Sunday, December 30, 2012

Look Ma, I'm Famous!

Here is the press from the January issue of Island Arts magazine. I like to think of the bio as an accurate, yet slightly improved representation of me, the artist. And here we are, days away from the first Friday opening (January 4th, @ the Heron's Nest, Vashon Island, WA).  I guess I should start making some more art.  Luckily I am sharing the Nest with talented printmaker Megan Minier. I am trying to decide if I can get through the evening without wearing a disguise. Hmmm. That makes me think of a fun thing to do instead of making art.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Enough of a rebel to paint on walls, but not enough of a rebel to do it without permission

Last night was the final Nutcracker dress rehearsal, so I was putting finishing touches on set pieces. I did not do all of the touch-ups though because, apparently, it is not desirable for dancers to have to dance around the lady crouched on stage with a bucket of paint.

Yesterday I was showing students images of Keith Haring's art. The fifth graders were pointing out that graffiti is illegal. So I explained, "If you don't have permission to paint on the wall, it's called graffiti and it's illegal, but if you get permission, it's called a mural and people will thank you for it." Then I realized, I'm enough of a rebel to want to write on walls, but not enough of a rebel to do it without permission.

So, with no wall to paint last night, I drew some cats,which in itself is an act of rebellion.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Greatest Show on Earth

Well, okay, not the greatest show, but definitely not the worst either.
I had intended to make more art for the art studio tour, but I got wrapped up in how fun it was to paint these gigantic set pieces. So fun.

Speaking of fun, on Halloween I was struck by how everything is funnier with a wig, and I vowed to incorporate them into regular life. Soon after, I went to court to fight a ticket and forgot to wear a wig! Total missed opportunity. The judge treated me like a naughty teenager (add judges to my list of authority figures I resent) so I might as well have been having myself a fun private prank. It was later pointed out to me that one should avoid dressing as Princess Leia when going to court (oh yeah, you're going to want to click on that link to see Liz Lemon's Princess Leia court bit).

I have to say that the folks coming through the studio were probably the most supportive audience I have ever shown to. Takes the sting out of all those wounds left over from brutal art school critiques.
Funny thing, not one person asked, "Don't you think your art is a bit didactic?" Although I was told, "French-Alpines would make excellent painting subjects," and I had to agree. But I did go on to ask myself questions like,"What is the nuance of goat?" and "Why are sheep assumed to be followers and not leaders?"

Friday, November 30, 2012

Have you ever had a painting give you a toothache?

This part of the Nutcracker set is for the "Land of Sweets." It was so much fun to paint.  I couldn't wait to get back to it (after hanging work for the artist studio tour--busy me).

My design for part of the Land of Sweets.
I am figuring out how to use glaze coats  on top of base coats, for different effects, especially for translucense.  

The base coat.
I am using the original set design for my inspiration.  You can see that I am "borrowing" some elements of the design.

Original Nutcracker Set Design
I can't wait to see it all in action.  Well actually, I can wait since I still have more work to do on it and a looming deadline.  Back to work...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Santa's workshop--spoiler alert

Our basement has been transformed into a set building workshop. In this pic, I am making architectural pieces that will simulate wainscot and columns for the Nutcracker "party scene" and Megan is laying out and painting her design for the sled that will transport Clara to the Land of Sweets. I was feeling so on top of things for getting the stage painting done TWO weeks before show time. Nothing left but to kick back and build some big, fat props.  No big deal. I love power tools almost as much as I love all of my fingers.  I keep saying that it is really gratifying that they let me put art on the stage, and even pay for the materials! But who will pay for my prosthetic fingers?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

I can see my house from here!

This weekend, it's that time of the year where we paint the nutcracker set.  After spending days painting the side flats (the faux curtains to the left and right of the stage) I was ready to start work on the background.  You can see that the ladder is not really for those of us fearing heights.  Sometimes you just have to suck it up and put on your game face.  This ladder is one of those times. 

Another artist mom was with me for part of the day, reworking the christmas tree.and listening to Cee Lo's "Magic Moments" Christmas CD.  Is there anything better?  (Well, actually, fudge is better.  But then again, nothing beats fudge.)

I'm bored. I think I'll go paint a wall.

In former days, I might have gotten in trouble for painting on walls.  But I have discovered that if you "volunteer" to paint it, and you call it a "mural," it's all good. Context is everything. 

Here is the "before" and "after" of a stairwell in my school.  A couple of years ago, a mural was done by gluing student paintings onto the wall.  Unfortunately, the paper began peeling off about fifteen minutes later, leaving the wall looking tattered.  For the last year, I have been on a mission to replace it with a river/stream mural, with mosaic salmon to follow.  So it turns out that the best way to get something done is to actually just do it, to just get off facebook for Pete's sake and go paint a wall!

While I was painting it I thought, "Am I incredibly stupid, painting a mural at the same time I am working on set painting?  How much can one back take?"
I also thought, "Am I incredibly unrealistic, thinking I can paint a mural in a day?"
No and no.

So to all you slackers going to your "jobs" and making dinner for your "families," I have one thing to say: Go paint a wall.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Ready, Set, Nutcracker

I now have six 13 foot flats in my basement, in various stages of painting. They will be the flats at the wings of the stage. I am painting them to look like curtains.  The trickiest thing is to paint them quickly enough to still have time for other parts of the set, but carefully enough to get the effect I'm looking for.  I think I have gotten the technique figured out, so hopefully it will go quicker from now on. The process also got slowed down by my first cold of the season, which occurred, coincidentally, the day after we were out in the rain trying to tie down the flats in the back of a pickup (thanks Stan and Crissy) to transport them from the high school stage to my house. It was kind of a "how many people can you fit in a VW bug" kind of experience, but the flats made it in one piece. Or rather, in six pieces.  

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A fantasy world of imagination is so much less gloomy than "reality"

  1. I now have artwork hanging in the Heron's Nest on Vashon Island, just in time for holiday shoppers.  It is my "Who's Counting" series, eggs that have been painted onto a collage of medium and fabric.  The folk art reference is 100% intentional. And if you are someone who feels that oil paint is so superior to acrylic, I defy you to guess which is which.  And if I sound defensive and like I have a chip on my shoulder about how snobbery is usually ignorance in disguise, and about how arbitrary I think these distinctions are anyway, well that too is completely intentional.  Oh, and p.s., I will henceforth only refer to galleries as "consignment shops." Hey, just calling it what it is. (I thought I would throw an arbitrary rant in there to match the tenor of this election season. And now I must go shower.)  The title of each piece is written on the back.  Chicken #1, Chicken #2, and so on.  

    I like to count my chickens before they hatch. like to believe that a lottery ticket will make me a millionaire.  I like to see a dirty driveway as a good place for a wedding, given a little imagination and a whole bunch of confetti to hide the oil stains.  I like to believe that teaching kids will make a difference in the world, or at least in someone's life.  I like to believe that the Democratic candidate is going to win, every time.  It can be so disappointing when things don't quite work out, but it's like what Zora Neale Hurston wrote, "Mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to 'jump at de sun.' We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground." Okay people, I think now would be a good time to get off the ground.  I'll go first. Chicken #1, chicken #2, chicken #3...

    Sunday, September 30, 2012

    Four chickens

    I am making these little objects as part of a series I am calling "Who's Counting?"  It is a continuation of the idea of counting your chickens before they are hatched, about daring to dream and being able to see beauty and potential in unexpected places.  The eggs are oil painting, but much of the work  comes from doing this very precise collage work on the front and sides, so that the pieces become more object than painting.  My hope is for each one to be a precious little thing, kind of rich and sumptuous with the combination of fabrics.  They will eventually be hung together in a geometric pattern (more on that to come).

    Monday, September 3, 2012

    I love the smell of tempera paint in the morning

    Just about ready for the new school year.  This will be my first year as an art teacher.  I have been teaching elementary school for 13 years, including many an art lesson.  But this will be different.  Five periods a day of art classes coming and going, kindergarten through fifth grade. I can't wait.

    I put a mural at the entrance to the room, and continued it onto the back wall.  It feels like stepping into a painting.  My hope is that it will creat a slight shift in awareness as we enter the room, readying us for artmaking.

    Saturday, August 25, 2012

    Some of My Favorite People Are Sheep

    The Two-wall Gallery on Vashon Island is now the site of a September art show called “The Value and Beauty of Farm Life” which was juried by Vashon Sheepdog Classic.  So come on down and vote for your favorite piece and some lucky dog will get a $250 prize (woof!).  I will be there September 7th for the First Friday Art Walk, proselytizing for myself.

    I have to say, I had such a feeling of satisfaction to have paintings selected for a show put on by a sheepdog group.  My new-found peeps!  It makes that monthly student loan payment feel worthwhile.  No joke.

    I redid my sheep painting at 4 times its original size.  I thought it would take just as long but really, it took 4 times longer to paint (I believe I actually painted every hair on Zilla's face.  She is now my BFF.) Fortunately I did flip the image which tricked my brain into thinking it was a brand new painting.  The right side of my brain is so gullible!

    (Not that it should make any difference, but these chickens are also nude and gay.)

    Sunday, August 19, 2012

    The World Is My Canvas

    After painting a set, I thought "I could get used to this."  It's fun to paint big.  Really big.  I have hopes of doing mural paintings with students at my school this year.  I decided to practice on the bedroom of an imaginative boy I know.  He had wanted one wall of forest, one with a pink sunset, one with a desert, and one of sealife. I got as far as the first two.  Somehow, the mood cast by these walls makes you want to whisper.  Next step is painting one of these trees at the entrance to my school's art room.

    Friday, August 17, 2012

    Visualize Bacon

    And when pigs fly, I will realize my every dream and have a farm.  We have big plans to start flying lessons SOON.  BIG PLANS.  In the meantime, I am left to wonder what flying pig bacon tastes like.  Mmmm...

    Sunday, July 29, 2012

    Unabashed Optimism

    They say not to count your chickens before they've hatched. Well, I say you should count them and eat them before they hatch. Some people might call that foolish. I like to think of it as an omelet.

    Wednesday, July 25, 2012

    His Favorite Prank

    "His favorite prank was to use pebbles to spell out curse words and ominous messages. (Humans are so gullible.)"
    You think these animals are really cute with really small brains, but we all know they are secretly plotting to overthrow the human race. Birds are experts at espionage and other covert operations (they are everywhere...).

    Monday, July 23, 2012

    Why Would You Typecast a Duck?!

    If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, do not assume it's a duck. And quit stereotyping ducks!  That is the message of this painting. 

    Don't let anyone else tell you what you should and shouldn't like, how you should and shouldn't be. Forget about being cool. Forget about arbitrary rules. We all have to march to the beat of our own brass band. Unless it's your mother talking, in which case you should do exactly what she says. (Okay, that last one was a side note to my son.)

    Friday, July 20, 2012

    I Love Menial Labor

    am finding that these pieces are surprisingly labor intensive. In fact, the painting of the images is really the least of it. I find I spend a lot of time meticulously painting in letters and borders. I actually love to do it. I find it super relaxing. I also find it is best done while listening to embarrassing folk music or old episodes of Law and Order Criminal Intent. The result is that I am now secretly in love with Detective Bobby Goren. He is so weird, but so smart.

    Saturday, July 14, 2012

    Sometimes you win...sometimes you polish a turd

    This is not the turd
    What was meant to be a small, quick, experiment of a painting turned into a time consuming turd polishing experience.  Perhaps I exaggerate.  It was a painting of a cup.  I was trying out using white washes to create the cup so that the areas of shadow showed through as fabric.  It turned out not to have an interesting enough effect to make up for the boring subject.  Oh well.  After spending WAY too much time trying to figure what I could add to save it from mediocrity, I finally decided I just needed to paint something that would be beautiful to look at.  I do love waxwings.  They already look deceptively like a painting.  So there you have it.  Look, its' a bird.

    This is the turd.

    Tuesday, July 10, 2012

    Vote Lintzilla the Sheep for (unofficial) Mayor!

    This is a painting of my friend's sheep who is currently running for unofficial mayor of Vashon (the sheep that is, not my friend).  Also in the running is a dog and cat pair as well as 2 humans (good luck, humans. You'll need it!).  As I was saying, it might seem ironic to have a sheep in a leadership position, but this gal has the guts to make the tough choices (plus, all voting dollars support Vashon Partners in Education).

    Here is another angle of the same painting so that you can see the egg fabric framing the painting on the sides.

    Sunday, July 8, 2012

    It's a Product, It's a Process

    "Not that he had a choice, but he always preferred renting.
    That way, if anything broke, it wasn't his problem."

    I like the idea of adding text that looks like it is going to be inspirational, but instead is absurd and irreverent.

    Apparently I am not yet tired of ridiculously cute kitties.  I wish I were being ironic about them, but no such luck.
    I have been adjusting my studio space to accommodate the evolution of my artmaking process.  I have often alternated between oil and acrylic paint, but now I am collaging/sewing/gluing/painting fabrics.  This new process has meant new mediums/adhesives (UV protection, archival, acid-free, and so on).  I was collaging fabrics by sewing them together, but I have been experimenting with gluing instead. And then there is the collection of fabrics, growing by the minute.  There has been a great deal of improvisation to this new process (and surprisingly, a lot of drying time with all the layers and mediums).  You can see the process laid out a bit here in these photos.

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

    Three Ring Circus, Part 2

    In summertime I have slightly different priorities: family, art, garden.  My garden has taken on new proportions since it has become part of my artmaking plan.  It's the "but how will we feed ourselves" part of the plan.  Note the hill of pumpkin plants in the middle, which is the "but how will we afford to carve jack o'lanterns" part of the plan.

    My first day of vacation, I was in a gardening frenzy.  Today, I have been in an art frenzy.  I am aiming for balance but have managed to hit schizophrenia square in the eye.  It all works out as long as I remember that there aint no cure for the summertime blues.

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

    All Press is Good Press (copyright schmopyright)

    Here is a sweet little article that came out in the July edition of Island Arts magazine, published by Vashon Allied Arts.

    Let Your Medium Match Your Message

    Here's what some of my paintings in college were called: one liners.  I like to write on art as a way for telling a story.  Unfortunely, I sometimes dedicate an entire painting to a story that could have been told in a one frame "Far Side" cartoon.  The result is 15 seconds of interest and a chuckle from the viewer.  Well, I hope you have 15 seconds to kill:

    Summertime Blues, and Yellows, and Reds

    Kickstarting summer vacation with a little Joan Jett.  I had my dad take me to see Joan Jett somewhere in the neighborhood of 8th grade.  If you are wondering what my studio sounds like right now, look no further.  It sounds like 1982.

    Three Ring Circus, Part I: Art + Teacher = Art Teacher

    Mrs. Whitmore's 2nd Grade Class -- collage quilts
    It's been a juggling act of sorts: teaching, art, family.  Unfortunately, I can never seem to keep more than 2 balls in the air at a time, which has left art rolling around somewhere near my feet.  But soon, and hopefully for a long time, I will be combining two of those loves: art and teaching, beginning a new gig as an elementary art teacher.  It will probably take me all summer to sew all of the fabulous smocks I will need to wear and dust off my beret, but I am up for the challenge. 

    Saturday, June 9, 2012


    I have been experimenting with painting on different fabrics.  This one has a sheen to it that makes it look fairly similar to a necktie, which prompted the suggestion, "You should paint on neckties."  Be careful what you wish for, Mr. Whitmore. 

    Build Your Wings on the Way Down

    Ray Bradbury died last week.  In my teen years, I was a big fan of his writing.  The Martian Chronicles.  Fahrenheit 451.  Golden Apples of the Sun.  Stories about what it means to be human.

    I heard an old interview, where Ray Bradbury said, "Stand at the top of the cliff and jump off and build your wings on the way down."  Yeah!  I dig it.  

    For someone who looks only slightly quirkier than a librarian, I am actually surprisingly good at jumping off and building wings, again and again.  Risk-taking works best if you are not overly attached to a particular outcome.  For example, I can no longer parachute because I am very attached to not dying, but I will still snowboard because I am willing to break a bone now and again.

    And so it went with my storyquilt painting from a few posts ago.  It was a good first effort but I really wasn't happy with it.  And so, having nothing to lose, I cut it into pieces which I then stretched around boxes.  Actually, it took some pretty handy sewing to get them to fit properly.  The effect is completely different but I am much happier with the outcome.

    Monday, May 28, 2012

    Lights, camera ...

    Click here and here to see even better photos of the set from the actual performance, with the beautiful lighting, costumes and (last but not least) dancers.

    Set Painting. Why Not:

    80 hours of painting to pull it off.

    But as I was in the midst of it, I kept being surprised by how much fun I was having. I kept thinking, "This is what I love to do!" It wasn't a slog. It wasn't a chore. It was genuinely fun. (I hope the other folks helping out can say the same). I listened to a few hundred talks while working on the cottages in my basement. And I renewed my knowledge of 80's music while working on the stage (the backdrop section was 13.5' tall by 28' wide, not to mention the 6 flats by the wings).

    I guess I forgot how gratifying it is to be a part of a community effort. You get to know all these people in a whole new way. Everyone does their little part and then it all comes together as something great. Of course, it doesn't hurt that, in the end, the whole thing is this great experience for the young, dedicated dancers who are actually doing the performing. In the end, it's their show.

    So would I do it again? I've already started planning for the Nutcracker...

    photo credit Bridget Shore

    Set Painting, Why Not?

    This spring, I ended up volunteering to design the background painting for the Blue Heron Dance Company production of Giselle.  I wasn't planning on undertaking this huge endeavor, but then I realized a) nobody else was stepping forward and b) I do, in fact, have a degree in painting.  I could come up with a German forest.  Why not?

    I tried to come up with a design that could be done in a weekend by a small crew of volunteer artists and non-artists alike.  To keep it simple, I painted the mock-up in stages so we could do sort of a step by step, painting background to foreground. 
    Step 1
    step 2
    Step 3
    Step 4