Tuesday, April 15, 2014

project 52:29

acrylic on paper

prints available here

Well, once again I seem to be falling into the bad habit of posting only project 52 cards on my blog. Rest assured, I have a handful of lovely things going on right now - another dress for Months and Years, one painting nearly finished, and another about halfway done, but they're all rather time consuming (especially that dress), so I'm getting there rather slowly. And of course, as the weather warms up, my head is turned by all things gardening. Not only are the dicentra (bleeding hearts) blooming back in the shade garden under the doug fir grove, the currants (both red and yellow) and blooming, tulips and iris and fritillarias are going strong, roses are leafing out, poppies sown in January are getting their first true leaves, and the lillies are coming up like gangbusters. It's an exciting time. I bought three little packs of annuals at the garden store last weekend - salvia, snapdragons, and stocks - and tucked them in around the garden beds, for just a little extra fun (and hummingbird/butterfly appeal!), and I've sown a prodigious number of flower seeds in little pots and set the out on the deck to try and coax them up (everything from dahlias and sky and ice flower - grown from old seed ... fingers crossed, but hopes aren't high! - to hollyhocks, english daisies, nicotiana, and sweet peas). I was going to go out and sow carrots this morning, but the clouds are moving in quickly and I'm starting to think that maybe I'll just sew and paint and read today and have something *else* to share with you all the sooner.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

project 52:28 and an apology!

woodburned birch with acrylic wash

I missed last week, I know. I'm sorry! Two weeks ago, the card was late AND I forgot to photograph it. Ah, well; it's a full year. I suppose these things are bound to happen once in a while.

So, here's last week's card. And at least this one scanned well and that means there are prints available in the shop again. Additionally, from now until April 13, Society 6 is having a sale. If you click this link, you can receive $5 off the cost of a print AND get free shipping on that print (note: framed prints aren't eligible for this discount). The discount won't show up automatically in my shop, so you must click the promo link above if you would like to take advantage of the deal.

The text of last week's card comes from my friend Abigail's musings on the nature of dead languages. It was, as you see, a sunny spring day in Seattle (often the exception rather than the rule around here!), and what better time to ruminate on the impermanence of death than spring, when everything seems to be proclaiming rebirth and new life (and we are impatiently waiting for those seedlings to sprout true leaves, the tiny pea vines to grab the trellis and shoot up, the flower buds to swell and burst open)? I have a little tub of fiddlehead ferns in the fridge that need to be eaten up; last week I tumbled them across the kitchen table and photographed them to accompany Abigail's thoughts; these harbingers are one of the first foraged foods of the year, and though I actually don't like the taste of them all that much, still, I buy them every year. I can't resist the siren song of the woods, and woodland foods, whispering promises of bare feet, bare legs, dusky sunbeams and soft air.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

a mass painting update

 I'm really not sure how I forgot to share my paintings all summer (with the exception of some in-process shots of Herb). Okay, here we go. There are prints of most of these available on my Society6 page; please click here if you are interested in purchasing one of them.

Okay, here we go! Above: Study. 16"X20". Oilbar on linen. 2013.

This was never actually meant to be a serious painting. I tore a page I liked out of a magazine, and used it as a practice-work (a study!) to get used to painting again after the two-year hiatus of dissertation-land. I thought this would be a good exercise in loosening up; there was no way my clumsy, chunky oilbars could reproduce the intricate details of the patterns in this kimono-style dress. Well, that exercise didn't exactly work out; instead of loosening up, my type-A obsession with details took over and I didn't exactly produce the impressionistic patter I was hoping for. Oh well. It's still pretty. My husband loves it. =) No prints on this one, sorry; I don't have the rights to this image - as I said, it was never meant to be a serious painting, just a practice. I had no idea it would be so popular.

The Immortal. 24"X30". Oilbar on canvas. 2013.

Norah. 24"X24". Oilbar on canvas. 2013.

A couple of years ago ... wait...seven years ago ... no ... EIGHT YEARS AGO (how on earth does that happen? Where does the time go?), I painted a portrait of our friends' eldest daughter as a birthday present before we left for California. By the time we got back, they had another daughter, and a third came soon after. I'm not quite caught up yet, but I'm one step closer! No prints on this one; this is just for old friends.

The Poetess (Diaries of a Hedgehog Feminist #1). 24"X30". Oilbar on linen. 2014.

This is the first piece in a series of paintings (there's another below) that I'm making as part of a collaborative project with my friend Amal (who appears above, as the titular Hedgehog Feminist). Amal is a truly gifted poet; her words are by turns graceful, generous, gently teasing, and sharply sardonic. There's a kind of deceptively soft quality in her writing; she can turn a phrase around suddenly and it has TEETH! Or, perhaps, I should say, spikes. By way of introduction to Amal and the project, I included two excerpts from Diaries of a Hedgehog Feminist along with this portrait at my current (until Saturday!) show in Ballard. Wouldn't you like to read them, too? Here, meet my amazing friend, via her words:

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Someone asked me: “Why do you write in English? “For practical reasons,” I replied. “My Arabic has the grammar of hip-hop and the syntax of short compositions. My Hebrew is academic and aggressive— perfect for filling tax-forms and answering security questions. I save my Spanish for reading love poems and revolutionary manifestos. And my rusty Italian has enough vocabulary to order an espresso and compliment a man.”

Monday, January 21, 2013

When I was 4 I asked my father: “How come there are no women prophets?” He explained: “Being a prophet is a tough job, because a prophet has to travel and deal with very difficult hardships, including the tough mission of convincing people and changing their hearts and minds.” For years to come my father would refer to this question to remind me that this was when he realized that I was a smart girl. For me that question marked the birth of my feminist consciousness. My realization that women were absent or excluded from certain domains happened before I was able to read books. And after a PhD that kid is still asking: “How come there are no women in….?” 

Nea And Hellebores
. 24"x36". Oilbar on canvas. 2013.

Sarah Ryhanen is a virtuoso florist, founder of Saipua, and a new farmer, based in New York. You can check out her blog, with her humorous and thoughtful musings and insanely beautiful photos (of her equally insanely gorgeous floral arrangements), by clicking here. Sarah was kind enough to give me permission to paint her dog, Nea, a year or two ago - I only just finally got around to doing it. I love Nea's scruffy, motley dogginess. She reminds me of Golden, my childhood dog.

Last but not least, The Muse (Diaries of a Hedgehog Feminist #2). 30"X30". Oilbar on canvas. 2014.

I told you there was another! Here's the entry for this one:

After a decade of reading and studying critical theory and literature, I often ponder the difference between the critic and the artist. Like a professional critic, my questions arise from the ways that academia taught me to ask. I repeat all the necessary prefixes and suffixes. I insert context as needed. Sometimes, I pass. Sometimes, I impress. Sometimes, I get bored! And on some days art happens. Without heavy lingo and notes in hand, the muse knocks on my shower door. “Kill the academic and keep your towel on,” she whispers, “We have work to do!”

Okay. So now we're all caught up. Sorry about that; I won't let it happen again. I'm currently nearly done with Hedgehog Feminist #3, so that should be done within a week or two, and I'll snap a photo and post it for you. If you don't see it by mid-April, remind me of my promise!

Monday, March 24, 2014

project 52:26 (midpoint!)

(lino block and acrylic on watercolor paper)

Here we are, week twenty-six: halfway through project 52. Can you believe it? I really can't. In some ways, I kind of feel like I've been doing this forever.

This project has been great so far. Sure, there have been stressful weeks, when things haven't turned out and I've scrapped ideas and started over - and every weekend there is that growing urgency around the question, "what am I going to do for this week's postcard?" But, by and large, this project has been great. I'm exploring media I haven't used a lot, or have never used before. I'm getting a better sense of what works, graphically, on such a small canvas, and it's just plain good to complete something every week. I also feel like it's doing the real work that I hoped for: building connection with my sibling.

Week 26 is another lino block carved and printed with an acrylic printing ink/paint (I don't quite remember, other than it's meant for printing). As I printed test swatches, Cass looked and said, "it needs something green," which is funny, because that is exactly what I had been thinking as I'd been carving the block. Seriously. So I painted - rough and loose and fast - a kind of free interpretation of a delta maidenhair fern (one of my favorites) over this, using acrylic paint that I'd thinned with acrylic medium.

The semi-transparent effect resulted in a card that could barely be photographed well, much less scanned, but I found it interesting, and I think it totally works. Of course, cards that scarcely be photographed, much less scanned, are, obviously, not cards that can be posted to Society 6. So you know what that means, kids: no prints again this week. Hopefully next week, depending on what happens in the next 24-48 hours with this week's card!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

a good cause

So, it just so happens that a handful of former students of mine (some from a decade ago!) all work with (indeed, they created it!) Boundless Arts Performance Collective here in Seattle, a nonprofit organization that works with local foster youth, providing them with "an environment in which [they] can realize their creative potential, build self-confidence, and discover their personal strengths." Next Thursday, March 27, Boundless is hosting a charity event, "Home is Where the Art Is," to raise funds for the organization. I can't say enough good things about the intelligence, determination, and good hearts of the women I know at Boundless, and so I was honored when they approached me and asked if I would consider contributing a basket of goods to the auction.

So, I got to work: above, I lined a little wood box with a piece of Cole and Son's popular "Woods" wallpaper, and painted eight heavy watercolor postcards with sherbet citrus hues.

The postcards were all printed with my "moon phases" lino block.

I made a pair of pretty earrings from rose quartz and hand-hammered brass, with simple 14k gold fill shepherd's hook earwires. (I'll be making more of these for the Months and Years shop, by the way.)

That pretty soft "scarf seven" that I posted last week joined the pile, and as a final touch, I put in two jars of marmalade - one made with Seville oranges and vanilla bean, and one made with bergamot.

And here's the finished contribution: it's kind of like a lovely little Easter basket of handmade indulgences for a grown woman. And if you're in Seattle, don't forget you could take this basket home on Thursday night - so come to Fremont and join Boundless at their charity auction! It's all for a wonderful cause!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

spring flowers

Happy Oestara, everyone! Here are some flowers to set a springtime mood (of course, this morning we woke up to find everything covered in sparkling frost!): tuberose, daffodils, lady's mantle, waxflower, carnations, and some forsythia branches. Already the cherry trees are blooming in the quad on campus; I'm hoping we'll make a trip on Sunday to go see them (or maybe Saturday morning).

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

and two more!

Oh, it's so so fun. Above, shot in a rare bit of spring sunlight (what is THAT?), I made this warm red-brown, purple-spattered beauty last week.

And last weekend, I made this one, which is another super-favorite of mine. It's palest robin's egg blue with a warm golden bronze, shot through with intense bursts of bold pink. It made me think of the sea: cool water and warm brown sand. Cass says it reminds him of a cloudy autumn day - or a cup of tea with cream swirling through it. And the good news? This beauty will be for sale. I'm going to put it up in the etsy shop when I open it - so even if you aren't shopping for baby (or if you are!), there might be something pretty to catch your eye at Months and Years. And on that note, I pledge to get back to work on that second baby dress tonight. I spent some time this weekend hand-sewing the detailed scalloped-edge sleeves to their silk linings.... oh, it's going to be so pretty!