What Does My Art Mean?


Marin Headlands: Charcoal on Paper, 18 x 24

It doesn’t mean anything. It’s not a political platform. There is no message or social commentary. I’m not trying to provoke anyone’s thinking process or make a statement. It is simply a form of reflection and play. Serious play.

I write for a living so visual activities are the way I relax. It’s like meditation or a form of focused attention for me. There is no inner dialog when I am painting. Simply observations and actions. I don’t use words in my head to mix paints. I see and mix. I pick up colors and put them down. Sometimes I mix paints on the palette, other times I mix them on the canvas or paper. I don’t even worry too much about whether it is the “right” color or the “right” line, because when I am in it, I just want to keep playing with the experience. Which is both good and bad when you are in flow and probably explains why my art can be so hit or miss.

Every time I start a new drawing or painting it begins with the same question: I wonder if I can capture that? My goal is always to make a really good painting, and by good I mean that I like it. But I have lots of failed paintings, and I accept that as part of the process. In fact I have closets full of unfinished and unsatisfactory paintings. For every good painting there are probably five or more failed paintings. But I keep painting because it is fun, and it is a challenge and because I love to play.

— DJ



Just So Stories


Sometimes I make art because it is a form of play. And sometimes I make art to evoke a memory or feeling, or to capture a place in time. When I was a child, I fell in love with the children’s book, Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling.  I was so taken with the stories and the pictures that I would ask my grandmother to read them to me over and over again. Yes, I loved the stories about the animals and all the strange words and sentences . But I think it was actually the illustrations that stole my heart, because many years later as an adult, tattered book in hand, I pulled out my paints and made this painting of the book’s cover. It was a gift that was returned to its rightful owner this very day. Because I love this painting and the memories it holds for me of a little girl, curled up next to her loving grandmother, dreaming of far away places and magical tales from the kingdom of the wild.

— DJ

“Hear and attend and listen; for this befell and behappened and became and was, O my Best Beloved, when the Tame animals were wild. The Dog was wild, and the Horse was wild, and  the Cow was wild, and the Sheep was wild, and the Pig was wild — as wild as wild could be — and they walked in the Wet Wild Wood by their wild lones. But the wildest of all the wild animals was the Cat. He walked by himself, and all places were alike to him.” — From The Cat that Walked by Himself, by Rudyard Kipling