Saturday, January 16, 2016

Labradorite Ring for Star

I set this beautiful chunk of labradorite (shipped from India) for friends over the Christmas break. I wanted the back of the stone to show so I sawed windows in the base. The twist shank is more functional (pregnancy shifts ring sizes) even though it ends up beautifully balancing the design both literally and figuratively.

When pushing and polishing the original bezel, I wore right through to the rock. So, I cut a new base and bezel and set the ring again. Good thing, because, of course the second setting is much better. The first one didn't actually balance and the windows weren't as even. I would rather leave something like this in the world than the first version for sure!

Sure wish the labradorite itself was easier to photograph. I took all these photos after I hand polished but  before I tumbled the ring. It ended up even shinier! My friends were pleased.

OA Gold

I originally intended to make the moon nimbus gold simply because I wanted it to look more iconic. I lived with the silver on my dining room wall for weeks before I finally gold leafed over it. Now I might actually love the painting. There really is nothing like watching a painting change with the changing light conditions over a day. I still want to make the diver suit darker and possibly the painting itself, too. 

Now that the heart is gold, it becomes a focal point and I'm not sure about it. In some ways it makes the heart heavier and asks the viewer, "What is below?" or "Where is the rest of the heart?" or "Can I imagine deeper than this painting?"...and of course I like that. In other ways, it draws attention to the edge of the canvas and acts like an annoying sink. I'm sure designers would miss the metaphor for the technical. They probably should since I didn't do it on purpose. Well, wait a minute. I guess I did. But not because I had the metaphor in mind. More because this giant canvas (72" long!) didn't look right with a smaller diver just to fit the heart. I placed the Moon first, then the diver. The moon had to be right there and that big. I guess I will let the heart be what it is. It's probably painted for those of us who need to be annoyed a little bit.

Thursday, December 31, 2015


Cody gave me a metal detector for Christmas! (I have wanted one for years.) I am going to make stuff from the metal I find in 2016 and afterward have a show with all the jewelry/art in 2017. I started an Instagram just for this project: 2016Treasure. Please follow along if it interests you. Here's to finding new beauty in the lost, discarded or otherwise forgotten. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Good is the Flesh

 Good is the flesh that the Word has become,
good is the birthing, the milk in the breast,
good is the feeding, caressing and rest,
good is the body for knowing the world,
Good is the flesh that the Word has become.

Good is the body for knowing the world,
sensing the sunlight, the tug of the ground,
feeling, perceiving, within and around,
good is the body, from cradle to grave,
Good is the flesh that the Word has become.

Good is the body, from cradle to grave,
growing and ageing, arousing, impaired,
happy in clothing, or lovingly bared,
good is the pleasure of God in our flesh.
Good is the flesh that the Word has become.

Good is the pleasure of God in our flesh,
longing in all, as in Jesus, to dwell,
glad of embracing, and tasting, and smell,
good is the body, for good and for God,
Good is the flesh that the Word has become.

-Brian Wren
As much as I love having my head in the heavens and my feet in the deep, I think 2016 will be a year for being in my body. Lots to look forward to.

Quantum Entanglement Illustrated

I woke up this morning, barely opening my eyes to make my son's sandwich and kiss him out the door. I shut the door and turned to find the small square books Sydney left on my porch yesterday. I grab one and quickly realize I need a blanket and couch because this is a book I will not be putting down. So much for going back to bed.

I start from the beginning. I absorb the entire book only stopping to scratch out a few notes. Holy moly new inspiration! Plus, the book is full of confirmation about my own process. I love connecting forward, backward and all-over dots.

On the last pages I find Austin Kleon's delightful note card illustration:
Oceanic Astronaut?!? Yes, this is what OA is all about!
I finish the book and make my way back to the painting to find this:

All those stars are silver. The heart weight and moon nimbus, too.

The sun is barely up and the light on the painting is perfect. What I could not capture with every effort last night, is effortless today. All I needed was natural light.

And now all I want is to hit the pause button on my day job, re-read the book, take inventory and put the new ideas to work. Interestingly enough the Mr. Kleon's book even talks about the health in having a day job. After all, the tent-making is a vital part of the whole. Until tomorrow....

Monday, December 7, 2015

Oceanic Astronaut with Silver Leaf

Under blacklight and an indirect light with shadows in between. Has an underwater effect/under trees/clouds effect.
This thing is crazy hard to photograph. The light effects happen at different angles, so when taken head on the silver just looks white. These photos will have to do until I know how to tilt angle on my computer.

I don't think it's done but I signed it to remind me not to overwork it. I would like more contrast between the diver and the moon but I don't want to add color there. Well, maybe I'll add blue. Another option would be to change the silver to gold and warm up the canvas a bit. Cody likes do I for the moon and stars but I'm so used to gold....

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Oceanic Astronaut in Process

It is December, and I have finally decided to paint the Oceanic Astronaut.

If there ever were a symbol for my year 2015, it would be the prophetic OA. I could not have known in February (my valentines) that it would be the year I actually got to go diving. I also could not have known Regulus would draw me in and be the star from which I began to identify all other stars.

It has been a most amazing year---such height, such depth.

And now after a morning of blogging, I will actually get to go paint on this!
My POS easel shelf that threatens and unexpectedly falls. Oi Vey!

Work in Process

This giant re-purposed canvas has been many things. It's 72" X 36.

Even after this last photo I have painted two whole layers over the top which you will see in my next post. I did not like the cheesiness of the bright colors.


Here is where I will eventually post about my favorite art exhibit in Houston.

Three Houses of Worship

I have been promising this post for awhile. If not directly to you, then many times in my head. I have so much to say yet feel such little time to write these days.

Entering the veil. (Photo Aunt K)
While in Houston, my Aunt K took us to three houses of worship (these links connect to Google images): The Chapel of St. Basil, Rothko Chapel and the Byzantine Fresco Chapel.

My experience in the Chapel of St. Basil immediately left me longing for more (in a good way). Most befittingly, the structure is a space of eternal interest. I would want to experience it in all kinds of weather, at all times of the day. Yes, I believe I could spend all day every day for weeks in this space. Silent. Observing. Contemplating. Squinting with my painter's eye, and marveling at the changing light and shadows.

The sideways, cut-away cross (the "X" in the photo below) always sets the brightest value in the naturally lit interior. Below, on the same wall, the stations of the cross are actually carved into the wall and as such the perspective seems to travel with you (like they are following with you) as you move. The dome at the front of the chapel acts like a spotlight on the altar (looks like the "O" in the photo below). Off to the side is a statue of Mary holding young Jesus which is lit by another dome, though this one lets in less light and offers the most divinely feminine curved Omega line in and out of the while structure. I could observe this curve alone, for hours. The feel in this space is welcoming, warm and Holy. I can hardly imagine surviving an actual service here (in a good way).

I snapped this photo with Cody's iPhone on the way out. The back lit curve at the top left is the main gold dome seen in photos of the exterior.

If you were to paint this photo, the only color on your palate should need to be white, right? The whole interior is the same white wash. Squint at the photo and it becomes obvious you would actually need every color of the rainbow. Amazing, huh? I can hardly get over the contrast and the color brought by pure light (and we rationally, automatically see things as colored, themselves.) Simply divine.

After St. Basil's, my aunt dropped me off at the Byzantine Chapel while she took Cody back to the record store (his house of worship, haha). This ended up being a perfect arrangement, as I am now so glad I got to experience this space alone for the first time. I was literally the only person there besides the two flashlight bearing museum docents.

Oh. My. Goodness. I still can barely find words. Transporting. Eternal. Disorienting. Captured. Whole. Unbelievable. (I know some of those words seem to war---but I assure you both can exist held in opposite hands.) Imagine 150 antique mirrors randomly suspended from a 28 foot tall suspended round and rotating structure. In a pitch black room with a few colored spotlights and an indecipherable, yet familiar, sometimes deafening soundtrack. The glint and the glare of the mirrors bouncing off each other and the walls? Yeah. It was completely mind blowing.

If you know me, you get why The Infinity Machine is a nearly perfect set-up for me. I have 5 mirrors from our great/grandparents in my home. I once had a beautiful dream/vision once about a woman suspending "mirrors" of wisdom which flashed in every direction over a large body of water. (I tried to paint it, but disgusted and without "vocabulary" threw it away.) I treasure people and their stories and I love imagining the truth of each face logged in the memory of an old mirror...if only it could talk. I love disco balls. I love found things. I love old things. I love assemblage. I love nearly everything about this installation.

What is not to love? As much as the dark room is perfect for its first exhibit, I would love to see it suspended out of doors, catching natural light, over a body of water with no land in sight. The natural, earthy soundtrack of waves, sea gulls and distant ship horns. Or how about suspended over a dark valley under the night sky? Or suspended over a pastoral hillside reflecting all that blue and green? Ooo...what about suspending it in the Grand Canyon? My favorite art opens me up and leaves me searching. This piece is psychically massive...and I will never be done with it.

So this, too, is a place where I can worship. Of course I loved the thin reflecting pool outside. The Byzantine Fresco chapel itself has an amazing history. What do you do with a building made specifically to house divine stolen frescoes that were purchased, restored and promised back to their original culture after an allotted time, and were eventually returned to their rightful owners? I guess the hole left in the wake was pretty massive. The Infinity Machine seems a nearly perfect followup.

The first place we visited was actually the Rothko chapel. I am relieved we visited it first. It was the only place of worship I originally intended to visit while in Houston...and it definitely left me wanting more (not in a good way). The Rothko canvases themselves were amazing. Though they are giants in an of themselves, the chapel's energy lured me away from them like a vortex. The chapel itself felt cold and heavily weighted (not in a good, grounding sort of way). The contrasting elements in this space felt (and were in fact mostly) artificial. Interestingly, the top dome of natural light was shielded (to preserve the space) and now supports the man-made spotlights which shine on the front canvases privileging them in a ways that would probably piss off Mr. Rothko. It has taken me until this very moment to find words for the experience: as a space where gray and balance and tolerance must have been intended, it completely, utterly fails the felt sense.

Holy texts of all faiths can be found sitting along a low-lying bench when one enters the space. Instead of having an all faiths welcome effect, it actually seemed to dare. Will I pick up the wrong one? If I take one should I take them all? There they sat, palpable, not actually touching, like big magnets with repelling charges. Putting black and white words next to each other does not restore peace. Instead the environment felt full of suspended tension above a shallow surface. Even the reflecting pool and amazing sculpture out front could not compete with the pull that day.

I am sure the best psychoanalysts would say I am projecting here...I am not entirely opposed to the idea (1 John 1:5). Still, I like to say I can worship anywhere. I did enjoy the discomfort of sitting in that space because of the ultimate direction in which it continues to point me. I am glad the space seems to be searching for a solution, but I do not believe it is found in the discomfort of manufactured tolerance (if there is such a thing) and creepy silence. Take out the fake lighting and plastic chairs out, leave the paintings, put humans of varying faith next to each other in a space like this, shut the door, consent to silence and peace might actually stand a chance.

Some of our own mirrors given to us by CC Briscoe, Rosemary Cloud, & Virginia Watson Briscoe. (I should have edited these, but can't stand the thought.):