Category Archives: favorite things

Studio Shots

It’s been such a gray and rainy spring! But that hasn’t stopped the work in the studio… in fact, it’s been a wonderful year for the plants this year. Above, some mustard gone to seed.

The hummingbirds have been busy disguising their nests with this moss that grows on the old plum trees behind my studio.

This lovely thing fell to the ground during the last wind storm. I’m looking forward to drawing it.

This pile of embroidery thread is waiting to be woven into some paintings… paintings that are only in my head at the moment. I’m looking forward to the hours of summer, and seeing if some of my new ideas work.

Long time, no write

Well, that’s not entirely true. I’ve been writing a ton. But I certainly haven’t been writing here, have I?

It’s been a wonderful, yet incredibly busy fall season for us around here, meaning me and my family. I continue to struggle, as we all do, to fit it all into these 24 hour segments we call days… and have yet to find the formula that allows me to do it all and stay present enough to enjoy it.  Such a work in process… and I guess that’s where I’m at these days, trying my best to give myself to the priorities that I’ve set for myself and then seeing the beauty and accomplishment in the messy incoherence that ensues. I figure if I can do that, I’m in pretty good shape.

Well, this is my habit, to take stock toward the end of the year. Not a bad habit, but it can turn melancholy if I let it, so I won’t. A few of my favorite things that I did this year- that sounds more cheerful.

I attended the IEA retreat in Carmel Valley… What a fantastic group of artists. Such a beautiful place.

I developed a body of work that I am in love with… a rare thing for me; I am so critical of my own work. The slow down in sales has facilitated my spending more time on and with my work. So there is a silver lining.

I participated in NaNoWriMo in November… 50,000 words in thirty days, with only a few vague ideas in my pocket- it felt like jumping off a cliff, and I survived! I created my parachute on the way down. Challenging, invigorating, terrifying. I’ve never written that much in my life. My daughter did it too- I couldn’t have been prouder.

So what did I learn the most from? Definitely NaNoWriMo- hands down. I’ll be taking every skill I practiced back to my studio. For example: you don’t always need to know where you are going to get somewhere. Let surprises happen. Let the work take charge instead of bending it to my expectations. Spend time with the work every day. Sit down and work, even when it’s the last thing I feel like doing. Trust that I have something to say. I usually just have to get quiet enough to hear it myself.

I’d love to hear from you- what did you do that was new this year, and what did you learn from it?

Studio Update: Fire

DSCN0082

Meet my new best friend in the studio. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to get on board with a torch. I’ve procrastinated about it for months, and didn’t realize that underneath that procrastination was fear. Until I was in Carmel for the IEA retreat in October, and was faced with a bevy of torches, waiting to be tried. It was the last morning, and a wonderful demonstration had been given by Pamela Blum. We were invited down on the floor to try out some of the techniques she had demonstrated, and I found myself hesitating around the torches. I hadn’t even realized I was afraid of them until that moment. Linda Womack saw me, and must have sensed my trepidation; she rescued me with a two minute lesson that has cured me of my torch phobia! 

I went out as soon as I could and purchased a basic torch, with a few necessary frills: an adjustable nozzle, and an automatic ignition trigger. It’s a Bernzomatic propane torch from Home Depot, and it cost about 35 dollars. 

DSCN0078

I don’t know how I got along without this thing before! It works so well for every application, that I haven’t pulled out my heat gun a single time. It is much more gentle than the heat gun, and doesn’t move the wax around nearly as much. I can even fuse lightly while a large piece is upright on my easel. I think it produces a glossier surface than my heat gun did, too.

And the best thing about it is-  its fast.

Well, maybe the best thing about it is that I haven’t lit my hair on fire yet. So far, so good.

Inspiration: Nature

Gorgeous, isn’t it?

This was one of my birthday presents this summer, a gift from my mother and father in law who live in Bonny Doon.  We think it is a Jay nest. The interior is earth, and it is quite large, with a very architectural feel- as if it was built, rather that woven, like many of my other nests. It was attached to something (the house? A tree?) on the side that is not there. 

I want to share, today, a couple of other artists who work with nature imagery. I love their work- take a few moments to click on the links and enjoy some stellar artwork.  The first is Emily Clawson, who’s painting was hanging next to mine in the “Translucent” show in San Francisco this summer. Her seed pod work and wing series are my favorites- the wing series is especially ephemeral, with enlarged patterns of dragonfly wings drawn with graphite and then transfered onto the wax. The second is Sharon Beals . I first encountered her work in Farley’s coffee house in San Francisco (kick-ass chai). I was blown away by her photos of nests, and am still scheming about how to get my hands on a print for my own walls. They are so beautiful, with velvety blacks and the nests absolutely glowing on German etching paper.  Go take a look. 

Enjoy your Sunday!

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!

Summer Love

Summer is a rollin’, and my poor blog has been neglected! Sorry about the scarcity of posts. There has not, however, been a scarcity of things going on around here. Just quickly, because, well, I have to run off again, a rundown of things I’ve been doing and enjoying…

The Translucent show in San Francisco. So much good work.  If you are anywhere near, you must go. Nice gallery, a lot of variety in the encaustic work. Here’s the link

Strawberries. Lots and lots of strawberies.

The beach.  I finally, after 3 years of talk but no action, bought myself a wetsuit. A 40th birthday present to myself, and where we live, an absolute necessity if you want to go in the water. 

Warm days in the studio.  I love it when the days warm up, because it seems like my wax flows so much smoother.  I’ll be back soon with a new work post. No photos right now… but some good stuff happening in the studio!

Thrifting with my teenage daughter and her friends. Oh, and bubble tea. Mmmmmm.

Dusk bunny-spotting bike rides along our coastal trail on my cruiser.

My CSA box, brimming with dark green and crunchy goodness. Veggies and herbs so fresh you can smell them. I look forward to my CSA boxes like a little kid going to the candy store. 

New work by Emily Clawson, who I met at the Translucent opening. Hoping to do a little studio visit swap soon. Her work is hanging next to mine in the SF show, and absolutely glows. I think we share a love of natural history and nature, and I’m looking forward to talking to her more about her process.

Seeing family. Spending some time with my nephews and sister and brother in law, who I hardly ever see, and my parents, who are in the process of moving (too far) away to their retirement home in Northern California. So bittersweet to see them moving their things, bit by bit, and fixing up my childhood home to sell, eventually. I’m happy for them, and a little sad.

Summer reading. Right now, it’s Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” , which is fabulous- a perfect blend of informative non-fiction and funny, touching storytelling. Perhaps my favorite kind of book.  I’m so inspired- maybe a local only diet challenge in my future? Hmmm…

Here’s to summer. I’ll be back soon with some pictures, I promise.

Back again, mostly

Well. Thailand certainly does have it’s moments.  Like climbing endless stairs, lotus flowers in hand, to visit a buddhist temple with thousands of Thai students. Like chaotic tuk-tuk rides, careening around corners like a wind-up toy gone awry. Like the night markets with their endless lit stalls. Like the street food everywhere, with it’s myriad smells and textures (mmmm…fried banana). Like the lethargic dogs, their panting bodies draped over the sidewalks of Bankok, sleeping in the heat.  Like incense burning in front of the spirit houses in the morning. Like the high hum of cicadas at night, near the Burmese border. Like seeing a white lotus flower as big as my head. Like the sudden afternoon downpour after a muggy, 100 degree morning. Like sipping many, many iced teas with my sweetie.  Like chasing hundreds of toads around outside our bungalow at night. Don’t even get me started on the curries.

 

spirit house

spirit house

Now, if only I could get back into the swing of things here.  I arrived home a week ago, but it seems as if pieces of my self are still arriving, like little packages to be unpacked. Slowly, slowly, I’ve been coming back to earth, back to my routines. Yesterday I spent some time in my studio, preparing some new panels for painting. The day after I got back from my trip, I delivered some pieces to a gallery in San Francisco for a group encaustic show there.  I’ll have the info for you all very soon…..

And now, I’m off for some 4th of July and birthday celebrations with my family. Happy 4th to you all.