Wednesday, October 24, 2007

juggling jobs

For many years I have had the art career and the design career running simultaneously. Then I started the design firm. Now I have teaching [Ex'pression College for Digital Arts]. And now I am writing books. There is a lot going on! (Right now I have no tv as I have no time to watch it.)

But I think all the things you do feed other things. What I learn in one arena helps in another. I started teaching as a way to become a better art director but found that I liked teaching and seemed to be good at it. I started design as a way to support my art but over the years got pretty good at it and can't imagine life without design now. I love going to work if it's teaching or designing for the college. I am in the middle of rebranding the college and that's like playtime. My friends ask me to design logos for their new businesses. How can I say no? And I'm always learning. Yesterday. I learned how to make a DVD in 'Motion' software.

But I can't imagine life without fine art. What do you have left after the jobs are done? Why doesn't everyone need to have some kind of life work such as what art provides?

If I could quit all the jobs and just go out painting every day, I'd probably find that I would still be teaching, doing volunteer work, writing books and pro bono design...and doing a lot of painting. Anyhow, I can't go painting every day.

They say "leap and the net will appear". It probably will but I can't.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sawing in high heels

I raced over to the studio tonight from my day job for some volunteer meeting but I missed it by a day. Typical spaciness.

So since I was there and am getting ready for the big fall Open Studio event, I decided to do some framing. The other day I spent $400 on 8 frames. They didn't even give me screws for them which is so annoying. I made a point of having a little tantrum about it in the frame shop. Anyhow I also bought some wood slats to frame bigger works. So I did some quick sawing and got one new frame ready for staining. All in my heels that I wore to work.

I like the idea of landscape painting in a bikini and framing in high heels. It appeals to the girl who grew up in the James Bond era.

I wore work boots in my prime...this is what we wore, those feminists and strong young women against rape and such. I think if I had worn heels my life would be completely different. I would have met different men. I would have dated more. Who knows?

You could say I'd have more foot trouble but as it is I have some trouble from wearing pointy shoes as a kid. And I've fallen off platforms plenty of times just like everyone else.

So I have to admit the frames were not great but they seem to help somewhat. It was not a cakewalk to get the art into them and one I turned over to see that I had damaged the frame. That was a fast $50 bucks down the drain. I thanked the artist who referred me to the frame shop and she said she doesn't use frames anymore. They get damaged too easily.


Monday, October 15, 2007

just checking

I am working on another book about rabbits in a lazy sort of way. Whenever I get an idea -- usually because of something my rabbits did -- I made a few notes and throw it into a drawer. Hopefully that will sort of write itself.

Yesterday working on a large landscape painting. It's a sister to the painting 'Jeanne's Trees' that is bare winter branches in Connecticut. This one is a summer version. I took some pix this summer of a close but unfortunately not exactly the same angle. I am trying to copy it as close as possible but of course when working with photography it is so flat and ... if I copy it exactly it won't look like what I saw this summer.
So I am trying to sort of feel my way there. It's like working in a dream of some kind. Using photo for reference but almost just closing my eyes and trying to feel it out. Occasionally I stand back or sit down and look. "Does this resemble my memory?"
If not, go back and work some more. It's sort of abdicating responsibility. Sort of like Dada. I have a big faith in letting accident or a higher power take charge.
For years I've done this in design work. My life in design involves moving things around on screen. Sometimes I have no idea so I just grab the object with the mouse and move it with my eyes closed. it often ends up in exactly the right place.
Twice while painting I had the uncanny experience of not having control of my hand. Or rather I didn't even need to look...I just kept painting and it felt like it was done for me. This was very strange. It sounds ridiculous I know. It will sound even sillier when I tell you that one of these times I was working on my 'Missing' which features a large madonna and child [very post-modern] among other elements. I was working on the child when it happened, on his foot. You must realize that at that time I didn't even think I believed in God let alone Jesus buut it gave me pause. The first time it happened, I was working on my copy of the Velasquez painting of the little infanta and her maid. My version is on my sister Jeanne and myself.
Well I don't try to explain it, just know what I felt.
Like one time I saw a UFO but that doesn't make any sense either....


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

wildfire in Henry Coe State Park

I guess it's old news now. But on Labor Day I went to Palo Alto to paint in the marsh there. I had seen the view about a year ago -- a lovely marsh with a huge flock of rare avocets and their babies. I couldn't rememeber what time of year it was and couldn't remember which marsh it was.
But I found it. Strangely it was all dry -- really dry -- huge cracks throughout all what was water before. And no birds in site. I packed everything on my back and started walking. At one point I came to water which I had to cross.
Normally I don't cross anything like that. I am terrified of getting stuck in the mud. What if the water came up and I couldn't get back? This time I took a chance. I crossed and kept walking and walking. Finally I found some water and a flock of birds. The smell in the air from the landfill nearby was almost too much but I set down to paint.
After about 1/2 hour I saw a puff of smoke on the hills above San Jose or south of there near Mt. Hamilton. First I checked to see that it wasn't on my side of the bay. Then I painted it. It kept getting bigger and bigger. It was a very windy day even where I was.
I guessed it was from Henry Coe Park by the size and speed of the blaze. I went camping there once and on a hike Michael and I almost died from thirst and sunstroke. We brought 2 bottles of water but it was so hot and so steep that we ran out hours too early. When we finally got back and found some muddy water we drank too much and Michael got horribly sick. I have a cast iron stomach pretty much.
Anyhow it was horrifying and also exciting to paint this fire and to wonder about all the big and little animals who were trying to get away from it. And it was really interesting to study the pattern of the smoke as it blew.
In the end it burned something like 47,000 acres. I ended up with a not very good painting but an indelible memory.


Tuesday, October 2, 2007


Welcome to my new blog. I keep a daily journal -- with sketches and notes for future art work -- but I thought I'd try this as well. I was writing a book and got the new iListen software to help but have hardly used it. Thought this might help me finish.

When I paint in the studio, say on a weekend, the time just vanishes. It's like there is no weekend at all. If the painting goes well there is something to show for it. If not, it's just like missing time. (Though it's possible that one my have learned something about painting.)

But when I paint outdoors, I have much more sense of the day passing -- it becomes an event. People come by or animals do -- or there is a wildfire or a snake or a flock of birds or these wonderful things that happen. Seeing the feral cats come out at the end of the day, for example. Now I dislike seeing feral cats because they eat the native wildbirds and other creatures and wreck the ecosystem, but seeing them gives me a better understanding of what's going on in the area. It's learning something, always.

Last week I had lots of design work (which I love) but I got almost no painting done. I feel I am aching to get out there. It's almost physical. Well maybe the desire for sunlight and fresh air is physical. I did get a rough website up, did a design for a yoga studio in LA. And did three motion graphics pieces for my college's open house. Right now I am researching the blog world for a client.