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.


Holism—Outside the Box

Cloud, oil on panel, 24” x 39”, 2017, available for purchase at    LaurenMantecon.com

Cloud, oil on panel, 24” x 39”, 2017, available for purchase at LaurenMantecon.com

Holism: Where Parts of a Whole Are in Intimate Connection

“Outside The Box”: A metaphor to think differently, unconventionally, or from a new perspective. This phrase often refers to novel or creative thinking. Often referred to as “what creatives do.”

When I was five, I had a variety of different colored tights I would wear with short dresses that my mother would sew for me. I loved my purple ones best.

While playing hard on the jungle gym during kindergarten recess one afternoon, I looked down at my right knee cap, and to my dismay, there was a perfect hole an inch in diameter.

I distinctly remember thinking, “I’m going to be in so much trouble for losing a piece of my clothing.” I then set out on the task of scouring the playground for my missing hole. I thought if I could find it, my mom might sew it back and all would be right again.

For years as an adult when recollecting that story in my head, I would cringe with embarrassment. How could I be so stupid?

I have since changed my mind. When I think of that story now, it’s with more compassion and a slight awe at a five-year-old’s innocence of perception. I want more of that.

Shifts in Perception

As a global community, we all spend more and more time in boxes. Mine happens to be approximately 6’ x 3’ in size. Lately I have asked myself, how can I possibly get the majority of my inspiration from this flat screen blasting out imagery from places like Instagram and YouTube?

The flipside of this is there is an interconnectedness that we all have now that would just not be possible without our screened-in boxes. Or if we shift, maybe—just maybe—these are our baby steps towards a greater intimacy.

Someday we will all be able to immediately communicate with anybody without a gadget or device. Perhaps we are already there and we need to remove the training wheels and believe it so, just as I know the sky is blue today.

Sensory Awareness is a Practice

I want to find the holes in unassuming places. I want to turn my technical experience into authentic emotional waves of connected inspiration. I want to think outside the box.



View my new virtual storefront of available works for purchase.

You may also visit me at my Open Studio Sale on July 14 from 1 - 6 pm, with a 2 pm art talk, where I’ll have a variety of large and small pieces available for purchase at studio prices.


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.