As you probably know, I moved into a new studio this past year, and as I’ve been sorting through my work, I noticed I had a lot of smaller paintings and works on paper. Many of these are either studies for larger works, small works from a larger series, or figure drawings from multiple live modeling sessions I’ve attended over the past few years. Seeing these works, and considering the current ‘economic crisis,’ I was inspired to create a show that involved 50 works of art for only $50 each.
I wanted to make my art affordable for those who want to collect my work, but may not be ready to invest in larger, more expensive paintings. I also personally love to see artists’ quick studies and smaller works, as I feel that they sometimes show spontaneity that larger, more deliberate works may not possess. Maybe you’ll enjoy that, too.
About half are works on paper, and the other half are paintings. The largest work is 30 x 22″ and the smallest work is 8 x 8″. There are quite a few figurative works in the show, which may seem out of line with the work that is currently on my web site. However, I have always really loved figure drawing. (Ok, maybe not my first day of Figure Drawing 101, when I was too embarrassed to actually look around my drawing board to see the nude male model. But soon, I began to love the endless possibilities of drawing the figure, with all its angles and curves and lines). I still attend sessions with live models as often as I can. It gives me a great excuse to play with color and line. These figures are going to show up in new work, too, so keep an eye out.
I’m trying to keep most of the show under wraps until the opening. If you can’t make the show, I’ll have it posted here on the blog on Saturday (09/22/12). Click the 50/50 link at the top of the page.
If you just can’t wait, and want to be teased a bit, here are some detail shots of some of the work.
I had the privilege of hosting a workshop yesterday for several art teachers here in Frisco. At the end of the day, I challenged them to go out and participate in “guerilla” art. (I was inspired by Keri Smith’s “The Guerilla Art Kit” — a great, easy-to-use book on how to get started making anonymous, public art). They divided into 6 different groups and each went out to make their mark on the world. Here’s what they did:
The guerilla group known as “Sam Itch“ left hidden fortunes about town for others to find. Wish I could have found one, or been a fly on the wall somewhere to see when someone came across each one. Hopefully, some unsuspecting passers-by made fortunate discoveries!
Another group, cleverly known as “notice the name of my group” left little notices in a local park — encouraging others to see the beauty around them.
“Notice the Nice Kick” encourages viewers to examine a public sculpture that the viewer must look inside of and spin the wheel to view the football player kicking a football.
The CMs made a Wish Tree. They created leaves and wrote their own wishes – then left blank ones on the tree for others to add to. (I got to add my own wish to this one).
“Big Pine”made ‘friendly’ notes out of simple circles.
This is one of my favorites – I love the way adding the eyes makes the locker look like a face!
The “Rockerillas” transformed a rock garden into a work of art.
Very cool! And last — but definitely not least — is a work done with chalk.
Thanks to all of these artists for sharing their work! Keep up the creativity this summer!
Here’s a look at some of my newest work, hanging in the Iconic Love show here in Frisco.
Here is a look at my work at the Discovery Center (8004 N. Dallas Pkwy). The reception for that venue is this Friday, February 17, from 6:30 – 9:00pm. Come see it — they all look so much better in person! Details (and better pics) on my web site www.moliverfoster.com.
Announcing my newly published art book, “(how to be) a work of art.”
It is a simple, easy to read book (your 1st grader can read it), with insight for all ages! Each image is one of my favorites, and includes a one-word synopsis that hints at the meaning behind the art work.
This is great for a coffee table book. Click the image at the top of this post to preview and order the book online.
One book that has seriously changed the way I view myself as an art-maker and a human is Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. Once I completed the book (much like a 12-step program for recovering artists), my mindset had been changed forever. No longer was I waiting around for someone else to give me permission to be what I wanted to be. And I learned to let my art be a form of play, not so much work.
I’m starting a series of art classes based on this principle of play, using a variety of media to inspire my students to let themselves actually have a good time while making art.
I believe you can use the skills and techniques of art to communicate your ideas, but without the element of play, the art lacks soul. Allowing yourself to play allows you to use the part of your brain that you don’t control. Think about kids and their imaginations. Let’s get back to that again.
For more information on my classes, visit www.freshpaints.com/classes. I will start another series after the New Year, so check back for new class schedules. Let me know if you’d like to join me.
“Creativity requires faith. Faith requires that we relinquish control.” ― Julia Cameron.
I’m thrilled to announce that the wait is over, and I finally have a new art studio! I’ve had my sights set on this space for the last six months, and we were finally able to seal the deal this past week, purchasing our new home and studio-to-be.
The studio is still a diamond in the rough, but it has so much potential to be a wonderful work space. Formerly used as a detached 2-car garage, it also has a screened-in porch and a 10×10′ storage area. As you can see from the photo, there are lots of mature trees on the property, and a meandering path to the studio from our kitchen. The interior needs quite a lot of TLC to become a functioning studio, but it does have electricity and running water, so that’s a great start.
Keep checking back — I will post my studio renovation progress here on the Fresh Paint blog.
“Originals” is a multi-media, multi-genre, multi-cultural event, combining the talents of three original singer/songwriters and four talented visual artists, for a night of multi-sensory experience.
This event kicks off the new HD venue, Theatre 166 in Carrollton, offering suburban art and music lovers an inexpensive night out on the town.
The evening will feature an exciting art exhibit, curated by thegallery8680, featuring artists Misty Oliver-Foster , Brandon Snow, and Amy Ishmeal Carter, and Asher Feehan in the gallery hall.
The concert will take place in an “Austin City Limits” style listening room, presenting Peter Bixby in a short singer/songwriter style set, original contemporary Latin Fusion music byTania Cordobés, with a special ensemble including some of the area’s finest professional Latin music specialists ( Carlos ‘Fifo’ Rengifo, Jorge Ginorio, Jose Aponte, Yoban Quijano), and an original set by “Stereo Child”, featuring Christian Ross, Peter Bixby and Lisa Clough-Lachri.
The listening room has 124 seats available, so seats are limited. Tickets are $10, and may be purchased at the door.
Theatre 166 is located at 2425 Parker Road, Carrollton, Texas 75010. If you are driving from the Dallas North Tollway, exit and go west on Parker, it’s not very far past the Arbor Hills trails on the right, kind of where Plano turns into Carrollton.
Theatre 166 is BYOB for adult beverages. Lone Star coffee sells light snacks, coffee and the like. True Spirits is next door and they have a large selection of beverages if you need to pick something up at the last moment.
The show begins at 7:30 pm on Friday evening, Sept. 30, 2011. and will last until about 10:30 pm.
So if you’ve found me here, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve already heard about the artseen studio tour, coming in October to Frisco. Just in case you haven’t, let me fill you in.
Earlier in the year, I began collaborating with other artists and art lovers to come up with a way to connect our working artists with the community. Many of us are involved with local arts groups, such as Frisco Arts and the Visual Arts Guild of Frisco, and we participate in many shows here in the area, including the great shows at thegallery8680. But we wanted to make a more personal connection with other artists, collectors and admirers that we’ve met (and hopefully, some that we haven’t yet). We decided to organize a studio tour, opening our creative spaces to the public. And, thus, the artseen studio tour was born!
We’ve gathered a group of fifteen talented and diverse artists who wanted to show the community what they make and how they make it. Some will be at their home studios, and others have paired with merchants in downtown Frisco to bring their ‘studio’ to the streets. As a result, most of our artists are geographically close together, making the tour easy for our guests. In addition to the artists, thegallery8680 is a part of the tour, featuring their new show “Black&White.” The Visual Arts Guild of Frisco will host their Fall Member Show, “Beautiful” at The Art Gallery at Frisco Discovery Center during the tour as well.
We are delighted to have two unique art collections open to the public during the tour. Frisco residents Rex & Betsy Lowe are opening their home for guests to view their amazing private art collection in their Starwood home, and Marla Fields has gathered a small collection of works by Texas artist Frank Reaugh to be on display at her historic home in downtown Frisco. We are so privileged to have these collections on the tour, and we are grateful to the Lowes and Ms. Fields for joining us.
I hope you can make it to my studio on October 15 or 16. I will be showing a lot of work that I haven’t shown before — drawings, prints, and mixed media works, as well as paintings that you love. I’m looking forward to getting to share my sacred studio space with you.
Welcome to my new blog! After much deliberation, I’ve decided to start a new blog- new title and everything- to contain my latest news, updates, artwork, and ideas. My old blog was ok, but due to the fact that it was linked thru my yahoo account, I was having a hard time updating and posting as easily as I wanted to. Blogs really shouldn’t be that difficult! So I decided to start fresh.
With this blog I hope to post more often, add more photos, and let you know a little bit more about myself. I also have a lot of new ideas and artwork to show you. So, check back often!
My next big adventure is the artseen studio tour, coming this October 15 & 16. I will open my studio for visitors, and I hope you can stop by. In addition to participating in the tour, I’m also coordinating it. It’s quite a lot of work, but I’m very excited to start an art tour here in Frisco. There are so many really talented artists here. Hope to see you at the studio tour!
I got to spend this past weekend exhibiting at Art City Austin, enjoying a great location right at the intersection of the 1st Street Bridge and Caesar Chavez streets.
It was great hearing what attracted people to my work, and it’s always interesting how different artworks affect different people. Of course, most people knew right away if they even wanted to wander into my booth– if they were afraid of color, then my art wasn’t for them. But those who have a passion for color like I do, came on in and took some time to study the layers in my work. They were often impressed by the depth of color in my work. A lot of my works have many layers of paint — (sometimes one or two entire paintings) underneath the surface. I also use glazes in my work to create transparent layers, which really help to make the colors deep. It’s really hard to get good photographs of my work, and seeing them in person is the only way to truly appreciate the depth of color.
I met a lot of great people — gave away hundreds of business cards, and sold several works of art. Thanks to Patrick, Ellie, Colleen, Remi, and Katherine for their patronage and encouragement! Austin has been one of my favorite places to visit for the past couple of years, and Art City Austin was a great place to show my work.
When I moved to Frisco, TX almost five years ago, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect on a personal level. I knew it had great schools, so that appealed to my maternal need to give my kids “the best.” It has a pretty good city plan, as far as suburbs go. And we found a good little house in a nice neighborhood at a great price. Plus, it had a studio for me! But I wondered what would be in store for me career wise– you know, artistically. At the time, I was doing a lot of decorative painting, which included murals and faux finishes, and Frisco was (and still is) one of the fastest-growing cities in the US. There were lots of possibilities for those kinds of jobs here. I kept pretty busy.
On the side, I was making my art when I could, and I was eager to meet other artists. I was hoping that the art scene reflected the progressive attitude I saw in the rest of the city. I joined the local art guild, and soon started meeting some great artists — many artists around my age who were making some really great work. It really inspired me to keep making more art and to keep showing it. Over the past couple of years, the art guild has grown into a really cool group (www.vagf.org), and it looks like the rest of the city is catching up.
This past weekend, we hosted the reception for our first show of 2011, “Resolutions,” to a crowd of well over 100 people. We had a great time hanging out at the new Discovery Center– Frisco’s new visual and performing arts venue. Awards were given, artwork was sold, new connections were made. I had several conversations with other Friscoans (non-artists) that had been longing for art events to attend within the city limits. They could actually have a classy date-night right here in town.
The previous weekend, thegallery8680 held their first opening of the year, and I am privileged to be a part of that show. Director Robyn Parker Feehan is the visionary behind thegallery8680; she started the space last year to promote contemporary artists in the region. This show, “Celebrating Women Artists” includes photography, drawing, painting and mixed media works from nine female artists from Texas. The reception was a great success, again with over 100 people in attendance. More proof that Frisco is becoming a hot spot for the visual arts in North Texas!
I really believe that moving to Frisco was the right move for me as an artist. We’ve got a core group of artists who are working to create an active arts community. It’s still in the formative stage, but we’re definitely headed in the right direction. It will be interesting to see what the next few years bring.
If you’re in town, check out these exhibits:
The “Resolutions” VAGF Member Show will be on display at Frisco Discovery Center through Saturday, February 26. Frisco Discovery Center is located at 8004 N. Dallas Parkway, Frisco 75034. Hours are M-F 10-5, Sat. 10-6 and Sun. noon-6pm. Admission is free. Information on the Visual Arts Guild of Frisco can be found at www.vagf.org.
“Celebrating Women Artists” runs through March 12 at thegallery8680, located at 8680 Main Street, Frisco 75034. There will be a daytime reception/luncheon on Wednesday, March 9, from 11:30am – 3:00pm. Visit thegallery8680 blog at www.thegallery8680.blogspot.com. Call Robyn for an appointment to see the artwork at 214.585.8175.
As I mentioned before, I’ve begun a new fixation with pears. They have shown up in some my paintings over the past couple of years, but this time they’re the main attraction. I’ve been buying pears each time I go to the grocery store, and then I’ll come home and set them up on my kitchen table. I’ll draw directly from observation, as well as take a ton of digital photos. These photos were the source for this new set of drawings. I took some photos during the day, and some at night, trying to create the right groupings, lighting and composition.
As much of my other work, these explore family relationships. However, instead of using people, I put pears as stand-ins for myself and others. (The titles give a clue to what’s going on in each composition). It’s funny that even my kids know which pear specifically represents them without me telling them. Now I have dozens (maybe hundreds) of new reference photos, with all kinds of “people” in them, so there’s no telling how many drawings and paintings I’ll do in this series.
Through this process, I’ve discovered a renewed interest in drawing, specifically in charcoal. I enjoy working really loose, and gradually building up rich, dark values. Working in monochrome has been liberating, as I don’t have to worry about color. It has been a good diversion from painting. As I started back on some of my paintings today, I had a fresher outlook. I found that my mind had shifted into a different kind of art-making, and helped me get back to painting with a new perspective. Plus I think I came out with some interesting drawings, and I’m inspired to do even more.
“One of the hardest things in the world is to see yourself objectively. I’m not sure it’s even possible.”
I recently (last week) decided to start doing at least one self-portrait every year. I’ve only really done a few “official” self-portraits in the past. Of course, each work of art has my heart and soul in it, but there are some that are more personally reflective than others. Let me share them with you.
Here’s the earliest self-portrait I can find, made in August of 1988, when I was fifteen. I hadn’t had a lot of artistic training up to that point, but I think I got a pretty good likeness. At least that’s how I remember myself looking. (Check out those bangs!)
I’ll continue by skipping the horrible self-portrait I did in college, the result of a class assignment. A family member owns it now and will not let me take it back and destroy it. Or atleast paint over it. If I have anything to do with it, that painting will NOT make it into the art history books. It’s humiliating on so many levels.
Here’s a charcoal self-portrait I did several years back when I was teaching and my students were working on self-portraits. I didn’t put a date on this drawing, but I’m pretty sure it was made in the fall of 2001, right after 9/11. I was expecting my second child and had lots on my mind. Maybe that explains the serious look.
Here’s something that started out as a self-portrait, but ended up not as an image of me, but a reflection of how I felt at the time…
This was begun in 2006 (top), when I was going through a very difficult time in my life. The title was always the same, “Ou est la joie de vivre?” Translated from French to English, it means “Where is the Joy of Life?” It’s also a play on words, because the collaged images that I used were taken from a wallpaper pattern called ‘Joie de Vivre,’ which shows families happily working and frolicking, just happy to be alive, I guess. No worries in this ideal world. I worked on this painting over the next three years, keeping the collaged elements, but at some point I took out my likeness and replaced it with a woman who is turned away from the viewer. Possibly the journey in this painting is more valuable than the end product. But I think that’s true for all of my work.
Last year I made this 4×4 inch collage entitled “36” that I consider my self portrait for 2009. It’s definitely more lighthearted than some in previous years, thank goodness!
This painting, although I wouldn’t consider it a self-portrait, has a lot of personal connections. Also completed last year, “She Comes from Texas” uses the image of the Venus de Milo as the main subject. The title comes from a collaged passage, located below her feet. It is a quote Ernest Hemmingway, which I found in another book, written in the 1950s. It says, “With us, if a girl is really beautiful, she comes from Texas and maybe, with luck, she can tell you what month it is. They can all count good, though. They teach them how to count, and keep their legs together, and how to put their hair up in pin curls.”
Obviously, the point here is the irony, but I think the quote hit a nerve with me. Growing up in rural Texas, I often felt that I was viewed this way by the men and boys I grew up with. In our small-town culture, the main way I saw males communicate with females was through teasing. Most of it was light-hearted, but I tended to take things very personally, and really never felt very good about it. I learned to smile, though. As a matter of fact, one of my nicknames given to me from male coaches as a teenager was “smiley,” (in addition to “stubby” and “air head deluxe”). I thought that most men thought I was pretty dumb. Wonder why?
So here is my latest “self-portrait.” I’ve been working on it for a few months, but just completed it yesterday. There’s a lot going on here, but I think that is the perfect reflection of who I am right now. There is charcoal, paint, furniture molding, computer keyboard parts, a playing card, and collaged wallpaper. The central figure doesn’t look anything like me, but I think she reflects confidence. I’ve been growing in that this year. Probably my favorite part of this is the blue square behind the girl’s head — it’s a Post-It Note. Any mother or ambitious woman can relate to needing constant reminders, all over the place, all the time. It’s definitely been one of those years for me.
It will be interesting to see how my life, my style and my self-perception changes over the years. I’ll keep you posted.
“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.
Art is knowing which ones to keep.”
I like my work best when I let myself be free and loose, and not getting too attached to what’s on the canvas at any given moment. Sounds fun, but it really isn’t that easy to do. I have to keep reminding myself “Don’t be afraid to mess up. It’s just paint.” To really make progress, I have to get into this certain frame of mind, where I’m immersed in the paint, and not really thinking about the outcome. It’s a place of subconscious that I haven’t been able to explain…..until today.
When I found this quote yesterday, I didn’t know who Scott Adams was, so I did a little research on him today. Turns out, he’s the creator of the “Dilbert” cartoon. I checked out his blog (www.dilbert.com), and guess what he posted about today? He talks about his theory that artists get “Crazy Eyes” when they’re in the creative ‘zone.’ You can read about it here. http://www.dilbert.com/blog/entry/crazy_eyes/ Really funny stuff.
Yep, that’s a good way of explaining it — crazy eyes! That “sort of glassy, unblinking, dreamy, scary look” when someone is lost in their own imagination. I’ve never checked out my eyes in the mirror when I’m in that zone, but I can only imagine that they must look crazy. I think my husband has noticed it. He’ll say something like, “I can see your wheels turning.” Usually, in a matter of minutes, I’m in my studio, with paint on my feet and in my hair. Fortunately, some of the paint lands on the canvases I’m working on as well.
That makes me think about this painting that I finished this last month. It’s inspired by a Crazymaker that I know (a term coined by Julia Cameron in “The Artist’s Way,” and not at all the same as Crazy Eyes). This Crazymaker had been making quite a bit of crazy for me over the past several months, so this painting was my therapy to work through some frustrations. I scraped on a background layer of color, then added some personal thoughts with charcoal. The next part is kind of a blur, because I let myself just let go and not worry about how it came out. I had nothing to lose. This painting came together quickly and I couldn’t have created it if I had been trying. I just let myself make some mistakes, and artfully chose the ones to keep.
Some trivia: Scott Adams grew up in Windham, NY, and I grew up in Windom, TX. Quite a serendipitous day.
I had a lot of fun playing around with a new media today. Since I’ve noticed a lot of pears showing up in my work, I bought a bunch of fresh pears at the grocery store last night. I thought it might inspire me. Add the pears with several brand new bottles of brightly colored ink that have been awaiting the right day, and the inspiration was born!
Here’s one of the first sketches I made with charcoal. I added color with the ink, diluting it like watercolor. Once it was dry, I used oil pastels, and later chalk pastels to outline, highlight, shade and add definition.
After doing a few of these, I started to loosen up a bit. I kept the washes pretty light and loose, adding salt for texture. Here are some of the looser ones.
I have to include these two (below) because they made me laugh. Some of the ink took quite a long time to dry, and when I moved the paper, the ink ran. I knew that would happen, but I just wanted to play around and see what came of it. The pears grew appendages.
When my daughter got home from school, she saw my “models” (to use her terminology) on the table. She, too, thought they looked a lot like people. She had an acorn and put it on the stem of one of the pears, telling me to make it look like a head. So here’s the result of our creative collaboration.
These are all relatively small, done on 9 x 12″ watercolor paper.
It has finally cooled off here– no more 100 degree heat. The mornings are a little chilly, and the afternoons are warm with a cool breeze. Amazing what that can do for your outlook. Perfect weather to make some art!
Within the past few weeks, I’ve completed about two dozen new works of art, from tiny 4 x 4″ works, to larger paintings and mixed media pieces. Some of them I started several months ago, and others I started and finished within a couple of days. I wanted to share a couple of the “before” and “after” pics with you.
Here’s a photo of some ‘works-in-progress’ that I posted on my Facebook page back in July. I had been having fun layering paint, spraying the wet paint and watching it run. I didn’t really know where I was going with these paintings, but I like to work on top of a layered background anyway, so at least I had a starting point.
And here’s how they ended up–
This painting, “Home” started out as the painting on the far left (above). As you can see, not much of the original underpainting is left, and the canvas was turned horizontally rather than vertically. The layered underpainting did help create a jumping off point. I started scraping layers of paint on top of it, and added layers of glazes for depth. I was encouraged by my friend Robyn to do a larger version of ‘Home,’ as the first one was just 6 x 12.” So this canvas seemed to be a good fit.I changed up the colors a bit, but I’m really pleased with how it came out.
This one started out as the painting in the center (top photo). Again, not much of the original layers are showing. I absolutely love the deep turquoise blue. I don’t think the photo shows the colors very well — I may have to get one of my professional photo friends to help me out with a better shot. It’s got a nice, glossy varnish on top that brings out the juicy colors. I did a little writing in charcoal between the layers of paint, and that’s where this painting gets it’s title, “Give Yourself Freedom.” I think I was listening to a Tivo’d episode of Oprah late one night, and got inspired by that phrase, which struck a chord with me, because I think much of what holds me back is not restrictions given by anyone else but myself. Just in case you can’t tell, the white spot on the canvas is actually a keyboard piece that says ‘enter.’
As far as the third painting from the studio shot (the one with the figure in the top photo), it’s still a work in progress. I think I’ve almost worked it to death. We’ll see if it survives or gets reincarnated.
(Update: The third painting did, in fact, get reincarnated – only the bird survived. It is now “The Progression of Things.”
So, as I briefly mentioned in my last post, I’ve started playing around with text a little bit more in my work. I’ve already been using text for a while, but mostly through collage only. I recently came across some old keyboards and thought some of the keys might make some interesting additions to my work.
The above image is a piece of art that I just finished, titled “Home.” I’ve had it in the works for a while, layering on color and washes, creating texture and depth. I thought it looked like a landscape or seascape, until I added the pears (a symbol I’ve used in other works). Suddenly it became a still life. The pears are collaged from wallpaper (another domestic reference), but I painted on top of them so much, you can’t see much of the original. I found the perfect text for this one: “Home.” I even left the key messy with paint, to reflect my lived-in, imperfect, but creative home. I’m trying to remind myself that it’s ok if things aren’t perfect, that just makes them more interesting.
The computer keys are a fun element to add into my work, adding a little bit of three-diminsionality, but also contributing to the meaning of the art. Here’s a tiny work that I did recently, only 4 x 4″, titled “Down.” A reminder to sit down and enjoy life once in a while. Breathe.
I am interested in taking art historical depictions of women (typically created by male artists) and keeping the overall composition, but changing the meaning entirely. These women are no longer in the background; they are no longer simply seen as allegories of beauty and desire. They are now active participants in their own life, everyday women with interesting stories to tell.
Stylistically, I prefer looser lines and more abstracted forms than used in traditional paintings. I am influenced by the modernists: Matisse, Picasso, Van Gogh, Valadon, and Toulouse-Lautrec, to name a few. I feel a connection to their liberated use of color and simplification of forms. In this particular work, I first layered paper onto the canvas. The underlying image (a photograph of a sculpture that I took while in Boston) shows through only near the bottom of the composition — the dark areas in the female’s dress, and under the red garment of the child.
Another influece on my art is stained glass windows. I believe this comes from my background in Art History, and eventual travels in Europe. Each panel of stained glass tells a story through simple lines and bold colors. Likewise, each canvas or panel of my work captures a simple moment in time (a conversation, an exchange between mother and child), and elevates it to a moment of the sublime. Although I use the “aura” or halo in some of my work, it not meant to be religious, but rather to bring to light the sacred acts of everyday life. Using these female subjects, much of my art work deals with my interpretation of my own life: my role as mother, daughter, and wife.
Pablo Picasso said, ” Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.” For me, at least, this is true.
A lot has happened since my last post. I can’t believe it’s been so long, but I’ve been so busy creating, that I haven’t had time to write about it!
Between September and now, I’ve participated in one art festival, two solo exhibits, and three group exhibits. I began serving as the President of our local arts Guild in January. And over the past four months I’ve also designed and produced four very large public murals. So, now, it’s time to catch my breath and show you what I’ve been up to.
Starting in October, I began to come up with designs for four murals that would be in the library at Frisco High School. I met with the librarian and principal at FHS, and we discussed how they would like the murals to be very colorful, livening up the library walls and appealing to the students there. They wanted something that reflected how the library was used, and were looking for a more modern, less traditional feel for the murals. Other than that, I was on my own!
This is the first of the four murals, which measures 24′ x 8′, and is located behind the long circulation desk. I call this mural “Connected,” because it shows the students connecting with books, technology and each other in the library. I thought it would be fun to play with scale in the composition, so I made the books and notebook very large. I tried to incorporate a variety of types of students, and I even used four FHS students as models for this mural. By the time I finished, I had several requests from other students who wanted to be painted, too!
After completing my first mural, I moved on to the mural in the entry way of the library. I knew it would be one of the first things you would see when entering, so I wanted to create another image that really grabbed your attention.
On this mural, the background images were inspired by posters featuring travel, science, fine arts, mathematics, health & fitness, etc. Because of the popularity of using the students in the other mural, I photographed FHS students for each of these figures, putting them into the pose I had already sketched out on my plan. I wanted these figures to really “pop,” so I made them resting on blocks that seem to project out into space. It was fun to interact with the students who came into the library. I call this mural “Inquiring Minds.”
The third mural was at the very end of the long, narrow library. It is over the “College & Career” section, and it is called, “Outlook on the Future.” I decided to go with a simpler, more graphic design, but still wanted to play with scale and three-dimensionality. The background of this design includes a college building, a (long and) winding road, fields of blue, and a city in the back ground. The sky is full of gears, one with a compass, pointing the way to go. A lone figure stands atop a stack of books, looking at the future. In the foreground is a large book, that seems to be balanced atop the bookcase, with a graduation cap on top of it. The tassel really fools the eye, looking like it pops right off the wall. It has been fun to see the students and staff come into the library and try to decide if that book is real or not. They often have to go up close to find out.
This is the final mural I painted for the library, in the fiction section. I wanted this one to be loose and fun, with a graphic, pop art look. I included references to 16 fiction books, two non-fiction books, and one really great bard. This is very close to the entry mural, and is visible from the second floor of the school, through glass windows.
The library hosted a reception for me today, and it was great to hear the responses of all those who were seeing the murals for the first time. It’s always interesting to see how each mural appeals to people in a different way. Some prefer the realism of “Connection” and “Inquiring Minds,” while others are drawn to the more stylized designs of “Outlook on the Future” and “Imagine.” I love the fact that hundreds (thousands?) of people will get to enjoy them for many years. That’s very gratifying. This project has been a great experience for me, and I hope that it makes the library an even more appealing place for the students of FHS to hang out.
So, I’ve been working in my studio. Earlier in the month I spent a great deal of effort fretting about what to make. That’s really a bad state to be in. Wanting to make art, but not knowing what to make. Fortunately, I got myself together, and gave myself a reminder to just enjoy the act of making art. Quit worrying about the outcome. Then I let myself play.
Before I knew it, I was brushing, scraping, spraying, glazing, running, layering, and gluing. I made myself conscious of how the paint moved on the canvas. I stuck my fingers in it, and it felt good! I watched it run as I sprayed water into the wet paint. I saw the color change as I glazed over the yellow paint with a dull purple. I set it aside and begin again on a new surface. The monster had been unleashed.
Right now, I have four new large canvases and twelve new small ones in the works. While I wait for the inspiration for a new image to hit, I continue to play. Laying the foundation. Painting layer after layer. Building up texture. Building up layers of meaning. Maybe the image I create when I am playing will be the end result, or maybe it won’t even be visible by the time I am done. Who knows? I have to trust my instincts and know that my subconscious is a better artist than I’ll ever be.
“To live a creative life, we must lose the fear of being wrong. “ – Joseph Chilton Pearce
Over the past couple of years, this has become my creative motto. It speaks to me very personally. I am by nature a perfectionist of sorts, terribly afraid of being wrong. Mostly not wanting to look stupid.
I’m not sure how this became such a part of who I am (I have an educated guess), but it’s been there a long time.
When it comes to art, don’t we all feel like we’re wrong at some point? I have sat through many, many art history classes, all of which held up artists as geniuses of their time. And I agree that many were indeed geniuses. I’ve critiqued their work. I’ve stood in awe. But some of them really just knew how to work the system. And sometimes I thought, “What? This is art?” Because, as we all know, art these days is so subjective that it’s hard to say what art is anymore. I like some of it. I hate some of it. Most of it I can at least appreciate. But you have to admit it, most of what is considered “modern” and “it” in the art world now really isn’t very pleasant to look at.
Yes, I know that’s the point, ok. But it still doesn’t make me want to look at it. So there. It is visual art, for crying out loud.
And so what if I’m wrong? I’m not afraid of being wrong anymore, remember (she reminds herself).
So this leads me back to my own creativity….. over and over again as I’m working in my studio, I have to remind myself to enjoy my creativity. Stop thinking so hard and have some fun at it. Play. Experiment.
I’m still working on losing my fear, I guess. But I’m a lot closer than I was this time last year. And the year before….
The “Color: Between the Lines” show has been success. Thanks to all who were able to make it out so far, and thanks to all of you who live to far away to attend but sent me your good karma anyway.
Putting together an art exhibit is quite the task, and I can really appreciate the benefit of having a gallery handle it for you (although we were not privileged to that benefit in this case). In addition to making half of the art in the show, we’ve spent weeks preparing biographies, planning the menu and trying to invite anyone and everyone we could possibly think of. Then there was updating my web site, sending e-mails, updating Facebook, etc., etc. I may sound like I’m complaining, but really I’m not. As hectic as it is, I rather enjoy all of the prep work. And I feel very privileged to have the opportunity. It really is a lot of work, though. All in the hopes of baring your soul to the world (or rather a small circle of friends and acquaintances) and hoping to break even. What a romantic life, being an artist.
In addition to the reception, I’ve been up to the gallery space a few other times to show friends and family my work. Each time I had to take my daughters, they kind of groaned under their breath, saying “But we’ve already seen it fifty times.” Experts in hyperbole. Not yet experts in flattering their mother. Makes me wonder how they’ll remember their childhood……”My mother used to make me go sit still in the galleries where her art work was on display. We’d have to look at the same boring things over and over and over. It was absolute torture…”
The show closes this Friday. The gallery will be open Friday night from 5-8pm, so if you still haven’t seen it and want to, please come by. Thanks to T. Scott Stromberg and his wife Sammie for all of their work in pulling this show off, too!
It was seven years ago that he and I were sitting on a huge lawn with thousands of other people from all over the world. It was our first trip to Europe, and it just so happened to be one of the most magical days of my life.
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For a while now, I’ve been feeling the need to write. I used to love journaling. I’ve got volumes of poems, prose, stories of my life from when I was a teenager (Oh, the drama!). I used my journal — a very large three-ring binder — to let out my frustrations, my longings, my ideas, my passions, and all the things that I knew no one else would understand. These writings began as an assignment from my favorite English teacher. Most of my classmates would moan in disdain each time she announced a new set of writing tasks and due dates. But I relished every moment of it, and couldn’t wait to live life so I would have something to write about.
And so here I am, twenty years later. Haven’t “had” the time to slow down and write much. It has seemed like a luxury that I can’t afford. House. Kids. Job. Husband. Volunteering. Just too much to do. And then there’s this art thing. You know, I could be painting right now.
But I’m at the point right now that I don’t think I can afford not to write. As my youngest daughter, Sophie, said a while back, “I’ve got all these thinky-things floating around in my head.” As she said this, she moved her hands in a swirling motion on either side of her head. My husband and I laughed and he said, “Yes, I’m sure you do!”
I totally get that! She put into words how I feel about 95% of the time. These Thinky Things are so noisy that they pretty much drown out everything else, and keep me from being focused on anything. Even this morning as we were driving, we passed the art center where I’m having a show this month, and a million “to do’s” popped up into my head like spam in a trash folder. My husband, who knows me so well, heard my sigh, and said, “I can see the wheels turning. Are you thinking about all the things you need to do?”
Yep. And starting a blog was very high on my priority list. (check!) Sure, I think it’s a good way to communicate with my friends and “fans.” But more than anything, it’s going to be a way for me to put all of those Thinky Things in their place!