Tag Archives: women’s lives

A Summer Garden, a Birthday, Something Old, and Rust!


July 2013 008

I haven’t been working on art this month – mostly just playing in the “garden” and organizing things.  The “garden” has bloomed beautifully with summer coming so early to Portland this year.  I’m using quotes around the word “garden because I have only a deck and a lot of pots for my garden!

July 2013 004Here’s one of Mary of the Roses – she’s gotten a little faded this year and now both of her hands have broken, so she stands behind the roses, serene and beautiful.


This girl had a birthday on the 3rd, my dancer daughter, Cait.

1002443_10201406342105175_627311788_nShe and her husband celebrated her birthday in Hawaii this year.  When Cait was born my mother found her so beautiful and perfect, she said, “Oh I wish I could have another baby.”  Which made us all laugh, but set me to thinking about her statement!

The following year remembering  what she had said I decided to make my mother a doll for her Christmas gift.  A life- sized baby doll, just like Cait.  I came across these old Instamatic photos recently and thought I would share them for a laugh!


I had no idea what I was doing.  I just went out and bought some stuff called “Sculpy,” a new product that you could sculpt and bake in the oven or air dry and paint.  I don’t think it was meant for large projects, but more as a way to make small figurines, or jewelry parts. I had bigger ideas! I made the head and even though it wasn’t exactly solid, it weighed a ton.  I thought it might grow less heavy as it dried – but not so much.

scan0002The arms and legs were fairly easy, and I hollowed them out pretty well.  I was very disappointed as I recall, because I couldn’t achieve a porcelain looking finish with the acrylics I used to paint it with.  Also I couldn’t get the surface smooth enough – I didn’t know I could sand the stuff.  (no internet to research the answers back then)

scan0003Painting the face is when I really began to despair.  It really didn’t look too bad before I painted it.

scan0004Don’t laugh!!!  They say its the thought that counts, right? – and that’s what I kept telling myself, determined to finish the thing now.  I made it a stuffed body so it would feel cuddly (ha).  I can’t imagine what it would have weighed if I’d sculpted the whole thing! Of course my mother thought it was wonderful and carried the thing around all evening.  It weighed as much as a real baby, and the head was very floppy because it weighed so much and I couldn’t figure out a way to attach it so it didn’t flop!  But it was fun, and now a memory I always recall on Cait’s birthday.

Rust 003This is my new batch of rusty things I just got them yesterday from Etsy.  Yes.  I am rust deprived and have to resort to purchasing my rust!  I have two more packages coming – I can hardly wait!  The hammer to the left of the photo is the cutest little thing. Its a claw head hammer about 8 or 9 inches long.  The handle is wooden, and the head is metal, rusty, of course!




 Pearl 017

“Pearl”  24 x 30 inches.  Acrylic on canvas.

“Pearl” began life with the ocean in the background and a house beneath her feet, holding hands with her mother and the painting was to have been called “Pearl’s Mother.”  One afternoon I was staring at the unfinished canvas knowing it was all wrong, but couldn’t figure out what to do about it.  The parts worked separately, but all together they didn’t say anything.  So I took a palette knife and began painting over most of the painting with white paint.  The palette knife was a new experience, and I really liked how you could build layers of colors one on top of another!  I painted “Pearl” fairly quickly with the palette knife then went back and added details and painted over with the palette knife again until I liked what was happening.  The Great Blue Heron in the right upper corner I had already painted in and I left it, and the redwood trees beneath it.

Grace 002

She is holding a eucalyptus branch.  I was thinking of the central coast of California, with the redwoods, the eucalyptus trees and the great blue herons, that are glimpsed only occasionally, these days.  I used to see them flying very high like  great long-legged angels moving across the blue skies.

Grace 011

I preferred Pearl without any hair.  I did paint some in, but it took away from the intensity of her gaze and I covered it up.  It summarizes her essence  more this way.  Her very human longing for some unspoken thing hidden behind her eyes. I’m not sure if Pearl is yet a child, or if she rests carefully on that cusp between woman and child.

Rusty Hearts – revisited


2010. Rusted Hearts – Warning:  Objects may appear closer than they really are.

Collage on paper 9×12 inches

I feel hateful today and my throat is sore.  Its very dark outside, raining in fact, which isn’t much different from most winter days in Portland.  Possible snow mix this afternoon.  I was drawing but every face I drew came out with an oversized head and mean eyes, so I gave that up.  I’m going to read instead I think.

I went to the store yesterday and noticed that men were lined up six deep at the valentine card display; in frantic realization…..

I also saw an ancient woman wearing a full length fur coat (real fur) with the sleeves ripped out.  I wonder if she got that coat 60 years ago as a valentine gift and later had a fit about something and ripped the sleeves out.  I thought about asking her, but she was moving fast for an old woman.  Maybe she had a valentine stashed in her pocket and needed to make a fast getaway.

My aunt once cut all the sleeves out of my uncles shirts and sport jackets, she cut the pants off too, so when he opened the closet all that was there were sleeveless sport jackets and very short suit pants.  He was having an affaire.

I won a valentine drawing contest in the first grade.  I drew a capital R and then I made it into a bride with a long white veil,her one eye suitably cast down.  She carried a bouquet in her hand that showed – since she was made from a capital R she was in profile and only one hand showed.  I drew colored hearts three rows deep around her, with a blue sky in the background, and big red hearts in the corners.  There was no groom, not even a capital R one.

I once put vinegar in my husband’s aftershave, but I don’t think it was valentine’s day.

I sent my beautiful grandson a handmade valentine and a funny faced koala bear which he spent long minutes introducing to his other stuffed animals, saying each of their names and hi, how are you and holding out their paws to each other.  The koala bear’s name is eucalyptus – what else?

“I think I made you up…”


“I think I made you up…”  journal page 11×8.5 inches – gouache, oil pastel, graphite, collage on paper

Reading Sylvia Plath seems to start an echo  – and certain verses or phrases circle back  around inside my head.  Started this with laying down some odd pieces of paper and muslin and gesso over it all.  Sketched out a face and then doodled in another and I was off, but still the words from Sylvia Plath inside my head probably gave some focus to the outcome.  Its a journal page, so it doesn’t have to be perfect, right?  Mistakes are all a part of it.

excerpt from Sylvia Plath’s “Mad Girl’s Love Song”

It Doesn’t Matter…


Have you ever told yourself, it doesn’t matter,  even though it matters terribly?  I’m saying that now, and beginning to actually believe it…one can only go on so long making excuses for another person’s behavior before you just throw your hands up and say, oh well, we’re at it again, I see.

I know a woman I’ve been making excuses for, and looking the other way about it, for years.  She has said and done the most disappointing things, and has been doing this for most of her adult life.  It began in 1991, well long before that really, but I became aware of it then.  I just couldn’t figure out why some people I knew very well began acting so strangely.  Now she is doing it again, but because the internet is readily available, she is using it like a butcher knife and ripping through lives (mine and a few others) having a nasty little tantrum — but sharing it with the world.  What this sad person doesn’t understand is that the reflection of her deeds only brings shadows and darkness directly against her own soul.

Why does she do this?  I don’t really know, and although I know her better than anyone, I have never figured this, twist to her personality, out.  She has done it to others, and to me repeatedly.  There is a nastiness in her core that she has allowed to grow, has used against others – but what she gains by this is so small, and that is where I lose comprehension of the sense of it.

Now I am going to go make some art, and in the making of that art I will completely forget about everything else, and life will go on, as it always does.

I will remember that I have a joy that runs through my life, like a river, powerful and true.   I have other gifts and other loves that inspire and enrich, and protect me.

Imaginary People I know – drawing on book pages


“Homecoming Hopeful”

Gouache, oil pastel, watercolor, colored pencil, graphite on vintage book page 4 x 5 inches

“Hopeful’s Sister”

Gouache, oil pastel, watercolor, colored pencil, graphite on vintage book page 4 x 5 inches

“Barb was always right…”

Gouache, oil pastel, colored pencil, watercolor, graphite on vintage book page  4 x 5 inches

First of all let me say thank you to Lynne Hoppe http://lynnehoppe.blogspot.com/ for her generous tutorial on her techniques for the amazing faces she produces.  I tried it and found that I loved working with her technique.  I never know what little face and expression is going to happen until it appears (like magic) on the page.  I used very small pages, but this would work with larger paper too, not necessarily pages from old books. its just that old books sometimes have very nice paper for oil pastel and graphite.  I used a falling apart volume of “Evangeline” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – there is a gift inscription in the front that says Christmas 1898.  If the pages hadn’t been falling out, and the spine only partially there I wouldn’t have had the bravado to use the pages – its difficult to get past those early childhood warnings about never coloring,  marking, or tearing a book!  But these were very nice little paper! just right for drawing on.  I also found it interesting where certain words on the page fell into the drawing.  On Home Coming the word ‘smith’ suggest teeth or orthodontia.  On “Barb” the words ‘are to’ on on her upper lip – which would have been even more perfect if it were ‘are too’ which would reinforce her argumentative nature – but you see what I mean!