February 8, 2011

Yesterday on a run through the woods I found this small gem lying in the path.

It was the colors that caught my eye:  the red hooked root and the yellow cotyledon with the little bit of bright green at the top (not so apparent in this image) – all standing out against the dull brown of the winter path.  This tiny gem became the germ for many thoughts floating around my head.  The finding of it surely supports what I tell my drawing classes; whatever (color or value) you put next to something changes it.  I would likely not have noticed this acorn or appreciated its colors had it been lying in the midst of colorful flowers.  This little gem of a seed also seems to relate to the small (tiny, actually) collages I am working on at the moment.  Every element, every small detail – such as a bit of green n a cotyledon – makes a difference.  Change something and the image and meaning shift.  Hmm…I am wanting to continue my musings here, but I will save such stream of consciousness silliness for my next run rather than subject anyone who might have landed here to too many words about too many of life’s tiny details.  For now, it is back to the studio to work on the small details of tiny collages.  I  have a deadline to deliver these for a show at Quirk in March – stay tuned for more details!  And later this week a short entry on… DELIGHT!


October 5, 2010

Clay Practice

This morning when I was out for a run, my mind wandered to a puzzling observation:  why do we speak of yoga practice, meditation practice, spiritual practice, or writing practice, but not art practice, painting practice, or drawing practice.  The word practice – noun or verb – inherently suggests an ongoing process of learning, growing, and questioning.  Making art is certainly that.

The notion of a drawing practice is a useful one to offer to students.  So often the adult students who come to my drawing classes are shy about their creative skills and seem to carry unconscious assumptions about what they “should” be able to accomplish… even as beginners.  I’ll share this idea of practice with my class tomorrow along with my belief that curiosity is an essential part of a drawing practice; it is the thing that breathes life into the work.  Now, if I can only remember this on Friday when I am a student in a clay class.

Travel Iris

May 30, 2010

Although I have been home from my travels abroad for almost 6 weeks, I am still soaking up the benefits.  Yesterday by chance I picked up a book of haiku of Basho and read :

One of the joys

of travel – rare

talk about an iris.

Basho captures so much with so little (of course!).   While visiting famous cities and sites IS wonderful,  the greatest riches that I bring home are chance encounters, random conversations (often in broken languages), and small kindnesses.  I treasure the conversation with the older woman on the bus in Barcelona who made sure I got off at the right stop.  I delight in the memory of meeting the hang player, Alex Oses, in Parc Guell.  And I smile when I think of the photographer who helped me in the Barcelona metro station even though he had been up partying all night.  While these moments may seem unimportant in comparison to the riches of the Prado or the Alhambra, they are little gems that offer hope and connection.  The world shrinks and kindness is abundant.  So I will savor the sweetness of recent travels until the next opportunity arrives for more rare talk about an iris.

Mosaic at Parc Guell, Barcelona

Studio Envy

May 28, 2010

Studio space can be a critical factor in the working life of an artist.  The kitchen table, the corner of a room, or the space of a drawing table often have to make do.  Garages and basements can offer an improvement in square footage but not necessarily in quality of space (I’m thinking of camel crickets, spiders, mold, and damp darkness).  A dedicated room with heat, natural light, and running water nearby may seem a luxury.  But there are other possibilities…

On a recent trip to Spain I visited the Museo Sorolla in Madrid.  This oasis is a few metro stops from the historic center and main tourist area of the city.  It is the former home and studio of the artist Joaquin Sorolla (1863-1923).  The house was designed with a studio and two gallery rooms attached.  Sorolla designed the surrounding gardens.  What a gem!  The house and studio hold not only many of Sorolla’s paintings but also his collections, from pottery to artifacts. With the exception of the rooms that now serve as gallery space, the house is much as it was when Sorolla died, and the visit offers an interesting glimpse into a creative life.  This is the studio:

This is a view from the garden of the studio/gallery entrance (now the museum entrance):

And this is a view of one of the four garden spaces:

If I lived in Madrid, this garden would be a frequent destination; a place to read, think, sketch, be.  And the studio; well, I’m not sure I would know what to do with so much space!


May 9, 2010

It is time to get this baby running again!  Time evaporates like water splashed on boiling hot pavement.  A day can end only a moment after it began, with the next one racing in to take its place.  Last week I had two small children; now they are grown men.  Yesterday the February snow (where I left off here ) was still on the ground, but today I’m late getting the vegetables in the garden.  Whew!  Don’t blink!

Time is flying, and I’m heading out to pick up my shovel; but I’ll be making another post soon…

(And in recognition that today is Mother’s Day, I want to say to those grown-men children that I can’t imagine any better trip than the one I’ve been on with you!  What a great time I am having!  Thanks, guys!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Late Valentine

February 15, 2010

A road might end at a single house,
but it’s not love’s road.

Love is a river.
Drink from it.


The opening for the current show at Rivermont Studio in Lynchburg will be held tomorrow evening, February 12 at 6:00.  All are welcome!  I am showing new three-dimensional work – mixed media sculpture and assemblages – that I have been writing about here.  Here are some of the pieces in the show: Air and Light, Lost Bearings, Shelter It won’t float, but you’ll be safe,  Everyday Miracle: Attachment, Homage to Lenore Tawney, Oryoki,  and Hundreds of Ways.

This piece, called Germinal, is also in the show.  I have included its various parts in earlier posts including the Weber grill firing of the clay parts.  The base is cast glass, and the stand is a found hand loom.  Other  materials include wire, fabric, thread, seed silk, and fiberglass.

This is my statement for the show:


The work in this show has provided an opportunity for me to explore some three- dimensional ideas that have been germinating, in one form or another, in my mind and my sketchbook for years.  It is a shift from my usual format of two-dimensional drawing and painting but also a logical extension of that work.

These pieces have arisen through my interest in the materials and in the process.   Making this work has involved not only the very practical aspect of engineering and assembling but also an approach of working intuitively and allowing both object and meaning to evolve. The process of combining and juxtaposing materials and parts has yielded many surprises in all aspects of the work.  These pieces are experiments in using new materials, new techniques (including clay building and glass casting and fusing), and new images.  Although the intent and meaning varies from piece to piece, all are linked by certain threads including:  a deep love of the natural world, a fascination with the subtle connections existing in the world around us, an interest in the power of metaphor, and a belief that beauty matters.

The artists who have influenced and inspired this work are many.  A few to note in particular are Lenore Tawney, Martin Puryear, Patrick Doherty, Andy Goldsworthy, Joseph Cornell, Eva Hesse, Christopher Wilmarth, Hannelore Baron, and, of course, my friend and teacher John Morgan.

Wise Words

February 11, 2010

With Valentine’s Day upon us, it seems fitting that these two snatches of Rumi’s poetry come from Coleman Bark’s translation Rumi, the Book of Love. Rumi’s poems carry much wisdom and food for thought.  He is very direct in an oblique sort of way.  See if you can spot this one:

Today like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened.  Don’t open the door to the study
and begin reading.  Take down a musical instrument.

Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

And here is another:

No better love than love with no object,
no more satisfying work than work with no purpose.

If you could give up tricks and cleverness,
that would be the cleverest trick!

Coleman Barks‘ translations of Rumi  as well as his commentaries on the poetry are true gifts to English speakers.  Highly recommended!!!

Poetry and Light

January 27, 2010

A friend once commented, “Poetry can change your life.”  I think it is even accurate to say, “Poetry can save your life!”  There is something very powerful that happens when everyday words are put together  in a poem; something beyond words is said.  The words become more than their dictionary definition, more than they mean in our daily conversations.

The notion of taking everyday words and putting them together in unexpected ways in a poem is relevant to the 3-dimensional pieces I am working on ( a mix of mixed-media sculpture and assemblage ).  Instead of words, I am using everyday objects and materials, and I hope the finished works can be viewed as visual poems.   As in poetry, the meaning can unfold over time.  I am still learning what these pieces are about.

Here is a new piece to ponder.  It is called  Air & Light, and it has two states:


and ON

Pick up a book of poetry, and keep reading even if the poems don’t make sense; you just never know when you will come across one that speaks to you, one that will CHANGE YOUR LIFE.  Look at art the same way!


October 16, 2009

It won't float

This piece is inspired by those curious occasions when the improbable becomes possible, and the inexplicable changes a life.  The working title is It Won’t Float, But You’ll Be Safe. As humans, our vision is shortsighted and our understanding limited.  Although we think we see and understand clearly, I am convinced that most of the time we have NO IDEA of the dance we’re in.  Enough words.  Intuitive understanding and a glimpse out of the corner of an eye are more useful here!