Monthly Archives: December 2012

No Substitutions

While doing some holiday baking, I ran out of my McCormick’s Vanilla Extract.  I borrowed a neighbor’s ‘store brand’ and finished my recipe, but something wasn’t right.  The taste was off.  No one else seemed to notice, but I did. 

I had a similar experience on my Artist’s Journey when I tried out my new Daniel Smith Watercolor Ground.  While it created a water-friendly surface on my canvas, something just wasn’t right.  One of the things I love about working with watercolor is the unpredictable way it moves around the hills and valleys on the rough surface of the paper.  With the smooth surface my watercolor ground created, the paint behaved differently.  It didn’t have its usual effortless flow, and the finished piece just didn’t read as ‘watercolor’.

Sometimes substitutions work–other times they don’t.  From now on, I’ll let my watercolors play on paper and reserve my canvases for acrylics.  I want all of my supplies to be happy travelers as we journey together into 2013.  I wish you all calm seas, open roads, and serene skies in the coming year.

“Recess”  Watercolor on canvas prepped with watercolor ground

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Bring it on!

Spring Term begins in ten short days, and I’m gearing up for my semester of ‘Independent Study’.  I’ve been considering the concept of ‘connection’ as a theme to explore over the next four months.  It’s a broad topic with both literal and figurative implications.  In other words, it’s a theme that offers plenty of wiggle room.  Bring it on, Spring Term–I’m ready!

A page from my sketchbook

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Be Prepared

I am a sun-loving native Floridian who shivers uncontrollably when the temperature drops below seventy degrees, so it’s no wonder my friends and family scoffed after hearing that I was traveling to The Big Apple during the month of December.  My friends who grew up in New York had one word of advice for me: Layer.  In Florida, ‘layering’ means throwing a cardigan over your shoulders, or wearing a light jacket over your t-shirt, but this trip called for hard core layering.  Knowing how much I loathe the cold, I vowed to be comfortable during my weekend in the big city, and that meant being prepared.

I purchased a packable puffer coat and a purse-sized umbrella since the forecast called for not only cold temperatures, but a 90% chance of rain.  I packed jeans, sweaters, jackets, heavy socks, gloves, and my first pair of Uggs.  And while it was cold, damp, and rainy, I was warm and dry because I was prepared for the harsh elements–not only physically, but also mentally.

On my Artist’s Journey, I am sometimes faced with less than favorable conditions, too.  And while layers of clothing can’t protect me from harsh criticism and frigid reviews, I can build up layers of confidence that will guard my Inner Artist who tends to shiver when her soul is exposed to the elements.  So my words of advice to my Inner Artist are simple–hold your head high, pile on the layers, and be prepared.

“Bundled” –a quick self-portrait in graphite from my travel sketchbook

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Connection

Last night, I was sitting in my hotel room, checking my email on my phone, and marveling at the ability to stay connected through a device small enough to hold in the palm of my hand.  With a few taps of the screen, I was able to call my brother, email my dad, post a photo on my Facebook page, and visit my blog on WordPress.  The younger generations may take this incredible device for granted, but I grew up in the era of typewriters, corded phones, and busy signals.  I was around for the birth of the answering machine, the cell phone, the digital camera, the personal computer, and the internet.  I have great respect for technology and the gift of ‘connection’ it provides as I travel.  While I can’t predict what the future of technology holds, I know it will surely keep me connected to my friends, my loved ones, my art, my life.

“Connection”–a quick doodle in my travel sketchbook–ink pen and watercolor

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Stop

Stop.  Take a breath.  Step back.  Look at the big picture.  The really big picture.  We are all one family.  My hope is that some day mankind will solve problems not with violence, but with words.

“One”–pen and watercolor

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The Climb

The fall semester has ended, my grades are in, and now I can finally breathe again.  Like a hike to the top of a tall mountain, each class I take is a grand trek filled with amazing discoveries and unexpected twists and turns.  There is always a victorious cheer upon reaching the peak, and a feeling of loss as I take the lonely path back down to the base of the mountain.  Next semester, I am registered for ‘Independent Study’ with my painting professor.  This will enable me to concentrate on a body of work, or explore a theme of my choosing.  There are three weeks before I have to lace up my hiking boots and set off on the next leg of my journey.  I can see the top of the mountain, and it looks like a long rocky climb–but I know I can make it.

“Decorated Blacktop”–pen and watercolor on Arches Aquarelle

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Color-blind

In our society, people regularly make observations and judgments about others based on color.  Skin color, hair color, eye color, and even the color of clothing can influence the way people feel and think about each other.  Animals, however, are oblivious to humans’ preconceived notions about color. My series,’Color-blind’, celebrates the abundant diversity, tolerance, and acceptance present in the animal kingdom.

I chose to utilize bright, playful colors that would cause humans to take note or pass judgement, but would go unnoticed in the animal kingdom. Sea turtles were the perfect subjects due to their wise, peaceful, soulful nature.  The unique mosaic of every scale was carefully crafted to clearly represent the individuality of each turtle.  Perhaps we should all take a cue from the animal kingdom and view the world through color-blind eyes.

Color-blind  Acrylic on Canvas 

“Playing the Blues”

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“Gold Rush”

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“Tickled Pink”

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Hold that plane!

There’s a sick feeling that comes from the realization that you’re late for your flight and traffic isn’t moving.  You can scold yourself for not leaving for the airport sooner, but that’s not going to speed up the endless line of cars ahead of you.  The best you can do is hope for the quick dispersion of the gridlock and the ability to make up some time.

On my Artist’s Journey, I am finally out of the gridlock and I’m speeding through my final project in painting class.  I should have started earlier, and there’s a strong possibility that I might have bitten off more than I can chew with this particular series.  So for the next three days, I will be skipping meals, forgoing sleep, and painting day and night in order to complete my work.  There’s no airline on Earth that will hold the plane for one lone artist who should have made sure to leave on time.

“Gold Rush”–one of three acrylic paintings in progress from the series “Colorblind”

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Suzanne in Wonderland

Things were getting “curioser and curioser” in the studio last week.  I fell down the rabbit hole and found myself in a strange, nonsensical, abstract world.  Shapes, colors, layers,and collage elements marched across my canvas as I attempted to create my first abstract work.  In abstraction, the image on the canvas often represents a theme, concept, or idea–but in other works, the image remains an unanswered question for the viewer to ponder.  Logic is replaced by nonsense, and every canvas is a riddle begging to be solved.  Like a guest at the Mad Hatter’s tea party, I ate and drank abstraction like a half-starved lunatic. I have learned to enjoy these unexpected excursions on my Artist’s Journey, so the next time I find a bottle labeled ‘Drink Me’, I will happily comply.

“Spice” –abstract work in progress

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