Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve 2008

So here it is! Can't believe another Christmas Eve has arrived. I made this little tag for my husband and thought I would share. This tree is a collage of photos and other hand made papers. I created it this Am in between baking two pies and finishing off some Christmas present wrapping. And oh yes, my Claire and I put together my husbands present too. Whew!

And I did survive the Nutcracker. I attended 8 of the 10 performances. I never ever get tired of watching my children perform. They are artists for sure. Colin and his sister Kaitie (who is two years older than him) received standing ovations for their Russian solos. They were awesome. I had more parents of dancers (many of whom I only know by sight) came up to me to say how wonderful they were. Colin was also Fritz and I was blown away by that performance as well. And then there was his performance as a Spun Candy Cavalier. My Little boy was the talk of the town! I am so proud of him and his sisters. I might also say that he is now on a full dance scholarship. I guess they like him!

May your Christmas be blessed and your New Year prosperous. Till 2009...


Monday, December 01, 2008

Nutcracker Push 12-1-08

I am having serious withdrawal...I can't stand that feeling of not being able to find the time to escape into my studio. I have a work I am just dying to finish. I need to feel the paint between my fingers. Poor Clara will have to wait as well as the rest of my life. I have not even had the time to check in regularly with my usual life lines on-line. Kelly Rae, Rosa, Misty, to name a few. My own blog is also suffering. Those that follow, please forgive me.

So where have these two months gone? I have been so wrapped up with my children's performances. The extra rehearsals and trying to juggle the home work agenda (theirs of course), is trying to say the least. We are at the studio or in the car going to and from the studio most of our free time. My son Colin has perhaps the the heaviest load. He has two solo parts: Fritz and the Russian and a rather large core role in a newer addition to this particular choreography. He is also understudy to the male solo role for Chinese. This means a lot of extra rehearsal time. All three of the kids have been plagued by injuries as well. Colin has had a pulled groin muscle and shin splints. Trying to get a 13 yr old boy to sit with ice packs on his
injuries is next to impossible. The girls have had similar injuries and Kaitie has been plagued by hip problems. We have been nursing them each evening trying to keep them together. Then there have been all the colds. Serious sniffles have been passed around between kids and adults for the past 8 weeks. No wonder I can't think straight. And now we are headed for the home stretch. The rehearsals will only intensify. Tech week (a term they use for rehearsing on stage at the venue and checking all the sound and lighting, begins next week. Right after school the kids will be brought to the Woodstock Opera House where they will practice until around 10 each night. Hopefully they will get their homework done. It is going to be a long couple of weeks leading up to their performances. Hopefully I will be able to post again before those performances! But I know any art will be out of the question...

Here are a few pictures of Colin and his partner Sara, doing their Chinese number.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Christmas Dream: part 2 10-30-08

I added a few details to the work last Tuesday. Slowly but surely my little Clara is coming to life. This is still in the rough stages but we are getting there. There is so much going on in my head right now that I want to put into this work. I think I have limited myself with the size of this (11 by 14). Maybe larger next time! I want to add at least another rat and possible a third and I want to add more to the background. Clara still needs a lot of refining but that will come in stages. I am working on 300 lb watercolor paper (arches). I love this paper. It will hold up to most of my work. I can get it super wet and saturated and it holds its shape.
On another note...I have been given a reprieve. My gallery show will not be until January (I hope). There was a mix up in scheduling. Part of me is disappointed because I do have some pieces interpreting the Nutcracker ( 3 pieces 11 by 14), Clara is one of them. The other part of me is relieved because I am living the Nutcracker with my kids through Christmas. It is very frantic getting them back and forth from rehearsals, both scheduled and unscheduled. And the homework! I hate it! There does not seem time to just enjoy the holidays. It is just one big jumble. Sigh...I need to breathe.
PS Happy Halloween...We are having a party here...What was I thinking?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Christmas Dream in progress...very roughed in. 10-24-08

As I work on my latest mixed media and collage painting, I thought that I would continue to document my work in progress. I actually enjoy looking at an artists work in progress because some of the layers are revealed as the creative process unfolds. The working title for this piece is "Christmas Dream." But that may change. This is very rough right now. Things are still a bit wonky (to borrow a word my friend Undaunted uses) For example: Clara's hand is off as is her arm...hopefully that can be "fixed" when I get to the crayon stage. She obviously is no where near finished. More background elements need to be added and no doubt the colors will change in the background. I also want to add more texture in Clara's dress and perhaps the background too. The picture I copied from is a photo of my Claire when she was maybe 9 years old. I drew her on a sketch pad, changing elements of her clothes. She was wearing a warm up jacket. Then I transfered my drawing using good old tracing paper. It has a resemblance. The dress Claire is wearing is the actual dress that Clara wears in the Nutcracker as performed in Woodstock, Illinois annually. I am hoping to finish her next week which will be a week before my show. I have some serious odds and ends to tie up before the getting my framing supplies in order and printing out cards (title, descriptions, price, contact info) to affix under my works. I much prefer the creative process...

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month and breast cancer victims, I finished a found art theme finally called "Have Faith." Faith is something women must have when confronted with this terrible cancer. We must have faith that a cure will be found, we must have faith that we will survive this beast, and we must have faith that God will carry us through the worst of it. For all those fighting breast cancer, have faith...there are many who are praying for you.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

She Bowed for Clara: Finished 10-14-08

As I stare at this finished work, I fell like my style is evolving again. Yes, and I think it is a good thing. I would like to say that I am growing, least a little. My portraits are a tad more realistic and reveal more of how I am feeling. The small dragonfly was included in deference to a wonderful ballet instructior at Mrs. Svalander school. She has danced the Arabian number on and off for many years at our local venue. And we will be treated to another performance this year. I can't wait. This portrait looks nothing like her but it has her grace and elegance. The writing says: "And then a mysterious woman danced for me, so sensual and magical. When she was done, she bowed to me. She was so beautiful. "

And so it is time to move onto a new portrait. I want to interpret Clara from the Judith Svalander production of the annual Nutcracker. I want to use my own Claire as a model. I found an old photo of her dressed as a party child from the opening act. She is maybe 8 or 9. The original Clara from the E.T.A. Hoffman's book "The Nutcracker and Mouse King," was quite young...12 or 13: I so love this profile of Claire so I think I will enjoy sketching it. I am hoping one day she will be Clara in the annual production. This is one way to will that. The piece is starting to come together in my brain. I want to get into Clara's dreams...experience how frightening the mice were, experience the magic of the Christmas Eve party and the mystery of Uncle Drosselmyer. I hope I can convey that in paint. I also want to add some of the magic I feel every time I go to the Nutcracker. I would say I have been to my share over 12 years!


Thursday, October 09, 2008

Found Art Tuesday 10-6-08: La Virgen

As I work on my larger pieces, I tend to get a little antsy waiting for things to dry. My studio always looks like a hurricane (category 5) hit it and so I will often pick up pieces of this and that and try to assemble them into quick ATCs (artists trading cards). These are often found art Tuesday items. It is really a good exercise because I give myself different challenges. This one was timed... five minutes to be exact. Sometimes the challenges have to do with color schemes, themes, drawing, etc... The humble ATC is a good venue for experiments and my goofy self imposed challenges. I left this one at a local coffee haunt. I think I will do something along Halloween or Dia de los muertes next.

And I just noticed a new widget or gadget on this blog. We can become followers of our favorite blogs. So cool. I was surprised to see that I had a follower. Thank you UNDAUNTED! Now I have to figure out how I can follow my favorites.


Saturday, October 04, 2008

Nutcracker Mixed Media work: Arabian interpretation

I have a little over three weeks before I hang my next show. I was so hoping to finish two more new paintings. Unfortunately I spent most of my September "art" time working on a couple of logos and some volunteer work for our local library. Now it is crunch time. I really wanted to do a few more Nutcracker pieces as companions to my Snow Queen. I just started my interpretation of the Arabian piece from the ballet. This dance is very sensual and has an aire of mystery associated with it. The soloist is very self assured and alluring. I love the feel of this dance and have always wanted to pour my own creativity into a mixed media piece. Here she is in her humble beginnings. I have maybe 6 more working hours on her and then I think she will be ready to "clean up."

Monday, September 22, 2008

A First for Me.

I am most humbled by this thoughtful award. Sometimes when we are feeling sorry for ourselves, or "unloved, undiscovered, unwanted, un...", you get the drift, someone comes along to make your day, week, month, year..... I want to thank Linda for making my day and I am sure my week too. I am grateful that you read my blog and make comments of the nature that keep me going. And what is really so neat is that I can say I have a friend that lives in the United Kingdom. The power of the Internet has not ceased to amaze me. So anyway, there are some rules that apply when you receive an Internet award like this. First though, I will share what Linda (AKA Undaunted, said about this little spot on the cyberspace highway:

Kathy LaRocco is also a mixed media artist who paints and uses collage. Again, I can't help wondering how she even comes up with her ideas. Apart from producing work that is absolutely beautiful, I admire Kathy for stretching herself beyond her comfort zone and trying new techniques.

You know what, not even my children admire me! Now for the rules:

1) Choose 7 favorite blogs and…
2) Put the logo on your blog
3) Link the person you received your award from
4) Nominate at least 7 other blogs (didn't we already do that?)
5) Put links of those blogs on yours
6) Leave a message on the blogs of the ones you’ve nominated

I do have quite a few blogs that I try to keep up with for sanity's sake. Linda's and Rosa's have already won this award. So I am not sure, but my guess would be that it would be redundant to nominate them again. I enjoy these ladies art and words so much...Thank you for both being such an inspiration. Here are my nominations:

1.Kelly Rae
Kelly's words just soar. Not only do I look to her as a "mentor" but her sage advice and tenderness are so rare. Her art is definitely buried deep within her and she draws from her memories and experiences with so much strength. I think she would never admit to that because she is a very humble and appreciative artist, but never-the-less, she is stronger than she gives herself credit for. Please visit her site. You will not be disappointed.. Also, check out her new book. I absolutely loved it..... Taking Flight

2. Misty Mawn
Aside from Rosa's blog, Misty Mawn's was the first bog that I read with any amount of regularity. Her art reflects her soul. She is that good. She is a wonderful photographer as well. I so enjoy seeing pictures of her home in Virginia and pictures of her children. Because she feels with such depth, her writing ring true in the same vein as Kelly Rae's. But it is so unfair to even begin to compare these two wonderful artists. I just know that in Misty, I find some of myself. She too is a mentor. I treasure the articles she has written for both Somerset Studio and Cloth, Paper, Scissors. They are mini classes. I treasure her descriptions of all the wonderful encounters she has had as a guest teacher on her many art retreats . One of my greatest dreams is to be able to study with her, just once.....

3. Zorana
I discovered Zorana's blog after reading Artful Blogging (Somerset Studio). Her work is lovely and I enjoy reading about those little things that a working artists contends with. I can relate to her posts about her teen daughter and collage bound son. And well, I just plain love her use of color and form.

4. dj pettitt
dj is so well known in the mixed media world. Her classes are always well attended (so I hear, I have never taken a class with her). I have been a fan of her work for years. Her pro traits are so full of life and emotion. Her work with fabric is almost legendary. By reading her blog and getting a glimpse into her world, I have realized she is a regular person. She loves dogs and just went through the loss a her beloved companion. She only recently brought home a puppy and I swear her little Tulla Girl is just about the most adorable puppy that I have ever seen (and I have seen a ton of puppies). I will enjoy watching her little puppy grow up. Gosh I love dogs!

5. Kari
I have been a cyber space friend of Kari's for several years now. We met each other in a deco swap group run by Lisa Vollrath. The group is now defunct but I learned so many mixed media techniques by communicating with the artists from this group. Kari's blog is all about her "daily" painting exploits. She is primarily a watercolor artist who also explores the mixed media world. I enjoy reading about her thoughts as she completes a work. And her water colors are absolutely stunning. I look at them and shake my head. How the "hell" does she do that?

6. Paulette Insall
Paulette's blog was mentioned on another site (I wish I could remember where). I love her portraits and when I discovered that she teaches on line classes, I signed up as soon as I got payed (from my day job). She has a small son and as with these other artists, I really enjoy reading about her human side. The side that is a mother and is vulnerable. Her art work is taking off and she is becoming a presence on the Internet.

7. Claudine Hellmuth
Besides being an internationally known and loved collage artist, inventor of sorts, and all around cool person, Claudine's blog is just so happy. You can feel her smiles and her positive attitude. Of course she does write about sad things that happen in her life but for the most part, her blog exudes happiness. From her books and DVD tutorials, I have learned so many interesting techniques. And she keeps them coming through her blog.

And there you have...some personal favorites of mine. These ladies have inspired in ways that I can't put into words. I feel that my art is coming alive through them...even though they basically don't know I exist. It really doesn't matter though...I am just so lucky that blogging allows us to peer into the hearts and souls of so many wonderful artists.


Friday, September 19, 2008

Catching up with Found Art 9-19-08

I have been so out of sorts lately. Maybe it is because my fifteen year old has a new "friend" and will be going to homecoming, maybe it is because her grades are dismal, maybe it is because I have taken yet another volunteer role, this time for the public library, maybe it is because I have been uninspired to do any art and I have a show looming ahead (Nov. 1). I don't know.. maybe it is just me. Well yesterday I basically said to hell with it all and went down into my studio to start a new work. This one is inspired by the Arabian dance from the Nutcracker. I found all sorts of watercolor paper scraps on my table and completed this bookmark collage based on my state of mind. I am thinking I will leave it in our library because we are there so often. While I have not been doing Rosa's themes of late, I have been doing my own thing continuing in the found art tradition. I find it relaxing. These little pieces are so quick and satisfying. I just wish whoever finds these gems would at least leave a comment on my blog like I found it...thanks. Since 2006 I have been leaving little gems all over McHenry county and only once did I receive a comment! That resulted in my first ever gallery show. I guess I should just realize that the average person just does not get it.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Una Sonrisa, a finished work: 9-4-08

My portrait of Claire is finally done. I am pleased with the finality of it! I think the process of giving a finished piece of art a title is rather interesting. I generally have nothing in mind as far as a title goes and will often give my work in progress a working title. This work sat around my studio and then my family room for a month and finally it dawned on me that one of the defining features of my daughter is her smile, hence the title which means smile in Spanish. I chose the Spanish translation of smile because I think it is such a beautiful word. Sonrisa evokes a happiness in me and that is what Claire does. My Claire is very intelligent and quick witted. I love her quips and she can crack up just about everyone. But when she smiles, she lights up my world. I also found a quote about smiling (I just googled the word smile and came up with a dozen or so quote sights) and the handwriting on the wall ( a pun is intended here) says: "If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will benefit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work." I did write in who the quote is attributed to but can't read the name which is rather long. This closes the book on the class I took on line from Paulette Insall. It is time to move onto the next project (an abstract collage for my mixed media class).

Monday, August 25, 2008

First Day of School....

First day of school! Actually, to be more correct, it was the first day of school for Colin and Claire. My Kaitlyn started last week (Monday). So here are my babies. I find myself repeating that old
cliche, "Where has the time gone?" Gosh...Colin and Claire start their 8th grade year. This will be a fun year for them. Kaitie loved 8th grade. She had about the best teacher in the world. And now my twins have that same teacher. I wanted their year to be extra special and so I wrote an imploring letter to the principal last April. They started school together in Kindergarten. My son really needed his twin. Claire, on the other hand, was a free spirit. She still is. She is fiercely protective of her brother and kept an eye on him all through these years. I thought it would be nice if they ended their grade school experience together. I also pleaded for the same teacher Kaitie had. This woman can do no wrong in my book. She is fabulous. After I sent them off this AM, I had a crying break. I miss them all. Summer went by way to fast.
On an art note, I have another gallery show at Conscious Cup in November. This time it is a one person show (me). Hopefully I will be somewhat productive and complete 2-3 more works before then.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Claire: crayons added and background in progress 8-21-08

Quick update on m recent portrait. Depth added and background touches begun. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Next time I post her, she will be done :)


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Update: Photo of Claire

My "undaunted" art friend from the United Kingdom, left me a comment on my last entry. Thank you, thank you! You would think that I might share the photo that I was working from of my daughter Claire because I kept mentioning how much it looks like her. Duh. So here it is... What I have tried to do in order to better understand the placement of facial features, is work from whether photograph or the old master paintings such as the sketch I did of Frida Kahlo (July 3rd archive 2008). I discovered early on, that first--I do not like working from colored photos. I can't see the "lines" of the face and the true coloring throws me off. I guess that I would not do well working with a live model... Second---when I manipulate my photo in photoshop elements (version 6, and I am a big neophyte still having no idea what I am doing), I can change the colors and then go for the outline and shadows on the face much easier. Third---if I then sketch the face in my note book, I can then easily transfer the entire drawing or parts of it to my canvas using good old transfer paper (graphite paper). And well, for now anyway, that has served me well. So here is the original photo, the manipulated one, and my painting is just in the entry below (as it currently stand). I am painting the flesh tones from my memory rather than trying to get them perfect. That stresses me out too much and this work is representational anyway. I like working this way but it does take some time because each time I use photoshop, I seem to forget what filters I used and how to anchor the background etc.... One day I will go back to simply my own imagination.... Sigh


Monday, August 18, 2008

Claire in progress: 8-18-08

I worked a little further on this portrait that was started at the end of the "Faces" class taught by Paulette Insall. I think that it is really looking like my daughter. I know it does because everyone I show it to has commented on what a "nice" portrait of my daughter. I can't decide if I am pleased with those comments. I really don't know what I was after with this portrait. So as it is still in progress, I am going to withhold some of those thoughts and see where this painting takes me. My next steps include working with the Caran d"Ache crayons and I want to do something dimensional with the dress. I am also thinking ahead to the finishing bits. I see Claire everyday and one thing that I love about her is her smile. It is rarely toothy but I am blessed with seeing this little smile quite often. The smallest things make her happy, even things like butterflies and that big green katydid that we saw last night. She loves dance and her twin, her dogs and good books, many kinds of music and flowers....I am lucky.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Self Esteem Booster: StatCounter

As an artist, I love reading other artist's blogs. I have enjoyed
Rosa Murillo's blog for almost 2 years and I read her sage comments and advice on a regular basis. She is a good cyberspace friend and awesome artist. I also follow links to new art blogs on a regular basis. Some I book mark and others I visit once (usually because I just need more to read than the basic techniques used in creating a work). I have also found some non-art related blogs that are wonderful. I am sure that happens to a lot of faithful blog readers. I don't remember where, but I came across a blog by an artist who mentioned in the last line of a rather long entry that she uses a counter to record how many have visited her site. I had an A HA moment! Could it be that I was missing out on something? Duh...yea!

Here is the thing. I keep this blog for posterity sake, hoping my children, once grown, will get some additional insight about me. I can be impossible to live with, but I hope Kaitie, Colin and Claire, will see another side of their Mother that is more spontaneous, more loving, more artsy, and more..well just more. I hope they can realize and appreciate how proud I have been of them over the years. I keep my blog because I want to track my progress as an artist. However, I do hear that little voice in the back of my mind wondering if other artists will find some use from my words. Have you ever wondered if anyone but your cyber friends read your blog? Are we just a lost voice, too quiet for any one to hear in the vast network of cyberspace? For the longest time I really did not give it a thought. My words are my words...plain and simple. I have a few followers who comment on a regular basis and well that should be enough. But is it? When I read blogs such as Kelly Rae's, or Misty Mawn's, or Rosa's (see side bar), I am jealous...Jealous because their words are truly amazing, ringing with a pure resonance of love and life. Their sites are full of wonderful art and photos and thoughts... They are accomplished artists with a big following on line and in the real world... And here I sit, trying to be prolific, insightful, artistic...ha! I really should not feel like this if my blog is meant as a true diary. I should be thrilled that I have stumbled upon some wonderful art and worthwhile prose. I do get great pleasure in the blogs that I read. Somehow, though, I want this little space that I occupy in the universe to be more, to be a legacy. Is that nuts?

Back to the blog statistics. This little counter,, opened my eyes. You are out there, a lot of you, reading my words. That is most humbling. This little program is so cool. I can track the amount of hits to my blog site, whether you are returning, new, or unique visitors (based on cookies). I can track the number hits over time as well. Best of all, it is free. What this little StatCounter has done for me, you can't put a price on though...self esteem has grown 200% as I realize that others out there are discovering my words and art... What will I do with that info? Well for now...sit back, smile, and smell the roses (or yellow bromeliads).


Time Out for Fun

I have to say that this summer has been quite wonderful. I have had the best days driving my kids to and from dance camps and rehearsals. I say this without sarcasm, really! Just being there at the dance studio was calming. I would try to sneak peaks (parents are discouraged from watching the kids as we prove to be distractions) as my children worked through their moves. I watched as Colin took leaps and bounds (no pun intended) in his technique and posture. I watched as Claire grew more graceful by the moment. I watched as Kaitlyn came into her own. What more could a Mother ask for? Their summer workshop perfromance surpassed even my wildest imagination and I am so proud of them. One of my biggest thrills was watching as Colin and Claire took the stage together, along with their class, to do a crazy tango. It was priceless. Watching Kaitlyn shake her boodie in tiny boodie shorts and a sports bra made me cringe. She is fifteen and quite shapely and well while I loved the performance, being a Mom, I kept looking at all the teenage boys in the audience.... The last number of the night featured the Judith Svalander Dance Company members and my son. I about died. Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw. Colin kept up, every step, with the older girls and then some. I thought at the time, that he stole the number. Because I am his Mom, I figured I had the right to think that. Apparently, dozens of people thought the same. I was patted on the back by more people that I did not know. But the crowning moment was when Mrs Svalander, the ballet school owner and director, came over to hug me with tears in her eyes. Words can't describe how proud I am and was of Colin that night. I do wish I had pictures..... And so the dance camps all came to an end on August 2 with their performance.

We now have had several weeks off. This week my husband took off and we have been taking some wonderful day trips with the kids. They so need a break from dance. Colin and Claire danced 4 days a week for 6 weeks, approximately 5 hours per day. Kaitie danced 5 days a week about 6 hours a day. They are tired. These past couple of days have energized them. We hit the Brookfield Zoo and petted some sting rays...., Long Grove, and the Chicago Botanic Gardens, It has been so nice just to take some nice long walks all together. We need this week to recharge and get ready for school (next week for Kaitlyn and in 2 weeks for the twins) and Nutcracker season.

I leave you with a few pictures of backstage (Colin and Claire) , zoo visit, and the Botanic Gardens

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Underpainting, Claire Portrait 8-9-08

I had some time to work on my latest portrait. Not knowing where this will lead in terms of a title, I will call it Claire for now. It was difficult deciding how I wanted to depict her. I am still struggling with it. I have used an unrealistic flesh tone but I really like how this looks. It suites her. This is just the underpaint stage. I will complete the skin with Neocolor II crayons (Caran d' Ache). These crayons are very easy to blend and I almost like their effect better than the water soluble oil pastels. My little Claire has the most beautiful bronze tan right now so I may highlight her skin in bronze. Not sure yet. As I often do with my work, I let it unfold as I work on it. I often have an idea about how the work will like in the end but on these two portraits, they just happened. The portrait took front and center. I enjoyed the on line course with Paulette Insall. It is about the only way I can make the time for workshops anymore....

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Finished Portrait: Tell Tale Heart 8-7-08

All that is left is sealing the work and she is done. I think for an attempt at a more realistic portrait, she is OK. I did not have a clue on how to finish the painting after the portrait was done. I knew it needed something, but what? I came across a saying (not sure by whom) and thought I could tie that in with what I was feeling about Kaitie. The words are, "Feel not what your mind tells you, but what your heart tells you." It is something I have been trying to model for Kaitie for years. I hope that when I have moved on from this world, that Kaitie will look and that painting and understand. Needless to say this work will not be for sale.


Friday, August 01, 2008

Using the Crayons 8-1-08

The Caran d'Ache Neocolor II crayons I had purchased last December and have been using them on and off in my portraits for some time. I have also been an avid fan of the Portfolio water soluble oil pastels. This time around I used a bit different blending method and a different brush. I like the result. The crayons softened the look of the face. They definitely bended well. I tried the same brush and blending method with the oil pastels and it really did not work that well. I find with the oil pastels that I get really nice blending going on when I use a tiny amount of paint, usually white. All I used with the crayons was water and they blended nicely. What is nice about that is that the color stays true. So my face is basically done. I may go back in and touch up her neck, not sure yet. Then I will spray her with a workable fixative. I think I will probably outline her a bit more.. In the next lesson we will finish off the painting. I have a few ideas and can't wait to add those finishing touches.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

New portrait. 7-27-08

I have been thinking that while painting from photographs and ads from fashion spread, is certainly nice, and it has helped me find some symmetry in my facial features, I am beginning to feel like I have lost some of my "originality and spontaneity " in my work. The faces are pleasant enough to look at but what are they telling me or the viewer...I answered that with a "not much." So now I need to find a balance and continue to reveal feelings and emotions with my portraits. With that being said. I started another portrait from a photo. This one is supposed to be a likeness of my daughter. Whether it is or not is not important. I just need to be able to translate some of myself into the work and it simply is not there...



Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hair and eybrows added: 7-23-08

I spent a few hours today working on my class project. The hair and eyebrows are more or less done. Every time I pick this work up, I frig with the skin tone. It is driving me crazy. I know I will also go over the hair again too. I think the wispies are a little too thick. I will say that I love the challenge of all this though. Next week we will play with the artist crayons so I guess I better get my face to where I like it. I think I may actually sand portions of the face too. I am working somewhat intuitively at this point. That is because I have chosen different colors and color combinations than Paulette. It is kind of funny because whenever I take a workshop or class with a really good artist, I simply can't copy exactly what they are teaching. It feels wrong to me and so I put my own spin on things. I am thinking that is how I grow.
Till the next lesson!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The next step: 7-19-08

I have continued work on my portrait for the Faces class with Paulette Insall. Eyes and lips were completed and I redid the "under painting." I was having a hard time with the first flesh tone I laid down and so I completely redid it using the same colors but blending them a little different. I am still not completely satisfied but it will do for this lesson. I am torn here. Many of my portraits have been painted in a more emotional vein, using not quite realistic colors. Getting flesh tones to look real is just plain difficult and at some point I just gave up. I can see where this will take loads of practice. But that is OK...I have the rest of my life. I actually like doing portraits whose skin tones pick up my background colors or reflect my moods. But I digress...My main purpose here is to learn to sketch the face in some kind of proportion. I also wanted to improve the look of my eyes. I have to say the while my eyes are small in this work, I was able to achieve some depth and I am satisfied with them. The lips are OK and will do for now. I am not sure where Paulette is going next but I am sure I will learn something! I am so glad that I did this. It will create a new path for me to walk down.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Little Painting from All about Faces Class

As is becoming a habit this summer, time has completely escaped me. I seem to be in the car all day long, with very little time for art. I am not sure what possessed me to take this on-line class! I really wanted to sketch more to practice getting face proportions right but I never seem to find the time. I bet I am not the only mom with this time issue!

Last week, in the middle of one of my many taxi jobs, my 1999 model Jeep broke down, deader than a door nail! I had Colin and Claire with me and one of Claire's friends. Thank God nothing happened but it certainly could have. I lost all power as I was driving down a main road in Crystal Lake, IL. No brakes, no steering, no acceleration, no nothing!. I managed to get the silly thing over onto a side street and then we had to wait for the tow truck. By the time I got home it was time to make dinner. What should have taken me 10 minutes to get home, took almost 2 hours. What a day, a day lost. Iso hate when that happens! Anyway the next day I spent some time waiting for the Jeep and blessedly my bill was under $600. Whew, that certainly beats buying a new car.

Here are two scans of my current work in progress. The first show the background painting with a face that has been traced. The portrait was drawn on sketching paper and then I transferred with graphite paper. This just happens to be an attempt at a portrait of my 15 year old daughter. The second shows the flesh toned under painting. Sigh....the color is so off. Kaitie does not have any red or pink under tones. She has a lot of melanin and is very mediterranean looking. There is some yellow but not a lot. Oh well, maybe Iwill do a darker wash over the entire face, or work with those artist crayons.... not sure yet.


Sunday, July 06, 2008

Another Sketch 7-6-08

I never thought thought that I would be able to sketch a portrait that resembled the actual person. With Frida, my husband gave me a thumbs up. That was enough encouragement to try another portrait. This time I used a magazine ad (which I will not post due to copyright issues). But I received another thumbs up. Now I am hoping to be able to draw better portraits for my art work. I am getting the hang of facial proportions. Somehow that all escaped me over the years. I mean, I always thought I could just wing it...NOT! I need to learn proportions of facial features when the face is not straight on. I can't wait to paint some of these faces. I think I will transfer them to my substrate so I do not have to redraw them. I spent a lot of time on these suckers! I really have to thank Paulette for her excellent video and I am really looking forward to the next lesson.

Friday, July 04, 2008

New Look 7-4-08

I can't believe actually had 3 hours to myself today. I have been meaning to change the look of my blog for some time and I took those precious 3 hours to do so. I tried out this banner maker program which I am sure every one but myself knows about It took me some time to get the formatting down but it was a good lesson to learn.

I hope you all have a happy fourth. This little photo was a free image and I thought would suite the day well.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

faces 7-3-08

In a way, this one is Rosa inspired. Rosa, if you are reading this, I hope I did her justice. Here is a first attempt at a face. I wanted something to work off of so I used a book of women's portraits done by master artists. This was a really intimidating exercise for me because I have never been able to draw a face that actually looked like someone you could recognize. My husband actually recognized her. I am not sure what I learned from this exercise except for the fact that using guidelines before I drew her features actually helped. However I had to modify those lines several times to get the perspective correct. The guidelines from the class did not exactly work. Her nose was way to long and not broad enough. I think that the guidelines given in class maybe more beneficial if you are drawing a face that is looking straight on and from your imagination. Anyway here she is.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

On line class 6-30-08

Several months ago, I discovered the art of Paulette Insall,, and I was immediately struck by her style. She paints mainly portraits and is a mixed media artist. What really hit me was the her treatment of eyes and the near perfect proportion of all the facial features in her work. I really wished to improve those aspects of my work. When I discovered she offered on line classes for faces, I jumped at the opportunity and registered. I rarely get out to workshops because of time and of course expense, so I thought this would be a good compromise for me.

Week one is under way and I thought I would share a few sketches. I am enjoying her teaching style and the way she has broken up the task of sketching a face into small pieces
. I set goals for my self with this class and one was to sketch every day. Another was to be able to get facial features in proportion, in perspective, and somewhat symmetrical. I realize that no face is perfect but my main goal is to end up with features that do not resemble anything cubist! I am now going to attempt a full face next. I thought I would tackle sketching from a self portrait of Frida and then create some of my own faces. So far, I am at least sketching each day...


UPDATE: I sold one piece at my gallery show thus far. I am thrilled especially because I can appreciate how difficult it is to spend money on art in light of the current economy.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Raue Center Artist Reception June 14 2008

Artist Reception 6-14-08

To say that I had a most memorable experience at my reception would be an understatement. I can't believe what a wonderful event this really was. The Raue Center for the Arts made me feel so welcome. I was able to meet several people that were on the visual arts committee as well as the jury. They made me feel very special indeed. The beautiful spread, which of course I do not have a picture of, was very sumptuous! Cheese, crackers etc..., and wine etc... I did not even have time to survey the spread. I was so busy talking about myself (which was really weird). I want to thank all those at the Raue for giving me an opportunity to show my work. They are extraordinary.

It was so wonderful to see so many familiar faces come out to support me. My best friend, Joan, sent a beautiful arrangement from a very chic florist. I could not ask for a more thoughtful gesture. Her efforts to come that evening were amazing. She had to pick up her daughter about 45 miles away from the show, go to get a bite with family, drop off a gift for her brother, and then make her way to the artist reception. To top it all, she was early!!!!!!!!! She managed to sneak the tropical arrangement in before I even got there. My children were dancing their hearts out in Coppelia but my family was well represented by my husband Marc and a neighbor, who is like a grandma to my children, Jean. As people arrived, I was amazed at the positive comments I overheard. I think perhaps I was most nervous about those overheard comments. I tried not to spy on people's conversation, but you know how the ears will burn. Those comments alone gave me great encouragement to keep at it. I had a new artist friend, Mary Tefler-Holden, drop by and she brought several of her devoted students. Thanks to you all for coming and being so inquisitive and complimentary. I loved the questions and was more than happy to talk about my process. It was really nice to receive so many compliments because, well, so often we just don't always get recognized for what we do. I even had an encaustic artist, whose name I do not remember, thank me for sharing my art with so many. She said it is hard to put yourself out there and she was so glad that I did. Wow...was that really my stuff she was talking about? You know, even though you hear all these wonderful words, it is so hard to take them all in and internalize them. I am still soaring but at the same time, in disbelief. To have so much validation is wonderful! There were many more familiar faces, too many to mention, but I must say thank you so much for being there. I do hope you had a nice time

Finally, one of the highlights of the evening was a visit from Mr. Greg Begley and Mrs. Svalander. I would say about half of my work is inspired by these individuals and the ballets that they have choreographed and staged over the years. My children have been dancing with The Judith Svalander School of Ballet for many, many years. I certainly have much to be inspired by. It was such an honor seeing them. It nearly brought me to tears, and as a matter of fact, I did tear up when Mrs. "S" was viewing my work. I could see that she was visibly moved. What more could I ask for? Not much.

One last note...I had so many comments on my little cards, title cards to be exact located under each picture. Most artists list the name of the work, the medium, substrate, size and price...I added a short sentence or two with a dedication for each work or a description of what went through my head when I was creating the piece. I can't tell you how many people said that was wonderful to understand a little bit of what the work means. I am all for letting people interpret things any way they want but I have this thing about being a little more personal with my own thoughts. It worked. I think I will always display like this.

A short slide show will follow. My sweet Marc was very busy socializing and I think he was enjoying the affair as much as I was. Consequently the pictures are few and far between.



Kaitie ,
Kaitie and Colin, Claire

There are times in our lives when we experience something wonderful, something so wonderful that you will never forget it. This past weekend was filled with those experiences for me. My children performed in a new ballet (to their ballet school that is) , I had my artist reception, and we celebrated Fathers Day together.

I am choosing to blog about Coppelia first because of the range of emotions that I experienced this weekend. Coppelia debuted over 100 years ago in Paris and has been with us ever since. It is a marvelous ballet based on a book, The Sandman, written by E.T.A. Hoffman (the same guy who wrote the Nutcracker). It is about as comical as any ballet can get. Mrs. Svalander made sure that each class level, from the 4 year olds through the seniors in high school, were given center stage, at least for a few minutes. I can't begin to describe my feelings as the curtain rose. My children, as well, as the entire ballet school, had been working on this ballet for several months, with many long hours spent in rehearsal. I often felt like I should bring an air mattress and camp out at the ballet school. And as the curtain went up for the first time on Friday, my adrenaline was pumping in anticipation of a lavish work. I was completely overwhelmed and amazed by the entire work.

I laughed, I cried, I applauded, and I cheered. I am so fortunate to have been a parent in the audience! All the kids, from littlest to biggest, gave it their all. I am so proud of this group of young people! And then there were my three. My Kaitlyn, who is 15, is finally coming into her own as a dancer. Her carriage was more befitting a ballerina and she finally has a smile that is both serene and wise. Her pointe work has improved and she certainly has more confidence on stage. I did not see a lot of nerves. Way to go Kaitie girl! My daughter Claire, who is 13, has always danced beyond her years. She has the grace and beauty of a much older dancer. She still has 5 years of training before college to improve her technique and strength and then I think she will be formidable. My Claire was partnered with her twin Colin and well, that is where the tears came in. They were unbelievable together. I wish I had a video to post! But alas, no pictures or videos are allowed. My 13 year old son, Colin, is maturing and coming into his own. His jumps are higher, his line is straighter, his balance is better, and his core is stronger. My only complaint about this performance is that it ended...I wanted more. But then, I am insane anyway because the ballet was about 2 1/2 hours. Sigh, I never get tired of watching my children perform. I am so proud of them.


PS> Faye, This post was written with you in mind :)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Found Art Tuesday: 6/10/08

OK so the theme of "walk" was due about a week ago...I actually had it finished on Wednesday of last week but I am just now getting around to scanning this. This ATC kills two birds with one stone.
My latest news is that I am ging to teach some mixed media collage classes at "The Studio" in McHenry, IL.
I thought that a painless way to introduce mixed media concepts was through the ATC. I don't mean to take away from the artistry of these gems. There are plenty of ATC artists that are world renown. However, the small sized substrate always seemed to be less intimidating to me, especially since I have a background in scrapbooking and rubber stamps. So I designed a class that will cover 6 background techniques. Since I wanted to make some samples for the class, and I am one to find ways to cut corners too, I decided to use a background technique to make this little silly card.
The title of the work is "Space Walk" and you can interpret that any way you want! I used watercolor paper, a Krylon silver leaf pen, and really dilute watercolors. The rest is just silly drawing. I want the student to see how easy this is (took me about 10 minutes if that) and that even though the main elements are scribbles, it does not take away from the theme.
On another note, this Saturday is my artist reception at the Raue center. I am so excited! There will be a small crowd there and I am a little nervous about remarks. It is also the night that Big Voodoo Daddy is performing so I know there will be a lot of people going through the gallery. Cool! This should be a neat experience but I am still a little nervous :)

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Raue Show at a glance 5-31-08

Here are most of the works that are in my gallery show. There are about 5 more that I have not uploaded to the photobucket album but you get the idea. Just pass your cursor over a thumbnail for a closer look. I had a blast creating this little slide show... Enjoy!


The Deed is Done 5-29-08

I am exhausted! It is 10:00 PM here in McHenry, IL. and it seems like I have been on my feet all day. This AM I assembled 18 of my works for transport the the Raue Center Gallery I packed our van and my husband and I got out of our subdivision when I noticed that I forgot my camera, purse, cell phone...You know, the important stuff. So back we went. I must have been really nervous because I was told to get it together (something like that) several times. We had a nice lunch at a Crystal Lake restaurant (almost next store to the gallery )and then it started to rain. I just knew this day would be less than perfect. We brought the works in and then we had an hour to kill.
Gosh the suspense was building all day and now I was about to burst. I really had no idea what to expect...Well that is not entirely true.

There is an excellent blog out there... and I have been reading the info there for some time. There is an excellent tutorial on how to hang your pictures ( but I sort of wrote it all off. It just seemed to complicated to me. Basically, the two shows that I have been in, I just sort of eyeballed everything. Boy was I in for a shock! It took 3.5 hours to hang the show! And I only had 18 works! And you know what, I am sure I could not repeat this again if I had to do it on my own! Anyway a wonderful Raue Visual Arts committee member met us there and he helped us hang the show. It involved a tape measure, string, and a level. To get the perfect measurements almost requires an advanced degree. I took a few pics and will post those later. Meanwhile, here is the last work that I did. She is called "Snow Queen" and she resides in the Nutcracker and my imagination.

K who is off to bed now!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Odilon Redon

Thank you all for giving it the old college try (so to speak). Here is the drawing by Odilon Redon that I was trying to "feel" in my own painting. I rediscovered Redon about two years ago at a big show in The Art Institute of Chicago. I had forgotten how wonderful and really weird his work is. Anyway..I was trying to capture his emotions as I did my Faith painting. I did not think anyone would guess him. My painting only slightly captures the mood. I am not so sure I would have guessed Redon either :) Thank you new and old followers. And Amy, your comments made me blush. You know I am a huge Rosa fan and I am blessed that she has "recommended" my blog on hers. I think as one of my paintings expressed."We are all in this together." A community of artists finding their way, reaching out, encouraging, and appreciating what we share.


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Series Finished: 5-8-08

It has been about three month but my 4 virtues are finally finished. I had this idea to write a 4 line poem dealing with 4 virtues. Each line became a mixed media and collage work. The virtues I choose were Peace, Hope, Goodwill, and Faith. The works will look lovely together and of course it would be nice if they went to the same home. My poem is as follows :
With peace in her heart
Hope in her soul,
Goodwill doth impart
Faith sown to grow.

This is the faith work. I have been practicing drawing faces from the works of great artists. This is one of those drawings. And although I don't think it looks like the artist's woman, I am wondering if anyone out there has a guess as to the artist that I was trying to emulate. A hint, the original work was in graphite and the artist lived into the early 1900s. If you guess the artist, I will send you a print of the work "Faith Sown to Grow." That will give me an excuse to figure out how to have prints made :) Anyway the work was done using found papers, acrylics, oil pastels ( I love using those), and graphite. Oh and Rosa, I used all Golden products on this one :) The "glue" that I used was the soft gel matte medium. The work is about 4 by 6 and will be framed in an 8 by 10 frame.

Right now I am working on The Snow Queen from the Nutcracker. I wanted to get back to my children's ballets and the Nutcracker has been a part of our family for about 8 years. After completing three fairies from Sleeping Beauty, I wanted to give time to the Nutcracker. I am about a third of the way done and I hope to have it complete by the 15th of this month. Then that will be it before the show. I still have some administrative things to get done before the 29th and have to get myself in gear now.

Update: I have had two comments from friends who don't know who the artist is. Anyone else willing to venture a guess?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Found Art Tuesday 4-22-08: Kindness

I thought that I would make a high quality print of this newly finished work for the found art theme of kindness. This is the thrid in the Virtue in Rhyme Series: Goodwill Doth Impart. As I was getting close to finishing it on Tuesday, I thought this woudl do the trick for kindness. I plan on printing the image, signing it (my name will be barely legible) and then include a bit of an explanation of how the work evolved. That is quite a bit more than I do for most found art projects, but I could not resist making a nice print of it.

The work needs to be varnished and then it will be framed, final size is 8 by 10. This will be in my gallery show starting May 29th. I have one more work in this series and then my little poem will be completed. The Virtues I chose to represent were peace, hope, goodwill, and faith. Meanwhile, I hve started another ballet fairy, the Snow Queen from the Nutcracker. I hope to have her finished before mid May. It would be nice to have a few more works done. That gallery has three rather large walls!