Commissions, curators and carvings, oh my!

Who's the cutie pie? You are!

Sometimes I miss doing the daily art project. And I’ll admit it may someday make a reappearance. It’s exhilarating to be so productive. Then again, this whole art thing is often 50% making and 50% marketing, and those things don’t necessarily split themselves up perfectly each day. So lately I’ve had a show of nearly 30 mixed media abstracts here in Sacramento, I just finished the above commission drawing of an adorable doggie,  I’m also working on some wine country art including these linocuts…

An almost-done linoleum carving of V. Sattui Winery

.. and today I’m heading to the bay area to hang out with my mom, sister and nephew before meeting with 2 curators tomorrow about prospective showings of my cityscapes in Palo Alto and San Francisco.  I also had a couple of serious interviews last week for a job that I think would be just perfect for me, so fingers crossed! I entered some art in the State Fair and will find out within the next few days if it was accepted, and some other contest deadlines are looming, so it seems that the “marketing” thing has really taken hold here lately. Here’s an image of the reference photo I used for the dog portrait:

Not bad, eh?

I’ve never done a solid doggie drawing before, but it’s pretty similar to doing a person portrait. What do you think? Should I start offering pet portrait commissions in my Etsy shop? 😉

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Barn blocks

3 finished woodblocks, a recent commission project

Today I finished three small woodblocks I was asked to do as a commission. The client provided her own photos from their rugged, tree-filled property. Each year, her family has a large reunion on the 4th of July weekend, so these images feature some of their beloved local landmarks, such as this rocket pinata suspended from the treetops…

The glare from the sunspot was a little tricky, but I think it came out well in the end.

…an old flag hanging on a wire fence near a garden…

Threadbare but proud

… and her dad’s barn/workshop, complete with “horses” out front.

I was nervous about getting the "sun dappled" look right.

I am literally a handful of brushstrokes away from completing my newest nightscape, but I’m waiting on a tube of water-soluble quinacridone magenta oil paint. I know they say you only need red, yellow, blue, black and white, but that’s a dirty, dirty lie. Sometimes you need some hot neon pinky purple that you cannot fabricate from the primaries. So stay tuned for that one, coming soon! In the interim, my husband has given me his cold so I’m off to sulk/heal over a cup of tea and some elderberry syrup. So far my hippie remedy is not cutting the mustard, but I’m holding out hope for a speedy recovery, as tomorrow is my mom’s birthday and we’ll be celebrating, sickly or not!

A man in uniform

"Duty", mixed media on 1' sq. wood panel

Day 327: “Duty”, mixed media on wood panel

Today’s piece is the last in the collection of 4 commission panels I completed recently. This one is titled “Duty”; it includes two pictures given to me by Bruce. They both show his grandfather. One image is a carefree pose on the lawn with a friend, the other is a somber sitting photo taken as he and several others prepared to go to World War 1. Vintage paper bits I added to the composition include stamps from countries participating in the war, a nursery rhyme……

Detail shot

…an illustrated page from a German children’s reader, a dictionary page with the heading “bairn/ barrage” which are respectively defined as “a child/ in World War, a smoke screen used to conceal movements”, a piece from a storybook with the words “little boys put on their india-rubber boots and over they went”…

Detail shot

…vintage sewing patterns, ribbon and string. On all of these pieces, I darkened the edges to give them the effect of old photography so there would be an emphasis on looking back through time in this portal/window. I also used drops of slate blue liquid watercolor and postmark-like black circle stamps on each to give them a feeling of correspondence to complement the stamps Bruce gave me from his collection to include in the pieces.

Detail shot

It’s back to mini paintings tomorrow as I gear up for the affordable art group show at City Art Gallery in San Francisco I’ll be participating in during December & January. In fact, I’m heading into the city this evening for our monthly meetup. I’m constantly amazed at our group of artists and our combined efforts that keep our successful cooperative running! I only wish I lived a little closer. Ah well. Commuter bay bridge traffic, here I come.

Yellow polka dot bikini

"Equality", mixed media abstract on 1' sq. panel

Day 326: “Equality”, a mixed media piece on wood panel

Today’s piece is 3/4 of the recent commission panels I completed for Bruce & Dave. This one is centered around a general theme of feminity, which grew from the image of a woman in a bikini from the 60’s. I included a knitting guide from a Good Housekeeping book, vintage sewing patterns, “family planning” stamps from India, vintage dictionary pages with words like “flesh pot”, “flirt”, “respect” and “equality”, opera/hymnal pages, ribbons and a bit from a Nancy Drew book out of the 30’s. Here’s a detail shot:

In other news, I just sent out my first newsletter! Didn’t get it? Want to check it out/subscribe to receive them in the future? See it here.

Miss American Pie

"Discover", mixed media on a 1' sq. wood panel

Day 325: “Discover”, mixed media and acrylic paint on wood panel

Today’s piece is 2 of 4 of the recently completed commission pieces. I centered this one around the theme of adulthood & americana with the title of “discover” (as a counter to the youth/’wonder’ piece).

Detail shot

I used stamps from Bruce’s collection, photo transfers and various paper pieces like a french reader page “maman/papa” (thanks Sophie for that!), “mammalia marry”  and “yearning/you” from vintage dictionaries, a hymnal and a bit from A Midsummer Night’s Dream amongst other things.

Detail shot

Wonder of wonders

"Wonder", a mixed media abstract on 12" x 12" wood panel

Day 324: “Wonder”, a mixed media abstract painting

Remember those commission pieces I’ve been yapping about for the past couple of weeks? I finished them… at 8:45 am, leaving me just enough time to grab a shower and get over to Antioch to deliver them to Bruce & Dave on time. 🙂

It wasn’t a matter of slacking, it’s just that these types of pieces take a lot of staring and thinking and layering. As a guest of Bruce & Dave’s asked me, “how do you know when you’re done?” Isn’t that the quintessential question when it comes to paintings? It’s a tough one to answer.

Detail shot; some of the materials in this image are book pages, sewing patterns, stamps from a collector's album, ribbon and a photo transfer.

But in this case, I was working on four panels at once. So my favorite/the one that needed the most work really changed day-to-day. Recruiting my husband as an impromptu critique group member, I would stand back and say “well, I like that part because of this…” and get his thoughts, and it would help me clarify what I wanted to do next.

All in all, they gave me quite a bit of freedom. I had some paper materials that they wanted me to use, and I had the guideline of generally making them complements to Nostalgia, their previous commission piece, but outside of that I got to do what I wanted to, which was a lovely gift in and of itself. I ended up working within a general theme for each panel. This one’s about childhood. I’ll be revealing the next 3 pieces over the next few days, so if you like this one, come back to see the rest!

Another detail shot