I think my obsession with birds is crossing over with my love of mid-century modern design. I’ve been playing with some ideas in my head about paintings I want to do, inspired by mid-century graphics. Some of it slipped out onto this bird drawing:)

I picked up this book. I’ve only barely begun reading it, but in the introduction the author, Marnie Fogg, states, “The 1960’s saw an explosion of all that was new and modern after the ‘make do and mend’ of post-war austerity. Against this backdrop of new consumerism, fashion was a persuasive presence in contemporary life…” That got me to thinking about the current financial crisis and the tightening of our collective belts. I find it interesting that at this time of decreased consumerism, when we are again learning to DIY, there is a such a revival of interest in the style of that previous era that was seeing a new prosperity. I have some more thinking to do on this topic, and want to come back to it again. Any thoughts?


Here is an example of an issue I come up against in most of my paintings and drawings. I have lots of mid-tone but I have trouble pushing the boundaries of shadow and highlight. There are some in this painting, but not enough to really create form and distinguish elements of the composition. So I have more to work on in this piece.

I’ve been spending a lot of time in the studio. I am a very slow artist, but it’s all coming along. My studio has very much been a place of refuge lately. It seems the world is pressing on me from every direction and all I want to do is hide in my studio and play with pots of color. Escape. It’s fitting that the birds I’m painting are ones I’ve viewed at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. We all need a safe rock to sun ourselves on.

The World is Full of Beautiful Things

I’ve really been falling in love with all the pretty photo mosaics I’ve been seeing on other blogs, so I had to try my own. I’m trying to learn how to use my camera properly, and I’m learning photoshop as well. That’s a lot for my old brain to handle. I believe now that learning is different when we get older. I always thought that was a bunch of hooey, but now I know better. We can learn new tricks; it just takes a lot longer!

Voices in my Head

This is the progress I’ve made on two paintings. They are both mostly finished. I am at that point where I know there are some finishing touches, but I’m not sure just how much I still have left to do. Do I even like the painting? Should I just stop painting and consider it a practice piece? Did I f*** up a perfectly fine drawing by adding paint? You know that inner critic, the voice of your art school teachers who tell you that you aren’t an artist just yet.

I constantly question my ability as an artist. My true belief is that anyone who has a drive towards creativity is an artist. Everyone has different skill levels, and only through constant practice will that skill increase. And one of the purposes of this blog is to put my work out there and hope for feedback. Of course, positive feedback always feels best, but I need constructive criticism. It’s hard to see my own work. I find that photographing it and looking at it on the computer makes it easier to see. Does anyone else have that experience?

Ok, well I have to get back to work. March is coming soon.

Waxing Gibbous

I’ve been lost in a cold, snowy haze, and at a loss for words. I’ll be back soon with something to say I hope, and more pictures of the paintings I’ve been working on. In the meantime, I went over to Mixed Media Monday; their challenge this week is Moon/Lunar. Here is my take on the moon.

Call me Grinchy McScrooge

I have a confession. I am a grinch. I’m sitting here in my studio window, watching it snow. It’s a beautiful winter wonderland out there and I have no holiday spirit whatsoever. I just want January 1st to be here so I can start on a new year. The awful truth is that this happens every year; I think this year is worse than most. I get excited about Christmas the week of Thanksgiving. And really, I’ve always considered Thanksgiving to be just a transitional holiday to move from Hallowe’en (the holiday I like) to Christmas. For all of that week and for a couple days after, I plan all the xmas crafts I want to make, the cookies, the gift baskets I want to do. I pull out the cross stitch and quilt that I’ve been working on for ten years…… Then some big, major, chaotic troublesome thing happens to interrupt the holiday flow. That’s when I also realize that there is no money to do any of what I’d planned anyway. Then the days start whizzing by and I whittle down my list to what is realistic, and by then I just don’t want to play anymore.

I want January, a brand new year. 365 chances to get my house clean, finish all of my projects, get another year older. The only xmas cheer I’m interested in right now comes in a glass….. and it’s only 10AM.


Here is the next step in the dream painting. WOW! I’ve really gotten far; just painting like a mad woman, I have been! Well, I actually have been painting…and drawing.

I’ve been working in my sketchbook and on random pieces of paper, and in an altered book. I did this. I’m experimenting with different media. On this I drew the birds and bits of water with oil pastel, then melted it with the heat gun and smeared the paint around. Then I painted over with watercolors.

This is the start of a new painting. So far I’ve used water soluble graphite. These are white faced ibis. I’m working from a photograph I took last year at Bear River Bird Refuge. These birds have the most amazing plumage; it’s metallic blues, greens, and bronze. So even though I like the look of just graphite, I feel compelled to add in color. To see what they look like in life, go here. This is a friend’s Flickr page. He takes amazing photographs. I wish I could do what he does.

The Process

The other night I dreamed a painting all night long.  Needless to say, I was exhausted when I woke up.  I’ve been trying to recreate what I worked on all that long night.  It’s only the ground.  I have to come up with the main element(s) in my waking hours or, if I’m lucky, in another dream.  Here it is in the post.  I still want to distress the ground a little, and actually add a little more to it.  Add and subtract.  I do that a lot in my mixed media work.  I believe the final element is going to be a sort of fantasy bird, something with the down-turned beak of an ibis, and the metallic plumage of same bird, but with the tail of a lyre bird.

I do a lot of my artistic imaginings while I sleep, or don’t sleep as has been the case recently.  I’m not the type to get up in the middle of the night to come to my studio.  My husband would get separation anxiety, and I prefer to stay cozied up to his warm self than to haul myself out into the nighttime house.  So I lie there and process paint colors and line quality.
I have had an unceasing compulsion to paint lately.  This is good, being that I have a show to get ready for in March.  But what I want to do is experiment.  Although I am trying out many and various styles, I feel like I’ve not found my true voice yet.  There is something just under the surface scratching to get out.  I would like to spend all day and night in my studio helping the creature to break free.  I want to forget all about cleaning house and cooking dinner, and answering to everybody’s needs.  I want to put off Christmas until April maybe.  As usual my timing is splendid.  Does anyone else out there feel this intense longing?  How do you reach the creature inside?
I hear a baby crying and I think her mom needs a break.  I’ll show you more of my painting when I finish.

embrace the face challenge

Oh it’s early in the morning and I’m not thinking clearly yet.  I got on the computer and started looking around at other mixed media blogs.  I found embrace the face and there was a guest book with a big arrow that said “sign this guest book”.  So I did, and added my picture like it said.  Oh silly silly me!  By doing that I was entering the challenge!  Well, I guess the face is done in shades of white, which is what the theme was.  This is pretty funny.  Since I’ve already inadvertently entered the challenge, I’ll finish following the instructions and add my picture here too.  I guess I should go drink some more coffee!

stop being so serious

Last night I went to listen to my friend’s poetry performance.  Sitting there in the front row of the auditorium, I noticed three panels on the front of the stage.  One was a normal electrical outlet; another looked like an outlet but for round plugs.  I was most curious about the last; it had things that moved and flipped up.  I suddenly had an image of my son when he was small, getting right down there and checking it out; I lamented that I could not get down on my knees and explore this curiosity.  And why couldn’t I?  Because I’m a grown up and grown ups aren’t free to scrutinize the world in the same way as a child.  We must be careful about how we draw attention to ourselves.  We must be composed and proper.  

Alex was calling attention to himself up there on the stage.  He is a brave man and is able to express his art freely.  Would he crawl on the floor to look at an outlet?  I think he is secure enough in himself to do that if he wished.

My husband is always suggesting we do silly things, like dress funny and walk downtown.  I think he would, too.  Me, I’m too tight-laced, as much as I would love to do it.  I used to know a woman back in Colorado who had a regular date with her sister to dress up as “pretty ladies” and go out to eat.  They wore gobs of costume jewelry, fancy hats, and fake furs.  I thought that sounded like so much fun.
I know that it is important to my art to let go of fear and not worry so much about what others might think of me.  When I approach my art as play rather than serious business, I am more successful in the outcome;  I have way more fun.  It’s such a battle trying to balance the serious business of creating an art career, and forgetting about that part and just existing within the art, getting messy with paint and glue.
This will be a learning process; it will be difficult for me, but I’m willing to try.  Today I’m going to do something outlandish, or at least mildly silly.  I don’t know yet what it will be, but I vow to be open to the opportunity.