Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy 2013 to you all!

Monday, September 10, 2012

An artistic discovery!

Mom the artiste!
I tend to leave my Mom back in California while I explore life in other states. She happily lives with my wonderful stepfather in SoCal but they have visited me in New Mexico, Arizona and Arkansas.  Mom visits us in Arkansas twice or three times a year.  

Last month (August), was the first time I was able to introduce Mom to a farmer's market that takes place at the Bentonville Square every Saturday since we moved to our new neighborhood last fall.  We bought organic vegetables and some colorful zinnias that I was simply dying to get home and paint!

Our house is undergoing a lot of small to medium construction right now so I was distracted and short on energy.  I began to set up a colorful approach to painting the zinnias with acrylics on Yupo because I couldn't find my watercolor palette.

Sadly and almost immediately, I lost my interest after I painted a couple flowers.  When I was a kid I've had opportunities to watch a couple artists paint on their canvas (my brother in law and my cousin's boyfriend who she married), they seemed to really enjoy it!  I enjoyed watching them when there were opportunities and I used to imagine them inviting me to participate and hand me the brush.  So with that thought, I turned to Mom who happened to be watching me paint and I nonchalantly handed her my brush and suggested she finished the painting for me. My instruction: "Just paint what you see, however you want to paint and don't worry about ruining it, just enjoy!  Call me if you need my help.  Keep your palette moist and your brush wet."  She was a good sport and grabbed a stool and sat down and painted!

Occasionally I'd look over when she needed encouragement.  I'd remind her to pay attention to the different shades of the same color.  Pay attention specifically to the lightest and darkest. PAINT WHAT YOU SEE!
Zinnias on yupo taped on board
Above image is her first painting!  I painted the 2 bottom left ones, she painted the rest!  She totally painted the purple flower from her imagination!

One of the construction people was admiring my art on the wall and spotted Mom's painting on the couch.  He came up to me and asked me how much I'd charge him for a painting of those happy flowers!  After a few questions back and forth I realized he really wanted a painting like MOM's!!!  He wanted it for his wife "Sunflowers!" he requested.  So I/we accepted the commission and I had Mom paint him a happy sunflower painting :) acrylics on canvas.

Painting background
Drawing with brush!
Finally painting!
Acrylics are forgiving which enabled Mom to concentrate on each stage.  She painted the background first using one color with white so she can touch it up easily if she needed to do so later.  Then I outlined the sunflower discs on the canvas for placement and she outlined the petals.  I hope she retains the confidence in painting with brush vs relying on pencils first because I think her strength is her confidence and drawing in pencils first might hamper that.  As she painted, I pointed out that she needed to choose one flower as the "star flower"!  It will be the brightest and sharpest.

Mom stayed up until MIDNIGHT painting!  This was a woman who always gave me hell for staying up late painting!!!!

Mom's Happy Sunflowers
The painting was ready to hang when the client picked it up and he was quite pleased!  That evening his wife was working late so he planned to cook dinner and present her the painting to hang in her office :)

Mom outline painting #3
Certainly a moment I wanted to remember always!  She was on the last week of her visit and seeing how creating art was holding her interest, I needed to make some definite imprints and nurture this as effectively as I could with little time left. 

We had daily lessons of lectures and exercises.  We talked about the color wheel and primary/secondary/tertiary/complementary colors.  She painted them in her sketchbook.  We lightly touched on perspective.  I wanted to emphasize a limited palette and showed her how she can paint most colors she'd ever need with primary color tubes + white.  Took it a step further and showed her the difference between hot and cool limited palettes.  All this while she tackled her last painting with my supervision. I made her stay close to me as we made her composition materialize.  Applying her lessons on limited palette, I only gave her 3 colors to start plus white.  She mainly needed help in being able to see twists and turns and helping shapes show volume.  I think these three paintings showed big steps in progress which tells me Mom is an artist! :D

Mom used the fee she got from "her client" and bought art supplies that were delivered to her in California and some she bought from Practical Magic Art Supplies which is a new art store in our neighborhood!
Alice's Sunflowers
Mom's set up in California

Monday, July 30, 2012

Photo vs Life

"Maggie" 5x7 oil on clayboard

This month I've had the opportunity to paint from a photo that a dear friend had posted on his Facebook and I also was invited to a friend's home to paint from their property. Remember, by clicking on the image you will see a bigger version.

It was another hot day.  It seems we've been in 100-degree days for 3 weeks, maybe 4.  My friend Linda was house sitting her sister so I guess the opportunity inspired her to have a painting session with me.  I saw the figure in the garden and chose her for a model (they call her "Maggie").  Linda repositioned some potted plants around her.


Recently I've changed the way I start painting because I haven't liked the way I was drawing things. I was starting out too detailed and tight so my subjects end up being too solid for my preference.  Without thinking too hard about it I began painting in silhouettes to place my subjects.  Then...if I may be bold to claim, I try to connect with with the soul of the subject (there I said it yikes!).  I don't know, for some reason this puts me in a good place.  This stage is the left one above. 

We hoped we'd be shaded for the session but we got started a bit late so by noon, we were in full sun.  I got as far as the image on the right and we hurriedly packed our gear. When I got home, I decided I really should try and refine her immediately while the necessary information was still with me.  The result is the first image at the very top.  I didn't want to give it a super finished look, I wanted to preserve the plein air feel.

"Treat Lily" 12x12 oil on cradled panel

Most of my paintings are from photos because the scenes I would be wanting to paint tend to not be accessible to wheelchairs.  And when I paint portraits... well it just always seem more convenient to paint from photographs so I can pursue it on my own time - anytime.  I do prefer taking my own photos in both cases when situations allow.

Next set was a gift to our dear friend John who was ordained into priesthood.  I chose to paint from the picture of a lily that he took and posted on his Facebook.  I figured, he was drawn to the flower that's why he took the picture.  Facebook resizes photgraphs which lowers resolution but I proceeded with a prayer! :)

I was at the stage of the 2nd image when I remembered my double vision condition makes it a big challenge to paint flower petals or anything that's repetitive with similar shapes and in varied positions.  And on top of that, my memory bank is convinced that white flowers are hard to paint.  It was my will to be able to gift this piece to a very dear friend that allowed me to finish it and for that, I'm very thankful.  My husband Scott and I were so honored to have witnessed a special ceremony.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Well Oiled Wheels are Life Supporters

First of all I'd like to say THANK YOU and express my apologies for not responding to the kind people who emailed me and posted on my previous blog post.  Sometimes it takes all my focus and energy to get back on track so I end up not having enough left to do extra things.  But please believe me when I say your kind interests and love and effort you took to spare me the time was gratefully relished and helped me in my weak times. :)  Reminding you that you can click on each image to see bigger version.

My basic training, as far as how to manage my art career, is to tap on opportunities.  I have found that even though the tapping didn't seem to yield anything, the benefits tend to confirm on a later date and usually at a very needed moment that I made a difference.  Perhaps this was the result of the lovely article above, written and photographed by Cassi Lapp of the Weekly Vista, a local paper.  I must say it is one of few very ACCURATE writing I've ever been a subject of!  When I get requests for an interview, I go through a roller-coaster ride of emotions.  Happy, Excited, Honored, Thrilled upon being recognized to a Cringe, Hold my Breath and Brace for the misconstrued, and condescending, cornball or absolutely doesn't makes sense construction of a newspaper article.  I once was interviewed and the article sadly made me sound like I was criticizing the gallery and gallery director that was hosting a show for me - OH MY GOD!  It was one of those "Big California Earthquake please swallow me up right now" moment!  Not so in this case and I am now more seasoned in anticipating how a reporter would write so I had no worries about Cassi's article.  I was excited about what she might highlight.  As it turns out, Cassi highlighted ME :)  Thank you thank you Cassi Lapp!

The day of the interview, Cassi kindly helped me deliver my new paintings to the gallery which is officially called MaJesty Republic run by Terry C Semler.  And since the interview took place in mid-May, I have since left the other two galleries mentioned.  Part of my recovery to feeling better was to simplify my days.  I'm so glad the other galleries were supportive and understanding.

Now that I seem to be feeling better these days, I have been catching up on some painting and having some successful days and some not - but each attempt is never a waste as they are all learning moments!  As side note, the mold that was lurking in our master bathroom might have been contributing to me being sick because now that my hero husband has eliminated the mold, the air seems so much cleaner and my eyes are not constantly burning *big smile*.

A couple days ago I had my dear artist friend Linda over because she expressed to me that she wanted to paint the lean-to structure in our property.  I had recently painted it en plein air in oils on this 5x7 panel.  It was another 100° day we've been having.  But I had recently gathered most of my oil supplies together so I wanted to just paint!  So glad it was a successful session :)

Anyway, I think the day Linda came over went up below 90°.  Our property still has too much construction clutter and so I wasn't crazy about painting any of them or the lean-to again.  So I focused on Linda :)  She is so paintable and a wonderful model.  I've painted her before and I'm sure I will paint her again and again. I am always in awe of artists like Winslow Homer who painted figures in full action so this was a good chance for similar. Here are pictures of my session.  She didn't know I was painting her until it was done.  I'm so glad I was far enough from her to get away with it.  Then,after I painted, I was surprised I was able to paint her because she was kinda far away hahaha  She loved her painting :)

I started out blocking her in, in case I changed my mind what I wanted to paint.  Well by the time I put her silhouette on there, I knew I would go ahead and stick with the composition.

"Linda Plein-airing" oil on 5"x5" wood panel

Happy Friday the 13th until next time! :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Momentum to start and finish

"Red, Red Wine" 16x20 acrylics on canvas
I have been sickly this year.  It seems when I suddenly got sick last December, I haven't really fully recovered.  Most days I've woken up feeling as weak and in pain.  But some days I wake up as if I never felt sick at all.  Those are the days I make sure I painted even though my stamina seem to only support just a few hours of energy.

It takes too much time to get my momentum going sometimes it's so frustrating!!!  So when I saw Heather Sim's photo of the wine she and her husband had been bottling lately, I too wanted to bottle up my urge to paint it!  Fortunately for me she agreed!!!  She's a wonderful artist so I wouldn't be surprised if she too wanted to paint it.  But she was generous as always.  My painting above was possible because of her photograph :) Please visit her website

This is how I began to draw her photo.  But it went flat quickly for me and I wasn't able to go back to my easel for a while because I didn't feel well and I knew this was not how I wanted to paint the photo.  Lines were too clean. 

I have very few regrets in my life, very few.  I can count them in one hand I think.  This is because I do pretty much go for what I really want to do when I have the opportunity.  One was I missed the Supermoon this month :(  We live among trees and I simply couldn't spot it.  The other thing is I haven't played my guitar all day long like I used to.  I have different priorities?  I guess college days my priorities were simpler: go to class and meet deadlines.  Mom cooked and did laundry etc.  So I was afforded extra hours of doing whatever else I wanted to do.  And this is how the next painting was born.  Above image was how I attacked the canvas.  As you can see I couldn't decide how the heck I should position the made up figure.  My friend Linda happened by and I made her sit on the floor so I can see if I had the figure impossibly twisted.  Apparently I was ok hahahaha  I pretty much make people do something for me when they visit :)  I don't have a decent photo of the painting yet, too big to scan for me.

© Cassi Lapp/ Weekly Vista
I was recently interviewed by our local paper.  It worked out so it was the day I delivered my new paintings to Gallery Square.  The reporter, Cassi Lapp was kind enough to transport the paintings for me so I was able to wheel over to the gallery to meet them.  Above is gallery director Terry Crowe Semler.  Thankful for the art community in my new town Bentonville, Arkansas and always thankful for loved ones, good friends, good people :)

Saturday, March 31, 2012

A day with Oprah LifeClass Tour!

I felt it. So many of the people who know me were so hoping (praying) that my first chance encounter with Oprah Winfrey would be something like the image I Photoshopped above hahaha!   This is the reason why I kept quiet about my trip with hubby to St. Louis, Missouri for the taping of Oprah's 2nd season/3rd episode of LifeClass Tour.

Honestly deep inside I was wishing same.  Because I had never won anything like this.  I received an email from OWN saying they were raffling tickets to LifeClass taping in St. Louis and all I had to do was respond to the email.  Lo and behold, email arrived the next day and tickets were being held for me!  I was wishing deep inside that maybe, hopefully it was a set up?

The timing was good.  My husband Scott and I were celebrating our 12th year anniversary.  And that same week Gallery Square sold my biggest painting I've ever painted so this took care of the financial crunch to afford the trip since it was unexpected!  May I take a moment to just say WOOHOO YAY for those two big celebrations? WOOHOO YAY!!! :D

After traveling for over 5 hours we stopped at the venue, the Peabody Opera House (St. Louis, MO), I was instructed to pick up the tickets day before the taping.  It had to be done in person with ID.  As I was getting out of the van, Oprah also stepped out to go to the building and was mulled by fans and cameras.  I missed her :(  We checked in our hotel.  I wanted a place closest to the opera house so as to avoid as much issues the next day.

Scott's best friend he hadn't seen for 20 yrs happened to be in the area with his parents!!!  They met us at our hotel.  We had such a grand time time.  It's always a pleasure and so easy to have quality time with good people!  I really enjoyed meeting them and it was fun watching two grown up men turn back into grade school kids right before my eyes :D

 We showed up at the Peabody 1.5 hours earlier than I was instructed.  A few things must have changed between their email and actual taping.  So it was good we showed up early.  We were ushered to the wheelchair section, not bad seats in the ninth row.  After the other chairs came in, I realized immediately how boxed in we were.  I knew I wouldn't get a chance to get refreshments in the lobby or use the restroom until the taping was over.  The theater didn't fill up until 20 minutes before taping.  Scott and I kept ourselves amused by taking pictures of each other and the stage.

 When Oprah finally walked on the stage this is what I saw.  This is what I usually see whenever something important is happening.  I bet if Oprah were aware of this she too would be disappointed.  I think Ellen puts the people in wheelchair in the front row and she even dances with them.

 I think the pic was when a celebrity walked in.  

Here's my sweet husband who was such a good sport about taking me to see Oprah.  This whole thing was short notice.  He had to do a lot of work in order to take Monday off from work and other commitments.  Then he had to show up for work Tuesday morning.  Too bad we didn't get to meet Oprah or even dialogue with her from the audience.  The people in front and center had more access to her.  I would so have loved to at least make eye contact with someone who had positively pierced my thoughts so much through the years but I only saw her on TV.

When I was picking up my tickets, I asked one of the theater people if I'd get a chance to meet her the next day.  He responded, "I don't think so.  Just because she's on stage it doesn't mean she will have time.  Everybody wants a piece of her when they see her you know," he says with a smile.  *On a side note, I have a new favorite phrase - Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!  A piece of her?

Here we are about an hour sitting while we waited for the taping to begin.

The class guest was Bishop TD Jakes. I think I would have had a more profound learning opportunity if the segment had mainly focused on his teaching rather than accommodating too many elements like the skypers and the lady from audience Keesha.  The subject was a purposeful life.

Jimmy Graham of New Orleans Saints was there.  His story was amazing.  It would seem to me that at a young age he sat in his destiny's driver seat.  

We arrived at the venue a little over 11AM.  Unlike California, the meters were not free for people with disabled license plates.  The meter would only take 2hrs max.  We knew we were taking our chance.  I took this photo at 4:21PM.  Those lined up at folks arriving for the live taping being shown that evening March 26.  By the way, thankfully, we didn't get a parking ticket!!!!

We had a nice late lunch at a Nadoz deli across the university before we headed back to Arkansas. 

It was something different we did - to be in the taping.  To see how Oprah's show is filmed.  In the future Scott and I will look back and confirm we had fun.  No doubt I am disappointed I didn't get to meet her.  Nobody told me I was going to however.  I think I would have been more disappointed if we hadn't taken advantage of the sudden opportunity.  It's never convenient to do something different when you're always busy.  Oprah's network is struggling I wish her well.

When taping ended and cameras were off, Oprah came back out and expressed her gratitude for our attendance.  She said, "I know you came from many far places and you were excited about coming to a taping and put on your bright clothes and got your hair done..  But I also know you came in my honor and to support me, and for that I am very grateful, thank you..." (not verbatim).

The taping will air April 9 on OWN
Oprah's LifeClass Tour, St. Louis, Missouri

Saturday, March 10, 2012

My Mural Project Pieces

"Supersized Sunny Greeting" 32"x36" acrylics on wood
I agreed to be a part of this project with Wishing Spring Gallery (one of three galleries carrying my work), partly because I felt I would be needing a swift kick in the gumption so I can get my art going this year.  Thank God I knew where my acrylic paints are and a couple decent brushes.  If I had to paint in oils I wouldn't know where or how to find all my things and I certainly cannot afford to be buying more.  I wasn't expecting my "murals" to be due until end of April but they notified me I had to get them done by April. ACK!

So I hunkered down and decided I'd get them done this week.  I think I learned something about myself in this process because of the two pieces done quickly in a week.  Apparently, I have to stare at a blank surface for a day and anguish over what, who, how to paint.  I go to bed very stressed and disappointed about not committing to anything!  I tend to love to paint MANY things and can express them in various ways I've studied so it's not easy.  I'm a true lover of art and their processes.

Finally about halfway through the second day, the brush hits the surface.  As you can see here, I'm still thinking.  But at least I'm thinking with evidence now.  I read on Facebook, "Dwell in possibility"~Emily Dickinson.  Indeed I do.  I am a firm believer that what's immediately available is not necessarily the best thing.  Or the first, second or third things are not necessarily enough.  When I play Scrabble, I don't celebrate when I play all my tiles and get extra 50 points.  When I play regularly I average getting Scrabble about 3 times.  My game is feeling like I can see the other side of what I thought was the complete scenario.  I like discovering new worlds and getting intimate with them.
Photo by Scott A. Nelson
My husband took this photo this morning.  It's Saturday and he was fast asleep.  So I got up early anyway because I wanted to finish my painting today.  That's the reason why I'm still in my nightgown, I didn't want to wake him up.  But hours later he got up and snapped this photo hahaha  Well that's my story and I'm sticking with it!
"Resource Light and Life" 32"x36" acrylics on wood
Ahhhh so they're both done now and I'm so happy!  I feel I played with Vinny (Van Gogh) and Pabs (Picasso)!  I did channel them to play with me as I do when I feel I need a little more help. For instance when I feel I could use more confidence in a situation, I channel Madonna who I imagine would walk into any room with no apologies for being herself.  I thank Vinny for his sense of playfulness with texture and colors.  I thank Pabs for simplifying complicated passages and making the process a lot more like play than work!  I wish I could adopt the playful feeling in all my art processes.  I tend to over think in my representational work.  So though I am doing what I love, I can't quite say "I've never worked."  Is that bad? 

I hope these contemporary pieces will prove to be good contributions to the gallery. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

In the mix

House Portrait Commission 8x10 watercolor
I have been busy and as usual I'm entertaining a mix of art.  Today I finished this portrait commission in watercolor.  It's a beautiful lake house successfully sold by local realtor Helen Dansker

"Toasty Cat" 16x12 acrylic on canvas
I also recently finished this acrylic painting.  In time for the grand re-opening of Poor Richards Art Gallery which is one of the galleries carrying my work.

Winter has been most moderate this year.  I've always cringed when I hear people say we have moderate winter in Northwest Arkansas because the last 7 years I've lived here has been too cold for me.  In fact last year we had record-breaking 2 feet of snow.

I am so eager to paint some pieces I have in mind.  It's a good feeling to experience that sensation.  Keep me in mind that I please - ME when I do finally get to creating them!  I am trying to paint for myself... When I say that I mean  I have things I want and need to try out, to see if I am correct in how they will turn out. 

The other night I managed to pry myself out of the house and attended an event at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.  It was "Art Night Out" and the theme was Time Travel.  The guests were encouraged to wear clothes from different eras.  I've gotten rid of many clothes recently but fortunately I found a few to throw together as flower child of the 60s.  It was great fun, ran from 7-10PM live music, some readings in front of some museum art, food of course, and finally an open mic poetry reading.  My highlight was when my friend Dustie got up on stage and delivered an impromptu poetry she wrote for the occasion!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Behind the revolving door

It has entered my self-analysis oftentimes that I am sitting behind a revolving door.  I have glimpses of creative surges but as far as my art ... and I guess my stamina, I am not as consistent as some of my contemporary artists.  I assure you that having a Catholic upbringing has made it impossible for me to escape the self-torment over this!

One of the mechanisms I've developed to alleviate this issues is to seize some future opportunities that will make me work toward something artistically productive.  Not 100% full proof but I try to keep the wheels turning one way or another...

One of those was this the sketchbook project I spoke of in November.  I signed up to get me going through winter and through this big move into a smaller house.  Of course it started slow (as expected).  I had sketched the clutter around me from the move.  Then I sketched Alice Walton, as I watched her live during the grand opening of the Crystal Bridges American Art Museum in 11-11-11. Then I gave up because I was sure I missed the deadline.  But my dear friend Mark alerted me on Facebook that we had until January 31.  That's when I turned to just sketching something -ANYTHING!  Since as my other sketchbook colleague Hillary told me that the whole purpose was for us to create and chances of people browsing through our books at the Brooklyn Museum was slim hahahaha  OK good and useful point!  So I then, unbeknownst to them, decided to sketch some Facebook friends who are kind enough to interact with me on a regular basis.  And here are a few of them :)

Above is my dear friend James who I hadn't seen for at least 3 years!!!  But just like any good friend, when he came by yesterday, we were able to pick up our friendship like it was yesterday!  What a wonderful blessing good friends are!  Oh he never knew where I lived but the reason why he came by was to pick up my first portrait of the year.

"Guapo" 10x10 acrylics on canvas
This is James birthday gift for Kent.  This was a successful "oil on wheel" that I had to do.  Despite not being able to locate my proper art supplies.  I did find a canvas I had previously gesso'd and some student elementary grade brushes that shed all the time which I had bought to teach art to children also 3 years ago.  And I used acrylics instead of oils because they were in a shopping basket accessible for me to use!

The rough beginning which succeeded and thus the ice has been broken!

The other great news is my work can be found at 3 local galleries  click on the name to like their respective Facebook pages thanks!

I have sold some pieces this year already so now I must kick things in gear get more organized in my new area so I can be functional!