Monday, December 29, 2008

Rose Swirl Pieta

Here's the "email sketch" I sent today to my dear client. I'll be making a 5 x 3 foot horizontal painting for her. She liked The Prayer and asked for a piece along those lines.

Reference image 1: The Pieta by Michelangelo:
Reference Image 2: Art Nouveau Poppies: Reference Image 3: Leis: In the same way that "The Prayer" is tight in the woman's face- somewhat clear- that's what I'm feeling for Mary, and possibly, Jesus' face. They wouldn't be marble-looking- they'd be flesh and blood flecked with gold. Mary and Jesus would be in the middle of the canvas, and rather than painting too much of their bodies, what I see occurring is an emanation of flowers (similar to how the leis have all kind of different colors and types of flowers chained together) from their faces and hearts that go in and out of clarity- some of them would clearly be roses, say, but then still others could even be a gem or a star- hopefully that would almost be confusing as they merge in and out of realism and abstraction. There'd be other symbols in the mix as well.

* On a side note, last night I was dreaming of this image, and I saw that fellow ask Michelangelo why Mary was so young? Michelangelo's reported to have said, "Haven't you noticed that virgins don't age?" But I saw an old fellow giggling and slapping him on the back saying, "Ha! That's cause Mary ain't his Momma! a ha ha!"
I really love Michelangelo's Pieta. I think it's some of the best art we've had in the last 1000 years. And it just goes to show that the best way to hide something is out in the open like what he did here with Mary and Jesus carved the same age. The lesson I tell myself in that regard is- speak honestly, as clear as you are able. And don't fret about speaking your truth- if it's really true- not to worry- no one will believe you!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Hartford Courant Sunday Cover

The Hartford Courant put my Jackie and the Jewel Mine painting on their Sunday insert cover this past weekend. Here's the online article- to view please click this link.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophet bards foretold,
When, with the ever-circling years,
Shall come the Age of Gold;
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And all the world give back the song
Which now the angels sing.
Edmund Hamilton Sears

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Flip- Switch

Well, I have some things to say.

Something has changed in my art approach because of a new feeling recently, and the best way I figure to be on the same page together is to relay to you my last few days.

 I had planned to do an exhibit of "The Golden Thread", which is still true, and base it heavily off of heros, saints, and demi-gods that I am familiar with (which is no longer true). I realized that this would mean that I'd be basing most of my painted portraits on "saints" in the Church. About 5 days ago I had a vision of St Theresa shooting up with heroin. I thought, "Huh. That's... weird." The image persisted. Saint Theresa of Avila, on her knees in full habit, wrapping a band around her arm to get a vein.

I google image searched "heroin use" to see what I would learn- I was actually thinking, "Well, I guess I'm painting her like this. What's heroin look like?" I saw pictures of people before and during their heroin addiction. After a person has become an addict their face turns into that of a ghoul. I don't want to post any pictures here because I think they emit a negative vibe- and by negative vibe I mean a vacuous one- their pale faces and black gaping mouths make them look hungry for anything they can get. The people themselves are taken over by the predatory nature of the opiate, I suppose. 

"Religion is the opiate of the masses." -Karl Marx

During this time a friend of mine gave me a book that she said would be very helpful for my research and upcoming paintings- a history of Christianity through the approach of famous Christians. I was so excited! A book! I haven't read any books in a while. So I curled up on the comfy chair and read the back cover. It said it would cover 33 religious figures. And knowing that I'd planned to paint 33 canvases I though to myself, "Oh my gosh. This is so meant to be." So I open up to St Augustine's chapter, namesake of my hometown and its cathedral. And in his own words I read.... of the foolish and self-inflated desert Gnostics (some people I really admire.) I read a few other choice things he had to say about the sovereignty of the Church. I crinkled my nose and said out-loud,  "Wait a're.... you're an asshole!" I read a couple other entries from other saints, and by that time I had just about made myself sick. All they wanted to talk about was how great it was to die and suffer. Blech. I went to bed.

The next morning I woke up and said to myself, "Ooph. Don't open that book again. It's a guilt- creating device." Later that same day I read something by Michael Brown. And then I read something else by Barbara Hand Clow. And something... happened. First, I knew I had to trash the show plans I'd made so far. I asked myself, "What in the world was I thinking? Making plans like that? Starting with the most dense thing possible- the physical structures of it- the lay of the paintings- mentally learning about the people- and then hoping to fill it with the ethereal?" That was just... kind of stupid of me. It goes the other way around! 

It was soon after I realized that that this new feeling came. And in order to communicate it I'm going to tell you part of my story. Since I was so tiny I've been drawing ladies. Pretty ladies, young ladies, old ladies, homeless ladies, religious ladies, royal ladies, groups of ladies.... I've always been kind of surprised that no one has said to me directly, "I've seen your drawings and I can clearly see that you've got issues. Major issues." In my paintings you can see that women are my subject- that's who I see in my minds eye- they're the vehicle for my visual language. But it's also more than that. I've been trying to bring her back. One in particular. She's like the entire Garden of Eden within herself, and she is from somewhere else. She can take any form she likes but let me describe her so you can maybe see her too- She's like a tall queen, but queen is the wrong word because she doesn't rule, she adores. She's clothed in a garden that is fabric yet alive at the same time- it sparkles like the cosmos and moves with the wind as it makes the wind, and it sings like the birds and birds, when they wish or when she wishes, will fly out of the folds of her dress tweeting. From her hair and through her hands is a sparkling chain of jewels with rubies and emeralds and diamonds and jewels we've never seen before. At times we have gone places together, but this time she isn't here. At one time we used to make different colors together. Often through my life I have asked, "Why did you leave me?" and begged her to come back or tell me something. As far as I know she is entirely gone from me except in the most heightened trance.

So my art, as best I can describe, has been me trying to make a picture of her, a feeling of her. To have her around in my everyday. I have been scribbling away at pieces of paper on the ground. Scribbling madly- she was like this- no she's like this- wait I think I remember- no that's not right either- what did her hair look like?- Oh no! I'm forgetting everything about her! I cannot overemphasize the depth of my grief over her absence. Back to that feeling I'm trying to illustrate. So I am scribbling away. And I hear a "Psst." "Not now," I said to the sound with my head to the ground, "I'm working on a picture." Again, "Psst." So I looked up. And There. She. Is. It feels like a white sparkling explosion of silence inside my chest. I stared at her. For hours. Inexplicable. The only true thing. Later I whispered so quiet, "I thought you were gone," with tears all down my face. I couldn't sleep that night, everything was so different. 

For so long I just thought I made her up. But she exists!

It's difficult for me to relay this most momentous occasion in my internal life, but I think the gist of it, from an artistic sense, is that I won't be making plans for this coming year in terms of what I paint- please pardon all of what I wrote except for the date- and I will paint with what comes. I mean, I don't have to find her anymore- she's here! That totally changes what I'm doing. 

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Golden Thread Show Plans

The night that the show opens will be the same night that it closes. Of the 33 paintings:
11 will be sold, 11 given away, and 11 burned at midnight.

Monday, December 15, 2008

with Flowers

Why are we so harsh with the full flowers?

We tip toe around the young bush-
"careful with those roots"
oh look a bud!
manage it with care
speak in whispers-
are you alright, little one? We are here!

But what unkindness settles in as the bloom unfurls!
Flower! You should know better!
There is a notch in one of your petals!
You have let a worm eat your leaves!
How will you maintain that color, eh?!

And we look with such a discriminating eye
until the gift has all but faded
a few petals hanging on
and we stare with sad remembrance-


that certainly was-

a precious rose.

Loreena McKennitt

Listening to Loreena McKennitt has been leaving me in tears for years. Here she is Singing The Seven Rejoices of Mary.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


I get a little wary when talking about The Goddess. I hear, "Careful, careful. Know that you don't know."

Medusa. Do you suppose she was supremely elegant? With wild twirling hair? A penetrating glare? Adventurous and somewhat stupid men will climb to the top of a mountain and die there- frozen like stone. Is that the mountain's fault? Once as a hurricane raged I went to stand by the ocean to feel her storming. The wind punished me with sand and the foam flew and the sea churned all white. It said, "If you come in here, you die." 

It's as we were advised when small: When the Lady is speaking, do not interrupt her.

On the Approach

Whenever I try to be someone useful I'm like a small neurotic dog in the kitchen that people trip over. And when I give up on that, I'm like a tweeting bird on the limb.  

"Little sparrows, from where have you come? Where will you go?"
We hadn't thought to ask! We don't really know!
"Doesn't that concern you?"
tweet tweet! no....

Friday, December 12, 2008

Great Works of Fun

Since we're right across the street from each other this winter, my nephews James (on the right) and Michael (left) come over each day to do some drawing together! Here they are: 
Yesterday Michael drew a picture called, "Flying Around Outside with People in It." It was of him and James. As he gave it a look over he said, "Hey! I fow-got to give James arms!" 

They're beautiful.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

More Pictures from the "Her Good Heart" Show

Photos by Heather Cottrell
Instruments of dear John Ananda. He played them as guests entered the room blindfolded. There were also many gongs.
After John played and everyone took off their blindfolds to see the paintings, I sang a song.
Sarah told the story she wrote of a woman in a country of whipping winds. 
Carin and Allison with The Story
Me at the end of the show
Black Bean and Rice Canapes with Sour Cream and Green Onion garnish by Aja, Jon, and Karsten
Indian Spiced Root Vegetables in Baked Wontons with Sunflower Sprout by Aja, Jon, and Karsten
Glen created a Raw Foods Cafe in Connecticut called Catch a Healthy Habit. Here he is sharing a sample of the raw cacao creations he brought to the show. Crazy amazing delicious chocolate! Behind him you can see part of the "Make Your Own Mandala" station Sam Stone created.
Trinity and Heather playing at the Face Paintings Station
Jamie paints at the shared canvas project. 

And hey don't forget: 
There is no other artist like you in this entire world! 

Sunday, December 7, 2008


As I settle in to Beaufort, South Carolina for the winter I'm doing some projects outside of the Golden Thread- like birthday parties, Christmas cards, and a few painting commissions. I'll share these throughout this December. The Golden Thread project will begin in earnest January 2009.

Katie made this cake and I decorated it for James and Michael's 5 and 4 year pirate party:
Here's my niece Aly Grace with Aunt Shani of the High Seas. She liked my beads...
And here's Aly again with her mom and my sister, Kate! Right before she gets into the bath...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Golden Thread

"The Golden Thread"- that's the name of my new collection! I saw it in my mind's eye. A golden DNA strand connecting deities and the great lovers in our species; archetypes, mythical ones, all painted through people alive and pulsing now. It will contain 33 pieces/ 33 humans, 3 feet wide a piece, with 99 feet of connected paintings circled to ensconce us as we walk into the room. The walls black, the background black, with life popping out of the darkness. Shown on November 7, 2009 at ClearPoint. 

This is where I'll be sharing the pieces with you as I paint them. I feel enlivened by this project! I go to sleep dreaming about it-  about canvases and little winks and veils and wiry shining golden strands. Of St Francis and Peter and Joan of Arc and Angel Gabriel and Mary and Pontious Pilate and Ptolemy. I will do a good job!