Biography: Always A Work in Progress

I have always made stuff, and some of it is art. Since Beginning Drawing in college, I have explored pencil, charcoal, conte crayon, colored pencils, pastels, art markers, pen&ink, painting, watercolor, printmaking, collage, mixed media, and found object sculpture. What have I missed? I  voraciously explored until I found clay, the primal medium, where I stayed for decades. Clay’s the reason I entered the marketplace and started a Blog-Which-Has-Become-This-Whole Website, too.

A life-long learner, I have alternated learning with teaching, special mentors with self-direction. I am proud of my assortment of degrees and certificates from Sociology to Finance, but those in Studio Art and Art History fed my soul.  I have taught Art from Kindergarteners to adults and I have illustrated two children’s books. Over the years I have shown my work in at least twenty galleries and two dozen art festivals.  The art community wherever I have lived is lively and inclusive, especially here in Santa Cruz County, my home studio for the past 30 years.

Recently, I have returned to my painting and collage roots, delighted to find that my touch and perception have intensified because of my literal hands-on years in ceramics. There is always plenty to know and apply, I am delighted to say. And lots of new tools and methods. As a student of aesthetics,  art history, the creative process, and plenty of nerdy technical info in each medium, I can say quite cheerfully that I am, myself, the work in progress.


Artist Statement: Whaddya Got to Say?

Artist Statement Mind Map
Artist Statement Mind Map


As a hungry learner, I have always wrassled with the double-edged sword of excellent student-ship. It’s a useful practice, until it isn’t. The goal of seeking blessings from the instructor, the cohort, the jurist, or even the art-loving public ultimately takes one only so far towards learning for oneself. And it can seriously warp authentic agency. “Originality does not consist of saying what no one has ever said before, but in saying exactly what you think yourself.” (James Stephens.)

Decades ago, after looking at a motley grouping of my work, a kindly colleague once observed, “So you can paint. Whaddya got to say?” She nailed it. While noting my careful and orthodox ordering of Art Elements, Principles, and Application, she, more insightfully, also noted the lack of an idiosyncratic personal interpretation, which truncated its spirit and meaning. I was a talented people pleaser. Ouch.

After a lifetime of peeling back the layers of the art-making enigma to find myself in it, here’s my Maker’s Manifesto, always subject to change:

Whatever the medium, I wait for a clear visual curiosity and an itch to bring it into materiality before starting in on the new troubles of actually making something. Ideas abound but most of them are steppingstones or “merely clever” as a mentor used to warn against. While I am by nature a goal-oriented doer,  I notice that  using only that skill propels me impatiently past the making part, usually with unhelpful self-judgments. It is better for me to practice a slow intentionality and radical acceptance in the making process so I can see doneness whenever it arrives, not just because I want it to.

I mostly recognize doneness, however long it takes,  if my works seem unpracticed, almost inevitable. They begin to breathe by themselves.  If I sense a contrived or wishful quality, I will often take a long break or even begin again. As Brian Eno said, “You cannot control your way out of control.”

Whatever  ineffable “it” factors I seek, a piece always becomes its own entity and my last hurdle is to recognize that and let go. If I have at all addressed the impulses and rationales that I had when I started, the work will contain my heart, hands and humors, too, because THAT is what I’ve got to say, no more no less.