Sunday, October 29, 2006

52 Boxes from Jason Andrew McHenry

Here's a little pre-Day of the Dead treat for those of you who love assemblages and shrines. For one year, Jason Andrew McHenry created one box a week filled with the most wonderful objects and paintings. If you go to his site you will see why I cannot describe them; they are so various and imaginative and strange. Mesmerizing. He made the skeleton above out of painted fimo. The straw flowers represent the marigolds that mexicans favor to celebrate this holiday. I think the variety of his work is thrilling. You will be inspired to collect and assemble.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Book Launch Party

Sunday my daughter Shellie and I drove north for four hours to Port Orchard, Washington to attend the launch party for Christmas in Old Tascosa. This is the first book I have illustrated and I think is turned out beautifully, a little gem of a book and a beautiful story of the triumph of hope over the trials of poverty during the 1930's. Casandra Firman is the author and the true story was told to her by her mother. This is Casandra signing books at the party.

Eating, drinking, talking, listening to live music, enjoying the spectacular views of the bay. Friends and neighbors came from near and far to congratulate Casandra and wish the book success.

Casandra reading from the book. We all wanted more. The lives of the people in the story living in the dust bowl days are so different from ours today.

A pensive moment for me - looking out over the bay and thinking about the luxuries we enjoy and how recently people were hungry in this country and frantic to feed their children and provide them with even the most basic needs.

If you look back to the corner you can see dear Shellie patiently standing while I sign books too and take this photograph of her.

It was a very rewarding day and one I will always remember. Collaborating with other artists and helping each other manifest our dreams is the best thing we could ever experience.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

My First Love; the Journal

I've been thinking a lot about what I love. I think that is the first thing an artist must define for herself; what is it that thrills her (or him) and fills them with enthusiasm. Life and art are long journeys and take a lot of commitment. If the artist is to be sustained for that journey, she must start with a full measure of love and joy. I have been painting since I was 10 years old now and keeping diaries and journals for even longer than that. I honestly cant explain why I have done it. My mother did it too. She showed me her diaries when I was a child and I knew right away that I would record my days too. It has been an experience that has informed me, helped me navigate and defined my direction at every age.

The only time I faltered in my record keeping was in the aftermath of two devastating life experiences when I temporarily lost my faith. I dont know what I lost faith in. I just know that I felt silenced. I endured this time without the support of my mirror and eventually I began to write and record again and soon life was good and normal.

Recently I have had several people say to me that they wanted to journal but just couldn't get going. Maybe I am wrong but it occurs to me that perhaps it is not an activity that you should force or feel guilty about if it is not a thing you crave to do. I can't imagine forcing it. That would be wrong. If you would rather read or work out or write novels or cook delicious food, then by all means, that is what you should be doing. Grow roses, raise children, hold your lover close and go to the theatre. The journal is only for people who cannot escape the siren's call.

Do you have an opinion on this? I would be interested in hearing it.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Artists of Art and Soul

This week has been a blur of classes at Art and Soul here in Portland and visiting with my great house guest, Carla. Here we are together at Vendor Night at Carla's table. It is always so stimulating to be with the artists who travel from all over the world to gather at these art retreats. My head has been bursting with new ideas, new friends and fresh perspectives on my own place in the larger picture. I almost didn't sit down to write this morning because in this state of mind I'm not sure I can make sense of it yet so I will just introduce some of the artists themselves and then maybe over time the trends and possibilities will sort themselves out. It is heaven hanging out with these enthusiastic women. Ladies, we rock!

Check out the fabulous Ms. Susan Lenart Kazmer in her fresh-from-Paris girdle with the real bones and steel plates and garters and netted skirt. We all laughed in pretend shock at the "underwear" and agreed that only someone like Susan could pull this off. Lesley Riley is on Susan's right and Ramona Ashman is off to the left, presumably taking a picture for her blog too. This was during set-up and before the public had come in so there was time for some schmoozing and fun.

The reason I was able to be behind the scenes at this event is because Laurie Mika asked me to be her helper during the set-up. Laurie is an immensely popular teacher and I just hope she keeps teaching long enough for me to take one of her classes. She has thrilling new projects in the works that I'll let her announce and it was fun hearing about her artistic journey through stages of being an abstract painter, clothing maker, ceramic artist and finally the tile boxes and altars that she is making today. I think many of us who have been at this awhile have similar backgrounds where we have tried many mediums and evolved artistically to where we find ourselves today. We are curious, restless and driven.

Claudine Hellmuth is one of the most popular teachers at these events and the first one I heard about when I learned about art retreats. She is personable, friendly, and her work is just like she is in so many ways. I love her sense of color and line and her funny way of presenting her characters in her collage-paintings. Rumor has it that she wants to take time off from teaching to actually create more; that is the perennial conundrum that we artists face - balancing our time between business, actually creating, family and inner renewal. I think talking about these issues when we do get together is usually reassuring. We usually agree that the balance is always lurching to one side and then the other. And maybe it always will.

I finally got to meet the multi-talented DJ Pettit at this show. Her table was right behind Laurie's so it was a super place to study her fabulous work and get to know a little about her. She designed the logo/banner for this year's Art and Soul and she sells so many tasty items that you will just have to go to her website to see them all. I just know she is a wonderful teacher by talking to her. She prefers smaller classes so she can interact and help each student. She is humble and caring. And her work sings with color and joy.

Finally we have Misty Mawn, the ultra-talented neophyte who leaves us wanting more. I have watched her work and her confidence grow for the past couple of years and it has been a joy to observe. Her dreamy-faced muses are so captivating and mysterious. They remind me of the dewy maidens that I imagine haunted foggy landscapes and castles in the middle ages. Eternally young and hopeful with all of life before them, suspended in that one breathless moment before their lives begin to unfold. That is where I imagine Misty is too with her hands and arms full of the daily cares and demands of her family, full of hope and talent, anticipating what might be coming in her life.

There were so many other artists I could and should be writing about but this is all I can handle for now. The energy in the room last night was so beautiful and loving; I just have to say thank you one more time to every person who I came in contact with. I saw angels; everyone being encouraging and happy and trusting. A little miracle to hold tightly and forever.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

More Workshop News

Finished writing the book for the workshop I'll be teaching at Diane Havnen-Smith's retreat in Clackamas. We've set the date for November 18th from 9:30 am - 4:30 pm. If there is enough interest we will book a second day on the 19th. We are limiting each class to 8 students which will make the classes small and intimate. I will be supplying most of the materials needed and a great lunch and dessert will be provided. Diane is moving office this weekend and hasn't gotten the forms up on her website yet at innerstandings so if you want to reserve a spot you can also email me at to get your name on a list.

I have sold reverse painted acrylics on acrylic panel at art fairs for the past 7 years and they are wonderfully received for their bold colors and playful character. I will demonstrate all my "secrets" and list my suppliers in the book. I designed it as a workbook of sorts and each student will leave with samples of techniques as well as a self portrait at the end of the day. The cost of the class will be $130.

That's all for now. I've worked really hard this week on the lesson plan and workbook for this class and now I have a few commissions to turn my attention to. I will get those under way even as Carla Sonheim arrives to stay with me during Art and Soul this week. I have 2 all day classes scheduled and am so excited about the changes that always come with new skills and friendships. Be well, everyone. Hope to see you soon.