Thursday, April 28, 2011

Waiting for the Opportunity

The Artists Co-op that I belong to recently had a show opening at the Kalamazoo Nature Center.  Called Earth:  the Power and Fragility, this show had some super work from about 15 members.  So, in the middle of the basement remodel, my painting class, a trip to NY as well as interviewing for a job and ferrying the kids around, I had a show-quality (shouldn't they all be show-quality?) piece to create. 

I juried into this group as a handmade paper and paper mosaic artist so this is the type of work that I needed to make.  It felt good working with the heavily textured handmade paper again!

My idea on this theme was to highlight the plight of the Great Lakes with regard to the very invasive Asian Carp. These fish are expected to enter the Lakes via the Mississippi River and Illinois Canals.  Currently there are "zappers" in the canals that are supposed to keep the fish from entering Lake Michigan through the Locks but it is inevitable that these fish, with their voracious appetites, will get into the Lakes and alter the ecosystems.  These fish are just Waiting for the Opportunity.

Here's my progression over several days:

Back to working with handmade paper again.  Yeh!  The fish are handmade paper fish glued onto a canvas.  The chair that is supporting the canvas gives you an idea of scale.

A coat of tan paint went over the whole thing then I started to build the colors of the water.

Each fish received it's own color.  My formerly bright and fun fish had to become rather dark and menacing.  Asian Carp are not pretty fish!  The white over the blue on the right is plaster.

Continuing to layer blue on blue on blue on blue.  I used my fingers for about 90% of the water on this piece.  Very little brush work involved.

The fish get a bit of highlighting with copper paint and the Lock is put in.  The lock is more plaster so it is raised.  Lots of dimension on this piece.

The Lock is painted copper as well.

OMG!!  What happened?!?  Stay tuned...


PS. That is what they call a cliff hanger. :)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Art 105 - Fun Little Extras

So we move from the MOMA back to the MOMMA.  :)

In the painting class that I've been taking we use a lot of paint.  Well, we're painting so it shouldn't surprise me that we use up some paint.  However, once a color is mixed on my palette, I absolutely hate just tossing it.  So, I just started putting the leftover paint on a 9 x 12 canvas paper instead.  I didn't think, I just did.  This in itself is a good exercise as I always over think things.

I discovered that these little extras actually work fairly well because the colors are already working together in the original painting and therefore work in an abstract too.

This was made with paint left over from the collage exercise.  Should it be vertical or...


This one is made of leftover paint from a painting that I haven't shared yet.  Some interesting things going on here but it basically is a mess and the black is too bold.  Yet, these quickie experiments are good for this plodding artist.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011


While in NYC each of us got to do one (or more things) that was special to that person. My husband wanted to see the diner that is in Seinfeld, my 16 year old wanted to eat his way through the city, my 13 year old wanted to shop, my 11 year old wanted to buy souvenirs, and I wanted to go to an art museum. Not surprisingly, the art museum idea got a luke-warm reaction from the kids; however, my youngest was quite enthralled afterall. She must have asked me at least five times: "you mean that Picasso (or whoever) really TOUCHED this painting?" She couldn't believe that we could get so close to all the work.

I promised a quick tour of the Museum of Modern Art in NYC in my last post, so here we go...

Pablo Picasso, Spanish, 1881- 1973
It was fun to watch the kids look at this one and try to figure the body parts out.

Wassily Kandinsky, Russian 1886 -1944
There were four in this series in their own room.  They are quite large.  I was taking pictures with a flash at this point and got reprimanded.  Oops.

Paul Cezanne, French, 1839 - 1906
I don't really think of the Impressionists as Modern but in reality I guess they are the ones that started it all.  Wish I knew more about art history.  I loved this one.

Vincent van Gogh, Dutch, 1853 - 1853
This one needs no introduction.  It's not all that impressive from a size standpoint but the brush strokes and color are stunning.

Claude Monet, French, 1840 - 1926
Ah, the water lilies.  Stunning in their size and beauty (although I did like some of his smaller paintings better).

Piet Mondrian, Dutch, 1872- 1944
I think he worked in this style/color palette most of his life.  IMO one or two or ten might be fun but then:  boring!

Andy Warhol, American, 1928 - 1987
Famous for a lot of things, here are his soup cans.  The MOMA also had his cow silk screens and a Marilyn Monroe piece.

Jackson Pollack, American 1912- 1956
I left the person on the left in this picture on purpose.  Look at the size of this!

Someone help me.  Who painted this one?

Also there were other big names like:  Max Ernst, Willem de Kooning, Edouard Manet, Robert Rauschenberg, Salvadore Dali, Paul Klee, Henri Rousseau, Mark Rothko, Joan Miro, and Rene Magritte.  The MOMA has Dali's melting watches piece and Andrew Wyeth's Christina's World, as well as many, many others that you might recognize.  I only noticed the work of one woman, Frida Kahlo.  What a shame that more women aren't big names in world of art. 

A good share of it I "didn't get" but all of it is interesting.  If you ever get the chance to go there, DO.


Sunday, April 10, 2011


For Spring Break 2011 we took the kids to New York. Steve grew up in western NY so we go there often. This time, however, we spent two days with family there and then continued on to NYC for three nights. What a great time!

The kids loved it. The weather was acceptable (although we could have done without the cold rainy afternoon on Tuesday). We walked and walked and walked and walked and then walked some more.

We didn't see any celebrities but ran into neighbors that live about six houses down from us. I find that rather amazing, especially since we weren't really in a touristy place at the time. We did see several TV shows setting up to shoot scenes and an upcoming movie called New Years Eve took up a whole city block with trailers for its cast.

We hit many of the usual tourist places and added some fun, less touristy stuff too like Zabars Grocery Store and Deli on the upper west side. We ate Thai, Italian and American Diner. We tried to go to an Ethiopian place but it was closed. We enjoyed yummy pastries, and even had frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity. We had the deli experience at Katz' Deli and sat next to the spot where Sally made some noise in the movie When Harry Met Sally. We had street vendor hot dogs and quick pizza slices too.

We shopped for the girls and while in Soho we turned the corner and there was a Dick Blick store. I walked in and was so overwhelmed with awe and wonder, I didn't know where to start! I only bought a couple of things to play with.

Here is the family. Notice the Empire State Building growing out of my head.

Next post will be about the MOMA.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Art 105 - Collage Assignment Finished

As I talked about in my last post, for my painting class we had to complete a collage and then paint it. We were required to make a grid on the collage (1 inch squares on a 9 x 12 collage) and then transfer the drawing to a canvas (2 inch squares on an 18 x 24 canvas). I've not used this grid method before. Pretty easy to get a good result. In essence you stop looking at the entire piece, which can often be quite intimidating, and put it under a microscope (not literally). You draw each square as you see it. In the end you have a drawing that is darn close to the original.

We spent one entire class just mixing the colors trying to get close to the colors in the collage. This assignment was really all about mixing the colors rather than painting a cool painting. This color mixing thing is so much more challenging than I ever expected and certainly goes way beyond yellow + blue = green. Many of us were wasting lots of paint just trying to get close to the colors we needed. As a rookie, I found it helpful to use a chart that gave an idea of what colors to use to get to the desired result. If I continue with painting I will probably purchase this type of thing. It's not a color wheel, but a matrix of colors. There are books out there for this purpose too.

So here's the original collage again:

And here's my painting:

Using the two positive/two negative critique process, I think that the collage is copied really well with regard to positioning. I was very nervous about successfully painting the sofa and it turns out that I like that a lot. Most of the colors are pretty accurate. In the picture the smiling orange is quite yellow. The real thing is closer in color to the original.

On the negative side, the lavender is too dark, which is unfortunate because the phone is pretty interesting but you can't really see it because the area behind it is too dark. The teeth make the painting fun but the angle on them isn't steep enough as compared to the collage.

One interesting tidbit, after viewing the work in the class critique, it became apparent that an interesting collage doesn't necessarily make an interesting painting (and vise versa). It didn't seem to be a matter of painting talent. Curious.

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