Sunday, December 20, 2020

Home alone in the Darkness, celebrate!

                           Cook`s Butte Study watermedia on Yupo 14x11 inches, 35.5x28 cm

 This solstice, Australia is not burning, an impeachment is no longer necessary and the Covid 19 vaccine is here! I`m sure grateful, my nurse husband will get the vaccine tomorrow. There is some new evidence that just one shot may be enough thereby doubling the supply. The whole endeavor to produce this vaccine is nothing short of a miracle. Medicine never moves this fast. It`s a hopeful sign that when the world mobilizes, great things can happen. Nearly 40 years have passed since HIV decimated my generation and its vaccine remains elusive.

Soon a responsible decent man will lead our country. Halleluja!

At long last, Congress just passed a new pandemic relief bill today! Mass poverty averted for now.

But the virus rages on. More now have died than during World War 2. The I-pads above are in a hospital ready for the final goodbyes of those dying of Covid. As we all know, because it is so contagious, the families and friends of the dying are not allowed near. The sacred passing from life to death is experienced alone. There is and will be a serious psychological reckoning.

                                    Winter Light watercolor on Yupo 14x11 inches, 35.5x28 cm

                                    Burial at Sea watercolor on Yupo 14x11 inches, 35.5x28 cm

                                    Replication watercolor on Yupo 14x11 inches, 35.5x28 cm

 My most successful efforts of late have been small. With two larger paintings, the struggle continues. These paintings have no destination which has allowed for some patience in resolving them. That feels wonderful. The personal gifts from the pandemic have been significant. As befitting a relationship with a deadly disease, priorities are swiftly reordered into their proper sequence. Concerns that festered are tossed out as the vanities they always were.
 Because John works in a hospital, we understood in a visceral way we could both die from the virus. So we got our act together and created a Living Trust. The future care of my work is addressed and all our affairs are in order. Being so adult nearly killed us but it`s done.

 From a child still young enough to believe in Santa Claus, he questions his own legitimacy. Yes, even some children this young, know they are gay. This is why I talk about my marriage. This is why I use the word husband. This is why I out myself constantly with every person I meet. If there is a context for saying it I will. I owe it to this boy to do what I can to make homosexuality normal and unremarkable. Insist on the reality that it is a fact of nature. And hold religion responsible.

 See that mountain back there? That is Cucamonga Peak, a talisman for the kids of Fontana Calif, where I grew up. It hovered above everything until it got to smoggy to see it. Trust me on this, living in a heavily polluted place harms the spirit as much as the body. I had to leave. Then, California took responsibility for its air, passed laws to clean it up and is now a leader in developing new technologies and strategies to counter global warming. In 1988 I was reading the New Yorker and came across a natural history of the San Gabriel Mountains [Cucamonga Peak is at the east end of the range] by John McPhee. I felt like my mountain worship was vindicated.

Since I`m painting with watercolor so much, I`ve been studying the work of others. Here are some new favorites;

                                                                   Anna Maria Potamiti

                                                                          Ella Clocksin

                                                                        Kamilla Talbot

 Found this on a Portland OR subreddit. Discovered in a back alley poetry shrine;

                                                                 Laura Grace Weldon


Click HERE for work available in my studio

HERE for prints

Monday, November 30, 2020

80,000,000! + new work

                            Rain in Arashiyama watermedia on Yupo 40x26 inches, 101.5x66 cm

                                               watermedia on paper 19x14 inches, 48x36 cm

                          Deeper Conversation watermedia on Bristol 13.5x11 inches, 34x28 cm

                                            watermedia on Yupo 40x26 inches, 101.5x66 cm

 After the 2016 election, a friend very upset at the outcome, asked me to sign a petition claiming there had been fraud. I told her I hadn`t read of any credible accounts of trouble and said no. Trump had won,  as sickening as that was. Democracy is full of pain. I`ve suffered plenty since the 1972 re-election of Richard Nixon. His opponent was a war hero and one of the kindest men in politics, George McGovern.  That the current president got 73,000,000 votes still has me reeling a month later. Thank GOD a majority understood this election was an emergency. I used to wonder how the Nazis were elected in Germany. Now I know. That the Republican Party which produced this cruel and ridiculous politician wasn`t wiped out along with him, is a an infinite source of dismay. If Democrats can`t win in a pandemic, with a severe economic recession and a lunatic 'leading' the country, who knows when they will? At least we cleaned out the top, thank you thank you for turning out in record numbers. Youngsters and People of Color especially. You literally saved our democracy. Gratitude as well to the local and state officials who oversaw the tabulations and with a courageous integrity, stood by their totals. Many have had their lives threatened by the president`s mob. We know now, definitively, they are many many followers. I believe politics are where our spiritual beliefs meet real life. 

Our fellow Americans are not enemies.

I read this essay on Covid-19 without knowing its author. It`s beautiful.

 This is from Reddit and it explains exactly what we as country need to do. Everyone should feel safe to speak. No one need agree.


 Over a year ago I bought multiple Daniel Smith watercolor sticks because I got a sample once and loved it. Now I had many! When I went to use them it was like dragging stones across glass. They only worked if they were wet so this required frequent soaking. Not conducive to quick decisions. When I complained about them to Ruth, she said "I prefer Caran d`Ache". Ugh. Over and over I forget to get advice [from a woman ideally] and pay the price. So, for my birthday, I bought the set above and they are terrific. I like them for getting color into places where I would lift a previous layer with a loaded damp brush. Drawing isn`t my thing really, I think better with a brush. But they may be a game changer outdoors.

Mathew Dowling included me in his exploration of creativity as a source of health. Mental Health. If you`ve read me over time you might have an opinion if it`s working. The book is a collection of many different visual artists and their strategies. Creative Sanity was a labor of love with insights for perseverance and joy.

 I`ve been looking at Cai Guo-Qiang. This contemporary artist is like no other, his medium is explosives. He makes poetic fireworks on an epic scale. He draws with gunpowder. He is a conceptual artist fully anchored in humanity. His body of work is enormous, one could explore it for days. If you have Netflix you`re in luck. They have the documentary "Sky Ladder; The Art of Cai Guo-Liang". Get comfortable and go directly to the 13 minute mark and watch his "Ninth Wave" presentation in the harbor of Shanghai. It is a gut punch of transcendent beauty.
Below is a photo from 'Elegy' from the Ninth Wave performance. The whole film is fascinating and made me so grateful minds like his exist. Even in communist China.

Lots more in his oeuvre. This amazed everyone;

                                                        The Art of War by Cai Guo-Qiang 

 Artists of this caliber sure reinforce my self image as a painter rather than Artist. Have brush will travel. Cai lives in a realm I can hardly conceive of.

                                 Lichen Light for Winter acrylic on paper 22x15 inches, 56x38 cm

 I started this after the 2016 election. I had seen this glowing branch over Fanno Creek on a walk that November day. Like the election, it was a disaster and it went on a pile of rejections. Coincidentally, while waiting for a big pool of watercolor to evaporate-dry on a large piece of Yupo, I looked through the stack and fished it out. What could I do to it? I could emphasize the cold and soggy.

 Please be careful. We are so close to the remedy. The first shipment of vaccine arrived in Chicago last night. The hospitals are full and the staffs are grossly overworked. Collapse is entirely possible.
Let`s continue to be quiet, patient, as we wait for our turn to be inoculated. We can live our lives isolated a little longer. Even with the comfort of Christmas to tempt us, hold firm. This will be the only one where we must hide from this virus. In honor of the 265,000 who no longer have that choice.

click HERE for work for sale in my studio

HERE for prints and merchandise!

Monday, October 26, 2020


                                              watermedia on Yupo 40x26 inches, 101.5x66 cm

 No title yet but I`ll be patient waiting for it. A friend saw tears and I do too but I don`t think it`s mournful. Not consciously anyway. In fact I`m getting excited about the election. Deliverance at last! The 4 year nightmare is almost over. It`s my belief that a majority of citizens will not only reject the president but also the Republican Party which enabled this tragedy. Democrats are spooked because of the last time of course but everything is different this election. We have seen what he will do and it is not acceptable. I`m confident in this because of the high turnout for the midterms when Democrats won 41 house seats. That was before Covid. Before impeachment. I`m confident that most Americans are so sick of the drama and incompetence of this administration, they`re desperate for it to end. 225,000 are dead in these last seven months from the corona virus yet it didn`t have to be like this. It will be a wild couple of months waiting for the inauguration of the new president. Trump is a sick insecure man. That is the most dangerous kind. But with a new day in sight, I believe better minds will constrain him. I sure hope so.

                                                                 Photograph: REX/Shutterstock   

Amy Coney Barrett was just confirmed as the newest Justice on the Supreme Court. Conservatives are jubilant. Presumably because hers would be another anti-abortion vote. I would just hope that this majority for 'life' think long and hard about restricting such a fundamental right. I have trouble imaging a more spiritual issue than a woman`s autonomy over her own body. Her right to decide when, if ever, she will bring a new life into the world. Allow her body to contain and support that life. 
 Make no mistake, if Roe v. Wade is invalidated, it will not end abortion. It will only make them dangerous. Throughout human history women have taken great risks to decide this matter for themselves. Rightfully so.


                                                                     by Chris Trueman

 Chris is my new painting crush. His work is process driven but edited throughout by a discerning sensibility. It is visually mesmerizing and joyful. Even watching him paint in this video, I still can`t figure out how he does it but I`m going to. He works a lot on Yupo and makes the most of its ability to reflect light back through the paint layers.

click HERE for work for sale in my studio

Saturday, October 10, 2020

New Day Coming

                                          Rabat watercolor on Yupo 14x11 inches, 35.5x28 cm

 Even though I was very young, I remember the tension and anxiety of the Vietnam War well. Closing in on the draft age will make someone pay attention. Yet for all the division back then, this moment seems much worse. 213,000 dead as of today, the economy battered and the virus revealing exactly how mean our social order is. Essential workers, usually people of color, are exploited daily. The suddenly unemployed now lack wages and health insurance. The system is rotten, any honest person can see that. There is much to repair.

 An adult is on the way, the nightmare will end at last. The GOP is about to be decimated. They refused to remove the sick leader when they had a chance 10 months ago.

As I grieved Ruth Bader Ginsberg`s death I learned so much about her that inspired me.  As principled and certain as her convictions were,  she never demonized her opponents but instead tried in her most creative arguments, to persuade them. Everyone notices how polarized our country is right now but it doesn`t have to be like this. There is no coming civil war or succession of states. I have little patience with those that swear they will leave the country. That is the ultimate white privilege, just walk away. We are here together, bound by our history together as brutal as that may have been. If the liberal West Coast became its own country where does that leave our black citizens in Alabama? No, if the unthinkable should happen again, we will need each other more than ever. We just need to take some deep breaths and learn to listen again. Let respect be non-negotiable. 

All the while pressuring the powers that be for economic justice and opportunity. 

                                                               photo by Noah Berger

 When I last wrote a blog post, the fires in Oregon had just begun. I was in the evacuation zone told to be ready. The flames never came close thank god but my husband`s hometown of Mehama was destroyed. What everyone in Western Oregon had to endure was smoke of an unimaginable magnitude. The air was between 400-500 on the air quality index for nine days. Under 50 is considered healthy. My hundred year old house could not keep it out. It was like the air wanted to kill me. I did absolutely nothing to avoid taking a deep breath. My studio was off limits because my radon remediation system is based on bringing air in from the outside to displace the radon. The experience was so extreme it put the corona virus into a new, proper perspective. I is nothing compared to what is coming by way of a hotter climate. When a rainforest dries out, there is a whole lot of fuel that can combust quickly. Controlled burns, the way the natives used to do them, is the big conversation now. No one wants to go through that again, it was truly terrifying.

 Falls Creek, the jewel like tributary of the Umpqua River burned in the fires. I`ve only seen it twice, it isn`t nearby. The first time I entered it with John we had just had the worst fight. There was a parking lot so I pulled in and we began to walk in silence. The mossy geology there is so special; a small rainforest stream winds among enormous boulders that are draped in vegetation. The beauty is staggering and our discord was overwhelmed.

Here is a video by Elijah Finlay of the canyon before the fire.

Below are some of my paintings of the canyon;

 Last week I finally got away, first time since the quarantine. To the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. It was austere colorful and bright. Truth is we went as much for the place we stayed, Painted Hills Vacation Rentals. This is such a fun collection of cottages perched above the funky town of Mitchell.  The Painted Hills are a half hour away.
Even did a painting;

                                                              Equitable Farm 1973

 Those that know me have heard me mention the 'farm'. I spent my 19th year living in that converted chicken coop above. I`m the middle one, the other two were friends from high school who had come by  on their way north to Vancouver. By the time I found the farm it had already been a real commune. Now it was a collection of young people who didn`t quite fit in. Willing to milk goats and weed the garden for a place to live. Everyone was female but me. It was the most educational time in my life. It was there I found my sister.

    watermedia on paper 19x14 inches, 48x36 cm

                                              watermedia on Yupo 14x11 inches, 35.5x28 cm

 Two new abstract paintings.
My practice and mental health have been all over the place. The social distancing especially is getting to me and I`m a recluse. I know many others with more tangible problems. 
Music has been a comfort but in listening to a piece repeatedly it becomes infused with sadness and I need something new again. Most of us will survive this awful time but we will always remember how defeated it felt. A better day will come.

                                                   The late Leonard Cohen buying Cheetos

Listen to his encouraging song Democracy, sung by the Lumineers.

                                                                  by Mark Rothko

 Rothko`s watercolors from the 40`s fascinate me with their loose reference to myth and ritual.

Click HERE for work for sale in my studio

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

High Anxiety

                                                  oil on canvas 36x60 inches, 91.5x152 cm

 This is how and where I spent the summer, working on this painting. The layers are thick and my patience is done. I can live with this. As with all of the recent abstract work, I`ve been troubled with an uncertain judgement. I can`t tell if anything has merit when it happens and when it`s 'finished', I`ve just actually walked away. Unless I can`t take my eyes off it, but that experience is rare these days. I`ve begun to wonder if the global sense of tension and uncertainty has infected my process.
 A month or so ago I had a productive day in the studio and I was getting ready for bed and noticed a strange feeling. I paused and searched my memory and realized it was happiness. True story, I didn`t recognize it.

 Might be because being American right now is like riding in a speeding car with a drunk driver. No one knows what the president will do next. He`s taken a sledge hammer to the post office, decided to let the virus just run wild, and done nothing in months to aid the desperate unemployed and hungry. His stupid executive orders have gummed things up and benefited few. It`s a nightmare.
 Help is coming. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be a vast improvement. After Julian Castro dropped out, Elizabeth Warren was my choice but Biden is fine for this moment in history. He seems to have the humility to listen to others. I suspect he will have experts soon at work trying to repair the economy and the public health. Right now Trump is the number one danger, none of us are safe. But when he`s gone, I think the rebuilding will be more creative and just than we`ve seen in two generations. I sure hope.

 I began this post three days ago but was interrupted by two separate power outages. They happened because of strong winds from the east blowing trees down onto the power lines. The wind was a result of a cold front that came down from Canada into the Rockies. With everything so dry in the American West, fires have multiplied since August. The photo below was taken down in the Willamette Valley yesterday morning.

                                                        my yard 5 miinutes ago 9/92020

 The fires are burning so fiercely, it`s not known what human life has been lost yet. Everyone in the state has been asked to prepare for evacuation. I live away from the flames but we`re asked to 'be ready'. Scary and sad. John told me yesterday he doesn`t remember forest fires as a kid. This part of Oregon was just too wet but not anymore.
 As our country gets on its feet again, the rapidly warming climate has got to be addressed. The natural disasters come quicker and stronger than ever before propelled by the warming temperatures.

 Many people I know out of state have asked me what is going on in Portland? The truth is I haven`t been so sure myself even though I live just 10 miles south of downtown. As heartening as they were to me, I have not been a participant in any of the demonstrations. I do not like any sort of crowd whatsoever. Following some research I`ve done, it seems there are two types of protests going on. The Black Lives Matter group wants to keep pressure up to insure reforms really do happen. Oregon and Portland in particular, has a shameful racist history that is living memory. The black community is small here without much political strength. Demonstrations are a way to keep the issues alive. The other faction is harder to grasp. Portland is a liberal city, its voting records prove so. Yet as it gained notoriety as a hip creative place to live, a radical strain of political thought arose, more confrontational. As far as I can tell, this group of young people are protesting daily and are willing to light fires and throw things to bring attention to their message. Which is that the system is structurally unstable and unjust. I couldn`t agree more. But I fully believe president Trump sent in federal security forces to get press coverage of the conflicts to amplify his law and order campaign message. He hopes to win by stoking white fear and resentment. Evil in other words. The problems of lower income white families are not the fault of people of color or immigrants. They all suffer from a suffocating lack of opportunity. Your zip code is now your destiny and the country is as segregated as ever.
Portlanders do not want violence or looting, and they do not like being used for pawns.

Here is a haunting short video with the national anthem sung in a minor key

                                             watermedia on paper 19x14 inches, 48x36 cm

 This only took two days, much faster than anything else completed in the last 6 months. A different look than other current work but I was craving some color and again hoping through chance to develop an attitude of competence.
 I`ve done a couple of landscapes again too;

                                Mountain Sketch watermedia on paper 8x8 inches, 20x20 cm

                                   Sundown watermedia on paper 19x14 inches, 48x36 cm

                                Above Hanalei watermedia on paper 19x14 inches, 48x36 cm

 Like everyone, I`ve been home so much I have severe wanderlust. I can`t stop thinking about Kauai. When this pandemic is conquered, and the islands are open to visitors again, I sure hope some limits and reforms to tourism are initiated. Way too many visitors at one time! There must be a way to manage that and include the locals in the revived economy. Maybe a tax like Alaska did on their oil revenues with a distribution to all its citizens once a year.

                                                            by the great Roz Chast

                                                               by Agnes Pelton

 Several years ago leaving the De Young art museum in San Francisco, I saw this hanging near the entrance. I was familiar with the artist but had never seen one in person. It was absolutely luminous and it sparked my curiosity. She was a long time resident of the CoachellaValley in Southern California near where I grew up.

                                                                   Agnes Pelton

 Her work is a very personal exploration of mysticism and spirituality. The craftsmanship she worked with is exceptional. The deserts around Palm Springs are best known for their golf courses and for once being the playground of Hollywood types. Before them however, there was a small underground. Rock hounds, painters, hermits, refugees of the spirit, squatters and writers. It is a stark and brutal environment much of the year but some learned to thrive there.  With evaporative cooling, as the natives had used, and an adaptable nocturnal  lifestyle, a good life could be found.

                                                                  by Agnes Pelton

click HERE for work for sale in my studio

HERE for prints of my work