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.

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….

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

what goes on and what takes place…an artist revealed

The artist Carolyn Lavender

At the conception of this collaborative project, two artist are clearly in mind.  Carolyn Lavender is the first artist I meet and speak with.  I’ve admired Carolyn’s art work for a long time. She’s one of Eye Lounge‘s  founding members. We met last October, when her work The Woods, was up at Modified. In fact, it had just come down. It was in her car. She brought it out so I could look at it. We took it into eye lounge and then proceeded to spend the rest of the afternoon talking…about the work, art, drawing, teaching…politics, religion…stuff. Carolyn’s direct, she’s intelligent and open, and had plenty to say. Shortly there-after, she invited me to her studio. I assumed it would be a quick visit but again, we spend the entire afternoon talking about her art and art making. She’s generous and patient with my curiosity.

The Studio Upon arriving, I walk through her National Wildlife certified wildlife habitat (did i write that right?) front yard. She’s in a regular city neighborhood and her yard is a declared wildlife habitat. Cool! As I move through the garden, I observe the attention to detail. Unstructured structure, abundant variety, beautiful,desert…fun. Unusual in this area. I meet her cats and her dog.

I enter the studio… I’m going to skip the part about the first art work I see…I’ll get back to it later …
A slow 180 degree turn, to take it in. Then another.

Flashback: To a few years back: I’d love an exhibition opportunity with [some specific] artists I haven’t shown with. Lavender.
Flashback, but come more forward: In her studio, hearing about her process and looking at her stuff, the work… I want to work with this artist.
Flashback: To various points in time, I’m waiting, for an invitation to exhibit with specific artists (here in the valley). It’s bound to come. Curator? Gallery Director? Waiting…waiting….patiently waiting…
Flash forward: To one afternoon when I have lunch with Ted Decker. I share my thoughts with him. He says something like, Why are you waiting? Do it! Create the exhibit…all of you. Call them.

Flash: Call, I do. Carolyn agrees to participate and to help make it happen. She’s the one who will eventually contact Modified Arts and propose our idea.

back to The Studio I’ve said this before, an artist studio is sacred space. I don’t take the opportunity to visit one for granted. I’m fascinated by the variety of objects that surround us. Her shelves remind me of carefully laid out still life’s. A scientist laboratory comes to mind, as do Joseph Cornell’s boxes. Eventually she brings out her personal journals and bags of collage cut outs (photo below), the bits and pieces…of her process. It’s private, it’s her own, it’s magic and as fascinating as the finished works.  She cuts out and files photos, magazines, invitation images…you name it.  These become reference for work and some go into journals. It’s this particular memory that will eventually bring the Process element, into the exhibition plan. She brings a journal to write in, and she doodles, at most every meeting we’ve had. Like her yard…I see this as unstructured structure.


The Work Entering her studio I first make (eye) contact with a tacked to the wall canvas that has on it a gridded composite of small, graphite rendered, animal heads. Hypnotizing.
We sit at her drawing table. I look at cut outs, they’re sort of hypnotizing too. I ask about the canvas, does it have a name?

She calls it Portrait. She says in a matter of fact manner, It will be a grid comprised of 200 4” portraits of animals, each of which is making eye contact with the viewer. (I noted that when I stood in front of it) In my mind they are the equivalent of human “head and shoulders” framed portraits. The drawing resembles yearbook photos, but of animals. When I decided on this piece I had, for years, been doing series of self-portraits. At one point I set animal heads on top of my portraits (image below). For me animals have an equal importance in the world and it seemed that this visual arrangement helped illustrate that. The animals were more interesting because they were paired with my images and my images were more interesting because they each had an animal head. Finishing her thought, she says “Portrait” is my attempt to draw attention to animals, in a piece that has only animals in it.

Untitled
Media: Gouache, Graphite, Acrylic on Rag Board
33″ x 22″

Untitled
Media: Gouache, Graphite, Acrylic on Rag Board.
33″ x 22″

Meticulous detail, is one quality that draws me into Lavender’s work. Is that graphite? 4B? 6B? The line work is so clean. I am using 2H and F [graphite pencils]. I’m surprised. I am able to get darks because the graphite reacts differently to the modeling paste/gel medium ground. I’m familiar with modeling paste, I use it, but not with pencil. I’m also struck by a sense, or connection to time, the marking of it, the passing of it. As I look, I wonder out loud, How long will it take to complete Portrait? I complete one head per day. I’m not surprised, I say to her. You’re not? Oh good, I think I’m slow.

I teach drawing, carefully observing and carefully rendering, requires time. The work, each head, is striking. 200…! Two Hundred brilliantly rendered animal heads.

 

Detail of 'Portrait'

Speaking of time, Portrait already has a story and it’s not even complete.

Carolyn tells me that Portrait was conceived of, and started, in 2006. I have never started and set aside a piece of art the way I have this one. I started it in my Tempe studio, but then I drove it to Illinois, planning to finish it during a 2-month residency. But I could not draw fast enough to complete it for the residency. Eventually she returns to AZ and moves out of her (Tempe) studio. She then doesn’t have a wall large enough to pin it to. In the meantime she builds her studio. It wasn’t until May 2009 that I decided to finish it for the October show (at Modified, when I meet her). But after a few months of working it was clear that I would not finish in time. So “Portrait” may be the most satisfying piece to finish that I have ever done.

The Showing I’m jazzed to announce Portrait will make its much awaited debut, in our collaborative exhibition…

WHAT: WHAT GOES ON AND WHAT TAKES PLACE

WHERE: MODIFIED ARTS

WHEN: FEB 18TH -MARCH 12TH ART DETOUR

WHO: CAROLYN LAVENDER, MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ, 2 others.

The working plan for all of us, is to show one large major work, and smaller supporting works, that led to it either  in content or form. You’ll see a few of Carolyn’s self portraits, as supporting works for the larger piece.  Many details have yet to be made.
Yesterday, as we talk about things, we come to the conclusion that our exhibition is a project. A Collaborative Project. We move along.

Stay tuned. Anther artist coming soon!

Click here for  Carolyn Lavender’s Work, Bio, and Resume

You can see one of Carolyn’s drawings, at a group exhibit, this month, May 7th – 21st. 21 Days: Group Drawing Show, now at Pravus Gallery, in downtown Phoenix.

what goes on and what takes place/ the venue



A few weeks ago (April 11th), I wrote about collaborating on an art exhibit, with three other artists. Yesterday, the four of us met with Kim Larkin.  Modified Arts, will host the exhibition.

Modified is run by Kim Larkin and Adam Murry. Kim made the round of studio visits, and then agreed to meet with the group on Saturday afternoon. Adam stepped in to greet everyone, and then he was off.

About the space…it appeals to all of us. It’s open and well-lit.  It has cool sophistication and yet  it retains its original charm. It’s in downtown Phoenix. And it has lots of history.

We do talk a little bit about the history of Modified. And then Kim speaks about their vision as the new directors of the space. She’s grounded. Intelligent.  Clear. Flexible. I had these thoughts, when I spoke to her in my studio, and listening to her in this meeting, I am aware of them again.

She has a sense of integrity we all connect to. I especially like that we discuss the exhibition as a whole experience. Kim brings up the idea of a community component. This is in perfect alignment with our plan.  We’re in agreement about connecting with /interacting with/and pulling in the audience. We want to make the experience accessible and inclusive. Ideas tossed about: showing the creative process through photos, personal material (studio ephemera, studio debris), speakers, event/s, video, and music/sound. How this part evolves, you’ll have to wait and see, just like us.

There will be one large, main artwork from each of us. And a few smaller supporting works, that specifically accompany the larger work. Included is the showing of process, in a more personal manner, will be bits and pieces from each.

Kim mentions bringing fun into the equation. We agree…it’s present already, it will naturally be a part of the end result.
WHEN will all this fun peak? I am really pleased to say…next year, during Art Detour.  Feb 18th- March 12th.

We note to Kim that we plan to reveal the other 3 artists, one a time.  She’s good with this. But as I write this…I’m not so good with it. I want to tell you who the other artists are right now!  Another clue below…..can you guess?

Obviously…four women.  I hope soon to reveal one of the other artist.

We play around with shooting photos and then our afternoon meeting ends. I leave feeling the agreement to create this experience is respectful and beneficial, to each of us and our own individual process of working. Kim offers the gallery, Modified, and we offer our work. In the agreement there is plenty of freedom to really create. It’s the thing that is driving this show. EXCITING.
Win-win for all, including you, if you’re inclined.

WHAT: WHAT GOES ON AND WHAT TAKES PLACE

WHERE: MODIFIED ARTS

WHEN: FEB 18TH -MARCH 12TH ART DETOUR

WHO: 4 Women Artist. More to come soon.

Stay tuned!

rendering a torso-because i have to (formation cont.)

A sketch...

Working on my black gessoed canvas.  I stretched it yesterday and within minutes of starting, I take the prepped canvas off the bars, for ease in working. Right now, I’m calling this a sketch.

I had no plans to draw out a torso, but when last week, I completed the construction of the head and limbs of my new work, and I put it up on my studio wall to see it hang together…well…I was left with an empty center. Empty space in an area that in its complexity is full of important organs, and energetic systems? No way. The work needs a trunk. It requires a connecting center.

This time, that I paint internal organs, I’m concerned with the accuracy of shapes and their scale and proximity to each other. The area is dense. I need to approach this in a more realistic manner than I ever have before. I lay quick contour lines of the physical anatomy and naturally I start thinking about the energetic anatomy of each area. And for this reason especially, I am jazzed to do the work

I’ve not specifically mentioned, in all the writing about my new work, that at the ground of my studies and this piece, are the Chakras. I became interested in the Chakra system years ago, while in grad school.  There’s so much to the study that I’ll let you research the idea, if you’re inclined.  I’ll make simple connections here for quick reference.

To situate myself I place the clavicles. Below them I sketch in the heart, and the beautiful bronchioles that resemble a tree of life. I quickly edge in the diaphragm to close the space. It’s in this area where we hold love and hatred, resentments, self centeredness and loneliness.  It is also the space where commitment, forgiveness, and compassion reside.  Its tone is green for the most part, and a bit of pink.
I take yellow and with it place a recognizable liver beneath the indicated diaphragm, and I add a gall bladder. The lovely little bladder reminds me of a plant stem with a soon to ripen, flower or vegetable. I arrange the kidneys in their space and include the spleen.  Next, the stomach, I like to draw the stomach.  It’s a rounder, whimsical form, and has line work that I always exaggerate. The pancreas is in the same area, I don’t like the shape and so I only indicate it on the edges of the stomach. I move into the meandering small intestines. These organs are all associated with self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-respect. They relate to trust and fear. This energy effects responsibility and decision-making and resonates with integrity and self-discipline. It’s also a sort of storage space for strength, when it’s required. Important qualities to move into the world with.
With orange, I frame the small intestines with the large intestines and plug-in an appendix.  I set in the bladder, the vagina, ovaries and fallopian tubes. I prefer profiles of these organs, but in this case I have to draw it head on…not so visually appealing to me. These organs are connected to creativity, ethics, honor, and sex.
The ending of the large intestines, the rectum, I draw in red, it belongs to another energy system concerning safety and security, which I’ve already spoken about in earlier posts.

It’s complex in stuff, shapes and energetics. It becomes simple in colorful, straight on, line composition.

in the process...

As I sit with it all for a while, I start finishing areas a bit. I decide to lightly sketch in the thyroid and thymus glands cuz I like them.  And then I include the rib cage, it’s an important and defining structure and it connects me back to the clavicles. I like that I end in the area where I began. I’m done, for now. I call it a sketch at the start of the post, but maybe now…it’s become a close to completed drawing. I do like the  work off the bars, but I’ll probably re-stretch.

Again, I have to say I’m amazed with the incredible system we call our body.  I am impressed with all that it holds for us, and all that we hold in it.

becomes...a Drawing

To be Continued…..

the first bit, more pieces to come

Today I offer the first glimpse of a creative collaboration that I am excited to be writing about. Involved are three other artists. Here begins the first formulations of what will be a future art exhibition.

The group of four has come together for specific reasons, most important is that we want to work together. Working together is a bit more involved than merely showing together in an art exhibit. It includes a systematic series of actions directed to some end. What is the end? Simply put, it’s the creative experience itself.

Certain criteria underlies the procedure of coming together. The artists are mature in their work, with a certain level of ambition still very palpable in their art. Not one  of us can call ourselves an “emerging” artist anymore. There’s experience present, singularly and collectively. And though there hasn’t been a “merging” within every arena wanted, everyone’s on it, in their own way, be sure of this.  Each has an MFA. With this footing, a level of tenacity and self-awareness is implied. Each person can draw, though each of us handles the ability in a very different manner. Everyone relates to the education process as a student, and as a teacher. And each person’s sensibility stands out as unique and precise. You see the individuals hand in the individuals works. There’s unmistakable presence of time, be it fast and quick or slow and steady. And evolution is a constant.

The evening’s conversation bounces around, as we share a meal. Discussion involves how we proceed in making art.  Process will be a part of the exhibition so this discussion is important.  How does one begin a work of  art? Is end result in mind? I listen to each response, there’s overlap in conversation, excitement, agreement, curiosity. I hear how different everyone is, in some external sort of way.  I do note a more internal form of connection as well.

Conversation continues. What do you listen to while in studio? This one element is important to everyone, so much so we discuss it at various points in the evening. Someone asks if the impetus to create is retinal or cerebral? Interesting choice of descriptive words. It’s retinal, they’re in agreement. I pause to consider. I can’t answer easily. Intuition, instinct, a strong understanding of the elements of design, confidence in the process, materials, adventures, age, personal interests…we’re talking about all of it. One spouse contributes a comment that gets our attention. It appears to me, you all solve problems. One person voices appreciation.  We all agree with the observation.

Here it is, in a nutshell. We’re working together, yes. There are four of us. We may have a venue and a general time line.  The whole picture isn’t clear…yet….but we do see it happening. It’s retinal. What do we call the exhibition? It’s important that we get this. It’ll determine various specifics.

This evening we’ve each brought along something. Some thing we work with; tool, material, a bit of process stuff. The symbol is a jumping point to help formulate a working title. I enjoy the discovery, the sharing. We throw words around. Out comes Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary , and I begin to read.

Process – operation.  PROCESS. PROCEDURE. PROCEEDING.   Apply to something that goes on or takes place.
A PROCESS is a series of progressive and interdependent steps by which an end is attained.
PROCEDURE usually implies a formal or set order of doing a thing, a method of conducting affairs.
PROCEEDING applies to what goes on or takes place…

“That’s it! I like that!”  One person calls out. Though I’ve not finished reading the whole thing, with similar excitement, everyone agrees. The working title of our project becomes What Goes On and What Takes Place.

Here, you have the Why. I’ll fill you in on the Who these other artists are and the Where, and When the exhibition will take place, and a few other important details.  Bit by bit, time will reveal.  After all, the creative experience, is what it’s all about. This collaboration is a building of trust in the process, as we each continue to make art.

Stay tuned, more to come!

P.S. this is way better than any reality show.
Hmmmm…..now what if….

this body of work is coming together (formation cont.)…

As I work on drawing (what I think of as) legs, I recall my college anatomy drawing classes. I particularly enjoyed learning the bone and muscle structures of the human body.  I easily remember the names of the leg bones: femur, patella, tibia, and fibula.
Years later I was to study anatomy, in Yoga, and I came to discover another layer of leg information. Legs connect energetically to stability, protection, balance, justice, and honor. My legs allow me so much of my daily activity like walking, standing, jumping, and running.  I know my legs best when I’m out on a long run.  They’re strong and full of endurance.

As it turns out, I’m wrong about the way I’ve identified leg(s). Only now, with this drawing complete and after some research, I learn, precisely, leg refers only to the area between the knee and the ankle.  Hips, thighs (quads, hamstrings), knees, calves and ankles are not all parts of the leg. These parts identify as lower extremities which includes numerous bones, muscles, arteries, nerves, and tendons.  This information starts to clarify the energetics part, for me.

So…as I sit here and write about my lower extremity paintings, they appear so very generalized. Contours of hips, thighs, quads, knees, and calves…seem too simple a way to express these complex, highly charged, beautifully synchronized, hard-working limbs. They’re incredible, really they are.


On a side note, I wonder if I should have made the hips, knees, and calves painting, and the feet painting one singular piece, instead of 2 separate but connecting works. After-all they’re energetically and physically connected.
Decidedly I like separating and admiring the parts of our marvelous lower extremities.

Clearer focus moves into this picture. Things can start to change.

To be Continued…..

feet (formation cont….)

Working title:  Formation

New work continues. I’ve worked the head and the upper extremities. This weekend’s focus, the lower extremities.

How will this fit together visually? Won’t really know until all the parts are sized and completed. Right now there are at least 5 (parts). I have a few more to paint, then I’ll start piecing it together.

The feet, all about being grounded. Foundation. Connection. Balance. Mobility. Direction.
26 bones. 33 muscles. 31 joints. Over 100 ligaments.
Rooting…into the earth. Feet are feeling strong, firm and planted these days.

Original sketch.

I do like this but I want a stronger design.

Processing feet.

Clear, white structure sits atop a black gessoed, solid background.

Some roots, some seeds…some play, some ground.

Satisfied.  A clear and stable design with some flow and play.
They’re my feet.
Onto the legs.
To be continued….

formation cont.

I revisit this idea regularly. Maybe every few years. It always looks different.

I’ve got the parts. Forming the whole.

Never know what something is going to look like, until it all comes together.
Arms, hands…working. Foot and head working. One leg feels awkward.
Need a few more elements to pull this all together.
Working title: En Formación, In Formation

to be continued….

formation

New Sketches….

Form-

(noun) 1. external appearance of a clearly defined area
2. the shape of a thing or person.
3. a body, esp. that of a human being.

( Fine Arts)
1. the organization, placement, or relationship of basic elements, as lines and colors in a painting or volumes and voids in a sculpture, so as to produce a coherent image; the formal structure of a work of art.
2. an object, person, or part of the human body or the appearance of any of these

(Philosophy)
a. the structure, pattern, organization, or essential nature of anything.

(verb)
1. to construct or frame.
2. to place in order; arrange; organize.
3. to frame (ideas, opinions, etc.) in the mind.

Reform-

(noun) the improvement or amendment of what is unsatisfactory
the amendment of conduct, belief, etc.
(verb) to change to a better state, form, etc.; improve by alteration, substitution, abolition, etc.
to subject to the process of reforming
to amend

To be continued…..