December 29, 2009

Just a great image I happened upon while noodling at the laptop

Spurred on by a link from LaRose for a recipe for Black-Eyed Peas that was missing the secret ingredient of salt-pork, or fatback, or a term I love, but was unfamiliar with- White Bacon, I discovered this amazing image on Wikipedia. White Bacon sounds way more lethal than saltpork and much more appetizing than fatback.

Being 99% vegetarian, I do not cook with animal fats nowadays. If I were to cash in my 1% meat card, I would do so for saltpork with my black-eyed peas for the New Year.

In lieu of fatback, I've been able to make a flavorful vegetarian option by sauteing onions until they're sugary brown. Cooking with vegetable stock is also a good idea. I also add a little celery. Serve with collards, save 3 peas on your plate for good luck, and know that 2010 will be fanf'ntastic.

White Bacon. That's great.

December 25, 2009

Good Lord. I hope I don't offend anyone with that post heading.

I'm back in L.A. I jailbreak Fang tomorrow. What a week. Of course now that I'm back it wasn't as dramatic as it was in situ, but when I'm in the thick of things, it's always more dramatic. Some things are just way too personal to discuss, unless I'm writing a treatment for a screenplay, in which case it would be perfectly acceptable to reveal all my mother's foibles. But I'm not, so I won't.


I took a boatload of pool pictures while in Nashville.

I am grateful for all the wonderful people who were in my life, especially this past year. It was a tough one. I am so looking forward to 2010.

I can't wait to get in the studio and paint.

December 22, 2009

FYI- my gmail account has been hacked.

...Sometime around 2:10 this afternoon it seems.
But that's the least of my worries right now.

December 18, 2009

Kind of like taking off the church dress and changing into play clothes.

One day I promise to set up the tripod and make pretty for these casual shots.

It has occurred to me that working out ideas in public might not be such a good idea. I mean, let's say you stumbled on this blog because you're looking for "My routine" or "My palette is a feudal system" and you see me talking about painting flowers like I just fell off the turnip truck. And because I'm an abstract painter, (yes, pigeonholing myself into a label works well for me, thank you) you see these gnarly half-flower things in progress. Makes you wonder, does it not? Makes me wonder too.

Have I mentioned Anne Truitt and how reading Daybook was an inspiration for me in the pre-blog era of the 80's. I read it when I was in my 20's and first starting out. I'd like to re-read that before the end of the year.

December 17, 2009

Dead flowers gasp for mercy killing. Painter refuses to give in.

in-progress: end of Day 5

in-progress: Day 4

in-progress: Day 2

Day 5:
I uploaded the top image at the end of the day today. Not much of a change, but better. I work in oils and rather wet, I might add, so the paint has to dry, or the linseed oil has to set, or the turp has to evaporate before I can continue. I'd like to fashion some tiny palette knives. It's moments like these when I miss Chicago. I discovered a factory in Chicago that made Bissel® type sweepers. I'm not sure if it was the Bissel® plant itself, but my point is that I knew exactly where I could go to find quality scrap metal available for the picking- the kind that would be perfect for making teensy tiny palette knives. I'll figure something out.

I'm trying to figure if I want to keep updating this post every time I make some changes to the flower painting. That seems more arduous than taking pics at the end of every day.

Now back to this morning's post....

There will definitely be some big changes today, but I thought I would attempt to honor my previous post where I stated I would upload this particular painting as it progresses, regresses, and flails for dear life. (I'm still shooting hand-held for these in progress shots, so be forewarned.)

You can well imagine that my flowers are dead by now and that I am trying to find a substantial reason to continue my quest to paint a bouquet of dead flowers. We have a small problem, no pun intended. Working abstractly on a small scale was interesting because of the scale change and for reasons having to do with abstract painting. Painting flowers at this scale is like baking a cake and watching my cake fall because I keep opening the oven door to check on how the cake is doing. For the record, I loathe metaphors, but it's all I've got.

December 14, 2009

Time to switch gears.

The holiday season is here, and while I have been less cynical then Dorothy Parker this year, I haven't been snorting pixie dust either. This time next week I will be in Nashville, and Fang will be in dog jail while I am gone. It is time to dive into the splendor of the season.

I worked on the second flower painting today and began washes on a third painting. After that I decided to work inside the house instead of continuing to work in the studio, and stretched three 14" x 11" canvases while watching mindless television. Every now and then, I just need to be surrounded by the warmth of a living room while I'm working. Tonight was one of those nights.

December 12, 2009

No rest for the wicked

I had a nice time at the party last night. The host has a lovely abstract art collection. Oh why yes, including one of mine, thanks for asking- and the company included a handful of other artist collector curator peoples. There was a guy who introduced himself and later appeared languid on the floor. I heard he falls asleep at parties. Some old habit from childhood. My kind of guy. I didn't get to chat with him though.

The joint was jumping with abstract painters. (There were at least four of us.) I covered up my affair with Representational Painting as best I could. I nodded and laughed in agreement with some of the things that stump abstract painters when filling out grant applications. "Who is your intended audience?" "Who is going to benefit from your project?" and of course the major one: "Describe your proposal." I forgot all the pithy answers, but I laughed a lot last night. Inside joke, I suppose, but it made me realize that I'm going to have a hard time carrying on behind Abstract Painting's back. Plus, I just kept starring at the abstract paintings hanging around. Hubba hubba. {sigh}

Tomorrow is the studio sale. Earlier this week, I handed someone a card I whipped up for the invite and they seemed honestly astounded at how professional it looked. I'm always a little taken aback in those situations. Maybe next time I'll use crayons and leave glue stains.

I'll be selling watercolors that have been hidden away in my flat files save one exhibition in Nashville. I was going to offer up more under-exhibited drawings, but next year I am in a 4-person show at the Brand Library and Art Center. It's a large space and I have decided to do a mini-retrospective of my works on paper installations. I woke up with that eureka! insight the other morning and feel quite good about knowing that.

I also made notecards of my studio flower photographs. They, too, look professional and are really quite lovely, actually.

December 11, 2009

I am on my way to a cocktail party.

My friend, Charmaine Anthony made these amazing earrings for me years ago. They're a wee bit dressy for everyday use. I like to think I'm wearing chandeliers.

I have to wear glasses to see tiny things. Like the computer screen.

Keywords for this evening: Artists, Tennessee, Los Angeles.

Day 2: of what, you ask?

Again, these are works in progress. (Taken hand-held at night with no flash, just for quickie upload purpose.)

I rarely, if ever, post or even photograph a painting after one session in the studio, but the bottom painting is after two sessions, close enough. The top painting underwent a few changes as well.

The pool paintings are on hold until I go to Nashville in a couple of weeks and take more reference photos.

I need to work on titles and write.

December 10, 2009

As promised

Day One: The Reincarnation of The Last Abstract Painting
(in progress)

Not that you would have known I made a promise, because I deleted it this morning, due to the mysterious rant about my STBX that made it's way into my post via some kind of trance I must have been in while writing. I allotted way more time than I should have wondering if I had spent the entire last year ranting about my divorce in public. In a quick search I only came across maybe three posts that used the word directly. Four, if you count the fact that I referenced my first divorce. Not bad.

Nonetheless, here you have a day of working on flowers. It's quite a bit more than a day, because underneath, and behind the flower, is an abstract painting formerly known as The Last Abstract Painting, a painting that for all practical purposes was finished, but needed a higher purpose.

My covenant was to start a flower painting and document it at the end of every day.
Since I don't know how many days I worked on it as TLAP, we'll roll over the time clock and mark its reincarnation, (sorry, can't help it) as day one.

Today I googled Manet's last flowers. Again.
Most of them seem to be at the Musee de Orsay.
There is a book titled The Last Flowers of Manet. It is available used. I have not ordered it. Yet.
I almost gave up on wanting to paint flowers, but I didn't.
I can't or don't want to start a painting by flowers directly- I need or want to have time to play on the canvas even if I am taking on a destination.
The more interesting the photograph, the less likely I am to want to work from it.
I am slightly intimidated by the history of painters who have painted flowers.
Flowers have a loaded history. So do landscapes, but flowers are so pedestrian and yet, there is something compelling about painting such an ordinary still life.
I feel slightly constrained by the thought of painting flowers, yet I want to.
I am going to document the painting and the process every day.
The flowers I painted were not really the flowers in my studio. You might have figured that out.

December 08, 2009

Reference Photos

I doubt I'll use these to paint from, but I like them, especially the dark ones.
I also like them as photographs, but don't encourage me. I need to stay focused.

Okay, encourage me. It seems like developing (No pun intended, I swear) some photography skills might be something to consider.

December 07, 2009

I am feeling a teeny tiny bit better today

Carnations and Clematis in a Crystal Vase, Musée d'Orsay, 1883

A bit better. Not much though. I know part of the problem is that I have not had time to paint unrestricted. I have had to juggle a few other things under a time constraint and the studio is a mess with not much space for play. I get irritable and grumpy if I go too many days in a row without solid studio time. I loathe that I am feeling like my studio is about to burst at the seams. and that THAT is part of my problem. I'm not much good under house arrest, as it were.

I have two projects lurking. One, the pool paintings and two, the flower paintings which I have not started. I took some reference pictures yesterday and today, but am too lazy to upload them this minute. I got the idea for the flower paintings because I was feeling sorry for myself and I thought I'd paint a series of sad bouquets to drive the point home. I mentioned this to a friend, who told me to check out Manet's flower paintings, the ones he did right before he died. I don't think my friend realized the gallows humor he inadvertently implied.

We're going to have to slog through this melancholia and deathwatch theme. I say, "We" because you're going to have to slog through it with me. It's either that or therapy, and since I'm boycotting using my health insurance right now- painting, it is. As an undergraduate, one of my favorite professors specifically thought that art should not be therapy. I agree to a certain extent, meaning, I don't think it's wise to work out unresolved emotional issues on a canvas and call it art. On the other hand, any port in a storm. I wouldn't say that I'm working out emotional issues with my paintings. Let's put a spin on that. While the abstract paintings were about the journey, it would seem that my recent interest in the abandoned swimming pool and now, flowers, is about the destination, as it were. And I might add, that destination, is a relative term, which brings me to...

I had a great semester at Otis. Really wonderful group of intelligent students. I got great reviews. Would have been damn near perfect except there's always one student who is the antithesis of my very being and doesn't appreciate my casual style of knowledge transference. Anh, whatdya gonna do? I've gotten into assigning vanitas as a final project. I don't know if I saw this somewhere or I came up with it myself. (And even if I did come up with it myself, I'm sure a gazillion others have assigned a similar project.) I've been doing it since I began teaching. It's my favorite assignment because I bend the rules and let them pick their own objects that are meaningful, or they can stick with interpreting or critiquing vanitas. The crits are great and we get to hear what's important to everyone and their view of life, really. Nearly all the work was spectacular. One student did a beautiful drawing incorporating a lotus flower in an hourglass and talked about her faith and how she was brought up to think of death like it was just another change of clothes. I like this viewpoint, and can understand how peaceful this might make people feel on earth. This is my new motto. I'm not dying, mind you. I'm just painfully aware of my mother's mortality, and for better or for worse, I find myself taking on some of my mother's idiosyncratic behaviours. I am not going to tell you which ones, but we live 2000 miles away from each other and I worry that I am perhaps puttering around the kitchen at the same time she is puttering around the kitchen, or that one day, I, too, will decide a plate is too fancy for everyday use and I will simply construct an aluminum foil square to eat off of. I realize of course, that this is due to what the doctor calls cognitive impairment, which I do not have, but it is freaking me out to see it in my mom. Anyway, yes, melancholia. paintings. flowers, pools. I am looking forward to 2010.

December 05, 2009

Truly, there are things which decorum will not allow me to post. But to hell with decorum.

What did decorum ever do for me? Nothing, I tell you. Social mores, the bane of my existence.

I'll just say that being an artist, cobbling together an income from (lack of)sales, and from (not)teaching in the California community college system, along with getting divorced during an economic recession, is not for the faint of heart. No siree Bob. Nor would I recommend a trip to the lawyer during the holiday season. What a downer. The whole thing really sucks. It doesn't help knowing I have two years to stay in this house before we have to sell it based on the other party's desire to sell- the other party, being my stbx and not much of a party, I might add- and that I need to move along. Nor did it help when my lawyer told me maybe I could find a cheap space in Chinatown, though it might not be the best neighborhood. Gotta fuckin love that advice. I'm surfuckinprised she didn't tell me where I could find a sale on cat food.

Moving along to the second part of my badass day, I would always suggest to go with your first instinct. I'm saying that in public, because tonight, in a totally unrelated event, I tried to be open and egoless to something that was in direct conflict to my gut instinct. It's all rather ridiculous to get my knickers in a knot about, but upon closer inspection the whole shenanigan doesn't bode well for me. The good news is that I've changed my mind about something and having made that decision, I anticipate sleeping better tonight. My ego will thank me and I can get on with business.

Alas, the day was not a total loss. The mail brought a delightful surprise. Fang collects art now, starting with a print by Sharon Butler. We're both pleased. Thank God for the mail. And for bonus points, I dislodged the seatbelt my dear friend, Meg accidentally shut the car door on- without breaking the door handle off, saving myself a trip to the bloody body shop. woo-hoo.

December 03, 2009

Alright then, I'm back to f*cking around in the studio.

The studio sale is in about one week. Lo and behold, I've never done one before. It's at my friend Meg's house, so I won't be carting over everything I'd be tempted to offer up in a studio sale if it were at my studio. Meg and I both are hesitant to be enthused about having a holiday studio sale. The very name conjures up patchwork and straw wreaths if you ask me, but I am taking my works on paper and... drum roll please.... grab bags. Yes, grab bags. I am excited about the grab bags. They are priced at $50 and $100. Not to sound like I'm the greatest thing since sliced bread, but I can promise that it's one of those incredible deals you really shouldn't miss. At least one drawing in every bag is worth the suspense. And, I might add, the bonus of owning two art pieces in one: for unopened, the grab bag becomes it's own little artwork hermetically sealed for future generations. Brilliant, aren't I? Definitely something for the savvy collector to consider. I've been working on them today and tonight. The fun part is going back through the pile of need-to-be-reworked drawings and finally doctoring them up. It's like collaborating with myself. You can't tell from the scan, but I went back with this one and painted the disco ball squares with silver gouache.

And here's a mashup that will be in yet another charity auction exhibition to be held next Friday. WTF, it's a good cause, but for the record, I believe most auctions should give the artist 50% and the other half go to charity. Technically the organizers are ripping on the Incognito exhibit where no one is suppose to know whose work it is, but I seriously doubt my blog will be mobbed by the guest list prior to the event, so no worries on breaking my anonymity. They asked for a recycled drawing. I hate making things for themed shows and usually don't, but this was different because it occurred to me at the 13th hour to glom 3 drawings together that were aimlessly wandering around my flatfiles. The top drawing was a possible logo for myself. The middle drawing was done at LAX in front of the Starbucks kiosk while waiting for a flight, and the back drawing was some freaky-ass experiment that I couldn't toss out. The brad in the middle keeps them together, and you can rotate them, if you so desire.

All in all, a good day in the studio.

December 02, 2009

Dear Representational Painting,

Who do you think you are?!!! Are you even remotely aware that all those years I spent with Abstract Painting was because I didn’t think you and I had any thing in common? Yes, of course, I glanced at you in museums, art history books and other people's work, but it’s not like I ever egged you on, or invited you over to hang out by the pool. Oh wait. That’s exactly what I did. What was I thinking? Like maybe you’d be there for a weekend or two, tucked away in the guest house. I didn’t realize you were going to bring with you local color and your photo album, and set up shop. And how clever of you to leave John Ruskin’s Modern Painters, Volume IV, Part V, Of Mountain Beauty lying around. Nice touch book-marking page 336 and 337 so that I would stumble across such phrases as, “absolute joy in ugliness,” or the “love of terror,” or “Perpetual tampering with death.” You knew my weakness for Ruskin. You knew you could use him as bait. Curse you, Representational Painting.

It's rather inconvenient, R.P., for now I have to basically splay open my life and make myself even more vulnerable. (As if this blog wasn’t enough.) Abstract Painting was expansive and evasive enough to hide behind. I'm not terribly upset with you, just slightly shocked. You caught me by surprise. It's cool. After all, you and I are still creating a universe out of pigment and marks, but still, how do I know you’re for real? What kind of commitment do we have with each other? Are you planning on leaving after the pool paintings run their course? Do I need to know that now? I recently saw a Baldessari posted over at Sharon Butler's blog that reminded me why you chose such impeccable timing, and maybe that’s why A.P. disappeared. It’s okay; we’ll adjust to each other, but let’s take it slow. You’re even enticing me to work large again, not huge, just larger. Should I trust you? Shouldn't we get to know each other on an intimate level for a few months? I'm really into intimacy now. Abstract Painting might have mentioned that to you. In fact, it brought me closer to Painting. Well, literally, of course, but intellectually and um, yes, I'll say spiritually, though I don't toss that term out in public much. It gets a bad rap.

But back to us- what will the neighbors think? What if we fail? What if people don’t like us or compare us to what they think they know? A.P. and I thought it a preposterous assumption that people thought they knew what something should look like, but now that I’m with you, people might have different expectations. Conversely, what happens if we hit it off? I was committed to Abstract Painting, but I'm wondering if I'll get bored with you. I know A.P. wasn't exactly a spring chicken, but you? You were on friggin caves. I worry about our May December relationship. What if we find out we’re not meant for each other? Would we have wasted each other's time? Would I be reminded of our failed relationship every time I looked at you stacked in a corner, or would I look at you as another component to my sleeping army?

I'm being honest here-I had a good relationship with Abstract Painting. We had a lot in common until you swaggered in with that palette knife in your holster and started showing me photographs you took. I might need a little time to get used to us, and I hope you’ll understand if I need to see A.P. every now and then. Old habits are hard to break. Meanwhile I promise to keep showing up in the studio and see what happens. I will trust both you and A.P. have my back covered.

Yours truly,


December 01, 2009

Dear Abstract Painting,

Where are you and why have you forsaken me so? I noticed only recently that the last month of blog posts have pictures of representational images, mostly of abandoned empty pools, signifying decay and loss and death, along with iPhone drawings of objects in my life, depicting the passage of time. You, Abstract Painting, are nowhere to be found. I went back 31 days. Nada.

You were about the journey. We never knew where we'd wind up. Then without warning, you duck out of the studio like a fair-weathered friend. I suppose I can't call you a fair-weathered friend. You've been there for close to 25 years minus that little 9-year affair I had with video in the 90's. I thought you were a has-been, but when the conversations with video became shallow and strained, you were there and open for discussion. I don't know what I expected you to do. You must have seen it coming. There were signs- like photographs, for instance.

You've obviously had enough of the garish colors, the odd juxtapositions, the this, the that. It's tough always being on the road. I know you're tired. We worked hard together. Sure, I pushed you, but we made some friends, saw some places. It was good, but there was always the self-doubt that we couldn't communicate effectively or that we didn't put out. I thought scaling down might give us both a rest, but even then, I relentlessly pushed you to to stand your own ground. We even read John Ruskin together. Good Times, Abstract Painting, Good Times.

Don't blame yourself. It was me. I wanted to simplify my life. Less mess, more directness, less chaos, and how about an end in sight? Remember those four days I spent in Santa Rosa a few years ago? It was with a plein air workshop. I said I needed it in order to teach a class. It was just a few landscapes, but maybe that was the beginning of looking for something more tangible, more secular. I forgot about it. They didn't mean anything, but you must have known I was sketching in my watercolor book. Let's not pretend I wasn't looking at the real world.

And then I saw The Pool. I see it in the distance every year, of course, but that time it was different. We were close. I can't explain. I mean, for 12 years, it was almost the first thing I saw every morning, so when I saw a bamboo tree growing out of it, it hit me: time really is going in one direction and everything is temporary. I thought I got it out of my system with one painting, but a year later, there were three more. Then the iPhone sketches. I kept meaning to get back to you. I promise. I didn't mean to turn my back. I didn't mean all those things I said about not finding you compelling anymore. That was the linseed oil talking. I stood by you when people called you "decorative." I defended your right to look good, even though we both couldn't stand design. Remember how we used to mock design? That was fun. Sure, some people thought we were just slinging paint, but we didn't care. We had a mission. I enjoyed our conversations. Remember how I always compared our sessions to a good game of chess? I would mention that photograph of Duchamp playing chess, and then I remembered that he stopped painting, so I didn't bring it up as often. I miss you Abstract Painting, but I respect your need to lay low while I see other styles for a bit, and explore some things you might consider too traditional. It's okay. I trust you'll come back when the time is right. In the meantime, feel free to help yourself to anything in the studio.