New Work: Rain in Suzhou


I don't think it rained at all during my short visit to China almost 20 years ago, but there was a lot of water--lakes and canals. This painting is more about what things look like after the rain, and on a personal note, about deciding to try to have a child. 40 x 30" in the usual acrylic and charcoal on canvas. 

Rain in Suzhou

New Series: Amulets


Lately I've been interested in old decaying objects that have been cast off. I want to give them new life. They've been through a lot--discarded, exposed to the elements, forgotten. They've survived, been found, and given a new purpose. I want to revere them as symbols of strength.

These new pieces are 6 x 6 inches on wood panel with acrylic and charcoal. 

Amulet No. 1 (for courage)

Amulet No. 2 (for luck)

Book: Inside the Painter's Studio

I'm so loving this 2009 book, Inside the Painter's Studio, by Joe Fig. The interview format works great and it's fascinating to learn about process, sense of space, and career trajectories of artists I'm really familiar with and others not so much. April Gornik has shared my favorite insights so far:

"I think we are kind of on the brink of visual illiteracy even though we have so much visual information culturally. You know, the activity of making a painting, the almost architectural building of a painting where you work into it and into it, those critical 1/8-inch decisions that go on as you're painting, and all the time you put into it, all that still lives in the work after it's done. In a good painting, all that reads back to the viewer. So you're looking at something that's stocked with this huge amount of time passed--but held. You know a good painting holds all that. And all the great old paintings are like that."

 And on size and scale: "For a long time people would ask me why I make my paintings the size that they are. It really has a lot to do with wanting to feel that they are like the size of my body. You can sort of walk into them--a very experiential kind of experience.... this is the size of my mind. This is like my head. This is how big my head is. I inhabit this."

The author also does these amazing miniatures of the studios he's visited, little micro-worlds that capture the expansive conversations he has documented. This book is a must-read if you're as fascinated as I am about what happens between head and canvas in the studio setting.

New Painting: Vermilion Summer (Dreaming of Hangzhou)


Cold winters make me want to paint about spring and summer. I just sent out my bimonthly e-newsletter with the back story for this new piece. I invite you to sign up to get these little histories delivered straight to your inbox every other month or so. Here's Vermilion Summer and why I painted it...

Two decades ago I had the good fortune to visit southeastern China for three weeks. Wang Zhongwei, a painter from Zhejiang province, became a great friend of mine in the early 90s when he was an exchange professor at Old Dominion University. He convinced me to see for myself the place that inspired the calligraphy he'd taught me. It was a magical time filled with bright scarlet silks in outdoor market stalls, the earthy-metallic smell of cinnabar chop ink, and dazzling Yueju opera costumes worn by a female-only cast.

The new painting above is a tribute to that unforgettable trip. It’s 48 x 48 inches and my usual acrylic and charcoal on canvas. Stay warm and safe out there!