Tuesday, September 1, 2009


It's 7:32 a.m. .. I'm already at my studio waiting on a potential client to come at 9. I'm hopeful. 

Today is also my birthday. 

Upon waking up this morning, I started thinking about the things that make me happy, the things that I am thankful for. I also thought about the things I miss sometimes. It occurred to me that, although I love you all, dear readers, I am filling a sort of void in my life through this blog. I'm not trying to get all sentimental. It's just that, at a certain point, sending sentiments out to the blogisphere can be, to say the least, a little lonely. I put a thought out there, and it goes out into a cyber world, never to be seen or heard from again.  This blog has been a place of my sharing and sifting through thoughts. It has been therapeutic, at times. And it has been my companion, in a lot of ways. Knowing I have a few friends out there who care enough to read and comment has pulled me through some very rough patches. I am tremendously grateful for this.
But as opposed to a lot of other people who write blogs, I sometimes write mine as a form of communication with very certain friends. You could see how this doesn't really work very well... I write, and they read. 

And I never really get to know what they are thinking. I'm kind of tired of trying to be known by myself.

But today I am 29 years old. If we supposedly reinvent ourself every 7 years, today is the first day of my 4th life. (I was never good at math). 
And today, I choose to speak to real people, face to face or on the phone. I'm tired and also grateful for this blog. I want to know more about my friends, and have them know more about me.  

I've always been a little melodramatic. 

So to those of you who read this to know me, I ask that you just, well, know me. I would like to know you more. 

I wish all of you the best, and I will continue to follow YOU on your blogs. :) Otherwise, I would like to just see you or at least talk to you in some form that does not feel quite so lonely. 

It's a beautiful day out.  I want to live IN it. See you there.

Monday, August 31, 2009

two very beautiful women.

As a morning inspiration, I looked up two of my favorite female  artists. Anyone who reads my blog knows I am a huge fan of Bjork, so obviously she is one. The other is Sister Marie Keyrouz, a Lebanese nun who has the most stunning voice I have heard for what she sings. Both links are interesting... the one of Bjork is probably my favorite song by her... I tear up and the hairs on my arms stand straight whenever the strings kick in. I wish I could paint the way this song sounds. The other link is simply a gorgeous piece of music. Paired with the beautiful sunshine this morning,  both are little wishes for the day I offer up to anyone reading. 

Friday, August 28, 2009

Ink and Madeleine

 It is a day or running pigments, haphazard lazy brush strokes doing what they want, running into each other, blending completely. Think of it when you drive today, especially if you are near the mountain. Today is a living print, a monochromatic painting that finds a way to be colorful. And think of it with this song

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Reactions? Reactions.

I don't know about some of you all out there, but between the rough economy, getting older, and having my heart pulled in different directions at different times of my life, I have to ask: "Is there a way to sift through this chaos in any way and not let it all affect me SO much??"

Obviously, there are always a TON of things out of our control. After all, we shouldn't even pretend to be playing God. That would just be silly.

BUT.... Is there a freakin way to get through this stuff in one piece? Seriously... sometimes I think everyone and everything around me have more say than I do on how I feel. It's exhausting to say the least.

A lot of my posts are about sitting in the moment, being with it, listening to it, and letting go. AH! The letting go part is what I, personally, have a really f#*king hard time with.  There is a lot of power in letting go. And yet, all of our surroundings say the opposite. We are NOT a culture of stepping back, preserving, then letting go... we are one of tearing it down, fixing it all, eating it all, hoarding what's left, giving it all away, stealing it all back. 

To make it simple, WE REACT.

Reaction. I've been thinking of this word on and off all summer. I'm pretty confused about it. Sometimes it's good to react... it's a beautiful thing! We react to art, love, pain, illness, death. It is natural. But then, there is a flip side to this reaction.  Sometimes we react SO quickly, we forget to sit with the feeling. We fill the space (I think I wrote about this already).  We react and react and react some more. Bloody hell it's SO damn tiring! 
So, what gives??? Do those Zen masters detach? Or is it like a wind that flows over them and passes. 

I've passed plenty of wind in my life, but not of that sort....

HA! Ok, sorry! 

I'm obviously in a weird mood, and nowhere near the thoughtfulness that needs to be present in dealing with this question. 
Personally, I like the laughing buddha most of all. What if that's the reaction you get, when it's all said and done, and the feeling has come in, been with  you, and moved on? What if you laugh your bloody eyes out??? What if you all of a sudden see what fools we all are, and you just....

 laugh till you piss yourself.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

P. S.....

Speaking of multi-figure compositions, is there anyone alive today who can compose like Degas? Not to seep myself in history, but seriously, Degas is a badass composer. So modern and surprising. It's a good challenge for up -and -coming painters out there.

Inspiration, Take Two.

I found this FABULOUS Alma Tadema start on the Art Renewal website.... it gives a great clue as to how he worked. I LOVE this sketch... It's a gorgeous multi-figure composition. 

Personally, I have been working with solitary figures exclusively, unless in a portrait commission. But I have always wanted to work with several figures at once... one of the hardest tasks in painting, I think. 

Very inspiring.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Changing of the Guard.

I started teaching at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga (UTC) today.  
I have to say, being in an academic setting is not natural to me. The many  years of waking up at whatever time I want and strolling into my studio, staying until ungodly hours of the evening... well, just don't seem to fit with being a teacher AT A UNIVERSITY. Sounds more like a  first year student, if you ask me. Plus, I look younger than most of the people in the class.

And I giggle more. 

HOWEVER, isn't it when you are slightly uncomfortable that you learn the most??? 
I have a strange feeling that I am going to learn more than my students.
I am teaching figure painting to 3rd and 4th year painting majors. Even the thought makes me sweat a bit. Luckily, I had ten smiling, patient faces awaiting me today.

I'm REALLY excited. 

Being on campus, I realized today how bad I need to be doing this. It's pretty easy to get caught up in your own head, day in, day out, in a studio full of fumes (roll of eyes again).  Walking around the university you can feel the general dedication to learning .

Now, whatever your views are about our educational system (I could write a novel), I still believe there are people teaching and learning because they love it.  There are older students,  young teachers, awkward adjuncts (ahem!), young students in groups, jocks, nerds,academics,  anti-socials, ditzes, and all sorts of people there. And I can't help but think that a rather large percentage of them are there because they love something. Think about it... students pay WAY too much, and teachers get paid WAY too little....
And yet, classes are full. 
Something's gotta give.  
On a more personal level, I feel like there is a changing of the guard going on in my life right now. I have left a big building full of painters, some of them pretty comfortable in their routine (I mean that in the best of ways). They have been my uncles, watching out for my safe crossing into Chattanooga. Now,  I've been thrown out on the street, only to find myself in St. Elmo around a bunch of rock climbers, in a studio with all light directions except the one I am comfortable with, and teaching in a setting that is, well, like I said, slightly new  to me. 

Hmm. I've also have to wonder if this is not the way the last month of my 28th year SHOULD go. After all, they say your body regenerates itself every seven years (yup... you are a WHOLE new person every seven years). Considering that I am in my 4th round, maybe it is applicable that everything I have known should be tossed out like marbles and redirected. (yes... some of my marbles WERE lost).  

29. What will it be like? When I turned 28, I had more than one person tell me, "Oh, Honey, I'm soo sorry... 28 is pure hell". And It kinda has been. 
Let's see... heartache galore, first physical signs of wrinkles, realizing that I'm starting to be of the age that, in the south, is referred to as "old spinster" due to lack of a ring on my finger, finding that I am NOT who I thought I was, finding that many people are NOT who I thought they were, and the general concept of leaving what I have learned in school for my own ways.

Oh, WAIT..... those are all GOOD things.

Phew. For a second I was overwhelmed.

I TOTALLY plan on being a new person as of September 2nd, B T dubs. 

So.... 29. Any suggestions???  I like asking people what they were doing at my age (if they are younger, I ask them what they would LIKE to be doing... then I steal their idea:) Any last ideas for 28? I've got less than two weeks. 

There are a lot of birthdays in September, by the way. Apparently doing it around New Years is popular....

I wouldn't know about that, though.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mental Facilities, Frosty Heaven, and the Jitters.

It's 6:11 pm, wednesday afternoon, on August 12th, 2009. 

I'm taking a break from moving (yes.. still!). I have a cold frosty in hand, and am savoring the living s*t out of it. Why does this taste SO good??? Like as if I have never had vanilla ice cream before. It's so hot outside, and my fingers ache from all the lifting and pulling of heavy frames in and out of my car. I feel sunburned, but I'm not. A thin layer of scum is becoming the norm on my skin lately (and I wonder why I'm still single...).  

But seriously, this is the best Frosty I have ever had. It has even managed to lower my body temperature to something a little more normal. Perhaps I am having a Ranier Maria Rilke moment... he used to write poems about objects that were more than they appeared. He wrote an entire poem about a cane once. The imagery was of a man with some sort of spinal disease walking on a bridge. He would walk and go into convulsions. All the kids would stare at him and he was very lonely. Then, mid-poem, he realizes he can use a cane(or was it an umbrella?) to support his spine while he walks and make it straight. All of a sudden, something quite normal becomes the most important thing to that man... it provides acceptance and normalcy to him.
Quite beautiful, really. 
So, back to the Frosty. "Hail to the Wendy's Gods", one might say. But really... this object, delicious-soothing-vanilla-goodness-thing, is saving me from insanity right now. It's a bit of a contradiction, when you think about it. I have to have been sweating, working, going through the trenches of moving hell just to taste this gorgeous thing. If I was just driving around in my air conditioned car, this Frosty would be, well, let's be frank folks, pretty mediocre. 

So is that the trick? Work and wait and hold on, and you can taste the sweetness of life? Hard times make small things seem important? 

Ode to ye cane, ode to ye Frosty. 

You always hear about those war stories when people would savor a piece of meat or candy, or something they were not allowed to have. It was gold to them, because there was nothing. Everything had been taken away. 

I'm not going to jump on the anti-consumerism train. We all know it, we all do it, we all live with it, and we all somewhat hate it. 

But today I'm going to try a little experiment. What if you don't give yourself that thing you want right away? What if you work for it, if you hold back a little? Will it taste better later? 
Who knows. Rilke seems to be better at this stuff than me. 
I 'm still reading the book I mentioned in the last post.  The chapter last night was about not causing harm. It wasn't really in reference to others. It was more to yourself. When that void hits... you know, when you DON'T give yourself what you want right away, what do you do? Do you fill it? Do you run? Most of us do. We HATE being uneasy, restless, and groundless. It is an insecure place. But this woman claims to ease into it. Realize how you react when you are uncomfortable... do you get itchy and can't sit still? Do you drink? Do you eat? Do you blare the music? Do you call someone for company? 
Really watch what you do. I had this feeling last night, of wanting something and not being able to have it. I got panicky, made up some dumb excuse to drive around town (by the way... this little driving adventure made me listen to Rachmaninov during a hard storm. I got lost, only to end up at Moccasin Bend Facility for Mental Health......uh,  yeah. ) , called my mom, cried, surfed the internet, and took a bath. And then, after all of that, I watched myself. Wow. I'm a jittery, nervy, twitchy person. Take away the thing that I want, and I get all scratchy and anxious. Hmm. So I sat with it. I didn't get mad at myself. I just watched. Even just watching it shot me out of it. What a trip! (mental health facilities included).
I guess there are two parts to this blog: refrain from giving yourself exactly what you want, when you want it, and see how you react. Then see how sweet it feels when what you want comes more naturally. 

But what the hell do I know. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


"The meeting of two eternities... the past and the future... is precisely the present moment' -Henry David Thoreau.

Buddhists (from what I am told) believe that you can find eternal happiness while slicing an onion. This is a properly symbolic action, as far as I'm concerned. A totally useless act, for the most part. But being present to it, even if you are tearing up and can't even see the onion any more, does that bring you closer to reality? To happiness?
I have been reading a book on and off for a year. It is written by a female American Buddhist monk. She talks a lot about the teaching of now. That this moment is the only real tool that can teach us anything. Even if the moment is pain, it is a guiding star to learn from.

It's hard to believe that sometimes.

Like when I'm walking across the street, arms full of heavy boxes, and all the guys on their Harleys won't let me cross over to my car because they are trying to get a good parking spot for the free booze-fest/live concert going on next door. That moment doesn't feel terribly teaching. It is the counter opposite to what I think of with quiet meditation and Buddhism... gardens and monks and birds and stillness and the oh-so intoxicating idea that meditiation and silence can make you happy.

Nope. Fat guys on Harleys just don't fit. And me getting more and more raged at their disrespect is all too separate from that garden and the birds and meditation. I don't think the Dalai Lama would have images of kicking those guys off their bikes and making them beg for mercy while I pile moving boxes on their sweet little....

But that's my problem, I think. We have monkey minds... we swing from thought to thought, let whatever emotion take over and affect everything.  Soon those Harley guys were Hitler, and I was a little innocent maiden being taken advantage of. But the reality is, I was on a street, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and there were people on a friday night excited to see a free concert and forgetting a small amount of politeness.

Tunnel vision is a real bummer, and we've all got it. 

I think art can be a good reminder of what is really going on now. How many times have you played  a song that reminds you of exactly where you are at that moment? Weird. One of my favorite things is to haphazardly play a song that goes so well with my situation; it's as if the singer is me talking to myself.

I had that last night with Thom Yorke's song "Black Swan". Besides the lyrics, the moment was so fitted. I was looking out the large window of my new studio. The sun was going down behind Lookout Mountain. Telephone wires were silhouetted against the sapphire sky. There is a brick building in front of me that is storage for a medical cream factory. The door is earth red, and the sides are pealed and crumbling, showing gray concrete.  The number 23 is above and to the right of the door, also made of brick. Street lights are lit, but no one is walking under them. I can't stop staring at the 23. So this is where I am, huh? 

23. That's exactly where I was. 

And this song played and it was perfect. Like as if you are watching your own life from aside, not totally in it. Like coming up for a breath above water, and seeing the horizon. And then you tread the water for a while.  You just tread, and you can't fake it. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A few thoughts on summertime

Summer. That time when you got to play outside until nightfall. Fireflies. Popsicles. Scraped knees. I can still picture my sis Veronique flying down the concrete hill next to our house, full speed on her Fisher- Price plastic horse. She would hurl herself into the cement, bloody limbs,  and get right back up and do it again with a smile. We had more time with family. Fishing trips, and eating hazelnuts and raspberries in the woods. Daisies and blueberries growing next to each other. 

Later, summer was a time to get a job. Make some cash to spend before school. Summer reading lists (I think I still owe some Library in New York tens of thousands of dollars for some overdue book about Lord knows what... Native American women maybe?...). Tacos at night. 

And then there's summer loves. It's funny, I have fallen in love in both the Spring and the Summer. One was full of scents, flowers, cool evenings, and blue eyes. The other was thunderstorms, bike rides, ice cream sandwiches and slanted, orange light. Both are lovely. 
Summer is emotional for me. I don't know why. Maybe I'm just emotional (duh...some of you are rolling your eyes). I get sad like an end of day rainstorm, and think this awful heat will never end. I feel like a cactus some days. And then others, like today, feel like a day out of a Hemingway novel. Things feel foreign, like some spidery orchid with a secret. I  love days like this. Everything is grey, hot, strange. And begs to be seen and heard. Things happen in the summer. Beautiful, imaginary, lost- in -time things.  These are days that recall all of those memories of summers... days of playing in the garden at dusk, being too tired to eat dinner, too hot to sleep. Days in the city when everyone is looking for a cool oasis. We are turned nomadic on days like this..... the air is of many places. 
I'm playing nomad today. It's a wonderful day, one I am thankful for more than anyone can know. It's a desert, a jungle, a city, a playground, a middle-of-the field thunderstorm day. Sun comes from no place today... everything is hazy, like a blurred painting.  

Monday, July 27, 2009


It's 8:52 a.m. 
I just got into my studio from my morning walk.... from Main Street to 8th and Market. Coffee in hand, the sun is already hot and cutting through the morning mist.  I pass Warehouse Row, notice new signs, pass Patten Towers with all its flavorful characters out front. Miller Park is still quiet, with rays of sun coming in and frolicking on the sidewalk.  I pass the Loveman building, where I used to live when I first moved to Chattanooga. It dawns on me how many steps between then and now have taken place. 
The building where I work, the Old Chattanooga Bank Building, has been sold. It is a gorgeous building, made of Tennessee marble and baked, enameled, white terracotta.  The materials are splendid, the structure handsome, the tenants bizarre, and the general maintenance questionable.  Whenever I walk up to it,  I feel like I should be hearing Debussy's "Sunken Cathedral"..... an elegant, but somewhat decrepit sea giant lifting its shoulders  out of a concrete ocean.
I'm sad. All 11 floors of this building have to be out by August 15th, which seems all too soon. The building will be turned into a Crown Plaza Hotel, a 24 million dollar project. I have to say it is nice to think someone finds Chattanooga interesting enough to put that kind of money into the downtown. 
I have had some wonderful times in this building. Three years ago, when  I moved to Chattanooga, I rented a small space on the 3rd floor. I painted all the walls army green and worked on my first portrait commission. I met all my painter friends for the first time while working out of that space. The halls smelled of pipe tobacco and the no-smoking signs were a suggestion, not a rule. 
Then I subletted  from another painter, Michele Anderson, her space on the tenth floor. I felt like I had made bank.... it was a huge studio with lots of light. Again, lots happened in that studio as well. I found out I received my grant in that space. Danced to Michael Jackson in the wee hours alone. And best of all... I got to press the top button in a full elevator. Ha! 
Then I got my own space, on the 5th floor. It was a labor of love, having to rip 2 layers of carpet and 2 layers of tile out before I could have the Terrazzo floors to their original state. I was scrubbing my temple floors, an action very symbolic at that time in my life. 
There are many painters in this building. And attorneys. And eccentrics. 9-5ers, part-timers, night owls and early risers. We are all in here together. As much as I am an advocate for artist spaces, there is something great about being in a building with people you would never normally know. I walk down the hall and get my keys ready, say hello to Joanne, a lovely receptionist for the attorney next door to me. She tells me about her daughter's fiance going to Iraq. My heart sinks for a young woman I don't even know.  
I come into my studio. The light is blue and pale, and the faint smell of linseed oil is in the walls. My palette, my easel, my brushes..my friends, are all waiting for me. We are all moving together, as usual. Poor roommates... I'm sure they are not sold on the idea of being thrown into the back of my car and taken to the other side of town... to St. Elmo.  I'm lucky they don't have a voice in the matter.... they are probably pretty sick of me throwing paint all over them every day, then hurling them across town. 
I'm moving this week. I have a wonderful space in St. Elmo... a great community. The building is a lot like this one, complete with southern gentleman landlord and sweet maintenance man. 
As a final goodbye, Gordon Wetmore, Bart Lindstrom, and many other painters here in the Bank Building are having a sort of "changing of the guard" party this friday night. We start the goodbyes at 7pm. Please come by and bid this gorgeous giant a final adieu. 

Monday, July 13, 2009

Friday, July 10, 2009


Due to a scheduling conflict, I won't be painting hour-long sketches of people tomorrow at Coffee Crafters. Sorry everyone!!!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Be a poser!

I'm going to be doing one hour oil portrait sketches this Saturday, July 11th from 10a.m to 4p.m at Coffee Crafters Cafe. Please stop by for a coffee and a portrait sketch!!! 
Coffee Crafters is located at the corner of Vine and Houston Streets, right next to the UTC dorms. 
Here are directions
It will be loads of fun!

Friday, July 3, 2009


So, It's 7:45 a.m. Now, for most people, this is a healthy, normal time to be up. I, however, have been up since 4:45a.m.   The guys at Starbucks laughed when I was the first one in line this morning. I decided, after not much sleep, to come into my studio early and just go ahead and catch up on old paperwork. 
Now, why on earth can't I sleep? I started kind of giggling at the fact that today, July 3rd, is very obviously the day before Independence Day. 
Am I nervous about my freedom? Does the weight of choice hang heavy on my heart? Am I perhaps, fearful of this right??
In a world where women are still being stoned to death, thieves are beheaded, and doctors are made to work abroad in chicken factories, I can deal with this weight of Freedom. Choice is a bitch, but look at the alternative. 
So today, I have a little of the Star Spangled Banner running in my heart. I've been worried so much over my finances lately, my work, my play, blah blah. But I'm alive and free. And my choice to be a painter and suffer the consequences is my own. We get to choose!
I may be over-simplifying (another trait of this dear country). 
Or I may just be delirious with lack of sleep and excitement. Does it matter??
Have a wonderful 4th, y'all!!!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Moving forward and looking back.

Oh, dear, dear readers! Please do not be discouraged by my total lack of  writing for the past two weeks!!! I've been SO busy, with moving my apartment, re-doing my studio, and trying to be a painter all the while.  I'm so sorry, cher amies! 

This morning, to my wonderful surprise, I got an email. A good friend of mine that I studied with in Italy is getting married to another close friend! Her and I were inseparable while we lived in Italy, and I can say with full confidence that she made the experience all the more glorious! 

Change is in the air. I just finished moving houses, and my art work seems to be changing significantly right now.  And now a good friend is changing a huge part of her life.... her and her soon-to-be husband are moving back for London where she is from.  Talk about change! 
But it is important to remember where you once were, and realize how much progress and growth (hopefully) have gone on. The photos below are both a dedication to my friend (she practically lived in my house for a year, curled up sipping tea and giggling with me by the fire) and also a reminder that many great things have happened since.  These were taken in 2005, the last year of me living in Florence, Italy. I actually lived on the mountain of Fiesole for the last two years I was studying, and the shots below are from that home. Please enjoy... these are somewhat personal photos from a time and place in my life I loved dearly. But I'm also glad to have moved on.  
Have a great day of change!!

View from our front door and patio, looking onto Florence.
Side view of my house taken from in the bottom orchard. Yup... we had an orchard. 
Photo of me sitting in one of the many lovely windows of our house. 
Front gate. I loved the sound when it opened... it was a medieval sound in a modern world. 
Our front door. 
My fav beach in Italy- Castiglioncello. Many a weekend spent here with my friend Emilie eating tuna sandwiches and trying to not be as prudish as our creamy white skin may have led on... 

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Messy Studio!

Wow. I just took a look at my easel and realized it's been a while since I have cleaned..... Ha! You can't even see all the coffee cups. But it makes me feel so happy!

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Sorry, my dear, dear delicate readers....
I  was just informed that the term "hoo-ha" is actually a reference to a woman's private parts. 
I had no idea. About the word, I mean. 
This is coming from my sister, who at the moment, has been taking an inventory of all her American Girl doll stuff.... $900  worth! One step closer to grad school for her!! I thought for a second my mom's head was going to explode and confetti would come flying out of her ears with all the mini-crap. 

pack rat?

It's 5:39 a.m.... I'm STILL awake. I'm not sure why I can never seem to get any sleep.

I'm sitting in Atlanta, in my mom's living room, surrounded by dolls. 
Yup.. dolls.
Now before you all roll your eyes at my poor, patient mom, know that I don't have a crazy mother who collects dolls and has, like, 50 cats. Actually, it's really my sister who is the crazy one.

When we were younger, at a certain point, my parents made a lot of money. They later lost it all (don't come knockin' on my door..). But while they had some, they spoiled my sis and I. I got art supplies and clothing (nothing has changed...hmmm), my sis, well, hmm... she loved American Girl dolls. Now for any of you that are not familiar with these (that's a good thing) these dolls were made  to PERFECTION. She has three dolls. Each one comes with all sorts of nifty little hoo-has, including matching little handmade clothing, doll-sized paper bags for lunches, a radio that plays the news from the 1940s, and even a handmade tennis racquet. I'm talking TO THE MAX. These dolls are no joke. My mom is moving, and she has asked, as a birthday present, for my sister and I to go through all of our hoards of sh*t and, well, DEAL WITH IT. 

But at 5:39 in the morning, those dolls are freaking me out. Seriously. Mini-crap EVERYWHERE.

So her living room has, for the weekend, transformed into Veronique's doll neurosis. There really is crap everywhere. We had a ball going through boxes yesterday.... 
And I realized something. I have never had any real extra-curricular interests. I have always drawn. And that's it. My old crap is just boxes and boxes of sketch books and napkins with doodles. 

Veronique, on the other hand, was much more creative than me, we are finding out. Not only did she write 75 little books in one year (4th grade), but we are also having to sort through her "ceramic collection". Beastly things, really. She would take these massive lumps of clay, add fins or wings or legs or whatever, put it in the kiln at our school, give it to my poor mom as a whale, bird, dog-thing. Aww. So now we have boxes and boxes of these bizarre, twisted animals. Again, VERY weird at 5:40 in the morning. 

She also used to steal the emergency safety cards from airplanes. Folks, we're talking like 30 or so of these, just sitting in a box. Why??Why??? She has poems, and an old flute, batons from band camp, tennis racquet (to match her dolls), scraps of weird religious items from her 2nd communion, oh.... and....
my sister has a severe problem with throwing away stuffed animals. She still has about 150 of them. I'm not kidding. Everything from the hand puppets my grandma made to shut us up, to a Coca Cola bear from the 1996 Olympics. My mom is trying to get her to donate some, which, to her credit, she parted ways with over half yesterday.
It makes me think. Here I am, a supposed artist. And yet, my brown boxes of sketchbooks feel a little limited. They are, in some ways, a tad too standard for my taste. 
And then I start opening them.
Oh, dear.
Too many very,very weird self-portraits. I have a sketchbook from when I was 12 years old with alien skateboarders. And so, so many faces. Sometimes I would fill them in with neon paints (again, my poor mom was the victim of one of these horrendous portraits..... only I decided to get really creative and paint her face 4 feet tall.  We call it the NEON BEAST in my family).
There must be a thousand little linear drawings of still lifes, people sleeping on trains, watching tv, copies of other paintings, african bug patterns, lizard heads, chinese calligraphy.... you name it. 38 sketch books I think I counted. 

Still. Veronique's pile, in all of it's glory, seems more interesting. Freakish dolls, stuffed animals, scraps of fabric, McDonalds' happy meal toys.... it's all so full of life. 
 I guess I've moved around a lot too. I have no problems throwing stuff away, except art.
And neon beasts, apparently. 

ok.... I'm going to try to sleep. 
The dolls are still creeping me out.

Friday, June 12, 2009


I'm very thankful for my family. I have been consistently reminded of how lucky I am to have them. This morning I had a bit of a hard moment, and my little sister was right there to pick me up where I had fallen. My parents are absolute gold to me. I don't usually tell them enough, either.  Tomorrow is my mom's birthday, and I came across this video recently. I think there are a lot of ways to hear this song.... Bono is singing to himself in the voice of his own father, or singing to his own son, or maybe even God (whatever you may believe) singing to us. 
I've sent this to several friends who are going through hard times. It's a good song to remember to sing to yourself sometimes. I picture both of my parents singing this to me. (except the part about fighting.... we really don't fight). 
Please enjoy.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Summer Workshops

Hello! Welcome to my blog, for those of you who don't know me and were sent here for class details.

I will be teaching a series of oil painting and drawing workshops this summer. These classes are for every skill level. 
The classes will be held in my studio, located at 8th and Market streets, in downtown Chattanooga.
The classes will focus on painting a portrait in 3 hour sessions. A demo will be painted at the beginning of each class to show techniques in color, values, proportions, and edge quality. 
These classes are designed for students looking to advance their techniques in painting from life. All three sessions (one per month) will focus on different aspects of painting and drawing, so I recommend  taking full advantage of working from life monthly. 
The above example is one I did of Jim Pfitzer in one hour. Posted throughout this blog are images of sketches I have working on that are examples of the technique I will be teaching.  
I will be posting a supply list for oil painting, but students are welcomes to use other mediums including pastels, acrylics, watercolors, and charcoal. 
If you are interested in enrolling in a class (or all three!), please email me at miamiekko@yahoo.com. 

Workshop dates and times:
All classes are on saturdays from 9am-5pm, with a one-hour lunch break. 

July 18th
August 15th
September 12th

Classes are $100 each, or $250 for all three.  
Students are responsible for bringing their own supplies, including easels. 

Thanks so much, and I look forward to seeing you!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Finished painting

Here is a painting I just finished. "Vintage Hat"    24"x36" oil

Scott Burdick and Susan Lyon

Susan Lyon's "Girls from Mt. Kilimanjaro"
Scott Burdick's "Full Procession"

If you are not already familiar with the painters Susan Lyon and her husband Scott Burdick, PLEASE go to their website! They absolutely rock! I met Scott at the Portrait Society of America's annual conference this past year, and he is one of the kindest, most down-to-earth painters. Both of them are incredibly talented and hard working. They are, in some ways, my idols for some of what I would like to accomplish in my life. They spend much of the year traveling, then come back to their North Carolina home to finish the paintings and sell their art. 
I love the fact that not only do they both have complete admiration for each other's work (it's VERY obvious), but they each have a unique sense of painting similar scenes quite differently. I like the humanitarian aspect you feel from their work, not to mention their brilliant compositions and paint handling. 

Monday, June 1, 2009

painter injuries?

Ok, so I know painting is not exactly a high-risk job. I mean, most painters have the physic of..... well... librarians. We have one, really, really strong, exacting arm. hmm. But otherwise, it is by no means a high-intensity sport, er, job.
But I've got this horrible pain tonight. My neck hurts, and the muscle running next to my spine on the left hand side feels inflamed. I think I have been gripping my Viva towels way too tight....
Does anybody have a good remedy? I've been self-diagnosing with a little Corona, but I hardly doubt t is as effective as other strategies. I think sipping Coronas and watching clips of "The Notebook" is getting old (I am SUCH a girl...)
Any ideas? What would Sargent have done (hey... brilliant idea... I could make bracelets with WWSD? ... a big hit, no doubt, with the Portrait Society of America... hmm....) Someone once told me Sargent had a "damn" rubber stamp that he would let out whenever he was frustrated... talk about passive agressive! My mom is getting astamp that says WTF......
nice, mom.

Edward Hopper

This past weekend my dad came to visit up from Miami. We had a great time, and visited many artist studios in town (thank you Hank, Lilani, and Isaac!). Last night we came to my studio, and I showed him some of my newer gallery work. There is a painting I am working on that he mentioned had a sort of Edward Hopper feel to it. Obviously the paint handling is quite different, but this was SUCH a compliment. I had sort of forgotten about Hopper.... what a crime! I think he is one of the most brilliant American painters (with Rockwell, obviously) to capture the time and feel of our country. Most of his paintings have a seriousness to them, as if you can really get the sense of wartime, the depression, and yet the backbone of strength that pulled the United States through those times. 

 Plus, he composes like a motherf#$*er.  HA!

 Seriously, his compositions are so off the wall.  It's too bad a lot of painters today disregard him because of his somewhat heavy-handed paint handling. 
Anyway, it was such a huge compliment, and made me excited that the tone I was going for came through. I'm not posting a picture yet, since it's not finished. It's really fun working with scenes and mood..... things that portrait painting can seem a bit more limited to expressing. 

Friday, May 29, 2009

Quirks of following a blog

So.... there are some quirks to following a blog. Above is a sketch I just finished of Andy, one of the "followers" of my blog. It was really nice meeting him, and he was an excellent model. He also gave me a little extra time, which, I think, helped me out to make him look more human than some of my other sketches this week:)
My dad is coming into town tomorrow, which I am SO excited about. 
Other news.... Veronique and I are moving to the Southside July 1st!! So  excited... right off of Main street (now we can actually TOTALLY bombard CreateHere at all times....) 
Ok, that's all I've got for now.... I've been painting gallery paintings throughout the week, and am due for a mini-vacation with my daddy. Have a great weekend! Thanks again, Andy!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Studio sketches

So far......... I've been having a GREAT time!!! These are mostly from this past week..... A lot from this weekend. I feel like I'm burning through paint right now....

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Calling all Chattanoogans

Hey, everyone!
I wanted to extend the invitation to sit for a portrait for me... I have asked all of my friends and anyone else who lives in Chattanooga if they would like to donate one hour to posing. I already have ten people for next week!! In addition to painting in cafes and shopfronts I also want to invite people to my studio. Basically, I paint a portrait of you, I keep the portrait until my exhibit "The Faces of Chattanooga" when I will have a separate section called Sketches of Chattanooga. Once the exhibit is over, I will give everyone who would like their portraits back to them.
What do you think? Got an hour? I can't promise the results, but it is a fun experience, and I think this opens up a portrait of this city much more. You should see my studio... I primed 36 pieces of watercolor paper yesterday! I'll post a pic later today... it looks hilarious!
So please tell anyone you know. My email is listed on this blog. It's a win-win situation, as long as I get the portrait to look roughly human ;)
I'm doing a lot of portraits in my studio this week, then next week I'm going to go to the Community Kitchen and set up shop. After that I will be out of town for a fun trip up north for my sis' birthday...
Ok, thanks everyone!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Veronique a.k.a Bad Ass

My sister, Veronique, is seriously one of the coolest chicks I have ever known. AND, she is my sis!!! I kind of followed her around yesterday..... her and her fellow Chattarati staff all went to Petunia's Silver Jalapeno for lunch to try the fish tacos. They were SUPERB!!! Please, please go there.... Petunia is amazing, and the tacos were out of this world. Veronique sort of leads Summer of Taco, and she is absolutely hilarious in her irony and wit about it all. 
Then, last night, Veronique also read some of her poetry at an invitational reading at Rock Point Books on Broad street. She was the last of 7 poets,  and by far the youngest that was asked to read. I was so proud of her. Her poetry, especially her poems about the rooms in a house, are really subtle. I think that is what I like so much about her writing..... it always has a lot of imagery, but the sounds of the words together, along with the underlying meaning, are all somewhat under the radar. You have to really savor her work. Like a painting you can come back to over and over again, but the initial feeling is obviously strong. I'm a big fan, and I truly hope she gets to write more often and make a living off of it. My poor parents....  they are stuck with a painter and a poet. Guess they are not retiring anytime soon:)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Quick sketch

I did this last night.... fellow painter Grant Williams posed for me for about 45 minutes. I'm really happy with this sketch..... 
Today is a new day! Let's see who I can talk into sitting for me. Yesterday was a record 4 portraits (Sandy came to pose for an hour for Caleb, Grant and I).  I am learning so much right now. Have a great day, all!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Street paintin'

Ok... here are the two head sketches I did outside today..... they were each exactly an hour. I had SO much fun. I parked myself in front of the library and just asked this guy if he wanted to make a quick $20 by posing for me for an hour, right there. Someone definitely put a flame under my ass for that hour, I assure you! It is so intoxicating to paint quickly from life!! I threw down a lot of color, and some of my drawing suffered along the way. But you gotta start somewhere, right? Then I got another woman to pose for me for one hour.... she was really into it. I've got a lot of work to do, but just practicing is so, so much fun. If I could plan my own future and life, I would just travel for 8 months a year painting people in their environments in other countries (and this one), and then spend the other 4 months trying to sell them all to pay for the next trip. Yup, that's what I would do. Paint from life EVERY day. Plus you meet the coolest people.... I was a little intimidated at first, walking around with my easel and hat and overalls, but once I found some nice people, I loosened up and just listened. Some people have seriously hard lives..... the guy, Wes, has 5 kids and he is younger than me. And he is a Muslim, which he said gets tricky here in Chattanooga and just generally the South. He was SO friendly. 
I can't wait to do more! I think I need to start paying less, though, or else I'm going to go broke by next week :)

Summer of Sketches

To keep up with my little sis Veronique, who is the food writer and person spearheading "Summer of Taco" on the local blog Chattarati (this blog is hilarious, folks.... a group of locals with super-dry senses of humor are going on the ultimate quest for the perfect taco in Chattanooga. Beware of the wit that is on the video!), I've decided to create my own....... Summer Of Something.

Actually, I'm going to add to all my other projects, since, you know, I really don't have enough already.
After looking at my "Faces of Chattanooga" project a bit more in-depth, I have found it somewhat debilitating to only paint 9 people from the community. I was surfing artist websites the other day, and went to Rose Frantzen, a wonderfully talented artist. She has a section on her website of portraits of people in her hometown. What a great idea..... she set herself up in a store front and just painted anyone who wanted to sit for her. So, I'm going to take her great idea, and try it for myself. This summer, I'm getting together with a few local shop owners and cafes, and am going to set up a painting area for people to come and have a quick oil sketch (on that watercolor paper...oh yeah) done of them.  I'm re-adjusting my project (yet again) , so that these sketches will be included in the final project of "The Faces of Chattanooga".  I have been so stressed out that I'm going to "miss" someone in the community....
Plus, it's free models. For any painter, this is a HUGE luxury. And it will keep me on my toes with painting from life. I'm going to post a schedule this week of the where and whens. I also want this to help the business owners who are hosting me.... I'm not setting up shop in any chains or non-local companies. I know Coffee Crafters will be one of the venues, and I'm hoping Market Street Tavern and Grey Friars will want to get involved. So if you live in Chattanooga, please come by this summer and have your portrait sketch painted. I would like to keep the portraits until the exhibit, after which they will be given to the sitters or family members. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Something a little more helpful....

So, I'm actually going to write something USEFUL..... wow!

I found recently that a good, archival-safe, and MUCH cheaper alternative to using linen for oil sketches is paper. I like to stain the paper first (I use coffee and tea, but you can use any watercolor), then apply 3 coats of rabbit skin glue. I tape the edges completely so that no curling happens. I primed a whole pad this way, and have been using the sheets whenever I do a quick head study (like the one above of my friend Nacha) and the texture is really nice, as opposed to slippery boards. 
I thought of this when I was looking at Kate Lehman' website where she does sketches of her fellow painter peers on paper. She seems to prime hers with the standard Water Street Atelier gray ground.  She is such a badass female painter... please check her out!!!

Very Serious art.

Voila. This is my new self-portrait. I feel it really , um, transcends the attitude I put into my work through vigorous brushstrokes and lighting and color. Please quote me on that. 
It's a bit bold, I know.....you would think I would have opted for more grays and greens, since those are my favorite colors, but alas, hot pink is more how I'm feeling these days. I guess green and pink are complimentary colors.  

Monday, May 18, 2009


My posts are completely schizophrenic! One day it's raining and I'm moping about everything, the next day I'm high on life!! Today is a beautiful, cool, breezy, sunny day. It's one of those days you just want to plop yourself at an outdoor cafe with a sketchbook and pencil  and draw the locals for hours. Seriously, it reminds me of many days in Boston and Florence when I would draw for entire afternoons and drink too many decadent espressos. By the end of the day, I was sunburned, jittery, and totally happy.
Some weird news recently.... the documentary filmmaker Linda who wants to make a film on my project," The Faces of Chattanooga" has just found out she was only partially funded from a grant we were counting on. Which is totally fine. She turned it down (it was not a substantial amount of money to make the film she wants), and now we are peddling the trailer to try to find funding to continue with the project. I really believe in her work... she doesn't skimp out on quality. The shots she cut for the trailer are rich and breathtaking.... (I guess shooting on a Red camera helps that too....). I'm going to be taking copies of the trailer with me when I travel this month.... I hope to find someone who sees the quality and intent of this film, and would like to back it up. I'm open to any suggestions...... I really want to see this happen. 
What else? 
The Chattanooga Aquarium is hosting a fabulous idea for an art show.... glass and jellyfish! I'm going to go see it this week.... I absolutely LOVE jellyfish. I have always wanted to own one in a large glass container in my home.... I find the way they swim so incredibly beautiful. The image on my blog is of moon jellies, one of the many jellyfish that are being exhibited at the aquarium. The show at the aquarium is in conjunction with the Hunter Museum. The museum is showcasing glass artists like Dale Chihuly ,  and local glass maker Thomas Spake ,who make total sense with aquatic sea forms.  EEEEE! I'm SO excited to go to this!!!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

past lives

It's late again. I've had a headache for two days now..... the pressure of all the storms passing through Chattanooga this week seems to give me this pinching all around my eyes.

I've had a lot of dreams of traveling to Asia lately. I have this little theory that is a good conversation starter.... I think a lot of people, for no reason really, can associate with a certain culture they have never lived within. Sounds confusing? I guess what I mean is, most people I know are a little obsessed with some far away culture they don't really know all that well first-hand; as if they just have some affinity for it. Like one of my best friends.... she cannot get enough about India, even though she has never been there. My mom is obsessed with Italy, even if she did visit. I personally feel very close with parts of Asia. I have always wanted to go to Japan, Vietnam, Nepal and Indonesia. I have no idea why. There is just something in the art, the architecture, the ideas and the history that gets to me. Movies set in Asia always get my senses rolling....
I think my theory also applies to landscapes. I know many people who just feel right at home in a very certain landscape, not necessarily the one they grew up around. I think some of this might have to do with our ancestry, though. Like my mom is at total peace on a cold beach with storms rolling towards her. My dad loves warmer climates. My mom's family is originally from Normandy (cold beaches) and my dad's family is from the Loire valley (sunnier part of France). Makes some sense. I love rocky beaches and misty air. I LOVE moss growing on rocks on the beach. Something about all those misty greys and then the pop of bright green..... makes my heart melt. I have no idea why, but I am always drawn to this landscape. I have never lived around it, though. And I have absolutely no love of sunny beaches and palm trees. Although I'm curious about Mexico.....
maybe I've just got wander lust :)

ok.ok. What a weird post. It is fun to ask people those two things, though. And to ask yourself. I found when I asked my parents, a lot of stories came out. It's like asking someone what their last meal would be (another of my FAVORITE conversation starters)..... the stories just start pouring out, and it's a good way to get to know someone.
Just a thought.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

New Painting

"April" oil on linen 14"x18"

Pterodactyls, coffee and zen.

Wake up!!!!!! It's a beautiful day out today!!!!! This is one of those incredible days in Chattanooga when the temperature is just right, everyone is outside and smiling, and everything has a little humor spinkled into it. I caught myself laughing this morning at the birds that my sister Veronique has coined as the "damned pterodactyls" that keep flying into our apartment. They freak her out so much she screams and runs around the apartment as if these sweet little grey and white birds really are the flying reptiles from the Jurassic Era. Watching them outside of this context of terrorizing my sis, they just tweet tweet and eat little bread crumbs outside the local coffee shop I go to every morning, Coffee Crafters. I LOVE this place! If you live in Chattanooga, this is the best, most low-key cafe in town. It sits on Vine Street and Houston, literally next door to my abode. The owners Kent and Steve (I think Steve is part owner...) are hilarious. They never cease to make me giggle.... something truly brave given they are the only ones that see me before my coffee. Amy is my favorite. She is sort of like the coffee nazi.... mixed with the Flanders kids, and just a dash of George Carlin.  Yup, that's Amy. She will have me doubled over with laughter just at how she looks at some of the customers. And the food at Coffee Crafters...... best lunch or breakfast! My personal favorite is the "Veg Out", a bagel with cream cheese, fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, banana peppers, and a drizzle of honey mustard. This is the ultimate cure for any bad previous night. 
And now I've walked to my studio, delicious hot brew in hand. A Feist song is going through my head, and the world is cheery (watch this video... her toast turn into pterodactyls!!! I didn't even know that!!).

 I'm excited to paint. I wish every day could be like today, but I know it took being in bed hurling my brains out for a day and a half  to fully appreciate what's in front of me now. Sometimes pain is a way to show you what's so beautiful. Life is short. 

Monday, May 11, 2009

Top 5

Phew! I am SO glad to have finally come through the mussel melancholy.... it was truly awful! I spent a good portion of today in bed, trying to lower my fever. I'm pretty much totally fine now. 
 I also watched High Fidelity, an absolute classic of a movie. In the film, John Cusack spends a lot of time making "top 5" lists of everything from all-time love songs to top five breakups in his young life. It's pretty hilarious, and he is such a fabulous actor. 
I couldn't help but to start to make Top 5 lists of some of the events in my life.... top 5 most embarrassing moments (not of a nature I could write in a blog...), top 5 lowest moments, top 5 most romantic moments, top 5 goals to be reached, top 5 most romantic songs, top 5 places in the world I want to see. My energy level is still pretty low, so I'm not going to go through all of them, nor bore you, dear readers.  I also have a Top 10 painting list I keep on  my laptop that changes pretty regularly. I highly recommend having one.... it really helps in keeping up inspiration, and makes you think about what you are drawn to. 
Ok, kind of a boring post...sorry! Thanks to all of my friends who sent me sweet messages to feel better! 

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Hello, all. I don't know what is in the air... although I have had a wonderful week, I also have had some weird stuff happen. My FaceBook account was hacked, and the phishing site that did it was sending all of my friends spam. And they were very obviously not too appreciative about it, understandably.
But today sucks. I ate a bad mussel last night.
I don't know if any of you have been put through eating one, but I DO NOT recommend it...
I woke up at 2am with an extremely sharp pain in my stomach. 3 hours of projectile vomit later, and my mom is picking me off the floor from almost blacking out. I didn't know this, but mussels are not like getting normal food poisoning. The marine bacteria that makes you sick actually affects you neurologically as well. I had tingly hands and my legs feel like I have the worst case of restless leg syndrome imaginable. Plus my lower back is totally inflamed.
Fun, huh?
I'm totally writing as a way to pity myself today...
So lesson learned... if you have a second thought about eating a mussel, DON'T DO IT!

Friday, May 8, 2009

It's late.

It's 12:30 at night. I just got home. This might actually be my first booty-call blog. Haha! Too bad there is NO booty in sight!
I'm sitting at my kitchen table, a rather awkward table, actually, since it is WAY too big for my kitchen and too modern as well. I'm eating a wheat bagel with salami and cheese and cucumber ranch dressing (mayonaise gives me zits...), and thinking about what an interesting and unexpected day I have had.
It started off with me getting to my studio in a total torrential downpour of rain, coffee in hand, cup probably full of acid rain (yum). I check my email, and there is a torrent of messages about how my FaceBook account has spammed all of my friends. Again. Yuck. I close my laptop, look over at my studio, and realize I should probably clean up the 5 dirty coffee cups and paper towels on the floor before my 6 gregorian monks come to visit. (who the hell can say THAT!) I clean up a bit, look over at the rather odd painting I am working on, and start dabbling at some of the flaws I see for the first time. Three hours later, I am still "dabbling" . Oy...I'm hungry and my Lean Cuisine calls... (btw... I am totally against diet regimes, but, instead of spending $6 on food everyday, I realized not so long ago that Lean Cuisines are a pleasant, though embarrassing alternative in the day). Moo Shu beef...... hmmmm. I don't think it's beef, and I doubt that the term "moo shu" should be used here. Still, it fills me up, and I can keep working.
All of a sudden, as I think is true with many people, 3 o'clock rolls around, and I'm having the mid-day snoozies. Must....keep...going....nooooo...couch...so...comfortable.........
The monks show up. Wine and cheese is served to my friends who are oohing and ahhing at the painting I did of Brother Ron Fender. Did you know there are only 45 Gregorain monks IN THE WHOLE WORLD????? WOW!!!!! I was floored. Here I am in a room with 6 of them.... like 15% of the entire group!!!! I feel SO honored. We sip and laugh. Bart Lindsrom comes downstairs and Grace Kim, and the whole thing feels really natural. I look around and think, "Whoa, my group of friends is REALLY diverse!". I'm happy.
The monks leave, and Grace and Bart and I get into a long discussion about following your heart (this subject is a hot topic lately...). I'm so thankful to have friends who have more experience that I, and can wave from the other side and tell me about their travels.
I have a few glasses of wine. I'm not going to lie.
And now I'm at home. With my bagel. A bit lonely, but mostly thankful. What a great day, filled with diversity and challenges. What more can you ask for, right? Oh, well, maybe companionship.....
But hey, we are where we are, right? And there is a reason for it. So I'm just sitting back, waiting, enjoying, and working on what's in front of me. It's nice.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Geez, I must be REALLY bored..... two posts in one day!! No, actually, I'm just energized. This morning I had Gordon Wetmore, Michele Anderson, Jim Aplin, Joe Mullican, and Alexandra Wetmore over in my studio to paint a lovely model April. I am SO thankful for my studio... here is a quick pic (I hid my painting from this morning... haha) I feel very lucky to have a great group of people to paint with on a fairly consistent basis. 
By the way.... for any painters out there, wholesale wallpaper makes a FABULOUS backdrop for models. We are lucky to have a cheap one here in Chattanooga. I bought the turquoise on in this photo. They also have ones with Smurfs, if that's your sort of thing.....

Chanel No 5

Last night I went over to my best friend Erica's house. She works for Chanel, and we were talking about how yesterday was the day of the release of the No 5 short film. I hadn't heard about it, but apparently Chanel funded a short film as a prelude to the movie about Coco Chanel's life coming out in September. 
Maybe it is the romantic idealist in my heart, but I love this short little film. AND it stars my favorite actress Audrey Tatou. As far as cinematography is concerned it is simple and stunning. Fabulous idea..... just the seizing allure of a woman's scent. 
Plus, it's rainy today, and I'm trying to pretend like Chattanooga is Paris.....(!)
Here is the YouTube Link... the Chanel website is a little slow. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Jean-Leon Gerome

More images for inspiration......
I'm working on a very small figurative piece right now, and I started looking at how wonderfully Jean Leon Gerome paints on such a small scale. Him and Charles Bargue were some of the best draftsmen the French Academy  could boast about. I personally spend a lot of time oohing and aahing over marks made in painting..... but I think it is a good idea to keep in mind those masters that really tried to get all of their painting to a high-level finish. It's not easy, especially on a small scale. If any of you have ever seen the gorgeous Bargue painting at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston of an Arab sentinel, you would know what I mean. The thing is superb, showy marks or not. 

Monday, May 4, 2009

Inspiration of the day

Hovsep Pushman-- one of the my all-time favorite designers of still-lifes by far. He is not widely known, unfortunately. Few modern figurative painters can touch this guy as far as handling, color and design. Yum.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Spring Air

HELLO, Fellow readers!  Oh, my dearies, one might think I didn't care about you all.... but I have faith you know better. I'm so, so sorry for my infrequency and sometimes random posts. Between taxes, traveling, and personal hoo-ha, I've had NO time to write.  
I hope you are all doing great! I, personally feel like an altogether new person. Some of it bad, some quite good. 
I was out of town for the past week for a wonderful conference on painting, specifically portrait painting.  I MUST tell you that there really is nothing like being around your peers and talking shop-talk. A lot was made very clear while I was away. 
One of the main things I came face to face with while I was away is just how clear our heart can speak. There have been a lot of issues about my painting I have been going through over the winter.  Insecurities, loss of want, troubling economic hard times to say the least. And to paint alone in a dark studio does not always lend itself to, ahem, clarity. 
BUT SPRING IS HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  A time when the earth allows what was blooming underground all along to finally break through the earth and burst into a million blossoms! Ok, I'm being cheesy, I know. But seriously, spring affords new visions and a sense of renewed listening to what you heart REALLY craves.  And I found out a lot. I am SO excited to paint anew! The sky is the limit, as far as I am concerned. Main lesson in all of this...... Whatever you believe spiritually, I think that Big force wants us to be happy, and to feel. Really feel. It's pretty simple.
Ok, I sound like a fool. Knowing me, my next post will be about how rain is just, oh, so appropriate for the tortured artist soul. 
But today is today. And today the world seems big and engaging and exciting and full of wonder. 
EAT IT UP!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Helpful links

Hi, everyone! 

Lately, i have been spending some time really thinking about ways to beat this lull in the economy and keep myself busy. I thought I would share some great websites and books which are proving fun and helpful (and, at the very least, entertaining) in this slump. 

 This website rocks!!!! For anyone looking for fabulous business cards with unusual sizes and good color, check out this London-based company. They are cost friendly, have a lot of quirkiness, and the website is one of the easiest I have seen to manage. Leave it to those Brits. 

Free websites. You can even purchase a website without the "weebly" attached to it, or go in and change your existing website to a weebly site. I have not done my own personal website with it yet, but I have an account for my Faces Of Chattanooga project. Truly for those people looking for an easy way to upload images for free and without the computer know-how.

Art Renewal center. A great website to look up classical artists from their "Museum' and get high-quality images. 

I'm a sucker for daily quotes, especially by Churchill and Rumi. This is a fun website (not terrible useful, per say, but fun nonetheless)

Please just visit the Onion when you are down. It is so, so funny. 

I was recommended the book " How to Survive and Prosper as an Artist" by my friends Hank and Lilani. This book gives good tips on marketing and how to set up everything from your mailing list to the size of invitations for galleries. Very helpful. One of the good things about a slow economy is being able to catch up on reading and studying. 

Also, a book I think every artist should read, "The Nude" by Kenneth Clark. Seriously. Any one can get into this writing. 

And for a little Eastern thinking, i am currently re-reading "Siddhartha" by Herman Hesse.  A short read that stays with you. 

Ok! Enjoy!!! That should keep some of us busy for a while. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Spring sucks!

 Ha! yeah right! Here in Chattanooga, we get the luxury of having an early spring compared to all those Northeastern destinations still covered in snow. 
As a celebration of the first Bradford Pear trees and Cherry Blossoms, I'm off to paint at Suck Creek.... 
That's right, it's actually called SUCK CREEK. Whatever bright Tennesseean named this beautifully bubbling creek should have put their own name/ego aside and realized the dilemma that all of us painters would have in the future.... namely, that we can NEVER give credit to this beautiful spot for fear of snickers and whispers if we were to ever produce a painting worth a damn. 
Tricky, very tricky. 
Oh well, I'm off to the suck anyway, despite the naming dilemma. It's a beautiful day today, way too nice to be wasted inside a studio (I can't believe I am blogging of all days.... perhaps it is to include you, dear readers).  Off I go, coffee  in hand,  with Peetee (my car has acquired this name... I am thankful for this, since I constantly have much worse names come up in my head... it is a white PT Cruiser, so you can imagine I look like a ghostbuster or like I am driving a marshmallow) down the windy roads of the Tennessee mountains in search of....

Have a great day, Y'all (!). 

Thursday, March 12, 2009

grant website!

Hello, Everyone! I am just writing today to let you know I have started a new website for my grant project. I will be updating it often, and it has all the information about what I am currently doing in regards to my grant. 
Please visit often!

Friday, February 20, 2009


WHOA! Check out Sorolla's Brushes!!! I found this photo in a wonderful new book about Joaquin Sorolla from the San Diego Museum of Art. Really a wonderful book with great reproductions. I was lucky enough to have my friend Caleb Goggans offer to sell me one of these hard-to-find books. 
I think today I will try painting with a shovel.....

Monday, February 9, 2009

Stacie Florer

Hi, all! Just a fun post today.... I was the model about a week ago for jewelry artist Stacie Florer. She will be having a show "Not Your Mother's Pearls" in March at In-Town gallery here in Chattanooga. Here is a little peek at some of the photos taken by the very talented photographer John Galyon.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


I was at the bookstore the other night, and was looking through a very interesting magazine I often read... Juxtapos magazine. I came upon an article about a young French artist named only by two letters as JR. His work is truly inspiring. He takes photographs of everything from women, Palestinians and Israelis, immigrant youths in Paris suburbs, and posts the photographs in large-scale format to places that seem to give them real or different contexts.
check it out : http://www.jr-art.net

Thursday, January 8, 2009


This is a photo I took of my studio today. It was at the beginning of my painting session with Brother Ron, a wonderful Gregorian monk who works in the Community Kitchen here in Chattanooga.Brother Ron spends much of his days washing the feet of homeless people. I have chosen Brother Ron as my third sitter in my grant project "The Faces of Chattanooga". The picture is my painting after one day, so it doesn't quite look like him yet. As wonderful Luck would have it, a woman named Linda Duvoisin is interested in making a documentary on my project. A crew of 5-6 people have been here for two days, and we are all learning so much from Brother Ron and each other. Linda's husband Dave is in the picture, and Bobby Stone is also involved in the project.
I wanted to say a word about kindness today. I have to tell you all how humbled I am with the scale of this project. Today, in my studio, I had 6 people who were all working towards a greater good, and all of which were working for free. This blows my mind! And to top it all off, a young jewelry maker named Stacie Florer came in today, after my telling her about Brother Ron's amazing story , and decided to match what I am paying him to sit for me to go towards socks for the homeless. Because of a kind heart, and communication within the art community, the Community kitchen made an extra $200 towards socks today. Those are many, many feet warmed in this cold season. Thank you, Stacie! (check out her work at http://stacieflorer.typepad.com/florerbusiness/)
I feel so incredibly lucky to be a part of this community right now.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Way too long

Oh my dear, dear readers, I hope you have had a wonderful Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza, and New Years! Happy Chrismahanakwansukah!

My holidays included having my family here, eating too much, drinking way too much, buying a car (!), and having my first visit to the Electric Cowboy.

Now for those of you who do not regularly attend the Electric Cowboy, as small description is necessary. I would say crossing Dave and Busters with Red Lobster , add a little Clairmont Lounge, stir in a little line dancing freakishness, and throw in at the last minute some Coyote Ugly and you've got........(drumroll please) THE ELECTRIC COWBOY. Wow. Truly a great experiment when dealing with Southern culture. It is an enormous club in a strip mall (No, it is NOT a strip club, unfortunately..) filled with the following: Scary older men sipping beers alone, watching the dancefloor and being a little TOO quiet, redneck lesbians, pimply 21 year olds, booty grinders extordinaire, country homophobes, bumpkins, pompadors, Waffle House waitresses, more sorostitutes than any part of Buckhead, and frat boys who couldn't get a ride downtown.
So I took my dad there. HA! We actually had a great time, even if there were some VERY unusual moments. But these are the holidays, and holidays must be done right.

What else? Yours truly is on the front page of the local paper here in Chattanooga, The Chattanooga Times free Press. Check it out:


I got really lucky to have been the name forwarded by Helen at Createhere to the Free Press.

Enjoy! Happy New Year to you all!