Starman

When I found out David Bowie had died I was devastated. Probably more than the average person or fan. I was very saddened by not only the loss of this amazing & talented human being, but reminded in a millisecond of my own grief I was still reeling from after losing my mother to Cancer not 4 months prior. This was what defined my life last year and I was just barely coming out of the fog I was in. My only respite was to dive into a piece that would channel the sadness into something positive. I decided to create an image transfer from a photograph that would capture both his class and timelessness. I've named it "Starman" and it's soon to be framed and will hang in my apt. proudly as a testament to both his memory and power of creativity, but to how love never really dies.

First I found a suitable image on-line, opened it in Photoshop and converted it to high-contrast black and white using the Threshold tool. Because I was creating an image transfer, I also needed to flip the image horizontally so that while it prints backwards, the final image will be correct.

First I found a suitable image on-line, opened it in Photoshop and converted it to high-contrast black and white using the Threshold tool. Because I was creating an image transfer, I also needed to flip the image horizontally so that while it prints backwards, the final image will be correct.

The next step was to create the image transfer. I applied packaging tape to the image overlapping as I went to create a tight seal. Then carefully dampened the exposed paper remaining on the back with water and began the gently removal process. 

The next step was to create the image transfer. I applied packaging tape to the image overlapping as I went to create a tight seal. Then carefully dampened the exposed paper remaining on the back with water and began the gently removal process. 

Once the image transfer was done of his face, I put that aside and got to the task of creating the background for the image. I usually work in black and white so I started with high graphite pencil that dissolves nicely in water to create the blending I wanted. I then played with white gesso over painting, and scratching into and wiping away to create the translucency I wanted. When David had just the right amount of subtle stars showing through I knew I was done.

Once the image transfer was done of his face, I put that aside and got to the task of creating the background for the image. I usually work in black and white so I started with high graphite pencil that dissolves nicely in water to create the blending I wanted. I then played with white gesso over painting, and scratching into and wiping away to create the translucency I wanted. When David had just the right amount of subtle stars showing through I knew I was done.

Starman

Starman

 

Are we addicted to ideas?

By your 10th year teaching you start to feel like a Pavlovian dog, jumping when you hear a bell ring, fighting not to tell the total stranger to, "Take that hat off!" or eating your meals in record speed so you can run to the bathroom. It's habits like these that I'd imagine with any job are ingrained habits you find hard to dodge in normal life. But one thing that has ramped up for me lately is not so much the habits that come with the day to day, but the management of all the information coming at us at an epic pace. Now in year 23 of this career, it's not the same as it was when I started. Not that I'm expecting it to be, mind you, but the integration of technology into our daily lives as both a teacher and as an artist has fueled a few more bad habits than I care to have. More information isn't necessarily better.

As a visually driven person, Pinterest for example, is akin to crack. Seriously, even the terminology used around it , like, "Oh, I think I need a Pinterest hit!' alludes to it being a literal addiction! (You know you've all thought it at least once!) And to add insult to injury, there's a Pinterest App so we can be ANYWHERE and still be scrolling through the battery of images it houses. I don't mean to harsh just on Pinterest, but it is representative of the bad habits I am referring to. It is a means to collect ideas...ideas that we get all excited about because we see a beautiful picture that we are SURE we can recreate just as well, yet when push comes to shove we either bomb the project, or more likely, we never make time to execute it. I am convinced that we have all become expert idea collectors. We find something that satisfies that "Hit" buy gorging on, for example, all the drawing lesson ideas we can find, make a "Board" about it, blogging about it (read:self-mocking :) and then before you know it, we are collecting more information about drawing in different mediums, on different surfaces, etc., before...we have implemented any of the information we first collected. And then we feel bad about it! We never have a chance to integrate and without integration of an idea, all it does is float on the surface instead of soaking in.  I vote for less collecting, and more space to integrate...it's hard to do because the bad habit of collecting masquerades as being purposeful & productive. But I'm pulling back a bit...I'm not pinning as much until I use what I have, kind of like the way you're supposed to reduce clutter, can't buy something new unless something goes! What do you guys think? Am I onto something here, or do I need to join PinterestAnonymous....or rather start it! :) 


Fear in bad sunglasses

This week I finally bit the bullet and put up some new work for sale. I had been floating this idea around for a while but wanted a new way of reproducing my work that didn't involve me doing the printing. Frankly, the less time I spent on the computer stuck in post-production hell the better off the world was! I was not a nice person after being stuck in a chair for hours at a time, I mean really, who is?! Plus the fact that I was less than disciplined I would linger on non-work related sites instead of focusing on the work I really wanted to do. Then the work woudn't get done and I would have to be sitting there LONGER!!!  It was bad. But not uncommon especially for us creative types. I am a procrastination expert and will justify anything.  I'm finding the habits that block my ability to do real work include television (yes, I know!) my cellphone (again, I know!) and the inadvertant habit I've adopted post-burn out phase of numbing myself to things that feel overwhelming. It's not a unique tactic but admission is the first step to recovery, right?  The reality is my procrastination is really my fear in disguise...and I'm talking trench coat, bad hat and goofy sunglasses-disguised fear! In other words, it's obvious.

Thankfully, the biggest discovery I've made these 25 days has been the beautiful freedom I'm starting to feel in place of that fear. Because this creative practice contains the disclaimer that there are not rules, only that the time is dedicated daily and that I document it, I've discovered what works for me based on my needs for that day. Do I want to do some drawing today? Done. Do I have some new images to upload and edit? Bam! Is today about reading more of that inspiring book that gave me that idea that may lead to a series? Go for it. It's really all up to me which in the past I didn't realize. I was dressed in the fear that external pressure sells. "Brand Expectation" and it wasn't a good fit. That said, gettting on the computer during this daily time has been done with more focus and purpose than I've ever had before. Basically, because of that no rules rule....it's amazing what not giving a shit does for your psyche! I've managed to get my fear in check, or at least in a better outfit! The goal now is to keep this up and figure out a schedule that works to address the various needs of my practice, the creating part, the editing part, the inspiration collection and integration part. They all add up when combined correctly....and the TV isn't on! :)

 

17 days in

The purpose of this challenge has been to reacquaint myself not just with the act of creating, but the organization of my time around creating.  It's been a rebuilding of sorts with the aforementioned burn out in my last post. To be at this point now, where I'm not only keeping up with this challenge, but sitting here writing about it is leaps and bounds from where I was but 3 months ago, so this is proof that habits can be formed when you set your intentions and make a conscious effort to shift your perspective!

My initial desire was not to create finished pieces...that's just too much pressure & I was still recovering from THAT habit so, no...not the goal! What I realized I needed to do rather was to commit to creating a new habit. By deciding that from this time to this time every day was going to be for, "This" for example, was the key to creating the space in which to develop this creative practice. Being conscious about how I spend my time has become very important to me as I get older, and the impulsive fast pace I used to keep just wouldn't cut it anymore. This also felt pretty easy and right so that alone was my indicator that it was time.

How do you create a habit? Most say it takes 2 weeks which in this case I have found to be true. My commitment to this challenge by posting daily has been just enough push to get me to stay with this for the prescribed 2 weeks. After that, it is said it becomes habit...and I now understand that. Just the act of moving into that "Space" be it physically to the worktable, mentally by looking at inspiring images or words, or reading, writing or just sitting with an idea that needs to integrate is an act of making that decision, that choice every day to use that specific time for this specific act. Once it turns into an act you do every day without having to DECIDE you’re going to do it, but you instead just glide into doing it, that's when you know it's a habit. The removal of expectation is also vital within a creative practice. I now see this time as a gift, a respite or sanctuary where no one can touch me or tell me what to do...protected and safe and all mine. That has been my discovery in just 17 days and I can't wait to see what happens next. I'd love to hear from people about how they have created a creative practice or new habit. What has worked for you? Please share and let us know what you’re doing out there!

Cheers~

Amy

30-Day Art Every Day Challenge, and why I suck at blogging.

It's been quite a few months since I've posted here as usual. I've been attempting to blog for years now, when it first came into popularity it seemed pretty daunting as I'm not a writer, (other than tons of angsty journal entries!) nor did I always feel confident enough to share any artwork I was doing, if any. But as this medium has morphed and changed I've come to realize that as a part-timer, a dabbler....the on-line community isn't as concerned as of late as to how you share your stuff, per say...as it is that you do the sharing.

I've been under a microscope for so long at my job (that's another post I'll save for later~) that I felt like if what I was, "Putting out there" wasn't perfect it wouldn't matter, or it would immediately get criticized because let's face it, that's the society we live in. After acknowledging some severe burnout this past year I knew I had to re-evaluate what I was doing and sought out support from other creative & sensitive souls both locally and on-line. Thankfully, since I've been slowly dipping a toe into this pool and that,  with the support an amazing group of artists and friends I have learned that being vulnerable and revealing failures is not only a part of healing your fried soul, but it's what makes you interesting. It's not about perfection, or being infallible....it's about being real and authentic and letting people see this...then they know perhaps they are not alone and then connections are made. This is what I've learned, and what has helped me to revisit my identity as an artist and literally re-learning how to build a creative practice that honors my needs instead of what I thinks I "Should" be doing or creating.

In order to do this, to build this practice that is more about internal motivations than external pressures, I've given myself a creative challenge with the turn of the year. It's a 30-Day Art Every Day Challenge and I'm basically giving myself carte blanche to rediscover what it is that moves me, inspires me and brings me complete joy as a creator, maker and artist. By utilizing social media I'm keeping myself accountable and have had amazing support and feedback from friends near and far. It's not about creating final pieces, or anything to sell....it's about finding my mojo again and letting it take me where I need to go.  Please keep checking my Facebook page (links to the right!) for the daily posts and here for my reflections and poorly written observations as I venture through this process!  In the interim...here are some results of my 1st week~

Happy New Year! 

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Road Trip

This is the first summer I haven't worked in probably...close to 10 years if not more. I am astounded at the mental capacity I have regained after just a week off from school, and now...I'm a MENSA candidate! (Not even close, but it's fun to dream!) 

The remarkable power of time to think, take space to breath, regroup and refill the well is immesurable. I have been able to see some new possibilities emerge for my work & life and that's exciting! Who knew an actual vacation could do that! (Read:I've been pretty bad at them all these years :) I covered a LOT of ground and will share specifics in my next posts along with a gaggle of images. For now...a fresh new look & dreams of another mini-break before school starts. 

 

 

 

 

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Mixed Media May

Recently I was interviewed for Mixed Media May.com!!! It's a great labor of love that introduces a new mixed media artist everyday for the month of May. So thrilled and honored to be a part of this community!!! Check out a whole month's worth of fab Mixed Media artists at http://www.mixedmediamay.com


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Journaling...a process

So, I have a lot of journals. A lot. Like, an entire wardrobe full of them that stands in the corner of my 600 sq. ft condo...seriously. Some say I have a problem, but I say I have a passion, a commitment if you will. I love the potential of a blank page, however intimidating. I love having tangible proof of my thoughts and feelings in a particular moment. Journaling allows me to purge what is going on inside by putting it on a page and setting it free. It's cleansing, it's medicinal and it's a necessary part of my creative life.

It is also really hard! It's a practice that requires a commitment and I am always practicing. I used to think, "Oh my God, I have to get this right because I teach this stuff!!!" Well, what I didn't realize was that all the while I was comparing my work to others who were knocking their journal practice out.of.the.park. .... was that my style was just what it needed to be.  Because, drum roll please, it was MY style, and that is the whole damn point! I mean, emulating another persons artwork is flattering and a common way artist try learning new techniques and can help to expand their vision. But to expect my work to look like others while strangling my own creative voice was exactly what I was teaching my students NOT to do. Exploring my own style and finding my journal, "Language" as I call it is what this process is all about for me. I believe the use of journals is a portal into so much more than visual imagery as well. At times it can be a meditation, a release, a catharsis of words that you later burn!!! Journals hold whatever power you put in them and hopefully you allow them to empower you back. 

Here's a little step-by-step view of a journal spread I did last summer. I used an old planning sketchbook from school, (I always re-purpose them because the paper is just too good!) acrylic paint and gesso to cover the writing, various ephemera for collage material and my old standby, a Sharpie! I hope to post more of these step-by-step posts soon! I'd love to hear comment and am happy to answer any questions about this or any of my processes! Cheers! Amy~

A cropped view of the beginning...covering the old surface with a layer of gesso, then color that works as underpainting.

A cropped view of the beginning...covering the old surface with a layer of gesso, then color that works as underpainting.

Final surface prepped and ready. I don't now if the blue with show through, but it's there if I want it to.  

Final surface prepped and ready. I don't now if the blue with show through, but it's there if I want it to.  

I collect images from magazines constantly. But when I saw this headline about Paul McCartney performing for 3 hours at the age of 71, I had a reaction. The lotus bloom on the bottom right is actually the inside of a Yogi Tea box...who knew! 

I collect images from magazines constantly. But when I saw this headline about Paul McCartney performing for 3 hours at the age of 71, I had a reaction. The lotus bloom on the bottom right is actually the inside of a Yogi Tea box...who knew! 

The final product. ROCKSTAR!  After gluing the pieces down I go back and forth with additional gesso to blend edges and make space to write and draw. Then the Sharpie comes out. I'd been having a hard time tapping into that which really made me feel joy in my life...and when I saw Sir Paul I was so inspired by how he so easily embodies joy by doing what he does best. We all know we've seen people like this...and it's what I aspire to. Point the way~

The final product. ROCKSTAR!  After gluing the pieces down I go back and forth with additional gesso to blend edges and make space to write and draw. Then the Sharpie comes out. I'd been having a hard time tapping into that which really made me feel joy in my life...and when I saw Sir Paul I was so inspired by how he so easily embodies joy by doing what he does best. We all know we've seen people like this...and it's what I aspire to. Point the way~

Bryan Jernigan Studio Visit

Although I've been an artist for many years, as a teacher I have spent more of my life preparing work spaces for other artist rather than for myself. So when the opportunity arose for me to get my own studio near my house I was beyond thrilled. Although I am not there anymore, my experience sharing a studio with other emerging artist was a formidable period in my life, allowing me to carve out precious time to create while being surrounded by like-minded kindreds. It was amazing.

Cut to 4 years later. Thanks to social media I have been able to keep in touch with several of my former mates and finally got my act together to go visit my friend Bryan Jernigan at his studio in Arlington...a mile away from my place. Have I ever mentioned I overbook?

Bryan is both a member and studio manager for Gallery Underground in Crystal City. The studios are reclaimed offices that sprawl through the Crystal City shops underneath the bustling sidewalk above. The Gallery itself is nestled in the center of the shops at an inviting angle welcoming visitors with its well lit, balanced space that has an approachable quality most galleries strive for. After meeting Bryan at the gallery he walks me through to his space where we get to chat & catch up.

Bryan is an exceptional painter. When we shared a space he was working primarily on landscapes that explored color which have progressed over the years to be more abstract, some incorporating figures. His work balances solidity of form with a beautiful use of layered color to infuse light. Several pieces in various states of completion surround us as we talk and I snap a few shots. A foray into a more expressionist style that integrates non-representational drawing has been a recent focus in his work. Here is a little peek into his studio but for more info on Bryan & his work check him out at Gallery Underground!

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Finding a thread

I have something to admit. I'm really slow and inconsistent with my editing during the school year. I go in spurts when I have a new batch of images, find my faves, and ride the wave of those few gems for probably longer than I should. As a result I overlook a lot of other images that although not cast in a leading role, still could play another part, in another story. I am learning that this actually is my process and am slowly embracing it as ok and actually quite exciting. Here are a few understudies I've played with that although from different shoots, (From NY to Scotland) I see a story unfolding, and have found a connecting thread through all of them.

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Opposite Dualities Show

So excited for tonights opening at Killer ESP Coffee House In Old Towne!!! Heather snd I had a great time hanging to show and are so thankful to Rob and the team at Killer for being so awesome!!! More pics of the action to come, but here's a sneek peek!!

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Small Victories

Day 2 Grid Drawing progress in my Studio Art 1 class. I am optimistic! Oh, & I found a purple China Marker! #oldschoolphoto

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New Work and a show!

Back from a long winter's nap with some great new stuff happening!

Have a show going up at a local coffee shop this month! Dipping a toe back in & w good people you can't go wrong. Check it out...
http://oppositedualities.com/

I also have been accepted into UGallery.com as a New Artist. Will be shifting some work around w some limited editions available w them. Very exciting!!!
http://m.ugallery.com/artwork/photography-Glen-Coe

Am also starting some new pieces going back to my alt. photo/mixed media bent. Having fun...isn't that what it's all about?
:)

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Renaissance Clouds

So...I have a bit if an obsession with clouds. They are what soothes me when I can't get out of the city. These 4 images show the difference between each edit w/in the apps & filters I use.
1) Original shot unedited. Early morning light is so beautiful!
2) I first brought it into Camera+ and used the Diana filter at about 30% to bring in some contrast and boost the saturation.
3) Then I applied the Overlay filter at 30% as well because it gave a little vignette and age.
4) The last image is the cropped version I posted to Instagram using the Low-Fi filter. I'm not convinced this is the best version of this image but it's so fun to play with apps instead of laboring over actions.

If you like this mini app recipe, leave a comment or find me on Intagram @Obscuragirl! Happy Apping! :)

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Stuck in a Fairy Tale

After a Friday night at the laundromat (blankets need big machines :) I pulled some shots I've taken over the past month as the season changed. I really find that my everyday shots are fresh raw material ready to use to communicate a narrative. As of late I've been investigating myth & legend...thus the moody trees :) More to come~

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