Jun 29, 2010

from the studio wall

Agnes Martin, Joan Mitchell, Jane Goodall and Patti Smith are people I look to for inspiration.

Joan Mitchell had her demons but she made beautiful paintings and worked hard in spite of them. I discovered her in an art magazine when I knew nothing about art except that I liked to draw and wanted to learn how to paint.  I’ve looked closely at her work for a long time now so her marks and colors are deep in my head and hand at this point.  Even though I’m still trying to figure Agnes Martin out, I believe she tapped into a spiritual realm that painting rarely goes.  She seemed to know the visible and the invisible. 

As for Jane Goodall and
Patti Smith, there are a lot of reasons they are on my studio wall, but mainly I put them there because they are both still working hard and passionately, just as I hope to be doing in twenty or thirty years. About a year ago I pinned this little grouping up to see every day because I need role models.  

Jun 24, 2010

Painting stripes in the collaboration sketchbook I have going with Hamlett Dobbins.   


Jun 19, 2010

louise bourgeois - insomnia drawings

After hearing that Louise Bourgeois had died, I reread her book "Drawings and Observations".  I've seen a show of her sculptures and indeed they are amazing, but it's her drawings that I go back to over and over again.  Her repetitive circles and lines have a calming effect, which is no wonder since she drew to find relief from chronic insomnia.

She writes about this drawing, titled Throbbing Pulse, 1944:

"My work has to do with a defense against fervor.  People are always in a rush.  To do what?  To do nothing!  There is a kind of fervor that is completely meaningless.  This drawing is a call for meditation.... I am an insomniac, so for me the state of being asleep is paradise.  It is a paradise I can never reach.  But I still try to conquer the insomnia, and to a large extent I have done it; it is conquerable.  My drawings are a kind of rocking or stroking and an attempt at finding peace.  Peaceful rhythm.  Like rocking a baby to sleep."

And about the one below, Untitled, 1988, done forty-four years later and a drawing I look to as an example of strength in simplicity, she explains:

"This came out of the Progression series.  It is a joke on the eternal ladder of success.  Isn't it an American expression, 'to climb the ladder of success'?  So this is taken for granted, and it is the opposite of what Camus said, that the ladder of success can be your downfall.  Just the same, in a modern economy, you have to believe that the ladder of success does apply and is rewarding.  So this is what it is.  An attempt to be better and better.

This is also a visual problem.  The question is, from where you are, do you see the underside of a given step or do you see the top of that step?  So the ladder of success is a metaphor for an exercise in geometry and perspective.  But as you know, I love geometry, I love mathematics, and as I've said many times before, the best time in my life was when I was at the Sorbonne studying geometry.  I was told that everything was explainable through science.  You just put yourself in the right corner the right vision and everything is fine.  That was a fallacy, but still, it was there, that if you plan right, you are going to get there."

Jun 15, 2010

happenings in the yard - kaboom!

The first big project we did after moving into our house was borrow a tiller and dig up a large kidney bean shaped flower bed in the front yard.  Over time we've filled it to the brim with pass-a-long plants, store bought perennials, seeds and annuals.  There's a saying with perennial flowers, "first year sleep, second year creep, third year leap."  Well, this is the fifth year and boy oh boy the flowers are blooming like mad. 

Jun 14, 2010

north carolina clearness

Last week we did a lot of walking in Swannanoa, NC.  This stream is one of my favorites.  There's a trail right next to it that goes for miles.  Even though it's still and quiet here, the water is mostly loud and rushing.  I'd love a studio with a raucous stream not far from the window.  A girl can dream.

Jun 6, 2010


In early May it rained and rained and rained. One of the many the brick flower beds around the house filled up with so much water that the clay in the soil expanded, tipping over 22' of wall. We came out one morning to a pile of rubble.
James went to the brickyard and loaded up the trunk of our '85 brick colored/shaped Volvo with a new stack, and then prepared the area. 
He'd never laid bricks before, but spent the three day Memorial Day weekend figuring it out.
Once the wall was finished we spent a lot time standing over it with big grins on our faces.  It so satisfying to put something back together after it's fallen apart.  
The predominate textures around our house are bricks and white iron.  We're probably going to live here a long time, so between painting rusty fences and reconstructing old brick walls, we'll never run out of projects.
We're going to plant a patch of milkweed here because monarch butterflies lay their eggs on them.  On the other side of the fence is a small easement between the houses where we want to slip in a couple of more vegetable beds.  The nooks and crannies seem to be never ending.   

Jun 3, 2010

a couple of drawings

In the studio there's always a stack of off white paper cut into 6" x 6" squares sitting on the edge of my drawing table ready to go.  I like them because they aren't fussy, just predictable and familiar surfaces for me to work out ideas on.  As a matter of fact, the title drawing and text to this blog was drawn on one of these little squares.  Once a pile gets going I flip through them like a deck of cards, or sometimes pin a bunch on the wall to see what's happening as a whole in that particular stream of consciousness.  Every once in awhile they'll evolve into a painting, but mostly I just borrow elements.  

These two are a couple I did this week with water color pencils, my current favorite art supply product.  I'm thinking a lot these days about nestling shapes.    

Jun 2, 2010

Jun 1, 2010

only room for one bunny in this carrot

I'm an Alex Warble fan.  His sketchbook at The Warble art show / music / pancake making extravaganza blew my head wide open.  I wish I could borrow it for a few days for a closer look.  They should start a Warble lending library.