Where did that come from?


“How did you get the idea?” A question asked to me not only by others but also by myself to myself. My answer may come simply or not.

If the work is part of an ongoing series, I may view the answer in clear reference to previous work in that vein. With a new exploration, I could be easily overwhelmed at where to begin an explanation. ? An abundance of starting points with their own stories and peculiar routes awaken at some hard-to-pinpoint moments- ideas, images, wonderings converge and form a direction. Which thread to unravel so to speak? Fascinating to think about the complexity that requires an outline, a travelogue to articulate.

Then again, I can just choose where to begin: I begin at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo where I saw The Palette of King Narmer and became fascinated with the shape – more precisely, the line created by the outer edge of the bottom half of the palette. Its art historical importance aside – although it is well worth researching – this curve at the base of the palette was pleasing to my eye as it followed the side dipping, curving and rising upward. I wanted to grasp the feel of the movement as the line travels the steep path down with a short swing to ascend gracefully, gently, calmly. It holds a beauty I want to recreate, to copy.

Dr. Amy Calvert, “Palette of King Narmer,” in Smarthistory, August 8, 2015, accessed June 10, 2019, https://smarthistory.org/palette-of-king-narmer/.

So I made a few drawings freehand. I traced the outline of the palette and made templates. I experimented with positions and color and arrangements. How much of the lower part of the palette should I use? Had thoughts and tried things I can’t remember, and then I took action and made this:

And now for something completely different:

Inspired by some early work of Bridgit Riley, I made this color pencil sketch.

Thoughts of fabric, texture, folds, movement, weightlessness, beauty, change. Experiencing it like an object I could reach out and touch.

Another sketch presented possibilities of the overall field creating a sense of underlying shapes advancing the surface forward or back.


And then, I decided to make a go of it.

I see the possibilities. Makes me think of the first dream I remember: a floating veil-like cloth.

You’re Invited…

Several pieces from my Floating World Series are included in the exhibition “Abstraction + Surrealism” at Da Vinci Art Alliance, 704 Catharine St. in Philadelphia. The opening is Friday, February 1, from 6 to 8 pm. It’s First Friday Art Hop night in Philly. Come and say hello.

Here’s one of the works on view:

Floating World 6, acrylic on gesso board


Floating World 7 on the wall at Da Vinci Art Alliance, 704 Catharine St. in Philadelphia, until October 14th.


The DVAA members’ exhibition “Artist, Writer, Reader” pairs a work of art with text chosen by the artist. I chose a wall label from the exhibit “Bodys Isek Kingelez: City Dreams” at MOMA. Kingelez is a visionary artist who lived in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire). He described his fantastic architectural sculptures of imagined cities as “extreme maquettes.” Places “where everyone can feel at home.” Places “larger than life” and “so full of promise.” His work made me ask myself questions about my “floating world” series. Where does hope reside in my imagined worlds? What are the conceptual anchors?


Exhibition News!

Floating World 5 is in a group show in Portland, OR, at Verum Ultimum Gallery, 3014 NE Ainsworth St. The exhibition, Abstract Catalyst 5, continues through September 23.  All the art in the show can be previewed at verumultimumartgallery.com, on Instagram and Facebook. Happy to be part of this show. Hope you enjoy viewing it!


Marilyn Stubblebine

Invented Language

Calligraphic marks sometimes appear in my work. I started including these graphisms in large oil paintings in the 1980s. They continue to reflect my love of Chinese calligraphy mated with impulses to communicate meaning in ways that lay along side of language.






Detail from Floating World 7, 2018.


I recently became aware of the work of Argentinian artist Mirtha Dermisache whose art is composed of invented graphic languages. Illegible writing offered as visual poetry. The “reader” translates.

I am impressed by her focus on asemic writing, writing without semantic content, to tackle the limits of language and to explore the possibilities of mark making as rich with meaning.

In her own words:

No importa lo que pasa en la hoja de papel, lo importante es lo que pasa dentro nuestro. (“It’s not important what happens on a sheet of paper, the important thing is what happens within us.”) —Mirtha Dermisache

                                                                                                                                                                               Marilyn Stubblebine