Making a mess

Two months have gone by in a flash-we are moved in to our new home (still unpacking) and tomorrow I give my last final before turning in final grades.  This past month has been packed with pet portrait commissions that I'm excited to share (after the holidays, of course).   For now, here is a glimpse from my camera phone of the mess I'm making in our kitchen since the studio isn't quite ready yet.  Hopefully today I'll discover my camera cord to do some proper updating-all of my student work and current projects are trapped inside.  Wish me luck!


welcome home

These small paintings are the beginning of a new series I'm creating especially for an upcoming art fair.  With my husband returning from a long work trip and the process of buying a house coming to a close, the thought of 'welcome home' has been on my mind a lot lately.   Plus, it was a great reason to use neon and paint confetti.  In college I had a pet goldfish that lived with a few other stragglers rescued from the bait tank at the local Wal-Mart...one was a tiny red betta named Ruby.  She lived happily with the goldfish and black molly in the tank, contrary to what the books say about them being solitary creatures.  It's funny that over all the years that I kept fish, I never once painted or drew them until they were gone.

We finally closed on our new home and got the keys on Friday afternoon!  After signing our lives away to the bank, we made a pilgrimage to Home Depot to pick up a lawnmower, paint and cleaning supplies.  For our first night as homeowners, we stayed on an air mattress with takeout pizza and watched the Goonies on DVD.  We've still got a month and a half on our lease, so it will be nice to move over slowly and unpack as we go, instead of living out of boxes for a month like the last move.  Our TV has been tuned in to my new favorite show, Property Brothers, filling my head with ideas for the house, ways to really make it feel like it's ours.   My studio will be relocated for the second time in a year and a half, and I'm ready for it...I feel like the new space will breathe some fresh air into my studio practice. 


Pajamas & Pancakes

The art studio where I work, Painting with a Twist, was a part of the 'Pajamas & Pancakes' on Saturday at the Holiday Ole Market.  The special event was put on by the Junior League at the AT&T center here in San Antonio.   Kids came through with their families in pajamas to have pancakes and make some art with us!  My boss, coworkers and I arrived with coffee, 60 canvases and plenty of paint.  We gave some informal instruction to the young painters, but for the most part they had their own artistic visions in mind.  They got very creative, painting everything from pumpkins to cats, ghosts, one dinosaur, a pig and quite a few nonobjective images.  Even the babies got in on the fun-I painted the feet of two newborns to make stamped footprints on canvas.  I expected babies would be more ticklish, but they didn't seem to mind getting their feet coated in wet paint.
Steven and I close on our first home this week!  Among other things, we are looking forward to having trick-or-treaters in our new neighborhood!   There are a lot of families around, and we are right down the street from the elementary school.  I remember one Halloween in Ohio, my brothers and I trekked through a foot of snow to trick-or-treat...


Paint, Print & Travel

     Yesterday, I held the first project critique with my painting class.  Their assignment was a monochromatic still life with a consistent light source.  Critique moved along well, and they had constructive input for one another.  It was an encouraging class and I look forward to helping them develop even more with their next paintings.  Below are some examples of my students' work. Next up, complementary color schemes.
             In art history, we've been talking about Renaissance art and architecture in Italy.  With each lecture I give, the itch to book my next adventure gets stronger (Kelly, are you ready?)  In my research for class this weekend, I happened upon a link to a virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel.  Check it out here.   You can get up close and personal with the frescoes, minus the crowds.  

     For all you printmakers out there, sign up before October 31st for Frogman's Print and Paper Workshop for the early bird discount!  I'm registered and excited to learn some new silkscreen techniques for my studio.  The atmosphere in Vermillion is always so inspiring, it's hard to believe that five years have passed since I was last there.  Which class are you going to take?


Making Changes

I began this painting a little over a month ago for a studio feature on my friend Ann's blog, a beautiful party.  Today I was finally caught up enough on all my reading, class planning and getting papers in order for our mortgage application (hooray!) to sit down and paint in my studio.  It has gone through a few major changes since I transferred the drawing from my sketchbook.  After my husband came home at 5:30, I took a break from painting to think about my ideas and relax for a bit.  When I returned to my studio at 6:30, I altered the scene completely, and I think the original concept is stronger with the new imagery. After all, it is about searching for a place to live in the great state of Texas.  It's about 75% done...still more detail to be added to the prickly pear cactus (they're all over the city, including our backyard) and the picket fence still needs some detail.  Today the contract on our future home became final, so perhaps that had a little (a lot) to do with the urge to come back to this piece after a month!  The second week of the semester has flown by, thanks to the long weekend helping it along.  This week, my painters began their first project (monochromatic still life) & my art history students learned about printmaking in Northern Europe.  I was in printmaker heaven during that lecture, as you can imagine.  We looked at original etchings and engravings from past portfolio exchanges and passed around some relief, engraving and letterpress blocks.  Below are the two earlier states of the painting from July & August.  You can read about the inspiration behind the painting here.  



Are you on Twitter?  In an attempt to become technologically savvy, I set up a page for my studio, though I think Instagram might be a better platform since most of my posts are photos.  Thoughts?  I am still trying to figure it out and got a real thrill the other week when Graphic Chemical & Ink became one of my followers.  Printmacking!  I've posted a sale code for use in my Etsy shop through September 9th.  Check out my page, found here studio, to access the code and have an awesome long weekend!  College football kicks off this weekend, don't forget to watch Clemson take on Georgia!  Go Tigers!

Painting & a Pretty Bride!

   With the first week of classes at NVC nearly over, I have to say how exciting it is to be back in the classroom, and how grateful I am to have two wonderful, creative jobs!  Last week I taught a fun class in Jennifer's studio, 'Picasso's Woman in a Mirror.'  The colors were so vibrant and all of their paintings turned out beautifully.  It was a small class, so everyone got to know one another and there was a great sense of comaraderie and creative encouragement.  One of my friends and coworkers from the studio, Jenny, got married last weekend!  Hooray for love!  We piled in two vehicles and drove out to Luling, Texas (the famed location of Buckee's) for the ceremony and reception.  

Jenny put her heart in the decor for the wedding and you could feel the love.  What a beautiful bride!  They were married in front of the San Marcos river at the Zedler Mill.  During the reception, the photographer had a photo booth set up, and we had a blast trying to get a group picture.  Congratulations Jenny & Neil, lovebirds!
photo credit David Williams Photography
photo credit David Williams Photography


preparing, planning & painting

 Lately I have been spending lots of time preparing my syllabus & schedule for the coming semester-I'm teaching painting I & II, art history & art appreciation at a local college this Fall!  All sorts of deadlines and obligations have been on my mind.  My sweet husband suggested I make a list and do one thing at a time, rather than thinking about everything at once and progressing slowly.  Sometimes you need someone to tell you something obvious to get back on track!  Yesterday we had our morning espresso together, he went off to work, and I went in to my studio.   I finished the syllabus and planned the semester schedule for my art appreciation & painting courses.  After the classes were officially planned and not just ideas floating around in my head, I felt a sense of relief that allowed me to focus on my art the rest of the day.

I began this painting yesterday, in between reading and syllabus work.  We are still house hunting & the scene I'm painting reflects the confusion/excitement that comes with the experience!  My school of fish are also appearing in subtle Clemson colors, a nod to my first 'home.'  I grew up in northern Ohio and lived in South Carolina for almost eight years; the community left a mark on my heart that will always make me miss it.  The painting is still in the beginning stages here, and so far it is coming together more easily than the first in this series.  Maybe it is a sign that we'll find our home soon!

New faculty training is this weekend and the start of the semester is right around the corner, which also means cooler weather and football season are in the future!  August 31 is kickoff in Death Valley!  As my old boss Jimmy Howard would say, "you've gotta win the first game if you wanna win 'em all."  


Browsing my Studio Bookshelves

Part of my collection, with a photograph I took in Genova, Italy while I was studying abroad in 2006.
One of my favorite things to do is browse the shelves at the local thrift and used bookstore.  I am always on the hunt for five things: different editions of my favorite book A Farewell to Arms, books on Italy, birds, fish (used as visual references in my paintings & drawings) and art history.  I have what one might consider to be a slight obsession with art books.  I draw from many of these for my art history and art appreciation courses, to supplement the class text.  In my studio, you'll find three different editions of the same book my college art history class used.  My lucky day was finding the newest printing, with all color plates, for a mere dollar at a thrift in Central, SC.  Just ten years earlier the same book cost me one hundred times more at the OU student store!

My fascination with paper has been persistent my entire life.  This partly explains why, in this digital age, I focused my studies on a very traditional studio art: Printmaking.  Process-oriented and revolving around a love of paper, it was a natural choice for me.  Ink rolled on wooden blocks, limestone and rubbed in metal grooves, impressed on paper with the turn of a crank and a metal drum.  In the 1450s, the first book was printed using movable type...560 years later here I am in my studio with a press, piles of paper and blocks of type just waiting to be inked up and printed.

While I do love writing with my computer and reading on my Ipad, nothing will ever compare to flipping through the pages of something tangible; smelling the paper, touching the glossed pictures, underlining passages to remember and folding down corners to mark a spot...


Happy Birthday, Andy

Yesterday was Andy Warhol's birthday!  He would have been 85.  Anyone who knows me also knows that he is my favorite artist, forever.  After three years of teaching art appreciation and history, my love for his art and fascination with his life has grown exponentially.  On my bookshelves are countless texts chronicling his life and history books outlining his importance to the art world and the Pop Art movement.  On our fridge are a handful of Warhol art magnets and even my phone's case is a soupcan reproduction.

You can imagine my excitement last summer when it was announced that Campbell's would release a series of limited edition tomato soup cans.  The labels commemorated the 50th Anniversary of Andy's 32 Campbell's Soup Cans.  They were only sold at select Target stores and luckily the one near our apartment was one of them!  On the day they were scheduled to hit shelves, my husband (then fiance) and I went to the store when it opened to be sure and get our hands on some 75 cent cans.  I was convinced there would be a line out the door or they'd sell out in an instant...that was not the case, and months later they still had a few lingering in the display.   When I checked out, the cashier just thought I really really liked tomato soup, not realizing there was anything special about the cans.  Warhol would have loved that.  Did any of you get your hands on some commemorative cans?

The stack of cans sit on my studio desk for inspiration, with a framed note Steven wrote me when we first began dating. The label colors have definitely been an influence in the art I've created here in Texas.


Ally & Bread, custom pet portrait

 A dear family friend asked me to paint this portrait of her dogs, Ginger Bread and Ally.   They are all cuddled up together in the photo I used as a reference-so sweet!  The white pup, Ally, is a spunky new rescue.  Bread is almost smiling in the photograph, such a happy face.  Bonnie & Bob, their owners, lived next door to my Grandma while I was growing up.  My brothers, cousins and I spent countless Sundays running around the yard and driveway between the two homes.   I remember their dog Katie from my childhood years & I was honored to paint the newest members of the Clark family.

The painting is acrylic on an eight inch square wooden cradleboard.  At work I spend a lot of time blending paint, teaching the wet on wet technique.  This is quite different from my own studio process.   The brushstrokes and patches of color are a subjective preference and also a result of the medium; I don't use retarder with the paint and it dries very quickly.   So much of my studio practice is married to printmaking...whether painting, drawing or making a collage, I find myself working in layers, keeping the background shallow and sometimes flattening it completely with continual patterns.  I love the wallpaper effect created by the dots and the bizarre sense of space due to the absence of shadows.


Just Keep Swimming

With an entire day ahead of me in my studio this past Sunday, I started a painting inspired by our recent househounting venture.  We are just beginning our search and it is a daunting task to find that perfect place within the seventh largest city in America.  My concept is simple; the birds, perched outside a beautiful house, are looking for their place to belong.  The fish school above them in a dream, representing an ideal community.

My work for the past few years has been very illustrative, evolving from the first few drawings made during my Italian residency.   I enjoy the process of narrating these scenes of adventure, homecoming and love in saturated color and playful patterns.  Lately, I have been working a lot with acrylic paint; my job as a painting instructor inspires me to keep the spark alive in my own studio.

I documented my entire day, from first cup of coffee to last glass of wine, for my friend Ann.  She is an amazing artist living in Illinois, owner and blogger of A Beautiful Party.  She is starting a new feauture called "A Day in the Studio Life,' where she asks other artists to document a typical day in the studio-what our space is like, what we make, what we eat, what we get distracted by...

Below are a few highlights of the project I began for the feature, an acrylic painting on 12" x 12" x 2" cradleboard.  My husband paid me the biggest complement when he came in to check out what I was working on..."your painting looks like Lisa Frank's binder."  Yes.


Check out the first "A Day in the Studio Life" on Ann's blog, featuring Oklahoma artist Katy Seals!


A Midwest Visit with Kahlo, Rivera, Judd & Benton

We spent a wonderful Fourth of July weekend in Kansas City!  Steven's parents hosted a lovely post-wedding celebration with friends and family at their home.  My mother-in-law Joy set out vases filled with big sunflowers & decorated with a few of the papel picado flags I made for our wedding reception.  

On my first visit to KC with Steven, when we first began dating, he took me to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.  It is in my top three favorite museums in the US, along with the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Warhol in Pittsburgh.  We spent an afternoon in the Modern Mexico special exhibition.  All of the artwork in the show is part of the Gelman collection, which has an interesting history & was even hidden for a number of years due to questions of ownership.  There were a handful of self-portraits and still-life paintings by Frida, displayed alongside works by her husband Diego.  There was also an unfinished charcoal sketch of Frida's sister Christine by Rivera;  knowing his history with her sister made the piece hard to look at.  

The sculpture to the left is Large Stack by Donald Judd, 1968.  It is absolutely massive and I love it!  Sunlight pours in from above and the amber colored plexi casts a subtle tint on the walls.  
  On the final day of our visit, we drove past the home & studio of Thomas Hart Benton.  The Bower family has a link to this modern   
                                                  American artist, as Steven's Grandma was his secretary!  


Etsy Drawing Sale!

   Through the month of July, I am hosting a drawing sale in my Etsy shop, Found (Here) Studio.  All sweet-tweet drawings are drawn in colored pencil, graphite and ink on Stonehenge paper.  Check out some highlights of the sale in my shop below...

          Be there soon (left) & I'll be in the air, part I & part II (above) All materials are archival and the drawings are standard sizes (4" x 6" & 5" x 7") to make for easy framing.  This series, based on longing and adventure, were originally created for exhibition at the art & light gallery in Greenville, SC.  The Lovely Island (below, left) & Remember Me (below, right)


Looking past and moving forward

The start of the week is full of possibilities.  I am a big to-do list writer, and it feels good to have a long list that dwindles down as the days pass.  My Grandma was also a list maker, and kept small notebooks full of times and numbers, tracking her daily activities, medicine, and other notes she needed to remember. Below is a piece from 2008, inspired by her writing.  

Notes from an Ordinary Day, monotype, pins and thread mounted in a silver box (detail)

First on my to-do list is a work of art for Steven's office.  I have been sketching grackles and fishing lures for awhile, and now it is time to put the pieces together.  The background will be simple, similar to this drawing I made for Dad.  The bird will be dark and heavy at the top of the page, with brightly colored lures dangling down...I'm excited to work in a new direction and create something special for my husband!


Color Chips

Paint sample colors are wonderful.  Every hue you can imagine!  Organized by value and color schemes!  I'm especially fond of the more saturated paints that have been appearing lately.  Armed with scalloped scissors, my typewriter, thread & a gluestick, I would use bits and pieces of this paper in my collages.  Standing in front of a rack of these color samples always gets me in the creative mood.  I'd love to have a display in my studio-I wonder if I could convince a paint company to donate one?



Drawings from my sketchbook.  Keeping a sketchbook is so important as an artist-it is a place to be erase, alter, plan...

My friend Hannah is an amazing artist & often shares her sketchbooks on her blog.  Honest & inventive, always inspiring.

As a grad student, most of my ideas were visually developed on woodblocks ( I am a printmaker by heart).  I treated the birch surface as a sheet of paper; drawing, erasing & eventually carving the image.  The only record of the image was the finished print on paper.  I kept a sketchbook that was almost* all text.  Ideas, to do lists, words (time, nothing, everything, breathing), titles of books I was reading for my thesis (this one was my favorite)...

*save for the occasional house, heart and tornado doodle**

**and once, a ghost, which was a similar image my friend drew, hundreds of miles away...art crush forever?  

It was during my residency (2010) that I began to make and preserve my sketches.  I saved those compositional images & studies on small scraps of paper from that time, all floating around in the organized chaos of my studio.  Obviously, I needed a better way of keeping track of my ideas (plus,  I have a supply of empty sketchbooks that would make the local art supply store jealous.)  So, rather than draw on scraps and tape them in to a book as I'd done before, I began to draw on the pages of sketchbooks.  The erased lines create ghost layers that I really love and it encourages me to stay creative even when I don't have a specific project to work on.  That is the most important part, I believe...keep on keeping on.


Maxx & pet portrait paintings

I painted this portrait of my brother's dog, Maxx, for his birthday gift.  I've been waiting for him to receive it in the mail before I posted pictures, not wanting to ruin the surprise!  It's hard to believe my little brother is 29, and my baby brother is right behind him at 27 in a few weeks!  Time is passing too quickly.

'Maxx' is acrylic on cradleboard, 4" x 4" x 1".   Maxx is the fourth dog portrait I've painted...there is always a point halfway through the painting where it looks nothing like what I plan, but it always comes together in the end.  This is something I communicate to my painting classes, how art doesn't always look perfect in the beginning stages...you just have to let it be and keep working.
There is a custom portrait listing on my Etsy site, these paintings make wonderful gifts!  Discounts for multiple orders & free shipping.

Pictured below:  All Dogs Go to Heaven (Baby) & Must Love Dogs (Bella & Angus)