Wednesday, January 30, 2008


1 - 25 of "practice" (w4"x h4" beet dye paintings/meditations)

from visualizing, to formatting - still working on the BLINK application and I'm... DONE actually. Turning in materials friday morning once I've got both my references! to NAP before the schedule takes over again!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

this weekend's major projects

Sat. am:

Volunteer at the Dane County Farmer's Market in downtown Madison, WI. With a group I joined last Summer called "Dine and Do Good," I helped make and serve breakfast to Farmers Market patrons (a fundraiser for Farmers' Market marketing and overhead). I was educated in the art of crepe making and put on duty for 2 hours of crepe mania! The breakfast was gorgeous and almost all from the farmers' produce!!

Sat. pm:

Run 10 miles. Marathon training is underway!

Sun. am:

Clean house! Make grapefruit candy! ever had it? Time consuming to make, mouth consuming to taste! Here's the recipe:

10 grapefruit halves (insides eaten, pull out the membranes so that only the white pith and outer skin is left)
plenty of water! (amounts noted in instructions)
3 c. white sugar
3/4 c. rum (Not usually in the recipe, but my special addition - more is better)
1 1/2 c. white sugar in a large mixing bowl
3 2 ft. sheets waxed paper (for cooling & drying)

1. cut the grapefruit rinds into 1/4" wedge pieces - bite-size candy!
divide into 2 piles and place in 2 large skillets/pans (i don't have a giant pan, so I use my 2 largest ones) with 2 c. water each. Heat on high until boiling and turn heat down to simmer for 30 min. Pour off water, add 2 c. new water, and round 2 of 30 min. cooking. Do this one more time for round 3! This boiling of the rind helps release most of the acidity that makes citrus rind awful to eat raw.

2. After the rind has been cooked, drain it and put it back in the 2 lg. pans with 1 1/2 c. sugar, half the rum per skillet and 1 1/2 c. water. All the while stirring, cook this mixture down, gradually cooking off all of the water. Don't leave the 10 ft. radius around this project - KEEP STIRRING. If you have a candy thermometer, use it as the mixture thickens to a syrupy texture. Still stirring. When the mixture reaches 200 F, Soft Crack (as the thermometer might note), or the bubbles on the bottom of the pan start to finally stop bubbling, time to take the mixture OFF THE HEAT! Stirring...

3. As quickly as possible, toss the candied rind in the bowl of sugar to coat and separate the individual bits of candy. Place the pieces, not touching too much, on waxed paper to cool completely before storing in airtight container!

Bonus! Keep all that sugar from the toss and whatever bits are left on the waxed paper. I use it to make citrus sugar cookies or throw into Vanilla ice-cream!!

My Dad and his grandmother used to make this. He still makes it most years. I'm going to carry the tradition I reckon.

Sun. pm:

work on BLINK application. Dinner at Harvest - it's Madison Restaurant week!!!

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Spent the afternoon:

1 - making a budget for Sangha and Prayer Flags project
2 - making this visual concept image for the Sangha project
3 - eating my fair share of pumpkin bread

it's 5 below zero out there... that's minus 21 Celcius. Either way you look at it, it's cryogenic.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Today's progress:
Ordering materials and researching for "prayer flags" project. Prayer flags project - a series of people wearing traditional prayer-flag color t-shirts (blue, white, red, green, gold) with the Lungta or "Wind horse" prayer flag design printed on it. In making the t-shirts as prayer flags,the string of flags is then mobile. This is intended to be a performance art work where the string of prayer flags will walk the city or a part therein and offer the blessings traditionally offered through the prayer flags' symbols - offerings of peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom and wishes for change of misfortune into fortune.

This project is part 2 of a project I'm submitting to the Madison Arts Commission's "BLINK" temporary public art grant program. So, this morning, I've also been working on a Conceptual Approach Statement as part of that application. Much good work has been done and I feel great about that productivity. Part 1 of the project is Sangha or "Community of meditation practitioners." This work is the collection of the large paintings in which I've been writing the sound of my breath (practice in meditation) and noting the presence of the sitting meditator (as in the spot under the bodhi tree). I plan to paint 9 (if not more) of these paintings to be placed (like prayer rugs) in a grid formation on the ground. Anywhere this collection is placed is invited to receive the good intentions, careful attention, and hope for good actions, which the individual and community of meditators might offer.

Both parts of this project can be and might be shown in other locations, but my intention is to show and perform these works on the Capitol Square in Madison (on the lawn and around the square during the bustling Saturday Farmer's Market and maybe longer) in the Spring.

It has been good to focus on the purpose of my art and the process of my work as I attempt to communicate these things to others. I feel confident.

Friday, January 11, 2008

bring us to silence

I've been reading, obsessively, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. It seems I am brought to silent grief, disbelief, and understanding as every page turns. I am impressed by my own desire to remain immersed in such an intense story. I am thankful to Mr. Hosseini for the insight into Afghanistan that I was never given though I grew up in an overlapping time-frame.

This week, I also began teaching at the Monroe St. Fine Arts Center, an independent, non-profit Arts education center in Madison. I'm teaching an adult drawing course on Wed. nights of this month. It is going well so far... though I wonder sometimes if I might just stop talking and let the students draw! We now seek to understand how we can tap into our Right brain's methods of gathering and processing information and let go of the symbol, systematic methods that our Left brain is so used to employing. If we can let go of symbolism and be specific about the subject we intend to draw, study it's unique qualities, relieve ourself from having to guess, then our drawings will improve. We have all the information we need to do an accurate drawing - we just have to begin to look for it, see it. Over time, the muscles in the hand and fingers, and our understanding of the media we use will strengthen and become intuition. Combining this method with practice - undoubtable improvement. Now, let us have patience!

I also had my weekly lesson with Alex, my 11 yr. old charge! We made collages. Here's mine. An homage to the family. More work in the painting direction as well. I took the large painting, we'll call it "position 1" for now, off of the stretcher frame. What a relief to get it loose again. I realized as well, that I wanted to bring back the sense of atmosphere, so I did more layers of the white wash and transcribed breathing in graphite. I covered the birds, and they show through slightly. I did some more work to the piece, but will have to photograph it and have the visual here in order to discuss it. I also began a 2nd painting, position 2.

I'm continuing the tiny 4x4" paintings as well. I find I'd like to call them "practice."

Sunday, January 6, 2008

yesterday and today

some thoughts of note, from yesterday and this morning.

"Art is the the concrete representation of our must subtle feelings." -Agnes Martin

these 4"x 4"paintings are meditations
like counting beads

you can click on any image to see it larger... for these, I encourage it.

I've decided to begin dream journaling.
I go to sleep with the intention of remembering my dream. I wake up and write it down as soon as possible... the dream comes back vividly as I write. I am already moved by the symbols that were present in last night's dream.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

new year

I have spent the last 5 days, the first 5 days of this 2008th (by some calendars) year in a whirl of change. I probably look the same, I probably seem the same in other ways too...
Evaluate if you like. Here's a picture of myself and Mr. Butler at the beach around this time:

The new year coincidently (?) brought on some serious reflection into some personal issues I've been learning of, negotiating, and struggling with for a few years now. That's a pretty fast progression (in the grand scheme), but it's felt long enough. Brought on by the presence of warm, good people and intentional care of the soul (despite my stubborn unwillingness to care!), the revelation necessitates forward movement into the world with strength, gifts of love, and an ability to receive the infinite goodness that exists in the world.
I'm sure many others are experiencing a similar change (it is that time of year!) and it is inspiring to know my condition is universal.
So, with this change in thought comes plans to travel, plans to see art and culture that I've felt inaccessible to me in the past, plans to join the American Craft Council and participate in the contemporary merge of art and craft, continue to commit, with renewed vigor, to making the meaningful paintings and drawings, sculptures and installation pieces I've begun to make my regular practice. These are many: In this way, I'm still the old Rebecca-arie!

I mentioned that I'd seen the work of Agnes Martin at the Hirshorn Museum... Still inspired by that painting, I took the time to look her up and here's what I found:

Leaves, 1966

I couldn't find info. for this painting, though I think it was done in the 70s.

"Within the narrow parameters she set for herself, a square format (72 inches x 72 inches until 1995, when she changed to 60 inches x 60 inches), thin washes of color, and straight graphite lines, the paintings were endlessly varied and beautiful."
-Deborah Garwood
The above quote felt poignant to what I am doing in my recent work... I don't think I'm on the same track, but I'm inspired to say the least.
I also read an interview with Agnes Martin when she was in her 80s living in Taos (1995?). In this interview she is so clean in her description and egoless and simple in her interpretation of her art and the process. At first, I felt sorry for the interviewer (A.M.'s responses are so solid and short), but then I realized that the work of Agnes Martin and her philosophies of art making couldn't produce any more description. Minimalism frees the artist and the viewer from complexity and convolution. It's an act of love I'm happy to receive.
Click here to go to the 1996 Art in America Joan Simon interview with Agnes Martin.