mark making – on the fly

Mid-June: I drive through the streets of El Paso, TX, my home-town, with my brother. He takes me through the warehouse district to look at murals and graffiti walls. Returning to Phoenix, I regret not taking photos.

End of July:  For years I noted street art. El Paso nudges me. I’m curious enough to mess with it now.

Though not complicated, I admit, I don’t know what I’m doing. I cut out
stencils and pick up black aerosol spray paint. I cover my mouth and nose with a light-weight face mask. Quickly I learn I love (love) the graphic image. No delay of gratification with this medium. The experience is intoxicating to say the least.

And it’s toxic. It doesn’t help that it’s summer in Phoenix. I am just about done with it when someone gives me color aerosol spray paint. Before the weekend is over I pull out a high-quality mask with mouth, nose and eye protection and I wear long sleeves and gloves.

And so it goes…

I don’t have the language down. Is it a tag? A stencil? Because I am a printmaker at heart, my preference connects to mark-making.

No title, no signature, no sense of permanence, less is more.

Marking space, on the fly.

Perhaps things begin with wanting to take the jaguar I am painting in studio, out of studio. One early morning, a few weeks ago, I go outside to photograph the painting. The shadow of the tree animates the composition in such a way, I naturally want to see the big cat outdoors.

He roams.

Today: back to painting in the studio with the plan to finish my jaguar in August.  I feel  satisfaction with last week’s roll.

Though I feel I should give it one more try…and play with the political. It’s crazy out there…



What about that Superman guy, aren’t you ever going to write about him? My sister Analissa asked. Superman guy…what are you talking about? I responded. The guy you drew, the superhero guy. Oh…Michael.
Michael inspired a different form of creativity in me. One to keep me rolling onward and upward, into the 21st century.

I know Mike Scott from art school.  Then, he was a ceramicist, a sculpturer, a print maker, and he could draw. He was multi-talented, as any artist might be. I remember one time we stayed up all night firing up a kiln, a normal event in the ceramics department at UTEP. Someone suggested we play 21Spit (Spit21?). It required we stick one card onto our forehead, yes…with our spit, while the other cards lay out on the table, in front of us. One could not see the card on their own forehead, but everyone else could.  I guess one used the facial expression of all the other players to decide to keep getting cards, or to stop. Or something like that. There was a bottle of Saki involved in the late night, early morning charade. Mostly, we laughed hysterically. We needed this sort of energy to sit with the kiln until the crack of dawn.

Michael emailed me years and years, and years, and years later…out of the cobalt blue. His grandma had sent him a newspaper article about the then upcoming opening of El Paso’s Rubin Center.  I was invited to be in their first opening exhibit along with 4 other UTEP alumni. He read the article and contacted me. He was living in Texas, married, had a daughter, 2 dogs and 3 cats. And he was teaching computer stuff…Photoshop and other animation related classes. No more art making? I was surprised.
Michael got me excited about computer technology. He shared some of his knowledge with me, in the course of our emailing.  He had left the fine arts behind, despite completing grad school. Computers had won him over. How could that be? I wondered. Mike was a hands on, creative person and what I recall about him is that he was always experimenting…with ideas, and with materials. I figured if computers swayed this creative person’s interest, maybe there was more to them than I clearly understood. I decided then that I would learn. My husband had tried for years, to get me interested in the computer. I resisted. Eddie speaks engineer. I guess it had to be the right avenue to get my tunnel visioned attention.

I soon found myself taking a web design course at Phoenix College.  I was the only person who did not know any of the software required for the course.  I couldn’t even turn on their computers, without asking for help. It was the most confusing thing I have ever tried to do. Nothing about it was natural to me. I learned some basic things. I asked Mike about various software’s and he told me one really had to play with all of it  in order to learn the possibilities. This sort of thinking is natural to an artist. Just do it.

Eventually I designed my web site. Now I do all my own photographing and editing.  I create and set up my own materials. It has given me a new sense of freedom. And it has added to my creative spirit, to understand this medium. The process is completely different from my studio work, so it provides a break of sorts. Oddly, it also allows me a more steady focus, in my work.

Michael introduced me to blogging.  I was not familiar with the word. I asked questions. He didn’t answer a one (surprise). He only suggested I try it. It took me a few years to come up with an idea and an image with which to begin. I approached this process, like I do a new series of artworks. Clarify idea…and then run with it. This blogging thing is a creative process all in and of itself.

I began teaching a few years ago, computer technology is huge in education. I create slide presentations, lessons, communicate with my students, and grade. Next semester I will be teaching a  hybrid 2D-Design course at Phoenix College. Half the course is on line, the other half is in-studio.  You couldn’t have a hands on art class completely on the Internet, but a 2D Design course teaching principles and elements, is possible.  I now  recommend all fine art students take computer classes.


Michael designed one of my postcards for a solo I had a few years back. He was generous to do this. I thanked him by sending him a drawing. It’s the drawing my sister was referring too


Michael had a superman photo on his computer, I don’t know why. I asked about the image, no answer. In the drawing, I sit him in front of a computer. He has a spaghetti strainer on his head…for humor, and contact. His red cape and bright red S stand out. He is forever creating…a world of his own.  That’s what being an artist is all about….creating and communicating…hands on or via computers.

It’s a changing world… super to be on board…