I have been using the same model, a friend and fellow artist, since 1972. Since I draw very slowly, I started taking photographs of her to be more efficient with her time and more flexible with mine. Over time, we both moved from California, where we met. We’ve been living 2,000 miles apart for over 25 years, but our close relationship has remained intact. Over those years, I have visited her for about a week at a time, every 6 or 7 years, to go over themes and projects that have concerned me, and taking the appropriate pictures. The last time we got together for a photo session was about 8 years ago, although we’ve seen each other since and talk to each other regularly. Although I did not start out to accumulate an archive of a woman aging, I have inadvertently done so, which has been a treasure. It has been very important for me to use a model that is a close friend, for two reasons. First, since I draw so slowly, it is wonderful to spend so much time drawing someone who you hold dear. Second, my friend models exclusively for me, and as a non-professional model, allows for openness and emotional vulnerability in her response to the camera, and me.
My imagery incorporates information both inspired and provoked by text and images found in mid-twentieth century publications on themes such as home management and decoration, health, education and home repair. Reading etiquette books from the entire twentieth century has been a good content source. The ignition for this body of work, both to my delight and exasperation, started with my own Girl Scout handbooks of the late 50s, as well as browsing through my family photo albums, which has been helpful in establishing period customs.
Recently, I have introduced wallpaper coverings, especially toile patterns, into my work. The romanticization of domestic history is particularly marked in toile wallpaper patterns and thus integral to my work. I have also invented my own patterns, combining and layering decorative work and figuration from many unrelated sources. It has also been hard for me not to respond to current fashion advertising images, so they, too, are now being incorporated into my work.