no woman is an island

Maria sends an email… I will be back in town next week and was wondering if you have any of your work on exhibit right now. We have friends coming into town for a few days and I’m thinking of things for us to do. So if you were showing somewhere I would love to take our friends. One of them is an artist herself.

I invite Maria, Susan and Laura to come to my studio.

As you might expect  anatomy study surrounds us. We talk the body for a good while. Laura personally relates to the newest kidney drawing sitting on my table. Susan wants to know about materials – the paint and paper.  I understand she has worked in woodcut and now does linocut.

Do you have any prints, she wonders. This question always confuses me. Do people mean a reproduction like a giclée or poster? Or do they mean an original print? I’m a printmaker. I stumble with the words … I have real prints, I say.

Maria wants to know about one particular small print. I’ve only thought about anatomy lately so I have to stop, change focus and think … considering the content of the work, I find it amusing. I can tell Susan and Laura do too.

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Self-Sustaining Confusion, MM – Collage and hand-painted print, 12 x 10″

Here it is, in a nutshell:
The title – Self-Sustaining Confusion – I find in physicist David Bohm’s book On Creativity. I write the phrase on a piece of paper and leave it on my work table. Weeks pass and one day the rest of the composition formulates while I listen to NPR.  A scientist talks about the brain chemistry at various stages of awareness (or lack of) and I hear things like 69 unfolded proteins and limited real-estate in the brain. And that’s that, I pull out a piece of copper and start drawing.

We talk printmaking and intaglio. This is a dry point.  I use a sharp-pointed tool to  scratch the image directly on a copper-plate (I love copper!). Can you see it? ↓ The process of both printmaking and collage tend to free me up, work flows more stream of consciousness.

About this print in particular – If I recall correctly I pull 15 prints, only 7 of them are worth saving. In general the drypoint technique won’t allow for too many pulls, the marks are too irregular.

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copper plate with drawing on it

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a few pulls of the print

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Each image varies slightly. This one is the first image I collage and paint in the series of 7.

We talk about California (where they are from), the ocean, and the desert. We discuss raising chickens (I learn some things) and having fresh eggs (Susan does).  Of course I bring up making  egg tempera paint. They leave my home with plans to visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s (Taliesin West).

Ladies, I appreciate our morning together. Thank you Susan for wanting to take home Self-Sustaining Confusion. It’s the last one of that series. Enjoy it!

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The blog posts titled No Woman is an Island acknowledge the people and/or organizations who support me and the work I do.

string

According to String Theory, what appears to be empty space is actually a tumultuous ocean of strings vibrating at the precise frequencies that create the 4 dimensions you and I call height, width, depth and time.
Roy H. Williams

st

Space, as of recent I feel like utilizing more and more. The challenge is the physical space around my work won’t always be the same. I’ll only have so much control over what I can and can’t do.

Today – lines want to move out into a bit of space. I spend the day drawing lines and laying out string. I enjoy it, it’s quieting. I think about fibrous tissue, and energetic line – two different things.

I’m not the first person to want to take a line off a surface, nor am I the first artist who wants to control space – maybe on some level we all want that. I don’t know.

It’s all just a thought now. Let’s see how things plays out.

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3 sheets of prepared paper, 2 sides to each sheet – 1 bird, 4 cats and 1 rodent

“For thirty years people have been asking me how I reconcile X with Y! The truthful answer is that I don’t. Everything about me is a contradiction and so is everything about everybody else. We are made out of oppositions; we live between two poles. There is a philistine and an aesthete in all of us, and a murderer and a saint. You don’t reconcile the poles. You just recognize them.”    – Orson Welles (1915 – 1985)


I never liked this first set of 2 cats that I painted. I thought them too sweet. Yesterday I was talking to a friend about polarities, after that conversation I knew exactly what I wanted to do to these small compositions that I was struggling with. It’s the same cat on the front and on the back, taking up the same area on the paper. Maybe I call it Two Sides to Every Story.

As of now, this first one is my favorite. It’s organic. It came to be, out of uncertainty. The cat itself is somewhat modeled after ROA’s work. I set up the skeleton in egg tempera and the cat in graphite, underneath is casein muscle structure. The background came about while I was trying to obliterate it.

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mixed media – casein, graphite, gesso, egg tempera

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early stage, casein under-paint

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early stage, egg tempera

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egg tempera

I guess I let go of the self-imposed set up, the idea of one side in pure casein and one side in pure egg tempera wasn’t working. I got another set of designs (below) and reworked them too. The graphite took so well to the prepared paper, how could I not use it. I brought in hard and soft pencils, an eraser, sand paper, a scratching tool, and gesso. And I mixed the casein and egg yolk. The cat above and the rat below, are pure and painterly egg temperas. But their other sides – mixed-media.

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egg tempera

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mixed media – casein, egg tempera, gesso and graphite

I began all this the first week of May after Carolyn brought me a sheet of prepared paper. The first 2 images in this post are that sheet, it’s the lightest in weight and the most flexible and was the most precious. I was going to paint cats – for the fun of it. Obviously I enjoyed the surface of the paper, and all the mediums. I pulled out all my longer and softer paintbrushes. I painted.

3 sheets of prepared paper – 1 bird, 4 cats and 1 rodent later, my studio is a mess. It’s too hot to have egg yolk lying around, it smells. I’m done for now with the experimenting, drawing a day or a week, thing. Time to pause, look – and reorganize.

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once again…egg tempera

Somebody asked me about egg tempera this week…always happy to talk about my materials. You only need three ingredients to make the paint.

Dry Pigment


Egg yolk

* Want to know how to separate the egg yolk from the egg white?  Click here and  watch my exciting play-by-play video. Its sure to have you on the edge of your seat.

Water

If  you want to read a bit more on history and my process, click on an earlier post about my materials, including egg tempera titled:  egg and milk

what goes on and what takes place…my turn

The artist Monica Aissa Martinez (that would be me…)

Awkward. Doing it anyway.

Materials
←In my hand is a jar of cadmium red dry pigment.  I’ve had it since grad school.  Good quality pigments go a long way. I mix dry pigment with egg yolk, and make my own egg tempera. I give the how to, plus a bit of history, both mine and its, in an early post. I write about my framer who once gave me a duck egg, and an ostrich egg (gag) to try out.  And I tell you about my other favorite medium, Casein, yes…the protein. For more about my choice materials click → a little egg, a little milk.

And even though I use paint, brushes and canvas, I identify myself as someone who draws.  It may have something to do with the fact that I never took a painting class. And I teach drawing. Or it may have to do with the fact that I use line, and connect the ends to make shapes. Then I fill in with more line. I wrote about this too → Notes on Drawing and Painting.

My other materials are drawing supplies…pencil color, artist crayon, graphite and large rolls of Arches paper, along with smooth sheets of BFK rag (drawing and printing paper).

The Studio

Well come in…

My messy bookshelf…I bought it at least 20 years ago, from an estate sale in El Paso, for all of $12.00.  It’s crossed 3 state borders, it holds books and special stuff. Best investment I ever made. Books…reading…influence my daily work.  I get an idea from an event: personal or social…react, research, paint. Curiosity. Why do we/people/society/I do the things we/I do?  Who? What? and Why?…read, write, draw…reread, rewrite, redraw. Realize.

Current reading material Rollo May’s, The Courage to Create. So I’m interested in creativity.  I do wonder if there is any originality anymore?  Does something mean anything?  Is anything sacred? The media would have you think not.  I beg to differ.

The Work
I’ve written about my current work as it presents itself, take a quick view if you’re inclined. If you’re not…no fret, see the work in its completed stage next February.

The idea presents itself.

It continues.

Grounding down.

More grounding.

The trunk.

If you did look…fyi…it’s all completely different now.  No, the whole design is not resolved. It’s being finessed. And retitled. I’ll hold that info for a later date.
One of the things that I do most of the time, is make more than one of everything. I work things just a bit different in each instance, I want to know my options before I commit. This is probably how one new work evolves into a series, in my case.

Back to What Goes On and What Takes Place. ↓

In some larger way this is all about where we stand as creative creatures (and/or destructive).  In this case, we choose to create for the good of all of us. The creativity is in the form of a visual, an evolving idea, community, slow but steady progress, a process, a give and take that’s natural, mutually respectful, and consists of continual interaction. Given the political culture these days, I’m sure there’s a societal lesson in here somewhere.

4 different woman…

Mary, who works with our dessert landscape, organic matter, and new media.  →Myself, who draws and paints the human figure with egg and milk. →Carolyn, who connects to (and connects us to) animals thru her graphite.  And →Sue, who takes all these subjects and more, and freely and deliberately abstracts them

…step out of their comfort zone, to work and share, and create a new experience for themselves and for you, the audience.

WHAT: WHAT GOES ON AND WHAT TAKES PLACE

WHERE: MODIFIED ARTS

WHEN: FEB 18TH – MARCH 12TH, ART DETOUR

WHO: CAROLYN LAVENDER, MARY SHINDELL, SUE CHENOWETH, MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

We’ll continue to share process and progress here, as it feels right to do so.

I don’t want to forget the various other creative forcesinvolved: →Kim Larkin and →Adam Murray, who offer the exhibition venue, →Modified.
And The →Ted Decker Catalyst Fund. The Catalyst Fund will support documentation and marketing materials. (Take a moment to click on the link, and look at the faces of all variety of creative people the fund has supported.)

To see a quick listing of the all the posts connected to this exhibit, go to → Modified’ upcoming exhibition page.

You can catch more of my work…
Now, at the Mesa Art Center, The Store (prints).

August, An Invitational group exhibition titled, →Converging Trajectories: Crossing Borders to Build Bridges, curator: Ted G. Decker.
Fall 2010, a solo titled, Works. Central Arizona College, in the Visual Arts Gallery.

↓if you missed them, continue on to the previous 3 posts…to see each artists studio, materials and workings↓ or click on their names above↑

what goes on and what takes place, the fourth artist

The artist Sue Chenoweth

Sue introduced herself to me years ago, at an opening. She came in early, shook my hand, and delivered thoughtful commentary about my work. Generous. I knew who she was because people had pointed out her work to me.

I connect to her use of color, the way she fills (2D) space, her use of line, her media and recognizable abstractions. I especially appreciate a quality of freedom she represents. This freedom of composition is uniquely Sue’s.

Right Now
Sue’s work is currently filling up space at SMoCA. The exhibition runs through September. It’s an innovative concept which has her art hanging alongside some of the museums permanent works, in an installation titled, Spyhopping: Adventure with Sue Chenoweth. Intelligent and fun, stimulating to eyes and mind.

Skyhopping Exhibit

Skyhopping Exhibit

The Exhibition / What Goes On and What Takes Place
Sue brings lots of energy to our project. Natural, honest, active and reactive. If she doesn’t know what to do…she says so. When an idea comes forth, she shares it enthusiastically.  I wonder if she might paint this way too. I respect her nature…creative, and in the moment.  She has plenty of ideas for the upcoming Art Detour weekend, and how we might interact with Modified visitors.

When she’s not making art, she’s teaching at Metro Arts, or at Phoenix College. She’s in the middle of moving, when the four of us meet for dinner, to discuss working together.

Not unlike the rest of us, she has a home studio. I love it here, she says.  I must  have my studio at home because I work in little spurts… all day long.  5 minutes here…half hour there… I keep it going all the time, that way I get things finished and have an ongoing  relationship with the work.  It Becomes my days.

I feel the same way. I wonder about Carolyn and Mary.  There are pros and cons to having a home studio.

…some photos of her variety of materials and her new studio space.

I ask about the doll house. The doll houses were in an installation called ‘Hold your Cards’ I had at eye lounge a long time ago.  I ordered them off e-bay.  It is funny how I coveted a metal dollhouse like the one I had as a kid and then got a BUNCH of them.

Both Sue and Carolyn were present at the start of eye lounge. She says of the experience, I was not in the very first show, but became a member when they moved into the Roosevelt space.  I was a member with all the original members though.  It was a great group.  I feel honored to be a part of the beginning. I had the very first show in the new building.  I don’t think there was anyone in the east gallery.

At our meetings, Sue expresses she has no idea what she’ll be doing for the exhibit. I jot her words into the upper right hand corner of my paperwork. Unknown to me, Mary photographs the notes. The photo amuses me. Why did this strike me  as something to capture? Because truly, this is the artists dilemma, we don’t know, until we do…know. It’s also the human dilemma.

I imagine Sue will wait to begin working, because some pressure appeals to her. Consequently I don’t expect to get an image of a work in progress anytime soon. But I do!

I have NO IDEA what this painting will be. I just know it is the start of a new series, but also closely relating and advancing on the last Spyhopping series of paintings. I never ever show this early stage of a painting so this is a rare glimpse into the underpinnings of my work.

…one more thing about each of us…we’ve chosen to document our process and make it a part of the exhibition…though we wouldn’t normally do this…rare glimpse sounds about right.

New Work

She continues…I try to make each layer just as good as the last, so as one peers into a work, it works all the way through. This one is a bit rough yet. No under painting. Landscape that is real but not real. Fragments of life and process showing what it is like to live in our world.

 

close up detail

I ask about her materials. She answers quick… All gouache on paper SO FAR.
Working title? I have no title yet. Size? This is just a starting place. The overall painting (on paper) will be 48″ x 50″.

…I only get starting places to begin…. I have been affected by the oil spill but do not want to make paintings about drippy birds etc. I know the oil spill is the beginning. I am looking at artists Neo Rauch and Thomas Hart Benton. Regionalism and in a way Hieratic scale with Benton..Maybe that is the wrong word to use, but it fits for me. I am also looking at the mosaics of Ravena which I often refer back to them. I like the way color shifts in the mosaics. I am trying to paint like that in places in my painting. There is another fresco that I find interesting and that is at the Basilica S.M. Novella in Florence Italy. Called the ‘Allegory of the Church’ the details of ‘Vices and other sins.” Love the way the different scenes are partitioned off so it looks a bit like a doll house.

While I’m completing this post I receive an email from Sue….For the show I  think I am going to make vacuum formed mountains like model railroad mountains but about 19 inches tall.  Some way smaller.  They would sit on the ground as if they are peeking out of the sea.
Another email follows shortly...It is just an idea.  I have to see where I can have these made and IF I can have them made. I am so so glad that we have until Feb to finish the work.

It’s all just an idea;thought takes on form, and becomes experience. Interaction follows. It’s what art making is all about.

We hope through the documenting and sharing of our individual process, you get a sense of all that may be involved in art making. Creating the whole exhibit, is a collaborative project.  Exhibitions will overlap, work succeeds, work fails, visits to the art store, the frame shop (me), the printer (Mary), the mountain maker (Sue)… Life keeps getting lived, gardens get tended (Carolyn), studios get dirty and cleaned, photographs get taken, discussions keep being had, agreements, maybe disagreements, thinking, rethinking, writing, sketching, working and reworking, details come and go…

This is an idea in motion, generated by four women artists.

WHAT: WHAT GOES ON AND WHAT TAKES PLACE

WHERE: MODIFIED ARTS

WHEN: FEB 18TH – MARCH 12TH, ART DETOUR

WHO: CAROLYN LAVENDER, MARY SHINDELL, SUE CHENOWETH, MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

I’ll sum this up next time.  I hope to include my work in the mix. Come back.

Click here to visit Sue’s website.
Read the New Times review of  Spyhopping: Adventures with Sue Chenoweth” at SMoCA Proves Life Is Just a Game

*Sue Chenoweth will be giving a Hands-On  Workshop at SMoCA, on July 1st.  For more info check their website.

Modified Arts.Org

 

what goes on and what takes place…and another artist revealed

The artist Mary Shindell

Don’t even know where to begin writing. Let me warm up.
I met Mary in 2005. We had solo’s in the same month. We got together to stuff envelopes for a joint mailing. She dropped into my exhibit, and I dropped into hers. high above the, was the name of her show. Mary’s not only a current member, but also a founding member of  Five15. Her exhibition consisted of a series of mixed media drawings of Sonoran Cacti. I recall being completely taken in by the drawing. I returned several times to take in all the intricate, meticulously rendered detail, of her Saguaro’s. I knew instinctively, she was also a Printmaker.

Mary draws, makes prints and then some…

It was while visiting her most recent solo, that I realized I wanted Mary to be a part of this project. Initially, the idea was 3 artists, a triad. Mary would make it a 4-person exhibit, a square. What caught my attention… line quality, texture, engaging structure, use of material, and intensity in process. Her use of new media, computer generated imagery and LED lighting, was added engagement. I’d spent the better part of that Saturday afternoon last January, talking to Mary about her process. She’d experienced challenges in both the creating, and the installing of the work. Her husband Rick (Is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon. He’s made stainless steel benches and tables for some of the galleries. He also rebuilds classic cars…the latter, is my husbands input…) helped her to design stands for her sculpture, her son helped her with electrical wiring, various tech’s helped her with the fiber optics, and others with the printing. Mary had problems, solutions followed, sometimes creating other problems, for more solution. I remember thinking…it really does take a village.

No woman is an island. Mary works well in solitary mode, and clearly, with other people too. I admire this.  The artist is an intricate part of the community, and vise-versa.

Afterwards, I spoke to Carolyn. She was more than receptive. She talked about feeling a kinship to Mary, from her work in the local art scene, to her teaching residencies, and art making. The grouping of 4 women artist, for our project, was now complete.
Note: Yes, She is the 3rd artist I tell you about, but she is the 4th one to have come on board.

The Sonoran desert-scape is Mary’s most obvious influence. Right now the plan is 2D  and 3D work for this group exhibit. I’m drawn to the attention she gives her drawing, in its entirety. She sees, she puts down! Again, as I’d noted in Carolyn’s work, with Mary’s too, there is a quality to the mark making and a connection to time.   Her 3D work intrigues me not only because of the new media, but also as you’ll see, it’s a direct evolution of her drawing process.

Mary’s process focused in traditional drawing technique.  About the computer influence she comments,  I was seeking a method to assist in the design and production of large public art projects, I set about learning to draw digitally. The vector lines were so fluid and the potential for manipulation and combination so vast that I began devising ways to use the digital imagery in my studio work.

Her studio contains both a drawing area and a digital workspace.

In a not too surprising detailed manner, she talks about materials and gives us a peek into her process. Here goes…

Her materials, traditional in general are acrylic, ink, graphite, pastel and  (BFK) paper. In new tradition, add in a digital pen, a scanner, and scanned photos and drawings,  the occasional LED light and occasional use of styrene.

Note: In photo below, a CD in the lower left corner, on the cart. Remember our dinner meeting? (click here if you don’t) We all discussed music as a necessary studio element. Mary and I both listen to Leonard Cohen in particular ( of course…I’ve written about him too).

Mary mentions things she saves. The photo above is her used pen tips. These are like trophies, she says, I wear them out making little marks and I keep them around as evidence of my work.
I get this, I save all my used paintbrushes and the last bits of my drawing pencils.

About this photo she explains,  I am spraying symbols that I have made from Carolyn’s (Lavender)garden. Graphic designers use clip art or vector graphics to make symbols, mapmakers use them a lot. I cut up scans of my drawings and photos to make symbols. I can have hand drawn imagery in my digital pieces, it makes them more like drawings for me and puts the drawing in a new , less precious format.


…a few material/ process photos…


I ask Mary about the pretty glove in this photo. …my ‘pretty glove’ is something I wear to protect the outside of my hand on the Wacom Tablet. It is hard plastic and after a few hours it hurts, I can also slide on the tablet better with the glove on-I also use it when I am drawing on paper for long periods of time although I never had to use a glove when I only worked on paper so I think it is the plastic tablet that is causing the problem.


This is scrap from cutting out ink jet printed objects, and a Bougainvillea flower, that didn’t make the cut.

Finishing up our process and materials conversation she adds…But I still love the precious so I work on the drawing board on BFK with graphite etc, in a way I feel like I can spend more time on the hand drawn imagery. I didn’t feel that way at the beginning of mixing the two processes.

And so it continues…what more is in this file Mary?
Mixing the two processes…it’s part of her plan for this collaborative exhibition. Come and see what she finely generates.

WHAT: WHAT GOES ON AND WHAT TAKES PLACE

WHERE: MODIFIED ARTS

WHEN: FEB 18TH -MARCH 12TH ART DETOUR

WHO: CAROLYN LAVENDER, MARY SHINDELL, MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ, and one more other.

Stay tuned. One more artist reveal on the way.

Some links below…
Mary Shindell Portfoilio
Five15, Mary Shindell
One final note…Mary Shindell voted #89 of our top 100 artists by The Phoenix New Times. Click here for article.

Modified Arts.Org