Dec 3, 2008

Revision to Choreography

I can't express how much I love working with tracing paper and being able to layer text and images.
These are close up shots from the back wall of the installation.

This is the whole wall.

I wished I had realized that two objects the same size do not appear to be the same size when one is five feet in front of the other but I may be able to adjust for that a bit.

Nov 24, 2008

Being Choreographed

Somehow I find myself working on an instalation. Sometimes this is exciting and sometimes it feels like I've gone off the deep end. Either way it is incredibly fun I just struggle with feeling like I am avoiding making legitimate art (oil paintings). I also realize that if I were to pursue installation as my main art form it would put me at the mercy of the Art World in a way that painting and printmaking do not. You can still sell work at galleries and art fairs, off the net if you make things people can take home with them. Installations live in museums as far as I know. I have totall faith that I will be able to find venues to share my work no matter what but I am definately in unkown waters.
Part of what is so exciting about his project is the feeling that the art has taken over. I have to let go of the things I wanted hang on the wall to allow the poem to sculpt itself out of ink, mylar, and tracing paper.

The more I let go the more I feel like the piece captures fog and solitude and the sense of layers we have in our experiences as physical, spiritual, emotional and thoughtful beings.

This was the original plan but when my teacher suggested lighter paper I saw an opportunity to create fog that I couldn't pass up.

The mylar isn't as trunslucent as I'd hoped so I am going to cut some of the spaces out to let the text show through. It is really exciting to work so big and to see my art become a space that people can be inside of.

Oct 26, 2008


I am working with an old poem called Choreography. It really needs to be reworked but using it in a painting is a great way to get ideas for revisions. Part of my project this quarter is that I am trying to find a less literal way of making art with poems. I don't want to get caught in illustrating the scene or events of a poem. I want to use the poem for a starting point. It's challenging and brings up many questions:
Does the viewer need to be able to read the poem?
Does the poem need to be legible within the art piece?
Does the piece need to encompass the entirety of the poem?

Ultimately I think I could answer no to all those questions but ideally I think I would like to be able to achieve a yes to all of them.

Anyways this is the first time I have made so many experiments toward one aim and these are only my favorites, there's more. It's fun but I feel uninterested in making any finished pieces.


The birch branches
break the swirling sky
into a grey mosaic
with birds blooming
like black blossoms on vines.

Some squawk,
some circle around perches,
making exchanges.

They burst all at once from the birch
and scatter with the ruckus of crows.
A moment later they return
filtering into new roosts.

I crouch behind the open window, watching.
The chill of fog and solitude sifts
through my skin, unbinding shyness,
casting out charm, casting out
my choreographies of what it all means.
I will wait like a crow now,
for my wings to lift
or the flutter of another’s beside me.

Sep 25, 2008

Ruining Paintings (on purpose) and Making Envelopes

The closer a painting gets to being finished the more uptight I tend to get about ruining it and the less I want to work on it. Really the best thing to do at that point is to ruin the painting so I can relax and get on with it. I can always paint over it so there's really nothing to lose.

I realize they may not look that different to the casual observer but once I get attached to a piece the slightest change seems monumental. I had hoped to finish these before school starts so I can begin new projects with a clean slate but I got very stymied with moving, looking for a new job and not having anyone around to bounce ideas off of. I am not too disappointed. I feel I've accomplished a lot for my first stint working solo.

This is definitely the most problematic piece. I feel somehow it should be easy since I don't want it to be representational as much as emotional. The hardest part, though, is trying not to be representational!

Despite my half-hearted attempt to sell my hand-made papers on Etsy I still dream of having a business that revolves around making paper. today I decided to make some envelopes out of my Favorite Papers collection. It was wonderful to be crafty! I just love the way colors interact and somehow its more magical when I am arranging colored pieces of paper then when I am plowing paint around a canvas.

These are the lids, yet to be constructed into envelopes. I love metal grommets even though they are purely cute and cute is totally antithetical to Art.

Sep 21, 2008

When to Stop

This piece is called Stop, Stretch, and I'm not sure when I should have stopped it. I am interested in delving into a more flippant drawing style because I feel my work is too labored and not spontaneous enough. The thing I like most about this piece is that it is my way of commenting on how polarized we are for having different opinions on issues and each believing that we are right and people who disagree are ignorant.

Sep 18, 2008


I just returned from a much needed vacation to Colorado to visit my sister and her husband. It was wonderful to get away, spend time with family, hike in new places and visit a new art museum. It was very inspiring to see new art, a new landscape and to get familiar with my sister's art, quilting. Fabric artists are more inspiring to me right now than painters and just going to the fabric store with Julie blew my circuits. The patterns were so beautiful, there were about 20 fabrics I wanted to bring home with me, but I hate sewing!
The piece above is too much fun, tedious but fun. I think I could make many more versions.

This is my first landscape painting of the summer, not that it's finished. I got a little overwhelmed with the complexity of the forest and the mosquitos. I love painting all the tree shapes but the leaves and undergrowth are sort of a headache that I need to learn how to abbreviate in a way that holds the piece together.

Sep 5, 2008

Dream, Work, Fail, Learn

I am a bit romanticized by photos of ink bottles, even in a plastic corale (Do you have any idea how easy it is to tip over a bottle of ink or how quickly that ink absorbs into carpet?)
I think I am really done with this painting. I haven't the faintest idea if it is successful or not but I can tell I am done with it either way. I actually like it, by the way. I ruined it at one point by painting too many letters over the top. I printed a photo of it at an earlier stage and tried to reconstruct parts of it. It seemed like a natural part of the process more than a mistake.
This is another heart work piece. I was exploring failure as a part of the whole learning process. We are so focused on success as a culture I think some of become a little petrified of failure but it is so necessary, we should glam it up a little bit!

Aug 31, 2008

Paintings are so Easy to Start and So Hard to Finish

I really want to believe I am done with this painting but I know I am not. I wish I hadn't used black out of the tube...if I had mixed my own it would have richer mid-tones.

I can't decide if I love or hate this piece!

Aug 30, 2008

Work, Grace, Being

Work has been on my mind a lot since I have been looking for a job, so I am not surprised to see it work its way into my spontaneous pieces.
I am beginning to like this piece but I have a long way to go with it!

Aug 29, 2008

Eld Inlet

The rain was heavy in the warm air and my bare arms made vibes for the never-ending mallets of the clouds. The moss on the wily trees gleamed gold in the silver light and the inlet was soft, rain blurring grey into blue and blue into grey.

Another piece from my Heart Work project. I love that I can combine writing with it too. The hardest thing to relax about is the lettering, in this piece I started writing in Humanist Bookhand and found myself very uptight because calligraphy is a detailed craft; I should be drawing up guidelines! I should practice first so I don't have italic and uncial letter forms slipping in by accident! It feels really good, though when I do relax and remember I am not trying to make a perfect piece.

Aug 28, 2008

Heart Work

I'm always asking my acupuncturist existential questions and luckily he sort of likes to answer them. "Skip," I said, "You know how some people say you should follow your heart, is that a good idea?" He looked surprised, or maybe befuddled and said, "Yes, but it isn't all rainbows." He had a lot more to say about the subject and I was relieved, I had thought that maybe I was doing something wrong for the fact that my attempts to follow my heart had not made my life into a continuous Hallmark Moment. So, anyways, my new found conviction mingled with my artistic endeavors a week later and this new process started that is a lot like my old process before I went back to school. It involves getting out a piece of paper and some art supplies, feeling whatever is in my heart, and then making art with as little regard as possible for the outcome. I always try to make art from my heart or my soul or some higher, more evolved part of myself but because I have an objective of some sort and a desire to be a legitimate artist I find it difficult to stream genuinely during the whole process. I don't actually think that is a bad thing; there is a lot to learn and explore with our own will and mis-perceptions. But I am really glad that I can finally find space to be more focused on the source of my work. It's really just like having a sit-down meditation practice to help oneself remember to be present all day out in the world.

Aug 27, 2008

Following Soft Spots.

So, here I am in Olympia, looking for work and painting behind my couch in my faux-studio. I think I am beginning to understand what these pieces are about. They are about dominance. Not the sort of superiority complex humans engage in but the natural inclination for things growing in nature to grow as much as they can and the inevitable result that other
things will get lost under the canopy of strength and exuberance. I am trying to feel and experience how this would work with language and ideas. Certainly we have all had to make decisions that weren't clear at first. All the options floated around, one coming to the surface for a while than another coming to the fore-front as the best decision and others falling away completely. Eventually, whether we made a conscious decision or not, one path of action prevails and life carries us on down like a stream looking for soft spots in rock.

Aug 23, 2008

In and Out of Boxes

 Here I am settling in to Olympia. I miss Portland, of course but so far its nice here. I managed to get some painting done while I was packing and tying up loose ends. Now my priority is finding work but I ought to be able to paint some this weekend. Most cafes frown upon applicants who show up in the middle of a busy brunch asking for work as if they have no knowledge of the madness that ensues
in a restaurant on the weekends. Last night I hung most of my paintings, mainly to get them out of the way. I am seriously considering that I may need to paint smaller. Most of my pieces are 3' x 2" of 3' x 4'. I love to paint big but It may be a while before I can properly store or sell as much work as I seem to be making.
I have no idea where this text piece is going so I started a new one.

The new piece is very structured in an uptight sort of way which was very grounding and helpful while my life dissolved into chaos and unknowns. I'm imagining, though that it won't be very interesting if I don't get more playful with it. I like some of the changes that are happening in the IMPORTANT piece but I feel really uncomfortable with making narrative art right now. I have always had a tension in me between wanting to be very illustrative and wanting to be a "real" artist who works outside the intellectual realm. I have a strong suspicion that as I stop trying to figure it out I will find myself in a very pleasing niche between the two or combining the two.

Aug 1, 2008


I feel like I am trekking through a desert of distractions lately and have not made much art. I am all in favor of life getting in the way sometimes but it seemed like I was letting it get in the way too much. I contemplated the situation and realized I am overwhelmed with feeling like I am supposed to have something great to say. This is strange because I am usually pretty wary of people who believe they have something to say that others really need to hear. Sort of like how my former boss believes that anyone who wants to be president should be immediately disqualified.
Also, I have no idea what to do with any of the pieces I'm working on. I like the blue negative space in the cursive piece but where is it going? When do I stop filling in little spaces? I see a lot of potential in the IMPORTANT piece but I have no vision for it. I was just seeing what would happen if I just painted. The print I like but it needs more value range and nothing makes sense to be darker except the crow. I know I'll figure it all out eventually. Sometimes
I think the whole reason I am an artist is to get comfortable with this process where you just have to try things and be willing to make mistakes. To learn to intuit what the next step is without having any idea where the whole thing is going. It's like I'm in training to be a human being.

Jul 18, 2008

Explaining Evergreen

Here are the next two layers of the text painting I am working on. I also started my website, I have a lot of work to do on it but it is out there in the electronic world none-the-less. I will put a link to it in the margin for your convenience.
So I never really discussed my final school decision. It turns out I am going to Evergreen. I was not considering it until one day I realized that I didn't want to spend another three years getting my bachelors.
I had thought that if I were a truly dedicated artist I would be glad to spend three more years studying art. Then I realized that because I am truly dedicated artist I want to stop incurring debt, get into the studio, make some art, and get out into the world.
Since I attended Evergreen for two years after I graduated from high school I can finish my degree there in a year. Part of the reason I hadn't considered it before was because their art department didn't seem to have a reputation around here. No one knew any artists from there or had heard anything about it. I looked up the faculty, though, and checked out the facilities; I think it will be a great program! One thing Evergreen is known for is teaching students how to work independently and be self-directed. Those are skills I know I will need so I am very excited about the coming year.

Jul 11, 2008

Tapping the Wisdom of My Inner Boss

So, when I returned from my family reunion I was strangely despondent. The reunion was fun and no obligations lay before me for some eight weeks besides working at the cafe on the weekends (oh, and moving to Olympia but that's a whole 'nother post). It didn't make any sense to be anything other than ecstatic but I am used to not making any sense and have developed expert excavation skills to get into these sorts of surprises.
So I stared expertly at the ceiling and contemplated the exact nature of this despondency. I realized that I was overwhelmed with all my free time
I did what any good Capricorn would
do and made up some rules. This morning I woke up perky knowing I had rules to follow and obligations to fulfill. I went to work and found, with delight, that the overwhelming pressure was gone. It was no longer important how much I achieved because I knew that with the time set aside I couldn't not get things done. Now, I know what you're thinking! You're thinking that I should be an accountant instead of an artist. But the whole crazy rebellious artist thing is just a myth that only came about after Van Gogh. Personally I find when my outer world is fairly structured and simple I have more inner room to be creative. These photos are of phase one and two of an under-painting for an all text piece I'm going to do. This first layer is just paint over gesso, the letters are scratched through while the paint is still wet. The second one is lettering in ink that has been mostly washed away.

Jul 4, 2008

Like Knowledge

I think I am making some progress with this crow painting but there are many decisions left to make. I want to start some more paintings but the summer keeps having its way with me. I really shouldn't complain. Camping and working extra barista shifts can only help my art in the long run. I've opted out of the normal holiday activities on the grounds that I need a day to be myself before I go back to work and then head off to my family reunion and I think I may just start a site on Etsy. We'll see what happens.

Jun 28, 2008

Learning to Fly Solo

For a moment I didn't think I'd make it. I was so excited to paint this summer without any assignments or insidious desire to prove that I have at least some technical rendering skills to be considered legitimate. But there I was, alone with paint and under-painting. The under-painting was easy. I know it will be painted over so I can relax and have fun. The picture is not the completed under-painting but you get the idea. I was just mapping out the web of text and creating some intense colors to show through the real painting. Anyways back to
the gripping story...there I was, alone with paint and under-painting and there was no teacher around to ask, what color this that should be and how come my grey shapes look so bad and this isn't what I intended, is it any good? It really seemed hopeless, I figured there was no point in even finishing my degree, I may as well get on Craigslist and look for a job serving. But out of some rare genius that was mercifully graced upon me I figured I could learn to paint alone just like I could learn to paint in a room full of people or ride public transit or tie my shoes. (If you have ever had the misfortune of being waited on by an introvert you will understand why grace acted up at that moment).I painted away, trying to cultivate the monk like patience I figured I'd need for the task and discovered that I could, quite easily paint really atrociously on my own. That was a start! I kept at it and I think I see a decent painting emerging here. My next task is to tone down the letters where the crow is and make the bottom as interesting as the top. We'll see what happens...

Jun 23, 2008

Georgia O

One day, in printmaking class, my teacher handed us each a pencil drawing done by a child in the daycare and showed several reproductions of works by famous painters. He then instructed us to determine which painting the child was looking at when they drew their interpretation and then create our own interpretation incorporating the child's drawing. The drawing I received was a page of tulips in pots done by Leimommi. I determined that she was interpreting Georgia O'Keeffe's painting of an iris and came up with the print here. I thought it was a brilliant assignment and feel like it really stretched my style in a way I'd like to pursue more. It has this flippancy that is not irreverent and despite the whimsy it is still interesting.