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What does it LOOK LIKE?

Nearly three weeks ago, my father passed away.

In early January, he was given just 3-6 months… he passed away 9 days later.  He’d learned of the recurrence in May.
Linn’s Stamp News published a beautiful obituary that addresses his philatelic research and career as a journalist.  Not only did Linn’s publish an obituary, but the San Francisco Chronicle (where he’d worked for nearly three decades) published a complementary obituary and a former colleague wrote an additional story about him.

My father is the reason why my creative research began to explore cancerous growths, beginning in 2008 when he was diagnosed with lung cancer.   He had a lobectomy and ultimately recovered.  He could howl at the moon again.  Eight years later, he experienced a recurrence.  Just a few short months ago, he took Montréal by storm.  But this time, the answer wasn’t so simple. It was aggressive. It took him quickly, but he passed away with the dignity that he craved and deserved.

I am so proud of him and his life’s work.  One of the greatest gifts of adulthood was the transformation that our relationship experienced.  He was still my father, but he was so much more than that.  I saw him for the person that he was.  I’ll miss the museums, coffee houses, the conversations and exchanged letters, and the curiosity for life that we’d shared.  & I’ll miss the gin martinis, with a twist. 😉

What a week!

Been making major progress on this piece.  I didn’t start adding the nodules on until last Thursday… and by the end of today, I should be done applying Apoxie Sculpt over the nodules.

This piece has been a long time coming, so I’m very excited for it to start coming together.

A preview of the latest works..

IMG_1008 IMG_0912 IMG_1003 IMG_0897IMG_0961 IMG_0950 IMG_1034 IMG_0926 IMG_0988 IMG_0905

Recently, I’ve been experimenting with some new shapes… check out the Specimen Studies portfolio to see more!
For the Fall 2016 semester, I have been awarded a pre-tenure sabbatical.  During that time– in addition to my other studio work — it is my goal to complete at least 1 specimen study per week for the duration of the semester.  normally, I complete 15-20 of these per year.. so to aim for 15 in a semester is a lofty goal.

For my part, I’m very excited about the direction that this body of work is taking. I’ve become less self conscious and am allowing myself to experiment more and play with different materials.  I’ve been filling flocked cavities with resin and glitter, used microbeads to cover an entire surface, and allowed myself to use Swarovski crystals with reckless abandon.

More than anything, I’m excited to take advantage of my sabbatical and see what happens in the studio. 🙂

Spiral Jetty


Utah 2016.  This summer, I worked as a reader for the AP Studio Art portfolios.  The scoring currently done in Salt Lake City, Utah… and after 7 days of scoring portfolios, Tim flew out and joined me to take advantage of my surroundings.  Basically, we bookended my trip with a trip.

Tim & I had the privilege of visiting this work in person: Spiral Jetty by Robert Smithson. Constructed in 1970, it spent most of its first 30 years submerged in the Great Salt Lake. The jetty disappears into the lake if the water level is higher than 4,197 feet.  However, In times of drought it’s emerged.  Gaining witness to this work was such a gift.  The work draws an interesting parallel to the nearby location of The Golden Spike– where the Union Pacific met the Central Pacific Railroad.

The drive to Spiral Jetty was approximately 2 hours from Salt Lake City, with only about an hour on the interstate.  The rest is country roads.  I spent the majority of the car ride in a panic, worried that the rain would make this a futile endeavor.  Stupid rain.  The rain was pouring down for most of the drive, but began to clear as we made our final approach.   As we made our way past the last bit of “civilization” (I am using that word loosely.) we shifted from pavement to red dirt roads with distances marked by cattle crossings.

Nearly 15 miles of dirt roads would take us to the Jetty (some that my GPS insisted existed that did NOT), with just a few signs to point us in the right direction.  We might have seen just two cars returning in the opposite direction.  Many of the signs had bullet holes in them.  At least, the ones that hadn’t been stolen did.  Apparently, people steal the signs pointing to the Jetty as souvenirs?  (ugh… don’t get me started on THAT.)

When we finally arrived, I was pleased to see that there were two other cars. As lovely as it would have been to view this remote and isolated artwork without the presence of others, I also appreciated that others had made this pilgrimage.

To view the work in person, I have a deeper appreciation for it.  The water is currently so low that it has receded nearly a half mile from the shore.  The pink salt water made a beautiful line across the horizon.  When it is initially exposed, the black basalt rock is encrusted with a beautiful pink salt.  In many ways, I felt guilty for cursing the rain in a state that only receives ~12 inches per year.

To walk this path, to think about how the basalt rock was moved to this place… to consider how it was constructed. I thought a lot about the First Transcontinental Railroad its physical construction through this rough and remote terrain.  With stones beneath my feet, it felt like I was walking along wide train tracks, trying to maintain balance with each step.  Except this road folded in upon itself.  It went everywhere and nowhere at the same time.  It got lost in nature and long survived the life of the artist (who passed away in a helicopter crash just 3 years after construction).  It’d been submerged and lived only in the photographs taken and the imaginations of artists.

There is no visitors log.  There is no museum or gift shop.  Some of the signs that direct you towards the Jetty have been stolen by greedy passersby.  There is no record of how many people visit this place.   And this is why I chose to share this post.

read more:

#SculptureProblems #LifeSkills

working in the studio today.. needed a whisk… so made my own.

Screen Shot 2016-03-05 at 9.50.27 PM

it took just moment and a little bit of wire…. but it did the job.

… mixing the slurry by hand wasn’t efficient enough, so I eventually stuck it into my drill to speed things up… 😉

( meanwhile, the CBC is playing two hockey games in a row and the puck is about to drop… so I’m gonna cut this update short…)

On Being a Sculptor Who Draws

“Girls, I have something to tell you...” 2014

“Girls, I have something to tell you…” 2014
19.5” x 25.5” (unframed), 24×30 overall framed (white mat, black metal frame)
Prismacolor ArtStix, Caran D’ache NeoColours, Canson Mi- teintes Paper, Heat Gun

To be candid, I find it difficult to identify with a singular method of art-making.  It’s easiest to explain my processes as “mixed-media sculpture,” but even then I feel that that barely begins to scratch the surface.  I love to draw.  I love to sculpt.  Drawing helps me to see, sculpture helps me to understand.

Upon someone learning that I am an artist, it tends to be assumed that I must be a painter (?!  mad respect to all painters, but this assumption always bewilders me).  My response to this is the explain that I do not paint or draw objects, but instead that I draw or paint ON my objects.

Over the years, drawing and illustration have become a major component of my studio work. This has been very surprising to me, as I’ve never really gravitated towards working “flat.” Drawing was always a preliminary thing to help sort out ideas, but was never the final result.

For past 4 years, I’ve taught drawing nearly every semester.  Though the course is based on drawing from observation (rather than memory/imagination), I feel a great deal of connection to the curriculum.  It’s problem solving.  It’s learning how to see.  It’s learning to push through the challenge.  Even as a sculptor, it’s one of my favorite courses to teach.  And by teaching it, I think that this has reconnected me to the medium.

Within my own work, the drawing methods that I am employ are also broad.  The best purchases of the past year has been an Intuos5 by Wacom…  and a heat gun.  Obviously, these are not used together. 🙂

My mixed-media drawings use a combination of Caran D’Ache NeoColours II and Prismacolor ArtStix.  The colors are blended with heat, friction (blending stumps, tortillions, scrubber brushes), and/or solvents (such as mineral spirits).  The development of this process has been very enjoyable.  Leave it to a sculptor to find a way to bring a tool into the drawing process.  🙂

Digital drawing is also intriguing to me.  In graduate school, I began to screen print layers of imagery with enamels onto glass.  The easiest way to get the images how I wanted them was to draw them digitally before making my transparencies (rather than scan them in, clean everything up, and then print onto the transparency).  I started out using a Wacom Bamboo tablet (around $90) and within a few weeks of using it, everyone around me had one, too.  (If you’re interested in learning how to draw with a tablet, I highly recommend the Wacom Bamboo.)

I like to use digital drawing as a planning aid.  And omg do I love the “Control + Z” feature. 😉  Being able to shift and change my colors/proportions very quickly has been instrumental in determining how to proceed within a project.


What The Flock?

In recent works, I’ve become very interested in applying flocking to my smallest sculptures.  Flocking is the application of micro fibers to a surface.  Mixing these fibers with glitter adds a certain luster and softness to the work.  My flocking is purchased in bulk, with most of my suppliers catering to nail art (really?!).

Receiving shipments feels like Christmas morning, full of possibility and wonder.  The color combinations are endless.

New shipment of flocking. 12 new colors!

Before I reach the flocking point of my process, my forms are cast in plaster, carved, primed, and then spray painted with Montana Gold Acrylics.  Then I apply a thin layer of acid-free adhesive (I prefer Sobo) and then sift the flocking overtop.   Sometimes, it takes a few layers to create the desired aesthetic.  In between each layer, I apply more adhesive to better secure the flocking.   If needed, I can use a plastic baggie as a protective barrier and use a q-tip to press the flocking into the glue.  I’ve got to be careful not to apply too much glue at a time, otherwise it makes the flocking appear rigid and clumpy.

Once the glue has cured, I gently tap the flocking back into it’s container and brush it off of my plaster casting with a makeup brush.  To test the stability of the flocking, I will also try to remove as much of it as I can with pressured air.  Anything that isn’t fully secured ends up making friends with the interior of the plexiglass in my shadowbox frames.

The resulting forms become even more colorful and plush, something difficult to achieve through plaster.



One Plus Two (Minus One)

One Plus Two (Minus One), 2014
3” x 3” x 1” (unframed), 9×9 overall framed in shadowbox
Cast plaster, flocking, microbeads, Swarovski crystals, paint


Apoxie Sculpt vs. Free Form Air


review coming soon!  For a recent project, I used both Aves Apoxie Sculpt and Smooth-On Free Form Air.  On the surface they are very similar (both are two-part epoxy putties that are mixed in a 1:1 volume ratio), but when working I found them to be very different from one another.  In an upcoming post, I’ll explain the strengths, weaknesses, and similarities of each product and how it affected my project’s final outcome.

The Need For Microscopes

Working on such a small scale can be challenging, so a microscope is used to get a closer look at the work in progress.  Holes are drilled with a microbit and a flexshaft and then artificial stamens are inserted and glued.



Why I Share My Process

As an artist and educator, it is important to me to expose my working process with the wider public.  In my art making, I believe that there are no secrets.  To be transparent is the best way to each others (and myself) how to work with new methods and materials.  I hope that this blog demonstrates my processes and that others can learn from them; If you have any questions, feel free to ask!