Captain! The hull! It cannae hold much longer!

The massive density of this sculpture commands your attention through the laws of physics.

Day 202: Imploding Quilt

After years of collecting stitchable odds and ends, every corner of the spare room was full of supplies. Boxes filled with fabric covered the futon. Spools of thread and bags of buttons littered the floor. Stacks of books obscured the carpet. One day, Marianne opened the door and tossed in a roll of batting, and something odd happened. Items began to shrink away from her, pulling inexplicably towards the center of the room. A piercing, bright light ripped through the air. A sound, quiet at first, grew louder until it was like a giant Hoover sucking up the Niagara Falls.

“It’s finally collapsed in on itself! I told you that room was nearing maximum density! You’ve broken the laws of physics with your crafting!” Rob yelled as he ran into the hallway and shut the door in front of a stunned Marianne.

Then the noise suddenly stopped. Marianne looked at Rob for the all clear and he nodded. She opened the door. The room was empty, save a rotating ball of paper, thread and other sewing sundries hovering in the center.

“Good thing you installed that gravitational shielding in here,” she said as she examined the ball more closely. “Think this thing counts as my daily art?”

“Wow. Just wow.” Rob said, shaking his head as he walked away to get the camera.

Apparently photo'ing sculptures takes a lot more angle shots than paintings.

🙂 This is my first sculpture piece, boys and girls! Whaddaya think? I had a great time last night at Sacramento Social Media Club’s “The Art of Social Media” event at the Urban Hive. It’s a cool space, the audience was great, our moderator Julie is amazing, Hot Italian provided some bitchin’ slobber-worthy pizza and Two Rivers Cider showed up with some kick-ass Pomegranate, Blood Orange and Huckleberry libations. A fantastic time was had by all! Thanks to SMCSac for having me!

Mini Pretties Continued

Ooh, shiny!

Day 201: Teethchatteringly

Zee Germans helped me out with a bit of inspiration today. The page I used in today’s mini painting includes an English translation of “teethchatteringly” written in the margins by the student who used it in blue pen. It ended up being a compliment to yesterday’s piece in the same blue and gold palette.

MS Word doesn't think "teethchatteringly" is a word, but apparently it was in the 30's.

I really love these colors together. The gold seems to warm up the blue while the blue cools the gold tones. I never worked with these colors together much for years because they were our school colors growing up and I wasn’t terribly fond of our local school system.

Ah, the memories. My elementary school, where the evil secretaries wouldn’t let me use the office phone when my after-school program got canceled and made me walk home through the local park where someone had just tried to kidnap a kid. My high school, where the nefarious head of drama who had an alumni student paint over all our set work at the last minute also turned out to be my sophomore English teacher. Little did I know I could have avoided writing all those essays and reading all those books if I’d just waited til the very end of the year when he held a hot chili pepper eating contest for free good grades. Yeah. Loved it. But it’s been awhile, and that’s behind me now. Now I can finally enjoy these colors together.

"Teethchatteringly", today's piece on the left, with yesterday's piece, "Fulfilled"

Don’t forget! I’m speaking on the panel tonight at “The Art of Social Media” event held by the Sacramento Social Media Club at the Urban Hive on 1931 H St. at 6:30! Free parking, food, drinks, networking and knowledge! See you there.

"Teethchatteringly", mixed media painting on 5x7" canvas

The little things

Day 200: Fulfilled

Ah, the little things. They can mean so much, or drive us bat-poop crazy. Take for example, the simple act of bagging groceries. I take it as a given that the majority of the human population is familiar with bread, bananas and tomatoes. I assume that most people understand that these items don’t hold up well to crushing. Yet every time I let it slide and don’t bag them myself or specifically remind the bagger not to murder my five-dollar-a-pound Heirlooms with my sharp-edged, heavy cartons of soy milk, I find them cowering sadly at the bottom of the bag when I get home. These bananas made a perilous journey from South America or somewhere. They managed to get all the way here without being bruised. That’s some serious kid glove treatment. For goodness sake, don’t put them next to the frozen stuff! They turn instantly black. Why does this require special training?! Where is this land, free of perishable food goods, that coincidentally raises all the grocery baggers of the world yet neglects to mention this? AAARRGGHH. /end rant

it's hard to see but the handwriting reads "was being fulfilled"

On the other hand, sometimes you’re walking into a store and you smile at a toddler, and the brightest, happiest, most unencumbered and freely joyful smile spreads across their face right back at you, and you can carry that light around in your heart for days. A happy little thing inspired today’s painting. I picked up this German reader from the 30’s at the thrift store awhile back. This particular page included a handwritten English translation note in pencil script that read “was being fulfilled”, which made me smile, along with a little doodle of an arrow shooting into the sky. I added some gold and yellow paint, traced the edges of the forms where the paper had bubbled up with blue pastel, dripped a little watercolor on and tied some dark blue embroidery floss around it. It feels a little like that toddler’s grin to me. 🙂

"Fulfilled", a mini painting on 5x7" canvas

Ballad of the dog portraitist

Bob & Boomer

Day 199: Bob & Boomer

Today’s piece is a drawing of Rob’s father, Bob, and his puppy Boomer. I have to laugh when I look at myself doing a drawing of a dog. Jeff Musser made a comment the other day about the balance of art you make to survive and the art you make because you want to. It was an amusing comment that became “the ballad of the dog portraitist” in my notebook later. I love puppies, but I don’t draw them very often. And I haven’t yet been commissioned to draw any (funny how when you leave something out of your portfolio altogether, it tends to fly under the radar. 😉 So it’s good that my first time doing it is for fun, and not for pay.

The thing about portraits is that technical skill isn’t enough to make something art. So if you’re going to draw people or pets, you want to be able to do so in a way that isn’t just a replicate of a ‘brushstroke’ effect you’d get if you messed with the image in Photoshop. You want it to give you a feeling for what the subject is like even if you don’t know them. Well, that’s what I want at least. Guess I shouldn’t deign to speak for the entire art world.

But getting your portraits to technically look like your subject isn’t always an easy task either, so the majority of your attention inevitably rests there during the making of the piece. You’re converting 3-D to 2-D, adjusting color tones to graphite shades in your brain, and trying to sort out if that floating mass of features and curvature is actually a good resemblance, or if it’s just a somewhat convincing doppelganger who might be hired to play your subject in a made for tv movie. It can be especially stressful if you know the person, which is why I prefer to do portraits of strangers.

It may almost be time for me to make the move to water media. Baby steps. Why is it that when you haven’t done something for a long time, you fear you’ve forgotten it? That all the muscle memory has faded away, and the brain cells that composed those pieces so many years ago were probably lost to a few rounds of Peach Kamikazes (delish!), and that we’ll be lucky if anything good happens after a few hours of laborious scribbling.

On that note, I’m off to toast myself for an impending Day 200 with a glass of Query Ger.. gewv..gewurztichimichanga or whatever the heck it is (don’t look at me, I don’t have a German keyboard) while watching Live or Let Die. Woo! See you guys tomorrow.

And this little sister wore her hair up…

Drawing of my cousin Gabby

Day 198: Gabby

If you think you’re seeing double, you are, regardless of whether or not you’re smashed while also reading this blog. (And if so, bravo to you. Pulling off cultural appreciation and being a lush at the same time is impressive!) 🙂 Today’s piece is a drawing of Gabby, Molly (from Day 196)’s twin. Emily is their older sister. They also have two other siblings who will make it under the pencil one of these days.

My Auntie Kasey was 13 when I was born, and lived with us for awhile when I was growing up. My first memories of her are as the beautiful young woman/loving older sister who always had time for me and treated me as an equal. Growing up with her, my Grandma and my mom in the same house at the same time was such a blessing. All three of them encouraged me creatively and had a huge impact on who I am today.

I have only seen a few pictures of Aunt Kasey as a kid, but when I got all the features down in this drawing of her daughter, Gabby, all I could see smiling back at me was the child face of my Aunt Kasey. It was so eerie to feel like I was staring backwards in time, drawing a moment that existed before I was born. They’re so cute, they almost make me want to have a baby. Almost. Here are the three together:

I resemble that remark

A drawing of my cousin Emily

Day 197: Emily

I’m serving on a panel for an event called “The Art of Social Media”** here in Sacramento next Tuesday. Today we had a brief meet-up to get to know each other beforehand, and it was really a thrill. Eben Burgoon, the co-creator of this rad webcomic will be there, as will Jeff Musser, an amazing figurative painter whose oils you may have seen up recently at the Verge Gallery, and a few other people with really interesting perspectives on how social media and art go together.

Meeting Jeff was interesting, since I realized who he was once he started describing his aesthetic, and I knew I had seen his paintings before we met in person. This guy does highly detailed oils. It made me feel like even more of a whiner for being reluctant about getting back into portraiture. So today I did a drawing of another one of my adorable cousins, Emily. I still haven’t worked up to watercolor, but here are a couple more I did in the past:

Thanks for letting me photograph your kids in a park, parents of Fremont!


Couldn't get this guy to crack a smile for a stranger, but it worked out anyway.

There are photos of me as a kid that look almost identical to Emily at the same age, even though our parents are pretty different looking. My dad is what demographics collectors call ‘Hispanic’, (which always messed me up on standardized tests because they only gave you ‘White, NOT of Hispanic origin’) and her dad is like Polish or something. My aunt looks a bit like my mom, but I never saw them as twins or anything. But I guess it’s just proof that the female genetics in our bloodline are bossy enough to override paternal characteristics.

**“The Art of Social Media” is Tuesday, July 20th at 6:30 pm at The Urban Hive, a co-working space on 1931 H St. The Sacramento Social Media Club hosts these events monthly with different industry foci and this time around, it’s art! So if you’re in the area and want to network, enjoy some drinks and pizza and maybe pick up a few tips on how to better understand and use social media to help out your art career, swing on by! Parking’s free and so is the event.

Register for the event here!

Return to portraiture

A drawing of my cousin Molly. 🙂

Day 196: Molly

A long time ago in a land not so far away, I used to do lots of figurative work and I really loved portraiture. Back then, I was somehow more immune to the temper tantrum frustrations of getting someone’s face correct.

I think the last time I drew a face was literally months and months ago (which was a commission), and before that, even longer. I started to think that it was a waste of time for me to do portraits because if people want to stick a face on a wall, they just use a photo. Besides that, I generally insist upon using my own photographs as reference images for paintings or drawings, and I usually try to make work that would have appeal to lots of people, plus several more excuses I could add in here. But my friend Reina keeps asking when I’m going to do some faces again, so tonight I begrudgingly forced myself to do it. 🙂

This is a drawing of my cousin Molly. It’s not perfect, but it’s getting late and I’m calling it quits for now. The plan was to do some sweet watercolors like these I did a few years ago…

Older watercolor of a kid in a park

Look at that widdle face!

..but I figured I’d better ramp up and start with some basic drawing again. So, possibly more faces to come. Maybe. I’m not making any promises. 🙂 (Don’t worry, Auntie Kasey, I’ll do Gabby and Emily too. Don’t have any pictures of Brooke or Austin, though. :/)

California Seaming

A 5" embroidery hoop makes a handy frame

Day 195: River Street

Thanks to the cache of recorded shows provided by my cable overlords, I’m finally watching “A Work of Art” on Bravo. If you haven’t heard of it, this is a reality show competition for visual artists, which is really the first of its kind. While some people have criticized it (the haters are always out there), I think it’s really wonderful that Sarah Jessica Parker and Magical Elves (of Top Chef and Project Runway) decided to finally create an opportunity like this for artists. Yes, we may be last on the list for reality competitions, behind crappy singers, survivors, horny idiots, catty “housewives”, chefs, aspiring models, the overweight, hairstylists, toddlers in pageants, drag queens and dog groomers, but now is our time to shine! (This is my plea for the contestants to do a good job and help people care about the art world long enough for this thing to get renewed.) 🙂

I tried out for this series last year in LA, and while I was initially bummed that I didn’t get past my 45 seconds with the disinterested portfolio reviewer, I am now grateful that I wasn’t included in this group. Why? Because these challenges aren’t easy, and when I ask myself what I might have done in their shoes, I don’t have an answer right away. Watching this show has reminded me of some of the projects on my list that are outside of my comfort range but that I’d like to do before the end of the year. In a way, it’s a little kick in the pants to get me back into high-creative gear and push my limits a bit more. I do consider ArtProject2010 to be my own series of art challenges with crazy deadlines. But of course, there’s no glamorous prize at the end… yet. Who knows what wonders may come?

A photocopy transfer of a pic I took in SF on fabric with blue embroidery.

Today’s work is a cityscape of San Francisco on fabric with embroidery detail. I spent the majority of the day finishing up that limited edition on woodblock, hence the late post. I’m still juggling around the idea of city scenes, photo transfers, fabric and thread in my brain. I’m curious to see what shapes those combinations will take in the days to come.

Adventures in Wordnerdland!

"Dauntless", a 6x9" mixed media piece on paper

Day 194: Dauntless

Today, I was working on a limited edition of “Across the Bay”, a mini painting of the San Francisco skyline on woodblock that I did back on day 48. An artist friend of mine, miss Trish Tunney, who also shows at City Art Gallery and is an amazing photographer, bought it the day I put it up for the July show and graciously allowed me to keep it up for a few days. Amplifying her awesomeness, she gave me her blessing to make a limited edition of them since a few people wanted it. So I didn’t get started on today’s piece until the evening, and I felt like drawing.

9 little lovelies in the making!

 Two of my favorite bloggirls (is that a word yet, Urban Dictionary?), Sophie of The Art of {Being} MissKoolAid and Nicole of BlueBicicletta are also talented illustratists (that’s probably not a word either. And for some reason I am pronouncing it with a British accent in my head, which makes it instantly sound more plausible. Caution to the wind, I say!). I tend not to make drawings as often as I do paintings on canvas because I feel like they require framing and whatnot, and they are somewhat more vulnerable to being lost or damaged in the melee that is my studio or guest room/store room for stacks of completed artwork.

Watercolor pencils + acrylic matte medium + pen on dictionary page

Then when I was working on that mini quilt the other day, I was building up bits of paper in a few sewn layers, and today it dawned on me that I could do something similar with my drawings. I know this should have occurred to me earlier, but sometimes it takes my brain time to catch up with itself. “Dauntless” is a mixed media piece on 6×9” watercolor paper (also effective as heavy cardstock) with the Motels/Mortgages page from the phone book, some colored paper, and part of a map of San Francisco in the general area where I took the photo that I used as a reference for the drawing of these houses, which is on a vintage Spanish/English dictionary page.

This is my new favorite word. I might have to get a tshirt with it emblazoned on there.

The page originally featured the word “coadjutrix” which I have never seen before and had to look up, and that was a fun adventure into Wordnerdland (oooh, three made-up words today, it’s a record!), but then I decided to cut out “dauntless” because I thought it was a nice way of putting a positive spin on the financial difficulty a lot of people are having with the housing market. Why do I feel like I need to take a breath after typing a long sentence? Jeez.

Happy Little Trees

Small watercolor of the scenery at the river.

Day 193: Happy Little Trees

We visited the Confluence in Auburn again today. I frolicked in the water with friends, got a little sunburned, spent an hour making a dinner that became unappealing 4 bites in, and finished this drawing I began at the river with some watercolor pencils. I left the yellow on the hills “unwatered” for texture. I am a tired lump of person, who is planning to slink over to the couch for some water and a Bond movie. If I make it another two hours without falling asleep… which is unlikely. Something about that sun, it just tuckers me out. OH, speaking of sons, Chester swam for the first time in the river today! Yay! He was so brave! (And for any of you who don’t know, Chester is our Chihuahua, not an actual son. 🙂 )