• Moving On

    Two years ago I moved into my new studio in Oxford, PA. I enjoyed my time there immensely, and loved the social aspect of being on the main drag. However, solitude is also necessary for the creative process, and low overhead doesn't hurt either! So, in July I bought a house just a couple blocks away, and I've moved my studio to my home. 

    It is a basement studio, so no northern light and panoramic views. But I'm flooding it with as much color correct light as possible.

    There's tons of room for storage and supplies, and a separate entrance for studio visitors. So I'm pretty happy about all of this! I am looking forward to getting back to my painting, as it's been disrupted by the move and my work as a coach with Art2Life. But I have some ideas floating around in my head and I'll share them as they begin to take form. 

  • Put This On Your Wish List...



    Creative play

    Relaxing in nature

    Meeting kindred spirits

    Eating delicious, healthy meals

    Unconditional support

    Identifying your artistic voice

    Discovering new painting techniques

    Experimental mark-making

    Learning how to strengthen your paintings


    I am so excited to invite you to join me this coming September, 2017 at Squam Art Workshops for an acrylic and mixed media painting workshop called "Conversations In Paint." If you're a beginning painter, this is an opportunity to give yourself the gift of learning and self-expression, of new and interesting friends, all wrapped up in the beauty of a magical natural setting. Seasoned painters will appreciate the push to strengthen their work through clarifying their design and composition.

    Click on the image below to experience what this feels like...

    In addition to my painting workshop, this five day retreat offers classes in woodworking, photography, printmaking, creative writing, knitting, embroidery, assemblage. Talk about creative immersion! 

    Photo Credit: Tara Morris

    After ten years of offering these amazing gatherings, 2017 will mark the last of Squam Art Workshops.  The good news is that you still have an opportunity to register! This page will tell you all you need to know about schedule, location, etc. Want to know more about what to expect? Here is what some others have had to say...

    “It is hard to describe the experience because there is nothing like it. You walk in full of anxiety, fears about inadequacy, and most times wondering what the hell are you doing here. Nevertheless, you are quickly cocooned by loving embraces of other women who feel exactly as you do, and almost as instantly as you settle into your cabin, the low cloud seems to dissipate. There truly is no other word for it, but magical.” – Abby Bullock

    “oh Squam. you never fail to intoxicate, rejuvenate and educate me. this was my 9th (!) time at this creative gathering on a loon-filled lake in the woods of New Hampshire. i just read my account of my very first Squam experience and it all holds true to this day. it never gets old.” – Cal Patch

    You can read more here.

    See you in September :)


    Elizabeth Duviver, the creative goddess who brought this experience into the world, asked me to join her for an interview on her podcast, Morning on the Dock. Wow, was that an interesting conversation. I thought I would talk about some safe topics like paint and such, but Elizabeth had other plans...

  • Done!

    It really didn't take long once I got going...about a week. A few little set backs - had to buy some scaffolding because you really don't want to be trying to balance on a ladder with a can of paint in one hand and a brush in the other. Trust me.

    And even with scaffolding, there were lessons to learn. Such as, clip your paint cans to the scaffolding. Otherwise...

    Looks horrible doesn't it? I am so grateful for a house-painter friend who showed up with a pressure washer just in time! The sidewalk is spotless now.

    Another issue was weather. The sun would heat up the wall and the paint would dry almost on contact. The glare from the sun also made it hard to see at times. So there were early mornings and late evenings, painting when it was a little cooler and not so bright.

     The best thing about creating public art in a small town is that it seems to make a big difference. What might get lost in a larger city, is a big change in a small borough like Oxford. It made the local news! And there is a real interest in MORE. The importance of public art can't be overlooked as we embrace the revitalization of our downtown.  Public art is uniquely accessible. People can experience art in the course of daily life, outside of museums, galleries or studios. This provides everyone in the community direct and ongoing experiences with art and adds to the community’s vibrancy and identity.  

     photo by Mary Haynes Johnson

    If you are a supporter of the Public Arts efforts in downtown Oxford, PA and would like to make a donation, please visit the Oxford Mainstreet website to donate online or stop in during their office hours.

    And if you are an artist whose work would be suited for public spaces, please send your contact info and a link to your website to admin@oxfordmainstreet.com


  • Public Art

    The last Christmas card I opened in December 2015 had a check in it for $1500, along with a note... "I want to donate this to you and to growing Oxford." Whaa? Needless to say, I was stunned. What generosity, encouragment, inspiraton! This angel donor grew up in O-town, and like many of us, wants to see our hometown thrive.

    Everyone has ideas about what would make their town a better place, but only a few actually act on those ideas or get involved in ways that matter. And I suppose it's human nature to notice what's not working, but isn't it more productive to focus on what is working and what else might work?

    Public art adds to a community's vibrancy, pride, and sense of place - not to mention cultural tourism and economic development. Because there are so many people who believe in this little town, and in the transformative power of art, we will be painting the town a little more this year.

    (old telephone pole by Oxford Arts Alliance, completed)

    (alley door by Flickerwood, completed)

    Thanks to the generosity and support of private doners, OMI, and Oxford Area Foundation, this will be the next installation coming this fall...

    Watch the progress if you happen to be in the area! 14 South 3rd Street, Oxford, PA home of the Bog Turtle Brewery.

  • Super Girl

    Super Girl; mixed media on panel; 60" x 60"

    Back in January, I wrote about the crazy process of making this painting. I'm happy to share that it's been selected for the National Juried Exhibition at the Oxford Art Alliance in Oxford, PA this month. I don't make it a habit to enter many juried shows anymore, but when I really respect the juror, I'll consider it. Entering a show is kind of like a conversation, you're asking the juror, "what do you think of this?" The answer isn't always that easy to discern, because the juror has to consider many things in her selection process. She has to curate the whole exhibition, and there can be a number of reasons why a painting is or is not selected. I've had my share of rejections and try not to take that stuff too much to heart. Jennifer Samet is the juror of this show. She is a New York-based art historian, curator, and writer of monthly interviews called, "Beer With a Painter" on Hyperallergic. This is someone whose opinion I do respect. Plus, this is a six foot painting, and delivery was just a walk across the street :) 

    Come by for the opening if you're in this neck of the woods...

  • Commission

    I've been so deeply devoted to my process-oriented, non-objective painting that it was difficult to switch gears to take on a very straightforward, heavily art-directed, figurative commission. There was very little freedom here for play, or spontaneity. But...it helps pay the bills, and it's either this or bar-tending.

    The commission was for a new cardiology wing in a medical center, so the client requested paintings of middle-aged and multi-generational people, of diverse ethnicity, with dogs, in a park-like setting, enjoying light activities. Colors were to match the decor - carpets, fabrics, etc. No drippy red paint...this is a hospital! In fact, only use red as an accent. No backs to the viewer - all figures should be facing the viewer, or at least a three-quarter view. (this was a new one for me) The overall feeling should be uplifting, optimistic. Limit the texture, limit the abstraction. (Limit the pleasure!) I soon found myself researching daiquiri recipes.

    Not really. Actually, I just reverted to my inner illustrator, and the years I worked for publishers, ad-agencies, etc., and committed to making this client happy. So, we started with rough sketches. This is basically me asking the question, "is this what you had in mind?"

    Once we established the general compositions for each piece, I set about to make them come to life. I know what a middle-aged body looks like. Unfortunately. I will admit to having some fun with this part though...

    I was able to arrange my figures exactly how I liked, light them, and choose from a variety of angles to view and sketch again. Color sketches, rendered a little more precisely, allow the client to confirm that I heard what they said.    

    Apparently I didn't, as the sketches came back with a list of corrections. This normal, and if you're an illustrator, you don't take this stuff personally. It's just feedback...so you can give your client exactly what they're paying you good money to do. Tone down those colors (especially reds), reduce the areas with patterns, add another dog, use more yellows and greens (client prefers spring to autumn), lighter, brighter, fresher palette.

    With final images of the finished work approved, the paintings are shipped to the customer. Yay! They are happy, and I have money in the bank to pay the rent so that I can do what I truly love....spatter drippy red paint over highly textured, completely unplanned, complex compositions of ambiguous shapes and marks that I dreamed up as I went along. 

  • Destruction

    I'm working on 5' x 5' panels, and that is a lot of geography to cover. Brushes and tools are larger, paint gets mixed in buckets instead of tiny puddles on a palette. There's a physicality about working at this size - large arm movements and stretching to reach.

    This painting began with the usual stream of consciousness approach. I love shapes found in nature, and botanical forms were showing up. When you really free yourself up to paint whatever feels interesting, at some point you're bound to make marks that look ugly to you. Sometimes I cringe when I see the things I allow in my painting. 

    But my goal is to "follow the energy" if that makes sense, so I try not to edit too much just yet, but rather to stay engaged in the process. It's an exhilarating time in the creation of a painting - this time when anything and everything is possible.

    I do have a tendency to over-deliver. I feel pulled to fill every square inch of space with forms and marks. The funny thing is that I really love paintings that have quiet areas where one's eyes can rest. I only liked a few things about this painting at this stage of the game and I had mixed some creamy yellow paint for another project that simply delighted me. I remembered my own words to my students about willingness to take big leaps, and the next thing I knew...

    In the destruction of the painting, something new was born. And I'm finding that those quiet areas are alive with subtle, but very satisfying textures and marks. It occurs to me that there may be some kind of life-lesson in there (always is). Something about making time for idleness, quiet, space. There is richness in the respite.


  • Free Video Demonstration

    Have you heard of acrylic image transfer?  It's not really new, but it's a technique I've been experimenting with lately. I've made a few videos demonstrating the process, and you can view them here with the password Studio19. Note that these videos are not professionally made. I don't have a videographer - it's just me and my iPhone. But if I waited for it all to look perfect, I would never do it! That’s the thing about taking an action. You don’t know that you can do it until you do it. And then you become someone who does it.

    I share my works in progress with you even though the paintings are not yet resolved, because I want to share my journey. You will know me so much better this way than if I were just to present to you finished, polished work. Even though I have some resistance to taking the risk of sharing and vulnerability, I feel it's important to put myself out here.

    A photocopy of an image I want to put in my painting. Notice the words are reversed.

    The image is flipped over and laid into a layer acrylic gel on the painting.

    Once dry, the paper is rubbed off and the image remains embedded in the painting.

    In the videos, I'm demonstrating acrylic image transfer. This is not a brand new process although it may be new to you. It's a fun and interesting way to add imagery to your paintings that feels different from the marks of your brush or palette knife. The images I use get mostly buried under layers of paint, but they look mysterious and ghostly peeking through. I hope you learn a little something watching, and please feel free to drop me a line if you have question about it or want to know more.

    "Line of the Heart" still in progress

    Also - I'd like to apologize for the duplicate newsletters last time around. That was unfortunate! I sometimes struggle with technology. 

  • 2016

    Blog rule #1 - post regularly.

    New year's resolution #1 - post regularly.

    Time to catch up...

    Painting and teaching has kept me busy since fall. That's my excuse. But I resolve to do a better job at sharing in 2016.

    I am currently working on some very large paintings that excite me. I try to remember to photograph them at regular intervals so I can capture the process. The changes they undergo always amaze me when I look back. This one is 4' x 4' and began with neon color, wet washes and lines painted with a small brush with a four foot long handle. Why? It felt good at the time and I happened to have a spray bottle nearby. I don't mean to be a smart-ass, that really is often the impetus for a painting - something compelling about the properties of the paint.

    I rotated the panel and watched the drips change direction. It was mesmerizing.

    For me, this is just a warm up - getting something on the panel to destroy all the white. I try to stay experimental for as long as possible, rotating the painting to get a fresh look at the possibilities. This is the additive phase, and I try not to judge anything, just let it all in. Patterns, colors, forms - marks of all kinds are welcome. It's also a time for experimentation. Much can be learned in this phase.

    At some point, I take a step back just to see what the hell I've done. I ask myself what parts I like, what parts irritate me. Sometimes the process feels like this - make a big mess, then clean it up. Oddly, this brings me a great deal of satisfaction. 

    When I see something I like, I do more of it. Usually, at this point, the painting starts to evoke something in me, and a mood or or tenor develops. I become more discerning about the marks I'm making. I try to vary the shapes and form as much as possible - big/small, light/dark, patterned/solid, to make it the composition exciting. The challenge here is to remain willing to take risks and make changes, even when I begin to feel invested in a path or idea. I try to stay in a place of not knowing where I'm going for as long as I can. I think this makes the painting have a feeling of being "found" rather than planned. Planning a painting can feel like visiting a foreign city on a tour bus - following an itinerary. But my approach feels more like wandering the streets, open to whatever comes.

    This painting is still in progress, but this is where it's at today. I have the urge to make some large, open spaces here, somewhere to rest. So I'll probably be covering up a good bit of this. I can always tell that's what it needs when I prefer the detail shot (below) to the whole painting. Sometimes...less is more. And finally...

    If you're reading this on the internet, you can sign up for my newletter to be delivered to your inbox. When you do, you'lll get a free series of videos on acrylic image transfer. So if you're into painting and aren't sure what image transfer is all about - check it out...sign up! If you're already signed up, the videos are on the way.

  • 3rd on Third

    This week the Oxford Arts Alliance opens it's 2015 National Juried Exhibition. Fifty-eight works were chosen from a pool of almost 400 submissions from all over the US, by juror, Dr. J. Susan Issacs. She liked my painting, Bottom Line, above, and you can see it in the show, which runs through October 13th.

    By the way, if you'd like to see all the paintings I made last year from this body of work, you can check them out here, in a catalog I put together on Shutterfly. Click on "view photo book" and then "full screen." A catalog is a terrific way to show one's work to prospective clients, galleries, etc.

    But I digress. Back to Oxford...the third Friday of each month is all about art here on Third Street in Oxford, PA...

    My space will be open, and Wilson Vineyard will be here offering wines by the glass. Come say hi and see some new works underway in the studio. In addition to the arts venues, other businesses on Third Street will be showing work by local artisans.

    Lastly, if you're interested in my Courageous Painting class, the deadline for sign up is October 6th. Here is a link for more information, and to sign up online. The class will be on Tuesday nights again, but I'll add a Wednesday night class if that gets too crowded. 

  • At Work

    It's time for play - I mean work. Both. Time to experiment, be curious, try new things. I'm working large and it requires interesting tools - paint rollers, extra long-handled brushes, ladders.

    I'm trying more collage elements, like this tissue paper...

    ...and it's even more beautiful when it's been splashed with water and allowed to dry. My new assistant, Caitlin suggested this and oh, by the way - I have a studio assistant!! 

    She is a recent college grad with a Fine Art degree and she is computer savvy, smart, talented, outgoing, and reliable. Seriously, I have a guardian angel somewhere.

    Paint and water do such lovely things. Sometimes my job is to just get out of the way. That's easier said than done.

    Other times I'm a mark-maker. Either way, I'm walking that fine line of work and play. Care - don't care. Be loose and free - now, assess and edit. Be comfortable not knowing where the painting is going - now, decide what it needs. It's a delicious dance and I feel so profoundly fortunate to call this my job.

    If you're here in Southern Chester County, come to Oxford this Friday for a huge classic car show and First Friday celebration. My studio will be open! More here.

  • Settling In

    I have been too busy to write these last couple of months, but it's time to catch up a little. My studio has become the home of "Courageous Painting" classes on Tuesday evenings.

    I LOVE teaching, because I feel passionate about sharing the things that have changed my work and life. Also, teaching helps reinforce for me the important aspects of the painting process, and that strengthens my work, too. There seems to be no shortage of willing participants and this first session of classes is full. I'm so grateful for their willingness to jump in.

    I have also been thrilled to find some of "my tribe" here in O-town...people with imagination, vision, guts, talent, and just the right amount of idealism. These include artists, photographers, art lovers, musicians, restaurateurs, creative directors, sign makers, tarot-card readers, historians, philanthropists, and business owners of all types. Together, I believe we can imagine a very colorful future for this little town. 

    This old, broken telephone pole next to the Oxford Arts Alliance was a great place to start. That's my son, Nick risking life and limb to put the final touch at the top...

     Here's the finished pole...

    Sometimes all it takes is a little paint to make a big difference. 

  • 19 South Third

    So...here I am. 3000 miles travelled, address changed, boxes unpacked, shelves built, internet connected, new panels delivered, primed, and ready to paint.

    This is an amazing space in which to work. I’m giddy every morning when I open the door and crank up the music. The "painting wall" with evenly spaced screws will allow me to work on several 4' and 5' paintings and move them around with ease.

    To the rear of the studio is an area I've set aside for teaching. I look forward to having students here! 

    One of my new favorite things is this cart, compliments of my brother, Gary who always has the right tool for any job. It wheels around seamlessly and holds my palette, brushes, water, etc...

    This is a very old building and the basement is a hidden treasure. I'm thinking open studio events....a little wine, cheese, music and a lot of atmosphere! Check it out...

    When I close up at night and head home, I am grateful to have found "a room of my own" like this to make my work. It's not perfect. Oxford is not a hub of contemporary art. I am not surrounded by a base of collectors. But as Brian Sherwin writes in this blog post, success does not have a zip code. Thankfully, I have hard-working galleries such as Costello-Childs Contemporary in Scottsdale, AZ and Simon Mace Gallery in Port Townsend, WA to focus on sales so that I can focus on painting.

    Here are some other artist's studios in 360° panoramic splendor, all shot by Seattle photographer, Bradford Bohonus as a personal project. Fun to cyber-visit!

  • Spring ~ A New Beginning

    I’ve written and re-written this blog entry many times. I want to share with you some big changes, but it’s hard to know what to say and what to leave out. So I'm just going to focus on the who, what, where and when.

    "If nothing ever changed, there'd be no butterflies" ~ Author Unknown

    Drawing Deep 30" x 30" mixed media on wood

    Back to My Future

    I am moving to the East Coast this spring after having spent the last 20 years in Seattle. I have leased a studio - 1100 square feet, with lots of wall space on which to work. The studio is at 19 South Third Street in the borough of Oxford, PA, which is my hometown.

    Lights on inside - and that's my brother installing more lighting

    Painting wall

    Photo courtesy Nikki Hale

    Third Street in Oxford was once known as the Nanticoke Trail. This was the route used by the Nanticoke Indians for north-south travel from the Poconos to the Chesapeake Bay. Today it is the main street in an optimistic little town, located half-way between NYC and Washington, D.C., with a rich history and some enthusiastic business owners and citizens. The town’s First Friday Art Stroll closes Third Street to traffic and welcomes hundreds of townsfolk on foot who enjoy stopping in at the local winery or pub, or the Arts Alliance gallery, or other shops.

    Amish buggies are frequently seen passing by during the day, and I almost always run into someone I know. Last time I walked through town, I heard someone shouting, “Suzy is that you???!” I haven’t seen my cousin in over 30 years, and I got a great big hug when he parked and jumped out of his car. Later, when I needed to call the borough office to ask some questions about zoning, I realized that the telephone number was the same one I dialed as a kid when my dad worked there as the borough manager. This kind of thing happens regularly. It is familiar, but different. As a kid I couldn’t wait to leave, and honestly, it didn’t seem like such a promising place then. But there is a renewed energy in the town, and coupled with the comfort of the familiar, it feels good to me. In addition, I can more easily afford to live here than in Seattle, which has become ridiculously expensive. That said, it’s not going to be an easy transition, I’m sure. In fact its quite scary. But I don’t believe I was put on this earth to live a comfortable life filled with well laid plans

    The Plan For Now

    My plan is to make this my working studio. I will paint and teach here. I love the quiet time in my studio when I'm painting, but I'm looking forward to having visitors and being just a few steps from a coffee shop. Working from home has always been a challenge for this little extrovert. As plans go, this one is loose, and allows for change. I say this, because I know better than to believe I am in complete control. Ha!

    I don’t have a place to live just yet, but there is a little house owned by a dear friend that I hope to rent in a couple of months when it becomes available. It’s 200 years old and built of stone…it feels like a warm embrace. In the meantime, I will be parked in my mother’s basement with a few of my belongings (including an 85 pound Golden Retriever). I’ll spend most of my time in the new studio, to which I can walk from her house. I look forward to seeing old friends and making new relationships, to lightening bugs, sandy beaches and boardwalks, steamed crabs, family reunions, gritty old cities, learning how to make it on my own, and doing my best work.

    "Change is inevitable...except from a vending machine" ~ Robert C. Gallagher

  • My Latest Distraction

    It happens. I go off on a tangent from time to time. It's that creative spirit always asking, "what if?" You know I love patterns, and I wondered how some portions of my paintings might work in repeat patterns on fabric. I've seen them work beautifully on dog leashes for Dutch Dog Design, so what about other products? (Yes, this is the commercial artist coming out in me)

    I gave it a whirl with a bright, bold painting printed as a sample by Spoonflower, an online source for custom fabric, wallpaper and giftwrap. I decided that with my sewing skills I might need to stick with dinner napkins, but I like it! I do want to improve on the hem, but I can see these in lots of colors and patterns. What do you think?

  • Once Upon A Time...

    Back in September 2014 I wrote here about beginning some figurative paintings for Tacoma General Hospital. They're finished and will be delivered this month. What I am really happy about in these paintings is the success I had in controlling the reveal of the narrative. That's art-speak for how quickly the story in the painting is told. I'll explain...

    Before I began, I visited the location where the paintings will be hung. It's a waiting room in the birth center. There were families there, waiting for news about their sister, daughter, best friend...talking about her pregnancy, challenges that might await her, etc. Some folks were asleep in the chairs. The wait can be long.

    When you look at these paintings, you first see color and pattern, and they have a sort of retro, comfortable feeling. In contrast to the sleek, clean environment of the hospital, they feel worn and familiar. The surface is scratched and abraded. You'll see figures, but not all at once. This is what I mean by conrolling the reveal, or the pace, of the story in the painting. You might notice a figure you didn't see at first, or maybe a dog. The story unfolds only if you take the time to allow it. My viewers will have some time to spare. The stories told are life affirming, about family, and about those simple moments we remember together.

    For me, I just enjoyed switching gears as I painted - approaching the paintings as a storyteller, and then as an artist. I would turn the panel upside down, and work on the abstract design, the color and texture, then I would turn it right side up and make decisions about the figures. Then I would forget that they are figures, and just think of them as shapes, and on and on. I'm having too much fun! I feel so fortunate to be paid for what I LOVE doing. I hope that joy comes through, and brightens up a moment or two for someone feeling unsure about the future.

    (clay models used for figure reference)

  • The Love of Making Art

    Kyle Staver was a visiting artist during my residency at Vermont Studio Center. We had a long talk in my studio there, about art-making. She told me that an artist should engage with her painting in the same way she makes love - fully present and open. Kyle is a charming woman with an irreverent sense of humor and I can still see her standing there telling me to make love with my work. The conversation devolved into a discussion about less than stunning sex partners and we laughed a lot.

    At the time, I didn’t fully grasp what Kyle was telling me - I wasn’t sure exactly what she meant regarding my work. But since then I have caught myself in the act of painting with my head somewhere else. I have also found myself calling a painting done, when I didn’t love it. There have been times when I have settled because I didn’t want to risk destroying parts of a painting I liked. Other times when I just wanted a finished product and had lowered my standards. And still other times when I didn’t have the answers to what was needed, so I just accepted it as it was.

    The only way I will ever embrace my fullest potential as an artist, is to stop settling and accept nothing less than excellence. More passion, less comfort. More risk, less knowing. More engagement, less quitting. Not everything needs to have this kind of attention in my life…I am not a perfectionist when it comes to housecleaning, or even personal hygiene! (Have you seen my fingernails?) But I won’t settle for mediocre in my art. It is my gift to the world, and it’s really all I have of any value, so I’m sure as hell not going to settle for anything less than my best and fullest attention.

    Recently, I finished a painting. It was okay. I didn’t love it. But I accepted it. For some reason, I let it go, even though there was something nagging me about it. I varnished it, waxed it, had it shot by a professional photographer, and included it in a book of my best work. My mentor, Nick Wilton, suggested that I use it on the cover of the book because of it's eyecatching darks and lights. That’s when it hit me…this is not my best.

    So the wax varnish had to be removed, the surface sanded, and back in I went. I let myself get lost in the work. I became so fully present that I was absent - like a clear channel with no interference. I love it now. I’ll varnish it again, wax it again, shoot it again, and re-publish my book. And it will bring me joy. I think that’s what Kyle meant - care for your painting like you care for a lover. Be completely focused, engaged and mindful. When you are, your performance becomes brilliant, and you won't have that nagging feeling that you could have done better.

  • Thanksgiving

    I’m grateful all year round for the many blessings in my life, but gratitude is the focus at Thanksgiving. So I thought I’d share with you the things I am most thankful for in my studio. If you’re a painter, you may see some things you’ll want to put on your Christmas list!

    First, the anti-fatigue mat I stand on when I paint, by Smart Step. Such a life saver, especially if your studio has a concrete floor!!!

    Excellent quality, cradled, birch panels, delivered to my door at an exceptional price by American Easel, Salem OR. And in the greater Seattle area, you can also check out Matthew Olds, for beautifully crafted panels, installation and other services at Hold Studios.

    Golden Artist Colors are well known, and their product line is amazing. Another thing to love about them is the technical advice at your fingertips through their YouTube videos, and even an expert to call toll free when you’ve really f’d things up (800) 959-6543. But this year I discovered and fell in love with another very high quality paint product that I use almost exclusively now (thank you, Nick Wilton) The paint is so sexy, like thick, heavy cream, and can be used on all kinds of surfaces. They dry to a beautiful matte finish and have unbelievable pigment saturation. These cel-vinyl paints come from Cartoon Colour Company in Culver City, CA. I have to caution you though, their website sucks and makes it very hard to order. Just sayin’.

    And last but not least, Montana Black empty paint pens that I can paint/draw with. Filled with Golden High Flow Acrylics, these are really fun to work with.

    There’s more…that big ‘ol, green shirt I wear all the time, the 13” trowel that paints better than I do, blue shop towels, an amazing group of artist-friends all over the world (you know who you are), and music. I'm not even sure I could paint without music. This is just a short list. I hope yours is even longer.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

  • Finding Meaning

    I don't always start an abstract painting by thinking about its meaning. I start with color, pattern, and shapes that I find intriguing. My intention is to explore. I play with the paint and move it around on a smooth wood panel with a variety of tools. Sometimes inspiration comes from music, or a poem, or just a feeling in my heart. Sometimes the feeling changes and I go in another direction.

    The minute the first mark is made, the "conversation" is begun. What I mean by conversation is the back and forth between me and the painting. If brush strokes were words, most of mine would be what if? Curiosity makes for an interesting conversation, where new ground can be explored. Have you ever had a conversation with someone who thinks they know it all...they are not curious, they have all the facts? That can kill a painting in the same way it can kill a conversation because there is no room for discovery.

    Staying curious and willing to experiment means that you are open to possibilities. I think the Zen term for this is "beginner's mind." Of course, beginners make a lot of mistakes. Ah, mistakes...what an interesting word. It suggests a thing that we shouldn't have done, a turn that we shouldn't have taken. I don't think so. In fact, I think mistakes are necessary. 

    They are the stepping stones on the path to success, right? We build on them. We learn from them. In my painting, the wrong turns, or mistakes are what make the finished product interesting. Can you see the layers of shapes and forms that make up a sort of "history" in this image?

    If I knew from the start exactly what I wanted to paint, there would be none of this. No surprises, no discovery. 

    During the process of painting, and sometimes after the work is complete, I can step back and find meaning in the work. I see how shapes or patterns might represent intangible concepts, such as thoughts or emotions. These may mean one thing to me, and yet another to you. There is no right or wrong. Sometimes, there is just a "feeling." When you listen to beautiful music, you don't ask what it means, you just let it wash over you. These paintings only require an open mind - simply enter the painting and see where it takes you. Maybe it doesn't need words...