04 December 2009


Hmm, and I thought I’d be happy if I could do a decent tornado kick.

Best to click and see it big screen, but it’s a poor quality video, so even better see it on a really big screen if you know someone who has ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ TiVoed. These guys are so innovative, it will be fantastic if their online adventure is as good:

19 November 2009


An experiment gone awry.

I love a bit of decay incorporated into things, which is why I love old buildings, Michael Eastman’s photos, and the furniture I inherited (although a small fund to keep the chairs glued and un-wobbly would have been a good thing to inherit along with). I’ve been working on a way to include that in some of my pieces, but how best to partially destroy my work?

Here is a piece I’ve been wreaking minor destruction on, pre-destruction:

It definitely needs some decay, so I go to work on it, trying to balance giving it some integrity while still leaving it vulnerable:

Then I become Kali, speeding up the destructive force of time, and the result is:

Far too much decay!

Tomorrow, back to the easel, so to speak. I will repair it to wreak (less) havoc on it another day.

At least it won’t need this treatment:

Done to erase the result of another experiment. One not to be repeated.

15 November 2009



A day of frustration – my materials were not in the mood to do what I wanted today. I knew exactly what I was trying to achieve, but couldn’t get the spark I was going for with the ink, pencil, encaustic and other pigments at hand. I’m sure that, along with the intimidation of a blank page, this is not a rare experience.

Part of my frustration is I’d like to do a couple larger pieces to go along with this series (so far they are 5″x8″, 6″x7″, and smaller – tiny!), but on the bigger pieces things keep warping and going astray. New materials are only 20 minutes away at Dick Blick, but this is not a good time for me to go because I tend to get distracted and find myself with a basket full of gold leaf, sheets of nickel, and a better riveting hammer when that is not what I am supposed to be working on right now.

13 November 2009

moth letter

moth letter

I am working on some butterfly/moth + flower images this week, this is the one closest to being finished.

I’ve been experimenting with encaustic and layers of vellum and paper, I love how the vellum resists ink, gathering it up, making the image even more translucent. The ones that turned out best had pale colours and a limited palette.

Time is limited because I’m getting a lot of small pieces ready for a show, so back to the bugs…

03 November 2009



These are from this summer, all in my mom’s neighbourhood.

I’m working with photos for a few days to distract myself from some technical difficulties with the other series I’ve been working on. I’ve looked around to see if anyone else is doing a similar process with inks, pencil and encaustic, but haven’t seen any, so I’ll go back to experimenting with the propane torches tomorrow. So far nothing big has caught fire or blown up, that’s good anyway.

Earlier this evening I was showing a friend the website of one of my favourite photographers, Michael Eastman – his Cuban and Italian photos are incredible. Then I learned of the death of Roy DeCarava, another amazing photographer. I was trying to pick a few of his photos that I liked best, but it is so hard to choose. This is one of many, and this, and this. They are so evocative.

Now that I have loaded my photos onto this post I’ve decided I don’t like the way they look small. I love how art has such a different effect at different sizes (except when it doesn’t work small on my blog). I spent the day at an art museum with some friends recently, and was loving the difference between various pieces close up and at a distance. And the texture, that fantastic delicate texture of drawings and miniatures, it’s all completely lost in reproduction.


30 October 2009



These are details of one of the paintings in the stash that inspired Barbara Levine (former director of exhibitions, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art) to write ‘Finding Frida Kahlo‘. The trunks of materials (diaries, letters, recipes, paintings, stuffed hummingbirds, and so on) have been called forgeries by some interested parties in Mexico (ArtSlant article, NY Times article, Christopher Knight’s take), and I am curious to see how this all plays out.

Detecting forgeries is a difficult art, because the science can be faked (although sometimes people are so sure of their ‘eye’ that they refuse to believe scientific evidence to the contrary, e.g. de Groot insisting that ‘Merry Cavalier‘ was by Frans Hals despite the fact that some of the paints used were not developed until long after Hals had died), and of course mistakes are made both ways (a collector of Rembrandt burned one of his paintings thinking it was a forgery, later it turned out it probably wasn’t).

Both those claiming these were Frida Kahlo’s belongings and those crying fraud have a stake in the outcome, influencing the way they see these pretties.


I do love Frida as a deer, a friend almost bought this version years ago, but didn’t, because it would have been a quite a stretch financially – of course looking back he thinks it would have been worth the sacrifice. So often in life it would be nice to have the benefit of hindsight ahead of time, eh?

Click the link below to see more:

“Finding Frida Kahlo” by Barbara Levine from Princeton Architectural Press on Vimeo.

15 October 2009



The warm colour of this recent piece doesn’t appear when I put it on the blog, nor the texture, of course.

I love it when I get to visit art I’ve only seen in reproduction and can finally see the surface and the real colours. Size also has such an impact, whether because a piece dominates the space or because it is small and draws the viewer in, and none of that comes across in a book or on-line.

At this time of night my wish is for more hours in every day, there never seem to be enough daylight hours for anything I do with colour. Plus more hours in the night for composing. And calorie-free chocolates.

14 October 2009



I started this piece with a chalk sketch of a lovely 10-year-old I know. She has a beautiful wavy blond mane and a lovely singing voice, neither of which shows up here. I love her eyebrows, their angle gives her a vulnerable look.

Sometimes when I sit down to compose a new picture I can’t figure out how to start, the visual equivalent of writer’s block, I suppose. Suddenly I can’t remember how, as if I’d never done it before, and I swear it happens every third time I sit down to sketch out something new – absolutely ridiculous.

After struggling for a couple hours somehow I finally tap into it, then spend the rest of the night sketching out new pieces. Until when I should be getting up the next morning.

Luckily, there’s the work of creating the final versions before I do it all again.

09 October 2009



This window is in a beautiful building in the village my mom lives in, it was abandoned 19 years ago.

In my art I like to use images from my life and the places I’ve explored. Damaged old buildings evoke so many emotions, and questions.

This piece is not finished but I haven’t figured out where to go with it next.

06 October 2009



This is what I’ve been finishing up this week, another architecture + script. I love gothic anything, I haven’t put the buildings in my work much, but I do use this old Italian handwriting frequently.

All the travelling has stopped (for now) after a weekend at a beautiful town up the coast for a wedding (also beautiful). My computer celebrated by coming down with some dreadful, barely fixable condition, and now, after everything it went through as a cure, I’m having a hard time finding my stuff. I may have to learn quite a bit more about computers to get everything re-organized, adding to the chaos of moving back in to my regular life.

It has not been enough to keep me from thinking about a trip to New Orleans in March though, I’ve been dreaming about the food, music, and the architecture.

24 September 2009



For this I used the image of my mother’s doorway – sitting here I can smell the stone and plaster walls (unless my sister is cooking ratatouille, bread pudding with ginger toffee, or some other deliciousness). The house dates back to at least 1595, the records before that were lost when the town was sacked in 1576, and when she moved in the only plumbing was a sink underneath the window to the right of the door, all cooking had been done in the fire.

I love row houses because I love town noise, and my mom’s house is so accessible when someone drops by for a visit, but my dream house would be a ‘portland’, a row house with a long strip of garden behind. I recently stayed in a beautiful example of that in a medieval town outside London while visiting relatives (including my most adored aunt and uncle who are fixing up a barge in the gorgeous port of Sandwich), the garden was 40+ feet wide and 630 feet long, on a south-facing slope with orchard, pond and nuttery. Perfection. An upscale version, built 70 years after the one I stayed in, is Rothe House in Kilkenny, which has been restored and opened as a museum. It would be great to be part of a project like that, they did such a good job on the gardens and orchard, and next time I’ll definitely spend more time in their library.

23 September 2009



This is one of the pieces that doesn’t seem to be quite finished, but I’m not sure what it needs. I keep going across the room to look at it, but the solution has not jumped out at me, so I will let it sit a while then try again. It’s funny how time can change what one sees in a work.

I am listening to a frog out in the woods while I work but the birds are quiet now. I’m going to take a dozen of the apples weighing down the trees out back and make a crisp, then take the fiendish hounds for a long run on a trail nearby, they weren’t with me for the last two months of travelling and the one I adopted last year didn’t do so well with the separation (she stopped eating and lost a lot of fur). The dogs I’ve rescued from shelters seem to do worse when I’m away, plus she is a dominant dog and doesn’t like the boss being absent, so long walks now that I’m back are essential.

Hopefully the time outside will be enough so that I can look at the pieces I’m unsure about and know what they need.



My three+ months of travel will come to an end soon, it’s odd making that transition from mobile to stationary. No more thinking about which stamps to use, or how much money to exchange, and no scramble to get Ryan Air boarding passes printed to avoid a penalty at the airport that is bigger than my ticket cost. Post-travel life always feels so quiet, too quiet, but it will be nice to have predictable internet access, plus it’s easier to cook in my own kitchen. Except that I love to eat but am not that wild about cooking, so I don’t care about that last one. Oh well.

In these last weeks I’m getting a bit of work done, but I have several pieces that I am 90% happy with and can’t decide what the missing 10% is, very frustrating.

03 September 2009

15 kilos


No art today because I am travelling, all packed to Ryan Air’s precise requirements. These are photographs I took during a drive with my sister the other day, all things we won’t see for a while. The farmer who sold us honey that day insisted that we come down to pick the tomatoes with him so that we could appreciate the layout of his farm. The tomatoes were amazing with some herbs we picked and chevre on bread.


30 August 2009



The other day a group of us went picnicking by the river hidden in all that foliage. The house with the green shutters is abandoned, but so desirable – it has a view, beyond the garden, of both the ruins of the castle and the mountains off in the distance. The part of the castle most visible from there is the part blown up by dynamite, part of a standing skeleton.

Later, I bought a lovely sketch of the church in our neighbouring town from an artist there who has an upcoming show of paintings of local architecture. The sketch is charming, very lively, making me think again that it’s wrong that drawings get so little respect.

28 August 2009



I’m never sure whether I should write on bad days, but I’m thinking that until I get enough distance to make it sounds funny it’s probably best not to, eh?

It was nothing horrible, I’m just a delicate flower when it comes to a few certain things. Well, ok, I’m a delicate flower that lifts heavy weights and skilfully wields a pick-axe, but other than that…

27 August 2009



I have to do some writing about my work and I’m dreading it. I don’t feel very articulate about what I do, and I don’t have a clear idea of what people want to know about me or my art. I did brainstorm a list of stuff about the work I’m currently doing, maybe I need a ghost-writer to shape it. I wonder if people still hire ghost-writers, it seems such an old-fashioned term.

I’m not a writer at heart (I used to say I avoid writing the way I avoid cutting myself with knives, that is, sometimes it happens despite my best efforts), so it has surprised me how much I enjoy publishing a blog, but my posts do tend to be pretty brief.

24 August 2009



Work in progress. The texture will be softer, the various edges will be worked, and the gilt enhanced.

There is a thunderstorm overhead, a very dramatic background to work to.

23 August 2009



These are views of the town today, local products day, but I spent my food money for the next few weeks on these streets yesterday at the vide-grenier (flea market) on bits for assemblages, so I enjoy the fragrance of the food only. The live music and dancing last night had everyone out late after our street dinner party (good company, delicious food).


This is a big part of today. The horse and rider on the course did some amazing manoeuvres, the blond with the forelock is a total sweetie.


Besides hundreds of horses, ponies, and burros there are traditional woodworkers, blacksmiths, and a small herd of sheep to be shorn. It’s time for me to head back out, there is a whole section of town I didn’t get to this morning with fowl, rabbits, pottery, and more food, of course. Then tonight is a concert of Andean music.


21 August 2009



This is one of a few black and white pieces I’m working on.

I was talking with a very talented painter yesterday whose works range from notebook-size to barn wall-size. I know very few people who are comfortable working both very small and very large, and she modestly told me that working on something three times as tall as herself was not much of a challenge, that working small took much more skill. As someone who works exclusively on a small and smaller scale I can’t agree – I wouldn’t even know where to start on a big piece. I did do the one door-sized piece, but not only is that not terribly big, the composition was pure luck.

I adore huge paintings, if I could afford one of her larger pieces it would be worth getting rid of furniture to give it space. Actually, depending on which one I chose, I might just have to build the house around it. Which would be totally worth doing to have her painting of the Venus columns and l’abbaye-école (not on her website, sadly, and neither is the lovely ‘Icare’ which might require a small tower addition to the house). I just need to sell a bazillion of my small works, then I’ll get right to that.

19 August 2009


window2 It is hot! A good reason to take a break and walk along where the horses will be during the market this weekend.l'ecole2

I will not be actually buying a horse (this week anyway), but will be taking photos for a piece I am working on. The winds have started to blow down from the hills so the temperatures should be cooler by then.

18 August 2009



This is the view I should have been looking out on today as I worked…but did not. It is the fourth and last day of the village festival, even tonight people only started showing up around 11-ish when the band got going, it will taper off about 4am, thus the reduced daytime productivity. I did notice the pétanque balls were clinking all day (it is such a satisfying sound somehow), apparently unaffected by the late nights.

I have little experience with village festivals in any country, but to me the crowd here looks far more urban than party-goers in les Etats-Unis outside of the big cities NY, LA, SF, Boston & Miami, and the range of ages on the dance floor is much wider. The eight-year-old daughter of my neighbour began the evening at 9:30 on the bumper cars and was dancing with no sign of slowing down at midnight.

Next weekend is the vide-grenier (flea market) and horse sale, I don’t want to eat this week so that I can buy more bits for assemblages.

16 August 2009


Revisiting this one, with more colour. This is not my usual palette and I find it changes the emphasis quite a bit.

15 August 2009

11 June 2009



I’m excited because I’m getting ready for three months of travel, but I’m also mourning because I haven’t been able to work on assemblages lately, and I won’t be able to bring those materials on the road. I will be restricted to working on pieces like this one (which I do love creating), plus a few fiber projects which pack easily. It’s frustrating to want to be making things and not be able to get my hands on the bits and pieces, but at least I will be finding more in the four countries I’ll be travelling through to visit my family.

There are a few things I’m sharing from the garden before I leave – raspberries, boysenberries, figs, pads for nopales (with lentils, yum!), and this lone avocado, very buttery. When I get back there may be a few strawberry and pineapple guavas left, then there will be pomegranates. I’ll miss the peaches – heavenly when they’re ripe and the skin slides off in your fingers, also the ripening of the manzana bananas and thimbleberries. My stubborn pineapples think they are just for show, all the other bromeliads bloom while they just sit there, but I am very happy because an ancient cycad that was damaged and seemed to die three years ago just produced a beautiful crown of leaves.

I love traveling, although I will miss a lot of close friends – three months is a long time between visits, but I will be staying with family and friends, some of whom I only see every few years, and there will be a new bébé when I get back.


07 June 2009

tulip rete


Whenever I pass by I admire a beautiful astrolabe in the clock repair shop around the corner. There are many lovely things in the window, but I’ve always been especially fond of these instruments. The Museo di Storia della Scienza has a great collection, and the British Musem has this – a rare ‘pocket’ version found some years back.

01 June 2009



I was thinking about the process of art – I love how poet Hilde Domin talks about being deeply immersed in her writing, then stepping back. From a poem of hers:

Man muß weggehen können
und doch sein wie ein Baum:
als bliebe die Wurzel im Boden,
als zöge die Landschaft und wir ständen fest

(my not-very-poetic translation:
One must be able to go away
and yet be like a tree:
as if the roots remained in the ground,
as if the landscape moved and we stood fast)

07 May 2009



I happy to find this bit of handwriting to use for this piece, it’s so smooth and dense. It looks blurry on this post, but the original is quite clear.

Being away from the flotsam & jetsam of my workroom for so long I somehow fell out of the groove of assemblage. Back to work the other day I was at loose ends, mainly in the mood to rivet, but not inspired by anything right away. I finally made mini box with a beautiful dark pearl (from a lovely friend) and copper wire, I’ll post a photo later. I need to get back into creating complications, moving parts, etc.

24 April 2009

another sun


Another poem. There has been a lot of writing in my art this year, but not much in these blog posts.

So many small disasters have occurred since December – I think that I must have offended some minor god. Everything from a truck falling through my bridge and having to put one of my dogs down, to a key breaking in the gate lock and the kitchen tap exploding (surprisingly, I managed to fix that last for 38 cents). Each new event happens before I’ve finished dealing with the last, leaving no time for boredom, or writing much here.

In the midst of everything else I’m looking for a place that will reproduce these pieces.

19 April 2009



This is not finished yet, the 3-headed monster needs to be integrated and I’m not sure how I feel about the absence of writing.

13 April 2009

ephemeral art

Freezing is fun, but dancing – I love this!

It reminded me of Joshua Bell’s Metro performance a while back:

04 April 2009



I have a commission for a huge version of this, yay!

02 April 2009



I have guests occupying my workroom for these few weeks, so I am working on digital collages of my photos and ephemera in the meantime.

I meant to open an Etsy store in March, but didn’t get it together in time, I am looking for someone new to do these prints, then I should be set to go.