Friday, October 31, 2008

Photo from Americablog.

The reason I linked to that entry is because it jogged something important for me.

8 years. It's been 8 long years. 8 difficult years. We know this. But what struck me is that in my personal life, it's also been 8 challenging years.

I began my leather training with a mentor 8 years ago. It was a period of stripping away and paring down. He requested many sacrifices of me. After my mentor suffered a stroke, I began to see a therapist for what I thought would be short term grief support. One thing led to another and that process turned into a very deep journey. My therapist also became my guide. With him we continued the stripping away that was begun in training. It was natural. Beautifully organic. Painful. And very rich and textured.

Although these last 8 years have produced some of the most hurtful moments of my life, they've also assisted in propelling me to a different place.

Very new paintings are getting shown 2 days after the election. They represent a change in how I paint and what I dare show the world.

Yesterday we had a day long staff retreat and they had a show and tell at the beginning. I brought one of the new pieces. My coworkers were the perfect group to do a small reveal with.

My family, my work, my personal life, my s/m...all changing and tapping into richer spaces. I'm slowly becoming more comfortable with the lonliness of not fitting into the mainstream, even subcultures that are mainstreaming with commercialism, media, workshops and conferences.

The odd thing is, I knew I already sought deeper than many. I've been fighting that for quite a while. After spending my whole life being told "I love you but....I can't hang out with you because you see too much...are too intense...go too deep..." I worked hard to figure out how to live with myself. It's the reason my parents couldn't coddle their firstborn and it's replayed itself over and over for 48 years.

With that, what began from the earliest rejection and abandonment was the idea that I was bad. It was my fault. How else can a child explain a parent's distance? I never knew until after many years of therapy, how ingrained that belief was - I am bad. On one level, mentally, I knew I wasn't. But it was a root belief. Fortified after each abandonment and slowly covered up by years of living. It was affecting everything I touch.

Yet now, with much rigorous work and diligence, in the stripping away and hitting that core, I'm slowly beginning to accept myself knowing, I'm not bad and at the same time it will be a lonelier, quieter path.

Who I am, and what I seek is not frequently found. Yet I am discovering that although it's rare, there are a few other explorers who look for similar...and in various ways we connect. Our common values of seeking integration, honesty, compassion and choosing to step into the fire bring us together.

I'm seeing a beautiful completion in my leather training, knowing that what I am now touching is what my Mentor had hoped I'd access.

It's Halloween, the Day of the Dead, Samhain. This year I've been moved to really note this time...the time when the veil between life and death is thinnest. Rituals more rooted in carrying an ongoing meditation of the meaning of life/death. Change. Transformation. Rebirth.

Although I find it striking, it's no coincidence that this time of personal growth and healing is synchronized with what's happening throughout our country...and the world. We are all connected, aren't we?

Yes we can.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I've been really busy with the paintings and with some big internal changes. That's why the slowdown and gaps in blogging and photo-taking.

When I have extra energy, I want to share a few things including the amazing gallery show I saw a couple weeks ago. It was only the second time that work brought me to immediate tears in such a profound way.


I voted today.

In the meanwhile, here is something to make you smile…

Take me to your reader…cuz I'm in search of a leader…

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008

I'm almost done with the 30 in 30.

This morning I was at the studio by 9 am and wasn't going to leave until every board was not only begun, but covered and at least headed in a decent direction if not fully finished. There were 7 left when I walked in. And now...mission complete.

10 need further work and it shouldn't be a problem to resolve them this weekend....and wrap it all up. It means I'm ahead of my personal deadline which gives me extra breathing room. This coming week is going to be intense at work and I need to focus on that.

Home for a few hours before I treat my computer guy to Table 219 for dinner and then a movie. The Seattle queer film fest is going on and I received a couple passes from work. So B and I are screening Pansy Division: Life In A Gay Rock Band.

This past Monday, Matt and I took in The Polymath, Or The Life And Opinions Of Samuel R. Delany, Gentleman. It is a wonderful documentary and visually stunning. We both enjoyed it.

The first time I had heard of Delaney was back in July 2003. He was in town and I had been invited to his book reading/talk. I wrote about it here and fell in love with him at that time. Monday's film just filled in a few more blanks and oddly, I wasn't surprised. What I heard, is what I had sensed about him 5 years ago. He's a powerful presence.

My laptop is purring. The dead harddrive was a 60 gb, and now I have a 250 gb. A few months back I increased the memory, and a while ago purchased a new battery. It's quiet, happy and much faster. And cleaner. While B had it apart, he cleaned all the parts. The whites are whiter and the keyboard, immaculate. In addition, he gifted me with the latest versions, including iLife and Photoshop CS3 Extended. So tonight is B time. He is a good friend.

At 219, although the sauteed gnocchi, duck, arugula in a cranberry-balsamic glaze is to die for and it's been on my mind, tonight I've a hankering for something a little simpler and lighter. The mushroom dill tart and some roasted tomato soup. It's a good night for it. And, a hearty glass of red.

And, oh yeah. The photo?

Dungeon shadows...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

One of yesterday's treats~

All 11 desks in my office received a small vase with 3 daisies. A little while later, we each received this email from my boss:

I woke up this morning and thought "it's crazy,
You're all working so hard, I'll get you a daisy"

But one isn't enough for all that you do
It must be several for the hours you accrue

they must be as graceful and warm as you
And of course, as persistent and a bit quirky, too.

Can a daisy hold up to your humor, creativity and smarts
To your generosity and really big hearts?

I hope your daisies bring you a smile today
That they make you feel all happy and gay.


My boss's gift inspired me to take the photo and return a thank you.

And yes, I know I'm extremely fortunate to work where I do.
Check out the video: Republicans Voting For Obama: In Their Own Words

A powerful little video...and with powerful words from Huffington Post:

"I fully expected the results to be compelling and convincing. And they are. What I didn't expect was the emotional wallop these unscripted interviews deliver. A combination of deep disillusionment with the last eight years, disappointment in John McCain's candidacy, and an undeniable draw to Obama brought these people to a political decision that was deeply personal and courageous. It became clear to me that these were more than interviews. These were confessions.

This is what democracy is supposed to be. These people actually listened, considered and were open to the possibility of change. They didn't support a candidate. They actually chose one. And while I'm happy this year they are voting for "my team," they also inspired me to be more open in my own political life.

I thought we were making an ad campaign about Obama. But I think we ended up making an ad campaign about the essential ingredient that makes democracy work: an open mind. We don't belong to our political parties. Our political parties belong to us."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Today was a day where I longed for a lap to lay my head and cry. And in that feeling and wanting...I worked.

I'm personally committed to working 5 new paintings each day. Continuing this, by Friday I'll have all 30 canvas boards in various stages of completion. I'm on target. From there, I'll have 7 days to finish them and then 6 days of drying time. Fairly doable.

Beginning each painting carries anxiety. I'm focused on the same jars and so wonder how much I can change and create uniqueness. It is a stunning challenge. In speaking with my buddhist shrink about this process, all he did was smile and nod his approval. Here are a few more begun today.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Some of the 30 n 30 paintings that I began today. Looking at this now, I see that they've changed again since I shot the photo. It was one of the working sessions where I thought I was done for the day, and after about 10 minutes realized there was more energy to continue.

I thought I'd be working the new series along with these, and I was. Until yesterday. These need to be completed in another week and a half and so I'm focusing strictly on these right now. For November's Art Walk, I don't want wet 30n30's hanging around because I'm going to show the new paintings and they need to be alone on the wall, without other distractions. Therefore I've upped my deadline - 30 paintings in about 20 days. This leaves little room for other creative endeavors.

There are 14 of them in various stages of completion. They've changed quite a bit from the first few I showed you a while ago. I'm painting the same jars...over and over. It seems to be a necessary exercise at this time.

Today I've learned a painting trick: pop a vitamin B12 with a glass of milk before heading to the studio. It keeps away the afternoon tiredness and allows me to work at a more invigorated pace.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Saturday, October 18, 2008

…the last few days have been crazy-assed busy at work and at home. So busy that even though my computer is fixed I haven't been able to pick it up. There have been many meetings - both personal projects and work-related. Today we have a staff/board retreat. Yesterday, my day off was spent in 8 hours of meetings for my day job. Mix that with the new painting series that I'm totally in love with in addition to the 30 in 30 painting challenge and a party I'm trying to get to this weekend...and well…

...I need more hours in my day.

Balance is critical right now.


In other news, the Chicago Tribune, a paper that hasn't endorsed a Democrat in over 150 years, endorsed Obama yesterday. It's a powerful endorsement.

Here are a few excerpts:

..."Many Americans say they're uneasy about Obama. He's pretty new to them.

We can provide some assurance. We have known Obama since he entered politics a dozen years ago. We have watched him, worked with him, argued with him as he rose from an effective state senator to an inspiring U.S. senator to the Democratic Party's nominee for president.

We have tremendous confidence in his intellectual rigor, his moral compass and his ability to make sound, thoughtful, careful decisions. He is ready."

"McCain failed in his most important executive decision. Give him credit for choosing a female running mate--but he passed up any number of supremely qualified Republican women who could have served. Having called Obama not ready to lead, McCain chose Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. His campaign has tried to stage-manage Palin's exposure to the public. But it's clear she is not prepared to step in at a moment's notice and serve as president. McCain put his campaign before his country."

"We know first-hand that Obama seeks out and listens carefully and respectfully to people who disagree with him. He builds consensus."

"He has risen with his honor, grace and civility intact. He has the intelligence to understand the grave economic and national security risks that face us, to listen to good advice and make careful decisions.

When Obama said at the 2004 Democratic Convention that we weren't a nation of red states and blue states, he spoke of union the way Abraham Lincoln did.

It may have seemed audacious for Obama to start his campaign in Springfield, invoking Lincoln. We think, given the opportunity to hold this nation's most powerful office, he will prove it wasn't so audacious after all. We are proud to add Barack Obama's name to Lincoln's in the list of people the Tribune has endorsed for president of the United States."

And here is an article explaining how the Trib came to its decision.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hopefully my computer should be fixed in the next couple days. Still busy in the studio. Today and tomorrow I'll only be working mornings...taking vacation and flex time in the afternoon so I can spend more time painting.

Here's a quick shot of the first four from the 30 paintings in 30 days challenge. I took this last night and the light wasn't conducive to shooting in color.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hard drive was ordered late yesterday afternoon, with next day shipping. B told me that I've lost whatever was on my hard drive but my backup is good. So…I've only lost a little amount of stuff. Oddly, the only thing that stings a specky bit is losing the high resolution original of this image.

In the last week, I've finally decided to print out a few of my photos for a special show, and I wanted that shot to be a part of it.

Yesterday I had to take a break from the studio. On Saturday, I picked up my boards for the 30 in 30 show, toned them all and began 3 paintings. Sunday I spent most of the day there and worked on 3 others. While doing these, I'm still working on my new different series. So Monday left me drained. After my day gig I went home, crashed and counted the hours until I could crawl into bed.

What's interesting (and I shouldn't be surprised but am, in a strange way) is how powerfully the new paintings are informing the little 8x10s for the 30 in 30. I had decided to do simple still lifes for the challenge and they are becoming a reflection of the newer work.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Have you done a backup recently?

Late yesterday afternoon my hard drive bit the dust.

I was in the studio by 9:30 in the morning, and didn't get home until 4pm…with a small break for brunch with a few friends. Once home, I attempted, a few times to upload images from my camera. The computer was pretty cranky and after a few reboots, it finally let me. A while later, while watching a dvd and looking at the new photos….the laptop again froze. And this was shot.

For a few months I've had a feeling my computer was on it's way out. And, because my intuition was screaming at me, the day before mercury went into retrograde, I finally…yes, for the first time, backed up my data.

I ended up at my computer geek/friend's home and we saw it was the hard drive. He's going to attempt to recover the info but we have no idea if it'll work. If not, I've only lost 3 weeks of photos, which is a helluva lot better than 2 years worth.

So, as of right now, the only computer I can use is my work desktop. Hopefully, I'll have a new hard drive by the end of the week. And computer man will help me set up a backup system for automatic backups.

Surprisingly, I'm not too freaked about this. It could have been worse.

C'est la vie, eh?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Friday, October 10, 2008

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Things are rough.

So here's a sunflower, shot this summer while in Boston. Sunflowers make me smile. Although this one does carry a slight sense of eeriness.

The new paintings are such that for the first time, I'm actively working through the grief in paint. There are times where I've been able to do it with charcoal and black watercolor...but never before in oils.

This Saturday I need to pick up the 30 8x10 canvas boards for the 8th annual Forgotten Works group show challenge: 30 paintings in 30 days.

Right now, I have no idea what I'm going to paint on them, but it will be interesting to see what happens. Total commitment urges me to continue working the new series simultaneously with the 30 in 30.

Memories from over the years have been filling my days... well as this passage from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein:

"The words induced me to turn towards myself. I learned that the possessions most esteemed by your fellow-creatures were high and unsullied descent united with riches. A man might be respected with only one of these advantages; but, without either, he was considered, except in very rare instances, as a vagabond and a slave, doomed to waste his powers for the profits of the chosen few! And what was I? Of my creation and creator I was absolutely ignorant; but I knew that I possessed no money, no friends, no kind of property. I was, besides, endued with a figure hideously deformed and loathsome; I was not even of the same nature as man. I was more agile than they, and could subsist upon coarser diet; I bore the extremes of heat and cold with less injury to my frame; my stature far exceeded theirs. When I looked around, I saw and heard of none like me. Was I then a monster, a blot upon the earth, from which all men fled, and whom all men disowned?

"I cannot describe to you the agony that these reflections inflicted upon me: I tried to dispel them, but sorrow only increased with knowledge. Oh, that I had for ever remained in my native wood, nor known nor felt beyond the sensations of hunger, thirst, and heat!

"Of what a strange nature is knowledge! It clings to the mind, when it has once seized on it, like a lichen on the rock. I wished sometimes to shake off all thought and feeling; but I learned that there was but one means to overcome the sensation of pain, and that was death--a state which I feared yet did not understand. I admired virtue and good feelings, and loved the gentle manners and amiable qualities of my cottagers; but I was shut out from intercourse with them, except through means which I obtained by stealth, when I was unseen and unknown, and which rather increased than satisfied the desire I had of becoming one among my fellows. The gentle words of Agatha, and the animated smiles of the charming Arabian, were not for me. The mild exhortations of the old man, and the lively conversation of the loved Felix, were not for me. Miserable, unhappy wretch!

"Other lessons were impressed upon me even more deeply. I heard of the difference of sexes; and the birth and growth of children; how the father doated on the smiles of the infant, and the lively sallies of the older child; how all the life and cares of the mother were wrapped up in the precious charge; how the mind of youth expanded and gained knowledge; of brother, sister, and all the various relationships which bind one human being to another in mutual bonds.

"But where were my friends and relations? No father had watched my infant days, no mother had blessed me with smiles and caresses; or if they had, all my past life was now a blot, a blind vacancy in which I distinguished nothing. From my earliest remembrance I had been as I then was in height and proportion. I had never yet seen a being resembling me, or who claimed any intercourse with me. What was I? The question again recurred, to be answered only with groans.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Very tired tonight. A full day at work, and then studio time. I began another new painting and reworked two others while listening to most of the debate. Definitely not music to be painting by.

I'm experimenting with various blacks in a couple of them. It's not easy to do and have it be cohesive.

Home now...and I'm going to crash very soon. My bed, blankets and two comforters are calling my name...

Monday, October 06, 2008

Another almost 4 hours in the studio after work. Taking a couple hours of vacation time helps because it means I'm only at my day gig for 8 hours before heading off to paint.

I'm really excited (still) about the new paintings and look forward to showing them here. But I want to wait a bit longer to see how they continue to evolve. There are now 8 paintings in various stages of completion...a few are finished.

Simple isn't easy to do.

For dinner, I popped into the Italian restaurant around the corner from my studio. It felt good to get out of the downpour and grab a stool in the darkened room. Sitting at the bar, I enjoyed my $4.25 dinner which consisted of a hefty glass of red and a 6" pizza while working more thumbnail sketches of the new series at the same time. At one point, I looked up, saw this sign and laughed...

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Evolution of a painting series...

Yesterday, Eric came by the studio for a bit. He shot some photos during that time. His company was very welcome because while he was there, it pushed me to tone 8 more canvases, sign a sold painting, and varnish 3 others...chores that aren't sexy but need to be done. So having another friendly presence at that time was perfect. It kept me moving. After we went for food, I returned to work and began another new piece.

Again today, I'll head to the studio. It is a real joy to crave going in instead of simply pushing myself because I know it's good for me. To have a project where I have so much to thrilling.

After Tuesday's breakthrough, I thought about my work over the last year and a half and saw how it's all a precursor to what I'm doing now.

The first that's a clear sign is this painting done in May 2007.

Then the thought of the myth of Sedna and a series I worked from that myth...after being discarded, she created life while going through hell.

This drawing created in November 2007, came to mind.

When I began the pitcher paintings, I wanted simplicity.

Seeing Selma Waldman's exhibit threw a bunch of questions in my face. Here was an artist who, regardless of lack of recognition, was doing what she was called to do...what she had to do.

I've struggled with that all my life. Spending my whole life feeling invisible and pushed away, I didn't want my art to be ignored. I know what kind of painting I can do to grab attention yet each time I attempted it, I'd feel conflicted. Something was pulling me to something deeper, even if it means it's not popular.

What did I really want to say with my work? What did I want to portray? Who am I in paint? And does it really matter if I don't get noticed or appreciated as long as I'm being true to self?

The day after seeing the Waldman show, the friend I went with sent me link to some Morandi work. I love his paintings. And this particular time, were perfect. His simple still lifes.

The day before seeing Waldman's work, not sure where to go, filled with doubt, I began this...odd for me because I don't paint extreme horizontals. It's 18"x36":

After working and reworking, two days later, it morphed into this...

Since then, it's changed again. On Tuesday, the 30th, I saw the work of another painter that gave me the courage to move past fear and the painting evolved. Breaking thru fear created an excitement and opened up a whole new world...a land that feels so different than how I've previously painting. Different, and yet at the same time familiar.

Even though I have specific painting moments I can link to this new series, my former Mentor's question is still in my head: When does a scene really begin and end?

It's not really one unique moment, but each inhale and exhale which leads to the next.

Now...back to work.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

One of my favorite mugs. I've had this since 1992 when I picked it up in a little gift store in Vermont. I pulled it out tonight because the weather was perfect for soup and apple pie. The mug perfectly holds a can (including the add'l can of water added when heating) of Campbell's Tomato Soup.

Today really feels like fall. The temperature dropped and the winds picked up - the stormy kind of winds...wild and delicious. Very much Seattle winds.

Ever since the painting breakthrough on Tuesday, painting is exciting. Being in the studio rocks big time. Infused with energy, I've been spending double the amount of time working. I'm so grateful for this phase and am not taking it for granted. Instead, I'm in awe of the surge.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Last night's art walk was fun. After grabbing food with a couple friends, we popped in for pie, and a little financial support to the ACLU. In addition to some good political poster art, was a very large flag entirely made from bazooka bubblegum wrappers. It was well done.

Then we trekked back upstairs to open the studio for the night and impulsively decided to have the VP debate playing on the radio. Many who wandered in to look at art appreciated it and a few even stopped to listen for a bit. It felt odd and at the same time - perfect.

Afterward, for the first time, I took an hour and explored the rest of the studios. There are two paintings I fell for and because I currently have extra dollars from a few painting sales, am very tempted. But I'll wait a week. If I'm still thinking about them, then I'll make the purchases. Otherwise I'll use the money to pay down a credit card.

Today it's off to the studio because I'm so very antsy to continue work on the brand new series. The pitcher paintings, which aren't complete, will be worked on at the same time. It'll make for a good balance.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Art and Pie tonight!

Blank Space Seattle (on the 2nd floor of my studio building at 619 Western Ave) is giving away pie tonight. Partnering with ACLU…

"Red White and Pie will be the political art event of the season. This exhibit will feature a wide range of graphic political art. There will be prints on display by Shepard Fairey, the designer known for the Obey campaign, AIGA 2008 Get out the Vote posters, and prints from local design superstars Modern Dog. Red White and Pie embodies the philosophy that designers have a responsibility to create meaningful communication. It also features a whopping amount of fresh baked pie— because not everyone likes politics. Everyone loves pie.

To encourage participation, free slices of pie will be awarded to individuals who show their voter registration card, register to vote, or give a 30 second sound bite as to why they do not intend on voting in the election this November 4th. Ritee Parikh, a representative from American Civil Liberties Union of Washington (ACLU), will be assisting with online voter registration at the opening event. October 4th is the last day for Washington voters to register to vote in November.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

It's been a crazy time, hasn't it? Mercury retrograde is really making itself known in so many ways.

Yesterday morning at work, the strange phone calls began at 6 am with all sorts of potential financial problems (which later sorted itself out). Then again my work computer was acting arthritic. There were also glitches with the database and pulling queries. When home last night my wireless mouse was being ornery. And on and on. It began as annoying and then morphed into being ludicrous.

In spite of the zaniness that attempts to throw me off my game, I've become more diligent with working on not letting outside forces strip me of my power. Meaning, not handing it over. It's a tough challenge, and at times painful, but critical. And it's working.

An odd music moment yesterday - While listening to music from my iTunes at work, I had sorted in alpha order for titles because I was looking for a certain song. Listening to Patti Smith's "Revenge" and then having that move into Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" made for a surreal listening experience.

Spent a long day yesterday…10 hours of work and then 4 in the studio. I had planned to only spend a couple hours, and then attend a screening of an old 1973 documentary at the NW Film Forum called "Painters Painting." With how stuck I've been, I thought that maybe listening to a bunch of abstract expressionists may cue me into something. But something shifted in the studio and I broke through a wall. It made more sense at that point to continue painting instead of see people talk about painting. I didn't home until about 8:30 last night.

Also, I had forgotten that tomorrow is the Art Walk…so sure it was next week. That is, until about 7:30 last night when I had two largish very wet paintings that I don't want to show.

Normally, I'm okay with sharing the work in progress…showing the struggles and successes. But this new turn has me feeling protective. Currently, I don't plan on revealing these until they feel more complete and see how the series grows. So hopefully, they are dry enough tomorrow night to tuck in my storage loft. I will write more about the process later.

In the meanwhile, I'll show 5 or 6 paintings of the pitchers. Like this one:

If you're doing Art Walk this Thursday, come by 619 Western Ave, 4th floor South - The Sophia Room between 6-9 and say hi.