How Paintings Begin Sometimes

Paintings don’t begin with paint.  There’s canvas to unroll, size, dampen, colors to mix.  Even then sometimes it feels good to simply be in the studio for awhile, checking brooms and brushes, watering the plants, opening the windows, staring out at the landscape, until there’s not a sense of time, but rather of being aware.

I usually start a painting the day before I’m going to work on it – getting the basics out of the way, and maybe laying down atmosphere, pouring thinned pigments and mediums into the raw canvas, letting it dry completely.  The second day, it may get pinned up on the wall, and internally driven mark making process begins.

Sometimes, however, there’s a piece of fabric or a form, or a line that had been seen on a Grecian urn, that ignites something inside me.  This painting began with a begonia leaf, and later a pink bloom from a geranium.  Usually the actual form is simply a catalyst, but this time the mark making came directly from these items.



Working in the Studio, and a Fresh Coat of Paint

I worked on many canvases over the last few months, many of them pinned up on the walls at one time.

It really helps the process to move from canvas to canvas, sometimes getting stuck and moving on to freshen up my eyes.  When the canvases are wildly varied like these, it keeps me untied, and in a mode of discovery.  Having many to work on at one time with no hurry to complete, felt so luxurious, and allowed them to unfold naturally.

Having completed most of the work, it was time to document, photograph, inventory and notify galleries – the nuts and bolts of the business.

Having done that, I decided it was time for a fresh coat of paint:

A fresh start!  It seems so quiet here now.  Imagining the stillness could be reflected in the next body of work.



Saturday Painting Frenzy

Saturdays have long been my favorite studio day.  Even though I work every day, the luxuriousness of a Saturday from my corporate days lingers.  The phone rarely rings, my favorite radio station has good music programs, and it feels free and unfettered.

Yesterday was wild – fast and furious energy, I pulled some older canvases to rework (always free-ing) and kept the camera going to watch the progression of some narrative work.  When watching them all together this morning, these time lapses seem to capture the frenzy.  Mozart’s Symphony #25 sets the perfect pace.

The work is unfinished.




Photography Day May 2017

It takes a team to shoot extra large paintings.  Since the canvases are not stretched until consigned or sold, they have to be perfectly pinned to the wall for a smooth flat surface to photograph.  We color correct as we go.

Photographer:  E.G. Schempf


Reclaiming Space and Form

After a long period of photographing completed paintings, preparing for shipment, inventory and buying materials, it is at last time to reclaim space and form, and begin to paint again.

Music by Taj Mahal – M’Banjo


Immersion – Working Into the Night

I’m working on large scale narratives, and immersed in the studio, always alone, keeping focused.  Language is uttered in color and mark.  The large scale work is exciting, being much larger than I am, and the physicality of harmonizing the painting by moving from one end to the other makes it feel like we are one.

Often I’ll shoot videos to watch the progress, slowing them down to see if I am leaving a better painting under the one that it becomes.  Strangely, being shot as time lapse, it feels impersonal, and I’m comfortable posting the process.

This one tracks the sun lowering in the sky and eventually darkening into night.  If I have enough snacks and water, there is no sense of early or late; as long as the energy is flowing, the work does too.




Immersion – Working in the Morning

It works best for me to immerse in the studio, without weaving anything else into that time.  Getting to work early mornings and watching the light move from dark to first light to brightness, is exhilarating and focused.  Occasional breaks to simply sit quietly, reintegrate body and soul.

I’ve been running time lapse videos to watch the progress, slowing it down to see if I am leaving a better painting under the one that it becomes.  This one picks up the energy of the morning, especially when accompanied by Mozart’s variations on “Laat Ons Juichen, Batavieren”.


Moving a Large Painting

For two of us to move a 15′ painting under a partially 14′ ceiling, requires strategy and patience, threading the painting between rafters, for storing.  We ask ourselves sometimes, what can’t two women do?



Time to Play

I work incessantly, partly because of an obsession with visual beauty, but also because the act of creation for me is a way of feeling the most alive.

It’s hard for me to remember that an important part of the process of creating art is taking IN the world, not just the output.  In fact dedication to observing and fully living in the world, for an artist, may be one of the most important and honest things we can do.  Experiences then can course fully through one’s system and show up when creating.

We are staying on the Florida Gulf coast in a cabin on the beach, taking it all in, taking in the beautiful rhythmic surf that narrates the natural world of sky, water, sand.  Harmony begins to take over.  Playfulness blooms.

Here’s how the days go by on the gulf coast:



Beginning Again

Projects have been completed and shipped or put away, the studio is swept clean and there are blank canvases on the floor.  The light is beautiful, a large flock of bluebirds who are wintering  here dot the hedge tree just outside the studio’s glass door.  There’s a sense of spaciousness internally and externally.  It is time to begin again.


Out With the Old

I use about 150 pairs of rubber gloves a month for painting. Gathering them up, sweeping the floors, rolling out new raw canvases, helped to make January 1st feel deliciously fresh and clean. There’s nothing on the calendar for 9 days except painting.




Prairie and Painting

Working on our land and working in the studio seem to me to be two sides of the same coin.  Both are connections to nature, rooted deeply in earth and sky, both feed the soul, one reflects the other reflects the other.

This week we burned the prairie, and while it’ll remain charred all winter, in the spring, the wildflowers and native tall grasses will flourish.

The painting that came followed is 20 feet long and skinny as a horizon line, and as delicately colored as winter vegetation, with suggestions of renewal.



Upon Awakening

Upon awakening, there was a sudden and urgent need to paint something fresh and innocent, and hang it in the living room.


Photography Day – October 2016

Photography Day:  a 2 minute view of an 8 hour photo shoot.

with E.G. Schempf, Cassie Rhodes, Jane Booth

music by the Count Basie Orchestra – Oh, Lady Be Good




A Week in the Woods and on the Lake

I’ve just spent a week in a unpopulated part of the Ozarks, tuned in to when fish are biting, moon rise and ballooning spiders traveling by wind on a single thread to their new homes.

It is strange to be here without painting supplies, and luxurious to simple take it all in, no output.

We walked for five hours yesterday in the woods.Woods

There was a leaf hanging by a spider’s thread in the woods, dancing in drafts passing through the woods.  Here’s a long look at it:


Netting shad, a small silvery fish that is great catfish bait.


We caught 5 nice channel cats and had them for breakfast.

First time off of work since spring, I feel renewed.