Friday, March 28, 2008

Gathering the Evidence: A Visual Experience

Wow, well you have done it again! The response was tremendous to last week's blog post. I am honored that you spend a little of your precious time here with me at my studio blog. It makes me happy to know that you take comfort or find inspiration in my writings, and rest assured that I take comfort and find inspiration in your thoughtful comments. We are all navigating this art world together.

This month's recipient of the small paper painting pictured in this post is artist Michele Maule! Congratulations! Please email me (you can find my email in my profile section of this blog) or MySpace message me so I can get your postal information.

For the locals that read this blog, I must mention the exciting new exhibition that just opened at the DDP gallery in Fayetteville. Don't miss "In the Round," Sculpture by Michael Davis Gutierrez and Paintings by Duane Gardner. The show will be up from March 26-May 10th. I was at the opening last night and the red dots ( sold stickers) were going up fast. So, don't miss your opportunity to see and perhaps purchase Michael's amazing sculptures and Duane's colorful and process based abstractions. Also, while you are at the DDP gallery, don't hesitate to ask gallerist Dede Peters to see the art she has in the back room. She represents a dozen or so artists, and has a wonderful selection of works in stock and for sale at all times. I can't wait to bring my new Duane Gardner painting home! Support your scene...

Last week, you saw the map and you sensed the reality of my preparing for a featured exhibition. I have been following my "map" and working my odd hours in middle of the night in ongoing preparation for "Evidence of the Disappearance" to debut in June and July at the Blue Moon Gallery in Hot Springs, Arkansas. I am happy to report that the work is going well. Instead of writing about it all, and filling your head with more words, I just want you to experience a little of it. I still have a lot of work a head of me; but progress is being made, paintings are unfolding and I am excited.

Enjoy this sneak peek and simply "disappear."

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Map, and then the Reality

Part 1: The Map

It is time to get serious for my upcoming exhibition."Evidence of the Disappearance" to be held at the Blue Moon Gallery in Hot Springs, Arkansas in June and July 2008. I head to the studio early one morning to find the paperboard backing off an old newsprint pad and I grab the nearest sharpie marker.

I make a map or diagram of what I need to do.

Preparing for a show is a long process and it can be overwhelming so, I like to "map" out the grand scheme and then eventually break it into more manageable chunks and set daily goals. I scrawl the title across the top, and start visualizing how many paintings I want to create to fill the space and of what size and orientation. I write a few ideas to keep me in line, things I know I want to incorporate into the show, a little of the theme, and some reference points. I draw boxes representing the paintings that I have completed, started and finished. I will mark these "done" as I work through my plan, with dashed lines, X's and checks- these markings will mean something to me. I am already feeling some relief. Some structure is a good thing; when I set parameters, I can then relax and let go and know that the process will take care of me in the end.

Once I have my visual map, rather than thinking "upcoming show=a ton of work," I can break it down, "Today all I need to worry about is starting three paintings, or revisiting yesterday's 10x10's etc." I take an index card or any scrap of paper and write down this smaller daily goal and pin it to the bulletin board in my painting area. I rarely look at it again except to mark it "done" when I am about to turn off my studio lights for the day. These little organizational tools help me to keep a cool head. I have these goals, but I also know I may not always meet them. I may get caught up in a particular piece and drift away and loose track of my "map" for the day and that is fine. I use the map and small goal cards to jump start me into action, and to bring some order to an initially unnerving situation. There is always room to deviate and meander through the process of preparing for an exhibition.The map and cards are simply my good intentions actualized, and we all know that saying about good intentions...

Part 2 : And then the reality

I shout at the muddy fragmented painting, " you're killing me!"and then suddenly it yields unexpected and positive results. The floor of my studio becomes littered with blotter paper and partially finished paintings. I am listening to every Interpol song ever recorded and I know I am in the zone.

Random words, sections of remembered dreams and song lyrics filter through as I work. Occasionally, even a potential title will reveal itself. This hum runs through my mind as my music gets turned up another notch. I jump, clap, and sing loudly, as I am painting. I am an active participant but I am not really here at the same time. I am watching all this happen from the other side of the room. One painting leads to another, one problem after the other, they keep pulling me along as I gain momentum.

This is my process at 5am (and sometimes earlier) every morning when I am working on a show. Some days are amazing, the music has never sounded better and the paintings on the easel are flowing like electricity. And some days, in the bright lights of my studio the paintings are awful, like pulling teeth or learning a new language, tears come too easily and it feels like I have never painted before. At times, I feel like giving up and getting a job at Target. Voices in my head, (the inner critics) say "hide the gold, hide the aqua- you know you are just imitating yourself!" So, I use some other colors for the sake of freshness and they reward me with a vividly hued mess. I then yell at the canvas "Are you kidding me?" The painting is so ugly it's embarrassing. I turn off the studio lights, my brow furrowed,"Am I really going to leave that on the easel to greet me when I return?" Sadly, I think so.

This impasse also signals break time. Perhaps, a MySpace login is in order (hello friends!). After a few minutes of quick greets, best wishes, and emoticon winks, I march back up the stairs to my studio and once again disappear into the process. I find a strong yet dreamy song and set it to repeat, and for the next few hours it helps to silence the questions, and I will dive back in. I know I will repeat this process again and again for months until the "Evidence of the Disappearance" is realized...

Now, for an exciting announcement: It is time for the paper painting give away, the response was tremendous last month! I will be giving away a small original painting on Arches paper to one lucky reader that leaves me a comment on today's blog. I will mail to anywhere in the world. To enter, please leave a comment on this blog entry. I will randomly draw a number to correspond with the comments in the order they are received. The giveaway runs from today through Tuesday of next week, so get your comment in between now and Tuesday at midnight. I'll post the winners name in my blog next Friday, along with an image of the piece they will receive so please be sure to check back, so that I can then contact you to get your postal information. I appreciate everyone who reads and comments on my studio blog. Thank you for all your support and encouragement. It means the world to me. GOOD LUCK!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Six Amazing Artists You Should Know

Today, I would like to take the time to spotlight some very hard working artists. These artists deserve your time and attention. They deserve your business, your gallery representation, and your blog comments. They deserve your MySpace messages, and your Etsy reviews. Some of them, I am lucky know locally, and some of them I know only from the Internet, but we are good friends just the same. These six artists blow me away with their skill, determination, and style not to mention the honesty and passion they bring to their work.

First, from Fayetteville, Arkansas, painter Basil Seymour-Davies. His paintings seem impossibly accurate yet loose enough to be abstract in spots and almost surrealist in nature. Upon viewing Basil’s paintings, I am immediately drawn into the psychology of the person who appears caught so elegantly being their true self. Basil’s paintings are always intimate, and they serve as a window into the subjects inner workings. However there is still enough space around the subject to allow our own psychology into the mix. These paintings create an edgy narrative without being overbearing. Basil’s skill in painting portraiture is tremendous and luckily for those of us in the region he will be having a solo exhibition at the Art Center of the Ozarks in Springdale, Arkansas in June 2008. Please Visit Basil Seymour- Davies' MySpace page and his Website for more information about his work and process.

Also from Fayetteville, the incredible work of artist Ben Strawn. For those of you who know me, you know I am a champion of this artist’s work. Seeing Ben’s work was love at first sight! I am not the kind of person who sees something on the web and says “I must have that now,” but I did with Ben’s work. I own a piece from a different series than he is currently working on, but I love everything this artist does. He is an amazing illustrator and painter working with meticulous detail to create this beautiful and strange world filled with insects, animals, and figures co-mingling in odd habitats and homes. He works with paint on layers of Plexiglas which then gives his work a multidimensional feeling. As Ben builds up his inventory of paintings ( he practically sells out every time he shows) he has gotten in the habit of posting a Friday painting on his My Space blog. Please check out his MySpace page and his website for more information about Ben and his exciting and innovative work. On his website you will find a link to prints he has for sale.

Third, Cuckoo Bags by Prairie Grove artist Sarah Nunn. Sarah is an amazing abstract painter in her own right, but she has now turned a corner and created her own wonderfully stylish brand of bags and purses. She has sold her impressive line of "Cuckoo Bags" at local boutiques, and galleries in Fayetteville and Tulsa, and now she has turned to Etsy to market her chic recycled fabric bags. This woman has mad style and a quirky take on fashion. So, if you like being earth friendly and chic, these are the bags that you must carry. I always have one on my arm, and each is unique. For more information about Sarah Nunn’s Cuckoo bags, please visit Terra Tots in Fayetteville or buy online at Sarah's Etsy store.

Alright, moving out of Arkansas now, the amazingly sweet and sometimes nostalgic mixed media paintings, of Michele Maule. Michele is currently a Michigan artist and her whimsical and well designed paintings are flying out of Etsy and out of galleries as fast as she can paint them practically. It has been exciting to learn of her work and how things have taken off for her lately. I feel so lucky to own the piece of hers that I do (the one of the water tower pictured here). Local readers of my blog first got acquainted with her work when she participated in the small works show this December at the DDP gallery in Fayetteville. She uses collage, paint, and encaustic on a wood support for her paintings. They tell shy little stories of her longing to get back home to Portland, sooner rather than later. Her work is fresh and clean yet never sterile. I can always relate to the concept of "waiting" that seems to pop up in her paintings. Michele was just mentioned in d├ęcor8, a popular design blog as well as in Real Simple. This artist is very deserving of all the attention she has recently received. So, give her some more and check out her paintings at her Etsy shop as well as her musings about life as an artist, student, and dog lover on her blog. Also check out her lovely new website and her MySpace page.

Now, onto my international friends (thanks to MySpace).

The work of German artist Isabel Reitemeyer. I was immediately drawn to these stark and lovely collage pieces. Isabel’s work struck a chord with me that I couldn’t shake, eventually with the help (if you can call it that) of an online translator I tried to communicate that I was in love with this piece (pictured here) and the rest of her work as well. I attempted to ask her about them and where she showed her work. The translation was a wreck of course and we quickly moved on from there. She said that she is just getting started with these collage pieces and is trying to get together a show, and at some point she may create prints. I love going to her MySpace page, which is currently the only place I know of to view her work. She also has a cryptic website, with her contact information, but that is it. I would love to one day see her work in person. I think her sense of composition, line and humor is spot on. Spare but engaging, I absolutely love this artist’s work. She is one of my favorites. I think she may be a children’s book illustrator as well, but I can’t be certain. Please view her work on her MySpace page. She seems quite prolific, and her page is a joy to visit.

Last but certainly not least, is the work of English painter Steven Heaton, he is also known as “The Factory Supervisor.” Readers of my blog may recognize the factory supervisor as someone who leaves thoughtful comments that seem to come from experience. Steven is an abstract painter that creates brilliantly colored atmospheric worlds made up of paint, metals, strings, and whatever caustic chemicals he can combine to create a beautiful patina. Sometimes Steven turns to his “garden” to take care of any missteps in his process, as he lets the weather and earth do their thing to enhance his stubborn paintings. This artist amazes me in his sheer dedication to his art. He works what seems like beyond a full time job, with hours that reach long into the day and night, and yet he keeps painting regularly; entering and getting accepted into exhibitions, not to mention selling his work. I have included a detail of his work, which shows the lovely metallic patina that adorns his vermilion streak of "sky." This artist also writes a blog that I frequent, and I highly recommend it. The tone of his blog, as he maneuvers us through his life as an artist, is more honest and vulnerable than many I have read. He isn’t selling anything here; he is simply sharing his artistic world and musings with us. This includes all the questions, problems, and inspirations that may pop up in this messy life and take form in his art. I take considerable comfort in his words, and I think you might as well. Go to his Blog, his carbonmade portfolio , and find even more of his work at the ok studios website.

Here are just six of the many amazing artists I know. Again, please give them your time and attention. These artists make me work harder, they fill me with wonder, and they make my world a more beautiful and inspired place.

I hope they will do the same for you.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Looking back, to look forward.

Let's go back in time....

February 28 1998
"...This term is almost over, 2 more weeks till finals and then spring break. This term has been pretty good. I like my art classes and my Spanish teacher is good. I've really enjoyed Photography and my teacher Lorena. Sculpture has been okay, I've done one project I like. Painting is okay too, I like my teacher again. Next term I am taking painting, drawing, Spanish, and independent study (more painting). It should be interesting. During spring break I'm going to clean out the basement for my studio. My friend Krista gave me a really nice book on Basquiat, it is a really nice book. I have been doing a little research into the NYC art scene of the 80's. Reading Keith Harring's journal. By reading his journal, I have much more of an appreciation for him and his art. He is a good thinker and writer. I am just so curious about what makes people create art, and do I have the need to create? Why am I in Art school? Am I really passionate about anything?I feel like a faker sometimes, I am not obsessed with art and it seems like you need to be in order to create good things. I don't know. Also, after reading Keith's journal mine looks like JR. High school. I don't contemplate or analyze. I need to think more, (less in some cases though)..."

April 18 1998
"...I'm painting a really big painting and I'm kinda stuck. It bugs me, but time will solve it, I 'm sure. Sometimes, I forget I'm expressing myself. It seems like I get lost and go on someone else's
emotion (music) etc. The apartment is trashed because of my painting..."

Almost a year's gap...

March 19 1999
"...It is Spring break, I only have ten more weeks of college left and I'll have my B.F.A. in painting. Exciting and Scary. After school, heading back to Fayetteville in August. To do what, I don't know... I have tons of ideas but who knows what will really happen. I just turned 27. Seems older than 25 or 26, getting close to 30!..."

April 5 1999
"... I am on campus waiting to have my review with my painting teacher, Laura Vandenburg, she wants to see what we've been up to. I want to remember some of my painting and art teacher's names in case they get famous...
I've had some really good teachers here..."

April 10 1999
"... my BFA terminal show is in 5 weeks. I have so much work to do but I've been having some good ideas. I better jot them down before I forget them..." (see image to the left for these ideas)

April 16 1999
"... Back to Art, my show is in 4 weeks. I am not doing any work. I can't motivate. I can't write, it takes too much effort like everything else. Maybe- I should just have another coke and see what's on TV..."

April no date 1999
" life is a mess yet calm and proceeding right on schedule too. My show is in 2 weeks, and of course I will graduate in June. My hands look old..."

May 12 1999
"... my show is on Monday! I'm excited but nervous too. What if they don't get it? What if they don't take the time? I just want to hide. My face gets all hot, red, and stingy when I talk about my show. I spaz out about it, too excited and sweaty, it leaves me tired and wanting a drink. I am listening to Tom Waits- Rain dogs. Sometimes he sounds so right..."

May 21 1999
"... Well. Today is the last day of my show. I'm sitting in it. It comes down in about 3 hours. The opening was a big success. I was pleased. People responded the way I had hoped. They sat on the couch and they read the books. They laughed, they read out loud, they seemed touched. Of course some people just walk by. Some are confused and don't know what to do. It is a bit sad when they look over at my work and just walk on by, so into only what is on the walls. They don't want to touch, dirty old books. Anyway, it was a good experience, I kept costs low, but gave a good show. I stuck to my guns whether or not it was completely accepted.

I will always want more..."