New Website + Upcoming Art Show

Friends! My new portfolio/professional site is launched! You can click on the “portfolio” menu option on this page, and the link will take you to my portfolio site. Now you can see samples of my best work, organized by category and easy to browse through! Hooray. Check it out! Eventually I’ll synch it up better with this site, add an e-mail sign up, and work out the remaining little details, but for now, I’m happy it’s functional and easy to look at.

BIG NEWS! Last week I got a nice surprise when I was invited, out of the blue, to be a featured artist in RAW Boston’s upcoming Art showcase “REVEAL”. RAW Boston is part of RAW Artists. Here’s what their website has to say about them:

Raw is an international organization run by artists FOR artists. It’s mission is to provide independent artists within the first 10 years of their creative career with the tools, resources, and exposure needed to inspire and cultivate creativity. Raw ventures to provide the platform for artists to be seen, heard, and loved. Their showcase events feature indie talent in visual art, film, fashion design, music, performance art, hair and makeup artistry, and photography.

On August 25th from 7-11 PM, I will be showing and selling originals and prints, alongside many other talented Boston area artists, at Mixx 360 in Malden, MA. Tickets are $20 and you can buy them here! The event will have live music and art performers, a fashion show, an art show, craft and artisan vendors, drinks, and much more. I’m excited to go and meet other young artists and to see the fruits of so much creative labor. It’s usually quite inspiring to be around passionate people who are doing what they love.

I have to thank my husband and everyone else who has been encouraging me, from the start, to keep sharing my work online and beyond. It is because of all the sharing (on Behance, Instagram, Etsy, etc.) that opportunities like this have started to arise. If you have something you’re doing that you feel is worth sharing with the world, DO it. This is a great time to be an artist.

I recently met a local photographer, the multi-talented Joey Phoenix, who is going to take photos of some of my larger work so I can get prints made for the show. While digging through my stockpiles to find the stuff I want her to shoot, I found this old gem (I’ve shared it before, but…it’s worth another share because it makes me smile):

Albrecht Durer and Renoir's Cat

It’s a remnant from college. I combined an Albrecht Dürer self-portrait and a Pierre Auguste Renoir painting to make Dürer holding a cat. I think it would make great prints, but I don’t know what the legal boundaries are on works like this, since I essentially just copied the paintings of two of history’s great masters.

I’ll admit it: more than once, in moments of self-doubt/existential crisis, I’ve considered shifting gears and focusing on painting “regal” cats. I’d build up a body of work of classical, Napoleon-esque felines looking heroic with columns and ruffled collars and all that. But someone else is already doing that, and who am I kidding, I wouldn’t be able to focus on such a small sliver of subject matter for very long.

And that’s all I have to say about that. Love to you all. I hope summer is treating you well.

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The Awkward Middle

This week, I find myself at the awkward middle point of several works in progress. I have this one acrylic painting in particular that has been driving me nuts as I try to find my way through it. I started it with great excitement, but now that I’m well on my way into the thing, I feel a little lost in the woods

work in progress

work in progress

Every project has its awkward middle point. Sometimes it’s a brief ordeal, but sometimes it lasts for months. It’s the point when the shiny exhilaration of STARTING something has worn off. You can’t really see the end point yet – and you’re not even sure if what you’re doing is going to work. When you step back to look at your progress, it looks raw and unbalanced. It’s like looking in the mirror half-way through a haircut. Or being caught mid-step, with one leg frozen in the air. It’s uncomfortable to stand that way for too long. You have to keep going or else you’ll fall over.

At this point, things can look pretty uncertain, possibly even ugly. Things aren’t going how you thought they would. It’s not the perfect picture you envisioned at the start. Instead, it has taken on a life of its own, and now you have to re-define your approach to it. You’re in uncharted territory, trying to figure out where to go next.

If you’re a perfectionist, or an all-or-nothing type of person (I constantly struggle with this), then the middle point can be quite a disappointment. There’s not much aesthetic delight in something that is half finished! It’s off-kilter, it’s incoherent, it’s vague. How do you psych yourself up to keep pushing through?

Instead of relying on the satisfaction of “finishing”, you have to rely on the satisfaction of doing. Finishing is nothing. It’s boring, it’s lack of movement. But DOING! – that is a thrill! It’s the gratification you get from facing a challenge, day after day. It’s the joy of letting yourself be curious about where this thing is leading you. Dress yourself up for adventure so that it’s a pleasure, not a fright, to find yourself in the awkward middle ground.

In fact, maybe the middle point isn’t so awkward at all. Maybe it’s the perfectly natural place to be. I mean, we spend most of our lives in the middle space, right? We’re growing up, but we’re never done growing. We’re learning, but there’s always more to know. We’re married, but our relationship is still a work in progress. We’re done for today, but we’re going to have to get up again tomorrow…

So, alright, alright…I’ll keep working, bit by bit, on this painting that has me feeling so stuck. I’ve got nothing to lose and plenty to learn.

And in the meantime, here are some things I DID finish this week (though even with these, there’s no feeling of “being finished” because with every design I make, there’s a bazillion more I want to do next…):

strawberry pattern

Strawberry surface pattern design for fabric, wallpaper, etc.

"Robot Guts" surface pattern

“Robot Guts” surface pattern

watermelon surface pattern design. (My what a trendy shirt this would make!)

watermelon surface pattern design. (My what a trendy shirt this would make!)

As always, THANKS for stopping by! Have you found yourself feeling awkward in the middle ground lately?

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Now Showing at ArcWorks Gallery: “Niche (Wall Shrine)” acrylic painting

On display (and for sale) now at the ArcWorks gallery in Peabody:

"Niche (Wall Shrine)", acrylic

“Niche (Wall Shrine)”, acrylic

It’s part of the juried show “Spring Fling”, going on from now until June 30th. If you’re local, consider stopping by to check out some of the other artists that made it into the show!

This painting is a continuation of a series of acrylic paintings I did in college. It’s about memory, nostalgia, and the passing of time. The jar holds memories from my childhood — of long humid summers, my grandpa’s house, and other moments that have become unrealistically beautiful in my mind. It’s about our tendency to make certain memories “sacred” and the romanticized light we cast them in. It’s a shrine, more or less, for the idealized moments of the past.

(Here’s a less dark photo)
Niche (Wall Shrine)

(and a close up)

(close up)

I’m considering doing some more of these. Since I last worked on this series, I’ve racked up some more memories to preserve! I’m also considering taking commissions from others who have memories they want preserved. Got any symbolic objects of special memories that you want me to paint? E-mail me if you’re interested in commissioning some jars!

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Preparing for Shows

Framed Miko PaintingFramed Ducky PaintingThese 2 paintings finally have frames and are ready for display! My dad made the frames (he’s a fine wood craftsman, if I do say so myself. He also built the shelves and storage crates in my studio) and man, they sure are nice. Now I can submit these to the Salem Arts Festival gallery show.  (Last year I had a booth at the Arts Festival. This year I’ll just stick to the juried show – and HEY, if you’re in town, you should definitely come!).

I also submitted some work to another nearby show.  I’m still waiting to hear back whether it got accepted, so stay tuned for more details and pictures later.

I’ve been getting back into acrylic lately (after being caught up in watercolors for a while) and look forward to receiving feedback from people about some of these older works. I’m energized by the new ideas that I’m starting to get down on canvas (and the many more ideas that are swimming around in my head). It will be good to get some outside perspective as I move forward.

It looks like I might also have a solo show in the works — but I’ll save that for another day.

Enjoy your weekend! I know I will…we’re going to a clambake!

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Commissioned Painting: An Afternoon at the Lake…with Dog.

This is what I spent most of November and December on (when I wasn’t baking or eating cookies…)Luna at Lake George It was a commissioned piece based off of a photograph taken at Lake George. I painted it in acrylic. (This photo isn’t the best, but you get the idea.)

January has been off to a good start — I’m pretty excited about a watercolor and ink project I started this week. Wont you be surprised to know it involves more twigs and berries. Stay tuned.

Ok, bye.

 

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Black Cat Halloween Illustration

Cat on a Pumpkin Stack

I know I say it all the time: Being human is so strange. I put hours and hours into intricate paintings, but repeatedly find that at the end of the day, what I’m most proud of are the simple illustrations I did during my breaks.

Hard work is so satisfying.

And yet, simplicity is so refreshing.

I guess the two balance each other out. The relationship between complex and simple creates a marvelous mechanism that keeps life from getting dull. I’m so happy I live in a world where I can dabble in both!  And I love seeing the things that other people produce from both these states of mind.

Some examples:

Steve Light‘s complex illustrations in Have You Seen My Dragon?  (I am obsessed with this book!) are the best. I love them as much as I love Jon Klassen‘s simple ones in “I Want My Hat Back” (also obsessed).

And in what other world can you appreciate both Cersei Lannister’s hair and Larry David’s bald head in equal measure? (Larry David makes fun of himself, so I think I’m allowed to, too).

Yeah, it’s all just. so. great!

Happy Friday, y’all. Go out and live your gloriously complex and simple lives. And don’t forget to share your experiences, big and small, with the rest of us along the way.

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Skyline Painting

Here’s an informal photo from my studio featuring my most recent painting. It was commissioned by my brother-in-law to hang in his NYC apartment.

Skyline_iPhone

I’m curious what other people “read” into this painting. For me, the drips represent several things. On a basic level, they remind me of the subway system, since they are dripping down beneath the skyline and because the colors remind me of those used on subway maps. But they also represent the individual lives of all the people that come in and out of the city, both daily and over the course of history. Each line is different, like people, and each follows its own path, the same way we each chart our own course through life. Some of the drips end up pairing up and joining paths. Their colors combine and become something new. And some of the drips break off from others and find a different way. It’s the drippy network of humans coming and going in the world — a representation of the way each person spreads their influence from one place to another through communicating, traveling, and connecting along the way.

 

 

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My New Painting: Continuing to Experiment with Acrylic

There is a quilt on our bed that my mom made for us when we got married. It’s made with batik fabric (fabric hand-dyed using a wax-resist technique), so each patch is different from the rest. It’s the sort of visual feast that I could look at for hours (if I had the time). In some spots, the dye is particularly saturated, or it’s more green than in other areas. Elsewhere, the colors have mixed spontaneously into unexpected shades of magenta and blue and purple that end up reminding me of the sunset in Minnesota when I was 17 years old. Indeed, as a visual object alone, the quilt is a treasure.

Then I start thinking about the unseen layers of the quilt. How it’s filled with my mom’s love. A warm and symbolic way for her to wrap her kid up in a comforting embrace and make everything okay forever, even though her daughter is supposedly grown up (because hey!, moms never stop being moms and daughters never stop being daughters). And it’s a reminder of Grandma, too: The Matriarch Quilter, with her contagious curiosity and her unfailing sense of humor. (Hi Grandma!, if you’re reading this). And it’s a sparkly little beam of excitement that perhaps someday, I’ll have a kid that I make a quilt for. (And then I find myself already hoping, with some desperation, that my kid will be able to feel the love that’s layered into their quilt — that love that feels too big to express, no matter how many times I try to).

Beholding this quilt; snuggling under it; sharing it with my husband and our cats; seeing it every morning in the different light of fall, winter, spring, and summer — it’s one of those deeper-than-you’d-expect experiences that comes with living life with your eyes and heart open. It’s one of those experiences that I wanted to share with others.

So I painted this:

Miko_Final copy

I’m sure there’s a ton of skeptics who, if they heard me and saw what I make, would think that I’m just a sentimentalist who gushes nonsense about marshmallow fluff and ponies and unicorns that eat rainbows. But I’m not.

I just hope this painting gets you to see and feel a little bit about what I’m always talking about with this blog. There are a lot of interesting things to be seen and felt in the world. As an artist (and a human), I always find myself wanting to celebrate and explore the complex beauty of the everyday things that surround me. I can’t help it. That’s why I set out to paint this. Because the quilt inspired me. I wanted to play around with the colors and textures and patterns of an object that I love, just to experience what happened along the way.

So, don’t be afraid to look at things — to really look, and experience how they affect you. You never know where “looking” will take your mind and your spirit.

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My Latest Acrylic Painting (yes, it’s a painting of a cat)

Here’s an acrylic painting that I just finished up. It was an experiment using watered down acrylics, and I’m pretty excited about the result.

Ducky_Quilt_Final

It’s called Ducky Dreams in Batik.

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Happy December

Sometimes, I feel silly that all the work I show you on this blog is so basic. I worry that I’m letting you all down by not posting weekly fine art masterpieces, rich in detail and impressive technique. Because, truth be told, I DO make a fine “masterpiece” now and again.  Just check this guy out, for example:

Durer_Cat

(I call this “The Happiest Cat in the World”. This is a painting I did in college. The assignment was to appropriate and combine elements from two different famous paintings to create an entirely new composition. I combined a self portrait by Albrecht Durer and “Portrait of Mademoiselle Julie Manet with cat” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir).

But honestly, what makes that more a “masterpiece” than the doodles and quickies I like to share with you from week to week?

Take this for example:

Snow_Snuggle

Don’t you want to be one of these people? I know I do! (Oh wait, I AM one of these people). Doesn’t it make you feel a bit warmer, perhaps a tad more relaxed?

So there, this simple illustration is effective as a piece of art that evokes a human response — it’s as much a “masterpiece” as my paintings that take hours and hours and require the “technical skills” of Durer the German master. (Not that I can compare myself to Durer. He didn’t get the luxury of working from photographs, for one thing…)

In conclusion, I leave you with some advice:

Sometimes, simpler is better.

Remember that this month if you find yourself stressing out instead of celebrating the joy of the holiday season.

 

 

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