6 hours spent cranking out linocards = joy.

 Day 178: Hand-colored block prints

Every time I tell Rob I have to go to the art store, he does the wallet cringe. You know the one- the pained expression and partial body cramp that seems to occur involuntarily whenever you think about having to spend money that you don’t have in abundance at the time.

I find this is a particularly pronounced condition among we artist-types. We so frequently have to look at expenses as “this OR that”… “groceries OR gas?”…. “cable OR car insurance?”…. “student loan payment OR credit card?” It’s so common, they should really start including a course on it at that $16,000/semester private art school I went to. Kind of like the “math for art majors” course I managed to find at my community college (a title that just barely won out over “the bare minimum of required math knowledge for hippies”, I imagine)- “budgeting for art majors” would include key points like growing your own garden to save money (on *vegetables*, people!), the law of disappearing money (you know, how it goes out of your account like 20 times faster than it goes IN to it) and how to be frugal at WholeFoods. Just kidding on that last one. That topic would be more applicable to a fantasy writing class.

Too bad I can't barter these beauties for utility credits.

Thankfully, I can use a lot of my supplies over and over once I have them. Block-printing is one example of this. Once your linoleum is carved and you have the ink & stuff, you can print away! Heavy-duty cardblanks are great to have, but there are other options too, including using fabric scraps, old book pages or making your own recycled paper out of junk mail. Which I have yet to master, but which sounds extremely satisfying.

Linocuts are addictive, as my friend Nicole of BlueBicicletta can attest to. Nicole is an amazing drawer (as in illustrator, not furniture) and loves using black and white, so linocuts are a natural boon to her art-making style. We’ve both been bitten by the block-printing bug.

I made these prints of my carving on 5x7 cardstock, gave them a spritz of fixative to keep the water-based ink set, then hand-colored them with oil pastels.

As you guys know, I love color. So today I did something I’ve been meaning to do for awhile- I hand-colored 4 copies of a block print I designed for this very purpose back on Jan. 21st (which I only remember specifically because it was my birthday). They’re as cheery as a vase of gerbera daisies all together on my table. I also did some color prints of my lovebirds lino. Awwwww! It’s too much cuteness for one post. I have to stop now before it gets out of control. 😉

If Warhol had ever done 'cute', it might have looked something like this.

Layer Cake

I'm filing this one in the "meh" pile under "some cool techniques to use later that I ruined by piling too much on top of each other"

Day 177: Process

Lately I’ve been having trouble knowing when to stop with my abstracts. If Tim Gunn were in my studio, he’d be saying, “I’m concerned. I just think you need to remember to edit” with that frowny look on his face. Today, after hours on the cityscape, I decided to focus on one layer at a time for my daily piece and document the process as I went. Now, looking back, I can see where I should have stopped. 🙂 Instead of boring you with a bunch of art chatter, I’ve included a bunch of images to take you on a photo journey of today’s artmaking.

Too bad there's no "go back" button on paintings, eh?

A fistful of ideas

Scraps from my painting table + 5x7 canvas = upcycled art

Day 166: Fragments

I use a lot of paper in my mixed media paintings, and I tend to avoid throwing anything away just in case I can use it later. This includes tiny scraps…. and I mean tiny. Let’s just say more than once I’ve looked down to find a word or two stuck to Chester’s snooping nose. After yesterday’s piece, I had a full-on kindling stack of Nancy Drew snippets next to the partially used sewing pattern pile. Coincidentally, both caches of flammable paper are located near my incense burner. Perhaps I should remedy that.

Detail from upper half of the painting

Anyway, it occurred to me that layers of these thin lines of text arranged on a small canvas in a kind of random/free association poem-type-of-thing might be interesting. The paper itself is a nice yellow tone having aged since its printing in 1939, and is a similar color to the sewing patterns. I put down some strips from my scraps with acrylic matte medium, laid the patterns over that, and then went back in with more text over the top. A little dark blue and orange watercolor, and we’ve got a fun little piece of art made from scraps! Yay!

Little vignettes started to evolve in the text like short stories sprouting as I worked.

Why is there pastrami in my purse?

"Anything is better" mini painting with text

Day 161: Anything is better

Keeping notebooks with me wherever I go enables me to jot down insightful tidbits like “why do we appreciate subtlety?” or interesting words like “bereft”. Every few days I try to flip through them to see if I missed anything cool. Today I rediscovered this scribble- “why is there pastrami in my purse?”- not so much a gem of inspiration as a reminder for me to unlock this particular mystery. I can’t recall any moments when my purse and said pastrami were in close proximity, nor have I smuggled lunchmeat in my bag.. ever.. so who knows? Maybe Chester picked it up during his unauthorized kitchen floor snarfing and it stuck to his face and then he went sniffing around my purse and transferred it. Much like how many licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie pop, the world may never know how it got there. The good news is that it’s been removed, the purse has been sanitized, and life has gone on.

I began another cityscape piece with an old school orange bus, but it’s going to take a week or so like Valencia Blue did. So today’s piece is a mini painting with text from an old Nancy Drew novel (appropriate considering my bit of detective work earlier, I’d say!) that’s dedicated to my friend. She’s suffering from douchebagitis, a condition that occurs when one’s boyfriend becomes unmanageably irritable. Here’s hoping it heals up soon.

Let’s go tubin’!

Commission pieces- now with video!

Day 160: Evolution of “Nostalgia”

Hello darlings! If you read my blog regularly, you may recognize the above as my recently completed commission piece for Bruce & Dave entitled “Nostalgia”. Measuring 4 feet square on a wood panel, I worked on this for a little over a month using stamps and other vintage paper bits Bruce provided (plus some others I added). I took photos of it during the process and compiled them into a “making of” video. Today’s artwork is the end result, a video! I can’t embed it here because WordPress wants money for that, so head on over to YouTube and check it out!

Ready to party

Valencia Blue, an acrylic painting on 18x24" canvas

Day 158: Valencia Blue

At a stoplight today, I glanced at my keychain dangling from the ignition. Missing from it is my pepper spray, which was confiscated when I served jury duty awhile back. It’s always there so I just didn’t think anything of it, and they let me in with it the first two days. But on the third, the security guard at the scanner apparently thought I looked like the kind of person who might just freak out and spray someone in the face in the midst of civil service.

Behind Door #1- mystery. Behind Door#2- South Indian cuisine!

So now it’s just my lonely electric blue bottle opener, looking worn from the paint rubbing away all these years. I wondered what someone who didn’t know me might think judging from my keychains alone. There are no prom photos or tiny stuffed animals, no jetsetter badges from vacation destinations- just the basics: car key, house key and bottle opener. Because you never know when a spontaneous beer party will bust out, and what if no one remembers that lighter trick? I had to smile because I can’t even remember the last time I used it.

The Mission district in San Francisco is that kind of place, though. It’s the type of neighborhood where you’re always running into someone you know who just so happens to be throwing a bring-your-own-bottle-opener type of bash.

News stands sentinel for the organic salad bar

I’m finally done with this painting, which I’m calling “Valencia Blue” as it features a scene from Valencia St. in the mission. Specifically, DOSA restaurant and Valencia Whole Foods are shown on this corner. Now, it took me a few days to finish, and I didn’t want to disappoint with no daily piece for today. So here’s a short poem I wrote to go with it. 🙂

The Mission

is like a party you get invited to in college where you don’t know anyone but you have a good feeling about tonight so you bring a bag of oranges and a bottle opener and hope for the best

P.S. I’ll be showing this painting and some other cityscapes at City Art Gallery on 828 Valencia St. (just a block or two from this spot) in July. See you there!

Painting purgatory


Day 156: H is for…

Another day trapped in cityscape painting purgatory. Is the inclusion of the words “heaven/heavenly” in this piece a subliminal expression of my wish to be finished with this painting? Perhaps. (Seen here playing a role in a dream sequence/i.e. no flash and moving hands)

I had a dream... that I was done with this painting.

Managed to also create another mixed media alphabet painting with vintage sewing patterns, a bit from the dictionary, a physics diagram and some Nancy Drew text.


Time to unwind while watching Conan The Destroyer. Woohoo! Movies like that make me think of the 80’s when I was a kid and my biggest concerns were new tapes for Teddy Ruxpin and beating my sister at laser tag. Which I soooo owned her at for years, btw. What is more fun than laser tag, really? Answer that one.


Gotta say, it is still seriously weird to watch an action movie in which our governor is the hero. My “all those muscles and he still couldn’t fix the budget” joke did not go unappreciated by Rob. It’s an old one, but I guess that’s part of marriage- laughing at each other’s lame jokes and magically making them un-lame. 🙂

The best art is handmade

V is for a visiting vixen with velocity in Vancouver. 🙂

Day 153: V is for Vendetta

I love films. Watching a truly good movie is like being carried to wonderland unharmed inside a tornado with a thousand paintings. Transformative, otherworldly, incredible, emotionally exhausting, part of your soul forever after. I’m sure you’ve seen films you feel this way about. V for Vendetta is definitely one of those for me, but of course they aren’t all blockbusters.

My brother-in-law, Jonathan Bland, is an amazing cinematographer of a rare ilk. His films are palpable, visually luscious, rich with images so breathtakingly beautiful they make me dizzy. He elevates film into an art form so separate from the dime-a-dozen lukewater comedy bombs and weak thrillers most people think of as movies. You can see some clips here. Maybe it’s because he’s so hands-on and fully immersed in every project he embarks upon. The art is better because you can feel his love for it in the end result.

One of Jon's still images from filming in Bombay

It’s how I feel about original artwork. It’s nice to buy a Kinkade print you like, sure. There may be 10,000 of them out there, and of course it’s just a machine-made copy of an image he may not have even executed entirely himself in the first place, but it’s still pretty. And that’s fine. But it’s so different to find a painting you love that someone labored over and created with their own two hands. To touch the paper bits they smoothed in and feel the layers of paint they brushed on and on and on. It’s special. It’s magical.

Never felt that way about a painting, you say? Well get your ass out there and find it! City Art Gallery in San Francisco is a great place to start. I’ll be showing there during the month of July and will be at the gallery for the opening the evening of Friday, June 2nd and all day Sunday, July 4th as the gallery sitter as well. If you’re in the area, swing on by and say hello!


Today’s piece is a mixed media painting on 8×10” canvas incorporating vintage ephemera with V words like vixen, velocity and visitor. A small map of Vancouver, BC and “Chapter V” from an old Nancy Drew book are mixed in there with the sewing patterns as well.