Invitation to disconnect

"Out of Order", 16" x 20" acrylic on canvas

“Out of Order”, 16″ x 20″ acrylic on canvas

It’s Friday, and tomorrow is the first day of summer. It’s also my late father-in-law’s birthday, which makes it bittersweet. We miss my husband’s father, as we miss my Grandpa and others we’ve lost. But rather than focus on the day they left this world, I prefer to cherish our memories of them on their birthdays.

Today I’d like to invite you to reflect on what moments are important to you. Were they the most-liked Facebook status updates? The most epic vine videos? The best blog posts? I know they’re not, but these things consume so much of us. I’m not saying to burn your devices and smash your TV with a baseball bat, but on what is likely to be a beautiful weekend no matter where you live, disconnect for a bit. Don’t just put the phone down, turn it off (unless of course you’re calling someone to tell them you love them).

Go to the beach, visit a garden, check out your local art museum, make sun tea on your patio, take that friend you never see anymore out for a pitcher of sangria.

Chalk art from my hotel door at Portland's Jupiter Hotel

Chalk art from my hotel door at Portland’s Jupiter Hotel

I was recently in Portland and met a random person who turned out to be my sister from another mister. Instead of retreating into my hotel room for a few hours of internet crap, we hung out and had cider at a nearby brewery, and it was awesome. So in case you need it, here is your official invitation to disconnect from all this stuff this weekend and go make some real-world memories. 🙂

Knowledge is Powell’s

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Portland natives may recognize the book beacon that is Powell’s, the subject of the above triptych painting “Bastian”, 36″ x 54″, seen here on proud display in my home.

For my fellow logophiles, please note that the title is not a misspelling, but a dual reference to the homonym and to a film. There’s one other hint that this bookstore is located in Portland- can you see what it is? Unravel the mysteries in comments! 🙂

Night shift

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Here are 3 new paintings from a series I just started called “Night Shift”, exploring nocturnal city activities, roles and perspectives. All are 30″ x 40″ acrylic on canvas.

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The above is titled Stranger because of its voyeuristic quality and because the intro to Billy Joel’s song by the same name kept playing in my brain while I painted it.

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No title yet for this and the top piece. Suggestions? Thanks for reading!

"Greyhound", 18" x 24" acrylic on canvas

Signs of the times

Catching you up on recent paintings featuring vintage signage. All currently available at MarianneBland.com.

"Status Quo", 18" x 24" acrylic on canvas

“Status Quo”, 18″ x 24″ acrylic on canvas

Now playing: Nothing, Forever at the State Theatre in historic Marysville, CA. If any horror flick directors out there need a scary place to shoot, this spot is boarded up and undoubtedly haunted.  I also like the reference to “the state of things” (literal translation of status quo) as a blank, faded marquee. It’s kind of the equivalent of a shrug, or “meh”; very appropriate for my generation.

"Nitehawks", 18" x 24" acrylic on canvas

“Nitehawks”, 18″ x 24″ acrylic on canvas

A wink and nod to Hopper in title, I was very pleased with the peeling pink paint result (it’s easier to see in person. You know, sublety) in this painting.

"God Bless Dinners", 18" x 24" acrylic on canvas

“God Bless Dinners”, 18″ x 24″ acrylic on canvas

This restaurant is also located in Sacramento’s Del Paso Heights neighborhood and is a good example of how I prefer not to name locations with their actual titles most of the time. This one offered all kinds of amusing alternatives and is still a functioning greasy spoon if you are intrigued by the concept of beef from the other coast blessed by God (or ham and eggs, apparently).

Ice Box, 18" x 24" acrylic on canvas

“Ice Box”, 18″ x 24″ acrylic on canvas

Iceland completely defies physics by remaining in existence in Sacramento, CA (aka the surface of the sun). I particularly enjoy how the “come skate” paint is all creepy and dripping, as if it should be followed with “at your own risk” or “if you dare!” like a scene in a Goosebumps book.

"Greyhound", 18" x 24" acrylic on canvas

“Greyhound”, 18″ x 24″ acrylic on canvas

The above is an ode to Hopper, featuring blocky colors and devoid of reflections. This old Greyhound depot has been replaced with a cool modern location in Sacramento, as is often the case- places change before I get the chance to paint them pretty frequently.

"Dough Conditioner", 10" x 30" acrylic on canvas

“Dough Conditioner”, 10″ x 30″ acrylic on canvas

What once smelled of yeast and sorrow is now a vacant building, haunted by the spirits of nutritionally-devoid pastries. I intentionally cut off the title as a play on the word “under” since, you know- it went under.

Signs are stoic markers of events ingrained in the collective conscience. And they are also hard to paint. Here’s hoping you enjoyed checking them out. The 18″ x 24″ canvases above are all framed in flat black and available for $700 at MarianneBland.com. Happy Friday, folks! Thanks for reading.

 

 

Memory formats

"Vinyl", 30" x 40" Acrylic on Canvas

“Vinyl”, 30″ x 40″ Acrylic on Canvas

All the record stores I worked at are gone. Fun story, I once started a friendship by flashing my recently-pierced nips at my place of employment. Which is NOT why it closed, thankfyouverymuch. 🙂 I do occasionally stop and reflect on how extremely pivotal music is for me. Most people have strong relationships with it, but in this case I refer to artmaking. I listen to music each and every time I paint. I can’t even imagine what would happen if I had to start making work without it. I’ve even considered posting which bands/songs I was listening to while I worked on something, but I have no idea if that would mean anything to anyone besides me. It was fun to consider while I worked on the above, “Vinyl”, featuring an evening window shot of a record store in Portland.

"Tall, Dark and Haberdashery", 30" x 40", acrylic on canvas

“Tall, Dark and Haberdashery”, 30″ x 40″, acrylic on canvas

Another strong memory for me is that of the hat shop. I enjoyed hats a lot growing up (for awhile I had an impressive collection of thrift-store-sourced vintage cranium-toppers), but the memory I refer to is that of visiting a “chapeauterie” during my study-abroad semester in Marseille. I tried hard not to geek out at the fact that a HAT STORE still existed somewhere in the world, and it was an absolutely delightful 30 minutes spent trying on and pretending like I was going to buy hundred-dollar hats. I did buy ONE but I’m still waiting on the right occasion to don my fantastic French hat. (It’s kind of ridiculous and I haven’t been to the Kentucky Derby yet). I had a flash of that joy while witnessing the above Haberdashery in Portland, OR. This piece was a bit of a departure in that the palette is muted, but I couldn’t resist the whimsy and delight of the floating hats with umbrellas. I kind of felt like the display was going to break into Singin in the Rain at any moment. 🙂

"Drugs and Stationery", 30" x 40" acrylic on canvas

“Drugs and Stationery”, 30″ x 40″ acrylic on canvas

This piece has been on my “to paint” list for quite awhile. It’s a shop in Redwood City, CA that I snapped for reference during a great evening out with my mom. I’ve already painted 3 other scenes from that night, and this one was very exciting for me. By day, it’s kind of a cheesy ice cream store. By night, however, it’s a remarkable reminiscence of times I never experienced personally. I can imagine the soda jerk, the circle skirts, the giddy dates in the post-war era that inspired this shop, and that is the crux of why I paint city scenes. They are imbued with a presence of lives lived in these spaces that is palpable for me, that I can’t shake. (Pun-tastic! I’m a super nerd.)

All of the above original paintings are currently available for $1600 each on MarianneBland.com. Thanks for reading!

Summer in San Francisco

"Carrier Wave", 16" x 20" Acrylic on Canvas

“Carrier Wave”, 16″ x 20″ Acrylic on Canvas

Ah, summer. What once was a welcome break in the gray is now a game of Death Race 2000, in which the sun attempts to murder everything in its wake. (Those of you who also live in Sacramento can attest to this fact.) Summer in San Francisco, however, is a thing of beauty. That typically cold wind transforms to a pleasant breeze, patio dining suddenly returns, hipsters play Neutral Milk Hotel songs on the steps of townhouses, rooftop parties with organic Sangria break out spontaneously. It’s a fantastic place to be.  I may not be in San Francisco at this very moment, but odds are you aren’t either. In lieu of experiencing the glory that is a warm day by the bay first-hand, let these recent paintings featuring a sunny day in SF transport you to memories of urban relaxation.

"Retrofit", 16" x 20" acrylic on canvas

“Retrofit”, 16″ x 20″ acrylic on canvas

I suppose this could be any city, but the cable car steel atop a hillside kind of gives it away. What was great about this image was that the Bel Air was a surprise. I was taking a photo of the dusk light on the skyscraper, when a beautiful pink classic car snuck into the shot. Happy accidents make for great compositions! What surprises me is how people often comment that my paintings look like photos, when I feel like they’re awfully loose up-close. I’ve been starting to create some looser images that I look forward to sharing soon. For now, here’s another summer-y snapshot:

"I Heart Parking", 16" x 20" acrylic on canvas

“I Heart Parking”, 16″ x 20″ acrylic on canvas

Betwixt the palm shadows on pink patios sits a Vespa, a symbol of beauty and freedom in its own right, underscored by the satisfaction that is finding a parking spot in San Francisco. Those brave and brilliant souls motoring around this town on 2 wheels must never experience the excitement-disappointment-panic rollercoaster that is spot-searching with a regular car. What I LOVE about this piece is the natural heart shape created by the tree leaves and their shadow, framing this moment.

You may not know this about my work, but I don’t manufacture compositions. I hunt them down, taking photos myself, then using these images later as references for paintings. I described this process to a collector once as collecting, selecting and recreating moments from real life. My intention is to imbue those moments with some of the added glamour, drama, mystique or glory that they have on their own if we just notice it.

All of the above paintings are currently available for only $400 each directly on my website at MarianneBland.com. Thanks for reading!

The wrong kind of rollercoaster

It’s been one of those pull-the-sheets-up-when-the-alarm-goes-off-and-punch-yourself-in-the-face kind of months. After years of lusting after a stable gallery relationship, I finally got picked up by HANG Gallery in San Francisco. It started off with a bang- half their inventory of my work sold within weeks, I sold a piece that wasn’t even in the gallery through them and picked up a commission. Then we realized that there was a miscommunistanding about geographical boundaries, and they dropped me until I move back into the bay area full time [which is probably never, since we own a house in Sacramento]. So ends my brief foray into career validation, as quickly as it began.

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I got to visit Chicago for the first time, which I was very excited about. However, it happened to be during the annual marathon. Did you know that GPS devices don’t understand special event street closures? They also don’t sound like Daniel Craig. My attempt to visit the highly-recommended (by both friends and strangers) Chicago Art Museum was thwarted by people who inexplicably enjoy running. Thankfully, I can still read a normal map, which got me to my work-destination, but only after my limited free time was eaten up by making u-turns at the painstakingly slow instruction of angry traffic cops. As a goodbye gift, Chicago took a chunk out of my knee (it’s healing up pretty quickly) and also forced me to scuff the rental car on an impossibly narrow [and insanely expensive] parking garage.

My carpal tunnel started acting up again, which I suppose is good that it’s happening now since I have no damn time to paint at the moment, which I discovered while crawling into my rental car through the passenger seat after coming out to this in the hospital parking lot:

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And my husband’s birthday is coming up, but I’ll be traveling to San Francisco, Portland, and a host of other cities for my day job (I’m a recruiter for an art college), leaving me no time to honor him or attend my nephew’s birthday party at that. I just found out that my on-campus support is being promoted, which means those students I try so hard to find are probably going to slink into the ether.

On top of all that, Open Studios is coming up. Which I have virtually no time to prepare for. Thankfully I am an expert in pulling things off with no prep time.  So if you find yourself in San Francisco November 2-3, please come visit me at SHARED 739 Bryant St in SOMA. There’s plenty of street parking, we’re having an opening reception on Friday, November 1st  from 7 to 9 pm, and I will have my own original art for viewing and sale. I have one of those nifty SQUARE thingies so I will be accepting ALL credit cards! You too, Discover renegades. 😉 Hope to see you there. Also hoping October ends soon. When one door closes, a window opens, right? RIGHT?!

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