Friday, September 21, 2012

Mixed Media and Chicken Soup

When I posted a blog last week, I mentioned my concern about getting enough artwork produced for an upcoming local artists show at my landlord's gallery for the October Second Saturday Art Hop.  I don't think I need to be concerned about coming up with enough work.  I still have almost three weeks to go, and I'm really enjoying being very productive, both at making artwork and in other arenas of my life.

The diptych above is called "Freak Flag," and I made it on two discarded shelves that I found at the thrift store.  I used scarves that hadn't sold on eBay to make the blue field and the stripes with their paisley overlay, and then I did a bunch of painting using acrylics.  A final touch which is difficult to see in the photo is that there are red glass gems that really draw the eye to the non-stripe elements.  It is a fun piece--not my best work, but someone is going to love it and take it home.  I will probably wait to show this one in November at the Trash Bash show that will feature recycled artwork.  

 For the October show, I'm mostly creating works on canvas that combine fabric and acrylic painting.  The one shown here is called "Swirl," and it's an extension of all of the mandalas I've been drawing by hand for the past six months or so.  Basically I'm just taking the mandala drawing into another medium.  This one was fun to paint, but a little more precise work than I usually enjoy.  I like the sense of being able to slap paint on something, without having to be too exacting about it.  

This one, called "Wild Thing," is a little more my style.  Yes, it's a painted mandala with fabric elements, but it's more haphazard.  This one was really, really fun to make, and I think the end result shows that.

Here's another mixed media picture that I completed yesterday.  This one has some floral scarf pieces overlaid with those leaf-type shapes from a vintage Vera Neumann scarf.  I call it "Viva Vera," and I hope it will be the first of many tributes to my favorite textiles designer.  

In this picture, I wanted to echo the flowers from the Vera scarf, but there was so much going on already that I was hesitant to paint a lot of flowers.  So I simplified it by making some potato prints of flowers instead of painting individual flowers.  The prints make the flowers more uniform in size and color than they would be if I'd freehand painted them.  

The main challenge I had with this piece was that it was too, too much!  Each fabric had a lot of color and texture, and some of the colors were really bright.  For a while, this work was so wildly colored that it looked the Easter Bunny had exploded while breaking through a stained glass window.  But I was able to tone it down and bring more unity to the picture by doing a lavender watercolor wash over some of it.

In addition to creating artwork, I've been getting a lot of scarves listed on eBay.  I also worked three partial days in a row in the new store, where we sold quite a bit of my landlord's old furniture.  Now I have some time off from working while the store is being painted and readied for being officially opened in October.  

I am thrilled by some of the developments as they have occurred.  It looks like I'll not only be selling the larger furniture that comes into January's, but also the clothing!  That will be really fun.  There are two dressing rooms already built into the new store space.  I'm looking forward to dressing up a little myself, after several years of wearing mostly T-shirts and jeans or shorts.  

Also, we're going to use a gallery picture-hanging system in the new store, so it will be easy to change out artwork.  January is open to my ideas about doing some calls for artists to put together some theme shows.  I can hardly wait!  I am going to learn so much from doing the PR and curating duties. 

My pace of producing artwork has slowed down a little the past couple of days.  I have a cold and I'm spending a few days taking really good care of myself.  Back when I lived in the Pacific Northwest, my colds often used to escalate into sinus infections or bronchitis, but that hasn't happened since I moved to the Southwest.  The hotter, dryer weather helps, and so does the fact that I use a Neti pot and give myself the time I need to rest.  Earlier this week, I made a big pot of chili with lots of garlic in it, and that seemed to help.  Today I have a big pot of homemade chicken soup on the stove.  I hope I'm back to my higher level of energy soon!        

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Materials of Life

 Sonja checking out my new dresser

Last week I wrote about wanting surfaces to paint and buying some artist boards in order to have some.  Since then, many surfaces have come into my life.  Don't tell me the Law of Attraction doesn't work!  Of course, it helps that I live practically next-door to a thrift store and make a practice of keeping an eye on the loading dock.  

I am feathering my nest.  I bought a dresser from another antique dealer, Don Hallock, who lives a fascinating life.  He's a civil aviation collector who will be starting a museum here in TorC, and his wife, Priscilla Spitler, is a nationally known bookbinder.  You should see their respective workshops!  Wow!  I wish I'd had my camera with me when I visited their home. I could write numerous blog entries just about them and their work.

But I'll stick to my own.  While Don and Priscilla are painstakingly meticulous in how they execute their work, I'm more of a play-in-the-mud splasher.  I got the dresser home from Don's, thought about making it pristine white or neatly adding a few Southwest motifs, and then got out my acrylics and just started painting haphazard stripes in some of my favorite colors.  I like how it turned out.  It's a really happy dresser to wake up to in the morning.  I particularly like how the colors flow into one another.  

I needed the dresser because I had my winter clothes packed away in bags, and it's about time to start wearing long-sleeved garments again, at least some of the time.  We've had quite a bit of rain lately and occasional temps as low as the 60s.  

 Bulletin board above my drawing desk

In addition to finding and receiving furniture for my own home, I've also been acquiring some great stuff to make into art pieces.  And thank goodness for that!  When I went to the Art Hop on Saturday night, I stopped in at Grapes, a gallery owned by my landlord.  I mentioned to him that I was looking forward to showing some work in his gallery for the November Trash Bash (a recycled art show that I mentioned in my last blog entry), and he said they could also use my work for their October local artists show.  Each artist will have about 10 or 12 feet of wall space, and so far they only had about four people signed up and needed another half dozen or more.  So I said, "Sure, that would be great."  

Then I went home and couldn't sleep that night, wondering how the heck I was going to fill up all that space!  But it's okay.  Stuff is coming to me.  I'm working on an old rococo shelf that needs rehabbing, using papier-mache to make it into a Freakishly Ornate Rococo Shelf, or a Ro-Cuckoo Shelf, if you will.

It followed me home, Mom, I swear.
Then I ran across a banjo case that is so beat up, it's no longer functional for its original purpose.  I'm not sure what I will make of it yet, but the idea of a Steve Martin tribute is attractive to me.
  The inspector at work
Finding the banjo case reminded me that I have a couple of inexpensive ukeleles amongst my art supplies, and they make great canvases for mosaic, collage and painting, as well.  And I ran across some old shelving at the thrift store that is quickly becoming a multimedia diptych that I'll photograph and share in my next blog post.  
Being in such an acquisitional frame of mind, today I am buying a vehicle that is NOT an RV.  Well, it actually could be an RV if I chose to use it as one, but it's a 1998 Ford Windstar mini-van that I'm going to use as a small cargo van.
I'll be able to deliver furniture for customers at January's (for an extra fee--the store doesn't offer delivery) and I'll also be able to drive down to Las Cruces or up to Albuquerque to buy furniture that I'd like to resell here in TorC.  I've used my small Class C Toyota Dolphin to do a lot of eBay fodder shopping across the country, but a major limitation to the kind of stuff I'm into lately is that the Guppy has only a person-sized door.  My van will be great for larger items.
And it will be another canvas.  It's got some cosmetic damage--no accidents, just peeling away of some of the paint layers as a result of the beating it's gotten from the sun here in the Southwest.  I've always wanted to have an art car!   



Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hooked on Painting

 Collective Dream
Multimedia, 2012

So I have a new obsession (Geesh!  Like I needed any more!)   I love to paint.  In the past, I took some painting classes, but I've mostly just painted as a part of a larger project.  Furniture that I'm going to mosaic, for instance, often needs to be painted first.  But now, all of a sudden, I can't get enough of painting just for the sake of painting.  

The painting above is actually a multimedia piece.  I did it for an upcoming event here in Truth or Consequences that will happen in November.  An organization called Bountiful Alliance does all sorts of healthy things in our community, including heading up the local farmers market and providing a community kitchen where bakers and chefs can produce salable products without having to get their own kitchens certified by local health inspectors.  

In November, Bountiful Alliance is holding a month-long event focusing on Recycling called the T or C Trash Bash.  It will open with a fundraising exhibit of artwork at Grapes, a gallery on Main Street, with artwork made from recycled, repurposed or salvaged materials.

I'll definitely be bringing some of my mosaic works to the show, but I wanted to try some other media, too.  I literally rescued the stretched canvas for the above painting out of a dumpster.  It was an acrylic painting by an amateur artist who was giving up and throwing away his work (I also managed to wangle his left-over gesso and unstretched canvas from him).  To add to the recycled character of this piece, I also used three of my scarves that did not sell on eBay as part of the work, cutting them into pieces and gluing them to the canvas.  Then I added acrylic painting that echoed the motifs in the scarves.  Not surprisingly, in a mandala shape. 

I like the end result, and I named the work Collective Dream.  It reminds me of my dreams, which are usually never just about one thing.  My dreams are both enlightening and mysterious, uplifting and brooding.  Contrasts that somehow manage to coalesce into one entity, like this multimedia work.  

I can't wait to paint some more.  I mean it, I can't wait.  Today I need to sell stuff on eBay so I can afford to keep doing artwork, but first thing this morning I went out and bought artist board and talked with Ruanna at Hot Springs Frame Shop about board vs. canvas so I can decide which to buy next.  But, for now, I simply needed surfaces on which to paint, so I bought a couple of canvas-covered artist boards. 

I will try to abstain from painting today until I at least get a few scarves photographed and listed on eBay.  This craving to paint is a lot like how I used to feel when I still drank, and I would have to try to wait until 5 p.m. in order to be somewhat civilized.   
Sunrise photo taken from just outside my apartment door

Look at the sunrise!  How could anybody NOT want to paint?  

And then there is my cat.  Every day, she makes herself the subject of artwork yet to be executed.  

 Sonja in the big chair that Barbara gave me

My apartment is coming together.  I've become a lot more invested in it recently, now that I know I'm going to stay here in Truth or Consequences for a while.  I had borrowed some furniture from my landlord and my employer.  Almost all of this has now been returned, and I've replaced it with pieces I've either purchased or been given.  

My friends Barbara and Kathleen are moving away to Maine, to a smaller home, and they have generously given me a nice big living room chair and ottoman and some shelving.  Then I bought a futon last week to use as a couch in the living room and as a spare bed for when my son Sly comes to visit.  I bought a big work table for photographing my eBay stuff and working on big pieces of art.  I have a smaller table/desk for drawing and a computer desk.  My dining room is, in fact, an office and art studio, and I usually eat in the living room while reading or watching TV.  I've gotten a bookcase from my new employer, January, and I'll also be buying a dresser from her out of my first paycheck.  I am invested.

I have even bought a couple of really snazzy fresh design items online at, including a wall clock and a pendant lamp.  If you haven't tried it, Fab has really juicy daily offerings of modern and vintage design, at all price points, for everyone.  If you decide to go check out Fab, please go through this link so I can get some points towards future purchases.  Thank you, and you will also thank me.  Fab is irresistible.  Like painting.