Monday, November 12, 2012

Studio Tour a Success!

Guests try on handwoven scarves and purses
The studio tour was great! We had perfect weather, lots of guests and made many new friends as well as reconnected with those we haven't seen in a long time. One of the most unexpected and delightful surprises for me was having my very first art instructor and a mutual friend, neither of whom I had seen in several years, walk through the door. Talk about a happy reunion! They had driven many miles to get there and I could scarcely believe my eyes when I saw them. It really made my day.

Guests making their selection from original works
Colorful art and fashions filled the halls
Dinah answers questions during a spinning demo
Now that the tour is over with, I've gathered a few tips other artists may find helpful in planning similar events. First, I strongly suggest you accept credit cards. It's easy if you have a smart phone with a data plan. By signing up with Square you can accept credit cards without having to establish an expensive merchant account. By accepting credit cards our sales more than doubled.

One word of caution, though: Square's device comes with woefully inadequate instructions so it helps to have someone who's familiar with it show you the ropes beforehand. Or go online for pointers on how to use it. It's easy once you figure it out, but when a buyer's standing there waiting (thank you, Mary, for being so patient!) it's high anxiety time if you're having difficulties using it. I believe Intuit offers a similar device. Maybe theirs comes with better instructions.

What sold best? We found smaller, affordable items sold more readily than big, expensive pieces. No surprise there. Typical of the season, most of our guests were shopping for holiday gifts although a number of original paintings were acquired for buyers' own homes. Jewelry was very popular, as were handwoven fashion accessories and fine art prints. Combined, our sales enabled us to raise a sizeable donation for the Cobb County Humane Society.

For refreshments, we kept things simple. We served goo-free shortbread cookies and ginger snaps, pretzels, and candy along with non-alcoholic apple cider and bottled water. The paper cups, napkins and paper plates were yellow and orange to reflect the season, and we used a simple fall leaf garland to decorate the refreshment table, which was covered with a yellow tablecloth. Everyone served themselves and cleanup afterwards was minimal. I was surprised how little there was to clean up, considering the amount of traffic we had coming through all day.

To draw attention to our location Karen had created signage that was placed along the street in front of the building. We also had professionally printed banners next to the parking lot entrance, and balloons tied to the handrail outside the front door. Dinah and Betty filled two planters at the entry with pots of bright yellow mums to draw further attention. So the atmosphere was festive both inside and outside. Municipal regulations required us to be mindful of the size and placement of our signs, so we were careful to comply as well as to remove them promptly when the event was over.

Since we were one of 13 studios participating in the tour, we cross-promoted the others by printing up a list of all the participating artists and their locations as a handout for guests. We also checked on the locations of nearby ATM machines so we could direct people to them if need be.

Holding an open studio is a lot of work and takes a lot of preparation. We worked really hard to prepare the space, hang the art, tag it, purchase refreshments, and a hundred other tasks in advance of welcoming our guests. Preparing for it was exhausting, but the day itself was great fun and wonderfully gratifying. A heartfelt thank you to all those who attended, and to my fellow artists who worked so hard to make the day so successful!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Nov. 3 is the 2nd Annual Holiday Studio Tour and Benefit Sale

Save the date and come visit the studio on Saturday, Nov. 3! That's the date for the Artists of Northwest Atlanta's 2nd Annual Holiday Studio Tour and Benefit Sale! Dinah and I will be hosting three guest artists: Kathy Woodworth, Karen Snider and Betty McGlamery. We're five of 25 artists participating this year at 13 different locations in Marietta, Kennesaw, Smyrna, Woodstock and Roswell. This is more than twice as many as were in the first Tour in 2011. Hours this year are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

All participants in the 2012 event are donating a percentage of all sales made this day to local animal shelters and rescue groups. Dinah, Kathy, Betty, Karen and I are pledging our donation to the Cobb County Humane Society. Now more than ever they need funds to care for and find homes for countless dogs, cats, puppies and kittens.

We're planning a fun, Open House atmosphere where guests can get a peek at a working studio environment and check out works in progress. Browse a great selection of artwork, jewelry, handwoven fashions and accessories, and artsy gifts. Sip hot apple cider and get some holiday shopping done in a casual, relaxed atmosphere. There will be lots of treasures at all price points to select from.

My new line of Original Art Pendants will be part of the offerings I'll have available.  These are miniature original works captured under glass and suspended on an adjustable 18" cord necklace. I hand paint each and every one, and you will not see a design duplicated, ever. Each pendant is a true, one of a kind original, not a reproduction. They're the perfect gift for that friend or relative who already "has everything" and is impossible to buy for. Or a fellow art lover you'd like to please.

The studio is located at 2931 Lewis St. where Lewis meets Main St. in downtown Kennesaw, a couple of blocks north of the Southern Museum. It's in the Lewis Street Commons Building, directly across from the big First Baptist Church. Look for bright yellow signs and balloons marking the Commons' entrance and exit. There's plenty of parking all around the building. Visit as few or as many participating studios as you'd like; the tour is entirely self-guided and it's FREE. For a downloadable map with addresses of all studios and list of artists, visit

Five Days of Awesome

Bob and yours truly, with several of his paintings in the background.
I can only describe Bob Burridge's workshop as five days of "awesome!" It was worth every penny, and also worth the daily 1 1/4 hour commute each way to Kudzu Art Center in Norcross. I stayed at my friend Kathy's house all week and we took turns driving.

We'd arrive at Kudzu ready to rock and roll each morning beginning at 9, after rising at 6 a.m. to make sure we weren't late. (Such is the difficulty of navigating through Atlanta's impossible traffic.) By the end of each day we were ready to drop -- Bob kept us busy non-stop. We splashed paint, we flung paint, we painted with our fingers, we painted with jumbo sized brushes, we moved to the beat of music while we painted, and by 4 p.m. each day we had more paint on us than the Blue Men. OMG it was fantastic! Bob's a superb instructor and one of the nicest, most generous human beings I've ever met. And we learned so much, our brains were spinning with too many ideas to even start  processing them all. During the demos I took as many notes as I could. I already had a copy of Bob's excellent workbook, so now I've got quite an education sandwiched in a three ring binder.

My goal had been to return to painting as opposed to focusing so heavily on collage. The workshop allowed me to reconnect with paint in so many new, exciting ways. It rekindled my passion for applying pigment to canvas. Bob does incorporate a limited amount of collage into his work and he encouraged us to do the same if we felt so inclined. I did use a little in one piece but the rest of the time I just reveled in slinging paint. Since returning from the workshop I've done nothing but paint. Mission accomplished!!! Thank you, Bob!!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

My long-awaited Burridge workshop

Belfast, 12x12" acrylic on canvas
After years of waiting, I'm finally getting the chance to take a workshop from one of my all time favorite artists, Robert Burridge. It was largely due to Bob Burridge that I fell in love with abstract painting and the freedom of exploration that comes from painting with "no holds barred." Although my own style differs from his, my work and attitude have been greatly influenced by him. Belfast, shown here, is a painting I did a few years back, approaching its creation from the experimental viewpoint Bob advocates.

My reason for taking this workshop: I want to return to my "artistic roots" -- laying paint directly on the canvas. These last several years I've focused increasingly on mixed media collage. One day, it occurred to me that I might have forgotten how to "just paint." Slowly, over time, I had gravitated more and more toward using papers in place of paint. Hmmmmm. Might it be time for a tuneup in the creativity department?? When I learned of an upcoming Burridge workshop I signed up. Exactly what the doctor ordered for jump-starting my directional shift, and taught by the guy who got me hooked in the first place. Perfect!

Not that I don't love collage. I'm crazy about it. But increasingly I've found myself yearning for that incomparable sensation of splashing, smearing, stabbing or smooshing paint directly onto a canvas in spontaneous, even reckless, fashion. My collaged pieces, on the other hand, require a lot more forethought and planning. The whole process takes much longer. That is, if it's to be done right, i.e. with archival integrity in mind. There's the drying time between layers, the paper prep, the additional steps required to prepare the support, etc. etc. While the end result may appear wildly spontaneous, the process itself is pretty time consuming and labor-intensive. Collage is more of a carefully composed fugue than a jam session. Right now, I'm aching for some improv.

So my goal for Fall is recharging my painting batteries. Can't wait to see what happens next. Will keep you posted.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Making a Memory Collage

What a jam packed summer it has been! Where did the last three months go? We made a trip to Florida in June, returning home to a myriad of art projects that kept me hopping all summer and left little time for blogging.

One of these projects was designing a "memory collage" -- a special birthday gift for a client's aunt. Style-wise it was a departure from my usual abstract pieces but I found switching creative gears to a more traditional approach refreshing. The best part was the hunt for just the right elements to use that would relate to the lady for whom the collage was being made. In almost every painting and mixed media piece I create, there's symbolism and hidden meanings and this collage would be no different.

The recipient is known for her extraordinary love of cooking (how I admire anyone who loves to cook!) and for the love, warmth and generosity she bestows on her family. To reflect those qualities, I found a vintage drawing of a mixing bowl (symbolizing love to me), a serving spoon (sharing), and vegetables (nourishment) in a cookbook that once belonged to my husband's grandmother. For part of the background I introduced recipes from the same cookbook, including one for corn chowder, to symbolize the kind of "comfort food" served up in America's heartland, where the aunt was born and raised.

I also had two family photos to work with, one quite old and the other more recent, of multiple generations of her family. To preserve the originals, I made copies and used those instead. As I worked on the piece, I couldn't help but feel a connection to this beloved aunt and those who obviously love her very much. The act of creating the piece brought back memories of my own family and growing up in a similar environment, where family ties and shared meals form the heart of a farming community's culture.

When my client came by the studio to pick up the finished piece she was overcome with emotion. It had been a joy for me to create this memory collage for her, but what I didn't expect were long-forgotten cherished memories it revived for me as I worked on it. It's said that a piece of art can profoundly affect a viewer. As I discovered, creating a memory collage can profoundly affect the one who creates it, as well!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Surprises in a Paper Stash

Today I tackled the Big, Bad Box -- a massive carton containing all my hand painted collage papers. My plan was to sift through them, cull out the ones I'd never use, then file the rest away by color groups in the five drawer basket storage unit, 2011's Most Useful Purchase.

It was tedious work. There were many more papers than I remembered creating, and of course they were all jumbled up, colorwise. The task was time consuming but it had an unexpected upside: I found papers I had completely forgotten about, which sparked a flurry of ideas for combining and/or using them in new projects.

Some tissue papers I had washed with color, adjoining opaque papers with stamped designs, produced startling color combos I wouldn't have thought of putting together. Like the magenta tissue which, placed over violet paper stamped with light green spirals, produced a wildly vivid purple with spirals of a hard-to-describe but very interesting hue.

I even came across a folder holding papers I had gathered for an Asian-themed piece I planned to do at one time. The folder had gone missing months ago. Over time I had completely forgotten it existed. When I rediscovered it today, it contained everything needed to create a nice little collage, including a vintage found image and materials corresponding to that focal point. So now it's on my list of pieces to work on next week. I should rummage through my paper stash more often, making a point to dig down to the very bottom of each pile. The TV commercial is right: it pays to discover!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Abstract Art: Older Than You Think!

Am reading a very interesting book right now: The Cambridge Illustrated History of Prehistoric Art by Paul G. Bahn (Cambridge University Press). It's a fascinating look at what some refer to as "cave art," "rock art," and other descriptive monikers. Archaeology has always interested me, so this very comprehensive and well-researched book has been capturing much of my attention during what little spare time I've had lately.

Anyway, getting back to abstract art, the title of this post...we moderns tend to think of abstract art as a contemporary art movement arriving on the scene quite recently. But nay, not so! Abstraction has been around for, oh, about several hundred thousand years. Maybe more. As Bahn notes, "Apparently non-figurative art -- motifs which convey nothing to our eyes other than patterning -- has existed from the beginning: indeed, it often dominates the Palaeolithic period and its study is one of the long-neglected challenges of archaeology." The book has the photos to prove our earliest ancestors weren't entirely hung up on creating images of bison or people or birds on their cliffs and cave walls. Nope, "modern" art was being made even way back then, in the form of grids, lines, circular designs and other patterns or shapes whose messages or meanings, if they had any, are now lost to us.

Whether any of these markings -- representational or non-representational -- were regarded as "art" or something more functional by their makers still begs answers as well. But the fact remains: the earliest peoples created an abundance of non-representational carvings and drawings in their respective environments a very, very long time ago. I find it rather nice that "abstract art" can claim such an impressive history. Next time someone disdainfully wrinkles up their nose and states that abstraction is nothing more than "modern nonsense," I shall politely inform them that abstraction pre-dates Socrates and Jesus by millions of years. And now, if you'll kindly excuse me, it's time to go feed the trilobites.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Unpacking and Collapsing

Helped Dinah move on Tuesday. The old studio had a total of 29 stairs to climb. I lost count after 20 trips up and down with boxes. I figure I probably climbed as many stairs in one day as the number of steps on the Great Pyramid at Giza. On Wednesday morning I was so tired and sore I could barely move but we decided to push ahead anyway with getting my stuff out of my friend's garage and into the new studio. Mercifully, we have a mere 5 easy steps to climb at the new place.

So the last two days have been spent moving furniture and schlepping boxes, unpacking and pushing things around in our new location until everything finds a place. I just wish I had done a better job of marking all the cartons as to what's inside. Came home tonight and collapsed on the sofa. Tired doesn't begin to describe it. And there are still more boxes yet to go. But things are starting to come together now, however slowly. If I can finish up over the next three or four days I'll be painting again by this time next week. Yay!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Salvador Dali, I Love You

Wow! Saw the new studio this morning with its brand new all-white interior. It looks fantastic -- even brighter and more light filled than we had hoped. Our landlord's painters did a great job. I don't know how they managed to cover up that dark gray paint but they did. Thanks so much, guys!

After leaving our gleaming new studio I met up with my friends Pat and Sylvia for lunch and a little shopping. Pat, who's probably one of the savviest shoppers I've ever met, introduced us to a most amazing store. It's called Touch of Europe and believe me, it does not disappoint. Improbably located on the north side of Marietta's Roswell St. between the Big Chicken and the Loop, Touch of Europe has some of the most beautiful, unique, whimsical, elegant and delightful merchandise I've seen OTP.

Everything in the store has a European flair, from the home furnishings to entertainment accessories, bath and beauty products, gourmet foods, stationery, and gift items. So what has this got to do with art, you ask. Wandering around, I found all kinds of wonderful things that were art-oriented. If you're out on an Artist's Date, you'll find an abundance of inspiration here in the merchandise textures, colors and patterns alone. (Collage artists take note: if you use paper napkins in your work, you'll go bonkers in this place. Don't say I didn't warn you.)

Sensory overload aside, my favorite find was a wristwatch with Salvador Dali's grinning face peering out from under the crystal. Its crowning touch was its two Dali-esque hands: they were shaped like his famous outrageous moustache. Had I been a more selfish sort I'd have put aside the gifts I had just selected for family members and treated myself to a new watch on the spot. But being the pure-hearted soul that I am, I managed to resist the overwhelming temptation to acquire the Dali. (Where's this will power when it comes to ice cream???) Instead the watch went directly into first place on my own wish list. Maybe my hubby The Wizard will read this post before my birthday gets here. :)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

From Dark to Light

Rain and a respiratory bug kept me from getting outside with my camera most of this past week, so this Google aerial view of the new studio will have to sub for a street level exterior shot. Any ideas as to the building's location yet? Here's another hint: there's a police station close by.

Our new studio's interior has just been repainted. Originally, the walls were a charcoal gray so dark it looked black, and a mid tone gray. These colors just gobbled up every bit of light in the space. Dinah and I wanted light and bright so we chose Home Depot's Ultra Pure White, the brightest white we could find. The painters finished up over the weekend, and we'll get our first peek at the transformation tomorrow. I can hardly wait to see it! We're moving in this week; after a 14 day hiatus, I'm soooo looking forward to getting back to making art!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Whole Lotta Movin' Goin' On!

I mean that, literally. Moi is moving her studio. Am up to my eyeballs in boxes and packing tape. The new location offers much more room (my current studio is just too small) so now I'll be able to work on multiple large canvases simultaneously! My new digs overlook a lovely park, there's a 50 cents per can Coke machine right outside my door, it's beautifully appointed and is smack dab in the middle of a tree-filled historic area. The location??? I'll be posting photos later this week -- see if you can guess where it is. Hint: It's not where you think!

Now on to the other momentous news:

Yours truly is now represented by Woodstock Art and Glass Gallery in beautiful downtown Woodstock, Ga. This beautiful gallery carries a fine selection of contemporary art, jewelry and glass. It's in a fun location, surrounded by intriguing boutiques, shops and eateries -- a great place to indulge your taste for fine art, good food and shopping. Check it out if you're in the vicinity!

Our first First Friday Art Walk on Marietta's Square rocked! Despite the fact that it coincided with Easter weekend and spring break, we had a great turnout. Rebecca Salcedo and I have created a mini-gallery of our work at DuPre's Art Forum, 17 Whitlock Ave. We met so many nice people, two of whom were lucky winners in a drawing for some of our artwork. Rebecca and I will be repeating this giveaway for all the upcoming Art Walks. So be sure to stop by our space to drop your name in the entry box every time you participate in an Art Walk on the Square. (Every First Friday from 5-9 p.m., April through October.) You need not be present to win.

If you can't attend but still want to participate, just email me through my web site, None of your personal information will ever be shared with outside parties, I promise. What you will get -- besides your name being entered for the drawing -- is a free subscription to my quarterly e-newsletter for art lovers. In it you'll discover little-known back stories about famous and infamous artists, tantalizing glimpses into some of art's biggest mysteries, a dose of artful humor, plus lots of helpful tips to make viewing, collecting, and caring for art more fun and enjoyable. Of course you can always opt out from receiving it, but it's great fun to read, plus it makes you a scintillating conversationalist at cocktail parties.

On the exhibition scene:

Two works I completed recently have been accepted into the World of Art-2012 juried exhibit, opening April 16 at the Mable House Arts Center, 5239 Floyd Rd. in Mableton. The awards reception is April 21 from 7-9 p.m. The exhibition is sponsored by the South Cobb Arts Alliance. Admission is free. The two works are both mixed media collages but are polar opposites of each other. One implies an upbeat spirit and expression of joy, while the other was created during Japan's recent earthquake and tsunami tragedies. A view of the latter appears above, at the start of this blog post.

Another can't-miss exhibition opens Fri., Mar. 13 at the Roswell Visual Arts Center, 10495 Woodstock Rd. in Roswell. One of three exhibitions commemorating 100 years of collage that the Atlanta Collage Society is sponsoring this year, it's a little different than most. Artists were challenged to use at least one of four materials found in the work of the masters of fine art collage: Picasso, Braque and Matisse. We had to incorporate caning, wall paper, faux finished paper and/or newspaper in any work(s) submitted. The first three materials weren't impossible to get. (Thank you, Veva, for supplying the chair caning!) But the newspaper??? This could not be just any newspaper, mind you. The contents had to be published in French.

Let me tell ya, when you live in semi-rural Georgia, obtaining a French newspaper is about as likely as winning a tractor pull with a Prius. Thank goodness a fellow artist who is French stepped forward to lend a hand. Valerie persuaded her mom, who lives in France, to mail us pages from Le Figaro. Oui!!! Mama provided enough pages to supply me and two other newspaper-deficient collagists who were in the same boat. Thanks to our French allies, I can proudly say the 24x18" work I submitted, titled Moon Fishing, incorporates all four of the required materials. Moon Fishing was a real challenge to design, create and complete. It stymied me for weeks after obtaining the required elements as I wrestled with integrating such disparate materials successfully. Despite that, I'm very satisfied with the finished work, even if its creation gave me fits.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I'm back!

So you've noticed seven months have passed without a blog posting from me. Well, it has been an insane seven months. Long story short, since last August I've been struggling with health problems while trying to maintain a heavier than normal workload. Not being a particularly fast painter, I was in "overwhelm" both physically and mentally trying to deal with a sudden onslaught of multiple -- and serious -- health issues, none of which I had seen coming. Meanwhile I still needed to prepare work for shows I was obligated for, including one in September for which I needed to complete 15-20 pieces.

Had it not been for my wonderfully supportive husband and a circle of close friends who rallied around me, I don't think I could have made it through this ordeal. I'll be eternally grateful to them for helping to pull me through it.

With the arrival of spring here in Georgia I'm experiencing a sense of renewal. Things are looking up! The glorious colors of azaleas, dogwoods, redbuds and every other thing in bloom offer a treat for the senses, while warmer temperatures are making this past year's miseries a receding memory. In the studio I'm playing with lighter, brighter hues (well, except for one piece that's comprised of black, umber, ivory and gold). The happier colors reflect my lifted spirits, and I'm experimenting with new materials, and different canvas sizes and shapes, and more. But wait! There's some really exciting news I can't reveal just yet. Stay tuned...within the next few days I'll be making a big announcement -- maybe more than one -- right here on this blog that you won't want to miss!