Category Archives: Studio Art

Beauty Betty Bingo: Still Developing


Several months ago I was invited to create a piece about my relationship with my mother for an exhibit curated by Esther Hong that opens Friday 9.4.15 at the International Gallery of Contemporary Art (IGCA) in Anchorage.  My old stomping grounds. How could I refuse. Grateful for the invitation. Grateful for the inspiration and creative direction.  Now what –?

Beauty Betty Bingo –that much I knew. Maybe a hand of euchre or two. Are those special cards or regular? I really didn’t know. Later my family laughed when I told them I went on Amazon trying to buy a Euchre deck. I checked Walgreens and CVS too.

It’s a Michigan thing.

Since January I have been working with natural linen, pieces of canvas, old and new photographs, negatives and discarded silk in the vein of a Primitive Seamstress.  I decided to continue with this materiality. Initially cutting and stitching all these disparate materials together as some kind of scroll. Attach them to an old wooden rolling pin. What about that vintage potato masher?  That might be cool. We ate a lot of potatoes growing up –I’ve been wanting to do scrolls with rolling pins for years. . .but alas it was not to be. A friend made a suggestion and the idea developed. Bingo! As it does. Literally. Art morphs.


 Somewhere in all this stitching my stepfather died. The family gathered.

There were decisions to make in the execution and later in the installation.  The negatives made it too stiff for rolling but not for hanging and so hang they will but by line or by chain or some cool miniature hardware that would make it look –well finished? I tend more toward the conceptual. Lots of undone and nothing exact so I let that go. Clips and clothespins.  Keep it simple. Keep it real.  The theme of a photograph still developing. Our relationship still developing.  Love you mom and so happy you’re still here and alive in the world.  The clothesline works to represent both the rural America of my childhood and the line where photographs are hung to dry in a darkroom.  So many metaphors.  Memories. The tangle of threads. A button. A live birth.  A game of cards. A gamble. Stitching a life together. Love. The beauty. All that laundry.


I hope you can make the opening –and if you do–Thank you!!

Brenda is a visual artist and occasional poet currently living in Santa Fe, NM.  Her piece: Beauty Betty Bingo: Still Developing is part of an invitational group exhibition opening at the IGCA this week in Anchorage, Alaska.

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Leaves of Grass: Water, Field, Canyon, Cattail


One hour to madness and joy! O furious! O confine me not!
(What is this that frees me so in storms?
What do my shouts amid lightnings and raging winds mean?)


O the puzzle, the thrice-tied knot, the deep and dark pool, all
untied and illumin’d!
O to speed where there is space enough and air enough at last!
To be absolv’d from previous ties and conventions, I from mine and
you from yours!

To find a new unthought-of nonchalance with the best of Nature!
To have the gag remov’d from one’s mouth!
To have the feeling to-day or any day I am sufficient as I am.


O something unprov’d! something in a trance!
To escape utterly from others’ anchors and holds!
To drive free! to love free! to dash reckless and dangerous!
To court destruction with taunts, with invitations!
To ascend, to leap to the heavens of the love indicated to me!

To rise thither with my inebriate soul!
To be lost if it must be so!
To feed the remainder of life with one hour of fulness and freedom!
With one brief hour of madness and joy.

Walt Whitman (condensed version)


She stood in the arroyo and cried.

Sat on the long bench overlooking her childhood –so much memory in rural

in field

the early desert days 17 years ago + 15 before that and who she was then

in canyon

the map rolled open before her

the mountains

the men

the fork in the road


the hummingbird demands attention and why not . . .

such beauty in flutter

the hike the pond the bath

flow together weave and stitch and surrender

a dive into water  opens the heart

and when the head rests floating the body floating the sound of bullfrog croak

a duck a bird a wind through long grass and cattail


a life –and lichen

Cliff River Springs

Brenda is a visual artist and occasional poet currently living in Santa Fe, NM.  Her piece: Beauty Betty Bingo: Still Developing is part of an invitational group exhibition opening at the International Gallery of Contemporary Art (IGCA) in Anchorage, Alaska on September 4th.

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Visionomatic & other Artful Images



A few notes from an artful weekend. It began with wine & roses at Casa Rondena in honor of a graduate (thank you Kate & congratulations!!), an overnight retreat at a cheerful Victoria airbnb (with a pink claw foot tub –yes fabulous) in a historic downtown ABQ neighbor –walking distance to the famed Artichoke Café and the Grove Café & Market. I enjoyed them both immensely. One in the company of a dear friend and one in my own good company.

Beauty Betty & Bingo

Beauty Betty & Bingo

New territory and exactly what was needed, apparently, to jump start my “mother” project for upcoming exhibit in Alaska.

Happy Mother’s Day too!!  Love you Mom.

A change of scenery. A gathering with friends. Good food. A little shopping. A lot of art. Big skies and blustery weather with swirling clouds that only caused to invigorate the spirit. Especially after a “happen upon” #34 at the Placitas Studio Tour. Roger Evans. The imagination of a visionary with wild abandon, and Barnum too, right out of the (animal) cracker box. That experience filled me with such heart and possibility I thought I might fly away. . . with the pig. Or the aliens.  He offers the option of both. And a snapdragon for the ladies. Thank you. If you haven’t been you can visit by appointment. I wouldn’t wait. Go NOW.  A few images to tease you. I might add there was a moment of snow falling (though no accummulation).  It only heightened the joy.


the vision of Roger Evans:  art, life, living, sculpture, imagination


If you haven’t been to Metallo Gallery in Madrid please do that too. The fifth annual miniature exhibit is up through May. Fun stuff and much of it under $100. All work is 6”x6” or under and represents emerging to well-known New Mexican artists. Here’s a glimpse. . .

Metallo Gallery Miniature Exhibit20150510_135709Brenda Roper Primitive Seamstress20150510_135443-1

And of course a trip to Madrid is always a treat.


See you later. . .

Brenda is an artist and occasional poet who lives on a one-way alley in a historic neighborhood in downtown Santa Fe.  She continues work on her Primitive Seamstress Series in between walking dogs, wine tasting, and travel.  Studio visits welcome and by appointment.

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The Path of Finding Your True Nature


I recently read a blog by a writer, a kindred spirit, on a DIY Retreat. Do it yourself.  She mentions solitude.  How it can suck you into a place so deep you blink when you come back, face to face with a real person.  The point when one goes away for a month is generally to focus uninterrupted into a deeper level of creativity.  A time to reflect and walk or run and write or art.  To swim and dream and grieve.  To feel. To find yourself flowing in the current of a project from your heart, or simply free yourself from the day to day routine, to allow access to the deeper parts of language.  To beginnings and prompts and pay attention.


I think back to my own DIY Art Retreat.  The joy of waking each day into one of my own making.  It felt simple.  Though I had no income I did not worry.  My work before me.  My focus.  My abundance on the table.  It was there and rising like homemade bread.  The beauty of being present in each moment.  In the stitch and the idea.  In the walk on the beach.  In the reflection of the cypress.  Sometimes the phone call from a friend felt intrusive as I made my way back to the surface to engage in that voice to voice world.  Emerging from deeper and further and far.


Since I’ve returned I write a poem entitled “Missing January” as the world runs forward and I scramble to catch up.  Already March.  Spring is coming.  Daylight has sprung forward. Rain in the forecast.  Lovely all and despite the 7 inches of snow on Friday the ground outside my window is already bare.  Warmed by the sun. The snow melt deeply inhaled by the shallow roots of the high desert.

his Solitude (underpinning) --detail

But it is the significance of solitude. How easy to slip into that place devoid of interaction with others.  Face to face. During my retreat there were times I asked myself did I speak to another person today, out loud, or only respond to the thoughts inside my head? I asked myself this nearly everyday for 30 days — though there were interactions. In passing with my respectful host or the cashier at the grocery store or an exchange at the Farmer’s Market. A nod to a person on the path and once a real conversation with a woman at a florist setting out pots of pansies.  She had moved from Michigan and warned me against the road south to Apalachicola and the high crime in St. Pete. Though I went anyway and loved them both.

winterchairsnowInteraction can be dangerous.  The fear and opinions of others can sway or change your mood entirely.  Take you out and away and far, or it can circle back to self-reflection.  That is what I’m learning.  About myself.  The importance to socialize or engage with people; friends or strangers or within a community, is to spring yourself into the battle zone.  Often there is reward.  I am learning who I am through my ability, or lack of, this face to face blink in the sunlight interaction with other people.  It can be painful, tight-in-the-chest want to control anxiety, or equally delightful. An indicator to the better path.  The most true.  The joy of easy friendship and mutual admiration and connection. And to the discomfort of standing up, taking charge, saying no or redirecting and breaking the pattern that leads to nowhere new.  The guilt and letting go and acceptance.

tulipsdaffodilFleshnotafamily detail taoschurchskybarn

A friend of mine wrote this line:  the birds are still enthusiastic in spring.  I hear them now this sunny morning.  Monday.  The opportunities are mine for the taking if only I value myself. Enough. Know my heart and honor my true nature: art, writing, photography, walking, wine and travel.  Quietude and ocean and family and friendship.  The occasional roasted chicken.  The possibility of direction becomes obvious.  Trusting that it will.  And always imagination.  To color outside the lines and take the path less traveled by — if that be yours.  Go now.


Brenda lives in a small casita in Santa Fe, NM where she continues to work on her Primitive Seamstress series. Watch for her work in the upcoming miniatures show at Metallo Gallery in Madrid.  Dates TBA.



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Primitive Seamstress: in the beginning


Beginning:  the point in time or space at which something starts. To Begin.   Such as a New Year, rife with opportunity for growth and change.  For personal improvements:

  • err on the side of kindness
  • open yourself to connection
  • let go of judgment
  • practice tolerance
  • give in to adventure
  • nourish your curiosity
  • honor your gifts
  • be true to your nature/direction
  • art and dance and yoga too.

Some call these resolutions though too often they are toasted to at the midnight hour, at the tipping of the champagne into the glass and too soon forgotten.  But the celebration and awareness of said intention is always good.  Right?  Every beginning begins with a kernel of thought or action.  One step forward.  A sentence.  A phone call. An email.  Or simply opening the door and walking outside into a new day, or a new life or loading your trusty Subaru and driving 4 days across the country to a new place.

IMG_9020If only temporarily.  You are forever changed.  The moon jellies on the beach unlike anything ever seen before are amazing.  Thick and translucent and other worldly. A great blue heron takes flight startled by your passing. The cypress is a muse.  The sand is flat and pure like the skin of babies, goes on for miles uninterrupted except for the clearing of thoughts.  Three dolphin dip and roll shimmering through the reflection of late afternoon. And so my beginning (January 2015) brings me to a place of retreat.  A journey and a place. A little cottage near a cypress swamp and a 15 minute walk to the beach.  It is perfect.  I am perfect.  The sewing is primitive.  I am the perfect primitive seamstress.

The threads hang haphazard (I kind of like that) and I hope they hold.  The thread falls out of the needle repeatedly until I pull out the instructions for threading the machine and realize I skipped step number 4 –oh!  Good to know.  Occasionally the bobbin jams.  I waste a lot of thread in trial by error.  But it is freeing too.  To begin.  I sew standing up at the small kitchen counter.  It seems to work well for my start, stop, grab, cut –design, knot, pause.  This is not a scientific approach. Here are a few samples:

IMG_9029panelpocket beginningsgrandma pocket

I come with intention.  To create 100 6”x8” (or so) linen pockets to hold secrets or photos or ideas or forgiveness –sew and knot or wrap with barbed wire or ribbon.  A little gesso. A line.  Graphite.  A cork.  It is a loose plan. In my experience art projects begin with imagination.  A vision that morphs into something long and far and seldom exact.  The logic to the abstract.  Or the abstract to the logic.  It goes both ways.  Eventually.


When I wake on Saturday in this delicious space –into time and a trip to the Farmer’s Market I wonder at the purpose of “pocket”.  What was the point again?  Is pocket important?  My dreaming opens me to other options.  To stitch a narrative before I sew it closed.  To leave access to experiment instead of backtrack or undo or after-the-fact.  Thank goodness for the subconscious.  It really directs my life.  And so I have both.  Pockets filled or not and flat stitched pieces that I call panels though they are not attached to a hard surface.  Or any surface.  Yet.  The exercise on this Artist Retreat is to simply begin. To create without judgment.  And so I do.


Brenda Roper is a Personal Assistant & Contemporary Artist in Santa Fe, NM.  She is taking the month of January for an Artist Retreat in Santa Rosa Beach.  To explore new work in fiber, continue her Thursday poem and other writings, walk the beach and draw inspiration from her newest muse the cypress swamp.  Your support and donations are appreciated.  A little help for the time not working (the day job).  For the just in case.  For the gas (despite the drop in prices). For the inspiration and leap of faith.  For the belief that art matters.  Think of it as an exchange.  A gift that goes both ways.

  • For any donation of $25 or more you will receive a hand-made artist card
  • For any donation of $100 or more you will receive an original print in 11″x14″ mat ready for framing
  • For any donation of $200 or more (if you have deep pockets of generosity) you will receive one of my 12″x12″ painterly photographs

bisbeepeacesnow and crossIMG_8852

Paypal is preferred.  Please include your correct mailing address.  Click here to  If you prefer to mail a check please send it to Brenda Roper 991 1/2 Don Manuel Street #B, Santa Fe, NM 87505.  Gifts will be sent as received.  Donations by check will be fulfilled upon my return to Santa Fe in February.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.  Thank you forever and in advance.  Especially to those who have already donated and you know who you are.

Happy New Year!!


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Happy Holidays!! — ART retreat & Adventure

2014-11-28 13.04.55

Happy Holidays!! to ART & Adventure

As the end of 2014 draws closer to Solstice and the days so dark I find my voice on this blog after a long hiatus.   A resolution to bring it alive in 2015.   A toast to new adventures in art and travel and living beyond my zone of comfort.  In all things.  Lions and tigers and bears oh my!!  And all that jazz.

I went camping in Big Bend National Park over Thanksgiving.  A solo 1,400 mile round trip road trip from Santa Fe in my trusty white subaru.  It was all good –from the colorful pink garden courtyards and pink patio of  Eve’s Garden Bed & Breakfast in Marathon (after a very uninspiring drive from Carlsbad, NM to Fort Stockton, TX) to the gathering of Javelinas around my tent on that first morning at Cottonwood campground.  Apparently they like to graze.  Docile animals. Thank you.  The park is long on vistas and fantastic hiking and Ocotillo.  A highlight was the natural hot springs beside the Rio Grande in the Hot Spring Historic District and that rowboat to Boquillas, Mexcio.  So glad I brought my passport.  I will long remember the color of green.  Lime.  And in the glory of the moment walked right past customs until reminded by a friendly voice “señora. . .”  Here are a few images to bring you closer to my experience, including the chairs in the church above:

2014-11-28 13.06.29 2014-11-28 12.51.582014-11-28 12.50.51

I am a visual artist.  I collect vintage linens and barbed wire and abstract domesticity in a variety of ways.  I am an explorer and adventurer of spirit and okay– an occasional poet.  I have journals under the bed from when I began writing them at 14 (years old) –a long time ago.  Trust me. All those words.  All those feelings pushing their way forward.  Not on the most direct route but on a path none-the-less.  Which brings me to present.  Time. Not in the way of Santa down the chimney put it in my Christmas stocking but maybe it’s the same.  Present time.  All wrapped up in ribbon.  I do love them.  Presents.  Such joy in the gift.  A gracious acceptance and childlike innocence in finding something at your grown up door or mailbox or a card from a friend of long ago.  Thank you.

And so it comes to this.  I am artist who works primarily as  Girl Friday/Personal Assistant.  Walk the dog, carry the books up three flights to storage, run an errand, pick up the mail, check the house, rack the leaves, document your estate, pick up a prescription and a bag of chocolates, etc.  Whatever it takes to earn the rent.  That’s me.  I don’t mind and I’m grateful. Truly.  But at some point I fall away.  The art undone.  The path disjointed.  Too much time passing.   I wake unsure of the day of the week or date or the obligation and remind myself it is Thursday, focus. Etc.  And so I create an artist retreat for this artist occasional poet person that is me and here I am putting it out for donation.  For support.  A request.

I am driving nearly 1400 miles (one-way) from Santa Fe to the Florida Panhandle to spend the month of January in a retreat to art.  Off-season exploration.  A new foray.  A structure of unobstructed creativity.  Goals with a bike on top of a car with 183,000 miles (go Subaru!!).  Bringing the title just in case.  Pack my new & basic Janome sewing machine.  I’m just learning.  My recycled linens and barbed wire, and photographs, and thread.  It is my intention to make 100 or 1000 6″x8″ linen pockets (stay tuned).  To stitch and stuff and blog about it here.  Dangling threads. Primitive.  Unexplored and sometimes the unknown is the only way.  Through. With scissors and bobbin and heart.  And sandy feet and eyes wide open from the emerald shores of winter.

 2014-11-04 13.32.26 20141215_161421 Artmatters

If you’ve stayed with me this far I have a final request.  An opportunity.  For all.  In the past month I have opened my studio for the holidays in the spirit of invitation and show and tell.  I am subletting my one room casita to help finance my retreat (it just fell through but I have faith) and I could still use a little gas money despite the drop in prices.  Thank you.  A little help for the time not working.  For the just in case.  For the return. For the inspiration and leap of faith.  For the belief that art matters.  And so I ask for your support and donation.   Think of it as an exchange.  A gift that goes both ways.

  • For any donation of $25 or more I will send you a hand-made artist card
  • For any donation of $100 or more I will send you an original 11″x14″ matted print ready for framing
  • For any donation of $200 or more (if you have deep pockets of generosity) I will send you one of my 12″x12″ painterly photographs

bisbeepeacesnow and crossIMG_8852

Paypal is preferred.  Please include your correct mailing address.  I have included a link below but can be found here to  If you prefer to mail a check you can send it to Brenda Roper 991 1/2 Don Manuel Street #B, Santa Fe, NM 87505.  Gifts will be sent as received.  If I am out of stock (due to travel) fulfillment will be made upon my return to Santa Fe in February.  If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me.  Thank you forever and in advance.

Happy Holidays and best for a joyful 2015!!


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Rent is due: seeking funding from friends (just kidding. . .well maybe)

Rent is actually paid but a tight squeeze this month –that loss of income for one week vacation– coupled with the airplane ticket to visit family (priceless) oh and that other trip. . .in April.  For friendship (priceless).  I tried to sublet and it almost worked perfectly until it didn’t.   Life is an adventure.    Still I live as if I have enough.  Okay more than enough, well because on so many levels I suppose I do.   I have to admit on the financial scale I’ve been moving backwards since moving to Santa Fe from Alaska nearly 5 years ago, and really one month away from moving into my car.  Still the balance sheet dries in my favor as I contemplate the share apartment ads or moving to Mexico or how to seek funding from a friend in a way that sounds like a real grant proposal request.  Value added.  But there are too many others in need that my cheerleading for self-serving interests seems morally corrupt.  But hey it’s America.  Go for it. Land of plenty and equal opportunity for all and democracy prevails and I pledge allegiance and all that jazz. . .afterall art does matter.


On that thought I go back through a few grant/residency applications for review, and Google sample donation seeking letters for individual artists — but it is likely my own lack of a sense of value  is the roadblock.  And so I spend the morning on CaFE applying ($36) for a free art residency in Mexico and wonder if it is offered how will I afford the airfare and loss of wages (to pay the bills that remain –that pesky student loan –oh and rent too) which leads me back to the seeking funding from friends idea.  Not YOU of course.  Someone else.  Just one person really, who isn’t reading this blog, but is it a good idea? Does it open the door for obligation or sexual favors –you know THAT kind of thing?  Hence the filtering through old proposals trying to make it as professional as possible but suddenly it sounds so much like whining –asking people to choose you. Can you hear it?  Listen. CHOOSE ME.  And while I do believe I am deserving how to express that in a way that actually sounds as if I am the most deserving — (add context here).  My project is basically ordinary and lifelong and nothing life changing for the community at large:  The occasional poet paints or conversations from Lake Chapala (on canvas).  An experiment of language.  No murals under bridges.  Not because I don’t believe in “community” but I generally support from an inner landscape.  A seat at the back of the room.  BECAUSE it becomes the cause for another cause.  And with that, for me, the stress of failing, the exposure out loud in front of an audience, a black hole of expectation, an obligation  (oh my!)  –back to that part about criticism –(ouch).   Of course the point is that it is actually directed and focused and rewarding.  Okay.  I’m trembling here.  My dream is supported solitude and the adventure of meandering in a time out of place.  Specifically near a large body of water. To allow the freedom of creativity to prevail because it will.  Then maybe yes I can do the mural on the subway walls like the one I designed that got an A+ gold star for a day in a class where I never could get the body in proportion on one sheet of paper.  But I have other talents.  We all do.   I know I’m capable. It’s the judgment I fear. I need a dose of courage.  ROAR. I’m sure the pharmaceutical evangelists can set me up.  For a small fee.

And so I decide to share my last attempt for a grant below (whine and all). Cheers.  One awarded to painters 45 or older.  I was not one of the lucky recipients.  The essay question: Why do you consider yourself under-recognized as an artist? (and) How would funding help you in your practice?  This is out of context and edited to add some humor for the purpose of this blog.  I’d ask for your thoughts but I probably can’t bear the humiliation.  So you can keep them to yourself –thank you very much.


Why do you consider yourself under-recognized as an artist? How would funding help you in your practice?

Why do I consider myself under-recognized?  I suppose the obvious reason is lack of visibility, and the other is partially our culture’s stunted perception of art-making as a viable career.  The need to meet basic expenses such as rent and groceries leads me to cobble together several day jobs as a resource for daily living.  To survive.  And of course my introverted nature, while blessing me with the gift for creative problem solving and insight, keeps me a bit outside our new world order of social media and marketing or selling guns on the black market  –but I do reach out: to Facebook, a blog, my own website.   I venture forth on these platforms carefully.  A toe in the water, mostly from the fear of exposure, retaliation and ridicule (deep water here –all those childhood wounds of criticism and make fun of: bookworm, lazy, clumsy, houseplant “stupid” the phone -–well you get the picture). Art has the potential to raise questions.  To push into emotional joy and trauma and beauty and insight.  To stir things up and to comfort.  All things intangible yet essentially vital to promote a sustainable society.  As an artist, I believe I am exploring the fundamental question of what it means to be human.  Aren’t we all? Afterall, my heart is out there in full color and –at the end of the day I am willing to accept the responsibility of greater visibility.  My small works have been accepted into a new contemporary fine art gallery in Santa Fe (sale pending in fact).  I am hanging with some very reputable artists.   On display for company or candlelight. . .SMA artview

Note:  being represented by a fine art gallery does not necessarily guarantee a sustainable income.  Still I am grateful.

I recently wrote on my blog, in reference to new work in progress, “what do you think?”  Work I felt proud of, excited by, a breakthrough.  Hopeful.  But an emotional risk asking such things of others.  While it might draw love, praise, a financial ping, support, etc., it also carries the possibility of ridicule or shame. The joy of recognition is thrilling. Everyone loves to win, loves being accepted as a serious artist and being rewarded for what is deemed an “untraditional” career choice.

What would it be like if I were paid to get up everyday and go to the studio instead of relying on sales from my work or running errands for other people as Girl Friday/Personal Assistant? (though these often incredulous and interesting interludes do provide fodder for potential writings and sketches).  The financial rewards of receiving a grant as a great relief from stress cannot be separated from the fantastic joy of being validated as an artist.  To have people buy your work is certainly rewarding yet I cannot rely solely on the impression of others for my well-being as a creative person.  I create because it is a calling.  The process of making art is who I am.  A work in progress for sure but fully intentional or possibly happenstance, still I hope I am giving the best parts of myself to the world.  To be anything less is the failing.

For several years I have wanted to work bigger –60”x60” or more.  Curious how changing scale will affect my painting.  Even the physicality of working larger.  Will the smaller works transfer and bloom?  I think they will.  In response to my 12”x12” abstracts people have said, “Oh, this would look great bigger.”   This size and the square format have worked well for exploring composition, color and texture – and though these works stand on their own, I sometimes view them as maquettes.  A practice for something greater. About a year ago I painted two 48”x24” works with some success.  One sold.  One is now weathering on the fence in my yard as I contemplate the composition. I tried throwing it into the trash after taking it down from a show but it was too big so it ended up on the fence.  I rather like it there where I see it everyday from my window.  And to some extent rebelling against creativity as economics, to value myself and my process and to surrender to art on the fence versus art in the gallery is very liberating.  Though truthfully the grant would be validating and relief from economic stress.  At least temporarily and this is enough.

I  moved into a smaller apartment to save $200/month and still I wake up each morning calculating my resources, trying to remember what odd jobs I have so I don’t forget or overbook, and wonder how can I market my work so art can help pay the rent? This grant would take away some of the financial burden of the day to day and allow more devoted studio time to explore ideas, to push, loosen up, and grow forward.  I feel ripe and deserving.  My new work represents a positive direction for me.  Cleaner palette, playful shapes, expression, experimentation.  I see myself as a painter with potential to make great work.   Any resources are gratefully appreciated (well this part is probably true).



Now available on ETSY 12″x12″ original photos/uniquely framed – $160 + shipping

Brenda Roper is an artist and occasional poet who currently lives in a small studio in a great neighborhood in Santa Fe, NM where she cobbles together a variety of jobs including walking dogs and falling flat on her face when they suddenly dash after a shape in the dark (true story).  She recently opened an ETSY shop to showcase her unique and colorful painterly photos and her small abstracts on canvas can be seen (and purchased) at Kristin Johnson Fine Art.

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Passing through the visible. . .

Passing through the visible.  In art and images.  A series of self-portrait as experiment. I am not an apparition.  Question. Not a ghost in the mirror.  Question.  The photos prove it. Right?  I am not invisible.  Question.  In and out of the void.  Potential title for painting.  Passing through the visible. Potential title for painting.  No value.  A pun.  Just checking.


It began with the dream.  The one at the beginning of the week where I reached in my pocket for my phone and when I pulled it out found it broken in half and watched it crumble.  Disintegrate like glass.  Itty bitty flecks.  No repair.  Sharp and sudden and final.  No communication.  Disconnected.

We all circle the earth in our armor.


A job that suddenly ends like a car crashing into a tree.  And then, like a cartoon, no one is really hurt and we start again.  Never happened.  Repeat. Though on some level it feels that violent.  Okay.  Hmmm.


And there is death.  Out of our control and so far away.  There is devastation and love and gathering.  Observation.  There is peace and anger.  There are questions without answers.  There is preparedness and shock.  There is wonderment and bafflement.  There is no communication.  Or is there.  That’s a question too.  The dream tells the story.


The painting in flux.  Composition no. 9 or no. 10 or all the compositions and all the possibilities and nothing.  It is one moment in time and then another.  It is ever present and changing and I could throw it away without regret.  It is the process.  One day at a time.  Monday morning after the rain.

The alligator is belly up on the rock outside my door.  It is yellow.  A yellow belly.  Another oddity.  Was it the water or the wind or something else?  Someone was in my house.  Not a friend.  Not invited.  The bathroom tells the story but it is only conspiracy theory.  Intuition.  There is no fear.  But wonder.

All the rugs are gone.  That is the first clue.  Another ending.  A shift in what was commonplace every other Sunday.  Reliable.  All my jobs are ending.  Shifting.  Nothing is guaranteed.  A moment of powerlessness.  Days.  Digest.  Regroup.  Go forward.  These are the lessons of life.  Of doing the work.  Of awareness.  Of taking the risk to connect and the loss that follows.  Of letting go of expectation and entitlement and negative self-defeating patterns.  I am passing through the visible.  Child of the moon.  Invisible is still a place.

The face in the mirror is mine.  The eyes of my father.  I am the bastard daughter.



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March madness (not a shopping expedition)

March came on Friday.  Rabbit rabbit. A madness that blows in with the longing for spring.  The return of  light and warmth and hope for our weary winter souls.  Though we carry on.  Make our plans.  I felt disoriented.   Last week my balance off kilter.  Unsure where to be when, double booking.  Then pause.  Who’s on first?  Full moon.  A gentle interlude.  Obsession and isolation and be patient.  I feed myself movies and rice.  And today the sun shines so brilliant on flowers inside my house.  All the joy floods through the door.

Random thoughts from a weekend where winter reigned — beneath a full moon:

  • they call them “designer dogs” –crossing a Labrador with a standard poodle.  Labradoodle.  Originated in Australia. Love the Besa dog
  • to MAC or not to mac –and cheese.  PC?  These questions and iPhone or Droid and options and do I really need a smart phone?
  • I could run away my winter fat on the Dale Ball trails.  Or run away.
  • panic at being poor though not homeless and the perspective that brings it all back to grateful am I and so rich despite the bank balance and lucky too and talk to sisters and friends and take a bath and take a hike and maybe a walk on the wilder side of my nature.
  • Homeland has caught my attention and I cringe when Carrie goes through shock therapy thinking she’s wrong when she is the only one who has it right.  Still the label of crazy too convenient for dismissal in a world that does not allow for other. (I know it’s only sitcom).

And today the hope of spring prevails.  Fresh chard from the Farmer’s Market.  The mailman’s radio tuned to a ball game.  Bring me some peanuts and cracker jacks. . . permeated my sense of accomplishment at using day-glo zip ties to repair my dryer rack.  My version of duct tape.  I sat it in the yard feeling happy with laundry.  Sat in the sun talking on the phone to my big sister.  Chicken in the oven.  A glass of French pinot.


And I am painting.  Oil.  Glazing.  Small works on canvas.  Are they equations or villages or walls — or simply abstract shapes without narration?  Do I scribble more or less?  Excavate.  Smooth over.  Draw.  Then wipe it all away.  I am intuitive but the paintings do not feel intuitively painted.  Expressive yes but still I hold back.  Uncertain.  How to proceed.  When to stop?  Outline or blend?  What tool works best with oil?  I experiment. I am a trial and error artist.  Some call it process.  Not to be confused with progress though I believe I am making some.  Progress.

A friend gifted me 6 inches of Art News.  I look through the pages.  Tear out an image.  The cat rolls on her back.  I tape up an abstract by Lillian Orlowsky (who studied with Hans Hoffman).  Her foundation PAAM offers a grant to painters over 45.  Check it out!


What do you think?

I’m hopeful the gallery might be interested.  For the May opening.  Small works.  And if not I am still having fun.  On my path.  Figuring it out — one painting at a time.


Brenda is a visual artist and occasional poet who works as a Personal Assistant/Girl Friday to a variety of interesting people in Santa Fe, NM.  Please visit her website for more images of her work.  Studio visits welcome by appointment.

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endings, beginnings and 9 degrees. . .

I just finished the bag of sea salt & vinegar potato chips I purchased on Labor Day weekend –they expired at the end of the year.  Washed down with a bottle of winter brew dark beer still in my refrigerator from the holidays because everyone drinks wine instead.  Me too but today it felt right.  One beer.  Late afternoon.  Sunday football I do not watch though I know the Broncos lost and a friend is rooting for Seattle.  And though sunny outside it is well below freezing.  A day worthy of the bomber hat and big boots.  The beer, the salty potato chips, the rest of the Trader Joe’s chicken salad with cranberries and all those calories (justified) because I am moving.  Across town.

Pulling out the stove in one house to clean and pulling out the stove in the other.  To clean too.  Apparently something built a nest beneath the stove top, and between the wall and the oven since the last tenant.  Or maybe the last tenant never cooked and those curled up leaves are from a former former tenant who had a little grow operation.  This might explain the problem with the deadbolt on the front door and the reason it was not working yesterday.  Or the fact it was 9 degrees.  Or operator failure.  Or because the doorjamb has been pried open with a crow bar so many times the entire door is broken inside, but the landlord wants to make it right.  Has. Lovely people.  Thank you.  — still I’m pushing for a new door +  a screen door too.  With a little eye hook.  For summer.

It is a sweet little loft casita.  I will be happy there.  A gate for greeting.  A chile ristra against the adobe.  The light is fantastic and I have my own yard and coyote fence, for privacy and entertaining.  Don’t laugh.  I do occasionally invite friends over.  That said I like that it is on a one-way alley and not exactly easy to explain the exact location or how to drive to arrive.  The wall outside my kitchen window is built of stone.  Picturesque.  It feels country European to me. I  pretend I am near the vineyards of Tuscany though happily in Santa Fe.   South Capitol.  I will plant sunflowers and geraniums and sit beneath my umbrella to bask in their beauty.

Leaving El Zaguan is not without pangs of “will miss you” –the most charming apartment and compound ever, creative neighbors/friends, fantastic staff who leave little gifts outside my door:  firewood, rusty metal, boxes, a painted glass, vintage linens, donuts and books and clothes. . .good memories.  It has been fun and fruitful and I am happy for the experience(s).  Did I sit on the porch swing often enough on summer Sunday afternoons?  Walk around the garden?  Look at the stars?  For those creative types looking for an artful life in 500+ square feet I hope you consider applying to the Historic Santa Fe Foundation.


Life and the New Year are filled with a celebration of  endings and beginnings.  One job ends another door opens.  That kind of thing.  Change and poetry and art in new places.  Four of my 12”x12” oil on canvas will be part of the small works room at the new Kristin Johnson fine art gallery located at 323 East Palace in Santa Fe (across from La Posada).  I hope you can make the New Year’s Opening Reception this Friday January 18th from 5-8pm.  The gallery features a fantastic selection of contemporary fine art including abstract expressionism, encaustic and photography.  I am thrilled to be a part of this great addition to the Santa Fe art scene.


On the writing front I  rekindled a poetry group after a long hiatus.  Actually a resurgence of the one from Alaska.  Just Mike and I at the moment.  Trusted friends. We miss you Jim.  Perhaps inspired by the combining of art and poetry in the Odes & Offerings exhibition of last spring or the current Voice to Image exhibit at Vivo Contemporary where Mike (Burwell) responded to the work of Ro Calhoun and read his poem at the opening last week.  Or perhaps it was simply time to begin again.  The poem I brought to the table, begun in May 2011 and untouched until a few weeks ago, is a long two page ramble peppered with memory and lyricism, about meeting my biological father.  Maybe I’ll read it at the upcoming reading at El Zaguan –the 2nd in a series of on-going readings by writers/artists in residence.  Sunday afternoon January 27th, 2013.  545 Canyon Road, Santa Fe. Free and open to the public.  Time TBA.


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