Monday, May 21, 2018

Painting With Fire...Creative Alchemy at Ghost Ranch

A week ago I returned from teaching my workshop, The Inspired Landscape to nineteen women who attended the Painting with Fire workshop at Ghost Ranch. The workshop was also shared with Lora Murphy who taught portraiture along side me.  

I often ask myself if teaching is the direction I "should" be going in. Am I really suited to lead people in workshops? Am I walking the path I was intended to walk? In other words, am I walking my talk? 

If some how the rug gets pulled from under your feet and you have to pick up the pieces, isn't it time to really make sure that you only pick up the pieces that feel right??? Even if the rug didn't get pulled, doesn't it feel right to ask yourself (over and over again) is this right? does this nourish me? am I aligned with this direction I am heading? 

As I said to the group at Ghost Ranch, I faced a lot of vulnerable feelings. I felt being open and transparent would be honored in their presence. Somewhere within me, there is a voice that keeps pushing and prodding me to step forward, share what I know, and trust that it will be beneficial to another person's growth. Courage is my world for 2018 and it seems to be serving me well. During the workshop, I tuned into myself many times, asking all the questions again. I can tell you, that I felt true joy being in the midst of these women. I felt deeply connected to myself and to them and their process. Sharing what I know seems effortless. Being in the midst of creativity feels amazing. 

I know I will continue to asks these questions of myself, have self doubt, wonder if this is the right path, but I also know that I have the courage to find out and course correct if need be. 

To all the wonderful women who were on this trip with me, my eternal thanks for being such an open, creative, and supportive group of tremendously talented and gifted people. You are a gift in my life. Your ability to create wonderful art in the midst of the unfamiliar, the pioneering spirits that came forth within each of you, the sharing of community, bonding at lightening speed with new friends and deepening relations was profound.  I thank you for your courage. 

Please enjoy examples of art that was created in The Inspired Landscape portion of Painting with Fire at the amazing Ghost Ranch. The instruction was to let the surroundings find itself in their unique vision. This could be interpreted as an outer landscape as well as an internal landscape. 


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The Lilac Festival Poster Commission

This past winter I was honored to have been asked to create the poster for the 2018 Lilac Festival for Rochester, NY. 

I was a little nervous at first. Its December, there is nothing in bloom in Rochester and certainly no lilacs. Its cold, too cold for me to stand outside and paint even the leafless bushes and trees at Highland Park where the infamous festival takes place. So, I began with what I knew I could do. First thing was to google lilac trees, next google Highland Park, next go to the park and take pictures (of dormant trees) then, pull from memory the feeling of being there on those warm days. 

The Lilac Festival is a huge deal here, why I didn't feel pressure is beyond me, must be my zen mind ;). The festival is the most attended festival of the year, and has a huge impact on our community. The poster is used for publicity everywhere (this clearly escaped me). 

Highland Park is in all its glory during the festival with literally hundreds of lilac trees in bloom. The air smells incredibly divine. The pathways and hills in the park, each has its own personality. It is a gentle, peaceful, and inviting park where people stroll and meander. 

I think that is what I wanted to capture most. The sense of walking through the park and also the sense of a rolling landscape and discovery as you walk the paths. 

There is one pine tree that stands boldly against the sky and I knew I wanted to include that in the scene. A path to lead you into the park seemed important, like an invitation. And, of course the lilacs. I wanted to celebrate the lilacs most of all. Put is all together and this is what I created. It is what is called in art terms a composite, but I'm am positive when you go there, you will feel like you are this very path at some point during your visit. 

I'd like to thank the Springut Group, Inc. for commissioning me. This has been a very interesting process and I learned so much from working with them. I was also honored with an unveiling along with our fine city and county officials. Casa Larga even used the artwork for a wine label. Plus, T-shirts!!! Who could have asked for more. If you happen to be at the festival on May 19th, I'll be signing posters at the events tent. Come see me. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Hosting Leah Macdonald

At least once year I host an artist to come to my studio and teach. March 2018 was the long anticipated workshop with Leah Macdonald. Leah is the embodiment of an artist, and that is a tricky word and label to put on someone, but I'll leave it to that. Her teaching, and attention to what she brings to the table excels. Here are just a few images of her and the workshop. I look forward to her return. A special thank you to Hahnemuhle papers for the generous donation of papers.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Let it Evolve

January 2018 was a huge month for me. I knew it would be. I did something in January I have never done before and that was give myself the gift of going on retreat. I am finally learning the value of investing in myself. I went to the EncaustiCastle in KY owned and operated by Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch for a week ahead of our Winter Wax 2018 workshop. It was such a rewarding experience for me to steal myself away so that I could concentrate solely on my art. You may be under the impression that as an artist I am constantly painting and creating. Let me dispel that notion. I have had periods in my life when I have been prolific, but they are usually short lived. 
I actually spend much of my “creative” time thinking, organzing, cleaning, sensing, painting in my head, looking and seeing. All this, with the understanding that it is in preparation for when I do stand at the palette. Over time, I’ve learned to be patient with the process. It has not been an easy thing for me to learn. 
When I do begin to paint, as I have said previously, I like to be witness to what is happening. Its like birthing a baby, you never know what the baby will look like until you see him or her. Okay, maybe an odd metaphor, but I need and want to be open to what comes and honor it for what it is. 
I understand that during the art making process we need to engage a critical eye to make informed decisions. However, I really try to encourage people in my workshops to not use the words like and dislike, or worse, hate. It is possible to learn to let the creation simply be what it is without harsh judgement or negative criticism. I believe the only way for what really wants to be expressed to emerge, is if we do not use dualistic thinking. Art, my art, has taught me this lesson. 

Simply let it evolve. It will, and you won't be exhausted from the process. 

These paintngs are just a few from my time on retreat. Enjoy.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Thank You

It's that time of year when we begin to reflect on all that has happened. When I think of this year and what might be the thread that ran through all the months, it distills down to gratitude. Even in the hardest, darkest times, I found myself being grateful. In the most joy filled moments, I am grateful, and in all the in betweens, too. It is that very undercurrent that is a true pillar of strength for me. 
With deepest gratitude, I want say thank you to each and every one of you. Whether you are family, one of my closest friends, or an acquaintance, you are an expression of the many gifts life has to offer. For those of you who have taken workshops with me, purchased a piece of my art, asked me to help in your artisitc dreams, I thank you. For those of you who have been a source of strength, and for those who have allowed me to help you, I thank you.
We are truly in this all together. We each have so many gifts to share and when we do share them, we all get to grow.

I believe my gifts shine brightest when I am in a creative environment sharing what I know, while also recieving the gifts you bring in return. This expands beyond my studio. It happens in the work place, in the day to day running of errands, it happens in the home, it happens in friendships of all kinds. I become more aware every single day of this, and I wish the same for you. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Nothing is Random

Nothing is Random 
This is the name I am giving to a new series I am currently working on. I believe that nothing is random, even when things seem to come out of left field ~ nothing is random.  This is my belief, I am not stating as a universal belief. We each have our own. 
Nothing is random is something I find especially true for me when making art. There are so many decisions we make that we don’t even realize how quick our brains function, how many thousands of little decisions seemingly go unnoticed. Our subconscious mind is never asleep. 
I've actually tried very hard to be random in my work, but it just doesn't happen. Being quick and non censoring with my art production still involves some thought, some form of decision making. Even if I was blindfolded while making art, I would use my other senses to help guide me in my decisions making even if I were trying to be "random".   
So, what's the point anyway? For me, it is a way to see if there is a voice that will emerge if it isn't shut out by too much planning, or by too strong an attempt to have control over my materials. Its a way for me to become more aware of the actual process of art making. 
Its a way for me to link art and life together. 
I'm not looking for dominion over my art. In fact, I am looking for a partnership with it. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Teaching Is A Two Way Street

Why do I teach?  I was asked to write about this for the upcoming Winter Wax workshop at the EncaustiCastle this coming January 2018. Details about the workshop are found in the workshop link on this blog. I hope you will check it out. Winter Wax is a deeply restorative experience and really taps into your creative vision and goals. I am so looking forward to being a part of their unique experience again. 

So, why do I teach? I ask that very question all the time, almost daily in fact. I actually have to switch out the word teach, to the word share. After all, sharing is what I am doing and teaching is not really what is happening when in workshop with me. What is happening is something that I can not predict at all. 
At first, I was really uncomfortable with the not knowing, and now, it is the only real way I know to be with the act of sharing. 
Sounds maybe a little loose and unstructured, maybe even a catch all or cliche, but I am being as honest as I know how to be. 

Yes, I write out reminders of what I would like to focus on, because I need some sort of anchor. I do stand in front of a group and make statements about how I approach things, knowing that there are many ways to approach anything. Often times I offer a guided exercise to get you going, because I believe that it is in the excavating that we come to know what we really want to bring to life. I have a wealth of knowledge about pigments and paint making. I understand the principles of employing certain techniques. I’m confident in many ways, and have come to know the value added of having had years of experience in the art industry and as a practicing artist. 
All that said, it means nothing in the scheme of things because ‘You’ will bring something that will be completely unique. There in lies the real quest. 

Why do I want to share what I know with you? The best way I know how to answer that, is because I know that in order to successfully share what I’d like to share, I also need to open to receiving what you will be offering. 
I learned a valuable life experience a few years ago that speaks more to a life style. That is, when two or more people come together a separate and distinct other entity co-arises. That entity is full of potential and is very organic. That entity is idea, visions, creative power, untapped potential. I never know what will come out of my working with another person, but I am willing to bet that if we both remain open enough, that we both will learn from it.