Monday, October 24, 2011

Oil painting and pregnancy

I realized that I haven't talked at all about the use of oil paints while pregnant or the precautions one should take. So, since I'm having a hard time working on actual paintings (this big ol' belly is starting to get in the way- like holding a beach ball in my lap while I sit at the easel), I thought I'd take this opportunity to share what I've learned. Don't despair, male readers. the pregnancy concerns may not be of much interest to you, but there are lots of things I've learned about making studio safety in general that could be of some use to everyone.

Keep in mind that I am clearly not a doctor. If you're pregnant and your doctor gives you any different advice, warnings, or limitations, listen to him/her!

First off, I make my own frames and when I found out I was pregnant I was in the middle of a massive framing project to get ready for a show. Therefore, my first question for my doc was, "Can I use spray paint when I'm pregnant?" She said spray paint shouldn't be a problem as long as I used it out in the open and as long as the smell didn't bother me. Awesome!

I've long heard stories about the dangers of oil paint, so that was my biggest concern. I just couldn't imagine giving up my beloved oil paints for 9 months! However, of course, I also wouldn't want to do anything to harm my baby. So, I started doing some research. I found that typically it's the mediums and cleaning products (turpentine, etc) associated with oil painting that pose the biggest threat. Usually I use Gamblin oil paints and Winsor and Newton's Liquin as my medium. I still love both of these products (and I use Liquin some- I'll get to how in a minute), but I made a few changes to be on the safe side. First off, I switched out some of my paints. Gamblin's paints are not particularly toxic, but I wanted to take all reasonable precautions. There's a wonderful company called M. Graham that makes beautiful oil paints with a walnut oil base. Their oil paints are a slightly thinner consistency, too, so unless you want your paint to be thicker, you may not even need medium. I paint in thin layers, so I rarely want my paint to be thicker. For times that I do use medium, in place of Liquin I began using Graham's walnut oil (again, this will make it thinner, so if you like bulky paints, I'm not sure how to advice you).

The one problem I had with the Graham oil paints is that I had a harder time finding alternatives for cadmium colors (for example, hansa yellow in place of cadmium yellow, etc.). I was worried about over-exposure to cadmium and other of the more toxic pigments, so for those colors I substituted the less toxic versions from other brands (namely, Gamblin).

To clean my brushes I've actually started using baby oil. Oil cleans oil. I admit, it is a bit harder to get them clean, but it's completely non-toxic. About once a week I'll give my brushes a more thorough cleaning with Master's brush cleaner.

Like I mentioned previously, I still use Liquin in a limited capacity. Since I paint on metal it's important that I have a sort of protective layer over my finished work to prevent scratches. That's where the Liquin comes in. After a piece is totally dry (I try to give it a good week or so) I put a thin coat of Liquin over the top. To be safe, though, I take the piece outside to apply the Liquin, I also try to maintain some distance from the piece so that I'm not right on top of it. Then I put it someplace where I won't be spending much time until it's completely dry (about a day).

Lastly (actually, this is the first thing I did) I put a ceiling fan in my studio. If you don't have or want a ceiling fan, use a stand fan or something to get the air circulating in there. That's an important point, I think, for ANY studio. I should have done it long ago.

I believe these precautions have served me well. I've managed to paint through most of my pregnancy and I believe my baby has been safe.

You can find all of the products I mentioned here at However, I recommend a local art supply store over an online store any day. Did you know that if you buy from a locally owned store 45% of what you spend goes back to the community, however if you shop online 0% goes back to your community. It may cost a little more in the short run, but think of it as an investment in your surroundings. Here in Birmingham my favorite art supply store is Forstall Art Supply. The same family actually owns one in New Orleans, too. If you go to the Birmingham location, tell Phillip and Annette that I sent you :)
Happy safe painting, everyone!

Friday, October 21, 2011


I've had to take a little break from my lightbulb painting that I've been allowing y'all to see in progress. My baby is due SOON! Halloween is her actual due date, but she could come any day, so there's been lots of prep work going on. Plus, it's just not comfortable for me to sit at my easel for very long (like, longer than 10 minutes). Rest assured, I will get back to that painting- it won't remain in its ugly stage forever. For the time being, though, I'm feathering my nest.
Even though I haven't been working on my art, per se, I have been making and creating things for the baby's room. My favorite of which is the wreath for her hospital door pictured below:

If you'd like to take a fine art break and read about how I made these birds keep reading. Otherwise, I'll catch up with you in a few weeks with news about Baby Girl Hardin and the next installment of my work in progress.
For those of you still with me, Hi! Welcome to my crafty side. Being pregnant has been good motivation for letting this side of me play for a little while. I wanted to do something different for my little girl's room than the typical pink nursery, so I went slightly more gender neutral. I made these birds out of paper clay. I only recently started playing with paper clay so I'm no expert. It's pretty fun and forgiving, though. First I made a kind of bird shape out of aluminum foil. The bird shaped aluminum foil wasn't super detailed. I just wanted something to form the clay around so that they wouldn't be solid clay (both to save clay and to keep them from being too heavy). I wrapped wire around the aluminum foil birds and left the ends sticking out approximately where their feet would be so that I would have a way to attach them to the nest. 
Next, I just covered the aluminum foil birds with paper clay. Easy as pie! I don't have an actual clay tools, so I used the back of a tiny measuring spoon to smooth out the clay, but paper clay is fairly easy to work with, so you can use your fingers as well. You might want to have a bowl of water close by to dip your fingers in if you want the clay to be really smooth.  I wanted the baby to be kinda fluffy, so I roughed up the clay on her. I let them dry, painted them with acrylic paint, and attached them to the nest and the nest to the wreath. You might need to use a little gel medium to help the birds stay right where you want them to be. 
That's all! Stay tuned for more updates. I'll let you know when Baby Girl is here! Then after that maybe we can get back to art :) See you soon!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Work in Progress- Day 3- Making (slow) progress

Work in progress- 2nd coat
I don't know if you can tell it or not, but I've started the second coat. I got about 1/4 of it done today. This stage is always just a little frustrating because, since it's my second coat, I feel like it should look better than it does. However, once I step back from it, I realize it really is coming along. I started at the top left corner , however I wiped off that paint and am going to go back to that part. I felt that the lattice work was looking too sharp and may draw attention away from the lightbulb and its reflections. I'll have to experiment with how best to do the corners.
On a side note, I'm thinking of calling this piece "Bright Idea," (Get it? It's a lightbulb...). What do y'all think?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Work in progress- Day 2- First coat finished

Obviously, I finished the first coat- it's always my least favorite coat, however it also goes the fastest. I don't get to really get lost in the colors and details of the painting during this coat, though, because it's all about mapping it out generally. Plus, since I work on metal, I can't get too detailed with the first coat just because the surface is still so slippery. Now the fun part :)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Work in progress- Day 1 "Work past the ugly"

My friend Sunny Carvalho took a class once from a woman who kept reminding her students that "ya gotta work past the ugly." That has become my mantra because most paintings, especially the ones that turn out well, have at least one point where you look at them and go, "What am I doing? This looks terrible!" As visual artists, I think it's really easy to immediately cast a work of art aside when it gets to that stage, whether it's because we're afraid to proceed, embarrassed for others to see the ugly stage, or because we don't know that even the most beautiful of swans has to spend some time as an ugly duckling.

I started a new painting today and currently, it looks pretty awful. I've come to expect that, though. However, its ugliness inspired me to share the many life phases of my paintings with you. So, here it goes!

Day 1: I drew an outline in pencil of where the main objects and reflections of the painting would be, however I didn't take a picture (it probably wouldn't have shown up anyway). So, we'll skip just to the painting part. I didn't quite finish the first coat, but above is what I got done today.

Not lookin' great, huh? The prettiest part of the painting currently is the copper which has yet to be painted. Be patient, though. It'll get there. I'll be posting in-progress pictures of the painting in the next few posts and we'll see how it turns out. In the meantime, take it easy on yourselves. If you're working on something that just doesn't seem to be flowing, remember, "Ya gotta work past the ugly."

Monday, August 29, 2011

Today's featured artist...

A sample of Cecily's miniature Guatemala paintings

Today's featured artist is Birmingham's own Cecily Hill Lowe (aka CHill Art).  She does these amazingly beautiful abstracts using acrylic wash. Sometimes people look at abstracts and think, "Anyone could do that," simply because they don't understand the skill that goes into creating the composition and manipulating the paint. Trust me, I could not do what Cecily does. Currently, Cecily is selling miniature paintings to fund a mission trip to Guatemala. The paintings are acrylic wash on paper and they're tiny- 3"x4"- so you don't have to worry about finding wall space for them. They'll fit anywhere. Plus, they're only $25 a piece! Don't miss out on that! To view them, check out Cecily's blog.

Once again I have to apologize for being an absentee blogger. I'll make this my last apology. Not because I will never agin be so untimely in my posts, but because I will just trust that you understand that with a baby on the way, I'm a little distracted. I'm officially 31 weeks now and we still have to basically rearrange the whole house to make a nursery... and all I want to do is sleep and eat. :) Now I'm off to have second breakfast. Take care!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Escape Day Spa, 17 Dexter Avenue, Crestline Village, 35213
Wow, I've been running around like crazy lately trying to get ready for our show this weekend. For those of you in Birmingham, don't forget- Escape Day Spa and Eclectic Art Social Club (myselfMary Liz IngramSunny Carvalho, Dariana Dervis, Chi Roach, and new member Marjorie Gilkey) presents Eclectic Art Escape, a unique art show and open house this Saturday, July 30, 4:30-8. 

I've been building frames, finishing paintings, and making repeated trips to Lowes because I never seem to get enough lumber or spray paint for my frames! I can't wait for all this work to culminate into Eclectic Art's first show together. 

See y'all there!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Upcoming show!

Eclectic Art Social Club in a Birmingham art group consisting of myself, Mary Liz Ingram, Cecily Hill Lowe, Sunny Carvalho, Dariana Dervis, and Chi Roach. We're having our first art show as a group Saturday, July 31, at Escape Day Spa in Crestline Village. In addition to being an art show, this even will also be an open house for the spa. That means snacks, wine, and spa giveaways. Come see us! You may win a massage! And if not, you'll at least get yummy appetizers and see some great art. The show will begin at 4:30 and last until around 8:00 (depending on sundown).
Escape Day Spa is located in Crestline Village in Mountain Brook, AL near La Paz Mexican restaurant. Owner Carrie Wheelock has turned this beautiful Mountain Brook home into a relaxing retreat. It's sure to become your favorite place to escape.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

I confess I have been quite distracted and unproductive lately. I don't know if it's due to summer, pregnancy brain (we just found out we're having a girl), or what, but I vow this week to get back track. I've done pretty well so far and, I must say, I feel better when I'm productive.

When I was a little girl my Memaw gave me a tiny brass vase. I didn't really think about or notice it much growing up, however it is in my mental snapshots of every place I've ever lived- from my childhood bookcase, to teenage dresser, to college dorm desk, to my current spare room studio.  It's held a wide array of flowers from remnants of bouquets to weeds that I thought were pretty. It makes me happy. I know it's just a vase, but I like that it's been with me so long. I like the millions of different colors I see in it. And I love who gave it to me.

Recently my little vase has found its way into my art. I have wondered if I should polish it, but I like that if you look closely there are millions of fingerprints on it. I wonder if I would see all the reds, greens, and lavenders in it if I cleaned it up. So, I think for now I like it just the way it is. My sturdy, loyal, little vase. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Featured artist: Sunny Carvalho

Art by Sunny Carvalho- mixed media on plywood
Paperclay dolls with moveable joints
Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to introduce you to Sunny Carvalho, an amazing artist and a dear friend of mine. Though our artwork is as different as night and day, she never fails to inspire me both with her ideas and her frustrating ability to do EVERYTHING well. Her work spans several media
while somehow remaining consistent. If I didn't love her I'd hate her. I'll quit talking and let her art speak for itself. Check out her website by clicking her name above, or click here to check out her blog, Sparkle and Spin.
Sunny uses images from her art in handmade necklaces
Sunny also makes purses and cuffs depicting her artwork

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Life is just a bowl of... doorknobs?

Bowl o' Doorknobs
I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but I have a degree in counseling and worked at Mitchell's Place here in Birmingham as a one-on-one behavioral therapist for children with autism for a few years. I have also led social skills groups for teenagers with autism and Asperger's  syndrome as well as taught art classes to children and adults with various developmental disabilities. I'm telling you all this because I think that working with this population has had a profound impact not only on my art, but also in how I view the world in general. 
One of the hallmarks of the autism spectrum is a tendency to notice and be caught up in small details rather than the big picture. For example, it's not unusual to see a child with autism staring transfixed at the way the wheels move on a toy car rather than driving the car around, crashing into other cars, etc like his or her classmates. While it's important that the child learns to socialize and take part in what his or her peers are doing, I think there's also something to be learned from that attention to detail.

I don't know whether I learned to notice things like the way light shines on a brass doorknob or the way reflections change when you move your head the slightest degree from working with individuals with autism or if perhaps I already looked at the world that way and that's part of why I'm so drawn to that population. Whichever came first, I'm glad that I can get distracted by such everyday things. There are too many beautiful details in the world around us that we forget to notice.
So look around you. Notice the spiderweb right outside your kitchen window or the way your shadow looks distorted and alien. Notice the cool, pink light cast on the counter when the sun shines through a glass of juice or the way the dining room looks reflected in the bowl of your spoon. Go ahead. Be amazed. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Practical stuff

I'm teaching a friend how to oil paint. I don't really think of myself as knowing a lot or being an expert in painting- it's just something I do. However, in trying to teach my friend I realized that I not only know more than I realize, but also that I have so much information that has become such a part of me that trying to organize it in a teachable way is a good challenge.

There are so many things I don't even think about until I have to explain them to someone else. Laying out my palette is one of them. So, for anyone who's interested, here's how I lay out my paints so that I can find them without breaking my concentration.

Ok, so I separate the paints by warmer colors on the top row and cooler colors on the bottom row. The neutrals go along the sides.
On the top row I have (in order) crimson, red, orange, yellow, yellow ochre, and burnt umber. Though burnt umber and raw umber could probably be considered neutrals, I separate them so that I don't get confused- they can look so much alike on the palette! Burnt umber has a definite reddish tinge to it, though, so it goes up top. I love transparent colors, so I have a special place for them on my palette that many people may not have. My transparent reds and oranges go under their more conventional colors. So below my top row of warm colors I have brown pink, transparent earth red, transparent earth orange, and Indian yellow.
On the bottom row I have my cool colors. In order, they are Paynes grey, dioxazine purple, ultramarine blue, phthalo blue, manganese, phthalo turquoise, and raw umber. As I said, my neutrals go along the side. On the left I have Caucasian flesh tone and zinc white. On the right I have titanium white. I rarely use black, but if I did have it out it would go on one side or the other.

Of course your palette will probably look different because we use different colors or simply because you have found that another way works better for you. I just know that this works for me. People have asked, so I'm happy to share.
Have a great day everyone!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

And now for something completely different...
There are so many amazing artists out there- and more than people realize in Birmingham. So I'm going to start featuring a few other artists I admire. The cool thing about art is that it can be so different and still be incredible. My first featured artist is Mary Liz Ingram. Her pastels never cease to amaze me. She specializes in Alabama scenes and in portraiture. I love in the picture above how she balances the dark sky and dark earth in the edges of the picture with brilliant whites and golds. Her portraits are incredible as well. She never fails to capture beautiful likenesses of her subject.

In addition to her website and various shows around the Birmingham area, Mary Liz's work can also be found at her blog Somewhat Daily Paintings. Check her out. She'll be one of your favorites, too.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Big news and why I've been a flakey blogger lately

Maternity stamp I carved
Wow, I've been REALLY scattered lately. So, it's been a little while since my last post. However, there's good reason for that- I'm pregnant! I read the other day that studies have shown that women's brain cells volume actually decreases during pregnancy then returns to normal in the months after birth. So, pregnancy brain is a real thing! I have an excuse! Still, I will try to be better, I promise.

Mother's day flowers from
my sweet hubby :)
In addition to just feeling scattered, I truly have been crazy busy lately. It's annoying and it's gotta stop. I can't remember the last time I had a day in my studio when there wasn't at least one other thing I needed to do or place I needed to be. Today, though, I'm taking (ie. stealing) the time to paint. I find that when I do that, everything else seems to fall into place. However, then I get busy and I seem to forget this truth and neglect my artwork (my career, my soul!) for too long and I end up feeling non-productive and depleted.

So, adieu for now. I'm off to paint and feed my soul.

Friday, April 15, 2011

(Somewhat) Quick Paintings

Most recent quick study
I've been having a hard time focusing lately (more on the reason why in a later post). My typical reflection paintings on metal take SO long to do- several layers of paint, each taking several hours, with drying time in between that they just seem daunting when I'm so distractible. So, in a quest for more immediate gratification I've been doing a series of short, quick paintings on gessoed particle board. I'm normally such a careful, detailed painter that it's good for me to do "fast" paintings once in a while. I put fast in quotes because I still spend 1-2 hours on them. I've done about 10 of them now and I think I'm getting better at getting my subject down quickly. What do you think?
Quick study #1

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Floater frame- finished picture

Wow! I must be THE worst blogger ever! It's been forever since I posted. Sorry! There have been lots of other things distracting me. Don't worry, I'll try not to let it happen again. As promised (AGES ago), here is the final picture of the finished floater frame- complete with artwork inside.

I have some exciting art news- the Energen corporation (the Alabama gas company) has bought one of my paintings for it's permanent Alabama art collection. If I understand correctly, it will hang in their fancy building downtown with a plaque with my name on it. Awesome :)

I don't have much more to write about today, but I have some more exciting news that I hope to be able to share with my next post. Stay tuned.

Monday, February 21, 2011

How to make a floater frame- Part 3

 After leaving your frame to dry in the strap clamp overnight, it should be firmly and beautifully together. Take off the strap clamp and sand the corners, and any other seams where two pieces of wood join. Next, smear wood filler into the seams like so:
If you look closely you'll see tan woodfiller smeared into the seam on the front corner.

Once you have the wood filler on all the visible seams, go do something else for a little while- read a book, eat a sandwich, take a nap, work on a painting, make up a song and dance to entertain your dog or cat- whatever you like while the wood filler dries. 

Now, go back and sand the wood filler so that it's nice and smooth. The point is that when the frame is painted it will look like one solid piece. It's a much more polished look without the visible joints. 

You're ALMOST done!! Feel free to lay your picture into your frame and admire how well it fits before the next step.

Time to paint the frame! First, I suggest using a spray primer. For one thing it helps the paint adhere and for another thing, if the paint should ever get chipped, it won't be as obvious. This part is moderately tiresome just because of drying time. Just allow for the time and relax. It's all part of the process. You didn't work this hard until this point just to get impatient now, did you?

Ok, so lay your frame down on a cloth or something to protect your deck, garage floor, driveway, or wherever you're doing this. Whether you start with the back or the front is up to you. Spray a nice, even coat of primer and then walk away and do something else. The primer should be completely dry in an hour or so, so that you can do the other side. I like to go ahead and prime the whole thing first rather than prime and paint the same side before priming the other side because sometimes little imperfections you missed when the wood was bare show up when it's primed. Now's a perfect time to fill, sand, and fix them. 

You'll need a few coats of paint to really get it looking good. Pay attention to the directions on your spray paint. Mine says to reapply within the hour OR wait 24 hours. I'm not sure why that particular timing is important, but I'll trust them. I really wanted to be able to show you my finished product in this post, but it's not in a good spot to photograph and it's still too wet to move. I promise- it's coming soon. Not that you need to see mine- you've got one of your own! Go ahead and play this while you present your finished frame to your friends. Tada!

Friday, February 18, 2011

How to make a floater frame- Part 2

Ok, so you've done as the bottle of wood glue instructed and dutifully waited overnight for your two pieces of wood to glue together. Now time for cutting! First, measure the sides of the painting you're framing.
This particular painting is 5"x7".  Think about if you want some space between the edge of your picture and the frame so that the picture looks like it's hovering (hence the name "floater frame") or if you want the frame to butt right up to the picture. Is that the right version of "butt" to use? Maybe it's butte. Anyway, I digress. The measuring will be a little easier if plan on the picture hovering because you have a tiny bit of leeway. 

First, you're going to cut one end of your board at the angle that it will need to be to make the corner of your frame. Set your miter saw (or miter box) to a 45 degree angle. Obviously, it's important to make sure that the cut is angled in the correct direction. You want the cut to slant toward what will be the inside of the frame (see picture below). 

Since I want my painting to float in the frame, I'm going to mark my board at 7 1/2" for the 2 longer sides of the painting. It's important also to clamp your board to your saw (see below). Please please please don't get near the blade. Clamping the board enables you to concentrate on what you're doing rather than worrying about holding the wood in place. Also, don't forget your goggles. I actually wear goggles, respirator mask, and earplugs. Not stylish, but I'm well protected. 
Don't forget the clamp the wood to the saw. If the piece is long you may need two clamps.

Now it's time to make your cuts! You'll have to swivel the saw to cut 45 degrees in the opposite direction for each end of each piece. Make sure your cut pieces match the piece that will be opposite them in size. Once you have all of your pieces cut, add glue to one end of each piece and put your frame together.
Your strap clamp will keep everything firmly in place while the glue dries. Don't forget to wipe up the excess glue! Once the clamp in on the frame and tightened, it should look like this:

I admit, I had a hard time tightening the clamp all the way at first since it didn't come with instructions, but then I figured out that after the crank is turned as far as it will go, you can then turn the long red wooden handle to the right to tighten it further.
Once again, be patient and let it dry over night. I think I forgot to mention wood filler on our supply list. We'll need that for the next step, so go ahead and get some. I'll go back and add it to the initial list for those of you just joining me.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

How to make a floater frame- Part 1

FINALLY at long last here is my promised tutorial on how to make a floater frame. Since I will be teaching you and photographing the steps while I make my own floater frame, I'm going to do this in several posts over the course of a few days. First, a supply list:
1. Wood: I like to use one board of 1"x3" pine (it actually measures 1" x 2 1/2", but for some reason unknown to me is labeled as 1"x3") and one board of 1/2"x 1 1/2" pine. 
2. Wood glue
3. Tape Measure
4. Strap clamp or a ratcheting clamp
5. Miter Saw or Miter Box
6. Sandpaper
7. Spray primer and spray paint
8. Safety goggles and respirator mask because you just can't be too careful.
9. Wood filler
Ok, so now you've got all your supplies, we're ready to start. First, measure how deep you picture is and decide how deeply you want your picture to sit inside your frame. In other words, do you want the picture flush with the front of the frame or recessed a bit? Once you have decided that you're going to make a "shelf" so to speak out of the wood by using wood glue to glue the smaller piece of wood to the larger piece like so:

This view is how one side of the frame will look when turned onto its side. The small piece of wood is eventually going to be the back of the frame where the picture is screwed into the frame. Therefore, where you position the small piece of wood is based on how deep you need the frame to be. For example, my paintings are about a 3/4" thick. So, I position my smaller piece of wood about 1 1/4" from the edge of the larger piece so that once the frame is put together the profile of the frame will be about a 1/2" more than my picture. This next picture has a kinda weird shadow on it, but it might help illustrate what I mean:

The copper and blue/green thing is the edge of my painting. So the smaller piece of wood is positioned the width of the edge of my painting plus the amount I want to extend beyond that from the edge of the larger board. Make sure to measure that distance carefully and mark it all along the larger board. Put wood glue on the narrow edge of your smaller board, and line it up with your markings. If you have clamps, use them to clamp the two pieces of wood together overnight. I don't have clamps so I use a very sophisticated method of balancing cans of paint on top of mine to press them together :) Regardless of which you use, be sure to wipe all extra wood glue that seeps out from around the edges. Leave this to dry overnight and I'll post the next step tomorrow!
 Let me know if you have any questions so far.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

How to make floating frames- coming soon!

white frame sample
white frame sample

black frame sample
black frame sample

To frame or not to frame?

The time has come for me to decide whether or not I should frame my pictures. And the answer is- yes! So, next step, how? I've made frames before and I've got a good recipe down for a simple, clean-lined floater (or floating) frame. For right now I'll call it ff for short (today's blog post is brought to you by the letter in flea circus! ). A floating frame, I mean ff, is a box type frame in which the picture sits, usually not touching the sides, so that it appears to float. For my paintings, this is a good choice because I composed the pictures in such a way that I did not plan for any part to be covered up by a frame. I'm either going with a simple white frame or a simple black frame. I like the white because it's a little different, but I like the black because it's a little more classic. What do you think? I'd love to hear your opinions. Around this post are some photos of my most recent Let me know what you think!painting with both a white sample and a black sample. The photos aren't fantastic. Sorry. I had to lay the painting on the desk and lean over it since the samples are only that- samples- and therefore not attached to the picture. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

mmm- my favorite breakfast recipe

Ok, so if I don't get enough protein, it's a scary thing. I turn angry mean (getting between me and food is like getting between a mama bear and her cub when I get hungry, according to my friend Drew) so, it is in the best interest of everyone in the greater Birmingham area (possibly the whole South!) that I start my day with eggs. This morning I made my favorite (and easiest) scramble. I just whip up one whole egg and one egg white in a bowl, add a little spoonful of store bought pesto and toss them in the skillet. While I let them hang out on the heat for a second I add torn up spinach and feta cheese. Then I just use a metal spatula to sorta fold them over themselves until they're done. Super easy. And yummy. And pretty healthy. Win, win, win and the good people of Birmingham are safe. Btw, I've been getting organic, cage free, local eggs and organic spinach here. They're REALLY reasonably priced and the spinach stays good WAY longer than what I get at a regular grocery. Probably cuz it's fresher.

The egg shells looked so pretty and delicate I put them on a silver platter and took some pictures of them. I think I'll do an eggshell painting next in my reflection series. So, make today's breakfast a QUADRUPLE win. Nice!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The problem with realism...

"Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing," Camille Pissarro

(Below: Details from "Shine")

(from "Shine")
Artistically, I'm a realist. It's probably the only area of my life in which I am even remotely detail oriented. However, this is a bad time to be a realist. I believe that many artists who are not realists either felt disinterested in or pinned down by realism when they were young and now that they are older (and in a position to teach) the pendulum has swung in the other  direction so that now in some art circles realists are sneered at for lack of imagination. This is a problem. Not because I think that everyone should be realists-definitely not! But simply because every person has a different style and a different way of viewing the world and they are all necessary and important. I have found since becoming an artist and truly realizing my style, that I can no more change my style that I can my eye color. Sure I could wear color contacts and pretend to be different than I am, but it would always be pretend. 
I love to notice little details of the world around me that often get overlooked and recreate them in such a way that makes people stop and notice them. For example, the shine on a polished chrome faucet(left). 
For me, the purpose of my art is to make me people look at the world around me. For some people, it's to bring to life the funny little characters that live in their head (Theo Ellsworth) or to simply to make people happy (Sunny Carvalho) or even just to explore the use of line and color. Whatever the style, the artist is giving his or her viewers a glimpse into how he or she sees the world and that's valuable. It's a big world- there's room for all of us.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Quest for Zen and Peace of Mind

I love an empty pool
Dear Gentle Reader,
Who is it that used to start letters that way? Was it Ann Landers? Ms. Manners? Dear Heloise? I don't remember. Anyway, Dear Gentle reader,
I'm not usually one for New Year's Resolutions. It seems to me that changes that I want to make (the successful ones at least) are the ones that I just beg fuss about announcement. But this year I do have one resolution. I resolve to try to notice little moments about each day and appreciate life more. Remember when you were little how summer seemed to last forever? And now that you're an adult everyone always talks about how time just seems to move faster and faster the older you get? I have a theory about that. I think that we notice more when we're's not that time moves faster now- WE do. So, everyday I resolve to try to stop now and then and be IN the moment. Good or bad, I want to be all there.
I practiced yesterday while I swam laps. I tried to put grocery lists and other thoughts out of my mind and I concentrated on how my muscles worked, the way the light reflected on the bottom of the pool, the overwhelming sense of breathlessness I had after just a few laps (hey, I said good or bad), and I left the pool feeling refreshed...calm...unhurried. I'm tired of multi-tasking. Aren't you?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Love is in the air

It's gorgeous here lately. The past week or so doesn't feel like a typical January in Alabama. The skies are blue, it's cold but bright outside... it makes me feel so good! I've felt really good artistically, too. I don't know if it's the new year, the pretty weather, or just a new mindset, but in a lot of ways I feel like my art career is really just getting starting. I think it's taken me almost 2 years to really truly see myself as an artist and to believe that I'll succeed.

Lately painting feels like magic- how is it that I'm allowed to mix colors together and make new colors? How is it possible that paint can recreate objects so that other people can see them the way I see them? I feel in love with my oil paints all over again and find myself trying to steal a few extra minutes with them here and there. I think I'll go steal a few now.