This is not a happy anniversary.  More tragedy than joy.  More loss than gain. More patience and discipline than freedom and free-spirit.  But have there been lessons?  I can only speak for myself and a few others when we talk about the bigger picture, the longer term, the looking back when we’re beyond.

I have gone inward a lot.  I haven’t always wanted to, especially when I feel despair and sadness but ironically those times seem to demand reflection. Usually when I allow and respect or at least acknowledge the bleak and depressing, I manage to crawl up out of the grip it can have on me.  Then I’m somehow able to ask myself what to do in the midst of it.  At first, I didn’t want to paint or write even though I believe in expressive arts. I think I was focused on survival, especially given the smoke, fires and evacuations (the last post) we faced in California.

Slowly I came up and out of the basics like how do we shop, do we have to sterilize our lives, can we see anyone in our family and how important is art anyway given the losses and the beyond-the-call-of-duty so many others were facing. At some point things shifted and I had to make some art and write and forge ahead.  Being at home and in the studio so much put it all in my face and after a while I either had to address long delayed projects and goals or get more depressed.  It seemed to help and give me energy to help others.

So those actions were personal and constructive but the deeper I went, I saw I also needed some spiritual guidance.  I starting practicing a bit of Buddhism by default. I read more, meditated more, accepted more, grasped less. It seemed to balance what I used to do which was go more, consume more, act more on impulse and immediate need or what I thought was need but was really a distraction or momentary indulgence.

Believe me, I haven’t got this figured out and I certainly don’t feel like a delivered, emancipated, evolved, transcendent hominoid.  But weirdly, staying put and facing down my demons has led to a bit of growth and a lot of gratitude in the midst of something none of us could have imagined.  I send my best to anyone who happens to take time to read my infrequent posts. Hang in, be well and we’ll get through this. In the meantime, perhaps we can honor those who have gone before us by doing the best we can for ourselves and others and for our little blue home, the planet Earth.

How to decide? Which paintings? They’re all my babies. Some are crying louder than others. But some are smaller and easier to carry. The really big ones, the life-size figures, are going to have to fend for themselves. But one is of my mother and another of my daughter.

Dark, gray, ugly smoke is swirling in the wind and Nixle keeps texting and emailing. Fires to the west, north, east and south. We have been alerted. We either have to evacuate or we have an evacuation warning. The maps are difficult to read. The overlay destroys the highway and street names and some of the geography.

Either way, we have to stop doing the dishes and shuffling papers. We have to pack valuables, put on fire-safe cotton clothes and try to remember our Scout lessons. But I am not prepared and I don’t want to figure out how to prepare. Who can decide what to leave behind ~ which paintings, drawings, sculpture and writings. I don’t have a U-Haul and that’s what it would take to save it all. t just want to make more coffee and go out to my garden or curl up and watch TCM.

I call my daughter and she offers to help and she offers her very fit boyfriend’s help too. It gets me to at least consider packing a few things they can move somewhere we hope is safer. I go about the next day in my own brain haze. I pack flashlights, a radio, instant miso soup, masks of course and then I unpack and pack again. I even take matches and a candle. You have to be kidding, matches? Finally I force myself to go to the studio and decide. I practice tough love as I wrap my work in pillow cases and rags and stuff them in boxes. I grab sketchbooks, portfolios, museum boxes and a guest book from exhibits. There are still The Ladies, the big mamas. I cannot even carry them much less pack them.

My daughter and boyfriend and their dogs drive up and stay overnight because the wind is temporarily favoring our direction and their air was barely breathable. The next afternoon they somehow make room in their small car for a selection of my boxes and files. The rest I will have to haul if I have to leave. And then, I will have to leave what I cannot haul. I can only hope fair winds blow and not the bad boogie winds from the northeast. But something’s telling me, yelling at me, “Don’t you guys get it? I wish you luck but guess what ~ it’s really all a toss-up.”

Thank you to everyone who attended Art in the Barn Returns the middle two weekends of October. It was wonderful to see friends and meet new folks. We had fun and we were fortunate to hold the barns open the last few lovely days before the northeastern winds swept in. We, like thousands in Northern California, had to evacuate for almost a week. When I finally returned, a film of ash layered everything in my studio and larger particles of ash lay all over the art still in the barn.  But I am grateful all is ok now and I hope for all of you as well.

Buddha in Red, oil/panel, 25″x23″x23″ triangle (detail)

Because it was so much fun and so successful in 2018, we have decided to open our barns once again. For only two weekends, October 12-13 and October 19-20 we will receive visitors from 11am to 5pm.  These dates and times will coincide with Sonoma County Art Trails so visitors can take in other studios in the area. Scenic Knoll Ranch sits on 35 acres in the rolling hills of Sonoma County and the barns are adjacent to our large garden, pond and waterfall. ‘The Ladies’ Series and related work will be featured in the large barn.  Some new work will be shown in the adjacent studio. We invite those who wanted to but could not attend last year and of course would love to see again those of you who joined the festivities last year. This event is free, wheelchair accessible and refreshments will be served. Here’s to vibrant fall days and fun times in the barns at Scenic Knoll.

Scenic Knoll Ranch, 4760 Bloomfield Road, Petaluma, CA 94952, 707-795-2007


Today we finally had sun, one day of sun in California.  Well to be more precise, Northern California.  It’s been a dramatic and sometimes difficult winter and it promises to continue with more rain and mountains of snow in the mountains.  At least the winter climate doesn’t pull me away from the studio.  I’ve been painting. Aside from attending a weekly figure group I will be in some shows this year.  I will post them in the upcoming section ‘about the artist’ and hope, hope, hope you can attend.

Below is a film of Art in the Barn.  It was a unique show and a wonderfully fun opening.  The film also appears on the home page.  Please watch it for the feeling of The Ladies when they inhabited the Barn.  I’d love to know what you think.

Art in the Barn – Featuring The Ladies by Ayris Hatton.

Please scroll down to view entire invitation to Art in the Barn.  Hope to see you there!

Download (PDF, 1.31MB)

June 16, 2018, 4-8pm (limited hours June 17-July15).  Art, music, food and libation at Scenic Knoll Ranch near Sebastopol California.  Come hang in the barn with The Ladies, a series of life size female figures in oil.  They are draped and undraped, symbolist, feminist and hint of the spiritual. Other work will be shown as well.  Click on ‘save the date’ below and download for more information as well as the event location so you can plan your visit.  A formal announcement will be posted soon.

Download (DOC, 1.3MB)

Save the Date!

Download (DOC, 2.59MB)


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