May 25, 2011

May 21, 2011

May 13, 2011

The Saint of Open Spaces.

The crow so swift, so close, 
feathers sifting air, scattering thoughts. 
His gleaming black,
The open space.

This is watercolor and gouache on an acrylic under-painting on wood. It didn't turn out anything like the sketch below but I love it.I'm not sure how the pious, solemn figure fits in with the poem but I did grow up Catholic, and I was going for something iconic so I shouldn't be surprised.

I left my part-time receptionist job to work more at the cafe. It's a good change for me. I absolutely wilt sitting at a desk all day talking to strangers. It does mean that I am hardly ever on the net; not so good for my blog life, but I have to admit, it suits the rest of my life just fine.

Apr 27, 2011

Rush Hour on Burnside: from the archives

I am afraid to be all alone here, watching the seagulls float above the swollen, branch-twisting river. The metal, glass, and paved crushing of careers and homes and promises, fading behind me into the silence of wings lifting.

I painted this even before my large tempera paintings, so I’ve been attempting to paint poems for my whole adult life, it’s nice to know there is some consistency to me. I feel like I flit around from one experiment to another without a lot of development. But if I have a common theme then it’s just one really long experiment.

This painting is in acrylic. I lived a few blocks from the Burnside bridge at the time and would walk downtown almost daily. I loved being that close to the river.

Apr 25, 2011


I’m starting to think that gesso isn’t my perfect medium for creating layered surfaces. I thinned it with acrylic matte medium, used a thin coat and still the under-painting was too obscured. The next layer took the painting in a whole different direction, literally, as I doubted my sideways text and began to see the words depicted more literally. I believe it will take another drastic turn.

Apr 22, 2011


Sometimes I just need to paint lines. It is like the animal that still owns my body, despite all the ruckus in my head, rises up, grabs a paint brush and attempts to erase all my ideas about art and trees and personhood. It feels good, like drawing on the earth with sticks as a kid.

These began as very different color schemes and somehow ended up very much alike.

Apr 21, 2011


Every journal and paper has a different influence on my writing. Trying to journal on handmade paper is a bit like trying to jog in formal wear. It doesn’t feel right to empty, indiscriminately, the contents of my mind onto such a lovely surface. But journaling doesn’t have to be a record of one’s thoughts in the way I have always believed. One can journal from their heart, or collect creative free-writes. I’m not sure what this is yet but it’s more about experience than thinking. These are my favorite pages so far.

Apr 15, 2011


When I first started making paper I would put a lot of colorful things in the pulp: glitter, string, leaves, pieces of paper. It was so exciting, all the things you could collect and include in the pulp. I loved watching them take their place naturally as the water drained through the screen and everything settled perfectly in its place. These papers seem a little over the top to me now, but since I have been coating everything but myself in gesso I decided to paint these over, too. I love the way the gaudy underbrush adds an interesting texture and history beneath the gesso.

Apr 13, 2011

Final Serenade


The last layer didn't turn out quite like I hoped but I still like this piece. I am losing interest in most of my gesso layering pieces but I am excited to try making a painting on wood with some of the knowledge I learned doing all these experiments.

Apr 11, 2011


I have a large box of handmade paper that I am barely using so I decided to size a bunch of it and make a journal out of it. I always thought of it as too precious to use for journaling but it is far better than having it sit unused in a box, and it is disappointing when an art-journal gets interesting but is on cheap paper. 
 I use an external gelatin size. I love how crisp it makes the paper and it is so beautiful I had to take a picture. 

Apr 9, 2011

City Trees on Waterleaf

Here I used my bus-tree-sketches to experiment with using water-leaf (unsized) paper from my handmade paper collection. It is difficult to paint on water-leaf, but when I paint over it with gesso or acrylic medium it doesn't smear much, the ink and paint has absorbed into the paper instead of drying on top.

Mar 31, 2011

City Trees

These are based on my bus sketches. I used acrylic paint instead of ink so I could continue my experiments with layered gesso. The paper I made with old spices, the coriander pods were especially interesting aesthetically and of course, the paper smelled really nice. Some sheets have torn up sketches of trees in them so this batch of paper seemed especially appropriate for this project.

Mar 30, 2011

Trees in Transit

Instead of complaining about the fact that I don't have enough time to make art I decided to start sketching on the bus. Tri-met don't pull over for an indefinite amount of time at the sight of each beautiful tree, so it is a challenging endeavor. The clockwork schedule does have its benefits: I get to work on time (Portland has SO many gorgeous trees no one would get anywhere if I were driving,) and I don't get caught up in trying to draw the whole tree or drawing realistically. I'd like to think I am studying the essence of tree shapes. And because I made my sketchbook out of tracing paper the layered sketches make irresistible photos!

Mar 28, 2011

"Love is" and Other Accidents

I can't make myself paint over the piece above. It is not one of the strongest layered-gesso pieces, but I love the shape of the back paper I glued on it. The text underneath was a speculation that love is as ocean to fish, but between people it is an unclassifiable, unpredictable organism that simply can't be defined. I wrote it in response to one of Dale's posts. Moon, Rain, Diligence is still one of my favorites and I still have a couple more layers for it. One Lone Crow bit the dust and I'm not sure if it can be resurrected other than to totally obliterate it like The Darkness of Each Night. We'll see what happens.

Mar 26, 2011

Holding Color

I couldn't help myself from painting in watercolor even though I know it is just going to smear all over the place when I paint more gesso on top. For the one below I thought I'd try colored pencil instead:

Mar 25, 2011

This Apple: A piece from the archives.

This apple breaks its skin under my teeth, cracking wet percussion mingles with Ma* pouring Bach into my rain-lit room. I sit cross-legged, red-socked, in thick corduroys and an old chair,
* Yo Yo Ma

This is a large painting in tempera on banner paper. I find it interesting that I was painting crows back then, too. I never really decided to paint crows all the time I just kept working with poems that starred crows, and my poems have always come from what I notice around me that I find particularly beautiful.

Mar 24, 2011


Some pieces are hard for me to paint over because I like them just fine after the first painting. A few I have kept as they are but some I paint over anyway and then I get to try to make it interesting again. So far this is one that I think has worked the best...not that I'm done with it.

Since I don't have the internet at home right now, I've been making all my posts at once and scheduling them out. It makes me feel like a robot, but also, it feels that my blog has a life of its own, which I like. I also spend a lot less time puttering around with things I don't need to since I have such precious little time to get things done.

Mar 23, 2011

Mar 20, 2011

Giving Way to Flowers

There are a couple of problems with my layering process. One is that I like to use water-based mediums which smear when they contact another water-based medium. some smearing can be nice but sometimes it just obscures too much of the piece. The other is that the gesso obscures a little more than is ideal, I should experiment more with acrylics but I just don't like the feel of them that much. It is like wearing polyester instead of wool and cotton.

I am in the process of selling my car. What that really means is that my car is at my brother's house and he is selling it for me since I know nothing about cars. For a day and a half after getting back to the city without a car I felt a little panicked and odd. I'd been pretending I didn't have a car for several months, and felt confident enough fulfill this dream I've had for years of not owning a car. It did feel a strange at first, though. Now I am delighted. I feel more tuned-in to the weather, seasons, birds, and the trees of course. It also slows my life down in a really pleasant way. I read on the bus, I organize my time more purposefully and I don't have a large, expensive chunk of resources parked prominently in my list of things I should care care of but don't. One day while I was on the bus I thought I saw a silver deer out of the corner of my eye and thus the piece above.

I don't think cars are pure evil the way I did in my 20's, and I have no issue with using a zip car or a rental. But I do think the whole thing has gotten out of hand. We put too much into owning personal cars and arranging our cities around them when we could be improving public transportation and creating more human-friendly spaces.

Mar 19, 2011


I've been very interested in layering things lately. I keep painting gesso over drawings and paintings and writing, then drawing and painting and writing some more, then more gesso and on it goes. It's like an archaeological dig in reverse and I feel compelled to document as many of the layers as possible because I often bury things so deep they get lost or just generally take things too far. 

Mar 17, 2011

Mar 4, 2011

New Stars: a piece from the archives.


My fiery fingers unfurl into the night leaving new stars on the sky.

This is one of my early attempts at illustrating poetry. I think the line is charming but there was a magnitude of unfounded arrogance behind it that is a little embarrassing and very amusing. I especially appreciate that I had no compunction to make the woman's form make sense visually, why is that so hard for me now?

Feb 24, 2011


terror and anger and all the rest. what is it anyway...spirituality. I do not know how to devote myself to truth or growth, and love is incomprehensible. All I know is beauty. That even in this moment my body is perched in the sunlight beneath the roaring jets. Time and memory flow around it like summer air.