As a child, I arranged and rearranged my bedroom many times, searching for the right feeling. I would say my first studio was my bedroom. Once I got the space how I wanted, I sat on my freshly made bed with all the pillows and my favorite stuffed animals, calmly absorbing all the newly organized energy. Noticing all the mementos and decor set in just the right place and just the right way gave me a sense of peace.
Those were the early days of my life as a creative. I knew from a young age that I saw things differently than others did. I was only 8 years old when I told my mother I wished I didn’t notice EVERYTHING when I walked into a room. Not only the objects and the decor but also the energy in the space. It seemed like a burden back then. I knew if I could move a few things around, I could make it feel more “right.”
My mother was a “maker” in every sense of the word. She was constantly creating, and she set the example for what an artistic life looked like. Watching her raise five children and manage her time for pursuing creative projects was normal in my household. I used these early observational skills to build the foundation for a life full of artistic pursuits.
As a collector, I have curated and created many pieces that I often rotate through my space. Each time they land in a new setting, I am able to see them in a different way. This allows me to enjoy them fresh once again. I like to move things from my home to my studio and back again. Being surrounded with interesting pieces of art and decor feels necessary to an aesthetic person. I feel most relaxed in an environment that’s thoughtfully decorated with a mix of eclectic artifacts that are visually stimulating.
My studio has one big blank wall that I use as a palette for my work. Here, you will often find paintings, ceramics, weavings and even foraged treasures from the sea, all displayed together. I change the wall frequently and assemble things in ways that intrigue and inspire me.
“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” — Pablo Picasso
Once my children were grown and out of the house, I had the chance to commit more time to living the creative life I had been balancing for so long. I started taking classes. Lots of classes — including jewelry making, acrylic painting, watercolor painting, live model drawing and ceramics. I dove headfirst into all of it. The thrill of these new creative outlets and being involved in an artistic community was inspiring.
I turned an empty bedroom into a home studio. It was the beginning of a new freedom for self-expression, and it was magical. Having my home studio was nice, but I was never good at prioritizing time there. The distractions and busyness of home life seemed to get in the way. My best creative energy came out in my classes and workshops. This is when I began to manifest the desire to one day have my own studio.
I was familiar with the small coastal Northern California town of Benicia since I grew up not far from there. I also had worked in an eclectic gift shop/studio in the artist enclave known as The Arsenal. I had already met several artists and visited their studios. My new dream was to one day have a studio of my own in this amazing place.
I began taking a weekly workshop there and was invited to join a co-op art gallery in downtown Benicia. It was there that I started to meet more artists and become part of the art community. When I heard about a couple of Arsenal artists looking for a studio mate, I jumped at the chance to go meet them and see the space.
From the hundred-year-old brick buildings with their arched windows to the weathered facades, I was instantly smitten with the location. I felt the adventurous opportunity in that space. I signed the lease the same day and began moving in the next!
At first, I didn’t want to cover the beautifully battered hardwood floors. They are a work of art in themselves. Yet every day I worked there, it began to fill with the things I needed. I took my time and let many of the pieces come to me organically.
When a fellow Arsenal artist and friend was giving away her studio couch, I said, “Yes, I could use it!” The ornate and provincial shape of the couch was the perfect piece to set the stage for creating a place to gather. Unexpectedly draped with a multi-colored kilim rug, this is the spot where visitors and friends gravitate. Some studios are made for working only, and that’s fine, but not mine. My studio is a place to come and sit and relax as well as create.
“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.”
— Vincent van Gogh
Now, every day in my studio is truly a gift. From the moment I pull into this historic area, I feel excited and so fortunate. Once a military port, the large brick buildings now house mostly artists. I know painters, sculptors, photographers, musicians and many other creatives from all walks of life. It’s been nearly five years, and I still get a sense of being centered whenever I am here. I like to walk through the arched hallways and up metal staircases to wander around the building.
Scenic vignettes are around every corner. And I take advantage of this treasure every chance I get. I relish the ability to sit outside with my sketchbook or grab a basket and go foraging for inspirational bits of flowers and leaves. Nature encourages me to be happy every day. The simple perfection of each leaf and petal makes me smile. These organic influences often show up in my work.
“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.”
I’m frequently bringing found objects into my space. I keep buckets of driftwood and glass jars full of rusty bits. I don’t always have an immediate plan to use them, but I know they are there. Looking at them gives me pleasure and new ideas. Nothing compares to the patina Mother Nature so perfectly casts upon things. The colors and texture of rust and corrosion are my go-to palette. I am constantly layering any and all materials I can get my hands on in an attempt to capture a finish that is so rich and textured, yet so effortlessly perfect.
I began with drawing, then watercolor and acrylic painting. Filling my baskets with every richly colored paint tube and pigment I could find. My impressionistic work is drawn from my intuitive ability to observe people and interpersonal interactions. Having this acute sense of awareness allows me to share the human experience we all desire in this life … connection. My paintings explore this fascination with the fleeting moment and seek to capture its energy with vibrancy and emotion.
“We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are.”
— Anaïs Nin
Transitioning from paint to ceramics felt completely natural to me. Stepping into that first sculpture workshop was an explosion of stimulation to my senses. Everything was new, from the materials to the language, and I was fully present to absorb it all. The organic nature of the clay in my hands touched a part of my artistic soul. As an earth element, working with clay is a therapeutic as well as spiritual experience for me. Earth elements act as purifiers, connecting us to the earth’s forces and energies.
My ceramic work, which is largely figurative, explores my relationship with color, texture and the human form. I use my observational skills daily to draw inspiration. The moment we connect with another person can be captured and artistically cultivated into a piece of art that stirs the emotions and intrigues the viewer. This conversation is vital to our daily relationship with each other.
Sometimes I plan a workday in the studio, which starts by opening the drapes to let the sun stream in through two large windows that face the Carquinez Strait. Exposing this view of the busy waterway with several shipping ports, I find myself watching the water sparkle like diamonds. Watching the giant ships pass by on the strait. Watching the sailboats and the tugboats silently glide by with the wind. Watching the clouds move and cast shadows across my wall. Then I browse my music playlists … selecting the perfect genre to fit my current mood. I sink into the welcoming couch and let myself just be in the moment. It will often end up that I never tend to any “work” at all. Yet, I consider all of the above parts of my process. And I could not create without them.
Whether I am painting, drawing, sculpting or just browsing through books and magazines for inspiration, my studio is a sacred space for all these activities. What started out as a burden to my 8-year-old self has lovingly grown into a beautiful blessing. One of the many I count daily.
For me, life is all about the present moment. Letting go of the energy of the past and not anticipating the uncertainties of the future. Being able to enjoy all that surrounds me without the desire to change any of it. Along with my creative pursuits, accepting life as it comes is my daily practice. It’s in this peaceful state of mind where my creativity begins, where I am happy to show up and just be.