I’m creating a lot of block figures at the moment, as well as paintings and collage. Here are some blocks-in-progress. I’m sure they’ll go through many more changes.


Slow Progress

Each day’s work/practice builds on the last. Put in one day of effort, and the next day, you’ll be building on the last, and so on, and so on. Except when you need to take a break.

Late in life I’ve discovered, or finally absorbed what it means to try a little, then rest, then try again, then rest. This can make the whole process of art-making (or almost anything) less arduous, more pleasurable. … One way to do this is to put in work daily on something you’re trying to accomplish. Each day you’ll move “ahead” some, though “ahead” is not totally accurate. Through? Around? Across? Maybe it’s just safest to say you’ll move. Somewhere.

Another way of experiencing this process is to work on one piece just before the stress or tension or feeling of doubt sets in; then give it a rest, while working on something else. The rhythm employed here can feel almost dance-like as you move between pieces, tho’ sometimes a bit schizoid, particularly as you get numerous pieces going at once. … I suspect that artists have done something like this from time immemorial, because, no doubt, for as long as there’s been art-making, there’ve been battles between insight and judgment, acuity and dullness, poor self-talk and self-aggrandizement —  all in the name of trying to get on the page (or canvas) something that wants to be recorded, that looks somewhat akin to what is imagined.

When I studied singing decades ago,  my voice teachers each had their own idiosyncratic metaphors for how to translate the sensations of singing to their students.  I was told to imagine an egg in the back of my throat (to create a wide “ahhh” opening), to sing along a “ribbon of sound” in order to keep the sound from moving jaggedly into and out of various registers. The effort then in singing was to imagine what those teachers meant, how singing (“releasing the voice”) felt to them, and how I might feel those same sensations in my throat or along that imaginary ribbon. Visual art is the first practice I’ve done where I haven’t tried to translate someone else’s instructions to my own experience. I try to paint until something looks real to me, what I call “real,” that is, or at least pleasurable. Something that registers in my perception as recognizable, something I can converse with. I would imagine that most artists can articulate a parallel sort of experience, tho’ likely in other terms. Perhaps poetry is really the medium for this topic. ?

As a part-time teacher, I’m often challenged to convey some sort of at-peace sense to my students, to encourage and guide them back to a relationship or dialogue with themselves that has gotten disrupted somehow. It’s not usually enough to say “trust yourself,” but really that’s the message underlying all others.

Small Blocks find their next home: Cafe Victrola on Pike St.

Just hung a bunch of  small paintings (and a few large ones) at Victrola (on Pike St. near Boren) on Capitol Hill (Seattle). Many thanks to artist/curator Erik Andrews for contacting me and doing a splendid job on the hanging.IMG_6634IMG_6637Not pictured here are most of the larger works, also hung: the two-headed bunny ladies, the cow in the pink trench coat and one large orange/green blisshead. Plus a couple of others. This show is up at least until the end of November.

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Much smaller work

I painted these blocks awhile ago, and just had them hanging around the house, on window sills, bookcases, and the like. I’ve recently felt a little unsure of where I’m going next with my work. Makes sense to revisit the place I started: with these blocks. In fact, now I realize I’m looking for the format, or frame, really, to put around what I’m doing. … Just painting right? Yet to just dedicate a large percentage of your time to painting seems to require some sort of bigger life decision. Maybe that’s what all this frame-obsession is about.

These three are about done, I think. I can imagine a large wall of little bitty paintings. Not that little bitty. These are about 7
These three are about done, I think. I can imagine a large wall of little bitty paintings. Not that little bitty. These are about 7″ on the longest side.

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Small works

I’ve been working on some small paintings recently, enjoying making the frame a part of the whole, rather than something I add at the end. I’m working on some even smaller ones now too, as a way to incorporate some very small blocks I made when first teaching myself to paint almost 5 years ago.

A few of these are paintings I started awhile ago. It often happens that I start a painting and then have to leave it for awhile. Perception, being the slippery fish that it seems to be, changes over time. Or, perhaps because I turn my attention to other paintings (or writing, which seems related, or singing, which also seems related, tho’ maybe less so), I learn something I needed to know before I could finish the piece I started. … I have learned to be patient in this process, mostly.

Bear Tatoo
Bear Tatoo. Acrylic, mixed media on canvas 16″ x 20″
Bear Tatoo 16″ x 20″
Just Married
Just Married 2 x 13″ x 16″ (including frame)

It Looks LIke Rain

This too went through a big change recently. Maybe summer’s are for reflecting on what one’s done in the gray months. ? Particularly as summer gets one out of the house more, less navel-gazing time.

… I recently finished taking a poetry class with Frances McCue at the Hugo House, and have been taking to heart the idea that perhaps some things are “straight” in a piece, while others are more “out there.” In other words, if a poem has a fair amount of stream-of-consciousness leaps, it may need some anchors to ground the reader. … I think that concept has leaked into my painting awareness. This may be why I removed the woman’s bunny ears (in my previous post), and made adjustments to this piece. The figures here previously had two bald heads, no clothes. There was less definition in the houses, and much less sky. The sky was also filled with red flowers. This is 36″ x 36″, acrylic on board.