Saturday, December 03, 2016

from an interview with Jay Andersen on WTIP

Creativity, I think, is the basis of all art, but it's also the basis of all expression. Whether I'm writing or painting, acting, doing anything, even having a conversation with somebody, the creative urge comes from the same place. The only difference is that the medium changes.

A lot of inspiration, or whatever is behind the art, comes from things like dreams or inspiration that I see all around me every day.

I have different jobs that I do. My jobs are things that I do, but art is what I am. It goes to the core of me. It's not something that I'm doing because someone expects it of me. It's something that I truly do for myself.

There was a time when I was first showing my paintings in Grand Marais, and people kind of forget this, but my work was very dark. It was a lot of black and white. If there was color, it was usually blood red. There was a big change that happened when my daughter was born. I stopped painting because I was home taking care of her. When I picked up the brush again, it just came out in bright color. So I think you bring what's called for, or what you've got in you. What comes out of you has to be in you in the first place, so as we go through life, we change… evolve in a way, as we learn more and get more experiences. And then all those things can be incorporated into what we then express.

When it comes to subjects, yeah, there are certain things that I do over and over again. It's really difficult not to be inspired by the scenic beauty that surrounds us. In particular, the old growth white pines that we see as we're going up the Gunflint Trail or different places… Those are such incredible earthlings. I think of trees as individuals. I did a stand of white pines, and there were about five trees in the painting. I called it "Five Brothers." Well, I happen to be one of five brothers. And then there was a companion piece to it that was two trees. Though I didn't title it that way, I kind of thought of it like my parents, so my whole family was depicted as trees. The trees have a stability to them. When I look out at the water, it's always changing. I've always lived near water, and fish.

I was born in Detroit, and you're never far from the Great Lakes in MIchigan. I grew up in Liberia, right on the ocean, and then I ended up here. My daughter is from Palau, which is completely surrounded by water, so there's that kind of stuff.

When I was probably about eight years old, I had a dream. We lived outside of Detroit on a farm. I had a dream that I walked out into the driveway and there was a muddy puddle in the gravel driveway. I saw something moving in the water, so I went and got a net, and I netted a beautiful, long finned, white goldfish out of this muddy puddle, and put it in a jar in my window. That image from that dream has stuck with me my whole life.

Goldfish are such a common thing. They're like a dime store trinket, but each one of them is an individual life, and there are so many interesting things about goldfish. So I eventually had a goldfish pond in my yard. I used to sit out there with a cup of coffee, and all the goldfish would run and hide under rocks and things. The longer I sat there with my journal or my coffee, they would gradually start to feel more comfortable, and eventually would be eating out of my hand.

I thought that's the way creativity is. When you're running through life, going from this to that, and all the things you have to do, the day kind of gets away from you and there's not enough time to do everything. That's not the time that the creative thoughts and expression come. It's when you sit still and allow them to come out that they do. So you can call it creativity. I think that's spirituality, too.

Van Gogh is someone that I've always kind of looked to for the heaviness of brush strokes and the intensity of color. I like a painting to look like a painting. It can be a painting of a landscape, but I like to see the brushstrokes, see the process, and see all that in there. Because, every painting that pretends to be something, a landscape or any representational scene or object, is an illusion. Our mind sees a three dimensional world on a two dimensional plane. It's not a scene of the Gunflint Pines, it's paint on a surface. To me, good painting is not necessarily about getting every line just right and getting the shape right, and getting everything perfect, like reporting the news in a photograph. When you tap into something inside you and say "beyond this incredible scene that I'm looking at, that I want to share with you, I want to bring something of me into this." And I'm doing it with paint, so here's some paint. Sometimes people look at my work and they say "what's that?", and I say "It's paint."

I often compare painting to dreaming or breathing. It's not 100% effortless, but it's just something that I have always done, and will always do. As long as I'm here in this body, I'll paint. And if I lose the physical ability to paint, I'll paint in my mind. I'll still create those images.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Some of Grampa's drawings

My Dad recently sent me 14 of my grandfather's drawings. They are crayon on something like newsprint. I've ordered a 2017 wall calendar featuring them. It's nice to have something more to remind me of him.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

from an interview, January 2014

My go-to medium is acrylic paint on canvas or wood. Once in a while on paper or other painting surfaces. But acrylic paint. It dries quickly, it's bright, it's rather forgiving, it's non toxic, and it just works for me. A lot of people don't like painting in acrylic because they say it dries too quickly, as opposed to oils where you have a long work time with it, but even with acrylic paint, I keep a fan by my easel and I'm often using a blow dryer or fan to make that acrylic paint dry faster. Because I paint very fast, and I want that paint to dry much quicker than it wants to.

Q: I want to know first how many talents you have.

A: How many talents I have? Well, I have only one talent, and that is communication. So it doesn't really matter what medium I'm using. Whether I'm writing, or painting, or acting… Speaking in public. It all is communication. And I'm a nurse. Nursing is really so much about communication. It's listening and responding. And that is what art is. My paintings are a story, whether that story is apparent when you look at it or not. Sometimes I'm not even aware of what the story is until afterwards when I'm interpreting it, or even just figuring it out for myself.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


Last month, I went to a sale at an old school in Red Ridge, Michigan, and picked up this antique box. I love imagining the history of it, being a hand made box, and wonder what it was made to hold. It has a removable tray in the top. There was a larger one available that day, but I didn't have room in my car to bring it home.

I've been thinking about not painting fish in trees anymore, but it is a theme that I love to play with, so I probably won't quit for a while.

Also seen at NorthShore ArtScene. Thanks Joan!

Sunday, June 19, 2016



I wanted you to know we are so thrilled with your beautiful paintings. We will treasure them always. Don't the Salmon look like they were meant for our DR wall? A dream come true.

Thank you for sharing your gifts with us.


Tuesday, June 14, 2016


When most people talk about fishing around these parts, they mean removing fish from a lake. For me, it means adding fish to a painting. How many new fish do you see? I think I count 9.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Our mind plays tricks on us

Our mind plays tricks on us. It sees this paint stroke as the trunk of a tree, this blue patch as sky. I like to see the paint as paint within the intended forest. Sometimes I paint colors only to see an image in it later on. I recently heard someone say that the purpose of a painting is to entertain, and I hope mine do that. I derive so much pleasure from the act of painting, and hopefully this will translate to the eye of the viewer. These images contain stories in my head, and I wish I could share them all. But I have to let them speak for themselves.

Comics: Art In Relationship

I've finished the final project for my class through California College Of The Arts!

It's an 8 page comic.

Monday, March 07, 2016


My favorite holidays are

1) My birthday. Not only is it my own personal holiday, but it falls in the heart of summer when I can ride my bike, have a bonfire and just be out in my yard.

2) National Space Exploration Day. It wasn't a holiday until my 9th birthday when Neil Armstrong walked on the surface of the moon.

3) Lake Superior Day, when my birthday falls on a Sunday.


My grandfather was a painter and art teacher. I'm sad I didn't know him better or have him around longer. He was an eccentric man. I have few memories of him, but I do have one of his paintings, and the book he taught from. The book is all marked up with his insights and underlining, and there are a few of his notes tucked between the pages, along with a flier for one of his classes. I read that book with his annotations, and I feel like he is speaking to me.

My father is also an eccentric man, and the older I get, the more I realize I am a lot like him. And I'm happy about that. For a brief time, my father painted. He created tiny abstracts on wood blocks, and I have those in a box. I treasure them. He shrugs them off as though they are nothing, but I once heard him talking about them with his grandchildren, and it might as well have been an inspiring gallery talk. A fireside chat.

Then there's me. I think people would say I'm a bit eccentric myself. I don't know about that. I'm currently studying comics through the California College of the Arts, having studied art and painted throughout my life.I recently realized that my paintings are comics, and that we are surrounded by comics all the time, and I hadn't recognized them.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Q: What's your favorite thing to paint?

A: This is going to sound like I'm making a joke, but I'm not. My favorite thing to paint is paintings. Seriously. I'm most known at this point for painting old growth white pines, but it's not white pines, it's paint on a surface that conjures up an image of white pines in your mind. So, the more a painting looks like an object or representational form like a landscape, a still life, a portrait… the more it looks like something other than a painting, the more of a lie it is. So I like a painting to look like a painting, and even when you look at my paintings of white pines, or animals or fish, there's always a twist to it. You see the brush strokes, you see the paint, you see that I scratch into it with the opposite end of the paintbrush. These are all things that say, alright, you see a fish, but it's a painting.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Print Shop at Sivertson Gallery

Sivertson will be representing more of my work with prints on canvas and paper.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

New paintings

I'm working on a new show for Coho. It's going up March 31 and coming down May 31 2016.