Friday, June 24, 2011

A new piece.. Salt Water

(Note: This work is available in 3 different print sizes in my shop here: )

Last Christmas, I was able to be part of a really awesome, inspiring experience and I've wanted to share it ever since then. A woman who had recently lost her mother was anonymously gifted a print of "In The Sea" by a friend, and I got to send it to her along with a note from the friend. I didn't know the details then, but within a few weeks the woman posted an entry in her blog (which the friend sent me) about what the piece itself, as well as the gift, meant to her after all she and her mother went through and their close connection to the sea-- something I could never have dreamed that a piece of my art would mean to someone. It wouldn't feel right to rewrite it here, but it changed the way I approached my own creative process and caused me to strive for something deeper, bolder and more meaningful in making artwork.

I started this new piece because I read a wonderful quote that I liked by Isak Dineson (the pen name of Baroness Karen Blixen, author of Out of Africa). The photograph is one I took along the northern California coast, on a road trip from San Francisco to Seattle with my then-boyfriend who had never been to the west coast or seen the Pacific Ocean. As I painted it layer by later, splatter by messy splatter, the more I thought about it the more it meant to me and the more I wanted this piece to be important-- to someone, somewhere, who has known the understanding and tears and joy that the sea brings.

What is it about the ocean? What is it about the sea that, feet close to the edge of the water, salt air clinging to hair and skin, makes us at once calm and at home but also simultaneously energized and ready to stray and adventure? There are countless ways to explain how the ocean makes one feel free, ready, understood and not alone. I think everyone who has dipped their feet in the waves, felt the anticipation of cold surf rushing to cover their toes, delighted in tingle of gritty, soft sand slip past their ankles as the wave retreats, known the last whisper of bubbling seawater as it ebbs with the pull of the sea-- everyone just knows. And it is a unique understanding of the sea that no one else can know, which intrigues me immensely... how does one thing make everyone feel the same, yet so different? I love that something so universal has so many different meanings to so many people.

I think art is like this too. Art can change lives. It can bring new meaning to a few simple words, create a connection between an artist and an art lover, stop someone in the street for a moment of clarity, and create feelings that are unique to each person who sees it from an angle inspired by their own lives and understanding of the subject. The sea is the same-- it is a subject that, known to us all, intimately challenges each person's experience and understanding of it, and rewards the artist with some really beautiful, emotional work. Every photograph of the ocean that I've taken still conjures for me the same feelings that were present when I took it; I hope each piece of artwork I make conjure specific emotions for each person who views it, as the woman who lost her mother was able to feel and share. The knowledge that this experience is possible is now the driving force for why I create art. I hope this piece, and all my future ones, will give you an experience of familiar understanding and emotional connection based not just on what there is to be seen on the canvas, but what you see.

This work is available in 3 different print sizes in my shop here:


  1. Beautiful. I can't wait to own a copy.

  2. Thanks for sharing this story! I share that love for the sea and have stories of my own to relate heartache, love, friendships... all to the sea :) It's a blessing. I love this new piece, Mae, it's beautiful! I'm sure it will hold significance to many people! I hope to own a copy as well :)

  3. I miss the ocean so much. Coming from coastal Australia to live in Toronto,Canada, I feel something is missing. The smell and sounds of her salt and waves is easy for me to conjure up, but that feeling of being at home by her shores is only something that comes with beholding her in person.
    I really feel this piece. Thank you for sharing. I hope it will be available soon.