no woman is an island

Maria sends an email… I will be back in town next week and was wondering if you have any of your work on exhibit right now. We have friends coming into town for a few days and I’m thinking of things for us to do. So if you were showing somewhere I would love to take our friends. One of them is an artist herself.

I invite Maria, Susan and Laura to come to my studio.

As you might expect  anatomy study surrounds us. We talk the body for a good while. Laura personally relates to the newest kidney drawing sitting on my table. Susan wants to know about materials – the paint and paper.  I understand she has worked in woodcut and now does linocut.

Do you have any prints, she wonders. This question always confuses me. Do people mean a reproduction like a giclée or poster? Or do they mean an original print? I’m a printmaker. I stumble with the words … I have real prints, I say.

Maria wants to know about one particular small print. I’ve only thought about anatomy lately so I have to stop, change focus and think … considering the content of the work, I find it amusing. I can tell Susan and Laura do too.


Self-Sustaining Confusion, MM – Collage and hand-painted print, 12 x 10″

Here it is, in a nutshell:
The title – Self-Sustaining Confusion – I find in physicist David Bohm’s book On Creativity. I write the phrase on a piece of paper and leave it on my work table. Weeks pass and one day the rest of the composition formulates while I listen to NPR.  A scientist talks about the brain chemistry at various stages of awareness (or lack of) and I hear things like 69 unfolded proteins and limited real-estate in the brain. And that’s that, I pull out a piece of copper and start drawing.

We talk printmaking and intaglio. This is a dry point.  I use a sharp-pointed tool to  scratch the image directly on a copper-plate (I love copper!). Can you see it? ↓ The process of both printmaking and collage tend to free me up, work flows more stream of consciousness.

About this print in particular – If I recall correctly I pull 15 prints, only 7 of them are worth saving. In general the drypoint technique won’t allow for too many pulls, the marks are too irregular.


copper plate with drawing on it


a few pulls of the print


Each image varies slightly. This one is the first image I collage and paint in the series of 7.

We talk about California (where they are from), the ocean, and the desert. We discuss raising chickens (I learn some things) and having fresh eggs (Susan does).  Of course I bring up making  egg tempera paint. They leave my home with plans to visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s (Taliesin West).

Ladies, I appreciate our morning together. Thank you Susan for wanting to take home Self-Sustaining Confusion. It’s the last one of that series. Enjoy it!


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

self-sustaining confusion

Confusion is the prelude to adventure…to our Colombian daughter from Dave and Dominique.

Self Sustaining Confusion, original

A/P, Self Sustaining Confusion, MAM

Can you include this inscription in the print? Dominique asks. Sure, I can. 

I’d met Maria Adelaida a couple of times before the art opening. She has an eagerness to her. Exuberant. Honest and open. A bit of shyness. Colombian. Big brown eyes. I notice them as she looks closely at my work. She is curious. She connects to a small print, the more intimate of the five works she’d been observing. Her body language tells me she is stirred. I walk over to where she stands.

The work is a mixed media, collage print titled Self-Sustaining Confusion. The title comes from physicist David Bohm‘s book On Creativity.  The phrase is his. The text within the composition derives from an NPR interview I happened to be listening to the afternoon I painted the first pull of the edition. The interview was with a scientist who discusses the chemistry of the brain at various states of awareness (or lack of).

The print resonates with her. She reacts emotionally then intellectually. It seems the composition allows her to clarify and put into words a general emotional state that had recently consumed her. I listen and I watch her hands as they point out detail. She tells of how weeks before, she had been confused and uncertain…she felt…like this! she says as she points to the image. I explain the intricacy is deliberate, none of it random. 

Confusion is natural, now and again, especially when one is presented with new opportunities and/or new challenges.  It can, in fact, be a part of the creative process. It will last as long as one allows it too.  She gets it. And she shows relief. I quietly wonder if she realizes how valuable this moment is to me.

dry pointed copper plate

dry pointed copper plate


Later that evening, after watching Maria Adelaida respond to the work, Dominique asks if I have another print. YesI believe I do.  And if I don’t, I know I can pull one. The copper plate is still in good condition. She wants to purchase a print for Maria Adelaida. She explains her friend is leaving the country on May 14. Very soon she will travel to Colombia to visit with family, then to Berlin to begin a post graduate degree. Ahhh! I understand more clearly the confusion and stress in the weeks before.

pulled a few prints

pull a few prints




I get on the print fairly quickly as the next day I realize I have to pull a new one. I pick the best run of the afternoon, and within a few days I am applying collage and painting in design. Though I am working from a photograph of the original, each work is a one of a kind print. They resemble each other, but never exactly.



collage and paint

Maria Adelaida Duque Correa will be moving on.  She came to the Mayo clinic in Scottsdale for a research intern position, in the immunology lab.  By the time she receives this gift of art, she will be closer to the end of this chapter in her story. The next will find her at the Max Plank Institute in Berlin where she begins work on a PhD in Immunology.  
Here! Here! To a very temporary state of confusion that clearly leads Maria Adelaida closer to her next adventure.

Esto será muy bueno para ti Maria Adelaida. ¡Mis mejores deseos! Ich möchte Dir alles Beste wünschen!


6/15, Self-Sustaining Confusion, MAM