Process: Marilyn Remains

The last time I saw Marilyn was at an AJ Froman concert in Echo Park at Lot 1.  She was so excited to show me the portraits she had made of the band.


We talked about art.  She shared her process with me.  How she combined analog and digital.  She surprised me with her approach.  She was a revolution.  In a single conversation she grew my perception of creation because she arted differently.  She explored differently, and in a way I wanted to try.

I’ve known Marilyn for about two years, and her loss is a profound trope in my perception of life and time.  My heart goes out to her friends and family.

I had the pleasure of playing with Marilyn sporadically throughout our friendship.  Always at AJ Froman shows.


She was goofy.  She and Albert, her boyfriend and AJ Froman member, were the most joyful couple I’ve ever seen.  I remember teaching them this dancing-bear dance outside of a venue in Laguna Beach.  They did great.

This last time, in Echo Park, Marilyn and I got to know each other better as individuals.  I loved her meta conversation.  Sarah, the singer of AJ Froman, is a dear, forever friend of mine.  Marilyn acknowledged that it was cool to get to know me, since she and Sarah are such good friends and Sarah and I are such good friends.  She said that getting to know me was also getting to know Sarah more.


I wish I could talk to her more about art.  Get to know her better.

I knew she was sick, but I didn’t know her as sick.  She was so full of ideas and joy.  She was helpful and interesting and interested.  She was my dance buddy at AJ Froman shows.

marilyn 11x14 w process 2 purple


Like when my dad died, the first thing I wanted to do was look at pictures of her and draw her.

I suppose that’s how I grieve.  I don’t want grieving to be a habit I get good at.  That’s not what drawing is.  It’s how I process and reflect.  Sometimes I forget it’s what helps, and sometimes it’s hard to do.  Sometimes it is all I can do.  It’s how I show respect and communicate appreciation.

I first thought I’d do a painting, something visceral, but digital happened naturally.  I know that tool box better, and I wanted to think about her, not paint dilution and brush size.

marilyn 11x14 w process 1

I did try new techniques and mixed them with my dispositions.  I thought about how she manipulated different mediums and about our conversation about her process.

I spent Sunday night and all of Monday drawing this.

marilyn 11x14 w

She is so Marilyn in all of her pictures.  The image I chose to draw is one that seems to speak to other friends, as well.  They’ve shared it along with their condolences.  She’s wearing a blue, fuzzy hood/hat.  I don’t know who took it, yet.  It could be a selfie.


This is her Instagram caption for the pic:

“It took literally every ounce of will power that I possess (and my empty bank account) to avoid buying this bear head warming device. Anyone feel free to get this for me, please.”

I played around with drawing the blue warming device.  It commemorates how silly and fun she was.  How warm.

marilyn 11x14 blue w

I decided to make a new memory, though.  To try something new.  I want to make her proud.  I want to explore with her.

marilyn 11x14 w

I realize that the palate I went with hails the colors in the art she did for AJ Froman.  Earthy.  Could be made from stone or carved or drawn with charcoal on a wall.  I don’t achieve that here, not like she did, but it will stay with me as I art.

Building up:

Fewer lines:
I tried so many layers.  It gets messy at parts.  I digitally painted.  I drew shapes.  I got super detailed and super distant.  I wanted the portrait to look like her and show her kindness and brightness.  I like that I can see her without her face, here.  She told me that she wanted to hide the faces in her portraits of the band.  It has to do with their #findfroman narrative.

Blue inspired:
I wanted to figure out her shapes.  I thought I’d do blue, since she liked that blue warming device so much.   Faceless, here, as well.

I mourn Marilyn and I mourn for her friends and family because the sadness I feel for the loss of someone who I was just getting to know, must be tremendously greater for those who knew her and loved her for longer.

She is no longer in pain.  She is reunited with her mother in death.  She lives on in our memories and in her influence.

Death is both private and public.  My grapple with censorship is usurped here by my memories of the kind words people shared when I lost my dad.  I like hearing other people’s stories about him, and other people’s thoughts and memories and interpretations.  It’s like talking to him through someone else.  Like he’s there in the conversation, nodding and laughing along.  Like out of sight is not out of mind or even out of view.

I want one more hug.  One more good bye.  I want her family and friends to know that I knew her, and she was absolutely lovely, absolutely wonderful, absolutely an example of how good and strong and friendly a person can be.

Marilyn would really help us out at a time like this.

Facebook: @LornaAlkanaArt and @LAWordSalon and @AffectComic
Twitter: @LornaPhone and @LAWordSalon
Instagram: @Lornaphone and @LAWordSalon

I update my Exhibition Page with events and galleries Lorna Alkana Art is featured in.

I post on (or around) Mondays with new art/discussion of the process of works in progress, and (or around) Fridays with Comic Lorna in the form of an audiobio comic series called,Affect.

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