Monday, July 11, 2011

An invitation to visit "Somewhere Off Center"

It is currently spare and bare, but I can now invite everyone to visit my new blog dedicated to fine art and illustration titled "Somewhere Off Center"  The first post and works of art are up. Follow the link or paste into your browser.  Either one will get you there.  I hope my current followers will continue to follow my artistic journey on this new site.  I will be tweaking, organizing and improving it over the next several days.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Illustration Friday - Stay

Stay With Me
(while I monkey around with my career)
Collage and graphite
9.25 x 5 inches

Big changes have happened in my life since my last post.  I did something even I couldn't have anticipated.  I resigned my high school art teaching position.  This was one of the hardest decisions I have made in a long time, and I know a lot of people think I must be off my rocker.  Maybe I am...  I absolutely love teaching.  I work very hard to be good at it, and I can only hope that the effort is understood and appreciated by those who retain my services as an educator.  The students always get it, maybe not at first, but eventually and reliably.  I miss them already and we are only half way through the summer.  

But change is good even if it is hard.  As Newton tells us, a body in motion tends to stay in motion, and I am no exception to that rule.  The current plan is:

1. Make art full time -  It is a now or never opportunity to promote myself as a professional artist.  Teaching gave me freedom to make art for personal intellectual pleasure at my leisure.  I have been much more productive in the last couple of years than in the past but now is the time to ramp it up to the next level.
2. Finish up my Masters degree - I am five classes away from completion.  With more free time I should be able to finish up by the end of next spring semester
3. Start a new blog - I will be putting up a new blog that will deal more specifically with my production of fine art and illustration. Illustration Friday submissions will be posted there as well.  I have three recently completed large canvases that are the beginnings of a new body of work.  As soon as I have good photos, I will inaugurate the new blog.
4. Work part time at Micheal's - As a evening/weekend "Customer Experience Manager" and hopefully fine art instructor... I still need to be able to make my car payment and tuition. :(  I worked at Micheal's about six years ago as a framer and event coordinator before I started teaching.  They still like me and have been kind enough to take me back.

I showed my son Todd, the illustration for this week.  He asked me what the word was, when I told him, he looked blankly at me and said "I don't get it."  If you have read to this point I hope it now makes sense.  To those who have been kind enough to follow this blog, I hope you will "stay with me" as I move on in another direction.  I'll post here to let everyone know when the new blog is up and running.

Make art with all your heart, mind, and soul!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Illustration Friday - Shadow

Pasture Gate
9 x 6 inches
water soluble graphite and colored pencil 
on watercolor board

This is just a quick color and value sketch for an image that I would like to turn into a small oil painting.  I find a little pre-planning helps immensely.  This gate is just up the road from my house and on this particular day, the play of light and shadow created beautiful elongated patterns.  For me the most interesting times of day for shadows are early morning and late afternoon, but it is also the most fleeting.  The sun seems to move more quickly when it is near the horizon.  For this reason I am a strong proponent of carrying a camera in order to capture references of this magical part of the day.  I also like use the computer to desaturate my studies to make sure the composition holds up based on value in addition to color.  It is a good idea to do this with paintings while they are progressing as well.

Here is an example of this study in grey scale.  I think it is still fairly successful.  Time to get busy painting!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Art and Mutant Flowers

I have been crazy busy lately getting ready for art exhibits and possible art exhibits.  I spent the day yesterday at the family farm in Marshall, with my dad, making plinths for sculptures out of 100 year old barn wood.  Thanks Dad!  I couldn't have done it without you.  These are some sturdy (heavy) sculpture stands.

Barnwood Plinth
with 100 lb sculpture

I have also been painting as fast as I can... below is a small oil painting that I was actually fairly happy with.  I have plans for a couple more paintings along these lines.  I have been experimenting with a water soluble oil paint that can be mixed with acrylics. (I know, I couldn't believe it either!)  I have actually not been brave enough to try mixing it with acrylics yet, but I love the easy clean up of water soluble oil paints! I need to do a few test mixes next week when I have a little more free time.

Morning Light
6 x 12
Oil on Board

And here is a strange thing I just had to share.  (The science girl in me loves this kind of stuff.)  John and I went for a walk yesterday morning and I came across this freakishly mutated black eyed susan.  The stem is flattened out and twisted into a ribbon shape, and the center of the flower has grown elongated and curves into almost a complete circle.  As a result, there is an increased number of petals that are growing out from the sides of the center in voluminous ruffles.  I don't know if this is caused by disease or just a random mutation, but it is strange and fascinating no matter how it happened.

Crazy Mutant Black Eyed Susan

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Lucy Revisited

Lucy Loves Ducky II
40 x 30
Acrylic on Canvas

A larger acrylic version of the last Illustration Friday image that I did.  

School is out for the summer and I will be taking two graduate classes, and making art like crazy! Who knows, if any of this stuff sells, I may have to give up teaching. :)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Illustration Friday - Toy

Lucy Loves Ducky
8.5 x 8.5 inches
Watercolor and Sharpie Pen

Playing with toys is a sign of intelligence, and all of the higher order animals do it; elephants to whales to dogs and cats.  The tendency for humans and animals to continue to play well into adulthood is both a learning activity as well as a stress reliever.  My border collie Lucy thinks it is just plain fun.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Illustration Friday - Cultivate

2 point perspective drawing sample

I am teaching perspective drawing at school to my Art 1 students this week, and it just occurred to me today that my sample drawing could work for this weeks Illustration Friday word.  The drawing is not finished, but it is far enough along that it is a good example for my students on drawing a cityscape with details in two point perspective.

In addition to cultivating young minds, I have been doing a lot of literal cultivating this week.  I have built three raised vegetable and flower garden beds using the a square foot gardening plan.  I also purchased root stock of male and female hardy kiwi berry plants at Sam's club. I have been researching online to determine the best way to plant them.  It turns out that the vines get really large, (think Kudzu) so I am going to have to find some spare fence line to plant them on, or consider building an arbor.

You might remember a couple of posts back that I commented on my notoriously black thumb.   I figure I have about a 25% chance that any of these current gardening efforts will turn out to be successful.  I am ever optimistic that I will find the magic spell that will turn my black thumb green.  The above drawing is pure fantasy. :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Illustration Friday - Stir

Stir the stars with a silver spoon,
and say "goodnight" to the waning moon.
The Sandman sings in the willow tree,
Ta Loo Ra La, Ta Loo Ra Lee.

I almost gave up on developing an idea for this week's word.  It just wasn't inspiring me and everything I could come up with seemed cliche or trite.  I'm not sure if this is any different/better, but this little quatrain kept swimming around in my head, so I finally decided it was worth pursuing.  Who knows maybe it will develop into a full fledged poem some day.

I am including the initial rough sketch.  There are a few things about it that I actually prefer.  Also the scanner fails to pick up some of the pale color shifts and value changes that are in the actual color version. :(

Foreshortening can be an interesting challenge!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Illustration Friday - Warning

Don't Eat Me!
ATC 2.5 x 3.5 inches
mixed media

Vocabulary word of the day:  Aposematism - a visual warning signal (usually bright color or high contrast pattern) indicating that an organism has a secondary defense mechanism such as; unpalatabilty,  poisonous glands, stings, neurotoxins, or foul odor.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Old IF entry wins Best in Show

Who would have thought that a small drawing created last year as an Illustration Friday entry would lead me to fame and fortune? real fame and only a small $200 award.  But still, I am very proud to say that this small colored pencil drawing won Best in Show at last nights opening of Main Street Gallery's juried still life exhibit.   What a truly fantastic surprise!

The show will be hanging from March 3rd - April 12.  If you find yourself in downtown Tyler Texas, stop by to see all of the beautiful artwork created by East Texas artists!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Illustration Friday - Swarm

Queen Bee
Ink,  marker and watercolor on mat board
4x6 inches

Wow!  It has been too long since I have participated in Illustration Friday and I am having serious withdrawal.  I may have to commit to another 1 year goal to make sure that I stay motivated to keep it up.  

This is just a quick one this week, but it had me thinking about the zen of being at one with nature.  Nature and I have a love hate relationship.  I consider myself something of a nature girl, but become literally depressed when things don't grow and flourish in the ways I envision.  We have had terrible drought conditions here in Texas for at least four of the six years that we have been back.  I have had very little success at growing anything.  OK, in reality I have a black thumb.  My husband commented on it just yesterday when I was fondling the plants in the garden department at Lowe's.  But despite my general ineptitude with growing things, I have always been happiest outside, breathing in fresh country air.  And I like to think that I will eventually get better at nurturing nature, if I just keep at it.  (And don't forget to water)

I remember being particularly concerned about the state of the natural world a couple of years ago when I heard that bees were disappearing.   Apparently a bee virus was decimating bee colonies, but they seem to be making a comeback.  I am still pretty upset about the fact that I haven't seen a firefly in several years.  No one really knows what has happened there.  But on the positive side, ground dwelling birds have returned to East Texas.  I have been seeing road runners and killdeer again for several seasons now.  Apparently the fire ants are finally finding a balance.  That is the thing about nature, isn't it?  It always finds balance.  How Zen!