Leonardo da Vinci once said, “An artist’s studio should be a small space because small rooms discipline the mind and large ones distract it.”
The curator of our local museum recently emailed me requesting a visit to ‘my studio.’ Disconcertion soon took over from initial excitement as Grandma was sleeping in ‘my studio’ – it also doubles as the guest bedroom.
I prefer a neat, organized space. There isn’t much room in ‘my studio’ to make it chaotic and messy: it has a light table, desk, easel, good lighting, storage shelves and a twenty year old carpet I don’t care much about – the paint stains blend in well. It’s a place for me to make art.
Picasso filled all the rooms in his home with different art projects. When he ran out of space, he just moved to a bigger house. I’d love to take over the living room, but we do need to live somewhere.
A local artist Kaethe Bealer lives and paints on her boat. I also can’t stop thinking about the artists who lived and created at the Oakland “Ghost Ship” warehouse that went up in flames not too long ago. This is after all Silicon Valley where some of the most successful technology companies started out in a garage. The guest bedroom – it‘s not such a shabby place to be.
Would I like more space? For sure: especially at the growth rate of my canvas sizes – the bigger the better. However, for the time being, I’m content to paint in 'my studio!'
Artists create series of paintings whether it's a variation on one theme, like Degas' ballet dancers; or different versions of a single subject, like van Gogh's sunflowers.
Monet had many variations of water lilies but also did series on one theme: haystacks, Rouen Cathedral and poplar trees, to try and capture different lights at different times throughout the day or season.
Last spring, I decided to start a series on boats. I figured if I had to spend a lot of time painting the same subject, it better be something that inspired me: I love to sail and I love boats.
While traveling through places like the stilt village in the middle of Lake Nokoue, West Africa, I was in awe at how well young boys navigated dug out canoes with makeshift sails of sewn together rice sacks. I dug up some old photos from our visit to Benin and begged dear friends, Evan and Diane, who are currently sailing around the world, to email me images they had taken of ‘interesting’ boats. Et voila, I was on my way prepping six canvases for my ‘sailboat’ series.
Like so often in life, the progress on the ‘sailboat’ series got interrupted as a new opportunity presented itself. A dear ‘mom’ friend, Catherine, who is actively engaged in promoting African culture in our community, asked me if I was interested in painting five paintings for A Taste of Africa Festival 2017, a celebration of diversity, arts, culture and global citizenship. Well, du huh! Off course I was not only honored to be asked but thrilled to start another series, this one on African portraits.
Again, I dug through photographs of our trip across the African continent and begged dear friends, Chanan and Maria, who live in South Africa, to send me photos, images, anything that portrayed the richness of the African culture. With the help of Catherine, we managed to narrow the selection down to five.
Now, all still needed were the right sized panels. I headed off to Michael’s and bought five of the largest, pre-stretched canvases available. I wanted my African portraits to make a big impression. The lady at Michael’s did ask if they would fit in our car and I confidently convinced her that yes, we had a station wagon, no problem. Well, to make a long story short, it did not fit and Kim, another dear ‘mom’ friend came to the rescue as her husband placed the canvases in their truck and drove them home. It takes a village.
I guess I now have to give each series a name. Keeping with tradition of labeling paintings as Untitled I or Abstract I, I will call the Maasai Warrior Getting Ready for his Wedding: African Portrait I and the two boys sailing their dugout canoe: Boat I.
I would like to officially introduce four new members to our “Artful Animals” family: Bella, Bandit, Humayan and Kona.
"SH&T always rises to the top." This is the second year my art has been rejected at a local, juried art show. My initial reaction was one of disappointment. You'd think they would make an effort to support local artists? I know they try; my work just has a lot more growing up to do.
An experience like that does make you deeply empathize with Vincent van Gogh. I can't imagine how this man dedicated his entire life to art, without ever selling a single painting (except for one). To constantly put yourself out there, only to have your ego crushed over and over again.
My family told me not to cut off my ear. It would do me no good. They also kindly reminded me that "CREAM always rises to the top."
Do you like math and sciences? I was raised to believe that math and sciences were the answer to life; however, chemistry 11 and physics 12 didn’t feel very applicable to my daily existence. Why the disconnect?
Research shows that stories and anecdotes build interest in S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math), allowing students to view the scientific and technological materials as relevant and meaningful. With that in mind, our team of artists, teachers, programmers and engineers developed an app: Arya’s Adventures, to promote S.T.E.A.M. education through storytelling.
Arya runs into trouble on a journey to visit Grandparents. After a plane crash, Arya strands on a deserted island and must overcome challenging situations, unique problems that require creative solutions, to find a way out of the jungle. Will Arya make it to the other side and be rescued off the island?
Arya’s Adventures is now available for FREE worldwide on the Apple AppStore, with In-App purchases: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/aryas-adventures/id1065404636?mt=8
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
– Benjamin Franklin.
Artists go through phases and I must be going through a "dog" phase. I know Picasso went through different phases: blue and rose periods, cubism, surrealism, and expressionism to name a few, each lasting anywhere from 1 to 30 years. Other artists, like Pollock with his dripped paintings and Dali with his melting landscapes, stopped pursuing artistic exploration and experimentation, preferring to stick with what worked.
I'm still in the exploration phase of my art journey, trying out different techniques and themes to find a signature style. I've used different mediums: acrylics and oils; experimented with different paraphernalia: brushes, kitchen utensils (spatulas, knives, even a crab pick), leather tools, and fingers to get that perfect line, unique texture or model curve. I’ve painted on different surfaces: fabric, paper, canvases, walls, glass, wood and utility boxes. Maybe like Picasso, I’ll never settle on one style.
Instead of clothes shopping; paint supply, hardware and kitchen stores continue to be my preferred commercial venues to frequent. I feel I'm getting closer but am still trying to figure out to what. Nevertheless, for the time being, I continue to enjoy my 'dog' phase. I love dogs, always have, and this might just be my way to stay connected with man’s best friend. For the time being!
Phase II of Pleasanton's Project Paint Box is complete.
This time, the 'drive by' box, as I came to nickname it, is located on the outskirts of town, where First street and Stanley Boulevard meet. The hummingbird images were inspired from a photograph taken by Douglas Grant, our beloved grandpa, who passed away last fall. It was comforting to think of grandpa while painting the hummingbirds.
Thank you again Joanne and Bob Becker for sponsoring another box and for the steady supply of coffee frappuccinos to keep me cool in the hot, hot sun. Also, thank you Anna, for bringing me pizza for lunch one day.
Here are four fun, nature themed designs, painted on large storage boxes in the children's section of Alviso Adobe's Milking Barn.
Sixteen Sufi dancers later, I feel like I traveled to Turkey and back. I highly encourage you to visit Casbah, Livermore, and request a table in the big room. The surrounding energy will transport you into a different world: smell the warm, slightly sweet cumin blends; savor Middle Eastern fusion dishes; listen to the mythical blends of the setar, harmonium and tabla and watch the whirling dervishes come alive. You will leave, planning your next vacation to Istanbul. "Afiyet olsun," "bon appétit."