Monday, February 21, 2011

tiny rabbits {inspired by artist Cathy Cullis}

our first litter of rabbits (yet to be painted)

UK mixed media artist and poet Cathy Cullis' recent "Tiny Heads" project has inspired my daughters and I to embark on our own year-long ceramics collaboration that we have titled "Tiny Rabbits". Like Cathy, we will use air-dry clay and paints to sculpt pocket-sized figurines, in our case rabbits, to celebrate The Year of the Rabbit. Each session will produce three fluffy little friends.

"2/365" tiny head by Cathy Cullis -- a favorite of mine!

"tiny heads - January" enjoying the winter sun by Cathy Cullis

I instantly fell in love with Cathy's tiny heads -- each unique in appearance and personality and brought to life in a way that only Cathy could. But what I think I love even more is the premise behind her project and something I can relate to as an artist. In Cathy's words:
"I chose a 3-D challenge because this is something I don't feel so confident with.... and I want to indeed challenge myself and to *not worry* if there are good results or not so good results. Choosing a different medium to what I usually create with may just free things up and allow some further experimentation."

Just how many rabbits we'll create by December 31st is unknown (we realistically cannot commit to a daily schedule). But what is known is that my daughters are thrilled with this art project and that makes me insanely happy. Feel free to check back for photo updates.

To see more of Cathy's beautiful art, visit her blog, Etsy shop, or Facebook page...I promise you won't be disappointed.

"to be here" mixed media embroidery art by Cathy Cullis (sold Oct. 2010)

"three portraits" folding artist book watercolour painting by Cathy Cullis (available for sale)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

a bit unconventional

hemp/organic cotton fabric with oil gesso

My approach to art has always been a bit unconventional....and I wouldn't have it any other way. I owe this gift to my mom who taught me how to be comfortable with exploring alternative approaches to art.

stretching my own canvas in an unconventional way

This past year I've envisioned creating a series of oil paintings that would incorporate stretching my own eco textiles (organic linen and hemp/organic cotton blends) and displaying them in an unconventional manner...on pieces of salvaged or weathered wood. The fact that each gessoed canvas (multiple coats + sanding) is NOT uniformly smooth makes me extremely happy!

salvaged Chechen hardwood with a single coat of tung oil

Well, the process has been much slower than I had liked, but I am making progress and that's what's important, right? So much is involved in properly sizing and gesso-ing the textiles to accept oil paints (more on that subject later). And the oil paints themselves need more time to dry before varnishing. Sigh. So while the oil paints take their sweet time drying, I've brought out the acrylics to satisfy my need to put image to paper faster.

gessoed canvasses waiting to be permanently affixed to salvaged hardwoods

Friday, February 11, 2011

vintage valentines

My youngest daughter is a Valentine's Day babe. To celebrate, we have a little tradition of hanging vintage Valentine's Day postcards (reproductions available here) from our dining room chandelier. They are perfect in every way...from the charming sentiments to the wondrous early 1900s-illustrations. Happy Birthday my sweet Addie!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

an exquisite look at linen

Artists have painted on linen panels and canvasses for thousands of years. My research on the process of constructing these surfaces has inspired me to stretch my own canvas. I'm using organic linen as well as hemp/organic cotton fabric for my current projects. I look forward to sharing more on this with you in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, I wanted to share this exquisite video with you about linen production. I trust you'll find it just as fascinating as I did. Cheers!

BE LINEN MOVIE from Benoit MILLOT on Vimeo.

* BONUS video -- You may also enjoy this video depicting Bleu de Lectoure's triumphant revival of the French tannery's centuries-old natural dye-extraction process using woad plants (isatis tinctoria).

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

the perfect accessory for the job

I purchased this exquisite mechanical drawing pencil in 2000 from a charming stationery boutique in Paris. It is one of my favorite accessories -- I love the heavy feel of it in my hands and the silky-smooth flow of the lead when it travels across the paper.

Today I am using it to jot down all the ideas for paintings that I have swirling in my head. Now only if this treasured tool could buy me more time in the day to paint.