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? 😉


Free Parking Sundays!

In your face! 😉

Day 220: Self-portrait “The World” 

  1. If you’ve never listened to this song, just make yourself happy and do it. DO IT NOW! Oh, I totally saw a newspaper headline that said “Governor says let gays wed now” and immediately I imagined him holding a press conference at the Capitol building shouting “DO IT NOW!” and giggled hysterically in the middle of the sidewalk, which drew the attention of a crow watching me as I wandered the streets of a largely deserted Sacramento with my camera this morning on free parking Sunday. Woo! I wasn’t satisfied with the variety of architectural images I got the other day, so I headed back out. This time I was able to find my way to the Capitol (oddly enough, Capitol street seems to lead directly there) and I also got some shots of the Crocker museum, the gold bridge and a couple other neat spots.
  2. HALLELUJAH I am finally done with this painting.

“Cool, but why are you wearing some crazy gypsy quilt cloak?” I have this idea to do a series of oil portraits featuring the themes of the major arcana of the tarot deck. I’ve read tarot cards for several years now. I’m not about to set up a tent at the Renaissance Faire and hawk fortunes, but it’s fun and I absolutely love my set of Art Nouveau cards. They are gorgeous.

If you aren’t familiar with it, the Tarot deck has lots of cards (seventy something) and the first 22 are called the “major arcana”. They symbolize important events in life. Coincidentally, everyone has a tarot card connected with their birthday as well. (You can look yours up here online)  All the sites I can find, including that one, calculate these with numerology, but I think that’s kind of limiting. So I used this really detailed and interesting book to determine what mine was, which is ‘The World’ (January 21st). The World is the card of fulfillment, completion, and living contentedly with many blessings. In addition to the technical challenge of getting the face to look like my face, I decided to pay homage to the concept of my role as an artist interpreting the world by crafting a kind of shamanic cloak with different paper elements and “fabric” patterns that are relevant to me and my heritage.

Note to self: Make the rest of your models pose nude. Or in simple fabrics. Just a suggestion.

According to Wikipedia, “Marianne, a national emblem of France, is, by extension, an allegory of Liberty and Reason.” The name “Mary” has long been associated with navy blue. Genetically I have heritage ranging across the globe from the Ukraine to Germany to Mexico. As far as personality traits, I love words and the realm of the handmade. So I laid down a base of paper bits including world maps, a physics page about “terrestrial magnetism”, and several words in French, English and Spanish referencing art and some of my characteristics (like the term full-faced), and I painted patterns mimicking different rustic fabrics like fleur-de-lis, hand-woven wool and floral tapestry. You can still see hints of the paper elements, but they’re mostly a mystery to everyone but me. 😉 I also used gold foil as the background. Historically, gold is associated with richness and joy, but it’s also an art historical nod to Byzantine frescoes and the lot. So now I only have to hunt down 21 other people with birthdays corresponding to the other cards of the major arcana, photograph them, and then painstakingly eke out their personality traits as they relate to the theme of the card through mixed media/oil paint magic. Somehow I get the feeling it’s back to cityscapes for awhile until my sanity returns. 🙂

All that glitters...

Face Fail


Day 206: Face Fail

Why do my new favorite songs have such perverse titles? Like “Party with Children” by Ratatat and “Porno Disaster” by The Octopus Project. I’ve had the “Ratatat” channel on Pandora lately, and while I’m not into 100% of their selections (particularly the super-repetitive stuff), it’s been realllllly groovy. I had no idea there were Celtic-inspired instrumental mix-masters, or full classical complement versions of Muse songs. I’d heard of Sigur Ros & Kronos Quartet, but I’d never listened to Justice or RJD2. Hearing all this new-to-me crazy-awesome music lately feels like I opened the door to an underground club where I was immediately crowd-surfed over to my personal art studio in the middle of it and handed a champagne cocktail.

Isn’t that funny how something as simple as music can put you into a great mood? On the other hand, looking at today’s drawing puts me in a fowl one pretty quickly. Today I discovered that trying to draw my own face without glasses whilst wearing glasses is a really bad idea. I mean, this is my face… kind of. I am clearly in need of an eye wrangler (forehead/eye ratio/positioning isn’t right), the lips aren’t quite wide enough and my nose is a little different. See, when I take my glasses off, I have to reposition things like mirrors and paper about 6 inches or less away from my face to see them. So I had to keep shuffling things instead of staring them down like usual and I gave up after a couple hours. Why not just wear contacts, you say? Ah, yes, well. I ran out of them and they’re not free. And I don’t have any insurance right now anyway. Boo hoo. So next time, I’m just going to use a photo instead of trying to be all art-hardcore and use myself as a live model.

Oh, and in other news, I just updated with new galleries, intro page and artist statement. Check it out and let me know what you think!

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. :/)