Miniature Worlds


“Like a lamp, a cataract,
a star in space, an illusion, a dew drop,
a bubble, a dream, a cloud,
a flash of lightning;
view all created things like this.” – Diamond Sutra


What is it about these miniature worlds that fascinate me so deeply? The smaller and more intricate, the greater my delight. Perhaps a dash of color, an accent, or more vivid tones are needed to portray their strange biographies.  These flakes, stamens, stalks, droplets, buds, blossoms, fossils, desiccations, landscapes . . . form precious moments of frozen time, evidence of being. Their scientific precision is unconscious. Their imperfection is perfect. They are alive, they are dead, they are dying, they are transforming. I like to fix them in time by recording them on the page, extrapolating and refashioning them into reflections of my own inner frangible world made visible.


“When you realize there is nothing lacking,
The whole world belongs to you.” – Lao Tzu


Life is unreal, unfathomable, illusory. What we think is solid is a spider web. What we think is obvious is a delusion. By exploring these hidden realms and studying their secrets, we honor their fragility, and our own.


“Miniatures invite us to leave our known selves and perspectives behind.” – Lia Purpura


“I can be sure that even in this tiny, insignificant episode there is implicit everything I have experienced.” – If on a winter’s night a traveler, Italo Calvino



Painting Time

Like most artists, I wish I could spend all my time writing and making art.  Nonetheless I’m happy to have occasional time to do it at all.  Painting for me is frustrating, challenging, joyous, meditative, pure.  Angels wrestling in the dirt.  Madness.  Flying.  The incredible stillness of the self at its core.  A bell in the silence.  Painstaking, overwhelming, liberating.  A dark and bright bliss.  Living and alive.  The miracle of the moment.


Autumn Bridge, Acrylic on Wood, 4″ x 4″




Flora, Acrylic on Wood, 8″ x 8″

Experimental Drawing

Last weekend I participated in an amazing workshop called Experimental Drawing with Maine artist Cindy Davis. We experimented with all kinds of media and materials as well as a variety of techniques and surfaces. The class was framed by the provocative idea that the practice of drawing itself has become experimental and may encompass everything from mixed media, to 3-D work, to video. An expanded definition for drawing in 2013 could be said to be “making marks on a surface.” That surface may be paper, mylar, vellum, or even virtual. The sky’s the limit.  Here is some of the work I created.

Experimental DrawingThis is my favorite piece, created using black acrylic paint and a Wite-Out pen on two layered sheets of Mylar, which is a thin, strong polyester film.  One technique used here was to scrape away the black paint in varying stages of dryness with a sharp tool, essentially drawing into the media, which yielded interesting textures and a sculptural effect.  The second layer added to the interpretive, abstract effect.

These are some “blind” contour and gesture drawings we made to loosen up.  I’ve always loved doing blind contour drawings especially.  Drawing with eyes closed, guided only by memory and touch, is so counter-intuitive, and the results often capture startlingly essential aspects.  It’s like drawing with the mind.  This is a particularly great exercise for people who say, and falsely believe, they can’t draw.

Here are some studies on drawing paper and rice paper using ink, colored pencils, Conte crayons, graphite and pencil.

Experimental Drawing

This was my first exploration with Mylar; the white ghostly images of the flowers were made through scraping off the black acrylic paint.


This is a pencil and pen-and-ink sketch of Milkweed.  From the drawing we made rough sculptural forms, which we then interpreted in mixed media.

ExpDr.VellumSampleExploration of various wet media on Vellum.

ExpDr.StillLifeVellum2Still life, using various media on Vellum.  There are drawings on each side of the Vellum, which creates interesting effects.

ExpDr.StillLifeVellum1This is the flip-side of the Vellum still life.  Additional images/effects can be added using overlays of additional sheets of Vellum.  So many possibilities!

Experimental Drawing

This was a really fun exercise, created using Gesso and black acrylic paint over an appropriated color photograph.

Cindy is a fantastic teacher, and I have so many new ideas from experimenting with materials and media that I never would have explored on my own!