This is where I will be on my birthday this year, to demonstrate some of the things I do for my artwork. I’ll be making custom stencils and hand cutting stamps that I use for texturing and patterning art pieces. Come on down to the marina on August 25 from 1:00-4:00 PM and help me celebrate my birthday!
“She’s Got Plans”
I have a background in theater costume design, so my paintings often have stories behind them, like a scene from a play.
I’ve thought a lot about subtext through the years — Subtext is that thing that a person is saying to themselves while they are saying other things out loud.
The thought that this character had her life plan tattooed on herself captured my imagination. Her rooms were to be named for secret thoughts or hopes, or fears, things she was dealing with or refused to deal with. All that subtext right out there for everyone to see. I needed a strong character, and I found her and added this layer of a blueprint or floor plan. I was not intending this project to be autobiographical — didn’t start that way at all.
Sometimes I get stuck in concept land — where the concept and the way the painting comes together just don’t gel. Paintings get set aside, and are later revisited, sometimes trashed, sometimes layered over with better ideas.
This painting took awhile because I started it just before I met my husband. It waited patiently for me, while I spent time getting to know him, and while I changed and my hopes and dreams changed. He and I found ourselves collaborating to rename the rooms
The floor plan became more hopeful, more autobiographical, and a stronger painting. My hope is that the image is strong from a distance, that it invites you to look closer and when you do, her thoughts, her “subtext” is revealed.
This is the wedding season. Katherine and Evan’s wedding is September 30, 2011, long awaited, and anticipated.
I am making the dress. This section of my blog will be used to keep notes and let those interested in the process to see how we’re comin’.
Here are the specs thus far:
ball gown — tulle layers over organza layers over the underskirt
bodice is a dropped waist to hip bone
There’s a little bolero jacket over all.
the bodice will be the dull side of diamond white satin overlaid with diamond white organza with pin tucks that alternate with 1/2′ strips of bias cut organza. The overall look could be described as organic, a little messy, grunge princess, and Katherine will look fabulous.
She tried on a designer gown that offered us the beginnings of Kat’s gown. the Vera version has:
Innermost layer is dark brown organza.
Then 3 layers of light tulle
Then 3 layers of dark tulle
3 more layers of light tulle
2 layers of handpainted tulle
The top most layer had “pull-ups” looping and tucking the top skirt in to the waist seam, which began about 15-18″ from the waist.
Oh these people! How can I get inside and find out who they really are? How can I tell their stories? How frustrating…..like little handsome jewel boxes with Pandora’s emotional treasures inside.
Like making short scenes from a play, I added characters from Leonardo’s sketchbooks, layered over the portrait sitters to speak to the emotional undertow, the subtext. Adding words clarifies the scene, because I’d actually like you to know what the piece is about. And if you like ambiguity, don’t worry, there is plenty of ambiguity left for you too.
• Late 19th c Cabinet cards: The cabinet card was the style of photograph which was universally adopted for photographic portraiture in 1870. It consisted of a thin photograph that was generally mounted on cards measuring 4¼ by 6½ inches. Wikipedia
• Images from Leonardo da Vinci’s sketchbooks: Collage lends itself to exploring layer of meaning. Images that come from two different cultures, time periods.
• Words from a large print book
• Vintage file tabs and papers, handwritten letters/invoices/attic finds.
Juxtaposing architecture and costume, this piece explores the feminine nature of the Greek Ionic column, and the curves. It also explores the columnar nature of a woman, an upstanding pillar of the community, the calm vertical that withstands social weather, and the female support role in society’s structure. Plus, she’s pretty.
She is a part of an architecture/clothing series that I got started in a collaborative effort with someone back in 2005 or thereabouts, and while the collaborative project fizzled, this painting did not.
I’ve been working on affirmations lately with Alyson Stanfield, at artbizcoach.I’ve worked with Alyson before, taken classes and gotten LOTS of good information. I really appreciate her support and the community she’s built up around the coaching she does.
You might have read some of the affirmations on my facebook postings. Not posted yet, one of them is: “My art work is brilliant and fun.”
I chose to focus on this one for a bit because of a statement from one of the art foundation teachers I had while working on my BFA in the century before this one. She was teaching a class in two-dimensional art, essential for graphic design, and for simply understanding color/value/line/shape relationships. She repeatedly insisted that none of us or the works we produced were brilliant enough, at least that’s how I heard her words. “More brilliant, more brilliant!” was her mantra, or nag, depending on one’s perspective.
Oh my — DUH! I have to change my affirmation!! “My art work is brilliant and fun, and I have my own voice.”
I remember this as I contemplate the next steps of what I will do as an artist.
Vermeer completely obscures the background in darkness,allowing the subject to become the only focus. There is plenty to look over, of course, in the one subject. She herself, fades into the darkness, her clothes, her head wrap and her neck all succumb to the darkness on the right side.
I remember when I first began to consider selling my art. There were a few factors that led to this decision. I wanted to be recognized for the work that I had accomplished, I wanted other folks to like it enough to put it in their homes, and hey, I could use some extra cash! That began a thought process that has taken me on an interesting journey. I’m going to talk about these in some order, though the process was anything but orderly!
First there were practical considerations. Where would I sell the art? Who would want to display it? Where did my art “fit”? How much should I ask for each piece? How much would I actually make and how many of those dollars would I have to share with the venue? How would I get the word out? How much time will this take? How do I balance art making and marketing my work — not to mention the other aspects of life?
Second, there were the emotions. Was I confident that people would like my art enough to buy it? How would I measure up to more experienced artists? How would I feel about rejection? How far will this go–could I possibly make a living making my art?
Third, there was the resistance to actually parting with my work. Related to the emotional aspects of deciding to sell my art, I called the resistance “this hump I have to get over”. These were my precious creations, and like babies growing up and going off to foreign lands, I knew I’d never see most of them ever again! I know this is not unique to me.
Here’s a bit of background. For about 20 years I was a costumer and a costume designer, so I had almost always used my creativity for something that I didn’t keep in my possession. The costumes stayed with the theater, put into storage after the run of a show was over. But these pieces I was now contemplating selling were things that I made without someone else’s direction, not theater collaborations. I had not made them with the idea that they would become “products”, in fact, by it’s very nature this work is much more personal to me. It speaks of my thoughts, humor and ideas. So on the one hand I was used to letting go of my work, and on the other, this new non-theater work, the paintings, collages and assemblages were all made solely from my own creativity.
To be honest though, after awhile I didn’t have enough room for it all!
The first thing I had to find was the willingness to part with the art. So how did I get over “this hump I have to get over”? For me it was a conscious decision to let go of the art. That sounds simple, and it really was like crossing over an emotional bridge. It was a shift in my thinking about art as a precious thing to keep close to myself as opposed to a product to sell. (Truth is, it’s actually something in between.)
I also had to find the confidence to put myself out there in the public eye. Sometimes a lack of confidence will creep in, but overall, I LIKE my art, and others seemed to like it as well. It really takes both for success in selling art. And the good news is, one can find acceptance even in tiny niche markets. My and your art don’t have to be universally liked to succeed, it just needs to appeal to enough folks so that the effort of selling the art one makes is a sensible proposition.
In addition, focusing on the practicalities of getting ready to sell my art helped to allay the fears and resistance that I had. Taking action helps! So does inviting company along for the journey. In order to boost my own confidence, I applied to my first show with two other local Seattle area artists, Maggie Yowell and Amy Peacock. I studied up on what needed to be included in an application, we all set up a day with a friend to shoot professional photos of our work, labeled everything, and together we put together a proposal. Submitted with slides and cover sheets and clever artistic packaging for the submission, that carefully worked out application got us the group show, though it was scheduled for 1.5 years into the future. I wasn’t going to wait around, so I submitted applications in several other places. Many were even accepted.
It may be cliche’ but it’s true: success breeds success.
My first art show was actually a solo exhibit, way before the group show, and I lucked out. I entered and was accepted into the Greenwood ArtWalk, and placed into a dress shop that was about to close permanently, Moki Dugway. The proprietors were extremely welcoming, and allowed my work to stay up all month. As their inventory dwindled, so did mine. I had decided that as a beginner exhibiting artist, I should price my art reasonably. I really wanted folks to take it home. And take it home they did.
By this time I was hooked and the issues I listed at the start of this article were nearly all moot points. This decision to sell my art launched a highly creative time in my life. I’ve since learned so much about marketing my art that I’d like to share with you. There are lots of practical things I can share, and there are things I’d love to talk over as well. I’m far from expert on the art process–I’m definitely still learning so so much!
To close off this post I’d like to share one more thing. One of my fears was that I’d be selling out in order to sell my art. But I found as time went on and I spent time talking with people that took my work home, this is far from true. It surprised me to discover that people sort of fall in love with the art they choose to take home which is a charming and humbling side benefit to sharing my art in public this way. Relationships like these are unique to artists and artisans. I get to make personal connections in a way that most people don’t.
We’ll be talkin’.
What if shoes were soled with fur?
Then you would walk softly…
What if collars were lined in maps?
Then the world might know your pulse.
What if corset stays were made of feathers instead of bone?
What if quilting was done with glass rods?
What if I stitched fortune cookie fortunes into pocket tops, collars, cuffs?
What if I wore a picture of my love on my sleeve?
What if thread was elastic?
What if clothes were higher than our heads, wider than our shoulders,
longer than our hands….etc.
What if clothes were only for comfort and not for beauty?
What if a shirt told you exactly what I was thinking?
What if pants truly fit?
What if socks were the gaudiest thing I wore?
What if the reason for wearing clothes was to make the most noise?
More to come….
I’ve begun a canvas by using Golden Matte Medium to essentially laminate linen canvas to my canvas. It was a canvas that had another idea start on it, one that didn’t take. That happens a bit. Oh well! It gave me an interesting surface, with some scattered bumps on it.
Now while it’s drying, I want to get an idea flow started. I begin with my inspiration, and dump ideas on it. What can I do with this, how far can I push it? What is the nature of the materials–what can they do and what can’t they do? Do I want to use materials other than the traditional fabrics to see what will happen? This is a non-judgmental moment. I don’t care if it’s been done before, I don’t care if it’s a stupid idea…it’s my process and nobody has done my process before in this present time…they are not me, now. Judgment and editing comes later.
Stays, boning–very interesting to me
hooks, loops, eyes
silver/gold bullion trim
colors–all whites? not sure–like contrast too
Hawaiian shirts and other prints excavated
like museum display?
Like Audubon drawings but clothes not birds?
not a fabric experiment, but an art experiment.
nothing to wear.
different size canvasses.
most small–it’s details!
I love 12×12
I wonder if the wood ones will work best. check cost
Fabric canvasses will allow me to sew.
Sew before it’s assembled? or after–depends on detail
1. back of stays with tabs
2. buttonhole ground — useless buttonholes and buttons
3. grosgrain ribbon edges–what’s inside?
4. lacing (cris-cross)
5. leather vest manikin
6. sheer pleating
7. linen collars.
8. silk roses.
9. straps with hook and eye closures.
10. Shoe buckle on sheer — sheer shoes. Incongruity
11. sheer stays–sheer bra
12. velvet ruffle
There’s a few ideas. More are allowed!
Lynette Hensley, The Flying Redhead