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Earlier this month I completed a work to go in a group show at Gallery Twenty-Two.  They were calling for local artists to submit their skate deck designs for the August show “Let the Good Times Roll.”

I had never created art on a skate deck before but surprisingly I had two ideas that came to mind immediately. Unfortunately time got away from me and I only could create one final work.  At least I was smart enough to do the simplest one, “Vertical Katz.”  My gut was telling me this was going to be a good one.

The design is a takeoff from my “Angry Kitty” piece that I did last year, but this time I decided to do two cats on opposing sides so that they would  span the length of the board. Before that I read up a little bit about painting on wood and also received some feedback from other artists on how to approach the project.

I spray-painted the background in red using spray paint with a primer. Then the following day I stenciled both cats using paint markers. The black turned out pretty nice but the white for some reason was a little tougher to apply. The red bled through the white and I had to keep reapplying the paint so that the white cat wouldn’t turn pink.

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Overall it turned out well and I felt it was a strong design. And, of course I wired it for hanging and brought it in to the gallery at the 11th hour.

On a happy note, “Vertical Katz” sold, after being up less than a week!

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Overall the show is pretty impressive and is definitely worth seeing. It’s amazing to view the caliber of work submitted by these local artists.There are so many skate deck designs that I keep finding something new every time I go to Twenty-Two for figure drawing.

The show is up until September 5 so I highly recommend coming out to see it. .  A portion of the proceeds goes towards a skate park project.

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Gallery Twenty-Two is located on 1500 Central Ave, Charlotte, NC, in Plaza-Midwood.

“The Perimeter”

The Perimeter

Last year I completed a work in charcoal called “The Perimeter” a couple of weeks before I returned to the work force.  This piece was inspired by a church sermon that talked about the trials of being a servant, and that our labor is not in vain because God is with us.  After the benediction our pastor asked the congregation to pause for a moment and quietly reflect on the role of being a servant.  He described servants as beacons of light to those who are walking in darkness.

I created this work from the servant’s point of view, where he or she is looking out into the horizon.  There on the edge or perimeter are people, who are drawn to the light, and are in need of help and encouragement. They are too numerous to count.  Above them is the vast sky filled with twinkling stars, a clear sign that there are other “beacons of light” out there who are there to serve.

“I’m drawing my peeps,” I would say affectionately as I penciled in the people that spanned across the paper.  I couldn’t stop smiling as I was creating them and that’s when I realized that’s how God sees people.  He cares so much about us, and even when we’re living on the edge or far away from Him, He cares, and He wants us to come back to him.  That’s why He sends His servants out into the world, to show and spread God’s love.

Yep!  Today is my birthday and I thank God for another day!  I turn 46 which is hard to believe because I kid you not, yesterday I was 28.  This morning I woke up with the usual aches and pains with an Achilles that was a-killing me, and some little muscle ache in my arm that mysteriously arose from playing volleyball. It’s all good because it tells me I’m alive, and that I’m old.

This day also marks my jumping off point to get my behind in gear as I’ve not done a single final work this year. So I entered this self-portrait in an upcoming group show at Twenty-Two, on Saturday, May 9.

I haven’t done a self-portrait since I was in college and it wasn’t even really a self-portrait.  So here it is!   If someone buys it, well that would just make for an awesome birthday present for me.

Ani

Spirit of David Color

About at a month and a half ago I was given the opportunity to sell my artwork at the Women’s Conference at my church.  One of the items that I sold was a small original work called, “Celebrating the Spirit of David,”  that was created in watercolor pencil in 2004.  The buyer was a longtime friend who told me that it spoke to her.

“Celebrating the Spirit of David” is one of my oldest original pieces and was created for our choir’s concert program cover and then later, the CD cover. The concert chronicled and celebrated the life of one of Israel’s greatest kings.  David had an excellent spirit and while he was far from perfect, he was known to be a man “after God’s own heart.”   He was a true worshiper who was not ashamed to praise the Lord even if it was perceived to be in the most undignified manner.

The piece shows King David front and center waving the largest flag in the air. Behind him are his subjects.  Some are dancing, playing instruments and waving smaller flags in the background that trail in the air as if they were colored streaks in a sunset.

After the work had served its purpose, I was content to put the original away in a portfolio. Oddly enough, I was not a fan and felt disconnected to the piece. It was likely due to having to design and redesign the work more than once. Eventually over time, it grew on me and I began to appreciate it for all its joy and brightness, forgetting about the efforts made to create it.  It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I decided to frame and display it.

That day when I sold the work, I was so elated to make the sale at that moment that I actually forgot about the fact that this piece had been in my art family for years and it was going away forever.  I later felt that void when I came home.  It was the relative that may have gotten on my nerves but I miss it now that its gone.  Fortunately its gone to be with a new family where I know it will receive lots of love.

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A couple of weeks ago our church held a women’s conference and the theme was “Claim Your Inheritance.”  Last year, I worked with the planning committee on designing the conference logo inspired by Numbers 27:1 -11. Here it is as summarized from my Nelson Study Bible:

“Five sisters – the daughters of Zelophehad – approached Moses and Eleazar to make a claim for their inheritance in the land. Their father had died in the wilderness, as had his entire generation. Since he had no sons, there was no inheritance for him.  On the basis of their father’s memory, the daughters asked Moses for ‘a possession among our father’s brothers.’ In doing this they cut across the social mores of the day. In ancient Israeli times women did not inherit land. Yet because their case made sense, Moses took the issue to the Lord.

“God’s decision was that the daughters of Zelophehad had presented a just cause. They would inherit land in the name of their father.  The case would become a precedent for other families in which there were no sons, only daughters.”

A month or two prior to the conference, I saw the logo on flyers and signage and it really looked good. But what took the cake for me was seeing it on bags and t-shirts at the conference!  Everywhere I went I saw ladies sporting their t-shirts and carrying pretty blue canvas tote bags with my artwork imprinted on it, leaving an indelible mark.  It was a great feeling.

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The conference was excellent. While I could only attend the Friday evening service and Saturday, my spirit was filled nonetheless.  I was glad to be a part of it.

A few weeks ago I was tickled by some of the comments made about the recent nude figure drawings that I posted on Google+. They were from my weekly figure drawing session. Clearly it was the most engagement that I ever received from any post on social media and it generated the highest number of +1s.  For those who aren’t familiar with Google+, a +1 is the equivalent to the Facebook Like.

Most people were pretty complimentary but some were uncomfortable. One person commented stating that my drawings were nice but that they needed to block my post. Then another person asked, “….why do you always draw naked people?”

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Several years ago it would have never dawned on me to post nude drawings on the Internet. How things have changed! It was the year before last that marked the first time that I participated in figure drawing since college oh so many years ago. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it back then although admittedly the first time felt a little awkward. In the end, I found myself really concentrating on form and not so much on the model’s nudity.

I didn’t realize how much I still had to learn when it came to drawing the human form. I’ve kept at it and improved over time, experimenting with pencil, then pen, then pen on different color papers.

We Are “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made.”

Have you ever considered the work that God created? Look at how we’re designed. Are we not a feat of engineering? Our anatomy is complicated and amazing. We are living vessels, comprised of tissue and muscle connected to bone by tendons. Every body part no matter how large or small has its own special role that contributes to the body’s overall make-up. Just as the universe is vast, so are our bodies with their moving parts.

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Now try putting all that on paper – arms, legs, hands, feet, torso, head – positioned from different angles. You could draw figures for decades and still find it engaging.

Clothing Can Take Away From The Subject Rather Than Add

With the addition of clothing it’s harder to capture the curves of the body if the model is wearing a shirt, pants, dresses or loose clothing.  I find it distracting.  With the nude form, you just see it for what it really is.

I also think that some clothing, depending on what it is and how it’s worn can actually be more provocative.

Appreciating Our Different Body Types

I love that we’re all built differently. I find it sad that we as a society are so hung up on what’s considered to be the perfect body – the washboard stomach with six-pack abs, and perfectly sculpted arms and legs. In reality, many of us have curves with visible tummies, thighs, wrinkles, and all other things that society views as imperfections.  The reality is that this more normal compared to the magazine and TV ads, where the model has been edited to death by Photoshop.

That’s why I’m thankful for the models with diverse body types who get out there and pose. They’re keeping it real.

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2014: My Year In Review

2014 was arguably my most productive year as an artist.  I spent most of it being gainfully unemployed but I used some of that free time to my advantage.   Here’s the list of things that I did this year:

It Sure As Heck Wasn’t Blogging

In spite of my extra time, I was too busy to blog even though 2014 was chock full of blog fodder.   My last post in November was probably the first blog post in months.  Much of my free time was spent looking for a job, or creating art.  In spite of that I still managed to increase my number of followers and I am grateful for that.

Photoshop

I think every artist needs to learn some type photo editing program. There’s a lot of wonderful free online tools out there such as Google-based programs Picasa and Pixlr.  I used those for a time but eventually began working with Photoshop. It’s a robust program and you do pay for that robustness in a “a second mortgage” kind of way.  Fortunately there’s a cloud based program where you can pay an affordable monthly fee.

I learned Photoshop by reading “Classroom In A Book” that also comes with exercises that you can download from the web.  I’m no expert but I am more knowledgeable about a program that intimidated me for quite some time. Also it ain’t a bad thing to have on your resume.

Discovered New Venues

So this is the accomplishment I’m most proud of.  This year I decided that every month I was going to have my work shown in some venue in Charlotte.    I came pretty close to achieving this goal.  Here are just a few of the venues. Not shown is my artwork at my eye doctor’s office or at the Paper Cut Gallery.

Charlotte Art League: Featured Artist of the Month
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Manor Theatre
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Beatties Ford Road Branch Library
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Twenty-Two
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How did I find these places?  I joined local arts organizations, attended art receptions, and networked with other artists. Social media sights such as Facebook and Twitter were great sources for finding out about local art happenings.  The more you start making connections the more opportunities make themselves available.

Created More Work Than Ever

The reason why I’m slow at making art is because I’m a procrastinator, often found surfing the net, eating, napping, watching TV programs and online shows; or God forbid, if the weather is really nice, doing some related outdoor activity. I don’t have the attention span to spend long hours in a studio.  This year my behavior was still the same but due to the additional time, I managed to create about 7 works compared to 3 to 4 pieces per year on average.

Red Hoodie (SOLD)
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Ninja

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Breakthrough

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Three French Hens
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The Perimeter
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Still
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Good and Mercy Shall Follow Me (SOLD)
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Sold More Art

Okay so I still need a day job but I did better this year than the previous two years.  While I only sold two originals, I had more success selling prints. Showing and selling at multiple venues gave me more visibility.

Drew More Consistently

The key to improvement is to draw, draw, draw.  I currently attend life drawing sessions on a weekly basis and have done so for about a year.  I began working in pencil and then after being inspired by an artist friend who worked in pen, I started working in that medium. I find that I’m actually more comfortable in pen than with pencil and I am also becoming less tentative with my strokes.

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I also started doing “Right-Brained Sermon Notes,” that are visual notes I take on the sermon for Sunday service.  This type of thing isn’t a requirement for a ministry, I just enjoy doing it.  Once they’re finished I post them on Facebook.  A lot of people like them and it’s even caught the attention of some of the ministerial staff.

Sermon Notes 5.25.14 Sermon Notes 5.18.14a Sermon Notes 5.18.14

Found A Job (Albeit Temporary)

It’s one of those things that’s both exciting and disappointing at the same time. As I approached the last quarter of the year I became more and more frustrated about not finding any work. Severance and unemployment only last so long and then, gasp, you start tapping into that 401K. Fortunately a few months ago, I landed a long-term contract position to which I am still assigned to this day. The downside now is trying to find the time to make art.  I know of a fellow artist who lost her job this summer and I have to admit I’m a little jealous because of the extra time she now has to focusing on painting.   It almost makes me want to get laid off again – almost.

That sums up my year!  Looking forward to more adventures in 2015.

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