Monday, September 28, 2009

Back to Painting

Recently I have just returned to painting after a couple of months sabbatical. Actually this painting was on my drafting table before moving into my house. What is really great is that my studio is part of my living space. Each day I pass by my work in progress and can get ideas as to where to go next with it. This one spent far to long in the "where to go next" process.

I am not sure it is done........

In a couple of days I am off to see the colors on the East Coast. A first for me! I have signed up for a workshop at Kripalu entitled "Painting and Yoga in the Berkshires" with Linda Novick, an artist, art eductor, and certified professioal- level Kripalu Yoga teacher.

Check back to see what paintings evolve from this experience.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Quality Check

Some good advice came my way from Jason at Xandau Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona, regarding taking a quality check of your art. He stresses the importance of continuous improvement in what you do.

He says, "I have known and worked with hundreds of artists over the years. The most successful artists are devoted to high quality. They have the ability to step back from their work and look at it through their buyer's eyes. Art collectors are picky. They demand attention to detail. Their homes are immaculate. You must create work that will fit seamlessly into their homes."

Jason believes that the medium doesn't matter - sculpture, jewelry, paintings, photography or fiber art - the presentation must be flawless.

He suggests thinking of each work you create as a masterpiece. Treat it as such.

His advice in regards to one small thing to improve the quality of your work:

"Invite someone you trust to evaluate the quality of your art. You should invite an artist you admire, or a designer, or a gallery owner over to the studio for coffee. Present 5-6 pieces. Ask the question 'What are three things I could do to improve the quality of my presentation?'

It is his belief that an objective observer will see your art in a way you never could. Jason advises to repeat this process every 1-2 years and make a commitment to constantly improve your quality.

Excellent advice, wouldn't you agree?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

China Design Now

Today, I was reading the Portland Art Museum Magazine with my art therapy client. October 10th through January the exhibit, "China Design Now," will be the featured exhibit at the Oregon Art Museum in Portland.

China Design Now explores the recent explosion of critically compelling design and architecture projects created in China, contextualizing the impact of rapid economic development on these projects in the country’s major cities. This immersive, multi-sensory exhibition captures a dynamic phase in China, as it opens up to global influences and responds to the hopes and dreams of its new urban middle class.

Representing three swiftly expanding cities — Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen — the exhibition features the work of Chinese and international designers focused on architecture, fashion and graphic design, film, photography, product and furniture design, youth culture, and digital media. Visitors journey south to north along China’s east coast, exploring graphic design and visual culture in China’s manufacturing capital, Shenzhen, fashion and lifestyle in Shanghai, and architecture in Beijing, home of the 2008 Olympic stadium.

Sounds like an exhibit not to miss!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Plein air paintings

One plein air painter that I follow daily is Loriann Signori.

Besides creating exciting works of art in pastels, what I find really fascinating is that she does an underpainting in watercolors. The watercolor underpaintings are beautiful alone.

In her blog she shows how they progress to the final piece. Loriann shares about her experiences as a plein air painter.

"Plein air paintings serve many purposes. Many are beautiful pieces that hold on their own as 'finished.' Others are studies for bigger works. And still others can be both. Because of this I wanted to share one very important tip. Photograph your work in many stages. For me the most important stage is the underpainting. When you have these photos it makes it easy to go "back into your head" and begin to recreate the feeling you had out there in the field. I often take notes to remember how it felt and sounded when I was on site. When using my plein air pieces I have no real need for photos of the scene. Cool, eh?"

Sunday, September 20, 2009


A friend e-mail me about a new online magazine dedicated to art of all kinds.

The premiere issue is now up and ready for you to view. ARTOCRATIC is a FREE online magazine that features interviews, essays, fiction, poetry, visual art, and other un-categorizable items. Some of the areas touched on by the material in the debut include: identity, mental illness, celebrity, idiom, awesomeness, electronic music, divorce, creative ways of grieving, the nature of luck, stalking, chewing gum.

The editors are interested in the forces that affect our lives, both those that are beyond human conscious intention or control and those fully within our jurisdiction.

Wherever it may occur, the intersection of art, humanity, and the apprehension of the infinite is this magazine's fascination. Artocratic welcomes all perspectives that illuminate any of these or their confluence. They anticipate: essays, interviews, dialogues, short fiction, poetry, scholarly articles, how-to guides, puzzles, audio and visual art, including music, performance art, video, photography; pieces that range from tiny to huge both in terms of length and profundity.

Sounds like an online magazine to bookmark!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

ARTrails of Southwest Washington

Today was the first day of ARTrails of Southwest Washington 2009 Studio Tour.

It is the 7th Annual Juried Artrails studio tour which provides a rare opportunity for the public to meet artists in their studio/workplace and to observe techniques of work in progress.

In addition, ARTrails seeks opportunities to promote the arts and the work of member artist through exhibits, workshops, and educational programs in coordination with area businesses, schools, and organizations.

Through all of these efforts ARTrails promotes recognition that the arts are a significant component of Southwest Washington life and that many fine, dedicated artists live and work in the area. ARTrails is intended to aid and support artists which providing an inspiring and enjoyable educational experience for the interested public.

You can get a good idea of the art and participating artists (over 60 artists!)at the Exhibition Gallery in the Historic Centralia Train Depot on 210 Railway Avenue in Centralia, Washington. My good friend and I always began here and then map out our day. We have some favorite artists which we visit each year, but managed to add a couple of new artists in the mix to make for a fabulous, fun day.

Don't feel like you missed out on a great opportunity.......ARTrails will be happening next weekend, September 26th & 27th, too.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Purpose of Art

What is the purpose of art?

Art has had a great number of different functions throughout its history, making its purpose difficult to abstract or quantify to any single concept. This does not imply that the purpose of Art is "vague", but that it has had many unique, different, reasons for being created.

The different purposes of art may be grouped according to those which are non-motivated, and those which are motivated (Levi-Strauss). Here is a list of what is considered non-motivated and motivated functions of art. Read more indepth here.

The non-motivated functions of art include:

1. Basic human instinct for harmony, balance, rhythm

2. Experience of the mysterious

3. Expression of the imagination

4. Universal communication

5. Ritualistic and symbolic functions

The motivated functions of art include:

1. Communication

2. Art as entertainment

3. The Avante-Garde; Art for political change

4. Art for psychological and healing purposes

5. Art for social inquiry, subversion and/or anarchy

6. Art for propaganda, or commercialism

Why do YOU create art?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sun Fingers

Every day I receive an e-mail from artist, Loriann Signori, whose daily vitamin dose is a painting-a-day, showcasing her latest creation.

She is a plein air painter; one who paints outdoors.

She says, "I can't keep away from plein air painting .... it's like an addiction. It just feels so good to be out there!

She likes to return to favorite fields and capture the mood at different times of the day. I liked her descriptive statement about "sun fingers" in regards to this painting.

"Another version of the field, this time a little after sunrise when the sun fingers push through the trees."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


In Olympia, Washington on Wednesday, September 16th at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts will host a presentation by Artspace from 7-8:30PM

The mission of Artspace is to create, foster, and preserve affordable space for artists and arts organizations. Artspace is exploring Olympia as a site.

The Artspace Story

Finding and retaining affordable live/work space is an age-old problem for artists, painters, sculptors, dancers, and others who require an abundance of well-lit space in which to work. Many artists gravitate to old warehouses and other industrial buildings, but their very presence in an industrial neighborhood often acts as a catalyst, setting in motion a process of gentrification that drives rents up and forces the artists out.

This is precisely what happened in Minneapolis’ historic Warehouse District in the 1970s and led to the creation of Artspace in 1979. Established to serve as an advocate for artists’ space needs, Artspace effectively fulfilled that mission for nearly a decade. By the mid-1980s, however, it was clear that the problem required a more proactive approach, and Artspace made the leap from advocate to developer. Since then, the scope of Artspace’s activities has grown dramatically. Artspace is now America’s leading nonprofit real estate developer for the arts. In the last few years, Artspace has further expanded its mission to incorporate the planning and development of performing arts center, other arts facilities, and entire arts districts throughout the country.

Monday, September 14, 2009

To My Cracked Pot Friends

An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.

At the end of the long walks from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water.

Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream.

"I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house."

The old woman smiled,

"Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water
them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to
grace the house."

Each of us has our own unique flaw. But it's the cracks and flaws we each have that
make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. You've just got to take each person for what they are and look for the good in them.

SO, to all of my crackpot friends, have a great day and remember to smell the flowers on your side of the path!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Two Little Munchkins

Recently, I returned to Cannon Beach to pick up my watercolor collage paintings and visit galleries. Cannon Beach is one of my favorite "art towns" with the added attraction ........ a beautiful beach.

A MUST for me when on the coast; putting my feet in the water.

These two little munchkins caught my attention:

A possible painting, soon......

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Unpredictable Magic

It is hard to explain how an individual child learns to read. The teachers work systematically through carefully considered instructional methods, but when the child begins to read, it is always experienced as a magical moment, a time when all of the elements contributing to the process are somehow integrated.

This is a description of how the creative process works.

Whether it involves learning how to read, playing the piano, creating a piece of art, riding a bike, or writing a graduate school thesis, there is usually a decisive moment or turning point within an overall process which can only be described as magical.

It is an instant when all of the frustration, seemingly futile efforts, and tedious drills play their respective parts in a collective creation. A condition that feels as though the individual person acts together with many other forces. A varied series of events and motions carry us over a new threshold, and we can never exactly describe how it happened.

It occurs magically but upon the foundation of focused exercise and preparation. All of the pieces, the good, and the bad, play vital roles in the creative act. Creativity is fed by the difficult course of events as well as by the instants of epiphany that we commonly associate with successful expression.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Break the Silence Mural in Beit Hanoun

Break the Silence is an arts/activist group committed to using creative projects to facilitate social change and a greater awareness of the complexities of the conflict in Occupied Palestine.

In 2003, the Israeli army imposed a 24 hour curfew on the Palestinian town of Beit Hanoun in the Gaza strip and then destroyed thousands of acres of orange groves as collective punishment. In response, Break the Silence and the Beit Hanoun community painted a 10' x 25' mural on the Youth Center commemorating the loss of the towns economic livelihood, the orange.

Break the Silence began 12 years ago when four Jewish American women artists traveled to the West Bank city of Ramallah and worked on a series of community mural projects with Palestinian community members and artists. Upon returning from that first trip in 1989 the artists presented their work and reflections on their experiences to approximately 100 audiences in high schools, universities, art galleries and community centers across the United States.

The children were particularly excited about a Mural being painted on their center.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Fine Art

John Ruskin, a nineteenth-century critic, said, "Fine art is that in which the hand, the head, and the heart of man go together."

In painting, I believe the the hand is represented by the artist's skill in use of the techniques. The head represents the artist's knowledge of color, composition, representation of form and space, and the use of the various elements of design (line, value, shape, color, and texture).

However, if we stopped there, the work could not be considered fine art until we brought the third aspect of creation into play: the heart.

The heart is symbolic of the content of the work. It goes beyond knowledge and technique. It is the essence of what the artist is trying to communicate to the viewer, it is the voice of the artist.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Designs in the Sand

Yesterday I was at Cannon Beach delivering paintings to the gallery. The day was gorgeous and warranted putting my feet in the water. I was delighted by the patterns in the sand.

My attempt at capturing the beauty of these sand designs:

Because of the full moon and low tide, we could walk out to Haystack Rock. The sea creatures were fabulous:


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Feng Shui Guide For Creativity

How do you create the best feng shui space to support your creativity? Contrary to the popular belief about feng shui, an ideal feng shui space is not the Zen-looking serene space. The ideal feng shui space is the space that has the best feng shui energy to support a specific activity intended for that space.

The feng shui of a creative process - be it painting, writing music or writing a book - always implies making space for that which is not here yet. In other words, it is like the birth of a baby - highly expected, painful, powerful and chaotic at the same time.

Rodika Tchi, a Feng Shui guide, suggests that in order to attract the best feng shui energy for your creative studio apply these basic feng shui tips:

1. Have elements from nature (plants, natural light, rocks from the beach, etc.)
2. Bring strong blocks of color and movement (art, music, small fountain, etc.)
3. Display representation of your successful projects.
4. Clearly organize all the tools you need.
5. Create a clearly defined "no-rules" area. Make it as big or as small as your space allows and let it contain various items you deem necessary with no restrictions. The only rule, though, is to revise and clean this area at regular intervals that work for you - be it every week, every day or every month.

To sum it up, the feng shui of a creative space will evoke the same energy that describes the creative process - the balance between the quiet energy of dreaming/germination and the full bloom of active, strong manifestation. By applying basic feng shui tips and guidelines, you will strenghten the feng shui flow of creative energy and create a feng shui space to support, as well as promote, your brilliant creativity!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Healing Mural

In 2004-2005 the group, Breaking The Silence, worked with the Amer family, including five children, to paint a 8' x 40' mural on the Aparthied Wall built by Israel, that surrounds the family's home on four sides.

The father of the family told Breaking The Silence (BTS) that after the Mural was completed his children played outside for the first time in a year.

He said: “When you come here and paint with the children it makes them feel like they can live.”

Testimony to the power of art!

The children had a fantastic time
working on the mural.

This is the Palestinian and North American crew that worked on the Amer Mural. At one point during the project, the Israeli settlers living illegally next door, complained to the Israeli military that the mural was an act of incitement towards them.

This is Munira Amer standing in her doorway.