Flashy, take two

"Flashy", oil & acrylic on 16" x 20" canvas

Right now you may be saying to yourself, “gee, that painting looks awfully familiar…” Do not adjust your computer monitor. You are, in fact, seeing the same piece for the second time. “Flashy” was my final piece from ArtProject2010, that I “completed” the first time around on Dec. 31st. At that point, it was all acrylic. I wasn’t 100% happy with it, so it has been hanging around in my studio for a couple of months for a grueling staring contest. In that time, I completed a couple of new cityscapes in oil, which helped me decide that Flashy needed a finishing coat and some amping up in the seductive hotness that is oil paint. Above is the finished piece. As a reminder, here’s what it looked like before:

"Flashy" before the finishing work in oil

Considering that the subject in this image is the Condor, SF’s oldest gentleman’s club, I guess you could look at the “before” as Flashy with natural ta-tas and the “after” as Flashy with a new and improved rack. And although I suppose some people aren’t fans of implants, I would venture a guess that everyone can agree the final version of this painting is way better.

Chester, however, is not impressed. “The same painting, hmm? What else you got going on there, ladyface?”

"We are not amused."

Well, Chester, I happen to be blocking in two new cityscapes. See?

24" x 30" nightscape in progress

16" x 20" nightscape in progress

“I don’t know, those look pretty crappy so far.”

“I don’t even have 2 hours in on each of these, man. Give me a break here.”

“Hook me up with a treat and I’ll dig up some encouragement for ya.”

“You drive a hard bargain, little one. But I can’t resist your adorable face. Treats it is!”

Stay tuned for more updates; I’ve got some mixed media pieces in the mix, due to be completed as soon as I need a break from the upcoming detail work in the above cityscapes. 😉

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. 😉

Hot off the easel!

"Pistachio", acrylic & oil on 24" x 30" canvas

Long time, no posts! I know, I know… but I promise I was actually painting the entire time. With the daily project over, I decided to scale up in size and bust out the oil paints to complete a new set of nightscapes. This tested my patience much more than last year’s project tested my endurance…which is probably because I picked one of the most detailed reference images for the first piece, but heck- thought I’d get it out of the way.

I am still babysitting the final yellow-green glaze, and hell if I know how I’m going to manage to photograph this without some kind of reflection in several weeks when it’s tacky, but here it is for now. 🙂

This painting features some shops from somewhere within Little Italy in San Francisco. I was really drawn to this image because of my reverence for the inherent beauty of a transient moment. I love the feeling of being a passing voyeur with my camera, disappearing off into the night with a captured second on my memory card, cradling it and petting it and telling it I’m going to make it into a big pretty painting so it can live forever. Now that I’ve described it that way, it’s really more of a Golum-my-precious/I’ll-hug-him-and-call-him-George sort of mental image than I’d intended.

At any rate, I’ve started blocking in the next one, but I also began several small mixed media pieces to help flush the tedious-crankies out of my system, so stay tuned for those! I swear I will not make you wait three more weeks for new work. Scout’s honor.

Dictionary Duo

Illustration detail on "Circumvent Clamor"


Hello folks! For the past week, I’ve been working on two large nightscapes that are probably going to take me a month or so. I also put up over 20 mixed media abstracts at DEEDA Salon for display/sale out here in Sacramento. In the interim, I’m mixing it up with some more small-format work. Working on these pieces, I discovered definitively that a year’s worth of daily art made my tiny brushstrokes steadier. 🙂


Illustration detail for "Bellman Benediction"


Here are two paintings on 5″x7″ canvii {I’m working on getting the plural of canvases changed to canvii in the common vernacular. Make a note of it.} utilizing vintage dictionary pages, ink and acrylic paint. These sleepy hillsides are based on San Francisco, but I did conjure them from memory as opposed to sitting down with photographic references.

“Bellman Benediction” features rows of townhouses next to a step street and tree-covered hill. It’s finished with a gold “frame”.


"Bellman Benediction", a mini painting


“Circumvent Clamor” shows the top of a house-covered hillside across the gray bay from what is Angel Island in my mind. Of course, if that’s the case, there should probably be a Golden Gate bridge in there somewhere, but you know how it is with the fog- you can’t always see the damn  bridge even when you’re on it. 😉 This one is finished off with a silver “frame”.


"Circumvent Clamor", a mini painting

It occurred to me as I was working on these that they are reminiscent of manuscript illustrations in a way. It’s funny how I could make so many of these and just now see that connection. I’ll be listing these in my online shop soon. Hope you’re having a great weekend!


Mission Accomplished!

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

Day 365: “Flashy”, a cityscape

For my final piece, I finished up a cityscape I’d worked on a little bit previously. As I went over neon signage for the 5th or 6th time yesterday, it occurred to me that these flashy lights were probably from Broadway. I looked it up before I went to bed, and sure enough- “Condor” is San Francisco’s Original Gentleman’s Club. “Excellent,” I thought- “I’m finishing my project with titties.”

So I suppose it’s no surprise that my anxiety awoke me at 8 am today knowing I needed plenty of time to finish this up, considering I’d painted over the entire left side of it last night (you read that right- it was spiting me and I had to start over). I’ve wanted to paint this photo I took awhile back for a long time because it’s so bright and colorful. It’s ultimately color at the center of my art universe. I found a quote that I really enjoy:

“Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment”- Claude Monet

I know exactly what he meant. And though I’ll still probably go in and add a couple of dabs and dots here and there when I see “Flashy” in the daylight again tomorrow {and update this with a better photo}, it’s essentially finished- just like this project!

I am relieved to have actually made it through this thing- to be honest, I did doubt that I’d actually get something made and posted every single day when I began. Through a wedding, the birth of my nephew, a trip to the emergency room, an audition/callback for a reality show, job changes and the many ups and downs of daily life, I’ve managed to take photos, make drawings, carve linocuts, put together jewelry, stitch fabric, craft sculptures, write poems, paint… and paint and paint and paint and paint…. and post new work every single day for a year. Please excuse me while I toot my own horn. *Toot-tootle-toooooot!!!*

I have learned so much about myself as an artist- I’ve honed my technical skill, discovered unexpected sources of inspiration, played around with my aesthetic, conquered new media and even sold quite a few pieces along the way.

I have learned so much about myself as a person- I’m more tenacious than I thought, I’ve found that artmaking is in fact therapeutic and essentially meditative for me, and I feel so very aligned with what I consider to be the universe’s purpose for me.

And I am eternally thankful for my friends, family and fans- who have been here for me with words of encouragement and support when I found myself sulking or beating my head into my studio table. I’d like to say a special thanks to my husband Rob for never getting upset over the long hours in the studio or at the computer, to my faithful camera for making it through sticky wet paint hands and the occasional tumble, and to you guys- my blog readers- who have really made this journey feel worthwhile with your thoughtful comments. Thank you so much!!!

ArtProject2010.info will continue as my art blog, so while I won’t be back with a new piece tomorrow, I will be back soon. 🙂 Happy New Year, everyone!

Context Contribution

"Context Contribution", mixed media on 5"x7" canvas

Day 363: “Context Contribution”, a mini cityscape

My cousin Jaclyn, who is very learn-ed and in the know and whatnot, tells me that an article touting San Francisco as one of the country’s most literary cities has been circulating recently, and that my beloved City Art Gallery in the mission is located smack-dab next to two of the bookstores it mentions. The latter I knew, as I have personally rifled through the free sidewalk book bin of Dog Eared Books and enjoyed a coffee and croissant at Borderlands Bookstore’s cafe. The former bit about the article is something I was unaware of, yet all the remaining dictionary drawing pieces I did previously have sold there this month. Coincidence? Providence? Either way, it warms the chocolate-coated cockles of my heart to know that book/art lovers have given these guys new homes.

So I decided to thumb through my old dictionary to see if I could find some more interesting pages suitable for mini cityscape drawings, and I came across this one with the heading “context contribution”. Both definitions on this page specifically mention literary use, which tickled my fancy considering the abovementioned book story. The sides of the 5×7″ canvas are painted the same taupe color as the old paper:

Always darkest before

"Always darkest before", acrylic on 5"x7" canvas

Day 362: “Always darkest before”, a mini cityscape

I was recently asked to donate a piece to an art auction being held in January 28, 2011 at 111 Minna Gallery, SF for the Free The Hikers cause.  These 3 peace activists, journalists and artists are detained in Iran (Sarah was freed in September, but her fiance Shane and their friend Josh remain imprisoned). I donated “Vaguely Vain”, a 5″x7″ mixed media abstract painting from day 67, which will be up for bidding with some other great pieces soon (check them out here).

Hopefully, her release means they are making ground and the others will be home soon too. Hopefully we’re nearing the end of any occupying of the Middle East at all. Hopefully humankind is on its way to evolving and making a giant leap in consciousness. It got me thinking about how people say “it’s always darkest before the dawn”, and that made sleepy cityscapes wander into my painting-mind. The edges are dark blue and kind of wrap around the front, which for me kind of gives it a feeling of daylight beginning to break through. Here it is from the side:

Blue Dusk

"Blue Dusk", acrylic & watercolor on 5" x 7" canvas

Day 357: “Blue Dusk”, a mini cityscape

Except for some minor touch-ups this morning, this piece was technically completed yesterday. I’m using my sister’s/brother-in-law’s laptop at my mom’s house and I’m jumping in the car and heading up to SF as soon as my hair’s dry. As I’ll be at City Art Gallery working a shift until 9 pm and then driving home to Sacramento- a trip that I hope will be two hours or less, but which may be a lot longer depending on how many bay area yahoos are hoofing it out to Tahoe for a white Christmas- therefore risking my chance of making it to my house before midnight, there really isn’t much time for art creation. Luckily, I know the gal who makes the rules when it comes to this here art project, and she says it’s fine. 😉

This piece is similar to yesterday’s mini cityscape with a pale yellow sky and blue haze settling over layers of sleepy townhouses. I find that dawn and dusk feel very much the same to me. This one has a bit more orange-yellow in it, so I decided this one is “dusk”. It will be on the wall in City Art along with yesterday’s piece in a couple of hours, so if you happen to be in the Mission district of San Francisco and still need to do some holiday shopping, we’ve got tons of fabulous affordable art available now! City Art Gallery is located at 828 Valencia St. in SF. See you there!

Blue Dawn

"Blue Dawn", acrylic & watercolor on 5" x 7" canvas

Day 356: “Blue Dawn”, a mini cityscape

I’m in a bit of a hurry to skeedaddle out to the bay and spend some time with my mom & sis before my all-day gallery shift in the city tomorrow, and I still have to pack up clothes & still-wet-replacement-art, so today’s post will be a quickie. Today’s artwork is a mini cityscape based on San Francisco. Using watercolor and acrylic paint, I created a moment that feels somewhere between dawn and dusk to me. Granted, I’m rarely awake for dawn, so based on memory, it’s blue and yellow and gray with twinklings of lights starting to come on in the layers of townhouses- mellow, cool and full of promise. See you tomorrow!

Gray Way

"Gray Way", a mini cityscape on 5" x 7" canvas

Day 335: “Gray Way”, a mini cityscape

Well my dearies, it’s December 1st, and we all know what that means. Now that today’s art is up, there are 30 days left of Marianne Bland’s Art Project 2010! When this thing is over, I will have made (and posted for your viewing pleasure) at least one piece of art every day for a whole m-fing year. (Sorry mom, but I feel like that statement requires an expletive. But I abbreviated it for modesty. :D)

While the rest of the world will be celebrating the New Year, I will be lighting my studio on fire and shooting an epic video to commemorate the project’s completion. Haha! Just kidding. It’s attached to my house and I’m not an arsonist. That would be cool though- the artist equivalent to smashing my rockstar guitar at the end of the show.

Today’s piece is called “Gray Way” and is the third in the set of mini cities in a reduced palette I busted out for this month’s affordable art show at City Art Gallery in San Francisco. I laugh every time I paint one of these vertical streets, because I’ve driven in the city. Sometimes I’ll notice someone hesitating at the top or bottom of these in another car and catch a glimpse of that panic-stricken “my car can’t do this!” face newcomers always have. Usually the tires actually stay on the road though, people, I assure you. No recent reports of “car actually falls the F off the side of a steep street in SF”. Then again- would I be completely surprised if I were to read that? No. No I wouldn’t.