Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Productive studio time today.

Upon arriving home tonight, a friend alerted me to a mention I received in The Stranger's Slog today. What a wonderful surprise!

I currently have 16 paintings, about half which are completed. And this afternoon I began a 3 foot square painting. It's much larger than all the others and I wondered what kind of craziness I was setting myself up for, considering art walk is in two days. It doesn't have to be complete but if it is in really bad shape, I have no place to hide it during art walk.

But overall, I'm pretty jazzed about these pieces.

And I'm very much looking forward to some good play this weekend.

I've been on a roll with the paintings. So much so that right now it's difficult to focus on anything other than the work. Good thing it's a vacation week. I even cancelled dinner plans for today so I could remain in the groove and honestly, I'm a little mad at myself that I unintentionally booked my vacation in a week that had First Thursday. It cuts into work time.

Yesterday, I received a surprising and wonderful crit of the work. Painting in the studio, I had my door open. There was a knock and an artist whose work I admire very much came in. I had wanted her to see the new paintings but am always leery of disrupting her practice.

The last time she offered good feedback was in the spring, on the bottle paintings. Her crit that spring included strong words that held much depth. They carried encouragement, and clear honesty. At the time, some of it stung, in the way I've learned that the feeling comes when hearing truth I know but either don't want to look at or haven't fully integrated. It's similar to the honesty I get from my therapist and allows me to trust deeper.

Knowing this about her, yesterday's crit was one I could trust. I've been quite nervous with this series and feeling especially vulnerable. Her excitement while surrounded by the paintings, offered great reassurance.

Here are two that as you can see are still wet. I'll reshoot them when I can. The darks in this new series have much color and are complex and makes it tough to photograph.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Both were shot at Jack's birthday brunch yesterday. Although I only captured two, there were three sweet dogs enjoying the festivities. Willy is the pup in the first photo and Coffee on the bottom. Willy's tail was a nonstop wag. It was either because it was his person's birthday or because Willy wanted a bite of the birthday hat.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

oil on canvas, 20"x16"

I've loved the viaduct ever since I moved to Seattle and so am exploring it before it is gone forever. There is something intriguing in this solid structure that is disintegrating; a massive presence and the light that comes through the heaviness. It offers direction and yet, it's slowly crumbling.

Join me for art walk and see my new series in various stages of progress.

Thursday, September 2
6 - 9:30 PM
619 Western Ave
The Sophia Room - 4th floor south

Nice light near the studio yesterday. And no studio today. It's a birthday party and then a concert this evening. But I will pop by on my way to the party to drop off a few canvases. One day while in the laundry room, I bumped into our apartment manager and he gifted me with four stretched canvases that had been abandoned many months ago. I have a 4 foot square, a 3 foot square, an extreme horizontal (4 feet by one foot) and a round canvas. I was very grateful for his kindness. Those large ones are not cheap.


Here is a nice article in the NYTimes on Seattle's jazz scene and the strength of the jazz programs in a few of our high schools.


Megan Seling (of The Stranger) created what looks like a decadent concoction where made a mini cherry pie and baked it in a dark chocolate cupcake, topping with vanilla bean butter cream.

Recipe at this link

Just looking at this makes my blood sugar plummet, but I would so try a bite.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sometimes a bottle of water is the most perfect thing in the world.

Friday, August 27, 2010

one of the new paintings...oil on canvas, 14"x11"

Thursday, August 26, 2010

It's my last work day before vacation and there is much to do today.

I'll have 11 days to dedicate mostly to the studio with only a few scheduled commitments. Sunday consists of a birthday party and then seeing the Kinsey Sicks. Next weekend is a play party and seeing the stage version of Dr. Horrible. Tomorrow was supposed to be a kayaaking date but we've changed it to spending time in the museum. Sadly, the weather won't be ideal for paddling on the water. I am intentionally not planning too many things because I need the freedom to work at will.

Oh yes, and Art Walk next week.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I've been on a roll with the new series and it looks like there will be over a dozen new paintings, in various stages of progress, to show on First Thursday. When I went through my storage loft last month I found at least 10 older paintings that would be perfect for the new work.

I totally love painting over old paintings. Allowing the history to speak to me, I cover parts of the old image while at the same time honoring what came before...the good and the bad. I relish the first decision of which old painting to select and then the sweet ritual of flipping the canvas around a few times looking at the painted light on the canvas and wondering which direction to turn it for the new work.

The first marks on the old painting are exciting. Listening to the new sing with the old carries contentment. A unique satisfaction.

Two days ago I ran out of the old canvases and so needed to pick up new ones.

With a fresh canvas, most times I'll lay a ground. Yesterday I prepped seven surfaces. Once in a while I will begin on the clean white surface. Mixing a warm black by adding a little ochre, I make the first mark. My hand begins to dance and the drawing takes form. The dark marks on the untarnished canvas carries its own joy.

Although I fall in love with various aspects of a painting in progress and know my more successful work happens over older paintings, I almost always become infatuated with the initial marks on a blank canvas. Early on, I'll stop, hang it on the wall, pull up a chair and stare, reveling in the sexual moment it is.

Simplicity has its own beauty.

Grasses in late afternoon sun...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Yesterday was my 10th anniversary as staff at Pride Foundation. I still enjoy my job, adore my coworkers and am passionate about our mission. It's challenging, intense, the hardest job I've ever had (next to painting), and quite wonderful.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A snippet of the back patio at Madame K's in Ballard...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I began a new series last week and am about 8 paintings in. Although I'm excited about the work, right now I'm keeping it mostly to myself.

Except for this. Here is a little taste

A small (9"x12") quick oil study.

And this morning I discovered a new painter, Luke Miller Buchanan.

Here is his portfolio.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

one of the "Bleeding Vessels" paintings, completed in June. 30"x40", oil on canvas. I finally took a shot of it today.

Sometimes choices feel like these doors found leaning against the brick of my building this morning. If I had the space and the time to work with them, I'd get them into the studio. There is a great art project hidden within these doors.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Sadly, the Lusty Lady closed in June. Right after it closed I was walking past and noticed this sweet memorial. This is a photo I meant to post but had forgotten about it until going thru my photos this week.

This morning I was up early, threw on closed, quickly scanned email and then headed to the studio to paint, picking up coffee and breakfast on the way. From there it was grocery shopping and back home to unclog a drain. I'll head back to the studio later this afternoon. The new series is coming along and I'm pretty excited about it.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

This is Maple, another dog that comes by once or twice a week. She grew up in a puppy mill and then adopted by a coworker. She loves her patch of sun...and her sheep.

Doesn't that look like the best place to nap?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Because I've wanted something more professional than gagnon art I began creating an actual website for the artwork a few days ago. It's an interesting process made more so by the fact that I'm teaching myself as I go. It's going to take some time.

I will have a page for my photographs as well as the drawings and paintings.

While going through old work, sorting and categorizing, it was helpful to see the bulk of work that I've done in the last four years. I had forgotten about most of it...such as a series of small sketches, like this one.

Today has been a wasted day because although I was exhausted when I went to bed last night, my mind turned on as I shut off the light. A major bout of insomnia. It was easier to take the day off today instead of try to work a database and make massive errors. So after a morning appointment I've sat at home and simply vegged.

art thoughts, written yesterday...


As I wrote to a friend yesterday, in the studio I'm a little obsessed with painting the same image over and over, trying to get a handle on it. Although excited about the new subject matter and it's immense possibilities, I am still very tentative with my handling of the paint.

It's a continual flip flop from "wow, did I just do that? Very cool!" to "ugh, it's boring." There's a lack of boldness and so it feels commercial. When I speak of commercial in regards to my own work, I mean that it is something that pleases the masses while being aware that I am not being entirely authentic. It's created by a fear of what I have to say, knowing most of my viewpoints place me in an unpopular position because it's an uncomfortable one.

I am NOT defining commercial for someone else's work. Your mileage may vary.

My history is one where when I speak my truth, the majority of those closest to me freak out and run. Put up walls. Slam doors. This is what I'm working to break through and I've seen how it affects my courageousness or lack thereof with the paint.

For most of my life I've felt like the little kid in the corner afraid to open his mouth because each time he did, he'd get slapped (figuratively).

So I decided that if I work the same image over and over and over and over again, maybe it will help me break through what I'm afraid to share.

Ha...I took a break from writing this entry to go read my astrology.
It said:

I get the idea that you are struggling to change your mind about something large and overwhelming, and yet also very personal. I don’t know what it is, and it could be a meta-theme that affects numerous aspects of your existence. But I can give some general lines of approach to the process. Using astrology itself as a metaphor, consider that this craft involves exploring existence through most technical analysis of data alternately with, or simultaneously with, surrendering to the most etheric influences of soul and cosmos.

Composing music or creating art works the same way; full expression is achieved through what is at once mystical and highly disciplined. In the coming two months, I suggest honoring art as a divine process. Listen to music as if it was a direct expression of religious wisdom; consider lyrics over and over again, as a rabbi would read the Torah; view visual art with awe and wonder and as a direct window to the universe. If you practice daily, it will help — help, that is, to move your soul to the act of creation itself. And only this will save you.

Wow...that is some serious, no frills confirmation.

And from a few days ago:

What you see is what you get. That’s your motto and it’s quite a theme for you this summer. Yes people love to lay on the images illusions, glamour and glam. You have to be you and now you have the strength the awareness and most of all the desire. You know you don’t do anyone any favors by pretending you’re someone you’re not. But you may not win any popularity contests either because when any one person gets real that shocks other people either into promptly doing so or freaking out because they’re hiding who they are. But none of that needs to matter.

It has been my biggest lifelong lesson and one that is playing a starring role in my life this summer.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

It was a warm night, but being on the second floor near the window allowed us to feel a cool breeze, creating a refreshing evening.

Monday, August 16, 2010

I haven't posted a painting in a while...so here we go.

It is not part of the new series. This painting is a fast little (12"x12") study that I did one afternoon when I was burnt out on the bottles and just needed to paint from observation. I painted it almost 2 months ago and finally took a shot of it today, while I was documenting other work.

Busy day...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

After some productive studio time where I may have finished a painting in the new series, and began another, we hit a friend's opening last night in Ballard. From there we planned on playing in the water. It was about 94 degrees and quite warm. One blessing was the lack of humidity that is prevalent on the east coast. But, for those of us who are comfortable with 75 degree summers, it felt hot.

The water was the place to be. Everyone else had the same idea because we couldn't find a parking spot at Golden Gardens on the Sound. At 7 pm, there was a long line of cars seeking spots. So instead we headed to the Locks to check out the boats coming in and out.

These two photos were taken at a marina before heading over to the art opening.

Another from the Locks...

At the locks...

Friday, August 13, 2010

It was a lovely day in the studio.
Waiting for the bus was also pleasant.

Cal Anderson park was brimming with people and art during last night's art walk. The weather couldn't have been more perfect...and the company delightful.

I could use brushes this size in the studio...

Sometimes an accidental butt is a good thing...

I think someone made a wrong turn...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

While heading to the studio on Tuesday evening to drop off the paintings and enjoying the rare opportunity to be the passenger, I pulled out my camera and whipped off about fifty shots while we were driving.

This is one of those shots.

It's one of those times where my heart really craves lots of studio time without the commitment of my day job which I do enjoy. I'm at the point where I am hungry for a month long residency...to shut myself away in the studio and work with very little socializing and no distractions.

The last few days in the studio I've been working with oils instead of charcoal. Before art walk, I applied workable fixative to the drawings so I could go back into them. It feels as if my favorite charcoals have changed in the last 15 years. They are softer and don't adhere to the paper in the same fashion. Hopefully by working layers with fixative in between will help.

The paintings are slowly coming along. There are three in progress, and one complete piece. Last night's session was very exciting.

The next four days are filled with studio work, Capitol Hill art walk, checking out M's show this evening, J's show on Saturday in Ballard and another J who has a show opening on Sunday in Greenwood and then head over to a birthday party.

It's a full four days.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Don't you just love those moments when you are in the right place at the right time and your camera is out and you take that one shot?

That's what I love about this one. It's another poster wall shot. Today and yesterday's poster wall photos happened about a month ago on different days. I've been too busy to sort through most of my photos at the time and am slowly doing it now.

Also, this is a wee bit of killing time before I finish my day and head over to the studio to paint. I cannot wait to get in there and work on the new stuff. Today has felt interminable.

Seaweed between my toes...

While in West Seattle after taking down my show paintings, we wandered Alki Beach. It was a perfect summer day, sitting on rocks, rolled up jeans and letting the waves rush up to my feet.

And then the tide came up and wet my bum.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

There is room for six cars to parks on the street directly in front of my building.

Last night I saw Florida plates. Smiling, and a little jealous because I love long road trips, I looked down the line and saw a car with Nevada plates and another with Connecticut plates. Three from far away.

I imagined the driver of each car and what their trip was like. I wondered if they were moving here or were just visiting. Were they on business...a student getting ready for UW in the fall or summer fun?

An hour later I noticed the Connecticut and Nevada cars were gone, and in its place was a car with Hawaii plates.

I still love the license plate game.

This photograph is of my favorite poster wall, an ever-evolving piece of public art.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Life is strange.

It's quite uncomfortable and at the same time, exciting in other areas. There's been much risk-taking in the last 6 months which has opened up some new doors and shown me how other areas are closed tight. I've been trying to honor the grief by mourning closed-off areas while not allow it to paralyze me too much and continue to move forward.

Last week in the studio I began a new series.

For a few months now, I've hit a really black place with my work. Although it's a mindset I haven't touched in almost twenty years, it's the place that before then, each time I encountered it, I'd put away my paints.

From the time I was a child until about 1994, the hunger to paint would be felt and I would do so. After a while, I'd always become wracked in debilitating doubts and would stop for a few years until I'd wake hungry and have to paint again. My formal art training happened in fits and waves….enrolling and quitting a year later….to then return to it. Such was my life. In '94, I woke up and knew I needed to push myself…therefore spending the next three years completing the degree program.

Back east, I had an extra room which became my studio and painted all the time. Once I arrived in Seattle, I didn't paint as often as I desired due to lack of space, but would take vacation time to paint. After my sabbatical in early 2006, through much hard work with my therapist, I began working with a new drive. Committed to creating a practice, it was exciting and frustrating and scary and sexy and powerful and vulnerable.

I came to learn that after a productive spell, there would be a slight drought. With time, I learned that it was a resting place. No great ideas...but I'd go in and work. Move my hand. There were also doubts and it was scary but manageable. Within three to four weeks inspiration would return and I'd paint. It was another season in my garden.

At the beginning of June, I sensed the dry time return. But this time, it was different - familiar and old. Ancient black clouds loomed low over the horizon threatening to consume me. My thoughts screamed I was a farce. I really can't do this. I'm fooling people. A fucking goddammed imposter. Who did I think I was…daring to have a studio…daring to make a mark and call it art…daring to think that I had anything worthwhile to say?

In early July, I came very close to giving up my studio space and quitting, as I used to do when I was younger.

What was unique this time was that I recognized the black. Remembering the words of my former leather Mentor, I became the observer. He used to say that while feeling big feelings, also pretend I was the scientist and observe them. They are valid and need to be gone through but try to keep a part of my mind clear. With his words in my head, I imagined myself wearing a labcoat and holding a clipboard. In a Sigmund tone of voice I said "hmmm, isn't it interesting..." With that little bit of detachment the next thought was "isn't it interesting that as I am getting closer to tapping into a surer painting language these ugly doubts are making themselves known...screaming at me to quit."

In that, I knew perseverance was needed. Move forward.

With the sage advice of another artist, I took an intentional three weeks off from the studio. In the past, if I didn't go in it was because I'd be away, or work was busy, or I'd be sick, or something. And there would be a fair amount of guilt and many "shoulds". This time, I committed to no studio with no guilt. When relaying that to another artist I admire here in town, whose critiques I value, he smiled and said "that's a bold move." A little pride swelled in me at hearing his words.

The weekend before flying to NYC, I woke with a new direction for the work. Last week I began. This time, I don't plan on showing work in progress. That may change as I get further along, but right now, I'm keeping it private. Even at art walk, I made sure to put away the drawings.

These black doubts have yet to go away even though I've begun the new work. Each time I step into the studio I'm still filled with despair but am stubbornly trusting it is only fear that is trying to trip me up. So I keep on keepin' on.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

I shot this image of a tidal marsh in Kittery in April and it's been sitting on my desktop since then. I used to live near such a landscape and hope to return soon.

Tidal marshes are glorious places. Each season brings a dramatic, although at times may seem subtle, beauty.

Pike Market...


A cool, misty afternoon was made even a little nicer by sharing a dish of clams and mussels in a light spicy broth of tomato, garlic and herbs and a hearty glass of Montepulciano.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

I found North last night, around the corner from my home.

There is a fair amount of sidewalk chalk play in my neighborhood and it always comes with a smile, but this piece carried some added respect. The calligraphy is lovely. And attentive.

It then reminded me of the care that someone took with long piece I discovered and documented in the fall of 2006.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Met a friend and his out of town guest at Vermillion, the gallery/bar, for drinks before we did dinner. It also gave me the opportunity to pick up some art I purchased from the exhibit they had last month.

It was a very enjoyable evening with a few lightbulb moments. Lightbulb moments are special times. For me, there is something reassuring in receiving an insight that shifts a paradigm. I always cherish finding instances which change my thinking...and don't feel forced.

This friend is a new friend. We have many mutual connections and hooked up a couple months ago.

Most of the day was spent recuperating from last night's art walk. There were lots of people and many good moments. I sold four pieces which means I now actually have money between now and payday. And I will say I'm a big supporter of barter.

Tonight's little get together was a nice little detour in a day of rest.

The view from my windshield before heading home from another wonderful and bustling art walk. It's the back of my building.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Now in my hood...3000 miles away from today's previous photos. It was taken across the street from my studio.

Still from NYC, the stark contrast of light and shadow is what drew me to shoot in b&w after I had my fill of color.