A Deeper Look Into My Art Practice Before

I was looking into more old journal drawings and came across this book that was made to record the thoughts and drawings of a series about my childhood home. The book was shaped like a house and the whatever was handy paper for the folios were marked into before any writing or drawing took place. I did not want to open it and have clean blank pages staring back.

So what follows is how a total of three house shaped structures came about and evolved along the way. I needed to capture all my thoughts in the process. I will start off with this one of many artist statements I wrote quite a while ago that captures how I work.

The Order of Things:

As an artist who is creating something, it must start with an idea, an idea that I feel strongly about fixing into a visual form. It must be something that matters to me and worth the expenditure of time and materials to resolve. The choices made along the way to completion are continually in service to that idea. There is no deviation through the seduction of materials and I will keep the processes of making within my own range of learned and practiced techniques.

I am not interested in making someone else’s art. I don’t have time for that. Nor am I interested in simply “playing” in the studio. The work that happens in my studio is exactly that, work.

It is an unwavering commitment to an idea that requires continual choices in a particular order of selection, combination, completion and assessment….S. Webster

Now the first house…

“Indeed, every great image has an unfathomable oneiric depth to which the personal past adds special color. Consequently it is not until late in life that we really revere an image, when we discover that its roots plunge well beyond the history that is fixed in our memories.”  Gaston Bachelard

Journal for a work addressing families, homes and secrets:

I am not comfortable exposing or even thinking about others’ secrets. Not even my own. Actually the corners will have to stay dark and the layers covered. I will need to find metaphors for our secrets.

There could be layers of houses with the walls made of letters from home – the positive letters of my mother’s – all layering over a more secret center pulse of the house’s existence – small windows here and there – one sees through to the next but never the whole picture.

“The corner is a sort of half-box, part walls, part door.” Gaston Bachelard

I like the safeness of the corners as well as the mystery.

“And this utterly familiar common thing would suddenly be revealed to me with all the wonder with which we discover a thing we have seen all our lives and yet have never known before.” Thomas Wolfe

And then I continue thinking about the houses I will make……


Return to the house structure for Revealing and Concealing Space…piano hinged box with separate roof and floor pieces. It can open completely out and turn inside out….adapt to the secrecy of my place in the house.


The back wall of fence opens to release me to the world of Nature….

“Doors that open to the countryside seem to confer freedom behind the world’s back.” Ramon Gomez

These are the things I would bring back into my space at home – all took on a preciousness and were carefully tucked away – hidden in boxes – or placed on shelves or pressed in books.

This house has moved to a place that encourages escape from its confines and all that implies – closed in, unfinished or disrepair – too small – no air for a young tomboy. Yet there is something comforting about its form. Solid and protective. There are remnants of the attempts my mother made to give the house a “homeness”. The curtain is enough as she was not a true lover of housekeeping – hated cooking and was terrible at it. Did not like housework and chose to ignore it. We were loved and allowed to be free. She was a very tolerant woman.

“It was a patriarchal system where men managed the means of acquisition and made the decisions which determined our lives. The woman’s obligation (and usually desire) was to ease those determinations into existence. As children we knew our place, our value, and our limitations. We also knew that we were not necessarily needed and therefore easily excused to wander and explore our natural world in complete safety and with wild abandon.”…from artist statement to Where I Once Belonged

The entire experience about constructing this house fluctuated with my feelings brought on by memories. Somewhere in the building and collecting and writing I let go of the secrecy of the house’s corners and wanted to find myself in this place. I wanted to show the freedom I had to go away and be out of the confines of a small place with too many people and too much unpredictable noise. Always out the door and gone – safely away rather than safely home. The wallpaper and finding the text – my own writing rather than Bachelard’s determined my final response to the house.

I still need to explore the secrets, the corners and the darker interiors of this house, but at least now I have a point of reference – a point I do not mind returning to for more and more information about myself and my memories of home (house).


The second in the series was a small house that has a book coming out of the side. In the attic space is a strip of paper all bundled up with the text from “where I once belonged”. Pages were coffee filters. I never wrote on them….

The third in the series was back to building a house.

I have made the third house – returning to the early idea of a house that opens to reveal its corners that remain inaccessible. It is slightly taller than the main part of house #1. The front two corners are hinged to the back half of the house halfway down the outside wall. The interior is more of the wallpaper of #1 and the addition of a photocopy of a picture I took at Dolph Smith’s homestead in Ripley, TN. The distorted view through the window and the exterior’s clapboard siding has such a look of familiarity. The outdoors beckons (through the window) to come outside, “come away” it calls. The floor is treated as in #1 house. Outside the house a shingle look of papers overlapping – much better looking so I recovered the exteriors of house #1 and the book house of #2. Roots only appear here and there (one floor with attics above. I like this one.

I had someone make a tiny wooden chair to put in the center of the floor of this third house…it’s emptiness was my “presence of absence”.

All the writing above appears in the journal along with other notations of materials used and why.

This series was exhibited a few times. I loved making it and taking notes on my memories of what mattered to include in the houses.

The last I saw of them was here….about a year and half ago.

I found this process of making interesting and wanted to share it. Tomorrow I will return to the usual…more drawings a day, more images and writings from old journals.

Til then

Getting Some Control

We have a friend who comes once a week to share her lunch with us. We keep our distance at the table. She listens to my apprehensions, worries, exhaustions…and then offer suggestions. The leaves above were a gift from her this week. I tied them together with string just to keep control over something and love how they dry and curl in this bundle.

After lunch I get Lee set up to be outside doing something while I vent to Barbara. Here are some of her ideas:

Start using the dishwasher again! Don’t rush through the meal and wash up while Lee is still eating…put the dishes for the day in the washer and even if it is no where near full, turn it on after dinner! It works!

Add another hour to the caregivers time and get five hours of free time. I talked to the caregiver and her employer and that idea goes into effect starting Monday. This way when I have toi do the shopping it does take up half my time, just some of it.

Use the apartment more to remove myself from listening to what is going on with Lee and the caregiver. What a great idea! I only used it once to write the text to construct books around before.

Speaking of which this is what I wrote the day before Barbara came that put me in a frazzle when she was here.

In Just Two Hours


In just two hours:

Left to do the grocery shopping,

had a car to car visit with neighbors

on the way back to my house.

Like everyone else when they see me,

I am told they think of us.

Can they visit Lee?

I tell them he may not know who they are.

We go our separate ways.


Groceries are unpacked and put away,

so is my coat and purse,

I am sweating.

The cold wine called,

I couldn’t just carry the bottle downstairs

past the hall where they would see me,

the caregiver and Lee.


And now I am here in the studio,

writing and holding the water glass.

Trying to make it last.


So yes the apartment works fine. I do not get internet there but the house phone can be carried over so the ringing will not upset Lee.

There are two trunks full of old memories I needed to look into and toss some out. Under a couple of trash bags I took over a bottle of wine. Yesterday I wanted to be ready to retreat here as soon as the caregiver came.

The first thing I did was fix a spot of herbal tea in my old favorite pot with the cup down below. Used a little of coffee raspberry flavoring to sweeten it.

Then I set up my pads, sketchbooks, laptop, etc on a table Lee made using sewing machine legs that is by the window and near the loom he made me in 1982.

The apartment also has old oil paintings I did in the mid 80s.

The door into the apartment and the counter tops Lee made.

And those two trunks stacked at the bedroom end.

And after facing the trunks, filling a large garbage bag, sorting letters and old photos for the kids to deal with, I treated myself. Wine in a glass that Lee frosted.

In looking at old photos of myself with the intention of just throwing them out, I was caught in a childhood I had forgotten about. Since I am the only surviving one of six children, there has been no one to say, “Remember when…?” The result is, you simply forget. I looked at an old photo book of me from 2 to 23. Then I met Lee and less than a year later our daughter was born. Those photos from that time  on were packed up weeks ago to push off on the kids. My childhood, their report cards and drawings all kept in one of the trunks are now ready to go off with them. They get to throw them away. I just could not do it.

The last four days drawings of scarves.

Antique silk scraps

pieced together randomly –



Very drapey mesh

of rayon strings loosely knit

and knotted at ends.


A knitted tie dyed

loop of a nice colorful

band in pinks and blues.


Multiple knit loops

gathered and knotted

from Laughing Squid.

*Note: I tried contacting Laughing Squid this morning to order another one of these fun neck pieces that wrap three times around. They must be out of business now. It was an Etsy shop. I wish I had bought more at the time.

More journals….



Is there anything like a belly full of extraordinary food and wine – then locked up in a single cabin first class on the Ghan swaying your way into the Northern Territory and listening to the anti war version of Waltzing Matilda” I think not!

I am washed, lotioned and propped up in a space that is pie shaped, 24” at the pillow end and six feet down it is panning to 48”. My door to the hall is across from my daughter Amy’s cabin. A wash basin folds up not six inches from my right foot. All I need is here in this space.

A wonderful dinner with Aussies – full of politics, wineries and family talks and a promise to meet at breakfast. Then there is the window- more than a metre and open to the outback of Australia. What is out there in the dark? I know it is wild, mysterious and beautiful – nothing less. I will sleep through some of this and be sorry that I did. But I am older now than the last time and can trust Australia to be hre when I wake. Good night.

And Anzac cookies made this week.

Til later….Lee just broke the leaf blower again….I will just buy another one on Monday. There could be another leaf somewhere.

A Bit of Brightness

Looking out my front door we see a late look at the beauty of the trees left with leaves. A sudden brightness from what was quite dull last week. Here are some more.

And after Lee runs down two batteries blowing them off the driveway, he just can’t stop.

He simply gets out his broom and continues.

Right now I have him vacuuming fern droppings on the porch. He is focused!

I have talked to two homes that care for those with dementia and he is now on a list for when a room becomes available. There is no reason for him to go now or in the near future as far as I can see. Our doctor and I will make that decision when the time comes. Both places that I called were very helpful in what to look for when the time gets near. It is a relief that both places are close to home and he is on a list that I can turn down when they call, if he is not ready. We simply move further down. Private rooms are hard to come by in these facilities but a shared room can be used by only one if the costs are met. So far all seems possible. Now I wait and watch. Their only precaution was that I look to my own health needs as well because caregiving can take a toll. For now the three afternoons a week for relief seem enough and we are settling into a routine of one caregiver keeping an eye on him instead of an assortment. He doesn’t mind the extra company in these isolated times and I like the bit of freedom of going to the store without leaving him in the car, having time to talk on the phone, work in the studio, etc.

Speaking of which….I finished the first sketchbook for 2021.

I like to hammer over my corners to make book more inviting to the touch. It gives it a worn feel.

I will continue to make blank journals for next year and beyond. I need to use up materials instead of hoping that I will have private students again. Then I will need to pack some of it up to give away.

It is sort of like how many wine glasses do you need when the dinner parties have stopped.

Here are some more scarves.

The conclusion is—-

drawing an eco printed

scarf – impossible!


Resist dyed large scarf

made by  textile artist and

teacher from Africa.


Nuno felted scarf

that I rolled up to make it

easier to draw.


Two shades of blue knit

scarf with lots of overlock

stitches in between.

And a bit more journal entries.


Nov 1, 2003 Gympie, Queensland

My last teaching obligation of nine in six weeks. I am on the deck of a apartment type room on the country side of town. The drive here from Bundaberg last night was horrendous – wind and rain in the dark on the only road – a fallen tree left traffic backed up for miles.

It can be very dark here in the country or “outback”. So dark you want the terrifying lightening to strike so you can see if you are still on the road.

This place is connected to a bottle shop/hotel/casino/bistro. Ordered two Toohey’s Old Stout before I even sat down to a meal of corned beef (the only thing left as it was closing time. The meat came smothered in white sauce and filled the plate – served ourselves the vegetables and salads from the counter. Over salads hung a lace table cloth to keep the flies away while the hot starchy vegetables were not covered – no flies seemed interested anyway. Interesting dish with sweet potatoes and coriander (cilantro)  – tasty. A very Australian country experience in hostelry. We return here tonight and I look forward to seeing what else is offered – hopefully wine and seafood.


“In my view, the best art is vulnerable. It is when the artist has given something of himself to the world. Perhaps what is most personal is also the most universal. In a classroom setting where student are set up to compete against one another and where the instructor inadvertently acts as judge over them, they are less likely to chances, to risk acceptance, to expose their vulnerability, and to deal with personal issues in their work.”     Agniewszka Matejko, Canadian artist and teacher

Til later…


It Is Not Over Yet!

We still do not know the official count to declare a winner for President of the United States! And who couldn’t see it coming that the worst president ever would want to contest the outcome? We are a sick country to elect this man in the first place.  Maybe by tonight he will find some graciousness and admit it is over. Of course, that is wishful thinking. My champagne bottle is ready when the winner is officially declared.

The other morning on the walk and with the change in light, I found this owl for the Fairy Book.

I have been working on that book but just got side tracked with stitching. After I finished this moth I told myself to stop for a bit and get back to other sketchbooks.

Speaking of which, when I finish this new blank journal for pen sketches and writing, I will continue to make more just to use up book board and papers. It is daunting to see what all has to be packed up in this studio and I need to start thinking of my next stop.

My long term care insurance person who checks in regularly called the other day and I asked if she had time to talk. My concern is that Lee may have to go into a care facility sooner than I might have thought and I am not even remotely ready nor knowledgeable on how that all works. She was very helpful and encouraging, and advised me to start looking around to see what is close by. I am starting that process.

But then the question is, do I want to stay at the end of the road alone. I like the quiet of being here. I don’t like the idea of having to endure the life of living in a home attached to a care facility. The idea of sharing meals on command with strangers is not something I look forward to.

Maybe someone to stay out in the apartment just to check in on me daily would be a good idea….maybe not.

Anyway my lifeline on the end of that phone call was full of encouraging possibilities. There is no one close to discuss these things with. It is hard to talk when Lee is with me continually. But I will get back on the phone as soon as I finish this.

In the meantime I am learning to make crumpets. No reason other than to have another option for Lee’s breakfast in the freezer and ready to pop in the toaster.

I bought these cute molds because I had nothing else to use.

They are a bit dense but tasty! More practice.

And the drawings of scarves….

Large loosely-woven

shawl that was tie-dyed in browns

and bought in Bali.


I purchased this one

in China 2004,

all grey and golden.



Randall Darwall shawl.

The most luxurious silk

threads are beautiful


Elderly lady

Esther owned this scarf many

years before I did.


Some more excerpts from journals.


What’s extraordinary about an ordinary day?

The extraordinary thing about what we think of as an ordinary day is that we missed the opportunity to see it otherwise. How we let them go by without noticing the promise of what each day has to offer. New dawns bring new chances to take, fresh starts, a window to the next day. The ordinary day gives us the place of memory that we rely on tomorrow. You can’t get more extraordinary than that!


“It is the lives we have while living. Not the ones of any distinction but the kind that slip unnoticed one into the other and then follows us pulling like gravity to a place we’ve left behind. And sooner or later we slow down and let them have their way, grateful for a place to rest in the surety of no more forks in the road.”….I can’t remember where this came from.


And I think this Luna Moth is finished.

Til later.