Monday, December 9, 2013

On cool causes, the irresistible bunny posse and the explanation for why I'm so damned strange.

I absolutely love animals, and have for all of my life.

Myself and dainty miniature horse "Little Charlie" (also my dad's
name, sans the "little") at my parents' petting farm in Southern Wisconsin.

I grew up on a farm in rural Wisconsin and though I wasn't technically born in a barn, I was pretty much crawling around in one as soon as I could scoot-- I still have a scar on my forehead from when I fell into a cow manger at age 2 or 3. My parents fostered in me a deep respect for all living things (pet the duckling gently with one finger, ayy-yae... does anyone else make that noise with their kids?), partially because they're just darn good people but also because my extended family has run a petting farm for nearly 50 years, starting with my grandparents in the 60's, and loving animals is their livelihood.

This is for real-- probably circa '94.

My brothers and I had chickens named George and Rebecca and Flossie that we would swaddle in blankets and haul around in wagons, and a goat named Pepper that would eat all of my mom's flowers and jump on the cars of anyone who visited our house-- we never quite understood why people would get so upset about that. At the age of nine or ten I was gifted an elderly pony named Herbie. I would pack a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and an actual canteen in my saddlebag (I'm not lying-- I fancied myself quite the horsewoman at that time) and we would ride off into the woods together, where I would lay out a picnic and braid dandelions into his tail and read him Laura Ingalls Wilder, which he seemed to enjoy. Somehow my mom never worried that we would get bucked off or trampled or have our eyes pecked out by hens, which looking back fills me with pride and happiness that we were so adventurous and strange, and gratefulness to my parents, that we were able to have the kind of upbringing that fosters individuality and independence and a really deep respect for all living things.

Green Meadows Petting Farm mural by Yours Truly, completed September 2013.

Anyway, the point I was getting at before my trip down memory lane is that I truly believe in the importance of kindness towards every soul, no matter how small. I also love getting involved with worthy causes and organizations, and being an artist often gives me the opportunity to become a part of something creative and wonderful and heart-warming.

One of my most recent contributions, and now one of my favorite organizations, is Tranquility Trail Animal Sanctuary in Scottsdale, Arizona. Their mission statement explains it best:

"Tranquility Trail Animal Sanctuary is a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization dedicated to the compassionate care of companion animals. At Tranquility Trail, our mission is to rescue, shelter, rehabilitate and hopefully find a forever home for every animal that finds its way to us. For those who cannot find a home, we are committed to providing a loving, nurturing and protected environment. 

We are a volunteer based organization and every donation we receive ensures that our programs sufficiently serve those animals that are lost, abused, neglected or unwanted in our community. 
We welcome every animal with loving and open arms." 

I created an original watercolor for an auction Tranquility Trail was holding this past summer to provide funds to keep the shelter going and for animal care. Happily, the original artwork sold (and started a bidding war), and because it was such a hit I decided to create some signed prints that are available for purchase as well.

Portait of Beau, Caitie, and Bilbo-- three bunnies available for 
adoption at Tranquility Trail Animal Sanctuary. Little Bilbo is a 
"special needs bunny".

Prints are 8" x 10", $30 + shipping, and $5 from each print purchased goes right back to Tranquility Trail so that they can keep doing the great work that they're doing. If you like cute bunnies playing with toys and nibbling carrots and wiggling their noses hello, I would definitely recommend following their Facebook page.

Prints are ready to ship, but need to be purchased shortly in order to allow for packaging and shipping before the holidays. I really love this organization and everything they stand for-- kindness, caring, and a sense of responsibility towards the little guys who need our help and a friendly pet or scratch behind the ears.

"3 bunnies" print on Etsy
- Green Meadows Petting Farm Facebook Page
Green Meadows Petting Farm YouTube Vid-- get your daily dose of cute here
Tranquility Trail Animal Sanctuary homepage
Tranquility Trail Facebook Page-- bunnies galore

Friday, December 6, 2013

We've had visitors in our home since the middle of November. And MY GOD, I love my friends and family, but my body just can't handle any more pepperoni calzones from DP Dough at 1am whilst drinking jugs of wine. I'm still recovering from our annual Thanksgiving day friends & family game of "two-hand touch" football, in which I was mercilessly plowed to the ground and suffered minor injuries to skull and tailbone.

'Deez Heidi Ho'z' suffered a heart-breaking defeat against the 'Coach Luckies'
on Thanksgiving day 2013.

Because we've been busy entertaining, I haven't had much time to actually create artwork, although I'm still plowing ahead with my current illustration projects and am close to completing all of the pieces I was commissioned to finish before the holidays. 

Here are the completed snarky cuttlefish, who are sold and will now be heading to Florida.

...and here are the finished cuttlefish, in color, with the addition of Grumpy Cat by an old friend (I think this really completes the entire artwork).

All I want to do tonight is put on a pair of soiled sweatpants, drink tea, and watch a marathon of The League, but I've got an art opening in Fort Colllins at the Lincoln Center. It promises to be an amazing show; I'm just being incredibly lazy.

I'm just rambling now. I'll have something more interesting to say soon.

Au revoir! 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

On illustration work, storybook time, and how cuttlefish are generally not regarded as being overly affectionate.

I've been pretty quiet on the social media art front lately for a couple of reasons. I'm finishing up a few 'surprise' commissioned pieces that must be completed before the holidays, and I'm also working on a few illustration projects that take me back to my days of sketching with ink pen. Because of the nature of these projects, unfortunately I can only divulge fun tidbits here and there.

Here are a couple of the illustrations I've been working on, for several very different projects, both of which are headed in the way of being children's books:

...and here's one I did just for fun:

"Cuttlefish are marine animals of the order Sepiida. They belong to the class Cephalopoda, which also includes squid, octopuses and nautiluses. 'Cuttle' is a reference to their unique internal shell, the cuttlebone. Despite their name, cuttlefish are not fish but molluscs." Don't be confused-- cuttlefish are not as affectionate as you might think. They're not even freaking fish. Everything about their name is a lie.

I am SO. DAMN. PUMPED. about getting back into sketching, and especially about doing illustration work for a couple of really cool projects with some really talented, fun folks. In fact, after the holiday season is over and I've finished up the commissioned projects in my queue, I think I'll be taking a little break from painting to see where this goes.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Another finished DIY project in the books-- this one was a 30-year-old lamp gifted from my boyfriend's mother, which she apparently received as her first Christmas present ever from my boyfriend's father. I love the history behind this lamp (and the fact that it has a BUILT-IN TABLE-- how convenient is that?!), but it was in rough shape, missing a shade, and needed a major spa day.

The lamp was wood, so I sanded (I used an electric sander, but that really isn't necessary) and re-painted the base (I used some leftover acrylic interior paint I had from a previous project). I had to do 3 coats for full coverage. The lampshade was a perfect find from another discarded lamp, and happened to be exactly the style I needed. I spray-painted the lampshade and with a brush added the stripes, which were intended to be rough because that is simply the style of our bedroom. I think it works well with the abstract piece to its right.

Here's our entire finished bedroom:

You can just see the tail of the "jellyfish" fixture, but because of our vaulted ceilings, it was hard to capture a photo of the entire thing. Find a full photo and the DIY instructions for the "jellyfish" here.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

On eating paleo (or the trials and tribulations of being a Wisconsin girl who gave up cheese), and the invention of "holy crap delicious cucumber salad"

I'm sure you've heard this tale time and time again and you're SICK of hearing people talk about how being gluten-free and dairy-free and eating paleo has completely recharged their energy and reinvented their lives and bodies and bowel movements, but I'm here to tell you-- it really works. It actually works.

I started noticing that I had developed some kind of errr, allergies, in accordance with food about 6 months ago. I won't go into details with my stomach issues, but something was definitely not digesting correctly. I was exhausted and cranky. I think my friends thought I was lying and was just "going through something weird" when I always wanted to go home early, but the truth was, I really felt like crap all of the time.

My boyfriend, John, and I started doing paleo about 2.5 months ago, and I'm not lying when I say I feel "real awesome", and he has lost about 15 pounds and is looking SVELTE. I was never the kind of girl that anyone would ask for help in the kitchen (I've had to Google "how to hard-boil an egg" repetitively in the absence of my boyfriend), but I've actually been having a great time coming up with paleo-friendly recipes and learning how to survive without Chinese delivery if John isn't around and I'm hungry.

I post a lot of those annoying photos of food that you hate on my Instagram, but I thought I would start including a few of my favorite recipes here, especially if it's something that I came up with or "reinvented". Cucumber salad was always one of my mom's favorite dishes when I was growing up, so I took her recipe and turned it paleo. Here it is:

"Holy crap delicious cucumber salad"

1 cup home-made mayo
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons mustard
1 Teaspoon-Tablespoon honey (depending on taste-- if you like it sweet and with less tang, add more)
2 cucumbers cut into slices

Cut, mix, refrigerate! This is an excellent side for any BBQ-themed meal, picnics, or just on a hot day when you need something refreshing. This is still one of my favorite dishes ever. :)


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

On lunchtime artist talks, making connections, and the Herculean Frank Juarez

Some time ago, I was introduced through a mutual acquaintance to Frank Juarez of the Frank Juarez Gallery in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

I can't stress enough the importance of making connections with other creative, appreciative and like-minded folks when you're an artist. It's not even about opportunities, it's about having the option to get involved and create a sounding board for ideas and projects. You need to surround yourself with folks who are going to encourage you to create and play and take risks and occasionally make dumb mistakes (but you'll recover), and they need to be able to tell you WHEN, not if, your work is shit and you need to get back to the drawing board. It helps if they can make you chuckle a bit, too. I can't tell you how thankful I am for the many artists communities I'm involved in, here in Denver, from my hometown in Milwaukee, the online artist community that is constantly Tweeting and Liking and Commenting and Posting and Giving A Thumbs Up, and other artists I've had the pleasure of making connections with both in person and through cyber correspondence. It's pretty cool.

Yesterday I had the treat of participating in Frank's monthly "lunchtime artist talk", which he holds in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Participating was myself and another artist, Jean Tobin (who is fantastic as well), who was able to be there in person whilst I Skyped in. Technology spanked us again and again as our connection kept dropping, so Frank had to pull me up on his phone so I could speak with the group of about 10 other artists who were attending the session to talk about creating work, techniques and ideas, and artist promotion. He wasn't able to record me during the original Q&A session, but we did another recording last night while I drank a glass of wine. Here is the link, if you're interested... I start at about 3:00 and blabber on for awhile.

A bit about Frank-- he's a gem. The guy is a high school art teacher, gallery owner, working artist himself, he's currently in the midst of moving studios and re-furbishing his new gallery space, he grades papers, he coordinates the Lunchtime Art Talks, he's working on a project that features a different artist each day for 365 days, he's collaboratively putting on an exhibition with working sketchbooks from artists around the country, and he dresses like a super hero. That's right, he has this Paco Libre alter-ego, who is known throughout the Sheboygan arts community and makes appearances at special events, including a performance exhibition at Vanguard Sculpture Services in Milwaukee that included one of my pieces this past summer.

If you're from Wisconsin, and especially the Sheboygan or Milwaukee area, I think it's detrimental to get to know this fine fellow. My one complaint about Frank: you just can't bitch about being too busy to him, because the guy is ALWAYS going to be working on 10 times as many projects as you are, and still have time to show an artist around the Sheboygan art scene or put on a Mexican wrestling mask and Skype ya.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

On furniture "reincarnation", or turning old crap into new beautiful crap

Since becoming obsessed with Pinterest and DIY, I have become trapped in an increasingly fast downward spiral that causes many sleepless nights, restlessly tossing and turning in my sweaty sheets, my mind frantically racing because I just have too many damn do-it-yourself projects to get started on, and not enough time.

Eventually I found myself dragging my body throughout the house on hands and knees, a trail of drool escaping from my lips, with a can of metallic spray paint, trying to find something, anything, that needed a fresh coat of paint.

Perhaps that is a bit dramatic (my best friends know that I'm occasionally willing to dramatize for the sake of an interesting yarn), but I've been recently making lots of spur-of-the-moment hardware purchases, including running to Home Depot one night at 8pm to purchase a jigsaw, so that I could cut apart an old kitchen table to make a desk (it couldn't wait until morning-- by the way, that desk looks rad. More on that later).

Yesterday I decided to take on an old dresser that was contributed to our household by my boyfriend-- the thing journeyed out here to Denver with him from Wisconsin, and despite being a well-traveled and cultured bit of furniture, it was @$$-ugly.

I wish I had taken before photos of this battered gem, but I completely forgot. Here is one of the progress though-- I was painting in the living room.

I sanded this bad boy down, and used some old paint that the 
previous house owners had left-- therefore, it cost me $0.

I used an electric sander to buff off some of the old loose paint, scratches and gouges, and went to town with some old wall paint that the previous owners had left in the closet. My original plan was to slap a couple of coats of paint on there to get 100% coverage, but I ended up really liking it with a bit of the old grey peeping through, so I only used one. Visible paint strokes are OK, they only add to the character.

Then, I used a fine-grade sandpaper (don't use a rough one-- that will leave big angry scratches) over the top. Before painting I had removed the hardware, and I spray-painted it gold and then reattached.

Here is the finished project (with one of my mixed media pieces, "Waking up with mountains in my eyes"), which now resides in the guest bedroom. I also spray-painted the champagne bottle from the house closing, which you can see on top of the dresser. 

I love it. I spent at least 30 minutes between 5 different trips into the guest room "surveying" my masterpiece last night. It's amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

I'm back, bitches, and I have spray paint.

I know I haven't posted anything on here since March, and my excuse is, well, I've been busy. I also started another blog on Tumblr (, but frankly I miss the layout here at Blogspot. 

The legit excuse for not blogging is that I have been INCREDIBLY busy. Lots of amazing opportunities regarding my art have been popping up, including invites to be included in exhibitions and shows and lots of commissioned pieces and collaborations. We also just moved this past weekend into a new (to us) fabulous house from 1897 with lots of beautiful woodwork, stained glass windows, a spiral staircase and my own amazing studio with vaulted ceilings and enough space to create and paint and cut and saw willy-nilly.

I love interior decorating and infusing a home with creativity and personality, but I've got limited monetary resources (artist problems), so I've recently fallen into the Pinterest hole and been DIYing it up. This is what I look like when I build things:


...and here is a photo of my most glorious studio:

...and today, I bring you, jellyfish hat Halloween costume turned lighting fixture:

Step 1: dress as jellyfish for Halloween, get drunk.

Step 2: attach string, hang from ceiling as permanent fixture of your home.

Here is the original link to instructions for creating this gem:

Most importantly: I'm back, baby. Watch this space for lots of new artwork, funny quips and DIY up the wazoo.

Monday, March 18, 2013

On urban gardening like a boss 15 stories up, and my reversion back to childhood

Last year, my boyfriend, John, and I started an "urban garden" on our balcony. In the middle of the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Denver, Colorado, which is close to downtown. 15 stories up.

John has been watching too much Walking Dead and is preparing for the zombie apocalypse. Me, I just like having fresh, and organically grown food, at my disposal. I hate going to the grocery store, and I REALLY hate having to run for JUST ONE THING (which generally seems to be tomatoes, because I love tomatoes). It's great being able to instead just step out on my balcony and pick one from a plant, which takes about 10 seconds and because our balcony has a 4' wall instead of bars, only requires me to be dressed from the waist up.

We're currently prepping for Urban Garden: Year II. Last Thursday and Friday were absolutely gorgeous here in Denver (although it was probably snowing upwards up a foot in the mountains), so I spent those days readying our balcony for planting. I even turned a bunch of old scrap wood (where do we store scrap wood in an apartment, you might ask? You should see our "second bedroom" which also doubles as my art studio and John's music room) into an incredibly ugly but utilitarian table (which can be seen here on the left-- it's sturdier than it looks), which serves to raise our tomato plants up to the light.

Heidi & John's balcony garden at the Denver Sky Palace: Year II

I had a small art opening on Friday, but we spent the latter part of the day-time hiking the Travois Trail above Clear Creek Canyon in Golden, Colorado, with some good friends.

Hiking the Travois Trail above Clear Creek Canyon in Golden, Colorado...
well, actually stopping for a beer break. 

While I was tramping along through the mud and snow (we were at a much higher altitude than Denver while hiking), I started thinking about how my current state of existence is a lot like life was as a child. I grew up on a farm in South-Eastern Wisconsin, and spent most of my free time (in between chores, feeding and caring for our animals, making quilts for 4-H and being awarded the prize for "Best Poultry" at the Wisconsin State Fair with my white Leghorn rooster, George) coloring, helping my mom Mavis in the garden and eating peas-in-a-pod, building things out of discarded wood from my father's shop (he owned a home remodeling business), catching salamanders out of our window wells, and roaming around in nature for hours at a time with my small orange pony, Herbie, who was a ripe 32 years old when he passed away. And my life is a lot like that now, sans salamanders, and I haven't really ridden a horse since I had a horseback riding "accident" in college that involved me falling and landing on my head, and having to crawl home a mile with a concussion (that's really another story entirely).

Small Heidi, prepping for a life as a 
creative by building a "raft".

I'm constantly building frames for canvases, cutting wooden panels (I am allowed to use a power saw now), sketching, cutting paper, painting, creating things, re-creating things, pretending to be a grown-up. I'm incredibly responsible, but I try not to stress about a-dult responsibilities... and after years of worrying about paying for college, getting good grades, working 4 jobs while taking 21 credits, how will I pay my credit cards?, ...and my rent?, .. and how is it that I work my ass off and never get ahead?, ...and am I wasting my life? WHAT AM I DOING HERE???, I've reverted back to my childhood self, and I'm furiously, madly happy.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

On being a skinny artist

No, I'm not talking about keeping a svelte figure (although I do try to get in a daily jog to burn off all of the wine and cheese that I consume). I'm talking about the Skinny Artist website, artist directory and creative community, run by the everly innovative Skinny Artist mastermind, Drew.

I've been following Skinny Artist since I got involved with social networking via my art page several years ago, and frankly, Drew is an important and respected staple in the online artist community. I swear he's around every corner I turn (or page I click), giving feedback and encouragement, posting insightful and helpful articles (one of my recent favorites: "How to become famous in three easy steps"), making connections.  For four years running now, he has also compiled a list of "21 artists to watch" from within the worldwide social network of artists 'round the globe, which includes an extensive run-down of the artist's work, accomplishments, and projects, and why he thinks they're interesting folk. It is absolutely an honor to be a part of this list, as Drew admits himself that each year he regrets having to leave out so many deserving creatives. One of the most interesting things about being featured as one of the elite 21, is that Drew doesn't notify artists that they will be included (which means he compiles all of the information himself, without conducting any interviews or asking for any help-- which I dare say, must require a great deal of research), and he doesn't even notify them after the list comes out. Artists only discover this honor when someone else contacts them with a big fat congratulations

I've been road-tripping down the Southern coast of the US for the past week with my boyfriend, John Statz, who is a folk musician, and didn't have much of a connection to the internet or what was going on with my Facebook page, the online artist community, or the rest of the whole wide world beyond stuffing my face with as much seafood as I could consume, and enjoying the sight-seeing from Panama City Beach through Alabama and into New Orleans. I was, however, able to receive a message from another artist friend here in Denver (painter Tracy Wall-- I adore her work), congratulating me...


Seriously, what an honor... this entire list is a who's-who of inspirationally ass-kicking and name-taking creative folks from around the world. Each artist's blurb is incredibly genuine, detailed and heart-felt, and I absolutely love what Drew had to say about my work ethic and process, and my work itself. I adore this bit:

"The first thing that you typically notice about Heidi’s beautiful artwork is her incredible use of color.  She has this astonishing ability to transform everyday scenes from cityscapes, cemeteries, train yards, to the I-70 highway out of Colorado into these magnificent color explosions. Her work reminds me once again that art and beauty can be found anywhere if you have the ability to see it."

He also talks about my brutally honest approach to how I reached the point I'm at now-- frustration, lack of creativity, a serious consideration of breaking my graphite pencils over my knee and throwing my easel out the window, because I had boxed myself in.
"I don’t know how many artists (and unfortunately former artists) I have met who have told me that they stopped creating art because it just wasn’t fun anymore.  Not like the I-have-to-be-happy-all-of-the-time kind of fun, but more like the I-painted-myself-into-a-box-and-now-I-can’t-escape-my-niche kind of thing.

So many creative artists, especially those who have had some commercial success, begin to feel trapped. They find themselves spiraling deeper and deeper into their little niche until eventually they are smothered beneath its weight.  Heidi, however, was one of the lucky ones.  She was able to let go of her perfectionism and had a creative renaissance."

And it's true. After I finished my undergraduate degree in fine arts, up to my neck in student loan debt, a job as an international flight attendant that took me away from home and my paints for three weeks at a time, and a lack of people who encouraged me to explore creatively, I almost quit. And every day I wake up just bleary-eyed with happiness that I found myself again.

One last thing: I believe in the importance of being a part of a creative community and creating art-- not just to channel our own dragons and release our own demons, but as an extremely important part of creating a beautiful and ever-improving society. I believe in taking time off, sleeping enough, traveling and experiencing the world as much as possible, trying new foods that seem weird, drinking great beer and sometimes wine that isn't so good, and being able to laugh at oneself because SOMETIME YOU'RE JUST SO STUPID IT'S FUNNY. I believe that life is too damn short to be unhappy, and not a millisecond of time should be wasted being miserable. As my favorite author, Tom Robbins said in his novel "Still Life with Woodpecker": "Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature."

That's why this last bit made me tear up a 'lil:

"And that’s exactly what Heidi does — she brings her personality into her work as well as her social media interactions.  You can find her almost every day on Twitter and Facebook taking the time to encourage other creative artists and share their work.  If you are lucky enough to have the opportunity to connect with Heidi online, you will quickly discover what a talented and extraordinarily nice person she is and why she’s definitely an artist we will be watching in 2013."

Bless ya, Drew. Thanks for all you do. 

Skinny Artist website (
Skinny Artist Facebook page
Skinny Artist Twitter: @skinnyartist

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

On art & taste

If you're one of those people who are splendid enough to keep up consistently with my blog, and read my post from February 11th, you'll know I'm working on a new series entitled "These walls we hide behind". Yes, it's about walls, but it's about so much more than that. It's based on a collaboration of photographs I took while tramping around Europe last fall (from France to Belgium to Germany, The Netherlands, Czech Republic, Hungary, and lastly Austria) that is intended to focus on barriers we put up (both mentally and architecturally) to keep other people out of our private lives, to hide from them our dark, distressing, and often not-so-sexy secrets. It's also about some barriers I'm breaking down for myself and my work-- being open to even more experimentation, and even working in an abstract manner in some of the pieces, which is something that is SO DIFFICULT for me to wrap my brain around. It's about letting go of control.

In that post, I was working on an abstract piece from a photograph I took while in Amsterdam, which was actually of a building just one over from the Anne Frank house. I was experimenting with some different textures here, as well as trying to build a structural foundation first and then work in an abstract manner over that. I had no idea where the piece was going, what would become of it, or if I would even keep it. And because I work in a home studio, my boyfriend (who is a creative as well, but most certainly not a visual artist) is often my only means of critique. Therefore, I decided to post it to my Facebook art page for a bit of constructive feedback.

"Rocking horse in window" - Amsterdam, The Netherlands; 
acrylic on wooden panel, 9.75" x 9.75"; 2013.

Probably because it's such a huge departure from my typical work, the responses were overwhelming. Some people loved it, and some people loathed it, and some people were just intrigued by it, but the important thing is that I was able to strike a conversation about the technical elements of the piece, while encouraging people to express what it meant to them. One woman said that she and a friend spend an hour pouring over it, finding different symbols and faces in the bricks, in the window, in the swirling colors. And it sold immediately-- first time I both completed, sold, and then packaged up a work to ship in the same day, and hopefully it won't be the last. What an amazing feeling.

I'm planning on re-creating this piece in a larger format, and executing it with more structural freedom and in cooler tones... but all in due time. Here's a sneak peak of what I'm working on now:

"As yet untitled" - Budapest, Hungary; 
acrylic on canvas; 34" x 24"

Stay tuned! 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

On my artist feature in 'Peripheral ARTeries' monthly art review

The newest issue of 'Peripheral ARTeries' art review magazine has been released, and look who's featured with a 4-page spread: Yours Truly.

Click here to read the issue: Peripheral ARTeries; February 2013

I'm on pages 18-21. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

On social networking & the giving of gifts

Speaking of the new series I'm working on, the entire concept is based upon this photograph I took at our hostel in in Budapest, Hungary, this past fall. The coverlets were a little disconcerting, but it was a magnificent old building, and we ate cheese and drank $2 wine, and for $12 a night, we were completely happy to stay there.

From this photograph, I developed this sketch:

...and from this sketch will develop the painting that my entire new series, entitled "These walls we hide behind", will be based around. Although much of the series will be completed on small wooden panels, this piece will be on stretched canvas and will be much larger than the ones I've currently been working on. That's the plan, anyway... you know how plans change.

As many of you know, I do a great deal of my business (which now allows me to work full-time as an artist, which is absolutely amazing.. to anyone that has encouraged or contributed to that, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart) via social networking. I do believe that it is extremely important for artists to pursue opportunities outside of the internet as well, such as juried shows, charity events, networking opportunities, and collaborative and solo exhibitions, but having a supportive base of followers via Facebook, Twitter, my blog and my website has allowed me to continue to sell work and prints, and negotiate commissions, even if I go through a period of time where my work is not hanging in a physical gallery. 

That's where you come in. In the past 3 days, I've gained almost eighty new followers via my Facebook page, and to celebrate this (and because I would LOVE to hit the 2k mark), I'm giving away the above sketch (valued at $75) to one lucky duck of a winner. Simply visit my Facebook page (listed above, or you can click on this link: and share the related post or a link to my page (be sure to leave a comment and let me know that you did... sometimes Facebook hides things from me, and I'm not a mind reader), and I'll throw your name into a hat. The winner will be chosen when I reach 2000 likes, however long (or short) that may take. 

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! Share away. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

On being regretfully unpleasant, not beating yourself up, and those things that are actually awesome disguised as horrible mistakes

I am, naturally, the kind of person who beats myself up over everything.

I have the ability to fly into a panic over small things like the kitten vomiting on the carpet, not having any bread, discovering a water ring on the side table, or not having any bread to make a sandwich BECAUSE I WAS SET ON HAVING A TURKEY SANDWICH FOR LUNCH. Without going into further detail, my dear sweet understanding lovable patient boyfriend will tell you that I'm very "Monica", as I hurl flames at him from my eyeballs because he left bits of lettuce on the kitchen counter or his shoes in the middle of the floor. But seriously, who does that? :)

I like having a plan, and I like when things go exactly as planned within my aforementioned plan, but as you, and me, and anyone who is living knows, that never happens. And today I thank my lucky stars for all of the things in my life that have gone horribly and tragically wrong, because it forced me, often screaming and kicking, to the place I am today-- living in a city I love, in a cozy apartment with a very supportive, talented man who loves to cook (although he doesn't like cleaning), traveling for pleasure although it can be called work technically, terrorizing our cats by dressing them in sweaters, and doing exactly what I want to be doing, which is making art, to pay my bills. I feel pretty damn lucky. 

Work in progress.

Since I made the huge transition in 2009 from working with graphite in a photo-realistic manner to a wild, crazy-lady approach, spastically painting with contour lines and lots of marks and color, my art has been about freedom. That's why I often water down my acrylics and work on a vertical canvas, which allows and encourages the paint to run down and take its course. Lately I've started using lots of texture and thick globbies of paint on top of these washes, as well. And now I'm venturing even further into the unknown by experimenting with not only color and texture, but in a very abstract way. For me, this is all about letting go of control

I'm currently working on a series from photographs I took and sketches I did while traveling for a month through Europe last year with my boyfriend on tour (; take a gander). This series is called "These walls we hide behind", and essentially focuses on architectural elements of cityscapes like windows, doors, gates, walls, keys, locks, grates, etc., that people implement to keep others out and themselves in-- how we hide our private lives and who we truly are, I suppose you could say, which is exactly how I hide the crazy. Most of these pieces are created on wooden panels which fit together. Here's the first piece I completed:

"Pink house" - Prague, CZ; acrylic on wooden panels; 
2 4.5" x 7", 1 15.5" x 12"; 2013.

..and the second: 

"Disrepair" - Budapest, Hungary; acrylic on wooden panels
 - each 9" x 13"; 2013.

...and the third piece I was working on turned into a train wreck: blood, guts, gore, the whole shebang. I was going to call it quits for the night and instead hunker down into the tub with water up to my nose and a thermos of wine, so I wiped the goop off of the two small panels I was working on, and something amazing happened. The piece was completely transformed.

I always blow-dry my pieces between layers and colors, because I like to work on a dry surface and I am terribly and incredibly impatient. I did this, and then re-worked the piece paying more attention to color and texture, playing up the imperfections rather than trying to change them. This is the end result: 

"Stairwell" - Prague, CZ; acrylic on wooden panels
 - each 3.75" x 6"; 2013.

It's one of my favorite pieces that I've ever created-- not because it's the most beautiful, or technically correct, or even most interesting, but because I allowed myself to just be wrong and accepted it. I'm trying to apply this theory to even more things, actually everything else, in my life now-- although I'm not sure I'll ever be able to focus on getting into my studio and painting if the blanket that sits over the back of the couch isn't folded, or there's dishes in the sink. ;)

Work in progress.

And not every piece is going to be a masterpiece. This one, I'm not sure where it's going to go.. perhaps it will end up being painted over and reincarnated as a pet portrait, but the important thing is that I'm forcing myself to continue growing and experimenting with my work, which incidentally encourages me to grow as a person, and one day, maybe one day.. I'll be less OCD. 

“One must spoil as many canvases as one succeeds with.” —Vincent van Gogh, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, November 26, 1889, to Theo van Gogh

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

"Why haven't you written?" (playing catch-up: cats, making art, demons, and other things that are fun)

My new blog looks awesome. No, I'm not tooting my own horn; it was renovated for me by web-designing, erotic-novel-writing, Amazon-best-selling, big-hair-sporting, wine-spilling, Fireball-whiskey-drinking, obese-cat-loving, mustache-obsessing, cute-frock-wearing, dear friend Jessica Manuszak (check out her website, by the way.. it's out of this world). Why have I been away, you might ask? I was bashful of my blog. The color scheme was awful, the text was repugnant, and I don't know how to code. I can now put on my fancy new patent-leather shoes and red lipstick, stick a thermos of wine and a couple of bananas in my backpack, and go out into this big wide world and blog without shame.

No, really... I just got busy, and I know that's a horrible excuse, but my life has become ridiculously, obnoxiously fun. Since I last blogged on September 13th:

Part of a new series I started from my travels in Europe
entitled "These walls we hide behind"; acrylic on 3 canvas panels.

I flew, bussed and train-ed my way across Europe for a month with my adorable musician boyfriend, my camera, and my sketchbook; started selling artwork like it's my job (which it is. Oh my god, it is!); created dozens of new pieces, both commissioned and otherwise (I now have a 6-month wait list for commissioned works-- imagine that); had work in several exhibitions, charity events and galleries around the country; learned how to make my own boxes for large, obnoxious pieces of artwork; spent a Saturday watching a marathon of Law & Order: SVU until I was afraid to leave my home; applied for a dozen juried exhibitions and residencies (some of which were fruitful, some of which were not, and some of which I'm still waiting for a verdict on); started selling signed giclee prints of several pieces of work through both my Facebook page and my Etsy store, and am running to the post office every other day to ship orders; traveled to the Bahamas with my best friend on a drunken booze cruise and consumed my body weight in free Bud Lite; ate at least thirty brats; ran a hundred miles to get those damn brats and Bud Lites off my ass; consumed hundreds of glasses of boxed wine; drove halfway and back across the country; celebrated countless happy hours and 2-for-1 drink specials with my friends, just because; cleaned out my refrigerator; organized four exhibitions at the small sassy gallery I work at; drank more sake at i-Sushi than I believed humanly possible on several occasions; and adopted the cutest darn kitten you've ever seen-- baby Olive, both the light of my life and the bane of my existence:

Oh my god, just look at her. She's so damn cute. Look again. 

Here she is, 'helping' me in my studio.

And here she is, suffering with mom and dad through a Sunday hangover. 

..but most of all, crazily, unbelievably, I've started making a living creating art. I've been working my hiney off, but I've been having utterly, ridiculously, so much fun in my life. Why? Because I actually am completely passionate about what I'm doing. I took a risk and crawled out of an emotionally draining, soul-sucking 9-to-5 hellhole and started doing what I love. I built myself a sticky spider net of the most amazing, supportive, and hilarious people in the whole wide world. I started saying yes to things I thought I didn't have time for (excepting this blog. Sorry). I cut people out of my life that made me feel mad, or dejected, or simply had nothing positive to say (goodbye, Facebook bigots-- I'll be speaking to you never, although it may be awkward when we run into each other in person in the cereal section at the grocery store after I've deleted you). I started smiling at homeless people (last night a homeless gentleman, assumedly not in his correct mind, called me a "demon mother-****er for this, which was not an expected response but entirely appreciated for the laugh). I started a "thankful jar", which is a pickle jar that sits on my bed stand-- every morning, I write down some thing that I'm thankful for on a slip of paper and pop it in the jar. This serves two purposes: I wake up every morning on the right side of the bed because I force myself to give a bit of thanks for anything, large or small, in my life, and I wake up every morning smelling pickles. I stopped worrying about what would happen if I failed at my dreams, was evicted from my apartment and had to join those same bums in the park and drink a 40 from a paper bag. And somehow... things just started to fall into place.

I don't want to blather on and on and on. I only wanted to say, I'm back. And I'm excited about what's going down this year.


..and thank you, thank you, thank you. To everyone that supports my work, reads this blog, makes me laugh, gives me chocolate, drinks a beer with me. I love you.

Also, mad props to Ashley at The Middle Finger Project for being, hands-down, the best ass-kickingly inspirational blog out there for entrepreneurs. As I told her, I just want to pinch her cheeks and then buy her a shot. Get gutsy, people.