Pastellistes du Monde: a little trust

[singlepic id=420 w=460 h=340 float=] When an artist spends as much time online as I do, they tend to accumulate a lot of unsolicited offers. Apply to this show, pay for space on that online gallery, get great deals on framing, have your art reproduced by our company! Most of these emails (many of which are scams) are quickly "filed" and forgotten. But not always.

A few months ago I received an email in near-perfect English from someone claiming to be a representative of a French art magazine. She had seen my art online and wanted the option of posting my artwork in the "Portfolio" section of their website. At least, that was my understanding. I was given a deadline to send hi-res images to be considered for publication.

Requests for hi-res art images out of the blue can be a little unnerving. Is it legit, or is someone planning to send my artwork to be knocked off in China? Why hi-res if the images are being posted on the website? This looked real enough, with a link to the French art magazine Pratique des Arts. Of course it's not hard to link to something in an email---it proves nothing.

I pretty much forgot about it until the submission deadline, when another email asked if I was still interested. I decided to take a chance; I sent  the images. And heard nothing. A few months went by and I forgot about it again until some random Tuesday brought a fleeting thought of the French art website. Oddly, that afternoon I received one more email, asking where to send a contributor's copy. Now I was really confused. I thought the images were to be posted in some minor online supplement. Whatever. I forgot about it again.

Arriving home from the Bellevue show yesterday, I opened the mailbox to find a large envelope from France containing an absolutely gorgeous art magazine, unreadable to me but stunning, with amazing pastel work from a collection of international artists. There were Dewfall and Medusa No.2, representing the U.S. on the first two pages of the "Pastellistes du Monde" section. Turning the page I found a pastel by the amazing Sally Strand. Elsewhere a spread on the celebrated Alan Flattman. Here was my work in the company of these incredible artists and an apparent international who's who of pastel. What a thrill! All for something I very nearly didn't do. Maybe a little trust isn't so bad once in a while.

Why Not?

[singlepic id=418 w=320 h=460 float=left] And now for something else completely different... an Alice-in-Wonderland-inspired piece titled Why Not? which I've just completed for the Tinman Gallery's second annual Oz-vitational. Huh? Well, Year One was an Oz-vitational. This year all of the artwork will be inspired by the childrens' classic, Alice in Wonderland. (Much to the relief of the artists who participated in Year One, I'm sure. Fresh inspiration!)

I'm embarrassed to admit that I had never read Alice in Wonderland nor even seen a movie version until receiving this assignment. I tried both several times as a child and never quite made it through for one reason or another. Luckily for me, a fresh movie came out on DVD just in time for my research. Better still, this particular movie had a CGI Tweedledum and Tweeedledee played by/modeled after the hilarious Matt Lucas, from the seriously funny Little Britain USA.

Anyway, back to my point if I had one. I did stop laughing just long enough to catch an approximately four-second reference to Alice and the Red Queen painting white roses red, and there was my idea. Roses dripping with shiny red paint, forming the shape of the Red Queen's heart surrounded by white roses yet to be painted. This piece and "Alice" works by many wonderful artists will be available for purchase at the show.

The Alice in Wonderland Invitational runs from July 30 through August 21. Opening reception is from 5 - 9 p.m. Friday, August 30.

The Tinman Gallery is located in Spokane's historic Garland District at 811 West Garland Avenue.

A little bit of this...

[singlepic id=368 w=460 h=320 float=] Things feel a little scattered now... I have the neverending cold and only made it to the studio sporadically this week. I did manage to complete my oil version of Springrise (above), which felt pretty good under the circumstances. It was one of those paintings that just falls off the fingers, then in what should have been the last few minutes I went too far with part of it and had to wipe it down and start over---twice. I was afraid I wouldn't finish at all today which was pretty annoying considering I expected to walk in, dab at it a few times and walk away victorious. I just kept thinking of John Singer Sargent as I wiped at it with my Gamsol-soaked rag... he is reputed to have wiped down parts of his amazing paintings multiple times to keep that "fresh" look to his brushstrokes. It's scary, but it works. I ended up somewhat happier in the end. Sargent, on the other hand, ended up with Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose. Onward.

And now for something completely different...

It's not really news per se, but I just got my acceptance email for Art in the High Desert. After last year's Benchmark Award, I knew I would be in the show, but I have to say it's still exciting to get that "Congratulations!" email. Especially if you are a Big Dork. But I'm not naming names.

More on the subject of Big Dorks...

I'm loving my studio right now. It is packed with fresh art, just like it usually is this time of year. I think it's more noticeable this time, perhaps, because unlike my previous studio, it started out big and empty. A 10' x 11' room can only look so empty with two shelving units, a desk, a table, a taboret, two easels, two air purifiers, photographic light stands, a roll of canvas, a chair, a few rugs and various and sundry leftover drawings. But 675 square feet can swallow up all that plus that much more again and still seem cavernous. Which is why I was hit with a little teeny tiny bit of dread recently... soon there will be festivals and shows to hang and all the paintings will be gone and it will be empty again. Which is always just a little bit sad.

For photos of the studio as it looked last week,[singlepic id=370 w=320 h=240 float=]

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More Lunacy

[singlepic id=332 w=320 h=420 float=left] Now that the small works shows are all on, it's time to get serious about making some big pieces. I've got two more gallery shows and a lot of wall space to fill and basically less than two months to paint. Today I finished Blue Suspension No.5 (left) which I started last week. Now I am working on a pastel study for what I hope will be a major triptych in oil---three 3'x3' panels---if the pastel turns out as planned.

The idea for the triptych is to be leaves arranged to resemble a group of luna moths in flight. I'm hoping it works out well, especially since a collection of coincidences are making me think I have some strange connection to these moths. It started when I did a similar small work last week or so. As I finished and was trying to name it, I decided it might look like a luna moth. I liked the name "luna," anyway.  But I actually didn't have any idea what a luna moth looked like. Hoping the name would work out, I Googled luna moths and found that, luckily, they looked very much like what I had painted.

I liked the small painting, but decided it might have more impact with more "moths," and planned to use the idea in the big three-panel format I had been wanting to try. With all the panels combined, it will be the largest oil painting I have done to date, so of course I've been feeling a little nervous about diving into the project. (My friend Neicy and I were just discussing how with each new painting, we sometimes suddenly feel as if we will have forgotten how to paint!) Anyway, on a holiday shopping trip downtown this weekend, I walked into Atticus, an awesome local gift/coffee shop, and the first thing I saw was this big, sparkly luna moth ornament. Given that a week before I would have had no idea what it was, I thought that was a pretty cool find. So I spent a whopping four dollars and took it home for inspiration.

Here's hoping my new lucky moth gets me through the next few months with a ton of good work for my next two shows!

Stating the (Less Than) Obvious

Artists are constantly being required to write Artist Statements* in which we talk about the methods and motivations behind our artwork. When I say "constantly," it seems each time I need to supply one there is a different set of parameters attached. I can't just write one statement and use it for everything. For instance, Zapplication, one of the online show-application sites, requires 100 characters or fewer describing methods and materials, while certain shows using the service require an additional, more detailed statement. Another site allows almost unlimited space for a statement. Others ask for a more philosophical discussion of why we do what we do. Some shows require all of the above plus personal background and a photo (oh, joy).

There are artists who seem to thrive on this, rattling off pages of artspeak with apparent ease and relish. I am not one of those artists. Each time I am asked for an Artist's Statement I sit and stare at my notes with no idea what to say or how to say it without sounding pompous, ridiculous or both. If there are no specific requirements for the writing, I look at my earlier statements, only to be horrified at the embarrassing drivel contained within.

In this situation, I often think of a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon in which Calvin questions Hobbes' motive for sculpting a tiger. Hobbes' reply: "Because I wanted to make it." Shouldn't that be enough?  If only.

So I've developed a set of mix-and-match descriptions that I can usually tailor to various circumstances, but there is something that always bothers me. I don't feel that I have ever come remotely close to capturing the reason I paint what I paint. Just for my own satisfaction, I'm going to try it now.

First of all, I paint because I have an obsessive need to make things. I used to make all sorts of things but eventually managed to channel my energy into what I think I do best. I love having a studio full of paintings and sort of freak out when I frame them all for shows, leaving empty walls.

As for what I paint, well... people often comment that I must really love leaves. I suppose, but not so much more than anything else. They just seem to be the best means to the end I want to achieve. As far as I am concerned I may as well be painting abstract pieces. My work is much more about mood and emotion than subject. I am intensely affected by light and color, and they are what I actually paint. 

When I am planning an individual painting, something really has to get me before I go ahead with an idea. When I see a shape or colors or line I think is beautiful, then start to create a composition around it, my reaction is visceral. I feel a nervous excitement when an idea appears to really work. 

Ironically, if I had to state my ultimate goal for my art, it would be to take away the edge of nervousness and to create a sense of calm similar to what I feel after an hour of yoga. I want to use light and color and line to bring myself into the moment and create a space for quiet and peace. I want to make art with which I would want a long-term relationship, not just a quick fling. I want to make paintings that help me to feel good and to just chill out. None of which would sound very good in an Artist's Statement. But that's what I want to do, and I hope in the process I am making paintings that do that for others as well.


*that phrase just screams to be capitalized, doesn't it?

First Friday Art Tour

[singlepic id=116 w=320 h=320 float=left] Here, as in many cities, we have an arts tour on the first Friday of each month. Galleries stay open late, and it's the perfect opportunity to get together with friends, walk around town, have a few drinks, eat too much, and oh, yeah, look at art. My photographer friend Amy and I have made this a tradition lately, hitting a happy hour then taking off to see who's showing. This month we are pushing our tour back a week to coincide with a local gallery's show opening. But to celebrate 2009's first First Friday, I'm posting a little tour of my own right here. The following are some favorite artists, mostly local, friends and acquaintances.   Starting here in Spokane, Gina Freuen and Kay O'Rourke are amazing artists and sisters who share apparently limitless creativity. Last fall Gina invited me to show in a studio tour as a guest artist, and along with Kay, I got to set up in the amazing garden of Hulda Bridgeman, whose garden is eclipsed only by her stunning wearable art. Kay also shares a gallery with Ryan Hardesty, a museum curator and oil painter whose quiet abstract pieces have beautiful subtle depths, and Kathleen Cavender, an oil and pastel painter who layers her canvases with brilliant translucent color. 

Heading north of town, we'll find a new gallery owned by Gay Waldman, whose stunning photographs shared a calendar with my own work a few years ago. Continuing west about 25 miles, we'll find Casey Klahn, fellow pastelist and art fair participant, and blogging inspiration. I see Casey at least once a year at an art fair, but we first met years ago at a workshop  given by Jennifer Evenhus, a PSA Master Pastelist and fellow Washingtonian whose work blows me away.

Enough of this cold climate, though. Last stop, Eureka, California, to see the gorgeous pastels of Victoria Ryan, art fair veteran, endless source of moral support, and great friend. Vicky has been branching out into another medium this year, too. I can't wait to see what she's been up to. One of my favorites of her work, Snow Patterns 2, is shown above. I hope you enjoyed the tour. Let's go again next month!