For years, a blank sketchbook page would hit me with an initial jolt, fear of getting that first mark down or nothing will happen. So, nothing happened for long stretches. I credit my supervisor, Carol Mellberg, at CHAC, who insisted that I make a mark on paper every day and bring my sketchbook into supervision. She was especially interested in blind drawings, or contour drawings, where I continue to observe the object and not look at my drawing. The fear of "not getting it right" is there but dissipates as I become one with the object. A raw and unafraid line emerges when I am truly engaged with my subject; being mindful is only possible in the present moment. This is the place where true listening, observing, empathy, and understanding can emerge. There is no room here for the negativity bias that permeates our lives. When I'm out of my creative zone the negative stuff often comes back in a rush, but at least I am better able to observe it coming, and let it go.
I'm better with the blank page now. If I can recognize my judgements about the subject or whether there is enough time. As I tell my teen clients: keep a journal - that means making at least a mark on a blank page every day. Some days it'll mean writing a page, some days it'll mean a scribble or a doodle, or a drawing about an emotion or event. I ask them to think about their thoughts about being asked to do this. Inevitably, once it's "outside" (externalized from) of the body/mind, it has less power over us, and like a passing cloud, the thought, perception, feeling, judgement, sensation, moves on to make way for the next one, positive or negative, it will be something.
I've always been interested in making portraits, in graphite, pen & ink with watercolor, or pastel. Many of my drawings begin life as greeting cards or live in my sketchbooks. Accountability is a great motivator for me. About a year ago, I began a daily (well mostly) daily doodle text exchange with a former classmate. The doodles come with commentary about what's going on in our lives, but it’s become a spiritual practice for me. Doodles are important in that they help organize and focus the mind, especially when there is no "thing" beyond just an implement, motion of the hand, and allowing the mind to wander visually. Like sleep, "doing nothing" is imperative to reset brain functioning; kind of like allowing a battery to completely discharge, so that it gets a more powerful charge when it's eventually plugged in.
Sometimes I will recognize something or someone in preliminary random marks and then my focus becomes more acute. Giving up control is a challenge, but committing lines to ink is a way overcome complete control (ie using a pencil and a huge white eraser). Watercolor on the ink is an even less controllable substance and can be so completely freeing - especially when I remember that mistakes are opportunities to learn and grow.
"I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly; you're doing something." - Neil Gaiman
"There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting." - Buddha
On Collage in Painting
Collage in painting provides a way for me to create new meaning out of disparate images and materials while exploring abstract, semiabstract, and non-objective imagery through a variety of techniques. My work is an exploration of artistic accidents which compel the observer to take a leap and believe in my illusions - and their own. My work is a composite of experimental mark-making and scratching into many layers of acrylic paint on a large and colorful canvas or panel. I also enjoy working with small-format collage on paper or board.
Among my favorite tools are oil pastels, Caran D’Ache, textural gels, stabilo pencils, stencils, typography, photographs, transfers, fabric, pen & ink and watercolor. I love found objects as well as thoughts, ideas, quotes, and lyrics within the painted surfaces. As layers of paint and collage are built up, my paintings are infused with a cultural history, and reveal layers of an emotional resonance from my own past and life.
Like collage, photo montage happens as a result of combining and manipulating two or more of my photos of flowers, leaves, trees, natural and urban landscapes or architecture - taken with a Canon SD400 and/or a Canon Rebel XT digital SLR camera. In Photoshop, I use several special effects filters, modifying layer effects/styles and light percentages printed on archival glossy photo paper. Photos are matted in museum quality archival 8-ply white mats, in an 11 x 14 black wood frames.I am inspired by many artists, and specifically by the work of American Expressionists from Richard Diebenkorn and Robert Rauschenberg to the faux-naive art of Basquiat and Squeak Carnwath. I have taken workshops with editorial illustrator Nicholas Wilton at Esalen in Big Sur.