midsummer night's dream Here is “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.  I took this one into New Horizon’s a few days ago and it’s one of the 3 or so paintings that will be in the video clip that AlaskaOne is producing. And he’s going to work in some of Zoe and Finn’s artwork as well.  And I believe that  photos of my mother, my grandmother, and one of my mother’s paintings (of Grandaddy Friedrich) will be used in the montage as well.  My family is going to LOVE it.

Michael Letzring showed me some of the equipment they use to produce and, let me tell you, it was gadget heaven down there.  Huge double monitors, lightning fast processors, and enough buttons and dials to feel like a jet pilot.  It was geek heaven, Photoshop on steroids!!  Just the filters alone that were available in his software were enough to make me giddy.  He ran one called “Mary” over my face and it made me look like I just stepped out of a Renaissance painting, all chiariscuroed and soft.  Someone should invent a holographic projector that you can wear as a necklace and just project that filter 24/7 onto my face.  Who needs plastic surgery?  I should have been an inventor…

But I think I’ll just stick to painting, thank you very much.  That’s invention enough for me.  I’m still studying Klimt, obviously.  Trying to figure out how his compositions work.  I’m amazed at how well he creates dynamic compositions from rather static fields of shape.  Color appears to be the trick.  Color and the presence of larger shapes that are void of the smaller, repetitive shapes that make up most of the composition.  The man was a genius.  His Beethoven Freize (this photo is one it’s side–the whole thing is 34 meters long) is absolutely enormous and I can’t imagine the sheer number of hours he must have spent with a paintbrush over the course of his life.  They say that 10,000 hours is the magic number that separates the genius from the dilettante.  I don’t know how many hours I have to go before I’m even half the artist Klimt was, but I look forward to every single one.

zoe-in-progress Here is a photo of the progress I made today on Zoe’s portrait.  There are some problems with the right eye that I’m having a hard time solving.  And some issues with the shape of the face that I hope won’t be too hard to fix.  There are a few other problems but let’s not nitpick.  Overall I’m pretty satisfied with how it’s coming along.

On another note I’m pleased to announce that (drumroll….) I received a call last night informing me that I won the 2009 Alaska One Poster Contest.  It comes with quite a bit of exposure.  I think fame and fortune will come easy to me and rest assured I won’t forget about the little people.  My close friends and family are welcome to free rides on the Lear Jet they provide, but the rest of you will have to talk to my bodyguards if you want to even get near me. That’s just the way these things go…

Seriously, this could be a harbinger (the good kind not the ominous kind) of things to come.  If I play my cards right I can leverage this in my favor.  Some pretty recognizable names have  graced the face of the Alaska One posters:  Claire Fejes, David Rosenthal, Bill Brody, Karin Franzen, Randall Compton, Byron Birdsall,  Barbara LaValle, Ree Nancarrow, Todd Sherman, David Mollett, and Jon Van Zyle to name just a few.  These are big deal Alaskan artists and one day I might be like that guy in Office Space; I’ll casually rest an elbow on my cubicle wall with a cup of coffee in my hand and say something like: “Sooooo…I’m kind of a big deal around here.”  I can’t wait.

Oh, and don’t even ask which painting won because it’s all very top secret until the grand unveiling.  They’re keeping the painting in a vault at the Pentagon until March.  I’ve taken a vow of silence.

preliminary sketch To the right is the preliminary sketch for a portrait I’m working on of my daughter.  I’m satisfied with the results of the sketch.  I spent quite a few hours getting it right.  After I got the whole figure down onto canvas (the first hour or so) it looked like this:  first draft

The right eye was way off and the shape of her face was too round.  along with a number of other issues.  What comes next is going over the charcoal in a thin wash of burnt umber and then I’ll lay down the first layers of color.  However, from experience I know that everything and anything can go wrong from this point on.  The charcoal on canvas is the easy part since you can erase to your heart’s content.  Paint is another matter though.

Here is the photo I’m working from:

original photoSuch a pretty girl!  I hope I can do her justice…

Later that same day….  I’ve put the first layer of paint on and am feeling good about it.  I think I’ll stop here for the day.portrait in oil

muscovy-duckTook my kids to a park here in ATL today and saw this very odd duck.  We thought maybe it was just sick at first because it wasn’t moving, even when we came very close.  Once I got close enough, it seemed healthy enough, just looked pretty odd.  Turns out its called a “Muscovy” duck.  Very cool, but not very elegant.  The warts on his head reminded me of a turkey.  He didn’t seem interested or bothered by the 50 or so Canadian geese and Mallard ducks that were swimming close by.

blue-heron On the more elegant end of the bird spectrum, this gorgeous blue heron showed up again today.  I also got some great shots of him yesterday against a beautiful lakeside sunset.  Good inspiration for a painting maybe?

Also managed to eat a large pile of hot boiled peanuts today.  Let me tell you, that is food for the soul right there.  This whole trip so far has done me a world of good.  Between the sunshine, new sights, and good food, I might just make it to the new year!  My horoscope says that travel is on the agenda after a 12 year hiatus from my sign.  I hope that’s true.  There are few things I enjoy more than travel to new places with new (or in this case, old) food to be eaten.

The infrequency of my finn4studio visits is usually cause for a great deal of stress.  But I was reminded by a wiser, more experienced soul in this business that I should be spending this time working on marketing issues.  She suggested that I begin creating a portfolio to be mailed out to other galleries in Alaska.  I know that I need to get my work into places other than Fairbanks galleries.    Problem is, I don’t have any work to send them.  Nonetheless, getting those things together is probably wise.  Let’s see….  notes to self:

1.  Bio flyer with picture of me (Suzanne should take that one–I’m delegating.  I’ll have to write the bio, and that’s always a bit of a pain)

2. Brochure with photos of best (most Alaskan?) work

3.  Website with work only

4.  Have prints of my work made (?)  This one costs money, so I might have to put that one on hold.  But it sure seems like a no brainer to have some made.  I might not be able to send galleries new work but at least I can send them prints.

The big prelude to all of this is to organize all of the photos of my work and create 2 files, one for large photos and the other for small ones.  Also, a list of titles, dates, dimensions, and materials seems wise as well.  That’s a huge flipping job.  Humongous.   Ginormous.  I’ve been very disorganized…

Also, I should make a list of contests, group shows, and grants that come around yearly and make sure that I’m doing what I can for those venues.  For instance the AlaskaOne poster contest deadline is January 2nd.  I’ve forgotten about it every year due to the proximity of Christmas.  Let’s not have that happen again, hmmmm?

What am I leaving out?


I’m not sure if time equals progress. I did this one almost 15 years ago. I remember painting it in my dad’s garage in Kenai shortly after I moved to AK. I sometimes wonder if I’m learning anything new.

I sold the Klimt piece. Big bucks. It’s good to know that raising my prices wasn’t that foolish of an idea.

timmy-petroglyph This is one from the summer show.  I’m still mostly doodling in the studio and haven’t managed to get anything serious together yet.  Process is still a mystery to me.  Some artists seem to have an open channel to thier creativity.  I have no way of knowing whether I’m doing something wrong or whether it’s a matter of not being able to be in the studio every single day.  I’ve had some great periods of productivity, but they appear to have ground to a halt when life gets in the way.  Or my “real” job.  Or the pressure of making art that will sell.  Or other things.

Who knows.  I look at the prolific output of dead white artists and wonder what it was about them personally or thier lives that allowed for such vast quantities of work.  I could blame it on the certain slant of light in 310, or the lack of it.  Maybe there is no blame to be had.  Maybe it’s just gestation.  Maybe I’m just waiting because that’s all I can do.

And, how convenient, someone on metafilter just posted a link to “Daily Routines.”  Just as I’d suspected, most successful artists and writers work EVERY DAY.  Having a maniacal, obsessive work habit isn’t beyond my capacities, only beyond my desire to wreak havoc on my family life.  I already get up at 4:45 most mornings so that I can have studio time AND pick my kids up from school AND teach two college English classes.  Oh well.  I try.

Maybe I should just take the advice of a certain woman I know: “Boo hoo.  Go put your big girl panties on.”

Next week I’ll be done with classes and I’ll have all 5 days to work.  Now, where did I put those big girl panties?…

1.  Read a superb short story by Jonathan Lethem, “The King of Sentences” in 2008 Best American Short Stories.  Lethem is a King of Sentences himself, and I think the story is partially about the tyranny created by success…you make a few pieces of good art and then all of a sudden newer, less evolved experiments are subjected to the humiliation of comparison.  Experience and novelty go head to head and only the naive idealism of youth can save one from annihilation.

2.  Drawings and paintings grind to a halt once again.  Methinks it is the result a dissolved network…but Jill is coming soon and we will talk shop and I will work again.

3.  White animals continue to cross my path while driving–portentious, omenous, auspicious.  Two stark white ptarmigan flew in front of my car, so close I had to slam on my brakes.  The odd thing was that they were sitting in the middle of a busy (for Fairbanks anyways) highway.  (edit: They were in the wrong place and were lucky they got out of the way before I squashed them with my Jetta.  How’s that for interpretation?)


Ok. So this is hilarious.  This comes from a new favorite blog, Craftastrophe (because handmade isn’t always pretty).  The title of the post is “Our Father Who Art in Heaven, What Up, Yo” and the post says “Because even thugs and homies have to repent their sins.”  See the little thug in the little point of the heart?  The rosarie hanging around his feet has a little plastic gun dangling from it.

bird bull

Still working small and quick and theiving from Picasso.  This one is from a 1941 pencil sketch.  I don’t know what I’m going to do with all of these.  If I’m going to sell them, I’ll have to matte and frame them which will be expensive.  I know there are artists who do “painting a day” exercises and then sell the results for el cheapo.  Maybe…

I say “Our Father” to my kids every night.  My favorite part of that prayer is “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.  I think I take solace in the the simple idea of the divine existing inside of, or even in close proximity to, this reality.  I sometimes have trouble believing in the idea, but the fact that the idea exists is nice.  My mother won’t let this comment slide without bringing up Swedenborg, and, indeed, that idea is at the heart of his theology.  My pal Joe Campbell liked to quote the gospel of Thomas on this one too, “the Kingdom of the Father is spread upon the earth, but men do not see it.”  I’m not sure why today’s entry is generating this stuff.  Maybe it’s just in the air in my studio.  It could be the fumes from the spray varnish.

For some reason, I keep returning to an interview I heard with the poet Patricia Smith recently on To The Best of Our Knowledge.  She spoke briefly about the idea that most people aren’t aware that they have a “second throat”.  I looked around for a quote and bumped into this:

Some time ago, poetry ceased to be something that I do
for fun and became the way I process my life. I would write
even if I had no books, if there were no audiences. I’d write
and read my poems to myself. When the world closes in,
poetry helps me find a safe place to breathe and be. I don’t
know if I could live without it. It’s my second throat, the
way I’m rooted in the world. This is who I am.

I’m going to hang onto that phrase, “second throat.”  It’s an odd phrase but very apt at describing the muscles I’m trying to excercise when I’m in my studio.  And painting and writing are not just what I do, but are, like Patricia says, the ways I’m rooted in the world.  I fear a world where I’m not connected by these things.  The divine is most present for me when I’m speaking with my second throat.  That first photo in this post is there to remind me that a sense of humor is woven very tightly into my throat, tied up in my roots.  What up, yo?

picassoA Saturday in the studio.  Unusual.  Not a day I normally have to paint.  This is the product of today’s endeavors.  I have a work table that I usually reserve for printmaking, but today I cleaned it off and made room for sketching and drawing.  Of course, I keep putting paint on top of my drawings, which makes them paintings I guess, but like I said, it’s important to keep the pressure off.  I’m using acid free book binding board to do this Picasso series and it’s great stuff.  It doesn’t buckle the way that normal cardstock or watercolor paper would.  once it dries, it lays down flat.  An admirable quality.

I have a show at the Well Street Art Company in January of 2010 and I thought some today about what might go into such a show.  The space is very large and open there with high ceilings, which has an impact on a number of elements…  scale, color… those kinds of things.  It’s now a little over a year away and I’m excited about having a new venue for my work.

I’ve managed to clean the studio pretty well and obviously, the drawings/paintings are helping me to think about possible new directions.  Though I have to say that I haven’t yet gotten around to that new playlist.  I’m still listening to my previous list only because I haven’t had the time to find new stuff.  The last 100 or so songs have been gifts from other people and I’m waiting on Katy’s mix that she promised me the night the Cubs lost their last game (not that I’m suggesting anything Katy…) and of course, Steve has some lovely new mixes up on Poplibrarian, but his latest theme is unrequited love and I don’t know if I want to wallow in that theme while I’m working.  It might add an unnecessary element of emo.  Sexy is always good however, and considering that I still owe Jill a Sexy CD, perhaps that’s the best plan.  Any way you slice it, novel sounds are needed.  The old sounds are haunted by ghosts and I scare pretty easy these days.