Art Workshops in Santa Fe

Wrangling Paint

While lunching recently with girlfriends and discussing the actual functionality of what we do as artists with the substance of paint, I said that I mostly push and wrestle colored liquid and have been for a very long time. I have clocked in many days in the studio ending with paint covered fingertips to elbows and splatters down to my toes.

Chaos can be messy. The birth of a personalized order out of the unknown or the luscious shadows of existence are what keep me coming back for more.

I was then asked at the lunch table if I might be interested in offering a one-time workshop in just that: the actual pushing paint presented as the techniques I have honed over time.

The maneuvering of brush over surface, layering without brush strokes, transparent veiling, lifting, blending. What might I call that? We all agreed: Wrangling Paint.

Wrangle: to round up, herd, or take charge of. Another synonym: engaging in a long dispute.

But, the definition on wrangling I found of most interest has to do with technical information.

It is called “Data Wrangling” or “Data Munging.” It’s a way of transforming and mapping data. Making “raw" data form into another format with the intent of making it more valuable for downstream purposes.

Is that not a near perfect example of what we do as artists? It’s alchemy; manipulating materials and translating it into a more valuable experience for all.

“I want to turn chaotic colors into veils of light, purify the surface, and touch my soul.”

Wrangling Paint + More

A three-day workshop July 18-20, 2019, in my large, well-lit Santa Fe Studio. Three spots left. Come join us.



Vernal Passage I mixed media on panel, 48” x 40”, Friesen Gallery

Vernal Passage I mixed media on panel, 48” x 40”, Friesen Gallery

When I was seven, we lived in the tropics of Miami, Florida. Our backyard had a large sprawling lawn that butted up against a canal that I was sure was full of people eating alligators. I was terrified.

In the winters my grandparents would escape the New England cold of Rhode Island for the sunshine state. My grandfather was a retired physical education teacher and I was a budding gymnast.

Our green grassed backyard was the perfect place to saunter my cartwheels and practice my moves.

I took to hanging upside down and sideways quite easily, but when it came to the idea of springboarding and twisting my body backwards into the air, you might as well have thrown me into the canal with the alligators. It was the same kind of hand-sweating heart-racing fear.

In the late afternoons in plaid Bermuda shorts, white tee shirt, and baseball cap, my grandfather would set up his green plastic lawn chair on the back patio. Sitting, cane twisting in his gnarled fingers, he would wave his cane like a baton and conduct my performance. But mostly what I remember of him are his words of encouragement to boost my morale.

He would say, “Now what’s the word?” I remembered it was very long and began with a capital C. He would then slowly say, “C-O-N-F-I-D-E-N-C-E.”  It’s just a word, but my brain was distracted just long enough to do the thing I feared. This word has surfaced many times in my life since then when faced with the fear of "I can't."

Recently, I was asked to speak in front of an audience of 120 on the creative process. I was hand-sweating heart-racing terrified. Yes, I teach in front of people, but speaking to a large audience seemed much more daunting. While telling a friend,  “I can’t do it,” she mentioned that the quickest way to move into the natural flow of our lives is to do something just beyond what we think we can do, which reminded me of what I learned from my grandfather at seven. Confidence might just be a word, but changing “I can’t" to “I can” is a powerful cognitive shift which can trick us out of our comfort zones, so we can be terrified and do it anyway.

I survived standing in front of a crowd in the end and realized I actually enjoyed it. A new flow to approach in the future with added confidence.

The exhibit Stewards of Light is still up in Ketchum, Idaho. View the exhibit here

Paint Big and More: Anything Goes  May 2 - 5 at Mantecón Studio, Santa Fe, NM (1 space left!)

Open Studio Sale July 14 from 1 - 6 pm (2:00 pm art talk)
A variety of large and small pieces will be made available for purchase at studio prices.

Wrangling Paint + More  July 18 - 20 at Mantecón Studio

The Space Between Painting and Intuition September 26 - 28 at Mantecón Studio, Santa Fe, NM with Lauren Mantecón and Stacy Phillips  

Big-Small-Big: Approaches to Mixed Media Painting June 24 - 28 in Cullowhee, North Carolina

The Alchemy of Mixed Media October 12 - 13 at Weehawken Art Center in Ridgeway, Colorado

Paint Big: Abstract Expressionism October 31 - November 1 at Mantecón Studio in Santa Fe, NM with Lauren Mantecón

Ongoing Wednesday Open Studio from 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm at Mantecón Studio in Santa Fe, NM

Virtual Studio Mentorships Buy a series of personalized sessions 
catered to your own individuals goals. This could be setting up accountability 
schedule, critique of work, writing statements, researching ways to get your work out into the world.

Fools Belong

Ephemeral Vessels, 2019

Ephemeral Vessels, 2019

One of my mentors and teachers, the late Angeles Arrien, cultural anthropologist, educator of indigenous cultures and spirit weaver, had the gift of gently nudging her students from places of fear to the embodiment of being visionaries. I fondly remember her rubbing her delicate hands together, and in an ever so coy manner, shrugging her shoulders up and down; and, as if she were magically becoming an elf, would say in a sing-song voice, “Don’t move the way fear wants you to, instead begin a foolish project. Noah did.”
She was referring, of course, to the story of Noah and the Ark, in which a flood is on the horizon, and Noah receives a vision to build a vessel.
Angeles’s statement is one of the most visual and auditory memories I have of her. Over the years, I have referred to it in cheering myself and others on with creative endeavors. But, what does being a fool really mean?

A fool can be one lacking in common powers of reason and understanding, but can also be fearless in revealing emotion and helping people laugh at absurdity and hypocrisy.
For me, I have felt the most foolish in life when experiencing the sensation of being a misfit and not belonging. This is usually the feel of a deep divide of not belonging to the self. And when I am separated from self, I am thrown into fear. Feeling a deep inner sense of belonging is a lifelong practice for me.

Noah was a visionary. He saw the future forward. He belonged to himself enough to move beyond fear: fear of overwhelm of outer stimuli of an approaching flood. Noah's ark can be viewed as a metaphor for the collection of humanity where difference is embraced. as well as a vessel holding and brewing our creative ideas into focus.

In the tarot deck, the fool represents new beginnings, stepping off the edge, and having faith in the unknown, belonging to the entire universe—the ultimate risk taker. What might actually appear foolish could be just what we need to step into the abyss and unknown.

I am currently completing a body of work in the studio for an upcoming solo exhibit opening March 8, 2019.

"Anchoring the Light " at Friesen Gallery in Ketchum, Idaho, and imagining the connective links of what is done and what can be carried forward as I dream and vision my next foolish project I can nurture into being in 2019.

What is going to be your foolish project as you move your vision forward this year?

Calendar of Events

Abstract Expressionist Painting
February 2 - 3 Mantecón Studio, Santa Fe, NM (Full - Waiting list)

"Anchoring the Light " at Friesen Gallery, Ketchum, Idaho
Solo show, opening March 8, 2019

Paint Big and More- Anything Goes May 2 - 5 Mantecón Studio, Santa Fe, NM

Why Color is Important May 18 Mantecón Studio, Santa Fe, NM - one day workshop

Painting Your Inner Wisdom: A Shamanic Journey June 6 - 7 Mantecón Studio, Santa FE, NM
with Lauren Mantecón & Robin Cunningham

Big/Small/Big: Abstract Painting June 24 - 28  Cullowhee, North Carolina

The Space Between Painting and Intuition September 26 - 28 Mantecón Studio, Santa Fe, NM with Lauren Mantecón & Stacy Phillips

The Alchemy of Mixed Media October 12 - 13 Weehawken Art Center in Ridgeway, Colorado

Advanced Studio Art Practices November 7 - 9 Mantecón Studio, Santa Fe plus three half-hour checkin Skype sessions over six months.

Ongoing Wednesday Open Studio Mantecón Studio, Santa Fe, NM 1:30- 4:30 pm

Virtual Studio Mentorships Buy a series of personalized sessions catered to your own individuals goals. This could be setting up accountability schedule, critique of work, writing statements, researching ways to get your work out into the world.