Category: My art career

Never Enough Time

Mom will you drive me to school and pick me up today?” Fiona, age 3″No, today is my studio day” Me

“Why do you have to go to the studio? I don’t want you to go to the studio.” Fiona

“Don’t you want me to be me? I have to go to the studio or I will cease to exist.” Me

In my studio my work begins with my Notebooks, where I’m free to work fearlessly in quick gestures, exploring compositions, line, layering and color. The Notebooks help inform my studio time, my paintings take the lessons learned from the notebooks and move another step forward to figuration. They are often portraits, a psychological merging of self and strangers whom I learn about in the news. People who are facing unbelievable tragedies, war, mass shootings, and natural disasters. They are also self-portraits of my family–the sound of a child’s laughter. And, yes, the chaos of a temper tantrum. And the Sadness I can’t process outside the studio. Life can be very sad. Maybe the studio is therapy. Or a refuge? Maybe my work can give a viewer refuge from the world? I feel I never have enough time in my studio, but maybe I do have just enough time, because without it I would cease to exist.

 The misconception of mothers as “hobby painters” gets under my skin; that is not me. I was an artist before I was a mother. I have never stopped making and I have never given up the dream of having a solo show. I am proud to have my first, “Never Enough Time”, at The Fourth Wall Gallery in Oakland, California.

I’m Disgusting and Wonderful

“it’s not healthy to keep eating a whole bunch” I say to Jack. He wants another Klondike cookie sandwich ice cream. They are good. I could eat another one too. It’s hot today. Very Hot! But it’s also National Beer day, I’m drinking a Lagunitas IPA. I had a good day in the studio. Painted like crazy, feel a bit crazy, like manic. Maybe it’s the time of year. The most remarkable things happen on late fall nights. Under a clear sky, stars in view. Inspired by the grey squirrel, jumps from one trunk to another. “Hello squirrel, what are you doing?” I ask. He doesn’t tell me, he keeps going up higher and higher into the trees. I go to my studio, hot from my hike. I stink. I start to paint. I get paint on my good yoga clothes. I am disgusting. I take a shower. Feel better. Paint more. Paint stains on my arm. My hands disgusting. I am disgusting and wonderful. My daughter draws beside me. “Color, color, color color” she says, over and over as she scribbles with a pen. “This is all the water” she says. “with a butt. With a vagina.” A cup of beer and dirty hands. I’m so glad Hugh Hefner is dead. Someone wrote “good bye to the father of Patriarchy” on Facebook. An article said he changed the way we think about sex. When I think of the porn industry and the primping and prepping and sculpting of women. Making us think we need to perform in a certain sexual way, look a certain way, think a certain way, I say Fuck You Hugh Hefner. I thought about how I got mad at a male painter. In his catalogue he talked about his work and how he went to the rain forest for years working on these wonderful paintings and notebooks. He had kids. I wondered how he did it. They stayed home with their mother. I was mad. I said it’s not fair. Then I had kids. I kept working, I kept studio hours. I created. Now I have a book about to be published and an art show coming up at a fine Gallery. I have a vagina and boobs and wrinkles and a crazy old mind. But I keep on working.   

Do You Know Me Yet?

Drinking Sake from the bottle,( I snuck it out of the new Japanese kind of fast food and Udon Noodle restaurant in San Rafael. ) Alan’s down stairs playing with the babies. I can here older kids outside yelling, “I can see you”. The neighbors hung balloons  at the entrance of Baywood Terrace. When I drive by tonight I say, “They’re having a party and we weren’t even invited” I had the strangest day with the babies. We stayed home all day. It’s been a crazy week. Alan had to work on the black mold in the garage bathroom; a copper pipe on our water heater corroded, water seeped though the sheetrock. It stunk. But me and the babies laid low.  In the morning they watched cartoons(way longer than pediatrics recommend) I work on my book. Read through all my pieces from the past four years. I only used pieces from the past two years in my new book, since Jack and Fiona were born. I wrote pieces for graduate school, where I found my writing voice in Afro-futurism and Contemporary Art classes. Then in the 2013’s I wrote about going crazy, infertility, and the twitch. Most of those pieces were in journals that I have incorporated into several collages. I think I should use those in my remaining notebook entries. They are crazy and raw, but paint has splattered on them now, they are all torn up. I am 46 years old, I have three year old twins. My mom’s death in 2008, Christopher,  my miscarriage, and infertility came up a lot since I started my blog two years ago. With the birth of Jack and Fiona letting information that I had to share pour out of me. I use the internet, Facebook and WordPress to share my work, communicate with the world. I have been working in my studio like crazy. I think Jack and Fiona actually respect me Being an artist. I have been trying to teach them about writing. I showed them a paperback and showed them the computer screen. I said that’s what happens first before it’s a book. I can show them the printing of some pages next time. But they respected it. Drinking Sake straight from the bottle is not bad, not bad at all. Nigori. I want to go check out my studio. I am so excited about getting my pieces photographed. It’s gonna be cool. What else can I say? I’m a painter and a momma and a wife. I have a dog and live in San Rafael. I’m a dreamer and a drifter. (in my before kids life) Do you know me yet?

Opening Night and The Collaborative Future

I’m doing something really bad right now, something that I normally wouldn’t do. It’s naptime, 1:28PM and I just made myself a hot cup of joe and it’s good. I never drink coffee after 10:00AM because of insomnia, but I’m so tired from last night, not sleeping well after the Room Opening I said “what the hell, I’ll take my chances for a soothing cup of coffee in the afternoon, the quiet afternoon. Now I want to go paint, but I need to write. Painting writing painting writing shit. It’s easier to drink coffee when I’m writing. But if I don’t paint and the babies get up from their nap and I have an uncontrollable urge to be creative and I start getting resentful of the babies, wait, calm down, I’ll bring some stuff up here and painting can be our afternoon activity. It’s settled then. Me and myself need to have these conversations, we need to run through all the different scenarios, it’s not sane. I wish I was normal. OK back to why I need to write. I should start off by telling you that nothing in my last post, “Anxiety” that I wrote yesterday prior to the opening, about things  that I was worried about were worth worrying about..  But just because I know this doesn’t mean I won’t worry again.

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The GAP show at Room Gallery looks amazing, all four of my solo works were chosen to be hung, I try to keep my ego out of stuff but here it is. I wanted to show those paintings badly. I received much interest and positivity about my work, but no sale so far. The other solo work hung, by Carl and Verad looks great too, and the collaborative pieces and Dis/locations Book Collection look great. It all looks great.Great.Great.Great. But something else happened last night, there was real interest in what we were all doing, in us as a group of artists connected and working together and apart. It brought an energy to the gallery. Inquisitiveness, the book collection brought the visitors inside the show. It allowed them to interact with the art. It was really great and broke the ice. Visitor participation. The next opening in April I’m hoping we can do an interactive art piece with the visitors. I can’t believe I just drank that whole cup of coffee. And I used the word great five times in the past three sentences.

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Last night we walked in to the gallery a little after six, there were already a lot of people at the show. Jack ran in looking at all the people, some familiar faces, some not. Fiona was more reserved and I wondered if it had to do with her hearing aids, the gallery has high ceilings and the volume of conversation was high. They both looked at the art, especially the Dis/locations book collection. The picture on the front of one of the books is the babies’ grandpa. He was my mom’s dad, he died   when I was very young. He was adopted and worked as a car salesman. That’s all I know about him. I found the picture in the box of old photos from my mom’s house that I’ve been using to paint from for years, but never actually used physically in a piece. The day Alvaro, Carl, and I met up to work on some collabs I brought the picture. Carl said he wanted to use the picture in something. I was stoked, I think it’s such a cool picture too. So here it is on the front cover of our collab Gap book “Yellow” displayed in the gallery. This is the kind of information I wish I was able to tell people in the gallery at the opening. I find myself being vague and generalizing when talking about the works to visitors. I see that now. It’s hard under pressure to remember these interesting, personal details. Grab onto something personal. An intimate detail and tell the story. Next time.

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The babies, Lindsay, and I had gone out  dinner and cocktails before the gallery opening. The babies didn’t have cocktails! There was a table beside us with a lady named Jean from Chicago and her Daughter and son-in-law. Jack was taken by Jean. He noticed her right away and called her grandma. He looked at her and covered his hands over his face. She did the same and they started playing Peek-A-Boo. Her hands were worn with age, her body shrunken, her hair grey, her smile beautiful, her eyes and spirit like the warmest spring day. Jack threw her his Blue Blue, with his little tiny baby hands, and his wet, plump, baby face, and his sparkling eyes. Jack and Jean made a connection. Despite their age difference and unusual meeting place. Later Jean and her daughter and son-in-law stopped by the gallery. I had told them about the opening, that was where we were headed. I started talking to Jean outside the Gallery, we made a connection, she told me all about how her daughter wanted her to move out here to California, and how she didn’t want to leave Chicago. That it was a great city and I had to go. Then she started telling me about the babies she met at the restaurant, I said those are my babies, and we started laughing. She hadn’t recognized me from the restaurant. Which is understandable, it’s dark in there and I was sitting with my back to her back, turning to talk only a few times. It was great (this word again) to get out into the world and socialize and get to have Jack and Fiona experience it with me.  IMG_7718

I hear the babies waking up now. They didn’t sleep long. Maybe they’ll go back to sleep? I’ll have to end my post now anyhow. I want to write my proposal for “The Peace Book” a part of the GAP Dis/Locations book project. If you’re an artists and you’re interested in participating in this project let me know! I will post the full concept soon, but my vision is that the book circulates all around the world, drawing attention and support for parts of the world suffering from endless wars.

Goodbye 2015, here’s to the New Year! 

My coffee came out perfect this morning, hot, smooth, I’m drinking it too fast, I wish I had more. I know if I made another cup it wouldn’t be as good. It’s 5:51 AM, Thursday morning, December 31st, 2015. I didn’t sleep good last night, I felt swollen and itchy from dry winter skin and poison oak covered legs. When I was sleeping,  I was dreaming of words and sentences.  Punctuation. 

Last night when I went to turn off the lights in the nursery; Jack is tall enough to turn back on the light now; I looked in and immediately went back upstairs,

“Alan, you have to see the babies”

He came back down with me, 

“Isn’t that so cute?”

“Yeah, do you think Jack was mad because Fiona is laying on his spot?”

He’s talking about a pillow chair thing that we found Jack sleeping on the other day. 

“I don’t think so, I think they like sleeping next to each other”

I have a vision of Jack and Fiona sharing a twin size mattress. No, I think, they need their own beds, their own space. I lay down in my bed and think about how they have never know life apart from each other. The only time they are alone is during nap time. I can’t imagine having someone so close to me. Will they ever have my love and desire for solitude? As I sit here now basking in the peace and quiet of morning, of my time spent before the house awakens. 

So this is it, the last day of 2015. It’s been a year of tremendous growth for me. When my mom died seven years ago my whole existence was compromised. My foundation was cracked, my support system broken. My closest person gone. Lately when my brother and I talk about her, we mention her mental illnesses. Ones never discussed.  Ones that my brother and I both inherited to some extent, either through osmosis or dna. I seem to be more affected and concerned, maybe because I am a parent now. Before I had the babies I was so worried that I would cry and be depressed all the time. That’s what I grew up around. I’ve spent this year going deep into myself, learning ways to manage difficult times and be a good mom. I finally feel like the crack in my foundation is repaired. It takes a long time to get over a loss of someone close. And to deal with all the emotions that come up. 

2016 sounds good to me. A real fresh start! Now that my foundation is solid I can start building my house. I have several shows scheduled for the new year. They are group shows with GAP, collaborative work as well as a solo piece in each show. I will probably have two solo pieces in the first show at Room Art Gallery because I was not a part of most of the Collaborative work that will be shown at Room.  I have so much great work already done, but I am still making so much headway in my studio. The second show is The San Francisco International  Art Festival. 

  
This is very exciting. We are making a giant collaborative piece. We are  forbidden to post any work for this show on facebook, so you’ll have to come see the show to check out the work! No sneak peeks!! 

My New Years Resolution is to stay present in each moment. One day I said that in a therapy session. My therapist asked “What does staying present mean to you?”

I didn’t know how to answer, all I could think of was being in the moment. But it’s more than that. Sometimes it’s easier than others. Yesterday in my studio I felt present, as I worked I wasn’t rushing, each mark I made, each decision I made was calm and unhurried. 

  
I kept off the “merry go round” and that is what I’d like to do in 2016. Less worrying and hurrying. Less analyzing everything. I want to use my coping skills in moments when I’m freaking out. I want to be more conscious about what I have already accomplished, not what I haven’t done yet, need to do, want to do. Take heed in the saying “love thy self” 

It’s almost seven now, time to get to work. I can hear Fiona on the monitor. 

Happy New Year!!!