Monthly Archives: November 2012

The Sky’s the Limit

If you could go anywhere in the world, which destination would you choose?  That is the question I’m faced with today on my Artist’s Journey.  My professor announced our final project, and it’s ‘Anything Goes’.  We choose the theme, subject, size, medium–it’s basically an open airline ticket.  I’ve been waiting for this opportunity all semester, and now that it’s here, my brain is positively percolating with the possibilities.  Color palettes, ideas, and quick gestures litter my sketchbook as I frantically try to solidify an A+ plan for my piece.  And this time, it has to be more than just a pretty picture–it needs to have meaning.  I don’t know exactly where this journey will take me, but I’ll be sure to send a postcard.

Two pages of wild brainstorming from my sketchbook

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Thank You, Mother Nature

Today, like most days, I am in awe of the breathtaking beauty around me.  The colors, textures, and bountiful variety of life here on planet Earth have a way of making me feel very humble. From Nature’s vast oceans and forests, to the flawless design of her elaborate ecosystems–From the most majestic mountain to the smallest leaf, Nature’s grandeur continues to amaze me.  Even the most seemingly insignificant element plays a vital role in Mother Nature’s beautifully orchestrated master plan.

So at this time of thanks, in addition to recognizing my multitude of blessings, my gratitude goes to Mother Nature–for without her, none of the other incredible things in my life would even be possible.  In her honor, I will continue to use environmentally friendly materials as I create art to celebrate this planet we all too often take for granted.  Thank You, Mother Nature.

“Little Giant”–watercolor pencil on Rives paper

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There’s No Place Like Home

On my journey, I love to revel in the beauty of exotic new destinations.  I try to make time to record the flora, fauna, and flavor with pencil or paint.  When my professor assigned a plein air landscape study, I thought about all of the picturesque locations I could paint, then realized I already had the perfect spot in mind–my own backyard.  While my fellow students drove to local parks and gardens, I simply stepped outside.  Beautiful Lake Gatlin, the Shingle Creek conservation, and our frequent wildlife visitors create an amazing retreat right outside my door.  As I attempted to capture the serenity and unique allure of my backyard sanctuary, I was reminded that there truly is no place like home.

Naturalistic Color Study/Value Study/Fauvistic Study–Acrylic

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Table for One

As a creature of habit, I always dine in the same Italian restaurant.  It’s a place where the manager greets me by name, and I never have to wait for a table–where the waiters know I like my salad dry, my water without ice, and my bread basket full.  The food is well-prepared, served piping hot, and never fails to stimulate my senses.

On my Artist’s Journey, I have a new ‘favorite destination’ that also serves up sensory delights.  Painting in the Impasto style, or ‘knife painting’, gives my normally detail-oriented brain a chance to play, unwind, and color outside the lines.  There’s always a table waiting when I get there, and I know just what to order–a colorful meal, stirred up with a palette knife, that is sure to satisfy my soul.

“My Blue Heaven”–  Acrylic on canvas

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Identity Crisis

While working on my Artist’s Statement, I realized I’d better check my passport.  I’m not entirely sure of my identity these days.  Am I a graphite artist or a painter?  A perceptual artist or an impressionist?  We’re only half way through the semester, and so far I have worked in acrylic, watercolor, ink, oil pastels, and colored pencils. I’ve enjoyed them all, so the burning question remains: How can I possibly choose a medium? A style? A specific subject matter?  But an even bigger questions begs to be answered: Do I really have to choose?

In life, I am a mother, wife, homemaker,bookkeeper, teacher, counselor, dog walker, chauffeur, and student. I find ways to manage all of those roles, so why not manage multiple styles and mediums?  I have crafted a few mixed-media pieces, but each medium is so marvelous and unique on its own that I almost feel guilty asking them to share space on my canvas.

Is it really necessary to define my identity by subject matter, style, and medium?  Or can I periodically change my ‘appearance’ like Mother Nature does as she cycles through her seasons? Only time can answer these questions, so for now I will simply have to define myself as Suzanne Tamberrino: Artist.

“Revolution”–a mixed media monotype series

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Hold the oil, please

Yesterday, we painted quick figural gestures in oil.  While I loved the creamy consistency of the oil paint, and the fact that it didn’t dry on my palette as quickly as acrylic, there are several reasons why I won’t be using it as my primary medium.

Oil paint has an unpleasant odor, and it’s just plain messy.  It takes days to dry on the canvas, and the clean-up requires the use of a ‘hazardous waste’ container.  I can’t justify painting nature’s fabulous forms when the medium I’m using isn’t environmentally friendly.  I plan to continue painting on my Artist’s Journey, but from now on, “Hold the oil, please!”

“Figural Gesture #3”  Oil on butcher paper

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My Boy

Champ is my ten year old Boston Terrier.  He is my loyal ‘studio dog’, my protector, and the perfect traveling companion on my Artist’s Journey.  Champ wants nothing more than to sit on my lap or lie at my feet while I draw and paint.  He readily poses for photographs or quick sketches, and most recently, he sat for a watercolor assignment.  That painting is hanging proudly in the display case at Valencia College.  I don’t know if a painting could ever convey the love I feel for him, or the devotion he seems to feel for me.  He is my love, my buddy, my boy.

“Guard Duty”  Watercolor on Arches Aquarelle

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Mirror, Mirror

I knew it was coming.  I could feel it.  Still, I tried to be optimistic.  We were behind schedule this semester–maybe we would run out of time.  But yesterday, the dreaded assignment was announced:  Self-Portrait.  I doubled over in pain like I had been hit by a truck while trying to cross a busy street.  When I finally straightened up and clawed my way back to the curb, I got hit again as my instructor announced there would be not one, but two self-portraits due next week.

Why do I loathe this assignment so?  First, my self-portraits never really look like me.  They always come out looking like a generic version of someone who slightly resembles me.  Second, the self-portrait demands careful scrutiny of my aging face.  I am forced to study and record every wrinkle, age spot, and imperfection that I try so hard to disguise each morning as I sit in front of my make-up mirror.

The younger generation doesn’t seem to mind the self-portrait.  They still have flawless, taut skin that is just beginning to tell its story.  My face is an epic novel, telling of love and loss, missed opportunities, blistering summers on the beach, and parenthood.  There are hundreds of subplots that weave in and out leaving seams around my eyes.  My face tells the ongoing story of my life.  It’s all there–the good, the bad, the exhilarating successes and devastating failures.  The lines on my face are born from both the happy times and the sad.  So today I will pull out my mirror and work on the cover art for my novel.  And while it will hint at the stories inside, no one will ever fully understand the countless pages of my life.  It’s a good read.  I’m only half way through and I just can’t seem to put it down.

“True Colors”– a self-portrait in progress–oil pastels and watercolor on Arches Aquarelle

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