painting

The Last Couple of Weeks

Client Work

I have been super busy with client work between a wedding invitation and paintings of various subjects. I can't wait to share them when I'm done! I also hope to get some free art time this summer to work on personal work. I have lots of ideas I want to get to.

 

The Dancing Cat Workshop

Dancing Cat teaching.jpeg
Dancing Cat group May 2018.JPG

Last weekend I taught a watercolor workshop at The Dancing Cat. I love their space! It's always amazing to see what they come up with, but I found this group to really impress me with their compositions, colors and style. We had a blast talking and painting with each other. I love my neighborhood and how we have lots of great things going on like this.

 

Figure Drawing

female figure drawing.JPG
male figure drawing.JPG

I have been getting back into figure drawing these last couple of weeks. The poses were from one minute to twenty-five minutes. As usual, I find drawing women easier, but after working on the short poses, I got into working on drawing the male model. I am finding this to be really good for me. Even though I don't always paint the human figure in my regular work, it teaches you so much about form, light, composition and your style. I hope I can continue to make time in my schedule for this! 

 

Next Weekend!

I already had tickets for this Obi Kaufmann talk and book signing at Forager in San Jose, CA. I even spread the word to friends and got them to sign up for it. So it was super exciting to be invited to do a watercolor table for attendees of the event. Guests will be able to make a small watercolor painting with me. Obi Kaufmann is a rad backpacker and illustrator. He primarily works in watercolor and recently wrote The California Field Atlas. This event is in collaboration with the Peninsula Open Space Trust, an amazing organization that preserves natural space in the area. They will be working to fight against Measure B and preserve this special open space in San Jose, North Coyote Valley. Bring your love of nature and signup here

 

Weekend 5/3/17

Field Tripping

I'm headed to Long Weekend in Oakland on Saturday for Alicia Dornadic's show New Words for Green. I am so excited for this show! Alicia makes beautiful work with a generally delicate touch. I have watched her work in Hawaii become more loose and bold. She joined us at the last Sofa Sketch and it was so much fun to have her there. I can't wait for this show!

You can follow her on Instagram.

Long Weekend is an awesome space too. I have not been in person yet, but from the internet, it looks like they have gorgeous art supplies and other cool stuff. 

Reading

I hate to be a buzzkill, but this article about parts of Australia's Great Barrier Reef dying is making me sad. When are we going to learn to change???

Seeing

Don't go thinking I sketched this!  Suhita Shirodkar , urban sketcher extraordinaire did

Don't go thinking I sketched this! Suhita Shirodkar, urban sketcher extraordinaire did

A friend and regular at Sofa Sketch, Suhita has been capturing disappearing signs around San Jose. The site gives me a nice nostalgic feeling as I've lived here so long and know them well. I love her style between the freeness, accuracy, washes, line and color. A true master and total joy of a human, 

I love the illustrator Christoph Niemann. I recently mentioned the episode about him on the Netflix series Abstract. He recently went to the North Pole and made some paintings. I love how he only captures what is necessary. And you must check out this animated version on the National Geographic site.

Watching

Weekend 3/24/17

California can't seem to decide between sun and rain lately. Last week felt like summer with temps in the high 70's and we have been back to some rain this week. This poor state has needed it so badly.

For the last few weeks, I have been laying off social media and regrouping. There are just those times in your life when you need to do that. I have been getting a clearer idea of where I want to focus my art efforts and some include larger original work, special projects and teaching. 

 

Painting

Confusing and Absurd , gouache on paper, 2017

Confusing and Absurd, gouache on paper, 2017

You may remember the start of this painting from last month's Sofa Sketch on this blog post. I worked on it throughout the month and ended up really happy with how it turned out, visually and also because of the process.

I started with the calathea plant in the lower corner and added imagery behind it. If I couldn't think of anything, I put it aside. In fact the first 1/3 of this painting felt frustrating and slow, but the last 2/3 went really well and felt easy. I worked intuitively, really getting in touch with how I was feeling in that time. I see a new direction with this work. It feels surreal, the colors are very deliberate and it also tells a story. At the same time, it reminds me of some work I did a few years ago. I think that is one exciting thing about art. You keep growing, but parts of the past still turn up in what you make. 

With every painting I learn something new about what I want to keep doing with my work. I am seeing a bit more darkness in my work. Life is like that, the light and dark. I am seeing more absurdity, which again is a part of life. There's a lot in life that is normal, typical and predictable, but as we know, life isn't really predictable and I feel this painting process conveys that. 

I was meditating more in February and digging into my subconscious. When I have done this in the past, I have made some of my favorite work. This work felt more personal as I expressed what was happening with me and around me. In February, we experienced floods in San Jose, something that never happens. Nearby in the Santa Cruz Mountains, there were mudslides, washed out roadsIt left many with damaged homes and/or property and in need. You can donate to the San Jose Victims Flood Relief Fund here.

I have a show coming up at the Burlingame Library in August. I'm excited about displaying this work in a library, where stories are everywhere. It also connects me to my previous career in libraries. I am currently working on some larger paintings for that show.

 

Teaching

Student art, before she finished the pupils, but gorgeous all the same

Student art, before she finished the pupils, but gorgeous all the same

I loved how he painted his black cat.

I loved how he painted his black cat.

I taught at The Dancing Cat last weekend. I'm brought some cat-friendly plants so we can add some greenery to our paintings since it's spring. I painted the painting of cat eyes and plants to promote the class, loving the transparent layering in the upper left palm. I had spilled some paint in one of the corners, which made me come up with the dark background. Originally it was just going to be one cat's body silhouetted behind the plants, but the eyes seemed to make sense with the darkness.

 

Hiking

Last Sunday I hiked with a good friend on the Cowell-Purisima Trail. It was one I'd never been on. There were wild bunnies at the beginning of the trail and we saw a snake, hawks and tons of wildflowers.

 

Seeing

For years I had assumed that Cirque du Soleil was some gimmick or something like that. When my husband and I were offered tickets, I thought we had to check it out. After going, it was like how could a kid who loved gymnastics/art not love this as an adult? Their acrobatics were so impressive to me! It totally made me want to learn all those acrobatics (yes, I know I'm too old). Luzia was Mexican-themed, which made me like it even more. 

 

Watching

I've mentioned the show Abstract on Netflix before. It's the show that will make you feel like you've done nothing with your life, ha. The most recent episodes I have seen are Tinker Hatflield - Footwear Designer, Es Devlin - stage designer and Bjarke Ingels - architect. The show beautifully tells the stories of visionary designers and gives you an idea of what it is like in their heads. I love how with all three of these designers they thought they were on one path and through work and staying in tune with things, they were lead down another path that lead to their life's work.

I thought this animated video of Georgia O'Keeffe was pretty great. And the same channel had the following paint making video. I have watercolor paint by this brand and it totally reminded me of the Mr. Rogers crayon episode. 

Weekend 2/24/17

Listening

 

Painting

A couple weeks ago, it was pretty sweet to spend my Monday in Monterey painting with my friend Tara (her painting of kayakers is on the left). We had a great time especially since the rain stopped and it was nice enough to sit on a bench and work outside. I always feel like I need to do this more.

A librarian friend started a Drawn to the Night event at the Santa Clara City Library. The theme was 'eyes' and we had a blast hanging out drawing.

I worked on a portrait of April Ryan, the journalist. It's about 50 percent finished here. Rachel did an awesome job setting up the event with a display of different examples of eyes, tables and they even have work stations with angled tables.

 

Reading

 

Sofa Sketch

Sofa Sketch was extra good this round since we gave our first about to be mom some special gifts, including a book of images we made for her. I marbled the front cover in blue and painted her name. I left it open ended so everyone could paint or write whatever they wanted. The artists made so many good ones around motherhood, that I decided to make mine about imagination, painting Claudine and her new baby on a boat, with her pups close by on shore (dad's in the house cooking). It was fun painting something from my head, keeping it super intuitive. 

After painting the image for Claudine's book, I decided to paint something intuitively again for sketch night. It didn't turn out as great as I thought it might, but it was a fun exercise. 

Yvonne's art from Sofa Sketch. I loved those dark shadows and how she used the corner of the page.

Future = Present & Signs

It's been awhile since I have rambled on the blog so I thought this cloudy Friday was as good a day as any to do so. This post is a peek into thoughts on the past, present and future of my art. 

A sneak peek at new San Jose totes that will debut at the  SubZero Festival

A sneak peek at new San Jose totes that will debut at the SubZero Festival

The Present

These last few weeks have been really busy and productive. I have a commission in the queue, I just finished three new tote bag designs, I'm getting ready for May's SoFA Sketch, for June's SubZero Festival (framing, printing) and finishing art for upcoming group shows. Whew. That sounds like a lot when you say it out loud.

 

A basket of strawberries painted on a postcard for a friend

A basket of strawberries painted on a postcard for a friend

I also snuck in a strawberry swap with a friend. This entails making a postcard with a strawberry theme and exchanging by mail. By posting it on Instagram, it led to an out-of-state friend messaging me to ask if I would do one with her and of course I said yes. I find it necessary to mix in fun stuff like this with paid work.

 

The Recent Past

What prompted me to write this post is all the overthinking I've been doing this year. I'll start with how the year has gone so far. I had a couple of art shows in January, then adopted a dog in February and visited Costa Rica for a couple weeks in March. The art shows overwhelmed me (due to the post-Christmas rush), as did the rescue dog who needed time to adjust and get training. The time in Costa Rica, on the other hand, was incredible. I only get to visit that side of my family every four or so years. Spending time with them, exploring achingly beautiful beaches and jungles, along with a marriage proposal made me feel elated for weeks. Still, it left me questioning all things art when I got home. Travel does that to you. You are reminded that the world is bigger than what you know, wonder about your purpose and all sorts of existential thoughts. 

I felt off track during the months of February and March. And it wasn't until maybe early to mid-April that I started feeling momentum again. I was thinking about how making paintings didn't feel "big enough" or "maybe painting isn't relevant" or I have "been there, done that" or "shouldn't I be challenging myself more?" or "should I continue doing portraits?" or "maybe I need a new medium". These kinds of questions ultimately led me to wonder about where I am going with my art. By April, I started realizing all I was doing was giving myself a headache and not getting anything done. I got back to work and have been working better than ever lately. I'm productive, not stressed, prolific and full of ideas. Sometimes you need those blackout periods to get back on track. 

 

Installation view of my BFA graduate show  Mere Existence  in 2006 (10 years ago?!). These mixed media room paintings were 6 feet by 4 feet and used graphite, charcoal and inks on a special absorbent surface I made. 

Installation view of my BFA graduate show Mere Existence in 2006 (10 years ago?!). These mixed media room paintings were 6 feet by 4 feet and used graphite, charcoal and inks on a special absorbent surface I made. 

The Further Past

I have been thinking about my artistic past as I get myself into the present. I started with art shows in alternative spaces and galleries. At that time I painted with oils, screen printed and made mixed media work. I moved on to sell art on Etsy, which helped me venture into shipping my art internationally and feel more comfortable with handling commissions. There was also a downside to Etsy. It had me kind of lost and floundering for a few years as I felt I was making work I thought would sell or making small work only because it's easier to ship. Still, it was a good learning experience and taught me how to say no to work I don't want to do and yes to work I do want to do.

We Have Overcomplicated Things  - sumi ink, paper, cardboard, chair, light bulb - The Citadel, San Jose, CA, 2014

We Have Overcomplicated Things - sumi ink, paper, cardboard, chair, light bulb - The Citadel, San Jose, CA, 2014

By This River,  Sumi ink, cardboard, color paper and canvas - Espacio de Creación Contemporánea, Cádiz, Spain, 2014

By This River, Sumi ink, cardboard, color paper and canvas - Espacio de Creación Contemporánea, Cádiz, Spain, 2014

Inside/Out,  acrylic on canvas, 4 feet by 6 feet, 2015

Inside/Out, acrylic on canvas, 4 feet by 6 feet, 2015

When I look back on work that has made me happiest, it is often large. I loved working on my BFA show (pictured above), I loved assisting Jen Stark with her Facebook mural in 2015, I loved assisting artist Darren Waterston with his mural installation at the SJICA in 2006. I loved making the A-Frame paper room installation at The Citadel, the installation at a museum in Spain. I am realizing that I need to continue making larger art and installations. There's a reason why some of the above work is among my favorite. 

A paper A-frame house with my studio window view in Cádiz, Spain

A paper A-frame house with my studio window view in Cádiz, Spain

Not that I don't love small work. The 3-inch A-Frame house above is one of my favorite things I've ever made. Not to mention the 100 Day Project artwork, which mostly measured 6 inches or less. That project has had a huge impact on my work in terms of defining themes and colors that mean something to me.

I am also thinking about running themes in my work: interiors, mysterious or comfortable places, nature, blues, water...there's a reason why I am drawn to these things. I don't need to make myself always try new things. It's okay to revisit these.

 

Homer laying like my art. See below for why I included this photo

Homer laying like my art. See below for why I included this photo

The Future = Present & Signs

It has taken me awhile to get to the mindset of the future=present. The less I focus on what is to come, the better everything goes. While it is smart to start designing another calendar for the holiday season now, there is no point in thinking about bigger, longterm goals. As long as the work is coming in, and I say yes to the right opportunities, I think I will go where I need to go.

As I sat with my fiancee over coffee this morning, he told me he had a dream I sold a huge stack of paintings. Curious, I asked him if they were canvas or otherwise. He said they were on wood. I thought this was really interesting since lately I have been wanting to get back to painting on wood and I don't think he knew that. So, I am taking that as a sign and will be painting on wood again in addition to paper.

Lately, I have been digging into old materials and tools from my studio. It's been awesome rediscovering things like my nib pen, different types of paint (gold!) and even materials that suck (I used old varnish without testing it and totally ruined a painting by putting an opaque cloud over my image). This summer I'm going to paint on wood again and use gouache, oil and even try out egg tempera. Egg tempera is something I have never tried, but after listening to a recent Art for Your Ear podcast interview with Joël Penkman it reminded me that back in 2006 an MFA student thought that I used egg tempera for my BFA show (pictured above). I also love that egg tempera is natural (you mix pigment with egg yolk). I am often thinking about how I can be more environmentally-friendly with my art materials. By paying attention, you start seeing signs point in a certain direction.

This brings me to the photo of my dog Homer above. He was laying on my sketchbook page. I had this page open on the floor because I wanted to remind myself that I like the way I sketched this couple. Then I saw that his legs were positioned very similarly to the man in the drawing. These kinds of meaningful coincidences or synchronicity are what I live for. I think when you stay present and keep your mind and senses open, you can make these connections. With the photo of Homer, it caused me to laugh (humor is equal to artistic insight in my book). With the case of egg tempera, I'll be trying a medium I have never tried before.

When I think of my favorite artists, past and present, they do a variety of creative work: book publishing, installations, fine art, design work, commissions. I love that I can make tote bags, original art for a gallery , a personal commission or a wedding invitation. I don't need to be limited by one material or type of work. I don't need to worry about being a commercial vs. fine artist. I can do it all.