ENVELOPES: The fun goes on….

Anita, a friend of mine recently handed me a page torn from a magazine with an intriguing short article about a woman who decorates envelopes and sends them to people….perfect uptick in my spirit! The author of the article offered to send an envelope to anyone who contacted her. I couldn’t make it to my tablet quick enough to send out an email to Mary. I told her just a bit about myself, pointed her to my website and respectfully requested one of her envelopes. Her email response was quick stating that she wasn’t really an artist, she mainly used other people’s art but her main creative expression, if she had one, was in writing stories. She promised to send me an envelope! I was delighted by the idea but within a few days of preoccupation with my own envelopes in the studio, Mary’s envelopes slipped into the background of my mind swirling around with dozens maybe hundreds, maybe thousands of other ideas. Within a few more days they vanished into one of the deep holes up there where I think and dream and obsess. TODAY MARY’S ENVELOPE ARRIVED!! I did a little happy dance down the driveway from the mailbox to my front door with the envelope turning over and over in my hands. Mary made the back side of the envelope with the flap become the address side. It has an Ellsworth Kelly stamp cancelled in the upper right corner, and her address in the upper left. What a creative idea? That left the front side, where one usually writes the name and address, for her artistic expression, a smooth surface with no flap to interfere with her lovely miniature painting I’m a book lover and a bird lover and somewhat of a bird brain…..so the imagery is perfect for me….well surely the colorful birds symbolize “fights of fancy.” I clain that characteristic for myself also. If it is based on someone else’s artwork, I don’t recognize it as such. Inside she tucked one of her stories, a one-and-one/third page-long single-spaced sentence! Faulkneresque? She is indeed a writer. I treasure the envelope. Thank you Mary! I’m attaching a picture below.


Mixed Media

Cliff Gifts Series: Western Offering, 12X24X2inches on a cradled panel

What medium to call this image? Is it a collage? Is it an assemblage? Added to the surface of a watermedia* painting is a folded paper envelope, which would put it somewhat into the “collage” category. But also added to the surface are a stick and a twig with painted cotton string wrappings, clay and glass beads and a metal disk which could tip it into the category of “assemblage.” Generally I prefer not to use the term “mixed media” because it is so all-inclusive and can mean just about anything from paint and fabric to clay with embellishments.
Actually using anything to get to the expression I want to depict is my favorite way of working. I don’t like to be limited to a “watercolor painting” or an “acrylic painting” or even to “collage ” which is closer to my way of creating. I want to be free of labels. But I must say I love words and I do indeed give much consideration to my titles, searching my mind as I work as to what “name” the image needs. (By the way, “The Cliff Gifts Series” now contains over 100 images.)
I don’t have a “Mixed Media” page here on this website for reasons mentioned above. That leaves me in a quandary of where to post such images as the one above. I’ve put it on the “Paintings” page. Where do you think it belongs?
*”watermedia” is a term used for acrylics(used much like watercolors), watercolors, goache and other media using water as the medium for mixing.

Ferlinghetti turns 100

Tomorrow many will celebrate the one-hundredth birthday of Lawrence Ferlinghetti who, along with Allen Ginsberg, was a leading spokesman of the Beat Poets, of the 1950’s. There was little I appreciated about the Beat Poets whose foul imagery spewed out into the culture, or maybe I just didn’t understand or couldn’t relate to their cause. The undisciplined and often drug-induced vocabulary was frequently incoherent, not only to me, but to many others also. There are however, a couple of ideas from Ferlinghetti that I am willing to single out and celebrate! One is that he said he thought art had the power to change the world and the other is that art needs to be delivered out of the precious world of academia and museums “back to the streets.” His idea of the “power to change the world” is probably nothing like the power that I envision since it seems to me the beat generation did cause many changes for the worse of the world. Did “back to the streets” take the art world not to the streets but to the gutters (but I digress).

There is a nascent movement in the artworld today mainly led by Christian artist Matt Tommey that may indeed change the world. He speaks of a deep spiritual call to “raise up an army of artists,” of mainly Christian artists committed to the precepts and ideals of the Bible. Surprisingly he is himself a basketmaker!! He works in a medium known as a craft of common people, a medium which produces a functional object useful in daily life. He has, however, lifted the medium to the pinnacle of artistic expression. So my thought is, not only are baskets a lovely street-craft but also “from the streets lifted to glorify God.” He is a superb encourager of artists with a huge Facebook following, beckoning artists to thrive, pursue their skills, and express from the inspiration that will reliably rise within any artist who is open to it. He also offers a Mentoring Program that is replete with information, exercises, ideas, assignments and abundant encouragement. It appears that the army of artists is indeed being raised and that the world will not only be changed but will be improved, enriched, and glorify its Creator. If you are interested in this fertile movement: https://www.matttommey.com or check out the facebook pages “Created To Thrive” or “Thriving Christian Artists”

Springtime Hope

We continue to get sparkles of springtime here. There’s wind, there’s cold, there’s springtime sunshine, there’s chill in the air, there’s blowing dust, there’s warm currents. The times of bright sun shining down on the bare treetops, some which are not so bare, continue to convince me that we will soon have days of uninterrupted sunshine. That’s the way it is here in the desert southwest. It’s one of the many things I love about living where I do. I can’t quite image myself living with real winters and coping with days and days of snow. These days of transition from what many wouldn’t even call winter into uninterrupted sunshine entice me, remind me that lasting sparkling warmth is near .

The studio is my refuge; there I can zone out, tune in to what’s happening on the inside of me, wrestle with it, attempt to dance with it, put it down in color and texture and shape. Sometimes I teeter along the edge between words and imagery. It brings to remembrance a quote from John Muir: “The sun shines not on us but in us. The rivers flow not past, but through us. Thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing. The trees wave and the flowers bloom in our bodies as well as our souls.”


Wind, wind, WIND……….a gale has been blowing all through the night and forecasters say it will continue throughout today and again tonight. The Soleri sandcast brass bells are ringing, some on the front ramada and others from hooks on the “breakfast tree” behind the house. The studio calls to me. There, despite the din of the wind and the thumping on the roof of the last pecans being blown from the trees, there is calm. The tiny paintings I’ve been working on are definitely a contrast to what’s happening outside. I suppose they speak of my hopes for blooms and blossoms and the peace of springtime. I see in them still waters and ways to experiment with floral shapes that show up when I scrape paint down the surface with the colors randomly deposited and see what has stained the archival illustration board. From transparent hues to deeper ones and opaque ones, the images emerge. Such fun! They carry me on adventures of assurance that springtime peace and joy are nearby!

“Still Waters” (information about this tiny painting is on the “Paintings” page of this site)


Tomorrow, March 2 will be the “take-in” day for Carlsbad Arts Exhibit at the Carlsbad Museum and Fine Arts Center. It is to be an all-media exhibit. I’ve been trying to decide which pieces to enter. Since my advanced skills and experience are in painting, mainly watermedia/collage paintings, that media will be my main entries. I plan to enter a brand new painting, “Nearer. ” The title comes from one of the collage pieces of music. The fragment comes from the old hymn, “Nearer My God To Thee.” The painting is 24X12X2 inches, painted on a cradled panel (no frame needed, the image extends around the edges).

“NEARER” 24X 12X2 inches, watermedia/collage, $400.00

I will also enter two other paintings, “Potential” and “Entrance” both of which can be viewed on the “PAINTINGS” page of this site. The big question that remains in my mind is whether to enter a piece or two of my clay works. I consider myself a novice, really not a clay artist at all since I use the clay in my own way and for my own playful outlet. I have paid little attention to the traditions of clay, put my pieces up for bisque firing, then embellish them with acrylic paints, raffia weavings, and trinkets of various forms. Nevertheless, they are inspired works of art, my own unique expressions, and although they don’t actually fit traditional media definitions, they can be exhibited as relief sculptures, fine arts/crafts or even in the pottery category. Maybe I’ll show up at the museum with “The Altar Series: Sacred Messages” and/or “The Tablet Series: Few Words”

THE ALTAR SERIES: SACRED MESSAGES is a clay box-like "altar" with a cathedral window shape cut in it, and filled with scrolls, a bundle of dried twigs are attached along with a clay bird perched on top.
“THE ALTAR SERIES: SACRED MESSAGES” 6x6x2 inches, embellished clay, $100.00

the Tablets continue….


On the “Clay Page” of this site I have explained a bit about the inspiration and development of the “Tablets Series.” Yesterday I completed another in the series, “More Words.” As with several of the other tablets, the overall shape suggests a cathedral window which suggests worship. Letters are spilling down the center of the tablet, maybe attempting to make more words, with tiny delicate bits of vegetation rising up below them. Of course words are the medium of expression the world relies on. I contend, along with others, that words are not necessarily the best means of expression……at least not in every instance. Is not music a universal medium that is understood in the intuitive mind, even when there are not lyrics accompanying it? So also are colors, textures and shapes used by the artist for expression.
“More Words” has a quotation from Josiah Cullen on the back:
Love bigger
Live Louder
Judge Lesser
Lift Higher
Josiah was diagnosed with severe autism in his toddlerhood. He does not speak but at age 10 or so he typed on his ipad, “God is a good gift giver.” He has continued to use his ipad to express his inspirations. The story of Josiah has been written by his mother Tahni Cullen in a book entitled JOSIAH’S FIRE. She says of him: “Autism stole his words, God gave him a voice.” When the book was recommended to me, I could not put it down. You can learn about Josiah online. He is a miraculous inspiration.
“THE TABLET SERIES: MORE WORDS: the full image can be seen on the Clay Page on this site. Thanks for reading my blog.

updating my website

I’ve been spending some time, not so much time, but energy, updating my website. It is old in “on-line” time, maybe 8-10 years old and way out of date as far as cyber world is concerned! Thanks to a loyal long time friend and her connections, the work has been done and now I’m learning the new ways…..it is not easy for me. This week I managed to delete all the paintings on the PAINTINGS page and had to send an emergency “help signal.” Fortunately she was able to restore it and remind me to be careful about what is “selected” when I “delete.” Meanwhile, I’m trying to keep my studio discipline intact along with all the other components of my schedule. I’m hoping and trusting that this updating and blogging will get to be a quick and small part of my week in the days ahead. This updating will help me stay in touch, have a better presence on the internet, and interact with people who are interested in the work I do. Meanwhile…….the tools are in readiness and so am I !


Revitalization!! There’s a newness here, at least it’s a newness for me. I’m making a valiant attempt to step up my awareness of today’s ways with websites. I’ve had this website for a long time but I haven’t kept current by updating to the ways it can be used so more people will find it, and also be intrigued by my works of art. Sharing my inspirations, my thoughts about the creative work I do, and showing the products which become paintings, collages, assemblages and clay works is an important aspect of what I do. Today I’m excited to extend a renewed invitation to you to come into my world of art by showing you what I have created. I welcome a response from you. We can develop a dialog, even possibly a friendship, involving my ideas about creativity and yours too!

Sacred Land
“Sacred Land” watermedia/collage, 10×10 inches