September 20th, 2006

The quote that is hard to read says,

September 5th, 2006

I wrote to friends recently that I find myself without comfort right now (referring to life comforts of the kind that we all crave after a long day, a comfy bed, a hot bath, a sense of organization). But afterwards I realized that this is not true. The comforts are smaller for the time being, but have just as much impact (if not more), and they are all around me if I choose to see them.

August 12th, 2006

i sit on a marble curb in washington park, waiting for a wireless signal. i discovered one that comes in on the wind now and then. a stolen connection. but i have become tired of having to buy something everytime i want to check my email.
the sun is out, but i found a spot shaded by a big maple tree. i look down at my feet and study the debris closely , leaves, cardboard from a chocolate bar, clear plastic wrappers, cigarette butts, twigs, a piece of glass.
what if you could only make art out of what you found on the street? in a way i already do. i put the pieces together in my mind, combing textures, piling things on top of each other, contrasting colors.
i listen to the sounds of my new surroundings, (new thoughts about sound were inspired by an article by Pauline Oliveros that my husband quoted to me this morning over breakfast. She founded a movement called ‘deep listening’. and i make a note to see if i can audit her class.)
trees moving in the breeze, the distant hum of cars, the typing on my keyboard, the tick of a bike coasting quickly, birds. it has been a while since I’ve spent a summer in a city environment. i had forgotten the sounds.
my head is jumbled with all of the things i think i should be doing right now. work on the book projects. i will get to it soon. what i want to do is read about eva hesse, and the writings of john cage which i just ordered. or ride my bike to the woods. i hope the summer does not pass me by unnoticed. too much time spent doing, not enough being.
the jasmine tea sits cold in my purple mug.

June 7th, 2006

I spent several hours sitting on the floor in Mrs. Dalloway’s, one of my new favourite bookshops. I slowly flipped the pages of many books, including a new one about artist’s houses, a book of essay’s by Pablo Neruda, the artist’s mentor (which had some wonderful quotes), and a small volume about the love of bookstores. None of which I bought, though now I wish I had. But alas, I am trying to lighten my load before the move. So I settled for a postcard from the store which I glued into my journal, so when I look at it I will recall my afternoon spent there. There is nothing like a bookstore where the books are handpicked by an avid reader and the staff talk excitedly about books all day long. I should know, I used to work in one of the best. (secret note: If you look at the photo on the front page of the site it might intrest you to know that the painting “opens” to reveal a secret cupboard behind it. The whole store was designed this way. Mr. Hoare has excellent taste in paintings and several of them are original group of seven pieces.)

May 19th, 2006

my journal is a mess of scribbled to-do lists.
lists of things to do today, next week, next month.
lists of things to do before we leave california, (including the Japanese Tea Garden, Cafe Gratitude, Tilden Part (the spot where we met for the first time).
lists of things to bring to ny.
lists of things to sell or give away.
and regrettably, lists of books to read next. (read: more stuff to haul, i just can’t help it, I will have to let go of others to accomodate them.)
how to suck in the gifts of this place while I am still here? amidst the busyness. the ocean, the dark woods, the mountains, the smell of eucalyptus (can you bottle it somehow?), Berkeley, the cheeseboard pizza, cafe raj, the pub on solano, the crooked house hidden by trees, the albany bulb, the 60′s, the flowers, riding my bike everywhere everyday, california redwood trees, big sur.
luckily the thing I love most about california I will be taking with me wherever I go.
i’m sure you know what that is.

May 16th, 2006

I was going to start with some overused, rather tedious cliche, somthing to the affect of “the winds of change…” It seems appropriate today. The winds of change have once again shifted and with them our lives move onto another path entirely. Yessir.
My incredibly talented and determined husband has been accepted to graduate studies at RPI in Troy NY, with a full fellowship! In the next two months we will sell all of our furniture here, pack up our car with only necessities (art supplies, books, musical equipment, and a small assortment of clothing), and make the journey back east once again. Yesterday we received the news of the full fellowship and were jumping up and down, (the tuition is extremely expensive and we had decided to go into debt because the opportunity was too good to pass up). But the universe jumped in at the last minute.
This has been a lesson for both of us, one that we thought we had learned already, but sometimes you have to go through the same things a hundred times before they really sink in. The lesson being, head in the direction you are drawn to, even if you think it’s impossible or you don’t know how you will manage. Once you make the decision completely to do something the universe will jump in to help you out. I wrote a couple of weeks ago that I had been asking the universe for signs and not receiving any. We just had to sit tight, today the signs could not be any bigger or clearer. The universe is yelling.
As we rode home from the mail yesterday I said to Jeff, “There are these wonderful days when I realize I have absolutely no control over the direction of my life.” Yes I do put energy out there, but in the end it is the universe that lets me know where I am going next.
So we have let the excitement build about the new move. Things we are looking forward to:
…fall (leaves changing colour)
…affordable living (rent, food, etc.)
…being close to New York City (a three hour drive)
…being close to Canada!
…exploring New England more (it’s one of my favourite places)
…Berkshire Farms ice cream (the best in the world)
…Flatbread Pizza (in Northhampton)
…teaching at an art college (there are a few in the area)
…Jeff studying with some of the great artists in the field of experimental music.
…having my own garden again.
…studying Troy’s incredible pre-victorian architechture.
…the absence of leaf blowers (I currently hear several going at once)
…having my own workspace again (working on my new book projects).
While we will miss California greatly, we know that we will return again at some point in our lives. But for now we will make a home in a city that is finding it’s feet again after many years, (culturally and socially). There was a great article about it recently in the New York Times which speaks about the wonderful buildings (remarkably untouched for the last hundred years), and about how Vonnegut wrote the novel “Cat’s Cradle” amidst these buildings, (it takes place in Troy). There are an abundance of public gardens growing, a bookstore (necessity), and a reputable coffee shop, (oh yes). I cannot wait to leave my mark in this new place.
Until next time I remain, creatively yours…

April 11th, 2006

There has been a theme in my life for the last few years of ‘letting go’, of a long list of things.
what people think
the need to control everything
what i want to happen in my career
how i want my relationship to be
the need to always be ‘nice’
the need to project the image of perfection (ha)
of needing to be liked
just to name a few. this theme is echoed in every aspect of my life and i have been recieving lessons at every turn. big things, such as getting married, moving across the continent and literally throwing myself into a new unknown life (leaving behind everything that is comfortable and familiar), launching into new territory with my book concepts, not taking the safe route in terms of doing what people might expect, pushing myself into new places creatively. And the slightly smaller things (but no less important), learning how to set boundaries with people, saying no when I don’t want to do something, allowing people to be upset with me, not clinging to ‘things’ for comfort.
the effect of letting go has for a time made me feel like I’ve “come out” to the world in the same way as a 1950′s housewife who has realized her life was a bit of a facade, in her housecoat and curlers who is on her front porch every morning drinking vodka and smoking. she wears a new confident smile. the neighbors pretend not to notice at first, but are noticably disturbed by her behaviour. the church lady on the corner decides to “pay her a visit” in hopes of saving her from the clutches of satan, tea cakes in hand. the world seems not to want to see her true self, don’t like her to question things. her recent lack of control a tad frightening to a world with rules. her truths like small bombs …
the truth that…
she is not in fact ‘nice’
underneath all of her make up there are moments when she could be considered ‘unattractive’
she has anger and it is powerful
she does not need to do it all for everyone else
she swears
she has a voice and is using it to question things
but what of all those other things that we liked about her?
her demure nature
her soft features
her painting the world in pretty colours
her joy in the smallest of things
her pretty self
they are all still there. and they are stronger than ever.

March 29th, 2006

Dealing with money is one of the hardest things I deal with in my career. I hate it. I never wanted to be a business person but it just comes with the territory, unless you make enough money to hire someone else to do it. This topic is much too large to launch into a full philosophical discussion here. But I think it worthwhile to share a few issues knowing that others out there deal with the saem things on a regular basis. I am constantly struggling with needing to ask for what I feel I am worth, contrasted with wanting to work on projects I enjoy (which often pay little or nothing.) Lately I have been doing a lot more projects out of love and let go of the need to ask for more. This can be difficult when you are trying each month to pay the rent. In my opinion art and commerce should never mix, but that is not the world in which I find myself. So I make compromises. The question comes up again and again, how much do you choose to compromise?
Today I was asked to do an illustration for a magazine that I love and have always wanted to work for. I was excited and flattered. My heart sank when the fee that was offered was lower than any fee I have ever worked for in this business EVER, (even when I started out). So I asked for more, not a lot more, sometimes it is just the principle of the thing. But also I needed to make it worth my time, (preferring to make more that someone who works at a fast food restaurant.) The result…I was turned down, the editor saying the magazine could not pay more given that they were “indie”, a point which is true and yet I know that the print quality of the said mag is extremely costly to produce, so they are spending money somewhere though obviously not on the illustration. (it is a known fact in the illustration world that in the 1920′s the cover of Time magazine paid an illustrator $1000 to do the cover, the same fee is given today.)
So the question that comes up for every artist is ‘what am i worth?’ Most of us have learned the hard way that when we do work for little or free, most often the treatment and amount of respect we recieve is of equal value, little or nothing (there are some exceptions to this.)
I wanted to share with you another way of looking at this which I learned from the artist Gord Peteran many years ago. Gord is an accomplished conceptual furniture designer whose work is like none that you’ve seen before. Over coffee one day the subject of “what to ask for” came up in our discussion. I mentioned I always have a hard time with asking for anything. Gord mentioned that when he sits down with a client he calmly explains his process. For every project he creates there is always a lot of blood, sweat and tears. He will have moments of doubt, frustration, and emotional exertion. So because he is going to hurt, then the client must feel some pain too. The way they can do this is financially, they must put forth energy in that way, (‘feeling it in their pocketbook’ so to speak.)
I’ve always remembered that story because it clearly illustrates the transfer of energy, (from one form to another).
This is not to say you should never work for free or for less, I do it often actually, preferring sometimes to not have the work ‘tainted’ by money. But this is just another way of looking at the issue. And I thought I would throw it out there for what it’s worth ;)

March 27th, 2006

-good wine from an amazing wine store
-Jeff plays a house show, a night of friends and good music
-a hike in the magical Albany Bulb. A place where for many years artists have been creating public art out of object that have washed up onto the shore. we watched an artist working on a sculpture of a 20 ft sea goddess made of rusted wire and found wood. some great photos here. The wild fennel growing there creates a wonderful “scented” walk.
-an inspiring new cookbook by Blake Spalding (who my husband serendipitously met and stayed with when he rode his bike accross the u.s. last year.) Blake opened an organic restaurant (with a buddhist bent) in the middle of a remote community in Utah, called the Hell’s Backbone Grill. She is doing wonderful things for this world by sharing her lifestyle and food philosophies. A symbol of what passion and determination can create.
-another new cookbook from the Candle Cafe, which is a must when you visit New York. So far I’ve made the marinated tofu, sweet potato mash, wild rice and cranberry salad. All are excellent.
-my husband and i are what you might call ‘urban campers’. we recently acquired a car that is perfect to sleep in (like a mini camper actually), dubbed ‘the grey elephant’ in honor of Emily Carr’s grey elephant which she wrote and painted in for many years. we have been taking mini vacations with wonderful freedom to sleep where ever we find ourselves. and even created a ‘car journal’ to document the trips. there is also a small library in the back (I always like to have a selection of reading material for when you take a spontaneous journey). including, of course, a few books by emily, poems by gary snyder (since we are in california), william carlos williams, plus a few others. the goal this week is to sew some privacy curtains for the back window and a sack for our “collections” of beach finds and found objects.
-a random opening of Emily’s recently published ‘unknown’ journals “opposite contraries” finds these words…
“Movement is the essence of being. When a thing stands still and says, “Finished”, then it dies. There isn’t such a thing as completion in this world, for that would mean Stop! Painting is a striving to express life. If there is no movement in the painting, then it is dead paint.”

March 14th, 2006

Things learned while collecting found objects on the beach.
1. As your eyes scour the sand you may become quickly overtaken by an obsessive quest to find the most interesting, unique item. Though sometimes it is the simplest of things (or group of things) that are the most satisfying.
2. Always carry a bag of some sort. You will usually collect more that will fit in your pockets.
3. Pay attention to the following attributes…color, texture, contrast, size, shape.
4. When combing the beach it is easy to get lost (and obsessed) in looking at the ground. It is important to stop every now and then to look out at the water.* (*failure to do so may also result in wet feet.)
5. Always check items for inhabitants.
6. It’s fun to bring a friend so you can compare your finds.

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