Productivity is never pretty around here. Making art is like childbirth to me. I start out hopeful and full of promise. At some point it makes me sick (I call it the “ugly phase”), but I keep going, knowing it’s worth the struggle. And toward the end, I will do anything – endure any torture – to get this thing finished and out of my space.
I have been finishing three new comissioned pieces – I just returned from installing one, and two more are awaiting delivery this week.
Meanwhile, my studio is ashambles. Unlike childbirth, there is no nesting going on here, just complete violent, creative chaos.
As I came back into the studio this afternoon, the amount of stuff I have strewn everywhere is insane. Paint, dirty brushes, bits of cut paper all over the table and floor, awaiting placement on some collage or journal.
Project ideas, notes scribbled on lined paper that was torn out of some book. Scissors, glazing medium, screwdrivers, nails, art supply catalogs, plastic bags, ideas for teaching art projects…
But it means I have been making art, and that is good.
The A/C went out last week, just in time for summer’s last stand. Fortunately, I am married to quite a handy man. He’s helping me out by installing a fan today. Come on, cool weather, I need you.
And, athough I’m exhausted, I’m really thankful for this hot mess of a studio.
If you’ve read many of my posts or been to my place, you’ll see that my garden is an extension of my studio, and a huge source of inspiration and reprieve for me. The studio structure is a converted two-car garage, and when we moved in, there was no garden to speak of. So when we designed the interior space and added a window, the view wasn’t as big of a concern as it should have been. (Hindsight). Fortunately, the garage also had a screened-in porch attached, and that has become one of my favorite places to think.
This weekend, my hubby helped me out by making a little writing desk out of an old wooden palette. It works perfectly in the space, allowing me to overlook the garden and stay mosquito-free at the same time (a huge task around here). He lovingly named it “The Raven” a testament to his sense of humor, and a nod to his inner Mad Hatter.
For some, rainy days and Mondays are big downers, but I happen to love both (However, I currently don’t report to “work” on most Mondays, so that most likely determines my affection). This morning brought spring rains, and I was able to clear my head while enjoying the vibrant beauty of the garden. The birds sang happily. I even made a quirky little poem to memorialize the moment:
And as I’m wrapping up this post, guess who perched outside my back door?
The raven’s unglamorous Texas cousin, the grackle (as seen through the screen, from my new desk).
A change of scenery is good. It stimulates the senses to be in unfamiliar surroundings. I had the privilege this summer to get out of town and take a few small trips, so I thought I’d finally get around to sharing it with you.
My first trip this summer was to see friends in Kansas City. My dear friend Terrin had been telling me for a while about the First Friday art walk in KC, and she had a good feeling it would be something I’d be into. So, I finally made it happen –it was even better than I expected!
It was more like a block party than a gallery walk. But this block party went for blocks and blocks and blocks. The galleries and streets were so crowded, many times we had to make a single-file line just to get through to the next place. I’m not kidding, I’ve never seen so many people out for an art event. They have a lot of good galleries there, all within walking distance, and the atmosphere was fun and casual, not like many of the pretentious gallery walks in Dallas.
For hours, we walked from one street to the next, popping into galleries and seeing a new band performing around every corner. There was the first group of middle-aged performers, happily playing in the corner of a parking lot, while a range of admirers danced to “you can be my bodyguard, and I can be your long lost pal…” Later we were greeted by a slick rock band blaring from a more official-looking stage set up. But probably my favorite was a group of spontaneous break dancers in the middle of the street. Traffic was at a complete stop, and the dancers and the surrounding crowd could have cared less. I was instantly in love with this eclectic mix of people, music and art.
One of my favorite exhibits was by Judy Onofrio at Sherry Leedy Contemporary. My attraction to the sculptural work made up of bleached cow bones was a surprise to myself (and the friends that were with me). Her ability to take jawbones, vertebrae and ribs and turn them into fascinating works of art was pretty exceptional. Most of them were wall-hangings, but there were also some large vase-like structures that were very impressive.
I only snapped a couple of photos, but you can see more of her work at http://www.judyonofrio.com. And — lucky for me– the artist was actually there during the show! I got to meet her and ask her about her process. She told me she has a neighbor that raises cattle and allows her to collect old bones from his fields.
She said that she enjoys all the parts of collecting, cleaning, and bleaching the bones before assembling them into sculptures. Somehow, she has devised a method to conceal all of the joints where the bones are connected, and she told me that’s also a fun process for her. (Thanks to Terrin for snapping a pic of me talking with Ms. Onofrio).
What a fantastic way to start the summer. I’m eager to go back up to KC and do it again soon.
“To have a sacred place is an absolute necessity… You must have a room or a certain hour of the day or so, where you do not know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody or what they owe you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be.”
I set a challenge for myself this month to post on my blog daily, and this, my friends, is the final post for the month of April 2014. I did it!
There were days that were a lot more inspiring than others, some very exciting with good news to share, and others that I just didn’t feel so motivated about. But I’ve found that this has been a really good exercise for me — it has kept me focused each day, because I knew I would need to share something interesting each day with you.
Just like my journals, my blog posts are a good resource for me to see what was going on in my life at a particular time.
An overview of this month’s posts:
I have gotten to share some of my visual journals with you, which until this month I hadn’t published online. Posting on my blog daily has encouraged me to finish some of those journal pages that I had started but had been dragging my feet on finishing. See awesome april posts # 1822, 23, 25 and 27 for new journal entries, and I have a new visual journals page that I’ve been adding to all month.
I shared things that inspire me along the way(days # 5, 6, 7, 14, 20, 28) and the advice I would give to my artist self 20 years ago (#16).
My trip to Europe is officially on the books, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a while. It’s been 10 years since I traveled overseas, so I’m happy to have something fantastic to look forward to next year.
You got a few glimpses into my studio (day # 10, 15, 26, 28), and the studio of my friend Jennifer Cowley (day #2). I also shared a few of my art friends (day #11 and # 24), as well as some of my students’ work in progress (day #3).
I’ve had a great month getting my work out there. I revealed the news that I was selected to complete a public art mural for McKinney this spring. ( I’m still waiting on a start date, and I’ll keep you all posted on the latest developments with that project). Meanwhile, I’ve also sold a few paintings this month, and been selected for a juried show.
Thanks to all of you who have been reading my blog this month, and to my new ‘followers.’ As always, I’d love to have comments from you on any of the posts.
I have been layering found images into my paintings for the last several years, but sometimes I wanted the paint to have more surface texture. There are many additives you can put into acrylic paint, but most of them either take a lot of layers to build up a thick surface, or they are opaque. I wanted the texture, but still with transparency. Enter encaustics!
I have admired encaustic work for some time – it has a very deep, luminous quality — but wasn’t quite sure how the process worked. So, I took a couple of classes over at The Encaustic Center in Richardson and immediately knew this was a medium that I could continue to experiment with.
What is encaustic? It is painting with heated beeswax! It’s an old method that has been around at least 2500 years, and was used by the Greeks and Egyptians for painting everything from boats to portraits. Find out more about the history of encaustic painting HERE.
Probably one of the most notable artists from the past 50 years that employed encaustic painting in his work is Jasper Johns, famous for his paintings of maps and the American flag.
I make my encaustic medium (beeswax + damar resin) in a large electric skillet. I then use oil paints to add the color (pigment) to the clear medium. I have a separate griddle for this, with 16 oz. ink tins lined up with the colors I want to use. This is the same setup used at the Encaustic Center, and in most books and articles I’ve read on encaustic painting. Some artists buy their encaustic paint already made (R & F has some really good paints), but they are very expensive.
What I love about encaustic is it’s a very fast, spontaneous medium. It dries quickly (think of how fast candle wax hardens), and can be used for both additive and subtractive techniques. You can also layer paper into your work easily — including drawings, photographs, collage, ephemera, etc. Imagine how exciting this was for me, as I love to glue all kinds of things into my paintings! To have a true “encaustic” painting, you have to fuse each layer together, slightly re-melting each layer to make sure it adheres to the one below it. I use a heat gun most of the time, but have just started enjoying using a torch as well. (However, when I add paper, I try to keep the torch far away).
In my newest series, I drew with charcoal or pastel onto tissue paper, then layered those drawings into my paintings using clear encaustic medium (clear paint, with no pigment added). The tissue paper became so transparent, that you can hardly detect the edges in the painting. It allowed me to “float” my drawings on top of previous layers of collage and paint. And the drips are now in 3D!
I just added a few more encaustic pieces to my web site, which you can find HERE.
And I’m happy to announce that two of my larger encaustic paintings were accepted into the 125 Juried Art Show, which opened yesterday. The show is at The ARTS Gallery at Collin College, 2800 E. Spring Creek Parkway, Plano, TX 75074. The show runs April 28 – May 17, with a reception on Thursday, May 8 from 5:30 – 7:30pm.
While some of my art journal entries use images of people and things, many of them are simple, stream-of-conscious designs . I tend to use a lot of circles.
This is from my first visual journal (an altered book). The background is made by tearing out phone book pages and layering them over the existing book. I then glued on patches of pink tissue paper. I used transparent green glazes to add a contrasting color, then opaque white to balance the black charcoal.
Although this isn’t an image of a real “thing”, to me it reminds me of a totem, a pair of eyes, or even an abstracted female figure.
Like this? You can see more of my art journals HERE — updated frequently.
Sometimes in life I get very focused on the goal, the outcome and the purpose. I forget that the point of all of this is the journey — our little experiences that make up life.
The same is true for my life in the studio. Sometimes I spend too much time thinking about the finished product, rather than clearing my mind and thinking only of the materials before me. When I do get to that point of clarity, my work is better, more creative and a purer reflection of my intent.
I made this prompt for myself a while back. It hangs on my screened porch at the entry of my studio, reminding me that the true point of my art is the process itself.
Today I’m sharing some of my most recent Artist Trading Cards. I still have some of the Joie de Vivre images left over from some wallpaper sample books (see my post on Domestics for more). They’re just the right size for my mini works of art. Pair the “joy of life” images with interesting text, and you have a recipe for fun. Click on any image to open a slide show of this series.
Personally, I Drink Coffee, ATC via freshpaints.com
What do you mean?
All ATCs are 3.5 x 2.5.” See my ATCs page for more of my trading cards.
I’ve never really considered myself a gardener. My mom had a nice vegetable garden and pretty plants around the house, but I didn’t ever want to help out with that growing up (teenagers). On my own, I can’t seem to keep house plants alive. I tried a vegetable garden a couple of years ago, and was very unsuccessful. Last year I limited my vegetable gardening to three tomato plants, which yielded two tomatoes total all summer. Although that was a 100% increase from the prior year – if I kept it up, I might have enough for a couple of nice salads in a few years — I think I’ll just stick to the farmer’s market.
I have a lovely location between my house and my studio that was calling for vegetation, so I decided to try a perennial garden last year. I tried to plant a lot of things that were hardy for this weird north Texas weather, using my friends at Shades of Green as an expert resource. The area is shady at high noon, but gets good morning sun, and the north end gets afternoon sun as well.
After a particularly cold, harsh winter, the garden is growing back!
I’ve also added a few new friends.
Fall used to be my favorite season, with the cool breezes coming after a harsh Texas summer. But now, I think Spring has taken the top spot. I love going through the garden each day, seeing what is sprouting or blooming. It’s usually the first thing I do in the morning. I also use the garden as a place to reflect, notice the details and colors of nature, listen to the birds, and give my mind a rest if I’ve been working on a difficult project.
I also think it makes a nice entrance to my studio.
A big part of my creative process is journaling — both the longhand-written text kind of journaling, and also visual journaling. I’ll share about the writing part today, and visual journals in tomorrow’s post.
I started keeping a diary as a kid, but didn’t really get into daily journaling until my Junior year in high school. Our teacher made us write journal entries (you know, for a grade), and it soon became my top creative outlet. I not only wrote in my journal, but also cut out magazine articles and newspaper clippings, and made collages and illustrations. I have tons of poems I wrote — a few good ones, and many really sad, desperate teenage girl kind of poems — as well as long, descriptive narratives of my summer days working, dating, getting into trouble and being completely bored.
I kept writing in that journal through my Senior year, and it’s a priceless artifact now, in all it’s 2″ three-ring binder glory. I pulled it out to take photos for this blog post, and have now stayed up most of the night reading it. Fascinating stuff.
It has been interesting to see the world through my own teenage eyes. Some things are much different from an adult’s point of view (Note to past self: “He’s just not that into you”). And then, some things never change. Even then, I had so much I wanted “to accomplish, so many things to do, places to go, people to see…” And I still have a hard time being patient, because I “want to go out and do it all.”
Probably my favorite find was in an entry written at the end of the summer between Junior and Senior year. I had worked all summer at Braum’s Ice Cream Store, and was desperately wishing for school to start back. I’d had enough of sticky sweet customer service, and was convinced that when I grew up “I’m gonna get myself a career that I like.” Amen!
Even now I practice journaling on a regular basis. After reading Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way,” I became re-convinced of the value of writing a few pages of prose every morning, to clear my mind and help me to focus when I’m ready to work. I use it to write goals, hopes, prayers, meditations, frustrations, ideas and grocery lists. It’s also a great way of documenting my life at the moment – you forget so much of the everyday details.
And I find it interesting to see what changes over time and what stays the same.
Technology can be a blessing and a curse, but I think the smartphone has radically altered the way we see the world, or at least the way we record and present our point of view.
Although I don’t consider myself a photographer, snapping photos is a part of my everyday practice of finding inspiration, making connections, and exploring concepts. Here are a few Instagram photos I’ve taken over the past several weeks that interested me for their use of pattern, light, texture, and/or juxtaposition of meaningful objects.
“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” – Edgar Degas /blockquote>
When I was a kid, I used to make calendars for my mom each year for Mothers’ Day. I would hand-draw each month’s dates (there was no Microsoft Office then to help me out), and then collage images at the top, making a theme for each month. There’s no telling how many hours I spent making those, but I really always liked cutting out the pictures and categorizing them, finding connections between the images.
A few years back, I was given an old wallpaper sample book, filled with a French motif called “Joie de Vivre,” (literally “joy of life”) used in English to express a cheerful enjoyment of life; an exultation of spirit.” Much of my art was already contemplating the roles of women, specifically in relation to men, children and the household. As a wife and mother, much of my time is spent taking care of others’ needs and figuring out how to capture this joie de vivre in daily life. As an artist and a female, I find myself questioning the traditional roles of women, constantly assessing my own beliefs versus the values of the community in which I was raised, and those that are commonly accepted in my part of the world. The Joie de Vivre imagery was a perfect fit for a mixed media series I call “Domestics.”
I’m typically a joyful person. I think I’m generally an optimist, and I know I’m definitely an idealist. But I have to say I found some of the images in the joie de vivre wallpaper book to be quite comical, with their corseted milkmaids, singing shepherds and dutiful women going about their chores with cherub-like children dancing around their feet. Is this truly the joy of life? (I personally have not been able to enjoy the task of getting work done whilst tending to my children. Maybe some people are able to find pleasure in that, but it just makes me frustrated).
I’m also intensely interested in the preconceptions our culture has about the male/female relationship, as well as the natural differences in modes of communication and disposition between couples. It looks so simple, when pasted to the bathroom wall, but we all know that it’s much more complicated.
What, then, is the key to a successful relationship? Can we complement each other as equals, or will one always seek to have an advantage over the other? Can we ever truly know another person? Are we ever completely honest, without holding back? If so, is that wise? Can you have a successful career and still maintain closeness with your family? What in daily life can be a source of joy?
Perhaps there are more questions than answers.
“I cannot expect even my own art to provide all of the answers – only to hope it keeps asking the right questions.” – Grace Hartigan
Part 3 of 3 – “keeping your sense of wonder” – the ridiculous
As I explored the fields of antiques, collections and plain-ol’ junk this weekend at the Antiques Weekend in Round Top and Warrenton, I found a lot of things that bordered on the ridiculous.
I found this watercolor on a table of a tent that had been really picked over. I can’t imagine why this gem hadn’t been scooped up yet. But I have to say, it made me laugh. Kudos to the artist for making whatever the heck they wanted to. Looks like a painting done from a photograph of a heavily mulleted and moustached guy, clad in plaid in front of a sculpture of Jesus, which is itself in front of two other paintings, one of a western landscape and one of The King himself. (I imagine the challenge was to see how many clichés one could put into one small work of art). So now I have provided you with a iPhone photograph of a painting of a photograph of a sculpture, two paintings and a guy. And since you can see the reflection of my hands, I guess you could also call it a selfie.
There was a particular tent that gave me a lot of material for the topic of “ridiculousness”. The proprietor was quite a work of art herself. She seemed to have a strange obsession with doll parts, and tended to put doll heads on any vertical type of post she could find.
Although some of my friends on Instagram found this pretty disturbing, I was fascinated. I didn’t find it too scary, but I also didn’t look any of the dolls in the eye and just kept moving.
The same person also had a nice collection of random (mannequin) body parts, carelessly piled on the ground like an open grave.
So what does all of this mean?
As artists, we are often expected to visually make sense of this world. We make a lot of things that make sense only to us. Sometimes there are things that we can’t verbalize, but are still important to our art making process.
Sometimes things just don’t have to make sense. They just make us wonder!
Day 2 of 3 of “keeping a sense of wonder” — the nostalgic
As I mentioned on my previous post, I sometimes have to take myself out of my everyday habitat in order to find that sense of wonder. I headed south for the weekend to Round Top, Texas, famous for their Antiques Week every spring and fall. Ever since high school, I have liked to go to antique shops and flea markets. I remember heading out by myself to the quirky antiques shop on the square in Honey Grove, or the trades day in Bonham. I would wander around, not looking for anything in particular, but would always find weird old things that spoke to me. Of course, these were just gateway junking experiences, grooming me for my first dumpster-diving high during my freshman year of college.
In Round Top & Warrenton, there is always so much to look at. But as a DIY kind of girl, I prefer the fields of random junk over booths of prettied-up crafty things. We found a little treasure amongst the piles of rust — a momento to remind my husband of good times at his Grandma Ginny’s house. He remembers sitting on a similar stool in her kitchen when he was a kid. It’s still really sturdy – they don’t make ’em like they used to. Now, if I can just figure out how she made her fudge so magical.
My main shopping mission this time was to find a set of lockers for my bathroom. After scouring the grounds, I had found three possibilities — but there really was only one that I wanted. So I stalked. I approached. I bargained. I walked away. I came back the next day when they were packing up. I won.
These lockers remind me of the ones I had during junior high. I love the click the latch makes when you pull it up to open the door and the clanking metal when you close them. All I need is a photo montage of Ricky Schroder, Kirk Cameron, Max Headroom, Molly Ringwald, Lisa Bonet and Cyndi Lauper on the inside door and it will be like time stood still. (Hmmmm. Maybe that’s exactly what I’ll do…..)
I didn’t really have a sense of nostalgia when I first started exploring those flea markets and antique stores as a teen, because I’d only been around a handful of years myself. But I did have a fascination with how previous generations used different objects, and I’ve always loved things made of wood and metal. Maybe because I grew up in a generation made of plastic. I didn’t realize at the time that those outings were my early “artist dates,” a time to let my inner artist daydream, imagine and play. And looking at discarded treasures is still a source of inspiration for me. And of wonder……
One of the strangest dichotomies of being an artist is the constant need to “express yourself” and the constant fear of “putting it out there.”
I’ve been making art for a long time, and I still struggle with this. Sometimes when I enter a new juried show, or approach a gallery about showing my work, I get a little knot in my stomach about how I’m going to be perceived, and wonder if I’ll be accepted or rejected. (Just keeping it real). I do something similar when I’m making art sometimes, too, especially if it’s outside of the box. I’ll have this great idea, and then talk myself out of it before I even start (my “censor” gets the best of me). But I have also learned that when I have that feeling, it means I’m stepping out of my comfort zone, and that’s a good thing. I’ve just got to push through the fear and cross into the unknown.
On Thursdays, I have three adult students that come to the studio to paint. They’re all at different experience levels and backgrounds, all with different interests. One common thread we’ve all found is that sometimes it’s just hard to get started. The potential that a blank canvas holds can be exhilarating and daunting. The drawing is on the canvas, but there is no color yet. And then you jump in.
Michelle has been working on a gorgeous painting, using the palette knife to apply her paint. She was telling me today how she once took a class, and admired how one of the other students seemed to effortlessly apply the paint with a palette knife, and how she felt like she would never be able to do that. But now, after giving it a shot, (and some practicing), she can, too. And she does it well! This is still a work in progress, but she is doing an outstanding job of layering the colors with her palette knife, finding that balance of creating a realistic image while keeping the expressive scrapes of the knife.
It was also fun to watch Jo and Tatiana today, as they got started on new paintings. At first, the blankness of the canvas was a bit intimidating, but once they started, they were so happy with what they had done.
And I was very impressed with them, too — look at those colors and expressive lines!
A good start. (Thanks, ladies for letting me share your works in progress – for letting me put it out here!)
So now I’m going to log off and submit work for a new show – one that pushes me into the unknown. Wish me luck.
Today I took a quick trip across town to visit my friend Jennifer Cowley’s studio. I met Jennifer last year, when she joined the ArtSeen Studio tour here in Frisco. She came by and visited with me in the fall and I instantly felt like this was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Her studio is in the front of her home, and is a work of art in itself. She has the best furniture in there! I wish I’d taken more photos, but I’ll share some of the highlights.
Here’s the infamous pink stove that she uses for storage. When she moved here from Oak Cliff, she couldn’t bear to part with some of her vintage fixtures, so she just brought them with her and has found creative uses for them. I wish I’d gotten a pic of her awesome orange metal sink!
She has a great desktop that is also a light box, which was a hand-me-down from a fellow artist. We had a fun conversation about how most things we have were not purchased new, and many of them were free. It’s all about seeing the beauty in uncommon objects and using things for alternate purposes (and knowing others who have really cool junk they’re willing to give away).
And then there are beautiful vignettes like this, that honestly I don’t even know what to say. Perfection.
Most artists I know have really interesting stories about how they got to where they are now, and she’s no exception. I enjoyed getting to know her backstory a bit, how she began her college education in the dental field, went into architecture, and then truly found herself in art. Out of college, she worked in an art gallery for a while, then a serendipitous encounter with the very successful artist Frank Frazier changed her path entirely. She got to travel and work with Frank for a couple of years, and he has become her mentor as an artist. I can see his influence in her work, although she definitely has a strong aesthetic of her own. See her online portfolio at www.jenmonet.com.
One of the best things about having other artists as friends is that they “get” you in a way that most other people don’t. There’s a drive in you that’s both a blessing and a curse, and it makes you quite different than a lot of your other friends and acquaintances. You see and experience the world differently. Your ideals are different. And as an artist in a suburban town, it’s even harder to find others that think like you. Glad I’ve found a few.
Misty’s Public Service Announcement in support of artists, women and everyone who works hard and is misunderstood.
I am an artist. Most people really don’t understand what I do or what that means. I realize that “art” is an extremely complicated concept, and I don’t expect people to get it. I am an artist, went to art school and surround myself with artsy things every day, and even I don’t get it some of the time. And I really think those that act like they get it all of the time are just trying to impress someone. (After all, A BFA really is just a degree in BS).
I am an artist. I make things. I create things. I conceptualize things. Out of nothing. I think all of the time, even when my hands are idle or I’m supposed to be sleeping. I feel like I could never live long enough to create all of the things in my head. I make things to see. I make things to feel. I make things to share. I make things to express. I make things and then hide them under other things, behind layers of paint, paper and wax. All of my insides are out, at once exposed and hidden.
Yes. I do sell my art (the Art Gods gasp at the blasphemy!). On the outset it is made from within, but in the end, many pieces are sold. You, too, can own a piece of my soul.
I began working as a teen to make money – babysitter, short-order cook, server, ice cream dipper, video renter, snowcone maker. I’m glad I learned how to work hard at an early age. I am blessed that I had help from my parents to go to college. I know that.
I made art in college. I worked in college. I graduated. I got a job. I got married. I made some art on the side. I learned to be a teacher. I taught art. I learned to be a better artist. I practiced. I showed my work. I made more art. I showed more art. I made art for others. I made art for me. I made art I hated. I made art I loved. I made more art.
And I worked. Hard.
I started a business. I learned a lot. I created a lot. I crammed a warehouse full of supplies and equipment into a 9 x 10’ bedroom, and I went to work! Every day, even on the weekends sometimes. I’ve loaded down my van to the roof and dragged so much crap all over this state (and several others). It’s hard, dirty, unglamorous work. But I don’t give up.
I keep making art. I keep showing my art. I keep growing as an artist. I keep trying. I keep working.
I am fortunate to have a studio in my back yard, and I go there almost every single day. Yes, I’m fortunate, but I’ve also worked very, very hard to attain the studio. No one bought it for me. I earned it myself. I pay for it and its contents myself. So don’t look at my studio and ask me “What does your husband do?” That’s irrelevant.
I have children. I work hard to be there when they need me. Sometimes I’m more available than others. Sometimes I take extra jobs to help get us by. Sometimes I make good money. Sometimes I don’t make as much. But I work hard. Every minute of the day.
And, to answer one man’s question, no, I don’t “get bored being at home all day.”
It’s hard to get bored when you’re the CEO, COO, Owner, President, Creative Director, Marketing Director, Quality Control, Web Designer, Social Media Coordinator, and Production Manager of your own company.
No one taught me how to work as an artist. They don’t teach that in college (that’s a whole other rant). I figured it out. I’m still figuring it out. It’s probably the most ridiculously impossible thing to do in the world. But I’m doing it. Every day.
So here’s the PSA: If you meet a woman that says she is an artist, do NOT assume that she is a kept woman. Do NOT assume that it’s just a hobby for her. Do NOT assume that her husband is the “breadwinner” or that she relies upon him to support her work. Assume that she is the hardest working person you’ve met, and you’ll probably be right. And one day, when you see her work recognized by others, you will know that she wasn’t just an overnight success.
It’s Monday night, and I’m sitting in my studio, thinking about how much cleaning up I need to do before the weekend! (The pic above is of last year’s tour — I guarantee it’s not that clean….yet!) But I’m very excited to open the studio again, and I hope you’ll take a minute to stop by this Saturday or Sunday. The tour hours are 10am -5pm on Saturday, and 1-5pm on Sunday.
I’m really excited that two of my artist friends are joining me in the studio this year. Carolyn M. Nelson will be working live – she does terrific portraits and figurative work. You’ll have to congratulate her while you’re here – she just got married a couple of days ago! Find her work at www.carolynmnelson.com (That’s Mrs. Funk to you.)
And you don’t want to miss a HUGE art sale by T. Scott Stromberg. He has 85 paintings for sale — with them all priced at $199 and under! There are some really large paintings, too. I have been a fan of his work for about 7 years, and I am trying to figure out which of these will fit in my house the best. You will want to get here early to get first dibs. You can see his work at www.tscottstromberg.com.
The fun starts Friday night with a Kickoff Party at thegallery8680 from 7-9pm. The folks at Swanky Couch (www.swankycouch.com) are setting up a bohemian-style lounge, and Robyn always treats visitors to a buffet of tasty foods. There will be a free screening of the movie “Moonrise Kingdom,” so bring a friend and enjoy an artsy evening. Located at 8680 W. Main Street in the Crestview Professional Center.
Of course, there are lots of other artists featured in other studios on the tour. You’ll be so impressed with the amazing talent Frisco has! Print out a tour map and visit any and all of them at your own pace. You can find a printable map and details about the tour at www.artseentour.com.
This past weekend my daughter went to auditions for middle school band. She’s a fifth grader, who a month ago, had no interest whatsoever in being in band next year. She was set on taking the ‘exploratory wheel’ course, where she would get to try different elective classes in 6-week intervals. Not a bad choice. But her big sister let her know that if she was interested at all in band, that she would probably want to go ahead and take it as a 6th grader, and not have to be in beginning band as a 7th grader (with all those 6th graders –ew!). So… she took her sister’s advice, and set her heart on being a percussionist.
I’ve always thought she has pretty good rhythm, and as a percussionist she would get to play the xylophone (following in her mom’s footsteps – I was excited about re-living my band memories vicariously through her). We showed up for tryouts on Saturday. The cafeteria was full of tryout stations – woodwinds, brass and the highly esteemed percussion area – to which she made an instant beeline. As we waited for her turn, I could tell she was nervous. We watched as the kids before us tapped out rhythms and answered questions by the director.
Then it was her turn.
She did a pretty good job overall, but I could tell her nerves were getting to her. (She had also stayed up most of the night the night before – much to my chagrin – at a friend’s house, so she wasn’t at her best for her first ‘job interview.’ ) After an involved tryout, the director advised her to go try other instruments, and then come back to chat with him if percussion was still her first choice.
She fortunately went and tried everything else– from the bassoon, to the tuba, to the trumpet and flute. She was exceptionally good at the French horn, and thought for a brief time that was the instrument for her. Until…..she tried the clarinet. Apparently, she did an excellent job getting a good sound from the clarinet. The instructor was very encouraging and expressive about her encouragement. This is exactly the type of reaction that goes a long way with my daughter (apple/tree). So, there we had it……she was going to play the clarinet!
On the way out from the two-hour tryout session, we talked about how interesting it was that she went into the tryouts with her heart set on percussion, and then decided clarinet was the instrument for her….. and how life is like that, too. Often, we think that we know what we want. But it isn’t until the pursuit of that goal, that we find the thing that is really right for us. But the first goal wasn’t a waste of time. On the contrary, if we had never even tried for anything, we would have never known what other possibilities were out there.
As an artist, I’ve found that this has been true in my career. I didn’t always have the future planned, but it wasn’t until I tried making it as an artist, that I discovered other possibilities that were waiting for me.
My daughter mentioned several times this weekend how glad she was that she went to the tryouts and tried all of the instruments. I hope that this is the first of many things that she tries for….and discovers surprises about herself along the way.
I just came across one of my sketchbooks today and wanted to share a couple of quick drawings I made while we were at the beach in 2011. I like to spy on the other people around me and capture them in simple lines, while I sit under my beach umbrella.
ladies at the beach
These sketches took about 30 seconds each, and are about 5 x 7.”
Since I was a kid, I’ve loved collecting images – tearing out pages from magazines or books. Sometimes it’s simply a pattern or color that inspire me. Sometimes it’s another artists’ work from a magazine. I also really love home design, so I’ve got binders full of tear sheets for inspiration. This summer, I wanted an area to put up an oversized pinboard in my studio to display the stack of art images I had collected. I decided the inside of the garage door would be a great place, since it wouldn’t take up valuable work space, and it would help to beautify what was an eyesore. I got a couple of sheets of foam insulation from Home Depot and cut them to fit snugly inside of the garage door. Then, I just pinned up my image collection: magazine pics, postcards, drawings, prints, photos and other sources of inspiration. I’m constantly adding to the pinboard, which is about 70 square feet of awesomeness. Here’s how it turned out.
Ok, now on to my real image collection obsession: Pinterest! Not familiar? Let me explain. No, there is no time….Let me sum up… Pinterest is an online “pinboard” combined with a social media site that allows you to “pin” images from the internet onto virtual pinboards. You can also ‘follow’ any other pinner, and get ideas from others whose style you like.
In layman’s terms, it is visual crack, and I spend way too much time on there. But as a visual artist, I justify it as “research.” It is a fantastic way to find inspiring images (and too many DIY projects to count) without having to search all over Google. What I love is that you can customize who you want to follow, and even which boards, so that you get the types of images that you want to see. Recipes and Workout ideas? No, thank you. Color, Art and Gardening? Bring it on!
Here’s a peek at my personal pinboard. Click the image below to go to my Pinterest page.
By the way, there is a fine line between inspired and distracted. I am happy to dance on both sides of that line. -Misty
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.
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.
“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 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.
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….
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.
content for this post has been temporarily lost…..
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!