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!