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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Oil Pastels

About a year ago, I received a big box of Sennelier oil pastels. As far as oil pastels go, this is about the best. They were created for Picasso. They are this creamy soft type crayon that blends in rich colors. I was so happy to receive the gift, however, I’ve been a little intimidated to use them because I know that I don’t know how to use them properly.

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The advantage is that they are perfect for using while traveling. I decided I would give them a try this week. I started with a black canvas board, a box of Sennelier oil pastels, a pencil, and a color shaper (rubber edged tool that allows for blending and scraping). I decided I was craving avocados, so that became my subject matter.

First I drew it out on my canvas with the pencil. Then I experimented with applying the base colors of the avocado and then blending them. I was able to create a fine line using my color shaper. I could etch in a peel scraping away some of the oil pastel and letting the black canvas come through.

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I’m pretty happy with the result considering this was my first oil pastel. I love the creaminess of the Sennelier oil pastels. I can blend easily by using my finger. I was able to get the contrast that I hoped for. I look forward to doing more with them in the near future.

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Trying new things

I have decided to challenge myself with doing things I have never done. Mostly, this involves working with materials that I’m completely unfamiliar with. This is not comfortable. I know though, that growth is never comfortable.

I’m doing quiteof bit travel lately, which doesn’t lend well to my highly textured paintings (hard to transport due to slow dry time). I’ve decided to make the most of this time on the road and push myself way outside my comfort zone. It gives me the opportunity to work with mediums I wouldn’t work with otherwise, but also to learn along with the way with experimentation.

I decided to share this process.

I have been very interested in working on some self-portraits. We are our hardest critic, so I thought it would be a good challenge to try to paint myself. I have always done portraits with oils. They are slow to dry, which offers more manipulation and capabilities to blend. I decided for traveling purposes, I would try to acrylics for a self-portrait. I worked in layers, which is something I’m not use to doing. Here is the beginning of this process. I will update again as I get further in the process.

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The Art Camper Project

For quite awhile I have had this vision in my mind: an art camper. If I could figure out how to merge my two passions, travel and art, it could be amazing.

My vision includes a fiberglass camper trailer that will have a wrap of my artwork on the outside. A small studio space inside with a place to sleep and be inspired and travel.

This week, I took the first steps to make this come true. I bought a camper! I bought it from an elderly couple who can no longer use it. They told me 15027924_10209201934018555_5125255364576496871_nstories of travels and summers spent in it. This camper comes with a lot of love and I’m happy to be able to carry it on. I look forward to many adventures in it, though those are still taking form in my mind.

My first task will be to clean it out. It as if they left everything from their last trip in it. Then to clean and start customizing it!

Stay tuned for updates on how the project transforms.

 

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