Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Success? No. Serenity? Surely.

Well, I tried.  I painted all day and into the evening until three things happened: 1) This piece finally began to take shape in a really dreamy way, 2) I realized that in order to make it great I need a few more days (as opposed to the few more hours I had allotted, and 3)  I couldn't see anymore (love that mental exhaustion!).  
Instead of stressing out I gave myself a pat on the back for working so so so so so so hard this week.  It does smart a little bit, because I have two huge pieces and two small pieces that are almost done, and I really wanted to finish them for my library show.  But I did as much as I possibly could, and I made tremendous headway.  I also have 16 other pieces ready to hang--including two new guys.  So I feel good and ready to share my work with the community.  Which is, after all, the point of all of these shenanigans.    

Monday, April 28, 2008

I Will Not Frenzy!

It is wet, wet, wet today!  And cold.  Blech!  Every time that I get ready to transport my paintings somewhere it rains cats and dogs.  I am not even kidding.  My January show at the Belmont Gallery of Art was called Strange Rain, which turned out to be rather uncanny.  It poured the day I installed them, it poured the night of the opening, it poured the day I deinstalled them.  I don't think they like to be moved.

Tonight I worked in my studio until 9pm, after teaching most of the day.  Here's where I got with this piece:

The magnolias are starting to become a kind of pink frenzy, which is just what I was hoping for. But while I will allow my magnolias go berzerk, I staunchly refuse to enter into a pre-show frenzy myself.  I am breathing deeply, I am calm, and I am at one with the fact that I cannot clone myself.  So I am sanely, steadily, serenely going to buckle down and get this bad boy finished by Thursday night!  

Sunday, April 27, 2008

On Friday I found these little drawings made by kids at the Watertown Children's Theater School Vacation Program.  They're tiny little replicas of my paintings!  I saved them before they got thrown away.  The kids in the WCT program made art, music and plays last week inspired by the art in the Arsenal Center Faculty and Resident Show.  I wish I had been around to hear the kids' interpretations of the work, because I can tell from these little drawings that the kids were looking very carefully!  

I was working with middle schoolers at the Arlington Center for the Arts last week, making these glitter and rice paintings inspired by Tibetan sand mandalas.  I was really proud of this group of kids--they were focused, easy-going and supportive of each other.  Huzzah!

I got further on this piece over the weekend.  I'm hoping, hoping, hoping to finish it by the end of the week so that I can include it in my show at the Weston Public Library.  I'm not sure I'll be able to pull it off, but I'm ready to give it a go!  I'll post an update tomorrow night.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Proof is in the Footwear

Spring has officially sprung in New England!  As a pasty Yankee (born and bred), I am extremely cynical when it comes to the weather.  But it was 84 degrees today in Boston–I suspend my disbelief no longer!  I decided to go for a mid-morning walk around the lake at my beloved alma mater to celebrate the weather and shoot some photos for inspiration.  While I was walking I had three revelations:
1)  I need to get my hands on a zoom lens, specifically for bird shooting purposes.  Have you ever seen a grown woman trying to sneak up on a bird?  
2)  I want to become a better photographer.  Much, much better.  
3)  My paintings are largely influenced by the Wellesley campus: all of that crazily groomed nature mixed with little sculptural and architectural surprises.  Not to mention all of that inspiring book learnin' and story readin' I did when I was there!

Here are some bits from my walk:
I saw a redwing blackbird!  You can't see from the photos, but it's epaulets were so bright!

I also saw a white swan diving for fish, fighting baby sparrows, and about a thousand robins.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Some Things I Did Today

I finished these paper cuts and stuck 'em (technical term) to a birch panel.

Decided to make this Birdhead Woman into a diptych--still in progress!

Made rice and glitter Mandalas with my middle school kids at the Arlington Center for the Arts School Vacation Program.  Our theme is "Tibet, Roof of the World."  

I also got up at 5:30 am to drive my mom and stepdad to the airport.  I am plumb tired!  Hence the lack of lengthy text tonight!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Still Playing Blog Catch-Up

My mom's birthday was last week so I made her this little painting based on an old photo of the two of us.  My mom was so 80's chic in her Diane Keaton style menswear.  I usually shy away from making gift paintings (sooo agonizingly time-consuming), but my mom did give me life and all of that good stuff.  Plus, she really likes my bird head women paintings.  My sister, Meghan, on the other hand, thinks they're creepy.  She uses gentler language to express this, like "irksome" and "unsettling."  But I know she really means creepy.  

Here's a little doodle I made last week while I was experimenting with drawing and painting on my tea-stained paper:And my bean plants are still growing:This week I've been working on cutting tree silhouettes out of pieces of watercolor-stained rice paper.  This one is almost finished now, but I have yet to capture the progress with a photo.This is how these cut-outs will be arranged when I mount them on the birch panel:
My goal is to create a kind of forest or garden-scape populated with bird head women.  So that's what I'll be working on next week.

There's a great drawing show up at the New Art Center in Newton, MA, where I teach on Mondays.  I've used it as a teaching tool for both, kids' and adult classes.  Here are some (but not all) of the highlights:
Detail from Randy Garber's drawing on a piano scroll

Aparna Agrawal

Rebecca Kinkead (I have never felt this way about a stump before).

Deb Putnoi's Drawing Lab, where kids and adults can abandon their drawing hang ups and draw with wild abandon!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Catching Up

I have been a negligent blogger of late.  Last week was time to catch up on paper work and other icky tasks like photographing my paintings and bringing them to the framer.  I feel so much lighter and freer now that I can check these off my list!  And my bank account feels so much emptier after paying my quarterly taxes!  I did manage to finish my magnolia/pigeon painting last week.  I'm still trying to come up with a title.  The piece was inspired by the Pleiades Myth, where the handmaidens of Artemis turn into pigeons and fly into the night sky to escape Zeus' "amorous attentions."  But I can't think of a non-cheesy title that 1) alludes to the story, 2) isn't lofty (blech!) and 3) is ultimately ambiguous.  

Midnight Garden
10" x 21"
I'm very excited because I came up with a better, less windy way to take my high quality digital images of my paintings.  When I was taking slides with film, I always took them outside in the natural light.  When I switched to digital--ummm, last October--I kept the same system.  But I'm finally figuring out how to use my camera and software.  So this time I took my photos in my studio.  And I think they came out well.  I had the paintings and the computer right there, so I could adjust the color to match exactly.  Technology is awesome!
I got this alchemist's scale from a faux pirate stuff website.  Yes, I said faux pirate stuff!  It was $7.  A couple of weeks ago I heard a piece on On Point about science writer George Johnson's new book The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments.  I have yet to buy a copy, but I liked the idea of old timey science equipment.  So I got these things so I can play around with some imagery.  I have some beakers on the way as well.  

Test Tubes!

This is my favorite picture from our February trip to the Berkshires.  Charley was lounging on the giant bean bags in the Jenny Holzer exhibit at Mass Moca, when some little kids attacked!
Charley Under Seige

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Sweeny Peep, Awkward Phases and Salada v. Red Rose

Sweeny Peep
My stepdad and I watched Sweeny Todd on Sunday, so tonight at dinner I made him this little tribute to all that gore.  I realize that this is a flawed reenactment, as Sweeny Todd does not actually behead any of his victims, but I was under a little bit of time pressure.  

Here's where I left this piece yesterday:Here's where I got with it today:And here's a detail of a lurking pigeon:
This piece has definitely entered its compositional awkward phase.  This is a relief, because this painting/collage was feeling too easy and one-dimensional.  Now the narrative is beginning to take shape in a more interesting, textured way.  I always get to this point in a painting, where I feel like I've kind of wrecked it a little bit, or taken things (like magnolias) a bit too far, and I have to find some way to rescue the image.  Desperation seems to work for me, as I always make my favorite compositional choices during this resuscitation process.  To indulge in some fairly lame clich├ęs:  when I (literally and figuratively) paint myself into a corner, I have to think outside the box for a way out.  

In other news, I found my favorite tea-staining formula!  Salada black tea is my preferred color--sort of a raw umber.  Red Rose English Breakfast was more of a burnt sienna-burnt umber mix, which I'm not as wild about.  I left these papers stacked and angled on top of each other overnight in a bath of the Salada black.  I like the mysterious, faded look to them.  It reminds me of old documents, old photographs, old maps.  By the way, Red Rose tea still comes with the little animal figurines I used to collect when I was a kid!  In this case, the proverbial "they" does still make 'em like they used to!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

When it Rains it Pours

And then drips into my studio....
I arrived in my studio yesterday morning to find water dripping onto my latest big birdcage painting. Lovely. Luckily there wasn't really any damage. Since the leaks were dripping right into the middle of my workspace, I did not get a whole heck of a lot done on much of anything for the rest of the day. But I did manage to dye some more paper with some different kinds of tea:
The leak has supposedly been fixed. I'm cautiously optimistic.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Good Day

Today was a fun-filled day in the studio.  Here's a peek at my latest painting/collage thing:Here's a detail:

I also started soaking some 140lb watercolor paper in tea:

At least I'm pretty sure it's watercolor paper.  Bev, our programming director at the Arsenal Center, found it in the storage area and gave it to me to investigate.  Treasure!  My studio neighbor, Dawn, thinks it might be meant for Iris Prints, in which case the surface may not be sized appropriately for watercolor.  It took the tea well, though.  And I plan on painting on it with gouache, which sticks to just about anything.  I do have specific plans for these little guys, which I will explain at a later date, when things are further along.  In the meantime I'm going to try soaking the rest of the paper in different kinds of tea to get some different colored stains.  These kinds of little experiments make me giddy.  And the paper's mysterious origin gives me an extra little thrill!  

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A Little Triumph, A Little Concession

Weekend Deer

After a great, relaxing weekend it's time to get back to business!  Yesterday Adria and I spoke about our work at a meeting for Boston N.O.W. (National Organization for Women).  It was a great experience--everyone had really thought-provoking questions and they were really supportive of our work.  

And wahoo!  I finished this puppy today.  Here's a detail:

Now I need a title.  I always like my titles to add something to the piece, instead of merely describing the image.  I try to find something with a literary feel or a sing-song quality.  And double meanings are the ultimate!  

Today I also resumed work on this big guy that has been lingering in my studio for an eternity.  I have been waiting and waiting and waiting for my beanstalks to grow into huge tangled vines.  I don't think there's any way that the plants are going to grow fast enough for me to finish this piece and get it framed for my library show in May.  This smarts a little, since I really wanted to unveil a new monumental painting in addition to my smaller ones, but it will just have to wait for my August show.  Sigh.