Little Artists

I have been teaching art to children part time for the past few months and am greatly enjoying it! My kids are very young – from 1.5 years old up to around 4 years old. Since the children are so young, in many ways, it’s less about teaching art, and more about guiding the children through the exploration of art materials…textures, colors, shapes, and feelings. The theme for this semester’s classes is “famous artists” and so we have been exploring the work of artists like Matisse, Monet, Pollock, & Van Gogh each week. Each class explores a different artist and the techniques & themes that are unique to his/her work.

Here are a few pictures of projects that we did for different artists:

Monet (right) ~ After looking at pictures of some of Monet’s water lily paintings, we applied colorful torn tissue paper and a glue paste on construction paper. When the tissue paper was wet, the children noticed that the different colors bled together to create new colors in addition to the colors created by the overlapping paper. I explained that Monet had created his pieces by layering many different colors of paint in a similar way, to create pictures rich in depth & light.

Pollock (below) ~ A few weeks ago we talked about Jackson Pollock and his famous drip paintings. I handed out colorful construction paper and bowls of liquid glue. I showed the children how to dip a spoon in the glue and then dribble it all over the paper – creating different abstract lines, shapes, and both thick and thin lines. After applying the glue I presented them with containers of different brightly colored sand which they sprinkled over the glue. After shaking off the excess sand, they were left with beautiful sand splatter art!

Van Gogh (not pictured) ~ This week we are learning about Van Gogh and specifically looking at his painting “Starry Night.” In class we have been using finger paint and applying it thickly onto paper. Then, the children are using their fingers or other tools to carve into the texture and create patterns and images in the paint, as Van Gogh applied thick oil paint to canvas and then shaped it with his palette knife & brush.

Each class begins with some free painting time at the easel. The children have many jars of paint to choose from and are encouraged to experiment with color mixing & mark making. I am always amazed at this process and how at ease the children seem to be at the easel – even the first time painters!

I have noticed how much working with these “little artists” has inspired my own studio practice. The children approach art making wholeheartedly and with such trust in the process. In fact, especially at this age, it is the process and not the product that truly matters. Similarly, with my own art making, the best studio sessions are when I am completely immersed in the process, and not overly preoccupied with the finished product.

Earth Window Series

I’ve been working on a group of paintings that I’ve been calling the Earth Window Series. The paintings in this series have been taking on many different sizes, palettes, and textures, but they all share a common motif – which is the “window” or the usually squarish geometrical shapes that seem to be finding their way into them. The painting to the right is a newly finished piece from the series. The picture below shows this same piece at an earlier stage. The very first layer of this piece (not shown here) was created by applying washes of bronze colored paint & earthy colors like burnt sienna & yellow oxide.

Over that color layer I used blue painter’s tape to mask off different shapes. A slightly darker color was then painted over the tape, so that when the tape was removed the image beneath stood out. To create the white splatter lines I drizzled gesso (a surface primer) across the surface in both thick and thin line patterns. I truly enjoy the spontaneity of this process and have been exploring it in my newest paintings. This technique borrows directly from action painters like Jackson Pollock (more on this in a later post). Briefly though, in action painting, the materials are applied to the surface in a very spontaneous manner, such as dripping, splashing, or smearing.

In the final layer, I applied more blue painter’s tape to the surface (and this is where the “windows” emerged yet again!) After creating a composition with the stencils I did a final wash, adding some deep reds and sections of deeper blue to add depth and help the window images “pop.”

Here are a couple details from the painting…

5pointz, Long Island City

5 pointz in Long Island City is right across the street from the wonderful contemporary art museum, PS1 (which I’ll be posting about in the near future:) I like the description that I found, below:

“Just blocks from P.S. 1 is 5 Pointz, the Institute of Higher Burnin’. Not a museum or gallery, 5 Pointz is a living collage of graffiti art covering a converted warehouse full of artist studios. The art of famous and novice graffiti artists covers the building’s facade, all done with the encouragement of the building’s owner. It’s a well-known sight from the elevated 7 subway, which runs behind 5 Pointz. Admire the art all around the outside, or head upstairs to the roof for more graffiti and great views of LIC and Manhattan.” – John Roleke

Like any art gallery, participation in this graffiti art collage is by invite only, and artists must present a portfolio (usually called a blackbook) which contains among other things, sketches of potential graffiti.

It’s definitely worth a vist if you’re in the area and lends itself to return visits, since the art is constantly changing. It’s a beautiful, constantly changing, collaborative piece of work.

Adam took these shots during various visits of ours to 5 Pointz. The one above of guys painting the wall was taken in May 2006 during ‘Old Timers Day’ when some of the best known taggers from the 80s and early 90s got together to work on this wall.

Click HERE to see more of his shots of 5 Pointz.

Studio Visits


Yesterday I was visited by Louie (our grey tabby cat) in my studio as I was painting. He has been given many nicknames by us as well as friends. A few favorites: Megaman, Louie Meatballs, & Eggplant
(which I have to admit, he does resemble at times, seeing as how he’s got a little extra meat on his bones…okay….about 16 extra pounds).

When Louie or iko (our orange marble tabby) visit in the studio I always watch to see where they will settle. Since I often stretch out and paint on the floor, the paint palette is a possible landing spot for them. I have had to chase them and their paint printed feet to the edge of my studio – to prevent paint paw prints from reaching the living room carpet). My water jar seems to be another point of interest, and I have observed both of them sticking their entire paw into it and then licking the water off. On occasion the water ends up in a puddle on my studio floor…which is slightly amusing.

During yesterday’s visit Louie began walking towards my paint palette and so I scooped him up mid-walk, and plopped him down on my lap. Twenty minutes later he was still sitting there, purring and gazing up at me with his big adoring eyes as I reached for a new color. I enjoyed our little “paint session” together, and it was cold in my studio yesterday (always seems 10degrees colder than the rest of the apartment) and so his 16lb body warmth was an added comfort.

Whatever the nature of the visit, our little furballs are always there to amuse. And, it should not be overlooked that they are a constant nonjudgmental presence in my studio practice….can’t really beat that! 😉

Art & Fear

Sometimes walking into the studio (even though it is only a few feet from my bedroom) seems to take immense courage. Sometimes that little space becomes a giant elephant in the room, seemingly overnight. It stares at me from across the hall and taunts me with its presence. I experience that conflicting pull to it that is balanced out by a desire to just shut the door and pretend it’s not there. Other times my studio is the one safe spot on earth and I practically run into it like an old friend, after a long day. I begin the process…turning on the warm lights, picking my music, and setting my materials out, basking in the immense satisfaction that this ritual brings.The hardest days are the ones where I struggle with the fear of approaching my own work. When I’m in “the zone” as some runners and artists refer to it, I feel exhilarated by the creative process and the world around me slowly starts to fade into the background as the painting process unfolds. Feeling stuck or in limbo is the exact opposite of that feeling though. At these times I either let myself walk away for a few days (and sometimes weeks!) or I push through and commit to just doing something – anything. Perhaps it’s just doodling in a sketchbook or flipping through images of artists that inspire me.

We find so many reasons or distractions to keep us from creating, or at least to put it on hold for a while. Mine have included: draining day jobs, fear of being judged, poor time management, and even silly things like sorely needing to make a trip to the art store!

Today I was flipping through one of my favorite little books, called Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, by David Bayles & Ted Orland. This is an amazing book and a very quick read. My copy is dogeared and full of underlines and little exclamation points:) At the beginning of each chapter the authors include a quote from an artist that pertains to the topic. One of these quotes by Stephen DeStaebler immediately popped out for me in reference to this post:

Artists don’t get down to work until the pain of working is exceeded by the pain of not working.

When I was younger my parents would often encourage me to “march down to my studio” when I had been in a melancholy or frustrated mood for a while. They knew back then what I had yet to figure out, which was that I am a very different person when I am cut off from the art making process. Without the outlet, feelings begin to pile up and eventually take their toll on my inward and outward reality. Now it is my wonderful fiance, Adam (a talented and creative soul) who will observe my mood and point me towards my studio. I might grudgingly trudge to it at first, but after a short time I can usually be found happily working away, with a grin on my face. As the authors write in Art & Fear: Those close to you know that making the work is essential to your well being.

One last quote from the book (I told you I loved it!):

Vision, Uncertainty, and Knowledge of Materials are inevitabilities that all artists must acknowledge and learn from: vision is always ahead of execution, knowledge of materials is your contact with reality, and uncertainty is a virtue.

Now, off to my studio I go! 🙂

 

Paintings at Valverde!


I’m very excited to be displaying some of my newest paintings at Valverde Cucina Italiana restaurant here in Astoria, Queens.

A few weeks ago, Adam and I spent a Sunday with the owners Johann Valverde & Ivon Leon & Chef Jose Hernandez…hanging my work there and then having a wonderful brunch (the owner’s treat!)

My art will be on display there through Spring and so if you’re in the area, let’s go grab brunch or dinner there:)
Their food is wonderfully fresh and delicious!

We are thinking about having an art opening at the restaurant…most likely on a Tuesday evening since that is the only day they are closed. We’re thinking about sometime in March…
I’ll keep you updated!

They are located at:
36-02 Steinway St.
(at 36th Avenue)
Astoria NY
718.786.2070