Friday, December 28, 2007

seeing what other people have created is inspiring to the creative individual. Look at more art.

I've been visiting my dear friends Jo and Matt and their new little one, Mackeon. He is a lovely little one. Being with dear good friends and meeting their lovely child... how can I not be inspired and energized? Here's Mackeon now!

Christian and I went to the Hirshhorn Museum yesterday as well (click on the title for a little segue to that site). I love that museum and would have stayed much longer hadn't the closing hours sent us away! I've always loved the Juan Munoz sculpture in the garden near the entrance, so I'm including some pictures. I also thoroughly enjoyed the newest acquisitions (downstairs) and am happy to have read about the Hirshhorn's plans to acquire many works by contemporary artists! Furthermore, I was inpsired (for my own paintings) by the the work of Agnes Martin and Clifford Still. I realize some ways I want to proceed with more simplicity and focus on texture, pattern and color with the paintings/drawings I currently work on. More to come.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas. I hope each of you have a place to be warm and find joy today.

Monday, December 24, 2007

sedona textures

In going with the slightly cheesy aesthetic of the sedona tourism racket, I thought "Sedona Textures" might be a good title for this post. Maybe I'll put together a coffee table book to sell in gift shops there.

Despite all that, I am happy to have a beautiful new camera for use in taking lovely photos during Christian's and my time there.

Here are some of the photos taken (way back during Thanksgiving time) while at Taliesin West (FLLWSA campus), and while taking an overnight trip to lovely Sedona, Arizona.

Click here to go to the Flickr photo album.

Clearly, I like lichen. (I've also always liked that the words like and lichen together are somewhat stutter-ish.) I appreciate textures and surfaces of natural designs as I ponder my own work for fabric design, paintings, drawings, and graphic work. I consider these natural patterns far more interesting than most others I see in the man-made world. Excellent teachers for me.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


This is a personal venture, the blog, so I hesitate to apologize for not posting in over 2 weeks(?), but I do feel a sense of obligation as I write.
I’ve been meaning to post photos from the painting I was working on. I’ve since finished one of the works, stretched the canvas over a frame (now 5'x5' in dimension) and now find myself wondering if this painting really needs to be stretched over a frame. I painted the piece on the loose canvas on the floor (for a few reasons: the graphite stick wrote better on the surface and I could work on all parts of the canvas without the awkward reach of large workings on the wall) and have since grown endeared to its nature as loose, even wrinkled and with its unprimed, ripped canvas edge (a sort of frame in itself). The painting now hangs on my studio wall, with its collection of birds flying up from the lower left bottom/edge. It’s what I wanted, though not what I wanted as I feel unsatisfied and ready to do another. I think I must take the first off of its frame to relieve the too-formal taught surface it now boasts. I wish for the three-dimensionality it used to have in its waves of slightly warped, painted fabric (you can see this in the photo-collage above as the pictures were taken in process). I am happy with the written atmosphere of breathing transcribed onto the painting’s surface. That is most prominent in the piece, and I am glad of all the negative space it lends. I am more interested in the negative space. I may make the birds even smaller on the next one. Might the birds be more a part of the atmosphere created by the layers of writing and gesso? I think so.

Having made the photo-collage out of a few pictures taken of the work, I am realizing a possible change to the work. The assemblage is not accurate to what is on my wall now - all of the written text is the same size and obviously, the lighting across the work is not representational of the actual white and gray tones of the gesso and graphite. I think I may do some layers of larger and smaller text sizes to signify a kind of near/far in the atmosphere.

Furthermore, while running today, I saw a giant flock of starlings take flight out of a tree and fly across the overcast sky in a mass of movement and flowing form. First I should say, it was gorgeous and I stopped running because I had to take it in. Second, I realized I want my birds to be tiny and far away, similar to those in my sight today. I may lightly layer gesso over some of them in order to attain more depth along with the near/far text layering.

It will be a few weeks before I can get back in my studio and work out these issues. I hope to feel regenerated and ready after time apart. Now, I'm in Virginia for 10 days to visit beautiful family and friends. It's been a lovely time so far, and I look forward to the days ahead. I'm considering purchasing small papers in order to do some miniature drawings such as the painting... We'll see what happens.

Hoping to organize and post photos from the Sedona AZ trip soon... keep checking in!

p.s. Thanks to Erin for checking the blog so diligently despite my lack of contribution over these past few weeks.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

all day inside

The good part about snow days in Wisconsin (which are many), is that I will be inside working in my studio for extensive periods of time. On Saturday I posted to first snow storm pictures... so here's what I was working on that day.

I was in Arizona with Christian Butler (pictures from that trip, still to come...) and we went on the Day after Thanksgiving shopping freakout... (I now wondering why we didn't fully participate and even eat Mall Food Court food.) At Neiman Marcus, I tried on a jacket I loved with sleeve details much like the sleeve extensions I put on my coat here. The jacket was too large (thanks for convincing me not to buy it anyway Christian). A few days after returning to Wisco, I was skateboarding around and realized that my black peacoat's sleeves are too short, it's always annoyed me, and I should use the great wool my Mom gave me to lengthen them... and AHAH, use the sleeve detailing I loved about the coat at NM. Bingo. I also added a fat ruffle (with the same accordion fold as the sleeve detail around the elbow) around the hood so that the sleeve extensions wouldn't be solo. The ruffle reminds me of the way fur trimmed hoods sit over the head (I've always liked that look). It also references a loose bonnet... bringing in the colonial style!

Well, tell me what you think. And if you too think your sleeves are too short, there's a way out of that mess. No need for cold wrists.
Here, my notes before beginning. The original sleeves are about 2 1/2 inches shorter than the extensions. As you can see, I left the original inside and attached the new part to the old.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

winter comes when it wishes

You can see in the photo below, my bicycle tracks from my visit to the indoor farmers' market this morning... it wasn't snowing when I left. This weather is perfect for my indoor plans for sewing, cooking and of course, work on my painting and drawings.
See my neighbor shoveling? It's only been 1 1/2 hours since the snow started to fall. The good thing about this snow: It's light, fluffy, and dry! (What a relief from the southern snows of my childhood).

Friday, November 30, 2007

aesthetic operations

"...aesthetic operations are what artists do. Knowingly or not, when you are choreographing a dance or composing a piece of music, you are formalizing, exaggerating, repeating, manipulating expectation and dynamically varying your theme." - Ellen Dissanayake

Click on my entry title for the article "The Dance of Evolution: or How Art Got it's Start" by Natalie Angier in Wednesday's New York Times' Science Times section on the origin of creating art.

Sincerely yours,
aesthetic operator

Thursday, November 29, 2007

sound of breathing

Inspired by a conversation with my friend Ana Hernandez, an excellent conversationalist and artist herself, I've decided to post these images of 3 paintings/drawings I did a few months ago. This work was the beginning of an idea that I'm currently working with. In the midst of trying to create "prayer flags" of my own media and prayer, I began to transcribe the sound of my breath onto the surface. I was processing ideas of prayer, simple goodness, open space, clarity, even nothingness that prayer flags represent for me. I'm taking that process and working with it on the larger scale now - 5.5 sq feet and also keeping (at least for now) a white field of space. I'm coating the canvas in gesso and while it is wet, I write with graphite the sound of my breath as I breathe. Direct. I'm creating a field on which I want to include birds in flight, a silhouette abstraction really, to reference the 3 dimensionality of space and time that exists in our breathing. The vastness of our breath and the connectivity and the environment that it creates.

This is enough about this for now - here the images of the three works.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


By choosing to write what I am about to write, I believe I am that much more committed to producing a relative result. I wonder at my own ability to perform without assignments, deadlines, due dates… This is something like making those for myself.

The “relative result” would, in fact, be a work of art by myself. It may seem silly to write about this as though I am not already creating art on a regular basis, but I feel there is an undercurrent of creative ideas and theory that stays mostly in my mind – others do not experience any more than my seldom excited attempts to explain a sudden idea. I do occasionally create a work of art that is related to what is happening in my own undercurrent of course. I might do a series of 5 or 10 drawings or paintings that represent a kind of “sketch book” of my loftier visions. These are very valuable pieces of work to me in that they are visual notes reminding me of the grandeur that could exist by the effort of the same hands.

I have thought for about a year now that I am at a crux in my art making by which I have not yet been able to pass… I feel a sort of teetering and I’d rather teeter into the side of focused, committed art making (rather than just thinking about it until I’m blue and wondering why I never did what I wanted…). Now that I have a studio space, the greener grass on the other side of the fence seems more attainable.

I’m going to make a painting. I think it will be 6 square ft. on canvas. I will continue to address the concept of breathing in metaphorical relationship to art process. I have done 3 paintings/drawings most relevant to this idea, but they are smaller and different in scope as they relate to ideas of prayer flags. This is not so. I am still into the silhouette form of birds in flight and envision that form as part of the work. Whether there will be one large, one small, or a flock of smaller, I haven’t yet decided. A silhouette large enough to fill the canvas seems appropriate in some ways as it is then morphed into something else, an abstract shape of unrecognizable proportions and something abyss-like. A smaller, or group of smaller, speaks to reality and offers more negative space to the work, which is very important to me. Both proffer a sort of open void of space in their own right. Maybe 2 paintings are in order…

As for now, I leave you with a rather hilarious photo from my trip to Sedona, AZ with Christian over Thanksgiving holiday. Thanks for stopping on the highway Mr. Butler.

Monday, November 19, 2007

slow down

I'm apt to overload and overachieve, it's a pattern of existence not so unfamiliar for many who grew up alongside me. At the same time, I find myself seeking to slow down, thinking about how to practice clearness and spaciousness in my mind and in my time. Thanksgiving is coming and I believe I am most thankful for my life's freedom to fill or not fill my time with "to do" and "I can."

As I make art, most recently, I find that I want to put less and less imagery, texture, media into the work... and if I do include those things, I don't want it to seem that way. Even in my drawings of real subjects, I want to pair down to silohuette and basic defining lines. I want my work to express what I desire in my life: openness, spaciousness, simplicity of breathing and sounds and colors. It isn't careless. There is an element of seriousness in my letting go and pairing down... a kind of hard work and attentiveness that allow release.

I've been going through a period of art making where I've felt like I'm in a stuffy room and suddenly, as I reach a point of completion in my work, it is as though I've just walked out into a crisp, clean Autumn day. It is as though I am breathing in twice as much with each breath and my breathing reaches far past my lungs to the ends of my body.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

It's a very special day in the neighborhood

That's right, it's my birthday. And I'd like to take this moment to honor my very special sister Erin (who you see pictured above with me... we both have long hair now, just thought I'd mention). It's her birthday too. You see, we're twins. She's the same age as me today, except that she will be 26 at 4pm and I will be 26 at 4:06.

Some things you should know about Erin: She's beautiful. She cares. She's lighthearted and fun. She's tough. She's intelligent. She's my womb-mate. (ha, that's a ridiculous term... I just made up).

I hope that all of you who are reading this, whether today or any other day, are now smiling and realizing how worth it it is to have a great day in honor of a great day: November 7th, 1981.

peace peace be with you my dear sweet sister.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


...the many faces of jack. Amy, Jon and I carved these pumpkins to impress our trick-or-treaters. As for today, Happy Day of the Dead! credit for photos goes to Jon Engle.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

fall colors

Fall colors in unexpected places. This year is warm - an indian summer. My garden flowers heartily still, and yet the bright leaves fall all around.

Friday, October 26, 2007

migration... ation... ation... ation.

It's going to be migration season for a while longer. It's been migration season for weeks and weeks. I am in love with the movement, with the strangers, with the sadness.

Christian leaves tomorrow for Arizona. Migration. Easier with repetition? Maybe eventually.





Thursday, October 25, 2007

making marks

I met today with the administrator of a community arts center here in Madison to discuss a proposal for a drawing class I want to offer through the center. Learn to See... Learn to Draw: A drawing class based on clear seeing. I propose that if we can learn to observe with honesty and attend to actual details of the subject of our art, we not only improve our general awareness of the natural world around us, we also increase our potential to draw the subject with accuracy. I believe that anyone of any skill level can improve drawing abilities using this model of attention to light, shadow, shape, and placement (and maybe color). Willingness is the only prerequisite.

Personally, I realize a fine appreciation and a level of connection to the world each time I practice clear seeing and drawing what I see. I think it's a sort of practice in meditation too. I find that my process of art-making resembles concepts in meditation training.

Truly, despite skill level, I think that the product of the hands and eyes working in conjunction (when practicing clear seeing and clear drawing) is each person's honest art. The hand's honest physical ability and the eye's awareness combined with one's desire to translate a visual image onto paper: these become a genuine expression. I think this is why often adults view children's work as beautiful - it is the child's honest effort at visually translating what the eye observes.

As adults, we can take a leap of faith in our own hand's ability to delineate our eyes' clear observation. We can see it as a rational modality of drawing too. To see clearly is to simplify our mind's work in drawing any subject. We don't guess the details of the subject, we don't try to uncover truths without simply looking right at them. Often, especially as adults, we use tricks of drawing and we use symbols to draw what we wish to express visually instead of just drawing what we see, or seeking the subject of our desire. We then are trapped in our mind's inability to remember details of specific lighting, angles, textures, idiosyncracies that make reality reality. How frustrating! I wouldn't want to draw like that either!

I've gone on and on... I wonder if I write these ideas clearly enough. I've been told I speak them well... I hope that bodes well for teaching a course come Winter/Spring.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Mom in Madison

here we are,
after 5 days of hanging out in Madison,

we chill out at Barrique's Wine Cave, a great cafe, coffee shop, and wine/liquor shop on the West side of Madison. We've been to a lot of the hot spots worth checking out at a leisurely pace, and this afternoon we'll head to the apple orchard, or take a walk at the inner city forest, UW Arboretum. We went to the Food and Wine show in Madison on Saturday after a morning at the HUGE farmer's market (that makes me proud to call Madison home) and an awesome brunch at Marigold's. That day was ideal for Mom, being the foody she is... um, me too.

We went to Taliesin to visit Christian and explore the home and estate of Frank Lloyd Wright. The weather's mostly been gorgeous.
She's back to Virginia, my origin, tomorrow. We've had a lovely time of it. I'm glad to share where and what I am with my family each time I move to a new place. ...I guess that's a good enough reason to keep moving!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Skeletons emerge

I have students, and this is one of my students' work. Alex(andrea) is working on a story (of her own writing) about a skeleton who decides his grave is no longer fit for him and goes searching for the right place to fit in. Alex has chosen some adorable and comical scenarios in which the skeleton still finds himself in the wrong place. I'm excited to see what illustrations she comes up with. So far, this character has stolen my heart. She's a forward thinker with plenty of questions about publishing this story as a book for toddlers. ...Let's just get the illustrations done!

I should add, that Alex is 10 and has been taking lessons with me for about 6 weeks. She and I will continue to work together for most of this school year. I also have a student who attends University of Wisconsin for pre-vet, and simply sought better drawing skills. Both of my students are lovely to meet with on a weekly basis.

For those living in the Madison area, feel free to share with friends who might be interested in art or drawing lessons, or let me know of your own interest in instruction. I work with children as young as 4 and adults as old as they come. I'm also in the works for a potential Spring Semester Adult drawing class at the Monroe Street Fine Arts Center.

There's my plug!
If anything, I dig that skeleton!

Friday, October 12, 2007

this week

Going back and looking at all of my images, sketches, paintings, prints of birds as I seek to illustrate Plankton (literary magazine), I've found many many. I can imagine I'll continue to make them. When asked to reason about my art making, I recently said, "My artwork expresses themes of bird habitat and habits, spaciousness and meditation because these are things I believe in."

Monday, October 8, 2007


My Friend Kara Handy (we've known each other from 6th grade!) ran the Chicago marathon yesterday. Yes, THE sweltering October 7th Chicago marathon in which 1 person died, 40 were hospitalized and they had to cancel after 4 hours because so many people were dropping like flies. She, by grace, was able to recover from heat exhaustion at mile 22 and walk 4 miles to finish with a speedy jog! It was truly an amazing accomplishment as we were part of a march to the finish with many other harried and exhausted runners. I was with Kara for the last 7 miles. I too was uncomfortable, so I can't imagine having run the marathon.
So, to all the runners who gave it a shot, Cheers! I hope you try again on a cooler day! Alaska anyone?

Pictured here, myself and Kara at the end.
You can probably tell that I'm really proud.

Monday, October 1, 2007


This Friday I'll show a more current collection of work that revolves around the color and presence of prayer flags. My work with bird block prints and bright colors gradually led me into this direction and I realize more and more how appropriate the connection has prayer flags reference a religion based in meditation and I've always felt my work is meditative. So, not only is there repetition (part of meditation) in the images of many birds in flight (a migration), there are also repeated images (such as the one pictured above. I've made almost all of my work in squares. The repeated form is found in a string of prayer flags strung like a banner accross an entryway.

Themes of migration seemed to fall into my lap as Spring ended and Summer began. I'd been thinking of doing work with repeated shapes of flying birds for some time, then learning to screen print allowed me to do so. I printed 3 x 3 feet squares of repeated birds in flight onto fabric and paper. Some of these will also be shown Friday. These led to a repeated use of 3 of the same birds in flight onto the walls of my studio and other surfaces. It seems cheesy if I try to imply that the theme of migration relates to the migration of birds this season and/or the migration of my partner and his cohorts to Arizona for the Winter semester, but it is interesting that such a correlation did occur.

Frankly, I love birds. I love repetition. I love simple, bright colors and forms.

Here's an image of my studio Wall:

Wish I could bring it to the show.
Unless of course you're out of the country or out of the state, or just out of bounds, then, I hope to see you Friday at the Show. Lazy Jane's Cafe Williamson Street (1/2 block E of Baldwin St.) Madison, WI

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Taliesin migration

In the place of work and life of Taliesin (shining brow), the house and estate of Frank Lloyd Wright in Wisconsin, I'm helping those who study and work here to pack up and move to Taliesin West. Christian will be staying on for 2 more weeks in order to finish up a project, but almost everyone else who is part of the FLLW School of Architecture is leaving tomorrow for the beginning of their trip to Arizona.

My partner, the architecture student:

and if you'd like to check out the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture and Taliesin, go to There you can see more pictures and students, etc.

Off to do the migration thing.

Friday, September 28, 2007


Starting off the morning with some yum espresso and work on a literary publication that my dear friend Jesslyn compiles and edits: Plankton. I'm lucky enough to be doing graphics for the journal and I also get to read all the lovely stories and poems that are submitted and chosen. This morning, I'm formatting the above image into a page layout. It's a learning process for me and I realize often how far behind the curve I feel with computer graphics when I do this kind of work. But the good news is, it's never too late to figure stuff out. And there are plenty of people along all points on the curve.

Something funny this morning:

While waiting to get an espresso at the Mermaid, I was looking at the bulletin board and saw a poem written by Monona Wonders (must be a seudonym!). I am quite certain that the poem is about me as the precise scenario happened in my life 2 weeks ago. Here's the poem:



Girl on Skateboard Balances White Bucket

Garden Compost.

Truly, I did that, and then dumped the coffee grounds into my compost bin.
This has truly been a week of recognition.

By the way, I'm showing my work at Lazy Jane's Cafe (I always do, but this is different) for Madison Gallery Night. A one night event on Oct. 5 from 5-9pm with many galleries, etc. throughout the city participating and organized by Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Be there or be square. Seriously.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Work = Worth it

Here you see me working.

I'd like to point out that I work at a cafe in Madison, WI called the Mermaid Cafe on Winnebago Street (East side). I proudly assert that this cafe serves only fairtrade coffe and espresso in partnership with Just Coffee, which you can view here: and learn about what the heck that is. To be brief, fairly traded (not to mention organic and shade grown) coffees directly support the growers (where ever they are located on the globe) for their work and their product by paying them a fair price according to their country's living standards. Just Coffee is an organization that does more than just fair trade... so read on! Or, just check it out for a second. Our cafe is pictured as part of a list of cafes and restaurants who serve and sell beans from Just Coffee. See more pictures.

I am so very impressed with the coffee and espresso beverages that the Mermaid serves! ...and I had that thought before I began to work there! It is noteworthy as well that the Mermaid Cafe no longer uses products containing High Fructose Corn syrup. We make our own Chai (slightly sweetened with honey, spicy spicy!). And the food is delicious and good for you too!

Uh... Advertisement?

This is all to say that working is worth it when we know that our work does a world of good. Good for me. Good for customers' bodies and minds. Good for local businesses (food and coffee distributors). Good for the neighborhood. Good for the global economy. Good Good Good.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I would like to welcome myself...

Right, so here I am.
This is my blog.
I have one now.

The purpose of this blog is, to set a tentative goal, to have a journal-like collection of my work and ideas and thoughts related to my artwork. Topics might include art, literature, travel, psychology, and just the general thought process that occurs in art making (my own and in general). I'd like to think that this can be an open door to conversation about these topics too.

yes, and this photograph is an obvious example of how I feel silly while having pictures taken.