Monday, March 7, 2016

Studios-Part 2

Basement studio as it looks right now

As I've written here there was a 8-year gap where I didn't paint much. During those years the basement and my studio area filled up with stuff. Even if I had wanted to paint, there wasn't much space to work in.

My son is in Guam this year; I commandeered a portion of his bedroom for studio space.

Corner of son's room. Shhh! He doesn't know.

Last July I started volunteering for an the VALA arts group in Redmond Town Center. They divided the back of their gallery into artists' workspaces and I applied for one. I moved in in December.

VALA studio space

The first outside-the-house studio in 30 years and I am thrilled to drive the half hour from my house even if I only make it once a week. I started that fencer painting 8 years ago. I've been working on it in this studio and it is almost finished.

It's possible to work in small, dark, cluttered spaces, but it makes it harder and easier to do something else.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Studios-Part 1

The year after grad school, I had a studio on Capitol Hill. It was the top floor of an old building and had been a parking garage. A auto repair shop took up the ground floor. The old ramp was boarded up. The wood floor was coated in peeling paint. And probably layers of toxic stuff.

The managers put in a little bathroom.  I had three different spaces there, each one progressively smaller. The first, a huge space with three west-facing windows, I framed, dry-walled, mudded, and painted.

I was working full-time at Frame It, Ltd. with not a lot of free time. When a smaller, cheaper space opened, I switched. It had north light. Even that was a financial stretch. Finally, I framed and drywalled a wide section of the hallway for a small studio. No windows.

Then, as now, Capitol Hill parking was terrible. It was free, but you could only park for two hours and those meter readers were there the exactly when time was up. I got numerous parking tickets.

At some point during this year I became pregnant and quit my job. I couldn't afford even the tiny space.

I set up a work space in our small house in Lake City. I didn't paint much with a new baby. When we bought a two-bedroom house in Ballard, we had even less room. I had another baby.

We built a separate garage which became the laundry and my studio. I set up an intercom and worked in the early morning before the kids were up.

To gain three bedrooms, we moved to a ranch-style house in Shoreline, more than doubling our space. Part of the unfinished basement became my studio. The kids grew older, my mom moved in and required care.

I created work from 8"x8" up to 4'x6'. Because they were created under artificial light, those paintings look best in the evening under incandescent light. The basement windows are few and small.

After my daughter moved out and my mom moved to assisted living, I set up office space in the smallest bedroom. I still do all computer work here and run my virtual assistant business.

There is a drawing table under there.

Planning and reference center

Computer and printer station

I would like to say that it doesn't usually look like this, but I would be a liar.

I've longed for an outside studio with its lack of distractions and responsibilities. No siren call of food, books and TV. No prod of necessary house projects.

Over the years I have looked for outside studio space. It is priced out of my reach. The cheapest I've seen $125 per month for 4'x12' with no windows. About the size of my hallway. I suspect it is a hallway.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Portrait Collective Cross Pollinates

I am pleased to say that The Portrait Collective (a silly, fun name for our little group) will be in a show in Shoreline, Washington April 23-June 24, 2016. It looks like we will each have two paintings in the show "Cross Pollinations" which will be on view at the Shoreline City Hall.

Press Release:


In today’s changing art world, collaboration has emerged as a primary means of artistic production in the last 30 years. Indeed, the upcoming exhibition Cross-Pollinations is itself a collaboration between the City of Shoreline Public Art Program and the Shoreline Lake-Forest Park Arts Council. According to Charles Green, author of The Third Hand: Collaboration in Art from Conceptualism to Postmodernism (U of Minnesota 2001), “The conventional idea of the lonely artist passively waiting for inspiration’s light bulb to be turned on” is no longer relevant to contemporary artistic practice.

Six artist teams and two individual artists whose process involves collaborative strategies will present a variety of media, including installation art, works on paper, glass, steel, photography, book arts, and sculpture.

Artists from Shoreline and the Puget Sound region include: Chaim Bezalel and Yonnah Ben Levy; Susan Gans and David Traylor; Meghan Lancaster; Anna Macrae and Flora Ramirez Bustamente; Lin McJunkin, Milo White, Anne McDuffie, and Ann Vandervelde;  Opsins (Cindy Michelle Collins and Monica Lisette-Sanchez); The Portrait Collective (K.J. Bateman, Peggy Murphy, Cynthia Yatchman);  Cynthia Yatchman.

The exhibition opens at 4:00 pm on Saturday, April 23, 2016, with a panel presentation on artistic collaboration from 4:30 – 5:15. Regular gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00am – 5:00pm through Friday, June 24, 2016. Tours by arrangement: David Francis, Public Art Coordinator, 206-801-2661;

Additional details will be available soon on the Shoreline Public Art web page,

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Portraits for a New Year

We took a long break over the holidays. The first day back is always hard. It's as though I forget how to draw if I am away from it.

These paintings are from before Christmas. Results continue to vary in terms of a recognizable likeness. "I Was Only Dreaming" came from a sketch of Peggy Murphy and morphed into something completely different.  I used color for the first time in this series and ended up up wiping most of it away.

"Volcano" is a self-portrait and is a good likeness of a much younger me. 

"I Was Only Dreaming"
printing ink on Yupo    18"x14"

printing ink on Yupo  14"x18"

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Along with being able to paint and work regularly, I can name paintings again. At one time I had no trouble titling work. The labels came easily and I was generally pleased with them. 

Then I entered a period where I couldn't think of anything to title paintings except bare descriptions of what was depicted and often defaulted to "untitled." For some reason the naming is back.

 I look at these images as I am painting or re-sizing them in Photoshop and the titles pop into my head. I don't analyze or second-guess the titles.

"Paris November 2015" printing ink on Yupo  2015

"Singing Them Home" printing ink on Yupo   2015

Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Likeness at Last

 After much struggle, I think I've captured Peggy and I did it by placing the Yupo over a photograph and tracing the outlines of the features.

"And Then He Said" printing ink on Yupo  2015

"Nearly Like" printing ink on Yupo  2015

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


I have had trouble making art for a long time. It started when my parents died within 3 month of each other, my mother in October 2007 and my dad in January 2008.  In 2010 we found out my aunt was having trouble physically and cognitively which led to my brother and me applying to be her guardians.

"Muzzled" printing ink on Yupo 2015

Except for some public art, I pretty much stopped painting. I sketched sometimes, wrote, and played with illustration but I didn't paint. I'm not sure why I stopped. I blamed it on being too busy, too tired, having an out-of-control studio. I also developed severe anxiety about many things. After doing everything that needed to be done, I just wanted to read or watch TV.

"Cocktails" printing ink on Yupo 2015

I also don't know why I am working again. It probably was a variety of reasons. I have been meeting with the Portrait group weekly for a year.  In September my aunt died. Both my cat and dog are elderly and have developed chronic diseases; they won't be here as long as I expected.

Once Upon a Time printing ink on Yupo 2015

My role as caregiver is drawing to an end. Things are in flux. Something has shifted and I am painting and printmaking. It feels strange but good, like finding my way back to where I used to live after a long journey away.