Truth or Consequences

Go call the police, go call the gavnah! First things first: when the police of Truth or Consequences come for you, oh lady, you know you’ve stepped one foot too far over the line.


Second item on the agenda: Steak & Lobby Cocktails….YUM!


The town of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico turned out to be bonafide: 7,000 souls (ish), situated right on the Rio Grande, and the site of numerous natural hot springs. (But everything wasn’t perfect: there were also a lot of old buggies left scattered about from pioneer days which gave me the creeps because they were about 1/3 the size that movies have allowed us to believe them to be. It’s very uncomfortable to be constantly reminded of how scrawny our ancestors were. And how miserable were the Good Ol’ Days. Brrr.)

I spent the first few days letting it all sink in. I’d never really spent time in the Southwest before. I didn’t want to jump right into pursuing my studio work “as usual” because I felt that an important benefit of participating in the Starry Night program would be to allow my surroundings to somehow either inform my work, my approach, or just reset my mind. I investigated the architecture, used the local library to research the local critters (snakes, snakes, snakes – so fashionable so inspirational!), left neither the trails nor the Rio Grande in peace. Basically made a townie menace of myself.

I also used the time to step back from production mode and started a lot of small test paintings; I’ve been experimenting with new compositions (snakes! so fashion-forward!) and new layering techniques. Up until now one of my biggest limitations has been that the layering process I’ve been using is extremely time-intensive. Since being back home the test pieces have finally paid off and I’ve found a new, amazing way to build my layers getting the same visual results but in a way that actually SPEEDS UP the process of oil paint drying. I’m really excited to be back in my studio with so much ammunition.

I’ll post pics of the actual residency next week. In the meantime enjoy the sight of a typical Truth or Consequences motel – more motels in this hot springs town than you can shake a stick at:


Example of an arted-out home:


There were a lot of trailers and mobile homes in Truth or Consequences but I got the feeling that (partially because this type of mixed-bag housing does account for such a large portion of the town) trailer livin’ doesn’t carry the negative connotations that it does in other parts of the country. It seems like a lot of interesting, art-focused people choose to move to Truth or Consequences specifically so that they can pursue their art while living on the cheap. At any rate the houses and the trailers were often quite decked-out like this one, a surprising number of people obviously using their outdoor areas as studio space for building sculptures, etc. Plus there must be things about living in a trailer in the desert that are beneficial that I don’t understand. Possibly easier to heat and cool than regular homes? Maybe easier to keep the desert dust out as they are more sealed?

Typical apartments (just look at all that Dish!):


Elephant Butte Lake is about 3 miles outside of Truth or Consequences. For some reason our puny ancestor humans decided to dam up the Rio Grande and create this lake. (I’m sure it took a disgusting amount of effort since they were so tiny and no doubt lacked machinery. Brrr. There are plaques about it all over town which I’m sure explain the meaning of it in detail.)


Care to take a dip in the Rio Grande? The river is about two blocks away from the residency:


The best outfit for the occasion

Saturday I head off-island to the city of Truth of Consequences, New Mexico to attend Starry Night’s residency program!  I’m very excited, this will be my first residency experience.

In preparation I contacted a number of seasoned artists to ask them what worked or didn’t work for them with residencies they’d attended.  Apparently the main thing is that one should arrive with few preconceived notions.  Open mind.  Let the experience and the environment make it’s impact on your work.  Otherwise might as well stay home and work out of your studio as usual.  Okay, got it.

But the time, the time, how to manage the time?  Recently writer Gigi Rosenberg blogged about the “Pomodoro Technique”. Apparently this is where you set a timer and work for 25 minutes then do something else for 5 minutes.  And repeat.  I did  the math: an 8-hour work day would yield 80 “something else” minutes.  If a lady were to do some spirited cardio during those minutes then it stands to reason (and science!) that a lady might find herself wonderfully THIN by day’s end!  I was 100% in when confusion regarding footwear dampened my spirits: would I change into sneakers every 25 minutes? Obviously this method is riddled with holes.

Then a girlfriend alerted me to this perhaps nameless method whereby one begins working even before waking up completely. You just slip out of bed and over to the work station. The hope is to sneak in a couple of hours of unrestrained creative work before the left brain has a chance to become fully alert and realize that it’s being left out and that a lot of unrestrained creativity is occurring.

The downside of this method is that it assumes we all sleep right next to our work modules. Whereas my daily reality is that by the time I reach the studio I’ve been up (and most likely trembling with nerves) for hours. Maybe since before sunrise.  In fact I’ve already (half) dressed myself, calmed/diapered/fed my 3-month old, woken/breakfasted/dressed/packed a lunch for and dropped my three-year old off to school.  There are no drowsy hours.  There is complete unconscious and there is screaming, high-alert.

The daring of this method is that it calls for foregoing even coffee. I’m always up for a dare and so will try this method at least once and report back.

But questions circling what I’ll accomplish while at residency or how I’ll accomplish it are basically secondary.  The real question: what will I wear? teaches me that Truth or Consequences’s evenings can dip into the low 30’s.  Coco Chanel teaches me that The Little Black Jacket is always the best outfit for the occasion.


This photo is taken from a portion of one of my paintings in progress: I’ve added a casually slung surgical mask + fun face-hoodie to keep the look young and fresh.