It’s About to Get 3D

Making sculpture and sculptural installations for the first time since I was in art school feels really good as the pieces finally come to fruition. Below is a studio shot of all the work in progress as well as two of the fabric samples I designed to create the upholstered and plush sculptures. By next month the pieces will all come together. The large painting on canvas is still in progress and the paintings on wood are complete. I’m looking forward to a busy summer of productive art making to follow the momentum of exhibiting at the art fair, Art Market San Francisco.

StudioShot

As part of my thesis project in 1993 when I was a senior in the painting department at RISD, I created some plush installations. I knew that after leaving the sculpture department a couple years earlier I would still want to make what I called a 3D painting. I had envisioned a painting coming to life in similar materials, spilling on the floor or throughout the studio or exhibition space. The original realization of this idea was crude at best but the idea never left my consciousness. In this first attempt I painted on pre-designed fabric. I carved a stamp out of a lino block for one image and cut out round black faux fur for the other. This time around I have designed my own fabric from which I’ll make the sculpture. I found this old photograph of a detail shot of the piece which was originally about a 12 foot by 12 foot painting with an installation along the base:

InstallationDetail1993

As a 22 year old artist, I didn’t have many life experiences from which to draw content for my work. While the struggle of being a female artist in a male-dominated sculpture department posed its challenges, it wasn’t really real life pain. The work I made was mostly based on the premise that ugly was beautiful. My work now draws on years of life experience both in my improving skill as an artist as well being informed by recent traumatic life events.

What a nice surprise to see a fantastic shot of my esteemed colleague Hampton Terry’s studio in Valencia, Spain. All the sweeter was spotting one of my paintings hanging in the middle of his beautiful fauvist-inspired landscapes. I think our paintings complement one another so well in spite of our obvious disparate styles:

HamptonTerry'sStudio1

I met Hampton at an art opening of his the first month I moved to Spain. He immediately started introducing me around as “a real artist” which was a generous compliment coming from him. He was good friend and supporter during my three-year life in Spain. Before I moved back to The States, we made a point to exchange art. How lovely he framed and hanged my painting on paper.

This month’s music: Kaytranada

 

Landscapes are for Lovers

As I continue to work on my new series of paintings, my gallery in Dallas asked me to make some smaller paintings to take to the art fair, Art Market San Francisco. I made a couple of small paintings based on my larger Cluster work for the fair which took place from April 27th-May 1st:

NoSmallcluster1,2016,16x20inNo Small Cluster 1, 2016,  acrylic on birch panel, 16″ x 20″

The title continues the Cluster theme and basically expresses the idea that there is no small breakdown, no small heartache, no small “falling apart”. To that end I titled these pieces No Small Cluster.

NoSmallCluster2,2016,16x20inNo Small Cluster 2, 2016, 16″ x 20″, acrylic on birch panel

I also finished the first Cluster Painting which is comprised of four panels with an overall dimension of 36″ x 48″. The installation which will accompany the painting is still in progress. I have designed and ordered the fabric from which I will construct the installation. Here is the painting:

Cluster201636x48in

The second Cluster painting is in progress and the fabric for the installation is currently being designed. Here is the four panel piece in progress with a working title of Cluster 2. The title may change to reflect the emotions of the moment I learned that my ex was going to take me to court for full custody of my girls after he was ordered removed from the house. While I knew it was impossible that my children would be taken away from me, the intense shock of the moment was acute. This painting is about that moment and the agonizing but silent sobbing of catching my breath:

Cluster2InProgress

My paintings have often been compared to virtual landscapes. Some may see the lines as horizons or ripples of water and others have described the colors as relating to nature. So I guess it was a logical next step to design an actual landscape. Beautifully shot by photographer Felicia Lasala, my landscape design really came to life as she used the lily pads in a playful homage to the movie Mon Oncle. The shoot was styled to be vintage yet futuristic. Here is a link to behind the scenes as the shoot came together for the newest edition of WOMN Magazine.

Here is one of the photos I shot of the behind the scenes action:
BehindtheScenesWOMNmag

For this month’s music, I cannot help but reflect on how Prince shaped my life and especially my adolescence. I have been reading accounts written by friends on social media about their favorite Prince songs and what they meant at pivotal times in each of their lives including a great tribute written by Questlove of The Roots for Rolling Stone Magazine. Reflecting back to my earliest memory of knowing who Prince was as an artist and the first song I remember loving, I started to trace my life as a fan. My earliest recollection has to be practicing walking in my first pair of heels in front of the mirror to “When Doves Cry“. I had recently had my braces removed and the ugly duckling image was beginning to shed. That was a song that could be played endlessly. I never grew tired of hearing it and it only got better with each play. Soon after, I played “Kiss” over and over on the juke box at our local pizza place (Raffallos on Highland). But definitely one of my favorite Prince songs during high school was “Raspberry Beret“. Prince was the soundtrack to a lot of firsts for a lot of fans discovering their own beauty in the mirror. I was fascinated by how he looked and sounded and the music that resonated with me can be measured by my coming of age more than the subtext and underlying meanings to the lyrics. Was he gender identified as male or female? Was his sexual orientation gay or straight? It just didn’t matter, he was Prince. I’m grateful to have grown up in a time where Prince espoused tolerance, individuality, and the fact that he could not be pigeon-holed into a sexual genre. He was the champion of the “different” and that was huge. In 1990 as a sophomore in college I had four cassette tapes in heavy rotation on my Walkman: The Pixies, Sade, Nirvana, and Prince. And of course when it was 1999, you can imagine what the song of the year was. We, the kids of the 80’s, all mourn the loss of an artist who helped shape our musical vernacular but more importantly an artist who taught us that being an individual was not just to be tolerated but celebrated.

My favorite Prince tribute by far is this beautiful poem by OT Pasha:

he talked 2 me about my own sexuality
before I hit puberty
+ said being different is a gift
he showed me that being an artist came with the divine responsibility 2 uplift
he screamed at me 2 find my god
but my god
my god was him
I felt like I was his only disciple
+ he my light when days were dim
he showed me how 2 love myself
+ take the world in my own hand
he taught me how 2 talk 2 a girl
+ show her I understand
he was supposed 2 live forever
beyond my future, present + past
but he told me once upon a time
that “all good things never last”
I loved him so for so many years
assuming there would always be more
but now I’m confused
full of tears + rattled 2 the core
the whole fabric of my reality now
simply feels untrue
because I never had rose-colored glasses on
my glasses were Purple in hue

Working Titles

I felt lost in the task to translate the night that changed my life. The enormity of the event seemed to dictate a large scale painting. But I realized the moment of feeling completely alone and solely responsible for my two young children didn’t have to be rendered in physical size. The intimate scale of these small panels convey the message exactly. The frenetic palette and multi-layered composition communicate the moment of panic and disbelief. So, the 911 Call painting is completed and awaiting the sculpture installation I’m currently working on to accompany it. I’m relieved the series has begun. Now I can continue the cathartic exploration in the next panels each with their own installation.

911Call In Progress

The next piece in progress currently titled Cluster is about my first appearance in court just a few days after calling 911. My request for a restraining order was denied partly due to an omission in the Police report. I first collapsed in the bathroom of the court house unable to compose myself or even walk to my car. After drying up my tears, I managed to make it to the car park where I collapsed again on the grass outside the entrance. As people passed, I could not compose myself yet nobody stopped. I was relieved by their indifference because even in my public display of grief, I did not want to be bothered. The clump or mass of pill-like, capsule shapes in this painting represent how in spite of my best efforts to keep it together and hold my life intact, the explosion of events was out of my control. A couple of weeks later, armed with a lawyer and properly worded paper-work, the court granted my kick-out and restraining orders and my children and I were able to move back into our house. This piece will also have an installation below the painting dealing with catching that woman falling to the ground. Cluster, in progress below, will be installed as a quad when completed:

Cluster In Progress

Womn Magazine released a few more teaser images ahead of their Spring issue from the photo shoot in my garden and studio last month. Here is an image of the second model from the shoot also through my studio door:


Womnmag1

Still no photos with my garden but here is the same model where the photographer cleverly used bits of my driveway:

Womnmag2

This month’s music: Anderson . Paak

Commission Accomplished

When a collector of mine commissioned me to make a companion piece for a painting they already owned, I was nervous to take on the challenge. I’m used to making work and if a collector likes the piece, they buy it. I’ve never been asked to do anything quite like this before. So I decided to make eight paintings on paper and allow the collector to choose one. I had no idea if they would like any of the work and/or if they would deem any of them a worthy companion piece for the art they already owned. Luckily they did love all the work and here is the one they chose:

CliffDistortion23,2016,15x18in

 Cliff Distortion 23, 2016, acrylic on paper, 15″ x 18″

I made the work the same size and composition and I tried to mix colors I thought would complement my client’s existing work. But color is so subjective and the visceral experience of my work is unique to each individual viewer. What they loved about the piece they bought may not have applied to the new pieces I made. But I love to work and nothing gives me greater satisfaction than the reward of a client loving my art. Click here to see all eight paintings.

I’ve had a few false starts and stops on my new painting, 911 Call. Being in and out of court has taken its toll on me emotionally and I find that even when I have time to paint, I am unable. Protecting my children has been my priority but I’m hopeful that this ongoing trauma will inform the work even more.

911CallInProgress

I have decided to reduce the panels from 5 across to four. It seemed that the line drawing from the recording of my re-enactment of the 911 call divided well into four sections. At first I projected the actual sound wave onto the panels but I found the line to be too frenetic and busy. This led me to freehand the line drawing as I have done in my previous work. I have also minimized the size of the image to create a floating rectangle in the center of the panel rather than fill in the entire space. This conveys an element of privacy and aims to illustrate the personal battle I have had to wage with the painted sound wave more intimately rendered.

Here is a sneak peak at a photo shoot which took place in my newly designed landscape. There were two models photographed in and around the pool, the garden, and the playhouse. This image was shot just using the door to my studio:

WomnMagShoot

The publication is called WOMNMAGAZINE, Where Old Meets New.Fashion.Living.Destination. The edition featuring my garden will be out in April for their Spring issue. I’ll share behind the scenes photos and unpublished final images from photographer Felicia Lasala.

This month’s music: Fat Freddy’s Drop

Wounds and Injury

Over the summer, I managed to finish the diptych entitled Frequency Distortion 1. There were many interruptions, stops and starts hindered by powerful, emotional circumstances in my life at the time. When I finally managed to complete the piece, my daughter remarked that she thought the painting looked like sound waves. This not only gave me the title of Frequency Distortion, it also informed the idea for my subsequent body of work, Wound Frequency.

FrequencyDistortion1,2015,63x40in

Frequency Distortion 1, 2015, acrylic on birch panel, 63″ x 40″

It’s hard to understand why happiness is so elusive. Or, maybe it is easy. We leave an unhappy marriage but that does not equate peace. We try to find happiness in other places, but we fall short. Maybe there is really no true happiness. Maybe we just take the good with the bad and hope tomorrow will be bearable. We measure our lives by the passing of painful events. These events are pictures in our heads and create memories of images to reflect on. What if we measured these life events by the sound they created? What if the auditory memory served as the more poignant? This is what I will explore in my new series of work.

911callPanels

Wound Frequency will grapple with interpretations from recollections of recent events in my life. The paintings will be from recordings of frequencies from the audible crying, the begging, as well as the silent sobbing of catching my breath. The first five panel piece will be entitled “911 call” and is a painting of my voice recorded as a memory of the night I had to call the police to protect myself and my girls. I am not usually one to air my personal life publicly but I feel compelled to record this history in my work and hopefully the power of the moment will be conveyed successfully. Maybe the creation of this body of work will allow tomorrow to be a bearable day.

In gallery news, I recently received this image from Galleri Urbane of some of my works on paper installed at the Tailwater Corporation:

TailwaterCorporateCollection

Cliff Distortion 3,7,11,15, 2014, acrylic on paper, 15″ x 18″ea

I’m also working on a commission for collectors of mine in Arkansas. The couple recently collected one of the work on paper series also purchased by the Tailwater Corporation. They wanted two to make it a diptych and since most of the series was sold out, I happily agreed to paint more for them to choose from. Here is the work in progress:

FrankBaileyCommission

This month’s music: Basecamp

Art in the Family

I’m pleased to start the New Year by sharing new work of mine, my children’s, and of my friends I invited for a holiday open studio. In preparation for the event last month, I designed and installed a drought tolerant garden. The project was expedited because of an early morning shock when I discovered the construction workers, building a house directly behind mine, were tearing down my border fence. In a panic, I ran out to ask them in my best or worst Spanish what they heck was going on. After learning the fence and all my bamboo, most of it dead, would be torn out to make way for a concrete block wall, I pushed forward with my re-landscaping plans.

With grass no longer a viable ground cover in Los Angeles, I had long imagined a secret garden of sorts with pathways and lily pads meandering through native plant species. As it came to fruition, several people have described it as a mini-Getty which I take a huge compliment since I am a big fan of Robert Irwin’s garden design for the Getty Center in Brentwood. Like me, Robert Irwin is a fine artist who designed a garden. It’s conceivable we don’t know what we are doing from an architect’s perspective or knowledge, but maybe that makes our visions strangely unique and possibly wonderful. We create things that make our eyes sparkle and there is no other philosophy which lends itself to a better source of creativity.

Here is an image at the beginning of the project with the old grass and some dead trees removed and the concrete lily pads installed:

LandscapeBefore1

The lily pads mimic what already exists in the driveway so it was a way to tie in all the spaces of the yard. Next, I selected the plants and laid them out. I was admonished by the worker at the nursery to take pictures, go home, do more research then return to select my plants. As I pulled the ones I wanted, he began to see my vision and started taking pictures of my choices saying how great they went together.

Each planting space was mapped out as a square or rectangle to create a geometric pattern:

LandscapeInProgress

And finally, rocks were laid out, also in geometric shapes, to connect the lily pads and create walkways that join the house to the studio, the playhouse and the pool. Sadly, I learned that my favorite building supply store in Hollywood was to be demolished to make way for a condo building. The “store closing” discount I received on my rocks hardly tempered my disappointment for losing another great business in Hollywood to developers. I’ll miss the friendly faces of the same guys who have worked there ever since I have been shopping now for over a decade.

I documented the entire process over many weeks and it is still a bit of a work in progress as the new trees along the property wall still need to fill in. Now greeting clients I no longer have to apologize for the dead grass but instead can show how a low-water garden can be even more beautiful than a flat slab of non-native ground cover.

LandscapeAfter

All that effort made it especially rewarding to host Alyson Iwamoto Ceramics, Jen e Ceramics, Boyce Studio, Juniper & Fir, and Cheryl Lee Scott at my studio.

OpenStudio4ArtistsClockwise from the top left image: Alyson Iwamoto Ceramics, Jen e Ceramics, Juniper & Fir, Boyce Studio

CherylLeeScottChainlinks

Cheryl Lee Scott’s Chainlink line of jewelry

I also invited my good friend and RISD and SMFA, Boston alum Jimi Vieira to hang his amazing rocker drawings. One of the three he displayed show Jim Morrison collapsed on stage in a mock breakdown:

JimiVieiraJimMorrisonJimi Vieira, Jim Morrison, 2015, pencil and charcoal on canvas, 36″ x 72″

I displayed six new nursery art paintings. It’s always nice to take a break from my large scale fine art and focus on something small and whimsical.

NurseryArt3Nursery Art 3, 2015, acrylic and paper on birch panel, 10″ x 10″

But the best was having my two daughters participate in the open studio. My almost eight-year-old made some beautiful bird drawings:

ElleDrawingRedBirdSOLD

And my twelve-year-old hand-knitted doll scarves. She used her time on the bus to and from her middle school to knit and focused really hard on producing enough quantity to meet her perceived demand:

Leelee'sScarves

What a better way to reemerge myself into the art and blogosphere than by encouraging my own children to create art and have the experience of making and selling work as I do. It was a great lesson for them to understand what it is like to work for many weeks if not months ahead of an exhibition, think about marketing, displaying the work, and ultimately sell the work. Then in the aftermath, how to deal with the highs of a sale and the lows of not selling and the disappointment of anticipated guests who did not arrive. I hope it gave them a taste of what my life is like as a working artist. It’s a lot of hours working alone and not always a big payoff when the body of work is completed.

But now that the nursery art is out of my system, I have started working on new ideas for my next series of work about recent traumatic events in my life over the last six months and beyond. I’ll be making some large-scale wall pieces for the first since my year as a sculpture major at RISD.

Here is some of the music I have been listening to since my last post: Hermitude, Ta-Ku, Jamie Woon, Big Grams, and Disclosure

 

 

 

 

You’re a Winner

After deciding to reward one of my faithful subscribers with a painting, I picked a winner on the fourth of July. Instead of just giving a painting I already made, I created two new pieces and offered my follower her choice. It made the process much more fun as well as ensured that the recipient really liked the work. I posted the progress on social media and loved how involved people became in the process. Here is one of the paintings I made:

WaveDistortionMini1,2015,11x14inWave Distortion Mini 1, 2015, acrylic on birch panel, 11″ x 14″

And this was the alternate piece and the one the subscriber chose:

VoidDistortionMini1,2015,11x14inVoid Distortion Mini 1, 2015, acrylic on birch panel, 11″ x 14″

The latter piece was actually inspired by my seven year old’s beautiful attract drawing she made while we were in Washington DC:

Elle'sAbstractDrawing

It is becoming clear to me that she has an incredible talent for art and that no matter my own desires for her life and career, I cannot ignore nor discourage this ability. Here is a drawing she did just a few days ago:

Elle'sSeagull

I posted this seagull drawing on social media jokingly exclaiming that she might be following in my footsteps to RISD. While as a parent, I think what my kids do is amazing and I encourage and praise their efforts, it is the reactions of other people that so overwhelmed me. Now, she does benefit from emulating her older sister as well as her own very strong drawing skills but I never had that ability at seven years old. She has expressed a desire to be a fashion designer but I never heeded that beyond any other kid expressing a wish to be a firefighter or Cinderella. And kids change their minds daily as to aspiring future professions. I know my older daughter’s gift lies in writing and that she sits down almost daily to work on one of her many novels in progress. Seeing the artistic gifts my children possess is certainly amazing at such young ages and nurturing those gifts is a privilege. I only hope that when the times comes, I will be capable of seeing those gifts to fruition and support both of them in every way possible. I knew I always wanted to be an artist, as I have mentioned before in this blog, but I wasn’t entirely sure in what way it would manifest. It was only at RISD, when feeling exiled from the sculpture department, that I found my way into the accepting arms of painting department.

My older daughter is also a talented visual artist but her real gift lies in writing. Here is a poem she wrote in reaction to being rejected from a school she dreamed of attending:

“Walk My Own Way”

Well, now I tell you
If you don’t want your path
To be guided by another hand
Or your future seen
With a different eye
Or your wisdom
To be held in someone else’s head

Well, now I tell you
When you don’t wanna be pushed
And you don’t wanna be pulled
This is what I do
I walk my own way

When you don’t wanna be shoved
And you don’t wanna be sheared
This is what I do
I walk my own way

My way
Is a place without obstacles
Or rules
Or traps
Or bumps
Or dents
No, sir
It is an empty pathway that still needs to be paved

And I think one of them is for you

By LWM, 2015

Back in Valencia, Spain, the exhibition, Pinceladas Colectivas, is up at the Imprevisual Galería and includes the piece I created for the project as one of 148 artists. The cover of the catalog shows the figure given to each artist to embellish in its original form as well as the result of what 148 visions derived.

PinceladasColetivasSideView2

Here is a shot of my work from the opening. It is hanging on the top row. And yes, women still use folding fans in Valencia!

PinceladasColectivas

I visited the artist in his studio when my piece was finished to deliver my work. The artist and organizer of Pinceladas Coletivas, Miguel Ángel Aranda, made his living by copying existing paintings for clients; mostly pastoral scenes evoking a very traditional time in Valencia. While the neighborhood of Ruzafa, where our studios were located, was in a creative enclave of artists, the main inhabitants had been there far longer and were more nostalgic than avant-garde. The spelling of name of the neighborhood and its streets changed depending on whom you were speaking to: Ruzafa and Cadiz or Russafa and Cadis to name just a couple. As I reflect on my three years working in Valencia, what I miss the most is my studio, Sporting Club, and the artists I worked with in Russafa, I mean, Ruzafa.

This month’s music: Unknown Mortal Orchestra