Thursday, February 27, 2014

2.27.14 ~ living off the grid....or not.

Along the RIo Grande, somewhere between Taos and Espanola.

I did something I knew I shouldn't. But my curiosity got the better of me. I clicked on the Craig's List housing listing describing an "off-the-grid" house with "spectacular views" about an hour north of Santa Fe.
And for several days my imagination got the better of me, dreaming of living in a solar house with a large fenced in, irrigated garden on 11 acres surrounded by BLM land, there in the Rio Grande canyon, with the river just a 10 minute walk away.

Look at those views! Look at those gables and dormers! 

The romantic light coming into that bedroom.... That beautiful kitchen! How I'd love to cook in that beautiful kitchen...and what a cool bathroom -- with a bathtub! God, how I've missed taking baths....
No studio...Hmmmm.....but glorious high ceilings upstairs -- couldn't I paint up there if I'm very careful with the walls and that wood floor?
And that porch!  Ohhhhhhh how I'd love to sit on that porch and watch thunderstorms roll through the canyon....
And family and friends? They would LOVE this place! And my dog? She would be in doggie heaven with all the acreage! Just imagine the RABBITS!

My Man's eyes lit up when I showed him the photos. "My God, that's the kind of place I dream of retiring to!"

For four days I was lost in it.
I even scoped out the place from afar with a friend who lives in the area.
'Talked it over with girl friends over wine and chocolate during our vision board gathering.

I contacted the owner.

And then I couldn't sleep.
My heart was pounding -- RACING! -- like I was sprinting with everything I've got.
For 10 or 15 minutes my heart felt like it was in my throat. I couldn't believe it: I was having an anxiety attack.

deep breath....


.....Deep Breath.....

..............d e e e e p  b r e e e a t h.............

I focused on my breathing and repeated to myself:

All is well.....All is calm......I am at peace in this moment.

over again and again..... 
until..... heart......slowed.......
my breathing......slowed....and 
I was asleep.

Maybe it was the Spirit that hurled the brick at my head last summer when I was coming up with stupid excuses for not doing an art residency in Oregon. But the next day a
Banshee voice busted through all the romantic daydreaming and asked,
What the hell are you doing?! 

This IS NOT your game plan!

This is NOT what you've been wanting!

This is ISOLATION! Do you really want to be an hour from town? Four hours round trip from
Your Man?!

Do you really want to deal with a frickin water tank, filters, solar electric system and all
the maintenance of living off the grid?!  Do you really want to live 15 minutes down a dirt road that's dicey at best, harrowing at worst, and a likely worry all times in between?!

You have an ART BUSINESS that relies on a solid internet connection! Do you really think you'll have consistent internet and cell coverage up there, if at all?! and say good by to studio visits from all but the most adventuresome patrons!

And -- HELLO!! -- remember the conversation with yourself at Playa, when you came to
the realization that, despite living in one of the art meccas of the WORLD, you hardly know any artists, are hardly involved in the art community, and you decided you want to CHANGE that? Do you really think you can achieve that all the way out there?!

And what about YOUR FRIENDS?! WHAT ABOUT YOUR MAN? You will rarely see them, no matter how much they love the place!


"Sounds like a whole lot of work for a nice view," said one wise friend.

I cancelled my appointment with the owner.

And slept deeply that night.

"Sleeping Dog" by Waugsberg

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

2.25.14 ~ here's why i'm moving...

Helen Frankenthaler in her studio. Photo by Ernst Haas.

I need a real studio.

The house I've been in for these four+ years is utterly beautiful: thick adobe walls; radiant floor heat, glorious views and a lovely balcony from which to let your vision and imagination soar for miles to the east and south and west of Santa Fe. It sits on five pinon- and cholla-dotted acres, that are ideal for rambling with a dog. There's a feeling of seclusion, and being close to Nature. Neighbors generally keep to themselves. I've see coyote, deer, even bear out here. And, of course, abundant crows, juncos, nuthatches, fly-catchers, jays, hawks and hummingbirds.

But there's no studio, and though I've tried to make the best of it, the fact is the lack of a real studio has hindered my ability to create the kind of work I want and need to create.

Okay, okay....Never-mind that Jackson Pollock painted in a barn. Any serious artist will do whatever it takes in order to make their Art. I made do for many years in a mildewy vermin-infested basement, only to come down some mornings and find rat paw prints across my paintings and table tops. Been there. Done that. Ready to move on.

Jackson Pollock in his studio in East Hampdon.
 So...what do I mean by a real studio?
Studio designed by Olson Kundig, Seattle.

-- I mean a room with large expanses of bare, smooth walls, upon which I can tack and nail both finished works and works in progress.

-- I mean a room with good light for an artist.

-- I mean a room with a slop sink and running water.

-- I mean a room with floors that it's okay to get paint on.

-- I mean a room with high ceilings.

And so...Time to focus my desire and put my intention for a new studio out there....and see what happens!

Cezanne's studio in Aix-en-Provence.

Friday, February 21, 2014

1.21.14 ~ is it any wonder i haven't been painting?!

Even in the midst of chaos, I can always [usually] find my calming mug of tea. This morning's hot beverage: ArtfulTea's Earl Grey Francais

My studio is a tornadic explosion of stuff.


Not just my studio but every room of the house! 


The reason?


I've been TOTALLY CONSUMED for the past month with 1st, the build up to The Decision: To Move or Not to Move?

 and then, once The Decision was made — YES, Time To Move — I've been consumed with the WORK of going through stuff. 
Stuff and 
stuff and 
stuff and 
Which has led to more Decisions: Keep?   Toss?    Donate?    Gift?    Sell? 

And then cleaning of STUFF. 

And then organzing of

And then packing of

And then delivering of STUFF either to Goodwill, The Dump, The PostOffice, or to Recipients of Stuff.

My goal is to purge — one way or another — half of my stuff. EGADS!
That's a lot of stuff.
Not sure I'll make the goal, but I'm determined to try. Already I've rid myself of over half of the clothes and books in the house.

I made my decision to move a month ago, and I've hardly lifted a paintbrush or made a sketch since. 


There's a part of my soul that's a knot of leaden anxiety about it. 
But when I return to painting in a few short weeks, in a gorgeous new clean and tidy studio with good walls and great lighting, my muse and creativity will SOAR!

I can hardly wait.

Now back to dealing with STUFF.

Friday, February 14, 2014

2.14.2014 ~ two great loves

My parents during their engagement c. 1953
Today is Valentine's Day. The day, sixty-one years ago, my parents "came to an understanding" after just two weeks of "going steady," that they would spend the rest of their lives together. And they did. For fifty-three years they shared their lives. Not once in the forty+ years I knew them did I ever hear them raise their voices to each other. Never did I hear them argue. Disagree? For sure. Become irritated or frustrated with each other? Of course. But always the occasional displeasure was tinged with humor and goodwill. Yet never did I hear them argue, never did I hear them fight. They were respectful of each other always.


Theirs was a great love.

And while I'm sitting here thinking of them, a bit in awe of the caliber of their fondness and affection for each other, I find myself thinking of another great love.

The relationship between American painter Joan Mitchell (c.1925) and Canadian painter Jean-Paul Riopelle (c.1923) was the antithesis of my parent's marriage. Mitchell and Riopelle were lovers for twenty-four turbulent, alcohol-infused, volatile years.
Jean-Paul Riopelle and Joan Mitchell c. late 1950s
They inspired, criticized, lifted up, beat down, tormented and delighted each other artistically, intellectually, sensually, physically. Ultimately their love affair would drown in an ocean of hurt feelings, misunderstanding, disrespect and disloyalty. Mitchell would stay in France and live her elderly years in relative isolation despite critical acclaim and increased attention for her paintings; Riopelle would settle back in Canada—he was one of the icons of Canadian art of the 20th century—pursing women, wine and art into his 70s—and achieve yet further recognition for his work.

And then Joan Mitchell died.
She died of lung cancer on October 30, 1992.

"A few days after learning of his longtime companions death...Jean-Paul Riopelle would undertake, in her honor, the monumental L'Hommage a Rosa Luxemurg...A narrative sequence consisting of thirty canvases totaling approximately 131 feet wide."(1)

A panel of "L'Hommage a Rosa Luxemurg" ~ by Jean-Paul Riopelle

When I read this, my eyes welled.
And when I viewed pictures of this immense sequence of paintings and imagined the pain and passion and love and sorrow that went into their creation, they welled yet more.

So moved was I at the artistic height to which this man's feelings were elevated by the raw passion broken loose by the death of his long-ago lover.
To imagine this elderly artist, perhaps arthritic in his hands, unable to move as easily as in his youth, overcome with the need to paint, to release his throbbing emotions. Swirling paint and colors and shapes into an colossal expression of his heart in a "complex mediation on love and the passage of time."(2) The thought of it moves me to tears.

 "L'Hommage a Rosa Luxemurg" ~ by Jean-Paul Riopelle

And were my father a painter? I have no doubt he would have painted four times those thirty canvases to express his feelings for his own lover, made his own sixty-one years ago today.