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.
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.
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’?
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.
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.
With 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.
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.
I find that sometimes a specific color seems to appear everywhere I turn. This May, it is the color PINK. While generally not a color I use a lot, this month alone I have painted four paintings with lots of pink in them and I am working on fifth commissioned work with a predominance of pink. Rose, fuschia, blush, watermelon, flamingo, bubble gum, magenta, ballet slipper, and azalea. Yep, pink is all around this month.
I saw a sea of pink in the tulips in my neighborhood garden this morning. I picked out deep rose nail polish for my pedicure today. I’m planning to order a Cosmopolitan at the bar tonight. I’m wearing my new pink Eyebobs. When will it stop?! I’ll let you know in June ;).
What a great response I got last month for showing how I created the painting Women’s March (yes, I finally named it). I thought I would give you another peek at the process of creating a recent painting titled Communities. My concept was to illustrate the importance of the communities in our lives.
All of us are part of not one, but many communities. These communities might include our workmates, church group, country of origin, weekend soccer team, or book club friends. We often share common interests, goals, or beliefs. No one person has the same community as another, yet we each rely on and are strengthened by our bonds with our communities. Imagine what could be accomplished if we brought all our communities together to work for a common goal that benefitted all?
Step 1: I started by incorporating some of the poured acrylic work that I’ve been exploring for the last six months. I poured a half a dozen puddles of paint with a few drops of silicone mixed in onto a large canvas. I tipped or spread (using a cake spatula) these poured paint mixtures. When dry, I carved out ring and circle shapes by painting over these puddles with an acidic, olive color.
Step 2: I printed coordinating papers using my Gelli Plate. I stamped and stenciled patterns on some of them and then cut out more ring and circle shapes. I collaged them onto the canvas.
Step 3: I added the large white areas by using a squeeze bottle of titanium white paint with Floetrol (a paint additive that helps paint flow more easily), creating these looping circles and large white areas. I eliminated the orange ring as it was too distracting.
Step 4: The painting lacked a full range of values, and the shapes just seemed to float on the canvas. So I added a darker green color to provide contrast and give the artwork a bit of weight at the bottom.
Step 5: Needing more edginess, I flipped the painting 180º putting the most substantial area at the top. This change created tension because the top elements now feel as though they might succumb to gravity at any moment. I repeated the dark green color in other areas for balance and movement. I added a very subtle dot pattern to the plain green background to break up this open space, then signed it. C’est fini!
I thought it would be fun to show you a step-by-step process of how I created one of my new artworks that will be hanging in my upcoming the show.
Step 1: I usually start with an idea. In this case, it was illustrating the 3 R’s – reading, writing, and arithmetic. Next, I start by drawing some little thumbnails (small, loose pencil sketches around 3″ x 3″ each), and picked one to use as a compositional reference.
I liked this sketch because I wanted to make a painting with lots of open space. I’m working on adding more neutral areas in my work to give the viewers’ eyes places to rest among the chaos!
Step 1: Thumbnail sketch
Step 2: Beginning with three R’s, I added grids of rectangles, collaged in papers from my old textbook “Applied Mechanics for Engineers”, and scribbled on some formulas to the canvas for the math part. The reading and writing parts were represented by font alphabets.
The concept was to place most of the activity at the top third of the canvas, leaving the bottom two-thirds much calmer. As I started blocking in the major areas of color, I already knew that I wasn’t comfortable with all that open space. I felt the whole thing looked too simplistic.
It was time to rethink my design.
Step 2: Block in shapes
Step 3: First, I turned the painting 90˚ counter-clockwise and divided the large empty space into thirds. I gave the top and bottom sections a light background and the middle section a darker background.
Step 3: Fill in the empty space
Step 4: I added organic shapes to soften the hard geometric lines gridding the painting and fill all that empty space. I reversed the values of the “blobs” every time they crossed from one gridded section to another. I accidentally created a shape that spelled “Hi” in the upper right corner. It was distracting, so I revamped it.
I gave up on the whole three R’s concept and just let the painting guide me to what it needed.
Step 4: Paint the “blobs”
Step 5: And then I stopped. It wasn’t done but I was unsure what else it needed. So I just stared at it and stared at it. For three weeks!
Step 6: Finally, I got the idea to add some dots to give the painting some interesting movement and the focal point it was missing. I turned the painting 90˚ again, painted a zillion dots, and finally, the painting was finished.
I usually have a name in mind before I start a painting, but this one has eluded me. Does anyone have a good idea for a title for this 3′ x 3′ painting?
Most artists have favorite colors and use them often in their paintings. That said, it’s important for artists to grow outside their comfort zones. One way is to use colors or materials that we wouldn’t normally use. For me, nothing is further outside my comfort zone than the color pink. I hate pink. I don’t own a single item in that color. Not a sock, an earring, or a hair barrette. I have systematic banned pink from my life.
However, last week my husband bought me a case of pink golf balls. PINK GOLF BALLS! Who thinks of these things? And it got me thinking too. What would be a really hard art challenge for me? You’ve got it…using a lot of pink in a painting.
So here it is, my newest painting…INTERSTELLAR. While I am not ready to hang this in my own home, I’ve warmed up to pink a little more. Enough that I’ll be giving those pink golf balls a try!