Tuesday, November 25, 2014

back to it

A Sense of Place III, pastel, 10 x 13 inches
Back to the easel and it feels right! A Sense of Place III started out easy and hopeful, got difficult, got really bad. I wiped it all off and began again. Ended with a nice loose painting. I'm happy.

"Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do”—Edgar Degas

Sunday, November 23, 2014


I have just started reading The Practice of Process Meditation by Ira Progoff and came across text (page 78) that seems to explain my creative process - cycles devoted to a specific genre before I must move on. It is too long to quote here but a couple excerpts will help.

"The old spiritual truth seems to apply in all areas of creativity: one travels by delays."

"The image of intimation contains an intuitive perception, a generalized vision of what is possible in the future..." "When a creative process is undertaken, it proceeds well for a certain distance and then it comes to rest." "In order for the work to move on to its next phase of development, another cycle must be started. To do this, the person must re-enter the process of the work, be within it, and begin to do the work once again. In that way, as we re-approach the work from within its own process, letting the process take itself forward another step...the work builds its strength again and again."

"A key to the role of Process Meditation in creativity lies in our understanding the distinction between what an artwork is and what is merely a work.  A work is a task that we do in order to get it done." "An artwork, on the other hand, is worked and reworked, done and altered and redone, seeking always a qualitative improvement. An artwork, in whatever field of life it is carried out, in literature or painting, in business or politics or raising a child, is not done only in order to be done, but it is done as well as may be."  Ahaa!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Thinking about water...

One of the best things about these golden years is that I have time to think. When I have had a busy day of family, painting, building a house...it could be anything, I wake in the middle of the night and process the events of that day (or try to find a solution to a problem that is not mine to solve - now, that is a waste of time). Because I don't have to be up early to go to a job, I have the luxury of using  these sleepless sessions  to think of desperately dire or completely plausible outcomes to pending thoughts.

Last week I was running errands, listening to NPR on my car radio. They were interviewing author, Wallace J. Nichols about his book, Blue Mind. He spoke of the human connection with water, 'the surprising science that shows how being near, in, on or under water can make you happier, healthier, more connected and better at what you do.'  Interesting; something to think about. I put a request in at the library for the book and picked it up yesterday. After reading only three pages, I began thinking about the role water has played in my life and I'm surprised to find it is a frequent theme.

Both my children were conceived beside large bodies of water...OK, that's more than you may have wanted to know but this morning, I find it fascinating.

Besides Northwest rain, I was introduced to water by my mother and our trips to the Green River to swim. Yes, that is the same river as the Green River Killer river but that is a totally different story. The green river of my childhood is following my mother and siblings along a sandy path through thick hedges of blackberries to the bend in the river where Mama swam and we played at water's edge. This is also the place where my father fished for steelhead each winter to feed our family (and probably a quiet place for him to think). I went with him ONCE. It was so boring and cold. He just stood motionless on the cold clay bank and waited for a fish to bite his line. I had a orange with me. That's all I remember but I probably complained a lot.

We lived in the same house on "M" Street in Auburn all my childhood and we went to the same bend in the river every summer. One year, Mama saved my classmate Mike from drowning, that was a proud moment for me and one I have revisited with Mike at class reunions fifty years later. Mama learned to swim as a child in the canal in Selah, Washington. In my own childhood, I took swimming lessons at one of our local lakes. I was so cold my jaws locked and I never did learn to face-float, probably because that would mean putting my face in the water which is almost the same as drowning.

In the 1950's before I was a teenager, all the neighborhood kids played in Mr. Mathieson's cow pasture pond. Brown water thick with mud, muck and pollywogs, it was wonderful fun until I heard about polio. For a week I ate a head of lettuce each day in an effort to ward it off. I guess it worked. Much later, around the age of fifty, I was determined to learn to swim and taught myself at local indoor heated swimming pools where I could usually touch the bottom. My weekly swimming ended three years ago when I traded it for dog-walking. I look forward to swimming again.

As newlyweds and students, my first husband, artist Bill Iles and I lived four years in a beach house built on pilings in the Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle. In the late 1960's we spent several weeks (with our two babies) on a remote island in Canada while waiting landed immigrant approval. Thankfully, we were denied because Bill listed himself truthfully as an artist and Canada did not need another artist to contribute to their commerce. We bought a farm on Vashon Island where I was surrounded by water and traveled by ferries for eleven years.

Fast forward to my present husband Jay and our search for retirement property. We purchased five acres on Gallagher Cove, Olympia, WA and built a "barn" with living quarters above. Eight years later with no retirement in sight, we sold it and began our search for waterfront closer to the Seattle area. After a seven year search with multiple starts and stops that almost sent our dream into extinction, we finally found our perfect spot on Lake Sawyer where my father, as a teenager, helped his father build boats for the loggers' use in the millpond - maybe on the exact spot where we are building our house.  I look forward to enjoying this body of water. I plan to sit, look, and think.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Mid November check-in.

This is a mid-month check in. We finally have walls! The photo above was taken today. Even though our first walls are the garage, I am overjoyed to see them. I've been preparing for two shows - my pastels at Scott Milo Gallery and I have pulled my last twelve colored pencil pieces out of retirement to show with Kay Dewar at Dorothy Liberty Gallery. I painted my current studio and am still thinking about the colors of interior walls for the new house. And, I have been summoned to jury duty next week, something I've never done. I hear there is a lot of waiting so I think I'll take the color fan with me to entertain myself.