Saturday, August 29, 2009

('The Red Fairy' Mask)

Masks: Why do I love them?

I love making masks. I’ve made masks out of paper, plaster, felt, clay, copper, brass, aluminum and screening. I’ve made masks of cats, dogs and frogs, wolves and polar bears, birds and bugs. The sun and the moon. A dragon, phoenix, and thunderbird. It doesn’t matter to me what kind of mask I make, it’s always a fascinating process.

Why do I love masks? I’m not sure. All I know is that making a mask is like searching for an answer to a question I don’t even know I have. It’s relaxing. It’s playful and joyful, mysterious and magical. Its peaceful solitude and energizing connection all at the same time.

Maybe I don’t have to know why. I can just love making masks. Period.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Rubber bands & Paper clips:
A message from the Universe.

Walking my dog into the park last week, I looked down and there on the path was a bright shiny, silver paper clip. Not a big deal, right? To me, it was a message.

Oh, I know, it sounds a little crazy, but let me fill in the blanks for you.

About ten years ago, I was taking drawing classes in which I produced stacks of newsprint drawings. The only way to store class assignments was to roll them up and wrap a rubber band around them. I went through a lot of rubber bands. And, worrier that I was, I began to worry about a running out of rubber bands.

I was worrying about this one morning as I was walking my dog in the park. I looked down and there on the path right in front of me was a bright red rubber band. I didn’t think much about it and kept on worrying and walking. There, on the path, was another bright rubber band. I began to wonder but again kept walking. When I saw the third rubber band, I stopped. I bent and picked up the rubber band, then turning; I went back and picked up the other two I’d seen on the path. Then I laughed and gave a nod to the Universe for the lesson learned. Stop worrying about not having enough, what you need will come your way.

I always remembered that day because it was a turning point for me in many ways. I was daring to learn to draw, something I had wanted to do for a very long time. I was a mother of young children, volunteering at their schools, going to my classes in the evenings, doing my homework while they were at school and dog sitting to pay for my classes. I’d always been a worrier, but as I moved through my classes and into my own art, I began to change some of my old patterns.

Now, I make, show and sell my art as well as writing and teaching. If you’ve read any of my recent blogs, you know that this last year has brought many unexpected changes in my life. Endings have come in many forms, deaths and jobs to name a few. I know the economy has brought these changes to many of you as well. It’s been scary. And some of my old thinking patterns have crept back into my life.

A few weeks ago, I was filing papers and needed paperclips. For years, I’ve had hundreds of the little silver clips, so there always seemed to be more than enough. But this day, I couldn’t find any, anywhere. The drawer that was always full of paperclips was empty. Ah, yes. I began to worry about paper clips.

So, the other morning walking my dog into the park, I looked down and there on the path in front of me was a bright, shiny, silver paper clip. I smiled. I nodded and gave thanks to the Universe for the reminder. I will always find what I need, when I need it.

Abundance is right there, on my path, whether it’s rubber bands or paperclips, all I have to do is stop worrying and keep walking.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Making art:
Where does it come from?

Sometimes I don’t have a clue. Strike that…many times I now realize, I don’t have a clue. I pull out the clay or copper or aluminum mesh. I push. I pull. I paint. I write. Then it goes out into the world in some form or another, a gallery show, a commission, or a play. Sometimes it sells and sometimes it might be displayed in my home or stored in a closet.

One piece I created about 9 years ago features a copper mask/face on the front layered with oil paint mounted in a black wooden box. The box opens to reveal a copper repouss√© of a woman in a cloak, her arms raised with a sun on her right and a moon on her left, waves indicating water are below her and the tree of life forms a border around her. On the left side of the box is a copper piece inscribed with the words, “From fire to water to life.”

I was compelled to create this piece, but always had a deep discomfort with it. The mask/face on the front scared me, but I loved the goddess repoussé on the inside. The kite shaped black wooden box, made by my husband, was beautiful. But after I showed it, I was happy to put it in the closet. There it stayed for many years.

Last year, as I was setting up for Portland Open Studios, my husband pulled it out of the closet. I didn’t really want to put it out but he insisted. So I reluctantly hung it up on a wall for display intending to take it down when the tour was over. But something funny happened along the way, I realized what this piece was all about and made my peace with it.

This piece is about my Dad.

My Dad had glaucoma and was forced to retire, when the large automobile corporation discovered his disability. His anger and grief led him in a downward health spiral. After he died, I created this piece. The ‘kite’ shape is actually a coffin, it even opens up like a coffin with hinges on the side and inside, the poem I wrote and the repouss√© are all about freeing him from his pain and letting go.

Seems obvious, doesn’t it? But I didn’t get it. And if my husband hadn’t insisted that I take it out of the closet and hang it up where I had to look at it for two weeks, I’d never have figured it out. As artists, writers, musicians or anyone who creates, the why is always a big question. Sometimes, we know. Sometimes, we don’t.

For the past year, I’ve been doing interviews and podcasts with artists and writers. What I’ve learned is that the drive to create is fueled in many different ways and that some artists do know where that fuel comes from, and some don’t. But sometimes, if we’re lucky, like I was, you get to figure it out. Patrick carves wooden sculptures based on his desire for stillness. Kelly paints her memories of landscapes. Nicky sculpts and welds her way back from cancer to health.

You can hear these podcasts at or read the articles on my other blog at

These podcasts will give you the opportunity to hear these artists personally explain their work. Their stories are unique and inspiring and these interviews give you chance to understand where their art comes from.