Monday, June 30, 2008

Start to Finish

The Process of Paper Painting
This week I am working on a very special commission. A friend and fan of my work has commissioned me to create a collage that she is giving to herself, for her birthday. What better way to ensure the perfect gift?

A few weeks ago she came to my studio and posed for me and this past weekend I finalized the sketch (shown here) and transferred it to wood panel.

My plan is to take photos throughout the process and post them to the blog in an attempt to answer some of the questions people often ask about my work and how it is created.

The next step is the underpainting, but the first step is the drawing.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

My Studio Space

A Labor of Love
I used to paint in an extra bedroom in our home, that was before I had kids. The kids kept me busy for a number of years, because I had two of them, back to back. When I was ready to paint again, my husband (my biggest fan and strongest supporter) carved me out a corner of our two car garage, framed it in, tiled the floor and air conditioned it. I painted there for a several years but eventually I needed more space. We decided to construct a free-standing studio for me in our back yard two years ago. My brother, an expert builder and an engineer, was the man for the job! My husband and I contracted him to build me a new and improved space that would offer the natural light that the garage space did not, as well as more room and a separation from the house. Alan stayed with us for 10 days, and made me his apprentice on the job. I must tell you that operating the nail gun, hanging the insulation and cutting the tile made this apprentice appreciate every square inch of her new studio space even more! Now Alan was teaching me how to do new things, and he was very patient in the process!

I came away with something more than a new studio in the summer of 2006.

My brother is 9 years younger than me and he lives in Massachusetts, I moved from there to Florida 15 years ago. Making multiple trips to The Home Depot wearing their logo hats, filling our complimentary plastic travel mugs with "contractor coffee," and working side by side, I got to know my little brother a little better.

Alan's life has changed a lot since I cared for him as a baby. He now has a two college degrees, owns a home, has a wife and two babies of his own! My baby brother is all grown up. I still think of what fun we had building the studio when I am out there painting in what has become my sanctuary, and I think about how generous it was for him to give me 10 days away from his own family and the opportunity to learn a few things from him!

The Longer You Linger

It's in the deTAILS

In my collages I often try to incorporate related materials to the subject. The closer you look at the details, the more interesting papers you may discover in the layers.

This collage painting is called Cock-A-Doodle it is 20x20 and was recently shown at the Fifth Avenue Art Gallery in Melbourne, FL

When you look closely at the rooster's tail, you may notice that I have incorporated some neat tidbits from an old Best Loved Nursery Rhymes book from my childhood. You may find a color illustration of a rooster, a boy holding a basket of eggs, chicken feet, a country weathervane and eggs sitting in straw. This piece has a companion entitled Sitting Pretty, in which I incorporated some text from Hickedy Pickedy My Fine Hen!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Strutting and Schelpping My Stuff!

This month I have been featured as the solo artist at the Fifth Avenue Art Gallery in Melbourne, FL. It has been really exciting being the solo artist at this very professional and beautiful gallery. This got me thinking that July is here again, and that marks a year since I was the featured Artist of the Month at the Orlando Museum of Art. These opportunities to really strut your stuff are few and far between. As an artist, I really have had to work hard to score such an opportunity. In both cases, Fifth Avenue Art Gallery and the Orlando Museum of Art, this opportunity was based on merit. I was awarded the solo exhibition at the Fifth Avenue Art Gallery because I won "Best of Show" last year in their 100% Pure Florida competition, the solo show was the payoff. I must say it has paid off a second time with sales from the show! Thanks to everyone at the Fifth Avenue Art Gallery who have worked very hard to represent my work. The Orlando Museum of Art show, one year ago in July, was awarded as a result of many months of submissions to First Thursdays and the work catching the eye of Jamieson Thomas, the museum shop manager and buyer. As the featured Artist of the Month, I sold two pieces of my work, and a third piece went on to the National Collage Society show in Delray Beach. This piece also sold when it returned to Orlando, to a local friend of the arts–– Lezlie Laws–– who was very patient and waited for "Reflection," which she first saw and fell in love with at the OMA, to be available four months later! Jamieson has also been very successful in the sales of my "Paper Paintings" books and cards at the OMA Museum Shop over the past year. Today I am reflecting on these wonderful opportunities I have had to be a featured artist, and giving thanks to all the folks behind the scenes at galleries and museums who work so hard to help me strut my stuff!

Cows at COMMA

Here is my PR piece for the show titled, "Out To Pasture" which is the bovine version of "Out To Lunch!" This piece is 20x26, collage of hand-made and found papers. Within the cow are some hidden nursery rhyme book pages (How Art Thou, My Brown Cow?), as well as a big textured piece of paper for the nose made by local Altamonte Springs artist Judith Segall. If you look closely you will notice that the tree line in the backdrop is created from the side panels of Starbucks bags (gotta love free art supplies)! I had fun with this piece and I think it shows, right down to the bit of grass hanging out of the corner of the cow's mouth. "Cows" exhibition is at Comma Gallery, 813 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 407-894-4505, The artists reception is July 8 from 6:30-9pm and the show runs through September 5. Come out to see my second cow paper painting titled "bloooooooo", and celebrate the artistry of the bovine!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Scrap Bag Studies

More work in the 12x12 format. I have decided to limit myself to the "scrap bag." for these pieces as an added challenge. The scrap bag is a big white heavy-duty paper (and oh how I love nice paper!) Anthropologie bag with red fabric handles, it was such a beautiful bag, I had to find another use for it once I brought my purchase home in it. As I work on collage and rip and tear bits of paper, there are always scraps, leftovers, pieces that either did not work, that fell to the floor of the studio or sit at the base of the easel. Here are two more tea themed "scrap bag studies." I am continuing to keep the detail to a minimum by limiting my resources and limiting my time frame. I am mostly keeping each collage to 1.5 hours. The time limit is pushing my sense of spontaneity and I feel the work is fresh and fun, as is the subject matter. These pieces were created yesterday, Sunday. 

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

I have started working on small boards to increase spontaneity in my collage work. These two pieces are 12x12 inches. My plan was to use them as studies and give myself permission not to get caught up in the details. I wanted to make them quick and impulsive, utilizing many papers that I might not normally use when trying to create a realistic likeness. I am quite pleased with the result! At the top of the single coffee mug, the bits across are all from an old book photo of a woman in the garden. On the saucer I used a lot of printed materials that I tinted with acrylic glaze before tearing up. On the double cups, I did not try to capture all the details in the cup handles or make the oval of the mouth of the cup symmetrical. Giving myself permission to work fast and in a more impressionistic manner was very freeing and I think you can feel this in the finished pieces.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


After driving a mini van for almost ten years, I was longing for something a little more unique and fun. Everything we looked at that would still be large enough for shuttling to and from art shows, was not big enough to allow for the kids to have a friend. We came up with an alternative idea all together. I decided to keep the van for the kids, the dog, the groceries and for the delivery of my artwork to and from shows, rather than replace it. Yesterday we added a smart car to our "fleet" for me to attend art openings (you know, the second trip to the venue in the same week!), go to lunch with other artists, go to the post office to mail out self promotional art packets, go to the bank to cash art sales checks, pickup Starbucks to stay awake enough at night to create new art, go to the gym to have strength to hang a show.... all these things that I do in the car when it's just me!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Blue Bather Completed

"Blue Bather" took on a softer look in the completed collage than the sketch in the face. I toned back some of the shadows to give her a more inviting and less detailed look. I decided to do this in progress, I was going to come back and further establish the shadows around the nose and the mouth. After working on it until midnight, I decided to rest and come back in the morning with a fresh perspective. I find this works wonders, I have a whole new take on it the next day.  In the morning, when I came out to the studio to get a look at her with all the glue dried and clear (sometimes when I overwork an area, the glue gets a cloudy haze and obscures the true look of what is underneath, all you can do is leave it for a while and let it dry, to get a clear view) and I decided that I loved her just the way she was! I remembered that good advice for all artists is to "know when the work is completed, know when to quit!" Overworking can take a great collage and turn it into something that is not what I set out to do... too much detail can be a bad thing.

"Blue Bather" in progress

Anyone who knows me knows that I have an affinity for images of bathers donning old fashioned bathing caps! "Blue Bather" is the latest in my series of capped ladies. I have been working on her this week, she is 24x24 and created totally out of hand-made papers (no painted background on this one, as I do at times) by my local paper maker and artist Judith Segal, as well as hand-made papers that I have purchased, hand painted papers, maps and if you look close in the water you will find line drawing illustrations of proper swimming technique which I took from a book that I purchased just for the purpose of TEARING IT UP! 

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The End of Innocence

2008 marks the 20-year anniversary of the terrorist bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland which killed 271 people in the plane and 11 on the ground in the village. Of those 271 on the plane, 35 were Syracuse University students studying abroad in London, UK headed home for Christmas.  I was an SU student in London that semester, I lived with four of those students, three of whom were on the plane. 
    My portrait of my friend and roommate Suzanne Miazga was inspired by a photo that her Mom gave me after she died. The photo of Suzanne holding the baby chick speaks volumes about her kind heart. Her major of study in London was social work, she had an internship at the hospital working with AIDS patients.
     20 years ago marked not only the end of innocence for those 35 SU students, but it also marked the end of innocence for those of us lucky enough to survive.

My Love of Collage, How it All Began

My love of collage started with a scrap box of papers from my childhood (going all the way back) that my father passed down to me a couple of years ago. It seemed a shame to put all of these memories in a box under my bed,but what does one do with the original hospital bill for their birth and Mom’s graduation cards from nursing school? I decided to find a way to incorporate these papers, notes and cards that my family took great care in saving for me, into a work of art, a "visual quilt."

Fifth Avenue Art Gallery Melbourne Florida

The opening of my solo show at the Fifth Avenue Gallery in Melbourne Florida. The lady with the purple hat "Guiding Star" is the signature image of the show which runs through June 29th at 1470 Highland Avenue, Melbourne, 32939