Sunday, October 7, 2012

30-Day Art Challenge: Catching Up

It's been a busy weekend and I've been forgetting to post stuff I'm working on. Some of it is boring, like the inventory list for my upcoming show at Sky River Mead. I've also been taking a photo a day, like this one, using Instagram and cooking and baking because that's how I roll.

But the biggest project, by far, remains the pieces for the 30-Day Art Challenge. I've been busy preparing the canvas boards with the shredded text backgrounds. I'm using pages from a truly awful and terribly damaged old book, old copies of The Wall Street Journal, an old telephone directory, and a couple of remaindered textbooks --including one Chinese accounting book-- for the backgrounds. I'm using a simple solution of Elmer's Glue and water to adhere the paper to the canvas boards and drying them partially with a blow-dryer before leaning them against the studio window to dry thoroughly.

Now that I have a few of these prepped, I'm ready to start adding layers of color and texture  using a variety of techniques including stencils, hand-carved stamps and rollers, dry-brush & sponging.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, October 4, 2012

30-Day Art Challenge -- Day 4

Another layer of color

And the last element, some text.

First one done & I'm ready to rock the rest of the designs.|

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

30-Day Art Challenge -- Day 3

Adding some layers to the piece now.

Still taking it slowly as I discover what I like or don't like in the process.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

30-Day Art Challenge -- Day 2

I want to get this post started before it gets too late.

First two steps on canvas #1 for the 30-Day Art Challenge. I've glued down scraps of text torn from an old and irredeemable book called "The Infinite Woman," a fitting beginning for this piece. The figure is one of my favorite stencils. Next, comes some more color & texture, but I may have to leave it here tonight because I'm just flat-out tired.

I suspect weekends will be more productive days on this project.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, October 1, 2012

30-Day Art Challenge -- Day 1

I picked up my canvas boards today for the 30-Day Art Challenge coincidentally just in time for Traci Bunkers' latest 30-day art throwdown.

I have to admit that the stack of them is a little daunting, particularly as I am also making some new pieces for my upcoming show at Sky River Mead later this month. Still, I think I'm up to the challenge, I have a great concept for the set of 30 pieces, and I think I'll be able to do a great job carrying it off as long as I stay focused and make sure to do at least a little work on the canvases every day.

This is as far as I got with the actual art-making tonight. Ironically, when I tried to make this post from my phone, the App kept throwing an error, so I'm up late anyway, downloading pics to my laptop so I can upload them to this post.

Long day & I'm too tired to stay up making art. More time and energy for art tomorrow.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Buried Treasure: The Art on My Door Project

Update: Check out the entire set of Art on My Door (now more than 260 pieces), and be sure to visit Seth Apter's The Altered Page Buried Treasure to find a collection of amazing art blogs.

From 1/22/11
I moved into a new office in a different building this week, and upon arrival, I noticed this little card frame on the door:
Intended originally to hold cards posting faculty office hours, these little frames hold little value to non-faculty such as myself. Or do they?
I felt inspired by the tiny frame to kick off a new art project.
I'm aiming to create a new tiny artwork measuring just 3"x2" each workday to slip into the little frame on my door.
So far, I've created two new pieces, and I have to say that I am having fun with this project. I am finding that making the art helps me separate myself from the stress of work at the end of the day by creating something fun and whimsical. Additionally, the new art increases my enthusiasm for going to work because I have something new to share.
Below are the first two works in this project:
Day #1: Still needed to work out the dimensions of the frame

Day #2: Got the dimensions right. I love this striped mermaid.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Arthouse Co-Op Mystery Project

A month or so back, I accepted the challenge to do the "Mystery Project" based on the description on the Arthouse Co-Op site that read "Create a token of inspiration using the tools in your kit — it could be a drawing, a zine, a sculpture, or a collage — then install it in a public place for a stranger to discover."

I was a little excited when the small bubble envelope containing the ingredients for my "Mystery Project" arrived. Inside the envelope, I found a nice little thank-you card, a Prismacolor marker in a color called "Cinnamon Toast," and a small card with the phrase "If tomorrow came yesterday" on it.

Yeah. I was less than thrilled with a brown marker and a prompt so tortured and twisted that my head hurt every time I tried to think about what to do for this project. For weeks, I picked up the envelope, pulled out the contents and felt my heart sink as I struggled to work out what I was supposed to do with that marker and those words. I planned an elaborate voting box with tokens for people encountering the art to select what they would do if, as the prompt suggested "tomorrow came yesterday." I imagined a social experiment in which people weighed the burdens of knowledge of the future and tried to decide how they would spend a day with that knowledge. All the while, I kept thinking that in that circumstance, I would do what I always do: Be present and content in the here and now.

After a whole lot of agonizing over how to build the contraption and where to install it, I scrapped the idea altogether and decided to do as the original challenge said and create a token of inspiration, a small item to remind people how important it it to be present, in the moment, here and now.

That's when I grabbed a tiny wooden birdhouse, covered it in strips of old Wall Street Journals (how perfect is that?), distressed the corners with a liberal touch of "Cinnamon Toast," and slipped a special message inside for people encountering the art to discover.

I took the finished piece to work & installed it between two bulletin boards that feature marketing materials for the various MBA programs offered at the business school where I work. 

Here are a few photos of the installation and people viewing the piece:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sometimes I feel...

So, I don't know if it's because my birthday, the one I shared with my mother for 43 years, comes just two days after Mother's Day this year or if it's because she would have been 90 years old today, but I am having a very hard time having a happy birthday this year.

I don't mean that I'm not enjoying the fabulous weather and the few days off from work to which I've treated myself. I just mean that every moment I am reminded of her absence. Of the fact that I will never again hear her say, "Happy birthday, baby" after I say, "Happy birthday, Mom."

Never. That's a long time.

And she'll never see how well my life has turned out, how happy I am and what a wonderful husband I have. I think she would have loved his music. And him. She would have squeezed his knees at the dinner table and told him how handsome he is.

And it hurts to miss her just as much today as it did the day she died in 2003. I keep thinking it will get easier, but I don't know when.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Guilt, love, and context

My husband and I went to see comedian John Fugelsang's Drama-League Nominated Off-Broadway solo show, Guilt: A Love Story, last night at the Neptune Theatre in Seattle.

Since I've been following Fugelsang's career and social media activities for some time, I knew the show was going to be both hilarious and touching. He intertwines the story of his parents' rather unusual courtship (a nun and a Franciscan brother conduct a chaste exchange of letters between New York and Africa for 10 years), his own courtship and eventual marriage to long-time girlfriend, designer Charmien La Framenta, and a few of the highlights of his career that include an energetic re-enactment of his confrontation with American Nazi/KKK leader David Duke on Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect into a compelling and astonishing performance that defies most of what we have come to expect from the frequently self-indulgent artform known as the "one-man show."

He even good-naturedly nods to that popularly held conception of solo theatre as he begins, then shatters all expectations with an excellent story, beautifully presented. Agile, both physically and intellectually, Fugelsang moves through time and space like a cat who has already figured out Schrödinger's game, crapped in the box, and split for the coast. Hands-down smarter and funnier than just about anyone else in the entertainment industry today, he manages to pull into his tale such unexpected elements as the Biblical story of Onan, President James K. Polk's motivations for going to war with Mexico to take California, and Jeb Bush's passionate embrace of the prison industry in Florida.

For two hours, Fugelsang held us in his palm. He cracked us up, made us cry, and left us renewed. He delivered catharsis, the truest test of live theatre, in my book.

After the show, after two kinetic hours of impassioned storytelling (and some of the best acting I have ever seen, quite frankly, and I have seen a lot of good acting over the years), Fugelsang stood at the door in the theatre lobby like a pastor in the vestibule, shaking hands and taking a moment for photos and small talk with audience members as we spilled out into the damp Seattle night.

We stopped. Damon introduced himself and shook Fugelsang's hand. I asked if I could hug him, and he agreed. He was kind and genuine and I am even more impressed with him after seeing him live. If Guilt a Love Story is coming to a city near you -- even if that means you have to travel a few hours by plane, train or automobile to see it-- do so. You will be glad you did.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Good-bye, Old Friend

I woke this morning to discover that my ancient cat, Stinky, was no longer able to support himself on his back legs. This condition came as no surprise. In fact, I've been expecting it for several months since an x-ray revealed that his hips were overwhelmingly deteriorated by advanced arthritis.
In those months, my husband and I have accommodated Stinky's increasing decrepitude by limiting the scope of his domain. We put his food dish, heated cat bed, and litter box all on the same level of the house where we sleep and where I keep my art studio.
For some time now I've been quietly hoping that my sweet old cat would simply lie down in his heated little bed beneath my studio desk and take a nice long nap into forever. I simply did not want to see him suffer at all and, like most people, I really didn't want to have to make a choice, no matter humane, about ending his life.
Sadly, this morning I had to make that choice.
The hardest part, I think, was waiting two hours for the vet's office to open after I woke up and discovered the poor dear struggling to use his litter box. I helped him as best I could, lifting him into the box, waiting while he urinated, and then lifting him out again when he was done. I was sobbing all the while, I assure you. Then I carried him to bed and curled him up beside me so I could pet him and coo at him and reassure him that I would not allow him to suffer any further indignities. When the clock said it was 8 a.m., I called the vet's office and made an appointment to take him in at 11 a.m.
Three more hours.
Just enough time to make damned sure he was petted and scritched and comforted sufficiently so that I would know that he knew he was loved. After two decades of lap time, nap time and play time, I wanted to make certain he felt all that love before he had to say good-bye.
And now that time has passed. He's out of any pain or discomfort, and I am without a cat for the first time in more than 30 years.
Not today, nor tomorrow, not for a while, but soon enough we will find a shelter cat to bring into our home and into our hearts. Because no matter how awful I feel right now, all those years of soft fur and gentle purring were totally worth it.
Good-bye, old friend. Thank you for giving me all that unconditional love. It really made a difference in my life.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Week as Art Featured on Create Mixed Media

When I saw that Tonia Davenport, Acquistions Editor at North Light Craft Books and Create Mixed Media, was looking for artists to feature in The Week aa Art, I almost did a backflip.

I love letters and numbers, especially numbers, and I'm always incorporating them into my work. I dropped her an email with a "sample" number and hoped she'd invite me to submit a week's worth of mixed media digits. She responded quickly, asking me to provide numbers for this week, February 5-11.

I decided to start by making "serendipity squares" for my backgrounds. Here's how I made them. Click on the images to view them at a larger size.

First, I drew a grid for the squares on a piece of Bristol board, then laid down a few diagonal lines of old book text torn into random shapes and distressed around the edges with some Color Box inks.

I tried to vary the sizes and shapes of the text scraps enough that they wouldn't look too uniform but would provide a nice structure for the squares.
Next, I tore up an fabulously pigment-stained paper towel I'd been saving since I used it for clean-up on another project a few weeks ago and laid in another set of diagonals.

Truth is, It nearly broke my hear to tear it up. That's why I took a picture of it before I let her rip.

Then I added scraps of bright yellow construction paper and let the background sheet dry.

Looks like a bit of a mess, no?

I'm always amazed how bad things can look just before they take that turn toward completion. In this case, I just hoped my squares would be colorful but not overpowering for the stars of the show: my numbers.
I cut the sheet into 9 3-inch squares and got out by favorite vintage oilboard stencils to make the numbers.

I love oilboard stencils. I have them in four sizes from 1" to 6". They came from the leftover stock of an old art supply store some friends bought in my hometown several years ago. I love the way they smell and the way they feel in my hand.  They are so much cooler than plastic stencils.

I stenciled each number first using white acrylic paint and allowed that layer to dry.

Then I offset the stencil over the first layer and stenciled the number in black acrylic paint to create a little more dimension.

I dragged the edges of the squares with a contrasting stamp pad to give them a finished look.

You can see the whole week of finished numbers at Create Mixed Media.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Snowpocalypse Now

During the Great Seattle Snowpocalypse of 2012, #snOMG2012 for short, much sport has been made of the following three supposed facts:

1. Seattle drivers can't drive in the snow. (Except that one person from somewhere where it "really" snows.)
2. It doesn't "really" snow in Seattle.
3. We all overreact like a bunch of babies when the first flakes start to fall.

I'd like to take a moment or two to explore these so-called facts and add a few of my own to the conversation.

First, I will not dispute that Seattle drivers cannot drive in snow. They also can't drive in rain or bright sunshine, but that's another thing to bitch about on another day. To their credit, I will allow as how most Seattleites know they can't drive in snow and they stay out of their hybrid four-wheel drive sport utility vehicles when the strange, solid rain falls from the sky. The fact is, it doesn't snow here often enough for Seattle drivers to get used to driving in snow, so they never get good at it. They never learn some of the fundamental techniques someone from the Midwest or Northeast would have mastered before graduating from high school such as "gun the motherfucker up the hill, stopping for nothing, and pray a stalled school bus isn't lying in wait for you to slam into just over the crest." (True story, happened to a college friend of mine. No one was hurt, but it's not atypical of southwestern Pennsylvania winter driving conditions.)

Which leads me to the second of these "facts" in evidence: It doesn't "really" snow in Seattle. Well, yes and no. It doesn't snow often in Seattle and the snow that falls here is seldom deep enough to qualify as a school-canceling occasion in other parts of the country where it "really" snows, but the type of snow we get in Seattle is wet and weird and exactly the sort of slushy mess that would leave most people, even hard-ass four-wheelers from Wheeling, steering into the skid. We are close to sea level here, which keeps the snow away most of the time, but when it does get cold enough at sea level for snow to fall, the humidity is high and the conditions are treacherous. Made doubly dangerous by the manner in which Seattle (and surrounding areas) deal with the snow on the roads, which is to say, laughably.

During my first Seattle snowstorm, dubbed Winter Blast 1996 by the local media (which included a much younger, but still weather-beaten "Danger" Jim Forman), I learned that when lots of snow falls here in a short period of time, the city just shuts down. At that time, the city had just eleven snow ploughs total and WSDOT didn't seem to have many more. Additionally, I learned that they do not (or did not at the time) apply any sort of deicer to the roads before or after scraping them. Some things have improved over the years, there are more ploughs and they now use a chemical deicer that's supposed to work as well as salt without doing much damage to the environment, but problems persist. For example, snow ploughs only work when they are lowered far enough to scrape the snow and ice off the road surface. They don't lower the blades far enough here, so all they manage to accomplish is creating a nice, slick ribbon of ice where the traction-giving snow used to be. Observe any Seattle-area street or highway immediately after the snow plough has been through, and you'll discover a road surface that could easily be mistaken for a skating rink. It's also important to note at this point that only main streets and highways will get even this much attention. Secondary roads and side streets are left untouched by even these puny municipal snow removal techniques, so you're likely to find them impassable because they are littered with abandoned vehicles that were close enough to the curb to count as parking.

It is easy to criticize Seattle, its drivers and citizens, for over-reacting to winter weather. We do go a little crazy at the sight of a few flakes and we obsess over Cliff Mass’s weather blog and the highly dramatized weather coverage presented pretty much 24/7 on every local news channel. We post photos and comments on Facebook and Twitter. We watch YouTube videos of unfortunate cars and busses sliding and slamming around our city streets. We overshare our anxiety and wonder over the frozen crystals from the sky.

But we do so relatively secure in the knowledge that in a day or two, after all the panic and pandemonium, the temperatures will rise and the rain will come to melt the snow and flood our storm drains and basements.

This morning, large ice pellets are falling from the sky, clicking and clattering off the frozen crust of ice that lays on the six or so inches of snow in my back yard. Friends in Ballard or Greenwood may have seen less than an inch of accumulation. That’s snow in Seattle. And we really do love it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Book Review: Graveminder by Melissa Marr

GraveminderGraveminder by Melissa Marr

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I found Melissa Marr's Graveminder a compelling read.

Well paced and plotted, Graveminder tells the story of a contemporary small town that is both protected and threatened by a metaphysical pact made by town residents hundreds of years before. Like some of the best fiction of this type (think Stephen King, Ray Bradbury and Shirley Jackson), Graveminder captures the reader's sympathy with the comfortably common details of small town life and grabs the reader’s attention with chilling perversions of the same.

Populated with characters both believable and sympathetic, Graveminder explores familiar territory with fresh eyes, examining the interplay of fate and free will, the nature of love and duty, and the essence of family ties, both in blood and in choice.

While Graveminder works perfectly well as a stand-alone novel, Marr has created in it a rich well of material from which she could draw numerous sequels. And I would be happy to read them.

View all my reviews