What’s in a name?

New cityscape, 16" x 20" acrylic on canvas

Like this new painting? Help me name it! This is the first time I’ve ever posted artwork without a title, but I’m at an impasse.

My first idea was “Cashew Apple” after I learned that a tiny red apple grows on top of the cashew, which is naturally in a black shell. It seemed appropriate for the nighttime color scheme, but otherwise unrelated to the image.

Then I considered “Golden Delicious” because it references apples so it touches upon both gold and red, the main tones of this piece. Right now, both options are eliciting a shrug and nose crinkle from me, which means I’m undecided. If you like either of those options or have a suggestion of your own, leave a comment. If you come up with something I like and I use it, I’ll send you a free print of this piece!

To give you some more information about this painting, it features a street scene from San Francisco’s Chinatown near the corner of Grant & Washington. There are a few restaurants, the corner bathed in red light appears to be a bar, and several pedestrians head home through the chilly evening. Here’s a detail shot:

Love those lanterns.

I know you’re creative, so let’s hear those ideas! The “name game” ends in one week- on Tuesday June 7th- so enter a comment before then for a chance to win a free print of the heretofore-unnamed painting. 😉

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Embassy of Cake

Embassy of Cake

"Embassy of Cake", 24" x 30" oil painting on canvas

Behold! The greatest painting ever made… by me… this month. It’s also the only painting I’ve completed this month. Which made me feel like I was working insanely slow, ala Vermeer- except, you know, without an actual sponsor or client waiting to purchase it. And I know it’s been a dreadfully long two weeks or so since my last post, for which I apologize heartily. I had planned to work on some mixed media bits in between, but then I stepped through the portal of painting torment and couldn’t get out until I finished this thing. It has been the all-consuming monster of my life for the month of March. I should be happy it’s done, but I don’t even want to look at it for a long while. Which is too bad, since it’s oil and it takes a bazillion years to dry, which it has to do in sunlight to avoid clouding. My studio is ridiculously crowded with curing pieces at the moment.

“Embassy of Cake” features a corner somewhere in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Despite the fact that the lower shop is charmingly titled “Uncle Restaurant”, I don’t know what the other buildings are. The left side appears to be topped with several flags, and the building itself makes me think of some kind of awesome ice cream cake, so I finally settled on the title “Embassy of Cake”. I’m not sure what kind of desserty business would go on in such a place- perhaps petitions to outlaw fondant in certain districts, or allowing German Chocolate to seek asylum or something. But I’m pretty sure cake tasting would at least be involved, which is enough for me.

I DID manage to cobble together a time-lapse slideshow of images illustrating the progression of this work, AND I kept track of the number of hours it took me to create it. Check out the video here. I’m trying to kick my art business brain into gear and determine how much time it takes to make these pieces so I am still earning a decent hourly rate- in the figurative sense that it only applies when I actually sell stuff, but you get the idea.

And in honor of that minor achievement, here’s a little contest for my devoted readers- enter a comment here on the blog to guess how many hours it took me to complete this piece. Entries will be accepted until March 31st at midnight PST. The person who gets the closest to the actual time will win a print of this painting! Unfortunately, I won’t be able to send that out for at least a month- it needs to dry enough that the shine lessens and I can take a high-quality photo without the glare, but rest assured that the winner will eventually get an 8″x10″ limited edition giclee of “Embassy of Cake” for free! Yay!

Also, in case you don’t receive my email newsletter and haven’t visited my Facebook Fan Page lately, I have a sale going on in my Etsy shop until March 31st as well. Use the discount code: spring15 to receive 15% off your entire order! I already have over 80 items in my shop for under $80, so it’s a great time to save. Happy Weekend, everyone!

Jellyfish Salad

"Jellyfish Salad", 24" x 30" acrylic & oil on canvas

*Warning- today’s commentary is a bit on the salty side. Just FYI. Not one to read aloud to the kiddies.*

Hello lovelies! The sun is shining, I’ve got a clear breathing path through at least one nostril, Radiohead just came out with a new album and I officially finished this painting last night, so I’m in a jovial mood. This, despite the fact that I almost suffered a cardiac arrest the other day when I picked up 2 tiny tubes of oil paint.

“$42?!?! Jesus, are they made from diamond dust crushed inside a unicorn vagina?!”

Somehow I stopped myself from blurting out my first reaction. I sense the term “unicorn vagina” isn’t really acceptable in polite company. Then again, charging someone $42 for a little yellow and blue isn’t something I’d consider polite.

It took me a week to hunt down the magenta I needed for that tiny ass open sign.

At any rate, I made it home with the much needed pigments and they did prove useful. The lemon yellow and pthalo blue knocked this piece out. For my artist readers, here’s a quick rundown of water-soluble/water-mixable oil paints- they are awesome. Are you using them yet? Why not? Oh, you don’t want to spend a million dollars on new paint? I’ve done some legwork for you, so check it out-

Holbein Duo- CRAZY EXPENSIVE, but extremely saturated, high-quality pigments, great consistency, excellent blending.

Winsor-Newton Artisan- CHEAPEST, and pretty decent depending on the color. Excellent water-mixable mediums, oils, varnishes, solvents- but you don’t need all new ones anyway, the oil ones work just fine.

Grumbacher Max- MID-RANGE in price and quality, in my humble opinion. Small tubes only far as I can tell.

I often magically edit cars out of my paintings, but the reflections on this one charmed me into keeping it in.

I have a few more nightscapes lined up. I’m enjoying working with images like this that include a couple of figures. For me, the high-contrast of the dark scenes emphasizes the sense of “looking in” and explores the boundary between intimacy and voyeurism.

To make paintings like these, I first have to roam around with my big DSLR, snapping images of people on the street without permission like some kind of roving Google Streetview flunkie. It makes me ponder how the increasing saturation of surveillance continues to erode our privacy… but of course, that’s not going to stop me from getting the pics I need to make my work. 😉 It’s like the lyrics from Radiohead’s “Life In A Glass House”… “well of course I’d like to sit and chat, only there’s someone listening in…”

I hope I didn't F up the characters.

As this piece features a hostess staring off into the night in front of a restaurant, I wanted to go with a food-related title like my last piece, “Pistachio”. Lots of good suggestions came my way… wasabi, wintermelon, ginger… but I looked up this place’s actual menu online and one of the first items jumped off the digital page and into my heart- “Jellyfish Salad”. To me it sounds like something off a Fear Factor challenge, but it’s also delightfully odd- just like me. 😉

Day 88: ‘Peking Bazaar’ & ‘Eavesdropping on the Tattletale’

This is the first nightscape from the roll (isn’t it weird to say “roll of film” now when everything’s digital?) of shots I took in SF the other day. I was randomly driving through Chinatown, trying to make sure I didn’t turn the wrong way down a one-way street and get some decent images to work from at the same time. If you’re wondering why I didn’t just pull over/park and walk around to take pictures, clearly you’ve never been to Chinatown. I was tempted to title this “No Parking at Peking Bazaar”, but then I thought the owners of this fine establishment may happen across this painting and find that obnoxious.

One street I came upon had an explosion of red globes and strings of white lights. Even though it was dark and relatively unpopulated for Chinatown at that time of night, it felt like the street might erupt into a parade at any moment. That’s one of the things I love about Chinatown. It’s as if, at any moment, the lanterns will burst into mutant blossoms and the tiny bulbs above will pop open and rain down glittered tickertape while the pedestrians turn into a walking dragon float. There’s color and vibrancy there all times of day or night, and that’s what I really hoped this painting would show. This took about 8-9 hours from start to finish. It’s acrylic and charcoal, 18”x24” on heavy duty canvas. (I’m going to be taking better photos of this tomorrow in the daylight, will update.)

For those of you who think I may be breaking my own art project rules by allowing this piece of work to span two days, I also painted another text/abstract mini-painting today. So there. 😉 This is acrylic, fabric, text and watercolor on a 5”x7” canvas. The words are “eavesdropping on the tattletale”, which I just find really amusing since both actions are relatively uncouth, which somehow evens it out, I think. The color was inspired by the red orange of the Chinatown lanterns and banners.

Day 34

I was relieved this morning to find my mom sitting up, eating jello, and chatting with a co-worker. She even felt well enough to hassle the nurse just a little, and we had her and her many bouquets of flowers home by late afternoon. Every time I think about the dual unemployment situation, I start to feel like I might throw up or cry or throw up and cry at the same time, so I’m avoiding it for the most part.

I picked out a photo from a drive through Chinatown and got started on a watercolor. Over the years, I’ve probably made 10-12 trips to Chinatown, but I’ve only really been there (outside of the car) twice. If you’ve ever tried to park there, you know what I mean. For me, the excitement of visiting San Francisco is always dampened by two things- the difficulty of finding someplace to park that won’t cost $200, and the anxiety of trying to find a clean public restroom (which is usually intensified by having to pee super bad while circling around hunting for parking). This scenario leads to lots of photos from inside of moving cars. As a passenger only, of course- doing anything other than intensely focusing while driving in San Francisco is like skiing with your eyes closed.

Chinatown is like the rest of the city, in that it’s both dazzling and dirty. Bright lanterns hover over the street,  orange banners flap beautiful calligraphy I can’t read, red roasted ducks dangle from storefronts, all distracting me from the animal fat greasing the sidewalks. I love painting it, this is the second time I have, and I will again- as soon as I get some more pictures.

Also, a huge thank you to everyone who has shared their well-wishes for my mom’s recovery and for the situation that my husband and I are in. It means a lot to us. 🙂