The Gift of Art

My mom died suddenly on March 13 after a brief illness. She passed on her own terms, peacefully and after saying goodbye to family and friends. I felt lost and sad. I found myself in my studio a few days after her passing, mixing oil paint with cold wax, and beginning to find my way back to myself.

About a week ago, a friend contacted me and said she was unable to attend a workshop in Portland and wanted to gift me her place in the class as she felt it would be a healing place for me to be. I met Kathleen two years ago on a cruise to South America and we hit it off. We were both artists, so we had endless conversations about creativity and various mediums, and in one South American port (neither of us remember where we were), we spent the day walking, talking, and taking photographs. We stayed in contact and became even better friends.

At first I felt mixed about taking the three-day class, then I realized it was exactly what I needed. Kathleen knew.

The class was taught by Serena Barton, an artist I have known for several years and always loved her work. I told Kathleen I would be honored to take her place and I packed my bags for the three-day class in Portland. I’ve worked in oil and cold wax for several years and have taught it myself, but I put on my student hat and just showed up, ready to immerse myself into the process.

Serena is an excellent teacher, and her methods are wild and free. I love this photo of her demo space.

I started slowly, just laying down paint, with the idea of working looser and wilder than my usual careful self. I painted so many things, all of which got covered over and transformed by the third and final day. These are all starts, none of which remain.


I learned some new things, like applying India ink as the first layer, which I transformed so much, none of the India ink even shows, but I know that initial bold mark making is in there somewhere.

Studio views of the class.

Studio views of the space.


Here are the pieces I completed (or are in process).

Parting shot.

Thank you Serena, for three great days of art-making, and thank you, Kathleen, for your generosity and friendship.

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