Monday, January 23, 2017

Book Announcement

I finally sat down and committed myself to finishing up a project that is very special to me.  My husband and I welcomed two new additions into our families in 2015 with the birth of our niece and nephew.  It created a strange joy and an understanding into the phrase "you're so cute I could eat you up!" 

I always thought that was such a strange thing to say, but after meeting my niece and nephew and babysitting, all I could I think of was how I was going to eat them up.  Usually starting with the toes of course, and this expanded into a sort of game where I would tell my nephew exactly how I was going to eat him.  This is where the inspiration for my first book came from.  

I enjoyed most all of the process to preparing a book, all except for the formatting and layout part.  I certainly hope to get better  and more efficient at developing concepts and refining sketches.  Of course I'll have to become better acquainted with technology, but I can't wait for the official release of "All The Ways I Could Eat You Up" coming out in late February.  If you want to reserve your first edition copy visit the link below.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

What persistence looks like

Recently I have been asked "did you go to school for art?" The answer is yes and no, I did attend East Carolina for about two years as an art major.  I had a total of 3 drawing classes, 1 pottery class, 2 design classes and an art history class or two maybe.  I received a reasonable foundation to carry on my own studies after I left university.  I think what people really want to know is "how do you do that?"

What everyone usually sees is my final product with the exception of the occasional instagram post, what people often do not get to see is the physical process, and what no one sees is the mental process that goes behind my work.  That's what I like about my corner at Vida Pour Tea people can watch me work, they can ask me questions, and then they can be concerned when I paint over a piece I have been spending weeks on.  It's a process that I have been practicing for years.  I have a passion for art and I believe it is a gift, but I work hard at it. I always have and I always will, some lines and techniques come easily others I practice over and over.  I draw and paint almost everyday so that my hands and my mind can just let it happen without having to wrestle each other over what something should look like.  I can draw daffodils, church steeples, eyes, etc. without having a reference photo because I have drawn it over and over.  So I know I make certain projects look effortless but just know I have thrown away twice as many sketches just to get to that point.
These are my sketchbooks and sketches accumulated over just the past 4 years that I have kept. I'm not just an artist, I'm a craftsman and I want to not have just a gift, I need to know why I know where to put lines, why I know how to mix colors. I want others to know how to do these things if they want to know, I want to be able to show someone else how to do it and I want them to be patient with me while I try and teach them.  If you ever see me working ask anything you want to know, I am happy to share what I know and what I'm learning, more than likely I have an extra pencil and some paper on hand just so someone can doodle for a moment.  It is my passion and I want others to find their passions too. 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

2015 Was Swell

I had my second show at Vida Pour Tea back in October, honestly I meant to write about it before now but I'm lame.  Anyhow here's the rundown of the process. 
I designed my own postcard flyers and named my show "Apotheosis" which in my art, refers to elevating a subject point of adoration and reverence.  I love nature and it's unending inspiration. 

"The Perfect Balance" was an experiment in refining my style and I think I like it.  I used 24k gold leaf on watercolor ground treated canvas.

This Fox wasn't in the show but came after the crane, hence the gold leaf and canvas. 

Watercolor ground is my favorite new thing, I paint on everything now! 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The King's Bird

Ryan and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary on June 14th, we give each other traditional gifts and this year was copper.  Ryan is not a reader, but he has one book he loved when he was younger "My Side of the Mountain." I read it so I could understand why he loved it, and it was obvious.  His favorite animal because of the book is a peregrine falcon, so I knew I wanted to make him a special painting. I've never made him a piece of art despite him asking for nine years, so I wanted this to be worth the wait.  
I like to research my projects before I get started so I have a stronger connection, I found out the females are the ones referred to as "peregrines" and the males are duck hawks.  Also the females are the ones typically trained by falconers since they are stronger, bigger, and faster.  Very loyal and wise birds, the females are also the only one used by kings, hence the name "The King's Bird," these are things I want to be to Ryan, I want to be regal, loyal, and wise.  He is a man of good character and he deserves someone to count on like others count on him.  This piece was one of the most difficult pieces for me to do, I wanted it to be perfect because it's a thank you to him for all he has helped me achieve and all the love he has poured into me over the years and continues to pour out.  

Now that the emotional description is out of the way, this piece measures at 24x36.  She is done in watercolor and copper leafing. I treated my canvas with a special watercolor ground so I could use my watercolor.  She started out in acrylic and I had spent about 10 hours on her before one night she came to me in a dream and told me she was "wrong".  The next day I gessoed over her and put on the watercolor ground to start from scratch.  That sounds crazy I know but I'm allowed that because I'm an artist apparently.  
There are rubies at the base of the tree, another thing Ryan seems to like.  

Materials I used were: Golden Watercolor Ground, Koi watercolors, Dr. Ph. Martin watercolors, and a Sakura copper pen

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Learning to Adapt

This summer is off to a whirlwind of a start, I feel like every time I blink the day has continued on without me.  It's hard to remain present and focused on the world around me, life has never been better and for some reason that seems to make time move faster.

Last week I had my first interview for a paper, Sayaka Matsuoka writes for the local Greensboro paper "City Beat" and she featured me in the art section.  I was very flattered, and I'm thankful for the exposure.  Sayaka wrote wonderful things and I'm so happy to have Sarah with her beautiful shop for me to work in and her business wisdom in my life.  I have met so many wonderful people this past year despite my efforts to hide away. Here is the article:

City Beat article by Sayaka Matsuoka

"The King's Bird" with the article in the City Beat

So while all of this is going on my AC is broken, I don't mind the heat but I can't get much done around the house.  I was built for heat, I'm very productive these days since I can't pretend to procrastinate with house work.  My hand painted mugs are very popular so I have stocked up on those to bring to the tea shop next week, and I'm finishing up a dear friend's wedding invitations.  I have found that kung fu classics are my new favorite thing, I watched "the Fist of Legend" the other night and it brought words of wisdom for me:

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

How to save a life

Recently I posted a video on my facebook page that struck home for me, but I realize that psychology is a hot button topic these days, I don't want anyone to think that I'm against psychiatry.  I'm against diagnosing someone (especially children) before taking in to account their experiences, their everyday schedules, their environment, etc.  I work at the Arc where I help provide a creative outlet for those that have been diagnosed with autism, downs syndrome, and other intellectual or developmental disabilities, sometimes these adults were labeled as "difficult" as children so I understand early monitoring.  I'm not talking about these issues, I'm talking about labeling a child ADD/ADHD without considering how they learn, what they have to do all day, unfortunately the opportunity to improve the environments to help "problem" children will not be changing anytime soon and I'm afraid that they will only deteriorate.  This is not the teacher's fault, and parents aren't going to be able to change everything about the state of the education system either, our hands are all tied while the government does what they think is best to keep us at the top of the game.  Young ones need time to be creative, (music, art, dance, writing for fun) time to be active, time to practice social skills, and be able to have an encouraging learning environment and be taught how to function within a structured environment, oh, and the all important down time to process their day and their thoughts about the day.

Again I'm not against psychiatry in fact here's my story, it's hard to put these thoughts out in the open never to be taken back but it's important if it helps just one person embrace every aspect of who they are so that they can not only survive but become more than they could have believed possible.  So here is a testimony of who I am, and who I'm becoming, if you want to continue whatever image of me you had in your head you can stop reading here.

At a young age my father was taken from me in a car accident, I remember the phone ringing and my first grade teacher looking right at me when she received the news, I remember coming home to my mom holding my brothers to tell me why I had a bag of candy from my teachers.  I was given a few moments to be a child for a bit longer.  I remember retreating to my coloring book to escape my thoughts, and reading a lot to escape my own reality.  I wasn't a trouble child outwardly but my mind has been in turmoil for as long as I can remember, I use to write notes before I went to sleep about where I wanted to be buried just in case I didn't wake up.  As far as school went I did okay, I was horrible at math, and my folder had notes from my teachers about how I was constantly doodling during class time.  I don't know what my life would be like now if I had not had art class, music, PE, recess so that we could go outside and soak up the precious sunlight and explore the plants on the playground. I had one very close friend in elementary school, and then I made two news friends in middle school (honestly that was it as far as people I could count on) I started to notice "mean girls" around 8th grade.  High School is when things started to take a real turn, I was an honor roll student and desperate for praise and for my teachers to take notice in me.  My mom is a single parent, she never remarried and she was very hard on me especially once I hit high school, I know it was because she wanted me to be a responsible and a self reliant adult but I stress out easily and I didn't take it out on someone else I started punching things to punish my anger and my lack of control, I developed an eating disordered and sank myself into running to escape having to interact.  I was picked on for being weird and honestly I'm weird and I like it, but I still have anger concerning those who pick on others because they are different.  At the same time this was all going on I had boyfriends, strings of boyfriends professing their love for me, turns out I had figured out to take my pain out on others. I'm very charismatic when I want to be, I started to develop no regard for others all the while still craving positive interaction from those I trusted and respected.  It was time for college, I graduated high up in my class, I had been accepted to every college I had applied for.  On condition of me leaving home and attending college I was asked to see a therapist, I didn't think this would matter as I was just a 17/18 year old girl.  I went and was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.  A label handed to me along with a prescription to "fix" me.  I had to go once a month to make sure my meds were in balance but no therapy, community was recommended to me and I continued a dark path real quick.  I started hurting myself on a much more damaging scale, I never intended to kill myself but I was punishing myself for how broken I was.  My psychiatrist never noticed, I dropped out of art school unwilling to fight for myself.  Moving home made it worse, I suffered a devastating blow that caused even more pain in my life.  No one could help, every therapist made me angry because they didn't know how to help me, people around me were confused and scared and angry that they had failed me.  The reason I made it out alive was because I was afraid if I ended my life God wouldn't let me in to Heaven.
 Hopefully you all know this has a happy ending, I was at the end of my rope and I was offered a job at Mount Shepherd (my sanctuary throughout my life) and I was given the time I needed to process so much and pray and get closure I needed concerning my character.  During this time I made a friend who never judged me, wasn't afraid of me, he encouraged me and nurtured me in a way that brought me to life.  He never did some grand gesture, he just sat with me and asked me to draw and gave me his ipod to listen to and when I was afraid he let me talk until my fear was defeated.  It's so dramatic to say he "saved my life" but he never gave up and he never enabled my behaviors. We're coming up on our 7th wedding anniversary 9 years of being together in total and still to this day his patience and love remind me constantly that there is good in the world and that I can be good.  I see a therapist and a psychiatrist still, and I will probably always need to, I'm fine with that because I have a support group and a community I can rely on.  It's always going to be  a struggle and I have to be vigilant in my fight but I'm not alone and that makes all the difference.

So why the story?  There are pointers in here about what to do and what not to do if you  or if you have a loved one who is suffering, perhaps in silence.  It's not easy first of all, I went through 8 psychiatrists before I found one I like okay, he's not perfect but he's perceptive.  Find a community group, I am on a subreddit for mental health, also you're not the only one find someone who can hold you accountable.  If someone does confide in you don't tell them they're wrong or not to do something.  Listen to them, let them talk.  Do not interject unless you know personally the hopelessness, and even then it took them a lot of courage to come to you, let them talk.  If you have have a child that is acting out, look at their schedule, look at their opportunity for creativity or active play.  Not every kid wants to be around other children constantly and that is okay.  Let them work it out, kindred spirits can find each other regardless the age (trust me, I found one in fourth grade, the one I could count on to let me be me.)  Everyone is creative in some way it's up to you to find it and allow others to find theirs and their process for how to cope with everyday life (which as we all know is difficult.)  No one is the same and while that is a variable it is a constant variable that I am thankful for.  Please help one another, love one another, and lift each other up.  Your small words or actions could save a life.

If you ever have a question or a concern you may message me, it took a lot for me to post about my struggles but I needed others to see that there is hope.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Easy Peasy "Evangeline" Mural

Easy Peasy Decadent Desserts located on Battleground is one of my favorite clients.  They have some amazing and inventive treats, served up with a Parisian flair.  Traci and Erik Rankins are wonderful people to work with and I'm always happy to drop in and see what they're up to.  In January they asked me to create a mural for their remodel, of course with a Paris theme. My favorite artist is Alphonse Mucha and he completely embodies classic Paris and the Art Nouveau movement, so that meant time to go big or go home Mucha style.  Here is my process.

Sketch out in white charcoal. 

Acrylic is fun but it takes a lot longer to work with than my usual water color medium. 

She's coming together. 

Ryan-o insisted on artist working photos.

My artist smile

"Evangeline" is my favorite mural so far, though Easy Peasy wants another Mucha inspired mural for the front.  My supplies were simple: Acrylic paint and liquid gold leaf for the border.  I'm very happy with her.