a meal

5" x  7"

it was one of those "oops" moments.  i left the door open to the pantry at my dad's house when i went up the street with my pal shirley.  amy, the golden lab with the heart condition, got to the lower shelf of said pantry and had herself a hearty meal. She obliterated (with the help of Buddy Lee and Scout): one bag of brown sugar, a box containing Special K cereal (including cardboard), one package of spaghetti noodles, one package of white sugar, and one bag of flour.  some dogs just can't help themselves!  she seemed fine for a while, but tossed her cookies outside.   in her sleeping quarters, she sounded somewhat like a college kid after shotgunning one too many pbr's:  breathing heavy and whimpering for mercy.  which not only makes me feel horribly responsible, but somehow makes me thank my lucky stars that i'm not the college kid i once was, on the floor, sweating and panting after one too many of this or that.  

here's a painting of a tiny heinz 57 bean pot, one small fragment of a collection of hundreds of pots in various sizes, shapes and colors that were collected by my folks.  you can tell i've run out of steam when all i paint are simple round objects.  oh well, what the hell: it's something.  goodnight y'all.



5" x 7"

after five hours of crackling country radio, a glass shattering rendition of chattahooche,  and a not-so-authentic bean burrito, i'm here.  portland, my alma mater, my home away from home.  it has an eerie familiarity, but something is different.  maybe the bushes are bigger, or maybe some of the trees are gone, or our house is a different color.  maybe it's just that i don't live here anymore.  this city, it is in constant flux, doing what cities do best.  i learned quickly not to get too sentimentally attached to the way things are, because they will never be the same.  never.

so really, i'm just here to visit my aunt june and uncle earl.  aunt june turns 93 on tuesday.  i surprised her on the phone tonight, and she was caught so off guard she couldn't remember exactly what she was going to say.  to answer the silence she went directly into the perplexing question of who may have stolen the smiley face balloons, which she bought at the dollar store, and used to mark her driveway for the garage sale, at which she only made a hundred and twenty five dollars, and hardly sold a thing...  and now the garage is full to the brim, by gosh you can hardly even walk a path through there!  aunt june, oh my crazy aunt june, white permed hair and rhinestone shoes...the woman who taught me the fine arts of domesticity: how i love her so.  and uncle earl, endlessly reminiscent on the way things were, pure-hearted as a  mountain stream... as timeless as they may seem, these two, my great aunt and uncle, are more fragile than before, and they will grow more fragile still.  and so: a pilgrimage.  i have landed.



5" x  7"
reserved for g. conklin

what's more american than baseball?  well i don't know, how about hotdogs? cheeseburgers? television?  no, i got it....weddings?  yep.  weddings.   we americans go to great lengths to make our weddings an extension of ourselves.  we express ourselves through fancy attire, table settings, the menu, the guests in attendance, the music, the ceremony, and all the other rituals that go along with it.  according to various internet news sources, the average american couple spends close to 30 G's on their wedding! yes: it's true:  thirty-freakin-thousand-dollars! that could feed a lot of hungry mouths, not to mention pay my mortgage for quite some time, or even send some kid to college.  all this, for the sake of love?  not to mention, statistically, 40% of those marriages will end in divorce.  hogwash!!  money doesn't grow on trees, and neither does love. shit, we're cutting down all the trees anyways to make houses for all our babies...  we americans better re-prioritize quick--or we're all gonna go broke.

 today, when i attended the sweet little backyard forest wedding of todd and vanessa, i was charmed. it was simple, and elegant.  the ceremony was ministered by a close friend, the flowers were living and growing in pots to be planted in the future, the food was homemade by the loving hands of family and friends, and instead of cake there were fresh seasonal berry pies.  it reminded my a tad of my own wedding, which happened six years ago tomorrow: something homespun, authentic, fun and easy, without the unnecessary bells and whistles:  something that truly celebrates the organic nature of love. 


missing you

8" x  10"

i miss portland in the same ways i miss drinking coffee.  i miss the highs, and i miss the lows.  i miss the buzz, the crash, the confusion, the frantic running around like the proverbial chicken. i miss pulsing with an energy that is totally unnatural, yet intoxicating, fun and exciting.  i miss portland, and i miss my coffee in the mornings.  

these days i live in a rural area.  i wake up early, i drink tea, i go to bed early, i move slowly and methodically through my days, chiseling away at the notion of creating a life with longevity.  i see how i've slowed down, and i can feel how badly i needed that change.  when i lived in portland, shit was hitting the fan, and it was dire:  never enough time, never enough money, hand-to-mouth, broke all the time, frantic and stressed out.  but man, did we have fun.  i went to shows, i drank, i partied, i danced, i mingled, i saw art, i made art, i shopped, i ate every kind of food, i people-watched, i watched the landscape change as the city grew hipper, more fashionable, more desirable, and crazier all the time. so much happening, all at once.  it was a total clusterfuck, and overstimulating in all the best and worst ways.

but more than the city, i miss its people.  i miss my regulars, my neighbors, the folks i would see almost every day. those people were my semblance of community.  i left, and i haven't looked back much at all, maybe because it's painful, maybe because i spend so much time looking ahead.  but today, i miss those people, my people, a lot.


rough rider

8" x  10"

i've always looked up to my brother joe.   he lives his life without compromise, the way he wants to, whether or not everyone approves (which they don't always).  that means a lot to me because i've always been one of those "good kids": living by the book, following the rules (more or less), and boring myself completely.  my brother, he has more cojones than most people i know.  he's fearless, daring, dangerous, and adventurous.  on top of it all, he can make you laugh from the gut, and he has a good heart. 

joe works on trains.  he's a conductor.   he spends hours upon hours on the rails.  it's a rough lifestyle, living out of a suitcase, sleeping in hotels, working through the nights, those long, grueling swing shifts.  it's dirty, grimy, stressful, and dangerous.  he's been on derailed trains, trains that broke apart, on trains that ran over humans and animals, on trains that nearly collided, he's hopped trains and chased trains and jumped off of trains and painted trains, trains full of garbage or metal or grain or petroleum or coal... it's his job and he does it with pride.  and i know from his photos that he sees some of the most beautiful scenery there is.   the backyards, the remote coasts, the open fields, the rivers and valleys, the underbelly of america. i imagine what it's like: the lull of the engine and the grinding metal, as he travels miles upon miles to bring the goods to where they go.  that's my brother joe.



8" x  10"
reserved for p. senter

i've been thinking about children a lot lately.  i love them.  i can be having a humdrum day and some kid will walk in the store and make my day.  i love their language, their inhibition, their energy, and their imagination.  i love to play, they draw the child right out of me.  many of my friends have kids, or are having kids, and i covet my special position as their "uncle jessie".  

in our store lies a treasure chest filled with toys that my mom collected, one by one.  it is every child's delight to discover that chest and dig through to find the one special toy that they will take home with them.  it's my heart's delight too, to hear the sound effects of one little plastic creature or another soaring through the sky or engaging in battle on the worn wood floors of the lucky dumpster.  it wasn't until i put that treasure chest out with a sign reading KIDS ONLY that i realized why mom collected those toys:  she wanted to be everyone's favorite auntie.  and i do too.

many people have asked me if i'm going to have kids.  my default answer has always been no.  looking at today's world through adult eyes, i see a hostile environment in a swift downward spiral. with pollution and disease and environmental exploitation and overpopulation at an all time high, it's easy to say no:  my conscience wouldn't allow me to bring such a beautiful, gentle and innocent creature into such a cruel world.  but looking at my friends, and their babies, and the hope and life and optimism and fun and energy that each child brings to my life and the lives around it, i must say, lately it's becoming more of a tossup.



5" x  7"

some days there isn't enough time to do everything.  you run out of day.  the hours jog fast laps around you, taunting "neener neener!", and the list grows wild like blackberries.  some days you forget the list even exists, or at least pretend to forget, just to give yourself a break.  but it finds you again, that pesky list, running like a stock ticker in your head, after you've arrived home from a long day of gallivanting. you're back to the grind all over again.

doing a painting a day is like having a new pet to take care of.  it's easy to forget it's one of your new chores until you get into the routine.  it takes a while to get to know.  and when the routine is impossible, it just is, and you have to call for reinforcements.  either that, or apologize profusely when your care is haphazard, rushed, or simply overlooked.    today, i went about my day as if i were on vacation.  at 9:30, wiped out from the heat and driving and a full day of thrifting in far-off lands, i didn't want to do a painting at all.  but i did anyways, i picked the simplest thing i could think of, just to go easy on myself.  because we all deserve a break sometimes, right?



8" x  10"
reserved for exhibit

i got to thinking about feral structures again when kate lebo asked me to do a cover illustration, inspired by these photos by james d. griffioen,  for her forthcoming book on wildcrafting.  for a while now i've been pretty obsessed with the idea of abandonment, deterioration, decay, and obsolescence.   there was a time when i painted a vintage of portland buildings that i knew, somehow, were going to be erased; either torn down or gentrified.  and one day, while looking through a "daily painters" network, i found the paintings of stephen magsig to be highly compelling and similar in spirit: images of urban decay and recession in detriot. ultimately, the images were beautiful as evidence of the power of nature to regain control of its land.  it was also interesting to see the results of an economic boom followed by a severe crash.  i appreciate, and long for, a bygone era of architechture and building that celebrates true materials integrity, from the solid wood construction down to the copper pipes.  with enough neglect, wood will decay or be eaten by insects, copper snatched for quick cash, and a once beautiful farmhouse crumbles to the earth, gone forever.

  for the sake of progress and modernity, many architectural masterpieces are being mowed over like tiny  frogs in the tall grass.  take the story of waddles:  designed by renowned architect pietro belluschi, it was renovated two years ago into a hooters without much ado.  this kind of thing saddens me greatly.  i am attached to the aesthetics of anything old, rusty, vintage, antique, because (as the old fellas say) they don't make things the way they used to.  i also like things to stay the way they are.  hasty progress frightens me, and so does change, because it so often overlooks the long-term repercussions and damages. if all we have left are memories of the past (and memories so often get skewed), if we can't see our past for what it was, how are we to learn anything at all?



8" x 10"
it was one of those days:  so insanely busy that i knew i would barely eek this one out.  but here it is, in all of it's glory.

i was invited to be in a show entitled "the american landscape".  this seemed fitting:  a semi truck, the lifeblood, pumping through the veins of our consumptive nation.  this will be the first in the series.  i shall dedicate the next week to musing over the notion of...."the american landscape."  but for now, i am exhausted,  so goodnight.


good morning

8" x 10"

the mornings here start out foggy, cloudy and grey on most days.  maybe it's the ocean's fault, her misty breath like a blanket over us,  or maybe it's because our valley is snuggled up against the hills. either way, the morning here is drawn out like a slow symphony that builds and crescendos to chorus.  and then it comes, and morning has broken,  like the medicine you've been craving your entire life:  the gift of a sunny day.  coastal weather plays tricks like the cheshire cat, and i've come to appreciate the drama just as much as the sun.

this little bar of sunlight soap spoke to me. back in the old days, packaging was simple, and said what it needed to say.  back in the old days, and in some places still, life revolves around the sun: the growing seasons, the length of the day, the tides, the heat, the light... all setting the foundation for what life will behold.  in the morning the sun rises, you wake up, you wash yourself in sunlight.  it's not only a brilliant marketing scheme, it's a way of life.  the sun, it nourishes you, and every morning, you grow bigger and better than you were the day before.  

so for today, for you, a challenge:  grow a little, make the world better,  make it more beautiful.  somehow, someway, make art.  make it in your own way.  and then make a habit out of it.   you will blossom.   like that field of blossoming potatoes, there lies a bounty of food deep beneath the surface, just waiting to be harvested.


a picture

8" x  10"
reserved for h. malcolm

today, more than most days, it's ringing through my head like a  stuck record.  i can see it now:  peewee herman, dressed like a woman, riding in a convertible and posing as an escaped convict's wife, stopped by an officer at a roadblock who asks him to get out of the car.."i just wanted to take a look at that cute little outfit you have on," the officer says..."why don't you take a picture?  it'll last longer," peewee says flippantly.  those catch phrases of peewee's, like"i know you are but what am i" and "made you look",  they became childhood anthems; at every opportunity we'd use them as backhanded, smart-alecky banter.  and today: "why don't you take a picture, it'll last longer," that phrase rings truer now than at any time before in my life.

this morning: it was like any other morning.  wake up, take a pee, walk to the kitchen, make tea.. rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, and james brings in the mail.  two envelopes for me...a paycheck, and a card, the latter from my cousin.  she's moving out of her house, going through this'n'that, and finds a photo.  she sends it to me.  and when i see it, i'm completely derailed.

it's a photo of me, maybe two years old, lifted on the shoulders of my parents. i'm a tiny little package with a blond mullet, chubby cheeks, and a halter top, sitting between their heads.  they are young and beautiful and healthy in their summer glow, tube socks and short shorts and fluffy eighties hair, and we are all smiling so big, we're so happy, so excited to be together. a team.  we're visiting my grandparents house, the mustard rambler with the shag carpet and the fancy hot-tub in the woods out back.  i remember vividly:  those were good times.

today, here i sit.  everything turned upside down when my mom died two years ago.  john prine said it best when he said "i could build me a castle of memories, just to have somewhere to go." all i have are my memories, my relics, my pictures.  it's hard to grasp the reality of what has happened.  especially when i look at those photos of my own mother at my age: so healthy, so full of joie de vivre.   but i know i can't grovel.  and luckily, that joy is one of the things she has left with me.  i see my face in the mirror, i see my smile, and i see hers too.  it's become part of her legacy, and my challenge: to keep that joy alive.


the immortals

8" x  10" 

today is dedicated to all the things i said i would do, but didn't.   i'd also like to recognize the people i said i would call back but never did, not to mention the good deeds left undone, the best intentions, the grandiose plans never executed, the commitments i made and then flaked on, and the great ideas i forgot to write down. oh, the "air balls" of life: there are many of you, floating in the periphery of my head-space,  threatening to sneak into my subconscious during what should be a restful sleep.  today, i release you into the wild, to fend for yourself.  because the new me doesn't let that shit fly.

this is a painting i thought i would do, and even said i would do, a long time ago.  i really wanted to paint it, and i never did.  i completely spaced it out.  it comes from a photo by a woman named wendy, who worked to rehabilitate these owls. wendy saw a painting i'd done of an owl, and wanted it in her home, because owls are really special to her.  it was too late, the painting was sold.   yesterday, when she contacted me, i thought of the countless times that has happened to me--a simple missed opportunity--that ends up hanging heavy on the heart.  so today i bit the bullet, and painted the picture that would mean something to wendy, and to me too.

the best part about painting for me is when i make someone's day better.  i can even do it by accident.  like the time i painted an excerpt of a photo of a desert motorcycle race.  it may have been plagiarism, but i did it anyways and called it "appropriation".  i hung the painting at the old town cafe, and one day a woman named Nancylee came in, saw the piece, and exclaimed, "that's my dad!!".  turned out, of all the hundreds of people in that photo, i had painted him, unmistakeably identified by his helmet:  immortalized on canvas, ever so accidentally.  that, my friends, is the best part of painting.



8" x  10" 
i was born in the city of the soft petal. i lived in a small cul-de-sac called trumpeter drive, in mount vernon washington, until i was five. this roundabout was where i first learned to ride a bike without training wheels. i have a few shining memories from those years: eating burgers at the chuckwagon and watching the model train go round the ceiling; making clay hearts from the freshly dug foundation of new construction across the street from my house; the mysterious neighbor lady with the chair elevator that moved her up the stair handrail, the crystal bowl full of lemondrops on her coffee table; my first little boyfriend getting stung by a bee and puffing up like a marshmallow man... my parents left for a better life when i was just about six, and they never looked back.

now that i've moved so close to my birthplace, i have come to understand a little more about myself. trumpeter drive, once just a name of a street, is now a signifier of the thousands of trumpeter swans that fly over my new home every winter, honking ecstatically, their white bodies stark against the black mud of the soggy fallow fields... and the chuckwagon restaurant, with its roughly carved wooden statues of Indians and pioneers: referencing the beginnings of this fertile land, full of the opportunity that the bountiful ocean, forest, rivers and valley have to offer.

it was a small town, and my folks had to leave. it was becoming claustrophobic in the ways that small towns often do. but now that i'm back, and without any prejudice, i can see it in all of it's guts and glory. a refugee from a suburban upbringing
and the buzz and clatter of city life, i now find myself unwinding to the natural rhythm of the land and its seasons. coincidentally, i'm happier than i've been in quite a while.


simple sweetness


life, as i see it, is comprised of three categories:  things we dread, things we are ambivalent about, and things we look forward to.  the latter, i've found, is extremely important to preserve one's sanity, optimism and will to live.  james told me that as a little kid, if he didn't have anything to look forward to, he'd throw a ferocious tantrum:  "THERE'S NOTHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO!!" he'd wail.  as an adult, i find that i'm nearly as bad, moping around with the desolation blues when all i can see on the horizon is work, work, and more work.  this project is helping, though.  suddenly, i'm excited to see what i'll pull out of my heiny; or rather, what my new painting will look like.

our dog champ is the same way.  she'd 16, which is probably 100 in dog years.  she's tired, she's wobbly on her feet, she stumbles, but like a real trooper, she still goes for her two walks around town every day.  religiously, she quickens her pace around that second bend, up the alley to see paul.   paul, sitting in his chair, smoking a cigarette and doing a crossword, always equipped with little colored bone cookies for champ.  they became fast friends.  and whenever champ disappeared from our watch, out the backyard through an open gate, we would know exactly where to find her, waiting patiently.

today we found out paul might not make it.  he's been in the v.a. hospital for three weeks after yet another surgery.  he's tired, and he said no more.  he has no family and few friends.  but in his weakened state, from his hospital bed, he asked how champ the dog was doing.  and so, as it turns out, he looked forward to their daily ritual too. 


a collection

watercolor on paper
5.5" x  8"

not all days are created equal.  sometimes i am a wellspring of creativity.  today, i am bored with myself.  when life gets repetitive, it is easy to want to change things up.  usually, i'll dye my hair, or cut bangs.  or clean and do laundry obsessively in order to avoid work.  today, i did neither.  today i wanted to paint a different kind of painting, something abstract and adventurous and like nothing i'd ever done.  then i found this little japanese bisque guy and settled with him as my day's meditation.

this trumpet playing bunny is part of a large collection of 30's woolworth's "penny dolls" of my mom's.  she started with one doll, given to her as a gift by her surrogate mother norma. she soon found another while thrifting...then another and another.  the collection grew and grew until she was able to fill three old letterpress trays completely with probably over two hundred little dollies. we never counted.  she had children of every nationality in authentic costume, animals wearing three piece suits or lacy dresses, brides and grooms and brothers and sisters, every little silly character you could imagine, each with their own unique personality, painted ever so haphazardly in a unique rudimentary assembly-line fashion.  my mom was such a child at heart.

painting this doll reminded me of the value of a collection.  together, many fragments make a whole.  and so, a year from now, if i am successful, if i stick to my guns and don't get too bored with myself , or grow weary doing the same thing every day, i will have amassed quite a large collection of my own work.   that will be something.


an apology

watercolor on paper
6" x  8"
i've always loved animals.  maybe more than people.  i was raised by a woman who anthropomorphized animals in her illustrations.  an average rat, to me, could have been rowing a boat made from a leaf down a gently rolling stream earlier that day.  a bear could have been dancing ballet, or a hippopotamus could have been hula-hooping.  animals had complete thoughts, could talk and count to a hundred, could somersault and do tricks, could love you like you'd never been loved before....and they knew a lot more than we thought they did.   that is why i became the obnoxious vegan teenager, complete with PETA pamphlets,  citing how the industrialization of meat and dairy production had caused severe mistreatment of animals.  and although i am no longer as militant, i still believe such is true.

that is why yesterday, at the county fair, i had a hard time.  it's not that the fair wasn't wonderful; it was.  hundreds of people, families, farmers and teenagers of farmers, milling around, eating greasy food, listening to mariachi, riding belly-turning rides, flirting, posturing, animal handling, performing horse tricks in formation, and showing off their 4H mastery. That part was incredibly delightful and filling.  But the livestock, all cooped up in 90 degree weather, caged and roped to this and that, stacked in rows, shitting on their own selves, patiently waiting to go home and eventually graze or get slaughtered or milked or caged or snuggled or brushed....all this while everyone else was having one helluva time, it was nearly too much for me.  so today, for the love of animals, i'm sorry.  i apologize for what we've done.



watercolor on paper
8" x  10"

growing up, my mom always had the best art gear.  i could go into her studio with any project in mind and walk out with exactly what i needed to get the job done. and done right.  she took a lot of pride in her technical prowess, and her mastery of technique was something she worked hard at.  when mom passed on, she passed all her supplies on to me.  and still, like the slacker i truly am, i found myself using the wrong paper with the wrong pencil and a poor excuse for an eraser.  the paint didn't flow correctly, the graphite lines smudged and smeared, and i was laboring over the simplest of tasks.  so i went to the store and got the watercolor block.  i took the plastic palette from storage, and filled each little indented box with paint from the right color tube. each box on that palette my mom had delicately transcribed with the specific color in beautiful tiny hand-written letters.  suddenly, it all seemed right:  with her silently coaxing me in the right direction,  i feel like i'm getting somewhere.


lucky day

9" x   8"

historically, friday the 13th is my lucky day.  it all started in elementary school when i found a wallet lying in the dirt on the playground with $300 dollars in it.  like a good girl, i turned it in to the office.  the owner decided to reward me for my honesty with 50 bones.  i was presented my reward during an all-school assembly, most likely to "set an example" for my fellow ragamuffins.  the following year, i won four blazers tickets in a raffle on friday the 13th. at the time they were in the championships and we were enthusiastically chanting their token "bust-a-bucket" theme rap during choir class.  thus began my streak of beating friday the 13th's unlucky reputation.

today when i woke up with a whopping headache from 2.5 glasses of the red stuff, i didn't feel so lucky. now that i'm 30, things like drinking alcohol quickly take a toll.  my constitution isn't so rubbery.  i can't party all night.  i have blossoming crows feet where my smile has repeated.  and my feet are sore. i'm getting older.

james let my crabby ass sleep in a little.  i soon awoke to a familiar laugh downstairs.  it was my dear friend annalee, for a surprise visit.  her calm demeanor calmed mine, and i felt a little better.  a few minutes after she left, kj and david showed up for a surprise visit.  kj and i sat in the sun drinking water discussing this and that, and i felt a little better still.  after they left, libby and steeb and little franklin showed up.  we cozied up on a blanket on the floor and played like good friends do.  

driving home from dinner this evening i saw my first great horned owl.  it was unmistakable, up on the line, blowing in the wind, little horns silhouetted in the red of the sunset, still enough light to see it's face in all its glory.  and as i sit here typing while my james plays piano and sings the sweetest melody, overwhelmed by the beauty of it all, i say to myself: by god, this sure was one lucky day. 


cat crazy

5" x 8"
collection of j. tofe

anyone who knows me knows i'm cat crazy.  recently, i lost my cat grey.  i was a total train wreck.  afterwards, i couldn't handle the silence.  i went directly to the pound and found a new companion. i named her chachie. 

chachie was sleeping when i first saw her.  she was the last cat we looked at.  easy to overlook, just a black fuzzy thing, paying no mind to any of the crazy dogs or even crazier people barking and moving frantically about the humane society.  i poked at her foot to try to wake her, and decided in a last ditch attempt at companionship we would check her out in a private room.  she was alert, attentive, super chubby, with a fanny like a black bear.  when i scratched her, she instantly started humming like a little volkswagen beetle, marching her two front feet (with goofy tufts of golden hair sticking out between her toes) up and down, up and down: making biscuits, as david says.  she had been in a cage for six months, but was brushed daily by a sweet woman who cried tears of joy when i said, finally, i want to take chachie home.

yesterday i took chachie in for her first tune-up in who knows how long.  it began as a simple ear cleaning, but the other day her front tooth broke and was sticking out like a tiny toothpick.  turned out that chach not only had a severely stinky bacterial infection in her ear, but had some serious teeth problems too.  all said and done, she had to have seven teeth pulled.  i couldn't drag the minutes by fast enough to get through that long appointment. i literally almost passed out in the waiting room from the stress of it all.  a pretty penny later, chachie is a new woman.  phew.  she seems better already. 


in anticipation of winter

watercolor and graphite on bristol
6" x 9"

winter has been on my mind.  i live in a big, drafty, old, damp barn.  there are the finished spaces, complete with wood stoves, outlets, lights, and walls.  and then...there are the unfinished spaces.  they amount to about 50% of our home.  nowadays, summer is like one big frantic countdown.  the to-do list is long, and the days keep getting shorter.  last night we actually wrote everything down, and it goes something like this:  tar paper & insulate upstairs, wire and install lights upstairs, install wood stove, roof the back half, build fence, procure more firewood, plant garden beds...and there's more: more than two people who work full time can even imagine to do on a limited budget.  luckily, this morning, as i was looking through photos of last winter for this morning's painting, i was reminded of one enduring quality of winter.  besides the dropping temperatures, the long black nights, the stormy ocean winds, the grey days, and the never-ending rain:   it is incredibly beautiful, magical, and quiet.  and somehow, i can barely wait.


polishing up

watercolor on bristol
4.5" x 7.5"

lately i've been all caught up on subject matter.  i go on and on in my head with the question: what in the world should i paint?  sometimes the idea comes like a beacon in the night, and sometimes i'll stare at the blank canvas for what seems like an eternity.

back in college i had a critique from professional artist sheila klein.  for a final project i painted an oil portrait of my then-boyfriend's dog, champ.  she said "it's clear you know how to paint.  now paint something interesting."  i was crushed.  now that sheila & i are friends, i haven't had the gumption to tell her how that critique affected me.  but ironically, since then, i can trace all my good fortune as a professional artist to a pet portrait i did for client, friend, and art-aficionado paige powell.  it's funny how everything in life seems to come full circle.

today i grabbed the first thing in my environment that caught my eye.  maybe it's the old-fashioned logo, the red-white-and-blue that screams "americana!", but this seems like an inadvertent homage to both wayne thiebaud & andy warhol.  i've had the good fortune to see quite a bit of warhol's work and hear stories about him through paige, who worked closely with him at interview magazine.   through this exposure, i've realized his influence in my work


ocean boy

watercolor on bristol
9" x 11"
last night we were watching seafair festivities on tv over dinner at the tavern. james was reminiscing about his love affair with the hydroplane boat racers, how chip hanouer driving the miss budweiser boat couldn't be beat, but that o'boy! oberto boat was always close behind.  i realized: you can take the boy out of seattle, but you can't take seattle out of the boy.   here is a painting of james at the marina.  today i went for watercolor on paper, i've had decent luck with that in the past.  yesterday's painting didn't do much for me in the way of aesthetic satisfaction, but i was reassured after talking to my artist friend joel brock last night. a student of wayne thiebaud, one of my most favorite artists, joel has an elegant intensity to his painting style that is all his own.  He iterated that the most important thing is to stay in practice: you may not love everything you do as an artist, but you have to keep on doing it to get anywhere.


riders at ghost ranch

gouache on plywood
8" x 17"
i'm starting a new blog.  the challenge:  a painting a day.  

lately i've been doing so much commercial design and illustration that i haven't really felt much at all like an artist. that, plus daily chores and the rigmarole of owning a business and living in a barn has led my fine art life to hide like a little kid with a flashlight in a blanket fort: beneath the covers. today, fed up with it all, i decided to take my mother's fine advice, to uncover the beast, and do a painting a day.  making it public, like quitting smoking, serves to hold me accountable to some larger audience.  if this works, i will no longer be whining, pissing, grumbling and moaning that i never have time to paint.  because i will make time.

today, i bit off a little more than i could chew.  like the good old days when i painted Americana landscapes, i opened an old 50's USA in color book, and picked the first thing that seemed interesting.  gouache on panel was something i did long ago, and it's way easier to clean up than oil paint, so i though i'd give it a shot.  feeling a bit rusty at the onset. plus, the picture was way too complex to be a quick shot... i may have rushed it, but here it is: painting number one.