Rambling on About Painting

“The artist must have something to say, for mastery over form is not his goal but rather the adapting of form to its inner meaning.” ― Wassily Kandinsky, Concerning the Spiritual in Art

It’s been a strange reality here in my house and life. I got Covid at the end of June, 2022 and that turned into long Covid with a bunch of lingering symptoms, notably, a brain that was just not working right. Very scary and still, from time to time, it comes back. Less, but I guess that’s how it’s going to be.

For months I couldn’t hold an image in my mind or imagine how to paint it. I had a wonderful painting in mind and I could draw pieces of it but never put them together. Frustrating and frightening.

When December came along, and a show at the local museum, I felt horrible because I had nothing new (less than 6 months old) to hang. I’d wanted to experiment with a pallette knife for a while, and I figured I had nothing to lose. I took a photo I had of the Refuge in summer — sunflowers — and went at it with the pallette knife and loud music. It came out OK. It’s acrylic on Ampersand Gessobord.

A few months later, I was walking with my dog, Bear, out at the Refuge on a beautiful flat-light foggy snowy day. I came home and did a real oil painting of some of the sedges that grow out there. I like it, but I don’t think it’s everyone cup of tea, or, rather, snow cone. It’s oil on a stretched, oil primed, linen canvas. Not the best canvas I have ever used, but it was great to paint on and suited the technique and paint perfectly. As I painted, I listened to the Dead Kennedys. 🤣 I found the perfect frame and it now hangs where I can see it — a memento of a beautiful day and hope.

My newest painting is of a mustang who lives out in far southwestern Colorado.

Wild Mustang in Spring Snow, oil on oil primed linen panel 20″ x 16″

Yesterday and today I did a garden sign of a Sandhill Crane that sold before it was dry. Maybe I have some of my ju-ju back, but I’m still a little unsure. I think it’s possible that the past few months may have changed me as a painter, and they sure changed me as a person.

That’s fine. Change a normal part of life and changing as a painter is OK. The fear I had that I wouldn’t paint? That was not OK.

In 2021 I was asked to illustrate a friend’s book, An Alphabet of Place; the Little Snake River Valley. She is a rancher in Wyoming, living on her family ranch. The ranch was 140 years old last year! The illustrations were a bit of a challenge because I hadn’t done any real drawing in a while, but it turned out to be incredibly fun and successful.

Ink Illustrations for An Alphabet of Place, the Little Snake River Valley, 2021.

Miscellaneous animal drawings over many years.

Who am I as an artist? Ah…maybe you can see from my work. I have been drawing since I was very small. I even have a couple of those old pictures. I started college as an art major but mom and money made that untenable and I grew up to be a writing teacher. It was a great career, but I never stopped being an artist. During my time in grad school I was the staff artist for the Denver YWCA. In 1981 I had a one person show at a small, arty coffee house in Denver. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, I did some artwork for Mission Trails Regional Park in San Diego. There is more to this resume, but that’s it in a general sense.