Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Black Dog Running 1998 & Dog Running 2016

In 1998, when I made "Black Dog Running", I had a large, very nice darkroom here in my studio.  I am a barely competent darkroom photographer, not anyone you would turn over your most precious BW negatives to.  When I made a print, I usually only made one.  Unlike most photographers, I was generally happy with what I had on the paper, having been only too delighted in the magic of the image coming up in the developer, and not being overly concerned with exposure or dust spots or flaws in the photo.  With "Black Dog Running" I made a small, 5"x 7" print from a photo of one of our dogs, and then adhered the print onto a panel, sealed it with polymer, then painted over it with oil paints. I usually finished the painting part in a day since I really only liked painting wet into wet.  I worked this way for almost 25 years.

Now, almost 20 years later, I have developed into another animal. I no longer have my analog darkroom, but instead have a digital one.  Two monitors, a large Epson printer, two scanners and a lightbox are what fill the room now.  I take my photographs with a digital camera(although in the case of "Dog Running" I scanned an older BW negative), and then alter them in Photoshop. It's only in the last few years that I have achieved any kind of skill with Photoshop, and that's after having had it on my computer since 2004.  When I print out an image now I make lots and lots of that image--dark, light, big small, reversed, inverted, etc.  In this case there is an underneath image of the dog that got covered over with acrylic paint, and then another transferred on top of it. The image took me about three-four months to complete.  In comparing the two, I am struck by how similar the two images are, even though they are separated by 18 years and two completely different ways of working. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016


This is from a workshop I gave in 2008 at Anderson Ranch in Colorado.  It was, as most of my workshops are, a ton of fun.  The students all decided that they wanted to write down what I said(over and over and over) for future reference, so they came up with this list, kind of a cheat sheet for when I wasn't around and and they needed to bring my voice back into their art making realities.  Here is what they came up with:

So now, 8 years later, I find myself re-reading this list(especially #3, #4, #5, #7, #9, #11, #14) and thinking,  "No wonder you've been having problems! You haven't been taking your own advice!"

Sunday, October 30, 2016

39 panels October 2016

I've just spent the last three days prepping panels, 39 all told.  Most are panels that had images on them from before that weren't good enough to "live".  I cover them with drywall mud to make the surfaces smooth and to bury the previous paintings, although with most, traces are left, which I like. Once they dry, I sand them with a small hand sander, which as busy work, is pretty fantastic.  Who doesn't like sanding?  So many beautiful results, so quickly, with so little effort.

Now I'm faced with the 39 panels, pretending to lie quietly, complacently.  But I know that once I start painting, they will take on a life of their own and I will be but a servant, a slave to their whims, demanding that they will be what they want to be.  And, as finished paintings, they will insist that I find the perfect mates for them--bits of photos, collaged paper, more paint, transferred images, plain and extraordinary papers(the list goes on and on)-- that will make them whole and complete.  It's terrifying.  The responsibility, the pressure--what have I done?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Horse with Rain 2016

Since the spring, I have been working with my older black and white photographs, trying to make strong images that have something more to them than just putting a transparent photo onto a painted ground.  It's been difficult, not just because of technical problems, but because I'm not sure how to see these images.  They are new to me, quieter and more minimal than my older pieces, truer to the photograph than ever before.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Tired Angel 2000

I recently ran into an old friend, Bruce Davis, at an opening and we reminisced about the series of photographs that I had taken of him in 1999. He asked if I would send him some of those images so he could use them for his profile image on Facebook. I happily agreed, then forgot all about it as so often happens now with my not functioning quite as well as it used to older brain.  Then, while sitting and working on my computer today, this image cycled in as my screen saver:  Bruce, mirrored sunglasses in place, a true Contemporary Angel--exhausted and burdened with wings so heavy and so weighty that he can barely stand, worn out from the never ending job of just trying to do his job.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Woman with Her Own Coyote 2015

I've written in this blog before about my love/hate relationship with coyotes, my main issue being that I am the owner of a small, intense, rat terrier who thinks he can, with no assistance from anyone, take down and kill any coyote that crosses his path.  This, of course, is felonious.  He is clearly forgetting the time he was caught, carried, and then dropped by a coyote when the coyote heard my husband's shouts. 

My love relationship with coyotes is based on the fact that they are wild, smart as hell, incredibly athletic, and just all around wonderful, surviving, like crows, by co-existing with their horrible neighbors, us humans.   I like to think this coyote and I share some things in common: we both have the same expressions--wily, knowing, and calm; we are both pragmatic and sensible creatures; we both like to watch more than to be watched; and we both wear Dansko clogs on our shapely, muscular legs.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Man with an Ax 1998

I've spent the last several weeks scanning many of my old black and white negatives and putting them into my computer.  It's been a long and interesting journey, seeing so many images from my past, and at the same time trying to figure out just which photos I should take the time and energy to convert to digital--there are thousands of negatives to choose from.  Almost all of my photographs were taken with the idea of doing something more to them, none were ever shown "as is". What interests me now, in going through them, is what I was trying, unknowingly, to capture.

I've found three recurrent themes that run through these photographs: the first reflects a kind of awkwardness, that moment when things are just that much out of kilter, wrong but not drastically so;  the second is a sense of ominousness; and the third is, often times, one of sadness or worry.  There are sweet images, ones of friends or family or pets, but they tend to be the minority, and not the ones I used.  What I'm seeing now is that the altered, painted image distilled what the original photo was about and boosted it, underscoring the awkwardness or the fear or the loneliness.

I have a vague idea that is formulating about how to use these photographs once again, but I am and am not the person I was 20-30 years ago. This may be the start of a new visual journey for me, or it may be no more then looking back through the black and white scrap book of my life.