Friday, December 26, 2014

Recovering this older blog

If you are receiving this, my apologies! I'm trying to recover my old blog site! Thanks, Marla

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Melee of the Middle

Often I think about the hardest part of most endeavors is getting started. In painting, it's often difficult to know when one is finished and just when to call enough, enough. To just put that brush or pastel away and be satisfied. But, this past week has been a scuffle in the middle, a confused fight, a skirmish in paint and sweat. Lots of time spent pondering, looking, accessing....considering what moves will bring the pieces to fruition.

I have about a dozen pieces in various stages, mostly they are in the middle. I see something in each one, something of merit but I'm unsure of how to make my way to the end. It makes me wonder a bit about the "end". What is that exactly.  Ending, finishing means you get to start anew with the next blank canvas, the next chapter, ....This is the exciting part and the scary part. I'll go with exciting!! In the meantime, I'll be scuffling in the middle!! Wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What Andrew Said

I dream a lot. I do more painting when I'm not painting. It's in the subconscious.

-Andrew Wyeth

Yesterday morning I rolled into the studio a 5:00 am. A little early for me, even for the early riser that I am. I have several new canvases going that I'm working on. I'm trying to put some of my landscape into my figures and some of my figure into my landscapes if that makes any sense. A different and challenging color palette is percolating to the surface, so it's hard work; a layer, then another over it, wiping one layer off, leaving the residue of a layer and the edges of another. Back and forth, back and forth. Adding and subtracting. Thinking you've learned something, only to have to learn it anew on each new piece. Ahh...kinda like life! Painting is a metaphor once again!!!

Through the mechanics of painting, getting up, going to the studio, opening the jars of paint, mixing, listening to the brush hit the canvas and the tools scratch into the paint, the water being agitated by the cleaning of the brushes, I'm finding a new stillness; I've turned off the music for a change to see what happens to my painting in a quiet space.  This is good work; new but familiar work.

I painted until 8:00am, then headed out to dance with my friends. I'm so fortunate to have such a lovely community of people to dance with. Back to the studio for more painting, computer tasks and a meeting with videographers.  This day was a good day of the familiar made unusual.

Wyeth's quote resonates strongly with me. These new paintings are definitely conceived in a dream and brought forth through a process that surely involves the subconscious, a process that I don't pretend to understand, I just know it's real.  

In progress. A goddess with cloths and flowers!

Thursday, November 15, 2012


One of the wonderful things about being an artist is having so many choices and directions, possibilities!! I'm interested in a lot of things and painting in lots of ways; pastel, oil, acrylic, encaustic. There are so many wonderful mediums to explore and experiment with and subject matter to tackle.

Problem is when you have had a little success in one media and or genre of painting, peoples expectations arise. Whether they mean to or not, people label you, the marketplace loves consistency, predictability. Galleries and publishers want to establish a "brand". Although this can make financial sense, eventually this can be stiffling creatively and in turn lead to less than inspired work.

We humans like to label and seek conformity. It makes it easy for us. We don't have to really pay attention for very long if we get to say "oh she's a landscape painter". Done, we don't have to think about it any more. We do this all the time. Oh, he's a yuppie, or she's an old lady or he's a republican! It makes it simple and we don't have to spend any more time thinking about it. We can label ourselves too. Then we can act out that role and don't have to consider any other possibilities.

Staying creatively vibrant is important to me. I want to paint the landscape, but I also want to paint the figure and explore abstraction. I'd love to learn about sculpture and have ideas for installations.

Choosing joy in painting has helped me navigate my way. For me. the process of painting in much more important than the end result. Staying unstuck more important than staying consistent. And for me painting is always a metaphor for life....

And...I love that both of these pieces are the same!!!

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Tree Is Not A Tree; Learning to See


To paint a thing, I have to see it with innocent eyes; eyes like a baby. No labels, no bias, no preconceived notions, no judgements, no preferences. I can't paint a tree, I have to paint a combination of shapes and assign value and color to them. I'm creating an illusion of a tree, not a tree.

I can't paint an apple, I can only paint a shape that takes on a particular contour and has an overall value and an overall color. It might sit in the light in a certain way and I really can't even make a judgment about the light either. I have to take all notions and language out of the process. I have to see the thing as though I've never seen anything like it ever before.

And I have to be enchanted by this interaction! Otherwise, why would I paint it?

As we move through our everyday lives, we seldom let ourselves look through an unfiltered view of things. We filter everything we see, do and say through a lens of past experience and what we think we know. We often look through a lens of fear and insecurity that holds us back from seeing things as they truly are.

As painters this can make us muddled and confused. We think we have to paint in a certain way and then we tend to make rules of thumb into RULES. Taking too many workshops or listening too intently to the thousand voices telling us how to paint, can keep us from listening to our own true voice as a painter. We make hay with the “shoulds” and the “nevers” and push away the “What if's”.

At one point or another one must try to see clearly and then be brave. There are many, many things that are much scarier than painting. There are many things worse than wasting an expensive piece of paper or canvas. What is very scary is to go through ones life as an artist and never have put down an authentic mark; your own mark. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Simultaneous Contrast

Simultaneous contrast is the idea that everything shares a relationship; an object is only dark by comparison to a lighter object next to it. This is really the foundation of painting and by extension the yin and yang of life. Light only exists with darkness. So it's easy to think about painting as a metaphor for life.

Having a clear understanding of the concept of simultaneous contrast can help make us better painters and maybe better humans too!

The yellow square in the middle never changes, only what surrounds it!

Something is only bright in relationship to something dull; only dull in relation to something bright. 

Last but not least, check out this link on color perception!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Why I Paint

Back to work! It feels so great to be painting again, and I'm not talking about the walls!!! Having just spent a whirlwind couple of months teaching in Cape Cod, Bend Oregon and managing to just about complete my new studio /workshop space, has made me look a little deeper into the "why"!! These lists are roughly in order of their importance to me. I believe that making a living and doing something you love are not mutually exclusive, although I know I am most fortunate to have the opportunity. Both painting and teaching painting are part of this equation for me. Here are my lists. I'd love to see yours!

Why I paint

To be enlightened 
To have my breathe taken away
To feel human
To see the world in no particular way
To learn how strong or weak I can be on a given day
To get messy
To be in wonderment
To master a medium or not
To feel at home,(I've always painted since I can remember)
To make a living

Why I teach painting

To share the above with people that are interested in the same!
To talk with other artists
To verbalize and put into language something for which is very difficult to do this for
To get more people doing art
To make a living