Category Archives: acrylic

Chaos and Riches

A little pre-show chaos in my studio:

I’ve been working, working, working, trying to finish up some things before Saturday. I’ve got paintings waiting in line for embroidery, almost finished…

Eventually, most of my work finds other homes, but I love the feeling of having a lot of finished work piling up. It’s like putting up jam for the winter…it feels abundant and delicious. I kind of gather it all around me, hoard it in my home, and enjoy my temporary riches. Maybe like a magpie with her secret treasures. I especially enjoy it before I’ve really shown it to very many people. I wonder why that is? It feels like it’s totally mine, and then, by degree, it goes out into the world, and is experienced by other people, and it becomes less mine, and more the world’s. 

Good thing that creating is truly one of those inexhaustible things.

And life, too, just keeps on delivering.  I visited my sister a few weeks ago, and she gave me a nest she found in her yard.  It is a wonderful nest- an urban bird’s masterpiece. It has dryer lint, part of a dusting cloth, colored string, rose petals, and part of someone’s window screen woven into it, among other things. It had a shoelace, too, that fell out before she had a chance to give it to me! If this bird could have fit a hub cap in there, it would have.

Here it is with a dress I found in an antique shop the same weekend. I love the way the scrappy little nest contrasts with the delicate thin cotton of the dress.

That’s all I’ve got for now- time for me to go wire some paintings and print some postcards!

Birds and Bees at Enso in Half Moon Bay

::  Enso Gallery

::  131 Kelley Ave., Half Moon Bay, CA

::  August 3 – August 30, 2008

::  Opening:  August 9, 4:00 – 6:00 P.M.

::  “Birds and Bees”, a show of Encaustic paintings on panels, and Acrylic paintings on canvas.

::  For gallery hours, check the Enso website– the gallery is open for viewing before and after yoga classes,     and other events.

For all of you locals, I’d love to see you at the opening.  Enso is a nice little space to hang work, and I’m excited to be able to share what I’ve been working on for the past 4 months or so.  So come on by, and take a look!

Painting: New Work

Here are two newly finished nest paintings that I’ve previously shown in earlier stages of development….

Both 24 x 24 inches, mixed media and acrylic on canvas.  I just finished the embroidery on these this morning, while drinking my coffee.  The top image was painted from a nest that my husband’s parents found in their wood pile.  The second, from the nest found outside my studio. I’ve been working so much in encaustic lately that these two poor things have been sitting, forlorn, in a corner, waiting to be finished for a few weeks now.  Sometimes I think I enjoy paintings more after not looking at them for a while.  It was nice to come back to these after a break, and see that they held up.  A little space can be a good thing.

However, sometimes a little space can turn into too much space…. that has been the case lately with my husband traveling for work….. (sigh).  Can you tell that I miss him?  It’s been several weeks, this trip, but I am very happy to say that his company is flying me to spend some time with him in……Thailand.  Yes, that’s where he’s been working, and that’s where I’m going, for two weeks.  I’ve never been to Thailand, but it looks like a lovely, wonderful country, and I’m taking my sketchbook, two blank art journals, and my camera and anticipating lots and lots of inspiration.  Not to mention my sweetie, and our 15th anniversary.  I’m hoping I’ll be able to keep up with my blog while I’m away, and share some of this with you all, so stay tuned!

New Encaustics, etc.

Some new work…..


I’ve really been enjoying working in this small format (8 x 8 inches) in such an open ended subject area.  The only criteria for them is the dominant color must be white, and that the subject involves repetition.  I’ve been playing with different ways of layering the wax, and applying it.  I also discovered that paint pens do just fine layered in with the wax, and am experimenting with a fine point white paint pen.  I got it for journaling, but it’s opened up another world with the encaustic, being one more way to create precise lines and imagery.  Encaustic is difficult to control, and generally takes a lot of deep breathing and letting go from me, because, well, I can be a control freak like that.  But that is also what I love so much about this medium- it keeps me on my toes, keeps me loose and open to possibility as I work, and it is such a rapidly evolving medium right now, with artists finding new ways to work with it all the time.  Each piece is a wild card.  

Here is another piece I finished the other night- sorry this photo is not sharper.  It is difficult to see the texture here- one of it’s assets, I think. The embroidered circles are doing a lot for these nest paintings, adding some unusual texture and relief to the image.  This, by the way, is the nest I wrote about a couple of posts ago. This is also a small piece.  I have been warming up to this painting small business.  It used to be that any painting under 3×4 feet seemed like a waste of time, but there is something so satisfying about being able to finish a painting in a relatively short period of time, and then being able to hold it in my hands and look at it….. instead of having to stand back 8 feet just to see it properly.  The small pieces are more intimate that way.  

Well, I’m off to make more tea, go to a friend’s baby shower in San Francisco, and then come home and paint sets for the play.  And maybe embroider more paintings…….Whew!

Artwork In Progress

Nice and messy.  Just like I like it……

I’ve been getting a little more work done the last few days.  Mostly painting on canvas.

This first one here is just a detail from a two panel piece I am working on.  I am just working on messy layers right now, building up a rich surface with collage and paint.  My paintings are such chaotic scribbles before I start layering more recognizable imagery on there.  I really enjoy this stage of the painting process, because nothing can really go “wrong”, I have absolutely nothing to lose, and if I do something that I don’t like, it just becomes a puzzle to solve…..”how to work this in?”  Sometimes I just do a color wash over the whole thing, and keep going.  One of my goals has been to try to keep this frame of mind as the painting progresses, and ideally until it is finished.  It is sometimes more difficult, though, as the painting develops, because I become attached to something or another, and start wanting to paint around it, which almost never works.  


I wish this were a better photograph.  I’ve been having some trouble, lately, photographing my paintings because they have so much contrast.  My photos are washing out the whites.  What you can’t see in this photo is the different subtle whites that are surrounding the nest….light blue whites and golden whites.  I am liking the way this nest is coming along.  Maybe I’ll post it when it’s done.  I’ve got quite a pile of almost finished paintings that are awaiting the needle and embroidery floss.  I’ve got my work cut out for me this weekend.



momentum in the studio

Let’s hear it for shelving!



I’ve had piles of stuff on every available surface. It’s nice to free up some space for working. And, speaking of working, that is a new piece on the left. 


A detail.  It was an early bird painting that just wasn’t up to standard.  So I painted over it and started over.  I like the way the painted embroidery looks mixed with the new embroidery.  Sometimes, when I can let go of a painting that isn’t working, great things happen.  It’s the letting go that is hard. Sometimes I try to paint around my favorite part, to try to save something, and that’s almost always an undisputed disaster. It’s better to just see the failed painting as a source of potential. Creative potential. A base for something new.

 I’ve got a lot of new work started- paintings on canvas mostly, but also preparing some panels for some new encaustics.  Back in September, I asked myself what I wanted my creative life to look like, and the answer that came was that I wanted momentum. The most important measure of success for me is not about how many paintings I’ve sold, or how many shows I’ve been in, but whether I’m living an integrated, full creative life. And whether that creativity rolls from one day to the next, carrying itself along, and me along with it.  This doesn’t just happen.  It must be cultivated. Sung to. Nurtured. So this is the deal I made with myself:  I need to get my butt into my studio every day that I can.  Sometimes I’m not home, or I’m sick, but almost every day I go into my studio.  I don’t have to paint, draw, or really be physically productive in any way- I just have to show up. Even if it’s only for a few minutes.  I can sit in my chair and stare around blankly if I want (which I have done!). I can empty the trash or just spend a few minutes looking at the work in progress.  One day I took my book out there and read.  But lots of times I go out there with no creative agenda, just to visit, and I end up staying, fiddling, rearranging something. And next thing I know, I’m squeezing some paint out, or starting something new. Just being in the space, and integrating it into my daily life gets (and keeps) things going. It keeps everything greased and flowing. And yesterday I was in there hanging shelves and looking around at all of the new work, and it occurred to me:  this looks a lot like…..momentum!

I’m off now to do my first creative act of the day- pancakes for my (not so) little one… 

Developing Work…


Started some new nests today.

 Here is the under painting for one of them.  The very first layer, and it shows how crazy they start out. I scribble a lot in my under painting.  Then I gradually build layers and it starts coming together eventually.  One of the most challenging things is trying to build the image without losing the sense of spontaneity that is underneath it all.  Starting a painting is mostly about putting one foot in front of another, and not over thinking it.  But as the painting gets nearer completion, I really have to stay alert to each mark, each brushstroke.  Each mark becomes part of the conversation on that canvas.  There is a tension between the spontaneity and the completion.  If I am not paying enough attention, I can paint right through that point where it is done, but not too done.  Just done enough.  When that happens, I usually have to either paint over the whole thing, or part of it, and start over.  I just painted over an unsuccessful painting that was the victim of my distracted inattention. Oh, well, it’s a better painting for it now.  But how did this start? With my talking about how they begin.  And they do begin raw, don’t they?

Here is something else I’ve got going….


I worked on the cover for my new journal.  These journals help keep my momentum going and end up being little laboratories for new ideas and image making.  I collage a lot in them, and write in them.   Here are a few examples from past journals, since I don’t really have anything worth showing in this one yet….



The first is from when we lived in Massachusetts, and I was terribly homesick. The second is from shortly after we moved back, “changes”. I’ll post more as this new journal develops.  There are definitely some new ideas I’d like to work out in it.   

Work In Progress


 This is actually what I made the most progress on today.  I know, I know, It’s not painting.  But would you believe me if I told you that it is related?  Because of course it is.  There is something about digging in the ground that gets my creativity going.  I think this sort of work creates a little mind space, so that my ideas can bubble up without strain, without too much intention.  Just flow.  So, in that way, it was a very productive day.  I cleared half of my future vegetable bed and dug in some soil conditioner.  I am only planting a few things – mainly for the pleasure of growing something- because we have a CSA starting in May that takes us through October and is truly abundant and splendid.  I will have more veggies than I know what to do with.

The studio has seen some action this week, too.




and this…


and this.

 The last one here is a journal I am working on.  I use the Molskine Japanese albums, which are a little hard to find, but I love them.  The first thing I do is put several layers of color, gesso, and maybe a little random collage in there.  Sometimes I sew into them.  That is all so that I don’t have to face a white page.  It primes the page, so that ideas flow for me more easily.  These are small enough that I can carry them with me and add things as I am inspired.  Pretty great.

Something New


 Something new. 

Wing #2, mixed media and acrylic on canvas. 

 The warm weather this weekend got me out working in my yard instead of my studio, but I managed to get some work done last week. I started several new acrylic paintings, and am close to finishing a few others.  I packed and shipped some things to go to Atlanta.  I had the hardest time finding boxes for the artwork.  These paintings are not even that big – 24″x24″ – and yet, I couldn’t find anything big enough.  I looked into buying online, but the box companies want you to buy a lot of boxes.  You can’t buy just a few.  Minimum 25.  Ack!  It leaves me wondering what to do in the future – and how the hell to ship something that is 36″x36″?!  Or bigger?  Any wisdom out there?  I guess I have some research to do.  In the end, I just took them to UPS and had them build a custom box and pack it for me.  I thought I’d have to sell one of my children to pay for it.  SO, if any of you out there have any advice, I’d love to hear it.  I’ve been shipping small 12″x12″ pieces for so long, and so painlessly, that this just seemed so…. difficult. 


On a nicer note, I got a package myself last week that made me a very, very happy girl. Three tiny sets of wings.  A bit gruesome, I know,  but these birds were found, not killed for their wings.  A bit of them will live on as art. 

Thank you, C, for the fabulous surprise!

Pell Mell through New York…and back again.

So….back from New York.  Took me a few days to recover and feel like myself again. There was not a lot of sleep to be had, and I had many firsts:  Knoedler Gallery opening, Korean food, Karaoke (!), The Strand bookstore, nighttime gallery hopping in Chelsea. I stayed with wonderful friends, and met some great people. Sensory overload!

 I adore the City, but I’m also really glad to be home again.  We are very close to San Francisco here, but I swear you would never know it. 


Winter here is austere and beautiful.  I’ve been walking in the late afternoon with Milo (my dog) since I got back, and it just -anchors- me.  I’ve also spent some time in the studio…


Here is a nest in progress.  I’ve got a xerox drying on there.  I’ll rub the back off to transfer the image, and it will be close to done.  A little tweaking, a little embroidery…I really like this one.  I’ll have to tell you the story of that nest in a future post.

 And, yes, that IS Ian in the background. Ah, the joys of the trampoline!