Full/Fill is large scale mandala project using shopping carts from big box stores arranged in parking lots and photographed with a drone. "Through the use of the shopping cart, an item that is both utilitarian and a designed marketing tool, I examine relationships between consumption as a necessity, consumerism as an activity and the psychology and spirituality behind the need to 'fill our carts'." - Paula Brett


Fetish (no, not that kind)



noun \ˈfe-tish also ˈfē-\

: a strong and unusual need or desire for something

: a need or desire for an object, body part, or activity for sexual excitement

: an object that is believed to have magical powers

I was talking to my friend and she mentioned that many of my mandalas and ideas for future works are somehow based in fetishes.    Yes, it's true.  I agree.   Part of the process for me as an artist involves a lot of thinking and considering the WHY behind the work.   Sometimes  it can get in the way of the actual making--  often the work has a mind of it's own and you can only see it's meaning after it's complete.

In regards to fetish (which is often erroneously used in only a sexual sense), the definition sheds some light on the work for me.  A "strong and unusual need or desire for something"-  yes.  This is part of the paradox for me in using man-made objects in my work.  For me, the mandalas are about bringing a spiritual aspect to consumerism, acquisition, and the constant state of wanting--more, more, more.  I've been fascinated with "stuff" for years.  How we covet it, how much we want, why we want it, and how much we produce!  I have a love/hate relationship with things- many times in my life I've moved (I think around 25 times) and have either had to pack everything up, or sell it, or some combo.  Once I actually reduced all of my belongings to 6 boxes.  How freeing!  But then, I accumulate again! At the same time, I love design and beautiful objects and see their wonderful purposefulness in our lives.  Fetish, though, may be a bit different, I suppose.  It's a strong and unusual need or desire for something.  How strong, I guess, is the question. I still think it relates somehow.

The other part of this definition I relate to my work  is "an object that is believed to have magical powers".  As a little girl, I had a collection of rag dolls that were completely REAL.  I'm sure many girls did this, but I kept up this belief for a bit longer than many of my friends. I called them my "kids".  They each had specific personalities and I took my little rag doll family very seriously.  In fact, I still have Selina and Joy up in Nolan's closet, despite their torn limbs and tattered faces.  They still have magical powers up there, I know it!   When I took my first photography class in college, I photographed a lot of objects and my professor made the comment that I portrayed these objects as if they had life. I still give meaning to some special things around my house- I mean, everything has an energy of some sort.  Everything is connected an everything matters, to some extent.  Doesn't it?

Why am I blogging about this stuff?  Because, why not?  It's part of the process.  And I want to share it.

Tell me about your relationship to material objects.  Do you covet or abhor?  Or both? Does anything you own have magical powers?

Found Object Mandalas

“Mandala is a Sanskrit word:  manda= essence, la=within; it is a circle that contains the essence. The mandala symbolizes the laws of the universe and, since man is a microcosm of the universe, many cultures believe that the mandala also symbolizes the human soul.” I’ve been drawn to Mandalas ever since I witnessed a group of Tibetan Buddhist Monks making a traditional sand mandala on the ground. The idea of creating such a beautiful work of art and then destroying it in order to symbolize the transitory nature of life intrigued me. Because of that formative experience, I’ve made mandalas intermittently over the years in different forms. Only recently have I delved into the mandalas fully as a way to meld my love for design, spirituality, and the need to create some sort of order and meaning out of so much chaos in the world. In this most recent series of mandala photographs, my intention is to arrange ordinary objects in a pattern that becomes sacred, where the everyday turns divine, the enticing now exquisite.

Lake of Forgiveness


Where to begin with this one?  Oh, Lake of Forgiveness, how I struggled.

This painting started about 3 years ago as so many do - with the spirit of  experimentation.  This time  I was experimenting with some new media, gels, etc. and thought it would be fun to play with fabric collage in the underpainting.  (It's  basically invisible now, but under so many layers of paint, strewn across the horizon line are some fabric violets that were the original impetus for the painting. )  How many times did I not know where in the world to take this piece?  Probably a hundred, at least.  I would paint, stop, look, paint some more, then stop again and look.  The  piece was going nowhere.  So, I put it away for another time.

The painting cycled through many more overhauls until I just got sick of it and finally resolved to make something happen. So, I went to my standby- the clear landscape.  I know that when I'm lost, it's good for me to focus on something- and often that's a horizon line- where the sky meets the earth or water.  But even after I decided on the subject, we (the canvas and I) went round and round again.  Sometimes paintings are just "difficult", they  don't want to be resolved so quickly.

I can honestly say that when I titled the painting, "Lake of Forgiveness", I still wasn't sure if it was finished.  But when my collector saw it's most recent incarnation paired with the title, she knew she had to have it.

Lake of Forgiveness.  For Tricia it means one thing.  She loves it because  it's a beautiful visual reminder of  how we all need to let go of whatever we hold onto, hold against, hold over, or hold far away.  For me, it's the same, really.  Forgiveness is something that I struggle with daily, with others and especially with myself.  Allowing myself to be more tolerant of my own humanity and a little less critical of my flaws.  Allowing it to not be perfect all the time, allowing myself to make mistakes and still love myself and love those mistakes.

That canvas and I had a lot of forgiving to do of each other until I finally gave it a title and deemed it finished.  The struggle was long.  But that's what a practice offers- the opportunity to struggle through something and come out the other side- with whatever the lesson holds.  Painting isn't just about making pretty pictures for me.  It's a practice that work with that continues to take me to the other side- where peace resides.

And now I hit the ball to your court:  Where can you do some forgiving? And then share.  Why, you ask?  Because it's courageous to share.  And life is now.

Cloud Sky Painting

Today I took photos of my painting process.  I am trying to resolve some older paintings that had no idea where they were going.  A horizon line always helps me to focus.  So, here are some Van Gogh-esque clouds over a colorful body of water.  I've started to literally draw right on the canvas with oil pastels after many, many layers of acrylic.  The final varnish seals the oils, and I really like the effect.  The pastels bring a softness, some more depth, and allow the texture of the underlayers to come through.  Enjoying the process, folks.  Because that's all there is to do!

Parallel Landscapes

These pieces are inspired by horizons. The Parallel Landscape Series is an intuitive interpretation of the many landscapes I saw and experienced while living abroad. They are a way to comprehend all that occurs simultaneously and yet exists uniquely for each of us. "Sunday" and "Double Landscape" are on display in the office of Maison International, 119 W 23rd St, Ste 801, New York City.

To purchase an original, please contact me.   Please visit my Print Gallery to purchase prints on paper or canvas.


On gray days the colors are brighter.

Yellow flower tree For most all of today, the sky was gray.  Living in Tampa, here in the Sunshine State, I can appreciate a gray day.  I don't think I could do it for very long stretches of time, though.  I do feel affected by the weather- I do love the sun.  But, the gray days can be an excuse to be more quiet, more introspective, and take naps.  And that's exactly what I did today.

On the walk I took, I spotted this tree abloom in yellow.  It made me think of my foundations art prof- Dr. Howe at UGA- he used to read and talk to us as we painted.  I always remember that he said you can see color better on a gray day.  And you do.  And I'm thankful for that.

Zilpa Vipra Paintings

Zilpa Vipra- sanskrit for "inspired art". These paintings were created during summer yoga classes at Yogani Studios in Tampa, Florida.

To purchase an original, please contact me.   Please visit my Print Gallery to purchase prints on paper or canvas.

Familiar Portrait

The viewer enters a room hung with walls of white spandex, hearing sounds of tinny voices and a floor being swept. Four internally lit columns holding masses of white doughy looking material stand between the walls. In the middle of this “maze”, two circular shaped video projections of hands are playing. Reaching toward the lens, being wrung or nervously smoothing fabric on laps, the hands videos are a rich complementary color combination of positive and negative overlays. Using my own family members who reside in three different cities, I use recorded phone messages and conversations to reveal stories of loss and personal coping mechanisms in this mysterious space. The overlapped voices and hands introduce the three personalities who share information, memories, and gestures.

Gate Spiral

This sculptural installation inspired by the landscape of Northeastern Scotland and the ritual of Tibetan monks’ sand mandala paintings. The piece was created from discarded planar objects found in abandoned grist mills in Lumsden, Scotland. Each object was re-painted in a one solid bright color and placed on posts with hinges, to resemble swinging gates. They were then installed in a farmer’s field in a spiral pattern, surrounded by local gorse flowers. The entire installation went up in one day and scheduled to be taken down on the following day. Gate Spiral, site-specific sculptural installation, Lumsden, Scotland, 2000.

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Ephemeral Installations