Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A tribute, the Art of Life group, and two PSU classes.

I've had a whirlwind two weeks. I've been very busy with teaching, counseling, and the artist's life. I've also had the sorrow of the passing of someone I cared for. The first thing I want to do in this post is to remember and honor her.

In Memory of E.

She was one of the bravest people I’ve known. For as long as she could, she carried the burden of a degenerative muscle condition with grace and humor. She had a delightfully wicked wit and a joyful sense of the absurd. She was adamant about her independence and strong and loyal in her affections. She gave me this wonderful painting that I love so much. The beauty contestant fish has made me laugh countless times. I'll miss her greatly but I know she'd want me to keep laughing whenever I see this wonderful piece.

Miss Fish America by E.R.

Now for some recent work by The Art of Life group. Last week we all seemed inspired by the wildness of the Halloween month. Risks were taken. Lively work was created. Pizza was wished for...

A page from Jodie's visionary book: "Two Orbs"

Sarah got wonderfully wild with "My Crazy"

Emma's mysterious "Nebula"

Jodi's favorite of her book pages

Jodi's irreverently titled "Severed Head Ladies"

Cindy's wonderfully disorienting piece: " The Ochre House"

The past weekend's Portland State University class was called "Living to Paint/Painting to Live." I love to teach
this class--the challenge comes in condensing the lives of two fascinating and brilliant painters to fit into a weekend class. The best part of the class for me is getting to see the creative work produced by the students in the last section of the class. At the beginning of the weekend, several students claimed they were not creative. As usual, this was not the case at all!

Sophie created her first collage which incorporated her first drawing ever! The drawing was an excellent copy of the painting by Artemisia Gentileschi called "The Allegory of Painting." Wish my picture of it had turned out as well as this collage did...

Ashley's inventive and exuberant piece was inspired by the possibility that the artists we just studied might have met when one was old and the other young. Here a young Artemisia paints the old Sofonisba Anguissola.

Kathy's sculpture of a reclining woman was inspired by Artemisa's Cleopatra. Kathy said she wasn't creative and then turned out this delightful piece. Again, I wish I could have captured it better in my photo.

Another first drawing--can you believe it? Christina's lovely Sofonisba Anguissola

Kyle cleverly referenced Artemisia Gentileschi's strong women by envisioning
Artemisia as Wonder Woman

Denise's collage tribute to both artists. The jewel and drawing of hands is an innovative and creative visual reference to a quotation from Artemisia.

I outdid myself in taking a blurry photograph of this rich and colorful collage for Sofonisba. Vernette's work deserved better, alas...

Two weekends ago, I had the joy of teaching "Emerging from Shadows" for PSU. We studied Camille Claudel, the French sculptor of the 19th century, and Marietta Robusti, an Italian painter of the Renaissance.

A lacy tribute to the feminine side of Camille Claudel by Nancy

Yasmin's first collage ever, evoking the mystery of Marietta Robusti

Nancy's collage of Marietta has a rich Venetian feel

Now this is where I am embarrassed to say I am uncertain of the attribution of the following wonderful pieces. Please students, if you see this, email me and let me know which is yours!
The following gorgeous works were done by Breanna, Briana, and Monique.

An eloquent, and elegant 3-D collage for Camille Claudel.

Closeups from another lovely 3-D collage for Camille and Marietta. This piece includes an original poem and an imaginary letter written in French.

This magical collage for Marietta includes an original drawing. The air of mystery is enhanced by a fabric veil covering part of the piece.

Concepcion's first ever collage with her own insightful text observations on the life and work of Marietta Robusti.

Dora's collage eloquently evokes the heartbreak of Camille Claudel's life and also Camille's passion for sculpting.

Becky usually works in sculpture, but she decided to try a new medium. She came up with this amazing painting of Camille's hands, holding a baby, which represents her work and
her losses.

Becky's collage to Camille which has a true 19th century feel.

Briana made a stunning 3-D assemblage. I remember photographing it but it seems to have disappeared from my camera! Briana, if you read this, please send me a photo!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

New Work by The Art of Life Group, Rediscovered Ancestors, and Flora and Fauna II Show

Sarah's New Collage

I want to share some of the cool work from the ongoing Art of Life women's creativity group. They just keep doing this amazing stuff.

Sarah has just started doing art again after quite a while and she's taking off. Her collage was done with layers of tissue paper and a little paint. What a beautiful landscape.

Closeup of Sarah's Collage

Painter Cindy is branching out into collage and acrylic pieces. Her work always has a lot of movement and life.

Closeup of Cindy's newest

Cindy's dancing collage/painting. It's all musical in feel!

You never know what Emma is going to come up with. Neither does she, which makes for exciting work! She says she does something and then wonders, "What the h&% is that?" I read somewhere once a quotation by an artist who said that when you do a piece and wonder what the h%*( it is that means you're doing your own work, rather than something that looks like you think art is supposed to.

Emma's dramatic collage

I recently acquired some family photos of my paternal great-grandparents, the Bartons of Maine. All I knew about this family was that they had 14 children of which my grandfather was the oldest. This grandfather was not the most sterling character so I always assumed his family weren't very nice either. This assumption was challenged with the treasure trove of pictures I now have. They seem like quite friendly and caring folks from their pictures. I've made some of the images into old fashioned type postcards and I thought I'd share a few of the pictures.

Here are a couple of the younger children. The little girl looks like my father's oldest sister and kind of like me as a child.
I love this picture. Someone had a good eye.

Love this one, too. Shows these great-grandparents had a sense of humor.

Here they are as newlyweds.

Last Friday we had a special show at The Art of Your Life Studio. Julia Gardner, Katie Evans and I held Flora and Fauna II. Katie and Julia had some wonderful pieces and it was fun to have many guests come by and see the work. I've missed doing the First Friday shows, so this was a real treat!

Julia had a whole wall of large 3-D flower pieces. She incorporates painting, dyeing and sewing into her work.

A closeup of one of her flowers.

Another closeup

A trio of gorgeous red flowers. They almost jumped out of the wall, they seemed so alive.

One of Julia's exquisite collages encased in resin

A rich, mysterious piece

A bird in its own magic world

Thanks Julia and Katie for showing with me again! You can see more of Julia's work right now in the feature gallery of Guardino Gallery on Alberta Street.

One last thing today:One of my Wabi Sabi pieces

Wabi-Sabi Wonder, a new workshop, has been rescheduled for Sunday, November 2. There's still time to register! See my improved website for more information on what we'll be doing.

Oh, yes--Halloween is almost here. Here's Dexter last year.
I couldn't resist.

My grandson the rat.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Plaster Excavation with Stephanie Lee, a Fantastic Vendor Night, and a New Website!

Stephanie Demonstrates Mixing Plaster at her Art and Soul Retreat Workshop

I spend lots of enjoyable time teaching and this Wednesday I got to be a student at Stephanie Lee's workshop: Art Excavation: Plaster Meets Wax. It was such a treat to learn new techniques and to get inspired by Stephanie's work and positive attitude.

We began by mixing plaster with water to the consistency of pancake batter. If we had brought cradled boards we turned them over and poured in the plaster. Those of us who brought flat boards were able to use masking tape to extend the sides of our boards which worked equally well. After our plaster hardened, we gouged, dug, rubbed, and sanded our surfaces. We learned how to cast found objects so that they could be molded into the surface. We used paint and distressed it, continuing to gouge etc. at will. I found myself getting a little carried away at times with being able to alter the surface of the piece at any point.

Bridget Benton sands her piece
In the background are some of Stephanie's mysterious and evocative excavations

As a final touch we added hot beeswax to the top layer for that nice sheen.

One of my pieces in progress

Alas, I had to leave the class early which just about killed me. I was looking forward to beginning a new "Women, Creativity, and Healing" class for PSU, but I would have loved to stay at Stephanie's class longer. I felt I was just getting the hang of it all.

A couple of nights later I found myself awake in the wee hours and worked on one of my pieces some more. I still have one to work on and I can't wait.

Vessel, my first plaster excavation piece

I used some ranger inks (reinkers) instead of acrylic and they worked fine. I also used some faux gold leaf on the piece to cover up a part I didn't like. If I'd had plaster available I could have just scraped back the offending section and added more. I then sealed the top with a little beeswax. You can see how fun this process is. It fits so well for me with my love of layers of the past!

This year was my first as a vendor at the Art and Soul Retreat Vendor Night. Never one to jump in halfway, I rented a whole booth which I shared with my artist daughter, Jane Kearney. Saturday night was a blast for us. We met lots of artists whose work we've admired, lots of friendly customers, and saw several artist friends at their tables and booths.

Jane at our booth

One side of the crowded ballroom

The other side

Some of Jane's work on display

A section of my table

My side of the booth from afar. The ladies in black are admiring Jane's work.

I'm glad I jumped in! We had lots of fun, sold art successfully and what a treat to work on such a project with my own daughter! We kept each other going when the preparations seemed Just Too Much and together we savored the heady atmosphere of artists and art lovers.

The last couple of days leading up to the event were difficult for Jane as her sweet 4-month old kitten was missing. She hoped for her return, put up flyers around her neighborhood and checked craigslist obsessively for replies to her search for the kitten. Friday night she found out that her kitten was safe with nice people who'd been taking care of her. Saturday she found out that the kitten had some how safely crossed MLK Blvd., that fast and busy street, before selecting an ideal foster home. I'm just amazed and delighted.

Last but not least, I want to share my joy at having a brand-new artist website.
The domain name is the same, but thanks to Emma at Red Acorn, the site is new, improved, and user-friendly. Please check it out and give Emma a round of applause.