Thursday, October 22, 2009

Where to show, where not to show

This is something that I've been thinking about a lot since I had my exhibition at the museum this year—where to show my work, and where not to show it.

I've had different pieces of advice, each from people who are art professionals. I've also kept an eye on what other artists (those who are perhaps a rung or two or three above me in status/recognition/success) in my region have been up to.

My instinct is that I would only like to show at dedicated art spaces, "real" galleries (and yes, I will take another museum show, please!), but there are alternatives that seem like they could be good opportunities for my work to be seen, too. For instance, the restaurant where I'll be showing my work next summer. It's a small, upscale bistro where they seem to have shown quality artists in the past. They have wonderful receptions for the artists (best food I ever had at an art reception, in fact!), and it strikes me that my work would be seen by a desirable clientèle, one who is more apt to actually buy original art than others. On the other hand, people go to a restaurant to eat, not to look at or buy art. On still another hand, people expect that when they go to this restaurant, they'll be seeing some good art, and can buy it if they like.

So one piece of advice I received was that I should show my work at every opportunity afforded me, no matter where it is. You never know who will see it. And just that the more you're "out there" and visible as an artist, the better.

The other piece of advice was the opposite. "You've had a museum show now, you should not show at a restaurant! You should show at places that will further your career, not take it backward."

See, I agree a little bit with the first but lean toward the second line of reasoning. For my upcoming restaurant show, I am keeping it (against the second advice-giver) because I love the place and I just want to see what happens—I'm curious whether I will sell well there, if anything will come of it. After that, no more non-gallery/museum shows for me... I have bigger fish to fry, and my sights set higher.

Hm, will saying that get me in trouble? What do you think about this issue? I'd like to hear all points of view on this.


Now, I'd like to share an artist named Kareem Rizk, who is based in Australia. I love the graphic design sensibility in his gorgeous collages! He's also got a blog and an Etsy shop.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Amanda Blake

Art like this breaks my heart.

It's almost unbearable.


Whew, I have been one busy bee this past week, and I am exhausted and halfway ill to show for it... man, I am too old for this kind of schedule. Maybe other people work ~60 hour weeks with no problem, but for me? Too much to take physically and emotionally. I need time to myself and/or with my family, it's so valuable to me.

That said, it's been an interesting week. Did I mention that I'm working as an artist's assistant for a while? The artist I am working for, Bingyi Huang, is preparing for a solo exhibition in Shanghai in November. The schedule is tight, so I've been giving her as much time as I can. I love that I am getting such an intimate view into another artist's creative process; she works quite differently from me and it is very inspiring. I really admire her paintings and her work ethic... she is quite prolific and manages to put out these amazing, surreal images... I don't know where they come from. Me, I like to have something to refer to, whether it is a photo or a model of some kind. It's very hard for me to just pull something out of my head and spew it out onto the canvas.

This is like getting a supplemental education, in a way.

But it is tiring, as I said. This week I have off from the studio until the weekend and will be working on updating her website. Then, hopefully when Saturday arrives I will feel refreshed and ready to work more hours in the studio with her.

Here is one of her paintings:

Epitaph, oil on canvas, 2007.

Just gorgeous stuff. I feel so fortunate to be working with her.


Acceptance: I recently found out that two of my paintings will be appearing in the Winter 2010 issue of Calyx, A Journal of Art and Literature by Women. This is a great publication, and I am very excited for this opportunity to have my work seen by its readers.

Rejection: I got my rejection letter on Friday from the committee of Beyond/In Western New York, the regional biennial. I have since found out that the competition was VERY stiff and that many prominent local artists didn't get in, either, including most of the faculty of the local university. That makes me feel a little bit better, but I admit that I still had high hopes this time around. The past year has been so full of little successes, I figured it would just keep going... well, never assume. So, I am a little bruised but it is something I will certainly get over and move on from. I do wish all the artists who did receive an acceptance letter my heartiest congratulations, truly.

Maybe next time, if I am still in town.


Working for Bingyi has sparked my own creativity. She's got me working on paintings that will eventually become something else entirely—something of her own, obviously... but as I said, it's been a little hard for me trying to work in a totally different way, it's like being without a net. I don't think what I am making is as good as I know I am capable of, but I think another part of the problem is working in front of someone else, especially someone I am working FOR. It's worse than the times I was taking a painting class and having the professor hovering over you looking for mistakes (not that Bingyi does that—she is worried about her own paintings). It paralyzes me. I have no idea what I am doing. I tell her as much, and she replies that she doesn't think any of us do.

I feel like a fledgling baby bird.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Here are three of the collages my students and I made together in a round robin collage session the Saturday before last. Each person had twenty minutes with each collage, then passed it on to the next person. It was a very gratifying, fun way to work. Even the students enjoyed themselves! I did, too.

Collages by Amber (18), Topaz (15), Tyler (13), and me:

Student collage

Student collage

Student collage

Monday, October 12, 2009

Turn of Events

Things took a crazy-ass turn this weekend! I have suddenly become a part-time artist's assistant. Here is the story.

So, on Friday night I was just browsing Craigslist, as I often do. I look at just about all the for sale sections and the jobs sections, just in case something good is out there. Actually, scratch that: In the jobs section I usually only look in the arts/media/whatever and creative sections. But Friday, I looked at everything, including general labor. There I happened upon an ad that was titled something like housekeeping/art assistant position... my curiosity was definitely piqued, and I figured, I'm not proud, I'd do some cleaning if it also involved some sort of art or just for an art kind of person. So I responded with a short note...

The next morning as I was getting ready to leave for my little Saturday teaching gig, I got a reply. Turns out it is one of my professors from UB (grad school), a young art history professor with whom I took a museum studies course. She's also a painter. I have really admired her, enjoyed her class very much, etc. and so was excited to find out that it was her, and that she was excited to hear from me, too!

The ad stated that she was looking for ~5 hours a week, but it turns out that she is getting ready for a big solo show in Shanghai and has a ton of art-related stuff to get done. So, she wants me to do a lot of painting for her, plus other sorts of prep like cleaning antique frames that she'll be using and whatever else. The other major thing she's having me take care of is her website, for which she wants a complete redesign.

And since this the exhibition in Shanghai is in November, this is all VERY time sensitive. So she wants me to work as much as I can to help her get ready. I started on Saturday afternoon and put in several hours yesterday, too. It's pretty crazy.

The whole thing is pretty bizarre, but it's fun (though very tiring). Yesterday I finished priming an old frame, and then worked on a large painting the rest of the time! The painting I worked on amounted to painting a portrait of her on top of an old painting of hers, and then she will possibly work on top of that. She ended up really liking the painting so far and said she may just include the painting in the exhibit as is, as my own. I don't really care either way, which I know must sound strange, but... I am producing things for her show under her direction. I don't really see what I am making in her studio mine at all, does that make any sense? And I feel totally comfortable with that. Yesterday's painting was very different and new for me because she currently only has a limited palette to work with, so I was forced to use colors that I normally wouldn't; and the scale is larger than most of the paintings I can make at home, so that was different, too. I see my experiences working with her very much fueling a whole new approach that I can use in my own art—it's like this forced breakthrough.

Very, very strange. October is going to be a intense month and my life just a whole lot busier, to say the least.

My painting/Not my painting
My painting/not my painting. About five feet square, acrylic on canvas. In progress.


I'd also like to point you over to my lovely friend Cathy Cullis's blog, where she is doing a Week of Painting. I'd also planned to do a week of painting and make new work available for sale, but considering how things are now, I'm not sure how far I will get with that. But I will try! Maybe some small tabletop-sized works on paper in gouache... hm...

I like these "Week of..." events. The one at Poppytalk the week before very much inspired me, and now Cathy's. It helps me to have a focus, a goal. I plan to do my very own "Week of..." in the future, as well as perform some in tandem with Cathy.

I will keep you posted on the exciting developments!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sarah F. Burns says, Collect Art!

Sarah F. Burns is an artist I found on Etsy a while back and whose blog I follow (though apparently not closely enough, since I missed, like months of great content!). She is not only a talented painter but also a good writer. As I was playing catch-up today, I found her blog post about collecting art that I thought was spot on; couldn't have said it better myself, by a long shot. So, if you are a collector or have always wanted to start your own art collection, definitely read what Sarah has to say on the subject!

Visit Sarah's Etsy shop.

Visit her website.

Dottie Damsel, charcoal on paper, 18" x 20", 2008

One Rock and Two Shells, oil, 9" x 12", 2009

Such lovely and thoughtful work!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

This painting is available, along with some of my other artwork, at my Etsy shop! I don't think I've posted it here before, but it is one of my favorites. It was included in my solo exhibition at the Castellani Art Museum back in the spring.

Hot, acrylic and charcoal on canvas, 22" x 24", 2009.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Etsy Shop Update!

As I said earlier, I had hoped to get around to updating my Etsy shop a little bit at some point. And so I have! I renewed some items and added some that have not been in the shop before. I hope you will stop by and check it out!

Note to US residents: Many of my pieces have shipping included in the price! Yay!


It was an interesting weekend.

On Friday, I made it to a third "collecting" post on Poppytalk! Talk about a nice way to wrap up the week. It has geared me up to get back into the studio and maybe even update my poor, languishing Etsy shop. I'd like to generate some more interest in my work online, and make an active effort to sell more. Sadly, I've gotta pay the bills somehow. What better way than to sell the work I love to make?

Speaking of which, I sold this piece over the weekend to one of my online friends! She has been collecting my work over the past few years, and since this is one of my favorite recent collages, I am happy that it will be going to live with her.

U-Men, mixed media, 9" x 10.25", 2009

And I am thrilled that the same patron has renewed my Pro account over at Flickr, which means that you can once again see all my photos, including the ART Set. I hated not having access to everything, so this is just wonderful. It's like Christmas! So thank you, J.!


On Saturday, I taught my collage class again—just three more sessions to go! This time I had the three students work for twenty minutes on a collage, any subject matter, any size, etc. Then, they passed their collage to the nest student, who would then work on it for another 20 minutes, adding to it however they wish, on to the next, and so on until each collage was returned to its originator. (Actually, I ended up participating in this, too, since there were just three students.)

I must say, the collages turned out fantastic, way surpassing any expectations I had myself. I will take photos and post them here this coming Saturday to share with you. I really enjoy working with my little group of teenagers and it seems like they are really opening themselves up to the hands-on process of collage, too. Can you believe that none of them had ever tried it before?

Next week, we are moving onto digital collage (sadly, I think), but I am going to encourage them to mix and match between cut and paste techniques and scanning and digital manipulation. I'm sure they will come up with some cool ideas.


As for me, I want to gift myself with some much-needed studio time this week.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Paper Puppets

I just took photos of the movable paper puppets I recently made! Here they are.

This fanciful horse is my own design, using a decorative paper that was part of paper company's promotional packet. I related the bird design to the feeling of freedom and flight I think about when I see a horse.

This colorful guy was based on a template that I found in the great book Paper Puppet Palooza by Norma V. Toraya. His outfit and faces (yes, faces!) are my own design. I was thinking initially about a vintage circus theme, and then thought back to a collage that one of my BAS students made in our first week together of a wrestler. I am interested in the colorful costumes and masks of Mexican free wrestlers, or Lucha, so I decided to use his other face to create my own, as you see in this next photo...

The figure has a double head that you can turn at the neck to switch between personalities! Very fun!

I'll be teaching a class called Artful Paper Puppets for ages 14 and up at the Buffalo Arts Studio in November. Information can be found here, just scroll down for more information. In the meantime, I'll be making many more puppets myself—they are so much fun to develop, and can be as simple or as complex as you would like!

Autumn Color Week: Red


Who doesn't love red? I love red.

What Does the Veil reveal?, mixed media, 2006

Red Right Hand, gouache on paper, 1999/2009


Also, SUPER excited to be collected by Poppytalk again yesterday, aka BROWN day (as Radio Choci). It's so nice to be recognized for your work... I mean, it's not the only thing of course, but it does help keep you going.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Holy Cow! Look What I Wore Today!

Ha ha, not Look what I wore today, because I don't have a picture to share, but Look! Look at this most awesome group on Flickr called What I Wore Today.

Totally brilliant stuff. I may have to actually contribute—hey, it'd be a good excuse to draw self-portraits again.

Autumn Color Week: Brown

Drop, oil and colored pencil on wood panel, 2007

Two Questions, oil and colored pencil on canvas, 12" x 18", 2007

Include Me Out, acrylic and colored pencil on wood panel, 2009


In other news, this morning I had the pleasure of teaching a small group of students from the Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts over at the Buffalo Arts Studio a little workshop making movable paper puppets! A while ago, I discovered the book Paper Puppet Palooza and started making some paper pals of my own. It's a really fun, fairly easy and not-too-messy creative activity that is actually quite addicting! So, I was happy to share my new obsession with the seven students and their three teachers. We didn't have much time together, but true to kid form, they all dove right in and got quite a bit accomplished—from a tiger and a wolf to a robot, and more! I'll have to take some photos of the ones I've recently made— a vintage-styled Mexican Lucha wrestler with interchangeable heads and a running horse.

Each time I end up working with youngsters, it fuels my desire that much more to become certified to teach K-12. I find them so interesting and inspirational! I guess we'll see what the future holds, there is so much I'd like to do... in the meantime I at least have the opportunity to work with area arts organizations to fill in that gap in my artistic life.

I feel lucky.