Thursday, December 10, 2009

Winter in the Studio

I need to work on larger works, so I started the above yesterday. It's 3'x4'- not huge, but much bigger than the 1 and 2 foot squares I've been painting on for most of the year. I'm still concentrating on using the "stuff" of acrylic paint. I began this one on the ground by covering it with matte medium. I then sprinkled dry pigment in spots and then used a giant piece of charcoal to move the medium around and to find marks. I'm hoping I don't finish this one too soon- it's been a good couple of days. I'm missing Winston (see the rat paintings/drawings on my website). He may need to make an appearance.

I'm still working on small works, too. In the one below I'm remembering the Grand Canyon- it's a 12" square.

My 2 year old studio mate is also doing work of his own- he has been given red, yellow, blue, and white tempera paints and a new mixing palette. He is thrilled and has figured out how to make gray on purpose. He also likes to tell me what colors to mix, "A little yellow here" and "now more white". Eerily it's often what I had planned to use next. I suppose he's been in my studio since he was 2 weeks old and he probably knows my habits by now, so perhaps it's not so surprising.

Here he is sitting on my chair with me and giving instructions:

I'm hoping for some dreams to draw soon- I have done so few since the birth of my son. I suppose I need to be able to reflect upon waking rather than immediately be needed as mommy. I hate the idea, but I may need to get up extra early to get an hour jump on the kid. It may be the only way.

Wish me luck, world. This late sleeper is going to set up for tomorrow morning and try it. (Stop laughing, Mike.)


Monday, November 23, 2009

Mike is off this week, so I get to paint alone in my studio. I had my first solo session in quite a while yesterday and worked on a couple paintings. I love having my son with me, but it is quite different to be alone with my work. I kept stopping after 10 minutes, since that is usually how long I have before I have to help Phin with something.

Well, here is what happened:

It's an 18" square and the pink in the sky is actually a bit more orange in person.

Here is a detail:

I also began a new piece:



More and more I am starting completely abstractly with no plan of where the birds will go- more of just an idea of color and what kind of space the piece will have. I then "find" the birds and paint out what is unnecessary. I have always enjoyed letting a painting reveal itself to me- I actually can't imagine painting any other way. To me a painting needs to be alive and changing- a constant dialog between us.

I will be showing at Chicago's Black Walnut Gallery in January, but before then you can come visit me in my studio Dec. 5th and 6th during Lillstreet's open house. I'll be there from 12-5 both days.

4401 N. Raveswood
3rd Floor

There will be free kids activities from 12-5 on the 5th, so feel free to bring the younger members of your family.

Enjoy the Holiday week!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

An all-image post for my friends I haven't seen in a long time.

First, the little urchin in my studio- he's a pretty good studio mate.

I made this painting with Phin on my lap. He's a good muse.

These are the drawings I did right after I saw crows eating baby robins.

My last oil painting before Phin was born. It was his favorite as an infant- he still likes yellow. It's a good size- about a 4 1/2 feet- maybe 5.

Take care all- and go see this show if you're in Chicago:

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Summer is Ending

After a summer of art and children I am always left feeling very creatively nimble. Being around the children who still make anything into art and haven't yet compartmentalized genre (collage, sculpture, painting, etc.) and just make is uplifting. I have enjoyed the summer and all the energy of said children, but I am looking forward to more time in my studio. I have been able to get some work done the last couple of months:

Thanks to a former student who moved across country and gave me a large bag of many pre-stretched canvas, I've been able to just walk in to my studio and make things. I'm really enjoying the small squares.

I'm still working with bird imagery, but letting the imagery fall to a secondary role to the language of the paint. It's acrylic mixed sometimes with wax and/or gloss medium. I'm happy with it now, but it was a big change from oils.

Here is a larger work also from the last couple months:

I haven't been able to get a good photo of it, but I do believe it is finished now.

As you know, I can't do a post and not include something about the little guy who is with me most of the time in the studio and otherwise. My son will be two at the end of September and he is putting my drawing output to shame. Last week we had a wonderful morning in the studio- he and I both making our own work. I gave him brushes, black and white tempera, charcoal, (and he found a pen). I put up a large piece of paper taller than he is and he made this gorgeous painting:

It seems so funny to me now that I was worried about being an artist and having a family at the same time. I'm not saying that it's easy, but the difficulty makes me seize moments I do have with much more focus than I used to when time was easier to come by.

Here's to the end of summer and to crisp nights, sweaters, and more time in the studio!
Be well,

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Just a few photos of what has been going on lately in my studio. I've been keeping a large piece of paper up as a sort of brainstorming piece.

Here are a couple details:

Keeping a large drawing going is something I've done a lot in the past. I use it both as inspiration for new paintings as well as a way to draw from old paintings as a form of investigation. I've been keeping with the bird theme but am trying to get further away from forming actual birds but rather capturing the fluttering of wings and different atmospheres. I'm really using the material to find where the birds are.

Here is the latest painting in progress.

I started with raw canvas with a ground of acrylic medium. I used some dry pigment and ink on the wet medium to try and find new space, mark, and color.

This weekend I've gotten a bit further on the painting. I've continued to use ink- even rubbing it over and into some of the places in the painting- as well as wax medium.

I hope to update again very soon- I've been full time at my job this summer and I absolutely love teaching art to children and being part of that kind of creativity. But wow, it's hard to carve out a time to paint- I just want to be with my son at the end of the day.

Be well!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Well that was silly...

Hello all,
Despite the snow showers we still keep getting it is officially Spring, so I decided to concentrate on cleaning and organizing home last week.  And wow, that failed.  
A) I am a terrible organizer and so-so cleaner.  
B) My son follows me around undoing all of my straightening up,
 and C)  Going without painting for 10 days is a big mistake.  My mental health kind of depends on the painting.

So this week I'm back on track and getting into the studio and leaving the mess behind.  If we have food, clothes, and the house doesn't smell, that's enough home success for me.

I'm working on a painting that I began on raw canvas and with the most unappealing dark colors and no texture.  Just thought I'd start out really, really differently and see what happened.  Here is how it looked after the first day:

I let Phin do some marks at the bottom - he chose cerulean and it became a branch.   So, yeah I think it was really ugly.  But like I tell my students, ugly doesn't necessarily equal bad- just like pretty usually doesn't equal good.    I was trying to find another way to get from A to B.

Anyway, here is what happened next:

I decided that I needed to put a moon in for my moon-loving son (though it kind of turned into an orange).  Here are a couple of details so you can see the texture a little better:

Eh, not the best thing I've ever made, but it opens up some new ideas for me.
I'll write again soon- hopefully with new dream images.  I'm de-cluttering this week to make some more space at home- both literal and mental space- so that I can start drawing at home again.  I've got a couple dreams I need to get down on paper.  

Thank you for reading and have a wonderful week wherever you are.

Be well,

Monday, March 23, 2009

Serious Play

It has been so long since the last post- the late winter illnesses really threw me off more than I ever thought it would.   Also, the transition of the toddler to the toddler bed and the 3:30 a.m. crying fits have made me a bit less productive as well.  Happily, spring is coming, the lingering colds are getting better, and I now have a high chair that reclines in my studio!

I don't know why I didn't think of this before- he can eat, draw, play with his cars, and sleep in the high chair while I paint.  I was spending so much time in the cafe downstairs from my studio while Phin ate and now I can stretch canvas and the like while he eats in my studio.  Fantastic!

I also painted my studio floor and did some general cleaning to better accommodate the toddler in my studio rather than a baby.  The pack n' play just isn't cutting it for him anymore- he needs to roam.  

OK, so the work.  I stretched a canvas today and realized that I used stretcher bars that I had just taken a painting off of because it was warped.  My lord I am an idiot.   Phin was asleep, so I decided to work on what I had around.  I had quite a few things I had done as demos for my Intuitive Painting class, so I put them all together.  I'm going to have to get a piece of wood to adhere it all to and work on it some more.  It's 3 pieces of cardboard, a plastic ping-pong paddle, a cd case, and a shirt sleeve.  I used to be really snobby about acrylic paint, but I love it now.  It holds everything together plus I can put wax, salt, and sand in it for texture.  

I am really enjoying the collage because I really, really don't know where I am going with it and have a level of (productive and healthy) fear and confusion about it that I haven't had in a while.  We're getting ready for a parent workshop at work next weekend addressing nurturing creativity in children  (it's free for those of you in Chicago- pre-register here by calling).  I've done a lot of thinking about how easily children assimilate multiple mediums into one piece of art.  I guess I'm trying to knock down some learned barriers and just make art out of anything.  Here is the piece so far:

Be well and I promise the next post will be soon :)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Painting to Music

We had a visitor to my Intuitive Painting class last night. His name is Adam Marks and he is the pianist for The Fifth House Ensemble here in Chicago. They reach out to other artists and programs in the area and incorporate the resulting collaboration in their concerts. Adam brought recordings of the pieces they will be performing this Saturday at the Merit School of Music and played them for my class. I was really blown away by the work that came out of my students and it will be projected during the concert. I could not resist the siren call of paint and music and made my own work along with my students:

I don't know why I don't do that more often- it taps into a different place in my brain to do quick automatic paintings to music. I'm hoping my students enjoyed it as much as I did, and I look forward to looking at all the work and having a chance to talk about it next week.  It's so important to step back from the usual painting routine and just play.  It felt really good.

Enjoy your day!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Stomach Bug Go Away

Wow. The past 10 days have been an experience. I thought painting with a one year old in your studio was difficult, but I had never had the delight of a stomach flu hitting both parents and child at once. I had the special treat of having it twice! Sickness does make for vivid dreaming. Most of mine involved some sort of escape, either from a place or from my body with a lot of floating, spinning, and flipping through space.

Happily, I'm back on the ground now and hoping to get back into the studio this weekend to stretch another couple canvasses and get to work. I do think I'm finished now with my first acrylic piece on canvas. Phin had helped me with part of it (which was planned) and put a few purple crayon marks on part of it (unplanned). But I'm leaving the crayon marks in because: #1. Phin was there and is a huge part of my life, and #2. The marks integrate just fine with that portion of the painting, so why would I change it?

Here are the "Phin marks":

And here is the finished piece:

I also was able to get a small painting on panel completed the day before the illness came to stay. I think having to work quickly because Phin is there with me actually helps me in the studio. I do a lot more active thinking with a brush and knife in my hand rather than agonizing over each step while sipping coffee.

I'm still working with bird imagery, but am starting to think about what may come next or start mixing with the birds. I may begin to take some of Phin's obsessions as fodder. He cannot get enough of the moon and planets. I am updating this blog at 4:30 saturday morning so I don't have to keep telling him, "No moon, mommy is working" when he wants to look at images of the moon on the screen. "The Moon" is a pretty huge subject and one of the most common poetry inducing items. But I'm thinking of it more as a quality of light and a way to play with the space of the painting. A week and a half ago there was a full moon and Mike called to have me take Phin outside to see it (now every time we put on coats to go outside Phin both signs and says "moon" in anticipation) It was impressive. Here is a page from my journal:

City living. You just don't get an unobstructed view of the low, full moon.

As it is Saturday at 4:45 a.m., I'm going to slip back into bed now and hopefully dream. I will leave you with this sketch from my journal of my sleeping Phineas.

Take care,