Monday, November 17, 2008

All kinds of great stuff...

It's Monday morning, the wind is blowing the leaves around the backyard. I'm still but scurrying in that electronic kind of way... updating the website, putting together a promo email, contacting newspapers, all in prep for my show at the Daily Planet in 2 weeks. This autumn has whirled by, like the leaves in some ways. A few months ago I had a pile of plain wood, now I have 9 new paintings that truly have a life of their own. Paint + brush + me. That's all. Amazing how simple it is.

Lately I've really begun to appreciate that simplicity, and how, when I let the materials direct me, I can create pieces that are true to my self. There's such a meditative quality to making art, even with it's frustrations and challenges. I've been working hard on finding my voice, listening to that little thing that says, "Make me a skkkkkyscraper, please!" or, "Oh Jodi stop painting right now or you're gonna screw this one up!" It's funny, and actually sounds quite insane, but it's what I have to listen to in order to make pieces that are honest.

Other great stuff... I have an upcoming residency with the Kasini House Gallery in Burlington. I'm doing a series of votive paintings that show messages of gratitude from residents of Burlington's Old North End. More info on me other blog: Thankful That...

So right now I need to finish updating my site, have some tea, pack my bag, and head over to the studio. I have a few more pieces that will, hopefully, be ready for the Planet. More cities, more water, more sky. Simple as that.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

It's been quite awhile since I put anything up here. Mostly because I realized, through the use of Google Analytics, that no one actually reads this! Not that that should deter me, of course, but it has put this at the bottom of my list of things to do these days.

Artistically, I've been happily busy. New studio is up and in business, but my-oh-my I have quite a problem... it stinks, literally. The old kerosene heater in it spews a nasty kerosene mist around. Peww! Otherwise, it's perfect! It's big, bright, big, and private. And it's across the street from Viva Espresso, which adds much value to the whole deal! So I've been going to work there on a regular basis, and have created some new stuff that I think is pretty cool.

Life in general is quite lovely. I'm happy to watch the season change. I love filling my little cart at the co-op with squash, onions and sweet potatoes. We roasted some in the woodfired oven yesterday --- it was such a delight. I love how life slows down, and how snug we all get.

So, today, I'll enjoy the late afternoon sunshine with a cup of tea with my friend Nance, who is on the way over. We'll listen to Amos Lee and other smoothies. Wait for the cacophony of kids to come back from the playground (we're hosting 5 boys this afternoon for a Nerf gun 'battle'). Later, off to a friend's house with Phil to watch the returns, and hopefully pop some champagne. Then downtown to celebrate with the Progs at Sweetwaters, then honky-tonk with Brett at Radio Bean.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

New York City Scapes and Big City Skylines

I spent a good part of yesterday in the studio. It feels great to have the space to stretch out and create without a single distraction. I don't use a cell phone, and I certainly don't take the computer along (I wouldn't have a connection anyway), so it's quite raw and basic when I'm there. So far, it's the perfect recipe for creativity and freedom.

I worked my way into this next period of creativity with the vision of doing a series of paintings about Vermont, but curiously, what is coming out are abstract cityscapes, mostly nighttime skylines reflected in water. What makes me feel absolutely wonderful is the fact that I no idea where these images are coming from, so that helps me to believe that I am successful in my quest to be completely free in my creativity, in my moment, and without too much thought of the future. When I'm painting and experience those moments of free flowing creativity, without my inner critic analyzing the piece, I have a sense of connectedness that soothes my little soul.

Phil and I spent a good hour or so this morning discussing just that. Being connected. Believing. Believing in something...anything! I definitely struggle with it all, and at times delve too far into the literal or even the literary side of it (just look at my library list of books borrowed!) Our conversation left me with the realization (again, this isn't new...I just need a reminder now and then) that yes, there is something. It's not in my best interest to try to define it right now. But in order to bring more comfort into my life, which is the result of this connectedness, I need to pay attention to the moments that make me feel in touch with that little bit of positive magic, which I understand to be "It."

So today I'm going to putter around the house, listen for little messages, welcome the messenger, stay relaxed in my day and spontaneous with my intentions. It's all I can do... all any of us can do!

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Great Impression

It's Monday afternoon, and life is really quite good.

I think the big old financial crisis is hitting people in a way that is a bit unexpected, me included. In the past week, I've flopped from panic (i.e., oh my's all crashing... should we get chickens? a gun?!) to absolute peace with it all, actually welcoming whatever shakedown comes from it. I hear more and more people talking about their grandparents, their experiences with the depression and how people had a camaraderie that is all too absent today. Not a bad thing, I think, to bring back to the masses. Time to put away the credit cards, time to stop believing that a $170 pair of jeans will make your life better. Time to make soup with lots of potatoes, time to make art with what's in the house! I've already worked on setting up a holiday gift-making party with the Sugars, where we'll kick out a bunch of homemade gifts together, working with what we have on hand (journals from old aprons, of course!)

Speaking was quite a big day for me 'cause I moved into my new studio. It's a funky old garage in Burlington's Old North End, right across the street from Viva Espresso and the Panadero Bakery. Perfect! It has a nasty kerosene smell, no running water, and no bathroom, but it's allllll mine! Big windows that look out into backyards, and lots and lots of space. I scraped paint off the windows this morning (apparently it was an old guy's 'workshop' -- who knows what Pop Pop was doing out there -- blacked out windows??!!), swept up, put on a borderline obnoxious (not to me but potentially to others) mix CD, and got to work. It felt great to get a new start in a space that will allow me to be messy and creative and loud.

The paintings that are 'appearing' lately have a sense of a city landscape -- mostly nighttime, big city skylines reflected in water. I had started a series based on VT landscapes, but this other stuff keeps coming through. It's interesting, and I'm curious to see where it goes......

2:00...the nap is calling. Time to let some more braincells grow, to replace the ones that died this morning in the studio.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Night Dream

It's Monday morning, and we just had a wonderful whirlwind weekend with the Merricks. Grandma Helen, of course, and Greta & Brandon from Boston, Tim & Janet up from NYC, and Rick and his crew from NH. Big dinner on Sat. night with flatbread from the backyard oven. It was so nice to have everyone here and to work a little more toward blending the families.

I'm listening to Kurt Elling, who drives me nuts in all the right ways. It's been awhile since I've put on one of his albums (do we still call them that?) and listened to it start to end, because I use the computer or iPod now and almost always mix it up. He's just crazy... lyricizing (spell check tells me that's not a real word and it want to turn it into this: criticizinglies, which is quite interesting in itself..) instrumental works. Singing Coltane and Shorter, note for note, dead on. Simply put, he makes my brain feel really good. Mmmmm. My synapses spark.

His lyrics are usually quite fabulous too, 'cause he was a student of theology and in general he's a smart dude:

Take a spark of it - deep within you - put it to the test - it will do the rest -
I confess - It will be like
climbing up Mount Everest - I can't express the view from there - but it's

for you to follow through.

So he's my little spark for the day... my supplier of affirmation. As I push forward in the personal and professional aspects of my life --- all new, all challenging, all putting me to the test, daily, I try so hard to remember that all I have to be is myself, simply me, and the rest will follow.

So here's a bit of me, in the form of art. I love abstract. I love folk art. I have 2 separate artistic selves, and they met each other.... Like everything I do, you need to look at it from far away, and then up close to see what's really there.... So lookie here:

Now come a little closer...

Now just a little more.... (put your glasses on!)
It's actually brighter than this...and I'm pushing to get a start on the Alice in Wonderland playbill... so no brightness tweaking right now..

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

So Philly's momma is cleaning my kitchen, and has been for an hour (God bless her!). Liv's happily doing her pre-teen thing, whatever that may be, Caleb's snoozing, and Phil's raising Cain at a local school meeting.

I put the finishing touches on my new painting, now its framed and ready to go.
(this is it, but before I framed it, and before I cut a few inches off the bottom...)

Ready for a name, too. This is a first in a series of very abstract images of Vermont. They really have to been seen in person, because there's almost a bit of a "where's waldo" type hidden image thing going on. This one is of Church Street --- honest! It's of the top block, the UU Church, the clock, the fountains, people, umbrellas, the whole works. Then, after the basics were put on, the predictable image.... I went to town and redefined it how I see it, and spoke to it with my feelings. They're all good and sweet and wonderful. This painting is a reflection of how this part of my city is important to me --- it's about the swirl, the light, the wind, the cold wind, the hot sun, the people --- seeing old friends, seeing people you just kind of know... it's about the Old North End kids splashing in the fountain, the color of the buildings against the cool blue autumn sky. It's about the pulse of life on a hot summer day, or the stillness in January, late on a snowy night. That's what I see, and feel.

So, having cleaned my house somewhat thoroughly over the past few days in preparation for Helen's visit (ha ha --- that's a very funny testament to my housecleaning priorities... considering that she's, at this moment, scrubbing my stovetop!), I don't have much to do at this moment.

When all else fails, blog.

What's going on inside my head today, right now, and probably tomorrow too:
  • I am sleepy.
  • I think I have reached the point where I can exhale about the Art of Action application and get through the next 48 hours without wondering if I might have a chance...
  • I am so very thankful that I finally found a studio.
  • I would like some new black shoes.
  • I'm not sure if I'm going to watch the debate tomorrow night. I cringed so much at the Katie Couric interviews.... I don't want to feel that icky again anytime soon.
  • I sure do love that Doe's Leap Goat Maple Kefir. I wake up thinking about it.
  • I'm ecstatic that Helen is getting a really big kick out of cleaning my house (she just came in with a big smile, letting me know how ecstatic she is!)
  • There is absolutely nothing I need to do right now, except be myself.
So on that lovely note, I'm going to go smile at Helen and sit in the kitchen while she continues to scrub my stove, I'll be myself, she'll be hers, we'll share some ecstasy, and call it a day.

Tweenaldee and Tweenaldum

Close to the end of a long and sweet day. Phil's momma flew in late last night, and we stayed up getting her settled in. Got up early of course, with the kiddos to get them out the door.

I'm working with a great group of kids at the Edmunds Middle School, helping them make the set and props for their production of Alice in Wonderland. It's been years since I've worked with kids this age, and wasn't sure at first at how well it could go. Today was our second meeting, and I was so impressed with the work they did, and how smart and fun they all were. We're working on a series of doors for Alice to choose from, and they created these funky, wild, bold doors that look just magical. Over the next few weeks we'll make tea cups and a hooka, a "Drink Me" bottle and a mushroom... time to roll up our sleeves, pull out the plaster of paris, and have some fun. I'm so glad I signed up for this one. It's a wonderful way to be creative and spread some art-joy with others.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Yaz, The Daily Planet, and a Cleaner Home

I'm cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, in prep for Phil's mom's visit, which starts tonight. She's flying in from San Diego. She's an original hot ticket. 83, living single, retired psychologist, mother of 5 boys. Lived in Africa (with her husband and 5 boys!), and all over the U.S. She's super smart, a straight-shooter, and absolutely beautiful inside and out. The least I can do for her is remove the 5 pounds of dust and spider webs from the room she'll sleep in for the next 2 weeks.

While I'm doing it, I'm listening to Yaz, Upstairs at Eric's. This was the first CD I ever bought, back in, what? 1988? 87? I was living in an apartment in Reading, PA, a big flat with tall ceilings, hardwood floors, views of the city... $275 a month, a little less than what I made per week as a waitress. Times have changed, eh? But hey, I had a CD player that I probably paid way too much money for, but it was so frikkin' cool. I remember having co-workers over for some classic late 1980's late evening refreshments... and putting on this CD, telling everyone to shut the hell up, and sitting there with them just blown away by the sound. I haven't listened to this since the CD was stolen from my George St. apartment here in Burlington back in '92, so it's fun to do a little time-travel, especially today with all of the unsettledness that's going on around me.

I have a few upcoming shows:
November 24 - December 8th: Starbucks in Williston
December 1 - January 1: Daily Planet (main dining room)
Opening: Sunday, December 7th, 3:30-4:30pm

Starbucks will be a few pieces that were in the Art Hop, and the Planet show will feature new works.

In the meantime.... sing along....
Dragons, the policman knew,
were supposed to breathe, to breath fire, fire, to breathe fire
and occasionally get themseleves, get themseleves
slaughtered, slaughtered, slaughtered

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sunny Day

I love this time of year --- how you can smell the sweetness of the leaves as they start to fall and break down, the coolness of the air that comes down from Canada, the sound of the geese as they honk goodbye.

Yesterday was my 41st birthday.

Yesterday I fished a Lego man out of the toilet with my hands. Finished 2 paintings. Explained the economy, the Iraq invasion, Afghanistan, and the disparity of wealth to my kids again. I ate 2 cheeseburgers with jalapenos, fries, a pink lemonade, and a dish of Lake Champlain Chocolates chocolate hazelnut ice cream. I didn't clean my house (again). I took a big nap. I ached from a 9 mile bike ride from the day before. Looked to the 72 names for answers. Found one in Annie Lamott. Made my family laugh hysterically by doing a cheer I used to do when I was a cheerleader (yes.) in 4th grade. Was amazed that it's still done (here!)

Right now, I have an adorable 9 year old here in his boxers, eating toast, all sleepy headed, telling me a story about the Lego turtle and the Lego robot. Nothing is more important than that, nothing at all!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I forget why I was supposed to hate Starbucks.

I had a very nice outing with my old friend Barb the other night. We went to Ken's on Church St., which has become my new favorite bar, where we drank 2 pomegranate cosmos each and ate Caesar salads with anchovies. mmmm. We hadn't seen each other in awhile, so we caught up on each other's lives and, in the great spirit of friendship, left having lifted each other up just enough to be able to start a new week with new perspectives and a little more wind beneath our tired old wings.

Barb encouraged me to do more of my cartoonie - social - political art (still haven't figured out what to call it.) Her timing was great, because in the past week I've felt my eggshell facade of emotions crumbling as I've tried to work on abstract paintings here in the house. It's been a personal disaster, because the abstract work is simply so frikkin' hard hard hard to do --- I often give Phil the analogy of trying to write poetry at the dinner table. Or on a school bus. My abstract work is very personal and trying, and for the life of me I just can't do it while the rest of the family is here buzzing about. So, back to Barb, yes, I can sit at the dinner table with Caleb by my side yapping away about Lego men and I can sit there and draw personal funny pictures --- my little commentaries on my life and the world. So, taking her inspiration, I did one for her on a greeting card:

In the meantime, I'm still working on a series of abstracts, just not at a pace that I thought I'd have. I'm looking long and hard for studio space, and am sure the right thing will come up.
In the meantime, I'm going to bend like the willow and make art that I can make here in the swirling pile of love that is my household.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Equinox

Achhh... I just don't have much to say today. That's how it goes. The season changes, I do too.

I just spent some time updating my website to include paintings that I haven't put out in shows. I really love them a lot, and really need to do more of them. They're my diary, a window into my little heart and soul.

I also do a sketch diary that's quite fun too. One of my goals for the next few weeks will be to scan them in and put them up.

But today I'm going to make some carrot soup, eat it, and let the September sun shine on my face.
That's how it goes....

Friday, September 19, 2008

I'm getting ready to sit down and watch the rest of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with the kids. It's such a screwed up movie, but I love it dearly. Clearly a work of art --- god, how do you start with a blank canvas and put out something so incredibly bizarre, yet timelessly marketable like this film? I guess that's the big question these days, one I sometimes grapple with as an artist.

There are a lot of different reasons to make art, and my intentions are mixed. One, to communicate with the people in my city and state. When I first sold paintings earlier this year, I posted online on etsy. It's a cool site, and a great way for artists and craftspeople to get the word out and sell pieces, but it takes a lot of dedication to keep your store up and your items relisted. I quickly realized that I didn't want to spend so much of my time behind the screen -- there's enough of that with email, blogging, facebook, etc --- I wanted to literally knock on doors, meet gallery owners, talk to my customers, even if it meant a possible reduction, overall, in the number of people who see my art. It's so important to me to share the physical experience of my art with people, and to have them enjoy the pieces up close, appreciating the layers and textures. I want to be there when someone says they love it, or even when they say, "ehhh. I don't get it!"

I also want to sell art. I want to get it out there, all over the city, in coffee shops and bakeries and banks and libraries. It won't sell if it's sitting in my dining room, I often think. So I'm knocking on those doors, meeting great people in the process, and setting up shows for the coming months.

So back to Chitty. I think what makes this film watchable, despite it's quirkiness, is the fact that every scene, every song, every expression, is full of detail and intention and energy. Look at the costumes, the sets, listen Dick VanDyke -- look at his face. There weren't any short cuts taken, and every scene delivered with confidence. I think that's a huge part of what makes art art, and where I feel I am, or am going, as an artist.

When I work on something, I am in it, about it, and often obsessive about the detail and outcome. I don't hang it unless I love it and can stand in front of it and confidently tell the story of its inception. It's a great motivator and grounder for me -- to remember, as I'm making art, the whack jobs, god bless them, who put together this film, to know that at one point, someone had the confidence to say, "Hey, I'm going to make this movie about these kids and this car and there will be this scene that hints of S&M and another one with this child napper and it will be a musical!!..." What balls! I love it. So yeah, I'm going to do just that. Make my art, love it, and hang it.

Monday, September 15, 2008

say the word... susstudio

Ahhh a bit of unwinding over the past few days. A weekend with my sugars in Hancock, VT, now back home and in search of a studio space. It was fun to paint on the back porch all summer, but the chill is coming in from the north, so it's time to find a new nest. One avenue of thought has been to find a large space and sublet the rest. Another is to settle into an existing space and get to know some other artists. That sounds best to me at this point.

It's Monday night, the kiddos are reading quietly, Phil's catching up with Molly. It's dark outside, we're shopping for a wood stove, and I think today may have been the last day for flip-flops.

I started a new series of paintings that will be my view of Vermont. My Church St., Camel's Hump, Lake Champlain. I think I have a viewpoint that's quite unique. Hopefully it will all translate well. The pieces are larger than others that I've done, but still on wood. Lots of color, layers, black on top, scratched and burnt off to reveal the colors. Playful, screwy, not even very understandable.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

New Seasons

Phil and the kids are snuggled on the sofa, reading Winnie the Pooh. Not a single one of us thought that the old book, which belonged to Phil's aunt (now in her 80's), would be of interest to any of us. Thought it was for little kids. Funny, it's been the highlight of the reading hour this week. It's great to look over, see Liv's head on Phil's shoulder, Caleb squealing in delight at the silliness of the stories, adoring the simple bumbling characters. Phil pointed out how sweet it is to read stories of friendship, and how it seems those stories aren't as popular these days.

I don't have anything new to say about art today. I spent my day cleaning my car so we can sell it, and printing pictures of family so I can update the mantle. I had a touching conversation with a dear friend who is going through immeasurable challenges, with such admirable strength. I wore a sweater and could have used a jacket on top of it. I joined 2 more networking sites, LinkedIn and Upworld, at the suggestion of the folks at the VT Arts Council, where I applied to be an artist in a great project called the Art of Action ( It was a hodge-podge of a day, and it's quickly come to a close. Time to close the cover of the laptop, squeeze onto the sofa with the crew, and laugh along....

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

the self-taught artist.

For the first time in my life my lack of a formal education is somehow impressive.

Quite mind blowing for me right now.

My story has always been one that I have been somewhat ashamed to tell in certain circles, especially when work or career is involved. I grew up in an uneducated, low income family. I dropped out of college. I couldn't afford it. I was completely on my own and just couldn't front it. I also had a ridiculously wonderful job at the time which is a great story of it's own. Since it's a cold rainy day, I'll tell it that one first.

I moved to VT in 1991 on a big whim. I had been waitressing in PA, where I grew up, sometimes taking classes at the community college, but basically making a ton (a TON) of cash and having a lot of fun. In VT, I went to Trinity College, where I majored in Elementary Education. I thought that I wanted to be a teacher, but eventually realized that I just wanted summers off, but stayed in it anyway. While going to school, I waitressed at Carbur's, but needed and wanted something else. I was a typical Burlington chick circa 1992 -- groovin' to Blues Traveler, riding my mountain bike, living for those wings at the restaurant that is now Bueno Y Santo... jeez what was the name of that place... anyway, add to that brewing my own beer. Cooking up coffee porter on the stove, fermenting in big glass carboys. It was a grand old age. So, I needed a job, saw one in the paper, "Part time sales rep needed for Vermont Specialty Foods Company." I thought, cheese. Maybe syrup? I sent my app, and got a call one day from Phil Gentile. I remember him telling me he was calling from Catamount, and I felt like Ed McMahon was knocking at my door with the big ass check. "OH MY GOD I LOVE BEER I BREW MY OWN BEER I LOVE CATAMOUNT!!" Got the job, sold beer in Burlington part time at a time when the only brown beer on tap was Harp.

So in time it was clear that I could work statewide, selling hooch, giving out free tshirts at ski lodges. I was making a ton of money because they brilliantly decided to offer me a full-time 100% commission position, at $5 for every keg and $.50 for every case sold in the state. Yeehaw! I weighed it out, dropped out of school, and the rest became my life, my story, and at times, my bane.

Despite the great experience that I got at Catamount and the trajectory it put me on for the years following, I wore a badge that I hated. I didn't have a college degree. I wouldn't come up often, but when it did I could actually feel the shame cooking in my cells as the conversation at the dinner party eventually worked it's way toward, "So when did you graduate?" "What's your degree in?" I doubt that there was much judgment swirling behind it or after it, really, but in my little soul I cringed and collapsed in a squirming heap, like the wicked witch in Wizard of Oz when I had to give my answer, "I didn't." "I don't have a degree." Their response that would follow would always be something like this: "oh." What else can you say?

The lack of a degree hurt at times during the job search, of course, but for the most part I was able to learn everything I needed by myself or through well-thought positioning over the years. If I didn't know how to do something well, I'd do it for free for someone until I got better at it. I got my hands on a bootleg copy of Illustrator and basically 'figured it out.' In order to get freelance graphic design clients, I donated services to non-profits and social causes in order to build my resume'. It all fell into place. Still, the shame, oh lordy, the shame of not having a degreeeeee!

Friday night, Art Hop. The question came up again and again, "So where did you study?" "Where did you go to art school?" And the answer.... "I didn't. I'm self-taught." And for the very first time in my life, people were actually impressed with my lack of education. Interesting! (and wonderful, I may add). What a shift in my life. I'm still scratching my head a bit. It's funny how, when I was receiving a national award for my work with people with disabilities, the fact that I could do so much without a formal education wasn't impressive. I could organize, implement, and deliver stunning services, but couldn't shout, "And I'm self-taught!" (( silence from the audience)). But hey, no complaints here at all, not a single single one. This is lovely. For the first time in my life, I feel that I can tell my story, where I'm from (very coal-miner's daughter, I tell ya), and know that it's ok, I'm here, I have my place, and I finally fit in. I'm and artist. I'm self-taught.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Post Art Hop Sunday Morning with Coffee and Garrison

It was a wonderful weekend with tons of activity and lots of new inspiration coming out of the annual Art Hop. I spent a few hours in the halls of the Maltex Building with my paintings, and was so happy to see so many friends come out.

It felt good to see all of the work hanging, and to talk with people about my process. If I learned one thing, its that my frustrations are a big part of the work I create. Its not angst or a frustration that comes out of past experiences, it's a soft struggle with my impatience for the finished piece to emerge. As I told stories of my process with people I met that night at the Art Hop, I found myself smiling a lot, laughing at all of the different paintings that were under the final works. Amused by my struggles, and by this past summer filled with the family groaning about me covering up paintings that they thought were great. So my challenge, I think, will be to somehow remain....frustrated! And to understand that this uncomfortable feeling that comes from not being sure is part of the beauty of art.

One of my favorite quotes:
Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.
-Agnes DeMille

So today, I'm going to drink another cup of coffee, finish listening to Garrison Keillor's show from VT, attack the crossword, and make some sourdough bread with Phil. Tomorrow... time to tap into some new, lovely stories tell with paint and wax.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Art Hop! Art Gop!

It's a sunny Friday morning. I'm eating some homemade granola with tons of almonds in it, reading up on business topics at The Art Hop starts tonight, so I have a few things to wrangle up to take along to my showing. Got a peek at the juried show yesterday --- there's a lot of great stuff, a lot of mediocre stuff too. But it's so cool to see so many people creating and putting it out there.

It's been a fun week, kinda crazy too. Political confusion abounds --- I'm dumbfounded by what's happening with the GOP party, but even more with what so many Americans are believing. I can't say that I believe that we'll all suffer immeasurably if McCain gets into office (although I believe that Obama will put us on a fantastic track -- no doubts there), but I do think that the majority of Americans have been absolutely brainwashed by the GOP/FoxNews/Gannett, et. al. Seeing the arrests at the RNC, and hearing first hand someone actually say that they won't vote for Barack because "he doesn't wear a flag pin" is so frightening. What the hell? I'm all for discourse. Just give me a better reason than that. That's what's so frightening to me. People are voting (or not!) because of a piece of jewelry, a name, a distant relative's religion....

I've been 'on vacation' in a sense, for the past few weeks. The Art Hop pieces have a life of their own and have left the nest, so to speak. I'm taking a short break from painting so that the next body of work will be something else, something that goes along with this new season. I love autumn, putting on sweaters and jeans and my Frye boots. Waking up at 3am, scrambling for a blanket. Feeling Caleb's smooth, cool bare back when I give him a 'good morning' hug. I think that the seasonal change will reflect itself it what comes next, artistically.

But hey, back to work. Time to make a business plan and pick some places to show this winter. Time to think about the next paintings (they'll be big, that's the first thing I know). Time to think about a place to paint (know of an empty garage / barn in Burlington for rent on the cheap?).

Saturday, August 30, 2008

rainy saturday, or "out of it".

Ahhhh... waking up to fresh coffee and a slow rain, and a day without a to-do list. Heaven!

I dropped my art off at the Maltex building yesterday for the Art Hop, and I'm taking in the exhalation that has surprisingly come with it all. I didn't realize how hard I had worked on all of this over the past few months, and now that it's behind me I can appreciate how much was put into it all. I think that makes sense! Sometimes you just don't realize how far you were into it until you're actually out of it. Not that I'm no longer into it. I'm just not in it. Today, at least!

I had a blast with Liv the other night goofing around with the camera. She's such a beautiful and funny hambone. I love those moments when it's just the two of us, being goofy and free. We recreated the mini-article that Vanity Fair does with famous actors portraying all-too-human 'characters.'

Here she is, a mom at a soccer game, in the cold rain, showing her support for the team:

And as the 4 year old on Christmas morning, seeing her new Barbie Dreamhouse under the tree:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

new ride

So the kids are back in school and it feels like a brand new life for me (again.) Even though I've been away from a "real job" since the end of April, I haven't had much of an opportunity to get a good feel for the type of freedom that comes without that day-to-day commitment. There's a big pile of oysters at my feet and I just need to bend my tired old back over enough to pick one up, crack it open, and slurp it down.

For now, the first oyster is in the shape of art. I'm chugging along, and am just about ready for the Art Hop. A few minor details to go, but all in all, I'm satisfied with the work I'll have on exhibit. There's a consistent look that's coming out, so I'm quite happy with that. I still want to take some of the pieces and sand them down and repaint and sand some more, but I have to let them go and have lives of their own now.

Next, clean the Intervale off a big pile of summer squash, onions, beets, zucchini and potatoes and roast them in the oven. Eat them up. Take a nap. Have some carrot sticks cut up for when the kids get home.

Today... eh, I'll take the nap first. Time to quiet the mind a bit, and work on being right here. On my couch, in sunny Burlington, with a dining room full of paintings that people might love, or like, or not. I just don't know. No more figuring it out, today. No more guessing. Today, I'm going to close my eyes, drift off, and prepare for the next ride.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Home again, diddly dee

Back to Burlington, VT after a wonderful road / air trip to PA and OR! So much fun with sibs Michael, Karen, Sue; family Danyelle and Julianna, then Phil's daughter Kate and her love Tony. It was a long trip that never felt long, with people I love with all my heart.

Creatively, I got a few paintings started while in Oregon. I didn't think that any inspiration was coming my way, but after I lined them up I realized that the bounty of fresh free fruit found its way onto the paintbrush! Brighter colors and shapes that drip of sweetness cover the canvas boards. They're not quite finished, and who knows what will happen to them, but I'm glad that I had the time and the space to get a head start on them.

I got to spend a few hours on some other pieces here at home today outside on the back porch. In a sweater and corduroys! The air is so cool and refreshing, but a bit challenging in a way because the crispness in Vermont in late August arrives with an unforgiving bang that reminds us that yes, summer is over. Quick! Hit the beach one more time... Crap! I didn't climb Camel's Hump afterall.... Damn, was that actually a tan that I almost had?

But overall, I'm happy for the change in seasons. My body has a memory of the slower pace of the fall and winter, and I'm in need of an empty house for awhile. I look forward to getting the kids off to school, exercising my body and/or my mind, then painting alone for a few hours. It seems like the pieces that I've created in the past few months haven't found a common thread, and that's mostly because I've been trying to paint in the swirl of a busy and happy summertime family household. Like writing poetry at the dining room table at Grandma's on Thanksgiving. Kinda hard to get into the groove. Kinda hard to find that place....

So, today I look at my living room absent one chair (found in a dumpster, then sold online $$!), 6+ paintings lined up where the chair once stood, paintings ready to go on exhibit and hopefully off to another home somewhere. A guitar on the sofa, 2 weeks' worth of unread Sunday NY Times, a few suitcases and a few containers of camping equipment, and I think, "Ahhhh, it can wait until tomorrow." Right now, I'm going to put on a sweater, go out to the front porch, and sit with my husband as the sun goes down over Lake Champlain. I'll chat with a neighbor and talk about the last flowers in the garden, plans for the fall, and the quickness of the passing of another season. Tomorrow......?... !

Friday, August 8, 2008

This is Scranton

Friday morning, woke up around 5am to a dark Scranton sky. Dozed off again, and then got up with Phil and walked around the city for awhile. An amazing cup of espresso, followed by a journey between the past and the future, as we walked through a city that is in the middle of a rebirth, or in some ways, a slow passing on. There's something sad but necessary about saying goodbye to an old Pennsylvania downtown, like the way you have to accept the death of a grandparent who had lived a full life and had suffered long enough. It's hard to let go, but you know it's time.Walking around this city, where I saw facades with "1875" carved into the stonework next to large signs that said, "Coming soon....!", I searched eagerly for the craft of my grandfather's --- hand painted signs. We found a few beauties, and I realized how endangered this art form has become.In an hour or so we'll pack up the kids and the car and head west toward Jamison City (pop. 102) to spend the weekend with my wonderfully wonderful siblings (Mike, Karen, Sue), Mike's wife Danyelle, and their daughter Julianna. Plus dogs Tucker and Bo! No internet, no connection to the "outside world", just the camp, the town watering hole, and each other. Perfect!(downtown Jamison City, now I think it's the bar!)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Why I am an artist and not a gardener!

One of two wheelbarrow loads of weeds from my front flower bed.

I'm sitting here chomping on a hot pepper, writing one more time before we head out to good old Pennsylvania tomorrow. I packed some boards and fabulous travel-sized tubes of paint that I found at Boutellier's today. I finished a nice piece yesterday that has an almost paisley/India kind of feel to it. Better seen than said.... but the camera is packed and I'm heading out the door, so pics will come later. Jamming and cramming to get ready for the Art Hop, which is coming up on Sept. 5-6th. ((( ))) I'd love to have a few more wonderful pieces ready, so I guess I'll be laying some stuff together out in Oregon. Wonderful!

Happy trails, amigos. More next week!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Lovely Day

I had a day to meself today. I drank coffee, and lots of it. Brought a bunch of boards (I don't use canvas, I prefer birch plywood boards) out to the back porch and had some fun. Downloaded some albums that I owned (gulp) 15 years ago. Lenny Kravitz, REM and Pearl Jam. Ahhh those days... that's another post, eh? ;)

So, alone on the porch, encaustic wax in one hand, my trusty wood burning tool in the other, and some cool stuff started to appear. One that isn't quite done but is leaning toward being a tree. A tree of life, perhaps? One that I finished and goes along with the blue / life / growth series that's starting to emerge. Two others that are in the early stages.

Many many layers go into my paintings --- so many of them start out as one thing and end up as something completely different. My family thinks I'm nuts at times... sometimes when I show them a finished painting and say, "Oh, yeah, that was the one that had the tree in it", when, upon sight it's a crazy abstract with scratches and whirls, they send out a collective growl, "Ohhhhh I liked that one!!!" Oh well! This is not design by committee! No, it's all fun and good. I just can't put something out there until I feel good about it. It's as simple as that.

So, tonight I get ready for my trip. No painting for almost 2 weeks ---ugggh! I don't know if I'll like that! Maybe some minis will appear.. they'll fit in my suitcase!

More later.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Unknowing

Well hey I had my first sale on Etsy yesterday! One of my favorite paintings, "The Unknowing" will be making the journey across the US to Eugene, Oregon. What a joy! It's a sweet piece too, so I'm very happy that it have a new home.

I have a few more days here at home before we head out for some vacationing. I have a few paintings here that are in need of some love and attention -- they're not quite ready, but close. The kids will be gone tomorrow, so that will be a great time to set up the easel on the back porch and let it all fly. I hope to get them up before we leave on Thursday.

We'll be in PA and OR on our trip, so I'll take the sketch book along and grab some inspiration. I'm certain Oregon will provide some new perspective of shapes, textures, and colors. Pennsylvania always impresses me with how lush it all is. This time of year it's bursting green. The trees get so full, rolling fields are like soft bellies, baskets of green peppers at the farmers market beckon.

So this morning, as I sit here, I start my day with gratitude. Not a bad practice, eh? A new day, more unknowing, more opportunities for new growth. Yeehaw!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

..... those who love......

Saturday morning. The sun is shining. Kids are stirring.

I spent a big portion of yesterday working on a new piece. I have an old, old Sears catalog (1950's, I believe) that I got from my brother Michael during a family 'Christmas in July Yankee Swap' that we did at last year's Whalen Weekend (sibling get-together at my sister's camp). It's been sitting around the house for a year, not really doing anything. In the past week or so I realized that it was time to explore a new direction, creatively, so I did what I really like to do.... look around me and see what's here, what's ready to be something else. So the catalog and some old books now tell new stories.

I went to Recycle North (great local non-profit used household goods store: and grabbed some great old books. I looked for variations in color, language style, content, and most of all, repetitive headers that were interesting. At first the focus of the piece was the line "Enthusiasm Makes the Difference" from an old Dale Carnegie book, but the words, "Those Who Love" eventually became the strength behind the image.

What do I see? Women and self esteem, the isolation of motherhood, the prioritization of shoes over issues, the loss of confidence that girls often go through after age 9. What do you see? Just look....Those Who Love 1
For sale on

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Donna Parker

I sat on the back porch today and turned an existing abstract painting that was kinda bugging me into a collage. I'm quite happy with how it turned out, but most of all pleased with how it felt to make it. I used 2 different books -- an old teenage novel called "Donna Parker Takes a Big Leap", and a second children's picture book by Munsch about a girl befriending the wind. Funny, I chose them because they were the only books on the shelf I was comfortable cutting up, but when I got them open and started to create, I realized that there was a nice thread between the two.

The result is this:(detail)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

sunny tuesday

Tuesday night... 7pm. Sitting on the front porch with Phil and Liv. Liv's painting on an old piece of wood she found in the garage. I can't see what she's creating from here, but I can see that she's using a big brush that would normally be used for wall paint, and that the water she's dipping it in has turned a beautiful Caribbean blue.

Phil's playing his old guitar, working out something new, maybe it's old? Cold bottle of Harp, no mosquitoes yet. It's a grand evening on Henry Street!

I spent the day picking blueberries and raspberries with my friend Nance. She's so wise and insightful, and I love her honesty and fearlessness. Her daughter Jules is 25 and has cancer. Nance told me that she decided to continue to live her life beautifully, recognizing that even though her daughter is ill, it doesn't mean that Nance is too. We talked about our paths, our careers, struggles, our unknowns. I talked about the choice that I made to try out painting, and my frustrations with wondering whether to paint what I like or to paint to what I think people might by. She had some great advice, but what really stuck out was a simple, "just follow the thread." I liked that. Thread, so easy to break, but strong enough to hold an old pair of Levi's together for decades. Don't pull on it, or it will snap. Just let the thread hold it's own, let it be the strength you need to hold it all together, and just follow the damn thing!

Perfect timing for me, as in the past few days I've made my own decision to work a little harder at my faith and perceptions. To open my eyes a little more, and to listen for messages. I've gotten into a bit of a rut, not truly appreciating what is here right now. Looking for the 'next', when I need to remember to let the present be here, now, and to allow it to show me the way. This sounds like a bunch of bung, but in my little head, it's what I need to not annoy the crap out of my fellow housemates!

So tonight, here with my family on the front porch, I'll look at them, really see Liv's bright blue sky, smile at Caleb as he rides down the sidewalk on his new go-cart, laugh at Phil when he tries to sing Delta style blues, and be right here, right here, right now.

(ahhhhhh men!)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Sitting in the kitchen, drinking coffee that's turned cold, hearing the sounds of cicadas and Phil digging in the dirt. Summer is here, and we're grabbing onto every bit of opportunity that we can, without exhausting ourselves!

We're in the middle of a little restful stretch after a few weeks of fun. Michael Franti at Shelburne Farms -- Liv up front with her friends, a smile on her face I only see a few times a year -- so big, bright and true! The most special moment for me was dancing with Phil to one of my favorite songs "Dancing in the Moonlight" by King Harvest (thanks!)-- so beautifully cheesy and sentimental for me. There's something about those happy early 70's pop songs. Add that to a warm summer night, Michael Franti (!), and my guy, smiling and dancing with me... twirling me around... laughing, falling into each other. It was a perfect evening.


Road trip with Phil around VT and NH a few weeks back, camping out in the truck, sitting by the fire, swimming in a delightfully painfully cold mountain stream. Going to an art contest with Caleb and watching his concentration with pride. A boat trip on the lake, kids driving, warm sun, cool breeze. Fireworks with old friends, laughing with Barb until I cried. Digging in the dirt, making a lively garden where nothing bloomed for years. It's a great summer, so far. A lovely gift filling my soul!

Friday, March 21, 2008


Holy cow. Friday night. Today was my last day at CHT. Last day as a full-time employee anywhere. It hasn't completely sunk in yet, but it's starting. It feels so incredibly good to know that I am going to have time, sweet sweet time to nurture myself, the kids, Phil, my friendships...

I'm going to enter into the first month with ease. No big projects, no big plans. I signed out 6+ books from the library. Every subject from Basquiat, kokology, sibling rivalry and woodblock printing. I plan on sitting by the fire, book in hand, coffee by my side. Add a few naps, trips to the Y, bike rides with Phil when the weather changes. Ahhhhh.

I think I know myself well enough to know that I will have to keep some wheels turning, so I've already arranged some bartering gigs. I'm doing graphic design work in exchange for some goodies---massage and local honey. It's a perfect match.

I think the kids are looking forward to this change. I also think they may not understand or appreciate the meaning of it all. For me it really is a dream come true. A real opportunity to relax for awhile. Paint some pictures. Dig in the dirt. Smile at my children. Love my man.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

snowy wednesday...

Sitting here at my desk, taking a bit of a break, stretching my overstretched back.
It's Wednesday March 12. It's snowing. I have 7 days left here and am comfortably excited about this next step in my life. It's been years and years since I've had the freedom to let my life flow like this. When I was younger and without constraints I had a blind trust that I lived by. People often thought I was flighty or even foolish... to "up and go" from a job or a home and onto the next thing, without (at least it seemed to them) much thought. I had a knowing inside me that everything would be fine. It never occurred to me to think any other way.

Then life went on and somehow that spark got snuffed. Kids, mortgages, the "future", combined with loss and hardship. I went along, still made my changes, but from a different place. I changed situations with the hope that it would make things better, not with a knowing. There was a huge difference between the two, because none of those changes could have made a spit of difference anyway.

The pages turn, the seasons unfold. Here I am again, years later. Still me, still looking for the glorious changes. Now I'm entering back into that fun place of knowing, and I actually remember that feeling that I used to have when I'd take my leaps. That silly little knowing, the excitement about the adventure that comes with taking the step and then watching for the opportunities to come. It's magical and what living is all about --- taking these risks, and trusting that there is unlimited stuff out there. Stuff.... love, abundance, happiness, friends, fun, sunny days, snowy days.

Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.

Agnes de Mille (1908 - )

Monday, March 10, 2008

7 months later....

And Phil's asleep in the chair, sitting up. Liv and Caleb are out too. It's quiet. I only hear the ticking of the clock and the tapping of the keys.

Ice storms and talk of warmer days to come. Curried lentils. A meowing cat wanting to go outside. Scrabulous with ChaCha. Reserving hotels in California. Unwinding. Unpeeling. Counting the days until my last day at work, getting ready to shake off a few years. Getting ready to play again.

Olivia: practicing hard for her part in the school play. Quiet lately, probably tired. She works hard at whatever she does. Her new hermit crabs are... hermits! They hide deep down in the dirt.

Caleb: growing up, but holding on. Trying hard to let go of old habits, but somewhat pensive about what is next.

me.... sleepy, thirsty. ready for what's next. ready to help caleb grow. ready to help liv revive....