Tag Archives: current events

The “Radical Act” of Enjoyment

Current events have me thinking about the cause of women.
Years ago, in 2010, I started a series called “The Goddess of Wine.” I was inspired by the women in my life. I noticed the pressure they felt, the guilt when they did literally anything for themselves. I noticed something else, too: Society seemed to join in and judge women for doing for themselves.
Prior to doing my art full time, I spent 16 happy years as a hairdresser. I loved my clients, and my heart would break a little when I’d hear their stories of guilt again and again. My male clients did not seem to suffer from this. These were amazing women, champions for their families and communities, giving it their all. Still, there was guilt. I think it’s high time for women to give up guilt and own their joy! I do not present these as facts, just my observations. After all, its my observations that form the basis for my art.
As an artist, I wanted to do a series completely dedicated to the joyous, riotous celebrating of women, doing nothing but enjoying themselves. No apologies, no guilt — after all, you have to put your own oxygen mask on first.
I haven’t painted anything in that series for a couple of years now, but I think it’s time to pull out these ladies to play again. I think the world could stand to see more women in the completely “radical act” of enjoying themselves. Revisiting last week’s blog, I guess artists can’t help but respond to current events.
I have an exhibition coming up in March that will hang at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Rapids. This will be a series of landscapes, meant to soothe the soul. I’m still finishing up the final touches on that. But March is Women’s History Month, and you can bet I’ll be celebrating with the resurrection of the “Goddesses of Wine” series, as well as sharing information about my favorite female artists. I’m really looking forward to March! How about you?
As always I love hearing from you, the best conversations happen on Facebook and Instagram. See you there.

Art Mimics Life



Can you tell I’m hiding out on the peaceful shores of Lake Michigan? Here is Clay Cliffs, a Leelanau Conservancy-protected land. 18 x 18 oil painting

The most fascinating thing about art history is the context.

Artists respond to current events. The Renaissance literally means “rebirth”; artists were responding to the Dark Ages, saying “no more” and looking towards enlightenment. And so it goes throughout the history of art: Impressionists were responding to years of constraint in art. The invention of tube paint and the camera gave a newfound freedom to get outside and paint plein air, leaving literal interpretation to the camera. With such freedom, they made bolder, freer art. The establishment hated it. The Post Impressionist took that even further.


Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park is another treasure of Michigan, and a favorite resting place. 18 x 18 oil painting

In America right now, current events are blowing up all over every day. Movements are forming and the “unprecedented” is happening everyday. So how are artists responding? I don’t know quite yet. I only know that they are, and they will.

I am wrestling with this issue almost daily in the studio. I don’t know how to respond with art. Almost a decade ago, I made a choice to keep art as my happy place, to make art that brings about a smile. To make art that celebrates the landscapes I love so deeply. And to save the issues that matter most to me for writing and personal exploration. I have long been an activist, a philanthropist, championing for children’s rights for a quality education in Ethiopia. Equality and justice matter deeply to me. Now this struggle is on my own front door … that is more complex to share than boarding a plane to Ethiopia. When it came to Ethiopia, I choose to celebrate the beauty and dignity of the culture in my art. That was what was truest to my heart. It remains truest to my heart to keep art a riotous, joyous celebration.


More Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park goodness. Here, the view overlooks the Glen Lakes. 18 x 18 oil painting

I’ve heard it said, “Leave it to the artist to explain the why.” I cannot explain to you the why, or tell you why life is simultaneously hard and unfair and beautiful and resilient. But I can share with you the struggle: You’re not alone, and neither am I. And I can tell you that this American struggle is deeply on my mind; as a private citizen, I am extremely active and engaged, and I think we are all called upon right now to be so. Even if it’s just putting more kindness into the world — do that!

As for my art, for now I rest, steady in the knowledge that the mere act of making art is enough. The celebration of art is a rebellion. And I promise you this, I will keep making and celebrating art at the top of my lungs, though the words of Nina Simone haunt me: “You can’t help it. An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times.”

What do you think? As always I love when you join in the conversation on Facebook and Instagram. I’ll see you there!


The skies over Lake Michigan are as glorious as the shore, and never overlooked by my artist’s eye. 14 x 14 oil painting