Sunday, December 30, 2007

New Years....reprisal...

Berry picking adventures with friends and dogs this past Autumn....

So...It's time to talk New Years Resolutions again.
I hope I didn't resolve to "be more organized" because it looks like I lost my carefully crafted (and agonizingly long) list of goals and resolutions for, can't reference the entire list...

But I have this! This list was in my blog post on January 2nd, '07. I've added some comments on the level of success I acheived with each...

Learn Diving...on my list for about 3 years now...
-----Okay, I get big points for trying this one. Whilst in HI last year, I went out on a boat to learn to dive....but got so unremittingly seasick that I had to bag the whole thing. When I say "seasick," I mean, wanting to die if I couldn't get back to land.....seasick. So--learning to dive is still on the's just ammended with 'learning to dive with a beach entry...'

Go on a Bicycle Tour...why haven't I done this yet??
-----Well, I became an endurance cyclist last summer and logged some major hours and miles! Gold star for me! I see this goal happening easily this coming summer...

Be frugal again....which ties in with
Pay off debts as much as possible
-----Frugality systems are in place, paying off debts is happening. Check.

Make art website....about frikkin' time
-----Uh, I registered a site....I just haven't actually made the pages.....

Dress better....can I be more than a jeans and sweater girl?
-----Screw it. I am just a jeans and sweater and hiking boots girl.

Do more new things...because I rely on the familiar WAY TOO MUCH
-----Did some new things. I can't think of any right now, but I'm sure I did them.

Make some new friends...because all of my 'old' ones have scattered to the winds
-----New friends. Check.

And for 2008?
Many goals and ideas/hopes of cool things to do this year. One is that I'm going to build a greenhouse with scavenged windows and cement pony walls which I'll elaborately mosaic. FUN!

The only resolution?
Have more self-discipline and work harder at whatever I undertake.
Right now, that means kicking ass on the 15 paintings underway for my May solo exhibit.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

End of Year

The hibernating Brugmansia got shanghaied to be our Christmas tree this year. I think it likes the warmth of the lights. Barren branches with nary a green sprig. As the daylight makes an appreciable return in February, it'll wake up and send forth the first green of the year. The secret to Brugmansia happiness? FERTILIZER. This tropical tree is what gardeners call a 'heavy feeder.' Along with my Alocasia and Passionflower plants, the Brug will get a consistant, yummy dose of organic fertilizer all summer and will treat us to a bounty of 12" long pink blossoms in thanks.

The newest painting in process. While working on this, I keep asking myself the deep, analytical question, "What the Hell am I doing?" I don't know where this new direction is taking me----I couldn't have predicted this change in my painting style if I had tried. Also, it is light years away from the painting style I feel like I should be making!! But hey---it's fun, right? In this strange, cartoonish endeavor, I'm pretending I'm an explorer, and I'm open to just about whatever I may find. Of course, what I discover may be some bad press and disparaging reviews from art patrons.....I just have to see what the reactions are. For the most part, I don't worry about viewer/public reaction too much.

Just. Gotta. Paint.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

In the Deep Freeze...

Right now my thermometer says -33F. This is a higher temp. for the area, given that down farther in the valley, the temps are around -40 to -45. (But if you're outside at these surreal temperatures, who can tell the difference between them?) I found some live coals in the wood stove and stoked the fire---bringing in wood for the day to thaw out. I love keeping a fire going... The house has no problem keeping warm, lucky for us that we built it so well! Still, the fire made with free wood keeps the house at +70, rather than using however many very expensive gallons of fuel oil at this time of year. Filling our 300 gal. tank cost over $800!

I called in "sick car" to work, which is perfectly plausible. I have a 17 year old car. At these temps, it just might not start. :) Of course, I didn't even try! I've put in my notice at the exhausting, low-paying job, and as this is my next to last day, I am being an escapist.

My grandmother passed away two weeks ago this Saturday. I think about her everyday. I think about her life, her work....and I just think, 'life is too short.' For me, life is too short to spend today at the icky job. Life is good to spend on the giant blue painting I've got going. Life is good to drink a hot cup of coffee this morning and stoke the fire. Life is good that this weekend we'll have a good friend staying with us who loves port and zombie movies.

It's damned cold, but life is good. Being alive is good.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


A painting by my Grandmother, 1989.

It's been a sad and difficult week.
My sister, Dad and I sorted through my Grandmother's belongings yesterday. Many items were things I'd known in her various houses and apartments since I was a little kid. Some items had no memories for any of us. It was a hard process---sorting through what she's left behind.
Each of us kept several things that we felt strongly about.
But what to do with her purse?
What to do with her glasses?

These were things that were heartwrenching to look at and hold, because there isn't a place or person for them any more. I woke this morning to the faint beginnings of dawn and thought I now understood the oldest tradition of a funeral pyre. In letting go of a person and their earthly presence, there really are some things that need to travel with them to the next world...wherever that may be. There are things that just can't belong to anyone else. Throwing things in the trash doesn't's somehow wrong and disrespectful....
Many things are going as donations to charity. Her glasses and purse...we just didn't know what to do with those... they're just too personal to send off to strangers.

So---this week is full of sadness and difficult thoughts. Losing someone puts everything---and I do mean EVERYTHING---in a new perspective. I'm thinking a lot about my friends and family and how precious they are. I'm thinking a lot about time, it's fragility and tenuousness, and how I must make better use of what is mine for however long. I've put in my notice at the low-paying job and I'm getting my ass back in the studio where it belongs.

Fromage and I had friends over last night for food and a bonfire (Fromage's Birthday! 42!) and I was standing by the fire with everyone, dark night, stars overhead in the clear, cold sky. We were all laughing at some crazy story and I was just so glad they were all there, alive and kicking and drinking beer.

It's -10F right now...too cold to go skiing, I think.
I'm in my studio for the day.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


April 7, 1911-December 8, 2007
My Grandmother Clara

I just don't know what to write.
Feeling really sad, really sorry.
I know she's at peace, but I miss her.
I am glad she is finally released.
I am so, so sad that she is gone.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Can you believe it?

Here's a new experience in the life of Eero....

I left work at 3:30pm today...tired, hungry, glad the week was over.
Did some errands, driving carefully since the roads are icy with new snow...

Went home, damned hungry, made a giant burrito dinner, ate the whole thing and drank a nice, cold beer, read the new Art in America (so-so) and American Craft (fantastic)....

What didn't I do?

I completely FORGOT to go to my own damn art opening! I remembered when I looked at my blog at 8pm....which is, coincidentally, the time that the openings are over....and saw the images of the paintings in the group exhibit.

Double damn!

I'll just have to go by the gallery tomorrow and see if anything sold....

Seven Random Facts, revisited....

I've been tagged by the fabulous Needle's Edge....
If you're not familiar with this meme, here's the goods:

"Each person tagged gives seven random (or weird) facts about themselves. Those tagged need to write on their blogs seven facts, as well as the rules of the game. You need to tag seven others and list their names on your blog. You have to leave those you plan on tagging a note in their comments so they know that they have been tagged and need to read your blog".

I did this same list back in May, as it turns out! No worries, I have oodles of random, weird facts....

1. I have tattooed feet.

2. I am allergic to all of the Nightshades: tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers..... the more acidic the fruiting body, the worse it is.

3. I hate it when people eat while they are walking around. It annoys me to no end. Sit and eat!

4. I love sleeping and have a vivid, complex dream life.

5. I talk to myself almost constantly.

6. An in-depth personality assessment test once told me that my ideal career would to be a pathologist.

7. I am afraid of heights.....but I found that with repeated exposure, the fear lessens. I had to restain the siding on my house. The first trip up the ladder was a sweating, white-knuckled nightmare. After the 10th or 15th time, I could control the fear.

As per the rules, I need to tag seven fellow bloggers!
I tag:
(if he EVER updates his blog.....)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Another Look

A few more parts of paintings from my recent work. Acrylic ink on a gouache/watercolor background. I really love doing the intricate drawing with a fine calligraphy nib. Mucho fun.
The above painting is titled, "Elemental Study."

I just got (another) shipment of art supplies in the post from Dick Blick. (Imagine that art supplier name with hearts all around it---I LOVE Dick Blick. They are wonderful for long-distance purchasing!) In the shipment are the new acrylic inks I ordered. When I first used them at Penland, I just knew that at some point I was going to end up collecting every color available. Well, it's not that bad.....I did indulge in three shades of green, a sunny, bright yellow and a turquoise that I can't wait to bust open and play with.

This is another view of the "Mouse Dream" painting I wrote about awhile ago. I think the little feetsies turned out pretty good. I hope to do some more of these black and white images....if I ever have time in the studio....Even a 30 hour a week job is kicking my ass.

This painting, "Notes on a Species" (this is only a detail) was, by far, the most intricately drawn. So far, it has also received the most praise (mostly from Fromage). It and it's 2 companions in this new series of work get seen by the art-viewing public at large this Friday night. It'll be interesting to hear what folks think about these... I'm pricing them at $250.00. (Framed 20"x26") The gallery owner thought this was a good bet.

Tonight I'm enjoying an evening at home. The last 2 nights have been spent with some fabulous friends. Monday, I spent the evening with extraordinary painter Jean Lester, who is definitely one of my role models. With us was friend Anita, a writer. I think we talked for 6 hours straight about life, art, work, money, marriage, etc. It was awesome....I sometimes feel starved for a truly good, deep, meaningful conversation....

Last night was beer, food and playing Cranium with Wayne and Nellie, whom I consider our favorite 'double date' friends. There was alot more hysterical laughing than deep conversation, but that has it's own great value.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

"Preservation of the Sweet," Acrylic inks and gouache on watercolor paper. (Detail view) 20"x16"

Life is full. My co-worker asked me if I just had TONS of energy all the time to maintain my art career, working, etc. I honestly told her I had arranged my life into four basic areas: Home+Fromage, Art, Working, Skiing. This seems to say it all. Stuff outside these areas is pretty much extraneous. Friends are in there somewhere...but it doesn't seem like I'm spending much time with them these days.

Deep winter is upon us, regardless of the unusually warm temperatures and very little snowfall. We're losing 5-8 minutes of daylight every day on our continual slide towards December 21st and that final, 3+hour "day." I'm naturally drawn to hibernation this time of year. Stay home, read, eat, sleep. Leaving Alaska at this time of year is crucial to my mental health. I don't know if it'll happen this winter, but hoo boy would I love a few weeks in Mexico!

Work in the studio has been going really well. I've let myself drop "The Shape" completely and played with color, fine calligraphy nibs and acrylic inks. (Thank you Laura Wait, for introducing me to them----they are SO wonderful to work with!) And hey Penland book ladies out there, I'm writing in Klingon on these paintings---it's fabulous!

The above snippet of a drawing/painting is one of my most recent works, already installed in the Women's Exhibit at The Alaska House Art Gallery. Being picked up by this gallery is such a pleasure. The owner, Yolande Fejes, is an organized and informed businesswoman with great marketing savvy and a lifelong history in the arts. She and I have had a couple of good conversations about arts/artist professionalism and organization. My kind of lady! With the delivery of a full portfolio later this week, I hope to have a solo show at The Alaska House scheduled for sometime in 2008 or early 2009. It's a smaller, more intimate gallery that also sells Alaskan native fine art and crafts. This would give me the opportunity to make more smaller scale works with a more illustrative bent, the direction I've been heading. Very cool.

On another note....
Life is not all sun and roses. (Well, of course, I live in a deep-freeze....)
I'm totally frustrated by working a job for low wages. It feels like such an utter waste of time when I could be in the studio. Of course, bills have to be paid.....but it doesn't make me any less resentful. I'm totally frustrated by having to work at all, truth be told! I have a career---I have a job: making art, being an artist. I'm also resentful of cleaning house, doing errands, worrying about finances....

Yes, I would love a few weeks in Mexico.....

Monday, November 19, 2007

Dumpster Diving is saved in my home town!

A local borough assemblyman brought up the spectre of a law which would penalize and fine people caught dumpster diving at any of the local trash collection sites around town. At the public meeting to vote on this (ridiculous) potential law, the borough meeting hall was swamped with dedicated recyclers, dumpster divers and concerned townsfolk. Literally dozens of people signed up to speak against the proposed law and during an incredible 5 hours, the whole idea was unanimously voted down by any and all concerned. Go Fairbanksans! Fight for your right to Dive! Read the newspaper article....

This town has NO RECYCLING whatsoever. Folks like myself (and now I'm reassured there are many, many of us) are the only dam diverting useful materials and items away from the landfill. Our efforts cost the city nothing! At many, but not all, of the garbage collection sites (called Transfer Stations), there are covered, open air platforms where useful items can be left to be shared with whomever wants them. These Transfer Station Platforms are fabulous.....but too often I see people throwing perfectly good things----household goods, furniture, clothing, wood, windows, etc.----into dumpsters when the platform is a scant 30 feet away. Sadly, some of the best things I've found at the Transfer Station were IN dumpsters, not placed on the re-use pad. Sad! In a wonderful turn of events, one speaker at the borough meeting suggested that instead of fining people for pulling things out of dumpsters, the city should be fining people for tossing useful things INTO dumpsters.

If you want to read about an old post of mine where I wax lovingly and poetic on the Transfer Station, look here...

or here....

or here.

The very, very best thing that Fromage and I found together was a cast iron, five and a half foot, clawfoot bathtub. (And yes, it was very, very hard to get out of the dumpster!) It has some small cosmetic damage to the porcelain, but I had the rusty exterior sand-blasted ($100) and then I sealed it with rustoleum ($10), painted it a pretty color ($15) and bought plumbing and hardware pieces online ($250) and scrubbed it till it sparkled (elbow grease=priceless). This restored, once land-fill bound tub is my sweet respite for a hot bath after a cold ski. Given that a junky, four foot tub was for sale for $600, and I priced a new tub at $1000 locally, plus another $1000 to have it shipped to can see how I got a fabulous deal from chez trash.

I'm proud to be a dumpster diver.

Tell me about your dumpster/trash finds! Just click the "comments" button below. As I've said so often before.....I love comments.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

New work

Sunrise this morning. Getting colder, now we're waking up to temperatures just above zero...

An interesting phenomenon of being a successful artist (at least, the level of success I've attained thus far!) is that there really isn't much of a 'rest period' between exhibits. In writing a list of shows to anticipate and prepare for in 2008, I found that I have no time to slack off. I have shows booked through August, group, juried and solo exhibits at various galleries around the state. I am now realizing that there is a point at which your passions become a full time job, no matter what they are. Art of course, is my business as well as my passion. So----end result! Get busy in the studio----again.

Above is an image of a page of thumbnail sketches. When I have a lot of ideas around one central style or medium, it helps to draw these small pictures, about 2"x3", and get down the ideas as quickly as I can. No fussing, just sketching. With this method, I fill a page with about 12 potential artworks. I make a few notes, reminding myself of what some squiggle is really supposed to be. I end up thinking some sketches are stupid and others sublime. The truly helpful thing about this is referencing a page of thumbnails a year or two or three later..... Suddenly, one's whole take on the ideas therein have changed. I see patterns where I didn't and understand the overall impetus with greater clarity, given the space of time between the day of sketching and all the artworks I've done since. Pretty thrilling stuff.

The key to making these thumbnail sketches truly worthwhile is beginning an artwork immediately after doing them. I've decided I need to do some fast, fun stuff....take a break from the intense painting I've been doing. These drawings are going to be mostly in black and white with maybe one small area of color.

Also, I am going to indulge any and all whimsy and make totally cute, bizarre and strange illustrations. Whatever I feel like! If they aren't ever to be shown, that is just fine.

I realize that the prospect of exhibiting any given work alters the way I make it and finish it. For these, I am throwing that particular inhibiting caution to the wind and just going.

The above drawing is just a small area of an 15"x 11" ink drawing I'm calling "Mouse Dream." I've already re-worked the stars, so don't go telling me how awkward they look! I fixed 'em.


Onto the next goofy illustration.

Friday, November 09, 2007

12 Hours of Photos: Eero, Fairbanks, AK

This is the same post I've put on 12 Hours of Photos.....the trial run....
8:00am, Sunrise

9:00am, Arriving at Work

10:00am, Cutting patterns for arctic hat

11:00am, Coworkers at the sewing machines

12:00, the Mitten pattern

1:00pm, the pattern racks

2:00pm, Marking and cutting

3:00pm, on my way to the ski trails

4:oopm, Light fading over the aspens on the ski trail

5:00pm, in the studio

6:00pm, choosing clases for next semester

7:00pm, checking my blog and email....

8:00pm, Studio wall, a last interesting shot for the 12 Hours challenge...

Thursday, November 08, 2007

A Day of Photos...

I've joined the 12 Hours of Photos blog. The task: take one picture on the hour, every hour, from 8am-8pm on Nov. 8th. Done! So fun....
The above photo---the pattern racks. 11am, I think....

Even shooting pix on the 2nd day of my new job didn't faze my cool co-workers...

Um...I think this was 10am....cutting a pattern for an arctic hat.

The view of the darkening sky on the ski trail, 4pm...

Moi. 7pm.

I am red hot.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Opening Night Report

A shot of the exhibit, complete. Overall, our work really complemented each other's. The entire exhibit had a very colorful, fun, aspect. Also, seen from the entrance, it looked FULL. This is a good thing...

Seen from the entrance. An interesting thing about showing my work...I always have a few paintings that are my favorites. These are works that I think are compositionally, stylistically, and emotionally heads above the rest. Funny thing is, very rarely are those the public's favorites. For awhile, at openings, friends and visitors would come up to me and say, "Great Show!" and I would say thanks, then ask if they had a favorite. Unfortunately, I soon realized that this put people on the spot. They usually didn't have a favorite and had to extemporize! As an artist, I usually walk into an exhibit, take a walk around and one or two pieces really grab me as interesting or fabulous. They have the "Ah HA!" that the other pieces don't. Is this just a thing artists do? I ALWAYS have favorites....

Opening night. I loved showing with Jean. She and are seem to be on the same level of introversion and we took turns hiding in the back room 'resting.' I have a problem with crowds and socializing for too long....wears me out and makes me crazy.

Overall, a lot of good comments on the show. People did seem to have the same 2 or 3 favorites of my paintings when I asked them (although not the same as mine!) and only 2 people---a photography couple---figured out that all of my paintings are built on numerical multiples within the images. Ha! That was a hoot!

I left the opening feeling a sense of relief, but also a bit let down. Openings are always kind of anti-climactic and disappointing...but I can't quite put my finger on what it is that I'd need to be really happy about them...... Somehow, I want more feedback from visitors, I think. Something more in depth, something more.....hmmm.....detailed? than just 'Good Show!' Also, I was hoping to sell some work. In this particular gallery, the sales happen more over the month the work is up than opening night, so.....I console myself with this info!

Found this reflection while moving my work out to the gallery....

So appropo....


I can start doing OTHER THINGS than this show! Yay! I have a long list involving lots of skiing and doing some new ink drawings and actually cleaning my house.....and finding a job. Sigh.

Ta, dear reader.

Until next time.....

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Going to the Gallery

All the paintings are done, framed, ready to hang. Before any show, it's a good idea to get 'everyone' together to see how they look in proximity. In doing this yesterday just before loading them in the truck, I saw that the show lacked a little cohesion. It's obvious to me that my newest paintings are trying very hard to launch themselves off in a very different direction.
Also....kind of monochromatic. I need to get more colorful.

Second view of the group....

Jean Lester, Teresa Shannon and Tatiana Piatanova, artist and the Visual Arts Coordinator for the Fairbanks Arts Association. We all met at the gallery yesterday to decide wall spacing, placement, etc. Jean has about 25 paintings! Her nature and flower paintings are colorful and expressive with wild and free brushstrokes. In comparison, my images are very controlled and exacting. Interesting contrast.

Today, just a few details to be taken care of....

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Nearing show time....

A small vignette of a painting. This was the best part of it before I realized the overall attempt was a dud and gave up on it. I often photograph paintings in process and also focus in on small areas to remember good details of compositions. I'm sure this little, sweet shape will show up somewhere else...

One of my newest paintings, "Twirl." How and why I started doing this almost cartoon-like painting, I don't know. It was really fun, however! I could make these swirling, lined shapes all day. There's the shape again, this time massing and becoming a herd to move together instead of independently. Who would've known? This style is quite different from other, more 'serious' paintings I've done in the last 3 years. I have some trepidation in showing it. Also, it's pink. Pink!'s in the show. I'll just have to suck it up and see what the reaction/feedback is.

A view of the studio with all of the new work in process of framing. I deliver 14 pieces to the gallery on Monday. For this exhibit, I'm foregoing the usual comment book. I've found that they are absolutely worthless to me! During an exhibit, guests/viewers are invited to make comments on the show, but I've rarely found anything of lasting importance in the book once the show is over. A lot of comments like "Good Show!" and an unintelligible name. People just don't write deep, insightful, detailed comments in these books. At least, none that I've seen. (You may have had a different experience...) Instead, I'm setting out a binder with images of other work I do (books, quilts, etc.) and some information and images of how I make work, etc.

If I see an art exhibit I like, I often wonder about the artist themself and their process. At the group exhibit I curated in May, "9 North: Multimedia Alaskan Perspectives," I included a BIG three ring binder with images of each artist, their CV and a statement from them, as well as a curators statement. This was such a big hit with the visitors and gallery staff that the gallery coordinator paid me to make three more for gallery reference. So: Artists out there---think about it. It's a good marketing tool!

Last night I went out to a reception held by the Rasmuson Foundation, the group that awarded me an Individual Artist Project Award last December. This was a meet and greet for affiliated organizations and many artists who've received their funds. This is a shot of two artist friends, Annie Duffy, sculptor and multimedia painter, and Rachelle Dowdy, sculptor. Art friends are pure gold...they are the rare people I can talk with about very personal, important experiences and ideas that happen only in the studio---and understand. For instance, Rachelle and I shared the secret that we both love sleeping in our studios and waking up to our art....

Monday, October 22, 2007


Four or five inches fell this week with at least that much more expected in the next few days. Fromage jumped on his bike at dusk...

... for a quick spin. You can see he's smiling.

Here's a much better image of how beautiful it is here right now.

Winter still has it's newness and novelty. I'm happy that I got to go out for the first ski of the season! Getting out of the studio for at least a few hours is keeping my head clear.

With this new type of thing happening in my painting, I need all the perspective I can get. WTF? I suddenly felt the urge to make all of the *shapes* swim together in swirling bodies. Does it look good? I don't know. It felt right. These paintings are looking a little cartoony to me. When I show them to Fromage, he's very ambivalent and doesn't say much at all. (Not really a good sign...)

I kind of cringe when I think of putting these in my upcoming show, but I have to because I am low on work as it is. To defend this new painting style, I must admit that they're enormously fun, if not very mature or serious.

It's an interesting development for The Shape. I didn't expect it, and it just popped into being right there on the paper. Pretty damned cool! I've been working with The Shape for over 2 years and suddenly it's transformed it's meaning yet again for me. Just when I think I'm almost done with it...

The lines are incredibly fun to draw, and as I am making the content and background image, I really, really look forward to painting in the lines with a #0 paintbrush. I'm using FW Acrylic Artists Ink. Very fluid, very dense, very permanent, without the plasticky feeling of standard acrylics. I learned about these inks from Laura Wait, my teacher at Penland School of Crafts last summer. I tell you....I am just now realizing what a wealth of new materials and techniques I learned there. All of that new knowledge is coming out in my new paintings these days. Very satisfying! I miss Penland, still. I had a dream about it the other night, in fact. Sigh.