Sunday, November 30, 2008

The new easel.

It's so much prettier and bigger than my old aluminum Stan-rite (which is seen just behind the new one.) We picked up the easel and previously purchased art supplies today, brought them down to the studio in the truck, assembled the easel...and then I wanted to begin a big painting. Huge desire. But with First Thursday art walk this week, and the 30in30 preview show on Wednesday, there isn't any time to really work before I'd have to throw it in storage until the weekend. Painting needs to wait.

On top of being able to handle 96" canvas, an additional bonus which wasn't discovered until we were putting it together is that it tilts to a full horizontal position. So I've also gained a work table. That seriously thrills me.

It's been an expensive weekend...and yet cheaper than what it could have been. Over $1,200 in canvas, paint, brushes, gallon of gesso and an easel for a total of $500. I did some serious stocking up, taking advantage of their weekend sales.

Little by little the studio is evolving into a more committed space.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Leaving the Egyptian Theater, heading south on Harvard while walking down to the studio, I notice all the trees on both sides of the street are budding and blossoming. At the end of November. Although roses bloom in December and camellias in January, I've never before noticed these flowering at this time of year. So strange and very pleasing.

Size does matter.

Utrecht is having a big sale this weekend in selected stores. In addition to regular items on sale, their brushes, paint and canvas are 50% off. Yet not all at the same time nor for all day. Yesterday for the first 3 hours it was brushes. Today it's canvases for 3 hours and tomorrow, paint. The timing is so seriously perfect.

For the last few weeks, the paintings I've been working have been crying for big. I can tell they need to get much larger. So yesterday, 6 new brushes including a few big ones to work big canvas. Today, it's large canvas purchase. I'll work up slowly, beginning with 3x5 feet paintings. And tomorrow...I'll be back for a buttload of paint.

Also, the desire to work larger means another easel. While at the store yesterday, I found it...deeply discounted and it'll hold canvas up to 96". So I'm going to make a dent in my credit card, but for this, it's worth it.

I don't believe bigger is better for all paintings. As in all things, context is key. With these paintings...I can envision wall size pieces. The logistical nightmare involved with massive work scares me but the painting possibilities are exhilarating.

Friday, November 28, 2008

From Thanksgiving dinner at Phil's. It was a good time with much fab food, hearty laughter, dirty, dirty talking which is par for our group, drinks and wonderful company. S. had texted me earlier, asking me to bring my sketchbook that I've been doing my daily sketches. He also brought his and we did a show and tell with each other. E. shared a sketch as well.


I did get to see the new film Milk before dinner and will be seeing it again on Sunday with a group. It's a powerful film...and brought back some intense memories. Tears filled my eyes most of the way through the film. I had forgotten about the Anita Bryant ruckus until it came up in the movie. Shaking filled me inside. At that time in history, I was a jesus freak, and believed as she did. I even read her books at the time, thinking she was so right on. A few years later, I met gay folks, and then a little while after, came out. Watching the film freaked me out because for a couple years of my life...I was one of those christian fundamentals.

Seeing it all played out on the screen brought it home for me, on a much deeper level.

The other thing that moved me was how they were activists. We can either fight against something or for something. It's a subtle difference but I believe an important one. In spite of the attacks from the extreme right, overall, they rallied for their rights. It reminded me of our recent loss with Prop 8 and then the JoinTheImpact rallies. Those rallies a few weeks back, although the energy was clearly different than the '70's, weren't against Mormons or other communities, yet were to unite us in one voice for our civil liberties.

One more thing - what I also noticed in the film was a fire...passion...and a willingness to sacrifice in a way we haven't seen in many years. I was left questioning how much would I put on the line? Unsettling. But in a good way. It forces me to look at myself and see what I would actually die for, risk losing everything for.

If you have the chance to see Milk, do it. If you have to drive a few hours to see it. It's worth it. It's incredibly well done and quite potent.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

One of the things I love about my apartment are the big windows in the living and bedroom facing east. Just like this morning, I can sit in my big leather chair and watch the sun bring forth the day.

In the evening, all I need to do is walk to the corner and have the privilege of experiencing the sun go down over the Olympics and Elliot Bay.

For the last few weeks, we've had quite a few stunning sunrises.

Today I'll head down to the studio for a bit, and later on head over for a big dinner with chosen family. In between, depending on time, I have tentative plans to catch the matinee of Milk.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I took a few days off from studio work as well as blogging. A break was needed.

Today was cold and sunny - a beautiful day to be out. I took some vacation time, left work early and headed down to the studio. I think I finally began to resolve a painting that's been kicking my ass for a while. The color was never quite right. Today, I plopped on the couch, and while happily munching on a lunch of fruit and cheese, I committed to really looking and not leaving until a new color direction came to mind. The aha moment happened, and painting felt like a dream. It's still not complete but by the time I left, the canvas was in a much better place.

On the way back from the studio, I stopped for a spell at Westlake. There was a sense of anticipation in the air, workers prepping for the holidays...

...including the carousel - an annual holiday experience.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The new various stages of completion.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A little sketch from the studio today.

It was a pretty day, perfect for brunch with Eric and then down to the studio. My two studio mates were painting away when I arrived. Nice surprise. It's been months since the three of us were working in the space at the same time.

Coming home this evening, the temp felt a little warmer. People were outside, strolling in the dark, enjoying the weather. Cafes were busting with lively conversation. Even though still cold, the outdoor tables were filled with folks.

The sun doesn't come up until about 7:30 am and it now gets dark about 5 pm. This is the time of year I look forward to. There is something delicious about being blanketed in a natural physical dark (instead of an emotional dark). In a strange way, it reminds me of hoods and sleepsacks.

Yesterday was a busy studio day. Although my day off, I popped into the office for 3 hours to do something for a coworker. I was in the studio by 10:30 and worked for a couple more hours. Returned home for a bit and then back to the studio by 3 and worked until 6pm at which point I walked to the pier and met Matt at Ivar's for salmon cakes, raw oysters and booze. The painting is still scary but I mixed it up with many drawings. It felt like a leisurely balance.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A little sketch from this morning outside the studio window.

When I returned home, while cruising the net, I discovered that Obama sketches as well. Check it out. It has a James Thurber feel to it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Painting vomit...

The new paintings I've been working are working me.

"Just so" would respond my shrink. (I can hear him now.)

I'm trying to get a grip that I'm really painting these deceptively simple looking pieces. It makes no sense...and I wonder with each new piece if I'm deceiving myself...deceiving the world. Maybe I'm not really a painter. It's not the kind of work that ever appealed to me and therefore I never expected myself to be painting it.

Yet...I am.

And it feels like a natural evolution. And I don't know what I'm doing. And it's incredibly scary. And I can't do anything other than do it. Paint this. And it's the hardest painting I've ever done.

Paint. Paint again. Paint over. Not quite right. Where is that color I mixed yesterday? I need it. How did I make it? What do I think I'm doing? This isn't painting, it's masturbation. Is it the same thing? What am I trying to say? How dare I throw this on the canvas? Who the hell do I think I am? Have I lost my mind? Where are all the marks I once loved? Have I gotten lost in the isolation of just trying to me, be honest, be real?

Be present.

This week the horizon line began to disappear from a couple new paintings. New freak out. A block. A block in space. Floating. No ground. The block. Me. My heart. It's torn. It's shredded. It's gone, and yet it's not. I feel the cold of the world and at the same time feel passion.

I'm scared. Don't trust people. Not sure if I trust myself. And yet, I look at these paintings I can't seem to stop doing. Painting something different. Something ludicrous. Something very real. And something lonely.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A poet's gift~

Last night while walking to the bus after a stint in the studio, I was stopped on First Ave & Columbia by a young man.

"Excuse me, may I write a poem for you?"

He was a slender black man, with a heavy accent. I asked him to repeat what he said because I couldn't understand him. He spoke softly and his accent was very thick.

"I am a poet and am from Haiti. May I create a poem for you?"

I flashed back to about 4 months ago when I was walking back to the studio after visiting a few galleries. While crossing the street I was stopped by a man who asked me the same thing. At the time, I was in a rush. "I'm really sorry, I don't have time today. But thank you for asking."

I believe it was the same guy.

Last night, I said yes.

He was holding a pen in his left hand and a little piece of cardboard a little larger than a business card in the palm of his right hand.

"What is your name?"



"Almost. M-A-R-I-E."

In the black of night, lit by street lamps and the light of the bar we were standing in front of, he quickly wrote my name on the cardboard. Each letter, one beneath the other. Then within a couple minutes, he wrote out a little poem. I watched and smiled.

He finished writing and read it to me:

A promise into your own
Revel of embracing the
Inner positive force that
Embelishes the patience of your heart.

I was struck with disbelief and teared up. "You have no idea how much I needed to hear that tonight. Thank you so very much."

He smiled, handed me the little piece of cardboard and was ready to leave. I noticed he had a few more blank pieces of paper under the one he gave me. There was no way I could let him go without giving him something in return. Quickly, I stuffed my hand in my left jeans pocket, stained with paint marks, pulled out a bunch of bills and handed them to him. "Thank you again."

Yesterday was an especially difficult day. I almost didn't get my courage up to go to the studio but had grabbed every specky bit of strength I could find and went in to paint. What else could I do?

And I was rewarded with a small gesture that became a big gift. In the darkness of night, on a busy street, two strangers, a poet and a broken painter, touched each other.

Yesterday was a very full day. Between the business at work and then running to the studio to paint there was no time to work sketches except for my bus doodles.

These are what I do while riding the bus. How much can I capture of people outside while we are driving past? Sometimes, when not too tired, I'll fill page after page on a ride home. My hope is that if I do it enough, one day I'll become skilled.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Haven't done a daily photo in a while. And actually, this one is from about 24 hours ago. But I've decided that for now, I can't post sketches every day. I'm still drawing daily, but it is way too much pressure to sketch and post. While working drawings, getting my hand back, the idea of posting it was always in my head. With that, I couldn't relax into the piece and would lose a sense of freedom. It defeats the purpose of daily drawings and I need to lighten up on myself. But I will show some periodically.

Really fabulous photo of yesterday's march in Seattle taken by Paul Joseph Brown of the Seattle Post Intelligencer.

More PI photos of the march found here.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Join The Impact rally - Seattle

Great rally and march and beats any Pride parade for the last 15 years, when the parades I attended stopped being marches and simply became celebrations. I saw estimates of 3000-5000 people but a little later on the news, they said that the Seattle Police estimated a crowd of 6000. It was a massive group. I was more involved in participating and less interested in photographing but here are a few shots I took...

Beginning to gather at Volunteer Park. After a very wet week, we were blessed with a sunny and warm autumn day.

Walking down Prospect to Broadway

People patiently waiting before moving again~

Two lone anti-gay jesus signs in the midst of a portion of our crowd down at Westlake Center

For more photos from around the country, check out The Stranger's Slog.
Join The Impact~

All it takes is one person. In this case it's Seattle activist, Amy Balliett, founder of Join The Impact.

You can read the article on Amy here.

Earlier this week, there were only two locations in WA State holding marches today. When I checked the website this morning, in addition to Seattle and Spokane, Olympia, Vancouver, Tacoma, Anacortes, Aberdeen and Bellingham are holding rallies and marches. It's growing.

In addition, from their homepage, you can read about future actions, such as January 10, 2009.

I was reading the mission statement for Join the Impact, found in their About Us link.

Their statement:

In an effort to make a positive impact in the lives of our community, our allies, and even our opposition, emerged. Our movement seeks to encourage the LGBTQ community not to look towards the past and place blame, but instead to look forward toward what needs to be done now to achieve one goal: Full equality for ALL. We stand for reaching out across all communities. We do not stand for bigotry, for scapegoating, or using anger as our driving force. Our mission is to encourage our community to engage our opposition in a conversation about full equality and to do this with respect, dignity, and an attitude of outreach and education. JoinTheImpact, as an entity, will not encourage divisiveness, violence, or disrespect of others and we do not approve of this. We do not stand for pointing the finger at one group and placing blame. The LGBTQ community comes in all different colors, creeds, religious beliefs, and political parties. If we allow ourselves to place blame on one community or another, then we are no better than those who oppose us. We will not pit one community against another. At JoinTheImpact, we are all inclusive. As such, we will continue to encourage debate from all sides of the conversation provided it is civil and respectful. We will encourage our community to not let anger steer the conversation, but with an understanding that anger is a human reaction and we hope that it can be used as a catalyst toward positive change. Finally, we stand for national unity in the face of opposing forces that have steered the conversation into a state by state issue. We will celebrate our state by state wins, but work as one large entity to help gain these wins and will unite in the conversation against us to plant the seed of change and community.

The beauty in this, for me, is how we can hold ourselves as leaders and examples of how we want the world to be.

In my entry on Monday, I wrote that I would be attending the march today. If you are so moved, I hope you will join us as well.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The viaduct - a couple sketches from my studio windows.

It needs to be torn down and officials are going round and round with what to put in its place. It's right next to our arts building and a couple months ago while speaking with our landlord he mentioned that when they finally begin construction, our building will need to be vacated. He then added that nothing was going to start before 2012. It offers some breathing room but I don't know what will happen to the building afterward.

It wasn't until I began doing sketches as a more formal exercise that I came to a few realizations:

~The type of paper and pen is critical. I need a little drag. Neither the pens or paper can be smooth. I haven't found the perfect combination yet.

~There is so much visual excitement that it's really tough to edit out detail. I become distracted and find it easier with the camera because using the lens to zoom offers auto-editing.

It's quite a challenge.

Today, in between painting, I worked a bunch of small drawings . Here are two of them. The first is pretty clumsy, and the second, headed more toward a "less is more", which is where I'd like to be. How can I say much with fewer the new paintings?

I couldn't make it to the studio last night. This cold/whatever was making itself known. It took all I had to remain at work and finish the pile of numbers and pledges and reports. I think it's a sinus infection but it's not full blown for a week or two. Instead, it fluctuates between a bad day and then a not so bad day. Yeah, it's annoying.

While curled up in a blanket last night I didn't want to let the drawing slip. It was about 7 pm and I longed for sleep but if I go too early I'l be up at 2 am. So I opted for a quick little drawing of my bedroom.

I live in a small pseudo-1 bedroom apt. My home isn't more than 400 square feet and it has a separate bedroom, with a very large pocket door separating it from the living room/kitchen. I've been here 3 1/2 years. It's the first apt in Seattle that has character and feels homey. Being on the Hill, and 4 blocks from Volunteer Park doesn't hurt. I love my neighborhood because it feels like a small town.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Yesterday, in addition to a very busy work day, I was still dealing with the remnants of a sinus infection which I haven't been writing about. I was so tired but had to get to the studio. Tuesday being my first day back, I didn't want to lose a day so soon. On the bus I wanted to sleep but pushed myself to draw a little. Then, in the studio, the only thing I could manage were a couple drawings. There was nothing more for painting. I barely lasted a half hour, left and met Eric for some food on my way back up the hill.

This little sketch shows me how much I need to do to get my chops back.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The craziness of Art Walk, election day and finishing the 30n30 had taken its toll. Yesterday was my first working studio day and it was a true pleasure.

For the first time, although I am driven, I don't feel the zany freneticism of deadlines. This new series I showed last Thursday has left me with excitement and much possibility for further exploration. And it's done so with a quiet assuredness. Yesterday's studio energy was relaxed and productive.

Toned three canvases, began two new paintings (a large and a small one) and worked a couple sketches. I'm still in love with Urban Sketchers and it's motivating me to return to more regular drawing. I feared that working the abstracts would mean a loss of my drawing hand. Currently it's weak and needs exercise. My daily photographic endeavor has dramatically slowed. For some reason my photo eye is tired and that discipline has left. So yesterday, after painting one piece, I pulled up a chair to my window, grabbed my sketchbook and quickly drew what I saw. With that, I want to commit myself to a more regular drawing practice.

Afterward I also set up a little space which is now waiting for me. It holds a drawing board and large sheets of paper. I'm looking at the idea of taking these paintings and doing them in charcoal.

There is a delicious slowness in the studio right now and I'm immersing myself in its rich flavor.

Here is one of the new paintings from yesterday. This one is 12"x24".

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What I believe:

We will not gain equal rights with hatred. Prejudice does not fight prejudice.

We can't squash our feelings either. If there's rage, hurt, betrayal, be it. Denying that doesn't solve anything. But the trick is, how it's displayed and where. And when. Angry actions make us feel good for the moment and then once again, we are left empty and nothing is resolved.

It's human nature to seek someone to blame. "You hurt me and so I need to hurt you back." A black and white world is easier to grasp. Good/evil. Us/them. And yet, life is complicated. It is incredibly messy and never as simple as "this or that."

From my history, the unhealthy religious cultish upbringing, I carried much rage. From being rejected over and over by various communities and genders, I fantasized obliteration. And yet, I knew that all of that wouldn't effect the change I desired to see. It was and is important for me to continue fighting my own internal generalizations.

It needed to begin with me. I'm aware of the massive chips on my own shoulders - the hatred I feel inside for having been wounded.

With time, it's gotten easier and much is alleviated. It's taken many long years of hard work but I finally see my anger as a passionate fire that can morph into something positive. I'm learning to act instead of react - leash my anger instead of submitting to it. And it couldn't have happened until I was ready to immerse myself in my grief. Face my own pain.

All I can do is feel it, share it with a few trusted people, and garner my strength to work through it to achieve something greater - compassion.

Compassion. It's a word we throw around casually and it's difficult to grasp. Compassion happens in moments that feel the most impossible to be kind, to be caring. Even when we may not know how to access compassion, intention is a first step.

Compassion is a paradox because its outgoing strength lies in personal vulnerability.

I am a non-violent activist. It doesn't mean I won't lay down a boundary and allow myself to be beaten. Instead, it means that I am committed to striving for a life of compassion because I believe in the deepest part of my being that no matter how anyone attempts to hurt me, they are not going to destroy my heart, my need for authenticity and equality. My need for peace. And in that, change happens. One small painstaking step at a time.

Martin Luther King, Jr.:

"All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem."

"An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity."

"At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love."

From Gandhi:

"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong."

"You must be the change you want to see in the world."

For myself, one protest I can take part in is on Saturday. Information about this national rally can be found at

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Today was the drop off for the Forgotten Works 30 paintings in 30 days challenge. Here is a sampling...kind of in order of completion. I began more abstract and went into about 4 or 5 more realistic to then stumble upon something else.

When dropping them off at the Tashiro Kaplan building, where the show will be held in December, I was asked to be documented for the challenge. So after dropping off the work, I went back downstairs, met the camera guys, and was interviewed while being filmed. We'll see if anything comes up or I end up on the cutting room floor but even if so, it was a fun adventure.

You can click on each to make bigger.