Friday, January 22, 2016

Shop Announcement & Some Gordon Smith :)

Happy Friday!

I'm excited to announce that the art shop is getting a major makeover.  Can't wait to feature lots of new pieces for purchase :)  Stay tuned.  I'll make another announcement when she's back up!

Please enjoy today's video selection from Nowness, "At Home with Gordon Smith": CLICK
The Queen in front of one of Gordon Smith's pieces [source]

Creekside Grasses by Gordon Smith [source]

Happy Weekend :)


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Discovering My Own Version of "Figura Serpentinata"

The Delphic Sybil by Michelangelo [source]

Happy Thursday!

Today's inspiration comes from a fantastic podcast I stumbled upon entitled "How the Brain Tells Real from Fake: From Fine Wine to Fine Art" on NPR's show "The Hidden Brain" with Shankar Vedantam.  

The podcast mentions the use of artist's "preparatory art work", and how each piece basically starts as a blueprint for the final piece. Yep, makes sense to me.  I have many "blueprints" floating around the studio right now!  All ready to eventually become crafted into finished pieces :) Moving on...

Here's a snippet of my favorite part of the podcast transcript that inspired me to learn more about Michelangelo's "blueprint" process and his anatomical creations:  

"Artists, when they're coming up with the concept, or inventione, of the artwork, will do various sketches to try to get a composition that they like. And the composition of this preparatory drawing is actually in the shape of an S. It's something called figura serpentinata, which was described by Michelangelo as the most beautiful form in nature. The flickering of a candle flame is supposed to be the positioning of the bodies that is the most elegant."

"Ooooh!"  I thought.  "I must learn more about this figura serpentinata, maybe I should try it in my mixed media pieces!"  I did a little research, and sure enough -- there is a notable S shape in Michelangelo's figures, in both male and female bodies.  Definitely never noticed this when I saw the Sistine Chapel in Roma back in '03!  

A Sibila Líbia by Michelangelo with "S" shape that I bubbled in

Creation of Adam by Michelangelo with "S" shape that I bubbled in

As I've mentioned before, I don't have an art history background or a fine arts degree.  What I do have is a raging artistic intrigue.  In playing around with the anatomy of the people in my latest mixed media creations, I was drawn to a particular figure style.  After learning about "figura serpentina", I got thinking about why I create my figures in the fashion that I do and why they feel the most natural to me.

For example, I think the way I create my figures is very imperfect, but that's ok because that's the look I'm actually going for.  There's art in the imperfection, or at least that's my interpretation.  Can't quite explain it, but they just feel like the right shapes for what I'm trying to visually convey.  If I wanted to make my figures anatomically correct, I could, but I see no need because I'd lose an element of curiosity.  Are my womens' arms too long and hands maybe too dainty/borderline alien-eqsue?  Perhaps, but that's the point.  I make them that way for a reason because I'm exaggerating these features to create an effect.  Same thing goes for the mens' cape-like over coats with very broad shoulders.  That last two elements to note is how I'm inclined to paint my figures as faceless and with their backs turned because I think it adds more mystery

Will I try the classic figura serpentinata in my pieces?  Probably not.  I'm sticking with what works for me and seeing this as a unique gift, just as Michelangelo stuck with what worked for him.   If I had to give my blueprint body type a name, I think I'd call it "figura fiducia", which translates roughly to "confidence figure" because I want my characters to radiate confidence.
"Figura Fiducia" in its finest form (that sounds legit, right?)

 I'll end with this quote by the master:

And a Renaissance "remix".  Definitely crank this jam at your next Medieval house party:

"Medieval Music "Hardcore Party Mix" via YouTube



Wednesday, January 20, 2016

True Love

"Great Party" OJD 2016
Happy Wednesday!

Today's post is short & sweet.  Just feeling in a grateful lovey-dovey mood and thought I'd share one of my newest "couples" mixed media creations that features a dapper couple at a soirée.  I've really enjoyed crafting these glam stylings and the feedback has been very motivating.  I'm in the process of figuring out the best method for selling some as giclée prints.  More to come!

In remembrance of the late great lover of love (I'm honestly still in shock that he's gone, that's why I haven't posted any Bowie music lately.  Still doesn't feel real :/), here is one of my favorite Bowie songs:

"Fill Your Heart" by David Bowie via YouTube


Monday, January 18, 2016

The Blackout Collection

Happy Monday!

Today I wanted to share a few of my latest creations (I really need to come up with a name for this new style...). 

Meet the newest additions to "The Blackout Collection":

"Be Right There, Blackout" OJD 2016

"Leaving the Party, Blackout" OJD 2016

In other news, I must admit that I get inspiration for my paintings from a lot of random places, and one of them is Chie Mihara shoes.  I ADORE them.  Have you seen the Fall/Winter 2016 Chie Mihara collection?  Her use of color, texture, and shape is always brilliant, but I'm really loving this season's looks.  Yes, she's a shoe designer, but I consider her a great artist -- right up there with my three favorite M's: Monet, Marty, & Matisse.

A look at some of my picks from this season...



Let's start this week off with a lovely First Aid Kit remix:

"My Silver Lining" by First Aid Kit (Lil' Strong remix) via YouTube


Friday, January 15, 2016

In the Studio: CORAL, SAGE, & BROWN Commission

Coral, sage, & brown ...this is quite possibly my new favorite color palette
Happy Friday!

Just wanted to do a mini post on a new commission that I'm in the middle of and give you a sneak peek at my manic painting process....& also because I'm SO IN LOVE with this color palette that I had to share :)

Here's a glimpse of how I approach a new piece ~
  • First, I create a custom color palette.  I do this because not everyone sees the word "pink" or "teal" or "green" the same way.  To avoid color confusion and to make sure I'm speaking the same color language as my client, it's critical to create a few color palette puddles (as I call them).  
  • Next, I experiment with a larger piece on paper based on the color palette puddle that my client chooses (+ whatever additional color additions/changes he or she prefers).  This way I get to play more with how the colors work on a larger scale.  What I like about how they drip/blend together, and what I want to avoid.  For example, this particular commission features various coral colors (coral is one of my favorite colors to paint with, so I was ecstatic) but I have to be careful, because too many coral hues can look like a visually disturbing bloodbath.  Gross, I know!  Sometimes too much of a good thing is not so good.  Therefore, I knew I could go crazy with my coral, but then push it into the background of my abstract drips.  I was able to achieve this by doing a multi-hue wash of various sage green drips.  The sage drips make the coral POP.

  • After I've devise a plan for my primary color, I continue with a plan for the secondary color.  In this case, the sage/green color.  I figured that a single shade of sage would make the piece look too Christmas-y (in combo with the coral), so I used multiple shades.  This added dimension and complexity to the piece without getting too colorful.  Don't get my wrong, I LOVE colors...but my biggest pet peeve (in my own art) is when I introduce too many colors at once.  To avoid this, I limit myself to working with 3-4 colors max, and if I'm tempted to add more colors, I take one of the 3-4 colors and either make  it darker or lighter.  The results are encouraging and reassuring that adding more colors would be silly.
  • Lastly, I'm not sure I've ever shared this, but I work FAST because after I set my first layer of colors, I use the same water drip lines throughout the piece.  I also use a ton of water.  Like....a lot.  I'd estimate that I use between 1-2 cups of water for every 24x36 inch canvas!  It's a crazy scene when I'm in the zone.  Stand back, neighbor.  I always have loads of papertowel on hand and a giant floor tarp.  For example, my first layers of color are very bold and colorful.  These are used to set the drip pattern and to work as a basic shape pattern for the piece.  Sometimes I keep the original colors, sometimes I cover them up, sometimes I accentuate them.  It just depends.
    Here is the first layer of color drips.  You can see the basic shapes/drip lines forming and the background hues that end up in the finished piece.  (yes, I realize the volume in my ponytail is out of control -- too much back combing!!) I digress...
  • Finally, when I plan to work with brown in a painting, I use it super sparingly, and then let the colors blend together to create an organic brown using the existing wet colors on the canvas.  Anyone who has painted with watercolors before knows that one of the most frustrating things is when all your colors blend together and turn muddy.  Welp, in this case, that was the goal!  You can see that I let a lot of my giant drips go to different brown shades, but I also kept some coral and sage.
A close up look at how the sage drips over the coral and makes it POP out of the background layer

Some people have asked what I listen to when I paint....well, I listen to everything.  But lately, I've been loving the Odesza, Coconut Records, Neko Case, and Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats Pandora stations.  

Here's a fun video of Jason Schwartzman (from Coconut Records) because he's glorious.  Enjoy:

"What's In My Bag" - Jason Schwartzman via YouTube

Have a wonderful weekend!  


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

In the Studio: Abstract Ärt No͞oˈvō/

"Still Enchanted" (9 x12 watercolor, acrylic, and pen on paper)

Happy Wednesday!

I have a new style that I'm excited to share with you today.  It's way outside my comfort zone of painting (I do landscapes and abstracts mostly...), but I recently got into the zone like a madwoman and started painting ladies of luxury.  I can't stop!  It's so fun -- I'm hooked!  This style combines my signature abstract drips and skyscapes with a new element: my spin on a modern gilded look with a nod to the Art Deco/Art Nouveau eras.

Hope you like them :)  Prints and a few originals coming soon to the shop ~*

In other news, I've been catching up on New Girl and I've noticed a ton of amazing abstract paintings in almost all of the scenes.  Not sure if these are a new addition, or if I've just never noticed them before.  For example -- check out this lovely piece behind Winston: 

A mystery painting behind Winston and his majestic Western-meets-Marie Antoinette button down
Got me can I get my paintings featured on New Girl? Now I'm fanatically checking out all the art in the various scenes.  It's fascinating!  After season 1, episode 1 it was obvious the show's props department was slaying...and now I can't stop seeing the art everywhere!  Seriously considering just sending them a few prints and seeing what happens.

In honor of all things Art Deco and musical genius of the supreme being that is Lana Del Rey:

 "Art Deco" by Lana Del Rey via YouTube



Thursday, January 7, 2016

Problem Solving: From Lab to Art Studio

"Problem Solving" in my old studio in downtown Rapid City

Happy New Year, everyone!  Pheeeeew, what a busy holiday season!  It was a blast (so many cookies, so little time), but I'm ready to get back into a normal routine.  I've honestly been go-go-go since we moved back to Minneapolis, so it's nice to finally take a breather.  Time to reflect on my artistic accomplishments of this past year in an effort to set some new goals for 2016.

Last year at this time, I was just beginning my artistic journey.  No website, no blog, no networking, no workshops, a lame Instagram account of mainly cat pics (no offense Cider), and nothing to really show for my paintings except for a failed attempt at selling custom painted cellphone cases (if you bought one -- thank you!! Your support meant a lot...then along came Society6 and..yeah.  Everyone is making them now).  Thoughts of winning a local art contest, selling my work and wedding art pieces, participating in a live painting art auction for charity, or having a solo art exhibit weren't on my radar by any means.  Plus, I was painting only when I wanted to (huge mistake!), not as a proper means to develop new methods and techniques.  I had a lot of artistic ideas, but I wasn't acting on any of them.  I was certainly optimistic, but drifting.  In order to figure out this year's 2016 goals, I took a look back at last year to determine what helped me grow the most as an artist.  My answer: getting out of my comfort zone.  The first step to doing this was by learning the language of art and how I was going to effectively communicate.

After my first couple of art workshops and art critiques, it was clear that the brilliant artists, art students, and other artistic professionals were using an unusual language, and I was definitely a non-native speaker.  It all felt a little too foreign, like I was only comprehending 50%.  I wasn't scared, I was intrigued!  It suddenly became very clear to me that while I was monitoring the growth rates of various organisms, writing reports, counting colonies, and formulating new recipes and protocols, I'd allowed a lot of my creative descriptive skills to disappear from my repertoire.  Yikes!  Momentary panic.  I couldn't be an artist if I couldn't describe what I was making, why I was making it, or why I chose to make it the way I did!  It was time to channel my analytical nerd skills into analytical art skills.

I had to get proactive.  I networked with local artists, participated in local art events, read art blogs, fashion blogs, interior design blogs, lifestyle blogs, art books, art magazines, everything I could find (that wasn't technical or scientific) and immersed myself in all things creative.  I even read biographies of the late greats of the theater and musical avenues.  All forms of art.  Over time, I began to feel stronger and more confident in describing what I saw and the how's and why's of what it meant to me and why I did or did not like something.  Clearly, I will never have the elegant vernacular of someone with an art degree, and that's ok.  Expanding my artistic communication skills has been and will be a lifelong learning experience.  I also started experimenting like a mad woman in the studio.  This is how I started to understand problem solving in an artistic, but strangely familiar way.  

Ya see, baking a gazillion variables of bread to test the efficacy of secondary metabolites derived from fermentation is a lot like painting.  It's just another form of problem solving ;)

Obviously, numbers in the traditional sense of data sets and analytics were no longer my main method of communication.  With a background in engineering, I obviously love numbers.  Numbers are how I've learned, how I've been assessed for competency, and they had been essentially the primary form of communicating my scientific work.  With that said, I think a passion for numbers never dies, it just takes on a different form of expression.  I think this has been the case for me. 

As I learned more about the way I made art and why I made it, I began noticing that numbers were actually part of my creative process, a tool (albeit abstract) in problem solving my art.  Each time I started a new painting, it felt the same way I felt when I was analyzing a scientific experiment for a solution, but this time I wasn't solving for variables or next steps as a part of a larger experiment.  I was solving an equation with no solution and infinite variables.  Numbers were no longer finite, now they were brush strokes, color combinations, size, shape, texture.  Every visual mixed media possibility I could conjure. The only way I knew I'd correctly "solved" the problem was when I felt the painting was complete.  The sense of accomplishment and the feeling of finality to this process was the exact same feeling I had after completing a complex math problem or drawing a scientific conclusion on a collection of experiments.  The only difference was that now I was the equation and I was also the solution.  Without me, there was no art. *strikes zen gong*

Science and art are both about problem solving.  Whether it takes 500 test variables or 500 brush strokes, while working out a solution, the state of the problem being worked on is not black or white -- there is no wrong or right, good or bad, just a timeline with an end goal: a good piece of work with evidence to prove its validity.  To me, art is solved like a scientific problem, but supported with interpretive validity.  

What's on the goal list for 2016?  Stepping outside my comfort zone once more, and learning something new about the language of artistic problem solving :)  Stay tuned!

This doesn't exactly reflect the mood of today's blog post, but it's too good not to share and I don't care.  For a little musical flair, let's listen to my new favorite jam from Nathan Rateliff & The Night fricken catchy and his voice reminds me of a soulful dinosaur, there's something historic-sounding in his wails (waa?  just give it a listen -- it's amazing):

S.O.B. by Nathan Rateliff & The Night Sweats via YouTube