Lynette Hensley Studio Art

off leash dog park“If we’re not having fun, we shouldn’t do it,” a dear, well loved friend of mine said ever so many years ago. I’ve kept that as one of the things my inner voice says as I play in the studio. I’ve taken a bit of a right turn lately with both subject matter, with technique, and have been pushing away from being an adult in the studio where art creation is concerned.

Plus, I got a dog.

My dog has nosed her way in, whether I wanted “dog” to be a part of my art vocabulary or not. We’ll see if she makes it into more than the two paintings she’s in now. I tend to focus on people and characters, so I guess now she qualifies. She’s a rescue, a Pomeranian, and is the silliest thing, and sweet and entirely devoted to me. Nothing better.

bony fingers 1 smI’ve focused into two directions. One direction is the fun of collage/painting using some of my own childhood drawings that my mother returned to me after over 50 years. The characters were not in scale, didn’t relate to each other on the page, floated, fell off the edge, were simple and yet have their own style even at 3 years old. That moment combined with a trip to Seattle Art Museum when the Miro exhibit was there, opened up the fun box for my paintings! Boing! A dive into some other modern 20th c. artists: Klee, Chagall, Kandinsky netted some other ways to think about composition, color and form.

The second direction is part scrounging, part creating. I love second hand stores, antique stores and estate sales. Always have. I have a friend who has coined the term TOTHing. The Thrill Of The Hunt. Nice. That’s the initial phase. Then back in the studio, putting the finds together to make characters is a physical engineering challenge, as well as an inner creative conversation that begins with the words, “What if…?” What if he’s short and fat, not tall? Can I give him wheels? Is he shy or forward? What if she’s from Hawaii? Does she need bling or bone beads?

And these two directions and study have given me a new way to think about the purpose of art, or my purpose in making art — to delight! To have fun. I’m not a stand up comedienne by any means in personal speech delivery, but the thing that I admire about performing comedians is that they see life from their own unique perspective and then they share it with us. It’s delightful, it’s fun, and when it sticks in enough minds it becomes a part of our shared culture.  When it’s full of humanity, it can be therapeutic and full of insight.

So this is my contribution for now.  I’m so  glad to share my fun with you!

Life is good.

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Recent Posts


Loss and Laughter

I’m drawn to sad songs. I call them Canteloupe dog songs. You know, melancholies or ‘Melon Collies.” I explain this on stage between songs and it usually gets a groan, but it’s still true. I love a sad song — and yet in my visual art I’m compelled to create whimsy and humor.

Why the dichotomy?

First I want to think about sadness and loss for a minute. I think since we’ve all suffered loss, there’s a feeling that people will understand and identify with ones expression of sadness. For one who is young, the losses may be minor but the feelings are stronger, possibly because that feeling is so new. The older one is, the greater the losses, but also the greater the understanding that life piles on the losses over time. So we sing to that–our voices rise in harmonic sadness, noble in the acceptance of what is now gone from us. I don’t welcome the losses. Yet we sing to the truth of what we’ve lost and how that feels.

In one of my new favorite songs, John Gorka writes, “It’s tough before the aftermath, waiting for the sky to rain.” To me this is so true — it’s when you realize that there will be an aftermath that shock sets in, and you may be waiting for rain – for the tears to come along and then the rain that washes the pain and sorrow away. While waiting for the rain, your chin curls down into your chest, drawing into itself like a pill bug, protecting the soft inner core with your spine – the only hard shell you have on your body besides fingernails. You live with the loss, and then time and acceptance come in and feel like sheep’s wool on a cold Northwest winter day. This is when life starts to open up again – it goes back and forth. Open a little, then close up. Smile then sadness, comfort and forgetting.

ThoughtfulAnd now let’s think about the whimsy and humor in the art I make. Well, I suppose that’s the yin/yang of life. I think the humor comes directly out of the sadness.

These actors. I know exactly where they come from, and I’m excited to see where they are going. More often funny than sad, they usually have names with some humor or word play. For example, there were the twins: Illuminaughty and Illuminice. I don’t have fully formed stories for each, but that’s OK, they are meant to carry meaning to the One who takes them home. Each person who claims an actor can cast them in a play of their own making. The meaning comes as the play unfolds.

Both art and music may be a way of working through some issue, and BOTH are good for that. Or it may simply be to make a smile in my day. A painting or a song are often a reminder of someone dear – someone who used to laugh with us, or someone who still laughs with us.

I have a friend who finds deep meaning in the most common of things. She finds spiritual solace or guidance in the simplest things. She also makes her cat speak as if she’s a human and she says the most ridiculous things. I don’t do this with my cats, but I think I do with my actors. And what could be more fun?

Arts North Studio Tour

Larry and I had a wonderful studio tour April 30 & May 1, with the Arts North Studio Tour folks. Larry showed his guitars, and I had my paintings, collages and assemblage sculptures. Lots of visitors, and it’s wonderful to be a part of this fine group of artists, eleven studios in all. One of […]


Two Studio Tours in September

1st Ever Arts North! Studio Tour Lynette Hensley, the Flying Redhead Saturday/Sunday September 12 & 13 Please stop by studio 10 and come see the new work I’ve put together for your entertainment, and to take home with you if it strikes your fancy. (What is a “fancy” anyhoo?) I will be at my own […]


6 Paintings, comin’ right up!

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Stories Add Depth

I’ve often thought there was a story behind many of my paintings and collages, but I seldom wrote them down. I recently read about and purchased a book, Significant Objects, 100 extraordinary stories about ordinary things. The idea behind the book was that narrative adds value. And while they were using monetary value as their […]


Edouard Manet’s flowers…why does this painting work?

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A New Easel for the Studio – A Review

As I sat with a group of artists last night discussing how to market ourselves, the subject came up about costs of doing what we do vs. earnings. For most of us, costs and earnings were about equal. While that’s sad, I bring this up to make the point that while we like to have […]


Merry Christmas 2014

Yesterday was Solstice, and that my dear friends, begins to bring relief to the darkness of winter nights. I choose to live in Seattle, where the light is scarce anyhow, and in the winter, it’s scarcer still. But solstice brings the light around again, and hope for warmer weather in a few months, and I […]


Morgue File

What is a morgue file? I used to keep a collection of images, a mini library of cuttings and photos to inspire and inform my costume design work. Standard practice for artists and designers, many fellow designers had impressive collections depending on their interests the projects they had worked on, and the space they had […]


Photographing my art – beginner level

Photographing your art I set out to learn about photographing my art for two reasons: to get better photos for submission to shows to have good enough digital images that can be reproduced as prints The kind of art work I am photographing is 2 dimensional most of the time, with some 3d. Up till […]