Sunday, January 29, 2012

Art prompt #4:an art supply swap could lead to bigger things.

This week's art prompt was to swap supplies or art materials with a friend to spark new ideas.  I like this idea and I decided to take the idea one step further by swapping studio time and expertise as well.  One of my favorite things to do is to visit other artists' studios and be invited to join in a creative process. It reminds me of a woman's quilting bee. Cups of hot steeped tea washing down the energetic gosssip as many hands converge to create a piece that is more than itself.  When you share your inspiration with others, art becomes more than the product.  It becomes a story woven with the wisdom of many others.

With that thought in mind, myself and two aunties converged on my mother's studio a few weeks ago.  We all came with our own baggage: photos, papers, maps, paints, drywall mud and ink.  We also came with varying levels of art experience, none more valid than the other's. I managed to create this piece using art supplies I would never have thought of combining on my own: drywall mud and india ink.

My mom shared her expertise with textured fresco board.  One of my aunties broke out the India Ink along with her ability to be fearless.  She coaxed us into washing black ink over our boards (scary!). She continued by throwing in some maps and drawing her designs in an unforgiving and permanent ink. No such things as mistakes! I read once that a mistake is merely a suggestion of another way to go. At the end of the day all of our projects were wildly different and original from each other. They were also held together with a common thread: our willingness to be together and a mutual passion to be creative.

I'm thinking trading art supplies can be beneficial to any creative group.  Why not trade your basket of stash yarn with a fellow knitter at your next stitch n' bitch?  Or trade a quilted square with another quilter ? Share your art supplies, but also... don't be afraid to share your experience and passion with others!  Throw open your studio doors, put the kettle on and say welcome!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Why I love Painting Curvy Women

Art prompt #3: look through photos on your computer and just pick something for inspiration. As I waded through pages and pages of my own art, photographs of my "art models" and other's people's art I was inspired to write this blog" "Why I Love Painting Curvy Women".

The first time I ever won an award for a painting at a major juried art show, it was for this piece entitled "The Fishing Partner". I love this model.  She is my favorite go to model and she's been the subject of many of my paintings.  She's overweight, she's 59 years old and she's got a twinkle in her eyes that just won't stop.  She also happens to be my mother and she was the first woman I ever fell in love with.

I love painting women because they can't contain themselves. Their stories behind their smiles won't stay hidden.  And why should it? Women are brave and vulnerable, strong and soft, wise and funny. I paint a women's soul as much as her body. And I really do love every shape and size women carry their stories in.  But here's the deal: It is really hard to convince women over a certain size to model nude. Especially since I prefer to paint women who are not professional models.

A couple of years ago I was thinking about this and realized what a hippocrit I was being. I was asking something of my friends and family that I didn't have the confidence to do myself.  So I posed nude and began a series of self portarits.  And it WAS hard.  But it was also freeing. I've now painted about a dozen self portraits and I get braver with each one.

Over the years I've had alot of friends and family pose for me.  I've had women feel beautiful for the first time when they see their paintings. I've had men thank me for painting real women.  I love the connection we all feel when we can see ourselves in another woman's courage. When I first put on show "Tragdey of The G-String" women of all shapes could relate.  I will never forget the woman who stood in front of this painting, laughing her ass off, exclaiming "I hear ya sister!" What more could I ask for?

 visit  to see more of my portraits.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Art prompt #2: Using a viewfinder to isolate pattern and texture

Every morning I take a walk down to the beach with my dogs and kids.  It's about a 40 minute hike and I am surrounded by trees the whole way. It's a beautiful way to start the day.

I really needed the inspiration today because I was not at all happy about using a viewfinder to isolate pattern and texture: challenge #2.  I almost exclusively paint nudes.  The idea of using a viewfinder when painting a woman doesn't sit well with me.  I never want to objectify women by isolating one body part over another. I can't even bear to isolate a woman from her story.  I paint both.

And painting landscapes?  Ughh!  Although I can enjoy looking at landscapes I have never enjoyed painting them.  So what was I to do with today's challenge? I needed a muse.

I turned to the trees: sensual bark, rotting and peeling trees, driftwood, the firewood I had to stack when I got home, branches and roots stretched out over rocks.  Big amazing trees larger than life.  Old gnarled trees humbled by time and the elements. The tree; the only one brave enough to remove her clothing for the winter, baring her arms on this cold chilly morning. I love her skin, her bark.  It is tough, yet she can be wounded.

By the time I got back to my studio I wanted desperately to unzip her bark and run my hands along her smooth inner bark. I wanted to know the heart of her. I put away my brightly pigmented paints and smooth canvases.  Too garish, this was no painted lady. I brought out my beeswax, resin and wooden sticks.  The studio air quickly smelled of her spirit. I unzipped her bark and searched for her heart.

I'm not finished with her portrait yet.  I have a small poem I'd like to inscribe on her exposed inner bark tomorrow. But for now she waits. She is still my muse. There is still time to carve my love letters into her.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

"Take 5" was just the kick in the ass I needed : why art prompts are my new resolution.

Every September I throw myself into homeschooling my two sons (now aged 11 and 14) and believe me, that's a full time job.  By October I start working on all the hand made Christmas gifts I create, which usually means spending about 4 hours a day sitting on the right side of my couch knitting like a mad woman: socks, hats, scarves, fingerless mittens and even sweaters for those dearest to me.  By November I can't rememebr where I put the keys to my studio and by December I've forgotten that I'm even an artist. Is it any wonder that when I break into my studio in Januaury it looks like this?

An alarming mix of blank canvases, abandoned tools and half finished works. Where do I even begin?  This year I have decided to embrace art prompts.  In the latest issue of Cloth, Paper, Scissors there is a wonderful list of 52 art prompts; one for each week of the year. I'm going to randonly choose one every Friday and see what I can make of it. I'll even blog about it every Saturday morning so you can get inspired too.

Week 1: "Take 5"  Go to your studio and choose the nearest 5 objeccts to you and create art with it.  Here's what I started with: a cradled panel, red paper, a scrabble game, glass shards,and a photo of one of my favorite dogs taken by my photographer friend Mar Lovejoy.

I know not every thing I create will become worthy of showing and selling.  I had to decide right away that wasn't the point.  The point of art prompts is to get me out in the studio in the first place and to kick start a weekend of creative frenzy. The piece will be finished later today, but here's how it's coming out so far.

So if your muse has left you, try some art prompts.  Start with taking 5!