Saturday, October 31, 2009

Woman in a Red Chair Day 3

Yesterday was a terrific studio day!  I had a chance to make some major progress on Woman in a Red Chair.  I got the first layer on all her flesh except for her last two fingers.  I also re-worked some of the texture on the chair.  I'm very excited with the way her body is looking.  There are lots of shades, hues, and tones i it in real list.  I can't wait to get back out there today to keep going.

I'll post more later today if I get a chance.
Hope you have a great day!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Application Process

I did it! Got to work! I'd been putting off applying to several places, but tonight I finally took the time to get three done.  It's a bit quicker to do more than one at a time since I can use some of the same materials - sometimes!

I applied to the Seraphin Gallery in Philly - it looks like a great gallery with great art, and they show figurative work. Could be a good one! I also applied for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Fellowship. Every year they offer $8000 grants to professional artists in Va. Every year I apply. I think this is my best chance yet because my work is cohesive and increasingly skilled. The third application I filled out is to REDUX, a funky contemporary gallery in Charleston, SC. It looks like they do a lot of installations and other art that won't necessarily sell but that people ought to see. If anyone would be OK with showing figurative work, I figure it should be they!

Later:  I just finished a fourth application!  This one is for the Schlesinger Center at Northern VA Community College.  I'd love to show this work at a college where there can be a lot of discussion about the topic of Women's Body Image.  That would be truly exciting.  I decided to name the show "Authentic Flesh".  Love it!

It is a very time-consuming process to send out applications. Dylan, my HS Senior son, and I have a lot in common right now - we're both working very hard to send out applications! The process is as follows:

* Find a gallery that might show my work - it has to have artists who are at my skill level, and they have to have a sensibility in line with the work I do. They also have to be close enough for me to hand-deliver my artwork since it's so large - it would be prohibitively expensive to ship it.
* Find out if they accept submissions.
* Find out what they require.
* Update resume and print out.
* Write Artist's Statement specific to the gallery/show/grant - this one takes the longest time usually, and I have to be very centered to write something I like.
* Take pictures of each painting as I finish it. Refine it in Adobe Photoshop so it looks as good on the computer as it does in real life: crop it, adjust levels, adjust contrast, brightness, color, etc. Organize images so I can find them for the application process.
* Choose which images to include on the CD. This takes a VERY long time because it's crucial.
* Format the images appropriately. Each and every gallery/show/grant has different requirements for the dpi, the pixel size, the format, the number of images, etc., so I have to re-format the work for each entry.
* Burn the CD. Make sure it works by trying it on another computer.
* Save all the documents in a folder so I know what I've sent to whom and when I should expect a reply.
* Enter the info on a hard copy calendar I have so I remember what I've done and when I should hear back.
* Address and stamp an envelope so they can send my materials back if it isn't the right place for me. My heart always leaps when I see my own handwriting on an envelope in the mailbox.
* Write a letter introducing myself and asking them to consider me for their gallery.
* Address the huge envelope to put all that in.
* Stamp it.
* Mail it.
* Wait up to 6 months for a response.

* Jump for joy when it comes and is positive!

Thank you, readers

I want to thank each and every one of you who takes the time to read my  musings about art and doing art.  It makes my day to know that there are people who enjoy seeing what I've done in the studio or to further my art career in a given day.  It makes it so much more fun to share it with you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

This image is one I drew many years ago when I was just starting out.  It's from a photo my parents took of me when I was just a little tyke.  I remember those umbrella chairs well and just recently bought 3 new ones because I loved those so much.

I'm currently in the process of procrastinating from filling out applications and writing artist statements for said applications.  I guess I'd better get to it.  I plan to apply to one gallery, two shows, and for a grant this evening.  Time to get to it!

Again, thank you for being here.  You matter to me.

Early Morning Session

Every Thursday morning I drag myself out of bed at 6 AM to meet a friend to go for an hour long walk.  It's excruciating getting up, and I often half-stumble through the first 10 minutes of walking, but by the end of the hour, I'm so glad I've been there and done that.  It sets the tone for my whole day and actually gives me more energy than I have on other days.  I wish I had the wherewithal to do it daily.

This morning when I got back from the walk, I had breakfast, talked to my son for a bit about his college essay, then went out to the studio for almost 2 hours to paint.  That's highly unusual for me for the morning!  I've begun doing a new piece I've been excited about for quite a while.  I had put in the background a couple of days ago, and today I began working on the chair.  Maybe I'll become a whole new person and begin to get up early and walk and paint every morning!  Yeah, right!

Well, it's time to go to work and tutor Math Analysis, Pre Cal Honors, Calculus, Algebra I, Spanish I, then Pre Cal Honors again.  A math-filled day!  Oh yeah, that's what I do on my other mornings or evenings  when I'm not tutoring - work my way through the Calculus book so I can tutor it effectively.  I'm loving re-learning the material.  Calculus is truly beautiful - such grace and finesse in the workings of it.  I really love it!  (And my calculus student is convinced I'm nuts!  Oh well!)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Teaching Art

Last night I began teaching a new class in my studio here at home. It was a lovely experience.  For some reason, it was extraordinary beyond the usual: the atmosphere was cozy (probably because it was cold and rainy outside and warm and bright inside), the students were focused and intentional in their work, everyone was glad to be there and was making lovely art.  Each person was working on her own self-chosen project. The students have been working at their art for different lengths of time.  Some are vitual beginners, one has been diligently drawing consistently for years.  It's wonderful to see how they each learn from the other. 

I don't know why, but I absolutely love to teach art.  I think it might be because no one is there if he/she doesn't want to be.  The students are excited to be learning how to draw, even if they might occasionally feel frustrated or inadequate. I believe each of us is an artist and can learn the skills of drawing just like we learn writing skills or driving skills.  We each have so much creativity inside of us that wants to come out.  Each of us is a creator.  I wish our schools could foster our creative sides more strongly.  I think it would make a significant difference in how the world works if we each were attuned to our best, most creative selves.

I'm headed out to the studio right now to practice my creativity!  I'll post a picture of my progress later, assuming I make some!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Creative Weekend, though not in the studio

I didn't have much time in the studio this weekend, but it was still a lovely, creative time.
Friday I had a lovely time with my 20-year-old daughter who was back from college for Fall Break.  We went shopping for boots and clothes - both very successful!  I veered away from the college-aged used clothing store to stick my nose in the art store around the corner.  Of course I couldn't get out of there with nothing - I got a couple of gorgeous new brushes I can't wait to use!  Isabeys, both - they're hand made in Spain and have fantastic spring and control and are so smooth on the canvas.  It's like the difference between trying to draw details with sidewalk chalk or using a pencil.  Given how detailed and precise I like to make my paintings, I definitely prefer good brushes!

After I dropped my daughter off to leave for college, I gave myself an Artist's Date - time to myself to do whatever came into my head.  I tried to get a haircut, but didn't try very hard really.  Instead I wandered around Bon Air aimlessly, checking out a wonderful antique/consignment shop, Goodstuff, that always has cool stuff.  I spent 45 minutes reading through their art books and found a terrific one about Falling Water (Frank Lloyd Wright's house I'm enamored with).  I swear I should have been an architect!  I am so fascinated by looking at houses and their interiors.  Chris and I used to spend Sunday afternoons going to Open Houses just for the fun of it!  I know - weird!  We got some great ideas for our house though!

Saturday afternoon Chris and I re-hung lots of art in our house.  We finally hung some of the nudes in the house rather than having them gather dust in the studio while waiting for a show.  We hung a couple of large ones in the living room and reorganized the furniture to accomodate them.  I really like how they look!  One thing I find fascinating is that, because the scale of the paintings is larger than life, our furniture looks almost miniature.  We have a beautiful curved rocking chair from my grandmother in front of the picture of Woman in a Chair - the curves complement each other beautifully.

In case you're wondering about the boxers in the corner...  those are made out of wood!  We bought them in Venice, Italy a few years ago.  We saw the artist's, Loris Marazzi's, work advertised all over Venice and finally found his hole-in-the-wall shop.  When we went in, he was very busy working on a piece and almost refused to let us in.  He definitely didn't want to waste time talking to us!  Even when I asked how much the pieces were, he was resistant to talking to us - he had a deadline he was trying to make!  It took all my powers of persuasion to get him to sell us the darn things.  It was a VERY effective sales technique!  If you find me using it on you, you'll know where I got it from!  (In case you're interested, you can see more of Loris's work at  He's definitely worth checking out!)

Today, Sunday, I went to lunch with a dear friend where we spent almost the whole time recounting for each other all the good art stuff we'd done in the three months since we'd last met - all the shows we'd entered, the galleries we'd contacted, etc.  It was greatly affirming and inspiring since she is as dedicated to her work as I am to mine.  It's very good for me to be around other artists who are completely committed to art as their life's work.  We will be getting together in another month - I have lots to do between now and then!  And we might go to Philly to check out galleries soon as well.

This evening Chris and I went to Soup and Soul, a program put on by Chrysalis, a group here that does personal growth seminars and groups.  A wonderful group.  Soup and Soul is an opportunity for an artist to talk about his/her artistic journey and for interested people to listen to it and see slides of the work.  I did a presentation for them about a year ago.  Tonight it was Kathy Benham who gave the talk.  She's a photographer who does some dynamite work. is her website.  She posed lots of querries about the artistic journey then told how she answered them herself.  She gave me lots to think about.  Quite wonderful!

I'm now completely inspired for a good day in the studio tomorrow which will start with showing one of my models the pictures I've done of her then photographing her again.  Then I get to start on a new painting.  I actually made time today to transfer it to the canvas so I'm ready to go!  And excited!  This is one I've really been looking forward to doing for a while.  I hope it turns out as well as I want it to.

I hope you have a great, creative day!  I'd love to hear about your creative journey and all you're doing to let that part of you come out!  It's such a wonderful way to live life!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A very good art day

Today was a very good art day even though I didn't make it into the studio. 

It began with going to the Unitarian Church where I picked up my art that didn't sell - and a check for the art that did!  That was exciting!  I sold Uplifted to some friends - that was my favorite sale!  I also sold some watercolors and jewelry.  It always makes me feel so good to sell my work.  It's so affirming of the path I'm on.  It's one thing to tutor and get paid for that.  I'm used to that somehow.  But when someone buys a piece of art I make, it feels like they are affirming me to the core.  They are seeing the most authentic expression of myself and value it enough to pay for it.  It's a great feeling.  I'm grateful to each and every one of the people who have bought my work.  Thank you.

After the Unitarian Church, I went to Serendipity, the store on Buford Rd where I just started selling my work.  I already sold some earrings there!  Very cool!  Mary, the store owner, is a terrific woman.  It's great getting to know her.

This evening, after a full day of tutoring (which is always a joy), I taught my last Beginner's Pastel Class at the Visual Arts Center.  I love teaching that class!  It's so great seeing people explore their creativity and make work they are happy with.  The Intermediate class begins next week.  I love doing that one too because people get to work on their own projects, so I get to see what is important to them, what comes from their core.  And I have the priviledge of helping them if they need it.  It's a wonderful job.  I feel very blessed.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Bling Lady may be finished!

I put finishing touches on Bling Lady today while I was in the studio.  I worked on her right arm and the shadow on the right as well as other bits and pieces.  I'll let it sit in the studio for a few days to see how it feels, but I think she's done. 
This is such a different piece than others I've done.  It feels more like a portrait than a piece that is only about bodies, though, of course, it incorporates that completely as well.  I think it's evident in this piece how the model feels about her body, and I like what it says about her.  I get a kick out of having her bike helmet in the piece.  I looked at it today and blocked out the helmet to see if I liked it better, but I find that the piece actually looks a bit barren without it.  It also throws the symmetry off just enough to increase the interest of the piece.  It's all good.

Tomorrow if I have time to work in the studio (I probably won't), I have a canvas prepared to begin work on a piece I've been dying to work on for quite a while.  I love the image.  Not quite sure why.  I love it so much I went to great lengths to be able to paint it!  The model was hesitant to have me paint it for personal reasons.  I completely respect that.  No problem.  Except that I was really wanting to paint it because the image is compelling to me for whatever reason.  She told me she'd think about it.  In the meantime, I was so enthralled by the image that I drew it in my sketchbook, then I drew the hand.  Then, after the model expressed her hesitation a second time, I asked Chris to photograph me in the same position.  We worked hard to get the lighting just right and my position.  He took the picture and did a great job, but when I looked at it, it just wasn't the same.  My body isn't the same size so I don't fit into the chair the same way.  The gesture she's making just isn't me.  My body doesn't work the same.  It was fascinating to me to see the difference.  It re-emphasizes for me how each woman is completely herself when she models and that essence shows up in these photos and paintings.  That's what I love about them.   Even when there are no faces, the paintings are expressions of the essence of each woman.  I don't know that that means they are identifiable to others, but I imagine (and hope) they are very familiar to themselves in a sweet lovely way.

Oh, and the good news is that after I told my friend how hard I'd tried to replicate the image, she gave me permission to paint the picture, so now I'm stoked!  Can't wait to get into the studio again - though it'll probably be next Monday before I have time. 

Friday, October 16, 2009

Manifesto by Bishop Spong

I haven't really used this blog as a platform for my personal beliefs (except as they are reflected in my artwork), but I just received this Manifesto from Bishop Spong via a friend, and I believe it is worth passing on.  Bishop Spong is an Episcopalian Bishop who has made very strong statements in favor of gays in the church.  He has also supported other "radical" positions for the church.  I read his autobiography and found it refreshing.  I'm the daughter of an Episcopalian minister so am fairly well-versed in the doctrine of the church.  I am no longer a member of the Epis. church, but I do like what Bishop Spong has to say!

Thursday October 15, 2009

A Manifesto! The Time Has Come!

I have made a decision. I will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone. I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility. I will no longer discuss with them or listen to them tell me how homosexuality is "an abomination to God," about how homosexuality is a "chosen lifestyle," or about how through prayer and "spiritual counseling" homosexual persons can be "cured." Those arguments are no longer worthy of my time or energy. I will no longer dignify by listening to the thoughts of those who advocate "reparative therapy," as if homosexual persons are somehow broken and need to be repaired. I will no longer talk to those who believe that the unity of the church can or should be achieved by rejecting the presence of, or at least at the expense of, gay and lesbian people. I will no longer take the time to refute the unlearned and undocumentable claims of certain world religious leaders who call homosexuality "deviant." I will no longer listen to that pious sentimentality that certain Christian leaders continue to employ, which suggests some version of that strange and overtly dishonest phrase that "we love the sinner but hate the sin." That statement is, I have concluded, nothing more than a self-serving lie designed to cover the fact that these people hate homosexual persons and fear homosexuality itself, but somehow know that hatred is incompatible with the Christ they claim to profess, so they adopt this face-saving and absolutely false statement. I will no longer temper my understanding of truth in order to pretend that I have even a tiny smidgen of respect for the appalling negativity that continues to emanate from religious circles where the church has for centuries conveniently perfumed its ongoing prejudices against blacks, Jews, women and homosexual persons with what it assumes is "high-sounding, pious rhetoric." The day for that mentality has quite simply come to an end for me. I will personally neither tolerate it nor listen to it any longer. The world has moved on, leaving these elements of the Christian Church that cannot adjust to new knowledge or a new consciousness lost in a sea of their own irrelevance. They no longer talk to anyone but themselves. I will no longer seek to slow down the witness to inclusiveness by pretending that there is some middle ground between prejudice and oppression. There isn't. Justice postponed is justice denied. That can be a resting place no longer for anyone. An old civil rights song proclaimed that the only choice awaiting those who cannot adjust to a new understanding was to "Roll on over or we'll roll on over you!" Time waits for no one.

I will particularly ignore those members of my own Episcopal Church who seek to break away from this body to form a "new church," claiming that this new and bigoted instrument alone now represents the Anglican Communion. Such a new ecclesiastical body is designed to allow these pathetic human beings, who are so deeply locked into a world that no longer exists, to form a community in which they can continue to hate gay people, distort gay people with their hopeless rhetoric and to be part of a religious fellowship in which they can continue to feel justified in their homophobic prejudices for the rest of their tortured lives. Church unity can never be a virtue that is preserved by allowing injustice, oppression and psychological tyranny to go unchallenged.

In my personal life, I will no longer listen to televised debates conducted by "fair-minded" channels that seek to give "both sides" of this issue "equal time." I am aware that these stations no longer give equal time to the advocates of treating women as if they are the property of men or to the advocates of reinstating either segregation or slavery, despite the fact that when these evil institutions were coming to an end the Bible was still being quoted frequently on each of these subjects. It is time for the media to announce that there are no longer two sides to the issue of full humanity for gay and lesbian people. There is no way that justice for homosexual people can be compromised any longer.

I will no longer act as if the Papal office is to be respected if the present occupant of that office is either not willing or not able to inform and educate himself on public issues on which he dares to speak with embarrassing ineptitude. I will no longer be respectful of the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who seems to believe that rude behavior, intolerance and even killing prejudice is somehow acceptable, so long as it comes from third-world religious leaders, who more than anything else reveal in themselves the price that colonial oppression has required of the minds and hearts of so many of our world's population. I see no way that ignorance and truth can be placed side by side, nor do I believe that evil is somehow less evil if the Bible is quoted to justify it. I will dismiss as unworthy of any more of my attention the wild, false and uninformed opinions of such would-be religious leaders as Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, Albert Mohler, and Robert Duncan. My country and my church have both already spent too much time, energy and money trying to accommodate these backward points of view when they are no longer even tolerable.

I make these statements because it is time to move on. The battle is over. The victory has been won. There is no reasonable doubt as to what the final outcome of this struggle will be. Homosexual people will be accepted as equal, full human beings, who have a legitimate claim on every right that both church and society have to offer any of us. Homosexual marriages will become legal, recognized by the state and pronounced holy by the church. "Don't ask, don't tell" will be dismantled as the policy of our armed forces. We will and we must learn that equality of citizenship is not something that should ever be submitted to a referendum. Equality under and before the law is a solemn promise conveyed to all our citizens in the Constitution itself. Can any of us imagine having a public referendum on whether slavery should continue, whether segregation should be dismantled, whether voting privileges should be offered to women? The time has come for politicians to stop hiding behind unjust laws that they themselves helped to enact, and to abandon that convenient shield of demanding a vote on the rights of full citizenship because they do not understand the difference between a constitutional democracy, which this nation has, and a "mobocracy," which this nation rejected when it adopted its constitution. We do not put the civil rights of a minority to the vote of a plebiscite.

I will also no longer act as if I need a majority vote of some ecclesiastical body in order to bless, ordain, recognize and celebrate the lives and gifts of gay and lesbian people in the life of the church. No one should ever again be forced to submit the privilege of citizenship in this nation or membership in the Christian Church to the will of a majority vote.

The battle in both our culture and our church to rid our souls of this dying prejudice is finished. A new consciousness has arisen. A decision has quite clearly been made. Inequality for gay and lesbian people is no longer a debatable issue in either church or state. Therefore, I will from this moment on refuse to dignify the continued public expression of ignorant prejudice by engaging it. I do not tolerate racism or sexism any longer. From this moment on, I will no longer tolerate our culture's various forms of homophobia. I do not care who it is who articulates these attitudes or who tries to make them sound holy with religious jargon.

I have been part of this debate for years, but things do get settled and this issue is now settled for me. I do not debate any longer with members of the "Flat Earth Society" either. I do not debate with people who think we should treat epilepsy by casting demons out of the epileptic person; I do not waste time engaging those medical opinions that suggest that bleeding the patient might release the infection. I do not converse with people who think that Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans as punishment for the sin of being the birthplace of Ellen DeGeneres or that the terrorists hit the United Sates on 9/11 because we tolerated homosexual people, abortions, feminism or the American Civil Liberties Union. I am tired of being embarrassed by so much of my church's participation in causes that are quite unworthy of the Christ I serve or the God whose mystery and wonder I appreciate more each day. Indeed I feel the Christian Church should not only apologize, but do public penance for the way we have treated people of color, women, adherents of other religions and those we designated heretics, as well as gay and lesbian people.

Life moves on. As the poet James Russell Lowell once put it more than a century ago: "New occasions teach new duties, Time makes ancient good uncouth." I am ready now to claim the victory. I will from now on assume it and live into it. I am unwilling to argue about it or to discuss it as if there are two equally valid, competing positions any longer. The day for that mentality has simply gone forever.

This is my manifesto and my creed. I proclaim it today. I invite others to join me in this public declaration. I believe that such a public outpouring will help cleanse both the church and this nation of its own distorting past. It will restore integrity and honor to both church and state. It will signal that a new day has dawned and we are ready not just to embrace it, but also to rejoice in it and to celebrate it.

- John Shelby Spong

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bling Lady has arms!

I finally got paint on all of the canvas!  I am excited to get back into the studio so I can refine her arms and especially her hands which are quite crude right now.  I'm loving working on this piece.  The model is so beautiful, and I'm interested in all the details like the floor and the helmet and her face.  Interestingly, the hardest part for me has been her legs, especially the knees!  There are bones and nobs in knees that are tricky to paint so that they look right.  I have more work to do on them!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Internet Provider Update

Well!  I must say - I am intensely impressed by Comcast!

Remember a few weeks ago I wrote a rant about my attempts to get our internet fixed and how ridiculous the experience with Verizon had been?  The very next morning, I received two emails from Comcast.  They asked if I would be willing to give them one more chance.  I could hardly believe the emails were for real so I called Comcast to make sure the email addresses were valid.  Sure enough, they were.  Apparently Comcast scans the web for mentions about them.  I am impressed.

In the intervening days since then, approximately 10 service technicians have come out to our house to try to make things right.  It has still been a frustrating process, but each one of the techs was extremely nice and friendly and was definitely doing his best to make things right.  Here's what they had to do to get our internet to work:

Our signal was at -11 when we started.  They would be satisfied if it got to -5.
The first technician put an amplifier on the line.  That caused the internet to go out completely.  It took 5 days for them to get back to us to fix that.
The second tech took off the amp and said that had been a mistake.  He didn't do anything else.
I think that's when I called Verizon to change providers and wrote the rant.
Comcast got in touch with us.
Tech #3 said he thought the line to our house was too long for us to get a decent signal - 260'.  He couldn't do anything about it because he worked for Comcast and their own techs aren't allowed to climb up on roofs.
Tech #4 was a contractor and was allowed to climb up on the roof but he didn't perceive that to be the problem so he didn't replace that wire.  He did, however, instead, run a new line from the telephone pole to the house just for the TV so that the larger cable would be used exclusively for the internet, thus hopefully allowing more signal to get through.  (We don't watch TV at all - the only reason we have cable is because the internet is cheaper with cable TV - go figure!)
Tech #5 was called because that didn't make any difference.  We were still losing our signal 10 times/day even though the signal was now at -9.  Some improvement.  Tech #5 was sent mistakenly and didn't know why he was there.
Tech #6 was a mechanical guy, sent to look at the lines and see if repairs were needed further along the line.  He and another tech who came found that a coupler up the line was broken so they fixed that.  One of the gentlemen also fixed up a bunch of stuff that was messed up on the pole closest to our house.  That was supposed to fix everything.
The next day we were still losing the signal 3-4 times/day.  I wrote Comcast right away.  I got a response almost immediately, but didn't get a technician for several days.
Today 2 guys came out and replaced the modem and the router.  Apparently the modem kept trying to deal with the signal even after it was unplugged - like the Energizer Bunny, it just kept going.
When I got on the internet after they left, it went so fast I couldn't even think before the page came up!  I've never had internet like that.  Supposedly the signal is at +3 now!  What a difference!  They gave us an N Router so now my son in the basement can even get internet without its cutting out.  I still feel a bit tentative in my celebration of success, but perhaps - just perhaps - we're finally set!

I want to give complete kudos to Comcast for how hard they've worked to satisfy us.  I've never experienced a company before which was so willing to do so much to get us to stay with them.  I am completely impressed.  They didn't have all the answers, and there sure were a lot of issues, but they stuck with it with kindness and determination and courtesy.  Comcast will keep our business.

Working on Bling Lady

Friday afternoon Bling Lady got legs - of sorts!  I can see that they have a ways to go, but it's a start!  Today I'll have time to refine her legs and probably get paint on the rest of her body.  Then I'll begin the process of fine-tuning everything to make sure all the pieces fit together well.  I'm excited to get started!
  Yesterday I put some artwork in a store that's new to me and fairly new overall.  It's called Serendipity Art and Consignment and is located at 2717 Buford Rd, Richmond, VA 23235-2423, (804) 592-5740‎.  The owner has a great idea - she's selling consignment furniture and household goods along with arts and crafts.  The furniture, etc. will help her stay open while the store transitions strictly to a gallery.  Very clever!  She has some lovely work there.  I put my polymer clay jewelry, my small watercolors and some of my beach scenes there. I did the beach scenes on vacations in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. 
Tonight is the opening of Gallery 44 at the Unitarian Church.  It opens at 5.  All the info you might need is at the link  It's a terrific show.  The church does it as a fund raiser but also as a community service, really.  They showcase the artwork of 100+ local artists in a beautiful way and give people the opportunity to buy high-quality artwork for gifts and for themselves. I love to go to the show and see the work they have on display.  It's always been magnificent when I've been there before.  I'm looking forward to seeing it again tonight!

OK, time to get to the studio before I start getting cranky!  Have a great day!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Bling Lady's Face and Squirrel-Thwarting Bird Feeder

This weekend Chris and I finished creating the super-duper squirrel thwarting bird feeder.  Though we don't drink soda, when it was on sale for $.59/bottle, I bought 10 bottles of it to create our thing!  It took us over 2 months to finish the soda - we finally poured out the last few bottles full Saturday mroning!
My dad was with us on Saturday for most of the day.  He's had Alzheimers for about 7 years now so isn't as sharp as he once was, but he and Chris did a great job putting together the contraption!  In case you can't tell, there are lots of soda bottles strung on picture hanging wire between two poles.  There are plates every so often just in case the darn squirrels get across the bottles.  All of the bottles and plates spin lots if the squirrels land on them.  In the very middle, too far (we hope) for squirrels to jump to, are the assorted bird feeders.  We have some history with squirrels getting to bird food in our yard!  We're hoping this will be the final solution!  We like seeing the cute little guys run around the yard and bury the billions of acorns that fall from our many trees, but we do NOT like feeding them sunflower seeds!  Those are for the birds!

This morning I rushed out to the studio, ready and raring to go to work on Bling Lady's face.  I'd finished her bike helmet Friday (almost - it still needs a bit more fancy stuff on the rhinestone butterfly) and I was feeling excited to do more.  I actually also had begun her face using a blown up photo that actually had the wrong colors in it.  The first picture is of Friday's work with the purpler hue.  Below that, the horizontal picture, is now that I've glazed it with more accurate colors.  I can see a few things I still need t work on, but mostly the face is done.  Now I get to do the body. I may finish it today or Wednesday.  I have three days to work on it this week because Trinity has SAT's on Wed so I can't tutor then.  I'm glad to have the extra time!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Body Image Videos - eye opening!

I just watched a few fascinating videos that relate to the work I'm doing on Women's Body Image.  The first one was very politically correct:   Dove Video.  It's from Dove and is part of their campaign to help women feel better about their bodies.  It shows a model being made up then photoshopped for a billboard.  The final product doesn't look anything like the woman did at the beginning.  It's very bizarre.  I'm glad they're putting the video out there, especially so young girls can see what advertisers are doing.  It's so hard to not get caught up in the hype and to feel like you have to look as perfect as models do.

Another video I watched was from and shows a photographer, Tom Lynch, photographing a journalist then photoshopping her body to make her even more perfect than she already was.  Fascinating to hear him talk about actresses and how they have people on staff whose job it is to photoshop photos of the actresses so they always look flawless. 

The third video is NOT politically correct, but it is fascinating.  It shows a Adobe Photoshop teacher "fixing" a photo of a woman who's heavier than most models.  He shows the tools to use.  The way he talks about her is somewhat demeaning and shows, I believe, how people inadvertantly think about women whose bodies are not "perfect".

I have no intention of painting women any way other than how they truly are.  I find each of my models so beautiful in their authenticity and humanity.  It seems like it would be presumptuous of me to try to improve on how they look naturally.  It's already so perfect.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Just a quickie

I really should be in bed right now, but I figured I should do a blog post quickly first.

This morning I got to go in to tutor late so after my 6:30 AM walk with Lynda, I worked in the studio for 2 hours before going to teach.  I'm almost finished with Bling Lady's bicycle helmet.  It's such a weird thing to have in a painting - don't know if people will know what it is, but the model will, and it matters to her, so in it stays!
This evening Chris and I finished framing a couple of pieces (including Grace, shown here) to have them ready for the Gallery 44 Show at the Unitarian Church that starts this next Wed and runs through Sunday.  It's a great show with lots of artists from Richmond and surroundings.  I love going to it!  I am going to have 3 nudes, 20 watercolors, 5 matted fruits (cheaper than framed!), and 30 pairs of earrings.  I hope it's a good show!

The last couple of days I've been busy promoting my work and finding places to sell it - I have a show planned for the Bon Air Library for March 2011 - they plan way in advance! and a couple for sooner than that at other libraries.  I've also applied for a couple of solo shows and checked to see about teaching up in Fredericksburg.  I am going to put some work in a new shop called Seredipity on Buford Road by the UPS store.  Lovely artwork in there!  I'll put some of my earrings and watercolors and a few ocean scenes in there.  I'm also going to update my work on ArtQuiver so folks have new work to look at on that site.  It's a lot of work to keep my work out there and selling!

Tomorrow I'm going to try plein aire landscape painting with my fellow artist Adele.  Neither of us is particularly adept at landscapes, so we figured it would be fun giving it a try and see what happens!  It's sure to loosen us up!  I'll post results tomorrow if they're not too terribly embarassing!

Good night!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Progress on Bling Lady

Yesterday I finished the chair.  Today I put it into context withfirst the wall/background, then the floor.  I need to do more work on the floor - the values aren't quite right yet on the right hand side - it needs more shadow - but I'm liking how it's looking.  This is the first time I've tried to paint the wooden floor in my studio even though it's actually been part of almost every painting I've done.  I like how the lines of the floor point to her since that is the perspective of the shot.  I began on her bike helmet which is on the floor, but I didn't take a picture of it yet.  I might get to work on the pictures a little bit tomorrow before I go to tutor, but probably not.  Most likely it'll be Friday before I have time to paint more. 

I've also been working on getting ready for the Gallery 44 Show at the Unitarian Church on Blanton Ave. here in Richmond.  It's a wonderful arts and crafts show held at the church, sponsored by the church, held each year for the last 44 years.  Here's more info about it:

Starting in 1966 in the church basement with about 20 artists, Richmond’s longest running juried Fine Arts & Crafts Exhibit and Sale now includes the work of over 160 of Virginia’s finest artists.

October 14-18, 2009

Show Hours:

Opening Night!  Wednesday, 10/14 5 pm - 8:30 pm

Thursday, 10/15 12 noon - 8 pm

Friday, 10/16 12 noon - 8 pm

Saturday, 10/17 12 noon - 8 pm

Final Day!  Sunday, 10/18 12:30 pm - 5 pm

Monday, 10/19 Pick-up Art 9 am - 6 pm

Gallery is First Unitarian Universalist Church’s annual exhibition and sale of fine arts and crafts. Over 4000 works are displayed in the award-winning Unitarian Church building. Included are oil paintings, watercolors, lithographs, fiber art, lamps, photographs, prints, pottery, sculpture, furniture, jewelry, stained glass, paper, wood, wearable art and weaving, and more!

It's a wonderful show with lots of great goodies, generally well-priced, and extremely well-attended.  I'm delighted to be part of it.  I'll have a few of my smaller nudes for sale as well as polymer clay earrings, small watercolor paintings, and a few pastel fruits.  I hope to see you there!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Long lovely hours...

So...  today I had all good intentions of going to Quaker Meeting.  Oh well!  Ironically, I actually got up too early to make it happen!  I was up at 8 and already on the computer printing out the images of Bling Lady so I could draw her onto the canvas Chris and I finished last night.  I was still meaning to go to Meeting, but then Chris offered to make breakfast - a very rare occurrence! - so of course I didn't want to miss that - then I just wanted to get into the studio - oh well!  It was time well-spent.  The first thing I did was feel excited about the painting I finished yesterday.  It's always good news when I still like it the next day.

After that, I started drawing Bling Lady onto the 60"x40" canvas.  I had planned to use the canvas for another piece that I'm very excited about painting, butit just feels too large for that piece, so I'm doing this one instead.  I'm calling her bling lady because she is wearing shiny jewelry, but, more significantly, the picture contains her bike helmet as well, and it has tons of bling!  She is 64 years old and competes in half Iron Man competitions!  That means, I believe, that she swims really far in open water - can't remember how far - a mile, maybe?  Then she bikes 25 miles and runs a half marathon - maybe not in that order, but all in one day.  She is understandably proud of her physique and her bike helmet!  She has a rhinestone butterfly on the back of it and some lights on the sides.  I plan to do them in silver leaf if I can figure out how to do it.  I think it'll be fun to have them shiny and jangly in the midst of the otherwise fairly tame picture.
I photographed her in a chair I bought at an estate sale.  I saw the chair on Friday then came back on Sunday to get it when it was 1/2 price because I could completely imagine pictures taken in it.  It's also very comfortable to sit in when I'm musing or reading in the studio.   Multi-purpose!

It took me about 3 hours to draw the image - that's a very long time - normally they aren't so complex and only take about an hour.  I guess this means it'll take a while to paint too.

After drawing, I had some lunch then came back out to put on the finished details on the drawing.  Then I noticed that I had some details to finish on Beauty with a Veil II - I'd had to move her earring and her mouth line and hadn't quite finished.  I also darkened her lower arm so it would look more realistic.  NOW she's finished!  Finally!
This evening I was planning to boil a chicken, but it wouldn't defrost enough to be able to pull the bag of innards out, so I guess that'll be dinner tomorrow night.  Tonight Dylan made some delicious muffins in a dinosaur muffin pan he just got as a gift.  They were bacon/corn/herb delicious!  Yum!  I was really glad to not have to cook - I was totally caught up in the painting.  I started painting the red chair for Bling Lady.  It was so much fun! 

So 10 hours+ in the studio today.  That's a record.  Tomorrow is another day - time til 5 then a lovely walk with a friend, then a new activity - I'll be taking free voice lessons with the Sweet Adeline Chorus for a month.  I haven't sung formally since I changed my name to Singer in 1996.  I'm looking forward to it!

By the way, this last picture is of the studio at night.  I find it to be such a beautiful building!  I am so blessed to have such a great place to work!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Thar she blows!

Well, I said I was going to do it, and I finally did!  Several days ago I wrote how I was stuck on this painting - I just couldn't get it to work.  This morning I had a head of steam from a discussion I'd had with a friend which left me bruising for a fight, so I took that energy to the studio and blew it out!  I decided that I wasn't going to be able to make the piece work in the normal way, so I had nothing to lose.  Remember, this sucker is 8 FEET TALL!  It's intimidating!  I have to stand on a platform to reach the top. 

I squeezed out lots of paint - 1/4 tube of some colors - grabbed an odd-shaped palette knife I'd never used before, and went at it. It felt great spreading all that viscous goo, the bold bright colors, the intense lights and darks. I moved the paint around as if I were smearing the paint onto her body, moving with her curves.  Palette knives are completely different to paint with than brushes are.  Subtleties are not the point.  It really makes me paint loosely - perfect when I have a lot of emotions I'm trying to work out of my system.

The background was the last thing I did. It had been a pretty flesh color, but that just wasn't working - it needed color that worked with the intensity of the flesh, so I chose cerulean blue (the complement of orange) and some other blues for strongest contrast. I used lots of turpentine so it would drip and do all kinds of uncontrollable stuff, then at the end I flung orange and yellow paint at it. That ended up looking like she was flinging sweat as she danced. Love it!

This large picture doesn't capture the strokes very well unfortunately.  It looks somewhat washed out and crude.  I'm also inserting some detail shots because I think they show the painting better.  The color is more accurate and the brush strokes are more evident.

Interestingly, the other painting I did of this same woman is also in bright colors with a blue background - those are the only two paintings I've done like that so far.  It must be something about her energy in the pictures that causes me to reach for palette knives and blue backgrounds.  I've inserted the other picture of her too.  The body isn't done with the palette knife, but it certainly has the hot, hot colors and the jazzy background.  There's also a snazzy light line around her body to add some ca-ching and energy to it. 

When I photographed this model, she danced the whole time.  She loves to go ballroom dancing - it's her passion - and it shows in these pictures.  She wore high-heeled shoes and danced and snapped and twirled and spun the whole time.  Wonderful energy!