Entries Tagged as 'Process'

Prickly Processes

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Life has been prickly lately, but not without joy.

Four months ago my husband Thomas and I locked the door to our little house in the Pleasant Street neighborhood and handed our keys to the new owners. Then, we drove our last load of stuff to a storage unit and began the work of settling into the spare bedroom at Thomas’s dad’s house, where we’ve been living while our new home, also in the Pleasant Street neighborhood, is under construction.

Thus we have entered a new phase of our relatively new marriage–not only cohabitation but cohabitation with parents. While the adjustment has been challenging in the predictable ways, we’ve grown closer as a couple, and we both appreciate this time with Thomas’s family, who have embraced me more generously than I’d dared hope for.

Perhaps no one knows how truly controlling we are until we’re unable to exercise our typical degree of control, but this has certainly been true for me, and surprise: it’s been good for me.  I’m painting in an exposed part of the house, where people can see what I’m working on. I hadn’t realized just how much I relied on closing my studio door until I didn’t have that luxury. Folks who attend art school learn to create in public and shared spaces, but I never did either one. Though I do find privacy helpful when I’m working on a painting, I’m getting less self-conscious, which is pretty much always a kind of liberation.

What’s also neat about this phase of my life, about this communal living experience, is that I’m discovering what is worth doing regardless of the particulars of my surroundings. I am extremely grateful that Thomas’s dad is letting me use his formal sitting room as a temporary studio, and that I am able to continue painting while living here. Has it impacted my process? Yes. I’m painting simpler work right now, work that delights me but doesn’t necessarily push against my limitations as much as some of my other work. Does that really matter? No, not as long as I keep painting. Art has to be flexible enough to adapt to life’s changes. Sometimes, it’s okay to make simple work. Sometimes, it’s okay to hang out in the kiddie pool, even without kiddies.

Speaking of kiddies, I’ll add that my main prickly challenge right now is not the change in living circumstances but infertility. Thomas and I have been trying to have children for awhile. After several early-term miscarriages, we went to the specialist, who diagnosed me with low ovarian reserve, something no one trying to have children wants to hear. The specialist says I’m running out of eggs and close to being in menopause (at 37, this is difficult news to stomach). Our most viable options are adoption or trying IVF with an egg donor.  We are exploring both possibilities, which involve considerable expense and uncertainty, but life is nothing if not costly and uncertain, and we intend to have children one way or another.

I suppose then that these cactus paintings, which appear simple, have grown out of the last few months of painful and disappointing fertility news. I’m hopeful that Thomas and I will be like cacti, able to grow our family despite challenging conditions. The good news is that, so far anyway, we’re doing okay with it all. I guess in the right relationship, hardships ultimately bring people closer. As a person who has historically struggled to stay in a long-term relationship, I am both pleased and relieved to find myself becoming more committed to our deepening connection and increasingly big (ad)ventures.


6th Street Sycamore

Friday, May 12, 2017

Sixth Street Sycamore


I’m on a sycamore tree kick. I’m also trying to keep things loose and expressive lately, and show at least some of my original marks. This presents an ongoing challenge to my perfectionism and the urge to tighten everything up.

At one point I thought this painting was destined for the dumpster, but I pulled it back from the brink. When I paint (or live) too safely, I forget that the disaster moments–and what it takes to recover from them–are actually where the growth and learning occur.

Filtered Light

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Often I overpaint. So this morning I painted in just one session, walked away, and let it be done.

Filtered Light

36″ x 48″

Art fair fun and feedback

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

I write this morning with a keen awareness that summer is almost here. The delicate spring colors, yellow-greens and green-whites, will soon give way to deeper, more rustic hues. Life in Gainesville will briefly slow under the belting heat and the reduction of student throngs. When I must emerge from the air conditioning, I will sweat and scurry across the open spaces, and any tree with dense foliage will be a blessing.

Work in progress

Speaking of Florida heat, I’ve recovered from my first street art fair a few weeks ago. From people taking selfies in front my paintings and several nice sales to unsolicited advice and feedback, not all of it positive, I will be back for more in the Fall if I’m accepted to the show. Art is a matter of taste, and there is no universal in this regard. One of my favorite moments happened when a woman eagerly beckoned her friend to come and look at my paintings. The friend took one glance and proclaimed, “It’s nice, but it’s not for me!” and kept walking.   How simple; how true. When it comes to art, it’s usually is like that, isn’t it? We know instantly whether something is for us. Another person–someone who bought a painting–took time to critique my work. “You should do more of the kind of painting we’re buying from you, less of the other ones,” my patron said, waving a dismissive hand at several paintings in my booth. “That other stuff is too easy.”

I chewed on this for a while. Was he right? Have I been playing it too easy at times? I gave this some real thought. As a self-taught artist, I’ve never been exposed to the brutal critiques in art schools, and I don’t usually overhear people’s negative comments because I hang my paintings and leave them for a month or two.  When people talk, I don’t hear it. So the feedback, while hard, was worth entertaining.

He did have a point, and at the moment I am indeed working on a more technically challenging painting. However, as a painter I continue to navigate by intuition, listening closely to what feels right, what sits well with me over time, and what I can live with in my work. Although some of my paintings are technically harder than others, my inner world dictates what emerges at least as much as my technical ability.

The truth is that sometimes I need to paint in a more raw, simplistic way, because to do so is its own kind of challenge–part of learning to loosen up, play, and allow things to be imperfect, not fully formed or realized all the time. Which is, for anyone who knows me well, not so easy for me at all.

Guy taking a selfie


What’s next?

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

You Are Here

The Walk

30″ x 48″

Recently a friend told me that whenever she finishes a project and doesn’t know what to do next, her husband says, “What are you afraid of? Do that.”

Art follows life, and lately my life has taken some interesting turns. I moved in with my partner Thomas, and I’m painting in a studio in our shared home. We’re talking about starting a family, too. These prospects are exciting, and they scare me. I’ve grown accustomed to my space and independence, and I never expected I’d want to be a mom. Yet here I am, fear and all, slowly walking into new territory.

Most of the time, I’m even enjoying it.



Sunday, December 6, 2015


Birds are overtaking the submerged path. It’s noisy in there, messy, and kind of dear.


Like all of us, I suppose, when we get down to it.

Birds (detail)


As Brian Andreas says, “The hardest thing is to listen well enough to quit worrying about dying.”

I hope you are listening well, and enjoying your own mess, noise, and dearness.



(p.s. If you didn’t see it on Facebook, I recently published a piece about loneliness and some of my experiences in Cuba. You can read it here.)

Just today

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Jackson’s Forest (detail)

The news media and Facebook tell me the world is broken, to pray for the brokenness of the world.

I am reading Mary Oliver’s Felicity (2015), a tender and remarkable collection of love poems to her life partner-lover, and to the trees, rivers, and change.

I am loverless–for how long who knows–but autumn is here, at least a little, and the yoga is good. There is chocolate and my new bicycle daring me to go anywhere, especially around the block at dusk. And those miracle friendships that endure whether I’m in love or not.

I am painting again, too, a childlike painting with colorful trees and chubby birds, in honor of my infant nephew Jackson, his innocence and simple delight.

In her famous poem The Summer Day,  Oliver says she doesn’t know what a prayer is, but she does know how to pay attention. I am paying attention. Which may be a form of prayer. Which may be a hint about how to love and how to tend the brokenness, in the world and in ourselves.

Everything That Was Broken

(by Mary Oliver, from Felicity)

Everything that was broken has

forgotten its brokenness. I live

now in a sky-house, through every

window the sun. Also your presence.

Our touching, our stories.  Earthy

and holy both. How can this be, but

it is. Every day has something in

it whose name is Forever.


Saturday, October 3, 2015

Pond 3

I woke at 4am today and painted two ponds before my 8:30am yoga class at the beloved Searchlight Yoga. I didn’t use a source photo for these paintings, but I referenced my memory of a man-made pond at a retreat center in Micanopy, FL.

Traditionally, ponds have mystical, meditative connotations, yet man-made ponds strike me as a little too perfect–not entirely trustworthy. Perhaps the same is true of self-reflection. While important, self-reflection has its limits. I can easily over-simplify or distort what I see. Often, I see what I want to see, not what is really there. And besides, can I really know what is there, when the nature of life is transience?

Direct experience–of my body in yoga, of my hand on a brush thick with paint–is something knowable, at least in the moment, and through direct experience, I become more alive. In my current work, I’m trying to bypass my intellect and self-analysis.  This is meditation. I work quickly and spontaneously, with great feeling and little technical knowledge.

These ponds are places of not knowing. Life is full of such places. On the yoga mat and at the easel, I overhear myself thinking, “I don’t know.” Yet I keep showing up and entering these places, and where terror might be, often there is  joy.


Wabi-sabi Cuba

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Pond

The Pond

24″ x 24″

I’m back from Cuba and working on a more comprehensive post about how the experience impacted me. In the meanwhile, the textures and general wabi-sabi nature of the Cuban landscape, people, and dwellings helped me loosen up with this newest painting, “The Pond.”

Historically, I’ve struggled with leaving my paintings exposed and unrefined, yet these were exactly the elements I found so beautiful about Cuba. So I’m challenging myself to let my work retain a more raw state of being, at least for now.

Here’s the source photo. I snapped this picture while I was out at a work retreat at Casa Micanopy. The final painting looks nothing like this, of course, but it provided just the right amount of inspiration and ambiguity to get me into the process.

The Pond source photo


Stretching towards Cuba

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Uncertain Owls

Tomorrow morning, I’m leaving for a week in Cuba. I’m looking forward to the growth that comes from being out of my comfort zone and experiencing new people, geography, birds, trees, food, dance, and even difficulty. I finally managed to pack light, too–something I’ve learned from several trips this summer. In the end, space may be one of our most precious commodities.

Art-wise, I’m bringing my small square sketchbook, a field watercolor set, some ink pens, and a journal, and the fabulous book Creativity, Inc., which I learned about from Brene Brown‘s new book, Rising Strong. I won’t have internet at all, which will be a gift I’m sure.

On a personal note, I just published a satirical article about my adventures in online dating on Medium, which, if interested, you can read here.

Also, if you’re in town and interested, I’ll be facilitating a retreat at Casa Micanopy on Art and Process on Saturday, October 24th, from 9am-3pm. I’ll try to share everything I think is important in starting an art practice–in particular, how to keep the demon doubts at bay so you can get down to the rewarding work of play. Please let me know if you’re interested and I’ll hold you a spot–the cost is $60.

I hope you have a great week, and I look forward to sharing sketches, paintings, photos, and insights/growth opportunities when I return.

Here’s to life, art, friends, support, travel, yoga (I can’t recommend the new Searchlight Yoga highly enough), discomfort, love, uncertainty, and all the rest.

Thanks for your support and for reading this blog.



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