Category Archives: New Artwork

iPhone Selfie

New in the studio: Photo Sketch for new painting

I draw every day, on good paper, in my sketchbook, on my iPhone, anywhere, really. I also use my camera as a sketching tool!

Why not? It’s easy to try out a lot of ideas, capturing images that I can play with later in a variety of media.

My work delves deeply into different archetypes, and after two years of working with The Hanged Man, I am eager to move on. I’ve been exploring the archetype, Union of Opposites over the last year, but everything about the archetype demands huge time commitments.  Gotta wait for a sabbatical or summer to dig in. Bummer.

So for now, I am playing with the idea of multiple realities and ways of knowing…yup, archetype of the High Priestess. So I’ve begun sketching what I call a series of Fata Morganas. Part Morgan Le Fay, part mirage.




Fidel Castro Died At 90, My Father Died At 36

This is a picture of my father, Dr. Jose Manuel Garmendia Socarras. He was a doctor. An idealist and romantic, he stayed in Cuba after everyone else in his family had fled because he wanted to heal the poor and build a just society in his homeland.

He was tortured by Fidel Castro’s secret police, the G-2, for his good deeds. He died at 36 years old. Fidel died yesterday at 90. Don’t blame me for banging on a drum and dancing La Conga while chanting “At last, Cuba Libre!”


Ever Feel Like You’re Frozen Into A Block Of Ice?

Ever feel like you’re frozen? Just got home from teaching and am tumbling back under the covers to fend off the chills.

Autumn fevers are the worst!


I love this painting by Andrew Wyeth. Although it is entitled “Spring” (which sounds all sunny and flowery to me), I love how the whole world seems to have thawed out but this old man (Old Man Winter?) is downright frozen to the spot. It’s how I feel right now!

Love Wyeth. All his work is so sun drenched. Got a chance to see his Helga paintings when they came to SAM. OMG, they’re so sensual!

e194b721af9d6e49d70471d09a2ed9edRight around the corner from his erotically charged Helga paintings (Just look at how he recorded the light glinting off of Helga’s pubic hair), there was this one portrait he painted of his wife lying in a field, with a HAT on her face. He pretty much spent more time depicting the dog than his wife!


I kept comparing the way he depicted them. How does the song go? “Things that make you go Hmmm.”

I compared his paintings and thought, Whoa, his wife was way more civilized than me. I would have whopped the side of his head with a cast iron pan!


I Wear A Cilice Commemorating Drowned Syrian Refugees in Somnambulist 3

Last March I was reading the latest issue of Marie Claire, a fashion magazine. In one article I was horrified to read about a boat that sank with 850 Syrian refugees aboard. I was struck by the distance between the advantaged life of the journal’s readership and the desperate immigrants seeking asylum. In remembrance, I made a cilice embellished with 850 teardrop briolettes, each marking a drowned refugee.

A cilice is a horsehair garment worn next to the skin for the mortification of the flesh in penance.

img_6534This is Somnambulist #3, the third self-portrait I’ve done wearing the cilice in my studio. Sometimes I feel like a sleepwalker unable to awaken and change the world in any significant way. It’s all so impossible. So I seek my easel.


Small Works Opening At Dendroica Gallery

OMG…after all the presidential votes are counted today we’ll either wanna kill ourselves or breathe a sigh of relief.

In case you’re still breathing on Thursday…come to the opening of Small Works at Dendroica Gallery on Capitol Hill. I have two self-portraits from the Migrations series. Looks like I’m drowning in both of them. You’ve seen the news lately… Can’t blame me, eh?


Teaching Art In An Urban Environment– Never A Dull Day!

Never a dull day, let me tell you. So yesterday my office window shattered. Oh no, I thought, some poor bird hit the window so hard it broke, poor thing musta died. Uh, today the custodial engineers came out to replace the window and pulled out a 9mm slug. Quite a different story. Apparently earlier a rapist was arrested about a block away after firing shots in the air, random like. One of his stray bullets broke my window.
Time to move my desk away from windows, don’tcha think?

Yup, teaching in an urban campus –it’s always a party!

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Thank You To The Bill and Melida Gates Foundation and Latinos In Philanthropy for ArteFest

At the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today for ArteFest, the Gates Foundation’s Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration.

What an honor to be inside the foundation that is making such a huge difference all around the world, and what a thrill to meet so many philanthropists!

I’m also in awe of the sheer creative energies and talents of my fellow Latinex artists.

Thank you so much to Susi Collins, Pilar Pacheco, Izmir Santiago, Io Blair-Freese for being such brilliant hosts, and to Irene Gomez at the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture for bringing us all together.

14650174_10154607616627162_6079208263463550758_n 14642354_10154607616507162_1606971730229137135_n 14600931_10154607616267162_3558133849747532664_n 14601056_10154607616157162_2030135349804806690_n 14611046_10154607616762162_6965917557756104218_nThank you Blanca Santander and her dear husband James for the photos!!!


How Podcasting and Blog Talk Radio Are Changing The Art System

My most dependable income stream as a professional artist has been teaching. I’ve been tenured faculty for over 20 years. It should come as no surprise that I am a life-long learner. As a professional culture creator, and as an educator “sharpening my saw” is an imperative!

These days I’m exploring the world of podcasting. I haven’t embraced social media with great gusto, but am beginning to see the potential for expanding our learning, understanding, and networks through podcasts.  I mean, a slow commute can become a classroom with podcasts!

I did my first FB Live last weekend to enhance what I did in the classroom for my anatomy students. If the flu shots yesterday hadn’t floored both my husband and me, I’d be broadcasting again today, maybe in color, since I did another study of the skull.  Why is planar analysis so hard to grasp?

I mentioned the possibilities this feature has for artists an culture creators to one of my models this week, Shawna Holman, and already she’s trying it out too! I hope it’s a feature that can add reach for her art business and self-expression.

I want to thank Leslie Saeta and the other wonderful hosts at Artists Helping Artists on BlogTalkRadio for the inspiration to try it out and spread the word.



Thinking About Refugees Braving High Seas and Teaching Young Artists About Life Drawing

New in the studio, another painting for Migrations, because I’ve been a bit flooded lately, thinking about all the refugees braving the seas:   Crossing The Straits 24°20’38.5”N, 82°29’32.0”W, 12″ x 12″, oil on cradled wood


Today was the first day my drawing students worked with a life model, AND the first day they tried out sighting and tonal shapes. Here are my favorite student drawings from the last pose of the session.

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Also here is a video lesson on how to apply planar analysis to a skull that I filmed this past weekend. It demonstrates how to simplify the intricacies of the bones of the head into three planes: top, front, and side by using a few lines and some shadows.


When The Subconscious Decides To Help You Out

This new drawing in my studio is a perfect example of how the creative process can bring surprises along with it.

It is a new version of the same gesture that I had drawn in graphite powder just days before. (See below).


The newer drawing plays with contour lines in brown marker. The thing about markers is you can’t erase anything. Imagine my surprise when before I even knew how or why, a bird’s nest materialized!

Conceptual as my drawings are, sometimes symbols from the subconscious just bubble up. I have been thinking about my two homelands (Cuba and the USA) a lot lately…they seem to have become two fragile spotty eggs gnarled in my wild hair.

The first version is closer to what I had conceived, but the second, with a little help from my subconscious, is actually far more interesting.