Saturday, July 27, 2013


Don’t you just love the quirky and gnarled? The battered, the wrinkled, the messy? Things embedded with memory and depth. Oh, I do.

Zetti style collage
PlayBoy & Other You
The character lines gently etched into the face of a life fully lived... the twisted trunks of the massive oaks lined along the coastline having survived the constant battering of the gulf winds and the occasional hurricane blast... the patina of a neglected barn with peeling paint, weathered wood, and dissolving tin... the streetlight layered with lost notices, band promotions, and long past estate sales all torn, rain washed, and smudge with a glaze of graffiti... the faded grace of an abandon plantation, column capital toppled almost encapsulated with kudzu and morning glory, crumbling bits of stone slowly eroding back to earth.

Photograph from a day in the life of Laurie
Texture from Life
Don’t get me wrong, I also adore the clean, the sparse, and the new. Philip Johnson’s glass house... crisp freshly laundered Porthault bed linens... a brand new totally hot (if a bit pretentious) sports car... a baby’s just powdered silky smooth belly... saturated pure red paint straight from the tube.

It is the middle that is less lovable. The first scratch on your brand new bike... the first scuff on your leather sofa... the first brown droop on a bouquet of flowers... the first chip on your favorite mug... the first ugly age spot... the first fight with a new lover.

It is the pain of imperfection, the passing of what will never be again. It’s accepting change and the fleetingness of our earthly existence. (Ok, I’m reading too much into this, but I am in an introspective mood so I’ve got a little melodrama going on, but you get the idea)

It is about letting go of the unobtainable and enjoying the messiness of life. It’s picking up the broken seashells instead of holding out for the unblemished ones. It’s seeing past perfection and valuing the less obvious. Freeing your mind of absolutes and marveling in the amazing variations abounding all around.

Artwork Mashup
Artwork Mashup
It almost seems trite to pull my musing back to art but the trite can also be true. Perfection can become boring. Asymmetry tends to hold our attention longer. Our eyes are drawn back to the unique and different. It is why I love creating collaged backgrounds and paintings started over old text. There is something underneath -even if it barely shows in the final piece. It is the beauty of journalling then gessoing over it and purposely skewing the proportions of a character. It imparts soul and secrets. It gives backstory that I think a viewer picks up, even if only subliminally.

It is a lot like life. Who doesn’t want a smooth carefree breezy Disney style reality -but it’s the struggles that truly mold us. It’s when we overcome adversity or handicap that we grow. We tend to shine brightest in the dark.
A cup of Tea and a Good Book
Good Morning PJ Girl
"A woman is like a tea bag, you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water." - Eleanor Roosevelt 

I believe that God never puts anything in our life without reason. We can opt to disregard its purpose but we are blessed and able to bless others so much more if we don’t.  

What hardships have you faced that you can now take and use -even if it’s just a greater capacity for compassion and empathy? 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

How about a Byte: Eyelandia

I've been posting mostly BITS so here is BYTE. I have a series of related photoshop and video installations I am working on and thought I'd share one of them. It is a part of my Eyelandia Series titled "Eye C U". It is done purely by manipulating layers and adjustments, cutting splices then adding inverted words.

The eyes truly are the windows to the soul and I find them endlessly fascinating. 

Graphic Eye and Text Print

Here's looking at you!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Putting on the Mask

My last blogging entry was regarding authenticity and what I feel it means to be real. This one is about making the artwork that spawned that post. 
First, I'll begin with my inspiration. As I've mentioned previously, I have lots of sketch/notebooks (yes LOTS of sketch/notebooks) which when ever the light bulb in my head blinks, I immediately pick up. Sometimes it is a quote or just a word, other times it is a full blown drawing down to the last detail but usually it something in-between. (This keeps the stress down since I know that if I have a day when the creative muscle is not cooperating, all I have to do is pick up any one of them and Ta-da I have my Mojo ready and waiting)

Well, this particular inspiration is a combination of a sketch I did over a splatter of purple paint, a beautiful b/w photo of some roses, a rather bland painting of a girl I had done over an old paperback page for valentine's day but wan't quite happy with and a rerun I caught of HGTV's Secrets of a Stylist. The first three inspiration images you can see right above. The tv show which actually triggered the sketchbook drawing had a lovely bedroom make-over for an actress named April (she is the best friend on Drop Dead Diva) The colors in the room were in shades of lavender, gray and white with a bright orange pillow pop.
I still had one of the collaged boards I created while doing the previous friendship painting so I was ready to go. If you ever don't feel up to painting but still want to spend art time, I highly recommend getting some backgrounds going that way when you do want to paint, you are already one step ahead and no intimidating white canvas creeping you out. I draw up some flowers, cut them out and add them to the board then start painting messily. I begin with mostly purples and grays. Next I scan the Valentine girl page (I never know when I might want to come back to her and let's face it, I am a natural documenter and scan pretty much everything -now finding it on the computer later, that is a different story) then cut the girl and hearts out of the original paperback page. I position the face on the board and use matte media to "glue" it down. I add more purples to her hair and decide to put the hearts away for a later project. 
The painting is getting a little muted and dull. So I roll on some orange polkadots, still not loving it so I pull in some blue. That, while going away from my initial color concept, starts to add some much needed life. Now I see it going more in a New Orleans Courtyard sort of direction. I cut out a bird shape from some old sheet music and paint the details with fluid acrylics. Then add some stamping in black of music notes, graphic flowers, and butterflies. I use purple, black and blue watercolor crayons to outline the girl and the bird. I paint over much of my girl's face to blend it in. I deepen the darks and lighten the lights but the background is really competing with the figures so I add glaze of Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold (a burnt rust color) fluid acrylic to settle it back down. Most of the original collage is completely covered up but paintings are like that -they have a life of their own.
Next, I have to decide what my birdcage is going to look like. Thanks goodness for Google. There are hundreds of birdcage images. I just absorb for a while. Then I take my roll of bumwad (trash paper, tracing paper, whatever you want to call it) and sketch over my painting to figure out how big, how detailed and exactly at what location I want to put the cage. I'm actually happy with my first option. Often at this point, I will completely change my mind and decide to add a fish instead of a bird or a building instead of a flower, or a key instead of a heart, ..... but today I stay with my original plan.
After painting on the birdcage, I scan in the image. I told you I am a scan fanatic -love me some scans. I decide take my image in to photoshop and up the saturation then print out a larger version. I actually use this print to complete the art piece. I'll probably come back to the original in the future and modify it differently, who knows.
I need a mask for my lady but the scrap of gridded acetate I planned on using competes with the more decorative lines of the birdcage. I wish I had some black lace then brrr ring ... It's my Mom on the phone. Would she like to go with me to the fabric store -no, it is late but she just might have something in her sewing basket that could do. Yeah. No late night fabric run to the next town. I drive over to my Mom and Dad's house, bringing my print to try out the lace. The lace is really big and heavy but if I cut just a small section of the center of a scallop it will work. Bedtime. Next morning I glue on the lace and add jewels to the corners. Another scan. I want to add my words but my computer fonts are too perfect and my rubber stamp letters are too small. What to do? There is an old newspaper besides me, the joys of a messy art room, so I stamp the words the way I want them, blow them up on the copier, grunge them up with an ink pad and a little paint. Re-blacken the letters that blur too much, glue them on, then outline with black and blue watercolor crayons. A few more jewels on the birdcage, iridescent paint on lips, bird's breast, and under the lace at the eyes. Voila ...all done.

Life is a Masquerade, My Friend. 
Won't You Join Me in My Masquerade?

Don't leave quite yet, there is just a bit more. One of the last little things I like to do is play around with my artwork in Photoshop. Such a deviant little time sucker it is. Well, below are a few of my variations.
First is an Oxblood rendition. I think it has a more mysterious nighttime feel. The middle one is over bright and intense. I think it has a youthful kick. The last is blend of purple and tangerine. I think it is the most cheerful and light-hearted. Some or all will soon be available in my Etsy Store so drop on by.
I hope you've enjoyed this peek inside my process and will come again -bye for now :)
Music to go along with the Art: Masquerade

Saturday, July 13, 2013

What Is Authenticity?

Most people would say to be authentic is a positive attribute, but what does it mean. To be Real (yes the disco song is playing in my head right now) to be True, to be Transparent, to be Honest. Why do I aspire to be Authentic? What does Authenticity have to do with my Art?

"Life is A Masquerade"
My Latest Embellished Bit of Artwork

I think to be authentic is to be wholly one's self. There is this deep need inside all of us, to be known and understood. This can be crazy hard since I have no idea who I really am, not to mention it changes constantly. So often who we are is tied up in our roles (mother, daughter, architect, artist, teacher, ...) and sadly our possessions and status. We also take to heart the characteristics that others have put on us (the smart one, the rational one, the fat one, ...) These are just cloaks, bits of clothing we put on or simply forget to take off, not our essence.

The only "true me" and absolute part of my core being is that I am a child of God, undeserving but unconditionally loved. This is my foundation even when everything else is whirling like autumn leaves in a wind gust, or a shell fragment in the crashing surf. This is more than a mere role or personality but the unchanging center of ME. 

We (& by this I mean me but I think it is pretty universal) have been hurt by sharing too much with the world so we build up an armor (strange how closely armor resembles the word amore). It can become almost impenetrable. We put on a face of what we think others will like or accept while keeping our most vulnerable self tucked tightly within. We think we are keeping ourselves safe but in reality we are closing ourselves off from truly experiencing life -an authentic life.

When we feel, feel deeply, we really live. The highs are higher and yes, the lows can be lower but WOW, it is authentic. I am only now learning to feel. It is wonderful. It is why I create.

I am trying to become more open. Let people see me more. I know that I can only be relatable (knowable) if I let the proverbial warts show. It is scary. I am afraid of being judged, being seen as boring, strange, awkward (all of which are probably at least a little bit true) Imagine the Wizard of Oz, I can't help but wanting to be the fancy face in the smoke, mysterious, bigger than life, significant.

But I am embracing all of me, even the crazy bits: black, white, purple, polka dotted, and plain. (Channelling the song by Meredith Brooks at the moment) I am all these things and more. Guess what, not everybody is going to like me (ouch) but it is ok. It is also ok to change, grow, and evolve. I am not who I was yesterday nor am I who I will be tomorrow.

Some masks are fine (even necessary) for a season but we need to know when we have them on and not be controlled or confined by them. So then ... Cheers to Authenticity. May you always be real.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Fourth of July

I am so excited that my amazing daughters are home for the Fourth of July -Yeah! There will be lots of friends and family for a eating extravaganza then fireworks down by the bay (Hopefully the weather will cooperate) The image below is a detail shot of a quite large vertical piece. It represents all the incredible opportunities and freedoms our wonderful nation affords. I am blessed to be an American!