"Big Doggie" - watercolor & ink on paper, 12" x 16"
When my children were young, every stuffed animal in the store was a homeless fluffy soul, begging for rescue. My youngest daughter would agonize over which toy most need her love, and would still feel sad about the ones left behind. We aren't much different as adults, adopting our dogs from rescues and shelters, our heartstrings pulled by the hundreds we could not bring home.
Until recently, we had two rescued dogs in our family. One remains, a 14-year-old mixed breed terrier with a big attitude. His companion, an albino Great Dane named Simone, passed away in the fall. Simone was our big doggie. 120 pounds of love, drool and muddy paw prints. A ball catcher (but never a returner), a tug-of-war champion and an ice-cuber cruncher, she touched our hearts the way none of our prior (or current) dogs ever has.
Recently, I was invited to a friend's house for turmeric tea. Much to my delight, she has two large dogs, both Golden Retrievers (George and Molly). Within 30 seconds, I was in big dog heaven. Oh, the leaning for love! Oh, the ball squishing chewing noises! Oh, the soulful eyes and soft muzzles! Oh, the resounding echo of my hand firmly patting a big dog's side! How I have missed that. For a few minutes, it was all I could do not to sob out loud. It had been four months since my own furry friend moved on, and I was unprepared for the intensity of how much I missed her.
The afternoon was delightful, and my friend and her dogs left me feeling connected and content. Of course, I had to go home and bring big dog energy back into my life. This piece is based on a random photo of a large dog at the beach (I could not paint my own dog's image or I would be a weepy mess), but her soulful gaze and ears down stance is so similar to my own lost love, I could not help but paint her. Simone, wherever you are, this one's for you.
This piece is available. Currently unframed. Inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
"Whoop-De-Doo" - mixed media on paper, 12" x 9"
It is sleeting outside. Freezing rain and ice warnings. Brrrrrrrr cold. But inside my studio, it is spring time! Flowers are everywhere...watercolored botanicals in pinks, oranges, purples, yellows and blues. All waiting for a little ink and a few words to bring them to life.
It began innocently enough. A few samples in preparation for a class I'm teaching ("Tangled Botanicals") and a couple of half-completed samples to show the process. Then Ciel Gallery hosted a demo day, and of course I thought it would be fun to make a few more flowers with patrons. Which turned into a table full of people for the afternoon. And over 25 botanicals made by people who didn't know they were artists...can you see the seeds spreading and the garden growing?
On Wednesday evening, I will participate in "Art & Aperitif" (Doodles and Drinks, as I prefer to call it!) at Le Meridien. So, since the forecast is a high in the 30's and a low of (GASP) 7 degrees that day, what better thing to do than...you guessed it, make MORE flowers for people stuck in a swanky bar enjoying a cocktail to flex their artistic muscle and plant some seeds and expand the garden.
But this all began with a class...a class I will teach on Saturday, where a dozen fearless creatives will gather to begin painting a garden of their own, with the hopes of spreading artistic seeds and bringing a little spring into their lives. Isn't this how seed bombs are made? A handful at a time, tossed about randomly, with flowers sprouting in the most unexpected of places.
It just goes to show you, gardening can happen in the most unlikely of circumstances. Happy planting!
This piece is available. Currently unframed. Inquiries: email@example.com
"Non-GMO Flowers" - series of three. Mixed media on cradleboard. Each 6" x 6" x 2".
One of the fortunate results of the 31 in 31 challenge is the formation of new habits. Including going into the studio every day to make something. This is a great thing! And it would be a shame not to keep a good habit going, so Monday Art Salon is born.
It was spring-like this past weekend in North Carolina. I found myself outside with pitchfork and wheelbarrow, moving mulch and pruning plants. Underneath the mounds of fall leaves were green shoots sprouting and tender leaves forming. I caught a bit of spring fever.
My goals for the coming year include oil painting and three-dimensional art...and something three dimensional sprouted from these boards. Starting with stencils and gesso, I formed floral-shaped risers, Then applying gesso to tissue paper and molding it into shapes until hardened, leaf formations sprouted. Finally, I used gelli-plate printed papers and thick glaze to form the inner floral shapes. Ok, so there are the construction blueprints, but what about the bar codes with lines through them?
Michael Pollan is one of my favorite authors. Not only because he writes about issues close to my heart and stomach (food and its origins) but also because he writes well. And I always learn something. In one of his recent books covering genetically modified foods, I learned of the tiny "bar codes" in the DNA of GMO plants which identify them as patented. Some serious science fiction going on in modern times. I became fascinated by the thought of patented seeds and plants, and the lengths corporations have gone to to protect those patents. It isn't quite "Soylent Green" (only the best science fiction movie of my childhood!) but it does feel a bit creepy.
So, I decided my spring floral creations would be non- GMO. How do you know if something is not genetically modified? Unless you examine the DNA of the plant, you wouldn't know, I suppose. Unless there are clear labels. Hmmmm, so these flowers are CLEARLY labeled. Something to contemplate as you peruse seed catalogs and plan your spring garden. Will your plants have tiny bar codes in them? Cue eerie sci-fi music....
These pieces are available. Inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
I am feeling like Rocky running up the steps of the museum in Philly! What an amazing month! Seeing all the pieces in one place is a bit overwhelming. Did I really do that? Yes, I did!
The funny thing is, even though I did not have to spend 5 hours in my studio yesterday whipping up a piece of art to post, I ended up in there anyway. A more leisurely approach to the work, to be sure, but there I was, playing with a canvas and two cradled boards, laying down paint and sculpting with gesso.
During this last month, I learned to work HARD and stop thinking about the art. Just create. Get out of my own head and let it flow. And not to worry so much about what others might think of it. Create, post, create again. So in addition to 32 pieces of art added to my body of work (and quite a few sales to line my pockets!) I was able to find the space in my head where creating was without judgment or stress. It is blissful and I am extremely grateful.
I also learned to blog! And to me, that was the most fun of all. Learning what the pieces were trying to tell me, along with recounting some memories along the way. It was like a bit of mental traveling, and I feel the same rejuvenation I normally have after a trip! Hmmmm....a great way to "staycation!"
The best, I mean truly the best, part of this experience was the support and enthusiasm of the artists who were also in this marathon and the people who took the time to look, read and comment. I felt an enormous sense of community and love. A great way to begin 2015, and perhaps setting a new ritual for the beginning of each year in the future.
Jen Walls and her imaJENation