Forget trying to be Original

photo 3 copy Summer has been so altering, all day to day rhythms asunder, a disconnect from painting, and writing on this blog, and even seeing friends. I’ve been sick for several days with some sort of food poisoning, my dreams have been wild with crazy things I’m responsible for, and the then our neighbor died. Its all got me processing and mulling mentally and emotionally….we had a stay-cation and enjoyed walking in the warm woods, heading to the tea shop, swimming in the lake, eating at cool local restaurants, indulging in window shopping, staring into space, and reading.

Throughout the past few weeks, my mind has been going over Bird By Bird antics (Anne Lamott’s book on writing and life lessons) and also this quote: “Art has no boundaries except those imposed by the needs of the maker.” Its guideline #42 in small book called 101 Things to Learn in Art School, by Kit White. Its suggesting that art work, art expression, the artist, is free. You’re free to make art, however you want to express it. I’d like to figure out how to do that.

But, making something original is hard, maybe impossible, right? We’re all raised looking at everyone’s work. Isn’t everyone responding to fashion? We’re all influenced and our tastes and interests totally shaped by what’s popular, available. This is absolutely going on in the art world. “I’m really into those colors,” is because someone else made them poplar and now you’ve inherited liking them. Same with clothes. Same with cars. Bikes. The one-speed is back, don’t tell me that isn’t born totally of fashion. Otherwise, riding one is ludicrous, hard work that no one would choose over 24 speeds.

Anyway, its hard to take what I’m technically trying to get good at, and overlay it with something original from my own mind. It’s hard to keep painting without knowing its meaningful, expressive of me, rather than just copying what all the painters I like are painting. Still, I’d rather be figuring that bit out, than doing just about anything else these days.

What’s true and meaningful for me today: I am endlessly interested in finding the features and emotion in painting faces.  The technical ability to create dimension and life in a face is truly mesmerizing.

I’m also culminating these two drivers:

1. being a behavioral therapist;

2. my “own” style of painting;

Let’s hope an provocative intersection begins to form…

Heres some odd little paintings done on the fly: photo 1 copy photo 3 photo 2 copy 2 photo 2 copy photo 3 copy


You’re the Average of the 5ive People You Hang Around Most


Before I talk about painting this bluebird girl, here are some other intriguing tidbits from the illuminating James Altucher:

Your Awareness is the average of

*the 5 things that inspire you the most

*the 5 things you eat

*the 5 things you think about most often

*the 5 things you read

….My thoughts need an upgrade. My food, friends, sources of inspiration, reading materials are all great. I’m lucky. And focused. But when it comes to thoughts….ugh my brain goes over the most boring things again and again. “That needs cleaning” “I need to finish that” “I’m late” “Where is Julian, now?” “More dishes” “I have to get something done” “How much time do I have left?” “I’m going to write that down” “Has he done his chores” ~an endless chattering of stupidness

What would I rather be thinking? In order to upgrade my average OVERALL thinking platitude? “That would be awesome to paint” “I’m going to go paint right now” “I love him” “I’m so lucky” “I feel great” “Everyone is so special” “I am a being of light”

I’m trying to bring in more mindfulness these days. A walking meditation of sorts. Here’s a great definition:

“Mindfulness is being present to whatever is happening. Without judgement”

Here’s some recent painting–while staying in Mindfulness. Or at least thinking I am.


Letting black paint and water run down through the piece.



This looks finished, but went through several more changes as all my paintings seem to.





Portraits and Pain


Can art and painting help us process our feelings? Feelings that rock us so hard we think we’ll never be the same person again.

    Or is artwork a distraction, a place to focus attention away from hurt and sadness? Does the creative process mull our awareness and feelings into the artwork without us knowing?

This is a piece that I suddenly realized I was painting for one of my dearest, oldest friends. She lived through cancer last year.🔺


#mixedmedia #redheads

Portraits consume my every painting hour~ alas, I cannot paint enough of them to satiate. Bringing their moods to life is divine. LOL.


Anyway, I am really having fun with them. Here, I used an older, holly hobby-like piece I did, and then remixed. Lots of layers and texture in the background.



Garland of Roses

  From my workshop #Entwined, #misty mawn. Portraits. Portraits. Portraits. How endlessly fun and challenging it is to draw and paint their moods. I love building up layers of skin tones, rubbing lines out with gauche, re-highlighting parts, etc. Its like a strange puzzle that I am drawn to doing over and over.




Experiments with portraits

“The object isn’t to make art, it’s to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable.” ~Robert Henri

IMG_1569 - Version 2

I’ve been steadily working my way along in Misty Mawn’s online class. My favorite part is portraits. Portraits. Portraits. How endlessly fun and challenging it is to draw and paint their moods. I love building up layers of skin tones, rubbing lines out with gauche, re-highlighting parts, etc. Its like a strange puzzle that I am drawn to doing over and over.

As always, I like showing the process, just as I love seeing almost anything in a Before and After format. Here are the phases of a couple of older portraits. I started in one direction then veered away in another:




This little piece belongs to a children’s story my mom wrote, that I’m working on illustrating. The story is about a little family of birds that forms, lives, dies, and learns to fly.


IMG_0266 (1)


Here’s a wonderful quote from Mary Oliver that feels reassuring to me these days.

“Creative work needs solitude. It needs
concentration, without
interruptions. It needs the whole sky to fly in,
and no eye watching until
it comes to that certainty which is aspires to,
but does not necessarily
have at once. Privacy, then. A place part- to
pace, to chew pencils, to
scribble and erase and scribble again.”



An Egon Sheile study

Here’s my painting of Egon Shiele’s self portrait…from an online tutorial with Misty Mawn. Egon Shiele was a prolific protégé of Klimt, and was highly influenced by another his work, but evolved into his own style. I’m moved by Shiele’s ability to take a few lines and create a moving work of art. He spent a lot of time focusing on self portraits and the human figure. His work was often erotic and sometimes disturbing. Egon Schiele was born in Austria, dying of spanish flu at the age of 28 ~tragically, a couple weeks after his pregnant wife died of the same plague.

Characteristics of Shiele’s work:
Strong, sometimes jagged defining Lines, especially of knobby hands, emotional and often provocative sexual forms, bold colors.

Here’s my study of his self portrait, which I chose because of the articulated joints of the fingers:




I used a photo of my son, with his shocking hair, to capture a similar Sheile-like quality. Then added some fun photo filters from pxlr, while listening over and over to a steel drum rendition of David Bowie’s The Man who sold the world:






Here’s a favorite poem, by a favorite artist, Lawrence Ferlinghetti:

Don’t let that horse
eat that violin
cried Chagall’s mother
but he
kept right on

And became famous

And kept on painting
The Horse with the Violin In Mouth
And when he finally finished it
he jumped up upon the horse
and rode away
waving the violin
And then with a low bow gave it
to the first naked nude he ran across

And there were no strings

~Lawrence Ferlinghetti, 1958

Everyone an artist

Listening… a little to Bon Iver, Holocene & The Wolves so gorgeous…then made a little shift to Sigur Ros…& how easy it is to draw & paint listening to this music

it’s another overcast/rainy day here, perfect for lingering over a pot of coconut earl grey tea from Wonderland Tea & finishing my early portraits from Misty Mawn‘s workshop. I loved this project, I think I will do it again soon…started from magazine images, painted black background, on a Cigar Box lid.



I’ve been thinking about who is living an artist’s life? Everyone of us. Since everyone is living a life, and the creative force of the universe is inside each of our nervous systems, our spirits, then no matter what life we’re leading, we are all artists. The cement layer with their trowel, the lawnmower with their rows, the long haul driver with wild mind full of paradise thoughts, the painter at their easel or house going for color, smoothness, lines, the doctor cross referencing a thousand remedies and wounds to apply the right salve. We’re all artists.




IMG_0517 - Version 2



“…so this this the sound of you
here and now whether or not
anyone hears it this is
where we have come with our age
our knowledge such as it is
and our hopes such as they are
invisible before us
untouched and still possible.”

~from To The New Year, WS. Merwin


I’ve learned a lot while laying in bed off & on, fighting this cold, for over a week now. Each day, I soak in a mineral bath, listening to Tara Brach‘s calming meditations, and ponder this good life~watching the trees through the curtains. In the evening, H and I slowly walk through the woods around Lake Padden. Its the first few days of Spring. Mary Oliver’s words are ringing in my mind
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”

For now, I’m shifting away from being a mom. I am still trying to get a grasp on how or what it means… it will come, I just need to let it ferment a little longer, while my heart & head are both swirling with feelings of change~ and renewal. About myself, about others, about life. I think this 10 days have been precious and that I am transforming in some great way.

“To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go”

~Mary Oliver




I’ve been working on this, while listening to Sigur Ros Radio on Pandora.