Saturday, January 31, 2009

I am so sick today. Yesterday I thought the cold was getting better and went on a gallery hop. By last night, I was depleted. Today, my boss contacted me and told me not to come to the day long staff/board meeting, yet instead, rest.

About 5pm I needed to get out of the house for a bit and met a couple friends for dinner. The walk back up the hill after dinner was one of the most arduous walks I've taken in a while.

Ugh. I'm close to whining.

Regarding yesterday, I had a profound and most holy experience while in the Kucera Gallery, immersing myself in Michael Dailey's paintings. You can see some of the work here but it doesn't come close to the real work. The magic, strength and impact of his work does not show up in jpegs. The luminosity doesn't even glimmer on screen. If you have a chance, go see these paintings.

Topping off an almost "too much" experience was being able to walk into another room in the same gallery and surround myself in Motherwell. Between Dailey and Motherwell, I had to fight back the sobs.

At this point, I am more determined than ever to expose myself in my work. I have to break through whatever it is that prevents me from full artistic freedom. It's fucking frustrating, especially after what I witnessed yesterday.

We began our gallery tour with a very special photo exhibit at the Gibson Gallery. From their website:

"An exhibit of the clear vision of 20th century master photographers, including works by Hector Acebes, Ansel Adams, Diane Arbus, Ruth Bernhard, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Wynn Bullock, Walker Evans, Imogen Cunningham, Yousuf Karsh, Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Ruth Orkin, Aaron Siskind, Brett Weston, Minor White, and Marion Post Wolcott."

It was a powerful beginning to a potent afternoon.

Today, in addition to being sick, I'm feeling the effects of being so moved by the work. It's also touched other parts of my heart, the devastated, wounded pieces - the pieces that have been so broken and feel that the whole world is mean. So all in I'm a fucked up mess.

Friday, January 30, 2009

I woke about 5 am (after a seriously great 8 solid hours of sleep) and laid in bed for a while. Just before 5:30 my bed began to rock. It was gentle, similar to the sensation of being in a waterbed. Immediately I thought "earthquake" and yet was surprised that the row of colored glass on my very narrow windowsill, weren't hitting against each other or had fallen.

It's only the second quake I've experienced, with the first being the big Nisqually quake in February of 2001. That one was jarring and did cause damage. I remember getting phenomenally sick just before it - a headache that surpassed most of my migraines tied in with a nasty sense of nausea. All symptoms immediately disappeared when the quake hit.

This morning's shake up had an almost soothing element to it and in that, a surreal quality.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The cold took over and although I went in to pull some needed reports, I was home before 10 am.

Today's mushed, fevered thoughts centered around finances and what I spend on my art each month. Since I've been renting the studio space, about once every three months I need to dig into my credit line to pay a bill or two. And that's not a good way for me to live, considering I was pretty much credit card debt free by 2005.

So I've been thinking about budgets and where I can cut. Also I've been mulling over different ways to work less expensively. While walking home from the grocery store this afternoon I remembered how 13 years ago I would do my oil studies on nice quality thick drawing paper that I'd tear into various sizes and cover with many coats of gesso. I remember the enjoyment and freedom in working quick oils on paper.

It may be time to return to that practice.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

In addition to everything else in my life that's had me hopping, today I discovered why I've been exceptionally tired.

It's a cold.

I'm working my butt off trying to fight it because there is so much that needs to get done, sick or not. And I vote for not. So today has been filled with lots of Traditional Medicinals teas and popping loads of Zicam although I fear that it would have been more effective if I began this regime a day earlier.

But, I refuse to concede defeat.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My coworker's shoe.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Busy time at work. It almost feels like Santa's workshop.

I've been sleeping well...but for the last week I've been waking about 4am and can't always return to sleep. It makes it difficult to head into the studio after a long work day because by 4 pm I feel like a fizzled out little wind-up toy. So this evening is early dinner and early to bed.

Spent a good chunk of time painting the entire weekend. On Sunday, I was in a groove. After a few hours, incredibly committed to begin resolving the really large painting, attacking the canvas, mixing gobs of paint and then...nothing. The lights went out, not only on our floor but all six floors of the entire south side of our building. I attempted to work by window light but needed to pack it up after a half hour. It was too difficult to see what color was being mixed.

Great conversation with one painter on Saturday and another on Sunday. The connections are good.

Took part in a memorial of sorts for a good friend's friend which involved driving over 20 miles to hit a specific fast food fish joint. It was a nice evening.

I'm really thrilled a few good friends are in town for a while.

The lack of words in the last few entries came from a shyness that came over me after the article came out. Shy and a little exposed. I needed to curl in for a specky bit but am coming out of it now.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I've been sitting on some news for over a month and today am happy to share it with you. The Stranger does a yearly auction to raise money for various nonprofits. This year, the money raised went to Treehouse For Kids. In addition to some amazing donations from various businesses, The Stranger also auctions off reviews, profiles, news features and their front cover.

After checking in with my therapist because it felt like a crazy idea, I ended up bidding and winning the artist profile. Jen Graves, the arts writer, came by my studio last week where we spent a wonderful few hours talking and showing her my work, spanning the last decade.

Graves was a joy to speak with. I was pretty nervous but after a few minutes her presence put me at ease and gave me the space to open up. Having enjoyed her writing for quite a while, I sensed I was in good hands.

The profile came out in this week's issue. You can read it here.

For a painter who, even 4 years ago had come to a place where it became difficult to share my paintings, this has been a risky and yet thrilling ride.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It was a very grey morning, the city covered in a thick coat of fog. I noticed the first sign of color at 7:30 am as we approached the theater and saw theater guy placing the last letter up on the marquee. The red light radiated the warmth and joy in the hearts of all who waited to enter.

A powerful day.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Sunday, January 18, 2009

New painting begun on Thursday evening.

These paintings are my teachers. In them, I've been learning greater patience...sitting, looking, and when least expected, a solution arises. Other lessons have to do with trust and a major mental readjustment of what constitutes work ethic and what makes a piece valid.

Each studio session reveals a greater depth in what these paintings are trying to say. It's eye opening. I'm slowly watching the story unfold and in this, it doesn't surprise me that in the last month, getting to the studio has become an immense challenge.

These paintings exemplify something I struggle with...a way of sharing my heart, exposing myself, when words fall short.

Sign of the times

Next month, I'll have been in my apartment 4 years. It's a neighborhood of homes and apartment buildings. There are a few apt. buildings that I have NEVER seen For Rent signs out...until last month, or last week, such as the one depicted. 3 of them within a half a block. 2 other buildings, I've only seen vacancy signs maybe 2 or 3 times in 3 1/2 years, and they each have had openings a couple different times in the last two months.

Reading about the various hits from the state of our economy is always sobering. But thus far, none more than seeing a major university close its doors to new students for the next term. You can read about it here.

Of course, athletes will be able to begin the spring term. I get it. Athletics bring in the dollars and it's another example of how fucked up our personal values are.

The whole thing makes me cringe.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I'm tired and that means a short, highly uninspired entry for you.

It's only Thursday but it is the end of my work week. It has been a full week, physically and emotionally. The weekend is packed with some planned quiet time, studio painting time and play time. If things work out, although one of my favorite play partners won't be around, I may have some happy remembrances Monday. Next week is also a big week.

Holiday on Monday (hope to paint and regroup), Inauguration Day on Tuesday, and I will be watching and celebrating here with 3 of my coworkers, enjoying sausage egg strata and "Blanquette de Limoux". On the day after...I'll share some other news.

Now I'm looking forward to a glass of chianti and a plate of spaghetti and meatballs at a little place around the corner from my house.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Yesterday was very busy and today has become another time-flying kind of day but I did want to put up a little something. So here is an image of a belated birthday treat gifted to me last night from one of my favorite restaurants, Table 219.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Yesterday, in about 2 weeks, was the first day with no plans. I considered going into the studio but by 1pm, decided to have a very lazy day, curled up in my chair. A half hour later I knew I had to get down to my work space, threw on my painting clothes and was at the studio before 2pm.

It was a fairly dark day…misty, low ceiling. I'd decided to keep the pink feather tree up until the light comes back in the spring so I had the tree lights on as well.

I began three new paintings. About 3:00 my studio mate came in, very excited to see I hadn't removed the tree yet. KPLU's jazz was playing on the radio and we each quietly worked away. The heat strangely kept coming on which left us comfortably toasty. Normally it only comes on about 3 times a day and so you can feel a slight chill in between those times. An hour later, I couldn't paint anymore due to very wet canvases. Cleaning my brushes, I announced I was leaving.


"Yeah, not sure what else I can work on."

Sitting down, I stared at the new paintings and although I couldn't paint, wasn't ready to leave. The energy in the room created a cozy blanket. It felt as if I was sitting in a living room in front of a fireplace on a cold winter's day. In that moment, I mentally craved a hot mocha. A few minutes later my studio mate said "I really want a hot chocolate."

"You too? I was literally just thinking about it. Why don't I run out and get some?"

I returned with 2 drinks and decided to prep three more canvasses. Then I sat some more…staring at the large 3foot by 5 foot painting. I had dreamt of that painting a week or two ago and had seen it complete. But the crazy thing is all of a sudden I knew what needed to be done and it meant going an entirely different direction.

So I pulled out the brushes I had cleaned an hour earlier, mixed more paint and painted vigorously. By the end, I stood back and realized it is very close to complete. I am still going to do a new painting based on the completed dream painting, but it wasn't destined to be this large canvas.

It was a magical afternoon in the studio. Even my studio mate commented a few times on how delicious it felt. "I don't know if it's the weather, the heat, the jazz or the tree lights but it's snuggly" she said. And it was. We each felt wrapped in down comforters, painting and drinking our chocolate.

This painting you see is one I began a few days before the end of 2008 and completed it last week. After struggling with it for the last few weeks, it's character has changed quite a bit.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I learned a big lesson on my birthday...

For the week before, opportunities arose and I jumped on them. Plans were made. It was a very full week of being social.

Underneath, I could feel much pain but decided to plow through and not give it space. I'm exhausted...tired of hurting and of working on the hurt. So I ran by staying busy and having fun. Thing is, you can never escape what you need to face. All you can do is postpone it. The longer it's kept at bay, the harder it hits.

Over the last 4 or 5 years, I've learned to let myself feel the pain when it comes up. And a few times, I even dove in...head first. From experience, I know that when the waves of hurt come, if I go into it, it'll wash over me. I may feel out of if I'm drowning. It does get scary and at times downright terrifying but if I don't fight it, it will pass.

An ebb and flow.

When pain would arise, if possible, I would cancel with myself and honor what needs to be experienced. This time, I wanted no part of it. So instead, I stayed busy. Played. Had fun. The whole while, everything was bubbling up underneath.

It only took three glasses of wine in 3 hours at Tuesday's birthday dinner to bring it up. As soon as I walked into my home after dinner, I was overtaken. Everything came crashing down...consumed with grief, pain and embarrassment. I felt so much shame to still be hurting. Utter mortification.

I connected in a long email with a friend and let some of it out.

When wounds are deep...traumatic, healing is not a quick fix. Pills or meetings or even therapy are not going to work by themselves. I have to be willing to feel the extent of the loss...the abandonment, the isolation. The more substantial the cuts, the more layers of pain one needs to go thru. Cycles. Peeling each away...

Going deeper into a wound a little at a time.

In a world that's used to instant messages, fast food, and quick fixes...there is no way to twitter through healing.

And yet, for my birthday, I attempted to shield myself from some harsh memories because I felt enough was enough. I was/am so over doing this emotional work, so fed up with flashes that arise and am tired of feeling a hurt heart, even when it's not a moment of crippling pain. In doing so, I made myself physically ill. What felt like a surprise hangover turned into a vicious 24 hours of body rebellion. On Wednesday, the more I opened myself to the grief that had to be felt, the better my physical self became.

I need to be diligent to letting myself feel it all and not be ashamed of the size of the wound or the amount of the pain it brings forth. It is what it is. My shrink still attempts to drive the fact home that it is not my fault and at the same time, I am not a victim. It's just life. The more I'm willing to really sink my teeth into the deeper parts of life, the greater the chance of being banged up.

Partaking of life in such a risky way carries responsibility...a duty to one's self - a heightened need to remain brutally honest and remain open, as well as tossing out fictitious time limits and working to trust the journey. Patience.

In other words, really loving myself.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Last night's Art Walk.

Because First Thursday fell on a holiday, Art Walk was postponed for a week. The information didn't really get out and so some studios were open last week and others, like mine, this week. It made for smaller crowds which was fine. I was really tired and didn't plan on staying long but ended up in a few fun conversations and hung out for about three hours.

I met an artist, who had just picked up his work from a previous show. We fell for each other's stuff and he kept suggesting we do a show together.

And, I finally had the opportunity to meet Sharon who I've been slowly getting to know via blogland. I've really enjoyed some of the work she's shown in her blog and tomorrow night I'll have the opportunity to see it in person in Georgetown. She walked in, recognized me from my photos and introduced herself. We clicked immediately and look forward to having longer conversations.

There is a painting I've been working on and didn't think it was finished. Last night, I propped it against the big easel, just beneath the big painting that's still in progress. Something happened. During the evening, I kept glancing at the little canvas and realized...the painting is complete. It won't be touched. Other than the day I began it, I haven't taken photos of it. Each painting session would bring drastic changes. It's returned to a simpler state...with a rawness in some of the line. And in that, it will remain.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

One of my birthday gifts from a good friend. He signed the birthday card in a unique making a print of his penis for me, in paint. (The dark circle is where I blacked out his initials...and did check in with him first before posting).

This is definitely getting framed. It's quite lovely in person. And you can feel the variation in paint texture when running your fingertips over it.

If you click on the photo, you can even see his hair on his balls.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

A really busy day at work but here's a quick post.

This morning I went to renew my drivers license, not looking forward to sitting and waiting. An older gentleman, 62 years old, sat next to me and we began talking. He spoke of the weather and politics. Although I didn't agree with some of his views, I was enchanted with his energy. There was a peace and warmth that radiated from him.

After a bit, he began to speak of his love for the piano and how he plays everyday.

He said his mother always played. She had the talent and a fine ear. He wanted to play when he was little but wasn't allowed to because he was a boy and was told the piano was for girls.

He then ended up in a series of foster homes, each with a piano. At each new home he'd try to sit and play, hungry to learn, again told, over and over, the piano was for girls. I looked at him, puzzled, and he said that at that time, in the african american community he was from, piano was seen as a feminine act.

He ended up in reform school and they offered music classes. He went to sign up for the piano and was told he couldn't. It's for girls. One time, he went into the piano room to sit down and play. He was caught and thrown into an isolation room for 24 hours. Then he was told that if he wanted to learn music, he could learn the saxophone.

At 21 years his own apartment, he scraped together the money for a piano...actually an electric keyboard and he's been playing every day since.

Listening to his story, his words uttered so calmly, brought first a sadness and then joy into my heart. At that point, my number was called and I was a little annoyed that our conversation needed to end. I stood up, grabbed his hand and thanked him for sharing his time with me.

He's been on my mind ever since. A wonderful little moment with a stranger. And upon walking back into the office, somehow, his story inspired me to do a new painting project in addition to my current series.

We never know how or where our muse will appear.

The image is chocolate from Spain, brought to us by a coworker who spent last week in Europe. It is some type of cracker coated in this deep, dark, chocolate. Think of chocolate covered pretzels...more refined. Divine.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

A photo from last night's fabulous dinner for 8 at Racha Thai on Mercer before we attended the performance of You Can't Take It With You at The Seattle Rep.

Today, a studio tour with Lisa and Alan, followed by brunch and then tonight, off to Central Cinema for a screening of Fight Club, complete with food and drink service at our seats.

I've found it important to document my activities this week, in a way to publicly reclaim my birthday. For some long time readers, you know that I came to a point where I couldn't celebrate this time. About 3 or 4 years ago, I even called my birthday a recognition of the day I wished I hadn't been born.

With much blood, sweat and tears, it's slowly changing. And although it wasn't an intentional planning, this week has become an event-laden one, with something very different and festive each night.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Last night was a late night and so I've been feeling pretty wiped most of the day. It was a wonderful evening but I have no time to write about it because I'm headed out the door. Tonight, is You Can't Take It With You at the Seattle Rep with another group. We had tickets for a show the Monday before Christmas but with the storm, travel was near impossible. We managed to switch them for this evening's performance.

Have a good evening.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Just a few things...

~I woke yesterday morning with the big painting in my head...completed. It's been a really difficult piece and so it was a wonderful surprise to have it finished behind my eyes. Today, I went in to attempt the vision and realized it's going to take days of building up paint. But I've begun.

~Still with painting...working the new more minimal paintings for the last few months made me wonder if I had the right tool for the job. I use natural bristles and they've been wonderful. But with these I feel I've been fighting with the paint. I purchased new brushes recently and finally tried them out this week. These synthetic hair brushes make all the difference in the world. I wouldn't use them for all my paintings, but with large planes of color, the paint glides. Nice.

~Packed week coming up. I have plans every night between now and my birthday, next Tuesday. Films, plays, dinners...busy girl. Tonight I get to meet Lisa of Cinekink and her husband Alan. Cinekink is in Seattle for 2 nights. Yeah!

~I so have to clean my house.

~Life is hard. Although I try to be excessively diligent at maintaining a certain level of integrity and mindfulness...sometimes I just step in shit. What's worse are the times when I'm the one who has thrown the shit in my own path.

~Back to work next week. This week off has spoiled me.

~I'm really grateful for the people who have come into my life this year as well as for my older friends. J from the northeast just sent me an email as I was writing this entry. Her kindness...her gentleness...floors me. Having her back in my life is like being wrapped in a down comforter while sitting in front of a toasty fire. I know I'm not easy to be with, and also know I've really pulled away. It comes not from a stuck up place but a wounded one. I'm not sure of my footing nor am I sure where I fit at times. Some days I feel so broken. And other strong.

~Speaking of strong, something happened on one of those feeling strong days and because of it, I'll have something cool to share with you in a few weeks. It was a ballsy move on my part.

~I've been thinking about sex a lot.

I heard a familiar sound this afternoon...and smiled. It was the annual neighborhood bagpipe brigade. Each New Year's Day while in this apartment, I've seen them, marching and playing. Today, they walked into the building across the street, stayed for about 5 minutes and walked out, again, continuing their fun.