Jolie Guillebeau

Archive for September, 2011


Friday, September 30th, 2011

The best thing– the very best thing about being a painter is smushing the paint around on a canvas.

Different pigments of paint have different properities. Yellows are thicker and more opaque. Reds are often transparent and tend to fade over time. Blues are delicate and fragile, and they’re very thin.

Applied wet on wet, the colors interact with each other in unexpected ways. Usually this frustrates me when I’m painting an apple or a face, but today it made me really happy.


Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Yesterday the rain returned. Fall is here– and while everyone else is moaning and groaning, I find myself relieved. Rain is comforting. And I don’t have to remember to water the plants on the porch.

It was also a chance to pull out my new fall clothes. Including my new green rain jacket.

Last night at twilight, I was waiting for a friend under one of the streetlights from yesterday’s painting and I noticed my reflection in the puddle below my feet.

I was wearing a red sweater and my green jacket– and the droplets split all the colors in to circles. It was another moment that makes me glad I decided to tackle this project.

Droplets. 6x6 Oil on Panel.

A chance…

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

One of the things I’m excited about with this project is the chance to record moments that I can’t always capture with more realistic paintings.

It’s a bit like riding a bicycle. When I’m on my bike I notice things that I don’t notice when I’m walking or in a car. Different painting styles, different things to notice.

I love riding my bike at night. (Don’t worry, Mom– I have lights and a helmet.) My new bike is named Nora (after Eleanor, her predecessor) and she zips along beautifully.

There’s something special about riding in the dark though. The streets are quieter and everything is muffled by the darkness.

It’s 26 blocks from the yarn shop to my house. Twenty of those blocks are along one single straight avenue. I can look ahead and see the pinkish-yellowy lights along each block marking the way.

As I pass under each light, it’s fun to watch my shadow move below me. As I approach the lamp, my shadow is behind me, then I see it emerge on my left and quickly stretch out in front of me towards the end of the block.

It begins to fade and the process starts all over again. Much like these paintings.

Shadow 4x4 Oil on Masonite.

Finding flow.

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

One of my worries is that all of these paintings are going to start looking alike after a few dozen. Heck, I’m worried they might start looking alike after two.

But I know there’s an arc to this process. It takes me a few days to find my flow, then I zoom along for a few weeks, then push through for a bit, and gain momentum towards the end.

So I built up a few layers on today’s painting in hope that I’d find my flow faster.

Ebbs 4x4 Oil on Panel.


Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Today is the final day of summer. The Autumnal Equinox occurs at 2:03am PDT Friday morning. It seems like a great day to begin a new painting series.

Fall is my favorite season. And there is something about the season that provides a sense of clarity. Maybe it’s the harvest of all the year’s labor, or the clearing that comes from trees empty of leaves and clear bright skies.

Or maybe it’s just the color. I do love orange.

Anyway, it’s always seemed like a fresh start for me. Even if the fresh start has me doubting myself and wondering if I’m up for this. Though I’m reminding myself that I felt that way at the beginning of the 100 Faces series, and at the beginning of the 100 paintings in 100 days– wait, maybe I just feel that way at the beginning of everything.

Last weekend I spent a few days in the woods with friends. And I told a story on stage in front of dozens of people. Somehow those things make me feel braver as I start this series. They make me feel like I’ve turned a corner. Like I’m beginning a new season of my own.

I’m so glad you’re joining me on the beginning of this. And I’m excited to show you my first painting.

Equinox. 12x12 Oil on Birch Panel $365



Monday, September 19th, 2011

I walked in the door a little different that when I left. I turn the key in the lock as a stronger and braver girl woman. Five days in the woods does that for me.

My only photo from Squam. Me in the hammock. So glad I packed that hammock.

Five days in the woods requires bravery. Bravery to walk through the woods alone at night, with the reward of whole hour alone on the dock listening to the coyotes and watching the full moon on the water. Bravery to step on a stage and tell my story, with the reward of feeling a little more at home in my skin and knowing that my story made someone else understand themselves a little better. Bravery to face a early morning dining room full of chipper faces, with the reward of coffee and oatmeal and conversations that lead to revelation. Bravery to trust myself to know what I need, with the reward of a soy hot chocolate with Jen when I was “supposed” to be in class. Bravery to push myself to my edge on the yoga mat, knowing that Michelle would give me space to do it, and the reward of finding myself in a strong version of a pose that has often eluded me.

Bravery to speak the truth and love and laugh by a fire.  The thing is none of this was that hard. The brave girl that did these things has always been there– she just has more space to show up at Squam. And then I remember that I like having her around, so she stays for a while.

And I return home different. Or maybe I was always home.


Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

A painting from last year's gathering at Squam by the Sea.

Finding a ring you thought you’d lost and noticing that it still fits perfectly and reminds you of the moon.

Wearing already rejected clothes as you decide over and over again between warm and comfortable or cute and coordinated. You go with warm and comfortable. No one but your mother would point out that your hot pink coat doesn’t really match the purple rain boots or the orange vest that you add to the “take” pile.

Filling tiny bottles and feeling a bit like a mad scientist performing careful calculations and measurements. Will this really be enough shampoo? Could I combine the suncreen and the moisturizer?

Acknowledging the addiction to in-flight amenity kits when you discover 9 tubes of trial size toothpaste, and you choose the one from Cathay Pacific, because it’s mintier than the one from Lufthansa.

Channeling your mad Tetris skills as you fit a goose down puffy coat, a favorite blue sweater, 6 days of clothes and knitting, art supplies and a travel mug in your 22″ carry-on bag.

Savoring a moment of gratitude as you find 10 lines from a favorite poet tucked in to the pocket of your suitcase.

Letting those lines remind you that you’re on your way to a place where you belong even (especially) when you’re wearing an orange vest with purple rain boots. You’re on your way to understanding.

Summer days driftin’ away…

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Summer is almost over. School started this week for kids in Portland, and my many years of teaching make me think of this time of year as a new beginning.

This summer, I’ve made pastries and paintings of pastries. I’ve collaborated on a few fun projects, and I’ve surprised myself with new directions. In fact, my new project is another example of “never say never”, because I’m venturing down a path I never thought possible.

For years, I’ve resisted abstract work. Some of it is really beautiful, but I always felt like it wasn’t for me.

Until now. This summer as I’ve waffled with my place (but not my painting), I found myself drawn to painting abstracts.

And I love it.

I’m really excited about exploring something completely new. I don’t know if this is where my work is heading, but I’m going to enjoy this season.

So on the first day of Fall, I’ll begin a series of 100 abstracts. Kind of like this.

These will be larger, and a bit more adventurous than my usual paintings that are for sale here.

Don’t worry, I’m still a story-teller. And stories are a big part of why I paint. So even if you’re not ready to purchase yet, there will still be stories here with every painting. Either way, I hope you enjoy this season of adventure with me.

See you September 22!