Monday, December 31, 2007

new shiny year

A new unused year cometh tonight! A chance to try new things....oh yeah. Like maybe get below the 12" level on my desk. Its like archeology. Especially looking for the cord to refill my cell phone amid books I intend to read, receipts I intend to file, addresses I intend to add to the address file that I can't find.

The studio is likewise a mess. But don't we have creative license to be messy? I use tiny bits of paper towel to wipe off the wrong mark or color and fling them to the floor. So in busy months the floor looks like Marti gras passed through. But my real new year's desire is to get rid of all the bad bad stuff in bottles and cans that contain toxic waste. Some of it very old. Like one large plastic container half filled with pepto bismol pink liquid ..... I have no idea what it is. Really. So, the plan is to load up the car one day and drive all this to the toxic recycling place. Which is only open certain times. Hence the inability so far to do it.

I want to get this stuff out before it explodes. Actually, a lot of it is house paint in ancient cans that are starting to corrode. You always think you might use it again. Time has come. I will I will do it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

past people

Off and on I've been searching and patching together the past people in my family. No award winners or revolutionary soldiers here. A hard working nose to the grindstone bunch. Their times seem amazing when you read a little history and understand the difficulties.

But my great grandfather was a bit different. An artist and art teacher, born in Austria, he seems a free spirit. Off painting in the Sierras and other wild points in the summer, painting around the SF bay area other times, helped him balance the ties of a family and teaching. He sang, he acted, he purchased expensive vases and bric a brac they couldn't afford and trotted home to give his children peppermints in the middle of the night.

Is it better to know your past people through a bit of writing, photos or odd documents rather than knowing what they really were like? We might be disappointed at the prosaic reality of their lives. Certainly it would be difficult to relate to their daily existence. And would we be dismayed at the lack of broad scope in their thinking? I'm assuming that they didn't have the understanding of what is occurring in the rest of the world as we do. I'm assuming that they might harbor prejudices against racial, social and economic differences. They did go to church a lot.
In my experience, church can be a narrowing thing.

I don't think my great grandfather went to church. He went to paint. And he looked at everything and every one with non judgemental eyes. Only concerned with composition, form, and in his day, accuracy.
So, I guess I would really have liked to know him.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

holler down the rain barrel

I think I like doing this. Its like hollering down a rain barrel, sliding down the cellar door and we'll be best friends forever more. That from a song learned somewhere in my childhood. But it is a bit like the echo of the rain barrel, speaking to the ether.

Painting is a solitary pursuit. If your personality tends towards the mulling over of things and cherishing time alone, this is a great job. Feeling lonely is exceptionally rare here in the studio....or in the house. There is a husband, John, who has been my stalwart companion through morose penniless times and high wild times. I am lucky to have such a touchstone in him. But as we grow older, we pass each other in the hall so to speak, know the other is there, but follow our own directions, coming together when needed or wanted.

And he's a great subject for evil paintings like "Tensions in the Home". He's often been in the paintings of paper reading neglectful husbands. People respond to a painting like this because the situation is familiar.
And if you are not in the middle of it at the moment, it can be quite funny. All that fuming and door slamming, all that drama. All that love.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

painting over

My work for the show is done, but I'm still painting over panels I don't like as well and redoing or refiguring them. What is this drive that most creative people have? An underlying sense that the work could be better. The need to say (and mercifully I can hold my tongue) "thanks, I'm glad you like it, but you should see what I'm doing NOW."

Unless something is stuck in time or in the cog, work evolves for everyone. I am a very different painter than I was in 1981 when I was first out in the light. Everything I painted delighted me then. What was I thinking???? I didn't have enough experience to be critical or demanding. Sloshing around in the mess in the studio was terrific enough.

Living makes the difference doesn't it? All the things that happen to you. The refusals, the social mistakes, the personal tragedies. Living through children and lots of dogs, cats and guinea pigs. Living life in drama mode. Super highs, grumbling lows. Lots of side jobs. Like working in a frame shop measuring potential frames and being absolutely stupid about math. Like working a lowly phone answering job in a gallery and wanting to slug the pissant star artist in the face. Like working at window display for years and years in a big now gone jewelry store and while working on design listening to people picking up a quick hugely expensive ring for no reason. But also like teaching art and loving it. It evens out.


Friday, December 21, 2007


Well, this is fun, interesting and weird. Writing this, I mean.

Work in the studio goes well. It is finally cool enough to leave the door open and let Ollie the dog go in and out as he pleases. I am getting ready for a show at Koelsch gallery in Houston, Jan 10th. Actually, I've been ready but i keep doing more work and honing the ones done. And in several cases, painting over the ones done. Not a problem as the work is on panel not canvas.

Gone are the days of painting quite large....76" X 84" for many of them. I haven't painted a big one since maybe 2005? I liked the feeling of being able to walk into the painting. And the gallery I had (now gone) in Dallas did well in placing them.

But times change and hands get stiff. So I'm working small, 12" x 12", and some smaller and some a bit larger.
It is a different kind of challenge. But it is also a solution. In addition to the big work I did do, I painted very small gouaches on Indian village paper. These were rich and layered and very intimate. So working in oil on the panels brings both methods together.

swamp, 55" x 29"

in progress

flying fish, 55" x 29"

eye with a view

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I am living and painting in the little town of Houston. A far way from my San Francisco beginnings. I paint what I see of the human condition, be it human, animal or object. The glimmer of humor, pathos, and spirit in so much of what I see is the basis of what I paint.


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