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Memory and Forgetting

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We are all a String of Memories.

We create our identity by experiencing moments.  Every moment is a memory as soon as it passes. I often think of a moment in the past and put myself back at that time.  Like trying to remember my daughter at the age of two walking for the first time.  We remind ourselves of who we are when we remember. At least that’s what I thought. In fact,  this is not true. Several studies have shown that the act of remembering a particular moment can be interpreted differently. Most importantly, the more you remember a particular event the less accurate the actual event becomes.

Every moment is a Memory Sensation

As soon as reality happens, the memory changes. The truest memories are those that are not recalled often. This fact is difficult for me to accept.

How can I not remember the first kiss I had with my husband? I seem to remember the place, the time and the sensation. So I did a bit of an experiment. I asked my husband if he remembered our first kiss. He didn’t. Sure he remembered the general time and place but his memory was more about the “feel”. That brings me to the most important piece. It was the sensation that was remembered. Not the detail of the time and place, rather, the connection.

My Work is Created from the Past

It is this fragment of a moment frozen in time that I try to find in my work. Many ask me if I create images that are my personal memories. No. I don’t use personal references. I use items that have a “look” of memory or are sourced from things from the past. Old photos, classic films, vintage magazine images all are references that reminds us of another time. With these little pieces of ephemera, I try to create a sensation of a memory. Not an actual event- rather a familiar image that reminds the viewer of a piece of nostalgia.

Nostalgia is defined as a sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period. The yearning is the important piece. However, I am not looking to put a piece of an event. Rather I am trying to create a sensation of a person, or an event and this creates a “yearning” for the viewer.

Like seeing an image of a woman riding a bike from the 1940s. Many look at this image and it reminds them of their mother riding a bike. The freedom and release reminds them of a special person who taught them to enjoy life and be free.

So even though this piece can reference a particular person, it is the sensation of the memory that is important. It is this sensation that makes us who we are. Not the little pieces of the actual events of time or place, rather the entire feel. Every moment is a memory and a sensation. It is this sensation that is the meaning behind my work.

To see a full Selection of  available Original Pieces click Here

 

 

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Memory; Reality or Lie?

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Memories as a Reality

Memories as a reality? Are our memories truth or a lie? If it is a lie- can we rely on these memories to truly define us? Confusing questions, to be sure. But I am interested in how this relates to Art. My art. Memories are my inspiration, but I interpret the moment. A moment that is a trigger for you. So the ‘memories as a reality’ become more about the sensation of a moment in time. It becomes a doorway through which you can enter and enjoy the memory of a particular time and place.

Everytime we remember an event, it is different. Memory is not a reality, it is an interpretation. Much like a piece of Art. The transformation of reality into an interpretation is the reality. I find this difficult to accept. How can an event change, in your mind, when it actually happened?

I remember one thing. you remember another . We were both at the same event, the same place, but you remember it differently than me.

The memories we have of a certain time period of our life can be wrong. It may actually be a lie. How often have you had a conversation with your partner about a prrticular event and the stories are different? One’s perception of that moment is not the same as the others. Although I don’t know if this is a lie as much as an experience of reality through different eyes.

In the article Why are Memories so Different from Reality;

“A memory isn’t a perfect stored representation of the event. It’s not a photograph, snapshot, or movie of our lives. When we encode something we store salient aspects, things that stand out and things we find important. What those things are also depends on you, your past experiences, and your knowledge. Different aspects stand out or are important to different people.”

Impression becomes the Truth.

Following this, then the impression of the event becomes the most important feature. Much like a piece of art. It is the impression of the idea that comes forth in the painting. The bits and pieces that are put together to create the image are a transformation of an image through my eyes and mind. Much like a memory.

In the painting highlighted, titled Fairytale Escape, this piece goes into the realm of the adventure. I remember piling into my father’s car, as a child, and heading out to the campgrounds. Cooking outside, sleeping in the camper, the sounds of the woods surrounding us. It had such a comforting adventure. The reality, though, was a bit different. The weather, the breaking down of the vehicle, the fighting with my brother- all things that seem to wash away when remembering these excursions.

This painting is part of my Home Sweet Home series. A series that looks at the home as place of idealism. Impressions of the home that tell the story of the “home”. Each place conveys both comfort and isolation. We remember our home in particular ways- a place of love, of connection, but it is also a place where we are lonely and isolated. Two pieces of memory and identity that are critical to our well being.

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Just Show Up

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Show Up

“Just show up”, she said.

What does that mean today? What does it mean to be there, to act, to react, to give, to take and to be? It means that being in the moment and acting like you are producing and contributing is showing up. That being part of life, sharing your vision, honoring your talent, and giving it to those around you is showing up. Finally it means that making what ever you make becomes part of a wider world.

Working in the Rabbit Hole

As I work in the studio in January, I often feel like I am in a Rabbit hole forgotten by everyone. I have very busy days producing with0ut any conversation with anyone other than my husband and daughter over dinner. It’s  a life of isolation and speaking to myself. For many, this would be impossible to live with. I know that my husband and daughter would go a bit crazy if they didn’t have someone to speak to all day. For me, it’s different.

The creative life is just this. It’s about ideas, using materials to bring those ideas out into the world, and having conversations on another level with those ideas. The photographer Robert Frank said ” Look outward to understand inward”.  He produced the phenomenal book The Americans which looks at mid century life. Many images are about looking from the outside and trying to understand the inner truth of an intimate moment. A girl standing in an elevator with figures around her can be just an image. Yet this black and white image, with the dark figures surrounding her has a loneliness surrounded by people. An image that is is at that moment but is still timeless.

Searching for the Truth

So this concept of searching for the “truth” is a my goal everyday. Creating work that has a nostalgic approach brings in the memory component but it goes deeper. Certainly it speaks to a brief second of truth. The application of paint, the use of colour, the simplifying of detail all speak to trying to find what the “truth” is. Where is the story and how can I reveal this in this painting? Above all what is intimate moment am I trying to find and reveal to the viewer?

In the piece highlighted titled “At Last I Found a Dream”, the story is familiar. A romantic encounter watched from a distance. The old photographs embedded into the image bring to mind the black and white memories of other couples. Snapshots that reveal a truth of that moment. The couple hugging was from a vintage advertising for an insurance company. Taken out of context, this image still holds true.   Finally, by bringing pieces together to create a story that was not intended but is therefore the mark of a great piece.

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Art Has a Power.

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Art and its Power

Can the power of art change your life?  Can art change the world? It’s a question that many have asked and answered. Art, in its many forms, can reveal the power that we can acquire through the engagement and understanding of the stories behind art. For this reason, just filling a space in the wall with an image that has no meaning to you undervalues the power and impact that art can have. In fact, the power comes from you taking the risk to surround yourself with Art that inspires you, makes you feel the power that art can have.

“Art does not show people what to do, yet engaging with a good work of art can connect you to your senses, body, and mind. It can make the world felt. And this felt feeling may spur thinking, engagement, and even action.”

No one wants an empty life. A life lacking in colour, in drama and in story. This time of year can be a time of paralysis. Winter descends and the cold tightens its grip. Hibernation seems to be the best alternative. This is where the power of art becomes integral to moving forward. Dreaming of another time and place is integral to survival. And survival is where this year has began.

It’s a New Time;

Recently my teenage daughter mentioned to me that this was the most important time for women. In her opinion, there had not been a previous time as changing or life altering as the past year. I tend to agree with her. In my experience, of being a feminist for the past 35 years, I have not seen such a voice.

Movies, live theatre, literary and the music industry have all revealed that women are stating their case and choosing to be heard. Whether it’s in the media, or on the political stage, it has been women that have taken the lead to state their cases. Women artists led the charge with a loud voice of making their mark.  The art they have made, the stories they tell, all come together to collectively state their view of dismantling of sexist power structures.

I  believe I heard it state that this was a “tectonic” shift. Perhaps it is.

Paintings that tell the Story about Change;

There are times that I create art that sets a clear truth, a story of women together, walking, striding to the same goal of recognition.  The Empowered Series is an integral part of my artistic vision.

The painting highlighted is titled “Dance with Abandon“. A piece that brings to mind a story of admiration. The crowd beneath the girls dancing, (who are screenprinted onto the surface) watch in awe. This image of this crowd is from a 1960s Life Magazine photograph from the first NASA launch. It seemed appropiate to place this crowd with the outgoing dancing women.

We are at a point in our culture that we watch as young women take hold of the mantel and run for office. Although women have had a voice, their stepping up to take hold of the political dialogue through social media has enabled them to try to make change. There is a sense that being quiet and not acting is a form of apathy. Considering my 15 year old daughter’s voice, I don’t think that this is a option any longer.

 

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Storytelling with a Painting

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Telling a story with a Single Image

Storytelling with a painting, a static image, can be challenging. How is it possible to create an image that tells the different sides to the story? Recently I came upon a quote by the Jean Renoir, the son of the impressionist painter Pierre August Renoir. He stated that only a painter could “find the relationship between eternity and the instant, between the world and the soul”. In effect, he believed that film could never express a single vision.

Storytelling in a moment in Time

Positioning a moment in time, and how that moment would look visually, and reinterpreting this moment to the viewer has always been an interest of mine. Suspending a moment that is full of its colour and its energy can be translated in a variety of ways. The use of media and process, the use of colour and brush work, the use of pattern and repetition all creates a sense of meaning for the viewer. It is up to the viewer to look at the piece and feel the sensation of the moment. Trusting the abstraction of the image and what it connotes creates the meaning for the viewer.  Looking at the series of pieces in my collection, every piece tries to create meaning through the use of layers of collage and paint.

Perfection Spied and the Meaning within this Painting

The highlighted painting, Perfection Spied, is a perfect example of how a painting/collage can create a fun spin about body image and relationships. This piece blends together an impressionist style of the girls hanging by the pool looking distractedly at the body builder in the distance. The man, pumped up, was taken from a classic film titled Muscle Beach (1957) He is an image, a cartoon image, of masculinity. Setting him within this painting, in a realistic manner, disrupts the viewing. It is unexpected. This brings the image into another space then a predictive impressionist painting. The most interesting piece of this painting is this- the lack of predicting and the disruption of the story as it is being gathered by the viewer’s eye.

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The Meaning of what I Make

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The meaning of what I make?

Often there is a question about the meaning of what I make. What is the message and how does it relate to the viewer’s world? My work has a self evident message with the use of nostalgic imagery.  As seen in the painting highlighted titled Turn It On, this images brings to mind a fun party atmosphere with flowered paper, patterns and light colours. It seems to be self evident in that I work with found images from mid century resources and rework them into stories about our present world. Seems simple. However, when I create pieces I often think how the colour, the patterns, the transparency of materials also convey meaning. There is a deeper meaning. One that you don’t realize is part of the work at first, then it seems to become more important.

Message of materials

At times I use fabric patterns- the tissue paper with map making lines and text of Butterick printed on it. People who look at it have a moment of thinking about their childhood and how their mother sewed their clothing. It is a use of time that many no longer do. Yet when the painting is looked at- the message seems to change. It isn’t about a street in Paris. It is about the materials that make this image. In the painting Parisian Love Letter, there are handwritten letters, book pages from a romantic french novel and fabric patterns that layer onto the surface. Each piece builds the story about romance that the pop cultural image of the couple emanates. Each piece brings in the viewers alternate reality and experience. It has a depth of meaning that is not seen at first. It just builds as the viewer takes in the different pieces of materials.

Teaching the message of Art

This past week, as I was about to participate in the Cottonwood Art Festival in Dallas TX, I volunteered to present a demonstration of my work to a group of middle school kids. I realized as I was speaking that many create images without really thinking about the bigger picture. Media literacy is an important piece of education. The understanding how images convey meaning in a variety of ways is critical in being able to be a person who can critically think about their surroundings. Art plays a role in this. Imagery relates to advertising which in turn can relate to manipulation of reality. Things that we need to understand to get to the truth.

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Finding Her Voice

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Finding Her Voice

Sometimes a painting such as the piece highlighted titled Still I Rise, inspires a collective reaction of celebration and empowerment.  Finding her voice is a goal that every woman has. There is an assumption that with the #metoo movement women are allowed to speak and to stand up, but I don’t think this is the case. In fact, there are many messages that young teenage girls receive that say that they just aren’t good enough. That their voice, with its brightness and loudness, is not acceptable.

Awareness of the Subtle Messages

For the past eight years, my daughter has played hockey. This sport is not based upon the construction beauty, or how they look, but on the initiative and motivation on the ice. Two traits that I try to teach my daughter. I expected that the coaches would promote these values along with the respect that girls need to be able to express themselves. The value of being able to speak, to be themselves is especially important as young women enter into early teens. The ability to express their power, in turn, makes for a girl to withstand intimidation either from school, friends and eventually the workplace. But what do you do when your daughter is in a situation that does not allow her to speak? That she must be quiet, to accept and allow the Coach on the team to bully and be intimidating. The reason for not speaking? She is accused of being a trouble maker. Watching your daughter struggle with the personalities of fellow players, and the Coach staff was difficult. At the end of the season, we left with the knowledge that we both tried to assert ourselves and still enjoy the game. We both knew that this sport did more damage than not.

A Painting that Reminds Us Of Freedom.

Painting images that have an empowered sensibility reminds us that the images we have around us are important. In an article by J. Francis Davis titled “Power of Images: Creating the Myths of Our  Time”, stated that “myths are the ideas and stories that motivate daily behaviour.” Myths comes from images and if we surround ourselves with images that state it is Right to be Free then that in turn makes us stronger.

It is important to keep affirming that a young teenage girl has the right to speak up. For me, this painting and the group of pieces that I have created in my Women Series strikes at the core of being a woman- one who has the right to speak and be herself.

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How the power of Art can Change your Life

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Can the power of art change your life?  Can art change the world? It’s a question that many have asked and answered. Art, in its many forms, can reveal the power that we can acquire through the engagement and understanding of the stories behind art. For this reason, just filling a space in the wall with an image that has no meaning to you undervalues the power and impact that art can have. In fact, the power comes from you taking the risk to surround yourself with Art that inspires you, makes you feel the power that art can have.

“Art does not show people what to do, yet engaging with a good work of art can connect you to your senses, body, and mind. It can make the world felt. And this felt feeling may spur thinking, engagement, and even action.”

No one wants an empty life. A life lacking in colour, in drama and in story. This time of year can be a time of paralysis. Winter descends and the cold tightens its grip. Hibernation seems to be the best alternative. This is where the power of art becomes integral to moving forward. Dreaming of another time and place is integral to survival. And survival is where this year has began.

It’s a New Year, a new time;

The past few months have been a time that the relationships of power between men and women have been revealed. Movies, live  theatre, literary and the music industry have all revealed that women are stating their case and choosing to be heard. Whether it’s in the media, or on the Golden Globes red carpet, it has been female artists that have taken the lead to state their cases. The art they have made, the stories they tell, all come together to collectively state that 2018 is not a year of tolerance of sexist power structures. I  believe I heard it state that this was a “tectonic” shift. Perhaps it is. Time will tell if there are changes.

Paintings that tell the story of the New Year;

There are times that I create art that sets a clear truth, a story of women together, walking, striding to the same goal of recognition.  The Empowered Series is an integral part of my artistic vision. The painting highlighted is titled “Greatest Show”. This painting uses the glamorous Pan Am stewardesses as the point of departure. Women who were elegant and at the forefront of the professional definition of women’s work life. Yet there is a sarcastic twist to this image. A target practice image is set in the back ground with the text ‘greatest show’- which is from the circus promotion from Barnum and Bailey. These women walk with strength. But will they achieve their goal? I have been a feminist my entire adult life. I have yet to see equality, safety and respect for women. There is an expectation of a lesser accomplishments and stepping up is good. But will it be enough?

 

 

 

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The Handmade is the perfect Gift

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As you know, the handmade, one of a kind gift is the perfect choice!  The question is why?

Your Creative Voice in Giving

As the search for the perfect gift comes upon us for the holiday season, we are struggling to find the present that speaks to our own creative voice. This creative voice, which can also be know as the “original voice” speaks to our own creativity. This may seem a bit abstract, but I have often wondered why we are so attracted to finding the maker of the piece of craft or art. With a culture flooded with products, the search for uniqueness is a premium.

My discovery of the concept of the “original voice” came about from reading Arthur Lessac’s article “The  Quest for the Original Voice” The article is interesting in that it defines that our own inner environments This is a voice the creative voice we are born with. This references  authenticity, uniqueness and is genuine. It advocates feeling, not intellect, to activate the creative visionary within. The article mentions that this inner original voice can disappear due to the demands of the outside world. The inner creativity is stifled by the daily routine of life.

As I create and make work in my studio, I often think that the production of these unique pieces, out of nothing, is ridiculous. It has an element of fun that seems self fulfilling and not part of the world that prioritizes mass production and money. Yet as my clients buy my work, and hang the Art in their homes, I find that the self fulfilling aspect is not so selfish. In effect, I serve a need. The need to find creativity in all of our lives. To remind ourselves of our “original voice” is to help people discover their own inner creativity.

The Importance of the Handmade

So where does this leave you for the perfect gift? It begins with understanding that buying an item that an individual has made, or designed, is actually an extension of your own needs. That of finding a place to share your own creative vision with others. This is actually the gift. Or as the painting that is highlighted titled Moments Shared

 

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Why buy art?

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Often people ask themselves “what is the reason to buy art for their home?”. This is a normal question as Art is not a “need”. It is a “Want”. It isn’t food, shelter, or clothing. However, it is part of self care. It is part of making certain we retain our identity and reminds ourselves of who we are.

This past month has been waves of news that can spin our world into the depths of depression. Combatting the negative that surrounds us takes extra vigilance. It takes a decision to look towards brightness and life. Yes, we grieve the loss, the damaged and the destroyed. However, the goal is to keep going. To choose happiness over depression. Everyday  I go to the studio, I have moments of questioning my purpose. I imagine many people feel this way. In the last few days I have once again affirmed that my purpose in this world is to create Art that reminds us of the goodness. The place which we can find a bit of sanity and love.

In an article  titled 10 Reasons to Buy Art in the Huffington Post, the authors list simple reasons to buy handmade original paintings. They mention that “Happy walls make happy people”. I think this is true. Placing a piece of art on your wall reminds you to think of the bigger picture, the long game. The place in our world that has no fear, no hate, and reminds you to be good and loving.

When creating art, the goal is not to be sentimental in a trite way. Rather my work is about creating a story that reflects a bigger picture. One that is about connections and comfort. The desire to celebrate life in simple ways. In the piece highlighted, titled All Their is to Know, the story delves into yearning. The desire to be part of the story, the drama and the love as captured by the romance graphics from the 1950s. These Great Romance comic books were viewed with disdain by parents of the young girls who read them, but they were a place to explore stories and identity. To live a life of drama and romantic intrigue. What better way to spend time?

 

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