Sunday, December 14, 2008

Working on the DIVA show

Well, I have been super busy getting ready for my show at DIVA. Here are a few pictures of the complicated process of making the first of two large installation pieces.

These are the "scales" with their underdrawings. I laid them out to see how much surface area they had and they pretty much covered my living room/studio. The underdrawing is gesso painted on the back sides of the scales to add subtle texture and shape to the vellum.

This picture shows the back side of some of the scales after being painted. I'm including it because I like the way the backs look, but they won't be visible on the finished installation.

Here are some scales after part of the oil painting has been done to them. In the closeup picture you can see some texture from the underdrawing.

There are 42 of these scales which will be built into a 3d structure in the corner of the room. They range from blue to red. Vellum is translucent and I used all transparent colors on them. So when held up to light they have a beautiful glow like a stained glass window. They have an interesting skin-like non-papery quality. I am not sure how archival oil on vellum is (not very I would guess), but I don't care because I really like the effect.

People have asked me what vellum is made of. Traditionally it was animal skin made into a writing surface. I have read several variations, but essentially modern vellum seems to be made from embossed or plasticized wood or cotton fibers.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Finding space to work, and a star is born!

Well, I must say that I am getting pretty good at finding ways to turn very little working space into a functional studio. I am currently working on my show for the DIVA for which I am building two large installation pieces. The first consists of many "scales" as I like to think of them of vellum paper which will be painted and then built into a 3d construction. The problem with oil painting 50 some pieces of paper in a one bedroom apartment is that there is nowhere to put them while they dry.

So! I set my brain to problem solving yet again and invented this drying rack made from dental floss, screws, paperclips, and tape. I must say it works pretty well too. It's not much to look at but it will help a lot! I'm going to have to write a book on making a studio out of a ten square foot space. (edit: The floss was slipping so I replaced it with floral-arrangement wire which is much stronger. It works great.)

Anyway, I have a ton of work to do for this show, but I still had time to star in some movies! My partner had to make some movies for a class and being the only free and available human nearby I am now a movie star. Here is a link to his movie of me working on a piece of art that is currently hanging at the WOW Hall.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

And the winner is...!!!

Well, I wanted to take a picture of the voting office, but it was pouring rain. So, I quickly ducked into the office where there were many excited people bustling about and marched right up to the "vote here" slot to submit my ballot. Then I went to work and waited for tidbits of information from my co-workers who occasionally received text message updates on the election count. Once I got to sneak a peek of an election map from a library computer. On my way home from work there were people outside yelling in celebration, people setting off fireworks and literally playing trumpets and bullhorns in the streets. Oh, how I love Eugene.

I know, this is an ART blog. So here's the art: BARACK OBAMA AND JOE BIDEN: CHAMPIONS FOR ARTS AND CULTURE !!! Don't you just love the sound of an Artist Corps? It just brings a warm fuzzy feeling to all the art in my brain. It's so nice when politics makes you cry with joy rather than horror.

The art is hung, don't forget to vote!

Ok, there are two things I want to talk about. The first, very briefly, is that the art is now up at the WOW Hall. I have to make a few minor adjustments, but it is up. The reception is First Friday, November 7th from 5-7pm.

The second thing on my mind is: VOTING DAY!!!
Check out this photo article on Presidential Politics & the Street Art of New York.

I am really excited about this election. But I am amazed that in this "great land of democracy" our national voting methods are so haphazard and inefficient. I happen to have spent most of my voting years in Oregon, which I just heard is the only state with mail-in paper ballots. I've been watching the news showing early voters standing in lines for five or more hours just to vote. And there are these cities with only a few dysfunctional voting machines, electronic voting machines which can be so easily hacked, every kind of maddening voter suppression tactic, including the fact that working people, old people, sick people, parents with little kids, etc. etc. can not just spend an entire weekday fighting to get to rock their vote. What the hell? It's the 21st century! This is America!

Where I live in Eugene, Oregon, we got our paper ballots in the mail a week or two before voting day. Along with that we get "Voter's Pamphlets" which describe each candidate (they write up their own sales pitch for themselves) and each measure, along with editorials purchased by groups and individuals arguing their case for or against each measure. So from the comfort of your own home, you can go through your ballot reading abundant literature, looking up more information online, and discussing each vote with friends and family if you wish. Then you put the ballot in the mail or take it to the voting office. No lines, no stress, no taking time off from work. This leads to far more educated votes and happier healthier voters.

So, I seriously believe that we need to fix this voting system. I'm thinking mail-in paper ballots for everyone and VOTING DAY SHOULD BE A NATIONAL HOLIDAY!

I think I will take a picture of our city voting office today to illustrate the complete lack of people standing in line. I suspect everyone will be smiling as well.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

More art for the WOW Hall

Well, I'll be hanging this show in six days. Here are a few more shots of the art in progress.

One has to stay inspired and feed the head. So, I had a great time over the weekend visiting the studio of my illustrious illustrator friend Katura Reynolds. She was all set up for the DIVA's Open Studio Art Tour and I got to see many beautiful watercolor and ink drawings of plants, animals, insects, bones, etc. It is so cool to see an artist in their natural habitat. She even put me in her sketch-blog!

Inspiration is pretty easy to find in the fall, below is a picture of some leaves I collected on a "nature walk" down 12th Ave.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Busy little artist, and artistic memory

Fwew, just found out that the publicity info for my November show at the WOW Hall was due today, right before going to the Eugene Uketoberfest Ukulele Festival to see my friend Jay perform (He was great, yay Jay!). So I went, ate pizza, came home and wrote and sent the publicity statement, now I'm so very tired. So tired that I am writing a blog entry!

This month is going too fast! I only have one piece completed! But I am having fun with my new pinstriping brushes.

You know, I always found it interesting that I could look back at my drawings and paintings and remember what I was thinking or listening to or what was happening around me when I was working on each area of the artwork. Even work from years and years ago. Like when I inked this one line I was listening to a presidential stump speech, and not one that I particularly liked...hmm too bad for that line. Ah, but for these dots over here I was watching the Daily Show, that was pretty funny. Does that happen to anyone else? I wonder if there's a name for it.

Ok, I'm way too tired now and I have too much to do in the morn'. Here's a peek at one of the pieces for my show. It's shot at an odd angle, but who can tell anyway? It's about 3x5 ft.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Wow, my favorite artist of the moment

I just checked out this newish book from the library about renowned artist Alexander Calder (1898-1976). It's called Calder Jewelry (Yale University Press c2007). He is probably best known for inventing the mobile. His sculpture, lithographs, and paintings are of course wonderful, but this book is jam-packed (and huge, maybe ten pounds) with pictures of his jewelry and jewelry-like sculpture that just make me want to cry with adoration. Every piece is unique and so ingeniously constructed. They range from powerfully simple to deceptively simple. They are mostly built with hammer flattened wire, some with odd bits of pottery, stones, wood, or glass. They are so playful and animated, and being primarily wire, they are all about the lines. But not sharp mechanical lines, more like a pencil sketch come to life. They seem to vibrate with levity.

Let me be clear, I am not a fancy-jewelry girl, but I am an abstract artist obsessed with lines. This man was a genius. A lot of the pieces were gifts to his wife (lucky lady!) I really need to get some metal to hammer on.

Well, anyway, this book is worth a trip to the library. It's probably pretty expensive so I'm going to try not to cry and drool all over my library's copy.

Summer is over, but I like fall anyway.

Fall is my favorite season. I've lived on a school schedule for so much of my life that to me fall is a time of new beginnings. It's when I try to add a few new (new-to-me that is) items to my wardrobe, and a time to get started on new projects that I will work on through the winter. Also, I was born on September 30th, so this really is when things began for me.

I am trying to get my head together again after a psychological summer vacation (I still had to go to work, but otherwise I mostly played video games). So now that I have had a couple days to cry about turning 30 I have to refocus.

One thing that was focusing and helpful was that I just emailed a super-cool Eugene artist Jud Turner to ask for some advice. I saw his show at the DIVA Center a few months ago and it got me really hyped up about working in metal. He promptly replied with very useful information about learning to weld. I did some smithing and welding at Eastern Oregon University when I lived out there in the boonies, and let me tell you there is nothing quite like pulling red hot metal out of the forge and banging on it with a hammer. Very elemental and empowering. A little dangerous too, one time I burnt all the hair off my arm and half of my face taking too long to light the gas forge. Hah, good times.

Anyway...umm...oh yeah OOOooommmmmmm....focus!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Why am I an artist? Why do I love art?

When I graduated last June I decided to sit down and orient myself, really figure out what I was doing and why. I highly recommend that everyone do this once in a while. I asked myself some questions, and then tried to answer them.

Some questions I asked were: Who am I? Why am I an artist? Who is my art for? What am I trying to accomplish with my art-making?

I'll spare you from my lengthy rambling answers, but I will share a few excepts.

Why am I an artist?

I am an artists because I have to be. I have to make things. It’s just what I do, what I think, what I enjoy, what I’m good at, what makes me feel happy and accomplished. I like to make a thing that was not there before and that will spend some time in existence, to see and think about it, and relate to it, and experience it in the space around me. That thing’s existence is a physical embodiment of my thought and intuitive problem solving and effort and time. It is a newborn child of my own. I made it but it is itself, not me but yet it is me. I put myself into it and (hopefully) breathed its own life into it. I guess it’s like being God, a creator, and Mother, the portal of life. It is primal and spiritual, and emotional, and intellectual, and physical, and so necessary like an unstoppable biological function. It is like eating or breathing... Really, sometimes it’s sweet and beautiful, sometimes it’s painful and difficult, and sometimes it’s a release and a relief.

What kind of artist am I? What do I want to do with art?

I am interested in the past and my contemporaries, but I am not interested in (purposefully) making art that is in conversation with those things. My art is mainly abstract because it is intuitive, and it’s really not about anything other than the magic of light, form, imaginary space, being a place to play in, to move in, to relax in, to explore and fine new things in, and to let line and shape simply be what they are. I don’t set out to create an illusion of something. I want to really make something. It is what it is, and if it creates some illusion, that may just be part of its nature.

I am completely entertained by the variety, individuality, and (often) the weirdness of the things that artists are compelled to create. I love it when I look at someone’s body of work, or a line of thought, and think “wow, that gal was really obsessed with those crazy little shapes” or “what the heck got into him there?” I want to tease all of those compulsions within myself and see what they look like when they take a physical form. I want to make things until like living creatures, the art evolves and changes, drifts and shifts, and see where it goes. I want to poke and prod and explore and discover, follow inclinations, and see what leads to what.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What's up with all the abstract art?

The other day I was talking to my aunt, a retired New Jersey goat farmer who had just looked at my website to see see what kind of art I was making. She said to me in a funny unsure tone, "I looked at the pictures on your website...oh, that modern was interesting..." By which I interpreted "What the heck was all that stuff? I was expecting watercolor cows and landscapes. What did you spend so much time in school for if you were just going to scribble?"

I can understand her position. I didn't "get" abstract art either until a handful of years ago when I went to a lecture by Carla Bengtson and did some reading on the subject. Even then, I didn't like it right away, but I slowly found myself lingering on the abstract images as I paged through a magazine, or browsed through a gallery. Eventually I realized that the abstract doodles I compulsively (and resentfully) made actually had some merit. And then I realized that my frustrated struggle with subject matter was unnecessary because what I was really compelled by was line, shape, color, texture, space, tone, and the funny way that the human mind interprets these things when you separate them from a literal narrative or object.

Here are some other people's thoughts on the subject:

This is my favorite article describing the (western) historical evolution of abstract art and how to begin to understand it. It is an informative and very easy read. It is a perfect overview for anyone new to the subject.
Understanding Abstract Art by Harley Hahn.

This article breaks down the artistic visual elements and gives a nice tutorial on how to approach an abstract image.
Abstract Art Explained by Lynne Taetzsch.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A commissioned painting of Geronimo and a tribute to a life

I just finished this painting of Geronimo, done upon special birthday request for my step dad. It was done in crayon and gouache on paper. It's about 8x10 inches.

This one was just completed for my stepmother in memory of her mother who passed away this month. It was done in crayon, watercolor, and bleed proof white. This one is 5x7 inches.

For some reason, August is a busy month for life and death in my family. This August there were two deaths so far, and a handful of the usual birthdays.

To life! ...and off to work I go...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

My current art projects

I am working on a new line of thinking. I have two shows lined up, one in November at the WOW Hall, and one in January and February 2009 at the DIVA Center.

I am in love with ink on paper, and have just discovered the joy of pin striping brushes. A student in a community painting class that I taught gave me one a couple years ago and I just tried it. I immediately ordered two more in different sizes, because they are perfect for making a super-long non-brushy ink line (mmmm...lines). As for the paper, I have been using a wonderful bright white eco-friendly cover stock made by Living Tree, as well as vellum paper which is strong and translucent. Both respond very well to ink via pen or brush. The vellum buckles and wrinkles when moistened and is the noisiest paper in the universe, but it is really fun stuff.

So, for these shows I am thinking more and more sculpturally. A lot of the art in my head is made of metal and glass, but I do not have the facilities to work in steel or iron at the moment, so I think that I am in a transitional phase. I am envisioning my abstract drawings becoming larger and more three dimensional. Here are some pictures of my experiments with the materials and brushes:

The biggest challenge I have right now is that I live in a very small apartment, and my studio is half of the living room. There is just not enough space to work as big as I want to! I am really stretching my cleverness to find space for working.

The large table in the picture is actually my couch, which out of desperation I turned into a storage/work table. Oh, the dreams of my future studio...

Why am I blogging? A young (hey I'm still young) 21st century artist's tale.

Well, here I am writing a web log. Why am I doing this? I am not one to do things because everyone else is. And I am not someone who writes things that I mean for others to read. In fact, I have very little patience for words (pictures say so much more). Don't get me wrong, I have an absolute adoration for the spirit of the published word (especially books). I even work at a fabulous library. But reading anything other than an informative text on a subject I wish to learn about can be torture. Take poetry for example...blech. Or heady philosophy and theory...yawn. I have come to terms with the fact that if I have to struggle to decipher the meaning of dense layers of verbiage, I just don't have the attention span. Say it simply or say it to someone else. I'll be over here drawing a picture.

So why in the world am I on Blogger writing to the world-wide community with no idea who the heck would even care what I have to say? It seems a little self-indulgent to assume that anyone will read it, and I have always considered myself a visual artist and so-very-not a performance artist. My motto is "look at my art, not at me!"

But here I am, and here are my reasons. After a very long time as an art student (15 years, a vocational high school for commercial art, and three universities for fine art) I am thrilled to be a graduate living as I want to in the most perfect town in the country (for me anyway). But I tend to prefer a hermit-like existence, venturing out for the necessities, and loving to curl up in my home studio with a cup of hot tea, my artist partner, and listening to the rain (about nine months of it per year here in Eugene). I do volunteer at the
DIVA Center about once a month to make sure that I go out and look at art. But now that I'm not in school I am much more isolated. I certainly love the freedom I have now, but I wouldn't mind a little accountability and feedback.

Another reason for writing is that I almost exclusively make abstract art. I am filled with images and forms with indistinct meaning. That is not for a lack of real ideas, but it would be easy to get lost in the vagueness if I did not try to communicate more specific thoughts. I also have a very tough time speaking my thoughts directly to other humans (I get nervous, my vocabulary gets frozen somewhere in the folds of my mind, and I end up frustrated and withdraw further from human contact for a while). So perhaps writing will be easier.

I have been writing a personal art journal since I graduated in June 2007, and I am great at talking to myself. So I will continue to talk to myself here, and if anyone cares to listen I will be highly amused.