Sunday, January 31, 2010

Blogging breaks are nice.

Actually, unconnected breaks are even nicer. While at a party last night, I was telling friends how I'm always happier when get home and realize I've been unplugged for hours on end. My curiousity is then entirely focused on my physical world...the tangible. The one I can smell, taste, touch, see and with that, more intensely feel. More present and focused.

Some studio time today. Hopefully I can finish painting the portrait. The foundation is solid. Now it's a matter of making it shine.

I've been prepping the piece for the group show. Gesso. Sand. Gesso. Sand. Gesso. Sand. Lay a ground. Today I begin painting. There isn't much solid surface for painting and wonder how it will lend itself to my language. Where my paintings are prose, this piece is a haiku.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I'm still thinking quite a bit about Monday's Patti Smith event.

Here is an excerpt from her new book Just Kids.
From part of that section:

"Not contented with my child’s prayer, I soon petitioned my mother to let me make my own. I was relieved when I no longer had to repeat the words If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take and could say instead what was in my heart. Thus freed, I would lie in my bed by the coal stove vigorously mouthing long letters to God. I was not much of a sleeper and I must have vexed him with my endless vows, visions, and schemes. But as time passed I came to experience a different kind of prayer, a silent one, requiring more listening than speaking.

My small torrent of words dissipated into an elaborate sense of expanding and receding. It was my entrance into the radiance of imagination. This process was especially magnified within the fevers of influenza, measles, chicken pox, and mumps. I had them all and with each I was privileged with a new level of awareness. Lying deep within myself, the symmetry of a snowflake spinning above me, intensifying through my lids, I seized a most worthy souvenir, a shard of heaven’s kaleidoscope."


Today, I booked a trip back east for the end of April. Originally I was going to do a quickie NYC trip to spend time with my niece, a little Boston time, some western MA time and then the beach.

Everything felt really complicated and I couldn't figure out the cleanest way to do it regarding travel and car rental. On Monday, I had an idea. With clearly stated boundaries (such as needing much alone time) I asked my parents if they'd like to come to the beach with me. So we have two rooms, side by side with an ocean view.

They too love Ogunquit and due to their health haven't been in a few years. It will be much easier if someone else is driving and can periodically check in on them. And it's something they can look forward to.

They were thrilled. And I'm very excited to be able to share it with them.

Work is still crazy, busy and it's consuming my mental space. Yesterday, after work, I began a painting that needs to ship by the middle of February. I was nervous because it's been a few years since I painted a portrait. But it came together quickly and I'm falling in love with the painting.

A few art commitments means my regular still life on canvas painting will fall to a lower point on my priority list which is a little unsettling, but it will be fine.

Life is full.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Last night after a wonderful dinner, Roger, Eric and I saw Patti Smith at Benaroya. She is touring for her new book, Just Kids. This link is to the NPR report.

There is so much I want to write and yet, not sure if I can...or if the bulk of my words will need to remain fairly private. My introduction to Patti Smith began a deeply intense and personal journey.

It's even appropriate that the photo I shot is fuzzy. Many emotions were coursing through me and I was shaking inside.

But I did want to post something and just noticed a write up on last night's powerful, moving and potent event written by The Stranger Books Intern, J.T. Oldfield. Although I've included the link to the piece, I'm also pasting it here.


Reading Last Night: Patti Smith

Last night at Benaroya Hall, music writer Charles Cross introduced Patti Smith, showing the audience the ticket stub he still has from Smith’s Seattle debut in 1983. She was here in Seattle in part to promote her new book, Just Kids, a memoir about her life with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. But she did more than that. She talked at length with Cross, she read from her book (and also from various volumes of her poetry) and played the guitar and sang.

The thing about Patti Smith is that I could have listened to her do any of those things for the whole 90 minutes she was on stage. Hearing her poetry—the old stuff, like “Oath” (a poem she wrote about 6 years before Horses came out that starts out famously, “Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine…”) as well as her incredibly candid stories in Just Kids, seriously gave me shivers.

Cross asked a question submitted from the audience: Who would you like to collaborate with that you haven’t? “Russell Crowe,” she said. Cross asked her to clarify—musically, or acting? “As a girl,” she said.

But she also spoke of the inspiration she found from the ocean, of sitting around discussing books and smoking pot with William S. Burroughs, and of her great love, photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, whose story, she says, is so intertwined with her own that she found it impossible to write solely about him.

If I got shivers when she read her poetry, I got a warm, glowing feeling when she started to sing. She started out with “Grateful”, a song she wrote about Mapplethorpe. She likened her inspiration—she says she wrote the song after seeing a vision of Jerry Garcia—to people who see Jesus on a potato chip. After the second song, she picked up Just Kids again and read the passage when she learned of Mapplethorpe’s death. Her husband, MC5 guitarist Fred “Sonic” Smith, drove her and their children down to the ocean to get away. She writes about walking along the beach, and how much Mapplethorpe would have loved the image of the grey sea and clouds, and her solitary figure dressed in black walking along the beach.

And then she took off her skullcap, and shook out her hair (no one else can do this sort of thing so powerfully—generations of women have tried: Alanis Morrissette, PJ Harvey, Courtney Love wish that they were able to capture this, to be this) and she played “Beneath the Southern Cross”. Ever so coolly, after the standing ovation that inevitably followed, she didn’t leave the stage. She asked the audience to pretend she has gone off the stage and come back, because she thinks encores are corny. She read a little more, and then, instead of picking her guitar back up, explains that while Fred taught her some basic guitar, she’s not good enough to play this song…

And she started singing, a cappella, “Take me now baby, here as I am…”

Hipsters and grey-haired fans (who probably have loved her since before you were born) started murmuring the lyrics, and by the time the chorus came along, the whole audience was singing: “Because the night belongs to lovers/Because the night belongs to us.” Another standing ovation ensued, and strangers hugged me, and all we could say was wow. We felt special, part of something, blessed.

-J.T. Oldfield

(here is a You Tube video of Patti reading an excerpt and then going into the final song "Because The Night" done a cappella)

Thank you Patti.

Little mini baby burgers...

I know portion control is important for good nutrition but maybe this is going too far?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Yesterday was a calm and restful day. I didn't complete everything I wanted to but what was accomplished added to my overall satisfaction.

Normally when I can grab a full day at home, I'm so tired, physically and mentally, that there is nothing left in me to do things like clean or cook. The most I can do is laundry, dishes and take out the trash. But that wasn't the case yesterday. There was some decluttering, a little cleaning, watching dvd's...and I cooked a decent meal for the first time in forever.

In the last few years the deli, restaurants and frozen food sections have become my best friends. I work 10 hours, run to the studio for a couple hours, grab something on the fly, get home by 7ish...and then asleep early because I wake by 5 am. It was a cool and rainy Sunday and lent itself very well to cooking a small pork loin with onions and apples. After searing the pork, caramelizing the onions and apple slices, I placed everything in a baking dish with much apple cider and finished baking in the oven. Brown rice and broccoli completed the meal.

There's enough for leftovers. Later in the evening, I made a big bowl of tuna salad for lunch this week which is now in my office fridge along with a week's worth of apples, oranges, bananas and yogurt for breakfast.

I need to try and block out time for more days like this even if only twice a month. The resting space has given me greater clarity so I have a clear plan for prioritizing and completing various art projects that are due in the next 4 weeks.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

After some interesting time in the studio yesterday, I called E. "Want to go for free pie?" Mini Empire Pie was giving away free pies at Porchlight Coffee between 12 - 5. It was after 3 and the sun had come out.

We decided to meet up in 10 minutes, near the shop. Walking into the coffeeshop we discovered they had run out of free pies. The barista said "I don't know if this helps or hurts, but the last one was given away 10 minutes earlier."

I laughed. "Yeah, that hurts."

So Mini Empire Bakery is a new business that makes mini, lower sugar pies. Check out this nice little article on the business...with a photo of one of their pies, made in little mason jars.

They have a cranberry pear that sounds like heaven.

Seeing we missed pie, E and I grabbed a coffee and walked around the neighborhood, including a stop at Boom Noodle for some food. It was a pleasant late afternoon, early evening.

And now...I have clothes in the washer, and am committed to spending the day tending to my home and doing some cooking. My little apartment has gotten out of control and it's mentally taxing. I've seen how in the last few weeks it's even become difficult to focus on projects outside of my home because of the clutter and dust in this little 400 square foot space.

Between my day gig, the studio, the internal work, and grabbing a little social time, my apartment always sinks to the bottom of my list. Each time. Every time. Time and energy are precious commodities and it's a balancing act.

Today, I'm giving my home a little tender loving care.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Some more paintings from the last 5 weeks. The sizes range between 11x14 and 18x24. All oil on canvas.

And this bottom one is small...8x10

While going thru galleries this afternoon, I was compelled to stop and shoot these dolphins. Not sure why but there you have it.

It was a nice afternoon which included finishing a small painting, looking at art and having a productive art talk with a friend.

Last night was birthday event part 6 with one of my oldest friends in Seattle. He treated me to a phenomenal dinner that included nice wine, a walnut encrusted chicken stuffed with goat cheese and sage with fig syrup. The delicious meal in a gorgeous setting ended with white russian tiramisu. It was deliciously decadent without being overfilling because the portion sizes were perfect.

Today, although I'm exhausted, needs to be a studio day. And from there, a gallery walk with a friend. There are a few shows I want to check out, including an exhibit by a friend. It will be a lowkey afternoon.

I plan on a slower weekend. My home is begging for needed attention. Next week is a full week beginning with exciting birthday event #7...seeing Patti Smith at Seattle Arts and Lectures plus attending the postreception with Ms. Smith. Yes, I've been very much looking forward to this.

It's been a month of much loving and petting. I'm still in awe of the largesse of my family and friends.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Some thoughts that have been milling around in my head for a long time…

A healthy sexual life needs healthy boundaries

One thing I've observed throughout my life, including the 12 years I've been involved in the sex positive community is a lack of personal boundaries in a large number of the population. The other thing I've seen is that if a person has mushy or few boundaries, they don't always have a sense of when boundaries have been violated.

When I came out as kinky, I was naïve. I experienced communication, trust and magical experiences. But I incorrectly assumed that communication and trust was a part of our entire lives, not only the scene being played. Yes, we are taught not to touch someone's collar or not to interrupt a scene yet it needs to continue in all aspects of who we are.

Sexual freedom does not mean a freedom from boundaries.

The emotion that is sometimes quickly labeled jealousy can actually be a positive warning sign...a reaction to boundaries being crossed. Boundaries are needed and healthy. You cannot develop intimacy without boundaries.

In addition, I've also seen how the internet, for all its strengths, has seductively loosened boundaries by creating a vast space where information can be easily shared. One can type without thinking of the repurcussions or without taking responsibility for the words put out in the cyber world.

Boundaries versus walls

In a session with my shrink a few months back I asked him about the difference between boundaries and walls. We spoke of how boundaries were a more fluid line whereas walls take greater effort to dismantle. That made sense to me but I felt there was more to it. Since then the question has been in the front of my head...taunting me.

This morning I woke with a clearer definition.

walls - a safe place to hide your heart
boundaries - a safe place to show your heart

At this time in my life, I'm hyper-sensitive to the lack of boundaries and to the placement of walls. I've been on the receiving end of feeling a wall where there once was a boundary. It's incredibly painful. The wall is immediately apparent.

And in turn, I've become aware of when I put up my walls. Over the last few years I've seen how fast my walls shoot up when someone I'm beginning to trust delivers behavior (no matter how slight) that is reminiscent of a past hurt. In those moments, I need to make a choice and decide if maybe a new boundary needs to be established instead of a wall.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The weather is still mild. It makes my skin sing.

It's difficult to find words for an entry because I have been focused on the internal which tends to lead to greater silence. Work and painting are also filling my days. Serious art questions have also sprung up. I'm mulling over why I paint. What I paint. How do I not become commercial or designy. What's my personal truth with paint. How do I keep away from gimmick or flash.

Maybe one day I can write about this in greater depth.

Monday, January 18, 2010

It was a warm and sunny, spring-like day. The light in the studio was beautiful. It felt good to paint with an open window and feel the air drift into the space..

NPR was rebroadcasting an interview with Martin Luther King, Jr. on mindful civil disobedience. It truly is a sophisticated act and needs to be done with as pure an intent as possible. A powerful piece.

One of the paintings I've focused on this week is a 30"x40" that I've been struggling with for a while. Searching my photo library for old photos, I noticed that there are only a couple of its previous incarnations. You can see them at this link. Just scroll down a bit.

It changed quite a bit after that but again, I neglected to document the painting. Until today. I know what else needs to happen but the paint needs to be tackier before I can go back into it. So it will sit for a couple days.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A couple very, very productive days in the studio working paintings, drawings, toning canvases and some sketchbook play. And I have 2 more full days to look forward to before getting back to my day job. It feels great to get back into the discipline of my practice. There are new paintings begun and a large one that finally seems to be going someplace. I have yet to take photos of them.

Here's one of the gifts that is still giving. I kept the decorations up from the birthday party in a box that my sister sent me last week. It brings an extra dose of joy to our space. It's long as it doesn't influence my palette.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Walking out of work yesterday I saw this trapped, weeping leaf.

Please support efforts to assist the people of Haiti after yesterday's terrible earthquake. Both the Red Cross and Mercy Corps are recommended nonprofits to support in this emergency. You can text 'HAITI' to '90999' to make a $10 donation to the Red Cross or use this link to donate to Mercy Corps.

From the Boston Globe...some powerful and at times brutal images from Haiti.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Now that Cafe Septieme has closed I'm on the hunt for a new public living room. Someplace where the music isn't too loud, and has a good and not trendy atmosphere.

Although it has its limitations, considering it's a coffee shop/bar, Liberty is becoming that place. During the day when the espresso machine is on, they only serve carbs. It doesn't have a variety of food in the evening, but the sushi is quite good. The staff, wonderful. And I really like the ambiance. It has a cozy feel. But I still need to discover a place to hold group dinners.

It's challenging to find a space where loud sound doesn't bounce off the walls. Are we becoming a culture that needs constant noise?

Sometimes I think stillness is a dying art.

Sitting at Liberty, enjoy coffee, then gin and sushi on my final day off before I return to work tomorrow. The staff here are very kind which assists with a homey and comfortable environment. It's been a very pleasant few hours catching up on emails and sending out some promised photos. Today has been a grey, rainy day which allowed me to keep it low and quiet without feeling too guilty.

I've just heard a really great cover come up on the stereo - Jane's Addiction acoustically covering the Stones "Sympathy for the Devil". An iTune purchase is in my future.

Tomorrow, after a week of frivolity, I'm back to my schedule of working and painting. It's time to get serious. 7 book illustrations remain to complete, a piece for a group show in April, pursuing an opportunity that was presented for the second time during art walk for a painting illustration for a national magazine, and I have a project in mind for a memorial in March.

Oh yeah. There is my regular painting as well.
And my day gig.

It's been a very emotional time. Feeling the good and dealing with the loss. It can almost feel internally schizo but I want to acknowledge whatever comes up.

One thing that's been a bit unsettling is I feel I've lost my words. There have been so many poignant and powerful moments and my need for greater privacy in the last few years has taken away some of my verbal language. It feels like I'm learning to walk again.

Interestingly, although color feels like it's disappeared from my words, my painting language is coming together. It's very exciting and maybe as my painting chops become stronger, my word palette will return.

I shot a photo while in here but had forgotten my cord. Being in the mood to post this entry now instead of waiting until I returned home, I pulled an image from November. Rosehips. It brings back not only some sweet memories from that time but also visually reminds me of some of delicious living room moments this past weekend.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Yesterday - a wonderful day and night. A gathering with many goodies.

Today was a very slow day filled with a little dozing off, a hot bath and scheduled intentional laziness.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

The last few days have been a combination of being very social and hermitting to recover from the social and re-energize for the next experience. Today is birthday event part 4. I'm excited and it's going to be a big day. I've made sure to take Monday off so I can have some good down time.

This year has been an astounding birthday. There's been so much attention that I'm beginning to feel uncomfortable with it and deal with that by thinking I'm being selfish. Talk about twisted, eh?

The amount of love shown is blowing me away. It's also smashing into the paradigm that I'm to be used and then thrown away. I've been working really hard to remain open to this outpouring of abundance, place myself in the eyes of these wonderful people, to see myself as they see me and not become cynical. It is an emotional time.

It began on Tuesday evening, with a quiet, intimate dinner with a close friend.

Thursday's art walk was brilliant. Craig made dozens upon dozens of delicious mini red velvet cupcakes. He's such a good bunny! Carol brought her homemade amazing lemon almond cake. All the food was inhaled fairly quickly. I brought the birthday party in a box that my sister sent me, blew up the balloons and decorated the table and my little hot pink holiday tree. It became a birthday tree for the night. Sadly, I was so tired from it being my 3rd straight night of socializing that I didn't have the energy to take photos. I was using my reserves to be present with all the folks who attended.

On Wednesday, 9 of us came together for a very fun dinner in an Italian restaurant where all the food is served family style. You can't even order an individual size portion. The place is garish, walls filled with great old photos and statues. This little bear came from there. He's very pink and gaudy. And it was a perfect place to celebrate my 50th...with coworkers who are family.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Today is my 50th birthday. I was born at noon, on a snowy Wednesday in Quebec.

Tonight is a wonderful birthday gathering with coworkers. Tomorrow, is art walk and I'll be again not only showing new work, but celebrating my birthday. It's been a busy week with other bday festivities, and they'll run through the weekend and into next week.

My sister sent me a birthday box with all the fixings to throw a party. She also wrote the toast and included a plastic gold champagne flute. I have instructions from my coworkers to bring the toast tonight so I can read it to them.
And my sister included a bunch of photos of me, as a little kid, that she had scanned from old slides. Those photos were amazing to look at. And they brought tears. Good tears. Especially this bottom one. It's me at Ogunquit Beach - my best ever beach.

I'm extremely grateful and very touched at all the loving messages I've received. Thank you all...very much. It's a nice way to begin my second 50 years where I plan on becoming a wise and sexy crone. And of course, a much better painter.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Saturday, January 02, 2010

I've been too busy to take photos and so here's another image from my amazing trip to Ogunquit last September.

It's appropriate because it speaks to the infinite abundance I know (on one level) is there for me. The trick is to continue the diligent work to allow that belief to filter itself into my core.

As someone who comes from a history of brokenness, it is hard work. But, if nothing else, I am pretty stubborn and no matter how dark life may appear, it's not going to beat me. No, I'm not a shiny, happy person all the time. It's about honesty...being honest to myself in the moment. Each moment. Whether it's a joyful time or a grief-stricken experience...I need to be true to who I am.

And although it's easy to immerse myself in the sunny times, and love them when they happen, I'm learning to allow the dark to be. Without guilt or shame. Recognize the feeling...and where it comes from. And then, honor it. It's the quickest way for me to move through into something else. It's still a struggle to go into clean grief or anger, but getting a little easier each time it comes up.

Huh...that wasn't what I had planned on writing about today but there you have it.

Today was a full day which included valuable studio time, once again reworking a painting that after many months, still isn't ready to fully reveal itself. Then I met E. and we headed to the Frye Museum and saw an exhibit that's up only until tomorrow... The Old, Weird America: Folk Themes in Contemporary Art. It is a powerful show. At the link you can see 5 different images of what's on display. There is some gutsy work. I loved the entire exhibit because of the strong sense of integrity it carried. It's political, and some very painful. Honest.

Afterward, E and I hit up Table 219 for dinner. The chef's weekly special is what prompted tonight's dining experience - Slow roasted pork medallions with espresso dry rub, sauteed purple kale and red beans in a caraway sauce. The meat was quite tender and flavorful. A wonderful dish. Along with the great conversation, we had a filling evening. It didn't hurt that we topped it off with their Donut a La Mode. It's a made to order cake donut served with vanilla ice cream, caramel & chocolate sauces and pecans.

Tomorrow, the only plans I have and look forward to, are spending unrushed time in the studio, painting. First Thursday is this week and a few paintings still need work.

Friday, January 01, 2010

A last supper at Cafe Septieme on their final night. My best friend J. took the photo. I was tired. And sad. And looking forward to a full evening of fun festivities. It was perfect that we spent NYE together.

Two nights ago C. and I had our final dinner at my second public living room which is located next to my studio, Trattoria Mitchelli's. They too closed last night.

This past Sunday, we had a large group goodbye at Septieme. 11 of us gathered, shared food and love and a killer homemade pie, brought by one of the guys.

It's been a week of goodbyes...of places and people. A friend passed away on Christmas day and he's been in my thoughts.

I'm looking forward to an amazing year of surprises, further growth and groovy stuff...tidbits of which have begun manifesting itself...especially with the painting.

Today has been an intentionally quiet day, taking time and silence for myself before a full week of socializing and festivities.

A perfect link for the first day of the new year, revealing some of the magic, mystery and abundance of our are the best 2009 Hubble telescope photos. Astounding.