Unearthing creative possibilities: Trish Roque's website, personal blog, & portfolio

Archive for the ‘Heroes & Sheroes’ Category

100 Santa Fe Etchers


Once upon a time, I made etchings with the Santa Fe Etching Club. This occurred on a weekly basis when I lived in Santa Fe from 1994-2000. And now, I’ve been included in the recently published book, 100 Santa Fe Etchers.

I received my copy this week and as I flipped through the pages, I became distinctly aware that I am in a book with some of the most amazing artists working in Santa Fe. What an HONOR!! Even Jon proclaimed: “You’re in a book with Bill Mauldin!” Yes, that would be the Pulitzer-Prize winning cartoonist and creator of the characters Willie and Joe, Bill Mauldin.

And as I turned the pages, I began to proclaim, “I’m in a book with —

And then of course, there are the artists who made my life in Santa Fe a lot of fun because of their friendships with me. I am certainly honored to be in a book with my friends. Artists like:

  • Norma Evans, to whom I owe much with my move and transition to the Bay Area; she was my connection;
  • William Gonzales, whose work was recently published in a book of this same series;
  • Brian Bari Long, who introduced me to the Etching Club;
  • Elizabeth Cook, whose framed print is at the center of our living room; I love her work!;
  • Jo Basistse/Eli Levin, who is at the heart of the Etching Club;
  • and of course, Dr. Bob Bell, who has been supporting the club since 1980, and without whom the book would not exist.

And there are other artists in the book who I never met but whose work makes me want to pick up etching again. Wow! I’m almost embarrassed to be in a book with them, they’re so good!

Needless to say, you need to take a look at this book for yourself. You can purchase your own copy by contacting Argos Gallery in Santa Fe. The book is $30 plus shipping.


Lessons from my dog: growing old with grace

I don’t often write about my pets, though my site is full of their pictures. But lately, I’ve felt compelled to write about Siwa, who will be 12 years old in February (update: she is actually older than I thought considering I gave her birthday as the date I adopted her ~ she was 2 months old at the time so her actual birth month is December). She is a very special dog, one who has been with me through a number of life’s pages. Heck, she was with me through every significant relationship I’ve had with the exception of the first. She has been my constant companion since my early 20s, making the trek with me from New Mexico, where she was born and bred.

Siwa in Tahoe 12/2008

She has been an avid hiker, like me, since she was a pup. When I arrived in the Bay Area, she was diagnosed with severe arthritis in her elbows. She was four at the time. It didn’t seem to stop her. She would chase cows, squirrels, cats. We ran through the trails of Redwood Park in the Oakland hills. She would always be along exploring the parks of the East Bay with me, just as we had done through the trails of the Sangre de Cristo mountains in New Mexico.

Two weekends ago marked a significant time in both our lives: I started giving her a separate walk on the trails because she is no longer able to keep up on our regular hikes with Sammy, our 4-1/2 year old Border Collie. It takes her about an hour to walk less than a mile.

We spent the New Year’s weekend playing in the snow up in Tahoe. Siwa had to stay behind for the snowshoeing trip, which made me really sad. But after she and I took a walk down the snow-filled road, she looked at me with her big brown eyes as if to say, “It’s ok. I’ve had my fun. I know my limits and I’m good with it.”

It’s really hard to see her slowing down so quickly in the last six months. But every step she takes, she does so with her tail wagging. She moves at her own pace, confident that she will get to where she needs to go in her own time. She is secure in herself, sometimes to the point of being aloof. (She is more like cat than dog in that way.) She is incredibly patient, though she does not hesitate to warn other dogs when they have crossed the line. She will defend herself but she rarely starts the fight. (That would be Sammy!) She is very forgiving, and is quite content to just enjoy her life.

*Sigh* I want to grow old gracefully like her. *Sigh*

Tired Siwa

This photo was taken after we hiked a good 3-4 hours in the mountains above Kangaroo Lake in Northen California this past summer. We crossed the Pacific Crest Trail at one point. She plopped on her bed upon our return to the campsite. Jon, Sammy, and I decided to take a dip at the lake, to which Siwa said, "I'm not moving from this spot!" Not bad for an old gal!


Making a living from drawing (or whatever calls to you)

A visitor to my site recently emailed me to ask this question:

Is drawing and making a living doing it, dead..? Is it nothing more than a pipe dream..?

I want to share my response because the issues of self-doubt and discouragement that he brings up are so relevant to many individuals who are trying to heed their calling. Here was my response to him:

Thanks for writing and sharing your experiences with me. In many ways I understand where you are coming from though I have not had the misfortune of meeting people who have discouraged me so bluntly. The only thing I can say about people like the instructor and writer you met is to pass on a quote I read somewhere: “Those who don’t follow their dreams discourage others from following their dream.”

It’s easy to internalize what these people have to say especially when one’s own doubts already exist. I’m just as guilty of this but I try not to listen to people like them. I try to remember the quote above and continue on as though I have not been affected by their words.

The short answer to your question is yes, it is possible to make a living from doing what you love, from drawing. I know this because I have met and become friends with people who are already making a good living from drawing, and from being an artist in general. I sought these folks out intentionally because I knew I could learn from them. I think it is important to be surrounded by people who can be role models. Just as it is true that people who don’t follow their dreams discourage you from following yours, those who are following their calling, encourage everyone they meet to do the same. Take a look at the work of some of the artists who are making a good living from their art and who I was fortunate enough to meet: Sherrie McGraw, David Leffel, Michael Bergt, Star York, Donna Howell-Sickles and Jeff Brock. These are just some of the people I met when I lived in Santa Fe. It took having to move to a place where I was surrounded by artists to get that inspiration.

I think the biggest lesson that I have yet still to learn is that there is no one formula to becoming an artist. Each of these folks I met found their own paths. I think you have to do the same and you must be persistent. Just keep doing what you love and don’t let anyone’s words discourage you. Just keep drawing. Move to a place where you are surrounded by like-minded people who will encourage you. The one thing you need to have to follow your dreams is courage. Take risks and dare to defy the people who told you that you couldn’t make it as an artist.

In the meantime, here’s an online community that I think you will find inspiration from: http://www.dannygregory.com/. He runs a yahoo group called Everyday Matters where ordinary folks encourage each other to keep drawing and stay creative. I’ve also recently discovered the writings of Robert Fritz. He writes about creativity from a perspective that I find refreshing. It’s worth a read just to cleanse yourself from the words of those toxic people in your life. Here are some quotes from his book that I wrote in my blog: http://creativepathstudio.com/blog/2007/05/30/liberating-thoughts/

I hope my words helped. I certainly don’t have the answers and I still struggle at times to stay true to my own calling. But I think in the end you will find that your dream will continue to pester you until you’ve given it your full attention. It will not go away regardless of how many times you let yourself be talked out of it because of other people’s words. You have to at least try, even if it takes your whole life to make it a reality.


The Language of Drawing From an Artist’s Viewpoint by Sherrie McGraw

The Language of Drawing by Sherrie McGrawI’ve just finished reading The Language of Drawing by Sherrie McGraw, one of the artists I was fortunate enough to befriend when I lived in New Mexico.

This is a book that every art student should have in her library – I don’t write that just to boost Sherrie’s sales.

It is a book that you will pour over, in the same manner that you study the DaVinci sketches in that book you own. You will examine her drawings, hoping that by osmosis alone you will be able to understand how she captures the essence of her subjects in those one-minute poses or how her sensitivity to line can describe the “air around” the seated figure.

Fortunately for us, she wrote a book so we’re not left to guess what she’s thinking as she makes her beautiful marks.

Be warned though, because this is not a book on HOW to draw. (My bookshelf is cluttered with plenty of those books so I am thankful it is not a how-to book.)

Sherrie writes in her preface:

An explanation of pure drawing principles, if it exists, has not come to my attention. Though many have written wonderful books about anatomy, perspective and proportion — all-important disciplines to a respectable draughtsman — the ideas not often discussed are the basic qualities possessed by someone who draws well.

So, she guides us on what is needed to possess those basic qualities. Even more important than the how or the what, is the why, the intention behind drawing.

In reading her words, I immediately thought, “this is someone who meditates”. And point of fact is that she does – but her meditation, her “just being” or in Sherrie’s case, “just seeing”, is her practice. Show up. Be present. And just see.

Learning to draw is learning to see.

*Sigh* I have much to learn…


The Universe will give you exactly what you want (and/or need)

I am a true believer of this statement: the universe/life/the almighty/whatever you want to call it, has given me exactly what I’ve asked for and what I’ve needed. The consequences are another matter. This brings me to the two points I want to make in this post:

  1. Be specific about what you want.
  2. Be careful what you ask for, because you will get it.

Know exactly what you want.

I’ve struggled with this since I moved to the Bay Area in 2000. It’s a long time to struggle, and the irony of this situation is that I was not always this vague.

Santa Fe Etching Club 1994 Many (many!) years ago, as a fresh-faced college graduate with an environmental studies and art degree, I decided that I would pursue a career as an artist. So, I determined I needed to work for an artist and learn as much as I could from that person.

I packed my belongings in my backpack, bought a one-way plane ticket to Santa Fe, NM and headed west to immerse myself in the art world, surround myself with artists, and live like an artist.

(There I am in 1994, with the Santa Fe Etching Club in what used to be Jo Basiste/Eli Levin’s porch off his studio on Camino Don Miguel near Canyon Road. Jo sold the home/studio he built and lived in for decades for a really large sum of money – a very large sum – several years ago. I’m the fresh-faced, recent college grad in the overalls, trying to be an artist. Hah! More on the club below.)

I was telling the universe: I want to be an artist. I was not vague about my desires.

The universe provided. Somehow, events occurred, providence intervened, and for six years, I found myself doing exactly what I set out to do.

Sculpture by Star Liana YorkI found work as an assistant to Star Liana York, a prominent sculptor in the southwest. She showed me that not only was it possible to not starve as an artist, but that one could truly LIVE a good life as an artist. (That’s one of her sculptures on the right, and my first Star Liana York work of art!)

She introduced me to other successful artists, each one having found and having made their own paths.

And through the American Women Artists, a non-profit organization that Star was a founding member of, and for which I also worked in the years I lived in Santa Fe, I met some incredible women.

I worked closely and became friends with these women, including Sherrie McGraw, Joan Potter, and Donna Howell-Sickles. I learned from them, traveled to Italy with them, and in general, had a blast!

Santa Fe Etching Club in 2000Through another act of Providence, I found the Santa Fe Etching Club and printed for six years with Jo Basiste (Eli Levin), Elizabeth Cook Romero, William Gonzales, Joe Becker, and Norma Evans. These artists were just as passionate about their work.

(Here’s the club in 2000 before I left, inside Jo’s studio with the ancient press. The club was a bit smaller from the 1994 group.)

We met every week to make prints, eat dessert, and tell dirty jokes in Jo’s studio. It was a wonder we got any work done. I learned just as much from them about the reality of making art and making a living.

(I’ve promised them a website for years now and I will get it up — I’ve even registered the domains! The club really deserves a website considering it’s one of the longest running art clubs in Santa Fe, or Jo claims it is.)

After six years of living and loving life in Santa Fe, I decided I needed to leave. I learned as much as I could from the people and the place and it was time to move on.

(Santa Fe is also a very small town and when I lived there, it had a population of 60,000. It became almost funny – ha ha – running into the same ex-boyfriends over and over again in the grocery store…)

But I digress. I left Santa Fe because it was time to learn some new lessons. This leads me to my second point.

Be careful what you ask for – because you will get it.

I had so much fun in New Mexico. The people, the land, the nostalgia can sometimes distract me from what I need to do in California. (I asked for some new lessons – and apparently, I’m getting them!)

My packed Toyota heading to CaliforniaThe decision to move was not a difficult one. I was excited about the prospect of change and the new adventure.

The place to move to was somewhat random – I had spent one weekend in San Francisco the previous year. I liked what I saw and I knew of an old college friend who lived there. He and his wife seemed to like it.

However, they warned me that the rental market was a tough one (and in 2000, it really was tough). That didn’t faze me and even though I had my dog, I had an overwhelming confidence that everything was going to work out just fine.

One month before I scheduled myself to leave Santa Fe, I still had no apartment lined up in the Bay Area nor did I have a job. Still I was not worried. I truly felt that it would all work out – and sitting here remembering all this and writing about it now, I wonder where that confidence came from? I deeply felt and understood that the universe would provide. After my experiences in Santa Fe, I had no reason to doubt that.

Two weeks before leaving New Mexico, my etching buddy Norma told me of her wonderful friend Julie who had an apartment in the Oakland hills that would be vacant, and was I interested? “Oh”, she said to me, “and Julie boards dogs for a living”. I smiled. Once again, the universe gave me exactly what I wanted.

Even the job that I had when I first came to the Bay Area was exactly what I needed to make my transition. It did not work out but it was what I NEEDED at the time. Providence was still there.

So, I arrived in the Bay Area, and the universe provided. But…

Was I not prepared for the consequences of receiving these gifts from the universe?

Was I careless with my request? Was I vague? Am I still?

By the look and feel of it, the answers to the questions above are yes.

I have exactly what I want and what I need, but I am struggling with the consequences of these gifts.

Ahh, it’s 2 AM, and I must sleep now. Then off to Tahoe I go with my wonderful husband and very good friends. These are the gifts I do not struggle with.

But I promise to continue sorting through these thoughts. Because I must know exactly what I want so that the universe can provide accordingly.