metamorphosis noun
: a major change in the appearance or character of someone or something

biology : a major change in the form or structure of some animals or insects that happens as the animal or insect becomes an adult

I learn more about the Palo Verde Beetle than I ever intend. Many people appreciate it and its particular clumsiness.  When it surfaces – only to mate and then die – you can assume it’s 3 weeks before our first monsoon storm.

I have come across it both at its larvae stage and in its full mature stage. For the most part my images are meant to be internal anatomy studies. But in this case the  external form is provocative – dark, opaque and hard – like a suit of armor – I can’t ignore it. So the anatomy is in there, but the external presence of the bug remains primary.

I am glad to be done with it. The painting itself is more startling than these photos.





palo verde beetle

I received an invitation to take part in – of all things – a Bugs in Art themed show.  I wouldn’t naturally do this sort of examination, but because it is so out of my comfort zone - why not. I enjoy studying life and maybe I enjoy overcoming fears.


This Palo Verde Root Borer has been one interesting challenge. A friend gave me the creäture. I know it’s not alive but I am nervous the entire time I paint.

IMG_5930It is oddly beautiful in its larva stage – it is large, yellow with bright red dots – and can live for 3 years before emerging from the ground. The adult on the other hand – is black or brown in color, has long antenna’s, and spines on the thorax which form a collar around the “neck” of the beetle. They have wings and can fly. The mature beetle emerges in the humid summer months to mate and dies soon afterward; adult lifespan is about one month.

Derobrachus geminatus – this longhorn beetle is native to the American Southwest and northern Mexico. It derives its name from the Palo Verde tree. It is one of the largest beetles in North America and can reach up to three and a half inches in length. I met my first one soon after moving to Phoenix. I might never have come here if I’d known about this bug.


Palo Verde Study – mixed media collage – 10″ x 10″

I’m not complete with the composition. After laying it out I decide to show the wings.  I photograph  and post at this stage only because I know the work is going to change again. This is an anatomy study, as best I can figure out the bugs insides, I take liberty especially with color. I add green because it should be verde even if only in my imagination. I will darken things up a bit more soon. Maybe.

After spending several days looking at it under a magnifying glass I decide the creepiest  thing about the bug are the antenna’s. Next bug I paint will be something less intimidating – I need the break.


2014 governor’s arts awards


In early March I was contacted by Jessica Rajko, Artist Services Coordinator at the Arizona Commission on the Arts. The commission was interested in purchasing one of my artworks to be awarded to an honoree at the 2014 Governor’s Arts Awards.

Since 1981, distinguished Arizona artists, arts organizations, businesses, educators and individuals have been recognized for their passion, creativity, and devotion to furthering the excellence and diversity of Arizona’s arts and cultural community. Each year, six awards are presented in six categories. Arizona Citizens Action for the Arts, with support from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, selects and invites six Arizona artists to provide a work that will be presented as an award.

I sent several available works. They made the final choice – a limited edition lithograph titled Alchemical Action. I would be presenting the award along with previous recipient David Ira Goldstein.


David Ira Goldstein, Monica Aissa Martinez, and honoree Daniel Buckley

I had the pleasure of handing my artwork to Tucson artist and performance art pioneer Daniel Buckley, who spent 22 years with the Tucson Citizen before creating a documentary film series about the political and social evolution of Tucson’s Mexican-American population. He was awarded Artist of the Year. After photos we took a moment to remember mutual friend and arts advocate Ruben Hernandez, who recently passed away.

1959283_10152408718036929_1368868076_nCongratulations to Daniel and all the other honorees. For more information about the Governor’s Arts Awards and a list of all the winners – visit the website here:

The ceremony was held on March 25th at the Mesa Arts Center. The program was filled with dance, music, creative people with great words of community and thanks. I note it was preceded by one of our Arizona haboobs – all of it memorable for sure.

About the lithograph:

The Limited Edition Lithograph Al Chemical Action is based on a drawing titled Al-Chemical Reaction. Commissioned in 2000, by the Hispanic Research Center at Arizona State University. I worked with master printer Joe Segura at Segura Publishing to complete the work which is published in Contemporary Chicana and Chicano Art, Volume l.

And because we discussed Ruben Hernandez, here is the article he wrote about my work in March of 2009 → ” Lantino Perspectives titled “Mind Matters”.

no woman is an island – continues

One show is the riotously antic, articulate show of paintings by Monica Aissa Martinez. This colorful, well-designed art seems to cavort through paper and canvas, with two humanoid abstractions (of assorted and combined cocktail glasses, beakers, squiggly lines) showing the convolutions of humans’ pairing-game. While whimsical, Martinez’s show is beautifully designed and painted, with a message built in – partnering may look hilarious, but it has serious, even threatening dimensions. - Roberta Burnett in a Special for the AZ Republic


Casein on Linen
12 x 12″

Veronica and Greg drop into my studio on a Friday evening, in March. Veronica walks along the walls looking at work. She appears to be searching for something in particular. She explains she is interested in buying a wedding gift.

I recall a series I made a few years back that expresses the nature of relationship – the balance/imbalance of masculine and feminine energies. I open my flat file drawers and we look through work. I pull out a few small paintings. She likes two of them. Last week she decides which one she’ll take.

When is the wedding? I ask Veronica.
March 29th.
What a generous gift.

We want to give them something important and symbolic – something special. Art.

Thank you Greg and Veronica. The gesture is thoughtful and I appreciate my work being part of a grand day.

And to Heather and Andy – Happy Nuptials to the both of you.

synchronous – syn – “together,” – chronos – “time.”
– at the same time or frequency: simultaneous, in synch, in step

The blog posts titled No Woman is an Island acknowledge the people and/or organizations who support me and the work I do.


This small painting is part of a large series of works on paper and canvas titled → Relationships – the ebb and flow. I completed the body of work in 2007. One might say in the bigger picture I was questioning and studying relationship, while in the smaller picture I was trying to understand basic electronics.


no woman is an island – continues

Monica we are visiting Phoenix and just had a yoga class at Desert Song … and fell in love with your work. Especially the ‘Subtle Female Back Body’. Anita said she loved another work, ‘Handstand’? Could we make an appointment to view your work or give you a call this morning?

Marti and her husband John are in my studio by noon, and when they leave they take 4 artworks (technically 3) with them. In between we talk about their children, dogs, cats, quilt-making, wool, yarn, travel, fishing and of course – Yoga.

They spend time looking at the various large figure studies I am painting. They respond to them and I appreciate the dialogue. As we move through the studio they see and like my recent animal anatomy compositions. In particular they like the 2-sided hanging works on paper (this is why I consider this one work two). They choose the cat and bird – titled Earth and Air.

I talk about the hanging system and how I am playing with ideas for larger work. John explains another type of hook/hardware to me. He wonders if I have any fish images. I do not. They are heading to a fishing store after our studio visit.

Did I mention Marti and John live in Portland, Oregon.


12″ x 12″
Casein, Graphite, on Paper
Print on plexi

This work is collage (with architectural renderings), painted, sanded and varnished. The cat is egg tempera, the bird is casein. I mention the durability of casein. I tell them about it’s earliest known use in Egyptian work. Casein is a binder. Consequently with all that layering they are stiff works of paper and designed to hang in space, as opposed to being framed and on the wall.


12″ x 12″
Egg Tempera, Graphite, on Paper

They also choose 2 reproductions – images I had printed on plexiglass. The originals are  casein (bee) and egg tempera (cat).  Marti likes The Cat and John likes The Bee. I explain the reproductions are also experimental ways of finishing and hanging an image. While all of it can hang traditionally, it can also hang uniquely without framing.


Cat Study
12″ x 12″
Print on plexiglass


Bee Study 
12″ x 12″
Print on plexiglass

My animals will be residing in Portland. Thank you Marti and John. It was good to meet you. John enjoy your fishing and Marti, quilt-making is great work – get into that studio.

The blog posts titled No Woman is an Island acknowledge the people and/or organizations who support me and the work I do.


… and then there were 2

arms akimbo


I am completing a life-size anatomy study of a young female. The subject is my 9-year-old niece Sara. I have an idea I will be progressing with for my next phase of study.

I found the phrase Arms Akimbo used in Facebook.


I used my skeleton to work out the entire structure of this particular work.


When I begin the sketch I mention how I recognize my feet in Sara’s feet.
Leonardo Da Vinci says: The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.

IMG_5855I agree.

observing structure and texture

In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous. –  Aristotle


We return from Spring break to a class critique. Students have spent two weeks looking closely at natural objects that have complex structure and texture. The assignment requires a magnifying glass, I want them to see all the variety of lines on their shells of choice. I suggest they run their fingers across the form and feel – is the surface smooth or textured? They balance positive and negative space. The work is challenging.

The class as a whole does well. As usual in this assignment – they don’t know what they are in for until they actually start working. They pick 3 or 4 shells and set a composition. I do allow a few of them to change out shells as they progress. Below are some examples of their excellent work. Note the variety of shapes and marks,  and especially see the sensitivity they have acquired. 

This class talks a lot about how intricate nature is – they had no clue for example - how much texture fills a leaf. I decide by the end of class every person on the planet should be required to draw some bit of nature in this manner – no doubt we’d respect its grandness more.


Roman’s shells, feather and leaf.


Detail of leaf.


Silvia’s Starfish.


Giovanna’s leaves.


Three skulls by Roger.


Detail of upper palette and teeth.


Roger’s shells and bone.


Detail of shell.


Daniel’s Two Shells.


Detail of shell.


Alex’s 4 Shells.


Toshad’s shells.


Detail of spiral shell.


Norma’s homework.



The last work below is an advanced student who works with color on scratchboard, for this assignment.


Vicki’s Lavender on Scratchboard.