Monday, November 10, 2014

Book Progress

My studio for 5 days...
I have been pretty quiet for a few months as I am continuing to work on my book. I just retured from the photoshoot in Cincinnati, Ohio. I had no idea how involved writing a book would be. There are so many people that become a part of making it happen, from my editor Beth Erikson to the folks that will try to get Barnes and Noble to carry it and a ton of creative people in between. Everyone I met from F+W was so nice, professional and supportive, which made it all worth the stress.
Making art, knowing that you will only have 5 days to finish all the photos, is pretty stressful. Creativity on demand!
On the last day we filmed a short tutorial on one of my exercises. I was super nervous, but once I started teaching, I forgot about the camera. I think I did ok....we will see when I view the video!
My editor Beth and me before the video....

My photographer Christine behind the camera....

Here are some sneaky peeks at some of the artwork I made during my week stay....

Time to get back to work...I have text to write and can not wait to be painting again...

Friday, September 12, 2014

Unexpected Results

I just got back from spending 5 days painting in Portland, Oregon with Jesse Reno. If you want to loosen up, I definitely recommend taking a class from him.

This was a promised break from teaching, writing my book and my daily routine. It had been weeks since I had been able to paint with abandon - no deadline, no expectations....except one. I expected to push myself to resist over working, let go and embrace the raw marks. This is my 3rd year and I keep returning because I always take something new away and I relish being able to paint with a group of like minded folks. Normally I paint in relative isolation, as I am sure many artists do, but every so often I need to create with others. I finished (I think) 3 pieces during the 5 days. I love the first piece, even though it is pretty close to my usual paintings. I worked on 3 separate 16 x20" boards separately, then shuffled them until I could see the possiblilites. 
Here is how they started:

Finished....It can be displayed like this, but also like the process photo above.

The second painting went a bit faster as it started with a ground I had done previously....
The start...I gave it to Jesse to do his thing first.

Not loving it....I basically painted what Jesse had started, so I flipped it upside down and kept going...

finish..."Tonic" to my tired brain!
My breakthrough piece happened so fast that I did not get progress photos. I found a concert poster outside the studio on a phone pole and added it in with my paint. The figure just emerged.
I wanted to refine the face, but resisted, keeping it pretty raw.
It was 5 days of unexpected results and pushing past my usual urges to pretty things up. 
There is great value in pushing yourself to move past your comfort zone. 

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more 

painful than the risk it took to blossom.” 

― Ana├»s Nin

Friday, August 22, 2014

Inspired by My Students

Just unpacking from my trip to Chicago to teach at Create. Preparing 100 packets, trying to pack paints so they don't explode on the plane and struggling to meet the weight limit for my luggage was challenging. I was questioning myself...why I would travel by plane to teach?? 5 minutes into my first class I remembered why. Meeting other folks who are excited to learn and make better art. Seeing the creative ideas and learning from my students makes it all worth the effort. I wanted to share some of the work from my full day classes. I was so swamped in the shorter classes, I did not get a chance to photograph...really sad, as all the work was equally original and wonderful....
Here are some of the creations from my "Journaling Character" class....

Here is some student work from my "Black Magic" class:

Most new artists think that they have to work for years to develop their own unique style, but when you consider that everyone used the same materials, tools and techniques, it is easy to see that there is a different approach to each character.  It was truly inspiring to hear the students in the Black Magic class talking to each other about darks, lights and contrast! I thank all my students, in all the classes I taught, for trusting the process and hanging in through the finish. I hope they will all continue on their artistic journey.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Defining Your Style

I am always searching for a way to describe my art, my style in a few words or less. I figure I have about a minute to convince someone who does not "get it" to give me a second, closer look. So many of the good descriptors for art style are overused or just plain do not fit. I recently came across a brilliant book which offers an approach to help you find and express your style in a 2 WORD statement! The clincher is that this is a statement that encompasses all aspects of your life - clothing, home, spiritual...."It guides you to discover the two profoundly descriptive words that capture your essence....The first word represents your foundation, your 80%. the second word is your creative edge - the 20% of your image that motivates and distinguishes you."

Style Statement by Carrie McCarthy and Danielle LaPorte
Once you get down to the most likely combination, you "try it on" and see if it fits into all aspects of your life in another series of prompts. There is a certain inner peace that happens when something fits so right. It became clear to me how useful it is - to prevent those disasterous clothing purchases at the very least!
I highly recommend the book and invite discussion here and on Facebook. I know you want to know my Style Statement.........

I am: 
Simple Harmony

What is your Style Statement?

A short note to let you know that I am deep into working on my book. I want to keep the artwork close to the vest, so it is fresh and inspiring. I will do my best to tease you with things in progress and I am also beginning work on 3 large paintings, so more to come! In the meantime...

 Peace and Harmony

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Ride of Life

Life is really a rollercoaster. You travel along doing your thing, planning and grinding up the hills working toward goals. Just when you hit the top the bottom drops out and you are swept up in what is happening right this minute. I am feeling a bit like that right now. I have had a health "glitch"  and am holding on and working to get things back to normal again.

The thing that has been the most remarkable for me, is the amazing nature and nurture of the TRIBE - all those folks you interact with day-to-day that rally around in a crisis and wrap you in their arms. Some folks you know really well and some who have that gift of empathy and are not afraid to open their arms to you, even if you are not close. I have found that most creative people are very in touch with their feelings and the feelings of others. I can only guess it is in our ability to express ourselves, no matter what medium we use, that makes it easier for us to spread the joy around.  I extremely grateful for this and for the ability to use my creativity as a safe place to go where all doubts and worry are banned.  Be proud that you are part of the TRIBE. 

The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.
Hubert H. Humphrey, Jr.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Birthday Week

It is my birthday this week. Not a major birthday, just another birthday. I am celebrating it by preparing for the birth of my next grandchild. He is due in the next few days, so we will be sharing the month for celebrations. I decided I wanted to do a mural for his room, (yes it is a boy!) but my daughters house is four hours away. I did the next best thing... a portable mural 20" x 48". There was not much wall space so it had to be narrow.
I wanted to share with you my process.....some of the photos are not great, but you can see how I changed my mind as I went on....
Stablio Pencil on unstretched canvas...I was fighting with the curling canvas! Hard to see the bear in the tree trunk and a "fox" to the right.

Added collage and texture. I used text from an old schoolbook about being "good". I changed the fox to an otter - my son in laws request. To save time I did an image transfer instead of drawing (and re-drawing)

Here is the close up of the added texture. I used a strip of textured wall paper and gel medium through a stencil to simulate a tree trunk. 

Blurry IPhone photo, but wanted to show the first stages of painting. I used inexpensive Blick paint - Red, Yellow, Blue and white. All the colors were mixed from them. I changed out the bear for a rabbit and the car on the branch became a zepplin....
Here is the finished piece.

Close up of the bunny and otter.

My version of a happy monster....not too scary. Only the best for my new grandson!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Training for Failure

One of the biggest challenges as a teacher of art is when a student takes a risk and says "I ruined it!" Failure ugly word. We have all been there, loving what we are working on then doing something and DISASTER... We have heard, repeatedly, that there are no mistakes in art, only opportunities. As you gaze at your piece, it does not feel like an "opportunity" it feels like a failure. It should have worked, but it didn't. 

Even after years of art experience and many paintings, I still have those disaster moments. One of them happened today. I posted a photo of this painting on Facebook...

I photograph all my paintings before I put varnish on them to avoid the glare in the photo. I thought the painting was done. I varnished it and went to bed. When I arrived at the studio I found this....

I had used red alcohol ink at some point in the background and the varnish reactivated it!

Here is a close up...of course it was the face and there is nothing to be done, the ink will continue to rise to the surface...

I lamented over it for a bit and walked away, lesson learned about alcohol ink and how it behaves. I started thinking that this can be a good thing, something to use to its advantage in the future. When I came back I decided to embrace the piece as it is. The red on the face is like a mysterious tattoo and it fades away enough so it does not look like a bullseye on her face (my first impression) It also gives the piece a looser, raw look that I am striving for, so after some self talk the "failure" has become a gift.  
I look at this example as training for my reaction to failure. Training myself to take a deep breath and turn a negative into a positive. It is how I want to respond to challenges in my art and life and I am sure that there will be plenty of training opportunities in my future! 

How do you approach your art when something goes wrong? I would love to hear....

Friday, March 21, 2014


We are all storytellers. We tell our stories in words and pictures everyday. Just spend a few minutes on Facebook and notice that every word and picture is a story unfolding. When I finish a painting I have hopes that there is a story there. Sometimes they shout out and sometimes they hide from me. I just finished a series of  3 small paintings. I worked on all of them at the same time and each painting revealed what it wanted to be pretty quickly. I did my "shape-searching" and found shapes that made me want to keep going and see them to the finish.
I showed all three paintings to my husband and a friend on separate occasions. Both picked out the same painting and said "there is a story there." It is a mystery that I will continue to chip away at, why some paintings speak to people and others do are the three paintings....

 I would love to hear your comments about which (if any) one makes you think....
"There is a story...."