Randall Children's Hospital Installation

The thought that something I made is bringing a bit of color to the lives of children in the hospital gives me a lot of joy. It keeps me painting. But these things rarely happen with the wave of wishful wand. I think the story is a good one, so I wanted to share.

I met a woman some years back who was going through a divorce and decided to start a new business. What I admired most in this sparkly and strong person was how she faced loss and decided to surf it all the way. In painters terms this would be scraping the canvas to its essential material. Then, bravely...(often shakily) splashing on that first layer of color with a sense of abandon and curiosity. She chose me to create her new brand. As I did her head shots in a local wine bar (she made it easy with her natural beauty) and worked with her on her copy we got to know one another a bit. One day while she visited me at home, I shared with her about a new series I was doing in a studio class: The Girl Series. It was about missing information from childhood and longings in adulthood. When she saw Girl on Haystack she wrote me a check then and there and that was that. It was instant for her. She needed something from that painting.

I have this weird psychology that doesn't allow me to like my paintings at first. I was still in that stage when she bought it. I've learned since to never sell a painting in that stage. It's like taking insurance money while still in shock. You lose. But in this case it was a lucky call. She paid me well and the painting truly served her. 

Now it's serving sick children in an otherwise not so cheery space. She made this happen. The business she created at the time she purchased the art took her to a job serving this hospital. She is dialed in and I am honored. The feedback is coming in that it is lifting spirits already. So glad.

I'm thinking about ways to get more of my art into environments of healing. Color has this way of speaking a language straight to the heart. And color is why I paint. 

See... wasn't that a good story?

Summer Creativity

What I love about the summer heat is painting... well, everywhere! It can be a little random considering the variety of choices. Watercolor at a cafe early in the morning as the sun comes up at 5:30 a.m.? Or order two cups of coffee and paint with one, skip the cup of water for dipping? And then what about breakfast? Consider the many types of breakfasts possible with all the fresh fruit and vegetables. But what I get a kick out of is the yoga that happens organically from painting large (and in charge? ha! not really) on the floor. 

This has been a year of deep and wide organization and the new website and brand is part of the outcome of digging through the piles of digital dust and art in pockets, containers and vessels all over the place. Years of mining and deciding what matters not, what might matter later to keep and what might matter later but isn't in line with goals and so it goes. I'm still deep into it. Finding half written children's stories and business ideas such as The Half Sandwich shop (if we can mix and match ice cream why not 1/2 sandwiches? Besides how many times do you just eat 1/2 of the sandwich?) and piles of sketches, old novels, scripts and more. It's endless. What keeps me going is the vision of a light and airy creative summer. 

Summer can be that way. I remember it well as a child. Sun, water and suntans - wet dogs and the smells of food cooking, swimming until toes are soggy and hair is turning green. 

Summer is a good vitamin. I would love to hear about your creative summer thoughts and plans. 

A Wee Bit Obsessed with My iPad

Digital art isn't a direction I would have normally taken. But often the day is so packed it's all I get into the day. It's very relaxing. Like a nice glass of wine and good slippers. 

And more than that I have found a new freedom in the fast action of scribbling on glass. You can add as many layers as you like, so if you don't like something you just add another layer and in the end negotiate which you keep and which goes. Much like collage or layering an oil painting with gesso when you aren't into what's happening. 

As I opened up to the medium more and more using the Apple pencil and Sketches app on my iPad I thought about a children's book conference I had been to when an editor from Penguin Group showed a digital illustration and an analog one. He asked us to guess which is which. And we got it wrong 8 times out of 10. Then I saw Hockney's iPad work. I don't love all of it and I'm not a jewel tone type. But there really is a backbone to this medium. And the prints can be huge without losing resolution. Not to mention that when you are on an airplane you don't have to bother the flight attendants with requests for water to dip the brush or worry about spilling it on your neighbor. 

My art printing rep who licenses my work requested mostly the iPad abstracts. I'm in. I'm still growing from the medium though I have a bias towards the physically made works. I'll see where this goes. 

Giro del Mondo

Though there are many stories rolling around my head post Italy, the one that is front and center has to do with the title of the Italy book I'm working on now. GIRO DEL MONDO. In Italian it means Tour of the World.

The narrative painting retreat took place in Cortona, Italy. It was all women and one man who accompanied his wife - a writer and watercolorist from Southern Oregon. He rode his bicycle daily while we worked. I cooked for everyone. One day, I decided to take a break from cooking. I offered to take everyone to lunch at the Plaza.

We were met by a very charming Italian waiter. Our languages were all over the map: English, Italian, Dutch, German. It takes a lot of trust to communicate from different languages and know you are understood if only by gesture and intent alone. This is what I love about traveling to new countries. This intimacy. It's precious.

Our waiter (here is he is)...

... asked where we were all from. Germany, USA, Holland.

Oh, "Giro del Mondo" he gestured with emphasis. "Tour of the World" he said as he poured our Rosé. "That's the name of our book" I said. Clear as day.

We had decided that morning that instead of creating individual books of each student's stories and paintings (plus photos I was taking of every experience we had), the book would be one book of all of it. So this title came in a very timely manner.

Here are a few more photos of this delightful lunch. We were so happy with our food, our waiter and our wine. I was blissed out to not cook for a meal.

We went on to paint the streets, people, bicycles, flowers, shops after this meal. But the sketchbooks were out before dessert was over. They were very inspiring.

If you'd like to see a few more pics... go to the updated Tuscany page.

To visit a couple student blogs that cite a bit of their work, here is Corinne Bekker's blog. And Kathrin Werner's colorful world.

Also, we have a FB page, Writing and Painting Italy. I'm posting news and you will find the 4-day practice challenge before the retreat. I'm always so stunned by how the subconscious makes these stories so effortlessly.

I'm busy designing and producing the Italy book to send to students. It's part of their package. As I do so, I'm also considering the next retreat and an online version of the course for 2015-2016. So stay tuned.

It was an amazing experience. Still learning from it. Still inspired by the work and Italy.