Wednesday, August 31, 2011

worldly possessions -- the third story

"Worldly Possessions" - Limited Edition Giclée Print

A mattress, some dishes, a stove if you were lucky enough to own one, definitely the tarpaulins, and maybe a chair or two. That was all they had room for on the truck besides the family. When you are a migrant family, these become your worldly possessions.

"Worldly Possessions" - 8" x 8" acrylic on cradled wood panel

I knew almost immediately that I wanted to paint this image. To me, the sheer lack of belongings depicted in photograph after photograph of makeshift roadside camps spoke volumes about the plight of the migrant families. I hope you find beauty in the simplicity as much as I do.

Here are stories one and two of my Dust Bowl Glimpses paintings. As always, thank you for stopping by.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

waiting -- the second story

They’d driven as far as a dollar of gas could take them. Now they waited. Waited under the merciless sun with hungry bellies and soiled clothing. They waited for news of work in the fields as promised on government handbills distributed just weeks prior. They waited for a time when they were migrants no longer. Waiting was all they could do.

As a mother, I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been to raise a family under such dire conditions -- it certainly makes me appreciate the community, family, and home that I have today.

Part of my research for this painting involved tracking down the goods originally shipped in the cardboard box that Florence Owens Thompson sat on in Dorothea Lange's iconic Great Depression photograph, "Migrant Mother". Taking what little print I could see on the box, I finally tracked down this June 21, 1919 price list from Swift & Co. of their canned fish offerings (below). Don't you just love it?!

In case you missed it, here is the story of my first Dust Bowl Glimpses painting, "Taking the Mother Road". As always, thanks for stopping by. Cheers, Mandy

Friday, August 26, 2011

Dust Bowl Glimpses revealed

"Taking the Mother Road" - acrylic on cradled wood panel

I am beyond thrilled to finally be revealing my Dust Bowl Glimpses series of original paintings and limited edition giclée prints. I've only been working on this labor of love now for 12 months!!

"Waiting" - acrylic on cradled wood panel

"Worldly Possessions" - acrylic on cradled wood panel

The idea for this series, my first in some years now, came to me last summer after reading John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer-prize winning novel, The Grapes of Wrath, and helping my mother digitize a photo collection of her ancestors who homesteaded on the prairies of Kansas and Colorado in the early 1900s. I came away from both experiences with a much greater understanding of the human condition during the Great Depression, specifically of those families displaced by the Dust Bowl.

"Fryin' Pone" - acrylic on cradled wood panel

"Ruthie's Red" - acrylic on cradled wood panel

My paintings are dedicated to the impoverished people who, despite hardship, extended a hand to help strangers because it was the human thing to do.

"Faded Clover" - acrylic on cradled wood panel

Over the next few days I will be blogging about the stories behind each of the six original acrylic paintings on cradled birch wood panels as well as details about my professionally-printed fine art giclées.

But for now, given how late it is on a Friday afternoon, I simply invite you to visit my Etsy shop to browse the entire collection. Perhaps you'll fancy something for yourself or a loved one.

Thank you...and special thanks to each and every one of you who supported me during this journey -- I am forever grateful for your inspiration and guidance.

Cheers, Mandy

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

scumbling along

Earlier this year when I became too impatient for my oil paints to dry, I opted for acrylics (a medium I didn't have much experience with) to create my new Dust Bowl Glimpses paintings. And while I enjoyed how fast I was able to transfer my ideas to canvas using the acrylics, I was frustrated at how fast they dried.

I realize that there are products that can be mixed with acrylics to lengthen their drying times, but I wasn't interested in that option. So I began experimenting with acrylics and stumbled upon a painting technique called "scumbling".

What is scumbling? It involves applying a thin layer of opaque or semi-opaque paint over a layer of different color of paint. Scumbling may be achieved by scraping, scrubbing or dragging a layer of paint over a dark underpainting, resulting in a hazy, opalescent effect. Scumbling allows artists to create smooth transitions from light to dark and to modify the original color of the overlaid area without completely concealing it.

Here I'm dragging a rather thick layer of raw sienna acrylic paint over a dried layer of paint.

Here is the result. I LOVE it!

Here's a sneak peek at how I used scumbling on my "Fryin' Pone" painting that will be available for sale in my Etsy shop later this week alongside five other Dust Bowl Glimpses paintings. I'm thrilled to have turned a frustration into an opportunity. Cheers!

Here I've scumbled a darker gray acrylic over a lighter gray to create depth on the metal spoon in my "Fryin' Pone" Dust Bowl Glimpses painting. I also scumbled a layer of deeper yellow ochre atop a dried lighter shade.

Full view of "Fryin' Pone".

Friday, August 5, 2011

sustainable living: urnatur

I have an affinity for sustainable living. So do forester Håkan Strotz and his wife, biologist and designer Ulrika Krynitz. Together they've hand built a wooded retreat in Sweden named urnatur or "ancient nature."

This beautiful video, and others, can be found on the ANTHROPOLOGIST. Perhaps you, too, find the beauty in this video or the message they share.

My favorite quote from their story: "You can do it wherever. This is not a special forest. Go home and find your way to do it."

Thursday, August 4, 2011

a recent discovery: the studio visit

The Studio Visit is a fantastic escape for those of us who enjoy discovering under exposed artists and how they produce their work. The site's Archives page is brilliantly designed: you can search work by artist, medium and region.

From their site:
"TheStudioVisit (TSV) introduces professional artists at work in their studios speaking directly to their work through a dialogue with the writer. This intimate first-person view into artistic process cultivates familiarity and appreciation of the intellectual and technical processes of contemporary art making. TheStudioVisit serves its audience as a welcoming place in which to discover newer or under exposed artists as well as artists who are crossing new thresholds in their work. It strives to engender nationwide networking among area artists as well as wider ranging art communities, connecting creators, curators, writers and patrons."

After viewing a few artist's videos, I'm already feeling a bit of validation that I can do this. As many of you know, I am a stay-at-home parent to two elementary-age daughters and I've only recently set up a studio in my home to resume painting and drawing following a lengthy hiatus. Clearly the responsibilities that come with the family and household take priority over studio time, however, seeing how other artists are able to "carve" out studio time in their daily lives is encouraging.

Here's Lily's studio visit. I love gaining the meaning behind an artist's body of work.

Lily Cox-Richard (M.S.) from Isabel Manalo on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

studio update

The week of August 22nd promises to be a big week for me. That's when I plan to offer all new art for sale in my shop.

For starters, I will unveil my very first series of paintings, Dust Bowl Glimpses, since opening my Weathered Silo studio in January 2010. It's been a rewarding (and excruciatingly slow) journey. I plan to sell my original paintings (acrylic on birch panels) as well as limited-edition giclees (professionally printed locally).

Additionally, I'll be selling a handful of original pencil+ink drawings that incorporate natural colorants such as coffee, tea, and wine. They are part of my Art is My Compass series. Stay tuned for more details.

And last but not least, I will be offering the first of several oil paintings I've completed on pieces on handcrafted canvases made in my studio using salvaged exotic hardwoods + eco-textile remnants from previous studio work (hemp/organic cotton). I can't wait for the reveal -- they are paintings you won't need to frame!

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In the coming days I plan to finalize all the administrative work associated with updating my Etsy shop and other online marketplaces (a task I do NOT favor...especially when it comes to matching screen colors to artwork -- sigh!).

I will also be taking a much-needed family vacation August 7-14th in Eastern Washington with dear, dear friends. Thankfully we can count on sunshine and heat during these trips...something we haven't seen much of at all this year in Seattle. ;-)

Thank you to everyone who has given me support and advice along the way. I am grateful to have you in my life!