Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Art Show Friday

The Redtree Gallery puts on alot of great shows with work from emerging artists. I'm happy that my piece 'Blessing' will be included in this one!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Almost finished

I'm almost finished making new work to show at the Essex Studios this weekend. It is another open studio walk that goes from 6-11 pm on Friday and Saturday. I'll be showing the more whimsical work, including some smaller items like ornaments.
This is one who is almost done. She is another in the series that I've been doing (you might have guessed from the ears!). Her shawl is dyed with Madder Root.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I can't read knitting abbrs.!

I call this one "New Growth"
The scarf was knitted (in a stitch I accidentally invented) with handspun yarn dyed with cochineal. The red is so intense!
Under the scarf are her animal ears (of course!)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Big Oil Week

It has been a huge painting week here! Everything is still in progress. A painting based on the November sculpture with 3-d tree element. I'm psyched about the possibilities of combining the paperclay sculpture with paintings. Here is an artist that I came across the other day who is doing amazing combos of painting and relief sculpture www.melissaferreira.net
This one is bigger - about 2 feet high. Just an impression that flitted through my head, like a memory or light through the fall leaves.



And I went back into this one, adding foreground and tightening some things up. This is it with two different lighting schemes - the light bulb it is under really makes a difference in terms of the warmth of the painting.

Since these are near finished pieces, I thought I 'd show some that I started today. This is what my underpaintings look like.

These two are little 5x7's. I'd be pretty shocked if I sold the larger ones, but these little guys are more affordable and easy to find a place to hang. Plus they are fun to do =)


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Tagged!

This is a fun game =)
I've been tagged by Cat at Darkling Woods Studios. Thanks, Cat! The rules are to tell 7 little known things about yourself then tag 7 others (be sure and link everyone!)
So here are mine:
1. I like to read Mother Earth News and day dream about going 'back to the land'
2. I drove around Australia after college and worked on organic farms with people who had gone 'back to the land'!
3. Bottecelli's 'Primavera' moved me to tears
4. I sing and dance along with my music while I paint
5. The Rolling Stones (Sticky Fingers) and Janis Joplin (Pearl) are on heavy rotation these days
6. My brother and I were at Phish's last concert in Vermont and walked 12 miles from my car to the venue
7. I was a ski bum. Twice. Kind of. Is there a such thing as a cross country ski bum?

I, in turn, would like to tag these 7 wonderful bloggers!

Epicwerkes

Painted Sky Woman

The Fairies' Nest

Nenufar Blanco

The Blackberry Briar

Anouk and Boobouk

The Singing Bird






Saturday, November 8, 2008

More from the field

No title for this one yet. I was thinking about 'Blessings' though because s/he reminds me of a sheaf of wheat or corn stalk and the hand gestures look almost like a benediction of some kind. I don't really start out to make them spiritual - they just all seem to take off in that direction! Oh well, I don't question the muse or else she may get fed up and leave me. Maybe I'll call him/her 'November' to make it a bit less direct and that is when s/he was born. In college, I refused to name anything because I wanted the image to say everything. However, it is an opportunity to add another layer of meaning or to give some insight. I like the names that Kina Crow gives her ceramic pieces for that reason. But when I make art, I don't think verbally at all, so it feels a bit contrived to name it after the fact. I have to think some more about this...

The felt is dyed with Osage and coffee this time. The base is carved from wood, which will be better for shipping if necessary. The last one had a rock as a base - lovely, but not so practical. This one will be for sale at the Essex show December 5th and 6th.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I was listening to the NPR show Fresh Air the other day when Charlie Kaufman (screenwriter of Endless Sunshine..., Being John Malkovich, Adaptation) was interviewed. He said some things about creating that I find so profound. Here is a link to the full interview http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=96023004

And this is a quote that made me catch my breath because it felt so right to me, he says, "The things that I really relate to, is when I read something that has articulated something that I've felt but haven't been able to articulate, and I find that incredibly moving and I find an incredible sense of community in that... If I offer myself, there is a chance that somebody else will feel connected because they felt that and even if the story is sad you can be connected in your sadness and the sadness of being a human being."


It sounds to me like an explanation of how making art can be an act of great compassion and why self expression is an integral thread in the fabric of society. He is speaking about writing , but it's equally true of visual art. The visual image has the power to connect and transmit an impression/idea/emotion even more quickly to the human consciousness than words can. I know when a work of art has touched me before I understand why. I'm so in love with that feeling - that welling up of emotion - like something in me has become unblocked because someone else has expressed it and somehow that image has found it's way to me and I know that I am not alone. I think I'm such a movie fan because film blends images and spoken words, which makes for an immediate and deep impact. But I also like the slow pace of taking in a still image and the ambiguity of a single image that allows the viewer to shape his own experience of the art, whereas some movies can leave one feeling as if his emotions have been manipulated.

On a different note, here is photo of two new figures in progress.





Wednesday, October 15, 2008

In a forgotten field

My most recent finished piece is the first of a series that is underway. It is a bit of a new direction because I have been thinking about how the materials and techniques I use resonate with the subject matter and themes. In that spirit, I've been working with wool from a local farm- felting, spinning and dying it with plant dyes. It is important to me that my art communicate a connection with nature - these new pieces feel to me like nature spirits from some forgotten past that are allowing themselves to be glimpsed again as we humans are struggling to fix what we have broken here on the planet. Each one is standing on a stone and is expressing with both face and hands the sacredness of land and its beings.

I am also beginning a series of paintings with portraits of the figures and images of of landscape and vegetation which are on scrap wood, refinished and primed for oil paint. I am inspired by alterpieces that I've seen while studying in Italy and just recently at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

I don't have photos yet of the show at the Essex, but I will soon, as well as photos of changes I made to some older work.
Faeriecon was even more wonderful than I had hoped! So many artists that I love were so accessible and generous with their time and advice. It really meant so much to me to talk to meet people I've long admired like Kinuko Craft, Wendy Froud, Toby Froud, Forrest Rogers as well as meeting so many new artists to be inspired by. I'll certainly be adding more links to my site in the near future (but not until I get back from a weekend in the country, where I'm going to paint and try to process all the visual input from this past week!)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Faeriecon!

I'm so excited! I'm going to Faeriecon in Philadelphia! I've been daydreaming about going to the Faerieworlds Festival in Oregon for years, so knowing that Allan Lee and the Frouds and so many other icons of the genre were going to be on my coast proved to be irresistable. So it is my treat after pushing so hard to get the art show together last week. It went swimmingly, to my great relief and thanks in very large part to my supportive family and friends who helped me set up/clean up or just stopped to see what I've been up to.



Here is the front and back of a bookmark-style flyer I made to hand out at the con.

And here is the finished Anne doll!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Anne of Green Gables

I noticed it had been a while since I posted any sculpture in progress, so here is what's new! It is for a commission to do a doll of Anne of Green Gables, which couldn't be a more perfect job for me because I've read every book by L.M. Montgomery and I'm a redhead, myself. The characters in Montgomery's books encounter alot of adversity in pursuit of thier (usually creative) dreams and I find that the inspiration of that takes on new meaning for me as an adult pursuing an artistic life.
Phase 1
Sculpting

Phase 2

Painting (my favorite)

Freckles are great

In other news, I'm getting ready to show my work at Essex Studios here in Cincinnati. It's going to be on Oct. 3 -4 at their open studio walk. There are so many factors to consider! Lighting, packing my work to travel, hardware for hanging, fabric for tables - the list is enormous. But I'm really looking forward to this first opportunity to show my art and to talk to people about what I do.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Fall Landscape and the Art of Band Naming


Another painting done at the park. I need to cut some new boards, I can't keep up! However, I'm happy to say that I have some portrait and doll commissions to work on that will probably slow me down on producing sketches and studies like these for a while.
I found a great blog about painting - especially the technical aspects of it, like the properties of paint and various supports etc.as well as some discussion about art in general at http://rourkevisualart.com/wordpress/ I found it because I was looking up ways to use less solvent (I'm going to try using just oils and no mineral spirits as well as keeping my brushes submerged in oil when I'm not painting, rather than rinsing them out every day).
On another subject, I enjoy coming up with band names. I think it's funny =) I don't have a band, nor have I ever been in one, but that doesn't really hold me back in the naming department. So imagine how amused I was to find a site that will take words that you type in and generate a list of band names based on them. So the next time you are in silly mood, check out http://www.bandnamemaker.com/
I typed in 'art' and got False Art and the Power and Art of the Hasty Injury (seems to happen to me alot, especially when I'm making mixed media sculpture).

Monday, August 25, 2008

Direct


This is one that was a stretch for me because it is direct, wet into wet painting and I almost always use a grisaille underpainting with color glazes over top for portraits. I started it and I felt so unsure about the colors I was using that I scraped it all off and told myself that I just do grisaille and that was that! Then I went to see Ron Monsma do a portrait demonstration at a local gallery and saw that the colors he was using were not too far off what I had been trying, but I had given up before allowing the painting to resolve itself. So, I went home that night and painted this, which is not perfect, but still a big step for me. The experience drove home the importance of 1.) the value of seeing a more experienced painter work, 2.) having faith in what my eye is telling me and 3.) not being afraid or quittting when the picture feels out of control because that's actually a perfect opportunity to learn somthing new!
The painting is on an 11x11 3/4" wood panel and painted from a photo I took of a friend. She was walking through my house and the color harmony and composition with the partially open door and picture frame in the background seemed so perfect and meaningful, so I said, "Wait, stay right there while I get my camera!"

Friday, August 22, 2008

Fall in the Air

This landscape study was alot of fun. I like to see how few colors I can use to make a complete palette. This one is just paynes grey, cad. yellow, tit. white and alizerin crimson.

I'm working on a quite a few things that I'm looking forward to posting about soon. I just finished a portrait commission and I'm started a new one next week, plus I've been sculpting alot and going to the park to do small plein air work. I never understood why plein air painting has such avid practitioners until I started doing it last week and, boy, now I get it! Life can hardly get any better than sitting in beautiful, natural setting, really looking at it and responding. The finished product is nice, but it's almost beside the point!

I also opened a new shop this week on Etsy. There are two different viens in my artwork, but I wanted each shop to have a coherent look. So the new one, Nature of Paint, is just paintings and portraits and Archetypal Theatre is still my art dolls.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ohio River

Here is a 5x7" oil sketch on my favorite surface - birchwood panel. I love the way that the wood soaks up the paint and the smooth way that colors can be blended.

Monday, August 18, 2008

En Plein Air

I've started working on some smaller plein-air pieces inspired by the walk I take with Sherpa the Dog to Alms Park. We usually go when the sun starts to set and the day starts to cool off. The views of the sky over the Ohio River valley never fail to take me out of my busy-day mindset and into a transcendant bliss. So I've been taking my guerilla paint box up there to see if I can capture some of the magic. This one is 5X7" on canvas stretched over board. It is available for purchase in my Etsy shop.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Vegetables, Herbs and Paintings

I can't resist including a photo of my little potted garden, which has been yielding up wonderful things for the kitchen, lately. And, of course, my favorite gardening buddy, who makes sure that the yard is safe from rabbits or other vegetable-loving creatures =) It's not art related, per se, but digging in the dirt keeps me grounded and that is important to someone who spends so much time in the heady world of ideas and images!

This is the latest incarnation of the 'big' painting. It may not seem like alot has changed, but I've been tweaking the color and learning alot as I go. I've also been doing some small 5x7 oil sketches on wood panel to explore color and composition. Below are three that accidentally happen to match up quite well in a row!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Painting again


More paintings this week, including some watercolor, which I haven't done much of recently. I've been inspired by some of the great illustration work that's up on Etsy, like paintings by MarmeeCraft and Kocorococo. So here are a couple of mine.

I'm working on some oil projects as well, such as this one which is about 3/4 finished - some parts are still just underpainting. It's a large piece, 24x36", so the going is slow. But my model is beautiful and I'm enjoying the challenge of trying to get a figure, portrait, landscape and still life all combined into one composition. Whew! If anyone has any tips for me, I'm all ears. My dad says that the left side of the chin has too much shadow and looks like a beard, at first I disagreed, but now that I see the painting reduced, I see it what he means - and the value is totally off because it's not really as dark as the shadow of the nose, which is the way I have it now. It's hard to see flaws when you are too 'close' to a picture. I start seeing what I intended it to look like rather than what is really there. Weird. Ya know what else is weird? That the i is not before the e in the word 'weird.' I always have to spell check that one.


Friday, July 18, 2008

Fate







This is Nona, the fate who spins the thread of life. As I was making her, I came across a quote from Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, "Good and bad, happy and sad, all thoughts vanish into emptiness like the imprint of a bird in the sky." My version of the fates is not as dire and foreboding as some. Sure, she's mysterious and seems to know something we don't, but whatever life has in store for us one moment will only be a memory the next.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Finished Doll House

Here is the finished product! She's all done and listed on Etsy. I finally tried Fabritac glue for applying the hair and it really goes to show that the right materials make all the difference! It looks and works so much better than any other glue I've tried. I'm planning a series of dolls this size in thier own little 'doll-houses' that can be hung like a painting or set on a shelf. But, mostly I'm going to turn my 9-5pm attention to some paintings (portraits and othe figure work) and have doll making be more of an after hours project for right now. We'll see how that goes - it's hard to choose between my two passions!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Niche

This image needed to play out in 2D and 3D! I've sewn her a dress and I'm making a box/house for her that will look alot like the one in the painting. She is a wonderful model, she almost never needs a break =) When the painting is finished, it will have a trompe l'oiel effect of a niche in a plaster wall and bird-houses in the trees. I'm working more directly and freely with the paint this time - probably a reaction from my last picture which was done with a grisaille approach and tight rendering. Hmm, I wonder what other French art terms I can work into this posting...
It has been fun using my dolls as models and saves me from doing any more self portraits in the near future. Never-the-less I'm actively recruiting live models for my next objet d'art. (Okay, I think that exhausts my vocabulaire)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

In Progress (hearts and socks)





Here is the painting I have working on for a couple of weeks. It is dealing with the vanitas portrait subject matter some more. It is loosely based on a portrait of Anne of Cleves which was commissioned by Henry VIII so that he could see if she was pretty enough for him to marry (incidentally, he liked the portrait, but was disappointed in the flesh and blood woman and annulled the marriage after 6 months).
It still needs a few touches, but this is pretty much it. You can see a little bit of my process here, which is to rough things in using burnt sienna and white, then glazing over that with color.
Also, another piece in progress is this little girl in red socks. I love socks. I carry a pair in my purse whenever I wear sandals out because I would hate to be caught anywhere without recourse to a comforting pair of socks. So, it was really only a matter of time before I started dressing my dolls in them.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Contemplation





Here is my new doll, she is pose-able, 20” and she sits on her pedestal, deep in contemplation. I think she is meditating on the nature of creation:
“To create” seems to mean that from nothing you suddenly have something. I prefer to use the expression “manifestation” to the word “creation.” Look deeply, and you can understand creation in terms of manifestation. Just as we can understand a cloud as a manifestation of something that has always been there, and the rain as the end of the cloud manifestation, we can understand human beings, and even everything around us, as a manifestation that has come from somewhere and will go nowhere…I very much like the term “Wonderful Becoming.” It is close to the true meaning of creation.
~Thich Nhat Hanh
No Death, No Fear

Friday, May 16, 2008



Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about why I make art. Also, about why I make the kind of art that I do, which is mostly figure based. Last night I was reading a book called Spectacular Bodies: The art and science of the human body from Leonardo to now which deals with the convergence of anatomical models/diagrams and art. The author postulates that figurative art and medicine (and religion, for that matter) are very alike in that they are seeking to understand what it means to be human, to ‘Know Thyself,’ as the Greek aphorism goes.
I think that this is why I’m so fascinated with accurately depicting the human body. It’s like trying to figure out a piece of the puzzle. And maybe it is an act of appreciation - like the least I can do when confronted with such an awe-inspiring thing as a human being. But it’s not enough just to make a copy. The exterior must somehow describe the interior, or at least one facet or idea of it.
In this vein (no pun intended?), I’ve begun a new series of portraits that are in a traditional, Renaissance-like style of composed young women, but with jewelry that betrays something more visceral and fragile that is being kept inside. Like when someone shares something a little too honest for the situation - it is beautiful and true, but it makes everyone uncomfortable anyway. I like the idea of merging two traditional subjects, the portrait and the vanitas painting, in a way that is a bit unexpected and unsettling. The portraits are all about conveying wealth, power and beauty, whereas the vanitas paintings are all about conveying the unimportance and transitory nature of worldly things. Here is a 4x6” study for that series.
Also, here is a large (c. 3x4’) painting I just finished based on a dream I had of mushrooms and pear trees. I gotta look that one up in the dream dictionary, I guess. In the meantime, it looks good in my bedroom =)