Category: Inspiration

Developing final art from a digital sketch

landscape water iPad procreateThis spring, I used my iPad, and the app Procreate to develop some painting ideas for a commissioned beach-themed artwork. Painting digitally is helpful because you can work with the client to try out different ideas without actually applying paint to canvas.  You can easily go back and remove the changes with just a click of a button.  In this sketch, using the client’s comments, I lightened and softened the large areas on the right.  Then I add more tan and reduced the darker areas. I thought you might like to see how the final painting turned out. To the left is the revised digital sketch.

The final painting “Nantucket Summer” is now happily hanging in my client’s home on Nantucket Island.

 

Who knew I had so much to say? 22 pages worth!

Art Habens magazine

I was thrilled to be selected for a 22-page article in the international contemporary art review magazine Art Habens.  Picked to be featured in their Biennial Anniversary edition (10 years and going strong), I was given one of their longest spreads ever!

In the magazine interview, we touch on the way my artistic inquiry explores the elusive connection between reality and the dream-like. We touch how I became an artist and the people who influenced me. And finally, we discuss whether it’s important for the viewer to understand my artwork’s meaning when viewing it or if they should determine the meaning for themselves.

Click here to read the full article and see all seventeen full-color reproductions of my artwork.

Why I sketch while traveling and why you should too

Travel art supplies

Travel sketching is fun to do while on vacation. While I don’t consider myself an advanced sketcher, my sketches have a way to bring back vivid memories of my trip, much more so than photographs (which I take lots of too 🙂  Sketching requires me to be wholly present while I explore and record my new experiences.

After much trial and error, I’m happy to say that I’ve finally figured out which sketching supplies to pack, and how surprisingly few I need. Take a look at what’s in my art travel bag.

  • Spiral-bound watercolor journal. Use one with 140 lb. paper so it’s heavy enough that it doesn’t bleed through and can take water without warping.  You can even turn your sketches into postcards to mail to your friends. (Don’t forget to pack stamps)
  • Mechanical pencil for the preliminary sketch. It never needs sharpening so I can eliminate bringing a sharpener.
  • Knead eraser.  I erase my pencil marks after I’ve drawn over them with ink.
  • Waterproof black pen (it won’t bleed when wet). I like the Staedtler permanent Lumnocolor fine size.
  • Water-soluble colored pencils.  Mine are Prismacolor, but Caran D’Aches are great too.
  • Waterbrush. Derwent #2 (brush and water all in one so I never need a water source either).
  • Small bag to hold it all.

That’s is.  In the past, I would bring watercolor paints, a small water container, paper towels, multiple paintbrushes, and more. I’ve found water-soluble color pencils to be a simpler solution.  I can layer them to create a wide variety of colors just like mixing paint.

So grab a sketchbook and some supplies, get out there, and have fun! Remember, your sketches don’t have to be perfect; it’s the act of sketching that’s important. It’s calming and lets you connect with the unique and beautiful things in this world. Focus on what moves you, and draw to remember it.

I encourage you to tuck a sketchpad in your suitcase when you’re packing for your next trip and see what pleasure it might bring for you.

What is your 2019 intention or “word”?

palette

It’s time to set my art business goals for 2019. I’ve been reviewing my past goals and the systems I used to achieve them, then evaluating what worked and what didn’t. Every past year, I have lower the number of major goals I set for the future year. I’ve found that setting too many goals diluted my overall success.
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This year, I’m going to be super focused and pick just one big goal. The key is not to get sidetracked but keep my eye on the prize. Any other “mini” goals I might add will need to support this major goal. I’m not ready to share my goal with the world yet but it does have something to do with all these blank canvas/panels cluttering up my studio.

Do you have a “word” or intention for 2019? Mine is “focus.” Please share yours below.

The Year of the Pig

Pig paintings
The Year of the Pig

If you follow the lunar New Year, you know that 2019 is the Year of the Pig. The Flushing Town Hall (Flushing, NY) is hosting a really fun exhibition, the Red Envelope Show, that opened last night. This exhibition is an homage to the red celebration envelopes the Chinese community distributes during the Lunar New Year. As this is the Year of the Pig, I painted some cute portraits of pigs just peeking up from the bottom of six envelopes. There are almost 1,000 envelopes on display (and for sale) illustrated by myself, other professional artists, and local school children. Many envelopes (including mine) include a special gift inside the envelope for only the buyer to see. Don’t wait to see the show as it closes on Jan. 27. A special thank you to Bert Chau of @grumpybert who curated the exhibition. ⠀#redenvelopeshow

Opening Reception: SAT, JAN 5, 5-7 PM⠀
Gallery Dates: SAT, JAN 5 – SUN, JAN 27⠀
Gallery Hours: SAT & SUN 12-5 PM; weekdays.

Step into a jewel-colored forest

Jewel Painting One

I work with a fantastic licensing company, Wild Apple.  They recently gave me a concept idea they thought I might enjoy working on.  It was to make an abstract jewel-colored forest that included loose and botanical marks.  It was such a fun and whimsical project to work on.  I’ve sent the two paintings to Wild Apple for their approval. Hopefully, this is what they had in mind.  

Working with a “prompt” reminded me of working on my MFA.  The teacher would give you guidelines but with enough freedom to make the artwork your own.  I love working this way with the seed of an idea that I make blossom into a work of art.  I’m looking forward to working on the next concept idea Wild Apple sends my way.

You’re never too old to play

Collage papers

I’ve been thinking about the importance of play in art.

I feel pulled in many different ways on a daily basis. There’s so much to get done – writing and organizing social media posts, updating my websites, applying for exhibitions and grants, nevermind painting. And what about family, bills, exercise, and a balanced life?

I noticed one of the first things to go in my art practice was the action of play, as in anything I do simply for the joy of doing rather than a means to an end. It rarely feels like ‘play’ when I’m trying to create a successful piece. I worry about messing up when time is so valuable, and I want the final product to be great. Yet I know that failure is a good thing.  Some of my best works have come from creating something new when things didn’t work out.

I needed to get out of my studio and away from distractions to truly immerse myself in ‘playtime”.  So last week I took a collage and paper-making class with Suzanne Siegel and Jane Davies.  I set a goal NOT make a finished piece of art.  The idea was to try as many new techniques as possible and to start a lot of work without trying to complete any of them.  It was a success, and I’ve come home with piles of messy, weird, and uniquely printed papers and painting starts. Will I continue working on them?  Perhaps a few, but mainly the purpose was to explore and have fun. Now I just have to bring that into my daily art practice.

What have you done recently for yourself that qualifies as ‘playtime’?

Refilling my creative well

Chihuly at Biltmore

Summer is a great time to get out of the studio and refill my creative well.  For me, that means getting out into nature, taking hikes, and enjoying the neighborhood flowers.

Currently, I’m on a road trip with my eldest daughter.  While passing through Asheville, we took the opportunity to visit Chihuly at Biltmore, an exhibition featuring multi-media artist Dale Chihuly’s monumental glass sculptures. The exhibition is set throughout areas of the Biltmore House, gardens, and grounds. The gardens, in particular, make the perfect backdrop for Chihuly’s style — it’s organic, flowing, and gorgeous and seems to come from nature itself.

Chihuly at Biltmore 

If you have a chance to see the Chihuly exhibition, it’s well worth the time for just the gardens alone.  Also open at night, the exhibition sparkles with the light from the colored sculptures, reflecting onto the vegetation.  It’s an enchanting sight reminiscent of a magical fairyland. Don’t forget to get your tickets in advance especially for the evening viewings as they limit the number of viewers and it does sell out.

chihuly artWith my creative well filled to the brim, how will I use this inspiration?  In addition to Chihuly’s brilliant sculptures, I was enthralled by the lily pad pond.  All those overlapping oval and circles, and the variety of colors and shapes got my creativity flowing.  I have painted lily pads in the past (Lily Pad Lake, 23″ x 17″, pastel on paper, $800) but my realistic look has changed to a more abstract style. I took some photos and will use their inspiration to develop some new paintings. Stay tuned.
 
What have you done to fill your creative well this summer? Please share your inspirations and stories with me.

water ballet

The benefits of taking a workshop

Falling Rock

This past weekend, I attended a fantastic art workshop in Vermont taught by the artist Claire Desjardin. I have long admired her colorful, organic paintings and the loose, playful style of her work.

Taking a workshop is a great way to grow as an artist. But like learning any new skill, it can also be accompanied by frustration and disappointment. The key to enjoying your workshop experience is to go in with a creative spirit. A workshop is a great place to experiment with new ideas and make new artist friends. It is NOT a place where you can expect to do your best work or come home with finished masterpieces after having mastered the latest techniques. You will likely feel as if you are struggling. That’s because you are. It’s important to just dive in, take risks, and push on with this new approach. Pushing through the struggle rather than succumbing and resuming old practices that are comfortable is the whole reason that you took the workshop.

Another great benefit is that you get to spend concentrated artistic time with like-minded peers. How special is it to have protected time to create; time where you are freed from the concerns of everyday living. Traveling away from home to attend a workshop gets you away from ringing phones, laundry, bill paying, and other distractions. Set aside this opportunity and protected it on your calendar. Attending a creative retreat will help to nourish and replenish your creative soul.