Tag Archives: Dark Side

Timber Valley in Moonlight

Moon 1

Moon 1

It has been snowing in Timber Valley almost every night for a week.  It snows during the day and stops at night. Late in the evening the sky clears and a bright moon can be seen off the back deck of the cabin through dense Douglas fir trees.  The sight of the moon through those trees reminds me of why I choose to live here.  I went out on to the deck last night, barefoot in snow, at about midnight to look at the moon.  Even Cody had gone to bed and it was quiet and clear and the air smelled of fir.  I thought about a painting I once painted called “We Share the Moon”.  I did it when I was traveling almost all of the time and missed Timber Valley and Ron and all of our animals.  I had almost forgotten about that painting.  I thought about how the moon is feminine in Spanish…la luna.  Why feminine?  Is it because of the changing nature of the moon, the fullness of the moon?   I remembered the places I’ve lived before and how I saw the exact same moon then and now.

Moon from the deck

Moon 2

Cody likes the moon.  I know all wise scientists say that a dog never looks back over his shoulder but Cody does.  He does this when he looks up at the moon.  I can hear coyotes during all phases of the moon.  I notice it more during a full moon.  Wolves too sing to the moon.  My cats like a dark moon, the moon you can’t see.  It keeps them hidden from juicy night prey.  I read somewhere that a dark moon is a good time to light a candle and burn it until it goes out. That will rid your life of anything that needs to be gone.  Kind of like smudging a house with sage, it will purify.   I don’t know if it’s true.

I watched a documentary on the artist Ai Weiwei last night.  I’m fascinated with him.  He is a brave man and a stellar artist.  He puts himself in danger with each piece of art and each statement he posts on the internet.  He’s not just a flavor of the month as an artist.  His studio is in China, but he finds a way to let the entire world know about the way the Chinese Government lies to everyone.  They tell lies that are outright and lies of omission.  Take a look at his art.  Google him.  Give him a chance. By the way, he sees the same moon as we do.

We Share the Moon

We Share the Moon watercolor by Jerry Fenter

My shoulder is still injured.  I go in for my second cortisone shot tomorrow.  Hopefully that and one next month will keep me from surgery.  Since I can’t paint, I’ve been reading and watching lots of TV.  High point:  The Oscars.  Why? The clothes, the silliness of it and the fact I don’t think I’ve ever missed the awards as far back as I can remember.  I love movies.  They are real.  Low point:  The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.  Yep, I used to watch Beverly Hills 90210 in its heyday, too.  Why? The puffy lips, glass refrigerators, ugly tasteless art and clothing and my never-ending  search for how can they be so unhappy when they have so many shoes in their closet.  Hot shoes too.

Moon 3

Moon 3

I also watched a mini-series called Generation Kill.  It’s based on an article from Rolling Stone by Evan Wright called “The Killer Elite”.  I give it five stars.  Don’t forget to watch the extras on the DVD.  They are worth it.  Also it stars Alexander Skarsgard….always a feast for the eyes.

Now I’m off to read Sanctuary by William Faulkner.  I’m about halfway through.  It’s dark and disturbing.  This is a book that takes some focus to read.

“Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.” Mark Twain


“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; Show me the glint of light on broken glass.” Anton Checkov

What are your favorite movies?  Best dressed nominees?  Ideas and thoughts on the moon?  Make a comment!!

Good luck on Wednesday Jeremy.





Blog With Sharp Teeth

Did I just imagine it or has Revlon come out with a new line of lipstick called…get ready for it…Just Bitten?  Vampires seem to be everywhere these days, golden shiny ones like Edward from the Twilight series, evil Vampire kings and handsome Nordic Vampires like Eric from the True Blood HBO series and now an avalanche of werewolves and shape shifters running rampant in movies, books, TV and on the internet.  Everyone, I think, including myself seems to be spending the dregs of their summer escaping from the daily stress of life into the unknown realms of fantasy. Ahh, doesn’t it feel good?

Vampires don’t get no respect.  Hey, I don’t get no respect.  I can feel for them.

Vampires are angry and they can bite (it’s encouraged).  Hey I’m angry and I can bite.  Just ask the person I chased off my porch yesterday.  Sometimes it feels great to be angry and just not care what anyone thinks.

Shape-shifters can change into new and anonymous things, persons or animals.  I’d like to become something or someone else whenever I feel like it.  As a shape-shifted mountain goat I could climb mountains with ease.  As a shifted cat I could curl up in the sun and sleep most of the day.  As an innocent couch I could spy on everyone! 

Werewolves are strong, can run fast, have strong teeth and hang out with friends.  What could be better?  They don’t have to work or to answer to anyone. 

Sometimes I think we all need a break from the polite world to just spend a day or two letting out some of those repressed feelings we keep hidden.  I try and do just that when I’m alone but, “oops” sometimes it will accidently spill over into my public persona.  I actually hung up on a telemarketer from Amnesty International today. That’s kind of like beating up a nun.  I donate to AI so now I’m positive that I’m totally losing control.  I crave fantasy.  I want to pretend everything is all right.  I want no more phone calls asking me for money or time. I want to watch movies for ten hours at a stretch.  I want to disappear.  I don’t want to face reality.  It’s the end of summer.  I want a long break and some exciting and outrageous fantasy.  I want to play dress up and make mud pies like I did when I was small.  I want to pick and eat so many berries that my whole face is blood red with juice.  Just like a vampire.

(crayon print class canceled…no sign ups)

Merry Christmas and Peace on Earth

Just a short post to wish all of you Happy Holidays and thank you all for being part of my life this year.  I’m looking forward to next year and keeping my fingers crossed and my prayer flags flying for the whole country.  Hopefully the economy will begin to come back, we’ll start bringing our troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq, and that all of us will get some form of public and affordable health care.  I am optimistic that this will happen but need all of you to be aware of what needs changing and to be an active part of that change.  We are the force behind this country and we need to get much more creative about our ways of solving problems.  The old politicians in a back room with cigars, pat on the back, closed door type of policy making should be left in the past. (Can you hear me President Obama?) Our elected leaders should answer to us…not to the insurance companies or to the drug companies.  Think of the money we would have to take care of our poor and homeless if we weren’t spending such disgusting amounts on war. The troops would come home, have health care, get jobs and go on with their lives.  I support that.  Ok…my rant is over now on to other things.

Here are Ron and I and Cody in a photo together.  This is a rare occasion.  To get this shot our neighbor and friend Sara Draeger took many many shots, most where one of the three of us was moving.  And it’s true, we haven’t stood still at all this year.  Ron is working on art and driving school bus, I’m working on shows (you can still catch The Darkside Show at the Attic Gallery until January third), teaching at The Dalles Art Center (check out the last post for January class), and teaching a Magical Realism Class in April in Mexico (there is still room in the class for you to sign up).  We are also working around the property getting it ready for  winter.  Ron has done a great job on our new pump house which is now finished until spring. It actually looks better than our cabin.  We should move into it.   We have wood, our animals, and a  giant Costco food supply for survival, although most of the neighbors here think the winter won’t be too hard.  I also will be starting my creativity coaching in January.  Please pass the word on to friends that may feel a need for this type of coaching. I think I’m pretty good at it.  Word of mouth is the best form of advertising. So have as little stress as you can during the rest of the year…life is short.  Spend time with the people you love and don’t waste time on guilt and anger.  In Cody’s words, “Wag more, bark less!” Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Take Time to Listen

drawing ears

I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving. Ours was simple and pretty great. After Ron and I visited my mom at St. Anthony Village, my son, daughter in law, grandson, daughter, Ron and I got together at Amy’s house in Portland. We played with the new kittens for awhile, took pictures and talked. Then we went out to dinner at The Rhinelander. Going out to dinner may sound kind of un-Thanksgiving like to some but we had a traditional dinner along with fondue, sausage and sauerkraut and had lots of time to spend together without cooking or washing dishes. It was nice. It was relaxing and most of us love eating German food. My grandmother used to cook kraut and schnitzel for Thanksgiving so I felt like we were honoring her and my favorite uncle at the same time. My son and his family came down from Seattle on the train. They say it’s the only way to travel. I’m going to have to try the train the next time I visit up there. It sounded comfortable and affordable.

After my last post where I shared with you information about Dr. Pam Wible, a person who I have come to admire, I was pleased and surprised to hear from Dr. Wible herself. Just as I thought… she was kind, informative and totally inspiring. I questioned her more about how her practice is run and found that she works about three days per week and sees an average of eight patients a day. She spends quality time with her patients and gives them the space and courage to question, talk and play a part in their own diagnosis and care. She kindly sent me two sites that some of you might like to visit. The first is a Spirituality and Health article she wrote that got Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama interested in her work and in doing a book on her new direction in medicine. http://www.idealmedicalpractice.org/docs/DreamClinicS&H.pdf The other site is a six minute radio interview from last week http://www.idealmedicalpractice.org/radio_interviews.php I hope you are as impressed by her as I was and will share the article with your own doctor or HMO.

nature's design

 What always seems to happen as soon as you open yourself to new ideas you find connecting ones all around you. Another article from The Sun popped out at me titled “The Sincerest Form of Flattery…Janine Benyus On the Virtues of Imitating Nature” by David Kupfer. Ms.Benyus is a biologist and science writer of Biomimicry:Innovation Inspired by Nature. I was fascinated as an artist by what she so clearly talks about in the book. As she explains,”Biomimicry is the practice of borrowing nature’s design principles to create more sustainable products and processes. When designers, engineers, architects, chemists, city planners, and so on have a problem to solve, I encourage them to ask, ‘What part of the natural world has already done what I’m trying to do?’” Benyus, as she was writing books and guides about the natural world, began to collect examples of how the natural world and our world can work in rhythm to solve hard problems in our society by watching and listening to nature. For example, if a company wanted to invent a new glue, naturalists and biologists could work with them by studying how geckos stick to walls or how mussels glue themselves to rocks underwater. The wood glue that is used to build most houses emits formaldehyde. With the help of scientists like Benyus, companies like Columbia Forest Products switched to glue that mimics the adhesive mussels use. They make it out of soy flour. Check out more on biomimicry at AskNature.org.

form follows function

 I was excited to hear that science is doing what artists have done for many years, looking to nature for inspiration. I remember finding a book by accident one day stuck in the very back of a cupboard in my classroom in Multnomah County. It looked as though it hadn’t been touched for years. I dusted it off and looked through it. The title is Nature as Designer: A Botanical Art Study by Bertel Bager. It is a black and white photo book with photos of seed pods, small leftovers of weeds and tiny beautiful natural things. The patterns and designs are fascinating and inspiring. Bager really took time to see pattern and listen to nature while preparing this book. The combination of form and function is perfect. First published in 1966 The book is out of print now as far as I know, but you can find copies floating through Powell’s Used Books from time to time. Wible, Benyus and Bager all have one major thing in common. They listen and observe with great care and concern. They take the time to do this. I hope taking time to become more observant will catch on in our society. We can’t continue to value money over time. To live our lives to the fullest…with the most meaning…we need to slow down and look and listen to nature and to each other. Only then can we find ways to be creative and to solve the big problems that face us. So thanks to these good people who are so innovative and inspiring to others. Pass it on, please. The nature photos in this article are from Nature as Designer:A Botanical Art Study by Bertel Bager.

from Nature as Designer

 I’d like to plug a place in Portland that has been around for awhile. I thought I was cool, but I had no idea this cool place existed until about a year ago. It’s called The Tidal Wave Book Store and it’s run by Multnomah County Library. They sell books, CD’s, magazines and videos that have been retired from the library for one reason or another at really cheap prices. It’s located on NE Knott Street right off of Martin Luther King Boulevard. If you are a book lover you have to go there. You’ll find lots and lots of great books for both children and adults. Amazing!

Remember the opening for my Dark Side Show is on Thursday, December third from six until nine pm. Costumes are encouraged but not necessary if you’re too shy. It’s going to be fun. Also congratulations to Nancy Rooper of The Dalles for her Mt. Hood Christmas Card image being used on the flyer for The Dalles Art Center Holiday Show. Nancy is a student of mine and is developing her talent very quickly.

Health Care, Self Care and Creativity



I just finished reading one of the best articles I’ve ever read on healthcare.  It was in the November issue of The Sun and was written by Jamie Passaro.  Jamie Passaro did an in depth interview with Dr. Pamela Wible from Eugene, Oregon.  I’ve been reading so much and hearing so much about “health care reform” that frankly I’ve been feeling angry, powerless and fed up with the whole subject.  I don’t like how health care is run in this country.  I also think that the way health care is run is reflective of our American culture as a whole.  First let me summarize the article in as few words as I can. The amazing Dr. Wible has dropped out of the “system”.  After working as a family physician in six different clinics in ten years, the thirty six year old was ready to quit.  At those various clinics she had been seeing an average of thirty patients a day.  She felt like she wasn’t meeting the needs of her patients. She was overwhelmed and depressed.  She quit.  She “dropped out”.  After taking a rest for her body and soul, she woke up one morning with a creative vision of how she and some brave other caring doctors could change what they provide for healthcare. She had a creative idea!  All artists and creatives know what it feels like when an idea like that seems to come out of nowhere.  It’s at the oddest moments great ideas come to us.

 Dr. Wible could see that assembly line medicine was a dehumanizing experience.  At some clinics it was even encouraged that doctors compete to see who could end up treating the most people in a day.  There was no time to think, know the patients or even remember their names.  Then Dr. Wible did something that I think is really brave.  She gave up trying to make huge amounts of money from being a doctor.  Set up her own practice where she is the doctor, nurse, secretary and contact for insurance companies.  She has hour long visits with her patients and practices preventative medicine with discussions about diet, exercise, and mental health that is tailored to each patient.  As I read further, I realized that how she treats patients is how we should all treat each other.  Dr. Wible actually takes TIME and LISTENS to her patients.  She interacts with them without looking at her watch or glancing up at the clock on the wall.  Don’t get me wrong.  Yes, she’s a real doctor, she prescribes needed medications, surgeries and other doctor things, but she also looks at patients as special individuals who are unique in their own way.  If only all of us could do this at whatever job we have. 

 I was  happy to read this article, because it gave me a great way to let all of you know that I’ve finished my training and am opening up an on-line practice as a creativity and meaning coach.  As most creative people know there are times they will experience depression and doubts about their artistic or life efforts. All of us want to feel contented  and productive in our life and in our chosen way of expression.  Like Dr. Wible, I don’t think creative people or people in general get enough support from others who have had experience in finding meaning in their own life.   As a creativity and meaning coach I would like to help people who feel depressed, sad or just feel like they’re missing something important in their lives to feel happier and more productive.  I want to help people find their passions and experience what it is to live life  in a creative and positive way.  I’d like to get creatives to feel excited about their individual talents and give them direction to fit those passions into their busy lives.  I want to teach people how to juice up their creative selves, get out of blocked restricted thinking and move on.  I hope to LISTEN to them and guide them to self repair and find true meaning in their lives. 

In addition to having a Master’s Degree in Psychology and working in the arts myself, I have trained with Dr. Eric Maisel in this area. During training I attended to three clients, one writer and two painters. I enjoyed every minute of it.  As we together set up small steps towards learning more rewarding ways to work I learned as much as I taught.   In December I’ll be adding a Creativity and Meaning Coaching category to my website.  I hope you will all pass this information on to your friends or to someone you know who needs this type of coaching and support.  I find joy in what I do whether it is writing, painting, teaching or coaching.  I’d like to share this joy with anyone who needs it.  I’d love to help people see their own potential and know that they have individual gifts to share with the world.  Like Dr. Wible I’ll keep my practice small and give my best to anyone who needs it.  For more information contact me by E-mail at fenter@gorge.net.  Watch for the new creativity coaching section on my site.


“The artist begins with a vision—a creative operation requiring an effort.  Creativity takes courage.”

—-Henri Matisse


I taught an excellent class last weekend.  Our class at The Dalles Art Center made some of the most beautiful and creative holiday cards I’ve ever seen.  Hopefully they will get photos to me of some of their cards so I can post them.  There will be no class in December because of all of the craziness that goes on during the holiday season. 

 Blackcurrent Cordial by Jerry Fenter

 To be a part of that craziness, come to the opening of the “Dark Side” show at the Attic Gallery in Portland on December third.  The show opens on First Thursday and costumes are encouraged. Sandy Visse and I will both be there to entertain you.

Darkness Becomes Me

Touch Me and You Won't Live 'Til Morning

Touch Me and You Won't Live 'Til Morning

 “It’s not the people who are in prison that worry me. It’s the people who aren’t.” —Arthur Gore

 I have a very strong dark side to my personality. I admit it. I would guess that anyone that says they don’t have a shadow side, dark and somewhat unholy,  is lying to themselves. Religion and philosophy have discussed dark and light, good vs. evil and law vs. lawlessness for centuries. People are usually surprised when I reveal this slithery more secret self. Most of my art that is shown in public is fun, whimsical and humorous. It makes people laugh. I use humor to cover up that darkness that is in me and my fear of the unknown. The “Day of the Dead” is one of my favorite holidays. Death is mocked and not feared but celebrated.

How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child!

How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child!

  I first recognized this natural part of my personality when I was five. I would sneak under my favorite uncle’s bed and secretly read his True Crime magazines with horror and fascination. I felt some fear. My stomach jumped. Even though the pictures were in black and white, my talented and gifted brain could clearly imagine being right there at the crime scene playing any of the parts, the deceased, the perpetrator or the cop. I loved doing this. I also loved making up scary stories, telling them to and with friends in darkened backyards in the summer, Grimm’s Fairy Tales (the real ones), and flirting with being bad instead of good like the Bible told me to. I’d lay down under the coffee table and pretend I wasn’t breathing (re-enacting a crime scene). Step on a crack you’ll break your mother’s back. I was afraid of the dark but also felt like I was more alive when the unknown lurked in my closet and under my bed. The first movie I ever saw alone was “The Body Snatchers” at the Hollywood Theatre in Portland. When I came out of the movie, ready to walk home, I just knew that everyone I encountered had been snatched and changed and could possibly change me too and I ran as fast as I could to get home. I LOVED it.

Dirty Pretty Thing

Dirty Pretty Thing

As a teenager, my dark side tastes changed. At that age I think its part of the purpose of growing and becoming an adult to have no fear. Teenagers need to be a little fearless to break away from their parents, their protectors. I had no sense of mortality. I would never die. I was a rebel with a cause even though on the outside I was the good girl that my parents hoped I would be. I liked fast cars; I raced trains at railroad crossings, studied dark magic and Edgar Allen Poe. Hell fascinated me. I began to see that good vs. evil is a basic theme of life and art. I read Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and could understand his struggle with morals and inner darkness. I liked bad boys. I was friends with bad girls. But, mostly I just flirted with this darker world. It held my interest. At age sixteen I found art and drama where I could express unspeakable things without actually doing them.

Fast Car Seaside

Fast Car Seaside

  As an adult, I’m still mostly fearless. I still like to drive at a hundred and five, I still like encounters with the darkness, reading and writing true crime, and meeting unusual people.  I crave danger. I’d like to climb high rugged mountains.  I love carnivals, freak shows, the midway and haunted houses. I love to go where I’m not supposed to be. For a long time I worked in juvenile corrections where I encountered the occasional murderer (about seven on the average per year), rapists, crooks and child prostitutes. I learned how to pick locks. I witnessed things so disturbing that I have kept them to myself.  I tried to understand these unusual and unforgettable people. Is it nature or nurture? I still can’t figure it all out. Are there people born without a sense of right and wrong? I would swear that there are. Can some people be changed for the better? I hope they can. But who really knows? So I’ll keep searching for answers. I’ll continue to watch Law and Order more than I go to Sunday Mass, my true crime library will keep growing until it overflows and I’ll keep that adrenaline pumping. You’ll see darkness in my art, all over the walls of the Attic Gallery in December. Some of the paintings shown in this post are from that upcoming show. Pick a dark character, dress up and come to the opening!  Drive fast. Take Chances. “Northwest of Normal…the Darkside of Jerry Fenter and Sandy Visse”.  Break the rules.  Scare yourself.


Your Own Risk

Your Own Risk



Is an art, like everything else.

 I do it exceptionally well.

I do it so it feels like Hell.

 I do it so it feels real. 

I guess you could say I have a call.

                                                   —Sylvia Plath  from her poem Lady Lazarus


October Surprises

First Snow October 13, 2009

It’s October thirteenth and I was going to start my post talking all about the beach. When I looked outside my topic changed to “The First Snow”. Yep. It’s snowing in Timber Valley. This year it’s really early. Usually we don’t get a first snow until October thirty first (a Halloween snow). Until the no free range laws were enforced in our area the cows (owned by the people who lived in our cabin before us) would actually come down our driveway and come home to OUR barn every year on the day before Halloween. Hence one of my favorite paintings that still hangs in our dining room is titled “When the Cows Come Home”. I don’t think this snow will get too deep. At least I hope not because we’re trying to get the roof on our new pump house finished.

View from beach house

The beach last week was a wonderful time. Julie (a great and talented friend) invited me to spend a week with her at her beach house at Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast. The weather was beautiful (one of the great secrets of fall at the beach) so we got lots of walks outside and also walked down to shop in the tiny town of Cannon Beach. Chica, one of Julie’s tiny dogs, got lots of beach time with me walking along the shore and looking at the thousands of pelicans who must have been resting on the beach all at once right in front of our house. I have never seen so many pelicans in Oregon. I’ve watched them for hours in Mexico but never counted so many at one time. There must have been some great exotic delicacy for them to eat hidden in the water or the sand. During the week, Julie and I both worked on our own art. She is making one of the most beautiful quilts I’ve ever seen. It’s a really difficult pattern and is turning out to be breathtaking. I’m working on my “Dark Side” show for the Attic Gallery in December. So we painted, quilted, ate, drank wine and lemon drops, read and rested. Also, many of you know how I love Funland over at Seaside…about seven miles from Cannon Beach. So, one lazy afternoon I drove down (by myself…wild horses couldn’t drag Julie with me) to see the carnival like games, pin-ball machines, dance machines, neon horse races, bumper cars and midway atmosphere that this dark side girl loves so much.ride the scooter I took lots of pictures and got lots of inspiration from my trip. What did I purchase? Two hula hoops, one for me and one for my friend Sara, and two tattoos to be used in a painting. I came home excited and satisfied. We ended the week with a lazy dinner at The Bistro in town. We relaxed, ate and enjoyed the wonderful atmosphere of the place. What a great time. Thanks, Julie.

Halloween is coming. Halloween has always been my favorite holiday because I can stretch my birthday (October twenty-fourth) into a Halloween celebration and then can celebrate All Saints Day and Day of the Dead which makes for a long long birthday party for me! I’ve never gotten a birthday cake that wasn’t orange and black with witches and spiders and skeletons on it. My glowing pumpkin lights are already up around the window and my light up metal pumpkin will soon be placed on my front porch. Tavish, my six year old grandson, has already carved his pumpkin along with his mom and dad. Oops, no he didn’t carve up his mom and dad but they all carved pumpkins together. I’m sharing the pictures with you. The spiky one was created by Tavish and he says it’s the scariest. I’m a little scared of the one with the pipe myself (Ellen’s work). 3 Amigos Tavish has been getting little frightening surprises from me in the mail for a few weeks. He has two scary tarantulas coming in his mail very soon. Beware! I could go on.

The pump-house is almost done. Ron has been working in all of his spare time on it. We are canceling our Holiday Sale that we usually have at our daughter’s house in Portland. The combination of the economy and the pump-house have convinced us to skip a year. You will be getting a holiday card from us, however, so look for it in your mail or your e-mail.

There are still a few spots left for Mexico so sign up now!

The Dark Side Show opens in December at the Attic Gallery in Portland.

Don’t forget that I have a watercolor workshop on Saturday and Sunday at The Dalles Art Center. We are making the most excellent Christmas cards we can come up with! Call the Art Center to sign up.

Two movies I recommend this week…The Strange Case of Benjamin Button starring Brad Pitt (I cried) and The Bad Seed a 1950’s black and white movie introducing Patty McCormack as…what else (?) the bad seed. (I laughed). Remember “Ya never knows what’s comin’ for ya.” (Although that’s a quote from the Pitt movie it works for both of them.) More soon. Keep creating.

Pretty things at funland