28 June 2009

New Work - Perimeter - in progress

I'm in the process of finishing up a new piece - Perimeter.

Here are the individual photos.

Some of them are a bit blurry -- I was focusing on the painting, not the photography at the time, which you can probably tell ;)

Still, it's coming along nicely. Now I just need to put the finishing touches on the piece... and figure out how to frame it.

It's 36" wide by 28" high - large format mixed-media piece that is a larger version of a work I did a few years back. It is composed of acrylic, watercolor, marker, and oil pastels on paper. I anticipate it being completely finished by the beginning of July.

Online it doesn't show as much of the great texture as I'd like. Oh, well. It's the kind of thing you need to "be with" to appreciate. All in all, I'm fairly happy with it. Can think of things I'd do differently next time, but for now... happy, happy. A good weekend.

27 June 2009

I'm painting again...

And drawing. And wishing I had a whole lot more time to do it. It's been a number of months since I worked on anything visual -- most of my time has been consumed by coding and information design and trying to collect my writing and clean my study and update my various blogs and whatnot. Oh, and do social things(?)

I guess I got a bit swamped by all the stuff I've got around... And it didn't help that I had neatly organized all my paints and brushes and supplies in various containers and put them in areas I was intending to use for artwork... but never got to it.

Organization is fine and necessary in some respects, but sometimes you just have to create.

I'm getting back to my geometries. And my cardboard pieces. And my oil pastels and watercolors. Still trying to sort out what moves me the most -- 'cause no matter how important something may be, no matter how significant it may be to others, no matter how socially acceptable and status-invoking a certain activity may be, if you don't have passion behind it... the kind of passion that would drive you to do it, even if you weren't getting paid... well, chances are you won't have the stick-to-it-iveness to hang in there through the tough times, the dry spells, the painfully niggling little details that all make up the sum total of your Work.

So, what moves me?

Color. Shape. Light. Nice precise lines, along with texture.

More to come.

24 June 2009


The road has returned
my missing scarf -- almost
before I knew it was missing. I found it
lying almost undisturbed on the snowbank where
I must have dropped it
yesterday, whilst rooting through my pockets for some-
such I've since forgotten.
A little wet
in spots, but mostly dry, yes --
that would be the scarf I was looking
for this morning before
I set out.
Thanks be to country roads
where precious few walk on foot
and a dropped item can be
with as little fanfare as kicking a pebble.

Waltz Whitman

You propel me out onto the roads today,
brother. Striding
down the long hill away from my house, all
I want of the day
and the woods around me, is
to see.
Like you, I am queer
as the day is long, and I know better than to suspect
the cozy coddled world of established ways
will have me as I am -- without alteration -- or reward'
me for my defiant differences.

The sight of a well-train'd runner got your juices
flowing in 1867. I, myself, grapple with whether or not to dote on my work. I think, not. My work
shall arrive a paper out of time.
Should ti prove durable enough to pique curiosity, lo
those many years down the line, I"ll leave it
to the academians to determine the precise year of my poems'
I have the dates marked down
let them dig for them. It will give them something
academic to do...

But back to "The Runner" -- such a small
poem, that. Almost
And I embarrass myself with all this verbosity over
four simple lines.
Like a Chinese fan, you snapped that moment closed on paper.
I am pulling it open again, perhaps finding more
within, than originally existed.
From your grave
I hear you chuckling -- what a complicated mess
we butterflies pinned tot he board of the 21st Century
have made of simple things.
A runner.
A moment.
An impulse.
We are starving to understand mechanics, we moderns -- hungering to detect
THE mechanics
of Life, all secrets
we suppose
laid bare under the glass of adequate scrutiny.
But the microscope lowered too far
cracks the plate, and the specimen is lost
to intellectual greed.
to wonder from a distance.

My distaste with analysis sends me out
onto the roads today -- no pack on my back, no staff
in my hand, only paper and pen in my pocket
and a charged cell phone -- just in case. The road
eases by underfoot, the lives of all Sunday homebound citizens
who line this track out on display
for passers-by like me, to note well and bless with our attention. The woods sweep by
on either side -- oak and beech
and pine and hickory and maple and redbud
and more, most alive, some dying, many dead -- centering the road
with their sentry density.
You, brother, took alternately to city and country, much
as I have,
now and then traveling some distance to find some trace
of What Must Be Worshiped
or simply Must Be.
There was too much love in you
to be held to just one way or place,,e and my own
promiscuous muse is restless, now, too, aching
and whining
to be fed some new sweetmeat of experience.
But I am no single man, free to ramble
about my nation's back roads, criss-
crossing at will whatever country calls me. No,
I am a married woman, wedded to the kind
of life I suspect you disdained, and I have much
I must accomplish today.
The road leading away from my house
beckons. I take with me
the sense of you,
my pockets full of Now.

A History of Moments

Within each and every moment, there lies an entire history, a succession of unique events whose sometimes-unlikely combination produces the quality of a thing, of an instant, or a moment. It’s these histories we so often miss, in the course of our daily movements, as we flit from one instance, one still life, to another. How much richer could our lives be -- could our experiences be -- if we recognized the bits and pieces of our present.

Indeed, I do think that this is one of the elements that plays into our sense of alienation and separation -- we see ourselves as separate and distinct from the “things” we use and encounter, never guessing the history behind them, the time and effort and love that went into creating them. We don’t see past the present, as though we were near-sighted and had put our glasses down somewhere and walked away, never to find them again. Indeed, never realizing we’d displaced them.

Or perhaps it’s more like slowly going blind -- as though our sight were progressively failing in such small increments that we hardly notice the loss until it’s too late. Or, perhaps we notice along the way that we can’t see quite as well as we used to, but no matter -- what we can see, suffices well enough, and it’s actually easier for us to not be bothered with so much detail on a regular basis. Comprehensive comprehension, we tell ourselves, is perhaps the most overrated quality one could have or experience.

Reading Elizabeth Bishop and Wondering...

Had I been born in, oh, say ‘07, and had I
known then what I know now,
would we have called each other up to travel,
or summoned one another with telegrams --
“Pack those bags, girl -- we’re going away
again!” attaches of papers and works
in progress
tucked under our arms, the streetnumbers of fay friends
settled down towards Cuba neatly
penned into our address book.
Would we have known each other
at all?
Could we have not?


Dreams of Hemingway once
sufficed -- my battered old copy of Islands
In the Stream
still travels everywhere
with me, and I promise myself
frequently, I’ll read it again

Halcyon days they were, when visions of expatriates sipping
anise on the Left Bank and signing on
with ambulance crews to prove
their devotion to a cause could extend past
paint or canvas
moved me as much as the words they called their own.

At 18, I dreamed
it was enough to flee one’s homeland
and cluster abroad in pockets of conscience
to retrieve one’s life
from a predicted, prescribed fate.
At 18, I planned to travel
widely and leave
all calculation behind.

And at 20, I did.


The world goes silent
as the train rolls in -- traffic stopped
at the crossing, cars idling in patient
resignation till the bells sound again,
the crossbars raise,
and their trips work-ward can resume.

Along the platform, we
wait, heads turned away
from dust blown up by the wheels and wind,
steeling ourselves against one more day,
as resigned (but not quite so patient)
as the sedans and SUVs lined up
on either side of the tracks.

Where will this day take us?

The train eases to a stop -- the open doors
at the next platform down from where
all of us have gathered.
Silently, we file down, climb aboard past
the conductor, our thoughts already well into the day
that takes us far from this silent place.

18 June 2009

I am not a pretty girl : an online art installation in the works

Some months back, I created a painting on cardboard in a series of deliberate steps. And as I went, I took pictures of each stage of the painting, with the intention of eventually creating a sort of narrative about this creation.

And then I got busy with job stuff and tucked it away in the back of my mind.

Well, the other night, I was showing my work to friends, and I pulled out this finished piece and showed it to them and explained the process I'd gone through to create it. And they thought it was way cool.

The piece I'm going to be displaying in the coming weeks is an end-creation of a deliberate process. A narrative in color and paint, if you will. An experiment in textures and merging of phases. It's the story of a life -- a life of a woman, growing up from a young girl to a full-grown woman.

It's starting out as an online installation, then I'll be turning it into a full-color book.

I hope it will be enlightening and thought provoking. Barring that, I think it will be fun to create. The painting surely was.

More to come...

15 June 2009

How -- and why -- (visual) art suddenly matters

Actually, art has always mattered. No doubt about that. Art (of many kinds) and music have been staples of human experience for as long as we've been able to draw figures and sing and dance and make stuff that is not only functional but also beautiful. They're staples of the human experience, and they have a way of getting to us in ways that only they can.

I'm going to talk about visual art, here. Much as it dovetails and consummately integrates with visual art, music is a whole other massive world unto itself, and I'm going to leave it alone for the time being.

There's a reason that art collections, whether corporate or personal, grow over time. There's a reason that art has become increasingly valuable over the past years. It's not just about art portfolios out-performing stocks and bonds and real estate in long-term appreciation of value. It's not just about striking a pose and chatting about your latest acquisition at a dinner party thrown for the parents of the kids your child goes to private school with. It's not just about making a good impression when you're standing in front of a piece at the MFA or MOMA or WAM and some good-looking (and apparently single) individual stops beside you to admire it.

I've been working with colors and lines and light for decades, now. I've been doing it in the privacy and comfort of my own home workspace(s), building pieces out of whatever was available, and being alternately surprised/dismayed/pleased/distressed/annoyed/encouraged/invigorated by the results. I haven't had a lot of formal training -- almost none, if you must know the truth. I've had a sort of "fringe" arts education -- hanging with people who have had the means and the opportunity to receive formal training, who assured me that what I was creating was every bit as inspired as what they came up with.

But I never really took it to heart. Art for me was always something that was, well, for me. A sort of poor-woman's therapy that kept me going through thick and thin.

And while I haven't shown a lot of my work to a lot of people, I have had a lot of time to think about art and light and color and lines... not in the context of a formal educational environment, but in the context of my own life, my own art, my own impressions. And the ideas and approaches and attitudes I've developed around art and its place in the world have had the freedom to grown and change in a sort of hermetically sealed one-way mirrored container of sorts -- always looking out, always looking out... reading various things along the way, contemplating those things, changing my views, adjusting my attitudes... all along the way...

And what this isolated thought process of mine has come up with, is that (visual) art is, in its purest form, simply information. Its lights, colors, lines, textures, shapes... it's all information. And it is non-verbal information that is actually a synthesis of and extension of verbal information -- a visual-spatial "echo" of the linear-sequential info we are constantly taking in, which sends out ripples of effect throughout the whole of our lives, the whole of our world. What's more, color and lines and shapes and textures enable our brains to synthesize the linear-sequential information, so that it can be integrated into our whole selves, and so inform our own growth and evolution.

Visual art, to me, is a complement and logical extension of this linear-sequential-information-rich modern world we presently inhabit. Each and every day, those of us who are connected with computers and other media are bombarded with information at a dizzying rate that probably would have driven our great-great-grandparents over the edge. We can't possibly take it all in. We can't possibly make sense of it all.

Unless, of course, we use art.

More work from last year

I'm working my way through my drawings and paintings from the end of last year, digitizing them and posting them. Eventually, I will get around to posting them individually with information on their media and original dimensions. The colors don't always translate exactly, but I'm pretty happy with how they've come out.

Here are some more:

Central Sun (October, 2007)

Circus (October, 2007)

Double Fuse (October, 2007)

Feather (October, 2007)

Gemini (October, 2007)

Green Fuse (October, 2007)

Gridlock (October, 2007)

K-Type (October, 2007)

Mountain Air I (October, 2007)

Mountain Air II (October, 2007)

Mountain Air III (October, 2007)

Ode to Kandinsky I (October, 2007)

Of Earth (October, 2007)

Omen (October, 2007)

Piet I (October, 2007)

Ringlet (October, 2007)

Self-Portrait (October, 2007)

Splay (October, 2007)

Stormy (October, 2007)

Suess (October, 2007)

Sundown (October, 2007)

Swept (October, 2007)

Treetops (October, 2007)

14 June 2009

I'm on artaculous

I just signed up with Artaculous, an international art networking startup that seems to be kind of a combination of Facebook and Yessy. I'm still working my way around it, trying to find out how it all works -- and how I can integrate it into my other social networking sites -- Blogger, Wordpress, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter... and more. All this social networking stuff gets to be a bit overwhelming at times, but that's probably due to my borderline-OCD obsession with detail.

I am a very detail-oriented person. Problem is, it can all get to be too much.

Anyway, here's what I posted over at Artaculous. It's a start...

About me

I am a mixed media artist and writer who has been creating abstract expressionist art for over 20 years. I have been working in solitude for most of that time, and I only started showing other people my work in the past 2 years. I'm a firm believer that art is created first in the cauldron of human experience, and only when it is completed there, should it find expression through the media we use. Whether we are using paint or pastels, clay or colored pencils, I believe the true measure of our work is not our facility with our chosen media, but our familiarity with our own souls.

That being said, I consider myself an artist first and a painter second. My life is my art, and I use whatever media seems apropos to express what I am experiencing at the moment. I work with acrylics, oil pastels, watercolor, gouache, colored pencil, marker, crayon, graphite... on paper, cardboard, canvas, canvasboard, and wood.

I have invested a great deal of my life in mindful meditation -- seeing what the true essence of a moment is. I have also studied the approach of artistic masters who devote countless hours not to painting or drawing their subjects, but to experiencing them, getting to know their essence, and reaching a place of innate, intimate understanding... before they ever start work.

Along the way, I have held a large number of jobs -- from working the graveyard shift at a styrofoam cup factory, to tutoring art history, to doing temporary legal secretarial work at some of Philadelphia's largest law firms, to supervising word processors, to building websites. I am currently engaged in the financial services industry, implementing emerging technologies at the enterprise level.

As far as my artwork goes, I am a firm believer in the ability of art to inspire and motivate... to transform the energies of human-inhabited spaces. I also believe that, in this day of exponentially increasing information, art embodies an essential way of communicating informational richness to the broadest audience possible. In "encoding" information through the use of color, shape, and light, an artist can both enlighten and unify the viewers in ways that connect the many seemingly disjointed aspects of our modern world. At no other time in history has art been so important -- particularly corporate art and art in public places. We all crave unity, we all crave connection. Art lets us do it in both highly sophisticated and lightning-fast ways. Art truly is the "written language" of our emerging world.

My art has been the one constant in my life, through the years, and given the enthusiastic responses I've received from folks who have seen my work, it's now time to make it available to the rest of the world. I've loved what I've created, and I've loved creating it. Now it's time for the babies to leap from the nest.

13 June 2009

Meditations on vastness

Because Blue Always Forgives Red

Just under 4' x 8.5', Because Blue Always Forgives Red is the first large-format painting I finished last fall. I had a couple of other large canvases -- Blue Flame (4' x 5') and Rain At Dawn (4' x 9') -- in the works at the time, but this one I finished first.

I painted it for my sister, Carrie, who passed away in 1996 from cancer. It pretty much sums up how I knew and understood her to be -- carrying a great deal of weight and troubles, but still able to flow through it all with remarkable energy and grace.

Until last year, I had never seriously considered painting on canvas. It always seemed like such a big deal to me. And messy. And where would I work, anyway? But I got all fired up when my friend and fellow painter extraordinaire Stone Riley prodded and cajoled me into at least trying it.

So, I did.

I went out and bought some supplies, trucked them home, and we threw together some frames, stapled canvas onto them, and gesso'ed the heck out of them. Then we let them sit, and I started work on them a few weeks later. What came out of it all both surprised and frightened me a little. What I got was a wide swath of abstract colors, and two intensely dark works that just exude vastness.

I'm not sure where these two dark works "came from," but standing in front of them makes me want to fall to my knees in that abject sort of veneration I imagine the ancients felt in the face of Great Mystery. Whenever I show them to friends, they are moved -- sometimes to tears.

I, myself, am sometimes moved to tears. The depth is just so ... there. I simply procured the supplies, put myself in the mood, and then showed up with the intention to serve whatever Goodness chose to manifest itself through me. I'm sure it sounds all mystical and whatnot... and it was.

I really can't explain it. You'd have to see it for yourself.

To date, I have yet to stretch the canvases. I have them rolled and I haul them around to show friends and acquaintances, when I get the chance. I'm always interested to see how people take in the big, deep ones. Sometimes they're afraid. Very afraid. And they either freeze... or they back away and leave the room.

I still have to get pictures of Blue Flame and Rain At Dawn. It's pretty tough to photograph them without proper lighting. In any case, they are much better experienced in person.

And that's what you have to do with them -- not look at them, not intellectualize about them, but experience them.

And the vastness.

09 June 2009

Loss – No. 1

It’s 6:00.
Where are you?

It wasn’t every
day our paths
crossed, but it was often
to turn seeing you into a habit.
A comfortable, comforting rite of my pass-
ing day, a marker
that told me how well my week
was going
and made many things right
just by right
of your being

What is this odd-strange world that makes friends
of virtual strangers, simply
by rights of habitual proximity?

What is that weird pen-
chant I/we/some people have to turn
into fixtures that fix
our wandering gazes just long
enough to hold us
close — all eyes and ears — close
enough to make us
this must be something more
than accident… and no,
this was not some trick of chance log-
istics — it was


Surely, we must be
connected… Or is it little more than
chemistry, instinctive cerebroglandular en-
thusiasm pumping us full
of what passes for contentment
impelled by nothing
more than
familiarity? “Nothing more than…” I say?
I don’t mean it, of course. I know better. I know…
at the very heartroot of familiarity is

Routine relates us.

But now that is broken.
And so am I.
That little part of me that hates to admit to limit-
ation, to begin
with, is abashed
at how little it takes to throw
me off

way off.

Have I told you lately how much I
Of course not, you are nowhere
to be found, and I am dis-
traught over —
A fracture in my routine
that my heart takes personally?

It is 6:20.
And it’s been weeks since I last caught
of you.

I am a fool.

And would have it
no other way.

05 June 2009

Going East to Look West

I see it all more clearly from a great, wide distance --
the speed, the urgency, the mad dash to whatever
grabs our attention
and holds it tight - tighter- tighter, till the sheer force
of centrifugal speed breaks the grip of compulsion.
From a great, wide distance across the sea,
the Way Things Are
becomes almost comical, when stripped of daily context
and the collective, assuming mind
that conditioning lulls.
GET AWAY! cries the voice I usually drown
with coffee and the flow of a carefully packed schedule. GET
to where they can't' see you to assign one more task, to where
you can't see that side of you
any longer
that's arranged by the clutter of expedience. Get Away
to where you recognize, there is more to life
than billable hours, allocated resources, status checks. Get Out
to where milestones still are lumps of granite
nestled in a wild tuft of grass by the side of a well-worn path.
And there
in that place, look back over your shoulder, catch
a glimpses of the old heads-down world
you put behind, for however long you can afford to, and know
in your bones
all that which a 6x6 foot cubicle
cannot encompass.
Know the feel of the grasses crushed underfoot, the cool
packed earth of that old path, the coarse
solidity of this honest-to-God milestone marker.
But do more -- live
more deeply.
And believe.