Sunday, April 29, 2007

Back on the trail

It's our first outdoor art fair of the year and it almost started with a bang. We drove down to Birmingham on Wednesday for the scheduled set up on Thursday. It rained hard all night long and continued into the morning. The Internet said there would be thunderstorms all day with 20 mph winds and hail. Not exactly ideal set up conditions. But we got lucky! The storm moved through faster than expected and we had perfect weather.

The show has been lovely. Incredible weather - sunny, with a little wind, blue skies and puffball clouds - just what I would order for an art fair. Good food, lots of wine and friendly, interested people. I am selling work and have also made some new friends.

Tomorrow we head up to Memphis to see my brother and his family. Then back home. I soooo miss those kitties; I was hugging other people's dogs yesterday in an attempt to get a "critter fix."

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Another kind of art

In between all of the visual art, I have been baking brownies. I am in quest of the perfect brownie. It must be fudgey and chewy, but not too chewy; sinfully rich as in food orgasm rich; and moistly dense. Not cake-like.

Katharine Hepburn's (who knew!?!?!) used to be my reliable recipe until I had a bad experience when the brownies became completely stuck to the foil I had used to line the pan. Not wanting to waste them, we developed a way to kind of gnaw them off the foil, but it wasn't pretty.

On St. Patrick's day, I made some Black and Tan brownies that incorporated Guinness beer. They were oddly satisfying despite my initial fears about the runny beer batter.

Over the weekend I made Truffle brownies, a Martha Stewart recipe. I wanted to try them mainly because of the ganache topping. Somehow I even managed to pour the ganache over the brownies rather than sit down and eat it with a spoon(I wonder why I can't lose weight, tee, hee, hee). These brownies had a perfect flavor but were too cakey. I am wondering if they would be better cooked for a shorter time? I will say they have gotten slightly more dense over the past couple days in the refrigerator.

But alas, I need to keep working it. And sorry, I don't need any more tasters. I have lots of them already lined up.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Quantity or Quality

After my recent post below (OK is not enough) you might think I would favor quality. And while I certainly respect and strive for quality, I also think it is important to produce sufficient quantity. This has been my focus/obsession lately, making enough inventory to present at my first art fair of the season. No matter how much I try, it seems I never manage to work too far ahead as I tend to be slightly "last minute" with my process. I have convinced myself it is better to be this way since it means I have fresh work for each show, newly made things that I feel passionate about.

But I digress.

There is apparently a book called The Seven Secrets of How to Think like a Rocket Scientist. I haven't read the book, but I saw an article that referenced it. The author, James Longuski, talks about a group of art students who are asked to make clay pots. Half of the class is told to make as many as they can during the semester while the other half is asked to focus on creating one great pot.

Oddly, in some perversion of the expected result, the research indicated that the group working on quantity actually produced the best work.

It sort of defies logic. I am guessing it is because the ones working on quality probably over-thought their project to the point of paralysis. I have been there, done that. The students working on quantity (this is just my speculation) probably disengaged their brain to some extent and ended up getting into a zone. Plus, in their angst to achieve the most quantity, they probably made mistakes. I have found that the mistake process often leads me on a journey of experimentation that is rather exciting.

The bottom line is I don't know what happened here, but it's an interesting thought, this quantity vs. quality discussion. Something to think about.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Once in a blue moon

Here is a commission I recently finished. It was made for a local woman who contacted me because she had seen my work at a gallery last year. She wanted a piece to commemorate her 1st anniversary. Since she wasn't quite sure what she wanted, she visited my studio to look at my various bodies of work. She was instantly drawn to my brand new abstracts which haven't been "out" yet since I am still working on them. Based on her interests, I was propelled into a totally new direction for this piece, a merging of her personal materials with my abstract style.

I am pleased with the organic feel that resulted. There was a lot of special text to consider and I had this vision that the text would form the shapes and linear detail in the piece. Having not done this before I wasn't quite sure where it was going but I did a sketch first (very unique for me!) and that helped me to know I was on the right track.

The piece is 30" tall by 10" wide on deep cradled clay board. I don't normally name my commissions, but decided to call this one, "Once in a blue moon." Specific mementos are embedded into the painting and the tiny ledger page numbers are her anniversary date.

The client was happy, at least I am pretty sure she was......she gushed with pleasure then threw her arms around me, tee, hee, hee. It is such a privilege to be charged with the responsibility of documenting a special occasion and I am glad it worked out.

Monday, April 16, 2007

OK is not enough

I destroyed some of my old pieces today - work that was no good and couldn't be "fixed" with another layer of paint or collage. I used to carry these to show after show but never put them up on the wall because I didn't like them. As I was doing my inventory today it struck me that I didn't even want to count a couple of the paintings. Talk about negative energy, these pieces were literally dragging me down they were that bad. And I started to think about that.

Why would I even keep work that I dislike so much?

When I couldn't find a reason, destruction made sense. So I slashed them, right through the canvas with my knife. I ripped off layer after layer. It was violent yet felt powerfully symbolic. Then I made a pact with myself........I must insist on a certain standard for my work, a standard of truth that I (and only I) can set. I cannot deviate even if I am crazed to meet a deadline. Even if I need to quickly build inventory for a show. Even if other people might find the work acceptable, it doesn't matter.

I remember a teacher of mine talking about this years ago, about how she would burn failed paintings. At the time I thought it was nuts as I didn't think anything she did could ever be deemed "failed."

But now I understand.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

No time to rest

Whew, what a weekend! Despite the crappy weather, Venus Envy was fun. There were lots of laughs and good times spent with a number of my friends who braved the cold rain and came out . I soooo appreciate time to enjoy the art and music with friends. And their patience and understanding as I talk to other attendees is terrific. In addition to many laughs, yummy sangria, and good tunes, I had lots of sales. That was a relief because, after so many months "off" work, I am grateful to see an income again.
This is a picture of me from the last night. I am wearing one of my fantastic Parisian flea market finds that I bought at the coolest little shop in Port Townsend. That is my warm cashmere poncho on top. I kind of rigged it up as a shawl of sorts, first using a chip clip to hold it behind my back. Until my brilliant husband pointed out I could simply button it under my arms. Well duh, that is infinitely more convenient than wearing a chip clip. He always was smarter than me.
The art was especially good this year with many fine artists, some exhibiting for the very first time which is one of the best parts of Venus Envy, the opportunity and exposure for emerging artists. This second shot shows several exhibits in the background and you can get a flavor of the warehouse atmosphere. I loved the installation shown. I am having some sort of a brain fart and cannot remember the artist's name however, I talked to her about her work. It represents a dream she had recently, one of a series of dreams where she is always dressed in red and is in imminent danger from an unseen force. In this particular manifestation, she finally saw the danger in the form of wolves coming after her. The white doves are warning her and offering protection. I thought it was really a cool work of art, very skillfully done.
John came to the show last night with our friends Bud & Marian, who I have to thank for these photos. I swear I don't know why I even carry a camera when I apparently can't remember to use it.
I need some time to sleep but it is apparently not going to happen until I get into the car for John to drive us down to the ONB Magic City show. Cause I've got a lot of art to make in the next 9 days.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Venus Envy

I am charged!
Excitement is in the air, electricity pulsing through the building and my veins (or in my case, it's probably caffeine), woo hoo!!!!

We will have lights, music, drinks, art, dancing - all that and more. It will be a wild and crazy blast of inspiring art and entertainment. Just what this city needs to welcome Spring.

So come visit me Friday and Saturday from 7-midnite.
Venus Envy
3016 Locust Street
St. Louis, MO

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

We'll let him think it's us

The last couple of nights Merlyn has been driving us crazy. He walks around the house in the middle of the night caterwauling like you could not believe. The first night I freaked out, leaped up from a sound sleep to run down the steps and see if he was OK. He was fine, just bored I believe. I carried him upstairs and installed him in bed between me and John.

The second night I didn't fall for it. He started up at about 4 am and I tried my best to feign sleep and ignore him.

The third night he did it while walking all over me. Then he knocked my glasses off the nightstand. Then he stood on my chest. You get the drift.

Last night when I was ready for bed, Merlyn was snuggled up next to John. I sat beside them and gave Merle a little lecture. I told him his behavior was uncalled for and that he needed to respect our sleep. I got pretty specific with him, told him the caterwauling had to end, walking on me during my sleep had to end, etc, etc. He looked at me intently (I swear he did, John as my witness) and then stood up, walked across the bed and sat down with his back to me.


John cracked up and said, "well, I guess he told you."

But last night he finally behaved. No crazy nighttime activity. I awoke in the middle of the night and he was curled up in my arms, sound asleep, having somehow burrowed in so quietly I didn't even realize he was there.

This morning I told John about it and said, "I think every once in awhile we need to let him know who's boss."

John looked at me and chuckled, "And who would that be?"

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Quote of the day

Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

Frank Outlaw
(Courtesy of Teri Martin; you can sign up for her daily quotes by clicking on the link.)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Challenging Venus

For the past 4 years (ever since I moved to St. Louis) I have been juried into Venus Envy . The 1st time I entered I had no idea what I was getting in to. We had just moved here from San Francisco, I saw the call for art and it sounded fun. If you have looked at the VE website, you might have gathered the show attracts really progressive art, all made from women. Many local artists use this show as a chance to "push the envelope" a bit and challenge viewers. Me? Well, call me shallow (ok, that's enough) but I try to make work that is fun - for instance, this piece will be in the show along with 21 of my other brand new works.
To give you a little background, Venus Envy is a non-profit organization. The show location changes each year. The group relies on donated properties - typically it's a building set for re-hab or demolition so the owner allows VE to adapt the space however they wish. Free of charge. The artists and a huge team of volunteers do tons of cleaning and painting to make the space fit for the show. Stages and a bar are built, lights hung, walls installed. You get the drift, it's a B-I-G deal. This year, I happened to volunteer to help the entertainment acts, so I haven't done much cleaning however, in past years I have done things like scrub toilets, vacuum floors or clean up trash.
In addition, the artists hang their own art and also attend all three nights of the event, that being the Preview Party on Thurs. and the actual show on Friday and Saturday. We are given a certain # of linear feet to install our exhibit according to the "proposal" that was accepted into the show.
Saturday was installation. We were expecting brick walls so John was armed with his drill and masonry bits. Rhonda brought her Pro-Panel walls, enough for both of us, in the event we didn't have good hanging area. Turned out we used the Pro-Panels, which was probably good since there was no electricity to operate our drill. Of course we did not expect that. Nor did we expect it to be 23 degrees in the unheated building that also has no plumbing. We froze our butts off doing the installation. I have never been so cold in my entire life. I am talking about the kind of cold that sets into your bones and you simply cannot shake it off even hours after you are back in a heated space. And dirty, did I mention it was dirty?
I have complete faith that it will all be fine by Thurs. but right now it's hard to imagine how that is going to occur. Every single year I have serious doubts that the show will come off as planned but it somehow works out and is attended by thousands of people. It will be fine this year too - the power of women is simply amazing. I just need to keep telling myself this. And possibly re-consider my wardrobe to include some fleece....

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Planet Earth

Is anyone else watching this series on The Discovery Channel?

Oh --my goodness it is so wonderful. The most amazing footage of animals, mountains, and exotic countries, these shows are incredibly inspiring. The stunning scenery is such a pleasure purely from an artistic standpoint. Not to mention the cinematography. And there are baby animals in each show(or at least the two we have watched thus far) so you know I am all over that. Go set your Tivo before it's too late.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

More Artfest

I haven't said too much about Artfest because it is hard to synthesize into a blog post. So many experiences all in a mad flew by so fast I barely had to time to breathe.

I looked at the images on my camera and was dismayed to find I took hardly any pictures. My friends took some so hopefully they will share with me and I can post later. This is the gang (or posse as some called us, tee, hee hee) that I travelled with and we all shared a house. We meshed amazingly well and I was glad they twisted my arm to attend. I don't have a picture of us, but it was great fun to finally meet my friend Shari who is just as cute and sweet as I expected. We had this funny synchronistic moment in Seattle and actually had our very first meeting in an Office Max parking lot.

You all know I was a neurotic wreck before I left - worrying about people not liking me (I am secretly quite shy); obsessing about art supplies; scared I would make really ugly art; afraid I might do something stupid like fart in my sleep - you name it, I was a mess all the way till the moment I got on the plane.

Despite my greatest fears, the whole thing went smashingly well. I learned a TON of new techniques, so many that my head is spinning and I now have about 2 million new ideas instead of 1 million. Unfortunately, no time to try them out just yet as I have 2 commissions lined up. I did finish the last Venus Envy piece yesterday and did all the paper work this morning, so I am ready for installation this Saturday.

All my Artfest classes were good but the Misty Mawn class was extra special. Partially because she is such a delightful serene soul. Or maybe it is her complete attitude of sharing that is so fresh. Or the fact she plays cool music so I got into a zone? Who knows? Here are the pieces I made in her class, these were done on 12x6 wood panels.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Home at last

I am back from Artfest. It was a lengthy day with a long delayed flight, but I finally made it home last night about 10:30.

And whew....what a whirlwind that was. Artfest I mean - a completely wonderful whirlwind!!! I took great classes from talented teachers; got to spend time with my pals; partied my butt off; and laughed more than I ever thought possible.

I am working on "re-entry" today. Unpacking, organizing my art supplies, reading mail, doing laundry, blahblahblah. But I am buzzing with creative ideas and can hardly wait to get into the studio.

Thanks to Teesha and Tracy Moore for this truly unique event. All I can say is W-O-W.