Way Outside my Comfort Zone

When you 9 year old son comes home from school and says he wants a homemade costume for Halloween, you don’t tell him no. Especially when he starts justifying a homemade costume by telling you it will be “cooler” and “it will be fun to make together”.

The shock came when he told me he wanted to be Predator. I knew he had never even seen the movie, but that’s not an easy costume to pull off. I had no idea where to start. As an artist, I got really excited about figuring it out. We went to the art store and found a base mask to start with, some yarn, and foam. Then we headed to the hardware store and walked around looking for materials and ideas. We left with some duct tape, spray paint, and pipe insulation.

We took it back to the studio and I gave my son a lesson on how not to burn yourself while working with a hot glue gun (by burning myself). We began cutting up foam and insulation and applying it to our base mask. It didn’t take long before our mask started to make sense.

We ended up with a mask that we were super proud of and is custom fit to his head. Now for the costume part…

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Travel & Inspiration

Travel and art are two of my biggest passions. I’ve been fortunate enough to do a lot of In the dunestraveling this year. So much so, I haven’t had as much time to work on all of the ideas and inspiration that I have gained.

I have decided to start by working on a series of small paintings. 6×6 canvases in oil inspired from my various trips. I have started with my most recent trip to Michigan. I kayaked around Grand Island, visited little resort towns in the Upper Peninsula, and hiked Pictures Rocks National Park. It really is a spectacular place and I had no idea it was so beautiful. Here is one of my first pieces from a hike.

 

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Rules were meant to be broken

I have always had a sort of personal rule that when a painting is finished and I sign my name to it, I do not touch it again. I decided that this rule had to be broken.

As I was organizing paintings in the studio I sat back and looked at some of my tree and 21616561_10155680162246369_8593726905482560123_naspen paintings and decided that they needed more. More color, more depth, more time. I decided to throw out my rule and and let myself rework the paintings. I am loving the turn out. In some cases I am completely reworking the color scheme, trees, and background.

I have two new shows going up next week, and hope that they are ready for that show. I am glad that I broke my own rule. Sometimes rules are just meant to be broken.

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Painting with the Bambinos

I sat painting in the shade. It’s exactly as an artist residency should be. Inspired by the other artists working around me, I sipped my coffee, and painted little sketches that I IMG_4016.jpghad done throughout the week.

There was to be an exhibition that night, and as the people started to come, so did many children. Like almost all children, they were instantly drawn to the painting. They stood around me quietly watching me paint and whispering que bella.

I asked them if they to wanted to paint and they said yes with eager smiles. I took small canvas boards I had packed in my bag and set them up with my paints around the table. We couldn’t communicate well because of the language barrier, however, they taught me the Italian words for the colors, and I taught them how to blend colors.

IMG_4219They made me paintings, and wanted so badly to be able to communicate with me. In turn, I made them quick two minute paintings. They spent the rest of the evening following me around, playing with my hair, and calling me Bellissima.

If I could’ve brought them home I most definitely would have. If the trip taught me anything, it was that art is it’s own language and continually breaks down barriers.

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Art Collaboration with my son

I was hoping that at my artist residency, I could work on a collaborative project with my son. I really had no idea what I would work on when I was there, but was hoping it would present itself.

As I sat in my room in the heat of the day I did some sketches, I heard the tick tick tick of an old typewriter in the room next to me. I went to see what was going on, and my son looked up at me excitedly and exclaimed that he was typing. He was in love with the ancient machine.

One of the local poets writes all of her poetry on this type writer. It was like magic to my son. This was when I got the idea for our collaboration.

I asked him to type out his story. To write about our travels together, of what travel meant to him, and his thoughts and experiences.

Shortly into typing this out, the ribbon ran out of ink and there was no replacement. The residency is quite isolated so there’s no place to get a replacement ribbon. Deciding that this wouldn’t deter us, I decided to interview my son.

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We sat out under the olive trees and I asked him to tell me what travel and culture and experiences meant to him. Listening to him speak about loving being able to play with the other kids, experiencing new things, and seeing how people do things differently throughout the world, my heart continued to fill with love.

When we were done, he ran off to play with the other kids. I began to paint his words onto a wooden panel.  I did decided to white wash them, just as the trulli houses that we were staying in are white washed. This would be the background for my painting.

places copyright.jpgWhen I first came to Kansas City, I did a painting of me on a map of Kansas City. To this day it is still one of my favorite paintings. It speaks of the unknown, and of optimism. My son has seen this painting many times and adores it. When he was younger, he asked me if I would paint him into it. I decided that over his words on the wooden panel, I would paint him and me.

I did not have the proper supplies at the residency, so I was unable to finish the painting there. It is something I plan to finish in the next few weeks.

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Dreams Come True

I won! I won an artist residency in southern Italy. I have actually done this residency before 11 years ago. Something that made it really special this time is that I got to take my son.

My son has been raised in the art studio, so naturally he’s always been around artists and creativity. I was super excited to be able to share this opportunity with him, but also to watch his reaction to being in such a foreign place.

My son loves to paint, but I’ve noticed in the past few years he’s starting to lean more towards the musical arts. He took instantly to the drums, and I want to support any creative endeavor.

On our way to Europe, I took him to the off-Broadway show of Stomp in New York City. The energy of the show was intense and for two hours he was completely captivated. Actors made music out of ordinary things like trash can lids, signs, brooms, etc.

On the first day of the artist residency, I jumped at the opportunity to run to town with a few other artists because it is the only place to get art supplies, snacks, etc.  My son stayed behind at the residency with a few other artists (he was tired of sitting in planes and cars).

IMG_3852When I returned back my son had created his own Stomp set up. He found random things such as pans, a grill, poles, etc. that would make noise if it was banged on. Pans were hanging from trees, and everything was arranged around him like a drum kit.  He gave me a solo concert when I got back. I was in complete awe.

The best part was, watching everyone else react to him throughout the week. Children from the nearby village came and went. However, the children didn’t speak any English and we don’t speak Italian.

Despite the huge gap in communication, it took no time at all for the children to figure out how to communicate and play. They spent hours making up songs on the Stomp set up. They painted, they played hide and seek, and figured out how to play lots of other games.

IMG_4055.jpgAs I was painting, I looked up and realized in that moment as I watch my son play with the other children, that my dream of motherhood was a reality.  If I had become a mother, I always envisioned it involving cultural experiences and travel.

My son laughed and played with the other children under the Italian sun. My heart suddenly filled with so much love and recognition that tears ran down my cheeks. I watched for a while as I realized that my dreams have become a reality.

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Mixed Media

Mixed Media is something I have always been fascinated with, but never really sure what to do. Hand me a medium and I will figure it out. Hand me a bunch of mediums and I’m completely lost. However, I find myself drawn to a lot of mixed media pieces by other artists. I’ve decided to do some experimentation with mixed media.

This week, I thought I would start simple. I would just mix two mediums: ink and acrylic paint. I started with a plastic palette (paint is easy to peel off after it dries), a pencil ( for drawing an initial design), paint brushes, acrylic paint, canvas board, and a permanent ink marker with thin tip. It’s important to find an ink that won’t smear with paint.

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I first decided on a subject matter. To keep it simple, I decided on some wild flowers. I began by painting a background of green and yellow, representing grass.

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I think drew in some rough flowers with my pencil to give me an outline to work from. It’s important to remember that I’m attempting to experiment and enjoy this process, therefore, I’m not trying to make this perfect. Some of my best work has come from me experimenting.

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I began blocking in color. I’ve learned from experience that I like vivid colors, so starting with a white background in best. I filled in my drawing with white paint.

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Once the white background dried, I started to mix colors and fill in my flowers. In this situation, I am painting in a hotel, so I not only put my paint on my palette, but also used it as a backdrop for my small canvas.

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Once I had the flower painted the way I wanted, I added ink. This is unfamiliar territory for me. I ended up loving it. It gave definition, but I was also able to create grass that didn’t exist in my original painting. I look forward to creating more complex paintings in the near future with acrylic and ink.

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