Friday, September 26, 2008

Burning the Midnight Oil

Staying up All Night, Painting Roosters
Isn't there an oxymoron in there somewhere? Last night I worked from 9pm until 3am this morning on these two pieces. When I say "worked" I mean I worked the collage process. They were already sketched up and under-painted by the time I got out to the studio and started the collage process. I work in stages this way, and with this rooster series I sketched them all first, then painted them all, so I have a supply of "ready to go" boards in my studio. Right about now I could use a coffee, Cock-A-Doodle-Doo!

The Eyes Have It

Capturing the Human Quality
For me the roosters seem to have a very human looking eye. It's the eye that is my favorite part to do with the collage. I feel like if you get the eye just right, it's really what draws the viewer in to the collage. Despite the fact that the tail feathers are incredibly fun to randomly rip and glue from many different papers and colors, it's the eye that draws me in.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The French Connection

A Symbol of Hope and Faith
as yet untitled, 24 x 20
In France, the rooster during the middle ages, was a religious symbol of hope and faith. During the Renaissance, the rooster became more of a symbol of French nationality, and later during 'la Resistance', of the countrymen, pride and courage. 

This information was given to me by my sister when I asked her to help me name the roosters. Aimée is currently working, going to school for her masters, (could you guess that her undergraduate degree is in French?) and raising her 8-year old son. One could say she's very busy! I have been asking her to help me with titles for these new pieces and so at this point they are untitled. I will take suggestions however, if any of you are inclined. And yes, you may suggest in English –– I have a translator!

Repetition and Roosters

Working with Interesting Compositions
as yet untitled, 20x 24
I am working on cropping and more interesting compositions on my latest rooster collages. I have decided that in these next few I will not worry about showing all of the traditional rooster tail feathers, but rather will crop in closer and make the heads larger than life. This will require more attention to the rooster waddle and comb and especially the eyes, which I have found to have just as much character (if not more) than the tail feathers.

Repetition and Roosters

Finding New Ways to do the Same Thing
as yet untitled, 20x24
It's a challenge with each rooster collage, trying to utilize different papers and textures to create not only the effect of feathers, but especially the waddle and comb!  I am running out of my hand tinted and mono printed red sheets and so today I have resolved that I will have to bring out the glass and the paints and make more red papers for the waddle and comb. Adding this to the challenge of no more black art papers, we are in for some creative solutions to our feathered friends in the next couple of collages. Bring it on!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Foul Friends, 20 x 20 (top)
Sittin' Pretty 20 x 20 (bottom)

Working in a Series

What's Next?
Des Jambes de Coq, 20 x 24
I am currently have another eight rooster collages planned. I have them sketched out and under-painted. They are all the same size, 20x24 or 24 x 20. I did them this way so that they would hang well together, as a series. I have found a resource for hand-made weathered barn wood frames, and all of the roosters are framed this way.

Right about the time of the roosters, I was also asked to do cows, if you remember the Cows at COMMA blog entry. I think the cows (I created two cows) and the roosters have started me out on a barnyard connection. Just yesterday I was asked if I would consider doing a commission piece of Alpacas! This request was a direct result of the rooster series. 

There is something to be said for creating a body of work in a series. There are benefits to repetition, practicing and learning how to best represent your subject matter. Now that I have eight more roosters ready to go, the last one should be a masterpiece! Stay tuned...

Practice, Practice
Early to Rise, 24x24
I am not tired of doing roosters, and I thought I would be! I have just completed a series of six roosters, and I am finding that the more I do them, the better I am becoming at creating what had intrigued me from the very beginning, the feathers! Each rooster collage is entirely unique to me, I take what I have learned from the last one and apply it to the next. The series is helping me to become more creative in my solutions, as I want each rooster's feathers to be different from the last.

I asked my sister, who speaks French, to help me name my series of six roosters with French sayings and titles. I wanted to have a cohesive series of titles to go along with my series of feathered friends. Aimée came up with some great titles for me, now I just need to get her to help me pronounce them! I sent her images of the six roosters, and she said "These are beautiful! The French would be so proud. I see so many colors that are unexpected and yet work so well." 

Working in a Series

The Benefits of Repetition
Du Coq a l'Ane, 20x24
Developing a series of art around one motif seems as if it would become redundant. I thought this myself when I was asked by Katharine Butler Gallery to delive six rooster paintings next month for my first month as a gallery artist with them. Katharine was taken by the roosters on my website, and wanted to see more. 

The Barnyard Connection
I had not intended to create a series of roosters! I decided to do one piece with roosters because I thought that the colorful feathers would be a great subject matter for my collage medium. My friend Champ (who also happens to have been my high school art teacher and mentor) is a photographer and lives in Western Massachusetts where I grew up. I know she loves to get out and take photos at places like Old Sturbridge Village, (which is one of those places we took field trips to in grade school but never really appreciated)!

I asked Champ if she had any good photos of roosters, and of course, she did. I combined a couple of her roosters in photoshop and added my own background, (a little insight into my process). As soon as I finished this piece, it sold. So, I said to myself, there is something here!

I followed my original two-rooster piece with a few smaller collages which feature one or two roosters each, you can view them on my website gallery. These roosters are now available at the Grand Bohemian Gallery

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Rooster Rally

SCC Demo Rooster is Complete!
Here is the piece I was working on at the SCC demo. I wanted to post it in case any of the students were interested in the final piece since they got to see me start it last week. This is one of many roosters I am creating for the Katharine Butler Gallery in Sarasota.

I talked about transitioning the painted bottom half to the papered top half with the students and you can see that I used lots of small pieces of the brown paper with gold squares on it to make this transition. I carried that through the middle of the rooster with lots of small pieces of torn book pages that create the spotty feather effect. I like the way there is now a speckled strip across the middle of the piece. The yellow/brown color represents grass.

The top area was tricky because it is supposed to be like blue sky dappled through the trees. It can't be clear and in focus or it would compete with our feathered friend, however it's hard to get a feeling of blurred focus with torn paper! I tried to keep that area from competing with the rooster by not bringing it all the way down to meet his top edge.

So there you have it! While poking around online trying to find witty names for my rooster series, I learned a few things. Did you know that a castrated rooster is called a capon? As a result of this procedure certain male physical characteristic will develop, but stunted: 
  • The comb and wattles cease growing after castration, so the head of the capon looks small.
  • The hackle, tail and saddle feathers grow unusually long.
  • In China, the Yangbi Huang breed can grow to be the largest rooster in the Asian continent, up to 35cm long. This is thought to be caused by the castration of the roosters practised by farmers in Northern China, which affects the hormonal balance.
You learn something new every day! 

Sunday, September 14, 2008

This is Not the End of the Journey for Me

I heard that line last night in the Theatre Downtown's production of the play Shining City by Conor McPherson and it rang true to my heart. I was thinking about my life as a journey and where it might take me. I have often thought that I would like to teach. In order to teach at a college level, which is what I think I would like most, I would have to earn a master's degree. This brings me around full circle to another thing I have always said I wanted to do, to earn a masters degree in Art History. 

These things are down the road for me, further along in my journey. I am enjoying where I am and what I am doing now, but I am a person who always has goals and a "to do list" in the wings. 

Robin Maria Pedrero and I did an art demo and business workshop last week for the SCC Art Club in conjunction with our exhibit there. We had a good group of students with which we discussed the business of art, sharing some of our own experiences and resources to benefit the career paths of these students. I enjoyed very much the feeling of "giving back" of helping some students who stood in the same shoes I stood in many years ago. Many of these students were very eager to learn more about the business side of art, which is something that I am still learning about. 

It felt good to be an inspiration. To inspire people to try a new technique and a new medium, and to inspire them about their chosen career path in art. I remembered how much my high school art teacher Barbara Chiampa inspired me. She went the extra mile in giving her time and talent to her students. She photographed my entire portfolio, we developed it to slide film, she showed me how to mask out the backgrounds with black electrical tape (yes! this was WAY before digital technology) and how to put the slides together in a packet to be sent off with my applications to art school. This, of course, was after she inspired me to want to GO to art school, and to create all the work IN the portfolio. 

When I think about my artistic journey and my career path, it always starts with "Champ," my teacher.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Collecting Art

Most Recent Aquisition: Doceur by Janie Brault
On our recent trip to Québec City, we stopped in the small town of St-Hilaire (see older posts) for lunch. in the Presse-Cafe there was an exhibit by a local artist, and I decided that what I wanted to bring home from the town of St-Hilaire was a piece of local art.

Janie Brault is a 33-year old artist who has been painting since she was 15. Her first influence was the wide open sky and surrealistic vision of Salvador Dali. Janie has done much traveling, mostly in South America. Everywhere she goes, she tries to catch the essence of people and places. In her art, Janie says she "wants to share some beauty, brightness and softness." She explained to me that the name of this piece, Douceur, means "Softness" (in French). It was inspired by her part time work in massage therapy.

Douceur is 10x10, however Janie typically works on large pieces that have been known to go up to 9-feet tall! I was glad I found a small one, so I could fit it into my ever expanding art collection!

I told Janie, that the next time she comes down to Florida, I'd meet her at the Dali Museum. Turns out Janie has an Aunt right here in the Sunshine State, so we just might do that.

Collecting Art

Anna with the Red Robe
In addition to Don Howard, I also have a piece by Margaret Dyer in my collection. Margaret is a pastel artist from Atlanta. I took a workshop with her in Daytona beach a few years back. You have never met a nicer person or a better teacher than Margaret! Be on the lookout for her locally in Orlando as well, she does the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival pretty regularly. The next one is March 21, 21 & 22, 2009. 

Collecting Art

Grande Sol
Artists like art. What do people who like art do? They collect!
A number of artists collect art as well as make art, and I am one of them. Sure, I could fill the walls of my house with my own art, and I have. What interests me however, are the styles and techniques of artists other than myself. I started my art collection with two pieces of art by Don Howard a number of years ago. His work is completely different from anything I would ever do, and I love it! I have a Sun God as well as a piece of his tribal art.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Good Press by SCC

Thanks Loraine O'Connell
Loraine covered our show for the SCC website and school publication and wrote a really nice article about Robin, myself and the show. Good press is always appreciated! Read the SCC website article.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Closer Look

Photo Gallery Now Online
For all of you folks who made it out to the SCC opening and want to see if you were caught on film (of course it's all digital now), we have made a photo gallery. For all of you folks who missed it and want to see who was there, we have made a photo gallery. And for all of you who are just curious.... check out all the photos! Courtesy of Doug Nelson Photography.

Photos from SCC Opening Reception

Thanks to Doug Nelson, Photographer!
Many thanks to Doug for getting great photos of this much anticipated event, and for publishing them so quickly. We have print quality digital photos if anyone wants to give us additional press! Thanks also to Lucy Gonzalez and her husband for doing such a great job hanging the show, it looked wonderful! We appreciate all our guests and friends for attending the show, which will be up through September 25th. More information about Gallery hours.
Robin Maria Pedrero (left with her artwork) and me, Elizabeth St. Hilaire Nelson (with my artwork)
Lucy had some patrons tell her they thought our show was one of SCCs best!

Terry Olson, (far right) Orange County Arts Director, came to the show and posed for a photo along with Lucy Gonzalez (far left) SCC Fine Arts Gallery Curator, Robin Maria Pedrero and myself (blue shirt) 

A Great Turnout

Despite the Weather, The Traffic and the Construction
We had a great turn out at the SCC Fine Arts Gallery last night for our show! Thanks to all the folks who ventured out in the rain, in 5 O'clock traffic and found their way to the Gallery! Robin and I were happy to see many of our faithful art fans and also to have some new fans who came with the Orlando Sentinel in hand, telling us they read about the show in Terry's column.