Monthly Archives: September 2021


There is always a story inside of us that is just waiting to be told. I wrote recently that you can’t paint without saying something through it.

Painting reveals our secrets the way our body language does. 

I don’t know how the story can bypass conscious thought, but it does, consistently. 

Maybe you meant can I tell when an image is contrived. To that, I would say yes.  Besides the knowledge that comes from the memory or experience of doing it, I can see an obvious difference in the finished composition. At least in my own creative output. 

When I can bypass the expectation, I’m left with something that almost feels like it was painted by someone else. What’s nice is when I admire their work!

Does any of this make sense?

Painting is physical as far as picking up a paintbrush and applying pigment to a surface, but it is far more cerebral and even recondite.  My subconscious just needs my hand to hold the brush or pencil. 

One approach is not better than the other. I love to see pleinair paintings that record the facts of a landscape. I’m a huge fan of portrait painting.  I just happen to be enjoying abstract painting now. And besides, they’re not mutually exclusive. You can record facts and even capture a likeness in an abstract work. I believe feelings are facts, too. 

Forty years ago or so, I read that someone asked Picasso why he painted a woman with two eyes on one side of her head. He asked if the person had a picture of his wife. He pulled out his wallet and showed Picasso a photograph, to which he responded “Is she so small?”

The point is that every painting, every photo is an abstraction. It’s a two dimensional representation of a three dimensional world. Furthermore, the more an image looks like the real thing, the more of a lie it is. The more it pretends to be something that it is not. 

Clearwater Road

My windshield was speckled with water as I drove along the road toward Clearwater Lake.  The cool air felt so good after being on a long road trip down south.  We spent a week in the intense heat.  It was a wonderful trip.  We traveled down familiar roads and visited places I used to live.  We saw relatives and lifelong friends.  We visited schools I attended.  We celebrated my father’s 91st birthday.  We swam in the ocean.  It was wonderful, as I said.  Nothing is as wonderful as coming back home.

I don’t need to go away to appreciate this place.  When I travel, I long for home.  This is where I belong.

Christmas in September

It feels like Christmas Eve tonight. I have a kiln full of pottery cooling, and I will be able to open it in the morning.

I just returned from a 3,700 mile road trip, and the whole way, I thought about making ceramic pieces.  I had unpacked the kiln just before leaving home, and filled it again the first day I was back.

New Pottery

A week ago Monday, I unloaded a kiln full of new pottery. Here are pictures of a few pieces. You can see many more at

Capri blue bowl
Capri blue jar
Topaz rice bowl
Fish jar

What joy

I just got home from a long road trip.  I visited places I lived as a child.  I walked around the block at the first house I remember.  I walked past my first elementary school, and saw little kids running on the playground.  I told my son “that was me 55 years ago.”

It’s a good thing we can’t know what’s coming.  I’m sure I would have skipped a lot of it, but it was all necessary to get me right here.  And I’m glad I’m right here.

I visited the farm in Romeo again.  I spent more time in town.  I drove past my friend’s house.  She died recently, and the house has new owners, but I remembered her.

I spent a night with my aunt and uncle.  56 years ago, I was the ring bearer in their wedding.  It was wonderful to catch up with them.

The reason for the trip was to celebrate my dad’s 91st birthday.  Three of my four brothers were there, and we celebrated together.  I brought a few more pieces home with me.  They are exhibits in the museum of my life.

Yesterday, I reconnected with dear friends.  What joy.  More than friends.

A lot of water has flowed under all of our bridges, but the banks are firm, and we could all enjoy the view together.

I listened to the chime of the clock that hung in our dining room on the farm.  It was just below my bedroom, so I always knew what time it was.  It marked the time when I was a child, and still records the minutes all these years later.

Now I am back home.  My favorite place in all the world.

Liisan onni

Usually, before I go to bed, I go to my studio and paint a little. The house is quiet, and it has become part of my bedtime ritual.

I was chatting online with my friend Lisa, and told her I was going to paint. I asked her for some colors. She listed her favorites, and I told her it would not be a representational piece, but asked her what I should think about while I’m painting. She said “Lisa’s happiness.”

When I create these abstracts, I try to be random, and rarely include anything intentionally. I paint on 11″ x 14″ watercolor sheets, but when I’m done, I quarter them to 5.5″ x 7″. There is just too much information in the whole sheet, and cutting it down further randomizes the composition.

They’re quick. She was still online when I came back upstairs. I showed her the images, and she picked her favorite. I see Lisa smiling, with one of her chickens on her head. It reminds me of a recent day when we played in her yard taking photos together. Another looks like her favorite beach where we bulldozed rocks with our hands, and I took videos of the waves rolling in.

I’ve said this before, but I don’t understand how these stories come out in paint and pencils without any intention at all.

Lisa’s happiness
Liisan onni