Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ranger Gene Leads the Foreigners to Betatikin

I had lots of fun with this painting. It's from a snapshot taken during a hike down a very long trail, leading to a famous ruin. Navajo National Monument is one of my favorite places. Located in Northern Arizona, it's been the site of many of my birthdays. I'm not sure why–it just seems to have worked out that way. I love being there on my birthday because a major meteor shower happens every year on that date. And the atmosphere is clear, with virtually no light pollution, so you can watch the spectacular sky all night long if you can stay awake!

Back to the painting. We have taken this ranger-led hike a number of times. This particular guy (Gene) was a seasoned ranger, with a definitely quirky personality. I got such a charge out listening to him and observing the people from various countries. The people on this particular day added a dimension that I just had to capture! It's part of my series about tourists.

Monday, July 21, 2008

My Worst Nightmare

What is your worst nightmare? I actually have a series that occur depending on what's happening that is currently stirring up my personal phobias. When I'm teaching, I have nightmares about getting lost on the way to class, frantically trying to find art materials for a class starting in minutes, etc. This print refers to the nightmares I had when Mathew was in the hospital as a preemie. Don't worry, he's now 19 and doing fine. In this print, I'm peering into his incubator as rats threaten to do awful things to him that I don't even want to describe here.

I guess this image could be classified as art as therapy.

Which brings me back to the question of what does it mean to people when you say you are an artist. What is an artist, anyway? An article in the New York Times Book Review, June 1, by Marisha Pessl has a paragraph in it that addresses these questions. Here is the quote:

" 'Artist' can't make even the briefest public appearance without extensive baggage. The next time you're at a party and someone asks you what you do for a living, boldly say artist, then sit back and watch the jolting effect that little word has upon a conversation. Above 14th Street, the person will smirk, dutifully ask 'What kind?' or appear to start swallowing an egg, which is a disguised yawn. You'll get a hug in the Midwest. In Santa Monica, you'll get 'sweet' and an in invitation to go Rollerblading. In certain parts of the country you'll get tied up and thrown into the back of a pickup truck, and no one will ever hear from you again."

All of the above reactions could fall into my worst nightmare category. There really isn't any standard way to know you are an artist except to believe that you are. And confessing that you think you are an artist to anyone is totally different that being able to tell someone you are a doctor or banker or grocery store clerk. Who knows what their reaction will be.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Etching and aquatint, "Fort Benning 1950"

Where in the world have I been for the past month?

Well, I was in northern California, and no, it wasn't for a vacation. Jim, Mathew and I took on the monumental task of sorting, packing and cleaning out my parent's home in order to put it up for sale. It was a bittersweet experience, coming across so many things from my childhood. The hardest part was the paper trail my father left, which showed his organization and need for order gradually disintegrate as he battled to hang on to his independence as Alzheimer's took over.

The image you see is an etching/aquatint. I love making prints. It is such a different process from painting. This particular print is from a snapshot of my mom and me in Fort Benning, Georgia.

Like all families, I have boxes and albums of photos of my own children and some from my childhood. Now I have boxes and boxes and boxes and more albums from my parents' lives. At some point, I'm guessing some of this imagery will become a part of my work. In the meantime, I'm going to need to figure out where in the world to store it all safely.