contact : represented by Zia Gallery in T or C NM
Drawing helped relieve my anxiety. An extremely shy child, I spent a lot of time alone in my room copying pictures from books and creating a fantasy world. As an adult, painting helps me cope with anxiety and anger caused by actions and events in our world which I have little or no control over. My performance art - absurdist obsessive rituals lasting ten minutes to two hours - is another coping tool. Most recently I have been creating sidewalk chalk mandalas, a calming release for me and a temporary offering to my community.
Painting is a sensuous pleasure - the movement of a brush across fabric, paper, or wood. I love the lushness of oil paint. It is messy and textural. I will work with a slow, thoughtful action or sometimes quick and aggressive - mixing colors on a palette or directly on the surface. I adore the transparency of watercolor and its proclivity to produce unique colors and tones as layers are painted over one another. Watercolor painting is clean, flat, meditative, and quiet. Gouache has a soft opaque charm I enjoy.
My work is somewhat conceptual and I often include realistic objects. I continually make changes to the paintings - shapes, colors, direction - and will consider them done and then days, weeks, months, even years later, find something I don't like and began working them again. I use color, contrast, and texture to form the structure of the composition and to produce space and depth. I paint the edges or attach painted wood frames to accentuate a painting's presence and physicality, or sometimes leave the canvas un-stretched and present as a wall hanging. Creating cultural activity is my mantra.
The Vessel Series
At about ten years of age, my mom signed me up for a summer drawing class and one day our college art student teacher set up a still life of clay pots. That is when I discovered a knack for shading and modeling - and a fondness for vessels. Jump forward a few decades and I'm making monochromatic silhouette paintings of vases on canvas attached to wood. Then through the 1990's, I painted melancholic alchemic vessels - shaded and modeled - on stretched and un-stretched canvas. In 2002 I started painting on repurposed redwood and found a different type of vessel for my subject - skep beehives, which are upside down, dome-shaped baskets. Then in 2017 I came full circle and returned to clay pots or more precisely, ancient pottery. It started with a series small watercolor paintings, the first dozen painted in muted earth tones - for a faded, historical appearance - and I soon switched to more vibrant colors and then painting with oil on canvas, as well.
Clay pots and vessels are the most ancient of items and have changed little since humans began taking modest materials from the earth and shaping into functional, life giving art. The making of vessels evolved into a refined and coveted art form that took on a ritualistic importance. Different communities and cultures developed individual styles that were traded, sold, and shared with peoples far and wide - each piece a timeless beauty with a strong connection to the land and maker. I love vessels' sensuous forms - breast shaped and womb like - charming whether empty or full, and I feel, a subject worthy of honoring.
note: symbols on the paintings are taken from markings found on ancient pottery
Rue 39x30" oil on canvas attached to wood 1989
The Time That has You 26x26" oil on canvas 1992
Sex is the Wasp Trapped
in a Jar 20x16" oil on
I move in with Blanch. We plan a move to New Mexico - where I grew up and she lived for a time. While still in Dallas, I paint on a large canvas a simple black structure in a white landscape. I continue this theme on smaller canvases. The structuresresemble piles of abandoned tables and chairs. I mix marble dust and mortar into the paint to raise the structures above the flat background. To give the structures a sense of being confined in rooms, I first paint borders and later attach wood frames.
We made our move to a tiny mountain town on the Rio Grande. Behind our studios was a seemingly vacant desert. As we hiked the wind and water sculpted hills and arroyos, we discovered amazing displays of igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks. We also came across abandoned structures - old ones of adobe, tin, and wood, and more recent ones of tarps, tires, and plastic. This imagery informed and inspired me, and began to be reflected in my work. I collect the colored sands we walk on and add to the paintings. This brings more colors and texture to the work.
I keep coming back to this series. With some of the paintings, I've gone over brighter colors with white, black, gray, and ochre - as well as, replacing the wood with heavy paper frames. Thinking this series was complete, I now see that it may continue for years.
painting with wood frame that was replaced with paper frame
The chalk drawings began as I was creating art programs for K through 2nd grade students. To help obtain grant money, it was always helpful to include math and science or STEAM. To add math ideas we would create a grid (matrices) by snapping chalk lines.Using the grid, we would make drawings with one, two, or three continuous and overlapping lines. From this we progressed to creating geometric (mandala like) drawings. Sometimes this was done on cement, but more often we drew on a large canvas. The science part came from the chemical reaction created when making our own chalk by mixing pigments, plaster, and water.
This was all done while living in Dallas, but upon moving to New Mexico, I still had the chalk but no longer the non-profit organization that could write grants and schedule programs. So July of 2019, I began creating chalk mandalas on the sidewalks in front of art galleries and bookstores. Expecting either a negative or mild response from the storeowners and the community, instead became an overwhelming positive reaction, which exceeded any of my expectations. The mandalas are temporary as foot traffic removes them and rain will wash them away. I love the comments and conversations that happen while making the mandalas, and the idea that they bring a small bit of beauty to a sidewalk, but I also receive a deep calmness during and after making the drawings.
Chalk Mandala in Park 8x10 feet
chalk on canvas 2015
Tipi and canvas cloth ready for chalk drawing in a park built over a freeway in the Dallas Arts District
Water is Life chalk drawing performance at MFA Art Gallery, Oak Cliff, Dallas