Category Archives: residency

8 July, 2024

I first saw this photo of a hot air ballon on its side in a New Yorker article about S.A. Andrée’s arctic expedition to the North Pole in 1897.  He and his crew died but in 1930 the film was found.

It’s been pinned to my wall since 2010, so even though I’ve indirectly riffed on these forms for a while now, this week I finally made some drawings directly based on it. 

Today is my last @HOME Residency post.

Locking into this rhythm each week was a good reminder that I indeed have a rhythm.  I didn’t realize when I started how the steadying effect of consistent observation would open so many new doors in my thinking. More importantly, I was surprised how much I actually needed to attend to the quality of my thinking – to make time for reflection and response rather than reaction.  

Thank you for the gift of time and space, studioELL, particularly during this current phase of digging around in the dirt and planting seeds.

And thank you to anyone who visited and spent time in my world for a bit.

Here in the corner of my studio is a collection of some of what I’ve made so far this year.  Soon I’ll take them down and start the process of repetition, focusing on one, making various iterations, painting and then drawing it some more as it shape shifts into something else.   

xo Melissa

2 July, 2024

Playing with blue and this container-like form from my sketchbook reminds me why I love blue so much: it seems to hold an infinite range, with the tiniest drop of any other hue turning into something new.  

I’m being called to the step into the unknown, and not that safe version of the unknown where artists are routinely encouraged to go: “experiment, play and see what happens”. I’m being called to the scarier version, where I approach a doorway to a basement. As I descend the stairs in the dark, I feel around the room and find a post-it-note stuck on the wall. I make my way back upstairs into the light to see “free the shapes” written on it.   

Ok, so maybe this call into the unknown isn’t so scary or dramatic, but more like the color blue, where a small shift can open up a whole new world. Why are subtle shifts sometimes harder than big leaps?

I think a lot about the experience of seeing Fred Sandback’s work for the first time at Dia Beacon.  A  wave of emotion came over me when I walked into a large room with a simple shape being drawn in space by red yarn.

I look at these two in particular: “Untitled (Corner Piece), 1967” and “Untitled, 1975” lithograph. These forms, though constrained by walls and edges, also have a freedom.

This ‘untitled, corner piece, 1967 and the lithograph ‘untitled, 1975’ have a lot to teach me.

25 June, 2024

Summer solstice was a week of random experiences and planning.

I picked up this furniture infrastructure on the side of the road because I want to make a small body of work based on these two sketchbook drawing. It seemed to fit into the conversation.

I washed my grandmother’s quilt on the gentle cycle and let it dry outside. It’s pushing 100 degrees here so it dried quickly.  I have two of her quilts stored but this is the one I use and live with.  She never saw any of my art but her spirit surely lives on in it.

This summer rain at the end of my driveway will be a painting someday.

I rarely go to parties but I found myself at one over the weekend and ended up having a long conversation with a friend about our favorite Star Trek humanoid species.  Mine is Trill.

18 June, 2024

I’ve been laughing to myself here lately about a fantasy I used to have about my art ‘career’. I saw myself being represented by a few galleries in different cities, probably nearby so I could load up a rental van and transport the work myself. I’d have a full calendar of rotating shows and that would be that. I’m realizing more and more, though, the reason I haven’t pushed harder to make this fantasy a reality is deep down I know that I work too slowly for that pace of production. Knowing that AND finding some humor in it has been liberating.

This week I continued to look at the subject matter that is asking to be deconstructed and rebuilt, spreading it out on tables in the hopes of hearing what it has to say.

Puttering around with these drawings is a necessary phase, but it is indeed a phase. I’m getting better at listening to the rhythms in the studio. Sometimes I paint 8 hours a day, sometimes I’m just physically doing nothing but feeling the butterflies flit as I figure out a way in.

I’ve been re-reading some writing I did a few years back based on the prompts from this incredible book Mapping: The Intelligence of Artistic Work by Annie West.   (Sadly, it looks to be out of print.)  As I read my response to the prompt below, my shoulders began to relax because I was reminded there is a lot of important subconscious work going on right now. 

Speak to the silence in your work:

The work incubates in life’s quiet moments: walks in the park under the trees; pushing the grocery cart through the store then out through the parking lot to my car; lying in bed staring at the dresser, the hallway, the painting on the wall, the ceiling fan.  And then there’s the quiet within the chores that actually make up the bulk of life:  cooking, washing dishes, laundry, tending to animals. These parts that make up the whole is where the experience of making arts has a chance to season and brew. The finished work doesn’t break the silence because it’s actually the visual representation of the silence itself.

11 June, 2024

It’s been a beautifully quiet week. Each day had some wiggle room for whatever – I played guitar, made drawings, read a lot, finally watched Dune part 2. (I loved it. I read the whole series during lockdown. I kind of wish it were a long tv series because the books get so weird.)  

These two drawings from this week were fun because my only goal with them was to play with color pencil. Also, I drew a big chunk of each during two long phone calls catching up with a couple of old friends. I rarely have phone conversations anymore, but when I do I love talking while making.

Here are some things on my mind that I want think about more in the coming days. I’m keeping it as a list for now, applying ‘wait and see’:

  • To “Wait and see” is difficult because doing nothing is hard
  • There are actions that are invisible
  • Curiosity and observation may seem passive but they’re actions
  • If I frame art as an experience, what is the experience of making a drawing?
  • Shifting perspective – I imagine seeing from my world a from a spider’s point of view in the corner of my studio where the ceiling meets the wall
  • Shapes within shapes

For scale, here they are on my wall next to paint brushes.

This week I hope to start some new paintings. I’m ready. Maybe I’ll paint these two drawings?

4 June, 2024

June is a reflective month for me.  It’s beautiful here in Memphis.  Lush, blooming, the humidity not quite yet a 24 hour condition. 

Also, the start of second half of the year feels a like fresh start, but at what?

I spend a lot of time planning and thinking about what’s coming around the bend, even though I know that if I stay where my feet are as best I can, the future will show up anyway.

When I see what’s happening in the world, though, it’s hard to stay grounded. It’d be easier to crawl up in a ball in despair. I try to not look away, I try to stand firm in my feet and face it. The work helps me to not look away.

On a personal level, I’m trying to reclaim where I put my attention so as to carve out space.  When I put my phone down and make room to read more books, play guitar, stare off into space, get bored, I immediately begin to feel stronger and more able to face the world.

I was talking with some friends this week about how we artists have to shapeshift in order to find the beginnings.  The work is in a constant state of flux and entropy.  To evolve as an artist requires disruption, disorder and destruction.  I don’t need to throw my paintings on a pyre to make it happen, I just need to let the subtle dissonant notes in, allow small choices here and there to take a slightly different tone, to not overthink, to be where my feet are when the world breaks my heart and make something in spite of it.   

This week I wrote. I had conversations. I walked in the park a lot. I moved my body. I watched tv. I made shredded carrot salad twice. I had dreams that helped me figure out a hard situation. I pulled my first Tarot card (holy shit!). I sat in a circle in silence with Quakers. I helped my mother shower and we made each other laugh.  I babysat my friend’s 2 year old and she slept on my chest for two hours. I took a picture of the bottle brush buckeye in my driveway against the sky. I made another copy machine glitch drawing. 

28 May, 2024

I made this drawing in my sketchbook with charcoal pencil and marker when I was out of town and it’s been talking to me all week.   

What’s it saying?  Make more marks!  

I also made a couple of more printer glitch drawings this week.  This slow repetitive part of the process can last for a long time, but it’s where ideas burble up.  If I do a little every day, doors open to unexpected places, like this one I did in color.  I’m excited to mess around with a bunch of different color schemes this week.

This darker version makes me want experiment in the opposite direction – no color, obliterating the division even more. 

It’s satisfying to have something to play with as I start some open range studio time, which is what June brings.  In preparation, I did the quarterly studio mop yesterday. My studio welcomes me with open arms as summer begins and I start the baby steps towards a new body of work. It smells good in here too.

21 May, 2024

Last week I made books in this barn at a very special place located in the rolling hills of middle Tennessee called Gray Bear. I’ve been there quite a few times for yoga retreats to study with my longtime teacher, but this is the first time I went to make art.

They offer only one art workshop a year, it’s held every May and and it’s always book arts related. Even though I draw in a sketchbook most days, I’ve never actually been that interested in making my own books. I walked in with no expectations but left with having been profoundly changed by the experience.

The lineage of teaching was powerful. Both instructors, Kathy Steinsberger and Diann Fuller, studied with the great book artist Paulus Berensohn at Penland School of Craft. Paulus says that making a book “is like building a nest. I think we learn how to make books from birds.”  

Many of the students return to the barn every May, so there was a lot of show and tell of the books they’d made on their own throughout the year.  Me being the newbie, they all helped me out along the way.  

The workshop was called A Book, a Box, a Space.  I ended up making two books, one with Coptic binding and one with Belgian binding, and also a box.  

The colors I chose for the paste paper, the painted paper for the covers that we did on the first day, ended up being the colors of my breakfast nook.  I laughed when I saw them lying on the table as I walked through the house.

Here are few moments from the weekend, starting with Kathy, one of the best teachers I’ve ever had. There are so many steps in making these objects, but she slowly explained each with a lot of humor and a deep love for the process. 

Diann taught the class alongside Kathy, although her role was less a technical instructor and more that of a storyteller and centering force, as well as Kathy’s reliable comedic sidekick. We laughed so much! Diann is also the co-founder of Gray Bear with her husband Adam. Having gotten to know her over the years, she’s become someone I’ve grown to admire. I’ve never met anyone like Diann. She has a lust for life and a deep connection to nature that is so uniquely her own. She’s in the purple shirt on the bottom to the right in the group photo.

I’m looking forward to filling up my books and my box and return again next year to make more.

This is a video of Paulus Berensohn at Penland describing the process. Both Kathy and Diann are making books alongside their mentor here. Someday I hope to go to Penland to learn more about what my hand can do. The medium doesn’t matter as much as the benefits of continued experimentation.

14 May, 2024

I was away most of the week at my nephew’s wedding in Bentonville, AR in the Ozark Mountains.   It was a great time – lots of dancing

I brought with me both the printer glitch and the drawing of the printer glitch that I posted about last week to have on hand to look at and think about while I was away.  The bifurcation evokes a pressure and the curve at the bottom implies a connection, which is where I wanted to put my focus on the next iteration. When I got home, I made more copies of both, which altered the color in a way I really liked, and collaged the two together to see if what I saw in my mind’s eye would work.  It’s a good next step.

Bentonville is home to Crystal Bridges Museum, the closest museum to Memphis with my favorite collection (five hour drive).  I didn’t get to spend much time in the museum this trip, but I did pop in specifically to revisit Nocturn: The Solent, ca. 1871-1872 by Whistler.

Like an Agnes Martin painting or a Fred Sandback sculpture, this painting is hard to capture. I get lost in the negative space and the atmosphere and mood of the gray-green.  I didn’t know this until recently, but ‘The Solent’ is the strait between Isle of Wight and mainland Great Britain.  I like to imagine Whistler painting there.  

I also spent some time with Gems of Brazil ca. 1864/65 by Martin Johnson Heade, a series of paintings of hummingbirds and butterflies.  I want to make a new glitch drawing that’s very atmospheric but with a pop of color in the crook inspired by this Hooded Visorbeare.  

And finally, this is the cover image of the Joseph Buey’s book of drawings called Thinking is Form that I flip through a lot. For Felt Corners, 1963 was on my mind a lot while I was away –  it’s division, the mirror images of the triangles, the barely there marks in the background. 

7 May, 2024

I’ve been wanting to make a drawing of this printer glitch for a long time. I drew it from mostly from memory because it was tacked on the wall behind me. I’d occasionally turn around to see if I was getting the general feeling, which mostly was a sense of pressure.

I made this drawing in response to a copy machine glitch that’s been floating around my studio for a while now. I didn’t look at it as I drew it, but I did occasionally glance back on the wall it was tacked to behind me to see if I was capturing the feel. 

It’s hard to explain beginnings, how art grows out of itself. All I know is when I look at this this drawing I see it as both as something that stands on its own as well as a way into something else. 

Mary Ruefle’s book Madness, Rack, and Honey is in part about the art of writing poetry. It’s helped me reframe the ways I approach making art. I’m rereading it for a second time now. The poets get it.

“I believe the poem is an act of the mind.  I think it is easier to talk about the end of a poem than it is to talk about its beginning.  Because the poem ends on the page, but it begins off the page, it begins in the mind.  The mind acts, the mind wills a poem, often against our own will; somehow this happens, somehow a poem gets written in the middle of a chaotic holiday party that has just run out of ice and it’s your house.”

30 April, 2024

On a bottom shelf in the corner of my studio, I have a collection of  accordion files that hold echoes of a life in the studio – ephemera, scraps, postcards, tear sheets, this and that, what nots. The physical archive is slowly dying out – I certainly don’t accrue like I use to before I had the world at my finger tips in my pocket. But even so, twenty-four years into the 21st century, I still seem to gather, store and sift through stuff.  

I use this archive in all kinds of ways but I often use it as a starting point, and this week feels like a I’m starting to slowly form some ideas for what’s to come. I pulled out a few fragments I want to play with and look at over the course of the next six months or who knows, maybe the next couple of years: 

  • the blue and green of Dr. Spock and Captain Kirk  
  • Lavender fields in France
  • Stacks of storage containers
  • Begonia red and oakleaf hydrangea pattern
  • Mark Morrisroe
  • Poppy in the rough
  • Copy machine glitch pattern
  • Line drawing over neutral wash
  • Painting with arched lines – neutrals with color
  • Colors in a Munich napkin – maps
  • Stack of circles
  • Still from movie Sweet Life
  • Note to self: drawing marks to canvas

I’m also thinking a lot about art and ambiguity.  

Someone recently asked me “what does your art mean?” and I was struck frozen like a deer in the headlights. 

It made me think back to a fantastic studio visit I had with a fellow Memphis artist who asked me so many great questions about my process and how I generate ideas.  Just before she left I said with relief, “We talked about so much but you never asked me what my work means.”  She shrugged, as though the meaning is obvious – it’s in the process and the meaning is ambiguous at best.  We burst out laughing. I’d never before felt so seen as an artist. 

23 April, 2024

This is the last week for my show The Earthworm and The Hawk.

When the gallery was closed on Monday, I spent a few hours drawing all the paintings with a marker and / or graphite – a practice an artist friend told me about during a studio visit that I’ve since adopted.

The work always has something new to say in these post-painting iterations.

Muscle memory is a powerful tool!

16 April, 2024

My old friend Andria took this photo at the artist talk I did for my show The Earthworm and The Hawk on Saturday.  

I decided to share it here so in the future when I look back on this @HOME Residency period in my life, I’ll be reminded how much art helped me find my voice. Believe me, I know how cliche that sounds.

For years, though, I would totally freeze up talking about my work. I finally got so tired of being insecure and uncomfortable about it that I decided to face the fear head on. It took a long time, but I slowly chipped away at it bit by bit. Over time something shifted and I found the words.  I have a long way to go still, because just like the work itself, verbalizing the experience around making is an ever-changing lifelong process.  

The actual art object is the tip of the iceberg to what’s happening in the studio.  It’s so rare to have the opportunity to go below the surface, surrounded by the work in person and explain that which is so layered and vast and often times so wordless. Usually when someone asks in casual conversation how my work is going, I’ll kick the can down the road with a “pretty good – I’m working on a few things” or “kind of slow but I’m figuring it out”.

Andria told me after the talk, “We’ve been friends for 30 years, but I felt like I learned so much about you, your work, and your commitment to artistic practice yesterday that I never knew!”  

It was really good to let people in.

8 April, 2024

In 2017, 2024, and 2045 three solar eclipses will have been within a 150 mile radius of my house. What are the odds? (I’ll be 79 in 2045 so fingers crossed I get to experience that one.)

I made this painting last year called Carrying the Moon. I honestly didn’t know it was going to be an eclipse-inspired painting going in, but after I added those crescent shapes on the bottom I knew.

I’m lucky enough to have a physics professor for a friend. In 2016 (or earlier) she would tell anyone who’d listen about the Great Eclipse in 2017. She even carried around a scale model of the solar system in her trunk to help illustrate the phenomenon and a box of eclipse glasses. Her excitement was infectious and after seeing totality I understood why.

Seeing totality was the first time I comprehended the way the earth, sun, and moon work together. I’d watched dozens of videos, read about it, tried to draw it out, but being the visual learner that I am, I never fully digested the mechanics until 2017 in Pennyrile State Park, Kentucky. It was one of the most beautiful things I’d ever seen and I was forever changed by the experience.

Around 5:30 yesterday morning, my husband, two dogs and I headed to Lake Charles State Park in Arkansas. This time I noticed the change in light more. The water and horizon line added so much to the experience. Rarely do I like going to places where people gather, but I like being in State Parks during eclipses because the cheer during totality is a beautiful human connection.

I’d like to make a painting that describes the feeling of awe I had in both eclipse experiences, although I’m not sure if it’s actually possible. But I do have these shapes I keep coming back to. In these two quick sketches I made before ever seeing an eclipse – a collage and a little painting – are the crescent shapes that have been showing up in my work since I made my first mark.

2 April, 2024

I made these two iterations of a couple of the ink drawings from last week.  I’ve noticed for a long while now that I come back to stacks and portals again and again.  

And I as look at this picture of a native grape vine that I took a few days ago, a line I see all through the woods around here,  I realize the crooked line is everywhere in my work.  I’m thinking in the coming months I want to pay close attention to what I repeat over and over and make a body of work of stacks, portals, and crooked lines. 

26 March, 2024

I keep this picture of Joan Jonas on my studio wall as a reminder that it doesn’t take much to turn reality inside out.   I also have her nearby because I’ve been looking more closely at artists working in their 70s and 80s, reminding myself that the seeds I plant today may lay dormant for the next couple of decades before they poke up out of the ground. 

I first discovered Jonas through this Art 21 video about her drawing practice. She uses speed and repetition of daily drawing as an entry way into of other mediums like mirrors, masks, performance, and sculpture.  

I play guitar and sing.  Whenever I tackle a cover song, I always learn something new but inevitably end up making the song my own.  After watching this video dozens of times, I decided to do a Joan Jonas ‘cover’. So I bought a couple of glass goblets, added ink and made quick gesture drawings.  

She usually uses images of animals as source material. I used this great design book first published in 1932 that I got at a library book sale to riff on.  It’s so beautifully categorized. For example, “The Crescent and Its Combinations’  and ‘The Rhombic Variant’.

Each time I do this exercise, there’s always a couple of drawings that lead the way to something else.  I want to play more with these two from “Segments and Its Combinations” and “Rectangular Variants”:

Joan Jonas is getting a lot of press these days because she’s currently having her first New York retrospective at MoMA as well as a drawing show at The Drawing Center. This New York Times article has some good insights into her life and work.

The book for the Drawing Center show came in the last week the day after I did these drawings.  Flipping through it is like having her whisper in my ear.  

19 March 2024

This was sunrise yesterday in Overton Park, one of the largest urban old growth forests in the country. It’s about a ten minute drive from my house.  I walk here year round, but between mid-February and mid-April I try to walk the trails daily to watch it slowly come back to life and the spring ephemerals pop. These woods are a powerhouse of vital energy.  

I get a lot of good thinking done here. I solve problems. I let go of nonsense. I see the big picture of an idea.

The other day I heard from a friend who had just gone to see my show. About this painting he said, “The dimensionality was almost psychedelic. It was as though I could walk into it.”  Then he went on to make an observation about trust I wish every viewer could have: “I wasn’t sure what I was seeing but I did recognize the feeling it evoked as I looked at it.”  

Maybe it’s the feeling of walking through the woods?

Here are two drawings in honor today’s spring equinox. Happy Spring!

12 March 2024

Back in January when I started the @HOME Residency, I was in that rare time (for me) of putting the final touches on an art show, finishing up what had been conceptualized long before.  I was in full production mode. 

In this tenth week of the @HOME Residency, my studio life is returning to the snail’s pace speed that I typically live, each day slowly unfolding into the next.

It’s been a month since the show opened and it will be up for six more weeks.  I appreciate this long run because the experience has had time to settle. Life has been happening all throughout – my mom started feeling better so after six weeks she moved out of my house and back to her apartment.  I’m still caregiving every day but now it takes up less of my time.  Emotionally, it’s an ever present hum.

In my empty studio, as I start slowly building new work, I go back to the starting point of my cycle of creation where I gather and sift, experiment and search.  This isn’t laser focused, far from it. it’s like a waterfall of ideas, notes, thoughts, scraps.  

In Rebecca Lindenberg’s poem “Love, An Index”, here in the section called “Fragment” is the perfect description of the ways in which amassing a pile of ephemera can lead to something whole.  

I wish I could use these few lines as my artist statement.

Some fragments from this week:

a few drawings in my sketchbook . . .

and a piece of  wall paper that has been my stash for years – I want to make a painting with this palette.

After my friend Bonnie’s funeral last week (see previous post),  I thought once again about this illustrated conversation between Terri Gross and Maurice Sendak that I regularly revisit, especially when I need to be  reminded that the foundation of my studio is “live your life, live your life live your life”: 

5 March 2024

I’m thinking about fresh starts as I resuscitate a drawing project I never finished.

Back in August, as a way to reconnect with nature, I bought a small sketchbook and numbered the pages 1 – 100 with the intention of doing short daily drawings out in my yard. Summer in Memphis can feel like moving through one air condition setting to another. It’s a different kind of cabin fever that pushes nature to the edge.

I can’t remember why one day halfway through I stopped this daily practice, but it doesn’t matter.  

Louder for those in the back:

It doesn’t matter!

What matters is I’m able to tap into the my most essential studio tool I have:  the restart button. 

Sure, I have butterflies in my stomach when I go to push that button, but usually as soon as the engine turns over it’s like meeting up with an old friend where we start right back up where we left off.

Working from nature feeds other parts of my practice that aren’t based in observation, but mostly it feeds my spirit. For a few minutes  “ I “ disappear and my senses take over.  Even if the drawings take 30 seconds, the feeling I get when my eyes and hand work around the edge of a leaf or build marks to make a bush is a type of medicine.  

As I think about this incredible gift of a fresh start, I’m also thinking of my friend Bonnie Lau who died a couple of days ago from lupus.

Bonnie wasn’t a close friend, she was more a clear steady voice in my extended chorus. I’m realizing more and more how much this chorus means to me.  Bonnie and I came of age in the same Memphis music scene in the 90s – a rich underground world of artists, filmmakers, and of course incredible bands.  Over the years as this extended group of misfits began living out their lives, Bonnie and I would run into each other regularly.  She was always so happy to see me and yet I always kind of knew she was like that with everyone.  She was one of those people that just made you feel good being in your own skin. I hope I can make other people feel as good about themselves as Bonnie always made me feel about myself. 

Here she is in the middle just a month ago at my art opening.  The woman on the left is Sharon Hevelka, an artist friend of mine (and one of Bonnie’s closest friends) who I feel so fortunate to have in my life. She’s a witness and a support to my practice. A few years ago a group of us, Bonnie included, had an afternoon of printmaking in Sharon’s studio.  I’ll never forget that day.  

You can check out Sharon’s beautiful work here

I’ll make nature drawings for us all this week. 

27 February 2024

Sometime 100 – 120 or so years ago, a pin oak and a willow oak were planted in my yard.  I think a lot about the way they catch the evening light, especially in winter.

I revisit this note to myself:

They hold so much poeticism and meaning to me, it’s difficult to know where to even start.

On an emotional level, I feel both awe and fear.  

Maybe that’s where I’ll start. 

Because abstraction doesn’t act as metaphor for me but a thing unto itself, framing them this way feels like a new way of thinking. Perhaps I need to depict them literally first? I should look at Mondrian’s tree paintings again.

Here they are in all their summer glory.

20 February 2024

I want to carry this yellow and green gingham upholstery in my visual memory long after the couch it covered is gone.

The previous owners of my home lived here for 50 years until they were in their 90s.  After they died, the house was on the market for two years and was still full of their 1970s furniture.  When we offered to buy the house along with everything in it, the family, who were all in their 70s and didn’t want the stuff, said ‘sold!’. We had a big yard sale but kept a few pieces, including this herculon couch that was the center piece of the sitting area in the attic that had been converted to a sewing room – green shag carpet, wood paneling and all.  

During lockdown, we cleared out a spare bedroom and turned it into an office for my husband. We brought the couch down from the attic and into the light of day. Even though it looked to be in mint condition, the fabric was brittle and pretty much started to disintegrate as soon as we started using it.

Fast forward four years, and with lots of sunshine by a window and many naps later (dog and human), the time had come to lay it to rest.

Usually when we put stuff out on the street it gets picked up right away, but after two days, here it still sits. It’s as though it’s trying to tell us something.

Studio life this week has been cleaning up the post-show clutter (it’s like a tornado came through!) and slowly turning my attention bit by bit to what’s next.

For now, though, I’m hauling furniture that’s had its day, tidying up, letting go, moving on.  

13 February 2024

My exhibition opened at the Memphis arts organization Crosstown Arts, located inside a converted Sears warehouse.    

The opening was wonderful.

It’s ironic that artists spend so much time alone, working introspectively, only to find ourselves in the middle of crowded cocktail party-like environment at our openings. And yet, despite how counterintuitive it feels, when I’m lucky enough to find myself at my own opening, I relish in the fact that other people are engaging with my work, giving it a whole new life that it can’t have here with just me in the studio.

Twenty years ago I decided to try my hand at a body of abstract work. I’d always loved abstraction but wasn’t sure if I could actually pull it off.  This show is about the process I’ve slowly built over the past two decades of generating abstract imagery from my imagination in my sketchbook.

The show will have a nice long three-month run, lots of time to gestate and sink in. 

Here’s the show statement:

THE EARTHWORM AND THE HAWK is the overlap between two states of being.

In the private and non-verbal world of my sketchbook, I burrow deep, generating drawings intuitively from my imagination. As the pages fill up, I step back and shift perspective, becoming more objective. The lay of the land comes into sharp focus. Here I map out, pose questions, and act decisively.
Because these modalities are distinct from one another, it takes time and patience 
to figure out ways of unifying them. Their push/pull tendencies can disrupt as much 
as facilitate. It’s a continual process. Like two rocks rubbed together just the right way, 
the friction between the searcher and the strategist can generate sparks or a 
full blown explosion.  

And here are some installation shots.

5 February 2024

Install-week finally arrived and I’m happy to report that all the work made it safe and sound across town in the rented van and the back of my car. 

Since I started the @HOME Residency in early January, the paintings for the show have been stacked in the laundry / art-storage room to make space to make drawings. It felt good to spend time with them before they left the studio.

It’s bittersweet when work leaves the house. I do get sentimental, I’ll admit.

This is by far the biggest exhibit I’ve ever had. And who knows? I may never get this much space again, so I’m trying to pay close attention to every detail of the experience, both logistically and emotionally.

After I placed all the paintings, I made a walk-through video of the layout and slept on it. I ended up waking up in the middle of the night rubik’s cubing all sorts of configurations I hadn’t considered before. The next morning I switched everything around and the placement clicked, the puzzle was solved and the work started to feel right at home.

Then it was time to hang the drawings.

Spreading them all out on the floor was an experience I’ll never forget.

Again, this gift of space has shifted my perception of what these shapes and marks can do on a bigger scale. It’s thrilling!

The registrar Jesse (center) and my dear friend Maysey (left) helped me hang 29 drawings on a 300″ wall.

I wanted it to have a salon-style feel but with room to breathe.

I think we got it.

Now that the show is up, I can breathe deeper, slow down, and let this work season.

More on the paintings, opening, and the space next week. Time for a nap. : )

30 January 2024

From recent studio notes:

Building the work

Having a blast

Turning my pockets insde out

Measuring time: day in, day out


Sticky web

Hugging the trees

Wind Watching

Making an offering

Finding my courage

Stating my purpose

Healing myself

Availing myself to magic

Underthinking it

Speeding up and slowing down

Devoting my life to the shapes I’ve yet to configure 

These ideas are always burbling below the surface, both when I’m not consciously aware of them and when I’m in making-mode like I am now. Hello again. 

Over the weekend I finished the last few drawings for the show. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself when they were done. I’m feeling sentimental towards these final pieces – bookends to the experience of the last year.

I’m keeping them up on my wall until the last minute, even though I know they’re just sticks on the river. 

23 January 2024

The ‘home’ part of my @HOME Residency has been on my mind a lot this week. Memphis shut down with snow and a deep freeze. In the warmth of my house, I was reminded once again that my home is one of the many vessels my work relies on.  

Sketchbooks are another essential vessel.

I’ve slowly built my process out of these books. Here I draw from my imagination without much thought or judgment.  

I spend as much time flipping through the pages as I do drawing in them.  

I tag the drawings that are asking to live outside this contained world.

Vessels find their way into the work in cup-like forms and blobs that hold worlds unto themselves.

My physical body, though, is the most essential vessel for my work. Holding the memories of every shape I’ve ever drawn or painted, it often whispers to me on what needs doing in the studio. It requires a lot of tending to but I do keep trying. I especially like to turning this temple upside down to see the world from a different perspective. 

I have one more week of working on drawings before I shift gears from a year of facing inward and making the work to facing outward and sharing the work.  There’s nothing quite like giving the work room to breathe in yet another container, the one that shows up only here and there, but when it does I’m very grateful: the gallery container. 

16 January 2024

My source material originates where life and art overlap.  Life fuels the art and the art reflects the form of my existence back to me.  

Life can turn on a dime, though, and it’s going to play out no matter what’s happening in the studio. A lot of life is happening right now and yet these have been some of my best and tenderest of days. 

The last two years have been shaped by my role as a daughter as I help my 86 year old mother navigate her last chapter. She’s been able to live alone with help from me and we’ve grown closer because of it.  Two weeks ago, though, she became much weaker so my husband and I moved her in with us. We’re figuring out a rhythm of living together on one side of the house while on the other side of the house I’m continuing to work on drawings based on drawings. Perhaps she’ll gain strength and get to go back home.

Time seems to have slowed down as I work iteratively in the studio alongside caregiving.  Take my hand, time says, the exhibition will get finished, the old gal is well-tended to, and in the realm where art and life converge, the seeds for future work are being planted.

Also, we got a rare big (for us in Memphis) snow so the city is completely shut down.  It’s so beautiful!

“An extra special treat”, as my Mom calls it. 

09 January 2024

Hello and welcome!

My studio is both a room in my house and a frame of mind.  No two days are the same here.  Because a shift in perspective can open unexpected doors, I’m curious to see what comes up as I share my world through the @HOME RESIDENCY. 

It’s an exciting time for me because in a month I’m having my largest solo show to date.  The paintings are finished and now I’m working on a drawing installation, which like the paintings are based on drawings from my sketchbook.

I’m working fast on these to give each new drawing a chance to move beyond the original drawing they’re based on. They change in the process, becoming something new.

Drawing large feels good in my body, as does playing with materials on this scale. 

Drawing fast, though, requires letting go and moving on to the next one.

26 June 2022

I wanted to write a track with a title as a basis for its content.  I was thinking about terms which would reflect my experience of the artist residency – to create a synthesis of what I have learned.  I was open to whether or not I would add lyrics.

Instruments – in the main I chose those with names which referred to the natural elements, and added effects, echo or reverb, depending on what I felt was required for each section.

-Title: Word Waves

-Tempo: 148

-Time Signature: 4/4

-Key: C Major

-Sections: 4

-Bar length: 24

-Genre: Electronica

Section A

  • Mutated bass
  • Synth wave
  • Cymbal to represent a shoreline sound
  • Rainfall

Section B

  • Sunset acoustic drum kit
  • Analogue haze digital drums
  • Modular space synth
  • Natural bass

Section C

  • Future breaks synth
  • Hard rock guitar 1
  • Hard rock guitar 2

Section D

I wanted to introduce new bass sounds to build up the momentum of the track towards the end.

  • Sweeping synth
  • Bass synth

I then edited and removed elements to create space between the parts and sections, and adjusted some of the volume levels and velocity.  Panning and repetition DJ effects were also added to provide a sense of motion to replicate the movement of water.

Image – I then took photos in line with the theme of the title, which I merged, layered and edited.

Mastering – I listened to various versions before choosing the final mix.

19 June 2022

This week’s parameters: to create a track with a spoken word element, as I’ve not tried this before. This also links in with combining poetry and sound.

– Tempo: 82 came to mind
– Time signature: 4/4
– Key signature: Bb major
– Sections: 3 (approx. 16 bars each)
– Genre: I left this open to interpretation

Lead synth line, with the rhythm set to a 1/16 triplet beat to create a fuller and slightly syncopated sound. Echo was added.

Glockenspiel – I’ve not written using this instrument before, and was intrigued how it would sound in contrast with the lead synth line. This was set to a 1/8 beat to add a sense of linearity. A galactic themed reverb was added. I played individual notes rather than trying to create particular chord progressions or melody.

Tape effect added, as I wondered what it would sound like. I played this quite minimally, so was more of an accompaniment to the other two instruments.

Sections – I duplicated the first section into three separate parts, and removed elements from each instrument line. This was a random process – the only requirement was to ensure these parts worked in unison with the rhythm. This changed some of the tones and pace within each line, which I felt was an interesting outcome.

Tape effect two – I included a reversed tape sound into some of the spaces that had now been created.

Title – as I’d used synth leads and tape sounds, I decided to name it after these two things.

Section – I extended the bars in the closing section, so there was time to bring the track to an end.

Artwork – collated and collaged from recent photos.

Spoken word element – I’d like time to reflect on what I’ve created so far, in order to identify words or a narrative to be added. I would also like to add various effects to my voice, so the vocal lines become layered elements within the instrumentation.

12 June 2022

I wrote the start of a few track ideas this week – I allowed myself to write freely without initially editing.

It was one of those weeks where I couldn’t decide which track to focus on, so I wrote an alternative. Sometimes I require time to reflect on the work’s meaning, or to experience it in a different setting or time, to see if this brings alternative inspiration and perspectives. However, I also value the work I make and will revisit the previous pieces.

I wrote a track in response to another monochrome photo collage I recently created.

Digital instruments used:

  • Bass
  • Analogue drum kit
  • Acoustic guitar (changed to electric guitar, which was then removed after a time as to me, it felt like it was part of a separate track)
  • Three synths
  • Drum machine

I’d like to add a deeper-sounding register to this track, with samples of found sounds, as well as utilising stereo panning to add more 3D and sculptural elements to the sonic space.

05 June 2022

En Masse (Instrumental Soundtrack)

I set a timer for five minutes at the end of a long day, as I was intrigued by what my mind could create in a state of tiredness.  The following components were then added:

  • Violas with a repeating motif – I also changed the time signature so they had a swing feel.
  • A completely incongruous drum pattern for the sole purpose of creating different rhythms and sounds.
  • A drum and bass pattern was added in its place, and the original drum pattern was removed.
  • Various electronic drum elements.
  • Synth sounds which reminded me of storms and the crackling sounds of natural elements.
  • I then realised I was working on some kind of soundtrack, and started to think about the film scene it would accompany.
  • En Masse – I created this title as was thinking of stars, galaxies and the universe as I listened to the track. I felt this represented the mood.
  • I then looked at the sequencing and spacing of the sounds, and created three sections. 

I’d like to work with field recordings and found sounds, so that I can make other atmospheric soundtracks, with associated video pieces.

29 May 2022

Recently, I’ve started writing by playing and recording a couple of quick lines after the general parameters for the track have been set.  I listen several times to see if any components stand out, or commence a new part in order to keep the songwriting process fresh.

Track elements:

  • Tempo:  102 BPM (I wanted to experiment with a slightly slower tempo to see what would happen in the writing process)
  • Time signature:  4/4
  • Key:  B major
  • Sections:  4
  • Performance:  band with electric guitars, synths, drums, electric drums, vocals and loop pedal.  At present my aim is to create a body of work which can be interpreted in a band format.  This would be in alignment with the word of the year I chose in January 2022 of ‘play.’
  • Mood: Ambient, Electro, anthemic.  A track with interactive elements which would work with an audience at a gig or performance.


  • Drums – I wrote two parts as wanted to experiment with different placements of beats and rhythms.  Also, it took the pressure off compiling one complete drum line, as my process is to work quite quickly where possible. The parts would interact with each other.

I’m intrigued by bands with two drummers – it is a set-up I would like to experiment with.  In this hybrid world we find ourselves in, analogue and digital drums or synth sounds are an interesting combination to me.

  • Synths – I wanted to include electronic motifs to contrast with the electric guitar.
  • Tone – the sounds I initially chose were quite bright, which I changed to be heavier and more dissonant.
  • Lyrics – three phrases. Writing these helped me to determine the tone and mood.
  • Backing vocals – I experimented with creating patterns with elements of my voice.



Did I mention


I’m broken again


I reveal

Breaking patterns

Which delete my fuel


I reveal

Breaking patterns

Which delete my feel

22 May 2022

I found an abstract monochrome photo I’d taken, and thought it would be interesting to write a track in response to it.

Words which came to mind as I was looking at the image:

  • Mysterious
  • Linear
  • Abstract
  • Movement
  • Blurring
  • Monotone
  • Repeated patterns
  • Steps
  • X-ray

Track Formats:

  • Title – Hover Lines
  • Time signature – 4/4
  • Key picked at random – G# minor
  • Scale – Pentatonic
  • Three sections for the track – intro, main, outro

The order of my workflow:

I thought about sounds which would represent the mood of the image:

  • Industrial, electronic, longer sounds with reverb
  • Synth bassline


  • A minimalist drum beat with three sounds
  • Second bassline – I sang the line then located the notes on the digital bass
  • Sustained guitar synth

Main section:

  • I kept the drums, synth bass and guitar, and changed the second bass melody
  • I wanted to find a large sound which would disrupt the middle part somewhat, to represent the abstract mass in the lower left-hand side of the image
  • The underlay for this is a digital analogue synth
  • I went through various distorted and bass-heavy sounds, however none of these fit, and I ended up choosing a bending lead pad sound, which made the middle section more harmonious


  • I then tapered various parts towards the end in order to bring it to a close, adding a DJ effect to the last few bars

I was intrigued how the track syncopated itself throughout. I would also like to experiment with slowing down the pace. Creating this has inspired me to plan a video piece in response.

15 May 2022

I experimented with an alternative time signature on this week’s track. My starting point was to create something with heavy guitars as an underlying foundation. I used the following digital instruments:

  • Bass synth
  • Electric guitars 1 and 2
  • Vocal 1 (riff)
  • Vocal 2 (counterpoint)
  • Vocal 3 and 4 (backing)
  • Vocals 5 to 8 (recurring vocal motifs towards the end – one inspired the song title)
  • Drums (kick, snare, high-hat)

The demo track has more of an electronic feel as I changed the original bass guitar to a bass synth, so that the sounds would complement each other. It is interesting to me how changing one instrument can alter the direction of a track.

I also decided to continue with the vocal motif rather than create verses and a chorus, therefore ended up being more of a dance track format.
I used DJ effects to create a remix version. It was my first time doing this, and was fun to create. The process reminds me how powerful the combination of analogue and digital sounds can be, as I started to think about how this could be performed live.

Can You

Can you begin again
Can you remember then
Can you forgive yourself
Can you unplay the game
Can you return to strength
Can you unplay your ways

Can you forgive yourself
Can you remember when
Can you return to strength
Can you begin again
Can you move in reverse
Can you forget the day
Can you embrace cliché

01 May 2022

This week I wanted to write a song utilising a different digital audio interface (digital space to collate and produce music and audio). I’m currently experimenting with a variety of platforms to see which may work best with my current workflow, which is to layer different sounds, instruments and vocals in a simple way.

I’m often moved by film soundtracks. Sometimes these are written in response to moving imagery, or songs are chosen to correlate with a mood of a particular scene or narrative.

I wanted the song to indicate what it needs to be – to see what visuals or words come to mind as I listen.

I wrote the parts in this order:

  • Synth
  • Drums
  • Main draft vocal (all the vocals are sung with sounds in order to experiment with melodies and harmonies at this stage, rather than words and an emphasis on lyric creation)
  • Draft vocal harmonies
  • Adding effects to parts

I will listen to the draft demo to see what words appear for the lyrics, and see if I want to add any additional instruments. Some of the vocal lines may also change into instrumental lines, or vice-versa.

24 April 2022

This week I wanted to write a draft for a song. I started with a theme, then thought of words and images in relation to this. I then experimented with chords on my acoustic guitar until I found a riff I wanted to work with. After listening back to what I had recorded so far, the lyrics were written over a few days.

Now I have a draft demo, I can listen to this further to see how I would like to develop it. I like to sit with songs sometimes so that they become more familiar over time. I also listen to draft songs in various places, as this can add another dimension to my perspective or songwriting process.

17 April 2022

As a strategy for making songwriting as pressure-free as possible, I like to create single cover sketches. I start the process with photos, which then inform titles. These may exist as stand-alone pieces, or be further developed into lyrics and songs.

This gives me permission to initially create without necessarily having a particular outcome in mind.

10 April 2022

I’ve been continuing to look at some of my previous photography of outdoor spaces. I’d like to re-visit some of these areas in order to record sounds that I find, and create pieces in response to the auditory and visual textures.

It is also interesting to reflect on the changing seasons, and how emotions can also have cyclical elements.

03 April 2022

This week I was inspired to look at previous photo’s I’ve taken of historic buildings and spaces. I’d like to create sound pieces influenced by their past. I’m interested in live looping and layering processes, and would like to experiment with using words and found sounds. I would combine with video projections around the same theme, to create an immersive experience.

27 March 2022

Intentional walking – I’ve undertaken a lot this week, in an attempt to be present whilst manoeuvring between the pockets of my schedule.

The positives are that I have wandered through unknown roads, seen new buildings and sites, and joined spaces together in alternative ways both geographically and emotionally.

The feeling of returning home, knowing I committed to the journey.

Pacing through places I have lived or visited at various stages of my London life, reawakening memories and feelings. It also helped me witness previous times from alternative perspectives. Some roads seemed longer, or some shorter than I remember.

I enjoy the presence taking photographs and videos gives me. However, I made an active choice this week to note my feelings and emotions on the walks, rather than digitally document the experience. To take photos with my mind rather than a lens on this occasion, and to sense motion rather than capture it. It felt like a missed opportunity initially. However, I reminded myself that my aim was to be present in a different way in order to gain an alternative perspective – as an act towards emotional understanding and freedom.

I knew I wanted to create another video piece, therefore I will combine observational poetry written after the walks, with found sounds in response to my experience. I’m hoping this way of working will provide different characteristics in my practice.

Electric Way

Curated shadows
From table to
Two-way conversations

Combination locks and
Iron stools
A carafe of liquid neutrality equidistant
Amongst us

Punk cacti
Spray painted illuminous neon
Amid their emerald counterparts

Railway bridge graffiti
Traffic lights at lorry level
Expectant watching and directing
Patient pedestrians
Noise cancelling would be futile
At this inner city

Electric ways
Busy with
Curious roaming and inquisitivity
All appears changed
To me

Green glossy ceiling
With a golden chandelier
A hue in an unexpected place
Where other walls

What words have
Been delivered across this wooden table?
Which conversations have brought nourishment?
Or underscored fears?
Light scratches
On its enduring surface
Tear and wear

Chairs without visitors
Afternoon calm
Between the odds of empty seats and treats
Later they will be reduced
None to none

I’ve danced here
Bought crafted gifts here
Admired illustrations
And a variety of curious items
Smiled through crowds
Whilst wondering

When will my
Be launched into

20 March 2022

The themes of buildings and skies continued this week. I’ve merged and edited photos in order to create a video sketch piece which I would like to further abstract, and devise an accompanying micro-soundtrack with words and found sounds.

I’ve also extracted photos from the video – I like the randomness of this process and how the frames between transitions can be captured. This also brings a different quality in comparison to the original images.

13 March 2022

Following on from my previous post, I created content for the video poem via a combination of thoughts I was having as I walked into the evening, in response to nature and the moon which was clear above the expanse.

I composed sentences as I watched the video footage, added different effects to the words, and removed, edited or repeated others. My aim was to create a lexiconic soundscape, as was unsure what the essence of the video poem would be. I wanted to leave space for this to be revealed through the process of making and listening.

I also wanted the imagery to be as raw as possible. This may be due to the fact I was working with video, which can have a different workflow process to photography due to the sense of movement, although there are overlaps.

Once I had edited both the soundtrack and video, I tried merging these together to finalise the piece. However this was not possible unfortunately – I will therefore experiment with different ways of recording and editing sound so that I can find a solution. For me, being a multi-media artist is also a process of discovering and understanding the technical aspects of creating work. I enjoy learning and look forward to refining and uniting the audio and video in order to complete the video poem!

06 March 2022

I wanted to experiment with making video poetry this week. I used footage from a weekend walk – I was hoping that being in nature could bring some words into my mind, during a time where I have felt wordless.

Here are some video stills and photos – the video poem is to follow in my next post.

27 February 2022

I found myself photographing the following recently:

Geometric lines
Abandoned and other buildings
Bars and partitions
Palm trees
Shadows and patterns (recurring themes)

I felt like I was searching – it’s been a time of documentation and reflection to see what possibilities may arise.

I’m intrigued an almost neon palette has started to develop alongside more muted tones, and would like to explore this juxtaposition, and the potential narratives between the images.

13 February 2022

This week seemed to be about doubles for me, probably because I have had dreams consisting of two parts. Sometimes the order was undecipherable, as well as the plot. Nevertheless, I aimed to capture as much as possible by writing my dreams down as soon as I could.

Following on from the idea of duos, I wanted to create diptychs consisting of photography and poetry.

Other words which came to mind:
Call and Response
Alter Ego

I also experimented with the following poetic devices:
Free verse
Echo verse
Diminishing verse

06 February 2022

Photography and words – this week I have continued to explore poetic forms.

At present, I particularly like working with chance, found words, and experimental devices. I have realised that currently, I draw from a different place internally when writing poetry than to writing lyrics. I have been surprised by this, as previously it felt as if they derived from the same foundations. However, I know this can shift and change.

I’ve also been writing music ideas as part of a songwriting challenge, which has helped me to focus creatively as the winter transitions from hibernation.

Reflection on work created so far during the residency, has helped me see where I would like to develop ideas and themes.

30 January 2022

Sometimes I look or listen out for the space and rhythm between things, especially when the days are darker and feel shorter in length.

This week I recorded ambient sounds, searched for textures and layers, and used the moments between seconds to be present.

I experimented with a variety of poetic forms to represent recent feelings, and picked three at random as a starting point for inspiration – a double acrostic, nonet, and triolet. These were composed in response to and in honour of this week’s photographs.

I was also reflecting on the images made last week – it was a process of finding and creating, which I enjoyed. When I look back at the photographs, they could appear to be muted or sombre. This also occurs in my music, where I can find catharsis in minor chords or raw lyrics on the realities of life.

23 January 2022

This week I went looking for elements of fun when visiting Bristol.  I found swings in a cafe with a window view – something unexpected and joyful.

I felt drawn to buildings with unusual shapes, or layers found in the cityscape.  I was intrigued by the visual history of reflected surfaces, in contrast with wood and stone, which have their own narrative.

I seem to be developing an interest in night photography.  I find it meditative to walk when tones and textures have alternative qualities.  Linear diagonals also made an appearance.

I have also enjoyed seeing the dynamics and layers – the view itself becomes an art palette.

My practice has also recently included obstructed or hidden elements.  I have been wondering what atmospheres would inhabit these spaces – the more layers there are, the more fictional (or real), they could become.  I would like to create sound pieces inspired by these, so they can coexist.

I recognise that for me, focus can appear when images are more abstracted.