Sunday, August 30, 2009

Participating in a lst year Art Fair!

"Buddha Cat"
Watercolor, Acrylics

Today I'm unwinding, meditating, being like the buddha cat above. The day after an art fair I usually just ride the waves, slowly coming back down to as even a keel as I can. The art fair I was in yesterday was a 1st time event and I had no expectations. I feel better if my mindset is like that. But I was happily pleased with how the day progressed.

I had the bugspray, but there were no mosquitos. I was thankful for my layers of clothes, for it was rather chilly and breezy. Being in a woodsy setting, though, was peaceful and rather meditative. Early on, the people at the fair were mainly the vendors, the artists. As the afternoon wore on, the "crowds" began to trickle in. The advertising had been limited and we were off the beaten path which probably contributed to the light turnout. However, I was thrilled to meet Elena in person. Up till now, she has been a wonderful supportive on-line artist/friend. So when she walked up to me, hey, that was the highlight of my day. Really! And she bought a few of my prints, which was so sweet and affirming to my artist self. She is a GREAT artist herself and I hope one day to be walking over to her booth and seeing what wares she will offer. In the meantime, I am blessed she is in my life as a wonderful believing mirror!

I made a few sales, chatted with fellow artists and wandered around looking at the various things for sale. Jewelry, sculptures, paintings, photography all dazzled my eyes. There was live music and later on several of the "artists" came on stage and read some poetry. A diversified group of creative beings indeed! The art host provided pastries, fruit, lemonade (I yearned for hot chocolate), but no coffee. My husband went home and brought back a thermos of the brew which helped me to wake up. A librarian friend of mine brought her two kids. Her son is very opinionated (quite the art critic) and offered comments about several art prints of mine. It was hysterical. Later on his mom came back to the show again and brought my husband and I hot chocolate and bagels. What a peach she is. I gratefully accepted the warm sweet beverage. I still think people are what makes these fairs special. And I thank all who stopped by and said Hi. Made being there all worthwhile!

Oh, this was neat. A sculpturer who worked in clay invited people to stop by and make a little clay object. Each person's creation was added to a mound of clay and then at the end of the day the final conglameration would be presented as a memento of the day to the campground who let us use their grounds. Pretty darn cool. My only regret is that I didn't participate in the event. Didn't know what it's purpose was ultimately going to be but people were sure having fun playing with the clay! Yep, fun!

I have a week or so till the next art fair and then I may be done with art fairs for this year. That's a maybe, never say never! I hear a kitty meowing, it's buddha cat telling me to do some mantras and affirmations now. OMMMMMMM!!!!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Butterfly Kisses

"Butterfly Kisses"
Watercolor Digital Collage

It's been a wild and crazy week. Tomorrow I will be in an art fair on the outskirts of Frankfort, in the boonies in an area that is a campground and nice trees all around. We were checking it out today and near the area a deer bounded out onto the highway and just stood there staring at us. We drove up to it quickly to make sure it would get off the road before someone might hit it. Still, I'm excited by how the art fair will be surrounded by Mother Nature. Neat!. I'm told to bring bugspray as there was a case of West Niles Virus there a while back, but it's "under control" now. Oh, well, never a dull moment as an artist. Bugs fly onto my wet canvas too so I guess everyone, even nature, wants to get into the act. I'll be by the entertainment stage, and I've been told it will be background music, not rock and roll or rap or anything like that. I don't mind being by the music area, because people are always wandering over that way anyway. And besides, I love to listen to musicians and support them, wonderful creative beings in their own right!

There will be around 33 artists, so it's a good sized group. And if no one shows up to visit us, we have each other to talk to and get acquainted with. That's right, I have no expectations about what will happen tomorrow. It is what it is, right? Well, it's free to be in this fair so if it rains or we're eaten up by mosquitos, it won't be too much of a loss. I suppose I should be hitting the bed, but I'm too wound up. Always that way before an art event. Excitement, nerves, anticipation and probably too much chocolate have contributed to my awakened state.

The collage above (I never know how to label my art pieces these days as far as mediums go) is just a little representation about butterflies and feeling free and flying high into the sky. I've been feeling pretty happy today so felt like posting something with butterflies. The butterflies I painted in a Chinese brush painting class a while back, the woman I believe was painted in acrylics from a pattern I saw in a book (I suppose it is copyright material) and the digital effects (with the boxes and the swirling lines) are the finishing touch. Just felt like playing around, taking a few different images and marrying them together into one.

May butterflies land on you often and give you magical kisses to start the day off right!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Take Time to Smell the Flowers

"Flower in Vase"
Watercolor, Acrylics, Digital Painting Tools

Sometimes I worry that I will run out of creative ideas and that someday I will stop, never to paint again. That scares me, as creativity is my lifeblood, my spiritual savior. So, as I've been dong lately, I'll find an "older" image and see if I can stimulate it or it can stimulate me.

I found this vase I had painted I don't know when and decided to add a flower, I guess maybe a rose to it The vase seemed lonely so I wanted the flower to give it company. The vase also appears to be floating since there is no table for it to sit on. I am fine with that as it adds a more mystical, dreamy feel to the image. I added thin lines to the background to give it a more energetic feel. So I got my art fix for the day.

Take time to smell the flowers. I know I will........

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Cosmic Frog healed me today!

About a week ago I visited the Fabyan Forest Preserve in Batavia. The Fox Valley area is where I grew up. My parents both passed away about 10 years ago and I have felt no real inclination to visit my childhood neighborhood anymore. Except I suddenly had to honor a recent impulse to visit this particular preserve where memories of empty bear cages, tangly brush and vines that seemed so mysterious tugged at my child heart, who was so into imagination and fantasy in those days. My heart quickened as I thought about the adventure ahead. My camera needed a workout anyway, as I had not been inspired to take pictures for awhile. New opportunities awaited!

I was in a for a rude awakening, though. About 9 years ago or so, the preserve underwent a makeover, and the grounds were groomed into a neater, more "pleasing" appearance to those who sauntered there. Now I could see the fences that kept the once overgrown vines in their hanging half circle formation. My mind kept shifting to the past. No pavement, no stairs back then, just grass and weeds to walk through and stumble on, with resultant bruised knees.

"Entrance to Fabyan Preserve and Japanese Garden
Digital Photograph

The sundial which had lain haphazardly on the ground partially covered with overgrowth amongst the rocky terrain was now in a place of honor on a pedestal for all to see. The landscaped grounds formed a "pleasing" backdrop.

The bear cage and arena which had always given me shivers when I had walked through it seemed rather ordinary now in the bright sunlight. I take that back, I still felt a few chills run through me; the arena area still had its spooky charm.

"Bear cage entrance to Arena"
Digital Photograph

Everything had changed externally and I was jolted into the reality of it all, but my internal memories still burned within and I refused to let them ago.

I walked over to a swampy area and saw a frog sitting in shallow water. He was still, quite motionless and allowed me to get quite close for a few photographs. Here was frog medicine helping me to heal my now shattered viewpoint. I was grateful for his presence and thanked him for being there. On the drive home, I seemed lost in reverie, still shaken by all I had just witnessed. Even as I write this now, I feel a bit teary-eyed, but to put these words down is also cathartic.

After I had downloaded the photos from the trip onto the computer, I decided to transform frog and the background so I could somehow recreate those magical, childhood memories of the preserve. I "cut" some duck feathers from another photo and pasted it onto the frog's back. I'm not sure why I did this, perhaps just to give the frog capabilities of flying into the sky if he so desired. I also just thought it added an interesting texture to the rather "flat" form. I played with colorful lines, infusing the frog with energy. The lines made me recall silly string that we used to shoot at each other as kids and I laughed, remembering those carefree days. The background was created several months ago and I felt like popping the frog into that fantasy landscape. He seemed to like it there and I could "hear" him croaking with delight.

"Cosmic Frog"
Digital Photograph

I shall honor the child who I was and still am, and this image reinforces that. This creation helped me to heal and work through some emotions. My inner child went from despondent to joyful and all it took was Cosmic Frog to hop into her life. And people wonder why we are artists. If they'd just take a few minutes to create, a whole new world would open up and they'd get some answers and maybe a dose of healing too. Frog sure opened up my own heart and was just the therapy I needed.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Daylily Dance

"Daylily Dance"
Watercolor, acrylic, gesso, charcoal pencil,
oil pastels, scribble craft paints

I suppose I should be painting autumn leaves soon. But I'm not going to rush the season yet. Leave that to the department stores. So in honor of the summer season, I found a photo of a daylily I took recently and used that as a jumping off point. Once again, I was going to find "art within art" as my artist friend Elena mentioned recently. The flower was red with a black background. All I needed really was the outline and then I could gather my art toys and play.

Originally, I was going to experiment with watercolor drips on a gessoed piece of watercolor paper. I hear that can give some cool effects, like letting the watercolor "stand" on the paper. But the best laid plans go awry and the spirit of creation guided me to create the piece above. Do any of you have that experience of planning to create a specific thing and then something totally different emerges? Ah, the unpredictability of the process. More exciting that way!

I used various tubes of watercolor for the beginning stages of the flower and background. I had a few shades of red paint I was going to use but got bored with that monochromatic concept (so to speak) and threw every tube of color I could find onto my studio desk. Tubes of acrylics and some bottles of scribble paint joined the crowd. Soon I couldn't even see the paper I was going to paint on. What a trip and a happy mess!

The scribble paint gives kind of a 3D effect and seemed to make the stamens dance off the page. They have a glittery feeling to them that adds contrast to the more subdued background. I was going to keep working on this piece, perhaps adding some "handmade papers" here and there. But that's another day. I decided to scan it in as is, which was rather difficult because the scribble paint is rather thick and I had to be careful as I closed the lid. And the painting edges got a bit chopped off as the scanner is only formatted for 8x10 paper. Minor details. The important thing is that I was happy, playing like a little kid. Playing, fun and being a kid are words I am so happy to be including in my life these days.

Celebrate! Let the creative party begin. Blow out the candles and may your wishes come true!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

"Sparrow Transformed"

"Sparrow Transformed"
Ink jet paper, matte medium, acrylics, scribble paint and
a touch of digital art

Converted to black and white from an
original color painting

I've really been feeling the whimsy and fantasy self inside of me craving for expression. Sometimes when I don't have an image to create, I'll find something "old" I've done and see if it can jumpstart me into new and different possibilities. And "Sparrow" just happened to be that guinea pig for my experiment.

The original painting was converted to black and white via the computer and then printed out on inkjet paper. I added a swish of matte medium to the paper and let it dry a bit. I understand that this is a necessary process so that the inks don't run if you want to add more mediums like paint to it. Well, that was certainly the case with me. Some scribble fabric paints, a few goldish colored acrylics, and a dash of digital art paint to the recipe and voila, out came "Sparrow Transformed". Perhaps a more apt title might be "Hummingbird" due to the rather long beak. Hm, perhaps he is like Pinocchio and has told a small white lie. Nah, he's a good little bird! He's also a tiny little guy, only about 2" x 2" so to try to make him bigger would give him some pixels, some abstract little squares all over his body. He was content with his makeover, though, and really wanted to remain tiny. Ah, so be it!

So I leave both of them here as they are. I may work on the top image in time, perhaps adding him to a collage as he is so tiny. We shall see. My inner child was happy playing in this fantasy world where anything is possible. And as you can see, whenever you are creatively stumped, open your eyes and look around you. There may be a little creature chirping in your ear, waiting for a makeover!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Which Begonia Really Speaks To Me?

"Begonia Blooms"
(Original painting done in watercolor)
16" x 20"

"Begonia Blooms 2"
Watercolor, digital art tools

I don't know if it is the heat that is making me question my creativity today or maybe it's that I am being fussier about putting images onto my new Etsy shop. If it's the latter, I have to be careful that I am not thinking too much about my audience, for to be external for "approval" is courting disaster. This could lead to my inner creative child going back into hiding somewhere deep inside of me, and taking fun and play with her.

I was staring at a begonia I had done in a watercolor class last year. It's one of my biggest creations, around 16" x 20". My teacher at the time really pushed me to try something bigger like this and I was scared to death at the time. But I worked through my fears and was quite happy with what emerged. It's a rather colorful, fantasy piece and I dropped some salt onto the background to add some unusual effects. But, somehow, it still seemed to lack life as I gazed at it today. Maybe it's just that as I grow as an artist, I find myself unsatisfied with my "older" creations. Or maybe, it's because this piece reminded of times when I needed a teacher to guide me and now I wanted to do it myself, without any input from someone else. Nevertheless, whatever the underlying reason, emotions were stirring up within me and I needed to pay attention to them. Awareness is a good tool in my creative journey these days.

The beauty of digital art tools is that they allow me to scan in an old image, and once on the computer, tweak it as I see fit. Yet, I can still keep the original, untouched, framed, in a place of honor hanging in the living room. So it's a win-win situation. I get to be creative with something I've done in the past, yet still hold onto "my baby" as it was originally birthed from me. (Hm, do I sound a bit clingy here or what?)

I showed my husband the newer, digitally tweaked image and he thought the background on the right side was rather lifeless, maybe muddy? I cringed at these words. Usually, he's quite positive about the images I share with him, but when he's blunt like this, yikes! He has a good creative eye, but sometimes we butt heads on our individual visions. I rather like the contrast between the brighter flower and the more neutral colors that surround it. It's actually the negative imprint of the original. The center of the flower originally had a little bit of white in it and I digitally painted some orangish red into it. Those complementary colors against the teal blue flower added a bit of punch, in my mind. So now, I'd like to reach out to all my wonderful friends who come here and visit and get your input. Begonia #1, Begonia #2, both of them or neither of them appeals to you? Hm, in our artist way group, we are discussing "the importance of creative support". How synchronistic and relevant to what I am going through in these last few days. Very important, is my answer!

And now for a nice cold drink of something to cool off my brain cells, creative cells, and cells in general!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Horse Spirits

"Horse Spirits"
Watercolor, Digital Effects

Today was a play day for me, experimenting and creating in whatever way the spirit moved me. Originally a watercolor of horses running through the plains in sunlight, I decided to change the mood and tone to a more mysterious one.

I tried printing the image out and it seems to have lost some of its color and impact. Althuogh it is supposed to be ghostly, so why would I be looking for dazzling color? Oh well maybe this was just for practice. I can't expect everything to be a masterpiece, but I had thought it might be something to post on Etsy, but if the print looks lousy......Any thoughts from you all out there?

Ah, the magic of the West. As I was working on the image above, my mind drifted back to a time when I saw some wild mustangs running across the landscape somewhere in Montana, I believe. At the time I thought what I was witnessing was a mirage, but maybe, just maybe they were horse spirits kicking up dust.

Fantasy and magic, I welcome with open arms!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Admiring the Work of Others

I went out to my college ala mater, Governors State University, to check out some new sculptures there, specifically in the area called Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park. Go to their website ( ) for more details. Though I don't create sculptures myself, I do appreciate it as a wonderful medium of expression. I believe they have 26 different exhibits, constructed over the course of 30 years, scattered on the lands surrounding the university, which gives the place a real nice arty touch. The latest sculpture addition is called "Horizons" by Icelandic Artist, Steinunn Thorarinsdottir. To get to these sculptures, you have to go down a path to the left of a small lake. I was like a little kid, excited by what I'd find at the end of the trail.

After a few minutes of walking through flat lands dotted by sunflowers and hollyhocks, the sculptures came into view. Several of the figures, cast in iron, can be seen in this photo. There are 12 figures total scattered throughout this area. Sorry the figures are so dark, blame it on the bright sun, can't be me, right? See the building behind them. That is where I went to college. I received a degree in psychology, but they've got a really nice bachelor's and master's program in art there as well.

Here you can see the sculpture in better lighting. This one is perched on a nice rock bench. He likes the tree because it provides shade. Okay, I said he and this is what I want to mention next. These are 12 "ungendered" human figures, according to the artist. Still, I blushed a bit as I stared at them in their birthday suits. To elaborate on the sculptures' meaning, his work touches on themes of loneliness and isolation. Threads of hope are inspired by glass inserts that provide an aura of spirituality. After I found this out, I looked at the figures with "different" eyes. I saw these inserts on the front and back of the figures. The next close-up should reveal this in more detail.

Glass Insert at bottom of above photo

I'm not sure, but I believe there are 6 figures in this photo. I was alone for awhile with these sculptures as my husband went wandering off. It felt just a bit eerie, they really have such a human feel to them. Would they suddenly start walking towards me? Would I turn into an iron figure myself? My mind was playing tricks on me. I think it was time to find my significant other!

Another path leading to the next sculpture called "Bodark Arc" by Martin Purvear. They say this particular sculpture, called Land Art, is best viewed from the air. Well, maybe next time I'll rent a helicopter or something. Anyway, this next piece uses earth, wood, osage orange trees, asphalt, stones and caset bronze. Wow, so many materials and probably alot of love went into this creation. So let's walk up the path now that I've given you some info.

Here's a small, cast bronze chair found at the end of the path. Its design is based upon a West African elder's throne. Pretty mystical, right? It's nestled into the trees and osage orange trees are sculpted around it, which I'll show you in the next photo.

Pretty neat how the branches are arranged as part of the sculpture/land art. I liked the mysterious feel of this area.

Well, yours truly could not resist sitting in the throne. I wanted to see if I'd get some magical powers or something. Maybe my next painting will reflect something strange and powerful. Stay tuned. There are 24 more sculptures scattered on the grounds, but these two I examined in detail I had never seen before, so I focused on them.

All in all, a good day. I am proud that my school continues to take art seriously. For 30 years now, they have had Masters of contemporary sculpture come and create unique pieces of art. It was fun to go down memory lane and to learn more about land art and sculpture in general. In October the artist who created the iron human figures will be speaking at the school I think it's time to mark my calendar.