Sunday, December 15, 2013

Fiber Inspiration

In December, I spent some quiet time in the Regional Gallery of Spiva Center for the Arts. The show was Four Women / Four Visions - Contemporary Fiber. Each artist is from Oklahoma, has a distinctive sensibility, but as a whole, the works talk to each other in this intimate but strangely vast gallery space. I went seeking respite, to connect with some art, to look hard, and try to wake my drawing hand from a too-long slumber.

I was immediately grabbed by this series of small works by Julie Marks Blackstone of Shawnee, Oklahoma. The color screamed, of course, but my recognition of art historical references cleverly juxtaposed is what kept me there, only reading the signage after I tried to make my own connections. I giggled and even guffawed with delight at her cleverness. This series made me wish that I had Artist Card packs as a kid, complete with a flat sheet of tasteless bubblegum. I avidly collected the Topps baseball cards, why not Artist Cards? I have no idea how time-consuming and/or difficult French knots may be, but as an artist who enjoys making highly crafted pieces that take hours, I was in love with her obsessiveness. I wanted to turn the pieces over and read the stats of the art history, the listing of colors and lines and values.

If Courbet had Kandinsky's Palette...
Julie Marks Blackstone
embroidery: French knots

Knotty Girl: Mme Gautreau meets Messrs. Seurat and Klimt
Julie Marks Blackstone
embroidery: French knots

The Smile? Because I'm a Knotty Girl!
Julie Marks Blackstone
embroidery: French knots

Knotty Girl: Theda Bara as Cleotpatra
Julie Marks Blackstone
embroidery: French knots

If Durer had Delaunay's Palette...
Julie Marks Blackstone
embroidery: French knots, cotton floss

To really spend time with the show, to get back to drawing, a much slower medium than my smartphone, I sat and observed. So many pieces in the show were luscious and curvy and begged to be studied carefully, but I settled on these two for quick contour ink drawings: Sue Moss Sullivan's Drenched, and Stephanie Grubbs's Good Morning, Good Evening. The unrelenting repetition, the variation in thread texture, and the often subtle coloring on these pieces sparked my interest. It felt divine to drag the pen across the paper. It's been much too long.

I tried my hand at a blind contour drawing of Heather Clark Hilliard's Interrupted. I should have drawn at least three more blind contours. This is a drawing technique where you stare at the piece being drawn, but never look at your drawing as you make it, even in peripheral vision. It makes the direct connection between eye and hand, and takes away the Judge that often kills my work before it even starts. It's loose, but takes concentration or you'll lose your place, in which case you don't look at your drawing, you just pick a spot and continue drawing. Hilliard's piece was six-foot cut felt pieces tacked to the wall, hung heavily. 

I want to return before it comes down. A dark, dreary winter is the perfect time to make drawings and revel in these fragile threads. Just like those individual threads create insanely strong pieces, these four fiber artists - Julie Marks Blackstone, Stephanie Grubbs, Heather Clark Hilliard, and Sue Moss Sullivan - come together to create a vast tapestry of talent, elegance and wonder.

This show is sponsored by Nancy G. Holland and Jim Stratton with additional financial assistance from the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Superstar Santa

On a cold, windy night I had the opportunity to set up a collaborative collage of Santa for the Carthage Artwalk. It was good to contribute something to the town I currently reside in. The kids that came by had a fun time cutting shapes out of sticker paper and attaching to the large piece. Happy holidays!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Art Lounge 2014

On November 18th, I had the opportunity to stop in to the last 2013 meeting of the current Art Lounge session at Spiva Center for the Arts. I talked about portfolios, sketchbooks, and arts careers with these eager Joplin-area high school students. Before the "lecture" and "discussion" though, I engaged them in a collaborative painting project. 10 of us moving among three pieces, painting with gouache from the center out. A wonderful critique happened at the end, where I asked them questions like, "Have you ever painted in a group? Ever painted on anyone else's painting? What was that like? Did you enjoy moving around and being more physical than usual in your art-making? Are these successful pieces? How would they look different if just one person made them?

Proud and excited to announce that I will be teaching the Winter and Spring sessions of Art Lounge. Bring on the high school artists! I have things for them to do! 
Follow our progress at:

Coiled Pots

African Art unit, ART 220 Art for Elementary course.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Maasai Color Wheel Paper Necklaces

African Art unit, ART 220 Art for Elementary course.

Mixing colors with crayons.

Beaded Maasai necklace from Kenya.

Contemporary art showing necklace. By James Mutisya.

Student donning her creation.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Adinkra Printmaking

African Art unit, ART 220 Art for Elementary course.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

African Savannah

African Art unit, ART 220 Art for Elementary course.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Family Portrait Contours

African Art unit, ART 220 Art for Elementary course.


Kente Cloth Paintings

African Art unit, ART 220 Art for Elementary course.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Summer Lovin' Pic Stitch Style

My God, there are so many photo apps. I must admit, I never got too into Instagram, and that's just fine with me. But some of these really allow you to be creative, and break the traditional frame. This app is called Pic Stitch. There aren't enough hours in the day to explore all these apps... 

Outer ring is a photo Lance took on his property. Next ring is a drawing I did of our traced hands. Center is us, obviously. I love concentric circles and the mandala tradition, so I respond best to this version.

Lance is into Egypt, archaeology, and the eye of Ra. I thought he'd like this pyramid version.

And then there are our babies, Maya, Inca, and Gertie. Hard to get a still shot of them all cuddled up, so I Pic Stitched 'em together to be one big happy trio. Happy experimenting!

Summer Fare and Food Rules

With a beautiful kitchen, spans of time, great recipes, bountiful veg, and zestful intention, I had a summer of food lovin'. I cooked up a storm. It helped that I had a hungry partner to help devour and give helpful, honest feedback. Special thanks to Ali at Gimme Some Oven. I kept going back to her recipes, such as the enchilada sauce and spinach artichoke dip (not pictured, eaten too quickly). But Ali, you'd be proud...instead of using the frozen spinach you called for, I added a whole bag of chopped fresh spinach. World of difference. That is one thing I learned, whenever possible, fresh tastes best. PERIOD. 

For several years now, I've also heeded the brilliant advice of author Michael Pollan. His updated book Food Rules with lovely illustrations by Maira Kalman is my go-to for practical, healthy, and realistic food advice. Here's a few to chew on:

Eat when you are hungry, not when you are bored.
If it came from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don't.
Do all your eating at a table.
Place a bouquet of flowers on the table and everything will taste twice as good.
No labels on the table.
Don't get your fuel from the same place your car does...
...and on and on.

Salsa with red onion, cilantro and a couple colors of peppers. Don't forget the lime!

Roasted veggies for the first time in my life. They are transformed in the oven. Great for pizza, pastas, soups, and...

Roasted veggie enchiladas! Ali's enchilada sauce recipe is easy and super yummy, only a few ingredients.

Learned how to make refrigerator pickles. Thanks, Sam! I love salt, but this is only garlic, dill,
and a dash of vinegar. The taste and crunch satisfy better than a bag of chips.

Danger, Will Robinson. Mac and Cheese with sharp cheddar, havarti, sliced smoked sausage, and hot sauce.
The shells are my favorite pasta for this dish. Green onions make a great, pretty addition.

I've been making my own pizza for a few years now, crust and all. But this pre-cheesed version took the cake for tastiness: red onion, mushroom, chopped chicken nuggets, bbq sauce and hot sauce. Seriously.

Found myself with a few huge zucchinis and tomatoes. Found several recipes to try at Health Magazine
This is a garden lasagna, fully veg, with a white sauce topped with basil.

Baked tomato and zucchini slices topped with sweet corn, bread crumbs, and parmesan.