Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Home Is Where The Art Is

 And now I will tell you of the vast benefits of reading instructions before you begin.  (Make sure your children are listening)  My artist friend and my Art in the Classroom PTO committee co-chair, Faith, put me in touch with this excellent on-line resouce for artists, actors, and writers.  On previously mentioned resource, I found a couple of shows to which I wanted to apply.  The first being an art show/fundraiser for HOPE Fair Housing Center in Wheaton.  They called for work relating the values of fair housing etc.  I decided to make a piece appropriate for the show and submit it before the March 1st deadline.  I should say that I am also preparing to travel to Miami on March 1st.  So, I'm scrambling to finish this laborious painting in order to prepare for my trip and my kids' going to grandparents etc. etc.  I'm stressing out about the painting feeling the pressure to finish is cramping my style, and in the end, I'm not one hundred percent content.  Oh well, just get it submitted and we'll see what happens.  Upon READING the directions which I had only previously skimmed, I notice there is no need to submit an image of my painting.  Strange, sure, but they also request that I send in a snail mail application instead of a convenient on-line one.  Anyhow, all of that stress was wasted.

I also applied to be in the Body and Mind show at Woman Made Gallery in Chicago.  I submitted my "Grandma Dying" painting.  We'll see what comes from that.  I don't want to sell her, but it would be great to present her to the public and develop my exhibition history.  Yay exhibitions!

Saturday, February 23, 2013


 I finished this painting of my Grandma's shoes today.  This will probably be the last of paintings relating to her for awhile since I have to switch gears in order to prepare for the next Dot to Dot show in March!  The floral pattern is based on my dining room rug, which I love, and the bottom pattern is influenced by the tile surrounding a fountain at the Garfield Park Conservatory. 

Grandma loved shoes.  When she was a child she squeezed her new world feet into old world hand-me-downs, and when her children began walking, she polished their scuff marks away.  When I knew her she always resisted breaking in a new pair preferring the comfort of the worn ones; however, she'd greatly admire the newly shod feet of myself or my children.  I love that her shoes have molded and encased her feet slip casting them--fossilizing them forever. 

Acceptance Speach

"Paint Palette" watercolor by my niece Iris given to me at my show
 My Prairie Title show went well last Thursday!  Thanks to all who helped to prepare, motivate, guide, and support me in any and every way.  I'm in much debt to you and will be forever grateful.  It was fun to see the paintings all together and discuss them.  It was particularly enjoyable to hear the stories, memories, and thoughts that they triggered in others.  One woman after seeing "The Pressing" mentioned that all of the  pictures of her mother were of her ironing or washing dishes.  She never wanted her picture taken.  The show will remain on display through the beginning of April, and I am looking forward to more opportunities to exhibit and write about them. 

I threaded my loom with warp for three rag rugs.  It's time to start cutting t-shirts again!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Having It All

In honor of Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique which has now been published 50 years, I've been thinking about having it all.  I'm not sure anyone can have it all-whatever that means (and to be honest I'm not sure Betty advocated for it all at all.  I've never read her famous challenge which insisted women to demand more from their lives), but I'm intending to pack all into my studio work.  I've started another painting, finished threading Martha's loom with a wool scarf, began winding warp for rag rugs on my loom, made space for piecing more scrappy squares, and finished one sketchbook full of daily sketches.  I have a hard time neglecting any one area of my art making, so I'm choosing to do it all--maybe even at the same time.  (Not pictured, crocheting and embroidering projects)

fabric collection that I'm interested in

some sketches I like from this year's collection

next painting. . .can you guess what it is?

stripey scarf on loom

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Looking for Next Adventure

 The above is a photo of my travel easel which will be super great on vacations, painting in my back yard and front porch, and other parts of my house or even your house.  It's framed by messy studio.

Below are my full palettes and waning tubes of paint.  After the rush of preparing for the Prairie Title show, I am having a sort of postpartum depression missing the focus and determination that accompanied the birth of that project.  Aside from wanting to paint more/exhibit more (OPAL and Dot to Dot)/add to and refine Etsy Shop, I've had some other ideas bouncing in my brain:
1.) Make a podcast featuring interviews with artists and creative types that would seek knowledge of the creative process and attempt to also understand creative motivations, obstructions, and fears.  Photos of the artists creative spaces would also play a part.
2.) Interview those of advanced age giving them a chance to tell their stories and paint portraits probably based on photos of my subjects.
3.) Make art derived from media stories which resonated with me.  Then, write about and link to the original piece. 
4.)  Gather histories and information about my Grandma and write about her life which spanned 1913 through 2012 as a means to gain a broader understanding of our cultural and my personal history.
5.) Grad-school in Art History
What's your vote?  Any other ideas out there?

Jane and John

This picture of my paternal grandparents had been in my room at my parents' house.  I grabbed it the last time I was home and painted it nights on my new travel easel in the TV room.  I finished it today after wrapping up "Dying Grandma".  I love the original photo because it captured the couple's unbridled happiness.  I love the painting for the patterns and lines.  I'm especially happy that the zebra print is in both! 

Grandma Dying

 So, the days I spent with my Grandma dying were life changing to say the least.  I was thankful to have art making as a means to capture/digest/participate in her death.  I sketched and took photos of her which felt a little strange yet somehow necessary.  We were witnessing such beauty and pain.  At some point by her side (probably in the middle of the night and bleary-eyed) I decided I was going to paint her dying.  Since that promise to myself and the realization that Grandma has and always will be my muse, I've been sort of waiting to exhale- green lighting other projects ahead of her.  Now having completed the painting I feel relieved, sad, and a little disappointed in my efforts.  I feel confident that I've done all that I can do with her right now but know that I can return to her in the future.  It was obviously an emotional painting to make, but nonetheless, this experience has enlightened me to the deficit our culture's handling of mortality and the need to make plain the possibility of an active and supportive death. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

The kids made their valentines this week.  The more that I orchestrate these projects the more I realize that I have little influence regarding the process and final product.  Although, I am still called upon to use sharp utensils.  Abe quickly shot down my stellar ideas deciding instead to design a heart-shaped stamp which he would apply in a grid formation on the paper.  (They have been doing a lot with counting to 100 in Kindergarten and use grids to help understand such a big number.) I failed to get a picture of the final product,  but they turned out well.  He insisted on adding more red to the whitish ones.   One of Abe's preschool teachers told me that he is a man with a plan.  You can say that again!

Pen's initial attempt at making her first valentines included gluing pistachios to heart shapes.  After explaining the "no nut rule" at her school, we opted for the old paint some paper and cut out hearts trick.  I also glued a small heart cut from her favorite wrapping paper to the centers.  She handed them out yesterday at school; I'm impressed with how much she "gets" the holiday.  She insisted on wearing pink and red complete with red sparkly shoes.  She was hit as always!

I've been working on my secret project painting which is large and taking a lot of time and not really a secret.   It's just fun to refer to it as such.  I hope to complete it soon and hoping for some genius brush strokes to achieve the look I'm after.  Hopefully, there will be a post in the near future. . .

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Dream Castle

This just makes me happy!  Abe came home with this dream castle drawing made in art class.  What can I say, I'm inspired. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Women's Work

This is a rough draft of an article my Mom, Sister, and I have been working on for the upcoming Spring issue of the magazine  Downtown Auroran:

During a recent weekend in the woods, my sister and mom huddled over a table with brushes in hand.  My Mom’s brush danced between mini blobs of paint squirted onto the lid of a cottage cheese container and her unconventional canvas, a handmade rawhide rattle head.   My sister’s brush quietly smothered water into her pancake watercolors before smoothly spreading the wetness onto the dry, receptive watercolor paper.  I painted at my canvas which rested on a chair turned easel.   My sister-in-law steadily maneuvered yarn with her crochette hook-manipulating a single strand into a scarf.  This was her first attempt having just learned from my sister.  The weekend offered a break from the unceasing demands of caring for our families.  We had the freedom, space, and time to create while nurturing and supporting each other. 

Growing up my Mom and Grandma buzzed around the house scrubbing, dusting, washing, and feeding.  The work was never done, and they were happy to do it.  Being resourceful these women infused creativity into their chores and work never failing to love and care for us.  My Grandma hemmed dresses by hand, darned socks so magically filling in the holes, and stitched the runs in her pantyhose creating sculptural ridges.  She baked to perfection and gardened soulfully always reminding me to save the water from the down spouts because the plants preferred the rainwater. 

My Mom adopted this ability to transform work in beauty.  She enjoyed the challenge of creating a delicious meal from the scraps in the pantry or making a floral arrangement gathered from the yard.  I would marvel at her ability to wrap a present so uniquely from various bits and pieces of paper, ribbon, and artificial flowers which we kept stuffed in the drawer of our dining room buffet.

Having been denied the piano lessons she had begged for, my Mom resolved to expose us to the arts and culture.  She loved listening to us play the piano as she prepared dinner, sent us around the corner to draw wild flowers in Rena Church’s garden, and faithfully deposited us at dance and theatre rehearsals.  We went to museums, traveled, and attended concerts, ballets, and plays.  My Mom worked hard cleaning houses for us to have these experiences.  She gave us the space to become who we are without asking much in return.

It is now such a pleasure to witness her creative growth in the arts.  She is a gifted artist and Spiritual Director who fabricates rattles out of deer hide, feathers, and sticks.  She then adorns them with beads and paint.  My Grandma, in her last years, would sit by her daughter helping her to stuff and unstuff rattles, praising and playing each one.  My Mom also facilitates Soul Collage workshops which is a spiritual process that incorporates making collages from magazine images.   Like Soul Collage she has united spiritual growth in the making of art and often remarks that my sister and I are her teachers now.  It feels good to return some of what she has given us. 

Today, my sister and I are both professional artists.  My sister makes art and teaches out of her own studio, Nido Art Studio in Aurora.  She has her own clothing line, is a member of the Dot to Dot Art Collective, and facilitates birthday parties.  In addition to watercolor, she hand builds with ceramics, works with dyeing, appliquéing textiles, quilting, crocheting and knitting, but ultimately she weaves together communities through various programming at her studio always generous with creativity and inspiration.

Having learned everything from sister, I make and sell art (paintings, weavings, stitched textiles) in Oak Park, blog about it, and do my best instill the creative impulse in my own children.  We are truly blessed that we can support each other learning and teaching as we evolve as artists. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Best

I'm working on a top secret painting of my Grandma dying.  It is inspired by her beauty and grace which she so generously shared with us as she actively died.  What courage it took to die!  I am able to transport myself to that time as I paint her on a rather large canvas (for me).  I'm finding myself getting lost in her.

Ha!  I did not set out to write about this but to share a memory that has resurfaced in the sweetness of Penelope.  Pen has been tossing around compliments with ease telling us we are the best!  "You are the best Mommy!"  You are the best Daddy!"  "You are the best brother except you don't play with me!"

My Grandma shared this habit especially in her last years.  "This is the best watermelon ever!" she would declare on a weekly basis.  The same went for pizza, flowers, and tomatoes.

I love this critical claim that someone or something is the best.  Why not?  It might be your last bite of watermelon or your only mom.  Why not have the best?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Prairie Title Installation

 I was so grateful to have my sister Lisa's help and critical eye in hanging the Prairie Title show.  We chose a room with windows and two walls of hanging space.  One piece from each artist hangs in the reception area.

A Couple

This is the last of my 8 new pieces which I added to my cache of 6 ( of which one is a diptych).  Tonight is installation.  I'm so excited to see everything hung and very grateful to have my sister's help!  Here are some lessons I've learned during these last couple of weeks:

1.  Just keep painting
2.  Sometimes its favorable to allow a painting to take the lead pulling me in a direction I hadn't intended.
3.  Allow for surprises
4.  Art making really is transformative
5.  No matter how much you intend to capture the other in a portrait, you can't help but ultimately paint yourself
6.  It takes courage to create

Here is more information regarding my show at Prarie Title Show.
I'll be sending a formal email invite later in the week.

I feel like good things are on the horizon, and although I'm uncertain what challenge is next for me, I'm excited for it!

Friday, February 1, 2013

2013 gun related homicides in Chicago as 1-22-13 through 1-31-13

Elton Johnson, Ronald Peters, Norman Stokes, Dimitri Buford, Antonio Fenner, Allen Smiley, Ronnie Chambers, Name Unknown, Devin Common, Hadiya Pendleton, Gino Angotti,