Monday, March 26, 2012

Call for Models for painting about vaginal probes

Call for models:
In Quaker Meeting this morning, I got a vision of a painting I am feeling compelled to do.  It is a wide open crotch shot of a woman being given a vaginal probe ultrasound by the State against her will.  It will not be an easy painting to look at.

I need a woman of child-bearing years and a middle aged man who will hold the probe to pose for me.  I also need to borrow said probe.  The woman's face (in distress) will be visible as will her vaginal region.  The man's face will not show.  I will take photographs and will paint from them.  It will be large (probably about 48" wide - life size).  I can photograph the man and woman separately so that he is not truly doing her harm or causing her distress.  I don't want to ask anyone to experience that, but I do want to indicate the horror of an unwanted probe being inserted into ones vagina.

If you are interested in posing for me, please contact me to let me know.

I am fiercely opposed to the bills the legislatures in our States have been passing this year, and I want to do what I can to express my opposition.  As a visual artist, one of my tools is my art.  I hope that seeing a graphic image of a woman getting this ultrasound will stick with people and will give the legislators pause and will help them consider their vote more carefully.  I hope it will also outrage people enough to make them do something about these egregious laws.  Images have power, as do words, but sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

It's time for images.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

!WAR: Women Art Revolution

I was just re-reading my post from Feb 14, 2010 about how women artists depict women.  And I just finished watching a movie on Netflix called !WAR, Women Art Revolution.  Here's the official Netflix blurb about it: 

2010,NR,82 minutes
Renowned artist Lynn Hershman-Leeson spent 40 years gathering interviews and news footage for this stunning documentary profiling the feminist art movement, which seeks to empower female artists and improve their access to male-dominated art spaces.
Judy Chicago, Guerrilla Girls, Martha Wilson, Miranda July
Lynn Hershman-Leeson
Documentaries, Historical Documentaries, Social & Cultural Documentaries

As it says, it's a 40 year history of women making art and trying to make it in the white male-dominated world.  It is a fascinating history, and it is still continuing today.  It made me wonder if this attitude is affecting my ability to show and sell my own artwork.  I don't think it's as difficult now as it was in the 1970's and 1980's when these women began their work, but I wonder now if it is an issue for me which I don't even realize.

I know people express to me that they feel shy about having a nude in their house - what will people think if they find they have a painting of a naked person in their living room - or bedroom - or bathroom?  I never quite know what to say about that - after all, I have lots of them and don't have problems with it, even when I had students coming to the house regularly.  I find people are less freaked out than potential customers seem to think they will be.  I know my work is intense, and some people have difficulty with intensity - so be it.  I just figure it'll give them the opportunity to be with their feelings and to take a look at their judgments!

I enjoyed watching the movie and seeing the art those women were creating.  It isn't in the textbooks, and much of it isn't in the museums.  Judy Chicago co-authored a book called Women and Art: Contested Territory.  Even that book, though, isn't all about women creating art - it's primarily about how women are depicted in art - quite a different matter.  So this documentary showed me a lot of work I hadn't been exposed to before.

If you're wanting to know more about the history of women's artwork, this movie is a good place to get at least one part of that history.  Thanks, Lynn Hershman-Leeson!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Learning to Follow My Bliss

I've begun to notice that art is beginning to feel suspiciously like a job, something I have to do, not something I feel compelled to do out of desire and excitement and curiosity and all those other good things.  I quit my tutoring job in January 2011 so I could follow my bliss and offer the world (and myself) a vision of such joy and contentment.

Taking on Beyond Barbie along with Not Barbie (the art show) at the same time was daunting, to say the least, and I think it got me into Accomplishment Mode.  I had to DO many, many, many things each day, and I think I began to lose the excitement and curiosity and joy which led me to turn to art full time in the first place.  I tend to be very driven when I have a goal, and my drive kicked into overtime for the aforementioned tasks.  They turned out fantastically, and I'm very glad I took them on, but now that they're over (I took down the show in Williamsburg last Saturday and don't have any shows lined up for the foreseeable future), I'm taking some time to re-assess and to think about where I'm headed.  I don't want to act out of compulsion or unconscious drive.  I want to live fully conscious.  When I stop for a moment, I notice I haven't been fully blissful lately - not that that's possible, I know, but it's worse that than - I've been pushing, pushing, pushing, and it has hurt.

On vacation at the beach, I remembered what it was to wake up excited about creating and to rush to the easel because I couldn't stand not to!  I wanted to capture what I saw.  It was captivating and fun!  First time I'd had fun in a while.  Instead I'd been coming out to the studio and getting to work on paintings I wasn't feeling fully invested in, doing them out of a sense of duty and "should".  I was doing them with skill but not with passion.  I always promised myself I wouldn't do that. 

When we got home from the beach, Chris and I took some time to consider the next part of our lives.  Where do we want to live?  How do we want to live?  Can we lead spirit-filled, joyful lives full of creativity and whimsy and delight?  I sure hope so!

This week I've been meditating most days to try to tap into my inner knowing and to give myself a chance to slow down and consider what is itching to be expressed.  We went to the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens on Sunday just for something fun to do, and I couldn't wait to get back Monday to paint and draw the beauty I'd seen there.  That day was a no-brainer!  I'll post the pictures in tomorrow's blog.

The rest of this week, I've had meetings to attend and classes to teach, but I've tried to stay centered in joy.  I've let myself rest when I was tired.  I've taken breaks.  I've stopped working at reasonable times.  I've listened in to learn what I wanted to do and haven't guilted myself for doing it!  And - no surprise here - I've had a lovely week.  I feel invigorated and excited about today and looking forward to tomorrow.  What a fabulous shift.

I hope I can remember the next time I'm feeling driven and burned out - STOP.  Breathe.  Listen to my still quiet voice inside.  And do what it says.  Sniff out whimsy.  Follow my bliss.  Get curious.  And have fun!

(Oh yeah, one of my main prompts for figuring this out is that I'll be teaching a class called Learning to Follow Your Bliss at the Visual Arts Center starting Monday, and I figured I needed to be less than cynical when I do!  Now I feel rejuvenated and like I understand the concept again.  yay!)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Emotions of the Ocean, Wednesday, Avon OBX

Wednesday started out cloudy and overcast but didn't stay that way for too long.

I got very intrigued by the clouds.  Right on the horizon line, there was a bank of clouds then above that, there were two different types of clouds, one wispy, the other puffy.  I don't know the names for the types of clouds, so can't be specific - any Weather Channel junkies out there who can help me?!

Here's the whole scene at about the same time as the image above.  The sky was bluer Wed than it had been Mon and Tues when it tended towards dark, sandy green.

Later in the day the sky got lighter and brighter as did the ocean.  The waves were a little bit choppier too.

Look how the water changed completely - it got dark as could be!  That what made these pictures so much fun!  I might think I was drawing the same picture twice, but when I finished and compared them, I could see how utterly different they actually were!

Tomorrow's post I will continue with the pictures I did at the OBX each day so you, like I, can experience the changing emotions of the ocean.

(If you're interested in purchasing any of these, please contact me.  Unframed, they will sell for $165.  Framed (acid-free materials, beautiful hand-made frame (framed by Chris and me)) they will sell for $275.  I will also be making prints which will be $35.) 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Emotions of the Ocean, Friday, Avon OBX

Friday was our last full day at the Outer Banks.  It began with the owner of the cottage calling the house to ask if it would be possible to have some workmen come for a couple of hours a bit later to install the shower doors in the master bathroom.  She was lovely and apologetic but said they didn't have a choice.  I was stunned speechless - we had plans for the day that didn't include workmen banging around and in and out for a bit.  Once I gathered my ability to speak again, I told her it would be a major imposition and asked if there were anyway to NOT have them come, I would appreciate it greatly.  Thankfully she understood because she loves her time at the beach also so she back off of her request.  Thank you, owner!  We appreciate you even more now!

After I got up I went to Spa Koru to do some yoga.  One of the perks of renting this house is a week's membership at the spa.  I did yoga three times during the week.  It was a wonderful benefit!  After that I went to talk to the owner of Studio 12 to talk about teaching classes there this summer.  She was terrific and we're having conversations about how to get me down there to teach and when.  Sounds like fun to me!

When I finally got home from all that, it was almost 1 and I was ready for breakfast!  But first I had to do a drawing.  Then another one.  Then another.  Knowing it was my last day there made me all the more avid to draw as much as I could.  Who knows when we'll ever have the chance to stay in such a fabulous home again!  

These three pictures ended up being more alike than other days' of work.  Interesting that the ocean was less variable than previously.  It remained densely clouded and windy.  

As the day drew to a close, Chris was watching out of the back windows to see how the sound was looking to try to gauge what the sunset might be like.  He decided it looked like it would be great, so we hopped in the car and headed down to the Canadian Hole (where windsurfers and kiteboarders launch) on the Sound to watch that glory.  He was so right!  The clouds cleared just enough to offer us sunset perfection.  Here are some of the pictures I took.  I've already painted one of them!

As the day drew to a close, Chris was watching out of the back windows to see how the sound was looking to try to gauge what the sunset might be like.  He decided it looked like it would be great, so we hopped in the car and headed down to the Canadian Hole (where windsurfers and kiteboarders launch) on the Sound to watch that glory.  He was so right!  The clouds cleared just enough to offer us sunset perfection.  Here are some of the pictures I took.  I've already painted one of them!
It was such a blessing to spend time at the Outer Banks.  I feel refreshed, renewed, and reinvigorated and ready to create more artworks.  I don't know what they'll be of, but this week has shown me that it's in my blood, in my psyche, and in my soul.  This is how I process the world and what I find before me.  I don't seem to have any other choice!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Emotions of the Ocean, Thursday, Avon OBX

Thursday we were out and about a lot.  We drove down South and stopped by galleries and shops in Avon.  It was quite an ironic day.  I had come to the beach intended to VACATE.  Take a break!  Quit pushing so darn hard because I was tired!  But, like a moth to flame or a duck to water, I am drawn to art and to creating.  So where did I go?  To galleries!  of course!  Each gallery we went in, Chris would off-handedly mention that I was an artist also.  At one place, Studio 12, in Avon, the owner asked immediately if I'd be interested in showing my work there.  But of course!  I asked if he'd like to see it, figuring he wouldn't want to get himself into trouble by agreeing to show my work before he'd even seen it!  I showed him my fruits and beach scenes.  He suggested I speak with his wife the next day about the possibility of offering classes there.  Sounded good to me!

We went into a couple other galleries as well and talked about doing the same.  It looks like I'll probably be offering classes in the Outer Banks this summer!  I'll post details here as soon as everything is confirmed.  

I learned that what I've been espousing for years -  Follow Your Bliss and the Money will Follow - actually means what it says.  Follow your BLISS!  Recently I've been working very, very hard, feeling pressured to make a living doing what I love and learning to not love it quite so much anymore.  It isn't fun to push and push and push and to feel driven to succeed.  I was starting to feel resistant to standing in front of the easel.  Going on vacation was perfect - the beauty all around me thrilled me and inspired me to wake up and paint!  I couldn't wait to get to the easel!  I would have done more pictures, but I was worried about running out of paper.  It was then that I realized that I've been turning my love into my duty out of fear of not making enough money.  What I learned Thursday was that just being myself and doing what brings me pleasure and joy works much better.  Now I'll have several places to sell my artwork and to teach classes - I'll even get to go to the beach in the summer - what a concept!  A very, very good lesson.

When we returned from our explorations, I took time to draw another picture before we headed out to chase the sunset.  It looked like it was going to be a good one.  It seems like when there are some clouds, but not opaque cover, the sunsets are best.  As you can see from this picture, the cloud cover was pretty dense, but we wanted to get out there anyway.  Below are some of the pictures I took that evening.

I love seeing the rays of light breaking through the clouds.  It looks like an image from the Old Testament or something equally awe-inspiring.
There were a couple of windsurfers out on the sound when we got there.  It was fun seeing them silhouetted against the darkening sky.

The sun behind the clouds almost created a silver lining.  Not quite, but I thought this shot was equally dramatic!

That night we were blessed with a very dramatic full moon rising over the ocean.  I rested my camera on the balcony railing so I could get a long exposure so the clouds would show up.  It was quite an artful day!

Tomorrow I will continue with the pictures I did at the OBX each day so you, like I, can experience the changing emotions of the ocean.

(If you're interested in purchasing any of these, please contact me.  Unframed, they will sell for $165.  Framed (acid-free materials, beautiful hand-made frame (framed by Chris and me)) they will sell for $275.  I will also be making prints which will be $35.) 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Call for Submissions for anthology about abortion

The week before I left for vacation for the Outer Banks, the General Assembly of Virginia was working hard considering bills which I found anathema.  Four particularly horrible ones were as follows:

The "Personhood" bill would give all the rights of a viable human being who was already alive to a fertilized egg at the moment of conception, thus defining personhood.  I'm not sure the delegates and senators considered all of the ramifications of this bill when they first read it, but it could cause problems in such situations as ectopic pregnancies.  That is when the zygote is implanted in the woman's fallopian tube.  The tube cannot expand to house the developing baby, and she could easily die if the pregnancy were allowed to continue.  If the Personhood bill were passed, the doctor would be committing murder and/or be accessory to a murder if he counseled the woman to end the pregnancy in order to save her life.  The zygote in this case would be completely unviable - the pregnancy could NOT come to term.  That's just one of the potential problems. 

The "Vaginal Probe" bill would require a woman who was planning to have an abortion to have a sonogram as part of her counseling process pre-abortion.  She would be required to look at the pictures, and the pictures would become part of her medical records.  She would not be able to refuse to have the sonogram.  The only kind of sonogram which would show the fetus before 12 weeks of pregnancy is a vaginal probe, an uncomfortable, invasive instrument.  Because the procedure is not medically indicated, insurance would not pay for it, thus adding between $500 and $2400 to the cost of an abortion.  Women who were raped or who experienced incest would not be excepted from the law, forcing them to undergo another violation of their vaginas without their permission.

Another law would give adoption agencies the right to not allow certain people to adopt if their values were against those people (i.e. gays).

And the 4th heinous bill would make it so that the state would no longer be allowed to fund or help fund abortions for poor women when the fetuses were either severely handicapped or would not be able to live once outside the womb.  Last year the state spent $7000 on such abortions.  I believe there were 11 of them.  Not a big expenditure.  I am guessing that the cost of those women giving birth and raising the children (when they lived at all) would greatly exceed the cost of the abortions.  Presumably, this is a way to make sure the state does not have anything to do with supporting abortion in any way.  Our governor, Bob McDonnell, is a strong proponent of anti-choice.

Thousands of people raised their voices in protest.  Here's a link to one of the Facebook sites which is being used to organize resistance.  One day we all rallied at the General Assembly, in silence, to ask our legislators to please not pass these bills.  Over 1100 people were there: women, men, children, nuns, women in burqas.  It was a completely civil protest.  Afterwards we went to our senators' and delegates' offices to state our opinions.  The aides were very courteous and took our opinions down to share with their bosses.  Such protests continued all week, with folks filling the GA gallery, wearing their red armbands to indicate their affiliation and desires.

I followed the happenings on FB and online as the GA passed the Vaginal Probe bill.  It was modified to indicated that an abdominal sonogram could be used (completely useless medically) and that women who were raped or who suffered incest could forgo it.  but it passed.  The governor, who is potentially under consideration as a VP candidate, signed it into law.

The Personhood bill did not pass.  It was passed over until next session.

The bill to keep low income women from having a state-funded abortion died in the State Finance Committee.

I don't know the fate of the abortion bill.

Here's a link to a terrific article outlining more than I've written if you're interested.

All these bills and the threat they offer to our hard won rights as women have turned me into an activist.  I feel personally threatened and enraged as a woman even though my childbearing years have passed.  I want my daughter and granddaughters and nieces and everyone else to have the right to make their own choices about their own bodies.  It's a horrible choice to have to make to terminate a pregnancy, but it is none of my business what another woman decides.  How can I possibly think I have the right to legislate her choice?  Adding shame and public humiliation to the mix is just not helpful.  It does not improve society or community, and it certainly won't stop people from having sex.

OK, enough rant.

Here's what I'm doing about it:  a couple of friends and I have decided to compile an anthology of personal stories about abortion.  Below I will paste the letter we sent out asking folks to submit their stories about abortion if they feel so moved.  Please feel free to forward this to anyone you think might be interested.  We are also interested in stories from people who chose NOT to have abortions, who had their children or who gave them up for adoption.  This is an exceedingly complex issue, and we want the book to hold that complexity with gentleness and honor. 

Dear Friends,

The current explosion of political and media attention on the subject of abortion and reproductive rights has prompted much thought, discussion and activism among us. Clearly, there are many outspoken proponents of a woman’s right to choose and the unborn’s right to life. However, while the statistics say 3 in 10 women have had an abortion in her lifetime, these women and their experiences are faceless and obscure. There seems to be a predominant veil of silence about a woman’s experience sometimes even among close friends. We’ve noticed little to no attention has been given to the implications for and affects on women who have chosen to have an abortion in our modern day culture.

Given this fact we are inspired to gather and share the real stories of women who have made the choice to terminate a pregnancy or who have chosen to continue with an unwanted pregnancy and to raise the child or to give it up for adoption. We have decided to compile an anthology of women’s stories of their experiences with this challenging choice. We are contacting friends like you to see if you have a story that you would like to share. Or if you know someone who would be interested in sharing his or her story,please pass this letter on to him or her. We hope to include a broad range of experiences and perspectives. Along those lines, we are also open to submissions from partners or loved ones of a woman who has had an abortion.

If you have a story you want to share, here are the submission details:

·          Notify us of your intention to submit your story by March 30, 2012.  Write us at
·         2-12 pages, personal essay, prose or poetry submitted by June 1, 2012 to  We welcome receiving them earlier as we are trying to get the book done in record time!
·         Submit in Word
·         This will be one-time rights
·         We intend to notify you by August 1, 2012 if your piece will be included in the anthology.
·         Compensation for chosen submissions has not been finalized.

We hope to have the book finished and ready to go by Oct 1, 2012 in the hopes it can have an impact on the political races this Fall.  We are still looking for a publisher, so if you have contacts to agents or publishers, please let us know.
Thank you for your willingness to share your story.  This is in service to all humanity.
Susan Singer, Joan Maher, Leslie Lytle

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Emotions of the Ocean, Tuesday, Avon OBX

Tuesday I awoke, full of excitement, with the sun glaring from behind the sun-blocking curtains.  I could tell it was a bright sunny day, so even before I wrote my morning pages, I popped out of bed, ran into the living room, and started drawing.  I think I said good morning to Chris before I applied pastel to paper!  I hope I was that polite, at least!  It was 7:30, I believe, and the sun had just come up enough to cast a radiant white light onto the ocean, all but blinding me in its glory.  It was impossible to see any details where it shone except where the waves cast a shadow.  The area around it was more visible, thus the blue.
After doing picture #1, I kissed Chris good morning then went back to bed to write my morning pages so I could get centered for the day.  By the time I was done with them, the ocean had changed completely.  The sky was now somewhat cloudy and the water appeared dark sandy-green.  I couldn't take time to eat breakfast!  I had to draw another scene first!
After breakfast, the clouds had filled the sky, leaving it almost completely overcast and the water even darker.  I was intrigued by the idea of trying to render the overcast sky and still differentiate enough to make it interesting.
And now it looks like Monday again with windy, overcast skies, choppy turbulent seas, and a barely-visible horizon line.  And all that after such a blaringly bright 7:30 AM!
The next couple days' of posts I will continue with the pictures I did at the OBX each day so you, like I, can experience the changing emotions of the ocean.

(If you're interested in purchasing any of these, please contact me.  Unframed, they will sell for $165.  Framed (acid-free materials, beautiful hand-made frame (framed by Chris and me)) they will sell for $275.  I will also be making prints which will be $35.) 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Emotions of the Ocean, Monday, Avon OBX

Yikes!  I can't believe it's been so long since my last blog post.  I have a lot to catch up on.  Before catching up, though, I'm going to get current.  Last week Chris and I went to the Outer Banks of North Carolina on vacation.  It's where we go to fill our souls and release our anxiety and tension.  We were very blessed this last time to find a cottage, Canary Sings, which was discounted substantially so we were able to stay on the ocean affordably.  The cottage is actually much more beautiful than the pictures indicate.  It is behind a good-sized dune, but from the upstairs window, we could see the ocean very clearly.  Here's a picture taken from inside the living room.

Though I hadn't intended to paint or draw while I was at the beach (I was on vacation, after all, and art is now my full time job!), I felt so inspired by the view that I could not WAIT to set up my easel and draw the scene moment by moment!  I prepared my sanded paper, tearing or cutting it into 9"x6" pieces, put up my new easels, and set to work.

The first day I did 6 paintings.  Every time I looked out the window, the view was different, and I got so excited I had to get up from whatever I was doing and draw it!  It was really fun drawing it because that way I could compare the colors and sky and sea concretely.  I was amazed at how much it changed in a short time.  Chris suggested a great way to think about it - he said it's like emotions - they come and go, passing quickly from one to the other, as silly to take personally as the changing weather, and similarly harmless (sometimes they're not so harmless, as when someone takes their anger out on you - likewise the ocean as when there's a hurricane).

 Here's the first day's worth of images (Monday, March 5)

The sky was very misty.  It was difficult to see the horizon or any details in the sea.

This one is fairly similar to the photograph I attached at the start of the blog post: cloudy, a bit stormy, grey and green.

Later the weather cleared up.  It was still cloudy, but the sky was showing patches of blue, and I could see the waves much more clearly.  Obviously, this picture is more close up than the others!

Just a little while later, everything was different.  There were clouds, yes, but the water was much darker, the clouds much thinner, and the sky was now that gorgeous cerulean blue.  What a contrast to the early morning fog!

So many colors in the waves!

Can you believe this was the same day as the first picture??  Clear blue sky with just a couple of grey-ish clouds, blue water, calm and relative stillness.  Amazing!

The next few days' of posts will be the pictures I did at the OBX each day so you, like I, can experience the changing emotions of the ocean.

(If you're interested in purchasing any of these, please contact me.  Unframed, they will sell for $165.  Framed (acid-free materials, beautiful hand-made frame (framed by Chris and me)) they will sell for $275.  I will also be making prints which will be $35.)