gut. brain.

What do you visualize when you read the phrase Gut-Brain Axis? Or Brain-Gut Connection?

I picture very active brains communicating with very active intestines. Or is it the other way around? Both. It’s a two-way, busy connect especially when you consider the wandering nerve, aka, the vagus nerve. Think: 2-way, information highway. The vagus nerves are paired cranial nerves (CN X) and happen to be my favorite of all the nerves.  Because it is the longest nerve in the body it moves alongside heart and lungs and goes through all the organs of the digestive tract, connecting brain to gut.

I enjoy the challenge of capturing Veronica’s likeness while I work her profile.  I organize and sketch in the brain. The small area of my drawing is detailed into a collaged map of El Paso,TX,  where my cousin lives.

I have fun with the photo ↑ and strategically place color pencils to direct attention to the brainstem, the area of the brain I am working to understand.  I imagine the space to be like a facility loaded with chemicals and chemical messengers / hormones and neurotransmitters. Think: Food intake. Signals and controls. Many and complex. (FYI – purple pencil points to vagus nerve start.)

Some of the hormones involved include adipoectin (a protein hormone that modulates glucose regulation and fatty acid oxidation), and leptin (made by fat cells and decreases appetite).

Veronica, during our initial conversation, noted ghrelin. Ghrelin is a hormone that stimulates appetite. If I understand correctly, it is primarily released in the stomach and signals hunger to the brain. It also plays a role in determining how quickly hunger returns after a meal. And it promotes fat storage. After my surgery, she says, no more ghrelin. No more! What does this mean?  Forever? I ask.  I don’t know, she answers. And now you eat because??
I must live!
Ah…survival!

Side note: The hormones that play a role in obesity, do they also play a role in anorexia?

I haven’t brought the microbiome in yet. But I will. Now when I hear gut-brain, I also think of microbes.  FYI…they can influence hunger and satiety.

Anyway…I’m still laying ground work…which is both complicated to figure out and complicated to draw. Both my brain and my hands are keeping busy.

One more thing…
In early posts I highlight the brown adipose tissue (BAT) and the white adipose tissue (WAT). Now I study and set in subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) located under the skin and visceral adipose tissue (VAT).

In the image above, ↑ I enhance (darker area) the greater omentum (cool name! for an organ) , an example of VAT. It looks like lace, doesn’t it?  This apron of fatty tissue, connective tissue and lymphatics,  comes down from the stomach and stretches over the intestines. The greater omentum, aka, Policeman of the abdomen, might just be the first line of defense against toxins or infections (microbes).

BTW…yes, there is also a lesser omentum…

Meanwhile… drawing circles/making connections.


Keeping a note:
Amylin is a hormone, co-stored and co-secreted with insulin in response to nutrients. It promotes satiety by mediating brain function, including appetite inhibition.

Amylin also plays a role in neural regeneration. It helps regulate glucose metabolism and modulates inflammation. I pull it aside and note it here because of a possible link to Alzheimer’s Disease (Type II Diabetes).

¿rata o ratón?

The best laid schemes of mice and men
Often go awry.     – John Steinbeck


I was not comfortable with the research phase of this composition. And now that I am almost done, I wish I’d painted an alive looking rodent (as opposed to a dead looking one). I loved discovering the small clavicles, the little shoulder blades. and the delicate rib cage.

IMG_4213

Every summer I make time, usually 5 consecutive days, to complete one small composition a day. I work from morning to evening.  I like the intense practice that gives way to  creative solutions. I never know how things will turn out, but I determine to complete a composition that balances and appeals to my eye – and to do so rather quickly. By the end of the week, I have a series of little artworks.

In summer’s past I’ve printed, drawn, and done collage. This time I paint. It’s not a week of work though, it’s going on over a month at this point. I will have 6 small paintings on paper instead of 5. I am working steady and quick but this particular time the process requires a different pace.

It’s varies because I am working a bit larger than usual. I work the front and back of a prepared sheet of paper.  The images on each side connect, and I’ve decided material and color have to compliment. I make the egg tempera palette a little different for each panel. Drying time is part of every step. The running themes are the cat (or connection to a cat) and anatomy study, the latter requires research. Consequently I need more than a day to complete an image.

Today I’ve completed a rodent. Never confident the composition would work, I decide today I like the direction it’s taking.  The image at the top of the post is the casein under-painting. I finish below – with egg tempera. I planned to only make 6, I need the other side of this paper to complete that intention. But it’s possible I may continue and finish a few more, the challenge appeals to me.

IMG_4216


Common House Mouse (Mus Musculus)
Black Rat (Rattus Rattus)
Brown Rat (Rattus Norvegicus)

FYI – Rodents get their name from the Latin – rodere – to gnaw …

rodent.jpg

his – nothing in stasis

I’ve completed a set of His and Hers pelvic girdles. The works are studies, abstracted and detailed, 13″ x 13″,  casein on canvas paintings.

The composition begins very simple and then gets very complex…. there’s a lesson in here somewhere.

I hope these works in some small way cause you to take care – of yourself and our world. We are so intricately connected.

Below is a very short video I put together showing various process steps in of the making of His. It’s less than 2 minutes long, and it shows the work in its accurate color. I posted these black and whites, because I really like the detail that shows up. And because I am considering something to display them this way as well.

To see read about Hers and access the video link → click here.

days of drawing – the back body

A sheet of fine drawing paper on the easel,
graphite, water, brushes, and tubes of paint,
two slow days on the sketch.
Process.

Even – spaced, repetitive- ribs are,
shoulder blades, pelvis bones, kidneys  – mirror,
though not exactly symmetrical, nothing is.
Process.

Days leave marks – many,
erase, move, add and subtract,
pushing and pulling, drawing in and drawing out.
Process.

bones, art, and other things interesting

My work allows me many opportunities. Take these photos for instance …

On my last dental visit I conversed (albeit awkward) with Melissa, the dental hygienist who cleans my teeth. She asked what I did for a living. What sort of subject-matter do you draw? When I told her, she wondered if I might like a copy of my x-rays.
Well….yeah.
She pulled them up again,  identified details, gave me extra info about teeth, nerves, and pointed out the sinuses.  The string-like shapes fascinate me. The head and neck areas are really interesting, she noted.

When the dentist came in he told me about the varying structure of the tissues of the body. He expressed the value in drawing for the purpose of learning.  He’s correct, I know.

A few years back, I was invited to the Barrows Neurological Institute, here in Phoenix.
It was a turning point for my work.  I saw slides of fluid and body … stuff. Things appeared as solid black ground, with bright shapes and strings floating through it.  I learned that the bright colors were not natural. They were injected ink, so one could see the matter: cells, both good and bad, and yes … cancer. They appeared as worlds of silence and wonder, what I might imagine outer space like.

While there I ran into someone else I knew. She invited me into her lab and showed me DNA sequence.

Since then I’ve purchased many anatomy books and taken anatomy classes. I’ve really looked at and studied the body and it’s parts (both eastern and western studies).  It’s not a machine which I sometimes liken it to…it’s soft, vulnerable, intricate working and so perfect in its design.

Who created this? – I still wonder.

Today I am in Dr. Richard Shindell’s office. He is a leading valley Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon. He’s married to artist Mary Shindell.  To say Rick’s an interesting guy, is an understatement. They met in art school of all places. I can tell you about furniture he’s built for the Roosevelt Row galleries. My husband can tell you about the hot rod cars Rick builds.  Here – go to his website bio –  and read about him yourself. His talents are many. He’s a fine surgeon and quite respected.

I’m here to see x-ray light boxes he has available for sale.

Mary takes me through the office.  The rooms are full of art.  The waiting room has a
Roy Wasson Valle print (you know…Fuzzy Balls) in it. A Shindell in the background. Patient rooms are brightly colored and filled with original works.

I need to focus. And I sort of do – in what appears to be the x-ray room.

I’ve considered painting the back body.  I’m not certain it’s visually all that interesting. Mary disagrees. She shows me these framed x-rays. They catch my attention. The spinal column holds great visual rhythm.  The kidneys show up from behind, quiet and subtle.

Rick’s office holds extraordinary things.  Though, not so extraordinary if you work with the bones of the body.

I see the feet and I think of being grounded and having support.  I want to do a drawing focusing on that stuff.

How many people do you know, that have a pelvic girdle sitting on their desk?  I want it.  The pelvis has such elegant contour, and holds beautiful form.

After all the visual stimulation…we get to the light boxes.  That’s why I’m here after-all. They’re cool. I’ll plan to have a bit more of that part of the visit in our [Creature, Man and Nature] blog.  Right now…I have to file this afternoon into my brain. It’s too valuable.

In the midst of all this, Mary and I see a collaborative opportunity. We need to see what Carolyn thinks.

Thanks Mary.  Thanks Rick.

a sketch

Sketch ( from Greek σχέδιος – schedios, “done extempore”) is a rapidly executed free-hand drawing that is not intended as a finished work.

Studio visit.  Curator drew out this sketch.
Will revisit this photo in September to see how close to the real thing we got.

milagros

kidneys in solar plexus area

I research a long time, before and during my painting and drawing work. I’ve shared lots of that with you.  I sort of traverse time and space looking at both ancient and modern culture. I’ve studied pagan ritual, yogic practices, and various Christian religions, and specifically Catholic symbols and rites.  The latter is most familiar to me, because it’s part of my personal history. I am still drawn to rituals of Catholicism, especially those mixed in with the Native (US and Mexican) Indigenous Peoples.

I’m working/reworking the life-size figure/self portrait…painting I thought I’d completed, for next month. Today I redid the entire solar plexus area of the composition, yet again. The whole area is slightly off and it bugs me. I’d been working on small sketches of body organs and was realizing more and more, the large figure’s anatomy is off in some places.   Though I lean towards abstraction in general, cause I don’t want realism. Right now, I do want precision because human anatomy in its simplicity and complexity is pretty wonderful. It really is like a little miracle.

While re-working the kidneys this afternoon, I’m reminded of milagros (Spanish for miracles). Milagros are small religious charms, used in Mexico and other areas of Latin America. They serve to petition saints for guidance, help and protection. Milagros are made in many symbolic forms, from ears and eyes, legs and arms to angels and animals. These religious charms get tacked on to the surface of altars and statues of saints, crosses…etc. They act as prayer reminders or as thanks to a particular saint for prayers answered.

I have a few wooden crosses with many milagros attached to them.  Here are a pair of silver kidneys. And beneath it is my study of the kidney.

kidney "milagros"

my kidney "sketch"

It appears to me, despite my research and wondering out into other cultures and studies, I come back to what is most familiar.  In this case…folk art familiar. And then I put it out again, with a significant personal twist.

ear "milagro"

my inner ear drawing

Above is an ear milagro and beneath it is my inner ear drawing. I call the little work Oido, Spanish for ear.  Check out that ear drum and cochlea…such great shapes. I added the little form to the face of my large painting as an after thought.  I couldn’t, after really looking at the intricate parts of this mechanism, leave it out.

"milagro" of arm and hand

my arm and hand finished painting

Despite all the intellectual research and connection that I shared some of in an→ earlier post,  here/now I make one very direct and simple visual association.   I know I saw it before, but why didn’t I think it was worth mentioning?

It is.

The tie-in to the sacred is key. The body = The Sacred.

cross with milagros

These milagros, little miracles, are the ground work, probably for most of the art I have made in the last couple of years. I realized this so clearly today, I  had to make note of it.

writers life workshop at modified arts

I met Crista Cloutier in 2000 when the Hispanic Research Center  of ASU commissioned me to create a lithograph.  At the time, Crista was the director of Segura Publishing where I showed up everyday for one very productive and exciting week plus, to work with their crew and with master printer Joe Segura.  She also directed their gallery. I admired her  ease and professionalism.

Crista, actively involved in the contemporary art world throughout her career, is also internationally recognized as a writer, curator, and artist. She’s collaborated in the creation of artwork with some of the most significant artists working today. Much of the work exists in major collections throughout the US.

In the last few years I’ve connected with Crista via Facebook because today she moves between England, France, and the U.S and contributes to publications such as Huffington Post, The Guardian UK, and You Magazine.

…and guess what…Crista will be at Modified Arts, just after the new year. She’ll be teaching The Writer’s Life Workshop.


The Writer’s Life is a two-day workshop for both established and aspiring writers. This unique class will help participants find their voice, hone their craft, and create meaning in their life and work. Students will learn how to connect to their imagination as well as identify personal vision and attain their professional writing goals.

If you like to write, and you’ve been looking to:

  • Identify your purpose and motives as a writer
  • Create professional goals and find the steps necessary to achieve them
  • Commit yourself to writing as an artistic practice
  • Understand the remarkable power of your muse and engage more deeply with your imagination
  • Learn to melt creative blocks

…then the workshop is for you!

Who: Crista Cloutier

What: The Writer’s Life Workshop

When: Tuesday & Thursday, January 4th & 6th, 2011
from 7:00-9:30 PM each night

Contact: Kim Larkin
Modified Arts
kim@modifiedarts.org
602-462-5516

Where: Modified Arts
407 E. Roosevelt
Phoenix, AZ 85004

*Discount registration if you sign up by January 1st or bring a friend!

Learn more about Crista and her workshop…
www.cristacrista.com
www.theworkingartist.info

sketching, maybe drawing

Kurt, an under grad professor, gave me a love for the sketch, the drawing and the print. He suggested very early on, that I carry with me at all times…small ripped paper and a pencil. If  time allows, he said, maybe while I wait for an appointment, maybe while I watch the tube, draw. Just draw, he said.

I do.

Sometimes the sketch becomes itself a small completed piece. Other times, it leads to something new: a mark, a shape, a color, a background, a new print.

These images below, finished, are small 3 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ drawings and parts of them feed into some new large work, on canvas.

Stay realistic? Go abstract?  Both.

Small ripped BFK paper, gesso, graphite, Prisma, casein. Blending stumps are at the college. I smudge with a small, stiff, used up brush instead. Rough but interesting background finish.

I’m framing a few and they’ll show as process in  What Goes On and What Takes Place.

coming to be

New work. Completed on BFK Rag. The  28″ x 20″ mixed media on paper is sitting on my easel, waiting to get signed and titled.  No name for it yet. Part of new series “Creative Structure.”

Composition evolved from a larger work, a 6′ x 7′ canvas, that was much more monochromatic. Went from very large to moderately small. Unusual evolution for my pieces. Usually start very small on paper, to eventual moderately large on canvas.

Wanted to work with color and paint with various mediums: casein, gouache and egg tempera. Also wanted to mark make.  Latter wish comes from watching my students draw right now.  The whole process of teaching charcoal always comes into my studio work somehow, including working on paper and some dry, monochromatic element, in this case graphite.

Finished work appeared slowly,  September 18th to November 21st. Took many turns. Probably could have stopped several times and called it done. Though, really was looking for a certain quality, a sort of  alive composition, and depth. Steady thought, steady mark. Brush stroked color and fine line silver graphite.

Here is how it came to be. Complete.  Living with it a for a while before I name it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

what’s going on and what’s taking place…cont.

Sue, Carolyn and I drive out to Mary’s house. Mary not only prepares a great meal for us, she also shares her work, her studio, and her art books.  I’m introduced to an artist I’d not heard of. Conversation is plentiful. We talk about all sorts of things, past and present. I learn something new about each of them, as well as discover something about myself. Too bad for you, I’m only sharing photos of our work here.

Everyone is asked to bring a small 2D drawing, photo, or reproduction of some sort. It’s to be representational of the larger work that will show at What Goes on and What Takes Place, during Art Detour. The 2D object serves two purposes. They’re a way to reconnect, share progress and continue planning. And they act as  jumping points to discuss another element of the exhibition. We’re each considering making a small print. They’ll be available individually or as a collective set of four, during the run of the exhibit. Right now, it appears the prints will be 6″ x 6″  images reproducing a portion of the large-scale artworks. It’s not written in stone, things can change.

Yesterday Mary and I enthusiastically discuss paper stock. If paper is not exciting to you, then my guess is it’s just another tedious choice…and well…too bad.  There are interesting facts about paper worthy of a discussion.

Here are  photos of what’s going on and some of what might take place….enjoy.

Below, I hold a small-scale, mixed media drawing showing the head portion of a life-size self-portrait I’m finalizing for the exhibit.

Mary Shindell holds in her hands, a small cut out maquette of one wing. Yes, one wing. Again, this is only a small piece of a large digital sculpture. Or is it an installation? What will she call it? We’ll wait and see.

Carolyn Lavender cradles in her hands, a reproduction of an owl’s head, one of the 200 animal heads that will grace her large graphite on canvas.

And Sue Chenoweth evenly holds a very small, but very exciting reproduction of the 40″ x 40″ mixed media work on paper, she’s completing.

We enjoy the similarities and the differences in the small pieces, as a grouping. They allow us insight into the whole exhibit, which we agree, is a great idea. The afternoon passes quickly. It works out for touching base, making a few decisions, and having fun. We leave with a parting gift from Mary. Better explained, she satisfies our lust…we want these little magnets she’s created. Mary generously gives them to us. She’ll have these available for purchase, at the exhibit.


Once again…here’s the scoop….

WHAT: WHAT GOES ON AND WHAT TAKES PLACE

WHERE: MODIFIED ARTS

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

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

This exhibition is supported with a mini-grant for marketing through the Ted Decker Catalyst Fund.

Click Modified Arts to find links informing you about each of the artists, their studio and their work.

To visit artists web sites, click on their photo above.

notes on some current influencing visuals and ideas

Because upcoming exhibit What Goes on and What Takes Place (February), will include process, I’m pulling together a few influencing visuals. I am drawn to both text and figures.

Paintings by Romino Shrestha from The Tibetan Art of Healing.

Leonardo da Vinci’s, Vitruvian Man.
The Vitruvian Man is also known as Canon of Proportions, or Proportions of Man.

Vitruvian Man

Christ, the Redeemer, Brazil

The Christ figure.  And I connect to it the Aztec idea of the cross, signifying the point where the horizontal and vertical meet. The physical and the spiritual, man. Woman.

And contemporary artist Bailey Doogan. Ms. Doogan studies the female figure, the one she knows best, her own. The vibrant translucent quality of her painting and the raw darkness of her drawings is provocative.  Her composition has energetic use of materials to inform color (or lack of ), texture, size,  space and figure. I was introduced to both her and her work, while in grad school.  Eventually, after moving to Arizona, I would find myself invited to a group exhibit that included Ms. Doogan. I was fortunate then, to have a private though brief moment to speak with her about her work.

Self Exam In Nation, 2003

Words…text…that I am pulling from her artist statement.

About the body:
Our bodies are full of stories. They are detailed maps of our experiences. This corporeal topography of hair patterns, veins, scars, calluses, wrinkles and flesh (both smooth and crenulated) speak of a life lived.

About process and completion:
The work is never finished. I keep returning, reconsidering, changing.

About learning:
Because of the highly articulated physical presence that I have wanted in my work, over the past fifteen years I have had to reteach myself to paint and draw. That learning process is ongoing.

…notes…current stuff… influencing my days in studio….

a character’s character.

Took a break today. Only drew for the amusement of it. No clear end in mind.

Scrap of paper, pencils, markers, scissors, adhesives, and collage bits from a 1915 book titled Character, How to Strengthen It. Book’s always amused me. I use it carefully, as it slowly dissapears. I settle into drawing a profile. Text determines direction in this case. I don’t have much room to work with and I like the set up of a small portrait. Small portraiture… usually means I’m going to play with human thoughts/emotions.

Been thinking about Character. You know…that thing we develop as we age. And saw Alice in Wonderland this weekend, queens make an impression. A play of both word and image, is how this drawing pans out.

I prefer the simplicity of the start. Too late to go back. Rework. Tighten up composition.

Title comes with end result, A Character’s Character. On days like this…I think it might be fun to illustrate children’s books.

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