Monthly Archives: April 2012

New Painting-Tree, birds, and crystal water

Was it just me, or did that weekend go by way too fast?

I posted a new painting this morning, and I really like this one. This is an example of a painting that was supposed to be one thing, but spontaneously turned out to be something else. The water was a surprise. I just liked how it looked when I divided off the part of the painting that was going to be the ground.

8X10 acrylic on stretched canvas

This painting features a tree growing out of crystal clear water, along with a flock of birds and a stamped, textured sun. This piece is available here for $55.

Sorry for the short post today, but I have to run. Have a great day!

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Art and Location

The part of California that I struggle with is the driving, but luckily I got to ride in the back of the van the whole way and take pictures of trees out the window.

I went on a lot of car trips growing up, and I think a lot of my work stems in watching the trees and landscape as we drove back and forth to California and southern Utah. I pay a lot more attention to trees than that stuff than I used to, but I noticed that the trees and sky in California look so much different than they do in Utah. Utah is full of trees standing out in the middle of nowhere by themselves, or huge dead trees. They’re very gnarly looking. Everything in northern Utah is very jagged and sharp. We’ve got the Rocky Mountains and the trees are…sharp-looking I guess. The trees in California are much more serpentine. The San Gabriel Mountains are hilly and round rather than rocky. All the trees had their leaves, and as far as I know, most of them don’t lose them.

As I snapped pictures of trees by the freeway, I wondered how my art would change if I still lived in California, or if I go back. I was actually born in Pasedena and we lived there until I was almost five, but I remember it very vividly. Every time I go back, some part of me feels at home. There’s a California girl in me somewhere. Not the part of me that has to drive, but some part. My husband is an animator, so we may very well live in California at some point. He certainly wants to. What would that do to my art? Would my trees get more snakey-looking?  Would my skies get flatter, because the sky in California mostly seems to vary between blue and brownish-gray? There’s the beach though. I could get into that. There are palm trees, and all kinds of flowers.

It’s an interesting thought. Though my work really isn’t realistic or representational, the Utah landscape is a huge source of inspiration for me. I think my art will always have some Utah in it, but it will probably change to reflect wherever I’m living at the time. I may try to incorporate a little of my California girl into some art this summer. I’ve been playing with some ideas all winter while I was pining for the sun.

I’ll probably live in California again someday, as well as other places. My art will change right along with my surroundings, because my surroundings are part of me. I project myself into the landscape.

California Part 2-I love the beach!

Read Part 1 here.

One of my favorite places in the world is the beach. No beach in particular, just a beach. Whenever I do guided meditations that instruct me to find a special places to watch my thoughts go by, I always think of a beach at sunset, and I sit on a rock and watch my thoughts pass over the horizon.

The Santa Monica Pier wasn’t exactly peaceful, but I had a lot of fun. I had a lot of fun taking random pictures of shapes and colors that interested me and I got some fun ideas for a series I’m hoping to paint this summer.

I had a good time watching the musicians, breakdancers, and portrait artists on the pier. There was even a girl with a few burmese pythons who was apparently raising money to buy roosters. I assume they were to feed the snakes. Anyway, I love snakes, so I definitely got in on this.

Here name was cleopatra. The last time I got to hold one of these, he tried to slither into my pocket, but Cleopatra was a little more polite.

I was hoping to see some dolphins or sea lions in the ocean, and I noticed a smooth shape surfacing now and then under the end of the pier. Once I got down there, the sea lion had swum closer to the beach on the side of the pier, and I almost fell down the stairs trying to get closer for a better look. She even poked her head out of the water and barked. I watched her for a long time. Yes, I randomly decided it was a she. I love sea lions. They seem like such happy animals.

I rode the roller coast with my little brother Chandler, that behemoth behind me with the stud glasses, because he’d never ridden a roller coaster on the beach before. The beach really does make it more fun, which is good, because this was actually a pretty lame roller coaster. I’ll have to take him to Magic Mountain someday and show him a real roller coaster.

I love this picture, because it shows how tall my 16 year old baby brother is.

We had our shitzu, Maya with us, and dogs weren’t allowed on the actual beach, so Mom and I walked on the beach for a few minutes while everyone took Maya back to the car. I wasn’t leaving until I actually got to touch the ocean. Californians are funny. They bundle up if the temperature drops below 70, but they’ll throw on their bikinis and jump into the freezing ocean in April, no problem. It was definitely cold. I rolled up my jeans and let the water run over my feet, but that was it. It felt good to feel the ocean though, and to walk on a beach. Every time I visit the ocean, it’s like something inside me that’s been holding its breath finally lets go. Maybe I’ll live by the ocean someday.

Sigh. I love the beach.

Rising Above Discouragement

A few weeks ago, I posted about how I overcame my fear and entered a few paintings into a very big, very competitive juried show. I mean, the awards are competitive, but the real goal for me was just getting in. Out of over 950 entries, about 250 were actually accepted into the show.

My work wasn’t accepted.

Even though I knew it was going to be competitive, I was a bit bummed out. For the weeks leading up to the announcement, I walked the fence between hopeful confidence and not getting my hopes up. I visualized getting into the show, I found several other shows to enter in case that one didn’t work out, and I told myself that I’d be ok either way.

I am ok, but when I went to the museum to pick up my paintings the other day, that black cloud of discouragement settled over me. That museum is one of my favorite places in the entire world because it’s always quiet and full of gorgeous art. It’s a great place to think; especially the back room where the abstract work is always hung in this show.

This day, the museum wasn’t quiet. It was busy and rather noisy after the bustle of the opening the night before. The door to that wonderful back room was open and all the noise from the other side was coming in. I studied the work in the show; amazing, as expected. I wanted to get an idea of what I can improve to help my chances of getting in next year, but the closer I looked at the perfect details and flawlessly crisp lines, the more I felt myself retreating into my little cave of fear. How will I ever compete with this kind of work? Will museums and gallery ever see the value that I see in my work? Will I be able to communicate my message clearly? Will/do people really connect with my art?

My brain knows that my work treads the fine line between the realism and purely abstract works that usually get into that show. I know that people love my art, because they tell me all the time. Not necessarily people in the “art world”, but people who feel free to enjoy art for it’s own sake. I know that I’m just starting out. I know that my art isn’t about perfection in the slightest, and that it might be better suited to homes than museums, but my heart didn’t believe it just then.

I cut my visit a little short and asked the volunteer at the front desk for my work, and she took me down into the basement of the museum, where I’d never been before. The entire basement was just PACKED with sculptures and paintings. Hundreds and hundreds of pieces. We found one painting right away, but the other one wasn’t where it was supposed to be, so I got to help the volunteer search through all the other works to find it, which was fun because I got to look at a ton of great stuff. On the one hand, seeing the quality of the work that didn’t get accepted made me feel better, because not getting in doesn’t mean that my work sucks, or even that they didn’t like it. Again, my brain knows this, but our emotions don’t always listen to our brains. One the other hand, it made me feel worse because if amazing art like that didn’t make it in, do I really have a chance?

There are plenty of other shows coming up, so hopefully I’ll get in somewhere. That doesn’t really worry me. I have some ideas to try that may improve my chances of getting in, and I did get some really fun ideas from looking at the work in the show, like attaching smaller canvases to the bigger ones for more dimension, mixing my paint with gloss medium, and stuff like that.

The problem is that I haven’t much felt like painting for the past few days. My brushed feel awkward in my hands, the colors haven’t been blending right (I don’t think I like the new brand of paint I’m trying), and I’ll admit that I’m kind of second-guessing myself. I collaged a little bit, just for fun. No matter what though, I cannot let discouragement hurt my passion. It doesn’t matter if I don’t get into a show, or if I compare myself to other artists, or even if my colors don’t want to blend.

Even if I never get to make a living as an artist, if I never get into a show or no one ever buys my work, I’m still an artist. Nothing can take that away from me. Even if I lost everything somehow, I’d still draw pictures in the dirt with sticks. I’d still get excited when I see cool trees against a colorful sky. This is true of every artist whether you’re an actor, writer, musician, whatever. If no one likes what you do or if you blow an audition, get five rejection letters in one day, or get booed off a stage, you’re still an artist.

This probably seems like a lot of drama over nothing, but I think everyone feels like this at some point. We don’t get promotions. We dont get the part. We get shot down when we finally get the courage to out that cute coworker. Our inner Simon Cowell tells us to quit what we’re doing and take up accounting instead.

I have no doubt that I’ll be successful. I know I can stand to build up a thicker skin, but that process is a tough one. So what do we do when we feel small and insignificant compared to the world we’re trying to be a part of?

Well, I put on my Beats and blast my tough girl music (at the moment, I’m listening to Van Halen. I know, I’m a monster.) and I write, or I paint something just to paint, or I stare at the ceiling and realize how good it feels just to be laying there with a fully functional body. We just keep going, that’s all. Music does help though.

All right, it’s your turn to gush. Any rejection stories? When did you feel discouraged? How do you get past it?

Two Spring Paintings

One of my favorite parts of spring is the gorgeous blossoms! I’ve been taking tons of walks and photographing all kinds of trees in my town. Yellow, pink, purple, white, I love the colors with the new green grass and blue sky. Spring is so colorful!  It’s a nice change from the very brown winter we just had.

I made two blossom-inspired paintings, and I really love how they turned out. I had fun playing with the layer of gesso I laid on the canvas before I painted anything. I figured out how to get the gesso to crack as it dried, and I think it’s really pretty. I have another painting coming soon that’s super crackly, and it looks pretty awesome if I do say so myself. I will definitely play with this technique some more.

Here they are:

11x14 Gesso and Acrylic on Canvas

Purchase here.

11x14 Gesso and Acrylic on Canvas

Purchase here.

Both pieces are available in the shop for $85.

Have a great Monday!

An Authentically Goofy Post

I was going to post about something deep and serious, but I just don’t feel like it. I feel like being a goof instead. Though I can certainly be serious and cerebral, I’m actually kind of a weirdo, though I’m sneaky about it. I have a very dry, irreverent sense of humor. I grew up watching The Three Stooges, The Muppet Show, and Benny Hill, so how could I be anything but? I love puns, slapstick, and satire.

This is probably the most random post I’ve ever done.

So here’s the goofy side:

Here I am bringing sexy back after my visit to the eye doctor.

The Muppets I most identify with:

 

Gonzo the oddball, and Floyd Pepper, the snarky musician who lives and breathes his art.

One of my favorite bad mood activities: Take a baby animal break.

Instructions: Google “cute baby animals” and let the cuteness overload wash away your stinky mood. Works every time.

Mwaaah.

More goofy factiods:

  • I love to make faces with leftovers on my plate.
  • I sing opera when I’m alone. Badly.
  • I like to dance (also badly) while I clean my apartment.
  • I have a habit of accidentally saying dirty things, either because my words get mixed up on the way out or because I’m just innocent. My husband finds this hilarious.
  • There’s a stuffed broccoli toy at Ikea that I have to talk myself out of getting every time I go there.
  • I name my houseplants after Fraggles.

What goofy things do you love to do?

Creative Play: Small Paintings

I’ve written about creative play here before, and I think it’s a valuable practice for everyone, not just “creative” people. I like to spend my creative playtime messing around with new motifs and techniques to incorporate into my artwork.

I’ve been loving the results of my creative playtime, so I’m adding a few small paintings to the shop:

Mixed Media, 8X10 on canvas board

Purchase here.

Mixed Media, 8X10 canvas board

Purchase here.

These paintings involve collage, linoleum block printing, and “string wrapping”, a fun little addition that adds a sort of “framed” effect. Both I especially love the “tree rings” linocut stamp used on the first painting.

Both of these pieces are available in the shop for $35.

I have a ridiculously early optometrist appointment to get to, so I’d better scoot. I hope you have a wonderful Wednesday! We’re one day closer to what I’m sure will be a glorious weekend!

Keeping Childlike Wonder-California Pt. 1

The week before last, I took a much-needed trip to California with my family. Sam couldn’t leave school, so it was just me, my parents, and three teenage siblings.

#3 doesn't like to smile.

We spent a day at Disneyland and I think I had more fun than anyone. I’m really just a big kid. That’s probably why I get along with kids so well. Fraggle Rock is still my favorite show and I still love the Alice in Wonderland ride at Disneyland (which we didn’t get to go on. Sad).

 

I realized how important it is to keep the wonder and sense of magic that we have as children, because that lives in the same part of our spirits as our imagination, and life without imagination is a pretty sad mess. Most of us catch a glimpse of that magic when we see Christmas lights or when we hear Disney music, but the magic tends to get lost in the stress of everyday life.

A few tips for keeping the magic:

  • Remember how you would have reacted to something when you were a child. When riding Pirates of the Caribbean or any other ride at Disneyland, I would have totally thrown myself into that world. I would actually be on a boat in the Caribbean. I’d actually be on a runaway train in a rocky mountain. I’d be a mermaid in that swimming pool. I’d be Pocahontas on that hike.

I'd actually be a princess in that castle.

  • Stop caring what other people think. I have a hard time with this one actually. This is why I don’t dance in public, even if everyone around me is (like at Holi). Don’t be afraid to cry, or laugh really hard, or even dance if a good beat gets you going.

How’s your sense of childlike magic doing?

New Small Painting-Time and Light

One of my favorite things about spring is the lengthening days. It’s interesting how I may feel like going to bed at 7 pm in the winter, but in the spring when it’s still light at 7, I feel like playing. Our sense of time changes right along with the light.

11X14 Acrylic on Canvas

This is now available in the small paintings section of the shop. It’s is acrylic on 11×14 stretched canvas, and the sides are painted to match the frame, so it’s ready to hang! It also features real clock hands! I love this piece so much, I’m planning to play with this idea some more and even create a large painting with this theme.

Available for purchase here, just $85.

Have a fabulous Monday!

Art is for Everyone

I’ve written a few times about my experience as an art major in college. It only lasted my freshman year, and then I switched to a (highly useful) English degree after that. After changing my major, I often wandered the halls of the art building feeling sad and lost inside. I felt like a starving person with no money standing outside the Bellagio buffet.

Still, I felt like I made the right decision, just like when I dumped my theater scholarships to study art and still to this day feel a twinge of sadness when I hear showtunes.

Why did I leave art?

Lots of reasons, all of which I hope to explore here later because I feel they’re valuable, but one of the biggest reasons is that I felt like art “abandoned” me somehow. Art was like a lifelong friend who turned into a jerk once we got to college. Instead of finding my artistic voice and feeling free and creative, we debated the definition of art and whether beauty has value. The art department praised the new, edgy, shocking, and obscene while scoffing at “decorative objects”, or “pretty” art. Crucifixes in jars of urine were “art”, but a simple drawing with no other purpose than to be pleasing was not. “Hard” art was “good”, while “soft” art was not. Real art was either be sold for thousands or millions of dollars, or not sold at all. Art was for people with money and doctoral degrees, or those who were willing to starve for it.

While I took notes and felt my spirit shrinking, I could only think “Man Art, you used to be cool.”

Don’t get me wrong, I had some good times as an art major. I met some great people and had my moment of zen moments perched on a drawing horse while sketching wads of crumpled paper, but I came into the art program wanting to be an artist, and I left it wanting nothing to do with the art world. The art world was a crooked, elitist place and I wanted nothing to do with it.

Luckily, I’ve come to my senses.

I barely made any art in college. I made art for assignments, but that was about it even though I haunted the local art galleries and put all kinds of good ideas on the back burner until I felt like being an artist again. Last spring, I started painting for fun again and in the fall, Sam suggested that I try selling art. I started learning about the real world rather than the art world, and I realized that it’s not such a scary place after all; at least it doesn’t have to be. I learned about Etsy and met all kinds of artists who are real people and proud of it. (I’m not saying that edgy, post-modern artists aren’t real, it’s just the image that’s not real.)

Most of all, I realized that owning and enjoying art isn’t limited to rich collectors or people with alphabets behind their names. Art can be affordable, approachable, and most of all: fun. It doesn’t have to make a huge statement or be shocking (though it certainly can). Sometimes, art can just be pretty. It can just make someone happy when she looks at it. It belongs in homes, offices, on desks, in wallets, in our jewelry boxes, on our notebook covers, everywhere! Anyone can make it, and anyone can enjoy it. It can say anything or nothing.

Art is for everyone, and that’s one of the messages I hope to send with my own art. I don’t mean that my art is for everyone, because not everyone will like it and that’s fine. I want my art to be approachable, thoughtful,  beautiful, and fun. I want it to be accessible and positive. Not everyone has room or money for large art, so I’ve started making small art as well, and I have plans to expand my shop and share my art with as many people as possible.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject. What do you think about the art world, or what art “is”?