watercolor workshop

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 11/18/16

First off, hello there...it's been awhile.

I know I have been neglecting the weekly blog for months, but this week I am bringing it back. It's been a busy year and I just didn't have time for it. That's how it goes sometimes. I feel like I hit the ground running after my early October wedding with various projects. It feels good to be busy.  

 

Cat Watercolor Workshop

On Wednesday, I led another cat watercolor workshop at The Dancing Cat, a cat rescue space, in San Jose. They call it "San Jose's first creative space for people and cats." I really love teaching at this spot. It's 7 blocks from my house, the owner is great and so far, the classes sell out before I can promote them. She finds the best students, some with experience, some without, but they all are really open, motivated and have a really good time. I really like to encourage freeing yourself up, allowing yourself to have fun, experiment and embrace your own natural style. These workshops have been getting me motivated to teach more workshops in the future. Sharing my knowledge with new people reinforces my love for what I do. I have wanted to expand my offerings for workshops after the Content Magazine event over the summer and these recent cat workshops, so you should be seeing more in 2017.

I'll be teaching a pre-teen/teen class at The Dancing Cat for ages 10-14 (there's still room if you know anyone!) on December 10th and possibly another adult one in January.

 

Listening

A friend recently posted this episode of Malcolm Gladwell's podcast. She was right, it's fascinating. The title, Hallelujah, references the iconic song by recently departed Leonard Cohen. If you don't know Leonard's music, check it out. It's seriously beautiful. 

I heard a Radiolab podcast, From Tree to Shining Tree, a few months back on the community among trees. It's an unbelievably magical episode. I won't say much, but if you want to have your mind blown on the interconnectivity of trees, you must listen. I also just found out there is a TED Talk on the subject as well. 

 

Reading

Artist Alicia Dornadic curated an art show over the summer at Alite Outpost called Not a Lemon. She put together this beautiful catalog of the show and it's available on Blurb for $11. I can't wait to get mine!

 

Cohen Trump.JPG

Reflecting

After taking a little unplanned break from art last week, I made this combination of paintings. The top room is of Leonard Cohen's living room and the bottom is Trump's living room. I was watching a Leonard Cohen documentary and the narrator said:

Leonard’s house is sparse, without decoration. The walls are pale gray with white trim...The furniture is is minimal...He has everything he needs and nothing that he doesn’t need.”
— from Adrienne Clarkson documentary "Leonard"

In thinking about how Donald Trump got a lot of support from the blue-collar or working class, it's pretty ironic that his three-story penthouse home is $100 million and filled with marble, 24 kt gold and chandeliers. My unplanned break from art last week was due to a combination of working on a grant application, reflecting on the election and what I am doing with my art. Sometimes I get so disenchanted with art in its modern context. It feels like it's all about conveying perfection on Instagram, everything looking homogenous and branded. I still have my rebellious side and I see it coming out more lately. It's so important to voice your opinion and be yourself.

 

Seeing

anthonybourdain.jpg

Last night I saw the great Anthony Bourdain in San Jose. I have been a huge fan for a decade now so it was pretty amazing to see him in person. I love how he is both a food elitist and calls out food snobbery. I can't wait to get his new cookbook too.

 

Sketching

I painted this sketchbook cover for a friend's birthday. It says "sueña en grande" or "dream big." I used BFK Rives paper to wrap the sketchbook cover, using a technique I learned in a book making course in art school. The painting is of Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument in New Mexico, a place we hiked while on a road trip together a few years ago.

I painted this little window, thinking of that super moon everyone was talking about, thinking of a light at the end of the tunnel, that kind of thing. 

 

Walking

I think having a dog is key to working freelance or from home. They get you of the house and out of your head. You also get to go to dog parks like the one pictured above. Hart's Dog Park is a new spot in Downtown San Jose and one of our best artists, Roan Victor, painted this stunning mural at it.