Friday, December 30, 2011

Makin' Canvases

I got to use a sander yesterday, gotta say any chance to play with power tools is a good time.  Borrowed it from my father, whom is one of the best men in the world.  Chatted over coffee for half an hour with him, the most valuable time I'll spend this week.  Very psyched to be working on wood, these pieces I'm starting should be hanging in public in two weeks!  More details on that to come.  Very happy about progress lately, 2012 is going to be a stellar year.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Good Habits for the New Year

I do believe that if you allow yourself to pay attention, that helpful suggestions or themes will manifest themselves and even repeat in your life.  In this sense it seems lately that the Universe has been suggesting I reevaluate my relationship with my artwork and mend our differences.  Not an easy task.  I have begun by establishing a sort of morning constitutional with the drawing board, a pot of coffee and the Beirut Pandora station.  It's been good so far.

One snag I have not been able to figure out is the encaustic studio issue (ample ventilation, something not possible in my apartment setting).  To keep forward motion I have been attempting to gain the effect of encaustic layers through other mediums.  The experiment today was acetate and vellum, which was a learning curve but ultimately successful. 

charcoal and acrylic on vellum

So this was a doodle on vellum (fyi: the difference between the two is vellum is opaque while acetate is transparent).  I enjoyed the painting, but didn't like that the loose vellum was wrinkling drastically.  So I stuck it on my acrylic painting on top of an acetate layer.  (And I did paint it a bit pinker.)

acrylic, charcoal, acetate, vellum, not finished!
This is beginning to look like something I'm pretty excited about.  A lot of the detail work and the shine from the acetate gets lost on the blog of course, but for lack of a studio/studio-mates to share it with this will have to do.  I ultimately want layers of line work in these pieces.  This has been an intriguing method to achieve a degree of this goal.

Also today I worked on #2 from my last post.  Now this particular painting has been pissing me off every time I looked at it, I was very unhappy with it.  I mentioned it to a friend of mine who commented that it was surprising I was even trying for abstract.  That's when the lightbulb went off and I threw that goal out the window.  I re-attacked #2, and now it's something I can be much more proud of.  Not done, but it looks waaay better:

I have no idea why these shapes keep reappearing with me, but I love them.  This still needs a few more hours of work, and the colors are a bit sickly in this picture, but I am so happy to have this appearing here to show progress from earlier.  Looking forward to where these pieces will end up.

Friday, December 23, 2011


Been working on a second abstract for a series I've been tentatively considering, with the focus on connections.  I think this one is mostly done, but will have to sleep on it a few days to know for sure.  Decided to take this semester off from grad school to consider my options and potentially re-evaluate what the hell I'm doing.  No deep thoughts yet, but I guarantee they're brewing.

Also pulled out my oils for the first time in I don't know how long today.  Here's what I noodled around with.  My patience fails with oils, but I think it's worth it to resurrect the paints and give it another go.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Smokin' SMoca!

Got a chance to visit the Museum of Modern Art in Scottsdale, AZ this past week.  I was super impressed by their current exhibit, artists tell stories (mostly about themselves).  The three artists I was quite taken with in this exhibit were Simon Evans, Andrew Kuo and Deb Sokolow.  Fantastic, text based stuff!  

Simon Evans, Shitty Heaven (detail) 2010
 This is a tiny closeup of Evans' approximately 3'x4' work of paper, whiteout, pen, and tape.  In some of his other works he also used laminate to add depth, very cool stuff.  His work seems the most organic/least planned out of all three artists, something I enjoy.  Also his snarky witticism I can relate to. 

Sokolow seems to be strongly influenced by crime/detective stories, layout design, bookmaking, map making, directing the viewer's eye movement, and self reflection.  Looking at this gigantic work below one kind of gets the feeling you're watching the show Castle.  I love her use of deliberate line combined with casual mark making/self editing.

Deb Sokolow, You Tell People You're Working Really Hard on Things These Days (detail), 2010

Deb Sokolow, You Tell People You're Working Really Hard on Things These Days (detail), 2010

I love this stuff, I would kind of define it as a visual thought process.  This is something I can relate to.

Andrew Kuo takes it to the next step and uses his art to make graphs representing his time, whether that be throughout the day, or the time devoted to his thoughts, etc.  Quite awesome, professionally executed stuff.

Andrew Kuo, The (Roughly) Three Hours and Forty Minutes before Finding My Glasses in the Fridge/Today's Problems Were Last Night's Solutions.

Andrew Kuo, The (Roughly) Three Hours and Forty Minutes before Finding My Glasses in the Fridge/Today's Problems Were Last Night's Solutions (detail bottom center)

These three artists seem to document a period of devoted time, all three with different levels of humor and intent.  The curator did a fantastic job.  This show at SMoca is stellar, very happy to have attended.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


I've been thinking quite a bit lately.  Specifically, I've been spending time pondering the ideas of free will, mental construct, perspective, choices, how learning happens, value, honesty, and how these all relate.  On that note, I promise this will be light reading, don't be scared.


Let's talk about mental construct and perspective, these go hand in hand.  Perspective is essentially the lens you view the world through; the judgements you are likely to make dependent on past experiences and social pressure (i.e. this person is pretty, they must be nice.  That person wears american flag parachute pants, they must be uneducated and shop at Walmart).  Now, a mental construct is more tricky, it has more to do with personal experiences, character and a belief structure.  Contrast person A who is likely to lend a friend twenty bucks and generally believes people are trustworthy with person B who distances themselves emotionally because they've been hurt one too many times and generally believes people cannot be trusted.  Two opposing lenses/perspectives, significantly different mental constructs and gut reactions when presented with the same situation.  (Behaviorism yes, tho I will allow that it is rarely this cut and dry.)  Without knowing much about a person, it is interesting how much is understandable by studying their typical reactions to things.  In most cases, without waiting for proof or result, we all react according to our mental construct.  So what do your typical responses say about you?  Honesty with yourself is key, yet is supremely challenging.

Now let's switch to the question of value.  To be honest I've been stuck on this idea lately.  Not the idea of how much value something has, but where it is one garners value from.  Let's talk in examples.  I am a bartender, and have worked in the service industry for approximately ten years.  In relation to the American Dream, I am not that high up on the food chain.  No way to climb a corporate ladder, become an expert of my field, I don't make tons of money, barely have health insurance and job security...actually I am in one of the more demeaning industries; anyone can do my job.  Despite this, I find value in my work.  To answer the question of how much value my job has, I couldn't judge - there is probably jobs out there I am better suited for.  So where does the value come from?  Specifically for me it would be social interaction with a wide audience and a certain element of flexibility and challenge.  This is an exercise in answering the question 'why.'  I think it is a great way to learn about oneself and others.

Now comes the tricky part; how do people relate to their value system.  I think it stems from history and mental construct.   There is a heavy influence here from our survivalist nature.  But the interesting part is that values and perspectives are choices, and therefore are learned.  As in the case of Pavlov's dog, the more a person is exposed to something (without further input or consideration) the more their reaction will become fossilized (to use a term from my grad readings).  Not that this is unchangeable; arguably a person with an open mind, aka willing to entertain the whys of opposing perspectives in relation to their mental construct, could end up changing their value structure.

These thoughts inspired me to make one of my first successful abstract pieces.

With this in mind, where is your value?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Encaustic block

Happy friday people.  Here's a little encaustic work I made at some point in the past week.  Working small now, hopefully will have a studio for the winter set up and functional in the next few weeks. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fantastic ESL video

I was directed to this video by the NHTESOL listserve, I think by Karen Guoyette.  It is very well done, and is a perspective of the ESL classroom that doesn't get a lot of attention.  I thought it was worth posting here, please check it out.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dia De Los Muertos Show is Up

Lunar Boy Gallery in Astoria, Oregon (yes, home of the Goonies) has up their Dia De Los Muertos show this month in celebration of the holiday.  It opened October 8th, and Deborah (the owner) allowed me to participate in this fine event.  I made two small acrylic pieces for the show, heavily based on typography.  Here they are;

In making these two paintings, I got to thinking.  I am a white girl from New England making works of art influenced by Mexican culture with the intent to hang in the Northwest, paintings that will most likely be sold to white people.  How disconnected can you get.  By the time my artwork is processed and sold, it retains no connotations to the religious background the Mexicans pay tribute to with this imagery.  Really, how could a person in my position do this theme justice?  (These ideas influenced the first piece, as you may have guessed.)  This is neither good nor bad, but what I am curious about is: where is the value?

The role of the themed group show in a small art gallery is interesting.  What is being sold in a group show has a lot to do with the curation of artists' styles, and it seems the theme tends to be used as a homogenizing vehicle.  Is it possible to find much depth in a piece of artwork in this situation?  Is an artist able to give a singular piece enough mindfulness and reflection?  Can this even be quantified, or is it not important?  I can't say as I know.  So if depth is not what we're going for, what is?  To answer this question is not easy.

This is no judgment on the works hanging at the Lunar Boy Gallery, as you can see from the link the pieces are of high quality and are a good grouping - Deborah succeeded in a fine showing.  What intrigues me is the context and the motivation, which it seems is a significant factor in any piece of art.  With respect to motivation, it is unlikely I will ever paint Mexican cavaleras again.  Somehow it seems disrespectful.  On the other hand, maybe I'm over-thinking it...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Went to Boston this weekend

I went to the big city this past Saturday to see some live music, do some touristy gawking (mostly at other tourists), and to feel that life-energy you can only get walking down a sidewalk choking of people.  I will admit, we got lost on the way there, which only heightened the frantic beeline from the T to the Faneuil Hall restroom.  After regaining our wits we ambled like tourists throughout the city, first passing the Holocaust Memorial.

This blog post is due to the Memorial and how much of an impression it made on me this trip.  And I say "this trip" purposefully; I have walked by and through this Holocaust Memorial in trips past.  For some reason Saturday's encounter, combined with oppressive heat and cloudy skies, was more acute.  

Now about the design.  This is how the website describes it; 
"The Memorial features six luminous glass towers, each 54 feet high.
The towers are lit internally to gleam at night. They are set on a black
granite path, each one over a dark chamber which carries the name
of one of the principal Nazi death camps. ...Six million numbers are etched
in glass in an orderly pattern, suggesting the infamous tattooed numbers..."

What most struck me was the empty space.   There are six stories, or floors, of air there, encircled by glass columns.  And these columns have a total of six million numbers on them, this represents six million people.  And if you walk through the Memorial, you can only easily read the numbers on the ground floor.  Even if you could read the numbers on the five stories above, it is too much information to absorb. 

Metaphors are abundant at this memorial (whoever designed it is fantastic).  The ghostlike qualities of the numbers, the smoke from the grates below, the distance between you and the top row of the highest numbers, the six towers (which could also suggest a menorah of memorial candles), using numbers to represent people...

And underneath it all, we all are free, and living, and hopefully appreciating our lots in life.

Earlier that day I spent the carride trying to think up bumper stickers having to do with equality, so possibly my brain was already on the topic.  I already have a pretty killer one on my bumper: We are all in this together.  Others I thought up were Accept Differences, u=2me, We are equals, (and a somewhat longer one, you'd need a bumper bigger than a Smart Car) It takes no time or money to compliment others.  The designer in me wants a symbol though, and not one with hippie connotations such as a peace sign.  First try just for fun:

I'm getting at having a general base level of respect for others, for strangers.  But really, the whole carride down I couldn't think of the right word to describe it.  Acceptance can have negative connotations.  What's a good word to use when saying we're all on the same team?  Because focusing on differences, labeling others not like you, separating people because they're not your financial bracket, your skin tone, your level of formal education, is horrid.

Though I think the Holocaust Memorial is elegantly done, we don't need any more of them in the world.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Encaustic at home!

Oops, never posted this piece.  It's the first I've made at home with my new setup.  Here it is!

Four to One


So I took a weeklong intensive workshop this summer on Encaustic (painting with hot wax) and became completely hooked.

Since then I've spent several hundred dollars accumulating all the supplies to make my own home studio.  What follows is images of what I produced at the workshop, as well as one piece I was able to create at home a few weeks after the workshop.

To say the least, I am very excited.  Please feel free to comment on the images, feedback is important.  I hope to become involved seriously with this medium in the future.

Yellow Blue Paper

Orange String


Birches/To Her



Hot Dog Garden Christmas
Hot Dog Garden


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Trickling In

Got my publication of the Brooklyn Review in the mail today!

My illustration is in the middle of their 28th issue, very excited.  Thanks again to Julia Cocuzza for accepting me!  I'm surrounded by some other great artists in this issue as well.  Here's how it looks!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Summer's Swingin'!

Things are going well as of late!  The latest OVS issue should be headed to print later this week.  As posted earlier, my good friend Mike Curato is the featured artist, it looks great!

The reason why I'm excited to post on here today is because, as some of you may know, I am a huge fan of the band They Might Be Giants.  There are a lot of fan sites out there for folks like us, but the one that I find addictive is They Might Be Hipsters, a tumblr blog-style site for us nerds to submit photos with one or two liners from the lyrics overlaid on them.  ...So of course I had to.  And mine got posted today!  You can find it here, though I've reposted it below.  I do recommend scrolling through the Hipsters's site because there's some great mashups on there.  And on that note, everyone, have a stellar Friday!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Life is catching up with me

The past week or two has not been easy.  Nothing too drastic or life threatening, but hard for me nonetheless.  During times like these life seems to have a way of reminding me of things that I'd forgotten or given up.  I've been in a sad mood lately, which changed my focus to things I've lost or given away.  I will admit I am a modest, private person, prone to frustration as much as anyone else.  But today I was reminded doubly so to keep making art to be a happier person.  Seems to be a more positive attitude to take than spending a week unhappy.

I would like to post here some comments from an interview of my good friend Mike Curato, a fantastic artist and friend who is the feature of next month's edition of Organs of Vision and Speech, a poetry and art journal I do the layout for.  He is exceptional not only in personality, but in attitude and perspective.  Below are some excerpts from the interview being published next month.

What advice do you have for artists?

Keep creating, even when you think you suck and the future looks doomed. I've done myself a great disservice in the past by running away from my art, and I'll never get that time back. I think I was scared to be vulnerable, that people would find fault in my craft or not care about what I had to say. Ultimately, your art is for you, and by allowing yourself the expression you deserve, you live a fuller, more honest life.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Woah, I need to pick a winner? No pressure! I can't say if this is the all-time best piece of advice I've been given, but it's relevant to this article: Be good to yourself. Artists have a bad habit of beating the crap out of themselves for not being constantly brilliant (well, I do anyway). It's really important to remember that you're human and therefore you have to fail. It's inevitable, and necessary. Failing is growing (as long as you get back up, otherwise you're just failing). 

I feel like I'm finally starting to find my brain.  Here is what I worked out today.  I feel more grounded somehow.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tweaked Art

So I have always taken an interest in art that, due to a new method of display or a changed context around it, has a new implication/affect.  Nothing I've seen lately better exemplifies this state as much as the permanent artwork "I Dreamed I Could Fly" by Jonathan Borofsky in the MFA.  (Please click on the link to see the original artwork.) 

Currently in the Galleria, the wing this piece has hung in since 2001, there is major construction occurring.  Due to this, they have covered Borofsky's sculpture as a way to protect it, like so.

Now, Borofsky's intentions were to have the figures positioned in such a way that they were above the viewer.  On the MFA's website they have his intentions in his own words; "these figures 'are able to rise up and look down upon the whole planet … They … see and feel that human beings are all connected together and that we are all one-no divisions and no walls.'"

 Let's not just talk about disassociation here, let's really just get at how creepy these sculptures are now that they've been bagged and tagged during construction.  No feelings of unity come to me when viewing this...

But that's what I love about this kind of repurposed influence.  These sculptures currently raise feelings of distance, separation, maybe even death, confinement and lack of independence.  I'd go so far as to say it looks like it's raining zombies in trash bags.  Completely not the artist's goal.  I love these situations of tweaked art, particularly in that it reminds me how there is no guarantee a viewer will interpret a work according to the artist's intentions.
 I'm sure the bagging of Borofsky's work won't last long, but while it lasts, boy is this a moment of severely imposed dadaism on fine art.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Gettin' outta Dodge

I took a road trip today to the MFA - Museum of Fine Art in Boston.  They recently opened a new addition which more than doubles the size of the museum, it is pretty fantastic.  One of the premier shows to open in their new space has been the much-anticipated Dale Chihuly exhibition.  After spending large amounts of time living in Seattle in close proximity to several glassblowers, I think I may have a less than stellar opinion of the man Chihuly, but that does not detract from the installations that I saw today.  It is a fantastic thing to see this glass in person, the scale is quite remarkable.  A highly recommended show!

This is a view looking directly above in a room where the installation was on the ceiling.  The glass was laid on top of panes, below the light source, imitating stained glass.  The room was rainbowey.  The collection of glass suspended included these discs, vases, figures of animals, not just weird amorphous shapes.

Pretty sweet stuff.  The rest of my day was spent driving, getting lost in Boston, and heading here;
One of my favorite places in any city: Chinatown.  On the way over I spotted some pretty sweet graffiti, and luckily got a picture of it before heading home. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Coolest website I've found all week

So this site is worth checking out;
John and John from They Might Be Giants promoted it, and boy are there some winners on here!  The site is two girls pairing up photos with TMBG lyrics, pretty fantastic.  I have included my three favorites below.  Have a good week!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Wallpaper Day!

So I finally wallpapered over this boring ivy paper up in the kitchen.  The area really is just the splashboard above the countertop, but it looks pretty snazzy now.  I found two rolls of reddish flowery print at a yard sale for cheap!  It's a sweet design, with flowers circles and hearts.  I had to get wallpaper paste to put the beast up.  Here's some pics.  Good day!

Pretty sweet!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

...Now What Do I Do?

Classes are over.  Week's been crap.  Insert cute drawing here to break the mood! Hope y'all are well  :)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Typical Saturday Pastime

...So I went yard sale-ing today with Mom in celebration of Mother's Day festivities.  Unfortunately we got on the road late and found almost nothing out and about in Canaan, NH of all places.  A town like this, you assume going into the deal that all you're going to find is a gigantic box of McDonalds toys for 25 cents each, maybe some old rusty tools, piles of stuff that people are either too embarrassed to admit that they bought for themselves or thankful to be getting rid of the crap someone else gave them.  So of course I found nothing...except a badass pile of cassette tapes to play in my car. 
New collection now includes Joan Jett, Belinda Carlisle, Carole King, A-ha!, and the soundtrack to the Big Chill.  And I realized, as I was happily driving away with my new stash, that these are not new, they are actually so old one could consider them antiques.  Can you buy a 'new' tape nowadays?  I really don't think so.  (Let's not go into the poor woman trying to sell her 8-tracks.)  And if you're lucky enough to find some that have not been melted by the sun or used so much they play a high pitched whine even between songs, you know you've lucked out.  So hopefully I've lucked out.  Tomorrow we'll see how rocking they are on my sweet stereo system.  Pictures and details to ensue.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

"Pop!" Published in the Brooklyn Review

"Pop!"  2008
My illustration will be published in this year's edition of the Brooklyn Review!  This is the first time this illo will be published.  I believe the Review is going to print this weekend.  Very excited!  This publication is art directed by my friend Julia Cocuzza, a great artist in her own right.