Saturday, April 28, 2012


My roots have grown but I don't know where they are.
I'm totally in love with The Head and The Heart. This line is from the song "Cats and Dogs." And why should you care? Well, you should care because they're Awesome. with a capital A. Perhaps more importantly relevantly, it keeps running through my head while I'm working on this painting.

I've started this piece in a completely new way. new for me, anyway. I began with this photo I took on a recent hike at the Dunes. This tree is on the ridge at the top of one of the dunes. Lake Michigan is at the bottom of the dune to the right. The roots are easily 18" or more out of the sand.

I started by blocking in some of the structure from this tree. Usually I start with the figure, deconstruct it, and rebuild it as a landscape (for the america pieces). Just to confuse the matter, this is a reclaimed canvas, formerly known as Buried, and I didn't bother to gesso over it. I'm using the old painting as an underpainting. The pink and blue is old, the ocher is new.

And here it is with a little more work. It's about a quarter of the way to completion.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

you are beautiful... yes, you.

Last night was the opening of the You Are Beautiful exhibit at Flourish Studios in Chicago. We were handed stickers as we walked in which said you are beautiful. So everywhere you looked this message was being presented. I posted a couple of pics over on my facebook page, but I wanted to be able to include each artist's statement, and this seemed like a better format.

If you haven't been following along, the You Are Beautiful campaign seeks to fight media ideals of beauty and reinforce that we are all beautiful. Flourish Studios had a You Are Beautiful installation, created by 15 artists each making a single letter. This served as a counterpoint to Tiffany Gholar's Doll Project. It was a good project to be involved with. If you check through the YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL tags, you'll see in progress pics and lots of procrastination.

Y: You are beautiful - your wrinkles shout wisdom, your youth is your innocence, the colors of your flesh, texture of your hair, the fullness of your body, the curves that accentuate your frame, and the slender lean of your insecurity, presenting to the world - Whether broken or scarred, damaged or tethered, just the same as the wood and the buttons, the strength of your beauty is not in what the eye can see, but the spirit in which you celebrate what makes you rare, unique...simply beautiful. - Morgan Paige Brill  
O: Broken to whole themes my art, my life, and the motto of how I hope to empower others. I am constantly finding the beauty in the ordinary and unexpected and want to help others see their beauty within and all around. - Kathleen Warner

U: Mandy, a self taught artist, creates digital black and white photography collages which are sublimated onto canvas fabric. The process of sublimation turns the ink from a liquid directly into a gas when they are heat pressed on a canvas, where ink essentially becomes part of the fabric and allows the texture of the canvas to remain untouched. The sublimated strips are wrapped around the "U" shape with contrasting black fabric. - Mandy Adamick

A: The letter I created for this installation is symbolic of the essence of the project – the way media represents and affects young women.  I used a font similar to the Mad Magazine font because it supports the whole concept of the project – illustrating how maddening it is for young women to let media feed them negative messages about their bodies and their worth.  I constructed it out of cardboard because it seemed most natural and organic, but I added the lighter colored blue to the “front” of the piece to represent any alternations women do to themselves because of media-based societal pressures to seem more appealing and attractive.  The lace is an observation of the focus placed on what women chose to wear.  –Amanda Maglish Bratschie

R:This piece marks an exploration into what I am discovering as beauty. Beauty--and what makes us beautiful--are often those traits or characteristics that cause our insecurities. Beauty is coming to terms with those imperfections and embracing them. - Kaitlyn McQuaid
E: My art is about womanhood, expectation, limits. I use sewing patterns because they're so bossy - "cut two here on fold, " "shorten here, " but at the same time, when you sew, you make clothes to fit you, you are the beauty standard. Sewing patterns are my stand in for the body and society's expectations for the body. - Elaine Luther

B: My artwork explores my own collective identity, instincts, and balance, using symbols to discuss these portions of my identity, and allows viewers to see portions of my life and perspective, allowing them to reflect on their own lives and identities by comparison, and shedding light on the human experience. - Jennifer Hines       
E: Standardized notions of beauty, and the roles of women and men are insidious in our culture. We need to find ways to force a shift in perception and rip at the seams of what is expected of people. Don't be afraid to destroy your own brand every day, and to constantly redefine the beauty of you. – Melissa Hamming
A: Self-reflection and personal acceptance are the foundations of my work. Through process, errors become as necessary as original intent. Thus, the experience of creating the work is just as influential as what is initially intended. Blemishes create a visual response to the beginnings of the work and create an abstract relationship between the forms that result. - Joshua Tabbia

U: Jennifer Moore
T: If you carry one thing with you today let it be this: You are smart, You are beautiful, & you are loved. - Giselle Gatsby

I: I chose black ink specifically because I wanted a gender neutral color. The shades of grey show there is no black and white ideal of beauty. We are all unique and that should be celebrated. Stitching together the drawings reminds us that we are many things united into a whole person. Furthermore, the repetitive nature of the writings referenced a student’s forced chalkboard mantra. Writing the words and repeating them mentally became soothing in a way I did not expect; I needed to hear these words no less than everyone else. I am beautiful. You are beautiful. We are all beautiful. - Dawn Diamantopoulos

F: Art is a tool, as an extension of written and verbal language it captures for us images.  The use of textures and colors can tell stories.  I make art because I simply don’t know how not to; it is simply a part of my vocabulary.  In my work, I love to generate discussion, exploration, share narratives, and communicate efficiently where perhaps my words fall short. Courtney Lynn Coleman

U:Rozita Fogelman is a Russian contemporary artist, born in 1964 in Tbilisi, Georgia.  In 1975 she immigrated to Israel, and since 1998; she lives and works in Berkeley, CA.  Style of her work is mainly abstract expressionist, geometrical with emphasis on experimental use of unconventional painting tools and techniques.  The work’s primary focus is on energy, color with a great attention to texture and surface. - Rozita Fogelman
L: The origin of beauty, Like the origin of aLL Life, cuLture, Language and knowLedge Lies within Africa. Yet, the Media rareLy associates dark skin, wooLy/naturaL hair and fuLL features with beauty. My “L” is a chaLLenge to that ideoLogy.  -Lia Crawford

Saturday, April 14, 2012

a crazy week

Not really the good kind of crazy.

There has been a lot of Running Around and taking care of Very Important Things. (Did you get my A.A. Milne reference? I'm feeling a little bit like Piglet this week.)

Saturday The Struggle opened. I don't have lots of photos from this, actually I only took one.

I have been working as an assistant to another artist for the last week or so. It's actually been lots of fun. More details on that another time. On the way home one day, I stopped by the Whiting exhibit at the Indiana Visitors Center and took a few shots. These are in the Studio 659 "building".

And I finished up the letter I and delivered it. Here it is in my studio. A better shot will be coming next week at the opening.

And saving the best for last...

My grant application was reviewed this week. I wasn't there to hear it in person, but I listened to the panel discussion recording and it went really well. I think I'm going to get it. The "1st reader" was very complimentary and the "2nd reader" said it was "one of the best applications I have seen in front of me today." I was the 25th application to be reviewed that day. They were not that positive about all of them.

fingers crossed for some good crazy!

Friday, April 6, 2012

safety (or, to quote Kurt Vonnegut...)

"The function of the artist is to make people like life better than they have before."
Kurt Vonnegut just posted this on twitter. I know. A dead guy with a twitter account. Tweeting from beyond the grave to 114570 followers. (I will never have that many followers, which is okay, especially if I'd have to be dead to accomplish it.) But I did google it and apparently he did, at one time, probably when he was still alive, actually say this.

safe harbor, 2011, acrylic, first of the safety paintings

For me personally, within my own artwork, I find this true. I take bad things and make them pretty. I escape from my own reality into safe places. This is the whole idea behind my safety series paintings. The america paintings go one step further, so as to appear to be landscapes. They are still figurative abstracts, but with a palette change to make them feel like actual places. I'm calling them figurative landscapes. On the surface, this name sounds confusing but it is accurate and appropriate, and so I'm sticking with it.

So do you agree with KV? Is this the point of art to make us collectively feel better about our lives? about ourselves? Is it this only or is there more?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

breakin' the rules

It has been a busy weekend of art delivery. I actually like delivery days. It gets work out of my house and people are going to see it and that's a good thing, in my book. Friday was delivery day for The Struggle for Art: Breakin' the Rules. What Rules? There Are No Rules! It's a mouthful, I fully admit. I didn't name it. And from now on I will just refer to it as 'The Struggle.' It's an invitational show, which is cool, because it means someone saw your work and said,

Hey your work is awesome! You should be in this show I'm putting together!
I was in last year's The Struggle, which was more manageably subtitled Art Non-Realiste. And so I was invited back again this year. Friday's delivery was between thunderstorms, which is good that it was in between, but not good that there were storms. Delivery day storms are bad. I could not care less if my hair gets wet, but don't mess with my artwork. The Struggle got 4 fantabulous walnut ink drawings.

Saturday was pick up from the Bad Date Show. This was a really fun show. I was involved with the preliminary plans for this show. I was there when we decided Bad Date was a good theme for a show, especially near Valentine's Day. Who hasn't had a bad date? When I was picking work, I realized that pretty much all of my work fit the theme. Lucky?

Today was the Home Sweet Home Earth Day Show delivery at the HAC in Hammond. The HAC is a new gallery in Hammond associated with Faith Church. I have a solo painting show there in July, which I'm really excited about. (If you check out the link, you'll also see the CAC, where my painting show will be for June, before travelling to the HAC.) I had a painting ready wisconsin road trip, but I decided the line work wasn't in scale with the canvas so I reworked it a bit to make it more fine.

The surprise for today was getting a facebook message first thing in the morning to see if I'd be interested in having some of my work at the Indiana Welcome Center this month. My response:

holy crap, YES!
The work is being displayed in the Studio 659 "storefront" of the Whiting display. All sorts of exhibits go into the Visitors' Center aka the Welcome Center aka the Convention and Visitors Center, and I think aka a few other things. This month's display is all about Whiting, which is hosting the Historic Preservation State Convention, and a recreation of sorts of the City of Whiting is happening inside. This is a pretty big deal for little Whiting. I was asked for a big painting so I brought embrace. But when I got there Jules, the window designer at Studio 659, who is designing the space for the show, wasn't sure she had the space for it and asked for a few smaller pieces. I broke my rule:

Do not show work together that doesn't go together.
I ran home and got a few still life pieces from the 30 day sketch project and a pastel drawing. When I got back, Jules decided she could fit the painting in, after all.