Sunday, August 29, 2010


 "Black Lake" is an older painting that, I think, has the feel of a sunrise or sunset.

One morning before 7:00 I was driving east down the expressway. Forecasts predicted rain and thunderstorms that hadn't happened. Ahead of me a wedge of the dreary gray, cloudy sky broke open and unveiled a glowing pink. Then edges of the clouds around the pink became fiery gold. It literally took my breath away. 

My first thought was to wish for my camera. Capture it. Keep it forever. Savor it. Share it with others.

We've all gotten emails of breathtaking photography. The photographer was there at that precise moment of beauty. Snap. Captured. When we see those images on our computer monitors we whisper, "wow".

But as painters in 2010, I think we need to do more than capture the perfect sunrise or the beautiful flower. The goal should not be to repeat natures perfection. Could that be considered plagiarizing nature? But rather we should create something new. Something not seen or known before. Something we can "wow" ourselves with.

PS. keep in mind that tomorrow I may paint a hydrangea. In art the rules (especially mine) are meant to be broken.

Monday, August 16, 2010


Something has happened to my garden. I don't know whether it's some kind of blight, heat, neglect because of the heat, or just the Dog Days of August.

It's looking really bad.

We're having a lovely cooler morning, so I spent a couple hours cutting out sick leaves, and completely eliminated some cucumbers that want to rule the world.

As I was cleaning up the garden I was thinking about painting. Painting and gardening have this in common; it's important to know what to weed. Is there a cucumber in my art that wants to dominate? Should I let it? What if it's a round yellow cucumber. Interesting to look at. Sweet. How much room should it get?

Final thought: gardening, painting and writing are all enriched by thoughtful editing.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Primary Colors

A few weeks ago Treena Flannery Ericson called, and with many apologies for asking, asked if I would donate a painting for a fund raising auction. It seemed like the perfect way to nudge myself back into painting. I adore Treena.  She's the gallery director at the Scarab Club in Detroit, and the Scarab Club has been good to me. The first juried show I was ever in was at the Scarab Club in the early 70's. 

The Scarab Club was founded in 1907 by a group of artists and art lovers. The main gallery is a bright, big space. Perfect for enhancing art.

The fund raiser is called Primary Colors and they wanted art that was confined to the basic primaries, plus black and white. After some messing around with acrylics, and I do mean messing, I decided to do a tryptic in encaustic. 

It's been 85 to 90 degrees here and humid as hell. I'm naturally assuming hell is humid. So I get out my blow torch, electric griddle, and electric frying pan. I figured I was already very hot, so a few more degrees wouldn't kill me. It didn't. In fact, encaustic is a great medium to do in the heat. If your sweaty brow drips on the art it just evaporates. Picture what can happen to a watercolor.

So I'm painting… fusing layers and layers of pigmented wax and damar varnish. Carving into the layers and fusing some more. 

Thank you, Treena.

If you are unfamiliar with encaustic, I'll tell more in a future blog.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Little Houses

When I was a little girl my mother sat with me at the kitchen table and taught me how to draw. It was nice, mostly being with my mother. But the thing that drew me the most was building houses. My first homes: a refrigerator box (nice and cozy); blankets hung from the clothesline (a little too roughing-it for my taste, even at 7); blankets over a table in my great-grandmothers flat. 

After mom divorced, she and I moved into my aunt Katie's house and shared the attic bedroom. My houses became much more sophisticated. Kim, my best friend, and I would walk up to the paint store and collect old wallpaper books. We got cardboard boxes from behind the grocery store and knives from the kitchen. Then we'd cut little windows and doors in the boxes, put in cardboard partitions and wallpaper the rooms. 

Then in the fifth grade my art teacher, Miss Schwitzer, taught us perspective. PERSPECTIVE! Wow. You can draw the inside of rooms with perspective! So on to the next phase, drawing my little houses and making floor plans. Bliss. I favored the cozy, efficient, no waste of space houses. This continued all though high school and beyond.

Ok, so that's some history.

My architect husband and I  now live in a four bedroom colonial house. As I get older this house gets bigger and bigger. More work. Too much stuff. 

A couple days ago I found a PBS video that I've played over and over. It's all about the small house movement.

This video brings me back to a very appealing place that I used to live in in my head. Small (not my head). Cozy. And I owned nothing more than what I really needed. 

The Doll House. The grandkids like it. John hates it. You can't please everyone.