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

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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.


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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 protĂ©gĂ© 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.




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“…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.


“The risk it took to blossom”

Thank you from my heart to Misty Mawn. Her angel of inspiration has come my way. Anaïs Nin: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”

I’m bumbling through a painful transition these days. I’ve been laying in bed all week with the first bad cold in a few years, and thinking. My sweet son is growing up and away so fast….he got his license and a girlfriend in the same week. The center of my life has grown wings and is mostly out flying these days. Its all been so sudden and my heart has been aching. I’m nostalgic for his younger self, and want to go way, way back to the beginning– where I could smell his sweet hair and just hold him in my arms. Instead, I’ve been moody and listening to soulful music and painting.

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Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale
by Dan Albergotti

Measure the walls. Count the ribs. Notch the long days.
Look up for blue sky through the spout. Make small fires
with the broken hulls of fishing boats. Practice smoke signals.
Call old friends, and listen for echoes of distant voices.
Organize your calendar. Dream of the beach. Look each way
for the dim glow of light. Work on your reports. Review
each of your life’s ten million choices. Endure moments
of self-loathing. Find the evidence of those before you.
Destroy it. Try to be very quiet, and listen for the sound
of gears and moving water. Listen for the sound of your heart.
Be thankful that you are here, swallowed with all hope,
where you can rest and wait. Be nostalgic. Think of all
the things you did and could have done. Remember
treading water in the center of the still night sea, your toes
pointing again and again down, down into the black depths.


ReMixed Media: Martian Girl


This is a funny kind of other-worldly looking thing. It got left in the bin of unfinished pieces for a year.  I was learning from Mindy Lacefield about applying color and marks to create background elements.

A year went by. I pulled this out and added some hair and a body. I can’t believe how sweet she turned out! I really enjoy the freedom of mark-making in the background.



Every weekend comes, and I’m so eager to get back into my art room and go deep, fast and find that perfect spot where every piece comes together. Its so hard when pieces don’t work out. I’ll feel mopey and go eat a lot of treats and make more early gray tea…that’s usually when something comes through.

Here’s a little quote I’ve been loving lately.
“She said she usually cried at least once each day not because she was sad, but because the world was so beautiful & life was so short.” ~ brian andreas