Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Studio

"Consider your studio a sanctuary where the devotion of time and attention are always more important than the actual physical space. The process of painting requires a mind-set that puts aside the concerns of daily life in order to focus on the inner dialogue between yourself and your visual perceptions as an artist." Suzanne Booker

For the last three plus years I have been decluttering my space in general. Many years ago I picked up the Feng Shui practices and have been mindful of then from my first discovery.

I live in a small space and that can pose some challenges that require creative solutions. I am always looking for those solutions as I discover the ideal.
While light and ventilation and storage, resources and elbow room are individual space by space requirements, the most challenging is my head space.

Pablo Picasso said "The purpose of Art is washing the dust of the daily life off our souls"

But sometimes that dust can find its way into the studio. I suppose that is a challenge that is as individual as each of our studios. But for me it requires a level of meditative practice. And sometimes I don't even realize that the dust has followed me in.

Over the last two and a half years I have been systematically eliminating the unnecessary. I occasionally get caught up in the flurry of life and drama and fear. The more I devote myself to my craft and my goals the less I am willing to participate.

This is a fine line. We all have our paths. Where we come from, our influences, our fears, our concerns, our investments.
Balance is even a tricky thing. I think we can all agree that if you wish to be a master of your practice, it requires imbalance. But I reserve the right to be wrong about that.

So for me, my studio, my sanctuary must be more than a well lit, well arranged studio space, but also I must be well with my soul.

My physical space is still under consideration and construction.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

First you draw what you see

Since childhood I have always been involved with art. My career as a professional artist started over twenty years ago.

I have always been an observer.

My education has been of the self taught variety although that is a slightly misleading term. No I have not attended an art school or a university, but I have always paid close attention and am always willing to learn even when the teacher is unaware that they are indeed teaching this eager student. Likewise willing to teach when the student appears.
I have spent many years developing my skills with paint and pencil and perspective but always mindful of the lack of the formality of it all.

wow that is alot of 'ofs'

What this study has done and is doing is enhancing by information what I see with centuries old traditions that exist within Western art and culture.

I might say that observation in an ongoing process for many lifetimes.

"First you draw what you see, then you draw what you know, and finally you know what you see" Domenic Cretara

Walking through my perceptions and interpretations and observations I am coming to discover the way I think, see and feel.

I am learning that we painters think with our eyes and hands and the skill we develop through practice can not be separated from our ideas. I love this. So many times I have heard the opinion that skill is relegated to inferior, merely manual status. You cannot separate the hand from the arm, or the brain from the heart.

So there is an element of trust that must be employed as artists. The trust in the process, trust in the bigger picture, trust in the lifetime of searching and practice.

This is why I have said many times, 'Artist are like monks. There is a devotion required. There is an almost sacrificial attitude, if you will, required.

"For a life dedicated to the solitary task of pushing paint around a canvas, which is the essence of being a painter" Domenic Cretara

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


What inspires me? That is such a good question especially faced with a project such as I am attempting. When I started my blog and the challenge I presented myself, I was not thinking about the massive inspirational volume I would need to have for a show at the museum. Actually the show part was not even part of the original equation. That came later. It was mainly a personal goal and challenge to mature my work. As I Skipped down the path of study, I have gladly and eagerly learned invaluable information about the creative processes, techniques and the history of art that I have applied to the work.

Then comes the performance anxious! Yikes! The anxiety I have in every social situation I am in, which predictably causes me to freeze, turn into a rock and sink to the bottom of the lake, dark and murky.

Today, a break through, thankfully.

There are many aspects of creating to take into account and much to learn. I admire those who seem to accomplish this with ease and grace. None of which come naturally for me.

While planning the work for the museum show I have really struggled with trite.
I really want to find the connections without the repetitiveness that leads to immediate boredom. But the more I have struggled with finding the original, the more I found myself up to elbows in alligators. Mediocre everywhere. It has been unnerving.

Please do not misunderstand, I have experienced inspiration and I have work that I have created through the course of my studies that I am very proud of.

But at this particular time, I just really felt stuck.

I am meditating on the strength and power of David, Vasquez and Picasso searching for my voice to communicate that in a personal way, a contemporary way, without cliche'.

Concurrently, in my personal life I am also going through transformation. Putting into practice some principles I am learning from Don Miguel Ruiz.

This morning while I was participating in my most resent morning routine, I was meditating on a principle I am learning in "The Four Agreements" when the inspiration came to me for my next piece. I cannot express the excitement and relief that I have received.
I feel as though I have been stuck at a fork in the road without the decisive notion as to which direction to go next.

Eureka! and now off I go.

We shall see where this road leads.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Etched in Stone

I have been thinking about Donatello and Michelangelo. This is a very pleasant pass time. I wanted to go deeper with them. Not merely to study who they were, what they accomplished and attach my own meaning to their work, I wanted to experience the stone.

To further my experience with this study I decided to attempt a stone sculpture. Wow!

I have been working in collaboration with the sculptor Monty Taylor on stone and copper project which started as a charity sort of thing, happily, we liked it so much that we are continuing our efforts into other projects and it is so exciting. He offered me the opportunity to work in his studio on a stone project of my own. This is quite different than painting because there is no immediate gratification. Sculpting stone is a very slow process. I am not use to that. Because of my life style, I am usually able to start a painting and see it to the end in one sitting. Although even that is changing.

But back to the stone. My project is an owl. I have had fun with it and time just suspends. Of course that is what happens when ever I spend time in the creative realm. And if you talk to most artists about what happens when they create they will describe this other world that has no bounds of time. Time does not exist.

I am sculpting my owl in Colorado Alabaster and I have plans to make her wings out of copper. When sculpting in stone the approach is different than clay and even further from the experience of painting.

With stone I am removing the unnecessary. Every day that I go to Monty's studio to work on my stone sculpture, I continue my effort to liberate the owl from the stone.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I am starting a review now of my study. I have decided to not wonder too far into the modern art. I will save that for another time.

1. Donatello-Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi 1386–December 13,1466,
2. Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci April 15, 1452 – May 2, 1519
3. Michelangelo-Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni March 6,1475– Feb. 18,1564
4. Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio September 29, 1571 –July 18, 1610
5. Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn July 15,1606–October 4,1669
6. Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes March 30,1746 – April 16,1828
7. William Turner November 12,1789 – August 7,1862
8. Jean-François Millet October 4,1814 –January 20,1875
9. Camille Pissarro July 10,1830 – November 13,1903
10. Édouard Manet 1832–1883
11. Edgar Degas 1834–1917
12. Paul Cézanne 1839–1906
13. Claude Monet November 14,1840 – December 5,1926
14. Pierre-Auguste Renoir 1841–1919
15. Mary Stevenson Cassatt May 22,1844 – June 14,1926
16. Vincent Willem van Gogh March 30, 1853 – July 29, 1890
17. Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa November 24,1864 –September 9,1901
18. Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso October 25,1881–April 8,1973
19. Andrew Newell Wyeth 1917–2009
20. Georgia Totto O'Keeffe November 15,1887 – March 6,1986
21. Frida Kahlo de Rivera July 6,1907 – July 13,1954; born Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón

These are the artists that I have been studying and now I am to review. I hope to have something more to pass on to you.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I'm sitting at my desk, in front of my computer. Above me is my new, big, come to the rescue, white board. My project management board which is suppose to get me organized, keep me on track, make me efficient, organized, focused, super duper, magically transform me into one of those together people I so admire but have never personally been able to pull off. about $83.00 later I am still me.

I think I need to adjust my expectations.
just a little

Around me are sticky notes every where. Not just ordinary sticky notes that come in bright yellow, but the cool sticky notes that cost extra to get the cool colors. Like little flags waving quotes, composition ideas, ideas for paintings inspired by something I read or saw, ah ha moments all recorded for easy access.
Constant reminders.
Then of course there is the cork board directly in front of me. with Greenpeace bumper stickers, WWF book markers, a painted wooden cross from Mexico, the 4 noble truths of Buddha, business cards and numerous sentimental trinkets.
Around me is my art, other people's art, books about art, art dictionaries, and artist biographies.
Behind me is a large still life set up on my dining table, and numerous paintings in process. Peacock feathers and of course my guitar.

And I still find myself experiencing profound writer's block.
So, I sit here and I write what may seem now as gibberish, hoping it will open the portal to purpose.

what, when, where, how, and why. hmm....

what was I thinking?

I guess it is time to drag out "The Artist's Way" and get some discipline.

But I keep painting and creating even if I can not articulate it relative to my study.

A couple of weeks ago, my friend and sculptor Monty Taylor called me and asked me to work with him on a collaborative project.

His son works for "Farmer to Farmer" an organization that works with farmers around the world helping them with farming techniques and innovations. His Son is working with a tribe in Kenya and they are attempting to save a heard of giraffe that are protected in Kenya, but, when they cross the man made border into Somalia, they face certain death at the hands of poachers due to the Chinese market for exotic parts.

The piece will be sold and proceeds will go towards a project to create a water source for the giraffes so they don't cross the border for water during the dry season.

We are both excited and pleased with the outcome and foresee other collaborative projects like this in the future.

Presently I am working on a portrait of Troy using what I have learned from Rembrandt, a Still Life using what I learned from Cezanne in regards to multiple perspectives, and couple of other projects are in the planning stage.

I shall put my best foot forward, be it right or left.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

night owl hoots

tonight my son told me that he wanted to get serious about his art. i have to say, i could not sleep until i got this down on proverbial paper.

when i thought about what i wanted to tell him, my mind jumped from the esoteric to the technical, from the practical to the spiritual. i was starting to feel like a pinball, but in a good way. regretfully i have to be up early for work in the morning and so i guess i will be taking a nap tomorrow.

one of the first things i want to tell him is that we, artists, are observers. it is our job to observe visually, abstractly, socially, emotionally, politically, the list could go on, but it is the artist job to share what we have observed in the way in which our own individual temperament demands.

then express your interpretation so others can see and appreciate and find value.

if only it was that simple.

but it is simple and it is complicated.


and what an exciting journey it is. it has brought me so much joy, passion, challenge, personal growth, and more. the idea that my son has decided to start this path makes me so happy for him because i know the joy he is in for.

i have been studying and painting vigorously, concentrating on the impressionists, Manet, Monet, Cezanne, Degas, Picasso and familiarizing myself with a few of the not so famous artists. this has been a treat indeed. i can't believe i am saying this again. this has been a truly and thoroughly trans formative faze of my studies. i have learned so much about myself in context of my art. i am most proud of the work that has resulted from my study of this 50ish years in the eighteen hundreds, across the ocean in Paris France.

where is the Paris of 2011?

is it here?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Van Gogh Blues

Last Friday night my friend Fran invited me over for dinner and Bill Maher. We stumbled across a documentary about Vincent Van Gogh. She tossed this book over to me and said "you need to read this".
"The Van Gogh Blues" by Eric Maisel,PH.D

On page 4 of the Introduction, the writer refers back to another researcher, quoting,

The Psychiatrist Arnold Ludwig studied a thousand eminent 20th century figures. In "The Price of Greatness", he concludes that in his sample, 77 percent of the poets,54 percent of fiction writers, 50 percent visual artists,46 percent of composers had suffered with at least one significant depressive episode. By contrast, the rate was 16 percent of sports figures, 5 percent of military figures, and zero percent of explorers. But Ludwig's numbers are low because virtually 100 percent of creative people will suffer from episodes of depression.

When Karl died two years ago, I entered a depression that has profoundly affected my art and my connection to my creative spirit.

He was always supportive. His Mother, Jean Ruzsa was a talented artist in Cleveland, Ohio. Karl's father was an Architect, Frank Ruzsa, designed many prominent buildings around the Greater Cleveland area. And Karl himself was a master of color and a drummer. When ever I see the color purple, I think about him.

In the book "Circle of Stones" by Judith Duerk, a book I picked up about 20 years ago, she talks about digging for gold in the depth of depression. And that is exactly what the last two years have been. This study is exactly what the doctor would order, were I consulting one.

One of the many benefits I have enjoyed from this study and the way I am going about it is, getting to know the artist as a person. This has afforded me the ability to identify. To see the creative spirit of the person. I have to agree with Cezanne when he said something like create according to our individual temperament and so I leave my outcome to the Great Spirit. But the identification feeds my soul. Because of my social handicap, it has served me well to meet these master artist and listen while history sets the record straight. Fortunately and unfortunately...

There is a process that I have been going through for the last 50 years, the evolution of my creative self. I feel at home in the presence of Donitello, Cezanne, Picasso, Van Gogh, and thee like. They have contributed greatly to the world and my happiness. When I paint, I go straight to now. The rest of life, well, I suspect my good decisions are dumb luck and my bad decisions are habitual.
I encourage everyone to connect to their passion. The passion of mine will be a lifetime pursuit.

Looking back with the usual 20/20. Often using magnifiers, I can see those marked depressions that took me to the next level, a deeper understanding of myself and the world around me. As an artist, the language I speak is visual. Every painting or copper repousee I have ever created has meant something about where I was in my life and the meaning is not found in the linear. I don't know if it is because I didn't have the storybook start in life, or that I am a Gemini, or a woman.
The thing is, I was born this way.

So, I seek.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Under an umbrella with Cezanne

Yes I am still here. Never ceasing my studies of great artist, to spite the painting I am accomplishing, I have not had anything to say and everything to say. Not long ago, my friend Fran exclaimed, during one of my enthusiastic rants about the artist I was studying or a point of history, "You are just a sponge"
And so it is, my ongoing study and painting have brought me much joy.

To spite the joy that it brings me, I have been in ruff patch, specifics are not necessary for the story. I have been immobilized. My voice silent. So putting together something I think someone would like to hear about, or possibly learn from in a blog, was to say the least,questionable and risky, with the consequence of public humiliation. So I opted silent.

Cezanne has been a great comfort to me during this internal battle I have been waging for the past few months. I could identify with him more than any artist since I started this blog and although I have not written about every artist, I have learned about many, but there is something about Cezanne that is so pure.

I know, that seems like a strange choice of descriptive words to connect to Cezanne, but, Paul Cezanne was all about the work. He went in the direction in which his nature prescribes for him.
This meant alot to me. I have a tendency to compare myself to everyone. And in this act of comparing myself and measuring myself according to other people, I am not connected to my nature and then that makes it hard to paint from the heart.

He practiced his craft and searched for his own style. This tells me "Keep searching". Wow, that has been my quest for a very long time. And I knew I was searching but I did not know what I was looking for. I looked at the popular art, and found myself following that path for a few years. Then I went the commercial route, what is going to sell, paint that.

The whole thing reminds me of that song in urban cowboy, "Lookin for love in all the wrong places", except my song would be, Lookin for my style in all the wrong faces.

So, Cezanne has been for me, a friend.

He was firm in his belief and in his purpose. An artist with unique vision, he tried to make a unique contribution to the form.
Cezanne believed being an artist is serious, solid, intellectual and physical work.

This comforts me. To be able to go to someone, even if they are not with us anymore, and ask, What do you have to teach me.

They seem to be the only ones with any time to spare.

Cezanne said,
" we must not be satisfied with retaining the beautiful formulas of our illustrious predecessors, let us go forth and study nature , let us free our minds from them. let us strive to express ourselves according to our individual temperament."

He strove for perfection only for the satisfaction of becoming truer and wiser.

quote from Cezanne's Grandson, " when you listen to music, you don't know how to write notes or anything like that, you hear the music and you feel well or not well,and it is the same with the painting but with your eyes. And it is the same thing with a poem, you have emotion. and that is what the painter tried to give you."

This was a true breakthrough for me in how I relate to my work. And that is what is is all about. My relationship with my creative expression. And so if I am trying to see me through your eyes, or measuring my work through my perception of your work then I am unable to express myself according to my individual temperament.

Do I feel well or not well about this form or that form. do I feel well or not well with this color or that color.

I feel very well learning.

I had a Grandmother, we called Grandma Dodge. My family has always given me the compliment, that, I am just like her. I wish I was more like her. One thing we do have in common and that is our love for learning. I saw that in Cezanne.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi (circa 1386 –December 13, 1466), also known as Donatello

For some time I have been all about Donatello. He was an amazing artist and from what I have been able to find out, equally humble. His low relief stone sculpture was profoundly original. There are many levels I relate to Donatello and until now, I knew his name but knew little else.
Donatello was the most versatile, the most imaginative artist of his century. He has been referred to as the first modern sculptor. In every age he seems new because his theme was human life itself. He influenced Michelangelo, Rafael studied his compositions and Rodin was inspired by him.
Donatello along with Brunelleschi led the breakthrough ideas called the Italian Renaissance. The Renaissance was a movement that cultivated a new interest in realism and the character of the individual, the rediscovered beauty and harmony of the classical form derived from ancient Rome and Greece.
There is so much more to learn about Donatello and I could repeat it all to you, but, I think this is where my blog is really taking it's direction. Because what I would like to encourage you to do is start your own study. My initial intent was art, art history, master artists and the like. This has lead me to the culture surrounding the artist, the world political climate, the religious views surrounding the artist. It seems to all have an influence on the artist and their work.
So what is going on around us. What are the influences that shape the art of our times.
That is what I am getting ready to find out.
Loveland as most of us know has become an artistic mecca. And here in our sleepy little town there are some of the most talented artist of our century. What are their influences. What about our culture has influenced them, what religious view have translated into their work. How has our present day world conditions and political climate influenced them personally and professionally. What do they wish to say through their art. These are obvious questions I have for the masters and must depend on art historians to interpret, unless of course the particular artist left written journals that transmit their intentions,
So what I did was start contacting some of my fellow artist here in Loveland and arranging conversations, a sort of ongoing dialog. This dialog has been going on from the beginning of time in regards to the creative. I have been overwhelmed by the openness and generosity of the artist in my community. And so the dialog goes on here in Loveland.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


What am I trying to accomplish?

Study Artist

1. Learn where they came from. (Their personal history)

2. Learn who they were as people, as artists, who they were in relationship to the people around them.

3. Familiarize myself with their work.

4. Try to absorb the evolution of their genus (mastery).

5. Seeking to better my art, through improving my skill and a deeper understanding of my work.

6. Internalize the journey

&. Identify the profoundly original

Monday, January 24, 2011


Madeline L'Engle wrote this in Walking on Water:

There is much that the artist must trust. He must trust himself. He must trust his work. He must open himself to revelation, and that is an act of trust. We trust as Lady Julian of Norwhich [a medieval Christian writer] trusted, knowing that despite all the pain and horror of the world, ultimately God's loving purpose will be fulfilled and "all shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well." And this all-wellness underlies the true art in all disciplines, an all-wellness that does not come to us because we are clever or virtuous, but which is a gift of Grace.

Friday, January 21, 2011

an affair to remember

For the last month I have been having an affair with Picasso. I fell in love with his free living, his disregard for convention, his daring and courage. Every night I would read about him. I was amused by his humor.

And then it was time to take him in and learn from him. I started with abstract cubism. My preconceived ideas were smashed. The genius of his style, the difficulty was so challenging, the spontaneity that must be present, although I must admit none of this was easy. What I noticed first was, that it was not just my preconceived ideas about Picasso and his work. But these burdensom ideas proved to be more linear. I had just studied DaVinchi and Michelangelo and Goya, Rembrandt, Turner, Caravaggio, David. But Picasso brought me to my knees. It was like looking in a reflection pool and when I reached to touch the top of the water, my illusions cracked into a million pieces. Humility washed over me. I am learning about me. I will always be a student. I will always be learning. I will always be shedding the layers of pre judging.

I was head over heals in love....

Then it came to me that I was on the rebound, ohhhhhh, this is rebound love thing because just a couple of weeks ago i was in love with Turner, and before that Goya.

I just met Donatello and love is in the air.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

canvas is calling

As many of you may have heard, the astrological community has reported drastic changes that apparently set astrology, as we have known it, on its ear. And me on shaky ground. I am not one of those people that every move is determined by the horoscope report in the newspaper or the Internet, but I definitely subscribe the the magnetic influences of the moon and stars.

I don't have television, so much of the current events come to me via the oral tradition. The other night, one of my fellow Gemini brought me the news about the astrological tremors rippling through the news. I'm no longer a Gemini? I'm now a Taurus? There is a new sign to fill in the gaps?

Recently I have taken up the study of great historical artists and writing about the influences of my studies on my creative journey. So by necessity, I have been delving into history in general. While I don't have the solution to the astrological problem of reconciling the shifted access of the earth and the effect that has on astrology as we know it, it is airily similar to the discovery that the earth was not flat, but round. The first conclusion was that the sun and stars were rotating around us, earth. But as we all know know that was a misnomer.

There is no way I am a Taurus, even though there are many traits I envy, and wish I possessed of the many Taureans I know and love.

I think they need to work harder at the solution instead of the easy fix, the instant gratification and use their imaginations to seek a deeper answer.

When I am painting, when I am creating, sometimes I have to dive deep to create what the canvas is calling out to say. At the point of execution, I have to reach deep into all of my experience to fulfill the destiny of the work, calling on history and experience and imagination.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Artistic Influencers

My study of great artists has gone from historical, to inspirational, and now transformational. The more I dive into the great artists that we all know and love, I am finding that there are more questions than answers.

I love questions.

I thought when I started this blog that I would be reporting to whoever are listening, the facts and facets of these many artistic influencers. I suspect I may end up sharing with you less about them and more about the journey it is taking me toward my own creative spark.

Today I had lunch with some of my woman Artist friends. Around the table at Lyses’ home, we shared food and conversation and humor with each other. We talked about our recent projects, our challenges and our triumphs. I always feel inspired when we get together.

I wish to encourage you to seek the questions that are posted on your path. There is something magical in all of our journeys.