In love

Melon 2, oil on canvas, 24 x1 8

Todd Kelly, Melon 2, oil on canvas, 24 x 18

I haven’t fallen in love for awhile. Don’t have the time. Probably not the emotional energy either.

But here I’m crushed.

Love at first sight, when I didn’t believe in love at first sight.

It’s a still life, but I didn’t recognize that at first. The surging lines and the color. Still life’s are usually. . . so still and this one has all the right moves. Sexy even. Line meets color. Two distinct elements, separate  then join together in overall composition. Line teases your eye out then the color pulls you back to center. Two to tango.

I may love it more than — my iphone.

Monday Monday

Franz Kline, Mycenae, 1958

Franz Kline, Mycenae, 1958

Oh you Monday. With your redrush urgent,

your orange streak, next-in-line, get-it-done-before-lunch.

I’m yellow drifting in a little late, weekend hung over

deskchair heaped, haven’t checked emails yet.

your high hot list, citadel efficiency

Getting there,

Soon enough.

Staff mtg doesn’t start for another 5 min.

Richter’s Squeegee

I love this old German. The ballsy dedication of one’s life to the Great Squeegee. He creates world renown kick-ass art with it. And he’s 80. Currently he’s the top grossing artist in the world.

The dragging, adding, the taking away again. The adding, the taking away.

Smear on. Redact. Smear on. Redact.

And I find myself mesmerized. Its existential process draws me in. The way this paint pulls me apart and puts me back together. A surreal humptydumpty life.

what’s surface? what lies beneath? occupies the same plane.

What you are when your “title” is taken away. Who you are on your new business card. You, in juicy given youth, who you are as gainsaid,  it peels away. (A forty-year-old anachronism) The email in your inbox – gives you hope, a slightsound of paper handed – takes it away.

Can the senselessness of the giving and taking away – can it be lovely? Can I, by some craft of hand or soul make it so?

Gerhard Richter Painting

Click above link to watch him in action.

Sunday, Sunday

Daphne Confar, George thought today was Sunday, 2012 courtesy William Scott Gallery

Daphne Confar, George thought today was Sunday, 2012 courtesy William Scott Gallery

George thought today was a Sunday.

Sunday’s were his favorite days after all. He waited in the lobby for the church van to come pick him up and deliver him to Sunday School. Free coffee and donuts. The ladies smiled at his jokes.

He could belt out the hymns. A mighty fortress is our God. . . Fractured light from stained glass windows colored his hands holding the hymnal open. He could’ve sung in the choir behind that preacher if he’d put his mind to it. People complimented his strong singing voice.

He enjoyed meet-and-greet too, liked greeting all the visitors.  Sometimes he felt odd when some seemed familiar and knew his name before he introduced himself. That lost little fog would soon lift as they got to talking.

He turned to his right, grinned and shook the hand of the attractive lady just seated. Her eyes took him in, searching, tender. Her soft hand and the smell of rosemary and mint.

“I’m your wife George,” she said.

“But I’m not married.”  George felt he was standing on a ladder missing the last rung. Wobbled in a low-grade panic of  toes reaching for the last step, foot paddling the air, searching.

“I gave you that gold tie for our 40th wedding anniversary. It looks so handsome with your navy blazer.”

He peered out the window, following the light posts down the street. He didn’t see the van. George started to think today was not a Sunday. He rocked the squeaky pink recliner for several minutes longer. The van did not come. An orderly in sneakers turned the corner.

“George, it’s Thursday. You can wait in the lobby every morning but you have to count six days between Sundays. Now let’s go get you changed.”

Run the Experiment

Patricia Qualls, Mystery of the Margins, courtesy of Patricia Qualls

Patricia Qualls, Mystery of the Margins, courtesy of Patricia Qualls

I’ve collected Patricia Qualls art for several years now, and I am in good company. Beyond being an artist whose energy, empathy and clear vision speaks through her canvases, she’s a smart-as-tacks person and arms-wide-open kind of friend. Patricia is hidden gold in Carmel Valley.

California recently tried to outlaw gold mining in these mountains, but you can follow a lovely winding road down to her gallery/studio and uncover it still.

Her favorite phrase is “run the experiment.” She told me this as I held a hair pick slathered with color over a blank piece of canvas (too chicken to pick up a brush). Her twinkle eyes convinced me to paint one day while on a studio visit. We were at the point in the process when the white paper yawned wide and my hand hovered in midair, paint dripping, stuck in a fear struggle between desire to create and ominous-cloud certainty that the outcome would be total crap. I listened to a silent thought croaking, I have the talent of a toad. A warty toad. A talentless warty toad.

She said, “run the experiment.” And the pick finally careened toward the canvas. See, I am the sort of person that demands a beautiful result every time. Like Venus rising from the waves. In my imaginary Pintrest life.  Forget the wild impossibility of this thinking -of catastrophe courting  this high-stakes perfectionism. Venus rising is a myth, an ancient lie.

Forget beauty. Damn expectations.

Run the experiment. Try things out. See what you like. What pulls you forward? Swirl it all around and do it again, and again.

Do thousands of them –  Patrica did.  Play outside the margins of myopic judgement. Run the experiment. Let’s just see what happens. . .


Helen Steele, In Search of Something

Helen Steele, In Search of Something, courtesy American Art Gallery

If you are lucky enough to stroll the storybook streets of Carmel by the Sea, smelling the saltfresh air with the taste of anticipation on your tongue, and just happen to stumble into a dimcozy canvas-crowded gallery – this is what you will find. A bit of treasure poking out from behind the corner.

You were not looking for it, but it was looking for you.

The yearning in this figure strikes me like a lighthouse – silent searching. She sends out energy, a broad light beam, and it spots me. Perhaps feeling what she is feeling. Like there is so much to know, to experience in life. I throw out a net, gather it up, sort through the seashells and bones to make sense of it. To understand what must be understood. To buy ambiguity a second cup of coffee.

An “answer” caught in a cloudswirl of information, shot through with rainbow of emotion. Saffron hope glows in the upper right corner.

I want her to find what she is looking for – to find the right question to ask. Surely it’s inside her, so she reaches inward. Maybe it’s right in front of her eyes and if she extends her hand she will touch it. Feel its weight, round and smooth, and slide it in her pocket – smiling.


Dion Johnson, Moonlight, 2009

Dion Johnson, Moonlight, 2009

Taffy color, stretched and poured, but self-confident somehow. This color knows where it’s going; knows what it’s about. Writes with a Mont Blanc, but kicks around in Toms. Has struck a balance between curve and line, between cool and hot. Can be pulled and persuaded, but also stands its ground.

Dion Johnson, Dart, 2011

Dion Johnson, Dart, 2011

Whoosh. I hear the sound of meetings, calls and deadlines whooshing past. At breakneck speed with a hot orange urgency. Blows my hair back. I adjust my aviators. I don’t mind, I’m on a plane to California. I’ll let this color land where it will. I’m landing in San Jose.

Haystacks for the gold

Claude Monet, Grainstack at Sunset near Giverny, 1891, Museum of Fine Art Boston

Claude Monet, Grainstack at Sunset near Giverny, 1891, Museum of Fine Art Boston

Today I made a collection of oh-so-delightful chubby haystacks.

In Monet’s vision, the haystack stands to the side, giving full deference to the atmosphere. And the sunset in turn, halos the hay in gold. We watch light’s magic, glorifying, coloring and blanching things. And though the colors sizzle, the haystack casts a prosperous cool shadow, holding down the foreground with calm aplomb.  Prepared.

Roy Lichtenstein,  Haystack, 1969, © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein, Haystack, 1969, © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein

Haystack pops front and center in Lichtenstein’s study of pattern creating form.  A braille stack redux.  I want to reach out and touch the dots, to push them together so they don’t hurt my eyeballs, which constantly try to connect and reconnect them. I give up and decide to study their shape and configuration. Like a nervous-tic they continue to addle my eyes, needling my subconscious. Scatterbrained haystack please stand still, please.

Will Klemm, October, 8x8 inches, pastel on paper, courtesy Wally Workman Gallery, Austin, TX

Will Klemm, October, 8×8 inches, pastel on paper, courtesy Wally Workman Gallery, Austin, TX

Ahhh, now my favorite, Will Klemm’s hay bale. Here we return to an atmospheric piece like Monet’s. And though reposed in stillness, there’s a tremendous amount of emotion rolling around. I want to give this hay bale a big squish hug and tell it everything’s going to be all right. But maybe it’s not lonely. A buddha bale that has reached peace, stopped rolling. With compassion it listens to my tales of woe. The shadow stretches impossibly long from a bright light source at an extremely low angle.  Is it physically possible? And then you realize he’s painting some hidden soul-field in your mind.

Or today your noggin (like mine) is the Lichtenstein.


Susan Jane Walp, Bluekberries in Black Etruscan Cup with Xerox, Knife, Cork and Two Bricks, 2006

Susan Jane Walp, Blueberries in Black Etruscan Cup with Xerox, Knife, Cork and Two Bricks, 2006

Stillness. Easy to overlook. In fact, I usually pass right on by without a thought. Some could call them boring, but a still life is a meditation whispering a secret. A trade secret to most of the all time greats.

Meditation, like this painting, offers keys and hinges. Quiets the banging on our obstacle doors.  A key, unlocking. A hinge-supported swinging. I hold this idea that if I am still, I can find the key and fashion a hinge that swings my problemdoor open.

The key is usually an observation, finding the root cause, the heart of the matter. If I take the time to un-ego myself enough to finally see it.  The hinge is working with the structures of things, of organizations, of people. Finding out how they swing.

The structure of this still life reveals a beautiful hinge. A circular center holds roundripe berries. Forms a circular mass filling a cup of layered circles. In motion but still — the hinge around which all the other shapes turn.  A series of squares radiate out, overlapping. Each piece receiving motion from its texture or position. Your eye follows the outside objects, starting at the knife,  swinging around to the cork to the orange brick back and around to the knife. A slow revolution.

This work is more than structure, it is also a speaking key. Speaking not of berries or of brick, but of foundness. Of deeply touching the those things around you.  A tender word embraced, a heartfelt thanks given, time to understand offered. Finding the keys at your fingertips.


Yago Hortal KL30, 2011

Yago Hortal KL30,2011

I got happy this weekend. Which is quite a feat for a gal prone to existential crises erupting every hour, on the hour. Like Old Faithful. Shop at the mall, existential crisis. Clean a corner of the garage, existential crisis. Devour all that chinese take out. You guessed it, existential crisis. Go ahead, set your watch by me.

But not this weekend. A happy velocity overtook me. Stopped the ticking annoying my pocket. And all by chance. . . I didn’t know about it, didn’t plan it. Had no idea it was coming.

Like this painting. The colors fly across the canvas with laughing velocity. The colors, so immediate, overlapping,  joyriding. You feel their delight in your body. A wave of color splashing onto your skin. Giddy.

This is light in all its Technicolor, charging towards us. Busting through the little chains of worry that snap the universal pocket watch to our belt loop. It’s rainbow-split light that ball bounces through our remote souls. Smashing that sulky radar — its constant pinging and greenglowing  anxiety graphing.

Spin me around, you Hallelujah color. I’m coming with you.

Soundtrack (excuse the mustache)  Bob Schneider, Let the light in