Two weeks until show time

abstract mixed mediaTwo weeks from today I’ll be hanging Beyond The Story: Exploring Visual Memoir with Rebecca Shapiro and Lisa Sonora Beam.

I had planned to write a post about how the collaboration came about. My mind is swirling with so many details of things that need to get done. I’m finding it hard to pull out of the to-do list to allow the writing muse to come forward.

Does all my work suck?

I’ve been working on this show for two years. It’s gone through a number of phases and at some point I had to commit to what my contribution to the show was going to be. Now that I have done that all the voices of fear are visiting:

  • what if the work sucks?
  • what if no one gets it?
  • what if everyone hates it?
  • what if no one comes to see the show?
  • what if no one comes to the opening?
  • what if nothing ever sells?
  • what if I wasted two years of my life?

This is just pre-show anxiety

I’ve done shows enough to know that I always hate the work just before I show it. I think it might be a crazy thing I do to protect myself. It feels vulnerable to do a show like this that is so personal. My professional self knows this is all just stuff I need to put aside and get over. It’s almost impossible. It’s part of the process to walk with it. Not let it take over and get in the way of getting things done.

What do you do?

I find it easier to cope with the fears when I name them and even laugh at them. Know their cycles. Here we are again— right on time. Sometimes I write about it (I guess that’s what this post is all about,) sometimes it helps to talk with others. Other times I have to take a break and do something totally unrelated.

Do you have a good way to manage your feelings before you put yourself out in a big way?

Living with my dying cat

My favorite cat of all time, Shamille

I’m likely in the last days of Shamille’s life.  A few months ago she was diagnosed with cancer. We’re not totally sure since she is too old to think about biopsy or complex diagnostics. I did decide to give her prednisolone to help ease her labored breathing. It gave me a few extra months with her. She’s not doing much these days, not eating anymore, just fading away. She still looks great, those big eyes of hers still melt my heart. She’s so fuzzy it hides her emaciated frame.

I’ve been losing pieces of her for the last few months. First she stopped sitting with me for many hours a day. My studio and office felt emptier, even though I still have her sister there. It’s just not the same. I miss the warmth and daily snuggling. Until this past week she’d still get up and greet me at the door when she had the energy. I find myself not wanting to leave for long wondering if she’ll still be here when I return.

I’ve always been allergic to her so we kept her out of our bedroom for many years. Once she was sick, I insisted she sleep with us. She’s spent the last few months between our hearts purring softly off and on all night. It gave me a sense of getting more time with her.


She has been totally zen with the whole dying process. I wish I could say the same for me. There have been times I thought my heart was literally breaking. I’m still wondering if my whole being will shatter when she goes. Feels like it might. I just don’t know, I’ve never been so close to a pet before.

She’s not purring much anymore. I really miss it. There is something deeply soothing about a purr. It has gotten me through many challenging times over the last 14 years. Every time I felt upset or if I raised my voice she would come running from where ever she was to soothe me. She has been salve for my heart and soul.

Pets are magic. I’m so grateful for the years I’ve had with her.


You Can’t Name Names

Drawing of Tree
Words In Tree: Ink and Colored Pencil; 9″ x 12″

Shortly after I started learning to write stories, I discovered it would be difficult to publish anything with real names. I was mad. Silence is what protected people for decades. Silence and fear are what created the mess in the first place. It felt like protecting the guilty.

Drawing over the story

I started by writing out the drafts of the story then drawing back over it. I used a super hard pencil which dented the paper while leaving  light grey letters.

When I colored over with colored pencil, the texture created by the dents is what was interesting to me.

Carving the truth into the paper

Tree with words incised into bark
Watercolor, Ink and Colored Pencil: 9″ x 12″

Next I started using a bamboo skewer to write into the paper before I started painting. The water swells the paper more  and I press deeper in certain areas, making the words more evident in some places than others.

It was a lot like my experience of trying to remember what happened thirty years ago. Some of the details were clear, others not. The visual effect was mirroring my writing. Many of the words were there. My truth was there with all the names and details. Most of it could no longer be fully seen.

The reality of the words being present was more important to me than whether they could actually be read.

Making Art More Accessible for the Average Person

Christine Martell: People &emdash; Speaking ToI’ve been thinking a lot about a post I read last month by Kesha Bruce, How Can Artists Bring Art Back to “Everyday People.” In it she reminds us:

Let’s face it folks—in spite of street art, community art projects, and rising museum attendance, the art snob factor in the world of visual art is still sky high.

Many people find the idea of buying original art scary and foreign. Even though I’ve shown my work in galleries and museums, I still find them off-putting at times. No wonder there is a belief that art is something only the wealthy have. But anyone can have art in their homes, it’s just a matter of priority and finding where you are comfortable. You may not be able to have your exact first choice art, but you can have things you love and that enhance your day to day life.

What Can I Do?

Kesha Bruce thinks a lot of it comes down to building great relationships with our audience. I agree, but what does that mean on a day to day basis?

Here are a few things I’ve been doing:

  • Sharing more about how I make art on this blog
  • Showing my art in informal settings
  • Showing some of it unframed
  • Allowing people to rearrange and handle it
  • Reproducing images as super affordable prints and cards

Things I’m working on

  • Writing artist statements and labels in plain English
  • Showing more of the relationship of the pieces over time

What Else Could I Do?

What makes looking at or buying art more comfortable for you?