one egg a day

“My experience is what I agree to attend to. Only those items which I notice shape my mind.”
– William James, American psychologist

Lara tells me her hens lay one egg a day. But not everyday, she adds. We walk into the hen-house and I meet all the chickens. She walks over to the laying boxes and picks up an egg and hands it to me. This is Dottie’s egg.

Dottie’s egg is small and heavy. And while I have painted with fresh egg yolk before, I’ve not actually met the chicken that laid it. Lara and I are bartering eggs for peaches. She has 6 to give me on that particular afternoon. I feel the preciousness of each one. Especially when I take Dottie’s egg into the studio and prepare to work.


I’ve been asked to paint an arm and hand. Between meeting the chicken who laid the yolk I use and because of recent issues with my hand – the task comes with new meaning. I pay careful attention to each layer, each structure.


The painting begins as a casein ↑ until I receive fresh eggs ↓. While I have worked with egg tempera for years, it always feels like something new to me. Each time I use it, it feels like I struggle with it  – until I don’t.


Lara is a fellow artist and Yogi, as well as a masseuse. Before I leave her home she works on both my hands a bit.
Thank you Laura. And thank you Dottie.


The basic ingredients for egg tempera painting are egg yolk, water, and dry pigment.

value study and then some – final critique of the semester


At the start of the semester I ask students what they’d like to get out of my drawing class. Clay says Practice practice practice – and he does. Heather, an engineering student, wants visualization and fun. I hope both were prompted. I ask if she’s enjoyed the semester. Yes, and despite how hard it was, she will miss it. Terry responds TO LEARN TO SEE AGAIN! He came to the right classroom. And from the looks of all of his completed assignments – he did. Most students say they want to improve their drawing skills and in fact, each one of them does. The semester appears to come and go so quickly. We hold final critique this week.

The class has two different assignments to go over – maybe more, because advanced students worked through something very different. We get going, and in between there is plenty of laughter, cookies, coffee and peaches. It is an easy ending to a fast paced semester.

This particular group moves through the early marker assignments more quickly than any class I’ve taught before. They slow down with charcoal. A few struggle with it in a way I do not expect. Surprises for everyone I guess, including the advanced students who reproduce a master work. For a few days the tension in the room they draw in (because I separate them) was thick. By day 3 there is break through (thank goodness). I spend the last day of class walking from student to student appreciating the focus.

I wish I had their very first marker study to compare to this last charcoal. You would get a sense of the progress everyone made. Here are a few highlights – note the values. As usual, I can’t possibly include every work.


Clay’s Study.



Adam’s Teapot with reflection of windows and sky in it.



Trenary”s glass bottles on tin.



Naomi’s study.


Hyeokewoo’s Gorilla Skull.


Terry’s still-life.


Charles works on reproducing an Alice Neel.


Robert reproduces hands of God and Adam – Michelangelo

Have a good summer! Keep drawing, you’ve only just started.

hand and arm, palmer view – an homage


My hands hurt. Clearer yet, my fingers ache. It’s not the joints though.

I began this life-size hand and arm last week. I set it from the ground up – bones, muscles, tendons, veins, nerves – studying each layer as it goes over another. I prepare the background so as to imply fascia. It’s far from complete.

I paint in egg tempera which I’ve not used in a good while. The size of the composition and the pace I move at work with the material of choice.

I can’t help but be amazed by the structure of our body. The hand is complex and so perfectly set up to allow us to do the many things we do with it. I have a hard time believing it’s all random. As I study – I do wonder who designed the spectacular object.

I lost track of time and painted 5 hours steady yesterday – could be why my hands hurt.

no woman is an island


We have finalized the sale of the painting Male Torso – Anterior View, featured in the State of the Art exhibition. And Its partner Female Torso – Anterior View will stay with it.

Thank you Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, for keeping these works together.


Male Torso-Anterior View, mixed media on canvas, 45.5 x 35.5


Female Torso-Anterior View, mixed media on canvas, 45.5 x 35.5


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

Male Torso Anterior View and Female Torso Anterior View are part of a larger series titled Nothing In Stasis. They were made for a three person exhibition called Creature Man Nature.


photo credit : Mary Shindell

I am particularly pleased that the paintings are staying together. And the accidentally matching dress in this photo – will remain here with me.

green eyes

I am still working on the anatomy study of my father. Did I mention he has green eyes?


The composition, in its entirety, is larger than life. Fathers can be that way – larger than life. The work on paper is on the big drawing table in my studio, edges overhanging. As I work out details, I find myself researching the history of ancient Mexico.

Early Americans believed man contained numerous spiritual forces. Some of these forces left the body at certain times, like when one was dreaming.

The energy of the Tonalli acts as a symbol of the suns warmth. It is located in the frontal area of one’s skull, and in the hair. It travels when one goes to sleep and returns when one awakens. Think vigor and energy, for growth and development.


The Teyolia (animating soul and physical heart) present in both human and animal, exits the body only upon death. The larger symbol connects to community (of the people) – Teyolia is life of the people. It represents the heart of anything important: lake, mountains, ocean, sky, towns, etc. Think potent vitality


The Ihíyotl is in the liver. This spirit governs gut reactions and instinct. Think breath.


As I continue work on these studies, I realize I never move too far from my roots. I look at the figures in the studio – I pull in people and places I know, and don’t know. A body holds much.

between earth and sky: contemporary art from the american southwest

Curator Peter Held contacts me in the Fall of 2014. He is organizing an exhibition that will travel to four Chinese colleges and universities in the Spring and Summer of 2015. The plan includes work from a dozen Southwest artists focusing on contemporary art from the region. He explains it will include works on paper only: photography, prints and drawings.

Earth&Sky_ASU catalogue_Page_01

We hope this exhibition will give the Chinese audience a sense of what the Southwest is: place, landscape, people and culture.  We would love to consider including 1-2 of your works that are smaller in scale.

I meet with Peter and based on our discussion I decide on animal studies. My main focus is human anatomy but I have an interest in anatomy in general. After a bit of thought, I come up with the idea to paint a creature to represent the states I’ve resided in. I’ve lived in the Southwest all my life. Born and raised in El Paso, Texas – I spend five years in Las Cruces, New Mexico before moving to Phoenix, AZ.  I plan to research each state and find an exotic creature, preferably one I’ve crossed paths with.

Each artist has 1-2 or 3 works, all in China now, in their second venue.

Peter sends a note saying the exhibit is well received. I was pleasantly surprised how engaged and interested the students were, he says, spending an hour or more to look at the art closely. It was a great opportunity to converse on a wide range of topics which the subject matter in the art provided.

Last week I receive the catalogue. In this post I share one work from each artist and include the front and back cover. I am so pleased to see the quality and variety of the artwork. All the artist live and work in the Southwestern United States and each one brings a unique sensibility to the exhibit.

Earth&Sky_ASU catalogue_Page_05

Alice Leora Briggs, The Listener falls to sleep, Woodcut


Earth&Sky_ASU catalogue_Page_07

Binh Danh, #2 Saguaro National Park, digital print of daguerreotype

Earth&Sky_ASU catalogue_Page_08

Claudio Dichocea, de Amore Prohibido y el Anarquista, el Emsee 2.0, photolithograph

Earth&Sky_ASU catalogue_Page_10

Jason Garcia, Tewa Tales of Suspense #4 Behold…Po’pay!, serigraph

Earth&Sky_ASU catalogue_Page_11

Mark Klett, Slight Track and Red Clouds, Copper Mountains, digital photograph from gelatin silver print

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Michael Lundgren, Parasitic Weight, archival pigment print

Carrie Marill, Nature-T:Monument Valley, gouache on paper

Carrie Marill, Nature-T:Monument Valley, gouache on paper


Monica Aissa Martinez, Armadillo: Texas, mixed media on paper


Leigh Merrill, Denizens, pigment print

Earth&Sky_ASU catalogue_Page_18

Matthew Moore, Rotations: Moore Estates-Sorghum (homes) Wheat (roads), 35 acres, digital photogra

Earth&Sky_ASU catalogue_Page_19

Rose Bean Simpson, Know Thyself, ink on paper

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Will Wilson, Edward S Curtis, The Northern American Indian, Norwood, MA, The Plimpton Press

Between Earth and Sky, Contemporary Art from the American Southwest will travel to 4 locations:

Sichuan University 四川大学
March 11, 2015 – March 31, 2015: Exhibit at Sichuan University

Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications 南京邮电大学
April 6, 2015 – April 26, 2015: Exhibit at Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications

University of Shanghai Science and Technology 上海理工大学
May 11, 2015 to May 29, 2015: Exhibit at USST

Xi’an International University 西安外事学院
June 8, 2015 – June 22 , 2015: Exhibit at Xi’an International University

between earth and sky catalogue

Cover: Mark Klett, Contemplating the View at Muley Point, Utah, digital photograph from gelatin silver print
Backcover: Michael Lundgren, New Form, archival pigment print

The exhibition is a partnership between ACCEX – American Centers for Cultural Exchange and Arizona State University Art Museum.

nosce te ipsum (know thyself)


The area I complete this week is a long 45 x 7″ strip that sits across a lower part of my current composition. The study is of my father. I said earlier that he’s always had strong physical presence. I imply this by including details of basic tissue like muscle and adipose.

I want to include bone tissue. He broke few bones, the wrist in particular, while riding a motorcycle. I recall he cut the cast of himself. His wrist healed slightly crooked. I think he liked that. I drew bone tissue in my mothers image. I want to do something different – connective tissue feels right here instead.

There are 3 types of muscle tissue in the human body so I study and draw out each. And the adipose tissue I finished yesterday, is the first detail below.

IMG_7393Adipose tissue ↑, better known as body fat, located beneath the skin, around the organs, in the bone marrow and in breast tissue. The small composition includes the 2 types: white (WAT) and brown (BAT). Its main role is to store energy, it also cushion and insulates the body. I have a tendency to run cold, even here in Phoenix. I’ll think of my BAT next time I’m shivering.


This second study ↑ is Cardiac Muscle, unique in that it relies on blood and electrical supply to deliver oxygen and nutrients and remove waste product. It is almost completely reliant on oxygen to function.

This next study below is of cartilage ↓.


And the last image is smooth muscle tissue.

IMG_7391While researching I learn general information about muscles and connective tissues is relatively lacking in ancient and medieval anatomy. We don’t see any real study occur until the Renaissance.

Enter Leonardo, who combines observation of the living with dissections of the dead. And Versalius, who publishes a book titled On the Fabric of the Human Being. Valverde combines images of muscles with the adage Nosce te ipsum (Know thyself). Later on muscles are studied in connection to motion, not only in the body, but in the world. Descartes describes muscles and tendons as devices and springs which seem to set nerves in motion , giving the body machine like association. And I find Blavatsky’s words, that basically usher us into the 20th century – Man is a little world-a microcosm inside the great universe…in the matrix of the macrocosmos…He is in it as it is in him…

I teach college level drawing. Sometimes I think I’d like to teach anatomy class. I would have students draw out parts and relate them to systems, and then to themselves. It would not be a science class. I am not sure it would even be an art class. It would be a class for the lay person wanting to know themselves more fully.