Friday, December 21, 2018

An Artist's Mind

I'm writing about this today in a new edition of Spark*Letter, my occasional email news-/love-letter on creativity: "Here's a snapshot of a tool I use in my studio—it helps me track my goals and priorities, in every area of my life. Each card represents a project (each project might have a folder of paperwork or its own To Do list, but the actual tasks are not listed here). I revisit the board weekly, remove, add, rearrange—the items closest to the top are the highest priority at the moment. So many visitors have expressed interest in this system, I thought I'd better share!

Saturday, September 29, 2018


My daily art project, 270 days in, has evolved yet again. I started making portraits of dogs, then a cat, and most recently, this human. I didn't expect, when I decided to try my hand at drawing a human face, that I'd land on this one. But this face has gripped my attention for the last two years, a face no more or less human than any other, though it's easy to lose track of that fact when emotions run high.

Jane Fonda got skewered in the media for her statements about having radical empathy for Donald Trump. No wonder. She's asking us to do a very difficult thing— extend compassion to a person who wields power in a dangerous, destructive way. She isn't asking us to condone or support his behaviors, she's asking us to see his humanity. "This is a man who was traumatized as a child by his father, who had a mother that didn’t protect him,” she said. “And the behavior is the language of the wounded.”

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

246 Days Later...

I'm on a roll, folks, making and posting art every day (on Facebook and Instagram, go see for yourself). Though I started on January first without any clear plan, at this point I intend to keep it up, at least until the end of the year.

It feels good to apply myself to this creative task—to explore color and texture and composition, and to use up my hoard of art supplies (while sticking to a resolution to—for now anyway—avoid buying anything new).

But to keep this up day after day and still find the process engaging, I need to be digging into something meaningful. There has to be personal inquiry. I need to be strengthening my voice, sharing my vision, honing in on something I want to say—about life, about nature, about beauty, about engagement in the world.

Partway into this project, I stumbled into making fashion collages while exploring my thoughts and feelings about female bodies, female beauty, and female strength. I still plan to do more in that vein.

In the meantime, I'm making drawings with Sharpie markers, landscapes that range from pure abstraction to almost-realism. I can feel a part of my mind struggling as I make these, in the same way a writer might struggle for the right word to signify meaning.

There's something I'm trying to articulate in these new drawings, something about the magic of the natural world, about the vibrancy and potential in every living thing, every living moment. Every life.

I want to be entirely present in every moment. And I want you with me.

That's all I've figured out so far.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Paper Doll Fashion Show Continues

Oprah Winfrey is an eternal inspiration, so this cashmere knit dress is in her honor. (Plus: ankle-strap pumps, box purse, silver bangle, turquoise earrings and multi-strand seed-bead bracelet)

This paper doll fashion show, which has taken over my daily art project lately, was a completely unexpected development. I'm far from a fashionista. I'm uncomfortable in heels, don't wear makeup or strapless anything. I live in sweatpants. Hell, I had a mastectomy and I don't even wear a fake boob! Also, I have a major problem with "fast fashion" - the overproduction of cheap clothing, the waste and pollution and exploitation generated. But I get it—clothes can be fun, empowering, beautiful, inspiring. I guess this is my answer to all that. All the creativity, none of the practical implications.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Celebrating Women

My Daily Art collection has become a paper fashion show — here's today's addition.
Daily updates on my Facebook album and Instagram feed.
In childhood I got the message that the hair thickening on my brothers' legs was fine, while mine was disgusting, an embarrassment, something I needed to make sure no one saw. Shaving, putting on makeup, wearing "dressy" (aka uncomfortable) shoes and constrictive clothing, was not a pleasure for me, but a punishment, an insidious, subtle message that I was not okay as is.
But at the same time, I read the beauty magazines and longed to feel pretty, to feel worthy of all of the pretty things...
Whether it shows on us or not, we women feel pressure every day over our appearance, a sense that we need to be attractive in order to be worthy of attention. Some women go to great effort to meet this challenge, but for me, this effort feels humiliating. I hate for it to show that I am in any way "trying" to look good.
I remember coming downstairs one morning at about 14 years old in the slightly tight t-shirt I'd slept in. My father stared and smiled at me like I was something delicious to eat. I felt good and bad in that moment—aware of the power of my developing body to attract male attention, glad that my father was smiling at me, but also uneasy. Instead of getting the loving and respectful attention I so desperately wanted from him, I felt like as if I might be devoured.
I admire women who are unapologetically fierce while conforming to these difficult standards— the hair and makeup and shoes and manicures etc. I admire women who don't feel like they're conforming but do all these things in the name of personal expression, or in celebration of their inherent beauty—regardless of age or body size or curves or lack thereof. I also admire women who, like me, have hair in their armpits and dirt under their nails and holes in their jeans and not a single high heel in their closet. AND I admire women who struggle with the pressure, who try things and try other things and sometimes give up trying altogether, eat too much (or too little), have closets full of clothes they never touch or can't bear to shop. We're all up against brutal, irrational pressure. I celebrate all of us!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Daily Art Continues

I'm a month and a half into my daily art experiment. At the moment, my greatest joy is using up art supplies. I've been on a roll with Sharpie drawings—as the markers dry up and my sketchbooks empty out, I'm forced to alter my color palettes and make creative use of pages with marker bleed through and abandoned scribbles. See the whole series here.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Daily Art

I've completed something every day so far in 2018 — I'm determined to continue for as long as it's fun. Maybe longer (sometimes the most interesting stuff happens when you get bored or careless and start taking risks).

One of the most interesting aspects of this challenge is economy. I don't have a lot of space in my life to devote to this right now. When there isn't much time, my creativity, and creative confidence, are stretched.

It's always good to stretch!

I'm archiving these in a facebook album.