students leave this workshop with an enhanced understanding of the medium, sample boards of the new techniques, and have time to work independently. This workshop always fills up, so sign up early. Wax Works is a wonderful place to learn and play, and I am so glad to be able to offer this class there twice this year.

I’ll also be teaching a 5-day “Transparent Layers and Mixed-Media” encaustic class at the Idyllwild Arts Academy in Idyllwild, CA, June 27 – July 1. I’ve heard great things about this school, and am excited to be invited to teach there. This class will introduce a wide range of mark-making and mixed media techniques, along with my personal take on transparent layering. It will be my first time teaching in Southern California, so for all of you down there who have asked me about teaching closer to home, here is an opportunity! , go to Summer > Adult Arts > Painting and Drawing to see the list of courses and sign up.

If you would like me to teach at your venue, email me and we can chat about it.  Thanks, and maybe I’ll see you in a workshop!

P.S. I’ve also just upgraded my wordpress status to get rid of those pesky ads! I looked at my blog recently while not logged in, and there was an ad for lunch meat. Blaah! I don’t even eat meat! I also changed my url while I was at it. If you subscribe to this blog, and receive an email when I post, I don’t think that will be affected. If you access this site through a bookmark, you will want change the url to:

Blogging Presence, Blogging Absence


Hi there readers! Oh, wait… do I still have readers? I’ve taken such a long break here. But, yes, my stats tell me that people still come here to read what I’ve written, so hello! Every time I’m away from writing in this space for a while, I have a hard time coming back to it. It’s been a while since I’ve put words on these virtual pages… and here I go, wading in again, hopefully this time with a better-formed sense of purpose. I’m eager to share what I am working on, and what I have planned.

I started writing here eight years ago. Eight years! I was surprised to look back in my posts and see that date. Eight years ago, I had just had an art studio built for myself on our property. I was beginning to work a studio practice regularly after some artistically spotty years spent being preoccupied with raising small barbarians, I mean children. Eight years later, my children are grown and away at college, earning their own artsy degrees, and I am painting full time. There have been ups and downs, and some personal trials, but here I am, posting again. I’ll be writing about new work, my studio practice, upcoming workshops, shows and other events, among other things. I’ll also be writing about the creative process in general. Through my own up-and-down experience, I’ve become keenly interested in how artists create, why we create, what gets in our way, and what we can do about it. So I’m excited to share some of what I am learning about that and also hearing your insights about this thing that we do-noticing things, inventing things, painting things, singing things, writing things, playing things, telling stories, making worlds, making art.

As always, thanks for reading!

Meanwhile, in the Studio…


I’ve created several distinct bodies of work over the last couple of decades, and yet,  when I am making a change, or even just a shift, in my work, it is still both uncomfortable and exciting. It’s easy to embrace the excitement, but I still want to hide the fear and resistance. So here I am, outing myself (and maybe starting a conversation, see below). Sometimes the fear and resistance feels like bees buzzing under my skin, and other times it feels like a dull wall in my mind. But I really think the fear is a good sign, and that I might want to be concerned if it went away completely, because it’s an indication that I’m working against comfort and toward something new.


The process takes persistence, because usually I try a lot of things that don’t work. Sometimes I rewind and start over again, and other times I keep pushing forward, even if I don’t like it, just to see if something new will come from it. I’ve discovered and refined processes and techniques that came originally from making “mistakes”, too, so I try to not think of it that way. I tell myself it’s all just action. Some of it leads to art I like and some of it does not.


The detail above is from a painting that is proving elusive. I just don’t know where it’s going, or what it needs next. I’m trying to find new solutions, and let the Periphery Walks influence this new group of paintings, so I’m trying hard not to indulge in old solutions. That is just too easy. I know if I just trust this process and keep going, the new solutions will arrive.

So that’s it–that’s where I’m at in the studio right now. It’s a bit of a mess, and I’m not sure where I’m going, but I’ll get there. So my question to you is: Do you struggle with starting new bodies of work or do you love it, and in either case, how do you approach it?

*All of these photos were taken in my studio this afternoon, and are a typical snapshot of what it looks like when I have new work developing… Lots of things started, a big sprawling mess, and not a lot finished.

*I started this blog post the other day, and have since then finished a couple of these. If you are interested, check out my Instagram account.

Periphery Project


The last few weeks, I finished walking the stretch of South San Francisco shoreline and started back at Hwy 92, heading south from there. I’m still kind of catching up here with the images, and after this I think I’ll try to post at the end of each week with my favorites from that week’s walk. I’m still fumbling around in the studio, establishing my parameters with new work, and learning how these walks are influencing my painting and drawing. I’ll try to post later this week and let you see what that looks like (hint: it’s a mess). Until then, some photos…


The photograph above was taken from the empty Candlestick Park parking lot, facing northeast…


RIP Candlestick. I did not grow up going to games there, so I don’t have any attachment to the place or structure, but it was fascinating and a little sad, standing in the adjacent field, watching the demolition. Every now and then, a cloud of white particulate would rise from the center, like smoke. This area next to the bay is going to change a lot in the next few years. For now, it is an exceptionally quiet stretch of Bay Trail. A little unnerving, really, with a sense of abandonment.


Back in Foster City last week I walked a few miles of mud flats and tidal inlets.


Some sections of the trail seem bland and unexceptional, but I am always surprised by the texture and color that are there if I slow down to notice.


And of course this, constantly, overhead. Airplanes tracing diagonal likes across the sky. This week I’ll be picking up where I left off and walking in Redwood City. Have a fantastic week!

The Periphery Project


For the handful of you that follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen my #peripheryproject hashtag… and probably wondered what I’m up to. I’m so excited to tell you about this project! You all know that I paint. And those of you who know me personally know that I walk. A lot.



As of this year, I’ve been painting for 25 years. I’ve been reflecting lately on the continuities in my practice over the years. I’ve been examining what has worked for me and what hasn’t. I’ve been making art long enough now so that I’m finally starting to really feel that I know what I’m about, and what my work is about and what keeps me coming back to it. Like many other people, I don’t process much of anything without moving. And let’s face it, art practice takes a lot of processing. So when I walk, it really feeds my practice. Walking, for me, is like art fertilizer.


For the past several years, most of my walking has centered around where I live, and I’m lucky to live in a beautiful place, with lots of open space–fields and bluffs stretching to the ocean. And the work I’ve produced for about 5 years has centered on the light and atmosphere here, and those walks. I’ve written about this here quite a lot. Consistency and repetition are important. I like to visit my subject (location) repeatedly, from different angles and times of day, in varying light and weather. I want to get to know it, to discover it’s secrets, and feel that I have inhabited it, and it has inhabited me. This is where so much of my work has come from, for at least the last 20 years. This is one of my consistent threads, one of my continuities.


Which leads me to The Periphery Project. In 2013, I ordered a set of Bay Trail maps, and thought to myself, “how cool would it be to walk around the entire San Francisco bay?”. This year I decided to finally start. So far, I’ve been walking each week, several miles each time, and I figure it will take me about two years to walk around the bay. The trail is not contiguous; there are stretches that are not accessible. But even so, it covers 270 miles of the bay shore. I think I need to buy myself new walking shoes!


Each time I go out, I take photographs. The photographs serve as a record of what I notice, and even though I don’t directly use photos as the subject matter for my paintings, they do influence my compositions and color choices and at times certain shapes or geometries from my photos will make their way into paintings. They are complimentary; the relationship is reciprocal. I am already starting new paintings in the studio that are inspired by what I’m seeing along the trail. Stay tuned here for more about this project, and you can always follow along on my Instagram, for trail pictures, as well as works in progress and whatever else I’m noticing and photographing in my world.

*All photos taken on the western shore of the Bay Trail between the San Mateo Bridge and Oyster Point with my iphone.