Aug 25, 2011

Art Wall in Southbridge, MA

the Art Wall on the lawn of the QVCAH Art Center

The Art Wall is an ambitious (and cool) exhibition going on in Southbridge right now. Made possible by a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, The Quinebaug Valley Council for the Arts & Humanities (QVCAH) is hosting this wall made up of large paintings by artists from each of the 25 towns the art center supports.

As East Douglas is one of the communities that comprise the QVCAH's reach, I was pleased to be invited to participate in the Art Wall. Project coordinator Monika Agnello filled me in on the details, and I got started with my largest painting to date - eight feet by four feet (a full sheet of plywood).

the original blueberry jelly
my little jelly bean on wheels

Those of you who know me already see a logistical issue with the painting. I drive a Toyota Yaris, which looks pretty much like a blueberry jelly bean on wheels. I can just imaging strapping the plywood onto my roof and upon driving getting enough lift to ensure hijinks on my way home from the Home Depot. Rather than tempt fate, I enlisted the help of my husband and his truck, and made it home to paint another day.

thank you honey!

With that problem solved, I primed the plywood all over, and busted out some sketches for the painting. After being bribed with some fish pellets, my koi in the front garden (Mr. Big Fish) modeled for me and I got the design resolved. I dug out my projector from college (it pays to be a hoarder!), and started tracing my design on the plywood. My studio is nowhere near big enough to accommodate the plywood with room to work around it, so I made use of the garage for this piece. Thank God I got the urge to organize it a few months back, or I would have been tripping over power tools.

sketch made in Adobe Flash

Here you can see the progression of the painting. I painted in the large areas with a flat base color first, then filled in the water and added depth and details.

like green Pac-men...

nearly done...
I saved the koi for last. At this point, I had been squatting over plywood on furniture dollies for a few days and I was feeling the burn. the weather was pretty nice at the house, so I brought the painting outside and worked on the stone wall. Good timing too - the natural light was better for the fish, which were the most detailed bit.

Water Garden 8'x4' acrylic  -  the completed painting

it's about as big as my car!

So that's it! Hubby helped me transport the finished painting to the QVCAH building for the exhibition. I visited the Art Wall again this week to get photos of all the artwork, which I'll post tomorrow. The work is so diverse and all together it looks really impressive. The Art Wall is on display until September 4th, so come check it out! The art will all be auctioned off, with a 50-50 split between the artists and the QVCAH. It's a great opportunity to score some fun artwork and do some good for the art community. Here are the details:

Art Wall closing reception and auction
Quinebaug Valley Council for the Arts and Humanities
111 Main Street Southbridge, MA
Sunday, September 4th, 2011

Aug 23, 2011

Angel's Art Heart

Angel  10"x10" mixed-media

This Art Heart was painted for a little girl named Angel. During pregnancy, Angel was diagnosed at 20 weeks with a congenital heart defect (Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome). The doctor recommended to her parents to either terminate the pregnancy, or have the baby and allow her to die (not to try surgery) as he believed the baby would be born with brain damage, mental retardation, down syndrome, or complications that would claim the child's life. Though devastated with this news, Angel's parents decided to have the baby no matter what the outcome. Even as they transferred to another facility, nurses insisted that they were making a mistake. They ignored the negativity and stayed firm in their decision.

On October 15th, 2008 baby Angel was born. Though her color was good and she looked healthy (with a full head of hair!) She was moved to Children's Hospital for her first open heart surgery at five days old. Her chest was closed two days later, and she did well, even getting her first visit with family. She had one more close call the next day when she went into cardiac arrest, but the doctors and nurses at Children's Hospital performed CPR to save her life. Following her recovery, Angel brought joy to her parents for thirteen months before she passed away at her home on November 15th, 2009.

Though Angel's story is so brief, I can't help but be inspired by the battle she and her parents fought to be respected in their choice. For them, the time they had as a family was worth the struggle. In the CHD community, children who do not survive congenital heart defect are referred to as "angel children". For this reason, I paint white wings for each child who has passed. I try to keep each design unique, but as you can see in this case there are some similarities to my first Art Heart, "Olivia". Both girls are angel children, beloved of parents who accepted life with an uncertain outcome, both with a significant number thirteen. Angel lived for thirteen months, while Olivia for thirteen days. So as a foil to Olivia's painting of twilight, Angel's painting would be of the dawn.

sketch in graphite on watercolor paper

I sketched out my concept for the painting, and transferred it to watercolor paper. White wings spread before an open sky, with the sun breaking through the clouds.

the first washes of watercolor

I added several washes of watercolor over the clouds to give them depth and texture. I decided to make Angel's Art Heart the colors of sunrise, yellow and pink and orange, with the sun lighting up the clouds. This would contrast with the twilight purples and blues of Olivia's painting.

the completed underpainting

I filled the sky with a pinkish glaze over the original yellow. Though I plan to work over it in pastel, It helps to have a similar background color. Once the watercolor was complete, I dried the paper and pulled off the painter's tape. Here, the wings are getting the first layers of pastel.

close-up of the wings, with pastel bringing out the details

These paintings tend to be detailed and defined - much of the feathers is distinct, which I bring out with layers of pastel, and pastel pencils.

metallic ink is used to enhance the thirteen rays

Back to the sun - I added a golden ray around the sun for each month of Angel's life. Because these are so slender, I had to skip the gold leaf, and instead use a metallic paint pen.

pastel softens the clouds

I also blended some pastel over the clouds and sky to soften and even out the transitions of color. Some white gouache was used to make the ends of the feathers brighter, and add contrast to the sky where it meets the clouds. The outer edge of the heart is covered with pastel to add radiance.

the completed painting

And the painting is complete! I love the palette of this one - warm and bright, with the structured sun and wings. I hope it conveys the strength and resolve that we must possess to face difficult choices - that there is joy and light even despite the clouds. It is a tribute to Angel and her parents.

 This is the tenth of my Art Hearts which I am donating to Olivia's Heart Fund. Please check out the Art Hearts page on my blog to read more about the project. 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. Please also consider making a donation to the charity - you can click here or on the button below to visit the charity's site. Enjoy!

Aug 11, 2011

The Elements at Warwick Museum of Art

I am excited and pleased to be included in the current show at the Warwick Museum of Art, The Elements. When I submitted my mixed-media encaustic In My Garden, I intended it to represent Earth - more of a living earth, with the lush green of my home garden. Happily, the curators felt it went well with the theme.

I've been volunteering down at the museum during the show, and got to see all of the art first hand. The opening reception for The Elements is tomorrow night - so if you are in the Warwick, RI area, please come by and support the museum! Admittance is free (though donations are always welcome), and refreshments will be served. Here is the info:

Warwick Museum of Art
3259 Post Road, Warwick, RI

The Elements opening reception:
Friday, August 12th, 2011
7pm - 9pm

The Elements show runs:
August 3rd - 31st
Tuesday - Friday 12-4, Saturday 10-2

This is just a sampling of the work in the show:

Artists clockwise from top left: Sharon Gorberg,  Trisha Kelley,
Marsha Solomon, Bernadette Pace and Lisa Kretchman

Artists clockwise from top left: Tim Balfour, Eric McLaughlin,
Stanley Wanczyk, Lori Ellen Goodman and Barry Martasian 

Driftwood sculpture (with incredible detail!) by Neal Personeus

Left to right: Art by Adel Gorgy and Deborah Carlson

Fabric sculpture by Saberah Malik

Glass art by Deenie Pacik

Watercolors by Charles K Morgan

Hope to see you at the show!