Staring at a blank canvas is intimidating.  It’s like creating your MySpace profile way back in 2005- You caved and got one like the rest of your friends, now what?  Open it up and it’s this blank, vacuous parcel of cyberspace awaiting your footprint.  Eesh. How do you present yourself- or, as is the case with this blog, your talent, urge, or creative impetus?

Another fancy art concept is underpainting.  Underpainting opens it up for business.  It’s the marks you take to the surface that break the tension of blank space.  More than making a mark, in underpainting, you sketch out the basic picture with your brush or whatever type of tool you’re using to form the skeleton of an image.

Layers of underpainting for "Lupinus Nooktatensis".

You can use squiggly marks, curlicues, bright dashes of color, pencil, anything really to mess up that nice white space and tell it what you want it to be.  Session by session, layers of underpainting come together to form a cohesive image.  The underpainting can have a substantial visual energy that lends itself to the end product:

"Lupinus nooktatensis", final. Acrylic on panel, 1'x1', 2009.

I hope I didn’t lose any of you there.  Back to human-speak…I painted this as a gift for my cousin and her husband who just moved to the Olympic Penninsula from Juneau, AK.  It’s a picture of a flower native to southeast Alaska called the “Nookta Lupine.”  Throughout the year, and especially in times of famine, the native inhabitants of the area would rely on the tuberous root of this plant for food.  So there you have it, ethnobotany and technique in one tidy little package…




Fond memories…


I came to a realization today. I live in a freaking hippytown, and I don’t mean that in the derogatory sense…I mean that in the sense that that’s awesome.

Living in a hippy town inclines a person to hippiedom. Por ejemplo, I woke up today and instead of stewing about the house, I went for a walk along the lake. You can do that in a hippytown. There’s more. From the lake in the hippytown, you can walk to the library and use the hippy community library internet computers. It’s so rad. And so free. Who needs money when you live in a hippytown?

When you live in a hippytown, you might want money to go across the street from the library to the health food store. You can ask the owner about the new hippy vitamins and find some green tea soda to go with your vegan mock-tuna sandwich. That’s how I do in hippytown. You really have to take advantage of what’s available to you in a hippytown. If you don’t you won’t realize that you live in one and it will seem normal and dull. This is not something that you want in a place to live. NOT a good look . You want to live in a hippytown. You just don’t know it.

In a hippytown you will run into your hippy friend yoga instructors from the townie yoga studio. They will give you smelly hugs. You marvel at their dreadlocks and briefly entertain the idea of styling some for yourself, then you dismiss it. Maybe you’re just a transient.

Speaking of the local townie yoga studio, it is pretty, with nice hardwood floors hewn from tree trunks. There are lots of soft purple curtains. It is right next to the best Christian coffee shop, and you will hang out there even though you’re not Christian, because you feel wonderful and accepting in a hippytown. Maybe you take a Reiki class or a Kundalini yoga lesson. You can do hella weird sh*t here.

I love my hippytown. It feeds me, and it’s in Jersey. There is something oh-so-wrong about that, but I’ll bury my doubts for now in texturized veg-eat-able protein. Compton, Longbeach, Collingswood.

“Diptych” is a fancy little term I learned in art school.  Making a diptych is a surefire way to give your painting a catchy title like mine below.  Sounds artsy right? I was srsly stoked to create this piece- the first I’d made since my son had been born in late 2008.  I actually started it while I was pregnant since I know I need to push myself to create and so I wouldn’t lose myself in the process of creating another being.  Turned out pretty good (baby and painting alike).

Tierra I, diptych, 1'x2'. Acrylic on canvas: 2008.

When I started this, it was summer and I was about a gajillion months preggo, or felt like it anyways.  My belly was SUPER HUGE!  I’d stand out in my concrete backyard in south Philly, looking up at a little scrap of sky between power lines, staring down at these two little blank canvases and brewing sun tea, a bit lost as where to begin.  Often I’d paint naked with my huge belly hanging out, as there were no windows facing our enclosure.  Since we were in the city, it was all I could do to get out and get some sun on my skin.  I was full and comfortable- so, Tierra 1: Diptych was born.  It looks even better in person.

I finished it around Christmastime last year and wanted to give it as a present, but couldn’t part with it after it was done.  I love it, plain & simple.  Who me, egotistic?

Who do you know (squares not included) that didn’t have a Bob Marley obsession at one point, or still does for that matter?  Mine was during high school.  Big surprise.  It took me six years to complete this suitable homage to the man.  Oil on canvas, 18″x24″.  Everyone loves Bob.

I intently belabored, really crafted, the light radiating from his crown to help visualize how music affects people who really feel it- it’s a Crown Chakra thing.  Yeah, those are angel wings.  You can’t separate the music from the man.  His music was and is his vehicle, a vehicle of light.  We need a little bit of that here in the future.

Bright Morning, 1996-2003. Oil on canvas. 18'x24'.


When I lived in Albuquerque, I visited my grandparents in El Paso every Thanksgiving.  My trips there inspired these paintings:

El Paso del Norte I.  Acrylic on panel, 2002.

El Paso del Norte I.

This is a picture of the Franklin Mountains that border EP to the North and West.  I could leave my grandparents front porch, walk up the street past the rosemary bushes, Bouganvillia and orange trees and up into these mountains.  From up there you can see hazily across the border to Juarez y Las Colonias.  The mountains on the other side read, in whitewashed rock letters, “LA BIBLIA ES LA VERDAD LEELA”.  I have no idea who Leela is, but it’s a cool vista.  Makes my heart swell with orgulla chicana.

This next one is El Paso del Norte II.  It gives you an intimate feeling of El Paso at the ground level:

El Paso del Norte II.  Acrylic on Panel, 2002.


What is it like to tend your beautiful garden of Lantana and Bouganvillia? What are the smells and the view across the street to your neighbors, who are busy warming tamales y menudo for almuerzo?

I made this painting from a photo I took in my grandparents backyard.  That’s Angelito’s T-bird under the tarp in the driveway.

I’m reminded of these visits- the last one was during Thanksgiving in 2005, and would like to commemorate their passing:

In Memory of Angel and Dolores Rojas- 2009 and 2008 respectively.

It’s triple scoop awesome.  This is how I get my words, pictures, paint out there. I incorporate lyrics, writings and abstractions into painted fields based loosely on photographs, and meanwhile blog them so you get in on the process.

"The Love Below"

a fan favorite.

This painting was stolen out of my living room when I was living in Albuquerque from 1999-2002.  I stole it back a few months later.

It’s called “Love Below” & inspired by Andre 3000, who else?  4 feet x 4 feet.  Acrylic on canvas.  I basically laid down paper towel strips on wet gesso and threw paint on it once it dried.  Oh, and there’s red prismatic glitter in the shapes.  FUN.