Sunday, December 28, 2008

new year new president new adventures

A new year ....a new president... a new adventure.

The family who filled the house with noise and flutter has departed. It was very full. The dog, Ollie, hid out most of the time, not even venturing about for fallen food. Too many yelping children, too much talk, too much movement. He hid low.

And yesterday, with dear family off to their own lives, I pushed open the studio door and nosed about looking for relics of abandoned sketches and ideas. Certainly avoiding the three paintings in progress. I began on small sketches of heads. The face is so rewarding. A slip there a dash here and the whole expression is changed. How fun.

Today, catch up on abandoned papers. Tomorrow, back to those paintings in progress. I hear them calling. Woooohoooo.

Monday, December 22, 2008

the holidays and the calm center

At a certain age, given the average procreation, a person finds herself in the middle, the center, the quiet axis of a family. There is extreme age in one circling level, extreme youth on another, and various ages in the rest of the circles. In between these levels/circles there is wind, smoke, fire and cool water. Stay with me here, I really see this.

In the center the middle management holds court. (The metaphors are beginning to get foggy). Occasionally, this calm center, the middle management, offers advice, calms hurt feelings, gives needed attention. It is true that the center does not always hold. But for the most part it is a good place to be.

During the family holidays....all this is more evident. There is yelling, crying, euphoria, delight, jealousy, irritation, burnt food, broken dishes (one here already), sleeping children, droning elders and of course, the quiet fabulous calm center.

I may revise this opinion when I become the extreme elder. But for now, I remain, the calm center.

Peace to all.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

handmade gifts and V-8 dinner

Back in de da. It was freezing the night I got here and now it is oozing slimy rain at 73 degrees. But back to the gouache, back to the hamburger soup (this is great: 1 lb hamburger, 4 med cans low sodium V-8 juice, bunch a chopped new potatoes, buncha frozen veggies, buncha whatever herbs on hand, and presto: dinner......I'm not a cook, I am a painter).

My presents are all mostly hand made this year. Saves on running around and spending too much. Though to be honest, I filled the boxes I made for the grand children with all sorts of cute things that I did purchase. But I tried to keep the buying to where craftspeople/artists sell their very fine wares.

So, peace to all. Make something. For someone. With love.

Monday, December 8, 2008

the mothership in palo alto california

I am in California where I have returned to the mothership to help out a little. As time goes along, I find my trips from Texasland to the healthy state are much more frequent. Every 3 mos is becoming every 2 mos or less. Soon, every month and I will have to over come my severe distaste for cramped airplanes. I am in the bay area, Palo Alto, to be specific, and it is a place of health and well being. If you have a job of course, but that's every where just now.

It has long amazed me that potato chips are hard to find here. Not to mention: belching autos, trash, smokers, fried things and fat thighs. I lust for broccoli when I am here. The air is so full of good stuff from the ocean, that I cough the first few days. Texas is grand but it does have a ways to go in the recycle everything and eat your Brussels sprouts department.

So while I try to retrain my painter's brain to recognise all the math things that come with keeping up with the finances of the house of an almost 90 year old neat person, I am also soaking in the good air and maybe scratching out a drawing or two. The mothership is going to live to 105, so I need to get more used to commuting.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

painting current water current dreaming

It has turned a bit cold. This is laughable if you live somewhere north. Cold here is daytime 50's, nighttime 40's (sometimes less!!). But it does make my unheated studio feel like I should store the eggs and cheese there. So I'm doing more indoor gouache.

And finishing up the painted gift boxes. I'm at the fun place where I'm swirling fine holed colored netting inside so little treasures can be hidden there. But the best part was the painting. I think it doesn't matter what I paint as long as I paint.

The need to paint (much more than draw) is as strong a current in me as the push of the Mississippi or the waves back home in the Pacific. In times of no mind feels like Death Valley. Well, that is a bit strong.......but not by much. I paint in my dreams. Occasionally, I wake up with my fingers moving the "brush". Perhaps, once, I painted in caves.

Paint. Peace. Rolling waves. Water current. Caves.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Shanty Bellum peace on the river and roads

A little trip out of town cleared the morose cobwebs. We stayed at a B and B in Nachez, Mississippi for no reason other than a whim. The name of this private no breakfast but perfectly appointed abode is Shanty Bellum, not antebellum like up on the fancy hills of Nachez. Perfect answer to the offbeat weekend. The view of the big river was a half block away and the town in all its architectural interest was spread before us. The charming owner of said Shanty is Tommy Polk, who with friend Elodie Pritchartt, rehabbed this row house into a comfy and crazily delightful place to stay, appointed with thrift store goodies.

We trooped on to Fairhope, Alabama for sprawl, drink, eats, wild children and easy river time with family.

We flew up and down on the blue hiways and found nature, color, history and peace.

Peace to us all.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

the burden and joy of life and death

What is burden? What is loyalty? What has respect and love to do with it? The fading of a parent a neuron at a time while watching grandchildren expand theirs? The needs of the parent and the needs of the children are not dissimilar. There is a selfish streak in both. They both need to survive. And we, the two generations inbetween are the responsible ones, the ones to balance the need with the want and the joy with the grief.

And then.....the generations will shift again. I do not wish to be selfish. Let me fade into my paint quietly in the night and cause not a ripple when the time draws near.

Friday, November 14, 2008

secret boxes of gouache and wispy things

Holidays swooshing up upon us, circling our ankles and prickling the fingers. My fingers have been about gouache on boxes for my family. It seems childhood for me was about secrets. And secrets were kept in cigar boxes under the bed, or little tin boxes behind the night table radio. They were for stashing rocks and seashells and dried up lizards and lovenotes. I have to say my smaller tin boxes were for dried millipedes and potato bugs.......but, then, I wasn't often the perfect example of a little fluffy girl.

So, even though kids should get to decorate their own boxes, I am doing it for them this time. When they are a little older they can find their own boxes. So I'm doing these in gouache, and then waxing them for protection. I plan to line the inside with felt and some wispy stuff and a few little things to get them started. Like little monsters for the boys and little fairy things for the girls.

And I'm quite having a great deal of fun.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

blind, hesitant, dragging of the feet

I go see the eye doc this morning. I don't want to go. The eyes are not what they used to be, baby.
Some five years ago I had an attack of NAION .....non-artiritic ischemic optic neuropathy. Yes, death of the to speak. During the night, possibly due to a drop in BP (no one really knows) the supply of blood was cut off to the optic nerve. Bam. That's it. I have maybe 1/4 vision in that eye, and that is not all clear. The other eye is getting a cataract. Geez. Do I sound 104 yrs old? But as I rather like being able to see and paint and draw and just plain see, I will have to have something done. But I am just a teeny bit fearful because I need that one eye.

So. It is a small thing. I am healthy and I am ok and I will march my feet into the building and up the stairs. I guess I could take up sculpture, right?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

bad drawing stiff drawing good sketch books

I have been digging through the old piles of drawings and writings from years past. Putting the writing aside for a bit, I notice how much freer I was/am, most everyone is/was with shards of torn paper or crumby paper or lined paper than in the beautiful moleskin books or the hearty hard backed sketch books. Aren't we all just a little afraid of messing up the lovely buttery good paper? It seems, most of my good drawings are on loose ripped edges of things.

And the good ideas too. So the trick is to gather all these little pieces together. In moments of great procrastination and boredom, I've even pasted some of this stuff into the better hardbacked sketch books. It is difficult to dismiss that parent or teacher or onlooker from your shoulder when you are working in the good book. Sometimes I try and "save" a drawing that has gone stiff on me.....and it gets worse and worse. Then, I suppose it is a good candidate to be ripped out by its roots and saved for collage....but that's another pile of paper.

Friday, October 31, 2008

International Quilt Show of exhaustion

I have just come limping back from the Houston International Quilt Show at the convention center here. I can't quote numbers or winners or vendors because, really, I was just a quick visitor. Another world spread out before me in dizzying splendor.....and awesome talent.

I thought I might look for some felt in the enormous vendor section, and when i found my way out again I was wishing for a stretcher. This is very serious stuff with extremely serious but happy people shoulder to shoulder and stomach to stomach within it. I was awash in prints and buttons and embellishments and ruffles and fabrics and embroidery and rug hooking and Christmas ornaments.
Not to mention jewelry, purses, silk scarves, do it your self kits and huge quilting machines with people driving them furiously. And about 70,000 women. Even the men's restrooms had been relabeled "women". Perhaps I will go again some a few years.

Monday, October 27, 2008

restoring the used to be

I drove to San Antonio this last weekend to visit son and family in their hundred year old Sunday house. It is being restored to live-a-bility inches at a time. The neighborhood dangles "promise" before their eyes, being in such a close in location amongst other promising to be restored houses and some that are. There are roosters that crow at 4 am. Dogs that are horribly tethered up the street who bark a lot (who could blame them), loud music from open pickup truck windows and there are shady characters doing shady things on sunlit street corners.

In the midst of this is my son's house, beginning to rise from the dead. The tall ceilings are elegant as are the deep wood moldings and the the restored floors. You have to have long eyesight and faith to do what this family is doing. Is it really very different from homesteading among the wolves and bears of long ago? My bones are too old to contemplate such an endeavor, but I relish what my son and his family are doing. It is difficult, but it is beautiful to my eyes.

Monday, October 20, 2008

gouache supreme amonst paint

Painting with gouache is such a pleasure. While it is so rich and forgiving it also costs so very little as you can use whatever is dry on the plate. A white I can see the colors. I found that I have let some of my tubes of paint become all the way dry....I can't squish anything out. No problem....I'm just going to cut them apart and use as dry lumps made new again with water. So I thought I would post a gouache that is one of my favorites....sort of goes along with the bad attitude I had during the last post. Oh, and that tantrum I posted about my other half not being human? Well, he isn't very, but I'm used to him.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

living with a grumbler not being a snivler

You know how things go chugging along ok for a while and you sort of get used to it ? And then every minor thing goes wrong and your partner/husband/irritating other sends you right over the edge? Well, I'm there. Hanging on by threads. Its very hard for people to live together. There needs to be a constant shift of duty, consolation, listening, rallying....right? Wrong. If you are a man, you don't feel that obligated. I'm not writing a book here, I don't really know the statistics, I just know how it looks in most every relationship I've been in/seen. Someone is grumbling and someone is sniveling. I refuse to snivel. But when I grumble it falls as they say on deaf ears.

So I'm allowing myself a moment to gripe. AND GRUMBLE.

And now, thank you, I shall go back to being a human being, even though I don't live with one.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

our life long chosen path

There are many political artists. There are people who live in the world as it is today and relate to it and with it.....expounding important ideas and revelations, looking toward the future.

And then there are artists who dwell in the past or perhaps in the ether between the past and the present. I'm very much afraid I am one of those. I dress my people in nondescript no time clothes with a nondescript fashion. It is my purpose to focus on the ordinary person with the ordinary feelings of an individual in any time or place. I like the moment to be that of a quiet turmoil.

It is interesting that we all find our own path and that so few of them are similar. And that be we writers, musicians or visual artists, if we are very possessed of our chosen way, no temptation will cause us to veer from it. It is that strong......and life long. Even, as they say, if no one hears our song.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

the movies....

Finally getting back to seeing a few movies. Perhaps the most outrageous and ingenious that I've seen is "Burn After Reading". Geez, holy satisfying satire, Batman! It sizzles with idiot people in D.C. Just the thing when we need to really laugh at the craziness. But in this great poke in the ribs movie, it's not just the big guys who are stupid......the wealth is spread around. Great stuff.

And I really didn't want to go see "Nights in Rodante" because it sounded all goopy....but I got sucked right in. Not just because there is a bit of a hurricane in it. I have to admit...and I hate doing this....but I cried into my shirt. You know the wiping with your sleeve sort of weeping....all running down your neck and into your collar. And then when the movie is over you sit there and read all the credits so you can look like Heck no, you weren't crying.

Then we saw "Ghosttown" tonight. Fun, funny, interesting idea....really liked Ricky Gervase in the main role. Not hugely thought provoking, but kind of a nice movie. Saw "The Women" a little while ago. OK. Nice to see some older real looking people in it. Meg Ryan, however, doesn't age and that sucks.

I'm much more a book reader....but being hopelessly visual, the movies are a treat.

Friday, October 10, 2008

trees in shreads but painting is healthy

Only now, some weeks after the hurricane and after the big blown over trees, fences, etch have been carted away, are we seeing more damage in the trees. Remember how Cinderella goes to the ball in the beautiful dress? And then she is in rags, all tattered and torn? That's how the oaks and pine trees look. All the small limbs that hadn't turned brown before, are now dead, brown, tattered and hanging all over the trees. You start to realize how strong that wind was. Whole sides of trees are burnt and shredded. OK, OK, I'll stop. I just really love trees.

In the meantime, the change to acrylic paint is finally working out. That is, not fighting me anymore. It seems the trick is to slather paint on in the beginning....all to avoid the deathly drag of the brush if you don't. I'm happy with the two thirds done new boat painting......and already starting another new one. Onward.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Much of what hurricane Ike left behind is now gone, at least here in Houston....luckier than Haiti or Galveston. So we are on to other types of storms: the kind from Alaska and the kind from wall street. I am not the astute political observer....I am a creature who snuffles along much closer to the ground.

For instance. There are butterflies and hummingbirds back in town and the sight of them makes a body wonder where they found comfort and safety during a rocking and rollin hurricane. Life, as they say is full of mysteries.

We, as a species, can't find many places to hide and survive either. Storms will have their way with us. But I wonder about the ones coming out of Washington D.C. In my old 1960's attitude, I still believe we can rage against those. It is surely time to look to the real resources of the land we live in: the people. If the people of any land are fed, educated and given the benefit of a little modern medicine, people will survive in the best way. How is it that we let a few greedy goats keep running all the shows?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

water wind and oh yeah a hurricane

OK, OK, I take it all back. The weatherpeople were right this time. Ike blew its little self right in here, squashing Galveston and surrounding counties and cracking trees and houses in Houston. It was a bit of a mess. The worst on the coast....and I am so sorry for the losses there. Here it was just more of a mess....but everyone was good spirited....ah, the smell of freshly broken pine.

After 15 days of dark nights, we are happy to be back in the lap of technology.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

another new boat painting

On the eve of Gustav arriving on the Gulf coast I have started a new people in a boat/adrift/flood/metaphor/life painting. Not on purpose did I choose to do this painting at this time......but there you are....another flood. It is of course, "life as flood/disaster/decisions/inertia/passive/group up the creek without a paddle" painting which addresses the way we lead our lives....not just actual floods/boats/people.

I am ok with the beginning of it. It seems there is more to say with the paint on this subject and as yet it is not time to stop.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

diminutive gouache moments

A sign of relief in returning to some small gouaches on paper. They are little worlds unto themselves and do not require weeks to finish. In this medium, my brain is on release and crash or invigorating ride. I do sometimes make a sketch, but it never turns out that way...the piece takes on its own life and becomes something above, or below my expectations, sometimes can be a bit weird or disturbing....those are the best.

The butterflies in the garden are gorging themselves. And they are very territorial....chasing others away, dashing around the yard like tiny violent tornadoes. Still the mosquitoes rule the land water and air. Woe to you if you linger too long in the tropics here. The birds take their share but it is never enough. It is a violent world out there.....I am thankful that for me, here, it is only the creatures.....and for the rest of the world.......I close my eyes, squint them tight, hold onto the idea of eventual justice, and wish for peace.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

two new paintings....not such a big deal

Two new paintings just finished. In Acrylic. And I can breathe.
I am happy with the results of persevering with the new/old medium. Like oil, it just needs a few good layers before anything comfortable can happen with the paint. Like moving it easily.

Much to my surprise, I find that I can keep the squeezed out paint going for a while (a few days) by covering it tightly with aluminum foil (I mix paint on aluminum pie tins). So, I am somewhat amazed to say that acrylic isn't such a big leap from oil after all. Silly me.

Monday, August 18, 2008

a fine rattling storm in texas

The skies are rumbling. These wild East Texas thunder storms were a source of panic when I first arrived on these shores. California rain is basically mist. Lightening did hit a very large Loblolly tree next to the house once, throwing me across the room....I was washing dishes....and blowing out the lightbulbs. The strike had gone down the tree and then jumped to the electrical box. Very exciting. But no real damage. I am very respectful of our storms.

The whole back of our house is windows (we live in what could only be called a mid-century indoor/outdoor dwelling) and the extra water pours off the roof like a waterfall. We look on our badly tended but creature friendly backyard as the rain comes and feel we are in a primeval forest.
The bamboo rises and falls like swells on the ocean. The smaller plants flatten and toss helplessly. The water swirls on the pebbles and runs a race to the concrete to the street to the filling sewer.

We count the seconds from the thunder to the flash, knowing we are ok.....until there is one that is simultaneous. Then, like the rabbit I am, I sit on the couch with my feet up (there are metal pipes under the floor !) telling the dog that everything's fine. Chances are, we'll need the candles.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

These are indeed the dog days of August. The author of a blog I read lives in Maine.....and they have a very short precious summer. I need to try to remember that.

The large acrylic painting of lots of people is finished....or at least for now, and called "the photograph" at least for now. And I'm concentrating on the "What to Take with You" painting about flood. I have to admit that the acrylic is no longer presenting much of a problem. I finally got comfy with it.

Feeling quite morose tonight over the whole economic situation and my own. I am at the point where I am ready to sell my great old antique toys but now find that there really aren't the toy specialist auctions around here. They are all in the UK. Yes, yes, I would do Ebay, but hate all the diddle diddle of it. And the truth is that what I consider a valuable piece might be considered tatty old junk by others.

Ah well. We must all tighten up and muster on as someone probably said, somewhere, sometime.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The paintings are going better.
I don't hear anything in the studio walls anymore. (ie rats or squirrels)

But....there are birds in my fireplace. The flue is closed but i can hear the babies twitter when the mother comes down the chimney with food. When she flies in or out there is a big tunnel whoosh up or down. This has been going on for a few weeks. The babies sound louder and louder but they haven't left yet. And the mother feeds them up til 8 pm or so.

It would be so romantic and interesting if they were chimney swifts or some other interesting mosquito eating bird. However, the rat guy who was here the other week said they might be starlings. Starlings are the obnoxious loud irritating birds that nest in trees in urban areas in huge numbers. As they settle in for the night they boast and yell and declare all their adventures of the day. It seems to go on until well into dark. There are starlings downtown there are starlings in the trees of my grocery store and many other places where there are people trees and buildings. So far none here.

So, I'm going to wait until all the twittering and whooshing stops, wait for a few days and have someone put a better screen over the top of the chimney. All of this is a great diversion along with several others....allowing me to procrastinate on the paintings. Ha.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

new paintings suck

Well, they don't really suck. But some days it sure feels that way. I am returning to two new/old things at once: back to the big paintings after 3 years of small ones, AND relearning acrylic.
I am trying all sorts of mediums including 409 cleaner recommended by a friend on flickr. They work some what.

If I were working on panel and small, it would be a dream. The problem is working on large roughish canvas (primed, but not sanded). I like the texture and the incomplete marks you get when dragging a brush along that kind of surface. But it is slow going, refilling the brush very very often. And a little more difficult mixing the paint right on the canvas the way I was used to. I guess I'm used to working very quickly and immediately.

I know the watch word that I need to put over my door: ADAPTATION.
Adapt to the new situation, whatever it is, or sink. Period.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

really really old paintings

I've been looking through the old files.....a time wasting thing to do. I see that I have been pretty good about listing paintings, size, year, price, sold to whom (except in the cases of pieces sold by galleries who didn't give me names and addresses....another subject). But I see that my slides are a bit spotty in that I just don't have photos of all the pieces I have done. Sad for me. Back when you are just slinging paint and busy with all that life to be led, you just don't get to every detail.

Oh well. I am putting up some large old old paintings on for the fun of seeing them along with later pieces. Having all these paintings/drawings on flickr has been excellent for trying to understand what the thread was and still is through all the work I have done.

It's almost always about some sort of relationship. Often people, but even in a still life, the objects are having some sort of conversation. It's interesting for me to look back on.

Monday, August 4, 2008

the eve of a blow

I hope I am not wrong. The media here in Houston is huffing and puffing about a possible hurricane arriving on our doorstep. Edouard. They speak of the "cone of uncertainty" hovering above us in a yellow spread of color on the screen. It doesn't look very likely to me......but that's just my intuition.

The mass panic at the grocery store is palpable. Empty shelves where bottled water, some canned goods and party snacks were piled up yesterday. Not to mention ice.

I certainly don't make light of this....we received many Katrina victims here. And although it is very long ago, we did our share of waterless, electricityless, camping during Alicia in 1983. And my spousal unit stared out the window of a Galveston hospital watching Carla advance while his father tried to get over a heart attack.

I'm just not a fan of panic. The constant drumming of the press hypes the drive towards panic. If we all got on the freeway out of here, we would all still be on the freeway next week. This is a city of five million people. Come on. The press loves drama, let's be honest.

OK, so sue me if we get hit with a big one. I figure, have a few pieces of plywood around (in advance...not the day of), some bottled water (fill up milk cartons and stick them in the closet), have the odd flashlight and candle and be respectful of nature. Maybe don't build right on the beach.

Oh, and the rats seem to have left the studio. Hummmm, what was that about a sinking ship?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

killing rats in the studio wall

OK. I can deal with heat, cold, mosquitoes and old age but I can not deal with #%&**%##** RATS.
They are in my studio wall right next to the painting I'm working on. I try to ignore is impossible. So I got out my big rubber mallet and harassed them by banging on the wall.

Never sounds like a party in there !!

So I've called a nice sounding pest guy and he is coming out to see what we can do. I had white rats and black and white rats as pets when I was a kid and I loved them. However a couple of years ago, I saw 8-10 big big rats running along our trellis and jumping into the plum tree. That did it.
We had them in our attic once and it was a misery but they all left feet first. I don't believe in killing any thing.........except rats.

So the pest guy is coming tomorrow and I've told him I will stay out of the studio....just DO something. Cheers.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

the painter's progress

Amazing. I actually got quite far with this painting in just a couple of days. Not the fleetness of brush of youth, but right back in it. After a lot of smaller paintings, I had trepidations about this larger one. It is about 1/4 done so I am posting a few pictures of the painter's progress.

Monday, July 21, 2008

creaking bones, pitiful muscles

I am putting together stretchers and stretching canvas. Nothing to remark on except that for the past 2 or 3 years I have been working relatively small. Easel work. Now I'm going back to the 60" x 50" size. Unless someone else builds them for me, I think my 76" x 84" canvases are in the past.

Crikey, you know you are getting old when you can't heft the heft you hefted before. My old stretchers are especially heavy. Sometimes stripping off an old not so successful painting and putting on new canvas is an easier way to go. Except have to deal with millions of old stubborn staples on the old painting.

But there is no saying "aw, forget it". There are some ideas that need more space. So, now I work a while til my back is screaming at me and then sit for a bit. Then jump back up and sneak in a little more work before my back notices.

Another solution would be to work unstretched....which is do-able with acrylic (now that I'm using the damn stuff). There are too many ideas galloping in my head not to go big again.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

wicked acrylic in progress

This is a brave week for me art wise. Braving the slinging of the acrylic paint and leaving oil behind. I have to admit that the acrylic is fighting me. We struggle, brush and canvas, to put on there what used to flow and now jerks.

I mean, I know there are actual serious problems out there and even here in this abode. But this is my thrashing struggle of the moment.

I am posting on a group of in progress paintings, bravely showing the pitiful skeleton and underwear of the painting as it goes. It is not finished as of this date. I will put up a few more when it is. And I offer a few here. Alas.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

books leaning longingly

The doldrums of heat. Makes me want to be right here with my computer clutched to my bosom, so to speak. Don't feel like creating today. Feel like blah. However, the books need attending.

What I mean to say is that the piles of books leaning longingly toward the floor need attending. Novels to read, novels to share, novels to give away....novels I thought I would like and don't. And books about Manhattan in its birth, San Francisco in its resurrection, people with ravens in the Maine woods, Swedish immigrants, pioneer journals, and poetry.

I could be a bookstore. There are maps of the trek of early people across Europe, books about beading (not going to happen), art books, gardening books, and inexplicably books on cooking.

It is almost impossible for me to discard a book. The room is so friendly with them holding up the lamp or nuzzling at your feet. I could go to the library, but they won't let me in at one am to read what Katherine Anne Porter said to Carson McCuller when she wouldn't get off the floor.

The coldest and the hottest days are for reading.

Monday, June 30, 2008

old old studios new studios

I posted on flickr today some photos of my ggrandfather's classroom studio. He was Franz Moritz Goldstein and I wrote about him earlier in this blog under "past lives" or something close to that. We have one big photo of him teaching at the Girls' High School in San Francisco from about 1880 until his death in 1915. I had to scan the photos in three pieces so I could get it all. What a difference a century makes.

His studio is staged for the photo, obviously. There are plaster feet, hands, heads, and various objects and pieces of nature all used for drawing. One student is using a mall stick. The girls, of course are in long dresses, and seated in properly lady like poses. There is his big framed still life hanging on a rafter. It lives on in my mother's house along with 3 of his watercolors. I'm sure he had much more work, as he went to the Sierras and all about the city to paint with artist friends. But, as he had 7 children, the pieces were strewn about and we have lost communication with whatever descendants there may be. His daughter Matilda Valentina Goldstein was my precious grandmother. And she was born on Valentine's day.

I compare this with the drawing and painting classes I taught at the High School for Performing and Visual Arts. Many of my students figured it was the art way to dress way way way down so to speak. Actually, slovenly might be an appropriate word for a selected few.
We drew from life, we painted our feelings, we accepted that perfection in drawing was, hmmmm, passe. (Real attention to proper drawing is coming back in some colleges......but when Pollack came in, accuracy of form went out.)

So, to get back on track.....I included a photo, also in black and white of my first warehouse studio in about 1981, 99 years after my ggrandfather's photo. It's just interesting that's all.

To see these photos larger visit by clicking on my photos from flickr or by clicking on the flickr slideshow. And to this exhaustingly long post I've also added a photo from my first studio.....maybe about 1983. Enough, good bye.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

oil to acrylic to gouache to ink

The studio has welcomed me back with all its mess, a couple of dead tree roaches, lingering languishing canvases and no smell of turpentine. It has, at least for now, been vanquished. The lids are on the turp jars, the screw tops on the oil paint tubes, and.....the acrylic all laid out and ready to roll.

I worked for several days on a good size acrylic still life, stumbling with my scumbling all the way. I haven't painted with acrylic since the early days of the 80's. It doesn't have the flow of oil that I'm used to. So, I'm relearning the techniques of water media on canvas. It has slowed me down.

So, in the meantime, there is still drawing. And a happy return to gouache on paper. I do love gouache. Such rich color and the black is so deep and chalky. Love it. So, back to work.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

California fiesty mama

Just back home from California where the air is light, the flowers are many, and the landscape an inspiration. Here, in this humid place, ironically, there is no rain at present and things are dying on the vine.

With my 89 year old independent feisty optimistic and brimful of curiosity mother, papers were shuffled, supplies laid in, and time together spent. It is vital that the image of the person in younger times should still be in the mind.....the body does slow, and the mind, and in our society we do not pay the respect we should. My mother is in a state of life bliss. She is greedily taking in the news and social topics of the day. She is excited about the future, near and far. She often says: "this street will be so beautiful as soon as the trees fill in..." This is a woman who has not stopped learning. She embraces new ideas. She also sifts through her life and soul stuff to understand and learn about the now and past. A pretty fine example of homo sapiens.

I completed ten drawings while there, some of which I will be posting to Flickr. The black ink and white paper seem to be an excellent venue for new ideas just now.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Peck, peck, cull.

Well, on looking and relooking I removed three of the self portraits. They were so much weaker than the rest. Cull, cull. Peck, peck. Life is an editing process.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Eye With A View: lost youth almost wise but scary

Eye With A View: lost youth almost wise but scary

lost youth almost wise but scary

I've been putting some old paintings up on Many are pleasing to me and I'm happy to be seeing them again. But yesterday and today I put up ten self portraits that I painted in 1998 with the idea of the "me" in them being mostly harsh ancestors of a mostly fictional basis. These are small pieces, 10" x 8" oil on canvas and framed with wood painted red.

I've always liked these pieces, and originally there were twelve. They've been in two solo shows and usually were intriguing to people, I think, with two selling. But now, that they are up on Flickr and I am seeing them next to many beautiful "real" portraits of other people, or next to wonderful imaginary pieces of others, they look kind of appalling to me.

Not that I'm disowning them or anything......but they are mostly mean looking. There is only one that is smiling. A couple are dopey, but mostly they look like they would rip your tongue out or smash you in the nose. I was trying to be quite "tough" when I painted them under a very unflattering skylight. And I was trying to come to grips with my own advancing age and trying to own my wrinkles, sags and bags as it were. A child or young person looks sweet and so beautiful in repose, but someone older (or me anyway) can look SCARY.

So there it is. I'm actually ok with it. Maybe we need to see more of the unvarnished or un photo shopped and un masked older person. We revere very old age but that in between group needs to be accepted for the lost youth but wise almost very old people that we are.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

rant on imagination in art

I have started two rants in a row about imagination in art. I had to erase everything, because although that is what I do, I can't say why or how. I once had an art teacher who said that if I was better at making "art" I wouldn't be the artist I was/am. (It's my "am" because I still am.....and I think this quote was made about Georgia O'Keefe, I take the compliment but bear no resemblance in any way, fashion or fame or art to Ms. O'K.)

I think that because I dredge up all sorts of dark to ecstatic images, symbolic, storytelling, leading and misleading, people can relate to what they represent. Just because we have all that in common. And it is my very strong belief that although the art world is run/headed by luminaries like Jeff Koons and Julian Schnabel, the world also needs artists that folks can relate to and just realize their humanness through them. Like poetry, a good story or that song on the radio that makes you cry.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The trend of the hairy ball

I have been posting many photos on Flickr of a series of drawings I'm calling Hairy Ball. I know this sounds silly, and there are so many possible connotations ( !!! ). But this has been a serious endeavour. I have grappled my way slowly through this and I am finding that:

the ball is certainly a metaphor,
it is a character in a play;
a stand in for the average helpless nebbish;
a helpless, or violent (who knows) creature from outer space;
or perhaps the last survivor of a disaster on some far (or near) planet.
It is also a possible stand in for the feelings of isolation and disconnect, that we live in today.

I just know that I relate to it and that I am not done with the drawing of it.

Monday, May 19, 2008

great memory bad memory

My memory for visual artwork is pretty damn good. I recognize work I've seen even for a second or two before in a flash. My memory for how to get somewhere and what the landmarks are is excellent too.

Just a little problem though. I can't remember names. I know most people have a problem with this and there are many tricks to help, like Mr. Dogget looks like a spaniel.

But I even have a problem with people's faces. With people that I've met maybe three times (briefly at an opening), I have to be told, sometimes in a pissed whisper from someone I'm with: the name is......(you idiot!). I think the problem is that I am shy and I only glance at the face. I am animated, I interact, I listen, I am a good people person. But someone somewhere told me not to I don't. So the person image escapes me.

I am really really bad about this. If their faces were drawn on, two dee, in someway, it would be better. If we could all walk around with flat paper masks, I'd be able to do it ! It isn't getting any better. Perhaps worse. I have some sort of hole in my head, where all the people information leaks out.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

dog gone wallet

Sunday morning. Mother's day. Everyone sweet. J had a little pile of something on the counter for me where I would find it. My wallet in tiny shredded pieces. The dog.

Ollie the bad dog found my driver's license to be the tastiest bit mangling it to unrecognizable contortions with large and small holes where the information should be. And twisted. My check card looked the same. My ymca card that I always intend to use is perfect. And perhaps knowing that I might really need them, he left my insurance card and business cards alone. They might have tasted bad. And then he nuzzled my hand and looked at me with big brown adoring eyes.

Just when you think you are a very important human with important rush rush things to do, a child or a furry friend will remind you that all that matters is love.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

stolen artwork

I have decided to show, here, a painting that was stolen from me about 7 years ago by someone called Thom Anderson, a then designer in Houston. He had been a friend. I found out later that he cheated other people as well, not just me. He asked to "borrow" this painting (at the upper right of the blog) for a photo shoot at his new loft for a publication. I've been asked to do this before for other designers. And like most artists, I trusted in friendship and good will. Bad move.

I asked repeatedly to get the piece back and he always promised to send a truck with it. He never did and we have lost contact (perhaps "split" is a better term). I don't know where he is or more important to me....where my painting is.

The painting is large, about 80" x 96", oil on canvas on heavy stretchers. My name and the name and info on the piece on the back. This piece was always a favorite of mine and I might have had a chance to sell it, but it was hijacked.

If anyone ever sees this painting please contact me

Monday, May 5, 2008

hunting prize extravaganza

This past Saturday night I attended a large fundraiser/art competition/collector venue/oil company tax write off/food, flowers, art extravaganza. It was the Hunting Prize competition in which I was a finalist. Don't get too excited, I was one of 128 finalists from across the state. Still, an honor.

I usually thoroughly avoid events of this scale at this time in my life, feeling that I put in my time for years, some years ago. But, it was nice to be treated nicely and the money earned from patrons buying tickets and art is all going to scholarships....and the artist keeps any money made from sales. So, it was nice but also a bit funny. Like the guy in a loin cloth at the entrance blowing a trumpet as the patron filled cars arrived.

And, standing in the middle of a fountain under a big wire globe was a guy painted in gold wearing a gold lame speedo and being a statue. The food was terrific....and it was great fun seeing some old acquaintances. AND seeing some zippy outfits with what looked like super expensive shoes etc. was really ok after all and worth getting out of my jeans.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

toads fish boats and water, the meaning of life

Perfect time to the middle of the night, with the frogs, perhaps they are toads, trilling, the dog scratching, the spouse snoring, and hopefully some peace in the world.

I've been doing so many ink drawings lately, usually two a day. I can work through ideas and pent up frustrations with a certain dispatch. Although I get hung up on the details. Or rather I like to get hung up on the details. Especially, the dark and darker scribbles that give contrast and texture to the drawing.

As to subject, the boat the fish the branches are all me or a person caught in the flow and sometimes the stagnant pool of life. Or something like that. I'm going to go have some raisin bread raw and see what's on tv.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

depressed artist art as used furniture

It's easy to get depressed if you are an artist of any kind.

The point is, you dredge sludge up from your very soul, do your best to make "it", the art, beautiful or controversial or inspiring or motivating or comforting, and then you put it out there after hours and hours working and birthing "it".

And then "it" is disregarded, or denigrated, or glanced at momentarily, or asked what's next or forgotten. Ouch. It's just that it can't help but be personal. Even when "it" is celebrated, it becomes old news pretty fast.

The best thing for "it" is if it can go live with someone. And be appreciated for a while, and we hope "it" doesn't show up in a used furniture shop looking orphaned.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

falling house recycled

Went to the "country" yesterday to drive around and walk around small towns and relax. Then went out further to a deserted farm (the land is in the family) to see what had changed since the last visit. There is a house on a slight hill overlooking the mesquite and oaks and cows.

Many years ago it was abandoned. The paint peeled off, the door knobs and hinges rusted. A few years ago it had slipped from any vestige of human usage to hay storage. The hay was no longer there after a while and then there was a tornado. The little house with the gray planks and hand built bricks now slumped down on itself in an almost graceful way. Aside from some twisted sheet metal fallen from the trees you would assume the house had a peaceful death. There is an old tire near by and a corral all bent in on itself, a sister to the house.

So, you pick up a brick and hold it warm from the sun in your hand and wonder about the hands that made it so long ago. Then you notice there are tiny bugs in the crumbling brick and let it drop. This is real recycling.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

compulsive artists or artists compulsive

Another thought after perusing Flickr: There is a group on there called Obsessive Drawing and one called Obsessive Compulsive Art, or something on that order. I contribute often to both. I paint compulsively and I draw compulsively. And I think I do a lot of other things compulsively.

I think I have to blame genetics. I managed not to become an alcoholic like some in my family, nor a real actual OCD person like another, BUT, I make art compulsively. Is this something most of us who are artists are guilty of? I couldn't stop painting for my last show and now I can't stop drawing. And this is fine, I guess, but sometimes it is at the cost of other duties. I have several artists in my family and yes, all pretty compulsive.

Does it come with the territory....are we artists because we are compulsive or are we compulsive because we are artists??????

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

warhol, illustration, commercial, fine, art art art

Tax day. Be nice if it was not spent on war and political favors pockets.

But, it is a nice day here at the bottom of East Texas, people and plants raging with energy.

Someone at Flickr brought up the question: illustration vs "art". If a painting/drawing etc is being used to sell something, then I suppose it is "commercial" art. But if some artists paint/draw in a narrative and/or graphic style.....that is not commercial or illustration art, it is a simple choice of subject. Andy Warhol never shirked the title of commercial one could have been more commercial.....but in his challenge to regimented contemporary (at the time) art thinking, he turned things upside down in the art world and the museums. So, signs are art, marks on walls are art, neon bar signs are art, your kid's art is art. Its all art, in my opinion, unless it is hawking perfume, etc. A case might be made for artists hawking galleries and curators, but that is another subject.

Monday, April 7, 2008

our garden runneth over

It is Monday and we have managed to get through yet another weekend of not sweeping up the disgusting mess left by our big oak tree. Yellow pollen and seed things cover every surface. In a addition to that, when we cut down the Mexican plum tree last fall, we did not reckon on the orchard that has now sprouted all along the running underground roots of said tree.

So, shall we have a Mexican plum forest or shall we get the axe out? The indecision in our house has caused the forest to flourish. Isn't it amazing what happens to a garden? Everything changes!
The many gingers, the three enourmous clumps of bamboo, the pentas, the fireplants, and of course the "weeds" (it is subjective as to what is a weed), have crowded what once seemed like a very large yard. And because all of this is so overwhelming and because taxes are due, we will continue to watch it grow for a while. Happy Spring.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Walmart old furniture patina and global warming

There are some photos of my abode on Flickr right now, so I'll state my personal decorating belief system: No System. And its best if most everything can be previously used and/or handmade. There seems to be a kind of soul patina that attaches to things, especially wood things, that once belonged to someone else. Even better if many someone elses.

I grew up with Danish Modern and clean lines and surfaces to everything. No great surprise then that I prefer knarly wooden worn out things with banged up edges and surfaces. A bit of history, and it will be a history unknown, is a healthy thing for any object. And if we all did it maybe we wouldn't have furniture stores, Walmart and global warming. Far out, but just musing.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


I've been posting on for a few weeks now and I am amazed at a few things. First that there is so much creativity out there and second how clear it is that each person sees and creates so individually. Yes, yes, I knew that, I taught that, but here it is in the tens of thousands.

Personally, I am surprised at my preferences in the type of art I like to look at. (Sorry Ms. Kroker, my English teacher). I am so drawn to drawings. Black and white and line drawings. It's like stepping off a building to confront the blank paper with no clear intentions. You just start drawing and there is no going back. Painting is much more forgiving.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


I wonder if I am, at heart, a folk artist. I have never been fully trained, I have never "fit" into the type of art that required intellectual discourse. When I began to think through my hands, I drew/painted what I felt and saw....mostly emotional. I think I can say with confidence that figurative narrative painting had STOP DON'T written all over it. I was not an action painter, a hard edge painter, an abstract painter and above all not a minimalist or a conceptual painter.

The better idea is to blast all labels. We all just do what feels right. In my drawings lately, I am able to quickly explore more of my imagination. Pen and ink are very freeing. And I'm able to stinky fumes. Not to say I won't be back in the studio as soon as my little bronchials are happy.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Drawing is taking up most of my creative time these days. A break from the fumes in the studio. I'll post a few drawings that are new.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Wow, where did the week go? The balmy weather in Houston is seductive. We took the heater out of the fish pond today. There are 5 big fat goldfish in there and they are swiftly outgrowing our tiny pond. During the winter they parked themselves like little piglets at moma's teats at the heater.....all lined up. The elephant ears have crept into the pond unable to resist a source of constant water.

And I saw my first mosquito yesterday. They have awakened and are a bit lazy yet but already out for blood. My drawings in pen and ink continue but with some hesitation. Its been such a long time since I drew all the time. Painting has been my constant. But there is something so intimate about that black line moving on the good paper.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

We have chugged the 8+ hours back from Fairhope, the bay, and the river. It was beautiful and fun and I must post some photos. A couple are from a very very funky BBQ place. It looks unsanitary but I was maybe ok. Had good food. Also a shrimp place and a church.

The Spanish moss was hanging from the oaks, the pecan trees were a ghostly silver among the outrageous green grass and the river was well populated with osprey, cardinals, buzzards, pelicans, ibis, and my favorite, the great blue heron.

Also had a jog through the Fairhope art and craft fair. The usual proportion of really good, ok, and really awful offerings. I found a jeweler there, Barbara Foley from Joplin Mo, who was fantastic. Her tent was packed with people like me wanting to give her our money. Great work. Also bought a fine trigger fish made of stone and carved and sanded (many many hours) by Peter and Stephanie Haddow from Madison, Mississippi.

Perhaps the most interesting is the cement round house in Fairhope, built by Henry Stuart, "the Poet of Tolstoy Park" (the book of the same name is by Sonny Brewer....good read) He was a barefoot and eccentric poet with utopian ideas, and inspired by Tolstoy.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

I hate to leave my computer and Flickr, but its time to travel. We are off to Fairhope AL, a rather interesting place. There is a great book called The Poet of Tolstoy Park by Sonny Brewster that I recommend highly. The subject of the book was an intellectual and an eccentric who lived in a cement round house that he built. He usually went barefoot and bathed in the cold spring fed water all year.
True story, great read.

Fairhope was founded by folks from up east a long time ago. They were planning a community where all could be educated and live equally. The town was named by a woman doctor who said it had a fair hope of surviving.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Started digging through some of my flat files today, just curious what the layers held. A lot.
Old sketches, show invitations and photos mostly, with the old sketches being the most interesting.
I guess I always thought: when in doubt draw it out.

It feels fine to do a nasty satirical drawing of your crumby boss or the ignorant political situations and of personal dramas. I once did a drawing and also a gouache of my parents in Viking helmets screaming and pointing fingers at me huddled on the floor. I mean, please, they weren't THAT bad. There are plenty of drawings and paintings of the obstinate person I'm married to.....ignoring what I am saying. So, there are also paintings and drawings of me threatening him with a knife or a bonk on the head. Honestly, he's no worse than any other man....and ok I love him anyway.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

I'm in such big trouble. I've found Flickr. A new way to waste time. But how wonderful to find photos of other's art, gardens, collections. To see the texture of the lives of others of like mind. I'm sure the novelty will wear off in a few days, but I have been glued!!

Also finished the book City of Glory by Beverley Swerling. It's an historic novel, extremely well researched about the beginnings of Manhattan. I loved it. Am now starting another of hers, City of Dreams.....about an even earlier Manhattan.

And even made it out to the studio for a couple of hours. Had to still use oil as I forgot to order the acrylic white to switch.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

This couple was made by a prisoner in Huntsville, Texas. He used kleenix as paper mache.

folk art

I love the feel of a good folk art piece. Soulfully made or someone's treasured past toy, it is a very intimate expression.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

acrylic paint

Back in Texas, with the tiny tender leaves beginning. I have had time to think about the problem with oil paints and solvents. I believe they are the root cause of my many bouts with bronchitis.

So I have a pile of acrylic paint heading this way and I'm going to try to switch. I'm anticipating some trouble with it as I have stuck to oil for 35 years. It is a good time to mess about with the new medium and explore a bit.

It is imperative to be committed to your art, but not at the cost of health. Onward.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Congo tree lunches

Still in California, still sicko. What a great opportunity to see every documentary ever filmed.
Palo Alto has access to three......three !!! PBS stations...I'm in heaven. Marching across my mind are lowland gorillas of the Congo, baby elephants and creeping torantulas. There are historical sagas, unwed mothers, Obama and Hillary, school lunches, how to plant a tree and how to sew a seam.
I'm awash in information.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


I am in California. The idea was to help my mother, but I've come down with some bronchial thing and been wasted for the past 5 days. I was to fly home in the morning, but the idea of walking to the gateway seemed an immense undertaking, so I flopped back into bed and changed the ticket.

One little snag and everything tumbles. Cancel this postpone that. But if you feel wretched enough, getting out of things brings only relief. Painting will have to wait. I never could paint well in Calif anyway. The landscape is such a distraction.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

fun in the dirt

Another day another idea. Copper. I've painted on metal before, but not for a very long time. I had this copper sheeting left over from a jewelry making idea (a trail not followed) just sitting around. So I cut some small pieces and painted. Fun. So nice to let some sparkly bits of copper shine through.

But today I watched my granddaughters while their mother was at work, and that was and always is a more sublime sort of fun. One will be 4 in May, the other turns 2 this month. The best part today was the almost 4 year old scraping a good section of dirt clear of pine needles, then flat on her back making "dirt angels". She'd seen the kids in snowy places making snow angels and proceeded in the only way a little Texan could....make do with dirt. And her favorite word is "poop". I love it.

Monday, February 4, 2008

a monday

While the winds are tossing the bamboo and the trees and it is warm one day and very cold the next, there are birds back in the birdbath! White tailed doves, cardinals, some regular doves and some little twittering things. The blue jays, who normally rule the garden, are not around yet.

So I've been pulling up "weeds" and fighting back the firecracker plants. Stabbed by the roses and finally cut by my own clipper, I gave it up and headed for the studio. And there, I found a new series to start. Still using the square panel, but this time making a faux frame enclosing a small, intimate painting. I did this years ago and now I return to it. I'm happy with it and while it may not be the total new direction, it is pleasing and enticing to me. You just have to keep going to the studio, something happens eventually.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

small inks

The studio does call again. Right now just very small drawings with ink. Feel like I have come to the end of something and the new thing hasn't washed ashore yet. Will it be bulky, will it be delicate, will it be canvas or panel, will I find a new direction? At the end of a show and a lot of work done, there is a slow burning core down there in the stomach, that threatens to become full flamed panic that I will fail to find my direction anew.

When the ideas come they will fill me up and I will be in love with new possibilities. Now I ponder the raw materials and imagine what might be done with them. I am seeing some faint ideas that only whisper right now. And in the meantime, the small inks keep that hot core at a simmer.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Harriet Joan

This evening was a goodbye and a beautiful celebration of the life of an amazing woman and friend.
Harriet Joan Ehrlich was a phenomenal woman. A fighter for civil rights all her life, she worked for the EEOC for 28 years and here in Houston and more recently in San Francisco as director of each. You know the old phrase : she never met a stranger.....she made friends with all she came across and then amazingly cross pollinated them with other friends. She was a great supporter of the arts as well and collected many pieces of
mine from early on.

Harriet Joan was FABULOUS. She loved stylish clothes, fun purses, deep pillows, her little yorkies, her extremely talented social impacting children, grandchildren, her uncountable friends and LIFE. This outstanding woman was totally involved with making this a better world. Big brown eyes, swept back hair, huge warm smile, brave, curious, innovative and loving. She made us all feel good about ourselves and because she said so, we believed we could do wonderful things.

The memorial at Rothko Chapel was perfect, as I am told she orchestrated much of it. People from all directions came here to remember funny stories and great achievements of this dear friend. I think we were all hanging on pretty well until her violinist friend played. The huge Rothko black paintings around us, the haunting music....get out the Kleenex. Harriet Joan insisted on ending the memorial with a recording of her favorite New Jersey boy, Bruce Springsteen. We then walked to the Menil museum for a warm hearted reception.

This was a life well lived. Love you, dear Harriet Joan.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

art talk

Here's the thing. I gave a little talk to a group of art goers tonight at the gallery. Although I''m pretty much a recluse, I can pull it up when I have to. I helps a lot to have a long range view of my work from the group director. He and his co-director wife have been coming to my studio or gallery, and those of many others, for at least 20 years. Their efforts to get the art seen are invaluable...and its fun for everyone. Every town should have art going groups like this. Sure helps out the artist.

And the gallery owner is superb, she gets what I'm doing, sees the scope of my work and speaks beautifully about it. The folks sat on the floor all round the big room and listened and laughed and responded with intelligence. That takes care of the post opening show blues. I don't see people all that much when I'm painting, and now I'm back up.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

studio time

The sun shineth and the birds twitter and the dog races around the yard. Today it was quite mild out there and I went back to the studio.

There is the need to reflower my studio. That sounds strange, but it feels like the paintings in the show
have been plucked, and its time to grow. Working on painting seemed beyond me today, so I started slow with some drawings in ink on paper. No stress, no real expectations. I began to feel like I was reinhabitating the space.

Friday, January 18, 2008

studio fidelity

I am of the mind that you need to go to the studio every day. Even if it is only to sweep or read. You know how it is in the middle of summer and your pants stick to you and lethargy has set in....well, it was colder than a witches ___, ( you know that lackluster ole boy phrase). I had on three layers and a scarf but I was too cold to move. I must admit, I am lucky to have a/c but I don't have heat. This is HOUSTON, we manufacture heat.

But it was still good to be there. I sat shivering and looking at all the raw material just waiting for me. Like the really great fancy cast iron frames that I couldn't pass up but now don't know how to make practical. And the balsa wood I sent away for, I still have plans for that. Lots of unassembled stretchers, piles of panels, paper, lots, and finally enough push pins.

And more than a few panels that need to be sanded and painted over. My dog couldn't understand why I had the door closed, bottling up his energy. Its sort of a San Francisco/Seattle day. And next August I won't be able to imagine the refreshing refrigerator air that is here now. And of course I will bitch about the weather.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

driving like a putz

Driving across town for an appointment I saw.........

So many new buildings and condos and apartments and storage places (for the people in condos and apartments). But what I really saw were the square cutouts in the trees from trucks passing under, and the spidery outlines of the trees with no leaves. I saw the body language of people at a bus stop and the very different posture of a person in charge of something. I saw water standing at the curb with a bicyclist about to roll by and a truck moving out of his lane to protect him from splash. I noticed the tiny little houses down at the bottom of Yale, with tiny little chairs on a tiny porch and how the road gets better and better as you head toward the centers of museums, medical center and down town. And as the road gets better so does the landscaping, it starts to look rich, not that there's anything wrong with that.

The buildings were misty, Vivaldi was playing on the radio and I suddenly noticed that everyone was speeding around me. So I narrowed my eyes on the road ahead and ceased being a dreamy putz.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

sluggy painter

In the aftermath of a show opening, I am a slug. An underwater slug dreamily drifting with little concentration or brainpower. I can't get anything done. The dining room table piles higher and higher with things that need to be somewhere else. I don't even know where where-else is. And oy, the studio. The walls are studded with pushpins and hanging thingys. The walls also show the scars of past larger paintings: the oops missed marks, the writing in charcoal reminding me of something now forgotten, and the curling white paper from the last photo shoot.

The new cradled panels nag me to get them gessoed and strung up. The toxic waste makes me feel sooooo

It is so sad to feel so sluggy. A sunny day might help. Or a cookie.

Monday, January 14, 2008

beautiful offspring

And to add to the San Antonio son: the other two lights of my life. Son and family in Houston, daughter and family in Fairhope. Al.
Houston son allowed us constant access to his two little sparkly off spring and we love having them so close. This son is talented at computers and house restoring, carefully re glazing every single tiny pane in the old house. They are also excellent parents, gardeners, organizers and good friends.
Fairhope daughter and family live part time on the river. Visiting there is paradise. The river is tidal and watching it rise and fall and the big birds circling over head, causes a dreaminess that denies stress.
They also live in town...and few towns are as charming as this one. All flowers and books and art, it perches on Mobile Bay attracting creativity and contemplation. This child of mine is a glorious spirit. Daughter of the sun and the water. Passing on to her children the love of new experiences and of nature.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

enviornmentally alert

Drove to San Antonio yesterday to visit son and family. We headed west as the sun lifted off the horizon.
It was the first time this year that I noticed the bare trees, and salmon colored grasses. Texas does have its proud moments. The sunrise was all pink/mauve/purple and the trees sparkled silver. It was a beautiful day.
Our son and his wife (and child) are among the new young environmentalists. They strive to leave a small carbon footprint, eating/sleeping/gardening/flushing small/conserving/ all in awareness and consciousness.
They are restoring a small hundred plus year old house in a neighborhood that is more hood than neighbor.
They committed to this house, taking on much more than the average homeowner. I mean, who levels, rewires, de-leads, shovels debris, plugs the chinks in the uninsulated walls and floors...not to mention having no kitchen cabinets, bathroom sink, and for that matter bringing their own farm sink with them as that wasn't there either. Whew. I can barely sweep or empty the dishwasher. Well, I can, but I'd rather paint.

So, I think that little family is heroic. They have occasionally wanted to give up. But they haven't. And I hope there are lots of other young families doing the same in inner cities with houses and neighborhoods that need saving.

So, back home to a studio that is desperately seeking order. Maybe I'll read a book.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Had a terrific opening last night at Koelsch Gallery. The work looked good thanks to excellent layout and hanging by Franny and Jeff.

The amazing thing was how many old friends turned up. Some I hadn't seen for 20 years! Support from other artists was wonderful. With one friend, we talked briefly about the loss, as in death, of so many of our artist friends over the years. It is startling. One minute you are just starting out in this business and the next, most everyone has grey did that happen? There are some younger friends, but they are having their own time. Making their own memories. Sigh. Man, this got morose.

So, it was a good night. The work of the past year up on the walls. Feels good.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

cul-de-sac paintings

Paintings all off to the gallery. The studio echos. Well, sort of. Actually, there is a LOT of stuff in there. It is good to be productive, but then you are surrounded with output. I'm still quite fond of some of the oldest paintings in there. I know all the frustration and craziness that went into their birth.

Some of this output represent cul-de-sacs. Exuberant directions that were delicious to indulge but led to an ending point rather than a connection to other work. Some of the cul-de-sacs were the need and relief of doing something different.

That is, if the work was all figures for a while, then it was wonderful to do still life. If all of it had exhausted me, then it was soothing to do something nearly (for me) abstract: a bit of curling paper, a slanted table top and a red ball. I did twelve of these paper/table/ball pieces. They don't look like the other work. And that is the delight I get from them. That and the challenge of how do you use those 3 parts in 12 different ways. Quite fun.

Monday, January 7, 2008

cat advice

The reason for Lulu's demise: an obsessive taste for blanket fringe. Why do cats eat things like this? She also ate bits of plastic Christmas tree, but apparently that was not the problem.

So, I guess you should follow your cat around to protect it.
The dog, Ollie, also eats all and sundry that is left on the floor.
One shoe each of two visiting adults and a couple of visiting baby shoes, any book left too close to the edge of a table (he chews all the corners so if you are lucky you can still read the book), wood of all sorts, and plastic toys are his fare.

I have counted myself lucky so far as I had one friend whose siding and walls were eaten by the dog. You might think that Ollie is a neurotic animal. He is. But he's a very cheerful one. And as all my animals thus far have been neurotic, I can only conclude that it is the environment. But alas, I like being neurotic. It feeds my painting and I'm not giving it up.

Sunday, January 6, 2008


The cat did indeed die. We don't know why. She leaves an empty space on top of the flat file where she ate and had her treats. Already the mechanism of our life seems changed. Lulu's personality was large.

Friday, January 4, 2008


One of those days. Way too busy, get home late and the cat is sitting by the water dish looking like death.
So off to the vet's. She's spending the night getting re hydrated. I think she ate some plastic Christmas tree needles.

Spent most of the day with grandchildren and daughter in law at the zoo. What a great place for examining human nature. The animals are well behaved to the boring point. The kids, however, display a grasp of primitive behavior that links them to the cave days. Of course I love them dearly, even the ones I don't know, but the thin skin between everything ok and a major meltdown is astonishing. I guess we should be glad that adults repress so much.

Perhaps the funniest vision of the day was seeing all the children entering the petting zoo, brushes held high and aiming for a goat. Can't you imagine the goat's inner dialogue? Oh, God, here they come again. One goat came to where I was sitting and leaned into me for what could only be protection. Kids, the human kind, are ruthless in their pursuit of adventure. The pigeons feared for their lives.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

book of woe

Jan. 2, 2008.

Pictured are some of the "pages" from the "book of woe" that I did some time ago. It is one of my favorite things yet it has a hard time being seen. It doesn't hang on the wall. It is two sided and stands on a table.
All the individuals are woeful examples of the human condition. Addicted, annoying, whining, willful, self centered, pitiful. It was a cathartic piece.

Imagine, plucking all of your most woeful self out of the sweet soup of what you think of as the very fine you. Plucking it out and holding it up and examining each sordid little bit of gristle. Its fun and its like turning on the light in the closet. Not really as bad as you thought. But for sure worth examining.

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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