Trusting the process is HARD

My last post was about William Eiland, the juror for the upcoming exhibit at the San Antonio Art League. When I wrote it, I had no idea whether any of my three submitted pieces would be selected, but was delighted when I just learned by postcard that one, “Homage to Ellen,” was chosen.

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So here’s the story on the piece that was selected. It started out as a semi-figurative piece on a very dark background – I posted it on Facebook because I liked the way it was going.

Off to a pretty good start — but wait . . .

Then I started to fuss with it, playing with the faces, drawing little hands, and generally getting “precious” and looking at details and not the whole painting. I started getting frustrated and fiddley. Ever been there? The whole thing started collapsing. HELP!

So in desperation, I remembered what my friend Ellen Rolli, the Boston abstract expressionist, told me when we painted together at her studio – if you get too attached to it, paint it out. Trust the process. Argh!!

It was scary, but I started paining over parts of it. Then more, then more – it took on a new life, but with the black figures still underneath as part of the history.

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“Homage to Ellen,” almost completed

Can you believe it? It wanted to be an entirely different painting, and I can always go back to painting figures if I want to. But this was the one the juror chose. He saw something in it that he liked.

It’s titled “Homage to Ellen” because I listened to Ellen Rolli‘s advice and painted over a preliminary work I sorta loved for one that was more authentic and energetic, one that wanted to be selected. And you and I know what’s underneath those layers!

 Trust the process . . .Ain’t art fun??

PS Congrats to my other friends whose work was also chosen for the show which will open on April 9th, and if yours wasn’t, neither were two of mine!

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Thoughts from SAAL&M Juror Bill Eiland

Did you enter the 87th San Antonio Art League Exhibition?  I did, and my fingers are crossed that I got in! We will know in a couple of days – however, I did get to meet the juror, William Eiland, at a dinner at our house last night.

Sorry, I have no inside track about who was accepted, but I did learn that the juror is absolutely delightful. I think you’ll agree when you see the video, below, in which the charming museum director from Georgia discusses everything from fried chicken to what makes a good submission to a juried art show.

 

Here are some photos from last night’s very informal, very enjoyable dinner.

Cappy and Suzy L:awton, SAAL&M's 2017 Art Patrons

Cappy and Suzy L:awton, SAAL&M’s 2017 Art Patrons

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Doris Walsh, Vikki Fields, Bill Eiland, and Richard Tietz

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SAAL&M President Helen Fey with Clarence Fey and David Johle

  I loved Bill Eiland’s advice to artists who enter juried shows:

  • Avoid sentimentality
  • Avoid cliches
  • Be true to your personal vision

Now, back to crossing my fingers that we all were accepted!!

On and off Fred

Dale Jenssen

Heads up! One of the best studio tours of the year is coming up this weekend, and six of the best artists I know will be at Dale Jenssen’s studio showing and selling their work. The tour is called On and Off Fredricksburg Road here’s the info.

Dale’s work is gorgeously edgy (you may remember her workshop at my studio), and her 5 guest artists –  Michelle Belto, Lesta Frank, Thelma Muriada, Linda Rael, and Alison Schockner –  represent the best in diverse mixed media.

Alison Schockner

Linda Rael

Dale’s studio at 1651 W. Woodlawn will be open Saturday the 18th, from 11-6, and Sunday from 12-5. Catalogs with directions to all of the studios will be available at the tour.

And be sure to take in the opening Autograph Party at Bihl Haus Arts on Friday night. 6-9 pm, 2803 Fredericksburg Road, across from Tip top Cafe. Music by Los Nahuatlatos, hors d’oeuvres & libations.

Hope to see you on and off Fred! Meanwhile, I’m headed back to the studio to finish a painting in time (hopefully) for the San Antonio Art League’s 87th Annual Artists’ Exhibition.

y painting in progress - 30x40" - who knows what this one will look like when it's finished!

My current painting in progress – 30×40″ acrylic on canvas – who knows what this one will look like when it’s finished!

Hey, and check out the San Antonio Art League’s new website if you have a chance – I designed it – and it’s another work in progress!

 


 

Lotus and clay

First, the Lotus – as in yesterday’s Lotus Book workshop at my “Studio Cinco(one of the participants told me that the address, #515, was very auspicious). Must be true, ’cause the workshop was really fun!

This is such a simple project, but it’s deceptive. Working with a small scale sometimes makes it  difficult to pull off a striking composition. However, fiber artist Mary Ann Johnson shared some absolutely gorgeous Asian papers that made us all look good! Take a look.

One of the great things about these workshops is the sharing of information and sources. Yesterday while we were working on our Lotus Books, Leslie Newton from the San Antonio Potters Guild and I discussed our favorite new source for clay and tools, Roadrunner Ceramics.

It’s not just a store for potters – mixed media artists can find all kinds of stuff there. I was there last week and got some great stencils ($4 each) as well as some needle tools for incising wax.

stencils

Roadrunner also has these rolling pattern stamps that would be good for inking paper and texturing paper clay.

I found a teeny tiny stamp for my shard faces – they have all kinds of these little guys.

stamp

So add Roadrunner Ceramics to you list of cool art stores in San Antonio. They are located near DeZavala and 1H10 and they are super friendly and helpful.

Have a great week! Is winter over for good??

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Re-use, re-read, re-ward

I have emerged from an intensive week of making videos for my two Artful Gathering workshops, which will be announced in February. They are cool, if I do say so myself. More soon about those classes.

Anyway, one of the ways I like to reward myself after a long project is to head to Half-Price Books – the one by Brackenridge Park is the only one that will do. I love the way the place smells of old books, and the way the stairs creak when you climb up to the Art Book room. It’s browsing therapy at its best.

Here’s what I scored yesterday –

A hardcover accordion-folded portfolio called A Shoal of Fishes by the Japanese Artist Hiroshige. It’s from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and it’s gorgeous. It was hidden away on the bargain shelf for $3. What a find!

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Also, a book about books – this is a good one. It has references, projects, and inspiration – I can’t believe I didn’t already have this one. It was also my most expensive purchase at six bucks. Worth it.

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Finally – tah dah – a reproduction of the 1902 Sear and Roebuck catalog. This will be collage fodder and good reading for a long time!

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There’s nothing like rewarding yourself with a browse in a used bookstore. And it’s the best kind of recycling!

While you’re in the area, get over to the Twig Bookshop in the Pearl – my all-time favorite independent book seller. Happy creative browsing!

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Whiter Shades, the Sequel!

Lesta Frank and I had been wanting to repeat this popular Whiter Shades of Pale  workshop collaboration, and yesterday we got to! Yay! Plus we got to teach it at Lesta’s cozy studio – what a treat.

We added a few more things to the mix this time, including beeswax and gold book foil. Some of the participants had not worked with encaustic techniques before and they loved it.

As usual, the results from this workshop were fantastic. We had a full day to work on this project, including a lunch break in Lesta’s sunny back yard.

Take a look at the video, and then, at the end of the post, I’ll share some of the things we did in the workshop.

These were some of the ways we created our own pale papers:

Methods

  • Tissue “glued” to gray palette paper with matte medium
  • Brushed with gesso, sprayed with walnut ink while wet
  • Deli paper stenciled with gesso, dipped in coffee when dry
  • White stamps on kraft paper – ink, acrylic paint with felt
  • Walnut ink on kraft paper, dried, brushed with gesso
  • Tinted white paint stenciled
  • Circles stamped with cups and objects
  • Cheesecloth
  • Walnut ink through lace
  • Silver and gold acrylic glazes

There really are no rules, just guidelines and suggestions. Discovery comes through experimental play.

After we made the papers, we constructed a collage on canvas:

Constructing the Ephemeral Collage on Canvas:

  • Review the AB3s of composition
  • Pale images manipulated and printed on plain paper
  • Glue stick to matboard, add small collage elements and wax
  • Sand edges
  • Punch holes
  • Add torn hand-decorated paper to canvas
  • Add box
  • Add sticks
  • Add fiber
  • Sew with tapestry needles
  • Attach with hot glue
  • Overpaint with gesso
  • Overspray with walnut ink, burnish
  • Glaze with metallic acrylic

You can see the steps in progress on the video – these steps, combined with everyone’s individual ideas, led to stunning (and pale) results!

Art unites. Keep up the good work with your creative life – onward through the fog, one step at a time!

 

Who owns your work – and where did you find that photo, pal??

copyright

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of giving a presentation on the torturous, mind-bending subject of copyright in the digital age to an audience of first-rate artists at the Coppini Academy of Fine Arts.

Copyright issues are of particular importance to artists  – one, because a visual artist’s work can be so easily copied and distributed digitally these days, and, two, because most artists use or take photos as reference sources or use them in mixed-media pieces.

The presentation was limited by time and scope, but I created a Power Point slide show to illustrate some specifics. For this blog, I converted it to a video (who knew you could do that?? Live and learn!) because I wanted to share the presentation with you guys. It works just like a regular Power Point, but if you want to read a slide, you need to pause it. Of course, you won’t hear my not-so-brilliant comments, but you can get the main points.

Many thanks to Charlotte Cox and the Coppini for inviting me to present! It gave me a chance to brush up on those points that I used to teach at Trinity University in my Computer Science class. And, as I said in the summary, below, copyright is a slippery subject, rather like trying to nail Jell-o to a wall.

chectsheet

So get out there, create, and Steal Like an Artist – but respect the laws of copyright!

 

 

 

 

What do you have to say to yourself?

That was the question in yesterday’s workshop at the studio called “Postcards to Myself.”

It’s a new workshop, one that I designed to see if we, as artists, create unconscious messages to ourselves as we work on art pieces that combine random images and text. The small works that were produced were amazingly lyrical, and many did seem to have meaningful messages.

The project itself was done in seven stages on an 11×14″ sheet of archival matboard.

  • Stage One – images and objects
  • Stage Two – veiling
  • Stage Three – vintage text chosen randomly
  • Stage four – enhancement and alteration
  • Stage five – selection
  • Stage six – wax or acrylic medium
  • Stage Seven – interpretation

When the collage layers were complete, 4×6″ post-card size areas were selected with transparent plexiglass rectangles. Those were cut out, and then finished either with beeswax or acrylic mat medium. We even wrote notes to ourselves on the backs of our “postcards.”

postcard

In the example above, this postcard-size section from the larger work shows faces from two different cultures and contains words such as “separate,” “restrain,” and “ruin.” It sounds like a trailer for a mini-drama! And yet it’s a completely coincidental juxtaposition within the larger collage.

We had such fun and learned so much from this project. I’ll definitely repeat it, and will probably create an eBook with with a list of materials and instructions. In the meantime, please enjoy the video from “Postcards to Myself.”

By the way, the first prototype postcard I did included text that said “eat one’s words” – so I was very careful about what I said during our critique!

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