Monday, August 29, 2011

Florida Museum for Women Artists

©Jan Tomlinson Master, St. Augustine, FL, "Caught in the Corner" 

Having been accepted into the Second Annual Juried Show, I had to drop off my work to the FMWA last weekend, and my daughter came along for the ride. After exploring the gift shop, we took a look around at their current exhibit: Witness to Creativity II, installation art.

My daughter was quite taken with the fact that she could walk around, and sometimes even in between, the art. She's used to 2D work in museums and she really had a good time looking at these very cool pieces. Emilie is interested in making her own videos, and she said that Caught in the Corner gave her some ideas for a future video.

Inspiration is a wonderful thing.

©Nathalie Chikhi, Sanford, FL "intrinsic" 2011

Intrinsic was my favorite piece. I just loved the way the spiny balls cast spiny shadows on the floor. I wondered what they would be like suspended... I could not walk between them like Emilie could in Caught in the Corner but they still drew me in. I love the hot pink centers, they stirred imagery of sea urchin for me. 

We had a great time at the museum, it was nice to share an artistic experience with my daughter.

The Second Annual Juried Exhibit opens September 10th, Membership preview and reception is Friday September 9, 5:00-7:00pm. I hope you will come down and say hello and share a slice of blueberry pie with me!

©St.Hilaire Nelson, "Blueberry Bliss" 24x24 / collage on panel

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cherie's Progress

Today I met with the folks from the Global Peace Film Festival in Orlando. They are screening the film "Defining Beauty; Ms Wheelchair America" this year. I have agreed to donate artwork and graphic design for their collectible poster, and they have agreed to auction off two original pieces of Paper Paintings collage art through the festival. 50% of proceeds of the poster sales and the Dove artwork will go to Cherie, and 50% will go toward Global Peace.

Ironically when I got home from the meeting today, I had a wonderful note in my email box from Kerry Trementozzi who found my art online. This is a photo of Kerry, who became a quadriplegic at the age of 16. She told me that my blog posts about Cherie really moved her and she wanted to reach out to me as a fellow artist and she wanted to reach out to Cherie to give her some support. Kerry has been a quadriplegic for 30 years.

Kerry wrote such a wonderful note about her story and how important a positive attitude can be, I wanted to take a moment to share it with you:

When I look back when I was 1st injured I always feel - wow if me or my family could have talked to other people who have already gone through this it could have made it a little bit better. 
Cheri sounds like me, positive upbeat & never give up, not that it hasn' t been hard at times - I'm still paralized from chest down w/some arm & wrist movement but no finger movement. I always say take it one day at a time. There are good days & bad, the 1st few years are hard but it sounds like her family is there for her, I know that is so important.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Ironwoman Portrait - A Progression

Mickie Shapiro at 74!

On May first I received an email from actress Spencer Kayden exclaiming
"I just stumbled upon your blog in such a random way. My mother is a triathlete and her 75th birthday is coming up in June. My brothers and I were thinking about getting her a piece of original art that is somehow Ironman related (since that's pretty much what she eats, sleeps, and breathes). So I was googling "triathlon paintings" and it led me to your posting about your triathlon results last year."

Spencer was referring to my Danskin Women's Triathlon  Serendipitous don't you think? We chatted back and forth via email and I told Spencer that not only could I do a commission of her mother Mickie Shapiro crossing the finish, but I'd love to incorporate personal ephemera and family memorabilia. 

What an opportunity for me, the beginner triathlete, to be able to work on a portrait for this AMAZING accomplished Ironwoman. Ironman, incase you didn't know, is a 2.4-mile open water swim, a 112-mile bike race and a full marathon, 26.2 miles - back to back! Shapiro says that other than being a dancer when she was a young woman, she did not really maintain an active lifestyle. She told reporters that Spencer decided to become a long distance runner when she was very young and that Mickie started running with her daughter and got hooked! When an injury led Mickie to focus her energy on swimming, she figured she had two of the three of a triathlon down pat. She bought a bike, started training, and the rest is history. Since then Mickie has done hundreds of races in running and triathlon and when she was 60 she celebrated her birthday doing IronMan Hawaii!

personal ephemera sent by Mickie's kids

Soon after I agreed to create Mickie's portrait, I started receiving family memorabilia from Spencer and her brothers which I hand painted with fluid acrylics. Brother Michael Almereyda shared a copy of his screenplay for his film Hamlet with Ethan Hawke and Archaeologist Kenneth D.S. Lapatin sent along magazine articles and a book on Minoan antiquities. Brother Danny was wiling to part with amazing ORIGINAL artwork by his daughters Helena and Sonia Rose (he tried to send me color copies but I told him I MUST have the originals, sorry Danny!)

photo of Mickie crossing the finish in Austria

composite photoshop layered file created on my computer

first step by hand - sketch on the birch panel

I started with photos of Mickie crossing the finish that Spencer provided. When Mickie left her house to head for her race, Spencer convinced a neighbor to head over to her house, grab some photos off the mantel, scan them and email them to me. EVERYONE has been "in" on this surprise gift. I worked with the photos in Photoshop to simplify the background, eliminate the extra people, enlarge Mickie (after all, she is larger than life!)  and make myself a composite to sketch from. Spencer had said she really liked my flowers and background patterns and we agreed to use these instead of logos to bracket her at the finish line. 

Such a cutie! Spencer's son sporting his IronMickie T-shirt

The IronMickie logo comes from a T-shirt that was designed for Mickie by her family and I loved it so much I had to work it in! I thought it was really clever and used it instead of the Ironman header from the race photo. Another way to personalize the art.

underpainting in fluid acrylic on cradled birch

"gallery wrap" means running the collage around the edges

After the sketch came the underpainting, which I use to establish colors and values. This portrait is on a cradled birch panel, so I am running the artwork around the edges to create a gallery wrap effect. The size of this piece is 16x20 and it was important to the family to see her feet crossing the finish. At these proportions, that makes the face about the size of a half dollar. A real challenge! And remember, I never cut and only tear my papers, so those eyes and eyebrows are going to be difficult.

detail of the left hand side

Working in something from all of Mickie's kids and grandkids was my goal. I had to add a photo of Rosie, Mickie's dog to the dark background behind her when Spencer realized she had not been represented. And Danny had to email me Sonia's signature when I realized I accidentally covered it over in the collage process (either that or it's on the floor of my studio somewhere, Sorry Danny!)

Mickie by Leonard Ortiz

face detail

This has been an exciting project to work on, I saved the most fun for last... the face! it's hard enough to capture a likeness of a person when working actual size, let alone working small, from references that are even smaller. I'm not one to back away from a challenge though!

I have also enjoyed emailing and getting to know Spencer over the past few months and we both seem to have a similar sense of humor. Some late nights and afternoons we have just emailed back and forth about things unrelated to the portrait. She was super supportive of my first Olympic triathlon results a few weeks ago and shared with me about the "chocolate diamonds" she got to borrow along with a designer gown for an awards show or something very "Hollywood."

IronMickie complete! outside the door of my studio

Thank you for the opportunity to share this portrait in progress with you. Spencer returns to LA from NYC the end of the month. The portrait will be shipped to LA and presented to Mickie by her kids in California. I'll let you know how it is received, but here are the very kind words I received from Spencer just this week:

"I think it's spectacular. I am in awe that you were able to do this so beautifully. Not that I doubted you could. But I know it must have been quite a challenge. I couldn't be more delighted!"

That just about says it all.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Back to School

©P Fernandez

©R Echavarria

Back to Art
Last year I was invited by my local high school art teacher at Lake Brantley High School to come and speak to her advanced portfolio students about my collage technique, the business of art, and going to college for art. I truly enjoyed this opportunity to speak with students who are getting ready to consider art for a career.

©A Rivera

©J Slater

I remember when I was in High School in Massachusetts, my art teacher often brought former art students to come and speak with us. These people were either in college for art, or had art careers. It was through these guest speakers that I learned of the many careers that commercial art had to offer. I am always singing the praises of my high school art teacher, because without her encouragement and motivation, I would not have gone on to pursue a fine art degree.

The Lake Brantley students studied my collage technique prior to my visit. I gave a demonstration and answered questions when I came to speak, and their teacher Ms. Farmer later gave them a class assignment based on my technique! How exciting. And as you can see, the work is stunning!

©M Esser

©M Zeff

I'd be happy to return this year and encourage the Lake Brantley High School art students to follow their dreams and pursue an education and a career in fine art or commercial art. Are you listening Ms. Farmer? ;) There are many opportunities for artists to make a living beyond just painting, I reminded the students that commercial art and graphic design impacts every product you purchase, every book or magazine you look at, etc. etc... So think BIG!

©J Beardslee

©A Froment

Congratulations to everyone who's work is represented here, you did a fantastic job! I really enjoyed looking at the included materials, like the flag in the Stonehenge piece, and other Britain related tid-bits. The drips in the guitar and piano pieces are wonderful! The shading in the Statue of Liberty is excellent, I can appreciate how difficult that can be. I like the snake's leafy background, a lot of detail in there that really makes it nice. The rooster sky is wonderful, dark and stormy. I really enjoyed the cropping of the bicycle piece, and the sewing patterns (?) in the background, a lot of nice lines in this one. What a wonderful and creative application the crow has, love all the color in the blacks! LOVE the little bird head and the wonderful sky on the plane. And last but not least, the portrait was done by a student who used to babysit for me, she really gave herself a challenge in creating a portrait of herself as a child. I think she did a fantastic job with so many tiny details!

Thanks for inviting me to speak, I truly enjoy inspiring others.

©M Pope

©M Trent

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Good Press

Prismatic, 10x12, collage on panel, ©St.Hilaire Nelson

Featured Artist of the Month
I have been written up by my friend and fellow artist/photographer Josh Garrick the Florida Arts Editor for Wandering Educators. Josh contacted me when I was at the airport on my way to California. I was able to send him the images in the article from my iPhone, which I always have on me.

Upon arriving in CA I connected to the WiFi in our Bed and Breakfast and went to work answering Josh's email interview. Thank goodness for technology because the article would not have been able to wait a week. As always I appreciate the publicity and the opportunity to be included in such a great online publication as Wandering Educators. The contact info and links Josh included are great and he features several images.

Thank you Josh!
Click here to link to the interview