30 March 2009

Farm Chicks Mention My Work!

The Farm Chicks had a meeting with Celeste at Chaps and complimented the new foyer!
This is a very strange aspect of the internet...I'm blogging about a blog that links to my blog.  It's not as incestuous and self referencing as it sounds, I haven't met the Farm Chicks yet...but soon I will.  I'm going to their book signing at Chaps this Friday, giving support back to local women entrepreneurs, my favorite kind of people.  I love it when women have influence in the world and use it to help other women.  Here's the book:  http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbninquiry.asp?r=1&ean=9781588167293
Wow! Rewind.   If you've read the last post you know that I got to do the walls of the foyer of a wonderful local restaurant called Chaps, owned by Celeste Shaw.  It's been a fulfilling experience on a number of levels...I, like most artists, have a materials fetish that is long, dark, and deep.  Celeste's collections of stuff is endless and getting to wallow and commune and create in such a warm and welcoming environment, with such beautiful raw materials at my fingertips was what I imagine it's like to go to a day spa for someone who isn't me.  Both days of working at Chaps I would return home satisfied, spent, mind brimming with images and ideas for work, body encrusted with adhesive products.  Better than all of that has been getting to know Celeste.  She is warm, connected, authentic, thoughtful, present and compassionate.  Half of that would have been enough.  She has put on her thinking cap on my behalf, trying to figure out where and how I need to get plugged in to the Spokane community as an artist.  I've really been laying low since we moved here, focusing on my health, working on our place, nursing my old dogs and rehabbing my dressage ponies.  This spring just feels like the right time to start to spread out a little, meet people, see things.  I didn't really know where to start on a conscious level, but luckily my sub-conscious knew because it offered to do Celeste's foyer before I even had the chance to think about it.  In return, Celeste is having me share her booth at the Farm Chicks Show June 6 & 7 at the Spokane County Fairgrounds.  (yes, one more FC link:  http://thefarmchicks.com/show.html)
This is exactly the experience I needed, such a boost.  Having an event scheduled, especially one that is so well received, really motivates me and pushes me into that creative zone from morning until night.  This is my favorite phase of the process.   I've been bumping into walls, following my inner movies, watching stories unfold, that eventually turn into tangible things, like little paintings and pieces of art.  The horses treat me gently, as if I'm touched; I think I must be covered in wisps from the dream world, like a tree that was toilet papered on halloween, I sort of flicker in and out, pretty heavily soaked in imagination, Not All Here. Wandering around staring into space is what a work day looks like with an artist.  The escapist in me wants to stay in this phase forever.  I've often wondered if people become artists so they can be in this phase as a form of self medicating.  I've definitely seen lots of souls who stray from the path and get stuck in cul de sacs or potholes that mimic the art life; soothing their disturbed selves with compulsive, repetitive busy work crafts.  I'm pretty sure that our culture moving away from the home making crafts necessitated a market for prozac.  Anyway the dream state phase, where I get to drink from the well, doesn't last, it's not meant to.   The practical side will snap back into control and start performing the tasks that serve the creative side.  Things must be ordered, materials assembled, schedules organized.  Then the invigorating sights, smells and sounds of art industry:  melting wax, heat guns, hammer and nails, books on tape.  New brushes, melting snow, and Kate coming to tell me it's time to take our morning remedies.  If not for my vigilant stalker watch dog, our routine would be in tatters at my feet.

17 March 2009

Chaps Restaurant Foyer & the Miracle of Etsy

About a month ago I got an e-mail through my etsy shop asking "Are you really in Deer Park?"  It's a funny question because Deer Park is a sleepy little farming community north of Spokane, on the eastern side of Washington state, not the side of the state that gets a lot of attention, which is actually the way we like it, and probably why a lot of us live here in the first place. Since etsy is international, and enormous, it is more likely that I would get an e-mail from someone in Scotland than someone in Spokane.  Except for Brenda.  Hi Brenda!
So this e-mail happens to have been from Celeste Shaw, owner of Chaps restaurant and well known entrepeneur extraordinaire.  Fetish is not a strong enough word to describe Celeste's relationship to vintage.  She wrote to me initially about my silhouette paintings which I do on a background of vintage text collaged onto wood panel.  I went to Chaps to meet with her about the possibility of doing a few custom images for her in that style.  My first impression of the interior of Chaps can best be described as Buffalo Exchange (vintage retro cowgirl) meets Moulin Rouge with some spunky Powdermilk Biscuit Farm Girl thrown in for good measure.  This turns out to be not too far off the mark, as Celeste is friends with the Farm Chicks (http://thefarmchicks.com/), grew up in Montana, and at one point even had her own brand (before the word "brand" was absconded by spinmeisters to refer to corporate and product identity, a brand was a steel device with the shape of one's mark, which was heated up so that the image could be burned into one's property, whether that be the living hide of a cow or horse, wood furniture or leather goods such as chaps.  It was the forerunner to a logo, but also not unlike your mom writing your name in the band of your underwear with an indelible marker).
Our meeting quickly veered from discussing a commissioned artwork to a flurry of shorthand exchange, discovering a kindred soul.  Somewhere in there Celeste spoke of her desire to re-do the walls of the restaurant's foyer in vintage collage and I volunteered to help.  We would pull together materials and meet the following Monday, when the restaurant, like a theater, is dark.  The following Monday turned out to be the beginning of what has promised to be the last cold spell before spring.  It was snowing and cold and I chickened out since Chaps is about an hour from my house and I didn't want to get stuck in a blizzard away from my high maintenance animals. We got three inches of snow and had negative single digits for three nights in a row.  Eric slept with the dogs on the living room floor so they could be by the fire and I gutted it out under 80 lbs. of quilts, polar fleece and down, alone in our bed since it's too crowded in the living room for four.  Things were beginning to thaw again by the weekend and we've almost regained the progress we made ten days prior, in terms of thaw and mud and glop.   So yesterday was finally the big day.  I got to Chaps at 9:30 and Celeste had already painted the foyer ceiling in her signature gloss black.  As the owner of a small business that interfaces with the public and has employees, Celeste never has a minute to herself, even on a Monday when the restaurant is closed.  With the constant, necessary interruptions, she is always patient, present, kind and compassionate.  Throughout the morning customers came to the door, wanting to know if the restaurant was open, worried because they were meeting a friend.  All were invited in anyway, lattes were made, pastries were served.  They picked their way past the scaffolding, the paint trays and wet rollers, the piles of ephemera and maps and old songbooks, the heaps of displaced furniture and decor;  they had their rendezvous amidst the clutter and noise of industry.  I should add the kitchen was also being re-painted yesterday, in several coats of "Chaps Pink"  a more lightened hue but similar to "Schiap pink" pioneered by Elsa Schiaparelli  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elsa_Schiaparelli  and known to this day in England as "shocking pink".  
We finished the first layer of the foyer and one of the gable walls upstairs.  Celeste has the most amazing collection of vintage ephemera, from maps and board games to sheet music and recipe books and literary compendiums.  I tried to layer with things that teased at the themes of her restaurant and life.  Since a lot of why she cooks and how she cooks stems from a childhood raised on a farm by her thrifty and inventive grandmother (and really, vintage is the most complimentary form of recycling), and a lot of Celeste's interest in vintage and ephemera is about feeling a connection with, and caring about, the people who cherished these items previously, I tried to create a vocabulary, not only of rhythms and textures and composition, but by editing and revealing content as I worked.  Some items were literal and sentimental and harkened to Celeste's past in Montana (western sing along titles, for example), other items were about language and history lost or obscured (shorthand text from the 1880's and this marvelous book I found that is the Minnesota state audit from 1887-88).  Highlights thus far are from sheet music Celeste found that someone had lovingly taped together in a valiant attempt to keep the frayed edges from disintegrating completely, and a delightful discolored old cook book with recipes for things like boiled coffee and weird meat dishes.  I contributed a ragged novel entitled "From Cattle Ranch to College" that seemed to provide an endless supply of appropriate chapter headings or random western sentences exactly as I needed them for the walls.  Celeste will have a chance to live with it for a week while it dries and sets up, and then next Monday we will put on the finishing touches and coat the whole thing with a layer of acrylic gloss medium.  If you live in Spokane (hi again, Brenda), stop by, say hello to Celeste, tell her you read about it in the blog, get your friends to visit, and I haven't even begun to talk about the food.....yum!  Cowboy or Cowgirl latte is a must, and oatmeal to die for.

Compendium Prints

I have prints of "A Compendium of Heroines"!  The images are 7x7" on 8.5x11" german museum etching paper by hahnemuhle.  This paper is heavyweight and really rich looking.  It soaks up the ink and they look so vivid!  I'm really pleased.  I'm offering them on etsy for $15 each or a discount for the whole series of nine.  
Before I sent the nine paintings "A Compendium of Heroines" off to blowing sands gallery, I managed to scan them.  I had been hoping to get them to Coeur D'alene to a place that has a really wonderful high end art scanning system, and offers a super price for multiples of the size I paint, but it was too tight of a squeeze to ship them off in time for Rebecca Devere to hang, so I thought I would do my best to scan them at home.  I did 4 scans of each painting at 1200 dpi and then pieced them together in photoshop and I have to say they came out much better than I thought they would, in fact the detail is much more sharp than paintings I've had professionally scanned in the past.  Yay!

26 February 2009

Blowing Sands Gallery Show Extended Another Month

I got an e-mail from the curator of this show saying that it's getting such a great response they want to extend it another month!  How great!  Check it out if you're in the Ballard area.  Directions can be found at this link:http://www.blowingsands.com/

18 February 2009

Big Night Gallery Opening

The gallery opening in Ballard (Seattle) at Blowing Sands went well on Saturday night, Valentine's Day and also the curator,Rebecca Devere's birthday.  I got a great rundown from Reb and her husband Dennis of what sounds like a smashing success and a lot of fun.  I am attaching the link to pictures (the first shot shows my entry in the show "A Compendium of Heroines" on the right hand side, nine 10x10 panels) so you can see for yourself.  There was a string quartet, yummy food, a birthday cake for Reb, and the house was packed.  I think the show will be up for a month if you're in the area and want to take a look.  There might be an artworld connection made for me here in Spokane as a result of the show, I will keep you posted, my wish is to get gallery shows in this area (i'm hoping for Tinman) and there is a gallery in Coeur d-alene that I am interested in.  It's a new world.
I'm currently finishing up a collection of paintings of cupcakes and chocolates for a bakery that opened in Kirkland in the last few months; the owner said she would like to sell them on consignment which normally I don't feel too hip to selling out of a cafe, but it's a favor for a friend of a friend.  I will mount pictures of them as soon as they're dry enough to scan, they've been really fun to paint, I am particularly inspired by this subject matter :)
And I got my first request on etsy for custom work...something to adorn the walls of a cafe here in Spokane...isn't that funny?  In all the big wide etsy world it's the second person I've connected with in my own back yard (shout out to brenda, mother, artist and runs three blogs).
Here's the link to the opening, wish i could have been there:http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2019057&id=1157229748

13 February 2009

Rocky Mountain Wildlife Silhouette Paintings

Whew.  I'm dutifully slurping down my  green drink that eric leaves on the counter for me every morning, and waiting for my coffee to kick in so i can get on the treadmill.  I have to admit I can't handle the green drink every day...let's just say sometimes the dogs are getting more veggies than usual :)  I do it a lot though because it is a great breakfast; it's such an energizer, and it's a detoxifier to boot.  Also if i don't manage to eat living green cells later in the day i know i've managed a few servings with just the drink.  It took me a very long time to come around to the idea that eating isn't all fun and games, that sometimes it's a duty and it doesn't matter if you "like" something.  When I was a sugar junkie pre-teen i had fantasies that when i finally lived on my own i would have a pantry stockpiled with doughnuts and cakes at all times.  sigh.  maybe this is all on my mind because i spent the evening painting cupcakes.  more about that artwork later.
I'm excited i finally finished my silhouette paintings of rocky mountain wildlife.  Except for the buffalo, these are all animals we lived with in montana, some on a daily basis, like the deer, and one winter, the elk.  The moose would come about twice a year and it felt like we were being blessed by a great ghost spirit, they are just unimaginable in shape and size, like a prehistoric relative of the deer, you can really feel a greater history in their presence...animals of that size have their own rather heart stopping vibration; they always fill me with awe.  Then the awe gets brushed aside as the hootenanny ensues, for moose make most horses go completely bonkers.  
I do not miss living with mountain lions (cougars) or bear.  Although they are near enough where we now live, it is a rare occurrence to have one of them wander this far out into farm land.  The mountains where they live make a gorgeous sunset silhouette for us, it's the icing on the cake for our natural life, but far enough away that i don't have to worry about bears getting into my garbage or cougars attacking my horses.  There  are a lot of acres of pasture and fenceline between us and them now, which is fine with me.  I am grateful for their presence on the earth and I wish them well...from a safe distance.  For those of you who have never lived in a wildlife interface area, moose are considered to be extremely dangerous and we always kept our distance and had our moments of awe from safe positions on our property: the deck, the livingroom or the treehouse...but moose don't have a habit of attacking animals.  i was more worried about my babies than myself ("babies" meaning our horses and dogs)...cougars attack horses, dogs and people.  bears get dangerous when they become accustomed to living off of garbage and too familiar with humans and human environments.  i was never too worried for my personal safety but i have gorgeous, goofy, curious, too-brave-for-their-own-good hounds.  our last summer in montana one of the neighbors had taken to leaving their garbage outside - big no-no in wilderness country.  you have to let your garbage accumulate inside the house and take it out the DAY garbage gets picked up.  in the blink of an eye the bear population moved in, and our ravine was a fabulous place for them to live between neighborhood raids.  they get bolder and bolder, going on people's decks, pulling down bird feeders, tipping over barbecues.  when cornered or feeling threatened, any animal can be dangerous.  it was a rule that you would never sleep in the summer with your french doors open as you'd invariably end up with a bear in your kitchen.  they're just hungry all the time.  anyway i was overnight at a friend's and my husband told me a chilling story of a giant black bear on his way from the neighbor's unwitting feeding ground to her new home in our ravine, and she passed right by our house.  he was on the computer with a heap of dogs at his feet and the doors open onto the deck.  our old kate, ferociously protective despite being fairly crippled and having four kinds of cancer, went baying, snarling and snapping after this giant bear.  eric bellowed but once a hound gives chase, it's hard to get their attention again.  he said he finally yelled so loud and with such intention that kate actually stopped and turned and looked at him.  but so did the bear.  then the bear noticed kate, right behind her.   he said for one second everyone was frozen in place and he thought kate was a goner.  he said he quietly informed her she better get her dilapidated fanny back on the deck without hesitation or she might become lunch, or at the least, incur a swat she had no hope of surviving at her age.  kate, unbelievably, cooperated.  eric said the bear stood there regarding everyone and it was kind of a tense moment.  then it turned and headed for the ravine.  we lucked out many times when it came to wildlife.  
Now I'm really into nuthatches and chickadees and quail and crows.  But I wanted to commemorate the majestic creatures we shared habitat with in our amazing montana home.  I also wanted to do my version of western interior art and cabin decor.  There is no dearth of moose imagery sponge painted onto table settings.  I wanted to work with the silhouette because it's so iconic, even if you haven't had the pleasure of living with montana wildlife i think these shapes trigger some ancestral memory.  That's why street crossing signs are so effective...in the quickest possible way they convey a message to your brain that circumvents the tediousness of language, or the potential misunderstandings inherent in interpreting language.  But I also wanted to juxtapose these icons with languages real and invented (shorthand), and use vintage text for the histories they invoke.  Coating them in beeswax and resin enhances the visceral experience that their history and our memory of them is important. The beeswax gives a whole other connection to nature and it really sucks the viewer in with its organic, living quality.  These are irresistible and they soon are completely dulled and smudged with fingerprints.  I actually love waiting for this because it's so fun to take a soft cloth and buff them out.  I have been experimenting with polar fleece, sheepskin, microfiber, cloth diapers...they all work well and bring up this amazing luster that almost looks like enamel but for the soft lumps and swells of the wax.  It reminds me of putting parade wax on my dressage boots...you can never buff them enough and each round brings up new discoveries and further progress.  sigh.  okay, i'm a weirdo.  i just told you i love polishing my riding boots.  yes, i did.
enjoy this series and if you know of any interior designers or catalogues that you think need to carry them, please let me know or feel free to forward my blog and info.  i thought i would shop them around a little and get feedback.  i thought they'd also make a great housewarming gift for anyone buying a new mountain abode or decorating a cabin; i think they're flexible enough they could work with a range of design sensibilities, from modern to more traditional and rustic.
have a marvelous day and thank you for being here. 

04 February 2009

Etsy Honors

I am honored and thrilled to be included in yet another Etsy Treasury.  Treasuries are like little gallery shows curated by fellow Etsians, usually work assembled around a theme.  I've been really lucky and blessed to have been featured in five treasuries since i began with etsy, which is just a few months ago.
This time the theme is Painterly Painter Paintings, something I find especially complimentary, since a more painterly approach is kind of bucking the tide these days in terms of commercial work.  And it's just wonderful to be acknowledged and know that someone is enjoying and noticing you.  Thanks, Etsy!  here's the link, check it out, there are some really impressive talents in this gallery:http://www.etsy.com/treasury_list_west.php?room_id=42148

02 February 2009

Why Harpies? and Last 3 Paintings for Gallery Show

Punxsutawney Phil has spoken and the word is six more weeks of winter.  I have plenty to do indoors anyway, so this internment is for the greater good of my household and bank account - taxes, for one thing...eeeek!  typical right brain weirdo i completely freak about numbers and also need a sympathetic tax preparer in the spokane area...anyone out there care to toss me a name?  On the flagging morale of "six more weeks of winter" that some of you might feel, i've been looking at it this way:  my nieces are kick ass skiers and they have that much more time to perfect their technique (so instead of thinking how crappy six more weeks of winter is for those of us whose sport is, oh, RIDING HORSES, let's think about how this weather is GREAT for someone else!  yay!)...also, a simple re-frame of the "six weeks" idea; instead of listening to Punxsutawney Phil, listen to Bourne Lane Fred:  Summer's Comin'! Okay, I talk about the weather a lot.  I live in the country.  Now, Why Harpies.  I give a pretty good 2 second version of the Oresteia, which should explain why all women should proudly and prominently display harpy images wherever and whenever possible.  Click here to read it.  This artwork is also in my cafepress site so you can get it on t-shirts, tiles, aprons, and BABY CLOTHES...for the infant feminist in your life!  (i didn't say infantile.)  If someone orders the onesie with a harpy on it could you please send me a picture of the baby wearing it?  I'd be so proud to put her on my blog. And finally, I finished the last three paintings for the gallery show in Ballard which opens on Valentine's Day!   They need to dry for a few days before I can coat them with beeswax and resin and make them look really scrumptious, then some final touches and ship them off for the curator, Rebecca DeVere, to hang.  I'm sad I can't go to the opening, I'm excited to be a part of this show...maybe anyone in Seattle would like to stop in?

30 January 2009

Valentine's Art Now On Etsy and Cafepress

These four new Valentine's images are now available at my Cafepress site (click on the link to the left) on t-shirts, baby clothes (i especially think the fish/heart/skull image is really cute on the onesie), mousepads, tiles, clocks, aprons, pillows, etc.  The original paintings are now for sale on my etsy store (click on the second link down on the left), and I will be offering prints there for anyone who is interested.  Whew.  It's hard being organized, i'm exhausted.  I think it must be wine time :)

29 January 2009

More New Paintings!

I painted my head off yesterday. These will be on my etsy site as soon as they're dry enough to scan.