Thursday, June 23, 2011

alice neel

A few weekends ago I sat painting in my tiny corner-of-the-bedroom studio and managed to also watch a few documentaries on American artists (thank you Netflix!). One such film I highly recommend watching is "Alice Neel" (SeeThink Productions - 2007) directed by Alice's grandson Andrew Neel.

This award-winning film chronicles Alice's life and body of work, and easily demonstrates why she is considered to be one of America's premier portrait artists of the 20th century. According to Andrew, "the film is an investigation of the sacrifices she made in order to live and paint the way she wanted." Personally, I was captivated by her life story and equally mesmerized by her body of work that spanned 64 years, specifically the 1970s and 80s. You can find a wealth of information about the film here.

Alice Neel with painting of her daughter in-law via

Alice Neel, 1980 - Self Portrait via

These two quotes from Alice were taken from the documentary and will stay with me forever:
“It’s a privilege to paint. It takes up a lot of time. It means a lot of things you don’t do. Painting has always been more than just a profession. It’s always been an obsession. I had to paint.”

"Man is a measure of all things. You can do anything you will to do. If you’re sufficiently tenacious and interested you can accomplish what you want to accomplish in this world."

Time visiting these Web sites would be time well spent:

I'd love to hear your thoughts on Alice -- simply leave me a comment.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

calling cards in the making

my first batch of handmade calling cards

Part of getting ready to sell my paintings and drawings involves having business cards on hand.

Rather than order professionally-printed calling cards, I've decided to handcraft a batch using various index and note cards which may or may not have had a previous life, my "weathered silo" rubber stamp, and brewed coffee. I may also include a tiny doodle or two from time to time.

each note card is laid out to dry after being dipped in a pie pan of coffee

I'm loving how each dried note card is not perfectly flat

I can't help but think my great-grandmothers Relda and Velda would approve of this. I also suspect they too would look for ways to use leftover coffee for projects around their homes.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

the sketchbooks are coming!

Remember that sketchbook project I participated in last year? Well, the National Tour of Art House Co-op's 2011 Sketchbook Project is underway and it is making its way toward Seattle this weekend. I am beyond excited!

My sketchbook will be among the thousands of sketchbooks on display June 10th-12th at the Form/Space Atelier Gallery. I will have the golden opportunity to hold and view countless art journals from fellow participants. Maybe I'll even be lucky enough to stumble upon the journal submitted by the lovely and talented artist Rikkianne Van Kirk. I do promise to snap a few photos and blog about the experience next week.

Oh, and before I go, you should know that I loved participating in this project so much so that I've already signed up for the 2012 World Tour and chosen the "Forks and Spoons" theme. Won't you join me?


Form/Space Atelier Gallery
2407 1st Ave.
Seattle, WA

June 10, 11 and 12
Open to the public 12:00 - 4:00 pm daily
Admission is FREE

Monday, June 6, 2011

dabbling with natural colorants from my kitchen

I'm loving how these natural colorants are working as watercolor washes on my "art is my compass" drawings/paintings.

Last Friday I found myself raiding my cupboards and refrigerator in search of potential washes.

I started with coffee (a columbia supremo blend) and moved quickly to a red wine (cabernet sauvignon), green tea, earl grey tea, vanilla flavoring, and ended with balsamic vinegar. I know, the vinegar most likely won't make the final cut, but I couldn't not try it. I think they're all pretty, but my preferences are the coffee, wine, and earl grey tea colorants.

I'm loving the end result of multiple washes on each sheet. Take for example the photos below of a few wine washes. I LOVE the imperfection of the edges. Don't you?

My pieces will be 8"x10" sheets with a smaller washed image with pencil and ink sketches/drawing. They will have a white border approximately 1/2" wide on all sides for framing. Of course, each piece will be hand drawn by me, so no two will be alike. Stay tuned!

Friday, June 3, 2011

prairie inspiration

Three trips in one year to the prairies of Colorado have influenced the work I'm currently working on in the studio. With my digital camera in hand, I set out on foot to tour my family's farm on five sections of land (that's a lot of ground to cover!) as well as the rural town of Deer Trail where my husband grew up. The aerial shots were taken two days ago on our return flight to Seattle following a graduation weekend and running my first 10k (BolderBoulder) with my family, girls included!

Behrens homestead

Behrens homestead - just one of many spectacular outbuildings

a nearly dead cottonwood tree

eastern Colorado farmland - ground level

eastern Colorado farmland - aerial view

simply a stunning view

Thursday, June 2, 2011

sneak preview no. 2

June is shaping up to be an exciting month for me. Here are just a few more images of what's to come later this month from my art studio. Have I mentioned my obsession with natural colorants and dyes? Cheers!

canson cold-press 140 lb watercolor french paper I stained with my morning coffee for my "art is my compass" original art prints

birch wood plank I stained with the same mug of coffee for my equine art contest entry

some of my colorado prairie landscape oil paintings on salvaged mexican hardwoods