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 hair.....how 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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