The Geographic :: Week Eight

In an effort to stretch out my newly adopted slower pace from last week, I started off this week by meeting a friend for coffee first thing Monday morning after my son's carpool drop off. The week unfolded with a string of commitments for me and my family, which is nothing new right? We all lead busy lives and there is not one woman I know that isn't juggling her calendar, her lists or the management of her home on a daily basis to make it all magically happen.


The work for this painting project has me digging deep into emotional terrain that I haven't visited for quite some time. I feel a spiritual connection to the old me and I'm kinder to her during this process of recollection. While unearthing some of these memories has been hard, I feel like it's been made so much easier because I am sober and have the presence of mind that won't let me wander too far down the path and into pity party territory. I'm vigilant about sticking to the truth, with as many facts as I can remember. But when you drink to excess, like I often did, things do get murky.

However, when I go to bed at night, my mind has had a different plan. My poor decision making has quietly been haunting me while I sleep. It's been quite an emotional week. In dissecting the landscape of my drinking habits over the course of many years, I'm revisiting my reckless behavior in my dreams. The excavation of my past has me vividly recreating certain painful and sketchy situations, often ending in a dire consequence. It's been a pretty fucked up way to wake up.

 One of my wet gessoed panels fell on me today

One of my wet gessoed panels fell on me today

In an effort to quell my (almost daily) anxiety attacks over the last two weeks, I met with my sponsor to talk about what I could take off of my plate in order to help even out my emotions.

What we discussed was whether or not I should push forward with the additional 4th step work having to do with sex conduct and harms done (yes, it's a real thing) with my sponsor that we had just started a few weeks back. Actually, my anxiety attacks started right around that time, too. Hmmm. She suggested that we hit pause with that work and pick it back up once my work is complete for the art show in June. At first, I balked at this suggestion. I told her it felt like more procrastination on my part and that I think I needed to push through. She gently offered (as she does) that I reframe my thinking about the old story that Tammi is a Procrastinator with a capital P and, instead, look at hitting pause on my step-work as a version of self-care.

 Gold star-seeking Tammi Image taken 2016 by  Laura Schneider Photo

Gold star-seeking Tammi
Image taken 2016 by Laura Schneider Photo

I resisted.
I told her I was hearing her, but I wasn't fully signing on for the delay.
I didn't want to quit.
I wanted to finish the work that I set out to do.
I wanted to get a gold star for doing the work. 
I told her I'd think about it and get back to her.

And, I went home and thought about it and came to the conclusion that she was right. Dammit.

I hit pause on my step-work and the world didn't end. The anxiety attacks haven't stopped, but I have a feeling they might.

The panels I ordered from the local art supply store didn't come in until late Monday afternoon, so I didn't go into the studio on Monday. Instead, I did some research on painting techniques, listened to podcasts, made notes on The Geographic project and took myself to lunch. Remember, self-care must be part of my process with this body of work!

 48 x 48 x 1.5 inch hard wood panels (BEFORE)

48 x 48 x 1.5 inch hard wood panels (BEFORE)

On Wednesday, I showed up ready to get busy.

I needed to gesso the two 48 x 48 inch panels and I had to be pretty efficient about it. I didn't have a lot of time to waste because I needed to bring these two panels home, so that I could paint on them over spring break.

The two freshly gessoed panels will need to communicate and start a dialogue with these two larger format paintings (below) over the next 10 days (while I work from home instead of the school studio).

 WIP: No. 12 - Lush

WIP: No. 12 - Lush

 WIP: No. 13- Parched

WIP: No. 13- Parched

I popped by the hardware store tonight and purchased a large canvas drop cloth, so that I can paint on my front deck.

 View from our front deck in Valley Ford, CA - March 15, 2018 Photo credit: Steve Hecht

View from our front deck in Valley Ford, CA - March 15, 2018
Photo credit: Steve Hecht

This photo is not enhanced. The late afternoon sunset was bathing the fields in this golden, glorious light. Look at all of the value changes in the color green and the monochromatic grey sky. 

I'm completely inspired by my surroundings this week. 

On my drive home from town, words kept popping into my head that related to the landscape, as well as my thoughts on the past and my drinking days.

Not Sustainable
Mowed Down

 This is what it looks like when lightning strikes a cow. The cow did not survive the strike. Photo credit: Anna Erickson, Hands Full Farm, Valley Ford

This is what it looks like when lightning strikes a cow. The cow did not survive the strike.
Photo credit: Anna Erickson, Hands Full Farm, Valley Ford

We had a big thunderstorm here late Wednesday morning before I left for school. The thunder shook my house with picture frames shifting, glasses rattling on the open shelving in my kitchen, and my dog hid under my desk. Lightning struck a cow on my friend's ranch just two miles away.

The extreme beauty and fragility of this place is never lost on me. I'm so grateful that we moved here when we did back in 2006, even though I didn't know why I was choosing to move here at that time. 

 I loaded up all of the Valley Ford paintings that are in progress to work on over spring break.

I loaded up all of the Valley Ford paintings that are in progress to work on over spring break.

The phrase geographic cure is one I read in the Big Book of AA. It references a desire to relocate in the hopes of reframing one's drinking - a fresh start in a new place. Escapism, really. When I moved here it was under the pretenses of buying a home and settling down, but if I'm being super honest - I liked the fact that I would living at the top of the lane on a dead end dirt and gravel road. I could isolate and be alone with myself. My drinking would escalate here.

Living in the valley of Valley Ford felt like what I deserved. I felt a loneliness that even today I can't fully describe why I felt that way. I was surrounded by good friends, a wonderful husband and the best kid. But the feeling of incomprehensible demoralization was always with me near the end of my drinking. All I wanted to do was to drink and be left alone. I felt hidden and tucked away from the community that used to keep such a close eye on me when I owned my wine bar in Bodega Bay. I felt liberated, too. I felt like I deserved to drink the way I did because, hey, everyone else I know drinks this way, too. Which was a story I told myself for years.

But I no longer feel like I need to shed this town or the memories I made here, even the bad ones. Actually, I feel quite the opposite. I feel a need to embrace it, re-inhabit it, make it mine again.

 Laying claim to my art cubbies at school 

Laying claim to my art cubbies at school 

Memory is always reinventing history. Memory is how we see history in the present day.
— Clément Cheroux, Senior Curator of Photography, SF MOMA

This quote made me pause and wonder if my memories are, in fact, reinventing history. I'm trying to paint and summarize how it was, but maybe that can never be a fully accurate portrayal. If memory is how we see history in the present day, then these paintings will illustrate my own history but with the added benefit of my current history, too. It doesn't have to be all doom and gloom with this project. My transformation can be factored into the landscape, too.

So many layers.

This is what I love about this project. I get to channel my feelings into the work and turn these thoughts over and over in my mind, like rocks in a rock tumbler. They seem to be coming out softer, smoother and with less of an edge. A softening of my memories is happening in real time. 

 Blank slates. Fresh starts. Do-overs.

Blank slates.
Fresh starts.

I'm accepting the ways things were and acknowledging where it led me.
I'm letting a lot of these feelings go, as they no longer serve me.
I'm forgiving myself in the process, too.
I'm finding greater peace and clarity about those years I drank the most.
I'm acknowledging that's who I was then and that's not who I am now.
I'm extending myself some grace.

I feel like I'm finally coming home to myself through this work.

The Geographic :: Week Seven

Last night I spent the evening in San Francisco with a few members of my sober lady tribe to listen to writer, philosopher, theologian and storyteller, Peter Rollins and former Pastor Rob Bell talk about the concept of being human, connecting with those things in life that are holy and how to step back and make a shift in your life. A Holy Shift.

Listen to the prophet of your anxiety.
— Pete Rollins

I've been suffering from anxiety attacks again. Also, vivid nightmares about relapsing, as well as dreaming about fully actualized paintings for this project. I'm not surprised. I'm delving into new work with my sponsor and it's bringing up a lot for me. Anxiety used to play like background music in my day-to-day life and after I quit drinking alcohol (and later coffee), the volume was turned down considerably. Over the past seven weeks, the proverbial knob on the stereo has been turned up and these attacks are physically and emotionally draining me. I'm trying to listen to the prophet of my anxiety, but I can't quite tell what in the fuck it's actually saying.

 No. 3 Blackout in progress

No. 3 Blackout in progress

When you cannot speak your truth, the symptom is the way your body tells the truth.
— Pete Rollins

Part of the anxiety could be related to the pressure I've added to this project by committing to the June show at Lawson Galleries in Guerneville. When I wrote out my proposal and commitment for this semester's work, an art show was a possible end-of-semester goal, but now it's a hardcore reality. I know this falls in to the good-problem-to-have category, truly I do.

A feeling of overwhelm has enveloped me lately and the fact that my throat was closing up on me was my body's way of telling me the truth of the situation. I needed to listen up. The symptom manifesting in my body was the anxiety. I used to drink at these types of symptoms and that remedy, that medicine is no longer available to me..

 No. 3 Blackout in progress

No. 3 Blackout in progress

In order to drop back into the work, I shared my feelings with my professor at the beginning of the week. She listened and offered up some sage advice about what it means to be an artist. And that's the thing, I have started calling myself an artist but a small part of me still feels like an imposter. I'm not being self-deprecating here, I'm just being honest.

To be human is to be who you are and who you’d like to be.
— Pete Rollins
 No. 3 Blackout

No. 3 Blackout

My word for the year is GRACE. I have been struggling with its meaning, but when I heard Peter Rollins utter this sentence last night, what I've been feeling lately all started to make sense.

Grace can be found when you stop the frenetic pursuit.
— Pete Rollins
 No. 13 Parched

No. 13 Parched

I love everything that comes out of Pete Rollins's mouth. He has a way with words. That man has a gift.

I've been engaged in the frenetic pursuit of something ever since I quit drinking. It's almost like I'm playing beat the clock when it comes to my own creative pursuits. The feeling that I'm making up for lost time is always with me from the moment I wake up until I lay my head down on the pillow at night. Some might call it drive or ambition, but it feels clunky this week and completely lacking of any kind of grace.

 No. 13 Parched

No. 13 Parched

When I left the studio this week, I felt unburdened, excited even, about the idea that I am going to paint like I want to without any preconceived notion about what these paintings should end up looking like for the show in June.

A holy shift is when you stop.
— Pete Rollins

I am going to do a hard stop this week and shrug off my future-tripping ways. I need to recalibrate my own expectations for this body of work and take a long pause from my overactive, alcoholic-thinking and hope the anxiety subsides.

Acknowledge the whole and then step back and make a shift. Then draw a circle around it and make it holy.
— Rob Bell

I'm searching for grace this weekend. 

I'm stopping the frenetic pursuit.

I'm inviting a shift to occur.

And I'm definitely going to draw a circle around it and make it holy and allow myself to move on.

The Geographic :: Week Six

This week started off wonky. I messed up my kid's carpool schedule and, as a consequence, that prevented me from being able to get into the studio on Monday. Instead of stressing about it and future-tripping, I gave myself a little grace. I figured out that I had plenty to do for this project that didn't involve actual painting, but included writing, photographing landscapes around Valley Ford and writing in my art journal.

It also included firming up the dates with my friend, artist and fellow recovery badass, Gayle Cooper, for our upcoming gallery show which we are calling The Art of Recovery. To give you a little background, Gayle and I met in the rooms. She is out about her recovery and I've always connected with her over art and our mutual love and adoration of all things France. In early January, she approached me and asked if I would be interested in participating in a show with her at a gallery where she had done solo shows before. I was immediately flattered and then nervous, but knew that I had to step up and say YES. Her offer appeared at exactly the right time, as I was about to embark on my own self-assigned project, The Geographic.

Show dates will be June 5th - July 9th at Lawson Galleries in Guerneville, California.

The opening reception will be held on June 5th from 5 - 8 pm.

The artist salon will be held on Sunday, June 17th from 2 - 4 pm.

The First Friday Art Walk in Guerneville will be held on July 6th from 5 - 8 pm (all galleries open in town that night). A great way to see lots of art + take in the town.

This will be my first gallery show.


Over the weekend, I attended a print workshop in San Francisco hosted by self-taught designer + style icon, Lotta Jansdotter. I have long admired Lotta's designs, lifestyle books and business acumen. It was a thrill to meet her in person + learn from her in real time.


We made prints using small potatoes, simple carving tools + screen printing ink. We focused on creating simple patterns and designs. Repetition, positive + negative spaces were key to creating a cohesive + attractive design.


We also did a little block printing using our carving tools, a stamp pad + textile ink.


The stationary turned out really well.


Why am I telling you about my print workshop when this is supposed to be a blog post about my painting project The Geographic, you ask? Well, I'm gonna tell you.


You see, everything I make informs everything else when it comes to the work I produce. I like it when one medium spills over into another and I love learning more about my own process - what works and what doesn't. I like to co-mingle my interests and see what gels or just becomes.

For example, I took my gratitude journal along with me to the workshop in the hopes that I could create a page for that day using one of the prints or techniques I would learn. And, that's exactly what I ended up doing (see above). Now when I look at the page, I will have the workshop + the day imprinted in my mind, too.

Circles are my spirit animal and then color, especially hot pink. It's funny because I grew up in a household where my mom loved pink and I vowed NEVER to have it in mine. Fast forward 35 years and I freaking love it. Go figure. Never say never, right?


I didn't stress too much about painting this week. I needed the extra time and space to think about what was going to be my next move with all of the paintings I currently have going. I also needed to hit the art supply store and buy new wood panels and supplies for the project. Making art is not just about making the actual art. I'm learning that finding inspiration, going to museums, and taking workshops are all part of my creative process, too.

 No. 12 - Lush

No. 12 - Lush

My loose plan is to focus on finishing up the under-paintings for all of the Valley Ford works-in-progress by the end of next week. Once those under-paintings are done, I think I'll switch to oils. I I plan to apply horizontal bands of color over the existing acrylics or use washes and see how the colors underneath shift or change when the washes are applied. I hope they wow me.


This week I started a small tryptic using the leftover paint from painting No. 12 (above). This is an experiment to see if I can come up with something a little less controlled and try to harness that blurry or buzzed feeling I'm wanting to achieve through my work on a few of the canvases. 


I'm trying not to be overly precious with the canvases and making marks that feel intentional + haphazard at the same time, if that makes any sense! These paintings feel like play to me + are really enjoyable to make.


At the end of my painting day on Wednesday I had completed the under-painting on my 36 x 48" canvas (No. 12) and had a good head-start on this tryptic (above).


I quickly taped and gessoed two 20 x 20" wood panels that I think I'll use for the Bodega Bay paintings, which I have yet to start. That will be a completely different process and feel than the Valley Ford landscapes I'm currently working on.


These are sample canvases that I started using fluid acrylics. I'm not ready to jump all in with these paintings yet and think I'll wait until after Spring break to start working on the Bodega Bay series in earnest.


For now, I'm simmering in the Valley Ford work and really digging how it feels and where they are headed. I'll spend more time with the smaller canvases this weekend and wrap up the under-paintings and bring them to school next week to see how they all look together. 

I think seeing them all together will tell me what to do and where to go next with them. They'll talk to me and I'll be intently listening to what they have to say.

The Geographic :: Week Five

Coming home from San Francisco on Monday, I recorded a few videos of the rolling hillsides as we were approaching the hamlet of Valley Ford, also known as home. I was trying to capture the beauty and the blur, so that I could try to paint it later on.

In case you're wondering what we're listening to it's Slow Burn: A Podcast About Watergate because we're wild and crazy like that. Also, I'm not driving.

 Using new tool to gesso larger canvases. My screen printing squeegee.

Using new tool to gesso larger canvases. My screen printing squeegee.

Last weekend, it felt like my studio was closing in on me. I decided to make good on my idea to move the large 16-cubby bookshelf in my studio to the east side of the 8' x 6' space.


Moving this bookshelf opened up two walls that will allow me to hang multiple canvases and paint from home more often. As you can see, I do not have a lot of room in my studio, so I had to make good use of this precious wall space the moving of the bookshelf would provide.


Rearranging the furniture and spaces in my home always has the ability to change my mood and infuse me with a boost of creative energy. When I was done, I felt totally energized after everything was sorted out.

Last week, my professor suggested perhaps going dark on social media in order to further explore this body of work I'm creating. Because I'm such a literal person, I thought I had to completely go dark on social media and that felt uncomfortable. But later on she encouraged me to go dark during my time in class - to just focus on the work and not multi-task with documenting the project at the same time. 


Now that idea felt more comfortable. It didn't have to be all or nothing as I explore this work in my mind and through my paintings. It could be both, as long as I didn't overthink my way into an emotional tizzy. I still want to share here on the blog and have a record of this journey I'm on this semester. I just need to make good use of my studio time and paint my ass off, so to speak, when I'm there. Wednesday, I did just that.


I seldom paint at night, but after rearranging the studio, I felt inspired to get out there and spend some time with the seven smaller Valley Ford-inspired paintings that were in progress.

 Color samples + Mark Rothko's White Center circa 1950

Color samples + Mark Rothko's White Center circa 1950

This week was emotionally charged for me, as it was the one year anniversary of Kacy leaving this world on 2/22/17. Last year, when I returned from Las Vegas, I threw myself back into school with a quiet vengeance. In beginning painting, I selected Mark Rothko's White Center and tried my best to copy it.

It was a lot harder than you might think.

It was also meditative and soothing.

It was therapy.


I ended up making a smaller version on a 11 x 14 inch panel and gifting it to my friend, Caitlin, for the Spring Equinox #recoverygalsartexchange last spring when the theme was EMERGE. You can read more about it and revelations I had during that making process here.

Caitlin reached out this week and mentioned that my current work reminded her of the Rothko-inspired painting I had sent her last year. So I pulled the painting off the wall and set it in the living room. I also went and grabbed the Diebenkorn-influenced landscape I painted last year of the view just outside my studio because I had also wanted to bring it to class for reference.

When I set them side-by-side, I had a BIG revelation.


If these two paintings had a baby, it would be exactly what I'm trying to create with The Geographic paintings. It would be their LOVE CHILD.

 WIP: No. 1 Dry

WIP: No. 1 Dry

I'm trying to chase a dream with this project. Like, literally. I had a dream late last year wherein I visualized the kind of painting I wanted to paint. Now I know I'm never going to get that exact painting, but it's driving me forward to work hard to figure out how to get there and what methods I need to learn to make it so. I know the color palette. That's one thing I know for sure. I know I want horizontal bands of color. And, that's about all I know for sure, but I think that's enough to start.

The rest will need to unfold.


In layers.

In the call + response the paintings will elicit from me + from each other.

 The LOVE CHILD in progress: No. 13 Parched + the two older works on the floor that it was born from

The LOVE CHILD in progress: No. 13 Parched + the two older works on the floor that it was born from

In the metamorphosis of the painting process.


I have two 11 x 14 inch panels going (pictured above) that are made up completely from my leftover paint at the end of the day. One was blank (white) when I started and one was a gradation of color exercise I did last spring as part of the aforementioned #recoverygalsartexchange. 

 WIP: No. 13 Parched + No. 12 Lush

WIP: No. 13 Parched + No. 12 Lush

I tackled the two larger paintings mid-week and my goal was to not overthink it; not document it while I was in process; and to paint with my feelings and not with my head. At the end of the day Wednesday, I felt like I had accomplished all of those goals.

Here's where I'm at the end of this week.

  • No. 13 (left) and No. 12 (right) have several coats of gesso + acrylic.
  • I've penciled in wonky lines to mark off space for the bands of color to go.
  • My professor and I discussed getting a few more large panels so that the paintings can start dialogue-ing with one another.
  • I need to work on my color values for the final top coats and decide if I will keep working in acrylics or switch to oils. To that end, I will be mixing up some greys at home and bringing them to class so that I can jump in a little quicker to the painting process.
  • I'm giving thought to the bands of color. Do I want a high contrast? Or not? Do I want them to be more controlled? Or not? And, why?

I've been thinking about how to create a fuzziness or fogginess with the paintings to help give off the feelings I used to feel when I was drinking. After discussing this with Professor McCain, I think my excess paint panel experiments might be something I need to further explore for this project.

 The panels I'm using to wipe off excess paint from my brushes at the end of the day.

The panels I'm using to wipe off excess paint from my brushes at the end of the day.

They make me really uncomfortable and I don't exactly know why. I do think they are beautiful, in their own way, but they feel so haphazard and messy to me. It feels like cheating somehow. Like I've been careless while painting and not given them much thought at all so they shouldn't be considered for the project. They seem like an accident. This style of painting could definitely tap into the mood and feelings I had while driving home buzzed or drunk over the years. I had an immediate reaction to her suggesting I think about these paintings and what's going on with them. I felt like I wanted to shut down and change the conversation. The feelings our conversation evoked is enough for me to know that I need to examine this further. As usual, she knows her stuff. She's asking so many good questions or me and I'm enjoying the pondering. I know she's onto something with this observation and I can feel it in my bones that it's definitely worth exploring.

I just need time to process and catch up with my feelings. 

And then, I'm sure I'll just need to give myself permission to let go a little (or a lot).

The Geographic :: Week Four

My plane touched down in Santa Rosa last Sunday and immediately my phone started pinging with emails and text messages. One message was from afriend letting me know that she loved watching this project unfold and asked if I'd be interested in a possible feature in our local paper for the show come June.


It was just an idea. Not a sure thing. I told her it made me a little nervous, but that probably meant I should say yes, please and thank you. So that's what I did.

Then I drove immediately to the local art supply store and bought the biggest canvases that I could fit in my car, riding the wave of confidence her texts provoked in me.

I got busy taping and gesso-ing the hardwood panels.


No. 12 - Lush 48 x 36 inch

No. 13 - Parched 48 x 48 inch


Something about having started thirteen paintings in the last few weeks and the prospect of having my work be the focus of a feature in our local paper had me freaking out by the end of my painting session on Monday afternoon.

I started this project with a lot of bravado and a big narrative to back up the work.

But what I really needed to do was get down to work and paint, not just talk or write about it.

On Wednesday, I hit my 7 am 12-step meeting and the topic was all about expectations - inner and outer, expectations of others being pre-resentments and how expectations keep us from finding a solution.

I came to the conclusion that expectations can really be very disappointing, especially if the other person doesn't even know you have expectations of them. And what's even worse? Having expectations of yourself when you really, really don't need to add that kind of pressure.

Walking into the painting studio at school, I started to chat with my professor and she pulled me into her office when my eyes started welling up with tears. When I told her I was feeling enormous pressure to produce this giant body of work, she talked me off the ledge by talking about inner and outer expectations for the show. We chatted about how much I share online and if that was adding unneeded pressure on me or if it was aiding to my creative process.

She also reminded me that the feature article about this body of work would most likely focus on me and the story behind The Geographic and that I very easily know how to talk about that. After our conversation, I knew immediately what I needed to do. I needed to paint what was in my head and get it down on a canvas.

I quickly left her office, went outside and started painting over the foundation of painting No. 1 - Dry. I wasted no time.


I had started to hate this painting (above), so without overthinking it, I just plowed ahead and drew horizontal lines with a no. 2 pencil over the top of the underpainting and began applying the colors I had been seeing in my dreams over the last month.


The horizontal bands of color were excactly what I had been hoping to do with this project. This is just the second coast of the underpainting, but now I know what to do and I can build upon it from here.

This is the direction of the abstract landscapes I want to paint of  Valley Ford and by putting paint on the canvas, it felt like I answered my own problem. The other painting didn't feel like me. It didn't look like my work. It had elements of me (the circles, the half-dome, the color pink) but it was definitely NOT me.


I stopped to take this picture on the way home from school on Valentine's Day, the same day I worked on the above painting. I saw what I needed to see - a dark band of color, the orange-pinky-yellow glow of the sunset and the ombre blue sky. This was what I was trying to capture. This was part of the story I am trying to tell.

 No. 3 - Blackout WIP

No. 3 - Blackout WIP

Only my paintings are steeped in memories of driving home buzzed or drunk from work; of creating fake celebratory days of the week, like rosé Wednesdays; and the fuzziness that accompanies one too many glasses of bubbly with friends on my front deck overlooking the pastures and fields surrounding my home.


No 3 - Blackout 18 x 24 x 1.5 inch hardwood panel in process

Something was shaking loose inside of me. I found my groove and my vision for the next few paintings. I packed them up and brought them home to work on over the weekend.

Leaving class that afternoon, I knew I had a lot to think about in terms of process and this project. Part of my process is sharing my process on social media. I'm mildly concerned that in continuing to do so, I might be stressing myself out about the work that lies ahead with this project. It feels really vulnerable to share a painting while it is in process. But the thing is, I like reading about other people's process. I like seeing how they worked through things or how it all transforms and takes shape. In this way, it reminds me of my own recovery. The messiness, the raw emotions, the imperfectness of it all.

 Rearranged my 8' x 6' home studio so I could paint at home on the weekends

Rearranged my 8' x 6' home studio so I could paint at home on the weekends

But if I want to create enough work to support this show I'm working towards in June, the truth of the matter is that I might have to go dark for a little while and just paint my ass off and keep it all to myself.

Now that feels uncomfortable.

The being quiet thing.

The staying in my head thing.

No feedback or comments.

But maybe that's exactly what I need to do in order to connect more deeply with this project. Channel those feelings of isolation and allow the mood to go from my head and my heart straight onto the canvas.

I'm on the fence about it, but think pushing myself outside of my comfort zone has never been a bad thing. I learn so much about myself and my process when I do.

I'm gonna think about this and see how I feel next week. 


Until then, I'll just sit here and take in the view and think about how lucky I am so be sober and using my creativity to fuel this leg of my recovery.

The Geographic is bringing up all kinds of memories and feelings lately and I suppose that's what I want or else I wouldn't have decided to do this work. It'll serve me, I just need to sift through it.

Time takes time, right? I just need to let it.

The Geographic :: Week Three

Blank canvases + clean slates felt good last week, but this week? Well, they felt a little intimidating.

So I dug in.

Painted on nine of them during the first part of the week.


Created a color palette that I would use for the Valley Ford paintings.

Decided I would name each painting based on the words I'd been accumulating in my art journal for the project over the last few months.

No. 1 - Dry


No. 2 - Not yet named and has morphed into an experimental test canvas. 


No. 3 - Blackout


No. 4, 5, 6, 7 + 8 are not named yet.


No. 9 - is another experimental canvas that I'm playing around with using liquid acrylics and I will explore a color palette for the Bodega Bay series of paintings.


Talking with my Professor this week, we talked about falling down the rabbit-hole of inspiration that is Instagram and she suggested taking a break from it and self-referencing my own work and style. 

This made a lot of sense to me because I have been feeling a lot of visual over-stimulation lately. I'm inspired by EVERYTHING and that feels overwhelming.


Looking at my own drawings and work I've done at home would be a good place to start. She also suggested I consider my own personal style; from what I choose to wear for color to the shapes of my accessories. I agree that I need to develop a style as a painter, so if I self-reference and figure out what I like and why, then I can develop a confidence around that. This makes sense to me.


Originally I thought these landscapes would be abstract, but resemble real landscapes - now I'm not so sure. Perhaps the landscapes I'm exploring are more the landscapes of my mind or my memories - darker and really abstract in nature. 

 I don't know where it's headed, but I do know that it has to evolve on its own.


No. 9, 10, 11 (from the bottom up) are more Bodega Bay experiments using liquid acrylics. 


No. 2 - by the end of the week, my experimental "test canvas" morphed into this and I love it. I used a palette knife to apply the paint in horizontal bands and like the effect, as well as the underpainting coming through the layers. I like the imperfections a bunch and think I'll try working with more horizontal layers in paintings No. 6, 7 and 8 next week.


These (above image) were the fruits of my labor during my second painting session of the week. 


No. 3 - Blackout - I applied a base of colors last week using an old plastic Anthropologie customer loyalty card (that looks like a credit card) as my make-shift paintbrush. Then I applied black circles using black Dr. Martin's Ink and a calligraphy pen + nib. I like how the circles are imperfect and wonky. 


By week's end, I felt like progress was made.

Blank canvases were no longer blank.

A color palette was being established.

Self-reflection had kicked into high gear.

Having 11 paintings in progress feels good. However, I'll need to go much bigger if I'm going to fill a few walls in a gallery come June, so next week I'll be purchasing much larger canvases and starting this process all over again. 

The Geographic :: Week Two


This week, I needed to create a color study using blues and greens for The Geographic project.


Inspiration came to me in a dream this week. I like when it visits me in this way.

The colors in my journal are the ones I'll use for the Valley Ford paintings.

The colors (below) will be used for the Bodega Bay paintings.


I started small in an effort not to overwhelm myself.


But small can feel limiting and harder than just going for it on a big canvas.


It's a rough start.

The Valley Ford color palette will consist of greens, blues, golds + ochre, whites and pinks.


Acrylics will be used for the under-paintings.


It feels good to be back in the painting studio at school, again, and working with my professor.

This week I'm taking a closer look at artists that I admire and whose work inspires me. 

Heather Chontos has bold color choices and strong, confident brush strokes. I love everything about her work.

  Rouge   22" x 30" acrylic wash, gouache and ink on paper  Heather Chontos    


22" x 30" acrylic wash, gouache and ink on paper
Heather Chontos


I love Karine Leger's mark-making, the repetition and wonky geometric shapes. Also the softness of it, as well as they layering.

 Tout atour - 36 x 36 - acrylique sur toile  Karine Leger    

Tout atour - 36 x 36 - acrylique sur toile
Karine Leger


Heather Day's use of the color blue, as well as her sketchbooks and creative process fascinate me.

 Souvenir #44  7" × 5", ACRYLIC SOFT-PASTEL INK ON PAPER, 2017  Heather Day      

Souvenir #44

Heather Day


I'm a big, big fan of Meredith Bullock's work. She uses vivid colors, bold marks and weaves in her narrative about losing her mother and becoming a mother. She's my favorite.

A close friend sent me a sweet text last week and simply said she saw my new project, was looking forward to watching it unfold and that she hoped it wouldn't be too sad for me. 

It made me pause and think. Would this work make me sad?

It most likely will, but I'm okay with that.


I'm actually looking forward to diving back into those foggy memories and tapping into how I used to feel during those drinking years. I'll use mark-making and paint to create work that epitomizes the mood that lived inside of me during those turbulent times. Processing these feelings actually helps me grow and see that they were not all bad; they are informing the woman I am today about how to continue moving through this world. I no doubt will learn a lot about myself throughout this semester.

I love when art can stir up and evoke an emotional response. That's actually one of my favorite things about making it.

I opted to work outside yesterday.


I love the meditative process of prepping canvases, taping off edges and applying a fresh clean coat of gesso.


Blank canvases.

New beginnings.

Infinite possibilities.


3 - 8 x 8 inches
3 - 6 x 12 x 1.5 inches
1 - 18 x 24 inches

Hardwood panels will serve to symbolize my solid foundation in sobriety and where I'm at today. It's because of my current recovery that I can look back at my drinking in a healthy, positive way and glean what I need to off the top of those memories.


I love the newness of a project.

All of the ideas flooding in at once.

All the notebooks. Always.


The shapes I'll use, as well as the color palette, will directly reflect my moods and memories from those years when I drank to soothe myself and make me more comfortable in my own skin. When I drank like I used to, I was using alcohol as a way of softening the hard edges of my anxiety and as a way to bare the painful newness of motherhood.