Accidental joy

"Mapland", sewn paper and gesso, 12"x 16"

Hello darlings! Please excuse my belated announcement of the winner for “the name game”. I know I said I’d post it yesterday on Tuesday, but I hate to publish a blog post without art, so I lollygagged until I had something new to show you.

Thick gesso imprint forms tons of texture

First thing’s first- after careful consideration of the many wonderful suggestions, I’ve decided to go with “Golden Lantern”, a suggestion from Priya- a fellow artist and blogger- who wins the first print [a limited edition giclee] of this painting! Yay! This was fun. I think we’ll do it again sometime. Thank you to everyone who participated!

Map details are partially visible behind the translucent overlay

Today I’m sharing a new piece I cobbled together this afternoon. It started when I found my sweet vintage atlas (under a pile of stuff in the studio as suspected). Nearby were two sheets of translucent paper I’d used to imprint yarn into thick wet gesso for the landscapes I completed recently that I’ve been aching to Frankenstein into something grander. So I decided to combine them with atlas and map guide pages as an additional layer of subtle color beneath the white landscape.

Then a funny thing happened on the way to the studio. The last of the daylight slipped away as I finished stitching, allowing the glow of my trusty sewing machine to illuminate my paper ‘painting’. Instantly I felt a little ball of happy form in my chest.

Oh, joy! Damn, I love this.

The warm yellow light brought the map pages to life. Diffused under the frosted layer, they introduced soft color and lines less visible in daylight; like water transforms dusty pebbles into beautiful bits of color. There’s just something about illuminated sculpture that grabs me in my gut and won’t let go.

That pushpin fell out a half second after this photo. Yeah... paper lanterns don't make great bulletin boards, just FYI.


Environmental Hazards

"Redline", 12" x 12" acrylic on canvas

Although we don’t have children, it sometimes feels like we’re living with them- based on the state of our lawn, that is. We live across from an elementary school, and are smack in the prime parking zone, which means all assortment of sundries make it on to our struggling grass. From candy wrappers to book reports and diapers to empty cigarette packs, it’s obvious that both parents and munchkins find our home to be an irresistible trash lot. So I’ll admit that I snickered gleefully from my studio today when these minions of mess were trapped in torrential downpours- which mother nature perfectly timed just for my viewing enjoyment at both drop-off and pick-up slots.

Detail shot; texture achieved by pressing yarn into thick wet gesso, which I later sanded and applied watercolor and paint to.

At the same time, with the wacky weather pummeling the entire country, I can’t help but be concerned about the unseen environmental hazards mixed in with the tornado warnings. Who knows how much radiation is present in our rainwater or is making its way over in the Pacific Ocean, thanks to the convenient shutdown of EPA testing. Of course, actual testing of the rainwater, soil or our own blood would reveal unnaturally high levels of heavy metals like aluminum, strontium and barium thanks to chemtrail spraying.

"Roil", 12" x 12" acrylic on canvas

Meanwhile, the oil companies are broadcasting touchy-feely commercials about how great they are making our lives by harvesting natural gas (of course, little emphasis is put on the pollution of groundwater and soil from the fracking process). Monsanto continues to hide GMO failures and contaminate organic farming plots while pushing their aluminum-resistant seeds (see a trend here?), and it makes me imagine our lands as future barren dust fields. It was these apocalyptic contemplations that inspired these landscapes.

Detail shot; hard to see, but there's a glowy green yellow color on the horizon

The good news is that more and more people are informing themselves, and you can too. If you think these risks are worth doing something about, take action! There are oodles of terrific documentaries available through Netflix and the internet on all of these issues. Want to get started? Check out this documentary on fracking (Gasland by Josh Fox), these websites about Chemtrails (this one focuses on how to take action in Northern California), sign this petition to reinstate EPA testing of Fukushima radiation or add The World According to Monsanto to your Netflix queue.

Please note that I don’t aim to push an agenda on to anyone, and respect everyone’s right to their own opinion about the state of things. From time to time, I do like to share how I feel and what I’m researching as both context for my artmaking at that time and for the sake of communicating things I think are important. Thank you for reading!

Barn blocks

3 finished woodblocks, a recent commission project

Today I finished three small woodblocks I was asked to do as a commission. The client provided her own photos from their rugged, tree-filled property. Each year, her family has a large reunion on the 4th of July weekend, so these images feature some of their beloved local landmarks, such as this rocket pinata suspended from the treetops…

The glare from the sunspot was a little tricky, but I think it came out well in the end.

…an old flag hanging on a wire fence near a garden…

Threadbare but proud

… and her dad’s barn/workshop, complete with “horses” out front.

I was nervous about getting the "sun dappled" look right.

I am literally a handful of brushstrokes away from completing my newest nightscape, but I’m waiting on a tube of water-soluble quinacridone magenta oil paint. I know they say you only need red, yellow, blue, black and white, but that’s a dirty, dirty lie. Sometimes you need some hot neon pinky purple that you cannot fabricate from the primaries. So stay tuned for that one, coming soon! In the interim, my husband has given me his cold so I’m off to sulk/heal over a cup of tea and some elderberry syrup. So far my hippie remedy is not cutting the mustard, but I’m holding out hope for a speedy recovery, as tomorrow is my mom’s birthday and we’ll be celebrating, sickly or not!

Return of the Art Jedi

Hidey-ho, neighbors! It’s been 9 days or so since I posted new art, but I’ve got 6 new pieces to show you. So trust I haven’t been resting on my laurels. 😉 While I was enjoying a brief respite from the daily challenge, the years’ art making/blog posting had certainly become ingrained in me. I had a few mini panic attacks with my circadian-art-rhythm still kicking in. But I got the boost to actually get in the studio when I received a call last Wednesday night that someone wanted to purchase all 6 of the little landscapes I had on display at City Art.

As I was heading into San Francisco on Friday afternoon for the opening reception & my month’s only shift, I was compelled by the ratio of money in my bank account to the gas/toll/parking/food cost of additional SF trips to finish my replacements before leaving. (Art lovers & run-on sentences are equally welcome here at my art blog. Thanks. 🙂 )

Did I mention I got that call on Wednesday? From a year’s endurance race to a flurry of fastidious finishing! 4 of these 6 were finished within a span of about 5 hours. I printed out some photos I’d taken from the marshlands near my hometown back in October for these ones…

"Marsh Barn", acrylic on slice of reclaimed fence post, 3.5" x 3.5" x 1.5"

"Stick Trees", acrylic on slice of reclaimed fence post, 3.5" x 3.5" x 1.5"

"Wetlands", acrylic on slice of reclaimed fence post, 3.5" x 3.5" x 1.5" SOLD

…a scene from the Livermore/Fremont area for this one…

"Foothills", acrylic on slice of reclaimed fence post, 3.5" x 3.5" x 1.5"

…and two images from the day I helped photograph a wedding off the coast near Half Moon Bay for these two:

"Lighthouse", acrylic on slice of reclaimed fence post, 3.5" x 3.5" x 1.5"

"Black Rock Beach", acrylic on slice of reclaimed fence post, 3.5" x 3.5" x 1.5" SOLD

These 6 new landscape mini paintings on woodblock are on display for sale now at City Art Gallery through January 30. Well, the 4 of them that haven’t already sold, that is. 😉

Rolling along

"Tumbleweed Lane", acrylic paint on woodblock

Day 352: “Tumbleweed Lane”, acrylic landscape on sliced fence post

One of my favorite things about moving to Sacramento are the tumbleweeds. They’re really quite delicate, airy and pretty when they go rolling through the streets. And now I can recognize what they look like when they’re green, like this bundle of fluff standing sentinel at the path through the straw field in the foreground. I really liked how the saw marks and grain pattern of this piece complemented the cloud pattern. This one’s also in the City Art Gallery. As of the very moment I’m writing this, that is. There’s no telling if it’ll still be hanging around by the time you read this. 😉 Only 13 days left! Here’s “Tumbleweed Lane” from the side:

Hey Hay

"Hay Field", acrylic on woodblock 3.5"x3.5"x1.5"

Day 351: “Hay Field”, acrylic paint on sliced fence post

Only 14 days of ArtProject2010 left! This is another example of how I enjoy compositions that combine organic shapes with man-made shapes. {Note- new landscapes are going on the same round-edged stock I’ve been using for the poem blocks, as opposed to the square-edged ones I used before.} This scene shows evidence of the farmer in his zen garden, scooping up lines of hay and stacking baled cubes of it by the hillside. This little guy and a few friends are now on the walls of City Art Gallery.

In the midst of my 6 hours of driving through dark, drizzly fog pockets (doesn’t it seem like the rain should somehow dissipate the fog?!), I got to say hello to a couple of amazing fellow artists at the gallery, Hadley Northrop who builds vibrant scenes of atmosphere with a focus on light in her oil paintings, and Brenton Bostwick, a wicked sculptor/assemblage artist with an “alien archaeology” aesthetic. I’m always inspired by being around the work at the gallery and of course, the artists who make it. And I was thrilled to see how many pieces of art by the other artists showing this month had sold as well. Hooray for art lovers!

After the rain

"After the rain", acrylic landscape on woodblock 3.5" x 3.5" x 1.5"

Day 350: “After the rain”, landscape on woodblock

I love the patterns that nature and farming make when they commingle. I think this is some form of irrigation with the deliberate ploughing of the soil beds, but it also happens after the rain. The shallow fields fill with gray-blue reflections of the sky, banked by fluffy straw-colored bushes in a beautiful composition I would probably not create on my own. But I enjoy borrowing them for these little landscapes. 🙂 This one and a few more will be going up to the city this weekend to fill my empty wall space. Here it is from the side:

Above the fruited plain

"Waves" acrylic landscape on woodblock

Day 336: “Waves”, a landscape on woodblock

I recently discovered my local Trader Joe’s. It’s got a smaller selection than Whole Foods, but it also has smaller prices. So I went by today to pick up a few things and as I was hunting for the bread with the farthest out expiration date, I had to make my way around a few people. It’s a pretty crowded store. Normally I see all of them only as obstacles to be avoided, a skill I first picked up during Jr. High afternoons of playing Tetris and later perfected as a cocktail waitress- if you can walk in and around crowds of dancing people with martinis on a tray and not spill them, you can navigate around cranky hippies.

But this time I was caught off guard when a voice in my head stopped me and said, “hey… are those pockets on the back of that hoodie? Yes. Yes they are! On the BACK! Ugh. Hipster alert!” and while I was engaging in this moment of perplexity/ fashion outrage, I angered an old lady by blocking the bagels, who let me know by “accidentally” bumping into me with her cart. Which was just as well. Who knows how long I would have stood transfixed by the insanity of pockets intentionally placed in the lumbar area of a garment.

From the side

So when I got home, I decided to give myself a little bit of mental peace by making a mini landscape. This is one of the last square-edged, white-sided blocks from the first batch my dad cut up for me. It has a very tight grain pattern. I decided to use it for a farm scene from the Tracy, California area with this huge antenna tower smack in the middle of it. I asked Rob for some help with the title and he said “Waves. You know, like ‘amber waves of grain’ and the radio waves from the cellular base tower”. “Perfect!” I replied. And that’s why I love him.

Only 29 days left! 🙂

Hello studio, my old friend

"Industrial Oasis", acrylic on 12" x 16" canvas

Day 307: “Industrial Oasis”, acrylic painting on 12″ x 16″ canvas

I’m on the mend! My throat feels a good deal better, though my voice still has some recuperating to do. I had enough energy to head into the studio for several hours, working on a commission project, the cityscape I started before I got ill, and even a new painting today. This one is from one of my photographs I took on the road somewhere. I enjoy compositions with a smattering of geometric manmade items in a landscape setting, and decided to scale up and start doing some larger pieces to loosen up my painting style again.

In other news, the following woodblocks are still available:

Tower Meadow, Angels Camp, Horse Fence, Rumble, Green, Honey Corn, River House, Pumpkin Patch, Wild Lilac, Grove House and Palm Meadow

I’ll be putting these up for sale on my Etsy shop soon, but want to make sure you guys get first crack at them. They’re $60 each with discounts for purchases of 2, 3 or 4 at a time. If you’re interested, send me an email at or leave a comment here. Thanks!

California Farming

"Palm Meadow", acrylic painting on woodblock

Day 295: Palm Meadow

Today’s piece is a scene capturing a few palm trees standing sentinel over a farmhouse and meadow. I always find it interesting how California’s landscape has an equal chance of sprouting redwoods, palms, cypress, pines, maples, oaks, elms and almost any tree you can think of. For me, the palms are at much at home here in the farm fields as they are on the streets of Malibu. I’m heading into the bay area again this weekend to help photograph a wedding in Half Moon Bay, so the next couple of days will most likely be photographs as I’ll be out of the studio. Hope you’re gearing up for a great weekend yourself!