I probably sound like a broken record, but we've been super busy lately!
I've been working hard to chisel in some late-night painting sessions, but as any of you studio artists out there know - it is tough business to put in hours of work after working 8+ hours at your day job (especially when your day job is teaching). I have trouble balancing everything just like every other human being on this planet. :)
But, I'm trying by best to make it happen. Here are some shots from my studio from the last few weeks.
Just started this little kitten (a gift from my Grandma Joanne - who is one of my biggest fans/followers - hi Grandma!!). I did a watercolor of this figurine, and was so smitten, I'm taking it into oil paint next.
I also finished this fine fellow:
He was tough - he had a crooked face, and it was hard to balance out his features! But, I think after struggling for a few hours, I have captured his full quirkiness. :)
I've also been plunking around with some abstract pieces. I bought some gold gouache (Holbein Brand - it is awesome) to play around with, and have been incorporating it into these compositions. It is such a weird thing to play with actual reflective material (not just to paint representations of it).
I've also been playing around with illustration a bit which has been fun. :) I'm hoping to cobble together a small portfolio over the summer, so be on the lookout.
In the classroom I'm teaching my students how to use a 6 color system of primaries (instead of a 3 color Red, Yellow, Blue) to accurately mix colors. It teaches them to recognize the properties of certain colors, how to quickly mix neutralized colors, and how to get the colors they want, not just the colors they happen to mix.
For this exercise they split into small groups and had to find the parent hue of a color, determine if it was a hue, tint, tone, or shade and then theorize how to mix the color.
They were pretty successful in their first go at it, and they'll be using the process in the next few in-class assignments.
In other highly relevant news, here are my cats enjoying some lounging time:
We've also been taking some time to re-organize and slowly clean our house - we try to tackle a small to mid-sized project every weekend.
Last weekend I organized all of my shoes into this great little shoe cabinet and replaced our hideous huge 1980's wood and brass ceiling fan with a much more calming 60's style ceiling light.
Sometimes just making a few changes in your home environment can make such a big difference.
Last but not least, we had a great visit with my long-time pal Jane Ryder who came to DSU for her Solo show at our gallery.
We got to go out afterwords and catch up - she even graced my class with her presence during our critique of our recent batch of designs.
Check out her paintings at her website here: Jane Ryder
As some of you know, I got my BFA in Painting/Drawing at
University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. When I
started I was an Art-Education major. It
was my second semester there, and I enrolled in the Drawing II Color course
with Ron Weaver. He had gotten his MFA
at Yale, painted and exhibited his work nationally, and it was his last year of teaching before retiring from
(c) Ron Weaver
This class became a pivotal class in my education, and my
life for that matter.Ron not only
pushed us to be better artists, but better people as well.I can remember every assignment for that
class in great detail even though it has been close to 10 years since I took
his course.We started out the course by
doing color exercises – cutting up Color-Aid packets, and discussing Josef
Albers (who he studied under at Yale).
(c) Ron Weaver
I recently found out about his passing after battling cancer.I’ve had a heavy
heart the last few days when remembering such a great man, and his impact on my
This semester I am teaching the same course – Design II
Color – here in South Dakota – we are working through the Albers exercises
right now in class, and just last week, I told my students how lucky I was to
have studied with Ron Weaver when I was in undergrad.His love of color and painting were so
apparent in his every action – when he spoke of the art he loved the room would
be captivated.He was definitely a
Black Horse and Barbara - (c) Ron Weaver
One day later in the semester in Ron's class we were doing a drawing
exercise where we were to sit next to a partner and draw their profile in line
in about 10 minutes to test our observational abilities.I drew my friend Dan, and was pretty happy
with my drawing.When Ron came around
checking all of the drawings he smiled when he looked at mine and asked me to
stay after class.
Mudflat Rock - (c) Ron Weaver
I stuck around and he asked me a barrage of questions: why
did I choose art education?Why not
studio art? What did I want out of my life?What did I want out of my education?He strongly suggested I drop art education and become a painter.I was already shying away from K-12 education
at that point – I loved teaching, but was not a fan of bureaucracy and
restrictions (much of which were creeping in to K-12 education at a high rate
even then). Up to that point, no one had really said that painting and
studio arts would be a good career path for me– I had always been steered
towards something more ‘practical’. But
none of the practical options were good options for me.
This conversation lit a fire within me.
It gave me the permission to let myself do something risky – to embrace
the unknown, and to pursue the thing that had always made me the happiest. It was a changing point in my life.
(c) Ron Weaver
There were many more after-class conversations that happened
that semester – ones in which he told me and a few other students about his
experiences as a painter – his education – his ‘adventures’.He taught not in the classroom, but by
example as well.He was a prolific
painter – working both in and out of the studio.He set an excellent precedence for what it
meant to be a committed artist, not just a Sunday painter.He was completely enthralled and engaged by
painting, color, light, and sharing beauty with those he came in contact
with.I don’t think ‘passion’ is a
strong enough word to describe his relationship to painting.
Kneeling Nude - (c) Ron Weaver
It has always been my belief that the best thing we can do
with our time on this planet is to be kind and always do our best to help
others.When our physical bodies fail
us, our actions and shared kindness is what is left of us.I am honored to have worked with Ron at
Oshkosh, and hope to continue his kindness, his generosity, and his teaching
through my own art and in my relationship with my students.
It's been a long time! I've been doing things I swear, but blogging has been on the back burner this last semester as teaching two new studio classes last semester managed to eat up a good deal of my free time.
So here's my attempt at an update! :)
First, there's the teaching - Last semester I taught Figure Drawing, 2D Design, and Art History I. This semester I'm teaching two sections of Design II - Color, and Art History II. I've been re-vamping the courses quite a bit to really fit the mission of our department which educates students in Digital Arts and Design Fields (graphic design/ audio production/ animation/ digital storytelling/web design).
Those of you who work in education know that re-designing courses can be a huge time commitment - but it is really important for me to make sure my students don't see their foundations courses as something they can breeze through, or don't need. I try to teach them the essentials of design while also pushing them to start finding their creative voice and develop conceptual skills early on.
I've been spending a good chunk of time over 'break' developing new projects, learning new skills, and putting together example/sample images. I'm really hoping it will pay off this semester. :)
I've also been plugging along in the studio. Last semester it was a challenge to make the time to get work done - and in addition, I was working on this GIANT PAINTING OF DOOM that was really testing my control issues with paint.
(detail from the painting of doom)
I wasn't letting myself work on other paintings until it is finished, and as a result, ended up avoiding my studio for a month. I'm still working on it, but I'm letting myself off the hook a little bit and working on some small fun watercolor paintings in the meantime. I've got five oil paintings that are halfway finished - those are my priority once I get a little further into the semester.
My hope with these watercolors is to re-populate my Etsy shop (which has been neglected for a while now...) and to get some lower price-point pieces out in the world for those who would want to purchase a piece directly from my studio. :)
Other than art-teaching and art-making we've been hunkering down at home quite a bit - it's been an especially cold winter thus far, and we've been taking full advantage of staying cozy.
Part of that plan is making as many batches of homemade ravioli as possible. :)
Rascal thinks part of this plan is sitting on her brother for warmth:
I participated in this year's annual Washington Pavilion one-day-art-making-extravaganza last weekend alongside 40 or so other artists from the region, and had a blast despite the massive head cold that was trying to kill my spirits.
I really love participating in this event because it gives me a chance to meet a whole bunch of new people who are passionate about art. We also get a chance to talk to a lot of kids who are all wonderfully curious (and blunt - which is hilarious especially in the beginning stages of my pieces where the painting hasn't really taken shape yet) about art.
Although it was a small piece, I still used the full 10+ hours that we were there that day to really buckle down and finish my painting. It is always a challenge to push through and get the pieces finished. I really loved seeing everyone else's pieces too!