You've read How it Works for Collectors, which describes the reasons why you should purchase a Pairing or Project, but what will the experience of being a Collector be like. I want to share some snippets of what some Collectors experienced last year. 

In 2016 Jason Kappus proposed: Jason Kappus explores the serenity of people with their eyes closed, depicting liminal states of consciousness by overlaying delicate, naturalistic portraits rendered in marker and oil paint with bursts of abstract forms and lines. These mixed-media works are approximately 9 inches tall by 13 inches wide on wood panel. 

And he shared this image as an example of the work he would do: 

He provided four updates to Collectors over the 10 weeks we worked on his PDX-CSA project that included text, photos, and video.
Here's a selection from his first update where he explained the accidental inspiration for the project:

Working in Two Modes

People have been telling me for years to combine my interest in abstract and figurative art, to which I’ve always replied Bah! (or the polite, conversational equivalent). Thus it took an accident to get me to finally see the potential.

I was cleaning the piles around my desk (cleaning might be too generous a term, I was making intermingling piles into slightly tidier stacks), and I happened to place the drawing on top of an abstract sketch . . .

Next he shared how he experimented with a number of media and methods to find how to achieve the desired effect he wanted for the artwork. Here's a short selection from that update:

In retrospect much of the testing for this project feels equivalent to deciding that even though I like sugar I’m going to try to make cookies without sugar and just for good measure without baking powder as well; certainly it’s possible, but why create unnecessary limitations.

And he provided images such as these as examples of the testing:

Here's a selection from his third update, where he shared his approach to the abstract portion of the artwork:

I wanted to make certain that the basic features of the face were never overwhelmed by the abstraction and one way to do this was to ensure that on the scale of light to dark the value of the eyebrows, orbits, eye lashes, nostrils, and the commissure of the lips would be darker than the darkest value of the abstraction.

As a corollary to this, I also wanted to mostly use colors that were unrelated to or more intense than skin tones, so I set up my abstract palette around colors like Teal, Azure, Emerald, and Goldenrod.

And he shared a video showing how he painted on several sheets of wax paper and from them transferred the paint to gessoed panel:

In his final update he wrote about his process of integrating a portrait with the abstraction and shared a video that documented the entire process for one of the PDX-CSA paintings:


Those who have seen the movie Amelie may remember the French girl's list of "small pleasures," satisfying tactile things, including cracking the top of a creme brûlée with a teaspoon. That type of visceral thrill is what I seek when I make my art. Even though my subject matter (flattened boxes and other ephemera) is full of angles and precision, I am all about the textures of the painting experience.

I layer acrylic paint and gels to build background surface; I scrape them back with steel wool. I have recently discovered the wonderfully smooth and waxy world of Prismacolor pencils, and delight in the feeling of applying those to paper or on top of my paintings. At the best of times, my studio is a creme brûlée-cracking factory.

I had often admired the work of fellow PDX artist MaryAnn Puls, though I couldn't put my finger on why. When she was confirmed as my PDX-CSA partner, we swapped techniques over coffee while discussing the project and our work. MaryAnn pulled out some textured panels she had been working on. When I saw her work up-close, I felt a rush: She was a creme brûlée-cracking painter, too. That's when I knew how our work was connected.

When an artist loves the physical act of painting, it shows. So I'm thankful for director Jean-Pierre Jeunet for giving me the words to express my excitement for working with MaryAnn -- and for the PDX-CSA as a reason to finally meet and collaborate.

My Pairing with MaryAnn is available at for $315


You've perused the project summaries from Season 3's artists, but you still have questions or you just want to talk to these fabulous artists, then it's time for you to meet the artists.

Meet the Artists of PDX-CSA Season 3. See their artwork and ask them questions about their projects. Light refreshments will be served in the 2nd floor lounge.

PDX-CSA allows the public to purchase artwork at the concept stage and follow updates as the artists complete the art. Pre-sales fund the creation of the new artwork, on sale through April 16th or until they sell out, with each artist producing no more than twelve pieces for a project. 

For Season Three, PDX-CSA presents proposals for new art projects from ten artists. The artists are grouped into five pairings. The artist teams collaborated on ideas in order to achieve a pairing of work that complements one another thematically or stylistically. 

The artists will be present at this event with representative artworks and will be available for questions about their projects. The PDX-CSA team will be available for any questions about the program generally.


Earlier this year, I was invited to participate in the PDX-CSA program. The spirit of it is why I agreed: it offers affordably-priced original artwork at the concept stage, meant to encourage aspiring and nascent art collectors to invest (their reward being not only the finished art, but following along as the artists create the work), while offering artists a measure of financial security for their project yet preserving their creative autonomy (unlike most private commissions).

The individual projects are all priced at $175 or less, while “pairings” (related yet independent work by two simpatico artists) offer the opportunity to purchase two projects at a small (around 10%) discount: an instant collection.

I proposed small gouache pantings, in the manner of the Polygons series, focused around Portland’s Forest Park. $175 is probably the least anyone will ever pay for one of my original paintings, making the individual buy a great deal – and the pairing with Alyson Provax even better. I’ve long admired her work, and I’m thrilled by the chance to share ideas, influences, and hikes through our famed city wilderness.

Pre-buy now through April 16.


A selection of Instagram posts depicting the trajectory shifts of Thérèse's CSA project:

--> deadline pivot from the horizontal + other experimental shape-making... in a good way.

the commission press is its own planet of needs and wants and I landed here (for now; still time...). and so: tonight's open lookg on the latest iterations for the special super summer project for the @pdxcsa.

more (yes you) soon

late nite snap all up on one of eight @pdxcsa.

w love + thx for yr good lookg on the lines + shapes. here + w me.

still summer.
more soon.

another one of eight @pdxcsa.
it got hot again in #pdx (still summer).

unexpectedly epic convos today w several beloveds (money. freedom. hope. beauty. travel. and: taking care of hearts.). one fav even called out of the blue on the tele- part of the -phone. #oldskool

otherwise: taking in yr every good lookg + word on the work these days. it matters.

more soon. 

got a bee in my bonnet or i might just b(ee) keepg the @pdxcsa collectors in suspense.

in any case, lots on my admin plate these days so I made nine more things.

destination stay tuned.

thx for yr good lookg + w me (always).


--> inside baseball: green series made for @pdxcsa (see earlier posts) filed under 'perfectly fine experiment on way to final-final'

bc I love a redux. deep-dove for one more intensive make(out)-session right before deadline. sometimes 24 hrs is a lifetime in paintland.

off to collectors before I cld look close IRL, so I'll do it here + w you. 


full on one of eight final-finals 20"x15" on paper for @pdxcsa.

already out to collectors so I'm lookg on them bit longer here + w you.



THERESE MURDZA - finishing touches

hello dear all --

tonight i'm putting the last finishing touches on y/our artwork.

see below: a process wall of sketchbook pages wherein i prototyped (protoshaped) ideas that inspired the project along the way. also: green!

i'm eager to show you the finals + soon. 

if you're PDX-local, maybe we'll *see you at the closing/delivery party. otherwise, we've arranged to ship the work or connect with you another way. 

your investment made this handmade art possible. thank you.

still summer!


Hey Beautiful People!

I'm back for a quick update on my pieces for the Graft series, part of the PDX-CSA that's connected to Portland Open Studios, in which I'm also participating!

As you will recall, my series is a made up from several different woods, all scrap from other larger projects. Here's a little insight into the woods that will be in these sculptures:

Starting at the top and base, we have some black walnut. This beautiful wood is the bane of a gardener's existence if they're trying to grow vegetables nearby. The tree makes the soil around it quite acidic, and people like me sad. I actually have a large English Walnut in my backyard, with which I have a love/hate relationship. On a hot summer's day, it knocks at least ten degrees off of my studio. It's beautiful to look at. It's a lot of cleanup. But I still love it.

The second wood down is a hard maple that was part of a cutting board.

The third down from the top is Peltogyne, more commonly known as purpleheart. It's a common exotic wood found in Central and South America. Below that is Zebrawood, found in the same part of the world. I love being able to buy these two woods in small scrap and using them minimally in projects like these.

The light colored wood at the bottom is a birch--a very common and easy to work with wood. I like how the bright tan stands out and highlights the little round balls that I randomly embedded in the surface.

BETSY LEVINE - Making Choices

For some artists, creating nine pieces of original art in two months is a breeze.  They work on multiple paintings at once, creating layers on one piece and then switching to another while the first painting dries.  Their hands move fast and intuitively, and after a relatively short amount of time (maybe 3-10 painting sessions? I don't know, I'm making that part up) they have a completed and often gorgeous body of work.  

Honestly, while I absolutely love my own painting process, I'm sometimes jealous of those painters.  They can create more material in less time, and there is less riding on each piece of art both because there are more total pieces and because they work in layers, so they can cover up the parts that don't work for them.  

While I have actually been told that I paint relatively quickly for an oil painter I sometimes feel like I'm plodding along at the pace of a banana slug.   Depending on the level of detail of the particular painting I'm working on, I use brushes ranging from tiny to, um, small-medium.  

I actually feel really blessed to have work commissioned on a time limit, like the pieces for my PDX-CSA collectors, because I am forced to make relatively quick decisions in order to balance QUALITY of work with TIME EFFICIENCY.  Because frankly, I'm getting paid 75% of my asking price per piece (so, each piece was $140, which means I get $105 per piece, which comes out to anywhere between $8 and $20 per hour on these pieces, depending on how much time I spend on any individual piece.  The percentage in this case is actually very generous when working through a third party like PDXCSA....most galleries take 40%-50%) and my goal is to work as quickly as possible with as much artistic integrity as possible so that I can make art that I love AND a living wage at the same time.  Yum, cake.             

Here are a few of the choices I have made so far during this project:


For my sixth piece I chose, despite a nagging voice at the back of my mind telling me "Beautiful picture but toooooo many details!!! Turn away!", to paint a lovely and intricate piece of red kale on the signature wood grain background that I have been using.  About halfway through painting just the leaf of the kale and realizing that I was about 5 hours in, heading towards, oh, a 12-15 hour painting (so like....$5 an hour?) I made the bold (for me) decision to skip the wood grain in the background of the painting to save time.

This is scary for me, as I spent much of my young artist-hood convinced that I wasn't truly an artist because I couldn't create art straight from my head.  I solved that particular roadblock by realizing that if I took and edited my own photographs and painted from THEM, it still felt like real true art.  But to change a painting deliberately from the photograph is still a bit terrifying to me.  Luckily, I jumped into this pool of fear with my snorkeling mask and a super-hot bathing suit and came out the other side not only unscathed, but with what I think is actually a BETTER and less busy painting than I would have gotten had I included the wood grain.  

Here is the photo and the painting side by side (which I don't normally show you, because it is NOT my tendency to really care at all if the proportions of the painting are anything like the photo and I get a little embarrassed sometimes when a viewer sees them side by side, but....f*ck it, I've survived the pool of fear):


By far the quickest paintings I have made (two so far) are those of this one absolutely adorable tomato that I got in my CSA share a few weeks ago.  It's a beautifully intriguing shape, vibrant color, and perfect size for painting.  I love the way the paintings have turned out (artistic integrity) AND I love the fact that they are relatively fast to paint (time efficiency).  The only thing that has stopped me from making a third painting of this tomato is that, well, I value variety and it felt for a moment like a cop out to choose to paint it AGAIN.  

However, after going through all of my favorite photos I've taken so far (artistic integrity), they have each made my heart beat wildly with anxiety based on the amount of tiny little details that I would have to paint to create a pieces based on those photos (time efficiency).  Then today, when I finished the Kale painting (finally), a gorgeous voice in my heart/brain reminded me that each of these paintings are going to different people and EACH of them would be so happy to own a painting of that tomato.  So I used my super powers to dissolve the other voice (the one that was saying 'But you said you were going to document your CSA and so far you have painted two pictures of the same strawberry and now THREE of the same tomato?!?!  FRAUD!") and am about to embark on said third painting.  
And you know what?  Three people will benefit from this choice:  
1. The recipient of this third tomato painting, who will be so happy not to have a crappy-but-more-detailed painting in their hands instead,
2. The fetus who lives inside my belly, who will now spend more hours basking in happiness hormones and fewer hours being zapped by my anxiety, and
3. Me.  For the same reasons as the fetus.  

Here are the three original tomato photos that I will be painting.  See all that lovely smoooooooothe baby-butt tomato surface, compared to the gorgeous elderly-hand-like texture of the kale leaf above?  Whew:

3. And finally, THE REJECTS:

Here are a few of the photos that I would oh my goodness love to paint if I had either the powers to stop actual time OR the grandiosity to charge way more for my paintings, therefore making it financially worth it to do so.  Feel free to offer me lots of money to paint you one of these <wink>