It Is Good to Love Many Things




Have totally lost sight of this recently. Getting back on track this week with the love. It is the key to all good things.

Happy Thursday, friends.



Lisa Kokin :: Once Removed



{Vestige, by Lisa Kokin}

I became acquainted with the work of Lisa Kokin in early 2012 when we were both part of the Do Not Destroy exhibition at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. Once I saw it, I fell immediately in love with Lisa’s work. Lisa won the Dorothy Saxe Invitational Award for Creativity in Contemporary Arts for her gorgeous piece Fauxliage: No Birds Sing, which was part of the show at the CJM.

I was excited to learn that Lisa teaches classes in her El Sobrante studio, mostly about using thread and found materials in mixed media work. I am thrilled to be taking Once Removed on Sunday, March 17. As many of you know, I am a collector of vintage photos and periodically use them in my work. I am really looking forward to learning from Lisa about combining both vintage photographs and sewing techniques. Workshop participants will work with found photos, found papers, books and other small found objects to create collages, sculptures or books. Lisa will teach hand- and machine-sewing techniques, gluing, stapling, and binding for attaching the photos to other surfaces and objects.


{Forget-Me-Not, by Lisa Kokin}

Space is still open for the Once Removed class. You can learn more and email Lisa about registering here. You can see the full range of Lisa’s work on her website.

Happy Wednesday!


Sister Corita Kent’s Art Department Rules




Last year I became smitten with something I read on Brain Pickings: a list of Art Department Rules by artist & teacher Sister Corita Kent and composer & writer John Cage. While I was laid up after foot surgery last year (with hours of time on my hands to kill!) I decided (with Maria Popova’s encouragement) to hand letter the rules in my own style. What you see above is the result.

Sister Corita Kent was an artist and an educator who worked in both Los Angeles and Boston. She worked almost exclusively with silkscreen and her distinctive style helped to bring screen printing into the world of fine art.


{one of Sister Corita’s gorgeous posters}

Sister Corita was known as a fierce and outspoken activitst for peace, love and social justice, and her iconic artwork reflects that passion. Kent designed the beautiful, well known 1985 annual “love” stamp. She was a forward-thinking artist, and was friends with not only John Cage, but Charles and Ray Eames, Saul Bass, Buckminster Fuller and Alfred Hitchcock.


{Kent’s “Love” stamp and Kent and other teachers in her print making workshop.}

What I love most about Sister Corita’s and John Cage’s Art Department Rules is their encouragement to trust and experiment alongside discipline. As artists, we know we must be disciplined, but often we tell ourselves that we must work hard toward the end of perfection or mastery only. It is so refreshing to remind ourselves that disciplined experimentation is what is important.

“Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.” -Sister Corita Kent

**For those of you who’d like a print of my hand lettered version of the rules, I’m unable reproduce or sell them. We contacted the Corita Art Center last year about selling prints and donating proceeds to the Art Center, and we were unable to get permission.


Tove Jansson and Tuulikki Pietilä




One can’t travel through Scandinavia without noticing the Moomins, the characters in a series of books and a comic strip by Swedish-Finn illustrator and writer Tove Jansson. In some ways they are ubiquitous with Swedish and Finnish culture — sold as dolls in the airport gift shops alongside other traditional souvenirs. The Moomins are a family of trolls,  plump, white hippopotamus-like creatures. They live in Moominvalley, in the forests of Finland, mostly. They have many carefree adventures with friends.



The books are written by Tove Jansson, who was born in Finland but spoke Swedish and lived in Sweden for parts of her life. Recently I discovered Jansson’s adult novels when my friend Lindsey gave me The Summer Book. I became immersed in the book, and wanted to know more about Jansson, so my research began.



I found out that Jansson was a bit of a renaissance woman — a prolific artist, sculptor, illustrator and writer. I also discovered that she had a life partner named Tuulikki Pietilä, who was a Finnish graphic artist and professor. Pietilä was also talented, and was one of the most influential people in Finnish graphic arts. The two met during their studies and they collaborated on many works and projects, including the Moomin works.



Here are the two on their boat on Klovharu Island, where they spent their summers for almost 30 years.

Jansson’s and Pietilä’s travels and summers on the Klovharu have been captured on several hours of film, shot by Pietilä. Several documentaries have been made of this footage and I’m determined to find them and watch them (I can imagine this island is incredibly beautiful). I’m also determined to read the rest of Jansson’s novels.



I have a tendency to romanticize bohemian artist couples as having the perfect life (painting all day and spending summers on a remote island). These two are my latest obsession.

Have a good Thursday, friends.

CATEGORIES: Inspiration

Shine Brite



Every now and again I get an email that really makes me feel happy in a profound way. I got one such email last week from an art teacher in San Diego named Don Masse. Don teaches at Zamorano Fine Arts Academy (a public elementary school). He keeps a blog called Shine Brite Zamorano about what his students are up to, and last week he sent me a link to a post he’d written about the work his students did in response to two of my paintings, “Sol” (above) and “Iceberg” (below).


Don went through various steps to help the kids both analyze my work and develop similar pieces of their own. He helped them to identify the parts of the paintings that created a sense of depth and dimension (the color choices I used that made parts of each iceberg recede and parts appear more forward). He then showed the students a sample he had made, and, in his words: “…with that we identified cool colors in the icebergs and water and warm colors in the sky and sun. I also pointed out how things get higher up as they go back and they also get lighter in color value.”

And then, they drew together in a guided process, which he describes on his blog. And here are the results. Impressive, I am sure you will agree!


{drawing by Nathaniel}


{drawing by Diego}


{drawing by Samuel}


{drawing by Leann}


{drawing by Treasure}

I used to teach elementary school (yep, that was my first career) and, as you might have guessed, teaching art was my favorite activity of the week. My first class of students in 1992 are all now about 31 years old. I am still in touch with many of them (they were in fourth grade when I was their teacher; I was 23}. They often tell me that the art projects we did together are some of their fondest memories of our year together.

I am so happy that the work I do now  — even in small ways — can still impact kids.  Thank you, Don Masse, for sharing your students’ work with me!

Happy Wednesday.

CATEGORIES: Inspiration | Paintings