Thursday, August 11, 2011

The long and winding road

8x6 oil and cold wax on a plank


Since the time my mother passed away, I've had urges to go visit places. 
To the place where I grew up, to where my grandmother grew up.
I'm not really sure why.
I drove out to the place where I grew up, with my childhood friend
that I recently reconnected with on fb--after years of not seeing each other
or knew where each other were.  Thank you fb!
Anyway, we drove to the "small town".  
 The winding road we lived on was the same...
the curves, the hills, the twists, the turns. 
But the surroundings changed.
I don't know what it was that I was looking for exactly,
or what I was expecting to find.
Did I expect to see myself as a girl jumping rope,
swimming in the river, riding my bike, or climbing trees?
The roads used to be gravel-sprayed with oil on top.
I remember having to scrub my feet before I went to bed
because I refused to wear shoes.
Some of the roads were just gravel, there used to be one road
 that was a set of tire tracks with a ribbon of grass in between.
There were little rickety abandoned buildings--all gone now.
All the roads are paved, 
most of the summer cottages are now big year round houses.
A part of me felt sad because there was nothing for me to hang on to.
The beach where the neighborhood kids hung out was gone.
My favorite climbing tree gone, in fact the woods where we used to play-gone.
Everything changed.
What they say is true, you can't go back.
When you search for some tangible part of your past, it's not there.
Someone bought the old rickety shack or the summer cottage and tore it down.
I realized that sometimes you have to let go of what you left behind,
to make room for someone else's dreams.
I have closure now.  Maybe that's what I was after all along.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

MAM-Art is good for the soul

I took myself on an artists date to the Milwaukee Art Museum.
It had been a long time since stepping through those doors
and taking in all that amazing work that lies within.
The first piece you encounter is a sarcophagus,
waxed in yellow ochre, red (ocher too?), turquoise,black and white.
Decorated with designs and hieroglyphics and gold.
Surely it was made for someone important.

Oh my, Cy Twombly
Standing before this giant canvas, taking in the underlying scribblings
painted in uneven brush strokes, paint thinned that ran down the canvas. 

This life size girl is made of plaster. (I love me some plaster.)
She is at once creepy and fantastic.
Part of an installation with a door, fluorescent light and venetian blinds.
by George Segal

Robert Motherwell--What more can you say?

Anslem Kiefer's oil on canvas.  Gorgeous.  Highly textured areas
some not so much, canvas peeking through.  Brilliant use of darks and lights.

German Expressionism
Oskar Kokoschka
I enjoy this portrait, layer upon layer-underlying colors show through.

Georges Braque-Seated Nude.
I could look at this painting for hours.
I love these colors--green next to pink, green on top of lavender
Calm areas, bright areas, repetition of diagonal

Alberto Giacometti-Still life with 2 plaster heads.
Double take.....
Would you look at that line work?  Swoon-absolutely a favorite.

I went around a corner and there were 2 Diebenkorns....double swoon!

Richard Diebenkorn---Ocean Park 68 (I think)
I love how he divides his space and his amazing use of color.

A close-up of Serge Poliakoff's "Flowers"
Scrumptious texture!

Gabriele Munter
Black outlined forms filled in with rich color.
I was delighted to see how many artists painted on cardboard.
oil on cardboard, gouache on cardboard, acrylic on cardboard.
If it's good enough for the likes of Gabriele Munter....
well what can you say about that?
This was painted in 1909!

Took myself out to lunch at the Cafe Calatrava.
Was seated at the prow of the restaurant--great table!
As I ate North African Hummus with kalamata olives, feta, cukes and tomatoes
along with a glass of Sav blanc,
there was an air show going on!
Planes doing stunts!
Hitting thrusters (?) and making a lot of sound! the Denis Sullivan sailed by......

The day was what I really needed.
I felt my spirits were lifted and left there totally inspired.
I did go back to the Bradley wing to look at all the expressionists again-
couldn't help myself.
Thank you Mrs. Harry Lynde (Peg) Bradley (1894-1978) for being a visionary.  
She had 600 paintings in her collection....can you imagine?
She started collecting art in the 60's and donated the lot to the 
Milwaukee Art Museum in 1970 along with a million dollars to build a wing.
Milwaukee is so fortunate to have such an awesome art museum.

And the Bries Soliel ain't too shabby neither.
Have a wonderful, creative weekend!
Thanks for stopping by.

p.s.  What I can't figure out is why some oil paintings were framed under glass.
Anyone know why?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Plaster bowls

Plaster bowl 8.5"
plaster, encaustic, acrylic

Paster bowl 8.5"
Plaster, tar, encaustic

Plaster Bowl 8.5"
Plaster, soot, encaustic, acrylic


Getting in some good studio time,
despite the fact that I have been to 3 out of 6
dental appointments.
Don't really feel like doing much after that.
I carry tension in my's caused a few problems :(

Working on bowls this week.
There is something mesmerizing about forming the plaster,
getting my hands into it and shaping it.
Then applying layers of encaustic.
Plaster and encaustic and wonderful partners.
...Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life? ....

excerpt from Peonies by Mary Oliver

Thanks for stopping by, have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Middle of July already?!

3 wips--a triptych each on 12 x 12 cradled panels
cold wax and oil
Can't tell you how many layers of paint are on these.
Bizaar combinations that felt right at the time.
See them peaking through?
Found an excellent paint scraper at home depot,
I like it because you can push and pull it,
It plows through many layers at once with little effort.

Not sure where they will go next......

....but enjoying where they are now.....

Detail of a 24 x 16 wip
orange, several reds, the white you see is marble dust & cold wax
Love its translucency
Lots of potential for marble dust.

Hand built plaster bowl 14" 
yes, another wip.....
Indian red is sooo rich isn't it?  More marble dust and cold wax.
Scratching through to the plaster.

Though this looks like a woodcut, it's actually carved plaster on board.
Continuing on with my bowl series--2d & 3d
Finally finished something!
 July 1st, I saw one bleeding heart on the bush in my yard.
Only one.  
How odd for any to be blooming at this time.
I felt like it was just for me,
my heart is aching from the loss of my mother.
My aunt Karen drove 2 1/2 hours just to take me out for a belated birthday lunch.
We went to Watt's Tea Room.
It was just delightful.
Oogled the beautiful china and crystal in their store.
Strolled a bit downtown.
Just lovely.
She's the best!
Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Goodbye Mama

June 12, 1926 - June 10, 2011
I miss you Mama.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Cold Wax and Oil Workshop with Rebecca Crowell

I'm still reeling from the workshop I took from Rebecca Crowell mid May.
There were 6 students, we worked long and hard.  I'm not sure if any of us were well versed in oils, but we learned quick (HA!).
added to oils makes a luscious combination.
 Oils on their own are slick, but with the addition of cold wax, become wonderfully buttery.  It's really like nothing I've ever worked with before.
You can create fabulous textures.

I worked on 12 x 12 panels by Ampersand.
Two completely different surfaces.  Cold wax and oil seemed to dry much faster on the Claybord, but when scraping through layers tended to go right to the white Claybord surface.
The Gessobord dried slower, but held the cold wax and oil allowing scraping without going down to the white surface.
We spent hours working on techniques Rebecca has perfected over the years.
It was bliss.
I got frustrated at one point on this one and took it outside in the rain and plopped it face down on the gravel driveway and stomped on it-repeatedly.
Some nice texture turned up.
These are well on their way, but not know how that can change!

Rebecca gave us a sheet of Multimedia artboard
to experiment on.  I really, really like it.
It's prepped and ready to go.  It holds cold wax/oil nicely,
allows you to scrape back. 
Since getting back home, I've been rearranging my studio.....again.
I cleared a space so that I can hang my panels on the wall
to work on them and be able to stand back and assess as I go along.
There are 4 panels in progress. 
The next plan of attack is to make plaster bowls and experiment putting
cold wax/oil on them.

Thanks for stopping by, hope you have great week making art!

Friday, May 27, 2011

More plaster....another bowl

Plaster, walnut ink, sumi ink, watercolor, graphite and encaustic medium
4 1/2 inches

Making bowls has become almost meditative for me.
The process of getting my hands in the plaster
 and getting lost forming the bowl, is really is a pleasurable experience.
Once they are dry, then staining, painting, rubbing, sanding & etc. begins.
Lastly, they are coated with encaustic medium.
A bowl that is waiting in the wings
 will be the first of many experiments with cold wax and oils.
I can't wait to get started........

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A very full Saturday

 Plaster, shed snake skin, walnut ink, encaustic medium
11 1/2 inches

There has been so much on my mind that even in art making
I can't concentrate.
This piece is the result of a happy accident.
There is a hanger on the back of the bowl
which I completely spaced out as I glued the snake skin.  
I had intended a different orientation.
Crap.  Time to walk away for a while.
Grabbed the walnut ink and started dripping the ink
starting at the lip of the bowl.
It started running in different directions following the crevices.
Crap.  Time to walk away for a while.
Decided to connect some of the drips.
The shapes that formed repeated the snake skin.
Slathered a couple of layers of encaustic medium over everything.
I like it. 
Yesterday Paul and I celebrated out 23rd anniversary.
Where does the time go?!
We drove to Door County to drop off art work.
First stop was The Dovetail Gallery in Egg Harbor.
Had a nice visit with Kathy and looked at what other artists dropped off.
Kathy carves egg shells with a Dremmel, they are fabulous!
Time for lunch, so we stopped and ate at The Chef's Hat
It's a favorite place.
Then, all the way up to Gill's Rock and Charlene's Gallery Ten.
Kate & Sarah were there to check in all the art
in between manning the coffee house.
Time for a pick me up...a nice strong roomy americano.
We decided it was time to head for home.
When we got back to Milwaukee
Paul wanted to go to Le Reve for our anniversary dinner.
It was lovely, champagne, brie crostini, mussels and a prosciutto salad.
A glass of port and creme brulee.
Today we continued packing mom's apartment
getting ready for the movers to come early tomorrow.
There is a lot to do, we're making progress.
Right foot, left foot, breathe.
Time to get some sleep.
Good night! 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Plaster bowl

plaster, charcoal, dirt, pastel, graphite, sumi, watercolor, encaustic medium
8 inches across, hangs on wall
I didn't realize until I saw it posted, that the sumi mark is in the shape of a bowl.
I think the red mark is a bittersweet tear.


The bowl is a good metaphor for life, no?
My bowl is full, too full, heaping full, spilling over full.
There are brief periods when the storm subsides and I catch my breath.
right foot, left foot, breathe.
lather, rinse, repeat.
Mom will be released from rehab soon.
There are still some things that hinge on other things.
Day by day, things are falling into place.
One day at a time, right?

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Finding time for art

cold wax & oil on wood ~ 12x12

I don't know much about cold wax medium or oils, 
but the idea of working with cold wax intrigued me
especially living in a cold climate where ventilation
for encaustics is an issue.
I've been puttering away at this painting
working on it off and on for many months.
Very happy to have finished it yesterday.
I've been trying a different approach to making art.
Much of what I had been doing required poems and quotations.
Interpreting the words with design elements, line-form-texture etc.
I've switched to journaling my thoughts and feelings 
and expressing those with cold wax & oil.
This is a different animal than acrylics.
You need a bit of patience with oils as they take time to dry.
In May I'm taking a class with Rebecca Crowell.
Sure to have my many questions answered.
I've got a triptych in the works.  
More on those later....
My mom continues to improve.
Even her voice sounds strong.
We're still working on finding assisted living for her.
One day at a time.... 

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Life is a bowl ...

Bowl #2
gouache and encaustic medium on plaster 5x7

This piece was inspired by two stories.

"This is a giant block
of whatever is most difficult
for you to carry
and trust me on this,
you'll carry it more times
thank you can count
until you decide that's exactly
what you want to do most
and then it won't weigh
a thing anymore"
from The Story People
"...each day a monk goes out
with his empty bowl in his hands.
Whatever is placed in the bowl
will be his nourishment for the day."
Everyday Sacred by Sue Bender
These two stories have been rolling
around and around in thoughts that are
deep and scattered.
I've been resisting difficult situations.
Easier to try to run and hide
than to (wo)man up and face them...head on.
Denial runs within a deep vein.
Taking on my mother's burden
has been at once painful and tender.
My bowl is full to the brim (enough, I cry)
with work, visits, seeking help, searching for assisted living,
calls to nurses, doctors, social workers...on and on..
I think about how difficult this is to carry,
I come to the realization
that this is exactly what I want to do most.
Thank you for your prayers and thoughts.
My mom has turned a corner, she's doing much better.
She'll be leaving the ICU behind soon.
Sweet relief.
She's got a lot of work to do ahead.
Her will has become strong.
Grateful daughter am I.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Charcoal on pastel paper

What a month it has been.  On Feb. 8th, there was a fire in the apartment 2 doors down from my mother's.  She was hurrying to put on a robe to evacuate when she fell, hit her head and knocked herself out.  She had bleeding on the brain and broke 3 bones in her wrist (dom. hand).  Thank God she didn't need surgery.  I have been scurrying around trying to get her into assisted living, fill out paper work for aid and attendance benefits, keep up with her doctors, spend time with her, and I was advised to set up a burial trust for her.  Sobering thought.  Exhaustion has draped it's cloak over me and I can do nothing but surrender.  I - am - tired.
The other night I got a call that she was having trouble to the ER, now she has pneumonia.  An 84 year lady with one lung has pneumonia.  I visited her today, she is so confused she doesn't know where she is.  She told me she wants to die.  She doesn't want to live, this is no way to live.  My eyes filled up with tears.  I didn't want her to see me cry, but maybe I should have.
She has given up, there is just no fight left in her.  She's ready to go.  I cried all the way home.


The drawing was done in 1996. 
 The photo I used was taken
 when she was in the sanitarium
 after having a lung removed from TB. 
 She was only 19.
  I covered the paper with charcoal
erased a grid
placed a grid printed on a transparency over the photo
and went at it.
grid by grid, erasing and drawing,
I love the sound of charcoal on paper.
It was her Christmas present.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow, snow and more snow

 5am....look at this!
My driveway is under there....somewhere

 I tried to look out the side door...
guess this is why the door didn't open.
The snowblower wouldn't start,
Paul had to shovel
Holy mackerel it's deep.
The street was finally plowed out late afternoon,
not that we were going anywhere ;)
Temps are supposed to comes the deep freeze!

Cool what the wind does in the snow.

Hope you are all safe and warm!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Reorganizing for the new year

Look....a floor, how about that?!  It was starting to get a bit dangerous in there again.  You know how it is right?  Mixed media....boxes and bags full of this n' that.  Decided it was high time to pick up and reorganize before I hurt myself tripping over some treasure.  

I cleared out a corner to make a quiet place read.  I'm thinking about this chair in brown.  When my mother-in-law passed away, I was given her brass reading lamp.      

Paul rescued this sink from going into a dumpster on a job site.
He didn't want me making a mess in the bathroom sink, so he had this put in.

This is an old lawyer's bookcase, it has glass doors that flip up and push in.
It holds paint, mediums and etc.!
Nice to have like things in one place.
So now the studio is ready
Time to get to work!

Thanks for visiting, have a nice weekend!