Thursday, October 13, 2011

That's Just How I Do It

Rooster, yet to be titled, 30x30, collage on wood panel

In a recent blog post from my dear friend and fellow artist Robin Maria Pedrero talked about how she accomplishes everything she does. I found this post to be so refreshing and interesting as Robin and I often speak about balancing family and work.

Robin talks about keeping a positive attitude, mentoring and teaching, learning from her mistakes and managing her time. She goes on to share a typical day in her life, and it resonated with me. I decided to borrow her idea and share with you, my readers, a day in my life. I do this because like Robin, everyday people say to me "I don't know how you do all that you do."

This week I am teaching seven fifth grade classes the art of collage and the profession of being an artist. I am at Sabal Point Elementary school every day this week except Wednesday, which is early release day. Yesterday was Wednesday.

Tuesday late afternoon the corporate director for the Grand Bohemian Gallery which carries my work nationally asked me if I had any new work. Since I have been working on my Noah's Ark Series I have not had new work to give her for a while, and I am feeling badly about answering that question with "no" because my answer for most things is usually "yes."

I Always Give it My Best
Vanessa was looking for a large scale rooster piece and had hoped to install it in the Asheville gallery. I told her I'd do what I could to get one done for her.

sketch with beginnings of underpainting

Late Tuesday night I sketched up the rooster onto my 30x30 panel and coated it with multiple coats of clear gesso. Wednesday morning at 6:30am I blocked in the green background before waking the kids for school. 

Multitasking is Key
While the kids were showering and getting ready for breakfast I pulled on my sneakers and ran three miles around my neighborhood. When I returned I checked on the kids progress, took a quick shower and cooked breakfast of eggs, toast, sausage and fresh fruit (Every morning is like Sunday at our house). I ran a load of laundry and put away the dishwasher. Before they went out the door to catch the bus I packed them both healthy lunches and kissed them goodbye, wishing them the very best day!

Slightly off  Center
Back inside, I quick changed into my gym clothes and headed off to lift weights. Exercise is my relaxation, I enjoy pushing the limits of both my mental and physical strength. I find my center and calm my mind through exercise every day. Before I clean up, I dash out to the studio to block in more color on the rooster, completing the underpainting. This will need to dry for a few hours. I'm moving so fast I think I'm still burning calories!

underpainting progresses with more blocking in and
establishing a decorative background 

Keep Moving
I head into the house and put the laundry in the dryer, shower, check my emails and design an ad layout for a health and fitness club in Baltimore, MD. Today I have set aside some time to have lunch with a friend since it's early day and  I am not volunteering at school. We enjoy Greek food and catch up conversation and then I head home and back to my desk. I design a tri-fold massage brochure for that same Baltimore client, field more emails, make changes to some fitness posters for my Orlando based Sportsplex and before I know it I can hear the beep-beep of the alarm as the kids come in the garage from school.

I take the kids for frozen yogurt so we can spend some time together before dance and swim team. We head home and on the way drop my daughter off for dance at 4:00. I encourage my son to do a bit of his homework before we have to leave for swim team at 5:15. Take a few minutes to check social networking, email and waiting for the underpainting to dry.

Head to the aquatics center with my son for 5:30 and back to pick up at dance for the break from 6-7pm. Arrive home, make spaghetti and organic chicken sausage. Back to dance for 7-9pm and pickup Connor at the aquatics center at 7pm. Typically I have help with the driving buy my husband is out of town on a photo shoot this week. Hit the post office to mail DVDs on my way home.

Balancing Act
Get everyone back and forth and settled with homework, then I sit and read for an hour with the kids and the dogs until DANCE MOMS comes on TV at 10pm. It's a repeat and so I tell my daughter I'm going to pass and head out to the studio to work. They are engrossed in TV as I head to the back yard with the dogs in tow. I pick up some papers and try to organize my work area a bit, put on some good music and start working in a sea of reds for the rooster waddle and comb. 

In the groove when 11pm rolls around, but I have to check on the kids and make sure they don't stay up any later than DANCE MOMS, head inside, say goodnight, clean out lunch boxes for tomorrow, and rotate the laundry again, dogs in tow. 

darkness has settled in as the sun has been down for hours, 
but I'm still going strong

Head out to the studio after everyone is in their room for the night. This is the witching hour, it's when the magic happens. Put my favorite Pandora station on, take the glue brush out of the water and I am quickly back in the zone. Share a few fun texts with my friend and Dog A Day painter Kim Santini who tells me she's turning in for the night. Stay in that zone for as long as I possibly can before the yawning starts around 12:30. Keep working until 1:00 am and sit for a minute to evaluate my progress.

Head in for a few hours of sleep with visions of paper tidbits dancing in my head like sugar plum fairies. Sometimes it's hard to get to sleep when my brain is moving so fast, even though I am tired. Tonight I get to sleep about 1:30. Some mornings I wake at 5:00am with my mind working away wildly at collage solutions and techniques for future subject matter. 

Do it All Over Again
Up at 6:00 am to varnish the now dry rooster head piece. Head out to evaluate the night's work and be sure I like it as much as I thought I did. Apply varnish and head back inside to making breakfast and start the day. After the kids go, I hop on my bike for a 20-mile ride and along the way I stop to take iPhone collage reference photos of the cows on the bike trail as they are at the fence and I have not seen them there in weeks! 

Return home and put another varnish coat on before heading for the shower. Today I'm volunteering at school again so I likely will have to bring the rooster downtown to the gallery tomorrow morning. I'll put the hanging wire and final varnish coat on this afternoon. 

And that's just how I do it. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Portrait in Progress

sketch with beginnings of under-painting

Recently I was contacted by an Orlando law firm about doing a very special portrait. The gentleman in this sketch passed away earlier this year from cancer. The partners and employees of the firm wanted to do something special in his memory, a collage portrait utilizing ephemera provided by his coworkers as well as his family.

sketch with beginnings of under-painting

One day a few weeks ago I was given a huge box of papers that reminded the people in his life about Bob. I have Orlando Magic tickets and golf score cards, cigar wrappers, old baseball cards, hand written notes, emails, business cards, beer labels and even a ticket stub to a Rangers game from the very first date he ever had with his wife Daisy. Ray took the time to go through the box with me and explain the significance of everything that had been submitted. It was a process that I could see was helpful for Ray to remember some of the things he loved the most about his friend Bob.


It is an amazing responsibility to hand paint all of these very special papers and do a good job incorporating them into a portrait of such a loved man. I made sure to paint all of my papers in tones and colors of the underpainting I had established.

papers hand painted in tones for the portrait

How in the world do you create a portrait from a pile of colored papers?
One piece at a time. :)

blocking in the background

This is where we stand as of this afternoon. I'm blocking in the background first and then I'll go into the face. I plan to use more subdued papers in the face with less texture/pattern so as to be less busy. Flesh tones are always a challenge as you can just never have enough shades. I end up infusing a lot of color in order to establish the right values.

Stay tuned for more progression on this very special portrait.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Workshop Photos

Many thanks to Denisse who attended my workshop twice in the last month and took these awesome photos for me, AND made a great slideshow of them for me to share.

I have the best art friends. :)
click here to view the slideshow

New Workshop / North Carolina

Come out and tear paper with me 
in Greensboro, NC!

Fairview Elementary School
601 Fairview Street
High Point, NC

Contact: Lisa Skeen via email

Or visit her webpage: 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Progression of a Peacock

My daughter worked many hours on this wonderful promotional video for me. See building the support,  painting the papers, the collage process, and the final project, all in under two minutes.

Thanks to my husband for building the oversized support, and thanks to Emilie for hours of editing long after the filming was complete.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Look At the Weekend

Seymour Lenz, Videographer visited my booth at the festival with his camera and then emailed me this link today! What a wonderful gesture. Thanks Seymour!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Post Art Festival Special

Florida Box Turtle, 24x20 ©St. Hilaire Nelson

Florida Box Turtle
20x24 gallery wrapped canvas giclée print
art all the way around the edges
wired and ready to hang
EMBELLISHED with some paper on top and SIGNED

Post Art Festival Special

Bananas, 8x8 collage on deep boxed panel, ©St.Hilaire Nelson

Great Kitchen Art
this 8x8 original collage is on 5 1/8 inch deep boxed panel with painted edges, wired and ready to hang. This piece would make a great holiday gift for yourself or the art lover in your life. 

Post Art Festival Special

Carrots, 8x8, collage with acrylic on deep cradled birch panel ©St.Hilaire Nelson

Great Kitchen Art
this 8x8 original collage is on 5 1/8 inch deep boxed panel with painted edges, wired and ready to hang. This piece would make a great holiday gift for yourself or the art lover in your life. 

Calendars are Now In Stock!

I have a 2012 Lang Calendar! 
A great holiday gift for the art lover in your life. Along with the calendar, Lang has produced travel mugs, journals, note and recipe cards. You will probably find these items available in book and gift stores near you, but if you'd like to purchase from Lang directly you can visit their website.

Post Art Festival Special

Two Muse 24x20 ©St.Hilaire Nelson

Two Muse
24x20 giclée print on watercolor paper
flat packed with foam core backing (not rolled, ships flat)

Post Art Festival Special

Buttercup#1 20x30 ©St.Hilaire Nelson

Buttercup #1 SOLD
20x30 gallery wrapped canvas giclée print
art all the way around the edges
wired and ready to hang

Post Art Festival Special

Out To Pasture, 24x20 ©St. Hilaire Nelson

Out To Pasture SOLD
24x20 gallery wrapped canvas giclée print
art all the way around the edges
wired and ready to hang

Post Art Festival Special

Butterfly Strings 20x24 ©St.Hilaire Nelson

I had some giclée prints made on deep gallery stretched canvas for the art festival. I sold several, but have a few left that I'd love to offer to you online.

Butterfly Strings
20x24 gallery wrapped canvas giclée print
art all the way around the edges
wired and ready to hang
EMBELLISHED with some paper on top and SIGNED