Friday, May 27, 2011

About What We See

There are people who look at a painting I have made and see a horse or a house or a face. I wonder about that need to see a “thing”. Which no matter how much it reminds one of a three dimensional solid object, is still an illusion. For some of us color and shape or pattern don’t make a painting. The kind of painting I do, which aims to be about joy, serenity, harmony and whatever else I want for myself at the moment, is not about the world. It’s about the person within the world. Maybe about the world within the person.

I do often remind the viewer who sees the face in my painting that it wasn’t me who put it there. I suppose what this is about is that we want the world to be consistent with the picture we have formed of it. When you look at a painting, read a book, watch a movie, you are looking through someone else’s eyes and/or brain. It’s not easy to enter into another’s head but the artist can put you there and sometimes we don’t like it. I find that in general I am more comfortable with books written by women (which doesn’t mean that I eschew all the great books by men). But there are some writers, painters, moviemakers and such who do fine work and are much respected, who place one in a world I am not happy in. I don’t often leave a novel unfinished or walk out of a movie. But I do resent the experience of spending a piece of my life in discomfort. I will suffer the experience if I think there is something to be gained by it. For those who are curious I’ll mention a few of the artists whose worlds I have found inhospitable: Jonathan Franzen, John Updike, Lucien Freud, Ingmar Bergman (though I’ve seen most of his films). There are many more but fortunately for me they are a small part of the offerings I can choose from.

I think we would like to be characters in our own movies, writing our plots to suit ourselves. It’s irritating when others don’t follow our scripts. This is not how I wanted this to go! Don’t you get it? There’s something wrong with this picture!

When I was a little girl I entertained myself with fantasies about what my life would be as an adult. I was well prepared to write my story as I was an avid reader of fairy tales and later delighted in the happily ended romance movies of the forties and fifties. They always ended before real life began.

Anais Nin: We do not see things as they are; we see them as we are.

I invite my readers who live close by to visit my studio during our North Coast Open Studios event. It will take place during the first two weekends of June, the fourth, fifth, eleventh and twelfth. I will have new paintings on the walls along with some new giclées. This year I have had some larger prints made for me by Joseph Wilhelm of Meridian Fine Art. I’ll be picking them up tomorrow and am very excited about seeing them. I look forward to visits with old friends and new faces during this, my eighth turn at this event which gets to be more fun every year. For directions, email me at

The image above is one of the new prints: Enclosure 3, ©2011, archival ink on acid free paper, size varies


  1. Your painting brings to mind order, harmony & water. Memories of swimming on a summer day...refreshing, calming, and the feeling I'm in just the right place at just the right time. Thank you.

  2. Thank you, Laura. It's wonderful to know what these paintings look like through the eyes of others.