Thursday, July 31, 2014

Magical


Magical San Francisco. A follow up "biggie" to my original "San Francisco Love Letter" which S to the OLD, SOLD!!!!! (Thank you, ElizabethW store in Carmel.) Thinking about friends in San Francisco tonight, some are celebrating birthdays, some are recovering from surgery, some are sipping coffee at my old haunt and some are out walking their dog. As magical and mythical as San Francisco and area can be, it's also a cozy place I called home with all the normal things like dry cleaners and banks and used bookstores and coffee shops and cheap Thai food and mani/pedi joints. This piece is my salute to the goodness, the sink into the sofa with old friends feeling, the behind the scenes magic of wherever you live. There is magic everywhere. This one just happens to be a postcard headed towards Russian Hill. xo

"Magical San Francisco" 24x36",  available at ElizabethW, Carmel, CA 1.831.626.3892

Friday, July 25, 2014

Still Life with Pie


I like this painting. Now for those of you who know me or paint or both know those four words do not come so easily. There is almost always a "yeah, but…" And of course there is here too but overall, I feel good about this one because it's the first time I've done my version of a still life. I've done many solo objects, rooms with views, funny animals, etc…but this was purposely a collection of items, my funny items, that spoke to me and somehow wanted to be painted together.

I had just listened to the most recent Elizabeth Gilbert Ted Talk about "going home" to find your voice. She talks about comparing your past successes, failures, other "more successful" artists, writers or what I refer to as the looking behind you and in front of you syndrome. She reminds us to breathe into your own voice. And you'll know it when you're doing it. When you see it. When you pin it. When you read it. When you hear it. For me, it was skimming through some of my old journals/sketchbooks. There were hundreds of pages of semi-calligraphic doodles and hand lettering. Logos for products, woman's faces, coffee cups, banners, sailboats, anchors,  you name it, I have sketched  or doodled it. And how had I forgotten that?

Doesn't matter. I've remembered now. I had so much fun doodling right on the canvas, post painting, not worrying if it looked "good" or appropriate or fit in with the rest of it. It was like the canvas had become one of my old sketchbooks and best of all, it felt like coming home. xo

Thursday, July 24, 2014

No Autographs


What do you get when you mix over-sized red 70's sunglasses, a botanical garland headdress and some Free People-esque necklaces? Nicole Ritchie as a cat, of course. Or not, but this little soul has a personality that truly has little to do with me and everything to do with showing up and painting the character who wanted to come through. It happens like that sometimes. She is Gorgeous Girl, Miss Sunshine, Superstar and All That and a Bag of Chips. I think she's channeling all the confidence and fabulousness we need to tap into to remind ourselves, yup, perfect the way we are. xo

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

First Drafts: Part Deux, the Sequel



Final installment of my creative meltdown. Promise. Feedback is in, client is very happy, ergo, I am very happy. To be more precise, I am very happy that she is happy. I am not thrilled with the road I took to get there and I'm learning that not every painting, story, article, recipe turns out how you want. Trust in the process, right? Riiiiiight. Sounds good but whoever wrote that was not in the throes of writers' block or an 11th hour deadline. Pretty sure that person has already won a Pulitzer or is sitting in their Manhattan loft painting with their celebrity art friends. Cuz it sure ain't me.

But the good news is this: the feelings of panic are gone. I did my best. I showed up. I delivered. And now that I have a few days to reflect, I was really hard on myself. Harder than the client would have been. And now I'm on the other side, witnessing this part of the creative arc.

I ran the San Francisco Half Marathon a few years ago. The running part pretty much sucked. The idea was fabulous, the energy was amazing, going across the Golden Gate Bridge (both ways) was torturous and freezing cold and longer than you could ever imagine. But I did it. I finished the race walk-running but finished it on the slow side of respectable. When I was done, as tough and exhilarating and exhausting as it was, there was a "now what" feeling when it was over. I found myself conveniently forgetting the length of the bridge, the iciness  of the wind, the ache of the muscles. I even caught myself thinking, huh, maybe I'll enter next year and train harder. So here I go. I'm thinking, huh, that wasn't so bad. My creative muscles ache in a good way! If I can do this, what else can I do? So it goes. Here I am, breathing a little easier today, just riding the real life pendulum of art making in all it's real life beauty and messiness. xo

Monday, July 7, 2014

First Drafts


What does a grey royal typewriter painting have to do with my recent creative meltdown? Everything and nothing. The everything in that I have had a project due (see previous post) that challenged me in ways I've never been pushed. It questioned my ability to show up and complete something when the going got tough and the painting got ugly. It made me question my "voice", my aesthetic , other people's vision v. my vision, all that good insecure stuff we prefer not to air in public. But it got hold of me. And this is where the writing, the typewriter comes in. These past few days of deadline looming angst, I've been leaning in a little more to my writing. I figure if one muse was on vacation from the easel, then please lord let her have coverage at the keyboard. Guess what? It doesn't work that way! Or maybe it does, and I've been wound so tight that I'm not able to sit with the discomfort of things not artistically clicking.

Back to the typewriter. I posted this because it reminds me of my other love, writing. It reminds me that it's perfectly imperfect lines and shapes tell exactly the story they need to. My story. It brings me back to my roots, the things I love to paint, the quirky message I have to share. When you work on a piece for someone else, their vision, something happens that is both beautiful and confusing. Beautiful in that I am bringing someone's vision to life for them. Good! Confusing in that it's inevitable you start comparing artists, googling too many ideas, painting for someone else in hopes they will like it (kiss of death!) Bad!

I've learned a few things with this project. Insecurity is false. It's a big hairy monster in your brain only like the wizard of oz standing on a box. Insecurity is helpful. It can push you to start again, go in a new direction if you're not satisfied, go the long haul, stay up late. Get those details right until it has that magic. Drink that extra pot of coffee. Most important of all for me? Finishing. Yup. Boring little details of the creative life, but finishing is probably the most underrated, critical piece of it all. This was due on x date. I finished it and sent it on x date. If you are reading this and have ever started a short story, sketched a doodle, knitted one sleeve of a sweater, bought all the supplies to…(insert any DIY craft in the universe), you will know that completion is a Big Deal. I don't need extra credit for this, it's the way it should be, it's a profession and deadlines need to be met. But for some reason, when deadlines are matched with art, there is a vague watery finish line. Like, pretty sure I can finish by x. If it's not raining/sunny/hailing/cloudy/rainbowing. So, project is in, feedback is not, it's possible I'll be repainting, revising, revisiting but I showed up and stayed up. I remember reading somewhere about writing and showing up…"you can't edit air"….meaning, write your shitty first draft (Annie Lamott), but write it because you can't edit the blank page. Or canvas. Still writing. Still painting. xo

Friday, July 4, 2014

Beach Cottage


I am not here. At this beach cottage. And not gonna lie, a little grumpy about that today. Which leads me to today's thing I need to get off my chest. Thank you in advance for letting me vent about the mud in the muddling and the messy middle and the ugly art and the staying home all day on a holiday to complete a project on deadline and how you blow it and it just doesn't work and your rails are so off the track your head might explode so you walk away, take a break, do all those things rational people recommend, come back to it, and you derail even further, maybe so far that that it's a full blown train wreck and there is no hope in salvaging all of your work. That you've sacrificed the entire day for! Remember that part? (See date above: 4th of July. Boo hoo me.) Lordy lordy, it's one of Those Days and the calendar, the smell of bbq and the cheerful neighbor noises are reminding me that I should be outside enjoying said festivities. But no. I am in the vice grip of doubt ick why bother can't see straight I'll never paint again-iris. It's a somewhat melodramatic place to be but once I'm in it, I need to stay there for a while and really wallow. It will pass. It BETTER PASS!!!! Oh god, please let it pass.

So while I wanted to wax poetic about the charm of visiting an adorable aqua beach cottage weathered by the sea and sun, festooned with buoys, I am leaning into my other creative outlet, writing and while I might have given up on the brush tonight, I will write, post, get a few things down. I am working on a commission and for whatever reason, it's creative lego pieces did not click today. It was like doing a jigsaw puzzle starting from the outside on a curve rather than a straight line. No matter what I did, it felt forced. I rarely write about this stage of creativity while I'm in it because frankly, it's uncomfortable and when you're in it, you're not really 100% sure you'll ever not be in it. It feels real and forever. Like PMS. I decided I wanted to write this down because it's easy to give up at this stage. Who am i kidding? I'm totally giving up for the day! But I will go back tomorrow. That's the difference for me now. I don't all the way give up, revisit my art a month or year later. I recognize that it's part of the arc of creating something: the exhilaration, enthusiasm, disinterest, frustration, satisfaction, elation. Elation might be too strong of a word for me personally but contentment? I can be content when something feels done.

So today I visit my Beach Cottage, I piece I enjoyed painting very much, that brought me great happiness and I will focus on that. Happy 4th of July to you, to me and to the freedom of what that beach cottage represents, literal and figurative. Here's to happy creating. Tomorrow. xo

"Beach Cottage", 16x20" available at Capers (4525 California Ave SW, Seattle, WA 206.932.0371)

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Oak Bay High School


Truth. I have not posted this piece here on my blog yet because every time I look at it or think about what it taught me, the process, the story behind it, I get so emotional and start that cry that begins in your throat, leaks out your eyes, and threatens to unravel me. I quickly change gears and post a different piece. But the tears are happy tears so why not.

This is my high school.  I'll skip the historical and storeyed past of it but suffice it to say, it is an institution  in Victoria, BC. It is also unique in that you attend grade 8-12 there so I spent 5 years in this school. As any high school experience goes, some good years, some not as good. (There was the Miss Beasley perm situation in the mid-80's I'm still recovering from.)

But overall, these were halcyon days. It was an innocent time, a sweet time. I marvel that even as a teenager, or I should probably say, of course, as a teenager, I wanted to be a writer, an artist, a magazine editor, a book publisher, a fashion designer, an anything at all in the arts. (University carefully, seriously, removed all those dreams via Chaucer, political science, and french literature in the 19th century. In french.) Back to Oak Bay High School. I loved it and still do. It is a landmark in my hometown. Which brings me to this painting. When I graduated, my parents (also alum!) gave me a beautiful framed drawing of the school with a small brass plaque on the bottom that said "These are the halcyon days of youth."

Enter Kleenex box. Many years have passed. Maybe more than I'd like to admit. Enough years that my high school friend has a daughter that graduated this year from this very high school. Gulp. And out of the blue, she asked me if she could commission me to paint the high school for her daughter with a special quote as a graduation gift. It would be my honor. I realized then that painting has brought me full circle to my roots, connected old friends, and revived cherished memories that are now shaping me as an artist. I think about the quote my friend wanted for the painting, lyrics for "Send Me On My Way" by Rusted Roots and it fills me with joy. I painted this for her daughter, to joyfully send her on her way, her new journey, just as my parents did for me. xo

I would like to reach out my hands
I may see you, I may tell you to run
(On my way)
(On my way)
You know what they say about the young
Well, pick me up with golden hand
I may see you, I may tell you to run
(On my way)
(On my way)
You know what they say about the young
I would like to hold my little hand
How we will run we will, how we will crawl we will?
I would like to hold my little hand
How we will run we will, how we will crawl?
Send me on my way

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Happy Canada Day!


It is Canada Day. (For those Americans reading this, saying, huh, there's a Canada Day? Yup, there is. And it's just like Independence Day, except July 1st. Go figure. But we're only 147 today. Just a kid.)

I've posted this monogram painting before, the letter C for Canada, but it bears repeating because I really really unabashedly love the country where I was born and raised. It has been many years, gulp, almost 20, that I have lived in Canada, but it's still home. My parents, my family, my roots are there. My ocean. My beach. My crumpets and scones and polite people and those polite people saying soooory,  instead of sari, when you bump into them. It's a good place to be from. Honestly, I don't know why I don't live there now other than I really love where I live now. Canada, specifically Vancouver Island, always calls. And today it feels warm and fuzzy and happy to scroll through the Facebook feed of all my red and white clad friends and family doing silly things on boats and backyards and bbqs. Just like we, here, will do in a few days.

So Happy Canada Day. I honor where I'm from, love where I am. And revere all things Hudson Bay blanket. Out. (Oot.) xo