Things to Draw: Claire in a Knit Sweater


The prompt actually says, “me in a knit sweater,” but the “me” in question is my dear friend Claire, who not only owns but knits many excellent sweaters. She made a beautiful reindeer sweater a couple years ago, to which this image is an homage. (Her posture is lovely in real life, as opposed to slightly awkward in this image…it was late at night, apologies.)

Apricot Tart and Art Interims

Look…food! I know, it’s been a while since I posted any recipes. It’s not because I’ve stopped eating, hehe; it’s just that I’ve been doing a lot more arting than cooking lately.

What with the show coming up in September and a cousin of mine getting married in August, I feel like I have just maybe enough time to do everything I want to between now and then. Lately, my life’s been like this: I paint, and when I’m not painting, I work on my installation piece, and when I’m not working on my installation, I revise my artist statement, and when I’m not revising my artist statement, I build my website (more on that soon!), and when I’m not doing that, I try to breathe.

But once in awhile, I just can’t art anymore, and so I bake. Okay fine, so I occasionally sneak off to the beach– but I read art books when I’m there! In fact, I highly recommend The Diaries of Paul Klee and Extra/Ordinary: Craft and Contemporary Art. Back to my original point: this apricot tart will blow your mind and temporarily float all your worries away with its perfect blend of tangy fruit, creamy interior and crumbly, nutty crust. Apricot season is in full swing here in Southern California; I got these off my generous friends Brian and Carol’s tree. There’s really no comparing imported, grocery store apricots to farm-fresh ones. I highly recommend heading to your local farmer’s market or making a new friend when you drive past a house with an apricot tree in the yard. What better way to seal a friendship than with a gorgeous, scrumptious, home-made dessert?

Recipe after the jump…

Continue reading

From Dusk ‘Til Drawn

Every summer, the Contemporary Arts Forum in Santa Barbara hosts this awesome event. They keep the gallery open from 6 pm on Friday to 6 pm on Saturday. They fill the interior with tables, and fill the tables with artists, who, over the course of the 24 hours, fill the walls with art. It’s a continuing exhibition with artists making work and the public visiting, viewing, and buying work as it is created.

The walls are labeled by price and artists simply tack up work wherever they feel. The price points are reasonable: twenty-five, seventy-five, one hundred and fifty, and three hundred dollars. From Dusk ’til Drawn brings artists and the public together, and helps make art available to everyone. Many of the people drawing are well-known, mid-career artists, so buying their work here is a real steal!

Some artists stay the whole twenty-four hours. They’re known as marathoners; there’s food and drink and even a lounge with beanbag chairs and sleeping bags for them. I went in on Saturday morning and stayed for five hours. I got to draw with and talk to everybody from a five-year-old kid with scented markers (mmm!) to some cool young surfer guys in art school to some wonderfully friendly working artists. I met Julie B. Montgomery, whose work you may have seen on a TV show like Law & Order or How I Met Your Mother, and James Van Arsdale, co-founder of local art stronghold Can(n)on Studios.

Some Beast, 10″ x 10″, ink and watercolor on paper

I also made this guy, who got bought right off the wall. Woohoo!

Thanks CAF and thanks to everybody who participated and made this a really fun event.

What Art Reveals

Oy vay, 8 1/2″ x 12″, ink on paper

Oy vay. That’s how I feel right now. I’m facing one of the biggest opportunities to appear thus far in my life, and I have to fess up: there’s a part of me that keeps having the thought…I wish it would just go away.

I wish I didn’t have to somehow finish a dozen paintings in three weeks. I wish I didn’t have to create this installation piece entirely from scratch. I wish I didn’t have to figure out exactly what I’m trying to say with all this stuff I’m making. I wish I could just make the work and that it would speak for itself.

Therein lies the catch I am discovering about being an artist. The creative life encompasses more than just making things. You have to be aware of and, to some degree, understand the questions and foci that make up your vision. I suppose one could just make something aesthetically appealing and hope that people are drawn in. Often times they will be (the magical mystery that is Thomas Kinkade?). But I want to make work that goes deeper, that knows itself, that has something to say and says it clearly. After all, when I make art and put images in the world, I am demanding that people take time out of their lives to pay attention to what I have to say. I guess the feeling I have right now is, “It better be good, girl.”

Gasp, 8 1/2″ x 12″, ink on paper

I have a lot of ideas about what my art is about: synesthetic experience, memory, emotional discomfort, the desire to allay that. I also have this fear: what if, above all else, my art reveals that I am young, and confused, and doubtful that I will ever be anything else?

Maybe that is my vision. Maybe all I really want to create is a space for that to be okay. For myself, and for everyone else too.

Things to Draw: The Transition to Democracy in the Republic Formerly Known as Burma

The Transition to Democracy in the Republic Formerly Known as Burma, ink and colored pencil on paper, 8 1/2″ x 5 3/8″

A new challenge in this conceptual, political, and charged prompt. I aimed for simple, clear, and emotive. How’d I do?

The Meaning of Rejection

Veins: for Ellsworth, acrylic and ink on unprimed canvas, 14″ x 14″

On Monday night, I received an e-mail from Sylvia White with the subject line “This is why I hate my job.” That’s a pretty clever and even compassionate way to alert some one that they’ve been rejected from your show. I was disappointed, but not heartbroken, a reaction that caught me surprise.

It used to be that on the rare occasions when I mustered my courage and submitted art or writing to juried competitions, rejection left me crestfallen for months, practically for ever after if I chanced to recall the slight. I would question my competence. I would question my creative instincts. I would question my ability to ever improve, to ever create anything quality at all.

Veins: On the Warpath, acrylic and ink on unprimed canvas, 14″ x 14″

I suspect that what’s changed is this: I have faith in my own work. I used to  wish desperately that I could be an artist, while I secretly feared that I didn’t have sufficient talent or brilliance to claim that role. I looked for affirmation from others; every rejection felt like confirmation of my deepest fear. It was like I was afraid the world would judge me unworthy, take away my creativity rights, and make me go get a day job. Then some where along the way I learned that no one takes away your right to create. You only stop being an artist, or anything really, if you give up. Even if you’re broke, even if you’re working as a babysitter, or a bartender, or a pastry cook, you can make work; you can think from creation; you can claim your identity. Only I can say that I’m an artist, and only I can say that I’m not.

Veins: at Midnight, acrylic on unprimed canvas, 14″ x 14″

And guess what? I’m an artist. I paint because it brings me joy, because I have stories to tell, because I am interested in how the world looks on canvas. I’m proud of the work I’m creating. There will always be places that don’t want to show my work and people who aren’t interested in it, but there are also places and people that do and are. Because I’m committed to my art, to making it and sharing it, I’m also committed to tipping my hat to those that don’t want it and then continuing on to find those that do.

Things to Draw: Sculpture

My grandmother gave me this prompt, after some protest. She wanted more specific instructions than “anything.” When I unfolded the paper with the word sculpture written on it, I had no idea what to do. Of course…my grandmother–innocuous, old, affectionate–would saddle me with a conundrum: something simultaneously concrete and abstract, which manages to be both an idea and an object.

I often think of my grandmother as somewhat absent. She is losing her memory, and it is easier sometimes to relate to questions repeated to the point of absurdity as the whimsy of a “crazy old lady” than to admit that entropy is stealing from me some one I have known all my life. This prompt is a reminder that the quick and clever lady who used to tickle me when I wasn’t looking and tease me when I was grumpy (“Better be careful…if you make that face you’re gonna get stuck that way!”) is still my grandmother, even if these days she mostly asks where my cousins are or what day of the week it is.

In the end, I chose to draw a sculpture that belongs to Gemmy, that she bought with my grandfather when they were a young and glamorous couple in the world of design, running a successful architecture firm and filling their house with strange and beautiful art objects. I have no idea who made this sculpture. It is cast bronze, and for most of my life I thought it was abstract, but I discovered today when I was looking at it more closely that it is actually an open-mouthed face seen from above. Still, I chose to draw it how I remember looking at it when I was little, staying overnight for an adventure with my worldly and exciting grandparents. It was mysterious and slightly monstrous, but friendly, a part of my family, as art has a tendency to become.