You were born with potential.
You were born with goodness and trust. You were born with ideals and dreams. You were born with greatness.
You were born with wings.
You are not meant for crawling, so don't.
You have wings.
Learn to use them and fly."
Oh, look. An Angel in progress 12x16” oil in panel. Sunday thoughts after a long week as a nurse practitioner** I hate crowds.
In fact, so much so, that when a yoga class is full, and the teacher sees me on the schedule they give me a fair warning before I even enter.
But here’s what I’ve learned.
There are times I don’t mind those crowds. Particularly on bad weeks where I’ve seen how awful people can be to themselves and each other.
Why? Because in that room, I’m reminded every single human has the capacity for grace. And stillness. And patience for themselves and others.
This is also why I NEVER EVER go into the locker room.
Despite all the signs that say ‘no phones’
In any studio,
Immediately after class, I see people race to their pockets and bags and retrieve their devices feigning after whatever notifications they might have missed.
So I skip it. I roll up my mat in the room, sling that towel around my neck and bring that tender reminder back to my studio.
* (Half the week I work full time as an ARNP, the other half I’ve committed to this artist life and the things that make me happy to be alive, running, yoga, being with my chosen family and studio gremlin who owns me etc)
I initially wrote this September 28th, 2022; I wasn't ready to share with all of you at the time. The ink sketches are from inktober 2020, I inked a full month in rabbit theme. Little did I know how foretelling the imagery of the rabbit with the boots would be for the daily theme "Shoes".
I tell this to any one who looks over my sketchbooks, these are not simple doodles.
These are blue prints.
“Stop shrinking yourself to make room for other people’s magic.
You are wondrous.
Take up space.”- @inspiredtowrite
When I was a little girl one of my favorite books was illustrations full of mice who wore clothes and lived in a boot.
I loved that book. Every page was so detailed and the mice were charming as heck in their big family.
I’ve been following the tiny creech who have recently shown up in force in the studio.
I thought they might be new characters in my story.
But the farther I go the more I realize they are not new at all. They have been here all along.
It took me all the way back here. And right now my current work, albeit mostly tiny studies right now, feels like coming home to myself.
Hang with me — but remember the boot, the home of the tiny mice.
Fashion is not my thing.
I’m a minimalist, I have a wardrobe that fits in a drawer. And a metric ton of running sneakers.
I needed an ‘outfit’ to wear to these art show receptions for shows. Something just a bit more ‘formal’-ish than my usual go to of joggers and paint stained Ugg slippers.
So I saw these vegan Doc Martin boots. They were perfect. They were in the shape of that boot from that book with the tiny mice.
….But, they were absurdly out of this world more money than I’d ever spend on shoes.
I only would wear them, what, 5-6 times per year?
Meh. I waffled on the purchase.
I bought a different pair that was far less expensive, but weren’t quite right by anyone’s opinion (thanks fam, good looking out). Sigh. So it goes.
I didn’t show up for that little girl this week- the kid who read books about mice who lived in a boot.
I bailed on two art receptions recently. I had good excuses: a migraine, or I was working, or those new boots weren’t ‘it.’
I could pretend these reasons justified not showing up and standing in front of my art work in public.
This is still a struggle, it’s uncomfy but I know it’s a necessary part of ‘being an artist’,
When I started this account in 2020, I made a commitment to myself. I want my art work to be seen, I don’t want to be the artist who hides in their studio, painting her life away.
I forgot to show up for myself. Forgot to show up for the little girl who quit playing piano after her first solo recital.
Forgot to show up for the girl who hid behind her mom, afraid to be seen. Afraid to wear real pants that weren’t overalls because she was afraid regular paints would fall down. Afraid to spell the last word in the spelling bee properly because then it would be just me and one other kid (I intentionally miss-spelled toothache to get out of this speaking in public situation. ‘tootha-c-k’ actually created far more humiliation for me later on)
Afraid to speak and be heard.
Afraid to embrace being a ‘tomboy’ and not a ‘girly girl’- preferring to spend time with the boys instead of the girls. I got bullied a lot for my alternative fashion choices by these girls later on in grade school, anyway.
Fast forward to present day:
That girl who is now afraid to share and proudly stand by 33 years of a life spent painting the creatures she adores.
That girl who has dozens of sketchbooks filled cover to cover. That’s the thing about sketch books. They can close. You can hide everything in a sketch book.
Sketchbooks are safe.
Paintings in the studio are safe.
But that’s not where paintings belong.
I’m not here to stay safe.
I’m here to get scared.
To feel the fear
…and understand, it’s okay to be afraid.
Don’t be afraid of being seen.
Don’t be afraid of being heard.
Take up space.
Buy the fucking boots.
Stomp around in em’.
The boots are important. They make me a tall person, well, taller , than I really am. This helps me get into character and step out of the studio.
I think ‘Aliza and Her Monsters’ is a little girl trying to be very big and brave.
The boots help.
I want to be tall and not afraid to be seen.
I want my voice to be heard.
I don’t want to be scared to make noise.
I bailed on two art shows and this felt like I took a giant step backward on this art journey.
There was a tiny creech screaming ‘Just get the fucking boots. It’s not about the boots. But the boots are where the little mouses came from.. in that childhood storybook.
I’m here to get uncomfy. I’m going to wear the boots and tell my story.
…and I hope you find the courage to tell your own.
“My optimism wears heavy boots and is loud.”― Henry Rollins
Get. The. Damn. Boots.
Flight School: Feet First, oil on panel, 24x12"
Bradley_Rautenbach (IG) 's brilliant photo "A Jackal Chasing Vultures." Photo : Bradley Rautenbach Photography
Artists find inspiration everywhere. I often find it comes most unexpectedly, sometimes like a storm, sometimes like a slow trickle that builds to a stream, then a river, and before I know it I'm drowning in an ocean and there's swimming polar bears everywhere.
If you know, you know.
Anyway, it was a sunny day in Seattle but believe me, a storm hit.
I have a folder of references called "jackal bois" I've been assembling for weeks now. IG has been doing the most putting out wild life photos in my explore feed lately. Today, I misread a caption on a brilliant photo of a jackal in dire pursuit of a vulture. "A jackal chasing virtues" was certainly a departure from the 'Jackal Chasing Vultures" that Bradley Rautenbach titled it. But , it was too late. By the time I realized my mistake, the lightning already struck. I can't wait to capture this bolt.
What are you chasing?
What are you willing to do? How far? How high? How long will you go in pursuit of it?
And, when you get it, will your journey have been worth your effort?
Or will you arrive,
only to find the goal post moved another 10 feet?
Treasure II oil on panel 16x12” in progress.
I have so much to say about this new series but I wanted to share what hit me when I was listening to Seth Godin’s pod earlier.
I think a lot of artists fall into the trapping of chasing perfection. And a lot of art collectors would be keen on having art that could have been generated by an inkjet printer by itself.
Art is one of a kind. And understanding to be unique and imperfect is actually what makes something special. I’ve been loving following the creatures that have been showing up in my studio, even though most might find them odd or unpleasant. I am so intrigued and concerning myself less with how anyone else likes what I do.
Seth ponders : “What does it mean:
To have the vinyl version and not the CD
What would it mean to have rough edges and the rust that wabi-sabi brings with it?
When we are more organic and more human
When we cannot be easily put into a box, pigeon-holed, instantly understood, discarded and replaced
When we seek to be the Lynch pin instead of the cog
What does that does that do to our work?
There’s another kind of quality: meeting spec of making a promise, not that I can do this faster or cheaper than anyone else you can find on fiver or upwark
The promise is the opposite: that you will pay a lot
But you will get more than you pay for
That you will be surprised and delighted.
There will be rough edges
The quality of meaningful work- the work of “I did my best.”
The work of “It is not perfect, but it is unique.”
Each of us, ironically in this moment of industrialization and digitization,
In this race for ever more gilded status
Each of us has the opportunity to do something else.
And that something else
Is to be the person we set out to be.”
The new Treasure collection. I’ll speak on this soon enough.
It's probably the most ' me ' work I've made to date.
it's imperfect and as honest as I can paint at this moment.
I'm super proud of it.
ittle Ghosts, after Heinz. Oil on panel 18x14”. Special commission, 2021🔴
I am grateful for those who trust me to bring their commissions to life. I ask for a story and as many photos as they have.
Today for the first time in my life, I saw a magpie in Jackson Hole. (Photo 2) When I was looking at references of a German shepherd named Heinz for this piece, I saw he made friends with a magpie and so this vision came to be:
“The pack changed a lot since April, my wonderful boy Heinz passed away April 8th. Cancer took him from us. He was the center of our lives.
When he left, my heart broke. He was so special. He healed my broken soul. He was my baby, my shadow and protector for almost 12 years. The dog I dreamed of when I was a child and young girl. But nothing is forever and I try to be grateful he was in my life.
What I give you as an inspiration:
I grew up in a wealthy home but without a connection to my parents, and
without feeling loved and cared for. My mother left when I was 9 and I was sent to a boarding school. I felt abandoned, lonely and terrified of life itself. With my class we visited a wolf sanctuary and I was fascinated by the beauty, grace and size of these animals. There was one young wolf who had to live separately because the pack mobbed him and he got injured several times. But his personality still so strong and unbroken I fell in love with him. Canis Rufus was written outside of his enclosure. Never forgot this. When I played outside, I imagined to be him. Lonely but strong. He was my hero. I had my own reality and in my imagination I was Canis Rufus (Red wolf).
Decades later when Heinz came into my life, Canis Rufus came back to me with him.
But Heinz is gone now and I want to set both free. 💫🌙 May they fly high.
This shall be my inspiration for you…. 🐾🐺
Every color is up to you and your feelings about my inspiration. I want you to be free in your creation .”
And so I woke up the next day with this composition in my mind:
The little red wolf, the spirit of the magpie who befriended her beloved Heinz, and ‘may they fly high’, words I’ll never forget.
The little ones leave the biggest holes when they have to go.
I say this a lot but there are really two types of people: people who own dogs, and dog people. Dog people tend to understand this the most🥺
Title is from Mrs. Potter's Lullaby, a song by the Counting Crows: "if dreams are like movies then memories are films about ghosts"
This is a really personal commission that I was honored to take on. This is a bit of a ghost story but not the haunting variety.
Post Script, 18x24” oil on canvas. 🔴SOLD. Another revisit from 2021, but some new thoughts.
Photo 2: a v large custom 5’ canvas print!
Photo 3: “The Enchantress” a fav from the Nat’l Museum of Wildlife Art
☝️DM for custom prints / originals
This was a series of 3 letters painted to put back together the pieces of a broken heart.
But being around all these bears in Jackson Hole and these incredible wildlife painters at national wildlife museum, I’ve been considering these a bit more.
When I look at paintings with images of mythology, I just feel that there’s a story that is common to everyone - but we may not even know the story. There’s something to it that’s universal to our subconscious and painting about that… is finding our way back to through history to our origins. When I see a painting or hear a song there’sl this feeling of ‘Ah, yes, that there is in my bones,’ Sort of like cave art, you don’t understand what happened but you know it to be truth and there’s a magic to that.
I would like to trace that gray area in my own work. These aren’t spun tales, I want truth in it.
Animals have a huge part in who we are. I think Nietzsche said something about the truth of the dream life of animals-and thats what I’ve been more curious about as well.
I seldom remember my dreams but in January 2020, I had a vivid encounter following a crowd of polar bears into the sea and I knew if I followed them I’d probably drown. But I wasn’t afraid.There was just acceptance, like “oh ok this is how I’m going to go out, but this darkness I’m going into doesn’t feel like a bad thing and there’s a familiarity to it that is strangely comforting. I’ve been here before.”
And I woke up with that feeling that it’s okay to revisit this place, it didn’t actually drown me the first time. It’s okay to remember these bears. And it’s okay to follow them to that dark place they made lead.
Jerboa 1.0 layer no. 2 Mini creech in progress
Oil on panel 5x5”.
A lot of making art is listening to the tiny voice that says “this might not work,”
and knowing in your heart
It already did.
Because you were brave enough
You’re doing great.
Working small creech for a moment as I adjust to the new palette and finishing up a few old haunts before really starting this new creative endeavor.
I’ve got some stories to tell.
And can I just say wow, I’m visiting Jackson Hole for the first time and the contemporary wildlife scene is something else!
Aliza and Her Monsters