awesome april (day 8) – domestication

awesome april (day 8) – domestication

Self-Portrait 2010
Self-Portrait 2010

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.

Traditional Joie de Vivre wallpaper

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.”

+= (plus, equal)
+= (plus, equal)

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).

"Lock and Key"
“Lock and Key”

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.

"Does he ever really..."
“Does He Ever Really…”

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

Sweet Escape
Sweet Escape

You can see more works from this series at www.moliverfoster.com/portfolio/domestics, and check out some of my mini works of art (ATCs) that also include the joie de vivre images HERE.

mixin’ it up

mixin’ it up

art workshop
One of the things I enjoy most is sharing my love of mixed media with others, and hearing them say, “This is so much fun!”  I got that chance this past weekend in my studio, during my Mixed Media workshops.  We partied into the night on Friday, and part of the day on Saturday, and I was impressed with the variety of art that was made.

Artist Cheryl White attended the workshop and got the fever — not much of her journal was untouched before she left.   She has written a blog post that features one of her gorgeous creations from the weekend.  Check it out HERE.  (Note: that’s her in the photo above [bottom left], working on the journal page that is featured in her blog).

The goal for my classes is always to inspire, but I find that I come out of them motivated and encouraged by the creativity of others.  It’s good to make art, simply for the sake of having fun.

let’s play

let’s play

“Serious art is born from serious play.”

 – Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

"Be Still"

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.

crazymakers and crazy eyes

crazymakers and crazy eyes

 

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.

Art is knowing which ones to keep.”
-Scott Adams

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.

 
 
 
 

 

 

pushing my buttons

pushing my buttons

Home

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.

 

 

  Crossing borders.  Breaking molds.  Refusing situations.  Avoiding consequences. 

 Esc

 Is escape a good thing or a bad thing?  Like everything, it depends on the context.

 

Esc
the gift

the gift

I recently received the “Best of Show” award at the Texas and Neighbors 25th Annual Art Show in Irving for “The Gift,” so I wanted to share a little bit about this painting/mixed media piece.
The Gift
The Gift
The composition for “The Gift” was inspired by a historical painting by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres called  “Venus at Paphos.”
Venus at Paphos by Ingres
Venus at Paphos by Ingres
  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.