Open studios - times two!

May is quickly approaching, which means it's time for Silicon Valley Open Studios again.  I was super excited to have my artwork (Flamenco) appear on the cover of the SVOS directory!  These directories are available online and at various locations throughout the area (for a list of locations, click here).  

 

I'm so excited, in fact, that I'll be participating TWICE this year!  The first weekend, I'll be at a group site in Portola Valley, exhibiting my glass and jewelry in a lovely, park-like setting with 6 other artists. Stop by 290 Golden Hills Drive, Portola Valley, Saturday or Sunday, May 2-3, 11-5 each day for a variety of paintings, sculpture, mosaics, glass, and jewelry.

 

The second weekend (Saturday and Sunday, May 9-10, 11-5 each day), I'll be exhibiting at my studio, 1000 Loyola Drive, Los Altos. I'll be exhibiting all my work:  paintings, prints, magnets, note cards, jewelry and glass.  Here's a sample of the new works I'll have:

 

I hope to see you at one of my Open Studios!

Open Studios - May 10-11

 

Once again, I'm participating in Silicon Valley Open Studios.  My studio will be open to the public Saturday and Sunday, May 10-11, 11am to 5pm each day.  Stop by to see my new glass art, paintings, and digital art, or to pick up a piece of jewelry or art as a Mother's Day gift.

 

My studio is located at:

1000 Loyola Drive
Los Altos, CA  94024
Map

 

Here's a sneak peak of some of the new pieces:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exhibition at Art Ark Gallery - April 4-12

I'm excited to be participating in the Silicon Valley Open Studios Preview Exhibit at Art Ark Gallery in San Jose.  Several of my Skyscapes series are on exhibit.

 

Please join me at the gallery for the First Friday reception this Friday, April 4, from 6-9 pm.  The gallery is located at 1035 S. 6th St., San Jose.

The exhibit will be open Saturday and Sunday, April 5-6, from 11-4, and Saturday, April 12 from 11-2.

 

 

"skyscapes" series at collector art shop

 

I'm very excited that my new series, Skyscapes, will be on exhibit at Collector Art Shop starting October 2, 2012.  Collector is a great gallery in Elmwood (2950 College Avenue, at Ashby) specializing in affordable, original art.

This series of celestial paintings had a varied set of inspirations:  watching for falling stars during meteor showers, a hand-glazed sake cup we found in Kyoto, and watching far too many episodes of Star Trek as a child.  Here's the sake cup that began my journey in this direction:

 

Working on this series has been a very meditative process for me.  The paintings aren't intended to faithfully represent the galaxies, but instead, to remind us of the emotions we feel when looking up into the night sky.

Collector is having an artists' reception Friday, October 12, from 6-8 pm.  Join me and the other exhibiting artists!

inspiring travel

I was fortunate to take two totally different -- but equally inspiring -- vacations this summer. The first was a long weekend in Southern Utah.  I have always loved the Southwestern US - the landscape is vast, colorful, and ever-changing.  Late July in the area is "monsoon season", so the cactus was a deeper green than I'd ever seen it, and the afternoon rains created dramatic cloud formations for gorgeous sunsets.

 

I also was inspired by an artist I met, Ulrike Arnold (web site: http://www.ulrikearnold.com/).  Ulrike is a German artist who paints on location, using the rocks and soils she finds as her pigments.  Given the huge variety of colors found in the Southwest, I could understand how she could fashion a painting from the earth.  Here are a few photos of her materials and workspace:

While I may not start grinding rocks to use as pigment, I am eager to try using glass frit and powder to create a landscape in glass.

 

The second vacation was a cruise of the Baltic Sea.  We had spectacular weather and visited some beautiful cities and small islands.  As in the Southwest, the clouds were dramatic, though very different:

On the island of Christiansø, Denmark, we found brightly colored cottages silhouetted against a deep blue sky:

And in cities such as Stockholm, we found beautiful Hanseatic architecture:

 

So many inspirations!  Now the only question is, where to begin? (as soon as I recover sufficiently from the jetlag!)

finding my groove

A few weeks back, I participated in Silicon Valley Open Studios.  It was my third year participating, and I was amazed at how much more art (paintings, glass and jewelry) I had to exhibit than last year.  I had to put up a second tent and still couldn't display all my paintings.  It was very exciting to see what a productive year I'd had. + Add New Category

But then a fellow artist stopped by.  Looking around at my paintings (oils, acrylics, pastels, landscapes, still lifes, abstracts), glass art and jewelry, he commented:  "Well, it looks like you haven't found your groove yet."

I was floored!  What a rude thing to say!  At first I thought he was criticizing the quality of my work, but then it became clear he was talking about my focus, or lack thereof.  Turns out, he paints only one thing:  flowers in watercolor.  And that's all he wants to paint.  And he seems to think that all mature artists should similarly choose one subject matter  -- "real artists" have to specialize.  Thus, my variety of work struck him as  evidence of an immature artist who is still searching for that "one thing" that I'll do for the rest of my career.

I see things differently.  There are too many things I love to limit myself to just one.  First of all, I'd be bored out of my mind - and art would feel like work - if I had to do the same thing day in and day out.  For me, the variety keeps me fresh, engaged, and growing.  A technique in one medium can inspire me to try something new in another, such as imprinting pottery with pine needles led me to try the same technique with paint in my painting "Imprint."

Secondly, if you look at many successful artists throughout history, you'll find that many were active in different media or different subject matters. Michelangelo was a painter and sculptor; Picasso did just about everything.

 

So to the gentleman who stopped by during Open Studios I want to say:  I'm glad you've found your groove.  I've found mine too, and it's variety.

 

 

 

 

Kid in a candy store

The new Bullseye Resource Center opened last month in Emeryville.  I waited until after the craziness of their grand opening to visit.  Yesterday, my friend Angel and I made the trek across the Bay to stock up on glass.  What a treat!  Instead of looking at tiny little squares on the web site and trying to figure out what the sheet would look like in real life, we got to pull out the actual sheets of glass and hold them up to the light.  

I can't wait to start creating with all my new glass!

They also had an inspiring exhibit, ACT 2 The Glass Track,  of pieces created by artists who began working in glass after careers in other fields.  The pieces were beautiful, and with some, you could really see a connection to their first careers.  I wonder if people will be able to tell from my work that I used to be a lawyer?

 

Collector Art Shop in Berkeley

I'm thrilled to have my art in a great gallery in Berkeley, Collector Art Shop (http://collectorartshop.com/).  The gallery focuses on "affordable original art" and their idea is to make art available to more people -- a goal which I fully support! In keeping with the theme, I placed several of my smaller recent landscapes at Collector:

as well as prints, note cards and magnets:

Next time you're in Berkeley, stop by.  Collector is located on College Avenue in Elmwood, right next to Ici ice cream.  My work will be there through May 15.

 

Taking the "studio" on the road

Yesterday I awoke to a beautiful sunny day, and decided to take advantage of the sunshine to do some painting on location.  I packed up the car and drove to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve to paint the ocean.  I had previously hiked there and scoped out a spot I wanted to capture - Moss Cove - less than a mile from the parking area along a pretty easy trail. Point Lobos Moss Cove ocean waves rocks

Gorgeous!  One slight problem though - I'd forgotten to check the wind conditions when I checked the weather, and it was so windy the canvas kept blowing off my easel.  So I ended up climbing down to the rock outcropping (in the foreground of the picture above) where the curve of the shore provided a little shelter from the wind, and setting up my paints in front of me and the canvas on my lap.  Not ideal from an ergonomic perspective, but it worked (although I did wish I'd brought a chair or cushion).

Point lobos Moss Cove easel painting setup

The advantage to a little discomfort:  fresh sea air, warm sunshine, and some wildlife for company.

Point Lobos Moss Cove sea lions photograph

The sea lions kept me company the whole time.  Otters popped up occasionally. I had to wave off a turkey vulture to convince him I was still alive and wouldn't make a good snack.  All in all, a pretty idyllic day.

I had to call it quits before I finished (cold hands, even with gloves), but I made a great start.  Now I have to decide if I want to finish up in the studio or take my studio on the road another day...

Moss Cove - oil painting - work in progress

Here's the work in progress.

 

 

Recent commissions

Over the past few months, I've been honored to be entrusted with a couple of commissioned paintings.  I'm always a little nervous when I get a commission -- what if my interpretation doesn't match the picture in the client's head?  But it's a great opportunity to try subject matter I might not automatically gravitate to, and I've always been really happy to have taken on the project. balloons balloon release sky clouds

This commission was especially emotionally charged.  A friend recently lost his mother, and after the funeral, the family released balloons into the air.  He wanted me to paint the balloons to give as a gift to his father.  Having lost my own father not too long ago, this really resonated with me and I was afraid I'd have a hard time emotionally with this.  But the image was so colorful and the balloons so cheerful, I couldn't help but smile while I was painting.

 

yellow orchids greenhouse window

This second recent commission was less emotionally fraught.  The client's mother collects orchids, and this is one of her favorites.  I loved how the greenhouse windows indicate a world outside, while the bright yellow flowers command your attention.

Thanks to my clients for bringing these beautiful images into my life and letting me paint my interpretation of them.

 

The Sketchbook Project 2012

I have a secret.  I'm an artist who never sketches.  But last fall, a project came to my attention that had the potential to change all that:  the ArtHouse Sketchbook Project 2012. ArtHouse Co-Op, to quote their website, "is an independent Brooklyn-based company that organizes global, collaborative art projects."  Their flagship project is to get thousands of artists to complete a sketchbook, which then tour the world and end up in the Brooklyn Art Library.  This sounded pretty cool to me, so I decided this might just be the project to get me from "gee, I want to sketch someday" to actually sketching.

See, there was a deadline.  And I thrive on deadlines.

Plus, we got to pick one of several themes, and the one I picked was "In ten minutes".  I figured I could get myself to sketch for ten minutes.  What I didn't anticipate was how hard it would be to limit myself to those ten minutes.

I started within my comfort zone:  a tree:

I love pastel and oil, both very forgiving media.  And I'm addicted to color.  So I decided to challenge myself to black and white, and ink.  Putting that first line in the sketchbook was hard.  But I actually liked it, and had fun figuring out how to indicate shading and shape with only black and white.

A trip to the Rodin Sculpture Garden on the Stanford campus gave me a bigger challenge:  the human form.

Emboldened by my efforts, I decided to go whole hog and sketch "The Gates of Hell":

I wasn't sure what the result would be, but I really got into the process of capturing the darks, and this turned out to be one of my favorite sketches - both because I had so much fun doing it and because I liked the result.

Here's another of my favorites, my last post, completed on 1/31, which just happened to be the deadline:

My sketchbook is now in the mail on its way to the Brooklyn Art Library.  I'm planning on stocking up on small sketchbooks and keeping one in my purse at all times.  Because you never know when you'll have 10 minutes or so to fill, and I've discovered that filling that time with sketching is very nice indeed.

"Peaceful Places" exhibition at Spice Monkey in Oakland

During the month of February, I will have a solo exhibit at Spice Monkey in Oakland.  The title of the exhibit is "Peaceful Places" and features some of my recent landscape paintings.

An opening reception will be held Friday, Feb. 3 from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm. Please RSVP via Pingg or Facebook if you are able to attend.

Address: Spice Monkey Restaurant 1628 Webster Street @ 17th Oakland, CA 94612

 

Creating space for creativity

Now that the craziness and excitement of the holidays are over, I’m taking the opportunity presented by a new year to get a fresh start. And the first thing I find myself doing is organizing: my home, my studio, my hard drive. In part, I’m inspired by the wonderful book, Discardia, and accompanying blog. In part, it’s the opportunity presented by found space: the air hockey table that once took up half of my studio space has moved outside, giving me lots of room to play with (I’m so glad I resisted my first instinct to replace it with a large workbench – there is a lot to be said for having elbow room). But mostly, it’s because I realized that clutter was intruding on my creativity. Before I could paint, I’d have to dodge the air hockey table and the pile of paintings and frames on the floor to reach my easel.

 

Before I could find the photo I wanted to upload to my website, I’d have to search through numerous folders before I found the right version. Before I could make a pair of earrings, I’d have to pull the boxes of beads from the closet, find a place to spread them out (usually the coffee table or dining room table), then clear the materials away so I could eat dinner.

 

So I’m investing the first couple weeks of the year in setting up my studio to be a one-stop shop for creativity. A small counter-height table is the perfect size for cutting glass or making jewelry. A tall multi-drawer unit now houses all my tools, beads and findings.

After two painfully tedious days of consolidating all the photos from my laptop and desktop and organizing them into folders, I can now find photos of my artwork in seconds, and know exactly what format each is (full-size, thumbnail, etc.). I also put all my inspiration photos in a single folder entitled “stuff to paint”, so I know just where to start browsing when I’m staring at that blank canvas waiting for the muse to strike.

And speaking of canvas, the studio is beckoning.

Things I Learned Doing A Painting A Day

Last fall, I challenged myself to start and complete a painting a day for 30 days.  I didn’t quite manage 30 consecutive days (I took a few off for hosting in-town visitors and a couple of really busy days), but I completed the 30 paintings in 35 days.  There were a few days when it felt like a chore, but mostly, it was a really positive experience, and I learned a good deal – both about painting and general life lessons.  I thought I’d share a few of those with you. 1.  There’s (almost) always time to paint (or Make time for the things you love)

One of the key reasons I selected this challenge was to get myself into the studio day in, day out to prove to myself that I really can make time to paint.  I love painting, yet in spite of that fact, I find myself not prioritizing it and instead spending my time on chores or obsessively checking Facebook and my email.  By setting a goal to do a painting a day – and setting the expectation that I’d post them daily on Facebook – I moved painting up on my priority list, and still most of the important things on my list got done.  Sure, I missed some status updates on Facebook, I was slower to respond to email and I read fewer magazines and books.  The house might have been a bit messier.  But I didn’t feel like I was missing anything (except maybe the reading).

Of course, there were a few days when I was scheduled from morning until night, and then I really didn’t have time to paint without cutting into my sleep (and if you know how much I love and need my sleep, you’ll know that’s not really an option).  But those days are very few.  On every other day, even if it’s just for an hour or so, I do have the time – I just have to choose to use it.

2.  You can get a lot done in an hour or two

Before the challenge, there were days when I wouldn’t start painting because I only had an hour or two before I was committed to do something else.  I never thought that small a segment of time would be enough to justify mixing all the paint and then cleaning all the brushes.  But I discovered that even small chunks of time were worth spending, and I was surprised at how much I could get done with a deadline looming.  So I just learned to mix smaller quantities of paint and tried to use fewer brushes to minimize clean-up time.

3.  Loosen up

As most of you have realized, I’m type-A to the max and want everything to be perfect.  That resulted in paintings taking weeks and being very detailed.  I would spend lots of time picking the perfect image to paint, sketching it out, and then painting it in with small brushes and multiple thin layers of paint.  I was happy with my paintings, yet some of them ended up feeling stiffer than I wanted.  I loved the more impressionistic styles of other artists, but couldn’t bring myself to loosen up enough to try them.

Having a self-imposed deadline of a painting a day made it impossible to paint in my usual style.  I had to get everything done – from image selection to final brushstroke – in just a few hours.  I didn’t have time to wait for a layer to dry before painting a contrasting color next to it, or layering a different color on top.  So I started using smaller canvases, bigger brushes, more paint, lots of quick-drying medium and laying it all in at once.  At first, I was kind of a nervous wreck.  But eventually, I started having fun with it.  Because I couldn’t be cautious and detailed, and couldn’t second-guess myself, my paintings finally took on the style I was working so hard to create.

4.  Try something new

The 30-day challenge became a great excuse to try new things.  I could tell myself, "hey, it's only a day - if it's not great, that's ok."  Experimentation became play.  I tried more abstracts, different styles of landscapes, oil, acrylic, pastel.  I painted with brushes, palette knives and fingers.  And I was surprised at how much I liked both the process and the results.

5.  Commit, and don’t second-guess yourself

At the beginning of the challenge, I was looking for “easy” images to paint.  I didn’t want to tackle anything too detailed, for fear I couldn’t get it done in a day.  But as I loosened up my painting style, I discovered that I was being more decisive with each step (what brush to use, what color paint to use, which details of the reference photo to leave in or out).  Knowing I couldn’t wait for the paint to dry to paint over any mistakes, I had to commit to each line, each brush placement, and trust that the result would be good, or that I could fix it on the fly.  I couldn’t dither; I had to commit.  My self-confidence grew, and I started selecting more complicated compositions, and realizing I could accomplish them.  I shocked my art teacher by starting to paint the Golden Gate Bridge, with all of its cables, free-hand and without first tracing or sketching it –after 20+ days of daily painting, I wasn’t afraid to try.

*** Now that the 30 days are over, I’m going to focus on the lessons learned and try to apply them to the rest of my life.  Plus, I’m looking forward to doing more daily paintings (including some plein air painting), and applying the techniques I learned to my larger, longer-term paintings.

 

Finally blogging

After thinking about blogging for some time now, I'm finally setting up my blog, in conjunction with revamping my website.  Here you'll find my musings on art, inspirations, my studio, and life in general.  Thanks for reading!