Monday, December 22, 2008

Big Sky Blog

I meant to post before running off to the wild west for the holidays, but it just didn't happen!  What's more is that I didn't upload pictures from last weeks' studio time before I left for Montana.  So the image above is something I finished two weeks ago, but I figure it's better than nothing.  ;)

In other, very exciting news, my friend, cartoonist and fellow teacher, Richard Jenkins has started a blog!  Yay Richard!  I'm looking forward to getting a glimpse into his working practices.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

And....I Mucked it Up.

Woopsie.  I just couldn't leave it alone, even after what I said!  I still like this painting, but I liked it better before I added that drippy flower.  The image definitely had more power, and felt more elegant when it was just the bird and egg on the tea-stained paper.  Today I'm going to make a companion piece for this one.  I think it will work better as half of a pair.  And then I'm going to make one where I don't try to hide my insecurities behind drippy stuff!  Sheesh!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Birthday Blog, or Good Ol' 12/10 is Here Again

Somehow (and I don't know how this happened) I've turned 30.  Ee Gads!

Yesterday I made this little painting of a cerulean warbler woman.  This photo is an abomination, but you get the idea.  Today I'll refine her dress and body, and then I think she'll be finished.  I like the simplicity of this image--it feels good.  My impulse is usually to clutter and muck things up a lot.  But I think this bird lady works just as she is.  I might add some stars though.  Just a few!  I also took 3 little paintings to the framer yesterday.  I love my framer, and I highly recommend them, even though I'm tired of framing my work.  

And I can't even believe that I forgot to mention the fact that I am now the proud owner of two little Deb Putnoi paintings!  As you can see, they live above my plants.

And I am also the proud new owner of this Cat Bennett painting that I wrote about here.  The bowl and vase below it are wedding presents, and the little glass basket-looking thing was my grandmother's.  I've been nesting like a fiend.

These Dust Bunnies by Janet Scudder were also wedding presents.  They're made from repurposed socks and other kinds of clothing.  I feel like Janet needs an Etsy site, but until she puts one up, you can buy these little buddies, and lots of other handmade goodies, at the Arsenal Center for the Arts December Shop.

I feel the need to share the manner in which my beloved husband, washer of dishes, folder of laundry, and chronic older brother, tries to torture me.   Because this (see above) is how he "hid" my birthday present.  In plain site, wrapped in a towel.  He brought it home, put it right there next to the attic stairs, and told me not to look at it.  But ha HA, I passed the test!  "Don't look at it," obviously means "don't look under the towel," which I did NOT do.  But analyzing the size and shape of the box was clearly fair game.  And lifting it with closed eyes, to determine the weight, was also not forbidden under the rule, "don't look at it."  In any case, I'm glad this only went on for 1.5 days.  

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Open Studios

I apologize in advance for this lazily written entry!  I'm!
We had open studios today at the Arsenal Center for the Arts.  I put some work out, newer and older.  And I was relieved to see that even with all of the different media, and the widely varying scales and changing palettes, everything somehow, miraculously works together.

And it was very nice to chat with people about the work.  And of course it's always nice to get some pats on the back. ;)

Here's a peek at what I'm working on:
It still feels very unfinished and kind of ugly, but it's all about experimenting!  I like not knowing where or how this will end up.

And before I drop like a stone into bed, I just want to share a picture of my latest culinary success story:
My new favorite thing is consulting the butcher.  
And I'm in love with this dutch oven, which was a wedding present from my dad's dad.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Success!Just so you know, getting married is really fun.  I highly recommend it.  And being married to Charley (although I only have 12 days of experience with it) is REALLY fun.  These pictures are photographs of photographs (I only had printed copies and no scanner), but I couldn't resist posting something to mark such a great day.  I will post something crisper (and knowing me, probably more artsy) when our photographer is finished processing our images.
I like this one, because I'm surrounded by all four of my parental figures, since my stepdad was behind the camera.  

Anyway, now that the wedding is over, it feels good to get back to normal life and take a nice long look around, without getting interrupted by involuntary reveries about centerpieces and place cards.  

Yesterday morning was a great day for good breakfast light, a good breakfast mug, and a good breakfast book:

And I'm back in my studio with a vengeance and some new materials:
Framing is starting to chap my hide.  Not only is it expensive, but it also feels like I'm imprisoning my paintings.  All of the layers and textures and colors that I slave over for weeks and months, become flatter and duller when they are trapped behind glass.  So I've been thinking of ways to make pieces that 1) feel technically and conceptually satisfying 2) can happily exist without frames and 3) can be created without using chemical solvents.  

I have a quilt in my studio that was made by my great, great grandmother.  I've recreated some of the patterns on it in some small paintings.  Last week I went to Fabric Corner in Arlington and found a whole shelf full of awesomely similar patterns--all deliciously dated.  So I bought some and stained it with acrylic paint.  Then I sewed the pieces together with a tiny gouache on paper painting that I made and stretched it onto a wood panel.  I added some more layers of paint and this is the result:
I like it.  I have more in the works, but I'm feeling nervous about sharing too much until I'm a little more confident in the work.  And my next piece is going through it's adolescent awkward phase right now.  But basically, what I'm aiming for with these pieces is to make little, intimate, jewel-like gouache paintings that pop against a kind of dark, roughly textured, layered backdrop.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


T Minus 3 days!
And we'll be married!
Photo courtesy of Boramé photography

I think I've done enough bellyaching about my negligent blogging habits of late.  So I'll spare you.  But man, oh man have things been a little bit zany around here!
Last Monday night I got home from a fabulous day of teaching.  My students were all excited and making boat loads of progress, having break-throughs left and right.  All was right with the universe and I was feeling exuberant.  And then I took a look at my credit card bill.  And lo, there was a mysterious charge at the bottom.  After some investigating I learned  that some fel, fel being had hacked into my ebay AND paypal accounts.  This super-baddy had also changed my ebay password, thereby locking me out of my account.  This made it ridiculously hard to get help.  In fact, it took me three hours to get help, which in the whole scope of things, isn't really that bad.  But it felt REALLY bad at the time, especially after waiting 45 minutes on hold (web chat hold, since you can't actually speak to a person) only to get disconnected.  During this three hour period I also managed to create the image above, entitled Sad Pita, during a performance I like to call Flaming Toaster. 

I have managed to squeeze some studio time in lately.  I'm feeling extra guilty about how minimal that time has been, but I'm just so excited about the wedding extravaganza that I'm a bit of an unfocused maniac.  In any case, I added this lady:
Made this little drawing:

Sewed it onto this piece:And monkeyed around with this whole painting a whole lot more:I'm hoping to finish it tomorrow, when I will have a whole, uninterrupted day in the studio.  Huzzah!

If there's one thing that I love, it's a crafty project.  I'm not even particularly good at crafty projects, but I love them regardless.  So I've been making things for our wedding.  Like these: 

After I complete a crafty project, I like to lay it all out in the living room to admire my handiwork.  I encourage Charley to admire it too, and praise it of course.  I'm crazed, I tell you.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

non sequitur

Go Barney, go!
Barney the White House Dog vs. Reporter

I took this photo from here! 

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Painting Ups and Downs

While yesterday was a politically triumphant day (yay Obama!), I was feeling kind of despondent in my studio.  I worked on this collage (still in progress) for a bit:And worked and worked and worked on this piece, only to scrape out everything I did.  I was just having an icky art day:

But I got back in the groove today--I refined some things and put those flowers in on the left side.  I also think I've figured out how I want to resolve the painting.  

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Yesterday I made this warbler:
The scene is based on a photo I took on Monday--that perfect blue-sky day.  I arrived a little bit early at the home of my private student, so I spent a few minutes sitting in my car, daydreaming and snapping photos.  I must have looked an awful lot like I was casing the neighborhood because the workman loading equipment onto the roof of this van was eyeing me very suspiciously.  I'm really happy with this piece--I feel like I've taken this series to a new place.  

I also like the way these two paintings function together.  I worked a little more on the cedar waxwing (on the right), and I really like how he came out.  Disarmingly sinister.

In another bit of excitement,  I have a new studio neighbor whose work is inspiring me:Cat Bennett moved into our hall a few weeks ago, and I am smitten with her work!  The series above (in progress), entitled, You Are Not Alone, has been occupying my thoughts.  Especially this one:I love it so much that it hurts a little bit.  I might actually have to buy it, economic crisis be damned!  Ack!  I love it!  

These weird roses have been kicking around my life for the past five years.  They are painted from life in gouache on paper, coated in beeswax, and cut out of their original context.  I didn't have a purpose for them at the time, but I liked them and didn't want to throw them away.  They are also a reminder of the two years I spent after grad. school, working full time as a nanny and hardly making any art at all.  These roses were one of the projects I started but never resolved during that time.  I like thinking about how far I've come since those days.  It gives me warm fuzzies.  Anyway, today I was messing around with the loose bits in my studio (in a HIGHLY caffeinated state, by the way), and I decided to make a new collage.  Here it is so far:In person the beeswax has a much stronger presence. 

By the way, I LOVE beeswax.  I keep a block of it in my studio, and unwrap it about once a week.  I smell it, pick at it with a fingernail, wrap it back up and put it away.  Because I have never been able to find an authentic use for it in my paintings.  Until now.  I think.  We'll see.

I christened my new crock pot last night/this morning!  It was a bridal shower gift, along with the Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook by Dawn J. Ranck and Phyllis Pellman Good.  I feel a little sheepish because I used it before I finished my thank you letter to the generous giver (thank you, Kathleen!).  But Charley loved this Cranberry Pork Roast (page 133) so much, that he specifically requested it's inclusion in tonight's post.  The man washes ALL of our dishes, how could I refuse him?
It was really, really, really good.  And so easy--It cooked itself while we slept!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I'm feeling a bit euphoric this week

Yesterday was the most perfect day.  At breakfast the sun came through the windows and made my pumpkin spice coffee taste extra delicious:
And then I was crazy productive all day, running errands and teaching classes, checking things off my to-do list left and right.  It was such a nice, warm, blue-sky day that I even ate my lunch outside.  And while I tried very hard to feel bad about this evidence of global warming, it felt really, really nice.  Better than a massage.  There were tiny bugs flying around, and those little helicopter seeds twirling out of the trees, all glittering in the afternoon light.  It was so lovely that it was almost stylized--like a scene from Pushing Daisies (must watch!).

And you won't believe what I found at Whole Foods:

That's right!  My very own pitcher plants.  

AND....Charley came home from visiting his parents in Montana.  Interesting how my euphoria coincided with his return....

Was I moping?!  

Ew, I apologize!

Anyway, today I made this Cedar Waxwing as part of my Bird Menace Series:
I thought he was finished when I left the studio, but now I think he needs just a bit more work.  He's looking a bit wooden.

While I was busy moping (I'm putting "get a life" on my to do list right away), I forgot to post this finished version of my Bird Menace blue jay:

Sometimes, having to park all the way up on the roof of the parking garage has its advantages.  Like today:
Today was fairly perfect too, now that I think of it.  

Friday, October 24, 2008


I'm feeling stuck--suffering from a bout of artistic constipation.  Or maybe that's not entirely accurate.  Because I've been working steadily (if not very diligently) on this piece:  

And I really like how it's coming along.  But there's a human presence missing in the narrative, and I can't decide what form it should take.  Hmmmm.  Methinks it's time for a photo session.  
I'm also going to go hunt for some bits of nature tomorrow--look for a little bit of magic out in the world.  And maybe hit the library for some folk tales.  But tonight I'm going to kick back with some thank you notes and a DVD!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tweet. TWEET.

I love this bird:
He lives in the right bottom corner of this painting:

I also started to get back into my Bird Menace Series today with this jumbo blue jay:
I'll finish him tomorrow.

I'm also thinking about what to do with these antique boxes.  I started painting on that open blue one about 5 years ago.  Since then they've just been kicking around in moving boxes.  But lately they've been occupying some space in my thoughts, and consequently earned some space in my studio.  I think it would be interesting to make some 3-D objects, but I'm a bit nervous about it.  I am awful when it comes to sculpture, or anything else that requires some sense of 3-dimensional space.  My sense of direction, for example, is truly an abomination.  So I'm going to ease into these boxes by painting on them, on their nice, comfy 2-D surfaces.

I also tidied my studio a bit today, which is a sign that I am ready to get my nose back to the grind stone big time.  I'm really excited about these current projects, and I'm chomping at the bit to get back into the studio tomorrow.  Huzzah!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I've been making more pitcher plants twisting down from the branches in this new painting.  And a little sparrow hanging out on a branch:

Here's how they look in context (so far!).  I like how they're all tropical and jungly--a totally different aesthetic for me.  Tomorrow I'll add some more, so that they're hanging down across the top of the entire painting.   By the way, this is a ghastly photo when uploaded to blogger.  The one at the top is more accurate, with the bright blues and purples.

I just want to take this opportunity to say, for the record, that sometimes blogger drives me nuts.  Here are my gripes: 
1) Sometimes, when I'm typing, blogger decides (at random times) that my prose should be in blue underlined text, like a hyperlink.  No blogger, no.  I will tell you when I want to create a hyperlink.
2) Sometimes, after I post, readers can click on my photos to see them enlarged.  Other times, nothing happens when photos are clicked.  Why, blogger, why?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Refining Things

Yesterday I spent the day refining some of the plant life in my new piece:
I thought that the hanging pitcher plants below were finished, but when I peeked at them again after teaching my afternoon class, I decided that they need more work.  I want to build the gouache up more to give them an extra shiny, velvety texture.
I do like the tangle of tree branches though.  Branches have always kind of intimidated me for some reason.  But I think that painting a bazillion birdcages in linear perspective has primed me for any challenge.