The concept of “The Advocate” has been important to me throughout this whole series as it is the reason I began the series in the first place. This is my second attempt at painting this piece. The first one was done early on and I have since improved my skills and my motivations. I wanted it to be optimistic and really focused on the Advocate. It was a hard decision to repaint an entire painting, especially at the very end, and I had to shove myself every step of the way. Isn’t that the way this whole thing goes though? But here I am, one year and 11 paintings later feeling hopeful and very proud to say IT IS DONE!
I had two models describe their frustration with the mental health care system as overwhelming social repercussion and financial strain. It feels as though you are being punished because you finally reached out. Mental health really gets you "Coming and Going".
Sleep disorder often accompanies not only PTSD but many other mental health issues. “Strange Bedfellows “ expresses this model’s difficulty having long-lasting intimate partners because, in a sense, he already has one.
The background alludes to the fact that this model is a drummer and performs nightly before an audience. The shadow of boxing ropes imply that he is in a constant boxing match with and in his own mind. How many of us fight a daily battle with mental illness with our responsibilities and other people as an audience?
This is the idea that started the whole series into motion. When my father and grandmother passed within months of each other and I graduated from college and moved my family across the country all at the same time, I began to experience heart palpitations. They were coupled with irrational fear, lack of self confidence, blurred vision, histamine response and a feeling of being trapped. This was the first time in all of my years of being married to someone with anxiety that I finally personally understood it. This painting represents the weight of grief and sympathy.
It takes a lot of courage to talk openly about addiction. This model wanted to represent how pleasant it is to be in a substance induced state when being sober is so painful due to poorly treated mental health issues. She also wanted to describe that while it was the only place she felt rest, she was always aware of the things in her life that, while she loved dearly, she was neglecting. Addiction must be treated not as a choice, but as an illness that with proper mental Healthcare can be prevented.
This one is meant to be a more optimistic piece in the Grip Series. It's about taking charge and succeeding in life even with the daily and burdensome partner of mental health challenges. It has been a joy working with this model. Her optimism is contagious!
I wanted to have this finished for the end of mental health awareness week but my own mental health plummeted and I wasn’t able to paint as fast as I wanted to. Image that. “Sabotage” represents the frequency in which we question ourselves, pick on ourselves, and consider our efforts to achieve mental health futile. Even when we find workable solutions it isn’t uncommon to still judge ourselves for needing that help, or denying the help altogether. Mental health issues truly can cause us to be our own worst enemies.
When someone in passing says "Hi, how are you?" it's not that they actually want to know, it's that we've grown accustomed to use the phrase as a greeting rather then an opener for meaningful conversation. However, on the occasion that someone earnestly asks you that question, how are you accustomed to answer?
This painting is about the shame or incapacity many feel when it comes to talking about their mental health issues. It's time to talk!
I completed the first painting in this series, pictured above, in about a week. This gives me great hope that I can complete the other 14 in a timely manner. This painting represents the struggle to BE happy when you don't FEEL happy. I will provide the full narrative for this painting as the series progresses.
This 14' x 95' mural is located at David M. Cox Elementary in Henderson, NV.
Pumpkins Vanitas, 2016, Acrylic on Canvas, 18 x 36
I have had this idea for a painting for about three years and it feels so good to have finally seen it to fruition. The vanitas still life was common among Dutch painters during the 15th century. They are incredibly photo realistic, were meant to remind the viewer of the transience of life, and often included skulls and perishable things like orange peels or bread. And as far as I know they always include a blown-out candle to imply that whoever was there just barely left the scene.
I don't typically appreciate hyperrealistic art as I feel that, especially in modern times, if you're looking for realism you can just take a picture. But in this case, I just wanted to see if I could do it. It was a good exercise in color mixing and light source consideration.
562 Main Street, 2016, Acrylic and Graphite on Board, 18 x 24
Park City, Utah commissioned me to paint a portrait of the building that won this year’s Historic Preservation Award. The building isn’t architecturally ornate and is a neutral color. In order to add narrative to the piece and make the building pop I painted half the portrait in grayscale, referencing Park City’s history as a western frontier, and half the painting in full color to celebrate it as a present day modern and popular city. I gave it an evening setting so that the blue-ish grey building could be complemented by an orange sky rather than a grey building on a light blue daytime sky.
At the request of the city, who said their city is often called "Bark City", I added our family dogs to the portrait which my kids really enjoy.
Odyssey, 2016, Acrylic on Canvas, 24 x 36
My father passed away too early in life at the age of 65. He battled with a brain tumor since he was 36 but in the end, it was a malformed heart valve that took him. He was the most courageous and unlimited person I have known. He pursued his interests without fear of judgment or an ounce of embarrassment.
After his death I decided to paint an epic portrait of the boat he built by hand combined with his other hobbies which were: fly fishing, fly tying, gardening, and astronomy.
Okra and the Poppies, 2016, Acrylic on Board, 48 x 96
This mock was submitted in response to a request by Georgetown, Texas. They wanted a mural that would explain the history behind Henry “Okra” Compton and how he was responsible for Georgetown being nicknamed the poppy capital of Texas. The short story is, as a boy he planted fields of okra, thus earning his nickname. And as a soldier returning from World War 1 he brought poppy seeds from France and planted them all around Georgetown earning the town its nickname.
The project was postponed so I never knew if I was selected to do the work, or someone else. I have grown very fond of the painting, however.
Okra and the Poppies was selected for the 2017 Art Pop program in Las Vegas.
Loss, 2015, Acrylic on Canvas, 30 x 40
The final theme for my figure painting class was death. I haven’t had much experience with death in my life but what I have had experience with is loss. I wanted to capture the feelings of overwhelm, disappointment, hopelessness and even embarrassment that follow loss but I also wanted to imply that we have a choice to rebuild ourselves.
I am very proud of this work, I think it’s the best I’ve done so far. Props to my husband Marc for his mad modeling skills.
Park City, UT has a wild west historic past rich in native american culture, mining, development, and tourism. This mock is for an RFP for art that would be placed in the entrance to their new library. Part of the building was a historic renovation. Their plan was to use a band of decorative metal around both the new and old buildings to combine them and represent the city’s historic mining past.
My proposal was to create poster sized full color paintings on “blueprint” paper of minimalistic, iconic images that represented the different historical periods of Park City. The paintings, done on paper, would include areas of silver leafing to match the exterior of the building. Sketched are three of about 9 images which are wild bison, mining for silver ore, and three historic buildings. Other images would include the Sundance film festival and the winter olympics.
The painted paper would have been framed between floating plexiglass and measure about 4′ in height and 30′ in length.
Most of these were 10-30 minute poses done rapid fire style in my figure drawing class last fall. The skeletons and self color portrait were done in intermediate drawing which I just took this summer.
For a while I was involved in the Spark park committee at the school that my children attend. During that time I created this maquette for an outdoor classroom and public music space. The sides of the open ceiling building would have included a stained glass window, designed by a student and executed by a local artist, and a weather proof display case for student and resident art.
Cate and Daniel
We met them around the same time as Holly and Clay. Cate and I are kindred creative spirits. They are both ridiculously attractive and talented people who serenade one another with guitar and ukulele while cooking dinner in the evenings. If I didn’t love them so much I would probably hate them. I wanted to portray them with cheesy perfection like Marie and Donny Osmond. Even though they were siblings and not married, it still fits because Cate once told me that it turns out her and Daniel are fifth cousins. Hahaha.
Maria and Gabe
Maria and Gabe are my Mexican friends that neither speak Spanish or actually descend from Mexican families. They are Columbian and Native American but she says it’s easier just to let everyone assume they are Mexican. They have made us and our children feel loved, fed, and entertained. In the early years of their marriage they were truckers in the western United States. I would like to have painted their faces on the side of a big rig wearing royal robes and crowns…but a simple sketch will fit better on their wall.
She told me she wants to get a tattoo that says “Sincera” which means nice, or sincere in Spanish and a skull. Such a combination of sympathy and pain is a good description of her sweet soul as well as her occupation. Since she is such a fan of vintage pin up/goth girl style, I decided to do a caricature of her. Maybe someday it will need a tattoo added.