Thursday, December 2, 2010
For the last month, I've been painting non-stop, preparing for a couple of opportunities. One is the annual Art on American Avenue show/sale here in Oracle. Last year, our first in Oracle, Jim and I were invited to participate in this event. Each year, a temporary location is leased by a group of artists who get together to display and sell their work. It was a great way to meet Oracle artists last year and we're both happy to be able to participate again this year. We have a great space, wonderful light, and it's heated, which is a big improvement. I bought nearly all of my holiday gifts at Art on American Avenue last year.
In addition, a Small Works exhibit is opening tonight at the Duley-Jones Gallery in Scottsdale. I will have at least one, maybe several paintings of water reflections in the show. The gallery is located on Main Street and the opening is from 7 – 9 pm tonight. The work will be up through December 23.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
As I was motoring along, painting enthusiastically, an unbidden thought came into my head. I had a clear memory of doing a paint-by-number painting of a lake with a swan floating in it, complete with a reflection. I was probably about 10 years old. Usually, I'd get frustrated with those things, as I didn't particularly like staying in the lines, and I'd end up tossing the unfinished masterpiece into the garbage. I stuck with this particular one, and once completed, my proud mother had it framed.
So here I am, painting away, and it suddenly struck me that this image had some similarity to that old paint-by-number. Can a painting be too pretty? When does a painting become a cliche? I can't tell if I've crossed the line or not. What do you think?
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
A group of my paintings across the hall from the rest of the exhibit.
Welcome to "Nooks & Crannies" at the Tucson International Airport Lower Level Gallery. I'm proud to have my work shown with the drawings of Rhod Lauffer, Tucson artist.
Here I am, taking a closer look at one of Rhod's interpretations of "Nooks & Crannies". His drawings are beautifully rendered in graphite.
A view of five of my paintings.
Four more paintings.
Another view, with Rhod's drawings, too.
Thank you to Jim for taking the photos. The show will be up until December 10.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
I took a bunch of snapshots of rowboats at a dock at Pinnacle State Park, in Utah (on US Route 89) this past summer and am only now starting to work with them. I love to paint reflections, any kind of reflections. In fact, I remember trying to capture the edges of a dock and water reflections in a painting when I lived in Santa Barbara and was taking my first studio art classes. Painting something like this turned out to be way beyond what I was capable of at the time (okay, it was 30+ years ago). Way more than 10,000 hours of practice later, I'm still finding the process challenging!
A detail of a painting in progress.
An overview of the same painting
The two paintings, waiting for me to get back to work, as soon as I've posted this blog!
Thursday, October 14, 2010
A few days ago, 16 of my Nooks & Crannies series of paintings made their way via our intrepid Honda Element to Tucson International Airport.
My work is being shown with Rhod Lauffer. He had already dropped his drawings off, so I didn't have the opportunity to meet him. The trolley on the left has Rhod Lauffer's work stacked on it, ready for installation. His website shows some of his wonderful paintings. You'll just have to come to the show to see his drawings of airport/airline related Nooks & Crannies.
Yet another view of the gallery space.
It was fun to see the Tucson Airport Reflection painting in the gallery space since the painting was created especially for this exhibit.
The exhibit is located on the lower level of the airport will be up until December 11. I'm anxious to drive back down there to see how the work looks on the walls!
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
One of our favorite regular activities in Oracle is to visit the Triangle L Ranch on Saturday mornings to enjoy the local farmer's market. You never know what you might find there; friends, interesting veggies, live music.
In addition to the usual Saturday activities, the annual Glow art festival at the Triangle L is a must see and do. A labor of love by volunteers in the community, orchestrated by Sharon Holnback owner of the Triangle L, Glow takes place on the first full moon (around late September or October) in the Fall.
Jim has been doing some video using his super dooper Canon 5D Mark II, and has been experimenting with sound. In fact, he's taking a class at Pima Community College on incorporating sound into video. Glow was the perfect place for him to bring his equipment and have some fun experimenting. Now you can have fun watching his 6 minute video. And keep an eye out for Glow next fall. It's well worth the visit!
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
After a great lunch at Bings, a redesigned gas station in retro style, where I had a burger, fries and a chocolate malt (the malt was to die for), we wandered across the street to The Art Institute Glitter.
My association with glitter is probably like yours–messy glue and hunks of red or blue glitter everywhere but where you want it. This is one of my earliest memories of art making in elementary school, and not a fond one. Other memories are of glitter and my own children. Again, mostly what I remember is their frustration and a big, big mess to clean up.
So, with some trepidation, I approached the rather large Glitter Institute. Jim practically needed to shove me through the door. My image of heaps of glitter to wade through could easily become one of my recurring nightmares. So in we went. What I discovered was an awe inspiring array of colors of glitter so fine it was almost powder, subtle and gorgeous. There are 400+ colors of ultrafine, microfine and glass glitter in addition to glass beads and other cool stuff. A series of charts give an idea of the range available.
While there were the expected examples of Halloween pumpkins and glittery Santa Claus in the snow scenes in the shop, there were also samples of work using glitter that was quite inspiring, moving across the line from tacky into art.
The friendly president of Art Glitter, Barbara Trombley, explained how the glitter is made and gave a little demonstration of how it's used. There is a special glue that can be applied with great control in thin lines. It is permanent and the glitter adheres to it without going all over the place (at least when Barbara uses it). Barbara offers classes and has even written a book.
It seems that there is an alternative to tacky, tacky glitter. Any material of good quality, when used by an artist, can become a thing of beauty. So much for my snobbery. I'm currently brooding about how I might add glitter to my array of art tools.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Funny thing. I make the art because I love doing it. It piles up in my studio. In order to justify doing more painting, I need to give the finished paintings a home. So I enter exhibits and make sure my work is out there, being seen and being purchased.
In a group show, well, there are a group of artists, who in turn have a group of friends, and friends of friends, and collectors, family members and so on. You can show and still be fairly inconspicuous. If no one comes to see the work, well, whose fault is it?
A solo show is a different kind of animal. It's just all about me, me, me and more me. The questions that arise are: will anyone at all show up? Or will the gallery be full of people (almost as frightening for a social phobic like me)? It'll be a little hard to hide when all the paintings on the wall are mine. And here I am with a solo show, opening on Friday night!
There are a lot of people out there, helping with publicity for the show. I just discovered several wonderful posts by Kristin Shears, owner of Willo North Gallery. Patricia Sahertian has been sending out press releases and doing lots of social media, and my husband, Jim Cowlin, just put me on our (hot off the press) US Route 89 newsletter. Todd Daniel has been schlepping postcards all over town in the heat and humidity.
It humbles me to think of people going all out for me and for my work. It's funny, alright. It would be so nice to just be able to hunker down in my studio and never, ever leave. Of course, then I'd miss out on meeting all the nice people I'll be meeting on Friday evening. I hope you're there, too. I hear the food is going to be great!
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
In several previous blogs, I've talked about what it takes to get a piece of artwork out the door, into a gallery, and last but not least, seen by someone other than the immediate family and close friends. One of the traditional ways of doing this is through postcards.
Of course, a postcard doesn't just drop off of the nearest tree. First comes the decision of what painting (or paintings) to put on the front of the card. Hopefully, it will attract the recipient's attention enough to flip over and read the details. The wording on the other side of the card is generally just the basic facts about the show. If you've never tried to do this, you'd be amazed at how easy it is to goof up an address, a date, a time. Even when other people proof it, it's always a relief to receive the printed card and see that all is okay.
I should have mentioned that one of the first steps is to choose a company to do the printing. In my case, friends Pat and Jacob recommended a printer I hadn't used before. It's important to know who's doing the printing, because different companies have different specs for getting images and text ready to be printed. I'm lucky that husband Jim is an expert at all things technology, so he did all of the technical preparations for me. Voila! Off the information flew over the internet and landed at Got Print. After a few days, I received a proof via email. I noticed a few items I wanted to change on the text side. After doing this, about a week or so later, a box of 1000 cards arrived via UPS at my door step. I am very pleased with the quality of the printing.
With the postcards in hand, I proceeded to work on my mailing list. This is another of those time consuming yet important jobs artists need to do. A good mailing list is critical. It's made up of friends, acquaintances, collectors, people who have signed guest books at shows, business associates and others. At 28 cents per stamp, it's important to have accurate and current addresses.
Next step, getting the stamps. An easy yet painful ($) part of the process. I like to hand address my cards rather than print out labels. It seems more personal, plus I get a chance to look at the list again to catch errors or do some last minute eliminating or adding of names. It's slower but it works for me.
Finally, the postcards are sent off to their destinations. This time I remembered to get my return address printed on the cards. Any that come back to me can then be corrected on my mailing list. What happens to a card when it reaches its destination? Well, I don't know, but I hope at least some people look at it and are intrigued enough to come to the opening or check out my website. Mostly, I'll never know.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
So, I started. I got involved with a group of 32 artists doing an art postcard exchange. I made 32 unique postcards and sent them out. In return, I got wonderful postcards from people all over the US, UK, Canada and Australia. I'm still in touch with a few of them.
A Twitter book club, started by Alyson Stanfield, got me caught up in the recent autobiography on William deKooning at about the same time.
Last but not least, I met my friend Pat. It started with a tweet from Pat, after I'd posted the news of my solo show at the Burton Barr Central Library last September. She told me she's an artist in Phoenix and would come to my opening. And guess what? She did, along with her husband Jacob. We hit it off right away. And began to communicate via email.
I introduced Pat to my good friend Carole Hanks, another Phoenix artist. They became friends. They came down to visit me in Oracle. We've had lunch at a half-way point between Phoenix and Oracle. Jim and I have had dinner at Pat's home. They've had dinner here. Pat and I either talk on the phone or send emails on a regular basis. In short, we've become good friends.
And now, I'm in a solo show at the Willo North Gallery, all thanks to Patricia Sahertian! That's another whole story. Here we are, talking, talking, talking at the first First Friday at the gallery.
And am I still tweeting? Well, no, Don, I'm not. But maybe I should start again. So many good things came of it.
Friday, August 13, 2010
I can't begin to say how often, when I tell someone I'm an artist, they tell me about how much fun I must be having and wish they could be having such a luxurious life, too. The other response I've been getting lately (now that my hair is a frank, non-dyed, gray), is about how lucky I am to have a nice hobby now that I'm retired.
Full-time, serious artists must be amongst the most misunderstood of professionals. A recent development in terminology is to refer to one's work as an "art practice". I have come to like this and hope it adds some dignity and weight to what artists do. I think those of us who work in the arts have an obligation to try to demystify what is involved in the process. Who can blame people for being confused when we don't offer art education in schools on a regular basis and when the media sensationalizes the shenanigans of a few art stars.
When people walk into any kind of art exhibit, they may or may not like the work that's being displayed. By being more informed of what goes on behind the scenes, my hope is that the viewer will appreciates the effort involved regardless of their feelings about the art being displayed.Unless you've been involved in the process of getting from point A (getting the idea, making the art) to point B (the viewing of the art), it may be either a mystery as to how the process happens or have never occurred to you. And since a really well displayed show should look seamless and fit so well together that it seems effortless, who can blame the viewer for not noticing the effort behind the scenes?
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Last Friday evening was a Phoenix First Friday and the Willo North Gallery was open, showing my work. The actual reception will be the next First Friday, on September 3. I'll be sending out cards and the gallery will be doing advertising for the opening. There was a nice crowd last Friday, and with more advertising, there should be even more people next month.
Another view from outside looking in.
Installation view of the north end of the gallery.
The southeast side of the gallery.
Todd, Stacy and Dan, checking out my use of perspective in a painting.
Thanks to Jim for the photographs of the evening. There were a lot more good shots, but son Mathew told me that any more would just be boring. So there you have it.
Monday, August 9, 2010
Here is Jim, checking the color balance. That why there are dangling items hanging from a string over the painting. I have no idea of the technicalities of all this (note the poor quality of all of the photographs I've taken for the blog!), but I do know it's critical.
Lighting equipment helps to control things. Here, Jim is testing the lighting and the color balance. He works until everything is just right. With digital photos, he's pretty sure when he has what he needs. The next step is to download the images to the computer. He does more color correcting at this stage of the game, too. If all is well, he is done his part of the job.
At this point, I transfer the photos into my computer. Isn't it all magic? At least if everything goes well and I don't do something stupid! From there, I organize the photos and put them into Bento, a program I use for keeping track of my work. Then, I add the new painting images onto my website.
Ah, ha, here's the little UHaul I rented to transport my paintings. All set to load up.
Jim is carefully stacking the paintings.
Next comes tying the paintings down with lots of bungee cords. Don't want them damaged in transit.
After arriving in Phoenix after a two hour drive, we unloaded the paintings. Son, Mathew, is rushing about (hence the blur), rehydrating himself after moving the paintings from the 110° outdoors into the cool gallery. They are randomly placed around the wall space to start with.
What you aren't seeing here is all of the work the went into getting the gallery ready for my work. First, the previous show had to be taken down and the art work needed to be picked up by either the new owner or the artist. Next, the walls were moved around to create a space especially for suitable for the new show. Holes had to be spackled. Walls needed to be painted. The yellow was chosen, because it complements the colors I use in my paintings. All of this was done with great care by a group of artists who volunteered their weekend to do the job.
Here's another view of the space. It's a beautiful gallery. Polished concrete floors, high ceilings, great lighting. It even has a bathroom and a kitchen. Deluxe! After much moving of paintings to see what fit where and what looks good with what, the show was ready to put on the wall.
My heroes, Patricia Sahertian and Todd Daniel are discussing their strategy for hanging the art work. They are a meticulous pair. The mathematics was beyond me. My job was to write down numbers on a little pad of paper. Actually, I do know how to do all of this, but am usually too lazy.
They are deciding on the spacing and height.
Figuring out how far the wire is from the top of the painting. This is the last step before actually pounding the nail into the wall.
Getting everything just right is a lot of effort, both physically and mentally. And it takes lots of time and patience. Thank you to Patricia and Todd for the beautiful installation. Both are artists with limited time to make their own work, making the time they spent even more appreciated.
Stay tuned for pictures of the August First Friday reception.
Friday, August 6, 2010
Tonight is the August First Friday opening of my solo show at the Willo North Gallery in downtown Phoenix. The show will be open from 6 pm to 10 pm. The gallery is located at 211 N. 7th Ave. It'll be fun to have some low key time to visit with friends.
The real actual bona fide opening will be on September 3. I'll be sending out postcards, and doing the proper marketing activities for the September show.
Stay tuned for more information and photos!
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
As I was painting away, day after day, I avoided looking at the mass of paintings being stored in my studio. I didn't allow myself to question why I was madly creating a 48" x 60" painting of a wall with a window in it, or why I was making a bunch of small panels of water reflections. I was just so happy to be back at work. Occasionally, I'd come up for breath and those niggling doubts would start to pop up, but I quickly quashed them by making a fast return back to painting.
Then, 3 or 4 weeks ago, my artist friend Patricia Saheriatan contacted me and asked if I'd like to do a solo show in Phoenix. Opening the first week of August. Of course I said yes. It was a complete surprise, and the perfect excuse to stay immersed in my studio. No blogging, no marketing, nothing but painting, painting, painting. It was heaven.
Yesterday I delivered a load of paintings to the gallery in Phoenix.
More about the back story about how I met Patricia, where the gallery is located, and what's involved in putting together a solo show, along with some photos. Tomorrow.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
It’s hard to believe we’ve been home for nearly two weeks. Jim’s been deep into going through his 2000+ photographs, and catching up on business. Plus dealing with various home cooler and toilet maintenance crises. Me…well I’m not sure what I’ve been up to. Lots of laundry at first, and then trying to sort myself out and figure out what to do next after the big road trip. I had anticipated teaching a community college art class this summer, but the enrollment was too low. It’s been wonderful being back in my studio, painting. I’ve completed one painting and have gotten 9 small panels ready to start on. I’m excited about some snapshots I took of various oddities I noticed on the trip and am looking forward to turning them into paintings. Guess I have been up to something after all.
Glad to be back, but missing the road, too. One thing that helps is following the delightful blogs of a few other intrepid traveling couples. One is Twelve Legs Travel, written and photographed by a newly married couple on a 12 month traveling honeymoon. I especially like their most recent post on the first fight of their trip. We haven’t met them, but would sure like to at some point. Another fun blog to follow is Adventures of the Wandering Book Artists by Peter and Donna Thomas. They’re on a year long trip in their fabulous hand crafted Gypsy Wagon, stopping at various universities and libraries across the country to give workshops on book making. I was lucky enough to take a one day workshop by Peter in Tucson (this workshop is mentioned in their blog post of April 28, a must read since I’m mentioned in it!!)
Monday, May 17, 2010
The Semester is Over, the Big Book of Jim's US Route 89 Photographs is Done and a New Adventure is About to Begin
The book project I was working on to fulfill a commission for the Law Offices of Snell and Wilmer in Salt Lake City is finished. I took photos of it, but somehow I can't seem to locate them on the computer. They must be floating around there somewhere, but for the life of me I can't figure out where. Anyway, after much sweat and (some) tears, I'm pleased with the way it came out. Hopefully, the client will be too!
We're now about 4 hours delayed in starting our big big month long US Route 89 road trip adventure. I'm sure I've mentioned the 89 project a number of times in this blog. We'll be writing about the trip via a different blog. While traveling, in addition to working with Jim to figure out "why life is so fine on Route 89", I'll be doing some drawing and lots of thinking. And taking snapshots for possible future paintings. Back about June 17.
By the way, besides the photos that I can't find, I do have some I had planned on posting of my students at work on their last drawing project of the semester. But Blogspot doesn't seem to be uploading photos for some reason today. Or maybe I've suddenly forgotten how to upload photographs, too??
Monday, May 3, 2010
The mess in my studio looks a little like the inside of my head right now. I'm working on designing and constructing a one-of-a-kind (well, maybe eventually a small edition) book for the law office of Snell and Wilmer for their office in Salt Lake City. The law firm is a corporate sponsor of our US Route 89 project. One of the benefits they get for their sponsorship is a series of Jim's US Route 89 photographs for their offices. The Phoenix and Tucson offices made their selection of images to be framed and displayed. The Salt Lake City office decided they would like a table top book of the photographs. Thus, the mess you see above, as I work to come up with a book form that will do justice to Jim's wonderful photographs.
After much thumbing through of my various bookmaking books, and advice from Peter and Donna Thomas and participants at the workshop I took from Peter last week (see my last post) I think I've settled on a book form.
This is my third attempt at making a prototype for the book. Not too pretty at this point. There is a lot of figuring that goes into making a book. In this case, one of my main goals was a book that will lay flat when open. I settled on an accordion pleat stitched book, with modifications.
This book by Peter and Donna Thomas has great information. I recommend it for anyone who is interested in bookmaking. It's clear, has good instructions and photographs of beautiful books for inspiration.
My next step is to try, try again with the accordion pleat idea.
And to clean up the space. There is nothing to invite a bookmaking disaster like a mess. Glue everywhere, scraps of paper in the way, a lost exacto knife, you get the picture. Not to mention a deadline looming for the completion of this project.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
This is admittedly a long tale, so bear with me (or not!). Close to a month ago, I got an email from my friend Judith Walsh, an encaustic artist in Oracle, with a link to Catherine Nash's newsletter. An upcoming bookmaking workshop at her studio in Tucson caught my eye.
In my past, besides being trained as a printmaker, I took 2 semesters of bookmaking at ASU taught by John Risseauw. This was way back when (1987-1988 to be exact). I love bookmaking and it ties in so well with printmaking. Since that time, I've taken some bookmaking workshops, and have incorporated bookmaking into the teaching of my various art classes. However, bookmaking has taken a back seat to my painting efforts.
So when I got this email from Judith, I thought why not? It was happening two weeks after the Oracle Artist Studio Tour (see previous post). I figured I deserved a treat. So I signed up.
Fast forward to the week after the studio tour. Jim and I work on a project about US Route 89. One of our sponsors is the law office of Snell & Wilmer. Part of the deal was to create a series of photographs along Route 89 for their offices in Phoenix, Tucson and Salt Lake City.
Phoenix and Tucson ordered a group of prints for their respective offices. The Salt Lake City office requested a photographic book in lieu of hanging prints.
Here's where the story starts to happen. I've done bookmaking, including a pretty large hard bound book of Jim's photographs. But it's been awhile. And low and behold, I'd signed up for this bookmaking workshop in two weeks, where there will be a few brains to pick regarding this rather large project I've committed myself to do. Until I signed up for this workshop, I had barely thought about bookmaking in months. And now I had a commission to create a book.
So, we went to Phoenix (this was last week) to pick up and distribute the photographs to the Phoenix office of Snell & Wilmer. While in Phoenix, I wanted to go to Burton Barr Central Library to check out a few bookmaking books. Whenever I visit this library, I always look at the exhibit in @Central Gallery, and then the display of artist-made books in cases on the first floor.
The bookmaking workshop I was scheduled to take the next week was being taught by guest artists Donna and Peter Thomas traveling to Tucson from their home and studio in Santa Cruz, CA. So here we were at the main library in Phoenix, looking at the cases of books, and lo and behold, I saw a book on display by Donna and Peter. Quite a coincidence.
Just as I pointed it out to Jim, I heard someone not 10 feet away saying that she saw one of their books in the case. It turns out that the couple right next to us were, yes, Donna and Peter Thomas. All the way from Santa Cruz, stopping off at ASU for a talk with one of John Risseauw's classes and then on to the library to see the Rare Book Collection. Now, in my book (hah, isn't this too clever), this is a truely convoluted coincidence. They are traveling the country for 8 months in their gorgeous, hand crafted Gypsy Wagon to spread the word about the joys of bookmaking with stops for workshops at various places along the way. And we just happened to be in the same place, at the same exact second.
The workshop was yesterday. It was fabulous. The second photo (above) is a shot of some of the participants gathered around Peter as he demonstrates.
Here's a close up of Peter, continuing to demonstrate the fine points of creating a Scrolling Book.
In this basin are the book boards and other parts for a miniature scrolling book.
Here's Peter helping people get started. Directly behind him is Catherine Nash, whose amazing Tucson studio is being used for the workshop. (sorry it's blurry, Catherine).
Deep into work, Mabel Dean, founder of PaperWorks, the Sonoran Collective for Paper and Book Artists, is on the left in the foreground. Quite a few of the other participants in this workshop were members of PaperWorks. They were all very nice, and I was able to pick quite a few brains and come up with some good tips regarding my book project for Snell and Wilmer. When my check arrives to its' destination in a few days, I'll be a member, too. I had no idea such an organization existed in Tucson, and am very excited to find such a vibrant and active community of book makers close by.
This is a display of some of the Donna and Peter's miniature books. The books are amazing tiny jewels of creative work, all less than 3" in each dimension. Maybe even smaller.
A blurry shot of one of their larger books, with handset type and an illustration.
And here's the same book in its' case.
I couldn't resist taking a picture of a set of shelves in Catherine's studio. I think you could spend hours looking at and trying to figure out what all this interesting stuff is.
So that's the saga of the book coincidences. The workshop was a wonderful experience. I came away with new acquaintances, two scrolling books, lots of information and renewed enthusiasm for the fine art of bookmaking.