Back to the Hermitage

This week is my husband’s birthday, I say week as he enjoys a weeklong celebration of this blessed day ( March 6th) ; I for one would rather forget my own birthday.

That said, David had taken off early last week in order to prepare for celebrations. It was a busy weekend with little opportunity to work in the studio. We certainly didn’t sit about, we painted his mother’s sitting room and the kitchen, all very fresh and happy- a pretty celery green. Gardening and luncheon with maiden auntie and mater, a little museum visit on kimono and obi designs of the 1960’s ,  cooking and dining and drinking; the usual time consuming “life” stuff. How do  productive folks balance it all? Planting artichoke seedlings is one thing, but painting, now that is another story.

That being the case the following is work from last week. I am working at the suggestion of my friend Clive Hicks-Jenkins on incorporating maquettes into my studio practice. Maquettes being little puppet like figures articulated by paper fasteners ( I have since found incredibly teeny little fasteners at Michaels- a shop I cannot tolerate but often has just the perfect oddball device). Clive provided instructions in making a maquette which have been incredibly valuable. I am probably more OCD than Clive would like, but as I gain confidence I’m sure I will loosen up.

My current interest is the Creation Myth of the Mesoamericans, the Popol vuh. In time I will give more details about the mythic cycle, it is very exciting stuff and provides me with relatively unexplored subject matter- at least by Westerners. What I intend to explore is the significance of the story as seen from an outsider perspective. Not very different from chinoiserie in 17th and 18th century Europe. In fact a major influence is once again Poussin and his heroic figures.The following articulated figure is of Xbalanque,  one of a pair of Hero Twins, a staple in Mesoamerican visual culture. It is safe to say they are not usually depicted as I have chosen to depict them.

As I mentioned the figure was inspired by Poussin, in this instance The Magnanimity of Scipio, this being a very poor detail taken from my phone. In fact all of the images seem pretty paltry, I will need to work on adjusting the settings.

Another image of the Xbalanque maquette.

As I mentioned I have been interested in the Popol huh for some time, the following is a detail of a larger oil that I am working on still, this image being of the Hero Twins.

I frankly haven’t a clue as to why this is such a large image, but so it is. I will close with this cinematic vision, it is close to 9 am and i must get to work cutting and snipping and making use of my dandy little fasteners. 

Until next time,


Settling In And Beginning Anew

This is my first post for my new blog Boondocks Babylon. As readers of Babylon Baroque are aware of I have moved from Los Angeles to a backwater outpost of San Diego , El Cajon ( I had thought San Diego provincial enough, I hadn’t a clue how cowboy East County was).  El Cajon I believe translates to mean the box or something like that. Aptly named as one can certainly feel boxed in. As is true of much of our fine country many folks are unhappy and broke, it appears El Cajon is the epicenter of angry white folks, quite annoyed with lots of brown people sucking the life out of our nation-or so goes the rhetoric. Obviously this was not the sort of environment that was familiar when we lived in the westside of LA, I used to bitch and moan about the vapid conversations, the banal consumption of luxury goods and of course the well known shallowness.

Goodness I miss all that. Instead of lovely boys and girls flashing ridiculously perfect smiles I encounter the most dreary angry folks around, greying, becoming increasingly doughy and all around pissed off ; they have turned Crunch gym ( YES there is a Crunch in El Cajon, who would have imagined!) into a red-necked biker bar. It is all terribly dis-spiriting at times. 

We wouldn’t have made such a drastic move  if it wasn’t necessary, my mother-in-law is increasingly in need of attention, financially and emotionally, after experimenting with other options this has turned out to be the most viable solution. The husband still has his practice in Beverly Hills and he schlepps “home” to our little gated community on the weekend, a cul -de- sac with pretensions of Orange county grandeur. So that is the back story, the upside is I have been given tremendous liberty to paint, after 20 years of servile commissioned work for interior decorators, I am tickled to finally have this opportunity. As much as I may gripe about my situation, when I am in the Little Hermitage ( my studio and the name of my first house which is another story), with hummingbirds visiting my garden and snoring pugs at my feet it is quite heavenly. That is when I must feel gratitude and believe I am in the right place at the right time.

I am increasingly close to the half century mark, as an artist I have very little to show for it. As I mentioned I have worked for designers who have essentially used my abilities to suit their needs and their “vision”, I was quite literally a tool- a paintbrush with arms and legs. It wasn’t at all a pleasant experience, one that has left me a bit resentful  but more specifically sad that I have wasted so much time. I am trying to race against time and create a body of work that I can feel proud about, one that reflects my interests and exploits my limited skills. I am self taught, still learning, often struggling.

This new blog will be my attempt to record this period, my Second Half. Here in suburbia, most frequently isolated save for pups and the mother-in-law, trying to put in studio time and make something of myself.

Please wish me luck.

Until next time,

Boondocks Babylon

Above mentioned pugs, mid snore, Viola on left, Rose on right.