Secrets to Happiness: Journal After Italy (part 2)

“Art that is deeply felt and valued is the energy source for all art-making.”

Peggy Campbell, friend and poet

Sequel to Journal After Italy (part1)

Oct. 3, 2017

I wish I could lose sight of myself, my ego, my fears, and just paint, explore, take risks…

“let it grow on it's own…” as Nancy Bossert suggested when I interviewed her for the Irregular.

Well, it will happen. I’ll have days like today. I just need to honor my studio hours and trust that good things will follow.

Oct. 10

So today I painted for 3 hours and I don’t feel satisfied with what I made. But, that’s ok. I mean, painting is learning. I’m not always going to crank out shining pieces of art that people are eager to buy. What I keep stumbling up against is this realization that the chiaroscuro work feels boring to me. I can’t seem to accept it, and I keep choosing to do it rather than other things, because it “feels safe.” But I can’t shake this feeling that it’s not what I’m supposed to be doing.

I know I’m afraid of messing up and making bad art, but that’s OK.

New goal: Make some bad art while growing and exploring!

“ Morning Alone”  painted paper collage, 4x6 inches

Morning Alone” painted paper collage, 4x6 inches

Oct. 19

3:30 pm, waiting in the sun for the schoolbus. It’s warm and it smells good: warm autumn smells. I’m looking forward to seeing the kids again, loving them! Hugging them! Listening to them chatter. I love them so much!

The trees across the street wave so gracefully in the warm breeze, so gently, their beautiful greens are so interesting. I think about how I might mix those greens. Tomorrow I’m going to paint outdoors…

I feel like I’m settling into a good autumn rhythm, finding space in each day for all the important things.

my family, reading (see    Storytime Sketches   )

my family, reading (see Storytime Sketches)

Oct. 20

“Art that is deeply felt and valued is the energy source for all art-making.”

Peggy Campbell, friend and poet

“Depth takes time.” —- ibid

Oct. 21

I feel so miserable. I cry at red-lights. I’m so sad. Will I always be sad? My heart hurts so much.

Oct. 22

Utterly overcome by sorrow.

I can’t really fight these emotions. I just have to be gentle with myself.


[I modeled for an art class at Lafayette College, taught by Ed Kerns.]

Ed Kerns, the professor, had a brief yet stimulating chat with me before class. He had some good observations about me as an artist.

“You’re authentic,” he said. “You’re physical. You want it. But you have not stepped up to your next level of mentor. You want the painting to be so friggin’ good, and it can be, but you gotta be physical with it. You gotta go bigger.” He advised me to get a canvas size closer to gesture size. He also told me to look up the artist Ying Li (whom he could connect me with, if I wished.) She is a juicy painter, driven by natural processes rather than a subject. Her drawings are searching, her art is hard-won (like mine.) A lot of physical scraping and moving, Ed explained.

I was so moved and inspired by my short conversation with Ed. How can he know me so well? The things he said were like bursts of light illuminating the darkness within me…

Where St. Francis Walked (by      Ying Li     )   2006, oil/canvas, 30x40"

Where St. Francis Walked (by Ying Li)
2006, oil/canvas, 30x40"

I miss Italy. I wish I could be there again, walking the hot streets, looking at lemon and cypress trees growing in people’s yards, and all that good food…

Lemon tree in someone’s yard in Civita Castellana, Italy…

Lemon tree in someone’s yard in Civita Castellana, Italy…

Oct. 26, 2017

Secrets to Happiness:


  1. go on a long walk outside

  2. Make Art

  3. Rest

  4. Spend time with family and friends

Nov. 1st, 2017…

At noon I walked to the college art building and Ed Kerns met me. We talked a bit. Then he GAVE me two large canvases! (30x40 inches)

“Make good paintings,” he said.

I nodded like an idiot.

When I got home I practiced the piano. I’m learning two Tchaikovsky pieces, and I let my mind clear. When I’m playing music, and also at times when I’m painting, I have that wonderful freeing sensation of forgetting myself.

I’m so scared to paint large. But…. I have done other scary things. Like…

  1. Giving Birth (twice!)

  2. travelling alone to Italy

  3. calling myself an artist

So, I can do hard, brave things.