Saturday, April 18, 2009

Path for Kaiya

Path for Kaiya, 2009

I wrote this post, oh, back in April - 2009!!! And forgot it was waiting for me to publish it - oy, vey.

Watercolor on Strathmore textured paper, 2 1/2" x 3 1/2"

Wind blowing, mushroomy things, a roller-coaster feel - or more likely just one of those bumpy slides at a playground; rocking waves on a pond; and maybe a birthday party, bright with ribbons and balloons; these are things that might be evoked here. This is for my granddaughter Kaiya, who just turned 5 and is an Aries - the best! (The fact that I said that is how you know I'm an Aries too. It doesn't prove Aries are the best - but it definitely points to Aries thinking they're the best. I do.)

What else can I say about it? There it is. This is one of my favorites.

P.S.: you can see the texture of the textured paper here.


Tender Tree, 2009

Another one I wrote, and forgot to publish, from April 2009.

Watercolor on illustration board, 2 1/2" x 3 1/2"

I think I'm having just about as much trouble writing about this, as with coming up with a name I like for it. I see this as being about energy, the invisible aliveness all around us - in the air, in the ground, shimmering in leaves and grass... Embracing, caressing, touching, connecting; I think of all these things when I look at this. I feel a bit shy writing about this. But there it is - maybe.

If anyone has ideas for a title that might be better, I'd love to hear them. Feel free to include them with Comments.


Friday, April 10, 2009

Deep Journey

Deep Journey, 2009

Watercolor on bristol stock, 2 1/2" x 3 1/2"

Okay - this is one I don't like. So, I bet you're wondering why I post it - why don't I just add it to my collage supplies? Well, I think that sometimes some of my most interesting paintings are the ones I don't like. And sometimes I have to push myself way out of my comfort zone to get something I don't like; then again, sometimes they develop that way all on their own.

Once when I gave a slide show talk to a Women Painters West meeting, I included a piece that I just hated. I said just that, as the slide came up. Afterwards several women told me they liked this painting. I was pleased about that; glad I had included it in my slides, glad to have acknowledged my antipathy for it, and glad it had found some friends and supporters.

The fact that they liked it, where I didn't, strengthened a suspicion I already had: that there was something powerful about it that bothered me. I still don't like it, but I do respect it.

Among several other people who like this one quite a lot is my mother. I find this very interesting, even surprising. I would expect her to dislike any risky, unconventional, unsettling painting more than I do, not less. But my mother is sometimes surprising.

What bothers me about this painting? First, a combination of colors I'd call ugly and muddy (the upper ceiling area) with colors that seem insipidly sweet (the aqua and rose), and no good connection, rationale or reconciliation for why these are here together, to my thinking. Second, some awkward shapes and marks.

Most of all, though, I get a very anxious feeling when I look at this, the stomach-dropping sense of being about to be swept into freefall. It looks and feels to me like an underground journey, full of unknown and strange things not yet seen, and some way-too-open space that's beyond the curtain and the narrow gap between ceiling and water. And that curve of the water - I can't help being sent sliding down it; there's no landing spot, and nothing to grab onto. All in all, this arouses a collection of primordial fears: fear of dark places and creepy things, fear of closed spaces, fear of open spaces, fear of falling....

All in all, I get the feeling that this one is effective and rather powerful. I suspect this underground journey could be a valuable one. But I still don't like it.

I hope you enjoy reading about my response and my process, and I'd love to hear about yours. Any comments are welcome - as you might guess, you won't hurt my feelings if you say you don't like it, and I'll respect you no less if you do like it. I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Email me if you'd like to buy this painting.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Bouquet Notes

Bouquet Notes, 2008

Watercolor on watercolor stock, 2 1/2" x 3 1/2"

I'm not sure what to call this. I don't want it to sound like a straightforward floral painting, much as I admire realistic paintings of flowers. I find them simply gorgeous, when well done. But this, on the other hand, has calligraphic bits almost like little ideograms, or pieces of ideograms; and the flow of it almost begins to create a little world, or landscape, that you could wander around in, picking up pebbles and twigs.

For quite a while, as I was working on this, it felt too jangly and fragmented, and I wasn't happy with it. It seemed to divide itself, persistently, into four quadrants that weren't joining and talking to each other. Finally some marks I made (I think it was the dark bits in the Vee, and below that, and within the rose-colored sort of flower, that did it) brought it together and made sense of it.

When I call it Bouquet Notes, I mean "notes" both as in "notes for a painting of a bouquet," which can be written notes, words or letters, or sketched notes and marks; and as in "musical notes related to a painting of a bouquet." Or something.

I love marks. One of the reasons I love writing is not just to communicate thoughts, or even for the sound of words together, but also, simply, for the sake of seeing lines of little letters marching across paper like strings of ants. I feel rich when I accumulate quantities of these little marks; it's as if each one were worth a penny, and I have so many that lots and lots of money is coming to me all the time. I know this isn't true, but some part of me remains completely convinced of it.


Friday, March 13, 2009

Curtained Nest

Curtained Nest, 2009

Watercolor on watercolor stock, 2 1/2" x 3 1/2"

I'm often torn about whether to give names to these, or not. I could call all of them, or many of them, Untitled. But I love giving them titles.

At the same time as I love the naming, though, I don't want to lead a viewer strongly in a particular direction, a particular way of seeing a piece, when that person could be seeing it with fresh eyes, seeing things that I didn't see in it. I hope, if you see cliffs, or forests, or underground streams, or - who knows? - planets in deep, dark outer space, that you'll stick with your way of seeing this.

This is one of my favorites, somehow. It started out seeming rather unpromising, to me - rather impoverished colors; one shape I liked quite a bit with a bunch of boring parallel lines, and a couple of indifferent areas of color; some directional shapes and spaces that didn't seem to go anywhere. I still liked it, but couldn't see where it should go to come alive. I think the journey this one took shows the value in continuing when you can't see the road ahead - now I love it.

For me, it has a kind of sweetness, while still feeling light - the delicate taste of maple sap before it's been boiled down to maple syrup, rather than the thicker, warmer sweetness of honey. And along with its warmth, there's a cool, breezy feeling about it.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Black Lightning

Black Lightning, miniature watercolor, black lightning bolt dancing with swirls and bubbles
Black Lightning, 2008

Watercolor on bristol stock, 2 1/2" x 3 1/2"

Now this one has more of that edgy energy, tangles and collisions, and elements dancing with each other. Earth colors framing a watery space, and that jagged black lightning bolt springing in from the left, and some bubbles peering at it.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Rooting House

Rooting House, 2008

Watercolor on illustration board, 2 1/2" x 3 1/2"

This piece feels very rich to me, as if parts of it were gold leafed, decorated with filigree. The house seems to be extending its eaves out into the sky and the universe, the living air leaning up against it; and sending its roots down to infiltrate the earth.


Haiku Sky

Haiku Sky, miniature watercolor, yellow-gold sweep with blue swoops and spray crossing
Haiku Sky, 2009

Watercolor on paper, 2 1/2" x 3 1/2"

It was really hard for me to leave this one as simple as it is. I always think more details, more work, more "bits" are needed. The gesture of this one feels very free, sweeping, swooping, soaring; with a little punctuation, a little spray, maybe, and the bare hint of green spring landscape below.


Email me if you'd like to buy this painting.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Another Haiku Colors

Deep Moonrise, miniature watercolor, purple mountain shape and orange full moon
Deep Moonrise, 2008

Watercolor on illustration board (cold press), 2 1/2" x 3 1/2"

I like the simplicity of this one. For me, it has a feeling of ease and expansion, and the orange gives it vitality. Deep breaths, now...


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A new thing: Haiku Colors, miniature watercolors

photo of three small paintings with a pencil and a bowl for size comparisonHere's a new thing I've been doing lately. These are very small watercolors, 2 1/2" x 3 1/2", painted on either illustration board, bristol stock, watercolor paper or something Strathmore calls textured paper; I call them Haiku Colors. I have been enjoying painting them. I work on a number of them at the same time, keeping them going over many sessions, feeling for what they need for balance, energy, aliveness and depth.

I will add a sidebar explanation of these pieces, soon. Above you see the first three I finished, with some other objects to give a sense of their size.

Here's a closer look at the first one:

Sky Dance, a miniature watercolor, aqua and orange-gold with circles and flowing squiggles
Sky Dance, 2008

Again, this is 2 1/2" x 3 1/2", watercolor on bristol stock. For me, this gives a feeling of lush abundance, liveliness and excitement, and stretching.