Summer Update 7/11/18

Hear It Fizz #594, oil on panel, 12" x 12", 2018     Private Collection, California

Studio News, Summer 2018

Above is a painting I completed in late April in anticipation of my first short, cold, breath-snatching open water swims of 2018. I was thinking of the overcast mood and somber color of most of my early season swims.

There I am on Sunday, May 20, plunging into 54 degree water (brrr!). It was this sort of mood, so typical of a spring morning in Chicago, I was thinking about while working on Hear It Fizz #594.


Photo credit: David Travis

When I start a painting, I only have a general idea of the color palette and where I want to place the horizon in the composition. There's so much I don't know about the painting yet, and I discover it through the process of applying paint. As I was "finding" this painting, Hear It Fizz #594, I began to think of the sound of water as it breaks onto shore, and as I thought about that sound, I began to imagine what that sound looks like.

Below in this newsletter, in Pollution into Paint, Part Two, you can see this painting in an early stage, before I started imagining its sound.

You can always keep up with my latest work at And you can order giclée prints of a selection of my paintings at

My previous newsletters are 

Two Profiles of My Work 

I'm pleased to announce that Ampersand, the company that makes the Claybord panels I use for my paintings, featured my work in two recent blog posts.


The first post, Painting with Oils on Clayborddescribes several possible techniques, using my working method as one example.


The second post, Artist Profile: Louise LeBourgeoisis an interview in which I talk about my history as an artist, what has influenced my work, my process in the studio, and more.

Pollution into Paint, Part Two

In my April newsletter, under the section "Pollution Into Paint," I wrote about using my friend John Sabraw's brand-spanking new paint, Reclaimed Earth Violet, in two new paintings. The paintings were in progress at the time. This is what they looked like at the end of March:

I completed both of them around the end of April. Here's what they became:

No Longer Night, Circa 4am #593, oil on panel, 12" x 12", 2018

Hear It Fizz #594, oil on panel, 12" x 12", 2018

Paula Modersohn-Becker

In June, my husband Steve Carrelli and I visited the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts. One of their exhibitions, Women Artists in Paris 1850-1900, showed three Paula Modersohn-Becker paintings. I was pleased to see them because I’d recently read a book about her life.
Modersohn-Becker (1876-1907) produced hundreds of paintings and drawings in her short life. The figures in her paintings are clunky, but her layered application of paint produces a fine luminosity. The tension between her awkward figures and her nuanced use of color creates friction in her work, which I think is a part of her genius.
Here are two of her paintings in the exhibition:
Three Bathing Boys by the Canal, 1901

Nursing Mother in Front of a Birch Forest, 1905

Modersohn-Becker is often loosely classified with German Expressionism, though I see in her work an artist who honed her own vision with a distinctly independent streak.
I first learned about Modersohn-Becker in a 20th Century European Art class in college. But I hadn’t known much about her life until I came across a slim paperback a few months ago, Being Here Is Everything: The Life of Paula Modersohn-Becker by Marie Darrieussecq.
I bought it, and because I can never get enough of reading about women artists’ lives, I devoured it in a few days. Then I re-read it.
In Being Here Is Everything, Darrieussecq examines Modersohn-Becker’s artworks, diaries, and letters, and stirs in her own observations and questions, to create an essayistic biography. Here’s one of my favorite parts:
“And, through all these gaps, I in turn am writing this story, which is not Paula M. Becker’s life as she lived it, but my sense of it a century later. A trace.” (53)

Darrieussecq herself enters the text as she imagines Modersohn-Becker's life and reflects upon the visual and emotional resonance of her art and writing. I found Darrieussecq's writing to be as riveting as Modersohn-Becker's art.