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I leave for Italy in five days, something I've been looking forward to for a long time, and the first time I will have to focus on art, alone and without interruption, since before I became a mother, close to ten years ago. I spent last month doing some research on Italian animals, and I have a general concept for the main work I intend to do in Assisi, however as always with art, things don't always go as planned, and I could have a change of heart when I get there. Whatever happens, it will be okay.

I have described in the past year a lot of challenge, questioning and evolution, both personally and as an artist. Recently some of the upheaval I've experienced since last fall seems to be subsiding and settling, corresponding at the same time with what is personal courage to experiment more in my art, with very personal themes and history. I've done two drawing / paintings using pen, acrylic on paper, one touching on my history living abroad in Japan, events that contributed to me taking my Buddhist refuge vows in the piece "No mud, no lotus", and addressing some of the identity growth and challenge I experienced as an American abroad. Living away from my country of origin for a long period of time provided both the perspective of my country from a distance, and challenged me to reflect on how I identified to myself, and others, as an American, overseas, and among Japanese and others from all over the world. It was a rich experience, at times very challenging and confrontational, due to the instigation of others.

The second painting I did was an expressionistic rendition of a self-portrait of the Tarot card, the Queen of Swords. "Dressing up" in this iconography, so to speak, was a fun and expressive piece as a woman, and artist.

At the same time, I did a landscape last week of a rainforest in Puerto Rico, that I am really happy with. Working with a rich green jewel toned landscape, my aim was to work expressively. So interesting is that when I work in this way I deliberately steer my mind away from an analytical direction- when I am working and I can feel it want to go towards analysis and critical thinking-but I stop it and move back into direct expression and response. I am finding more satisfaction from this kind of work versus the technical, representative type. The result is looser, more semi-abstract, and perhaps more emotionally resonant. I can't do all work this way, some work requires more detail, linear definition (though I can try), but I feel like this is the direction I am aiming to go. It's like anything, you practice so much, repeatedly over and over, to the point where you don't have to think analytically, and can just work intuitively, in response to your subject matter.

I'm looking forward to being out of my normal environment, getting a perspective shift, hoping to photograph a lot simply because have always liked taking photos. I'm hoping to be less outward focused and more internal. I've been taken out of my shell in the past year, especially doing Crossfit, which is not my normal mode of operation, since I tend to be very sensitive to my environments, both from the people I am around, and from stimuli- (as an artist this is essential, we are open to seeing things that people tend to overlook), I am hoping for some time to withdraw and regain some equilibrium. There will be an art show at a gallery in Assisi in the fall that includes art from all the international artists who have had a residency there in the past year, and I hope to leave a piece of work that I am happy with. I am thrilled to have the opportunity.

Wrapping up/ getting over a hump