Mar 17, 2011

Southern exposure in Attleboro


It looks like spring is actually on the way! Last weekend I did a little volunteering for the Red Tent Event in Cranston, RI (a wonderful cause by  the way - an initiative to end violence against women and girls in RI) and outside I noticed a few promising little stems growing. Now the Rhodes on the Pawtuxet is a little further south than where I live, and at the time I had a good amount of snow on the ground at my home (still have some now), but I did see a few crocuses sprouting up in Oxford while I was out shopping today too. Thank God! I can't take any more winter.

Radiance II  9" x 12"  mixed-media

So it's appropriate that the Attleboro Arts Museum's Flower Show is coming up at the end of this month. This year's theme for the art show is "Southern Exposure", and just the thought of warm climates, brilliant sunshine and golden light is intoxicating! One of my new mixed-media encaustic pieces will be included in the art show (yay!) and I'll be down at the museum for a couple of days during the weekend. The event is very family-friendly, with flower and landscape displays, the art show, music, food, live painting, demonstrations and gardening information. 

If you're thinking about going, here's the scoop - the show runs Thursday, March 31st through Sunday April 3rd, with an admission of $3 each day (children 9 and under get in free). A full schedule of events can be downloaded here. Hope to see you there!


Mar 16, 2011

Adree's Art Heart

Adree  10"x10" mixed-media

This week's Art Heart is inspired by Adree. Adree was five years old when she was diagnosed with congenital heart defect. At a regular check-up, her new doctor had discovered a faint heart murmur. Upon further examination, the doctors determined that Adree had an abnormality of the right coronary artery, and a leak in her mitral valve. Because of this, her blood flow was backing up, and she would need surgery.

For six months following the operation, Adree underwent supervision, a course of blood thinners, and refrained from physical activity. In the three years since her surgery at Children's Hospital Boston, she has been healthy, and the experience has made her even more compassionate towards others. With her family, she is currently planning a fundraiser for the children there.

So for Adree's heart, I wanted to know a little more about her personality. Her mom kindly let me know that she is bold and outspoken, as well as artistic and into sewing. When I thought about this, and the colors that she liked, I immediately pictured irises. They too have a bold personality - beautiful in their strong and structured appearance, and rich with their color. Irises are named for the Greek goddess of the rainbow who is a link between heaven and earth. It was believed that she carried messages by that arc from the eye of heaven. The three main petals of the flower represent faith, wisdom and valor.

my watercolors and easel set up at the flower show

I started Adree's Art Heart at the RI Flower and Garden Show, while volunteering at the table for Olivia's Heart Fund, so the floral motif was especially appropriate. After sketching out the basic shapes, I applied watercolor within the flower petals, transitioning shades of blue, with touches of yellow and orange. Since I worked on an upright portable easel, I dampened the paper and added dryer washes of color so that the paint wouldn't run.

the central heart is filled in with watercolor

I alternated areas of color to keep the edges from bleeding into each other, and over the course of the day, I finished the watercolor within the heart shape. Since I was happy with how things looked at this stage, I added the detailed veining of the petals with the watercolor. I just would have to plan less pastel over that layer so as not to obscure the detail.

the spiderweb dotted with metallic paint

I brought the painting home that night, and added the background wash of color all around the heart. When I brought the artwork back for the last day of the flower show, I could focus on the pastel layer. One last item needed to be painted though - the subtle gossamer spiderweb that hides just below the irises. I really wanted to include this as a nod to Adree's artistic side. The spider is a symbol of creativity, as she is a weaver of the fabric of life. Her work represents a linking of the past and future. To make this opaque enough to contrast with the background, I added it with a blend of white and silver acrylic. Trust me, I worked hard to keep my hand steady and not smudge acrylic all over the place! With a few dots of silver paint like dewdrops over the web, I was ready for the pastels.

pastels bring out the brightest areas and the purple edges of the petals

As much as I liked the watercolor in the irises, I thought I could add a little brightness and saturation with a hint of pastel. Keeping the strokes within the veining, red-purple, white and yellow highlights were added. Wherever I thought it needed it, I blended warmer and brighter greens into the stalks as well. This helped me bring the flower stems forward a bit.

the outside of the heart is smoothed out and made radiant

The last step was to add the pastel area around the heart. In this step I can clean up the heart shape a bit, make the background more consistent, and add a radiant light effect. Overall this painting has a vibrant yet calming quality. It's important to note that nine is a special number for Adree, and it kept reappearing during this painting. Adree turns nine this week, and hers is the ninth Art Heart for Olivia's Heart Fund. As referenced earlier, the three main petals are significant in the mythology of the iris, and with three irises in the composition, we have another number nine. I want to wish Adree a joyous ninth birthday, and hope that she enjoys her Art Heart!

If you'd like to read more about the project, please check out the Art Hearts page on my blog. If you feel inspired to make a donation please click here or on the button below to visit the charity's site. If you'd like to purchase a print or greeting card of this painting, it is available through the charity's store, and all proceeds benefit Olivia's Heart Fund. Enjoy!

Mar 8, 2011

Good Times upstairs at the Rhode Island Flower and Garden Show

Lots of goodies on display from OHF

Last week I posted about the beautiful gardens and artwork I saw during the RI Flower and Garden Show. But most of my time at the convention center was spent upstairs working with volunteers for Olivia's Heart Fund as we shared news about the charity and the Art Hearts project.

OHF Founder Julie Ostiguy 

Most of the time when I have a camera in hand, people tend to vanish on me. I got lucky and cornered Julie Ostiguy (founder of Olivia's Heart Fund) at the OHF table. See how lovely that photo came out? I don't know what the rest of you are afraid of! Anywhoo - we worked the tables together on Thursday, and things went swimmingly - especially once the Art Heart cards showed up. I think it was easier for our visitors to approach us when they could see the cards and have something to take home that was utilitarian.

coloring pages based on the Art Hearts

Also a popular item were the coloring pages. I traced four of the Art Hearts and made a fifth open heart for the kids to color in. Voila art gallery in North Kingstown donated art supplies and lessons as a prize for the coloring contest. The weekend was especially good for passing out the coloring pages, and we got so many submissions! Julie had a great idea, to eventually have a coloring book of all the Art Hearts when the project is complete.

video display and information about the project

Some of the late-night prep before the show was for the video display. We put together a brief slideshow about the Art Hearts project and included images of the hearts and families that we have photos of so far. This will continue to grow as the project continues. The Art Heart you can see in the monitor is Katelyn and Julia's. I was fortunate to meet Julia and her parents during the Flower Show when they came to see their heart in the American Heart Association garden downstairs. I've read their story and communicated with them, but it's not the same as meeting them in person. It was very emotional and moving to get a big hug from Melissa, and I got to talk to Julia (and got a high five) as well. They are a great family, and were very kind with their words about the project.

The beginnings of another Art Heart

While I was working at the OHF tables upstairs, I started researching some symbolism and imagery on my laptop to begin another Art Heart. Once I had a concept in mind, I blocked out some sketches at home. Saturday I brought my watercolors with me and set up by the OHF tables to get the underpainting done. Lately, I have been adding more detail into the centers of the Art Hearts, and using less pastel over them in the final painting. It depends on what creates the right mood for each piece. As you can see in the photo above, the irises are already getting pretty detailed.

Cardi's guys are getting their Zumba on

The weekend brought lots of activity to the 5th floor where we were located. Across from us the Zumba instructors from the Fitness Group got some music and dancing going. The Cardi's mascots came by the children's activity area and decided to give it a go as well. I would have captured a video of this, but they drew a crowd before I could get myself over there. Believe me,it was all kinds of entertaining!

me, painting away! Image by the Providence Journal/Connie Grosch

By Sunday, I had transferred watercolors to pastels on the Art Heart. A photographer from the Providence Journal came by and snapped this pic while I was working on the outer edges. You can see this and more images from the Flower Show here, on Projo. We made it to the top photography section for the day! I have since completed the latest heart, and will post more detail about the story and the process this week. Working like this at the event was really fun - people get involved and like to ask about the process. Some people just want to stand back and watch and not be obtrusive, but I really like to discuss the work, and hope that they come up and talk to me if they'd like to. A few times I met a child who was especially interested in what I was painting. I try to explain the way I paint and hope that they are encouraged to be artistic themselves.

All in all, it was a busy week, and a good one. Lots of creative work, and more people got to know a little about the efforts of Olivia's Heart Fund and it's mission. We sold a lot of the Art Heart cards, and got a feel for which pieces resonate with the public. I got to meet a heart family, and speak to people about why this project is important, and that made it a great event.

Mar 4, 2011

Beautiful Gardens at the RI Flower and Garden Show 2011!

The AHA garden at the RI Flower and Garden Show

So last weekend I was jazzed to be working the RI Flower and Garden Show with other volunteers for Olivia's Heart Fund. The show's theme this year was "Gardening with Heart" and it was partnered with the American Heart Association, and the AHA welcomed Olivia's Heart Fund to it's past of the show with a spot in the garden  as well as a table area upstairs to display info about the Art Hearts project.

Art Hearts on easels in the AHA garden

Olivia's Heart Fund helpers set up my artwork on easels in the garden areas on Wednesday, the day before the show. I got in for a sneak peek at how it all came together. You can see Anna's Art Heart above in the AHA garden, created by the RI Horticultural Society. The romance of the theme is evident with the heart-shaped dance floor, and the formal wear displayed there. The dress you see here was actually designed for the Go Red Styleweek Challenge for Art Heart recipient Laurie Stephenson, by RI designer Jonathan Joseph Peters of Project Runway fame (!). I'm also a huge fan of Project Runway and LOVE  to see a local artist succeed, so YAY! and now I am another degree closer to awesomeness. Laurie's Art Heart is displayed to the right of her dress, and Katelyn and Julia's Art Heart is in the left side of the garden.

four more Art Hearts

Four more of the Art Hearts were displayed by the main entrance to the show, with information to find the OHF tables upstairs. Despite the large foot traffic of all the attendees during the four-day event, we had no problems with the artwork being there. People were very respectful, and several people came upstairs mentioning they had seen the works down in the garden area.

Now, I haven't seen a flower show for a long time - the last one I attended would be the Boston show, back when I was in college. If you didn't know, I happen to be an avid gardener, and enjoy doing some hardscaping with stone, making koi ponds and waterfalls and the like at my home in MA. So this was a great experience in that the garden areas were lush with plantings, but also very creative with stone steps, arches, water fixtures, live animals and patios.

AHA sand sculptures

This sand garden was a live scultpure by Sandtasia, being worked on diligently throughout the flower show. It was a kick to see how it progressed over the course of the four days. Fantastic job.

lovely display with a romantic feel

I loved this garden as well - the moss-covered umbrella and patio had an intimate, romantic feel. Created by Alan McLaughlin Garden Design.

I love me some koi ponds!

Another garden I particularly liked was a walk-through exhibit loaded with water features. They had several fountains, waterfalls, basins, and this koi pond. They built all this in just a few days! Created by Domina's Agway.

me trying to contain my jealousy when viewing Mike's work

In addition to the gorgeous floral works, I found two familiar artists in the gardens. Mike Bryce had a garden installation where he painted live within a charming display. I was taken in by the read doors at first, and then noticed the "pavers" for the pathway to the center door were, in fact an array of his small paintings and underpaintings. Brilliant! Then the large sunflower paintings he was working on caught my eye, and I had to remind myself that jealousy is not becoming. What fantastic artwork! I know it wasn't just me - a stranger to my left struck up a conversation about how perfect that painting would look in her living room, right about the time another woman to my right asked if the work was for sale. I think they may have given each other daggers at that point. Luckily there was no brawl over the paintings, but that's saying something about Mike's work.

some of Richard Harrington's monoprint work

I was also pleased as punch to see several works by artist Richard Harrington at the main entrance and also in the Federation of Garden Clubs exhibits. I met Richard at one of the Creative Impact series of events at the Providence Art Club, where he is a member. His work is beautiful - I love the natural landscapes and wide open skies in his monoprints, some of which he enhances with pastel. Again, I see work like this and I ache for that level of skill. But I also found him to be a kind and open person himself, being willing to spend time discussing the RI art world with a newbie like me.

I'll post more on the goings-on upstairs during the show next week. It was a whirlwind of activity, but so worth it! Enjoy!


Mar 3, 2011

So much to post!

After all the craziness with the Rhode Island Flower and Garden Show, I have been getting some rest and cleaning up the studio. Right now it looks like a bomb went off in there! As soon as I get everything back on track, I'll be posting about the latest Art Heart, which I was working on during the Flower Show.

Be back soon! -Lisa