Lenny would be proud...

Can’t remember what laws of physics, biology, gravity et al I bent to deserve the boot. Didn’t seem to get in the way. Breaking out my first metal pour.

Can’t remember what laws of physics, biology, gravity et al I bent to deserve the boot. Didn’t seem to get in the way. Breaking out my first metal pour.

Recently, a friend challenged, “It’s like you have to prove you know how to use every medium.” The question resurrected an injunction from thirty years ago to “settle down and do one thing.” I seriously consider the things friends say before choosing not to take them too seriously.

In college, I decided to proficiently use as many mediums as I was exposed to. The idea was not limiting myself when an opportunity came along. How can I know which mediums I like if I don’t experiment? Is there some rule about having to grow up and pick one thing? (Actually, there is but that’s for next post.) Early on, I was commissioned to produce anything from a pen and ink brochure master to oil portraits. I was paid for being good at the medium the client wanted. And how is that a different kind of compromise from posting a couple of paintings a day onto an internet shop?

What’s not to like? My polymath’s constant curiosity is satisfied on a regular basis, although an eagerness for expansion is often misconstrued for inexperience. One of my role models is an ER doc who plays tuba in the orchestra, lives with a sketchbook as constant companion, paints stunning watercolors and carved the Stations of the Cross for the church. I mean, what if the Gods of Art had whispered to Lenny, “Stick to science and leave Mona to Buonarroti. Europe is gonna need your bridge designs in the 21st century. BTW can you hustle it up on the helicopter?”

It’s the difference between the person who moves around a lot, initiates into global citizenship yet suffers attachment disorder and the person who lives decades of complacent security in the same town knowing the same people. One way is not better than the other although the ones who never experience a different environment are occasionally frightened by those who have.

News Flash! We all come to art making from a different perspective. Some truly feel our way through a piece while others of us think all the way to the finish. Nothing dictates we have the same process. Let’s not let our prejudices and preconceived ideas decide who is acceptable and who isn’t a “real” artist. There’s enough bigotry in the world.

Did I miss out on the deep dive? Possibly, yet as long as I keep waking up each day there’s time. The exploration of mediums informing each other is thrilling for me. There are a few I’ve let go of through the years because they don’t help articulate my vision. Others have strengthened and matured as relationships do over time. Now I’m exploring ways to combine mediums. Do we eat broccoli simply because it was served at every meal growing up or do we take the time to consider we might prefer kale?

Lightening up...

Winter sketching kit…

Winter sketching kit…

The winter painting kit is much smaller and easier to carry than the warmer weather “haul the whole studio if you can fit it all in the back of a Mini with the back seats down” effort. At the top is a water cartridge paintbrush and Pitt indelible marker. I usually pick one paint kit - the smaller Altoids box of gouache primaries or the watercolor kit with more colors. The cut-off sock cuff slips onto the paint container and fastens down with the rubber band. On site, I pull the sock onto the wrist to serve as a “paint rag.” Completing the winter kit a 3.5x8.25” Handbook. An even more compact choice is a 4.25x3” Pentalic Travelers book, or for real winter luxury, a Handbook 7x10.25.” Everything fits in the secret phone compartment everyone has in a coat or a hip pocket. Add a headband to warm the ears, fingerless foldaway mittens and you’re all set.

Take a breath...

We’re so pressured in this country for product and outcome, we seldom give rest the respect it’s due as part of the creative process. After a press to make several pieces for the show, I am able to relax ~ at least in terms of art making. Gently clean the pastels. Sort them again by my palette and what makes sense to me. Enjoy how pretty they look before diving in and creating color chaos again. 

Oregon Book Awards

A marvelous evening at the Oregon Book Awards. The theme of the winner’s comments, to me (we all hear and resonate differently with our experience to find meaning) is:

press on in spite of circumstances or who bludgeons you with can’t.

Pulitzer Prize nominee, Larry Colton’s colorful acceptance speech of the Stewart H. Holbrook Literary Legacy Award powerfully advocated the need to support teachers. He related failing his college placement English segment, and flunking the requisite remedial “bonehead English course.” His professor was less than kind, yet, Mr. Colton is honored for a lifetime spent writing and mentoring teachers.

Storm Large, whose one woman play Crazy Enough transformed my personal vision, won the Creative Nonfiction award for her autobiography by the same title.  All of my life, those who want desperately to maintain their status quo have told me I’m too much, too loud, too intense, too strong, too something very unacceptable and Ms. Large’s courage to share her story, in one magical evening shifted my perception and replaced the negative programming with the idea I too am “crazy enough” to make something wonderful with my talents and strenghts.

Ismet Prcic, in an after party conversation said his uncle told him he’d never accomplish anything because he “couldn’t speak English.” Mr. Prcic carried home the award for fiction. The take away for me was his closing remarks of acceptance,

“You can’t do it unless you do it.”

Portland writers are collegiate, open-hearted, fostering and generous with their time and abilities. A writer friend graciously remembered and asked me about my project even though we’d not seen each other for months. Affection and support undergirded encouragement and I came home from the evening feeling like Wonder Woman, ready to finish off a few books, screenplays and poems ~ one word at a time.