I paint a lot of common objects.  I think back to when I first started with watercolor:  I had grown sensitive to the solvents in oil paint, they made me nauseous every time I sat down to work.  I had to try something new, my livelihood depended on it!  I didn't know what I was doing, and that was incredibly scary.  Picking a subject simple and repetitive was the easiest way out of a seemingly insurmountable challenge: come up with a new skill, a new way to make a living, a new aesthetic.   Grab an object.  Examine that object. Paint it.  Repeat. Don't think about concept and content, just learn how to paint.  What began as an escape from the responsibility of having to think up a new idea every day ended up becoming a concept in and of itself.  The quantity of the work grew and grew as the days passed, the paintings told an elegant story of the most mundane aspects of life.  And in the midst of the most terrible grief and emptiness of losing my mom, I learned how to start from scratch, I learned: its never too late to start over.

“So what do we do? Anything. Something. So long as we just don't sit there. If we screw it up, start over. Try something else. If we wait until we've satisfied all the uncertainties, it may be too late. 
- Lee Iacocca”



There are things about being a self-employed artist that only other self-employed artists understand.  For instance, as glamorous as it may sound, it is quite the lonely proposition.  Any typical "eight hour day" might consist of all sorts of ways to fill the empty space that surrounds you.  A professor once said you'll spend an hour painting and seven hours looking at/thinking about that painting.  He wasn't exaggerating.  When things get too quiet, which they almost always do, you'll find yourself turning on some music, only to get annoyed by said music.  You'll stop for a snack, and stare at the fridge resentfully knowing there's nothing fun inside.  You'll avoid the room wherein your work lies, you'll do every awful thing BUT work, washing the dishes and folding the laundry and exercising.  You take a moment to pet the cat, play with it, and then get real bothered when it lays on your paper or steps on your computer keys.  You might turn on a self-help podcast, or some comedy on YouTube, wishing it was somebody to talk to.  You'll check Instagram, Facebook, Craigslist, Instagram again, you'll shop for something you don't need, you'll check your horoscope on two or three different websites, you'll consult the I-Ching Online to see if you're making the right decisions.   The whole time, you're thinking, hard.  Somewhere in there, you'll put your pencil to paper, and work.  Its a desk job with the typical shoulder pains that come with looking down and favoring one hand too much.  There are failures upon failures, fears of failure, tedious moments of tenuous ascent, building up an image, carving something, anything, from the looming whiteness of the blank page.  Eventually, from the nothingness, an idea comes to fruition.  Success!  And boy did you earn it.



It's my birthday, this special day for reflecting on who I am, who I've been, and what I'd like to become.  Most often, I get really sad about losing the lady who gave birth to me that fateful day. I might be found crying in a puddle, about everything, about nothing, in the trenches of a grief that sneaks up from beneath the heavy rock where I left it.  I don't want to be angsty about what's not quite right in my life.  In general, I'm an upbeat, motivated person.  But on my birthday, every year, I hit a wall, HARD.   As a result, I usually make a list for the coming year, how I've just got to do better, how I'm going to take life by the horns in this way or that.  So, my friends, as a result, I've decided to wipe the dust off this old jalopy of a blog and give it another whirl.

You see, there's something about a daily writing & painting practice that keeps a gal in check.   Right about now, I could stand to check myself.  I live in a new city, I'm in a new relationship, I have a new dog, a new house, a new gallery, a new band, a new car.  Yet the old me is still in there: that self-employed, broke-as-fuck, structureless, stressed out, disorganized artist who has trouble focusing and thrift shops therapeutically then freaks the fuck out when she gets down to her last penny every month, that YES-girl who care-takes everyone but herself and then crashes with a KABOOM, the woman who can't seem to have real self-esteem or body-confidence in spite of it all, the gal who might drink too much coffee or alcohol and then forget to eat, the lady who doesn't clean up her messes and then gets mad at the house for being a pig sty.  STUPID ME! I find myself saying.  Grow up and figure your shit out!  Every year, about this time, I say I'm going to make some real changes.  This time I'm making them, slowly but surely.  And part of making those steps of self-improvement is realizing what works. What have I abandoned and why?  What is important to me?  Let's get real, Jess.  I'm my own boss, which means only I can hold myself accountable.  Year 35, here I am.  I'm stepping up to the plate.  And all I can say is, it's about damn time.



i'm back.  and i finished an entire show's worth of work.  it was good.  i'm different now.  these days, i enjoy giving time to projects that aren't mine.  i want to hold the hands of the children of my friends.  i want to paint the things i haven't pictured, and don't know of yet.  it is a time of unknowns, of crossing uncomfortable distances.  it is a time of bravery, and friendship, comradery.  it is a time of healing.  and community.  
it's time to embrace the chaos, and become its friend.


may i place you on hold?

i'm getting ready for a collaborative show with my good old friend kj.  for me, that means work upon work, priming, cutting, sanding, sketching, drawing, painting, repainting, assessing, discussing. it means adding sequins, rhinestones, gold and silver where necessary.  it means learning the grim sad stories of dead rock 'n' rollers, and avoiding their eyes, drawn by your hand, watching you walk around the room.  it means driving up to bellingham to look at those portraits side by side, some by you and some by she, maybe listen to hall&oates radio and add a few details here an there, gossiping all the while.  but mostly, it means that the one a day project gets put on the back burner.  the hiatus, it's worth it. i promise, it will be worth it. i swear.


the daily grind

hanging signs, hand-lettered

having a blind cat of 18+ years means many things.  namely, it means patience, with a side of concern.  today, it meant cleaning up pee and poop in the usual spots, in my usual manner: wipe, rinse, spray, repeat.  it also meant sitting on a bench outside in the sun, waiting and watching, trying not to count the minutes while max explored the sidewalk out front.  it means leading him with my voice, with pats on the ground or surfaces, leading him to the soil or the gravel, where he can sniff around and pee like a man, like he wants to, outdoors and on his terms.  it means occasionally getting up to run defense, between him and the road, the cars, or the customers, while he wanders around not really knowing where.  today, it means your neighbor andrea finds max standing there blankly in the middle of the street, and picks him up like a good Samaritan to put him back in safety of the fenced enclosure.  sometimes it means running defense  between him and pato, the territorial duck who comes a'running and flapping beak first toward any cat in his backyard.  on a daily basis, what it means for me is slowing down for long enough to give max what he needs, like fully supervised time outside, lap time, belly rubs, and a carefully concocted meal.  it means trying my hardest to read his signals, to interpret his quiet subtle version of cat language, so i don't piss him off too often, so i don't confuse or disorient him, so i can guide him gingerly to the places he wants to go.  it means not flinching or cringing every time he bumps his nose into a wall.  having a blind cat, well, somehow it changes everything.

since max has gone completely blind, all of these little things happen on a daily basis.  they're new chores, new mental clutter to add to my already long list.  as his caretaker, his momma, i feel it is my duty to see him through this phase of his life without complaint. it's hard sometimes, but i keep doing it, if for no other reason than the hope that someone will have the patience to do the same for me when i grow old and clumsy.  i guess that's what love is for, providing us with the patience and willingness to see each other through the roughest spots, and to show each other the beauty hidden in the darkest corners.


falling off (the wagon): part 4

miraculously, we found a mechanic that would take us.  we had the van towed, puppies inside.  in the cab of the towtruck on I-5 north, i kept looking back worriedly, the van at an angle, the puppies at an angle too.  i couldn't see them, and wondered how it was, their first towtruck ride ever.  so many firsts, every day full of firsts, firsts for them, and firsts for me too.   

we arrived. at a remote gravel lot with an unmarked building in north olympia, the towtruck pulled in.  once at the shop, we couldn't be in the van, neither could the dogs.  we had lots of time to kill.  so we set out with the puppies for a walk on a busy and fast road, what we later found out was the "deadliest highway in kitsap county".  

the road was desolate and dangerous.  nothing for miles.  i was stressed, unnerved by the noise and commotion, longing for the peaceful and slow bend in my road, the road home.   the puppies flinched at each loud motor screaming past.  we passed three crosses, casualties of speed and metal machines.  i felt hopeless.  

soon, we came upon a gas station. with a schwag deli! and a coffee cart!  and outdoor tables!  "hallelujah!  this is an oasis!"  i thought aloud.  we settled comfortably into some chairs.  i bought a round of scratch tickets, for good measure.  

we spent all day there, all damn day, scratching the silvery wax off of paper tickets, figuring it might just be our lucky day after all, if we invested our winnings, or picked just the right penny to scratch with.  we scratched and scratched, until five hours had passed, until we had spent forty dollars on coffee pizza and scratch tickets, until it seemed like our van might just be ready for us.