Thursday, March 25, 2010

Living with Art

A good friend and collector sent me this photo from her iPhone last week. I was touched to see how she has arranged on her mantle postcards of my art with the three collages she owns. Pictured here left to right are two small-scale collages from the Milagros series, a postcard of Creative Fire Within, the collage In Memory from Mapping the Body, and postcards of Flight, Evocation #001, and Sanctuary #1.

This photo was such a great reminder that my work exists and lives beyond me. It is easy to forget when I am working away alone in the studio that my art is out there enriching the experiences of others. I am so grateful to Nell for the gift of seeing how my work is installed in such a graceful and beautiful way in her home.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Dialoguing with Nature

“Wait. Observe. If you are very still, not impatient, quietly receptive, at some point Nature will make the first move to initiate the conversation. To the exact degree and moment that you are ready to receive, Nature will ever so slightly disturb the equilibrium between the two of you, will reach toward you.” – Peter London

Today was so warm again that I could actually sit in the hammock and read outside (a rarity in West Marin). Peter London’s Drawing Closer To Nature: Making Art in Dialogue with the Natural World is a book I bought a few years ago, and today it yelled at me from the bookshelf – “Read me!” I am so glad it did. He writes so well about how to attune oneself as an artist to the natural world and to use that connectedness to nature as a way to make deep, authentic and meaningful work.

Inspired by him and by my respite under the pear tree yesterday, today I began a conversation with the apple trees in my garden. I had a vision of the trees themselves acting like easels. I went outside with a big white piece of paper and used the recently trimmed sapling branches to weave the paper onto one of the trees. I had brought crayons and pencils and pens, thinking I would draw. But something magical happened as soon as I attached the paper. The wind blew and the tree's own shadow danced across the paper – like a photogram. I went running back to the studio for my camera and shot 80 pictures of paper dancing in the wind – one of them here. I have no idea where this is taking me, but it feels fresh and exciting. I look forward to where this conversation with the apple trees will take me next.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Art of Sitting Still

This week has been graced by gorgeous weather. Today, the warm air called me outside where I took root under this blooming pear tree. I sat still there for an hour and half – journal in hand – occasionally jotting down an insight or an idea. But mostly I just sat, and let the earth hold me while my mind emptied.

I looked around and saw how often my perception of my garden is colored by all the work I see that needs to be done. I am almost always outside with clippers and digging tools in hand – keeping busy, not missing a moment to improve on this place. Today was a like a mini vacation – I relished the beauty of the natural world around me as it is right now, with no need to change it.

So often as an artist I forget the importance of sitting still. My time in the studio feels limited and precious. I tell myself I must be productive and busy to justify claiming this time for myself, time away from my family and other responsibilities. Yet today I was reminded how stillness is in itself an action. With it, comes a deep sense of renewal and connectedness that makes me a better artist and a better person.

Coming back into the studio, I took heart from Mary Oliver’s wise words tacked to my bulletin board…
“Let me keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


I find myself at a place of new beginnings in my art. Ever since my daughter was born in May 2008, much of my creative energy has gone toward parenting. Now, as she is getting bigger and a little more independent, I find myself itchy to dive more deeply into my creative work again – yet I feel like a novice, hungry to make progress and yet uncertain of how to proceed. So this morning I did some journaling about how in the past I transitioned from one series of art to the next. I discovered some commonalities…
1) It seems to take about 2 years for me to fully develop a new series - two years of experimentation, some false starts, some breakthroughs and then refinement.

2) I like to work on two projects at one time, so that when I get stuck working on one, I can move over to the other one.
Bottle Dreams and Milagros were both born together and so were Evocations and Sanctuary.

3) There are false starts, there are one-offs that never become a series, and there are pieces that never go anywhere, but making them was really important in the overall development of new work.

4) Gathering and collecting are a big part of my process. Getting the right bottles, maps or other objects around me in the studio is essential.

5) New technology, tools and materials helped me grow as an artist – whether it was taking classes on alternative photo processes that eventually helped me make
Mapping the Body, or getting a digital camera which led me to make
Evocations and Sanctuary.

6) A deadline has been a key factor in moving the work from experimentation to manifestation. Having a solo show on the calendar usually does the trick for me.

7) I don’t work on my art everyday. I never have. With a child in my life, this is even more true. My creativity lies dormant within me and then explodes with the right combination of prep work, materials in place, concentrated time and a deadline. A lot can come to together very quickly.
Sitting here today, this list becomes a kind of road map for me. I am setting out on what may be a two-year journey. I am looking for two ideas to work on in tandem. I will play and experiment and gather the things my intuition says to collect. I will look for some new tools and materials to inspire me. When I get a little further down the road, I will set up a deadline to accelerate the creation of new work. In the meantime, I am going to do my best to relax and trust and enjoy the process.

Image Above: A Creative Fire Within from the series Milagros

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Artist's Way For Today

“As artists, we must learn to try. We must learn to act affirmatively. We must learn to act as though spring is at hand – because it is. We are the spring that we are waiting for. Wherever creativity is afoot, so is a blossoming. All creative acts are acts of initiative. In order to make art, we must be willing to labor. We must be willing to reach inside and draw forth what we find there. On an inner plane, we are all connected to a larger whole. This is what is meant by inspiration, this connection to something greater than ourselves. But it begins with where we are. It begins with possibility.” – Julia Cameron

This quote is the bit of inspiration for March 15 in Julia Cameron’s new compilation called The Artist’s Way Every Day. I turned to her book this morning to help invoke my creative spirit. I have a week in which I have carved huge chunks of time out for the studio – four days, 7 hours each. How bountiful it feels. Everywhere around me nature is blooming. Fruit trees are flowering and new leaves decorate the branches of deciduous trees. Spring is here. I want to use this time of rebirth to catlyze something new and tangible in my creative work.