Ctrl+z. Hello Germany.

Lookout, 2011
acrylic paint, 24" x 30"

I have been painting these 24" x 30" canvases for
two months now. It has been like medicine, although
not without challenges. Art is work and play at the
same time, or maybe it alternates between labor and
dreaming. No matter what, there is a point where I
have to work past the frustrations and vulnerability.

There have been some surprises. The first surprise was
that it took awhile to think like a painter again. Most of
my work has been digital for the last few years. This
shift in thinking was made obvious to me in early
October when I painted over something, and wanted an
instant undo. My brain immediately barked, "Reach for

Another surprise is how adding my work to this blog
has become such huge motivation to paint more. The
last stage of the creative process is getting it out there,
and I am so thankful to live in this time when sharing my
work on the other side of the world is this easy and
immediate. Which leads me to another surprise, this
blog has an audience in Germany and Russia! I'd love
to hear comments from some of you. I have great
memories of visiting Berlin in 1992 for a college trip.
It seemed like I was a world away then, before the
world-wide-web and the digital revolution.



Reflections of a grateful artist/teacher

I wrote this essay a year ago, required for my teaching relicensure.
Now, after a challenging year of health-related issues, I am more
grateful than ever for my family, art, students--and Vitamin D!

Teaching Reflection, December 2010
Teaching, mothering, and making art have become tightly woven
threads of who I am, all strengthening and depending upon one another.
Now in my 17th year of teaching, I am thankful for being in this place
of experience, enthusiasm and compassion in the present, and
confidence about the future. More and more I know that the most
important aspects of teaching are to give students the opportunities to
develop their own senses of responsibility and effort, as well as
opportunities for them to think for themselves in new and original

In 1998, before I was a mother, I wrote, “Every once and awhile I slow
down, and sit with a table of students. I really look into their eyes, and
see the wonder and promise. I am touched by the honor of being a part
of their lives and feel the weight of that responsibility.” Now in 2010,
the difference is the additional patience and compassion that
experience and mothering has given me. Students, after all, are human
and have so many concerns outside of school. Showing that I care
about them and their future is essential to being an effective teacher
today. This concern for students’ futures has also taught me the
importance of empathy without coddling. Students need to take
responsibility for their weaknesses and mistakes, without making
excuses or blaming others. Although it is often the most unpleasant
part of teaching, the greatest gifts I can give my students are
opportunities for them to take responsibility for their own actions
before they tackle more of life’s challenges on their own.

Participating in the three-day studio workshop “Of Intuition and Art”
at the Grand Marais Artist Colony in 2009 especially helped with ideas
to challenge myself and my students to think for ourselves in new and
original ways. This workshop was lead by artist and teacher Elizabeth
Erickson. During the workshop we were given time to create our own
artwork, as well as time studying and talking about the work of great
artists that used intuitive approaches to art-making. Elizabeth Erickson
encouraged us to draw inspiration from everything around us: nature,
poetry, other artwork, etc. The greatest lessons I received from this
workshop were ways of trusting and not downplaying our own instincts
and fascinations. The most effective and original artists are driven to
explore their fascinations, and then work through the frustrations to
execute their ideas. Inspiration+Effort. 

Being an active artist and sharing my artwork with my students has
greatly enhanced my teaching and life in general. I have especially
grown as an artist within the last 10 years, exhibiting in the Mid-West
and in New York City. Surprisingly, all of that happened after I became
a mother and continued to teach. When I look back, I am convinced
that becoming a more serious artist happened because of being a
teacher and mother, not despite of it. I have seen too many parents
and teachers that seem resentful and burned out about continually
giving so much of themselves, which in turn makes them much less
effective and less satisfied parents and teachers. Creating my own
work helps me strike the balance I need. When I feel enthusiasm
and generosity waning, it is time to get back into the studio. It is so
important that our youth watch adults responsibly living the lives
they want to live, even as challenges arise.

I want students to be hopeful and confident about the life and
challenges ahead of them. Now in the midst of my 17th year of
teaching, I am thankful to be in this balanced place of experience,
compassion, enthusiasm, and hope.



Winter Visitor, in-progress

Winter Visitor, 2011
acrylic paint, 30" x 24"

Incorporating my two muses again, modern design and sheep.
Two of my most vivid dreams ever, had red chairs in them.
Not sure what it represents exactly, but enjoyed pairing my
curious sheep with the beautiful Eames form.

A few years ago I actually did find an Eames replica chair (not
like this, but the soft lounge chair and ottoman) in my parents'
sheep barn. Thank you Uncle Ray!

The barn no longer holds sheep, but a lot memories. It is quiet.
You can probably tell by now that sheep represent much more
to me than dim-witted followers. The gentle curiosity in this
painting brings me back to age 13, laying still in the straw as
lambs sniffed my face and lightly nibbling on my fingers and


Awaiting Winter

Awaiting Winter, 2011, acrylic paint, 24" x 30"

Dreading the inevitable? The lack of the sun in the 
Winter can be difficult, but I am trying to meet it 
without dread. Maybe it is my new vitamin D 
supplements talking, but I am hoping to embrace
more about winter this year.

Totally out of 24" x 30" canvas now. Dick Blick 
to the rescue, and they should arrive within a week. 
Feels too soon to write about the painting above, 
especially since I finished it fifteen minutes ago. 
All I can say is that I am enjoying working with 
these complementary color contrasts, images that 
I have been ignoring for so long, and these sinuous 


Wise Lamb with Zeisels

Wise Lamb with Ziesels, 2011
acrylic paint, 24" x 30"
Work of another artist that I admire has popped up in my work,
designer Eva Zeisel. I collect her work, and own a pitcher and
gravy dish like these. Added last, somehow her graceful, birdlike 
forms unify this piece. And, since I can't afford to collect too many
more now, there is something very satisfying about owning them

This wise lamb is reminding me to enjoy my daughters while they
are still young... and wise. Not sure if the ewe on top is me, but
it is a vigilant mother-figure trying not to be overprotective.


Benign is a lovely word

Finally got the results today. It is benign. After 3 biopsies
and waiting 5 weeks to get definitive results about this
thyroid tumor, I am relieved!


In the meantime

Still waiting on a diagnosis of my thyroid tumor. Just found
out today that I have another inconclusive result (insufficient
cells for diagnosis) of the second biopsy. It has been more
than a month of waiting, and wondering. Trying to take
more action about making an appointment with a specialist
today. Now waiting to hear about that. Frustrating.

Today my own diagnosis is that most of our lives are 
living "in the meantime". In the meantime, I choose to
paint and "blog pist", my new term for angry blog posts!

Full Moon Waiting, finished today
Full Moon Waiting feels more finished now. I am excited about
how the Brancusi-like endless columns sprouted up out of my
honeycomb patterns. If I am not making sculptures right now, feels
good to paint them. I believe that Frida Kahlo would approve of
this painting!

In the Meantime
acrylic on 24"x30" canvas.



In-progress "Full Moon Waiting",
24" x 30", acrylic paint

By the time I finish this post, the results may be
in, the results of the biopsy of a somewhat large
lesion (tumor) on my thyroid. Waiting has always
been one of my greatest weaknesses... I have so
many memories of being angry while I had to wait.
At 10-years-old, I angrily waited to open gifts by
the Christmas tree, as my brother (5 years younger)
peacefully waited. I remember wishing that Luke
would help speed things up by throwing a fit, which
is pretty funny now that I think about it, since he is
one of the most patient people I know. Of course,
most of my childhood memories are very positive,
but the topic here is waiting.

There has been a lot of waiting lately and I have
been angry, but waiting has also led to more painting
without over-analyzing; the kind of painting that I
want to do more often. This kind of painting, when
the results are especially unclear, can lead to an
acceptance that surrenders control.

*The results are "inconclusive"--will have another
biopsy next week. More waiting.


Intuitive Ewe

February Ewe 1, 2011. Ink on a 1921 encyclopedia page.
(Click on image to see words and details.)
Recently, I have been working more intuitively with
images, words, and materials to create narratives.
Creating these personal metaphors is a therapeutic
process of soothing my own anxieties, and discovering
how we are all connected to each other, as well as
connected to nature and to the past. Also, I have been
researching the Art Nouveau movement of the early
1900s in art and design history. I am fascinated with
how this time period was such an important transition
into the modern art era, and I see parallels between the
industrialization of the early 1900s and the digitalization
of today.

Drawing on the surface of 1920s encyclopedia pages
with black ink, I am enjoying the process of responding
to the surface texture and words as sheep images and
natural, art-nouveau-inspired motifs overlap.
February Ewe 2, 2011. Ink on a 1921 encyclopedia page.
(Click on image to see words and details.)

Mother's Fingers

Mother's Fingers, 2011 Ink on 1921 encyclopedia pages
(click on image to enlarge and see words)

I grew up on a sheep farm in North-Central Minnesota. At age

eleven, I became awe-inspired by nursing half-frozen lambs back

to life, and experienced mothering instincts for the first time.

Experiences with mothering my own two daughters today, the

oldest nearly eleven, may be why sheep images are surfacing in

my work recently.


Vision that was planted in 1989

“The Arvegods” (1979) by Ray Jacobson, represents a pair of early Norwegian pioneers.

I haven't seen these sculptures for over 20 years. When I attended the symposium "The Role of the Artist in Society" at Concordia College in Moorhead this week, it was moving to see the two figures again, especially when "The Sound of Silence" so vividly played in my head as I neared the sculptures. Not sure how to describe it, but there was such a clear link between these forms and the words and tune of that song. "My old friend, I've come to talk with you again... And the vision that was planted in my brain, still remains." In 1989, I finished a year at this small private college, before reluctantly transferring. This sculpture met me like an old friend. According to symposium presenter Dr. Dan Flory, film (or any art form), like a friend, can "tell us things about ourselves that we can not see." Maybe I have been denying just how much that year in my life helped to determine my path as an artist, teacher, & person.

More information about the artist and sculpture: http://www.rayjacobson.com/public_spaces.html


The Dreaded Artist Statement

I have come to realize that writing an artist statement during 
a time of transition in my work can be a tense, messy process, 
but this time it was well worth the effort. Writing this artist 
statement (below) really helped gain understanding of where 
my work has been. The two pieces mentioned below will be in 
an upcoming exhibit at the Cyrus Running Gallery at Concordia 
College, Moorhead, Minnesota in September 2011.

    More                                            More detail

Artist Statement
As a mixed-medium artist, I work both two and three-dimensionally; my sculptures and paintings seem to fuel one another. My recent paintings and sculptures are examining how we all are connected to each other, as well  needing a connection to nature. For the last seven years, I have been working with sewing pattern paper as my primary material, inventing processes to use the material without losing its delicate and translucent qualities. I enjoy sewing pattern paper’s natural color, graphic markings, and associations with traditional women’s work and craft.

The painting More began as an ode to light, as the womb-like pear form was painted to allow light and color through the translucent paper. As it continued, I chose to repeat the block-printed word “more” and it quickly became a statement or challenge. Are we all sheep? Or can we resist the demand upon us to have and do more, and more fully appreciate the natural abundance all around us?

Once I began suspending my strings of pear-forms, I was brought back to my first fascinations with the balance and movement of Alexander Calder’s mobiles. In Pear Helix, the empty space becomes just as important as the forms themselves. To me, the small, connected forms are an intertwined family.

Pear Helix                         Pear Helix detail  


The Map Home 1, 2, 3

These gouache and wax resist paintings on paper are the most
recent additions to my "Making Honey" series. Originally I
entitled the smaller studies "Inside Looking Out", inside
a honey comb and looking into the sun.

Bees are dying

faster than they can replace themselves
and so are my excuses
for losing the map home.
The first memory of that place,
and all its nectars
are in a blurry path back to
Finnish raspy words buzzing above
the drone of the hive
Grandma Helen is clearly the queen
as we hover around her.
In the sticky sun, our daughters hang on
as my mom reads aloud on the throne
the map faintly appears on my face
I look away,



more or enough?

This painting is also part of my "Making Honey" series.
I temporarily hung More in the jackpine site. Later, I
block-printed the wrapped sheep.

sewing pattern paper, paint, ink, 20" x 90"

Are the words getting eaten or released?

Making Honey: Labor, Rest, & Light

This video is a part of my "Making Honey" series of
sculptures and paintings. It documents the process of
hand-crocheting (my hands as the crochet needles)
wire hive-form sculptures--followed by rest and light.