Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Little House Book and a Poem


Today I pass the time reading
a favorite haiku,
saying the few words over and over.

It feels like eating
the same small, perfect grape
again and again.

I walk through the house reciting it 
and leave its letters falling
through the air of every room.

I stand by the big silence of the piano and say it.
I say it in front of a painting of the sea.
I tap out its rhythm on an empty shelf.

I listen to myself saying it,
then I say it without listening, 
then I hear it without saying it.

And when the dog looks up at me,
I kneel down on the floor 
and whisper it into each of his long white ears.

It's the one about the one-ton
temple bell
with the moth sleeping on its surface,

and every time I say it, I feel the excruciating
pressure of the moth 
on the surface of the iron bell.
When I say it at the window,
the bell is the world
and I am the moth resting there.

When I say it into the mirror,
I am the heavy bell
and the moth is life with its papery wings.

And later, when I say it to you in the dark,
you are the bell,
and I am the tongue of the bell, ringing you,

and the moth has flown
from its line
and moves like a hinge in the air above our bed.

Billie Collins, Sailing Alone Around the Room

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Inspiration Comes from Unlikely Places

I have been pondering inspiration, where it comes from, 
how to take inspiration to the next step after the initial good feeling,
the various sources of inspiration, how to find you own inspiration
and various other aspects.  As artists we see the world and beyond as our palette but there are times when that same world seems like a desert, our minds blank, we freeze.
On Tuesdays for the next four weeks I will examine some of these topics.

Inspiration comes from the most unlikely places. . . .in a spin class
where lights are dimmed, an instructor almost yells at you to do things with your body
that you did not think possible at your age.

Yet JJ Hendershot is focused, committed, shows up with a smile even with serious challenges
in her life.  She supports us to do our best, she pushes us to do more 
and I leave more fit and grateful for this body that allows me to
live life at full speed.  JJ also spends time supporting important causes 
like the Heros Project ride which with some nudging I participated in.

journal page from magazine images
The journaling says, my family lived behind barbed wire for years and never complained

This picture brought to mind the fact that all of my family ~
my aunts, uncles and grandparents
lived behind barbed wire in the United States during World War II.
There was never any negative talk from my family about this period of their lives
when I grew up.  When  interment camps were mentioned I heard stories
about people meeting new friends in camp or about camp dances.
I pictured summer camps where people rode in boats and played ball.
It was not until I was almost in college that I realized that
125,000 Japanese people, most of them US citizens
had to give up their homes and live in one room barracks
in isolated locations for years.  I wish that my ancestors did not have
to experience this tragedy but their perseverance and the lack of bitterness gives
me hope, strength and pride in the generations
that came before me.

There is much to be grateful for.
I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences
with the sometimes illusive, sometimes muse quality of  inspiration.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A New Day

"The Navajo teach their children
that every morning when the sun comes up,
it's a brand new sun.  It's born each morning,
it lives for the duration of ONE DAY.
And in the evening it passes on, 
never to return again.  
As soon as the children
are old enough to understand,
the adults take time out at dawn 
and they say,
'the sun has only one day.
You must live in this day in a good way, 
so that the sun has not wasted precious time.'"
Pema Chodron

On this day, I look around.  These tulips
reach out of their own pods, a bright, sunny welcome
letting me know that undeniably beauty surrounds me.

That inspiration abounds

Faces tell me that I am fearless

Remind me not to take things too seriously

To remember to play and glitz it up.

Or good luck is possible.  I won this bountiful arrangement at a raffle.

And then there is my studio


To add color

Or maybe a little sass

And always sweet Reggie, my biggest fan.

Visit Rebecca at recuerda mi corazon 
to discover more who find the most enchanting worlds in the ordinary.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Makeover

Cenitra's trying.  She made the waxing appointment.
It's a good thing to make changes during the holidays.
Or is it?
What do you think of her new look?
I don't know, the caterpillar eyebrows were endearing.

Here is the start of a journal page.
I am going to change the nov to NOW
but after that I'm not sure.  Maybe paint the background
or add more collage.
I like to let a piece sit.  Often it speaks to me letting me know
what it would like to become.
Right now
I'm waiting.

Wishing you a heart felt Thanksgiving with
loved ones.  Every year for over twenty five years I have cooked
Thanksgiving dinner for friends and family.
This year a friend who is a regular guest offered to host it.
I am cooking the three dishes
but it is not the same.  I miss the bustle,
deciding how to set the table,
taking out special serving platters,
the smell of roast turkey,
the traditional spinach, mushroom, cheese casserole,
the knock on the door,
smiling faces entering
my home


Friday, November 18, 2011

Television Girl

quirky girl, caran d'arch, stabilo woodie, pencil, gesso

Television girl 
watched a old movies incessantly.  
The 1963 version of Cleopatra 
with Elizabeth Taylor was her all time favorite.  
Sometimes she went so far 
as to imagine that she was 
a reincarnation
of Cleopatra.
She never uttered this 
to anyone.

Just thought that you might want to visit  Amy's tutorial 
on a making a Darn Sweet Book 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

New Journal

journal made in Roxanne Padgett's workshop at Journalfest

stamp, stencil, acrylic, caran d'arch, stabilo woodie, gesso

New Journal inner cover and page 1
Indonesian dancer
I love starting a new journal.   
I am in the mood to make thinner journals for just this reason.  
The thick journal takes a long time to finish.  
I'll try thin for now.

Which do you prefer, thick or thin?

The last reincarnation of the painting done at Malibu with Flora. . . .
for now.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011


magazine images, acrylic paint, pencil, gesso, caran d'ache

Even in her inception she faced the light.

Bringing to mind a fire 
burning from within,
 a desire to live life
 to its fullest.  
One did not forget 
a meeting with her.

So present yet
 her heart held
 memories of times past.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Visitor From the Sea

colllage, pan pastel, acrylic

You have seen Aislinn in an earlier post.  
Today you hear her story, 
 a version from old Scottish and Irish folklore.  
A selkie (pronounced silky) is a seal who has the ability 
to shed its skin and become a human woman.  
She can live on land, even marry and bear children 
yet the sea remains in her heart always.  
Once she dons her skin again 
she can reenter the sea 
leaving her human life behind.   
Often it is not an easy choice 
after bonding with her family.  
Aislinn is one such selkie.  
Exhausted from a storm,  she was caught in a fisherman's net.
She had no energy to fight.  The gentle fisherman took her into his isolated cottage
on the northern most tip of Scotland
where few humans chose to endure the harsh winters.
There they lived as man and wife for seven years
with two young children.
He never questioned the look that came  to her 
when she thought no one saw.  Nor did he question 
the day she disappeared.
Though there were days after the disappearance that a seal appeared 
in the bay in front of the cottage
skimming the surface of the glassy sea with 
hauntingly familiar eyes following the movements of the
young children.
If you look close enough here
you can recognize her longing.
When I walk along the cliffs near my home,
I sometimes hear seals barking, 
echos of another time
and wonder of the stories they have to tell.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Cenitra's friends gently recommended
eyebrow waxing and less rouge,
both suggestions were formerly inconceivable
only because she never thought to change the routine
she had developed since puberty.
To some extent we are all
at the mercy of our own selves.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Quirky Girls

I have painted a few quirky girls on telephone book pages a la the ever generous Katie Kendrick.  Let me introduce you to Alice.

Alice wants to be happy but lost her mojo somewhere down the line.  She carefully applies make up and dresses up but to no avail.  She cannot find the spark within.  She thinks here job as the assistant to the tree trimmer is holding her back.  Maybe a more exciting job is the answer.  If only she know where to start.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Few Journal Pages

I thought I'd show you a few of my magazine collage pages but before I do I want to show you canvas #1 after I worked on it yesterday.  I did not love the flowery image and you know what Flora says, let go of the things you like to make room for things you LOVE.  This is still a work in progress but I am liking it more and working to find the love.

Here are a few pages from my current journal.  I love the simple freedom that juxtaposing images and pattern gives me.  Then there is the satisfaction of tearing and gluing.  I just can't help myself.  When I see an image or paper that I might use, I keep it.   Who knows when just the right spot will appear. So I have lots of paper to choose from.  If pushed,  I might admit that I have boxes.

Everyone saves their magazines for me~~my accountant, friends, my dentist, my physical therapists to name a few.  They all call me when they have a stack ready and I make the rounds picking them up. 

I page through quickly tearing out the images that call to me at that moment. After I am finished with the magazines I recycle them at my local library free basket.   Sometimes selecting the images and gluing them into a journal happens at the same sitting.  I usually journal at another time, in the quiet of the morning at my local ranch market while the Armenian family who owns it bustle to bake croissants and make fresh pots of coffee.  We say our morning greetings and get to our own work.

You might call it an obsession, this collecting of images.  I don't know.   Maybe passion is more accurate.

I have always been a collector of things I love but entering the door of mixed media has led me into a whole new world.  Everything is fair game
Okay I confess, I am even collecting tea bags for collage fodder.  
Don't tell anyone.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Weekend With Flora Bowley

While I was in Kauai last year I fell in love with these paintings.  The vibrant colors jumped out at me.   They made me feel  happy, my heart light.  I did not even know the artist's name.  A few months later I heard that Flora Bowley was going to be giving a painting workshop in my area.  I looked her up and recognized her paintings. 

I attended Flora's Bloom True workshop at Gina Armfield's Artinfusio in Malibu.  Gina told me I was the first to sign up.

Twenty of us made our marks to lilting music in this sunlit room overlooking the Pacific.  I am not sure that I am more creative in a group but I do love the energy that comes from a room full of artists creating.

To keep us centered and to unlock our creative energy we took stretches and breathing breaks led by Flora, a former yoga instructor and dancer.

From start to finish not only did she share her process through demonstrations but she offered words of wisdom that applied to painting as well as life.  Flora exudes life and sage wisdom far beyond her years.
 You would never know that she began teaching a little over a year ago.

This is a woman who loves her work!  Can you tell?  
that every mark is supposed to happen, 
How is that for openers?

Here she is still playing, adding marks and variation.  Flora believes that it is through the layering process that you get intensity.  With NO ATTACHMENTS, which is different from not caring,  we layered paint making different marks, every mark being an opportunity.  We made marks, marks and more marks with our fingers, brushes, stamping, etching and spraying with water..  It was a PROCESS ORIENTED experience vs goal oriented.  She called it spiraling in, a fun playful exploration.

On the second day Flora  talked to each of us individually asking WHAT IS WORKING, not what is not working.  This was the spiraling out process.  Time for thoughtful, choiceful marks making. 

An example of her workshop title, Flora blooms true.

Included were affirmations we wrote and read to the group, free writing exercises on prompts Flora gave us and sketching.  This is the demo painting she created.  It was like watching beauty unfold.
Read Pam Garrison's blog and my friend Joana Carvahlo's blog for other people's experiences.


We  all worked on two 30" x 30".    Step one was to move paint around with two warm colors, a spray bottle and foam brush.

I added layers of colors and various marks throughout the first day.  At the end of the day it looked like a tangle of color.  I had no idea how it would transform the next day.

Flora suggested we commit to something, knowing that it could change.  I found an image in a book I loved and committed to it here, blocking  out some areas so the image could be clearer.

My end product, unfinished, waiting for the next steps.


Which morphed into this. 

Added my marks to create this.  Both paintings are still in process but I love the colors and know that what is there needs to be there.  

I was reminded once more to let the process lead me, to leave the critical mind behind, to be curious about what comes from within and notice where it takes me, to let the next step emerge rather than try to force it.  That's a lot and it's a lifetime worth of practice.  I love it!  

Thank you, Flora for your generosity. 
Thank you Gina for providing the space, comfort and chocolates.  
May our paths meet again.