Saturday, September 19, 2009

Painting With Purpose

"Self Portrait" 2009

When I meditate I often pose a question and ask for guidance. A recurring theme is, “Why am I here and what is my purpose?” Often in response I hear a voice that says, “Paint.”

“Paint?” I ask. “How can I contribute to the world and make a difference just with painting?” But the voice, accompanied by intuitive feelings, synchronistic messages, and serendipitous events keep instructing me, simply and firmly, to “paint.” And when I doubt myself, my abilities, and my purpose the message only gets louder and is accompanied by “never give up.” So I don’t know why, but I feel like painting is my calling. All I can do is follow my inner compass, get out of the way, and let it unfold.

Through my studies of Eastern religions and New Thought philosophy I have come to the conclusion that we are here to love. To love one another, but equally important, to love ourselves. It has been my experience that when I give myself the unconditional love and acceptance that I have spent most of my life looking for outside of myself, my capacity to love others increases and that anything, and everything, becomes possible.

So through my studies and meditation I have become aware that my mission is to send out love into the world one painting at a time. My ideas for my paintings often come to me during my mediation sessions. And while my painting practice involves a lot of rituals (finding the right music to play, laying out my brushes, etc.) I begin each painting, and each painting session, with prayer and meditation. The results have been astounding.

Opportunities to show my work in conjunction with supporting a cause have begun to present themselves. Last weekend I showed 4 paintings at Art Farm to support the Denver Urban Gardens. In November I will be the featured artist of the month at Michelangelo’s Coffee and Wine Bar and will select a charity to bring awareness to and to support through the sale of my work. And I am painting a few masks for The Denver Hospice annual Mask Project to support people at a critical time – the end of life.

I believe that we are more powerful than we can even begin to comprehend. And I believe that we are capable of manifesting what we think about. So I wonder, what would the world look like if we all painted, or did what ever it is we are passionate about, from a place of love?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dizzying, Dazzling and Damp

Dazzle Jazz Lounge in Denver, Colorado

Wowza what a week! I’m dizzy from all the excitement and running around.

I kicked it off by attending Eric Matelski’s First Monday Art Talk at Dazzle Restaurant & Lounge. Each month, for the past three years, Eric interviews a different featured artist. This month it was award winning photographer Terry Fiala. Terry began his photography career by taking traditional black and white photographs with film, but over time has transitioned into digital and these days he’s manipulating color images. His most recent work is stirring and almost looks more like paintings.

Adding to the artistic ambiance at Dazzle was the poetry of art consultant Hilary DePolo – a former Detroit gal like me – and Lenny Chernila. Hilary’s poems capture the history of old Detroit and brought tears to my eyes. And Lenny, well there are no words to describe the exuberance of his poetry. You just have to experience him.

Tuesday I took my painting “Hope” to the art critique at RedLine. Critiques are held on the second Tuesday of each month. I was nervous about going as the last two paintings I took were not well received, but this time the praise out weighed the constructive criticism. I even received applause and an “awesome” when I unveiled the diptych. But I have a lifetime of learning ahead of me so I can’t let this small achievement go to my head.

Wednesday I enjoyed the soulful music of Jami Lula – another Detroit native! – and was energized by the Matsiko Children’s Choir from Uganda at Mile Hi Church in Lakewood.

Thursday I ran errands, Friday I tried to catch my breath, and on Saturday I showed four paintings at Art Farm – well, when they weren’t under black plastic garbage bags to protect them from the rain. But we made the most of it and mingled and dined under the food tents catered by Whole Foods and Breckenridge Brewery.

It was a fun and exciting week, but with any hope the next few days will be quieter so that I can get back to being creative. I’m going through paint withdrawals.

Go to to learn more about Eric Matelski, his art, and the events he organizes to support other local Denver artists.

Dazzle Restaurant & Lounge is located at 930 Lincoln St, Denver, Colorado 80203. Go to for information on upcoming jazz acts and First Monday Art Talks.

Terry Fiala’s photographs can be seen at

For information about Hilary DePolo’s art consulting services go to

Check out Lenny Chernila on YouTube at

For information about RedLine and second Tuesday art critiques go to

To learn more about Jami Lula, his music, and his inspirational message go to

To support the Matsiko Children’s Choir and the International Children’s Network go to

Art Farm is an annual outdoor community art show hosted by Denver Urban Gardens (DUG) and Eric Matelski. For information about DUG go to

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Art and Relationships - Finding A Balance

"Art Table With Cleaning Supplies" 2009

After work last night I went to the First Friday Art Walk on Sante Fe Drive in Denver. I try to go every month as it inspires me to see what other painters are painting and what techniques they’re perfecting.

I visited Russell Wilbar at Artwork Network and saw his new piece – a 3 dimensional triptych collage of sorts made from salvaged doors and floor pieces. His work almost has a surrealist quality about it, the way it floats off the wall.

I chatted with Brianna Martray at her studio and sneaked a peak at some of her earlier creations. I loved seeing where her paintings have evolved from. There’s a maturity and sophistication about her newer pieces that I have an even greater appreciation for now that I’ve seen her larger body of work.

The highlight of Art Walk was finally meeting Chris Schranck. Like Wilbar, he constructs old salvaged objects (doors, chairs, swing sets, pipes, chains) into paintings that are also sculptures…or perhaps they’re sculptures that are also paintings. Either way, he marries the old and decaying with color and gloss of the new in a way that both delights the eye and lets the imagination run rampant.

By 9 pm I had visited the artists I wanted to visit and discovered a few who’s work I had not seen before so I was ready to go home and spend time with my fiancĂ© Sean. But when I went to call him from my cell to tell him I was on my way he had sent me a text just 30 minutes earlier to say he had to get up early for work the next day so he was going to bed. My heart sank as I realized that another day had passed in which I had chosen art over my relationship.

How do I do remain true to myself and pursue my art career, while trying to manage my life (laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning the apartment, paying bills, etc.), work full-time, and still cultivate and nurture a relationship with my significant other?

If it weren’t for Sean I wouldn’t be where I am and I wouldn’t be doing the things that I love. It was his idea to leave Michigan and move to Denver – the best decision we ever made. We have friends and family back in Detroit that are still looking for work after losing their jobs in the automotive industry two years ago. And it is Sean who encourages me to keep painting, taking photographs, and writing when I have a bad day and I stop believing in myself.

It’s the first Saturday of the month so admission to the DAM (Denver Art Museum) is free today and I SO want to go! I’ve lived in Denver for eight months now and I still haven’t made it there. But as I write and reflect on the state of my personal affairs and contemplate what would be the best use of my time today there is a dishwasher that needs to be unloaded, a sink full of dirty dishes, hampers and laundry baskets that are over flowing, and a bathroom that has developed its own eco system.

So instead of satisfying my creative yearnings, I keep thinking about how happy Sean will be when he comes home tonight to a clean apartment as a means to keep myself motivated to get our lives back in order. Who knows, maybe a break from soaking in the local art scene and putting painting hold for a day or so is just what I need to inspire me to take my art to the next level.

To see Russell Wilbar’s art go to Artwork Network at 878 Santa Fe Drive, Denver, Colorado 80204 or visit

Brianna Martray’s paintings and sculptures can be seen at her studio at 900 Santa Fe Drive, Studio G, Denver, Colorado, 80204 or by visiting

Visit Chris Schranck at Neo Studios, above Grace Gallery Fine Art, at 877 Santa Fe Drive, Denver, Colorado 80204 or online at

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Right Place Right Time

"Colorado Abstract Paintings and Sculpture"
by Michael Paglia & Mary Voelz Chandler

I checked out the Denver Modernism last weekend. Anyone who is ANYONE in the Denver art scene was there. I’m definitely renting a booth next year!

I purchased a painting from Laurie Maves, visited Lisa Kowalski, and finally met Brianna Martray – all local, female painters whose work I greatly admire. I also met, Jennifer Bobola, another amazing local artist I’ve only recently discovered.

I bought a copy of the book “Colorado Abstract” AND I got to meet the authors and get their autographs! It’s a coffee table art book featuring abstract paintings and sculptures and the Colorado artists that created them. It was written by Michael Paglia, prominent art critic and “Westword” art columnist, and Mary Voelz Chandler, art and architecture critic for the “Rocky Mountain News” with a forward by Hugh Grant, founder, director and curator of Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art in Denver and the adjunct curator of the Kirkland Collection at the Denver Art Museum.

I also met Sandra Phillips, Director of Sandra Phillips Gallery. When admiring art in her booth she noticed the book I was carrying and told me that Virginia Maitland, one of the artists she represents, is featured in the book AND that she was there. So painter Virginia Maitland also autographed my book!

In addition to carrying my art book, and talking to the authors and one of the artists featured in it, I was carrying the painting I had purchased from Laurie Maves. When asked about my painting, I told Sandra, Virginia, and Hugh that it was Laurie who had told me about what a fabulous book “Colorado Abstract” is so they all went to her booth to meet her and check out her work.

I’ll let you know when Laurie Maves is showing at the Sandra Phillips Gallery and the Kirkland Museum – I’m confident it will just be a matter of time – as well as when Michael Paglia writes raving reviews. In the meantime, to see Laurie’s paintings online and to learn where she’s currently showing, go to

Since I wasn’t exhibiting I didn’t create much of a buzz about my own work, but it was great to be a conduit and get prominent local art figures excited about someone else’s work whom I so strongly admire. What goes around comes around…

Following are websites of some of the amazing art types I got to hobnob with: