December 30, 2015
I’ve had a few months to process my trip to Mongolia and incorporate it’s inspiration into my work. As beautiful as the landscape was, I was most inspired by the art work I saw there. I went to two great museums, an awesome gallery, and a few monasteries and temples that all had great artwork ranging from contemporary to traditional. My favorite style of painting was the Zurag style which uses mineral pigments on cloth and combines unique artistic techniques and colors that produce a flat, decorative painting. The style is also characterized by its vibrancy, limited perspective and use of humor. With roots in ancient rock art that depict the life of hunters and herders, a common subject explored by artists in this genre is the life and ways of Mongolian people.
“One Day In Mongolia” by Marzan Sharav 1911-1919.
This is perhaps the most famous painting in Mongolia. It was painted with mineral paints on cloth and illuminates the many different aspects of Mongolian life. It is at the Zanabazar Fine Arts Museum.
There is no vanishing point or perspective so regardless of distance, everything is shown in the same proportion. Very little research has been done on Mongolian zurag painting and the art form is virtually unknown worldwide due to its strong similarity to Tibetan Thangka Painting, Chinese Painting and other Asian Paintings.
I love this gouache piece by Tsend-Ayush.U done in 1986. My favorite part is the clouds and the absence of perspective – the ways the image was layered and stacked. It is part of the collection at the Mongolian National Modern Art Gallery.
Aside from the artwork the most impressive part of Mongolian for me was the sky. With the landscape being so open the sky, which was always filled with amazing clouds, became the focal point. But perhaps I am just really into clouds!
Here is another gouache painting I found by Tsend Ochir called “The Gathering of Skies”. It really depicts the unique layering of swirly clouds that I have only ever seen in Mongolia.
I was so influenced by this new style of art that I had to crate some new work incorporating some techniques. Since most of the zurag paintings are done with pigmented paint or gouache, I thought that the flashe paint, which is very pigmented and flat, would work well in this style. And though the zurag paintings often depict scenes in their landscapes, I like my landscapes void of people. I did however incorporate the lack of perspective and came up with my own version of zurag inspired paintings:
Counting Beautiful Things, 24×24″, flashe on canvas
Laying in the Sun, 24×24″, flashe on canvas
Color of the Wind, 30×30″, flashe on canvas
So far I am having fun layering the paint, stacking the landscape features, and most importantly adding clouds!
September 22, 2015
I have always been intrigued by the vast open landscape and the nomadic way of life in Mongolia. It seemed like such a remote country that I never thought I be able to visit, but I am very fortunate to have an adventurous boyfriend who was willing to make it happen. After looking into the logistics of getting around the country we decided that driving on unpaved roads with no signage for two weeks was not the best idea and decided to book a tour. We went through Selena Travel and were very happy with our choice, especially after seeing how people drive in Ulaanbaatar! Our first day we did a city tour, the highlight was the Gandand Monastery:
The monastery was constructed in 1809. In the 1930’s Mongolia fell under Communist rule and under the influence of Stalin, many monasteries were destroyed and more than 15,000 lamas were killed. Gandan was one of the few monasteries to escaped the mass destruction.
Here is a great shot of the city. It was much larger than I expected with a population of about 1.5 million people. While most people live in apartments, there is a large Ger district on the outskirts of town. There people live in traditional yurts.
Day 2 of our tour took us down to the Gobi town of Dalanzadgad. We got our first experience of driving on unpaved roads. Luckily our driver was very experienced. We stopped at the Yoliin Am George for a hike before reaching our first Ger Camp:
Yoliin Am George is in the Gurvan Saikhan Mountans and translates to “Valley of the Vultures”
Day 3 took us to the Khongor Sand Dunes, it was everything I imagined the Gobi Desert would look like:
On our way to the sand dunes we stopped in a little town for some tea and choco pies! There is our driver Dave, and Carol and Peter, our tour mates. All the way from Naples Florida, Carol and Peter are avid travelers with Mongolia being their 102nd country visited. It was great to hear all their adventures.
Day 4 we stopped at a nomadic herder’s Ger and were “treated” to camel’s milk and camel cheese. it is customary to take any food or gift you are offered so we all tried a little taste. I can’t say it was the worst food I ever ate, but very close to it. We moved on to the forest of Saxaul trees, they call them Gobi Trees, which only grow in a small area of the desert:
Day 5 took us to the Ongi River and Monastery Ruins. It was one of the largest monasteries in Mongolia, Founded in 1660. It was completely destroyed in 1938 by the communists:
Every night we stayed at different Ger camps. Each Ger was unique and beautiful, and pretty comfortable. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner was served at the Ger camps. The food was always very good. For breakfast we had bread and butter and jelly, soup, eggs and sausage and coffee and tea. Lunch always consisted of a salad, then soup, then a main course. For dinner we had salad and a main course which was usually some form of mutton, and always a Mongolian beer, or two…or three…
Day 6 we drove to Karakorum, the ancient capitol of Mongolia established by Chinggis Kahn and his son. It was one of our longest driving days and we made it just in time for a spectacular sunset:
Day 7 we visited the Erdene Zuu Monastary founded in 1586:
After the Monastery we headed east towars Hustai National Park and saw plenty of animals along the way:
We arrived at Hustai National Park, home of the Przewalski Horse. The Przewalski’s horse has never been domesticated and remains the only truly wild horse in the world today:
Day 8 we awoke to a beautiful Rainbow as we left Hustai for Gun-Galuut Nature reserve:
We saw a vulture and a falcon outside the Giant Chinggis Kahn Statue.
Two local men sing a traditional drinking song as we passed around bowls of Airag, fermented mare’s milk, and vodka distilled from yogurt. I was rooting for Bimpe, the gentleman on the left, to win.
Day 10 was the second day of the nomad festival. We got to see an archery competition, wrestling and horse racing. Anna, our tour guide, took me behind the scenes to hang with some locals:
My friend Bimpe in the blue Deel.
Day 11 we made it to Terelj National Park. It’s hard to believe this gem is only 66km away from Ulaanbaatar:
Well that is it folks. It was an amazing adventure!
September 02, 2015
Hello, things are winding down here in the studio as I get ready for a 15 day trip to Mongolia. Yup. Mongolia. But before I leave I wanted to write about another great show happening here in Portland. Tamara English is a Portland Artist who’s work I admire and drool over! Her show is titled “For The Bees”. Here is the info for the show and some images:
English has exhibited her paintings extensively in the US, including at the New Orleans Museum of Art, Addington Gallery in Chicago, IL, Madelyn Jordon Fine Art in Scarsdale, NY, The Bedford Art Center in Walnut Creek, CA, and in London at Turner Barnes Gallery. Upcoming exhibitions includes those at Lock Haven University, Lock Haven, PA and Autzen Gallery at Portland State University.
August 25, 2015
Hello! I am getting excited for Last Thursday at Guardino Gallery this Thursday, August 27th. I have known Paul for a while and somehow he convinced me to model for him, for his upcoming show, The Tattoo. I really didn’t need that much convincing, I was happy to get to spend a few hours hanging out with such an amazing artist and chat about everything from art to football. Through Paul I met Chris and they make quite a team. Here are some images and further info for their upcoming show (you will have to go to the show to see my portrait):
The Reader by Paul Rutz
Peace Corps Volunteer by Paul Rutz
Chauvet by Chrisopher Wagner
Show Title: The Tattooed
How we choose to ink ourselves can reveal our personalities and values, obviously, as well as the link between the passage of time and our growth through adulthood. Fading ink, cover ups, additions, and restorations—the permanent is only partially so.
How does someone paint that?
Tattoos replace faces as the focus of these painted portraits. I’ve carved lines, craters and holes into the panels around the painted bodies. These decisions come from months of experimentation into how painting can echo tattooing—digging into as well as marking the surface of ourselves. The tattooed body isn’t like a canvas, the way I see it, because we don’t etch into canvases. Anyone with a tattoo knows the pain is part of it.
I’ve measured every body part—and every tattoo—at precisely life size, preserving the real-life dimensions of the bodies represented on these panels. I also painted each body from multiple points of view, wrapping the picture around the body somewhat, as many Paleolithic cave painters did. This is one way to make documentary pictures without resorting to photography, and it requires models willing to pose for several weeks.
Sculptor Christopher Wagner and I have worked together on two series over the past two years, asking how we can combine our skills toward novel ways to make portraits. In the first, a 2014 series of combat veteran portraits, we spent more than 400 hours together in my studio with live models. It pulled Chris out of his comfort zone, the woodshop, for nearly a year. This time I asked him pull me toward the cramped hands and no-turning-back attitude of wood carving
Please go check out the show this Thursday, August 27th at Guardino Gallery from 6-8pm.
June 04, 2015
I have been included in a great show at the Sara Nightingale Gallery called Reinventing the Helm. It is a nautical themed show, and though I have no direct maritime experience I drew on my memories and daydreams for my work.
Port, 30×30″, flashe on canvas,
Five Boats, 30×30″, flashe on canvas
The Sag Harbor Express wrote a nice article about the show so if anyone is near Water Mill, NY, check out the show! The opening is Saturday, June 6th from 6-8pm.
March 13, 2015
Things have been very exciting at my studio lately. I just got into two Galleries in New York. The Road Gallery in NYC and Sara Nightingale Gallery in the Hamptons. I will also have one of my images in Refresh Magazine soon! I have applied to a bunch of opportunities and I am just waiting on the results…
It feels good to be getting my art back on track. The past few years have been rough recovering from Lyme Disease. My energy and concentration is continuing to increase and I think it makes a huge difference in the quality of my work. I feel my work has more focus and intention. I am also starting to feel more connected to the art world, and just the world in general. Now that I am coming out of the fog cloud that Lyme created and I can look back on my experience with it and see how it has impacted my work.
I’ve been working on a new series based on a trip I took to eastern Oregon this Jan. The motivation for the new work came from wanting to create more depth in my work, and also from experiencing the passing of time while meditating. I spent most of my time over the last 4 years inadvertently meditating. My brain was too tired to think or worry so I really was just being in the present moment. I am very thankful for that experience because it makes me look at the world differently. Now I am able to slow down and notice the subtle things that change slowly over time: seasons changing, the light shifting, clouds passing…
I am just realizing that time plays a huge part in my work. I’ve always used the landscape to express my self, but looking back on my work I am using the landscape to express my relationship to time. I am becoming more and more interested in experiencing art that changes over a period of time. I think of how we experience music as a piece that unfolds and changes during a duration of time.
When I was in Iceland in 2011 I would collect seaweed and bring it back to my studio. I loved watching it dry out over the course of the day. I made a book out of bound pages of seaweed and let it dry out so it became unreadable.
I want to start creating more “slow art”. Art objects that change slowly over time, art that can be experienced over a period of time, or images who’s subtle details slowly become visible. So, stay tuned!
February 04, 2015
I am really excited about the 2014 Betty Bowan Award winner Ralph Pugay, who’s work I got to see at the SAM gallery when I delivered art there last month. Here is a little expert about his work:
“Pugay paints vignettes that seem humorous at first but address topics of anxiety, confusion, and misguided certainty. He characterizes the scenes in his works as “absurd situational narratives, constructed through the melding of incongruous symbols and ideas, where the mundane and fantastic converge”, creating allegories to engage contemporary modes of consciousness and morality.”
Here is one of my favorite pieces from the show titled “Rothkos in Space”:
The humor in Pugay’s work just makes me happy. I am always thinking, probably overthinking, about my art. What am I painting, and what does it mean, is the piece a success, will it sell, how does it fit into my body of work…..on and on and on. I realize that in trying to create a consistent body of work I’ve taken a bit of the fun out of painting. I am not exploring as much, or exploring in the confines of a strict set of rules that will produce similar pieces.
But when I do sit down to paint, and allow myself to “play” I paint lines that end up forming landscapes. Then I think about Rothko’s work. I saw his exhibit at the portland art museum a few years ago. It was interesting to see his early work, but his iconic “multiform” piece are where it’s at. Im was in awe of the space he could create on the canvas so it makes sense that his paintings would be floating in outer space in Pugay’s painting!
I am fascinated with outer space. I like thinking about it abstractly, which is easy since I have no formal training in physics or cosmology. It is incomprehensibly vast, and thinking about it somehow calms me. A few days ago I decided to explore space in my work. I don’t know how but I am excited to see what happens. I have also been thinking more about the things that occupy space that we can not see like gravity and molecules. But more specifically the things we can’t see that we don’t understand like dark matter and spirits. This takes me to Iceland.
I just recently re-applied to the SIM residency in Iceland. The one that I did in Feb. 2011. I’ve been wanting to go back ever since I left. Though I have tried to get my self excited to go to somewhere that I have never been, which is almost anywhere else in the world, I find myself trying to go back to Iceland. Whenever I hear the word “Iceland” I get so happy and excited, so why fight it, I need to go back there.
When I did my first residency, I became aware of what a magical place Iceland is. There is an unseen force at work on that island. Perhaps it could be explained geologically or maybe it really is because of the Hidden People, the spirits that live in the volcanic rocks. But there is something magical and unseen going on there and I need to go back to explore it.
(So I guess I need to come to some sort of conclusion that ties this all together so I can go paint)
I like art that makes me happy, and Iceland makes me happy. And it all has to do with creating space and things in space.
August 14, 2014
I’ve been pretty busy this summer playing with flashe paint and working on new paintings for my upcoming show this September at the Eastside Exchange building here in Portland. I am loving the new colors palette I get with the flashe paint. Lots of bright primary colors, and lots of blue. I’ve been playing with more layers and using different techniques to create textures:
This piece reminds me of the diagram in geology books showing the different layers of rocks. I am very excited for the opening, and am continuing to paint nonstop.
It’s great to create pieces when there is a destination for them. I gave myself plenty of time to work on these pieces and am really happy with the outcome. But inevitably there will always be great opportunities that pop up unexpectedly. A few weeks ago I received an email from the USA network asking if they could reproduce some of my work to be used in a scene in the Season 2 finally of their show “Graceland”. Thankfully they even offered to pay me! So if you watch “Graceland”, please keep an eye open for my art!
June 06, 2014
I have always been fascinated by Alaska. When I was a kid my next door neighbor’s cousins would come visit ever summer from Alaska. They would tell tales of walking to and from school in the winter with flashlights because it was so dark out, black out curtains for the summer because it was always daylight, and running into moose! I was hooked. I carried around a little puzzle piece of the 49th state as a reminder of my goal to go there. Thanks to a willing travel partner with plenty of frequent flier miles my dream came true!
Not only did I want to experience 24 hours of daylight, I wanted to see glaciers, and mountains and wildlife. I wanted to experience first hand the effects of global warming on the environment to gain inspiration for my art work.
We landed in Anchorage at 11:00pm to a sunset blazing red through the haze of smoke from a near by wild fire due to an unusually warm dry spring.
The next day we drove to Homer. The air was thick with smoke creating interesting colors reflecting off the water in Cook Inlet.
Here I am with my amazing travel companion in Homer. You can see the Portlock and Grewingk Glaciers spilling out of the Kanai Mountains across the Kachemak Bay. Luckily the winds were blowing in our favor and much of the smoke filled air cleared out of the souther part of the Kanai Peninsula. We spent two days exploring Homer. It has a cute little downtown with a great book store, Captain’s Coffee Roasters, and the Pratt Musuem.
We were off to Seward and Girdwood to see some glaciers and hike in the northernmost rain forest in the world.
Here at Exit Glacier, just outside of Seward, you can really see evidence of global warming. The drive into the valley carved out by the retreating glacier has date markers documenting it’s retreat since 1815.
A glacier that once filled a whole valley seems unimpressive as it now only peaks out from the Harding Ice Field above the mountains.
Our last stop in Alaska was to see the impressive 6 million acre Denali National Park.
We stayed in a sweet little cabin at the Perch Resort owned and operated by two brothers. My favorite part of the whole trip was eating fresh baked blueberry muffing for breakfast at their restaurant.
We never got to see Mt. McKinley due to cloud coverage (it’s usually cloudy 2 out of 3 days in the summer) but the park was still beautiful and impressive.
You don’t have to look far in Alaska to see wildlife. I was very excited driving into the park and spotting my first mamma moose with it’s little baby! They are very cute from the safety of your car, but they can be mean so don’t get too close!
Reindeer alert! Some Caribou stumbled across us as we were on a hike. They didn’t seem to bothered by humans.
We patiently waited at a safe distance while they foraged along the trail.
Denali was probably our favorite place and two days there wasn’t nearly enough time. When we go back to Alaska we plan on spending more time there and taking advantage of some of the great tours and activities inside the park. I would love to stay at the Perch again and go back tot he 49th state brewery for some great beer and the biggest portion of mac & cheese ever!
We headed back to Anchorage and spent our last day of vacation in the city. It was cold and rainy so we didn’t mind spending all day in the Anchorage Museum. It was an amazing museum with a mix of contemporary and traditional art by native and non-native artists. It also doubled as a science center with cool exhibits for children of all ages. The museum is a great place to learn the history of Alaska and of it’s native inhabitants. One exhibit in the musum’s Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center, Living Our Cultures, Sharing Our Heritage: The First Peoples of Alaska, shared how how each Alaska Native nation is unique–and how all are connected. One of my favorite quotes from the exhibit is from the Haida people: “…after the arrival of the Europeans in the late eighteenth century, we suffered great losses in population, cultural knowledge, and most of all self-esteem, self-worth and identity…It has been the art that has brought us back to our roots.”
There were so many great exhibits in this gem of a museum, but one exhibit really turned me on:
Gyre: The Plastic Ocean. I this it was a great coincidence that this exhibit happened to be showing and luckily I got to see it. I’ve been fascinated with the ocean gyres since I first heard about them. Also, David and I happened to be celebrating our one year anniversary in Alaska and our first date was at a science pub lecture on the Pacific Gyre. We had come full circle!
So, what happens is all the plastic that gets into the ocean, and doesn’t get washed up back on shore eventually breaks down into little pieces and gets stuck in these circular currents called gyres. Gross. The plastic that does wash back up onto the beaches gets eaten by birds and other marine life. And guess what? Plastic isn’t digestible.
“Midway” by Chris Jordan, digital photograph
There were so many great pieces of work in this exhibit, but this piece by Karen Larsen was my favorite. “Preservation” relates to Karen’s childhood memories of farm life and about the connection we loose to the land, water and our sense of place when we opt for convenience.
Well folks, I leave you with the last image of Anchorage from my amazing trip! Alaska was amazing. Thanks for reading!
May 08, 2014
May is Lyme Disease Awareness month so I am dedicating this post to my experience with Chronic Lyme and the impact it had, and still has, on my art. I want to share my story, not only of my struggle with the Lyme, but my struggle with my life after Lyme. There is plenty of information out there on the symptoms of the disease. But what happens after Lyme? Most people never get better. Eventually you learn how to cope with Lyme and create a new life for yourself.
So, a brief history of my Lyme: I started having anxiety and chronic fatigue in 2005. Nothing severe enough to cause much alarm. In 2009 I had a very stressful year and I believe the stress weakened my immune system enough for the lyme to really take over. As the year got more stressful I began to notice something was really wrong. I couldn’t comprehend what I was reading or stay focused and organized. I had no energy and my right knee and elbow started hurting.
By Jan of 2010 I was having such bad anxiety I couldn’t eat or sleep and finally was so sick I had to go to urgent care. The doctors had no idea what was wrong with me and sent me home. Luckily I was seeing an amazing naturopath at the time, we spent about a month testing me for all sorts of things. When every test came back negative, she suggested I get tested for Lyme. Sure enough I tested positive.
I was very fortunate to have been diagnoses correctly so early on. A lot of people who have Lyme go untreated for years. Like me, they never realized they got bit by a tick. Because Lyme mimics so many other diseases it can be really hard to diagnose and tests can sometimes result in false positive or false negatives.
In March I started my 10 month treatment of antibiotics, but by the end of April I was so sick I could no longer get out of bed. The medicine that was supposed to cure me was wreaking havoc on my body.
I spent the next 8 months my life in bed. I had to give up every aspect of my life and focus on healing. Most days I struggled just to get out of bed and go to the bathroom. Gravity was my enemy. I was lucky if I could make it to the couch in my back yard studio. I would lay there looking at my art wondering how I ever had the energy to hold a paintbrush. How would I ever be well enough to paint again?
By October of 2010 I started to see a little improvement and by January of 2011 I was finally able to get off the antibiotics. I realized my road to recovery was only just beginning. Not only did my body have to recover, I had to start getting my life back together. I had to get back to the “old me”.
Here I am 4 years later, I still have symptoms and like most people who have chronic Lyme, I don’t know if I will ever fully recover. I finally realize I will never get back to the “old me”. I have learned to cope with Lyme and balance my life so I can stay as healthy as possible. But it isn’t easy. Compared to how I felt two and three years ago I feel great, but my body still aches and I am always tired.
Sleep, sweet sleep. Being tired is the base line of my existence, then there are the times when I am exhausted. And not just regular exhausted, painfully exhausted. My body aches with a buzzing pulsation, I can’t think, I feel like I am going to vomit. Living with Lyme is living with a limited daily supply of energy and there is no borrowing from tomorrow’s supply. When you are out of energy, you are out.
Being tired and in pain all the time makes it hard to go out and participate in life. I have really slowed my pace of life down, and I have to continue to work at keeping it that way. It is too easy to fill my week up with errands and socializing and then not have enough energy to paint. I also had to make changes to my studio practice and to the direction I want my art career to go to accommodate my health.
Having a couch in my studio is a must, having my studio in my house is preferable. It makes my life a lot easier when I can multi task throughout my day by getting household chores done or taking a quick nap while I wait for paint to dry. I find myself saying no more often now, not just passing up socializing but also turning down art opportunities. While I used to enjoy painting murals, I know I can’t work at the pace and scale needed to complete a mural. I paint at a much slower pace now, so I have less work available to show.
The benefit is that I have more time to contemplate my work. If I am too tired to paint, I can still sit in my studio space and look at the art, deciding what my next move will be. I find I am much happier with my finished work more often now. I also find that I am much happier with my life now. I don’t have the energy to sweat the small stuff and my life is filled with amazing people who support and love me.