When Art Comes Through You

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A couple days ago I sent out an email newsletter discussing two powerful moments in January that shifted my work completely.

The first was finding a vintage ledger in an used bookstore in Oaxaca. I wasn’t looking for such a treasure — but when I placed that lofty, old book in my hands, immediately I felt the drawings inside me that yearned to pour out onto those beautifully aged pages.

The second was seeing the work of artist Guillermo Olguín in person. I was so moved by the way the art handler held Oguín’s work with such reverence and respect. Mix that with the moment I saw a splatter of iron oxide on one of his drawings and hot damn! My life as I had come to know it as an artist was over.

It was on that New Moon of January 2020 in Oaxaca that I made my first drawing in my vintage ledger and my whole self shook as the flood gates in my heart swung wide open.

Now, one lunar cycle in, I’m still drawing like a wild, crazy woman and loving every blessed second of it!

Though I wanted to write this blog post because lately I have been receiving comments and emails from my online community concerned about my wellbeing. I’m so moved by all the loving, tender hearts that have voiced their worry to me that my new work looks painful and full of suffering. I want you to know that I’m doing ok — actually I would say I’m doing fabulously ok!

And yes, I can totally understand where they’re coming from. There has certainly been a shift in my palette from bright, cheery colors to much more darker, earthy tones.

But what I find most interesting is that I have ALWAYS painted figures that are unhappy and miserable looking. Scroll through my paintings and sketches — look at the faces — misery is kind of my thang!

Though in the 11+ years of sharing my work online, only a small handful of people have ever asked me why are my figures always so sad or miserable. I think my use of color and pattern has distracted most viewers from looking more closely at the expressions on my figures’ faces.

That’s why the work I’m doing now feels so much more honest, vulnerable, and exciting to me. I am no longer masking or disguising the darkness or sadness. Instead I’m actually trying to express the raw beauty that I find breathing inside it.

What’s also very exciting to me is that for the first time in my artist journey, the work I’m doing feels like it is coming through me — more than me showing up in the studio or the sketchbook and going through the motions.

Last, the drawings I’ve been creating this past month are about me as much as they are not about me as well. It’s such a delicate and invigorating dance to be inside of and I wish I had the words to best define it.

Though until they finally land on my tongue, my drawings will have to do the job of explaining.

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