gift of time

Sharon Lavender in the role of studio assistant.

Normally I spend many hours alone in my studio.  During a deadline I become hermit-like, while my friends, family and my husband tolerate my absence.  I have received help in the past, but there isn’t a lot for someone else to do.  A lot of my work consists of personal drawing technique.  The format of this piece allows for a helper.  Monica donated a day to me and now, my mom Sharon, has been putting in hours.  In fact, she has calculated that it will be 75 hours, done over 11 days.  I am fortunate that she has been able and willing to do this.  And it is such a switch, since studio time is usually time spent away from family rather than time spent with them.  There has been lots of family talk to go with the art making.


Mom’s hands while she transfers my lines on to a panel.


Preservation Woods photoshop sketch.

Here is the complete image, which will be transferred on to 10 panels for a total size of 80 x 160″.  Thanks Mom!!



One of the things we’re planning for the exhibit is video.
I’m playing with ideas. It’s all new.

A simple start using basic skills and it’s only a little over 2 minutes long. Who knows what can happen once I know what I’m doing. The practice video shows stages of a new work.  It includes sound that I created with an artist friend.

I’ve particularly enjoyed painting this canvas. I think I’m finished with the artwork … maybe … unless I’m not.

really, nothing is stasis

Monica in her studio, Phoenix

I am in Monica’s sacred space, her studio. It is a hot June day and we talk about the summer in Phoenix and how it is such a good time to be in the studio. There is first of all the light and then the air conditioning. I literally get down on my knees to photograph the piece she is working on today. It is a painting of a male torso, she has previously finished the female torso and I look at both. I want to know how she builds the painting. The richness in the painted surface is what she uses to build the form.
Monica approaches the male form in terms of the muscle and bone structure. As she paints she adds the other systems in layers but not in the conventional manner of medical illustration, or life drawing, rather by their importance. The systems such as the arterial will be faithfully accounted for and then covered by the next layer. If something conceptually important like the heart should become obscured –she goes back and delineates it again as the figure becomes complete.

detail of male torso in progress

The female form is begun with the soft tissue and the lymphatic system. Both male and female start in the center of the painting and grow outward. I ask her if it is important that we know if it is male or female and she acknowledges that it is the energy between the male and female that she is working with in this pair. I can see the difference but I so love the line and surface that for me, the pieces transcend their gender. As she says, it is the energy of the systems, male and female that exists, explodes and rewards my eyes.

detail of female torso

You will see what I mean in January. Carolyn had mentioned that Monica was kicking it with her new work and she is.
On a technical note she is applying casein and egg tempera using both long lettering brushes and Japanese brushes. Knowing how to use these brushes enables an artist to achieve a wonderful whip-lash line with maximum control. Monica likes control but these paintings have taken her to a new almost cellular level where chaos is her friend and really, nothing is stasis.

line brushes

creature, man and nature

CREATURE, MAN and NATURE – The title for our upcoming exhibit. It surfaced from each of our areas of interest. They are timely subject matter. Carolyn observes the animal kingdom, Mary respects the land, and I honor the human body. Combined, we show a deep appreciation and concern for the natural world.

We’ve met regularly for some time, to organize this project. I include bits of some of these sessions, as they’ve occurred already.

We needed a clear title, and now with that –  We officially launch our blog.

Welcome to:

FORMAL exhibit  and an INFORMAL blog
works by Carolyn Lavender, Monica Aissa Martinez, and Mary Shindell.

You’ll hear from all three of us in this blog. The plan is to share photos of our individual progress and our meetings until we are complete with the entire process. The final installation will include video, one from each of us. So  count on snippets of some of that too. We’re also thinking to invite in the occassional guest author. And we’ll post something we call a throw in.

Move over 21st century … we’re present. Though meetings always include digital equipment of some form or other…the sketchbook still presides, cause we’re visual artists.

Carolyn will draw (and maybe paint), I will paint (and maybe collage) and Mary will make sculpture (and maybe print) … maybe we’ll do a bit of all of it.  Mesa is giving us plenty of space and freedom.

Stay with us, go to the home page, look around, get acquainted, and feel free to comment.  You’re a part of it now.

…I’m done for a little while, chances are you’ll hear from Mary next.