Friday, January 31, 2014

An Active Art Studio!

"Frenly and Princess" 8x10 oil on canvas
 I've been steadily busy since my last post.  The holiday season meant finishing most of my 2013 commissions and giving the art studio construction a big push.  Sadly, December was also a time for sudden loss when my father-in-law passed away.  Mom came out for three weeks and dedicated her time helping get my studio organized.  

As a result of this unusually busy time, I will have lots of images to share but I've compressed them into collages and short film. 

The image above is fresh off my easel.  After I posted on my Facebook page last night, I knew I'd wake up wanting to tweak it.  It looked very monochromatic and Princess was not looking very golden.  I painted it for a little girl named Frenly from the Philippines.  Last year she drew my portrait and sent it via Facebook.  I told her I'd do a portrait of her too.  Here is my portrait
Frenly holding Erika's portrait
Now for a video of how I painted her :)

The studio is not completely done but I've been enjoying the comforts it offers.  I love that it's WELL LIT!  I love that it's warm in there despite the cold weather in the mid-west.  And I have an excuse to be messsssy it's because it's an art studio!!!  I can also just wheel over to whatever I need! etc. etc.  How blessed am I?  It didn't come easy and it wasn't cheap, but maybe it's like giving birth from what I hear - you don't remember the pain.  Hmm actually I do hahaha  But in time, it will all get buried under happier memories! I will always have happy memories of all the people who supported me in this and physically and monetarily helped.  In a nutshell, wonderful moral support! 

Here are some work I've done lately.  Basically some oil, some watercolors and even acrylics but all portraits!

The one portrait between the watercolors is a project I am doing for a documentary.  It's a portrait on a mussel shell!  But it's not quite ready; I have to paint it again on a bigger mussel shell!  This will probably be my next blog post!

Finally a picture from my studio flanked by my two loved ones husband Scott and Mom :)
Art By Erika Studio
Wishing all my readers a joyful, healthful and prosperous New Year!  Thanks so much for keeping me company!  Don't forget the images are clickable to get bigger version :)  Take care!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Exhibits, and gallery and hospital OH MY!

Tomorrow is artist reception for Plein Air Artists of the Ozarks(PAPO) group which I belong to.  I rarely can ever participate because of so many reasons.  But I was pleased to be able to join them few days after I was released from the hospital for something unexpected but happily resolved finally.  

I was so pleased to finally be among fellow artists generating creative energy!  The one I was painting there was a bit too squiggly though as my arms just felt a lot like jello still.  But I had fun. 

 So I kept trying and about 3 weeks later I finally felt more "normal" my normal anyway.  I began to paint like I expected and was able to finish new pieces for the show.  Click images to see bigger version thanks.

"Walton's 5&10" 8x10 watercolor

"Sunset on the Java" 8x10 watercolor

"Laughlin House in the Fall" 8x10 watercolor

I was also in 2 art shows that were juried.  The Annual Regional Artists of Northwest Arkansas and the Illinois White River Project Show.

Another exciting news is a Facebook friend who quickly grew dear to me has opened a gallery in Geneseo Illinois!  It's called the DeBrock Galleria.  She drove out to my area and picked up about 17 of my original works plus greeting cards!  I'm so excited for her - the grand opening was November 1st.  Here's a pic of my some of my works displayed

Geez I can't believe how much I've accomplished during and shortly after illness!  So very thankful for my blessings!  Hope you're having a lovely fall season or autumn :)I am posting without proofreading because my husband is hollering for me to get to bed!!!!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

How do you thank normal?

We have been in the middle of converting our 2-car garage into my very first art studio which I blogged about in April 9 (Every Fiber of a Woman in Flight)  The project had come to a full stop after the 4" concrete floor was poured late May because the floor was not even close to level and lumpy in several areas - not what you'd expect an interior concrete job should be!  I knew this project was beyond my reach financially but my Mom and husband scraped together what little we had to come as close to a functional and inspiring space for me considering it has to accommodate my wheelchair so I can freely move around.  But when I saw the floor, and after I had searched for why someone I was willing to pay would take my plight so negligently and without remorse expect me to accept it as good enough, I felt worse than this footage from the movie Inception.  This was after all my ultimate dream;I felt shattered.
Get the idea?  The surreal uncomfortable feeling and exploding floors etc?  It's actually more about the eroding building scene but I couldn't find an isolated footage of it lol!  But what is this nightmare???  What is this distorted world I'm in and why didn't I see all this coming?

Yet there apparently was a twinkling light in this mid-hell I was dropped in.  Our new neighbor who I mainly knew as a talented architect and good family man who is always such an enthusiastic waver which always makes me smile a little bigger, Dave Burris had, from my first casual mention of this project, offered to make me drawings of the studio in trade for a big painting.  He and his wife had recently viewed my art at a gallery and his reaction was "Your watercolors are phenomenal!" You know I meet a lot of "complimentary" people, and truly, in the back of my mind I'm always half thinking they're complimenting the damn wheelchair.  Why?  Because if compliments were sales, I'd be able to afford framing all the big art I'd really like to paint hahaha!  Or if compliments were tickets to success this studio would have been done in a month.

Anyway, I gave Dave an update on the project and he basically responded with a plan that he's gonna make all the nonsense stop.  Long story short, after much research on materials and corrective options, yesterday morning at 7-ish AM, July 26, he showed up with a new crew, prepped the bad floor and 2 hours later the concrete truck arrived and poured a more leveled top coat!  My husband took pictures of the process because he was so impressed Dave was right in the concrete mud pushing the mix along with the 3 other men working!!!!
Hard to see the lumps in middle of original state but it was bad.
I wonder if he could see beyond my big smile; my self confidence was was also being restored.  For months because of this situation and other art related "stories or drama" I've continuously lost faith in dreams and hopes and anything I might have thought were healthy goals and adult professional relationships, and any hope for new friendships.  I've really felt that I was back in the pre-school of life surrounded by game playing children.  I've looked for signs to confirm an inkling that maybe I needed to pay heed to THESE stop signs in my art path.  But suddenly my works have been receiving real validations - a painting I did to escape my turmoil won the biggest award I've ever received and sold that same evening.  Then another painting I just painted in watercolors to cheer myself up also got accepted in another major juried art show!
"Peonies in Watercolor" full sheet
Suddenly people I didn't know approach me in public as the artist who painted that winning piece!  And then Dave did this extremely selfless,SELFLESS gesture. I asked him who was paying for this correction?  I was shocked that a serious crew showed up and a concrete truck and he get got all messy himself! I wondered if his wife shrieked at his sight when he came home! Dave said, "It's all taken cared of, you have nothing to worry about!"  With that, I issued a check to pay the balance of the original crew which I guess Dave had all sorted out as well.

When Dave returned at the end of the day (with his beautiful new baby girl on carrier he had on his back), to check on the floor, I asked him, "Why did you do this?  Why did you take it all on to make it right and for nothing?" Without pausing to think, he responded, "Isn't this what people do for their neighbors? I just want to see you be able to move into your studio!"

Maybe I was that normal grateful person talking to him yesterday, but inside I was drenched in happy tears.  I'm physically in tears typing this.  Every time I allow myself a moment to think about this I feel I suddenly get weak soul deep and ready to collapse from sheer relief.  I feel the sun on my face for the first time after sitting in the a dark cold place for months even though my husband and I have just stepped into another life challenge.  But the foremost question I have is:

Is there ever a way to thank someone for something he thinks is just a normal kindness people do for others even though it happens to be the kindest thing ever done for me by a practical stranger?

My emotions still dizzy from this never-ending roller coaster ride called life.  I decided to stare at my grandma's picture I took of her when she was alive a few years before we had to let her go at 97.  She is my mentor for knowing joy no matter how bad things are. I was always able to make her bust up laughing and this was one of those specific times :) I drew the picture of her I took with the bird on her head as she tried to hold her laughter in hahaha! I have also been inspired by a quote:

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive.  And then go do that. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive."  ~Walt Whitman
"Joy to Behold" charcoal on paper 9x12
In a way, I'm nervous.  Maybe the big painting Dave has named as my end of the barter is really a giant mural. O-em-gee!  God bless you and all your loved ones Dave Burris!