Friday, April 20, 2012

Smoke and Mirrors

There were these old prints that I found many years ago that hung on an obscure wall in my house for years. They were sad and faded and old, but I liked them. So, here is me giving them a second chance. I cut out the parts I liked of the print, adhered them to a piece of plywood that I had washed with some subtle color. After some pen outlining, I cut up a toilet paper roll and made the slices into these nice black bursts of smoke. Matte medium was my friend. It served as glue and glaze in this piece. I wish I could show you a better photo--the colors are a little cooler in this photo, but you get the idea.
Just wanted to share. :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Giving old stuff new life. And giving it away.

"Life Giving"
Acrylic and paper on wood

Often when I start something new, I don't set out for the piece to make a statement or send a message. That usually comes during the process, or often a long time after the piece is done. Sometimes I just like it and it doesn't mean anything tangible. But, usually, the art takes on a meaning to me or someone else that only God can inspire. This particular one was inspired by my brother and sister-in-law's discarded kitchen wallpaper from the 70s. I had my eye on it from the day they moved into their house. When they renovated their kitchen, I got the leftovers! I cut out the flowers and got crazy! These flowers seemed to be having a very important conversation with each other. About what? You tell me. The rest of the piece just kind of happened. Then, months later, I was contacted by a friend from Creative Dreams Outreach Center in Stafford. Creative Dreams is a non-profit after school arts and tutoring program for middle and high school students. They make the arts accessible to teens who may never have the opportunity. They needed artwork donated for auction at their upcoming fundraising event. The theme of this year's event was Take One: It only takes one person, one minute to impact the life of a child. Hmmmmmm. Immediately, this piece came to mind as the one I would donate. Now I know why I made it. Our impact on others can be limitless, if only we will open up our lives to freely pour out Christ's love, life and gifts on others.

To find out more about Creative Dreams, you can see what they're doing at

Friday, February 17, 2012

Health for All

One of my favorite thrift stores occasionally puts a box of books out front with a free sign. This is VERY exciting for me because I love old books. Sometimes I love them for reading, but they also inspire me to make them into art. This one in particular, titled "Health for All," is a junior high health textbook from the 60's. 

Awesome. On so many levels. The possibilities never end. First of all, the 60's is one of my favorite eras for fashion, art, and design. The colors, the graphics, the illustrations, the photos. Awesome. Just the book itself, all other ideas aside, inspires multiple collages just waiting to be made. So many of the headers and topics are strangely relevant to my life right now. For example, I recently made a portrait of a family of owls for a friend from this book, and the background page was titled "tips on getting more sleep". 

Here's another Great one--"you're growing up." 

Yes. Thanks for the reminder. I try to forget that as often as possible. 

Part of the fun for me with collage is putting a cheeky spin on the original content of a book. I will share some of these pieces with you as they work their way out. My goal as a blogging artist (that sounds weird) is to not only share with you my finished work, but bits and pieces of my thought process, my movement through and the joys and pains of the journey of creating. I find that the most rewarding and fruitful part of being an artist is not having a huge fantastic body of work (that would be cool though), but the process of getting there. The most amazing conversations I've had with other artists are over unfinished pieces we are struggling with. My husband has connected to me and my art more deeply because he sees the constant problems and new ideas and techniques I push through in order to produce what is in me to make. When you see an unfinished piece of art in that ugly awkward stage (what many of us experienced in junior high, I might add), it is a vulnerable place for the artist to be. There are always the questions, "am I any good at all?" "can I really do this?" "what was I thinking?!?!" All of these questions and conversations and trials and problems expand me as an artist, as well as my heart and ability to empathize. They make us more healthy. 

I'm learning to embrace this ugly stage and all the questions and troubles as valuable and healthy parts of the process. Healthy isn't always fun, but it's necessary for quality of life.  

I guess I should go exercise now. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


In May of 2010 a dear friend was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 28. She was a beautiful presence as long as I'd known her. She loved on my kids and me so freely as well as everyone around her. Her passion for art and beauty inspired me. When faced with this terrible monster we call cancer and the implications it could have on her life, the troops were rallied. Friends and family joined forces to bathe her in prayer, love, and hope. She fought hard and was victorious! Not all stories end up this well, but we thank God for this particular miracle. I'm so proud of her and how much stronger she has become, and how she continues to unabashedly love and inspire people.

Over several years time, this friend has wanted to commission me to do a piece of art for her home. It took a while (as is typical)  for me to come up with an idea for her and her husband's home. As we looked at a wall together that she was reserving for my future art, we talked about using an old door hung horizontally for me to work on. The result came about as I thought about these sweet friends and the long road they have traveled at such an early age.

The door speaks for itself, so I didn't want to cover it up too much. Its original enamel paint would require sanding or primer in order for paint to adhere. After some very light sanding and cleaning, I went with oil paint so I wouldn't have to stir up too much dust and so I could maintain the integrity of the door. As I did the green drips, it made me think of things springing up from the ground. The circles are just a small obsession I have right now, morphing together into other forms. As the time came to make the tree trunk, I decided to try my hand with carving tools, taking off the layers of old paint precisely to create branches and a trunk. I wouldn't recommend carving over an oil painted surface (I had a lot of patch up to do). But, as I do often, I shot from the hip and learned as I went. As I worked on this door, there was no theme I was seeking to convey. I just went with what I loved and what worked well. When all was said and done, I looked at this piece and felt hope, a theme I have been thinking on lots lately.

So, to my sweet friends, who have lived through many highs and lows, I pray for a long life filled with hope.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Speaking Art

Why do artists make art? As humans, we each have in us the urge to create in some form or fashion. Whether it's spreadsheets, layouts, solutions, building stuff, story writing, and the list goes on...we all can relate to our Creator God in that way. After all, we are made in His image, and we take the same great satisfaction He did when He saw what He made and that it was good. Now no one can even come close to God's ultimate originality, but we get a small taste of what He must feel when He sees his creation come to life.

We all receive ideas, information, messages so differently. A scientist might say, I don't get what those artists see. A musician might think, how can accountants sit and look at numbers all day? A small child can't grasp the advanced vocabulary of a college professor. A chef is appalled at the busy family who scarfs down fast food each night. We each have our own language, our own expression that gives us life and energy. We are each a unique and equally valuable piece of the puzzle, contributing our distinct gifts, no more, no less. At least that how it should be. But when we think of our gifting, or language, as the only or right way, we rob others of the joy of being their own unique selves. We all need to find someone who can speak our language for encouragement and companionship. We were not made to be alone. But we also need to be willing to learn other languages, in order to see through the eyes of others. Exhibit A, those economics classes I had to take in college did not make me love economics, but it helped me appreciate those blessed folks who do.

I once heard an episcopal priest say, "All art is speaking in tongues", which confirmed something in me that I've been thinking on for a while. Art is a language. It is a way of communicating something that cannot be written, sung, or told. It is spoken by some, interpreted by some, and received by some. Artists are often perceived as social deviants or weirdos that just want to make a statement. Although that may be the case with few, I believe artists have a gift of speaking a visual language that is profoundly powerful. Art's spiritual impact cannot be quantified, but the ripple effect of a moving, life-giving image extends beyond what we can know. I once did a simple painting, a loose interpretation of the star of Bethlehem, which was purchased by a woman who fell in love with it. Years later, that painting appeared to her in a dream that brought about comfort and healing from the tragic loss of her son. I'm so thankful for her sharing this story with me because, as an artist, I don't often see the impact of what I do. You see, I don't just want my art to be pretty pictures. I long for each piece I make to be a source of life, of healing, of restoration. For some unique reason, God has put in me (and many others) the language of art, and so I get the privilege of creating alongside my Creator, and allowing Him to freely make through me something bigger and more amazing than I could ever imagine.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bluware Painting

My most recent painting was done in less than 3 hours, start to finish, Saturday night. A friend from college invited me to do a live painting at his company's (Bluware, a technology consulting company)25th anniversary event.

This is the finished product. I was able to do a practice run at home before the event, which made a big difference. The piece will hang in Bluware's offices, so I wanted the feel to be technology related. I also loosely incorporated the company logo. The style of this painting is a deviation from my typical style, a more abstract but structured interpretation of the company's techie environment. It's 30"x48", painted with acrylics.

I have enjoyed painting publicly in the past, because it forces me to push through the times I just want to quit. It challenges me to paint more freely and expressively than when I'm in my studio, where I can carefully plan out each work on my own time. I love sharing my process with others, allowing them to be a part of the painting, from start to finish. As an observer, it's exciting to me watching a blank canvas come alive.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Small Paintings for Sale

Acrylic mixed media on canvas


Make Room
Acrylic and paper on canvas board