Thursday, August 31, 2006

Wet Paint

Within the last week I have found paint:

on the floor
on the leg of my easel
on my husband's forearm
on my husband's swim suit
on my husband's shirt at the pool
all over my hands
on my arm
on my neck
on my ear
on my cheek
on my bottom lip
on the telephone
on the back door
on a frame
actually on the canvas, and
on the seat of my pants, which makes me wonder if it's
on the sofa.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Ducks in a Row

The exhibit is fast approaching. (November 9th, Baquero Gallery) Not only am I trying to complete more paintings, I am also working closely with the gallery to get all my ducks in a row, so to speak. There will be a point soon when the portfolio needs to be finished, no more paintings to add to it. There's a brochure to create, an artist's statement to tweak, postcards to make, and people to invite. There's more, but it's overwhelming to think of it all at once.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Joy and Papa

Papa is my dad. I call him Dad, not Papa. Papa is his grandfather name. He just so happened to be the first person in our family to hold Joy when she was born. So the reader isn't grossed out, I sent dad out of the delivery room one minute, Joy was born and named, Dad came in the next minute and held Joy. What I remember saying (I was completly looped out on the drug of the day) as I looked at how sweet it was that my favorite dad in the whole world was gently holding our new baby was, "Dad, can I hold her now? I think I'm getting a little jealous."

Something magical happened between the two of them in that moment.

Which is partly why I faded the background in the painting. The focus of the painting is what's happening between a grandfather and his grandaughter. He's not just reading a book, he's holding my daughter. For a moment she's still, relaxed in Papa's arms. His strong hands are protecting Joy behind a picture book, and Joy is so relaxed that she's sucking her thumb. For any father to sit in a living room and read a silly book to his grandchild is a beautiful wonderful event. For my dad to read to sweet Joy is a cherished memory.

The initial jealousy at seeing Sarah Joy in my dad's arms in the hospital all those years ago has long since departed. In it's place is assurance that Papa and Joy share a generousity of spirit that infects us all. And in quiet moments, when the two of them are together, everything else fades away.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Hopelessly Devoted

Hello. My name is Sarah, (hello, Sarah) and I'm an artist.

Arguably, I've been an artist all of my life, but it's only been in the last two years that it's become somewhat of an addiction. Two years ago this October started my love affair with oil painting. It was as if all my life converged in one beautiful moment of glorious revelation at the end of a paintbrush. More often than not, on a day to day basis, I function well enough without painting. But from what I understand about addictions, one can think of nothing else except how to get the next high, the next fix, the next drink, or whatever. For me, it's how can I get the next painting out of my "foggy" brain and onto the canvas. How and when will I have the time to devote to re-creating what I see in my head to the canvas?

Maybe this art thing is not so much an addiction as it is a new devotion. Addiction would seem more like the art is controlling, that I am art's slave. Devotion, on the other hand, seems more a self sacrifice. It's more like I am giving myself to be enthusiastically attentive to this new pursuit. Devotion is a better word to describe my relationship with art anyway. Art often becomes a prayer...."God, help me finish this painting. Amen."

Friday, August 18, 2006

Brain Cloud

The new painting is a mess, or what's left of it. This morning, I swiped off four or more layers of paint on the bottom half of the painting, so that as a whole, the thing looks pretty pathetic. Similar to erasing memory, what's left on the bottom half of the painting is grey matter with no synapses.

Now, I wonder if I just made a huge mistake. Was my brain too clouded with what was before me that I couldn't see beyond it to a more finished piece?

Sometimes my whole life feels just like one big brain cloud. Everything's.....fuzzy. Maybe that's part of the reason my paintings are NOT quite so precise and detailed. Maybe my brain is a fog, and every once in a while a cool wind blows the mist around, and for a brief moment of time the haze parts, and my vision clears. And whatever was uncertain or obstructed is momentarily revealed.

Has anyone invented a brain fan, yet? Seems like that would be extremely helpful in encouraging the fog to lift, and seperate.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Simon Says....

There's a line in a Paul Simon song from his Graceland album: "Believing he had supernatural powers he slammed into a brick wall."

For various reasons, I haven't painted in three weeks. And what I thought I could do no longer seems possible, as far as painting goes. I've slammed into a brick wall. But "these are the days of miracle and don't cry baby, don't cry." And, for what I'm painting today to turn out like I've envisioned, it will take a miracle (or at least a small wonder.)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


First of all, by nature, I am not organized. So, for instance, if a day of the week wasn't scheduled for the house to get cleaned, it wouldn't happen. Mondays are designated for house cleaning.

Second, surprisingly since I'm not naturally gifted at organization, the quality of my performance often directly correlates to the cleanliness and tidiness of my environment. Go figure. It probably has something to do with my mother being a compulsive cleaner. Therefore, I force myself to clean on Mondays. This takes a huge amount of self-discipline and self-control, qualities that are not abundantly obvious in my character.

The result, when everything gets done well on Mondays, is that on Tuesdays I get to paint! Happiness.

However, even when all goes well on Mondays, life crowds in and misplaces painting time. Often it's my fault; time absorbs me when I'm at the computer. Or all the ordinary urgencies that come with running a household, like grocery shopping (a minor annoyance in my opinion) take away time. One I don't mind: a visit with a friend always takes precedence over painting. Friends are always welcome.

And since nothing is completely ordinary around here lately (is it ever?), today will be a non-painting Tuesday.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Art with Coffee

Art "coffee table" books I own:

Cezanne (one of my favorite, inspirational)
Mary Cassatt-Oils and Pastels (classic simplicity)
Mary Cassatt (refined)
Van Gogh (beauty and emotion)
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (spirited)
Monet (landscapes and light)
Renoir (socially aware, soft)
Camille Pisarro (too many photos in black and white, pleasing)
Andrew Wyeth (amazing detail)
Manet (bold variety)
Degas (voyeuristic)
Sorolla (a gift from a Spaniard, breezy)
Henri Matisse (controlled emotion)
Matisse (calculated)
Matisse (colorful)
Georgia O'Keefe (Freudian)
Picasso (clearly brilliantly messed-up)
Rouault (dark, pious, almost expressionless)
Frida Kahlo (lots of pain and self-absorption)
Norman Rockwell (amusing, nostalgic)
Hopper (plastico is fantastico)
Faces of Impressionism (examples of many different artist's portraits--great to study)

Monday, August 07, 2006

An American in Mexico

It just so happens that we are in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

When my friend sent the New York Times article about Donald Johnson, the prisoner who paints using the pigment leached from M&M´s, who happens to have an exhibit RIGHT NOW in San Miguel de Allende, excitement started to build. What are the odds that a long ago planned trip would co-incide with a completely random art exhibit that my dear "old" high school friend living in Pittsburgh sent me from a New York Times article? Not much, I wager.

There was limited information in the article, so the research began....and the walking. Imagine extremely narrow cobblestone roads with Mexico City traffic and steep hills similar to San Francisco; that´s San Miguel.

There was an early lead that yeilded a hint of the location of the gallery. After about a mile trek each direction, it turned out to be way off. Then a late evening trek to a series of galleries that were closed. Finally, a flier with the exhibit listed.....and today, score! Not only did we find the right gallery, but it was open.

The exhibit was at once disturbing and compelling, almost like watching a trainwreck. As stated in the New York Times article, all of the pieces were postcard size. There was very obviously leftover chocolate from the M&M's in some of the pieces. There were bits of the hard candy shell in some pieces, faded of pigment. The colors were bright; however, what I found disturbing, was that on more than a few pieces/works, there were strands of human hair stuck in the "painting." Only a select few paintings were symetrical and/or peaceful. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Lots of galleries these days are filled with abstract expressionism. There was just a quality (lack of quality?) that suggested a twisted view of life. Understandable, considering Donny Johnson has been behind bars, and in solitary confinement for most of his life...for murder.

After seeing the exhibit, what baffled me most was how this tiny gallery in San Miguel could host such a large opening night fete, and get such respected press coverage. That's very compelling. Only two of the twenty-four-ish pieces had not yet sold. Kudos, Yam Gallery. ( )