Stephen’s gone



“The fear of death, follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die anytime.” ~M Twain.

And so it is.

Stephen Connella died of cancer on Monday. My heart broke open. I felt death and it consumed me, my energy, and my imagination, and I cried and cried. Our sweet Scottish friend, our surfer and snowboarder and mountain biker adventurer, precious father, lifelong meditator and vegetarian, singer and songwriter of best love songs ever…Stephen’s gone.


“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.”   ~Steve Jobs

In some ways I appreciate that quote, that everything changes, and nothing stays the same, and that we each just get one LIFE and then we must go. But in other ways, none of us ever accept that bright stars like Stephen die early.  On his last day, he ate his favorite french toast, said his peace, and let go.



The rest of us get to keep living.  So I have been trying to paint, and to provide attention and love for my clients, and walk the dog in the rain, and listen to poetry. Like a rung out rag, I’ve cried an agonized, and little by little feel lighter. I even had a really good belly laugh with–who else?–my son.






Kahlil Gibran

“You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one….”


St Lucia, bearer of Light

Holidays can be lonely times for us fragile humans. In pondering some of those hardships, I painted Saint Lucia, bearer of light. And I encourage you to read some great thinking by Alain de Boton:

We’re often intensely lonely in our suffering. In an upbeat world which worships success, our miseries feel shameful. We’re not only sad, we’re sad at being the only ones that seem to be so. We need help in finding a sense of perspective and honour in some of our worst experiences.
We can’t remove suffering from life, but we can learn to suffer more successfully, that is, with less of a sense of persecution or an impression that we have unfairly been singled out for punishment. ‘Fernando Pessoa’ is a beautifully dark monumental work by Richard Serra, named after a Portuguese poet with a turn for lamentation (as he wrote: ‘Oh salty sea / how much of your salt is tears from Portugal.’)”


Mixed Media: Fox


Backgrounds create so much complexity to work with, sometimes I can make it work, sometimes not. Here are the visual stages of capturing Fox on the run.




I loved using quinacridone azo gold, reddish gorgeous-ness, for his fur. I added painted paper stripes to the leg and various parts.



Mixed Media: Angel (remix 2)


I played the piano for years growing up. There was this piece called “La Estrelita” and a drawing of a latino man crooning to his angelic woman up in the window. This little angel reminds me of her.

I took apart a piece that I never liked, and began applying layers of paper and deep, blue acrylic to the background.



The first version of the little estrelita:




Her wings were odd, so I papered over and began again:



The final Estrelita Remix 🙂


Mixed Media: primitive ride


I’m adoring Minday Lacefield’s “Primitive Portraits” class~ The composition of this piece is lop-sided, a little. I’ve always loved watching people’s connection and affection and emotions when it comes to connecting with animals.



Odd animal that appeared out of the papers and paint. Large nostrils. And good for riding.



I like the soft, fantasy effect, despite the clunky shapes of everything.

Imp ~on Cardboard

IMG_1801I ran out of canvas and wood but got an urge to paint and so used cardboard. I worked pretty fast on the background and her body, using big thick strokes with a loaded brush for her hair. I forgot to paint her other arm for a long time. She has an impetuous quality that I like!






Mixed Media~Wishing

IMG_2196Here I am working with a horizontal line and placement of the wishing girl. From “101 Thing to Learn in Art School” by Kit White: Lesson #27 “The relation of the figure to the ground is the most basic compositional device and describes to the brain the most basic conditions of any image.”

I modge-podged newspaper and then used green along the edges of her face~ cool colors recede~ helping the front of her face to pull forward.






Mixed Media~Beast

This is an easy, fluid technique to build up lots of texture underneath a painting. This is one of the biggest pieces I’ve done: 20 x20.

IMG_2026 Begin with covering the board/canvas in several lighter and darker color patches. When that is dry, cover it all with random brushstrokes of GAC 100. When that is dry, cover the color patches with a light layer of white.


You can apply fabric or tissue paper, under paint to add texture. From here, when an area for a figure begins to “reveal” itself, enjoying shaping it out.



Mixed Media: Painting Emotions

girl and farm animals
girl and farm animals

I collaged pages from The Farmer’s Hat with other papers and added this farm girl.

IMG_1156 I discovered the shape of her overalls in the random painting I had applied.

photo 1


In this piece, I used a Mindy Lacefield style of adding, dabbling, scraping, dotting, and randomly letting go with favorite mediums and colors. Then I found a space for a girl reaching for a bird and painted that in. I like her gentle face.