Some of my favorite words: ear, earth, heart, listen, translate, window, mirror,
soul, sea, eye, edge, bridge, door, key, star, stone, witness, written, sketch,
stretch, make. Translate means to bridge across. As I make art, I feel like I am
translating, building bridges from what I know and what I don't know, between
parts of myself, between myself and others, between the past and the future.
Working as a visual artist and a writer, I feel like I speak two similar but
distinct languages. It's not that the words illustrate the pictures or the images
explain the text. Rather words and images converse with each other and enable me
to continue to investigate the rhythms of language, silence, and color.
One of the sources that inspired Changing Light was drawing with oil pastels and
gouache on black paper. As I worked with the black paper, my relationship with night
changed, and I went off in search of night words--lullabies, love poems, dream songs,
insomniac musings, moon calendars, the death poems of monks and shamans, dawn prayers.
As a young woman I was serious about the craft of writing. Learning writing from the
outside in, I studied Latin and grammar, literature and journalism. My approach to art
has been much more emotional and intuitive, spontaneous and sensual. Because I wasnąt
trying to accomplish particular goals, I was free to play and explore, to follow images
and be deeply affected by the energy of different materials. I have always made art from
the inside out--drawing offers a way to touch the world I am seeing, to cry and celebrate,
to make sense.
Being an artist has been one way to practice developing my vision, to work with the knowing
of the senses, to follow my questions and inspirations. My hands and eyes know all kinds of
things I cannot quite say -- how one stone needs to sit by another stone, the way the air
around trees is alive.
Making art is also how I deepen my experience of what I see. A shape turns into other shapes.
Leaf becomes flame becomes wing. I begin to draw people with leaves in their hearts, birds
with leaf wings. To my amazement the leaf people become messengers, the bird people look like
After many years the battle between artist and writer is over (most of the time). I am deeply
appreciative that I am able to work and play with different forms and witness how they inform
each other. I have also come to appreciate how my work travels out ahead of me. It may take
years of writing and painting before I can really understand what I first glimpsed or heard
in a phrase or image.
The working title for The Book of Qualities was Cups, Bowls, and Baskets. Now as bowls fill my
art work, as large bowls and small pots of vibrant green plants fill my paintings and sketchbooks,
as I write about the body as a bowl of soul, I feel closer to understanding that we are vessels
filled with qualities, energies, liquid and light.
A conversation is a turning with, a turning toward which occurs inside and outside the words we use
to talk to each other. I consider (con + sider, to think with the stars). Lately, it seems like
everything in the world is talking, if only we knew how to translate. A conversation between two
colors, a conversation between a mountain and a bird, a conversation between the rain and a frog, a
conversation between Orpheus and Eurydice, a conversation between a large generous house painting
brush and a delicate handmade pen, a conversation between Impatience and Perseverance, a conversation
between my writing and my art, a conversation between a dreamer and a builder, a conversation between
chairs, a conversation between a lawn chair and a cloud.
I am interested in a giving voice to these conversations and making pictures of the exchange, describing
the energy and space, the colors and textures as we turn to each other and start to speak:
we are turning with each other;
we are thinking with the stars.
everything is talking
everyone is listening
the pen scratches
the brush splashes
we are turning toward each other;
we are thinking with the stars.