Sunday, November 05, 2006 

I Will Sit Here

One of my recent pieces that I feel the proudest of is a chair I bought at a thrift store, and made into a piece titled "I will Sit Here."

At our show at Moffitt (see previous post), we had artist statements posted on our labels by each piece, so that people could read about the inspiration and how all of the pieces relate to the Breastplates and Other Artful Armor theme.

Here is what I wrote for my artist statement about my chair:
I Will Sit Here
Mixed Media chair- wood, fabric, acrylic paint
Size: 23”W x 29-1/2” H x 19” D
"Before this chair was as it is now, it was just an ugly brown chair found at the Hospice thrift store, covered with dripping paint and green stretchy fabric cushions. It felt empowering to remove the ugliness, strip the old layers away, and add fresh paint and fabric, along with my writing.
I cannot purport to know what it is like to struggle with cancer myself, but I imagined myself there, using my own thoughts from past hardships, my conversations with those I know who have survived breast cancer, and what I have read and taken into my own consciousness. I hope to honor those who have experienced the struggle."

The chair has been painted with acrylic paints and covered with a poem that I wrote titled "I WIll Sit Here:"

I wll sit here and this chair will support me.
It will support me on good days and bad days
And will remain unchanged, though I am forever changed by my circumstances.

I can grieve for the loss of peace, as I wait for illness to pass and answers to tests. I can be sad.

I can grieve for the loss of peace as I anticipate surgery. I can be strong.

I can sit here and meditate on my blessings.
I can bring those who love me close into myself- into my very spirit,
As I hug them to my heart
And am supported
As I Sit Here.

My life and the lives of others will continue.

This disease cannot steal my soul from me.

I can still love, inspire, do what I am able to do'in each moment that I am able to do it.

And this chair will support me.

I will survive.


"Breastplates" and "Crossroads" Pictures

I am so excited to finally update my blog with pictures from the opening at Moffitt, and information about my two most recent openings!

The Crossroads show at Mirta's was our preview show for our larger Breastplates show and tour. It was only up for a few weeks, but I did sell two of the pieces I had hung in the show, and we received some press for the event to carry over to our Moffitt exhibit. Our opening there was well-attended and we all had a great time. We did get strange news when it was time to take our show down. Mirta's announced that our show would be the last one there, and that they would be closing, as one of their partners recently left the business.

Our Breastplates and Other Artful Armor Against Cancer show just opened this past Wednesday, November 1st, at the beautiful Stabile building atrium at H. Lee Moffit Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa. It was well-supported by Moffitt's leadership board, and will possibly give us connections at other venues. Belleview Hospital in New York was mentioned as another possible facility, and we are already in negotiations with a gallery in Chicago and a medical facility in Philadelphia, so after some time goes by, I'll let you know what comes of all these.

As it stands, we will have our show up at Moffitt through January 20th, 2007. We will be joining forces with another touring show that is focused on breast cancer survivor's portraits, called Faces of Courage. One of my pieces, titled "Wrappings" is currently being shown in a window display with the Faces of Courage work in popular Ybor City. Some of the Breastplates work will join with the Faces of Courage show, and we will have additional venues to display both locally and on the tour, due to the places they have already secured for their tour. It is all very exciting!

I had thirteen pieces in the Mirta's show, and currently have my breastplate and three additional pieces in the Moffitt show, one of which has sold.

I have a lot of other things to update here on the blog- other work I've done recently, etcetera, but here is the work shown at Moffitt for the Breastplates event.

All art shown in these pictures is my work, but I did show the entire "torso wall" which includes a wonderful mosaic torso by artist Jennie Petruney of Philadelphia, and a beautiful copper torso piece with photo collages of breast cancer survivors hanging around the neck like a necklace. My breastplate is the one on the far left, mounted on a square blue canvas. Isn't the torso wall cool??!!

Friday, July 21, 2006 

Bad Blogger/ Good Worker Bee!

I have been woefully neglectful of my blog for a long while, so if you've given up on me, I totally understand.

My head has been in a million places lately with big changes in my life, but all of it is good. The greatest news is that I have finished my three Breastplates pieces!! I feel like I have given birth in completing these. They are truly my "babies," since they have been in my thoughts and in various stages of progress for quite a while now.

Kathy Iwanowski, the artist/coordinator of the Breastplates project, has set up a website about the exhibit. If you'd like to check in about what is happening with the Breastplates project, copy and paste this address into your browser window:

If you click around to the different pages, you will find a calendar with some of the events listed that coordinate with the show. We will be having a preview show for three weeks in September at a Hyde Park gallery in Tampa called Mirta's Gallery, with the Breastplates installation on exhibit there as a preview, and five additional pieces each that highlight our individual styles and statements. (By the way, that is my Breastplate piece on the calendar page!)

After the the preview show at Mirta's, the kickoff of the main show begins at the H. Lee Moffitt Stabile Research Building- their newest beautiful space at the Cancer Research Institute. Details are also being finalized for showings in Chicago, Philadelphia and points beyond. The show is set to tour for two years, with a goal of raising both awareness of how cancer affects all of us in some way, and funds to help women get mammograms who otherwise couldn't afford them.

I feel so proud to be a part of this show.

I have volunteered to photograph the pieces as they have been coming in from the artist participants, and the quality and diversity of the pieces are amazing. This is going to be such an inspiring show!

Anyway, let me share MY work with you. I feel like I'm ready to open the curtain for my big debut..... Holding my breath....
Ta Da!

Armor of Affirmations

Cotton fabric-covered torso cast. Copper strips, paper, leather, linen, silk threads and beaded trim. Acrylic on canvas.
size 24"x24"

As I was casting this torso from my own form, I tried to imagine what would most protect me if I were dealing with cancer. I feel that cancer changes who you are- not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. The disease can work to make you hardened and bitter, or it can help you see that the changes affecting your life can bring deep meaning. This can be difficult, almost impossible to imagine at the darkest times, but to know someone who has approached their treatment and loss in this positive way, has been a profound experience for me.

I feel that the protection must come both from within and from without. I used the copper strips with affirmations to represent the positive thinking that can be done from the inside while working through the struggle of cancer, while the prayers tucked into the winged prayer pocket, hold blessings from others, and affect us from the outside. By having this protection on both the inside and out, invisible armor is created.


Digital collage on 100% cotton paper with acrylic
size 22-3/4"W x18-3/4" H

This piece began with a collection of three of my photographs. The main photo, a shot of a sunflower from my garden that grew up as tall as the roof of my porch, still amazes me today. How can a flower grow that huge?

I used the sunflower as a symbol of hope and beauty. The figure, a woman praying, came from a statue I found in Savannah Georgia. I incorporated these two images with a third one of oak trees, to create a feeling of mystery in a difficult journey, with a prayer for a hopeful outcome. We invoke the help of God/Spirit/Energy/Beauty to help us through the pain.

Healing Light

acrylic on Paper
16-3/4"W x 20-3/4"H

I was drawn to paint the beautiful light coming through this priory window. Light heals and creates a way for us.

Kathy is still in the process of finding additional venues for the tour. If you think that you know of a good place to be a part of the exhibit tour, please contact me here or by e-mail, or contact Kathy via the Breastplates website with your leads.

We are targeting galleries in Cancer Research Facilities, and private galleries that have the space, profile and interest in supporting a large event like Breastplates and Other Artful Against Cancer.

We are definitely on our way, and the sky is the limit now!

Saturday, May 20, 2006 

What's an Artist to Do?

Do any of you feel like your right brain gets in the way of normal life? I float about three feet above the ground almost all of the time- never quite grounded- looking at all the inspiration around me and daydreaming a lot of the time about what art I will make next.

This doesn't work well with:
A- Driving
C- Paying attention to all the other stuff of the world
Sooooo- I tend to do not-in-the-moment things quite a bit, and it gets me in trouble.

Yesterday, my big ditz move was losing my box of paints. Now, how can an artist lose her paints, you ask? Well, I set it down, after my weekly drawing and painting class, while I was cleaning up the water that I spilled, which I was pouring down the water fountain drain, (of course!) I must have left it on the table there, and went on my merry way, so now I am am paintless (at least ACRYLIC paintless). I am praying that they are safely in the lost and found, or I will have to replace all of my cadmiums, cobalt blue and all of the others-you know, all of the *expensive* ones.

I haven't updated my blog in a while, so I have a lot of new things to upload here. Here is a drawing that I just completed this morning in my sketchbook:

I have been working a lot on my breastplates pieces, and I attended a preview of our show this past Thursday evening, which was wonderful.

We showed our preliminary work, and a few completed pieces for the Fall Breastplates show, at a mixer for a national conference for healthcare educators, called Cancer and Cultural Literacy.

I met some fascinating people at this event, who were very interested in our pieces, and I helped Kathy facilitate an interactive piece that she is working on called "Wardrobe of Heroic Proportions," where attendees could add to the piece that she is creating, which will later be sewn into an oversized kimono.

There were groups at the conference who target cancer education in diverse communities here in the US- Amish, Mennonite and Haitian, for example. I found it interesting to walk around and read about the different approaches that are taken with the needs in mind of each group.

This made me know, even more, that I have followed a good path here for myself. Getting to know Kathy has been great, and it has opened up a lot of doors for me that feel so right.

I also got to spend the evening with Janet Aponte, a fellow artist who will be exhibiting in the Breastplates event.

I found out, a few days after my mother passed away, that the nurse who attended mom that night and who helped us through everything was Janet Aponte! I had never met her before night my mom died, and I had no idea that she was an artist.

After sharing such a profound experience on the night of my mom's transition, I was almost in disbelief when I found out that she was one of the other eight artists chosen for the Breastplates show.

There just aren't any coincidences, you know? Just another amazing thing that has happened to me in my amazing life. I am so blessed to be able to be an artist. So maybe that right brain thing isn't all bad....

Here is an update on "Healing Light," one of the paintings I am doing for the Breastplates and Other Artful Armor Against Cancer show that will kick off at Lee Moffit Cancer Center in Tampa this coming October. I have warmed up some of the tones in the painting, but need to make it a lot lighter. I'd do it today if I didn't lose my paints!!!

The other two are smaller paintings, done in my Moleskine sketchbook- "Spring Barn" and "Portrait of Hedwig", both in acrylic paints on paper.

Saturday, April 29, 2006 

New Paintings this Week

I have been working on getting some things together for the "Breastplates and Other Artful Armor Against Cancer" show this past week.

My breastplate form is now completed, but needs some reinforcement, and I have begun my drawing plans for the final breastplate project.

I am working on a painting right now that I may try to use for the show if it turns out the way I want it to. I may use it to flesh out some ideas for the actual painting to submit for the show, but at this point, I am trying out some things to make this window look like healing light. At this point, I just have a partially developed underpainting, so it is still rather dark, and is looking a bit on the spooky, rather than ethereal side, but I hope to remedy that with additional work.

I have also made some time to participate in this weekend's Weekly Drawing Event (WDE) on the WetCanvas website.

Actually, the reference photo for the painting above was from last week's WDE- Norman Priory.

This week, I have tackled one of my usual favorite subjects, a dog named Mat. After I got going with this painting, my husband started falling in love with it, as it reminded him of the dog he grew up with, Puddles.

This was a fun little painting to do- about 12"x12", acrylics on watercolor paper.

Monday, April 24, 2006 

New Sketches in my Moleskine

One of the good things about having computer problems is that it gave me more time to draw and paint!

I got a bit behind in posting my Moleskine sketchbook entries, so here is the latest drawing I am working on- one of my daughter, having a dreamy moment when we were on our last vacation in New England.

The rest of the images are a hodgepodge- some done from photos, some done from life, some drawn, some painted. The dates are all out of order because my sketchbook is a bit disorganized, like I tend to be!

Actually, the dates get out of synch when I decide to work single page sketches in to my sketchbook, and I do not publish the journaling pages that have no images included with them, so they get a little out of order.

The collie sketches were part of a WDE event, and I limited my time on each sketch as an experiment. I ended up doing the watercolor afterwards, based on these small studies:

The last two-page spread in my Moleskine sketchbook shows a little charcoal drawing I did while we sat waiting for our table at a favorite local restaurant. Opposite it, in acrylics, is a portrait I did from this past weekend's WDE event on WetCanvas.

I am currently working on the first drawing above, in my Moleskine sketchbook, an acrylic semi-abstract piece, based on a WDE photo of a gorgeous light-filled priory, and the breastplate that will be touring with a show that begins November 2006.

More to come on all that!

Thursday, April 06, 2006 

Computer Woes

Not happy... not happy!

My computer is causing me fits- shutting down without warning in the middle of working, and I have lost files and work while this has been happening. I have to get it in for service, and luckily, it is still under the extended manufacturer's warranty, but it will mean (alas) no computering for about five days while I send it away for them to work on it.

I guess I should be happy that I still have it under warranty, but I will be incommunicado until I get it back. I am trying to decide whether I should mail it out Friday or Monday. I might wait until Monday, so that I can try to do the WDE this coming weekend.

I guess I should take care of this before it dies for good!!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006 

I Love a Good, Rainy Day

Here is something that you might not know about me. I LOVE rainy days, and I seem to have passed on this genetic predisposition to my nine-year old daughter as well.

Why do I love them? Because rainy days give permission for us to take the time to go inside ourselves- to be contemplative- to make art.

If it were rainy day every day, I wouldn't be so enthusiastic about them, and they have spoiled many a plan, but when there is no plan, or one that is not firm, a rainy days tells me, "You can take some time for yourself." "You can wallow for a little while in your art-ness."

When the sun comes out, it is hard to want to stay inside. There is a lot to relish in being outdoors, and art can be made there too, but there's nothing quite like a good, rainy day to help you decide to pull out some art stuff and get at it.

I am putting art first this morning, even though there are a hundred more "productive" things I probably should be doing. If I start with those, the time to do art will dwindle away, and my mind will be filled with the busy-ness that comes with all the tasks at hand. So for two hours, I am not going to answer the phone, and I will indulge myself. In honor of this rainy day....

What I'm Working on Today

Sunday, I finished a digital manipulation, made up of four photos that were part of this past weekend's WDE on the Wetcanvas! site.

The four pictures were of a real lioness, a boy hugging a bronze lion statue, a blonde girl viewing a gorilla behind plexiglass, and a panoramic vista of the Smoky Mountains.

I put them all together with a Narnia-ish nod, and called it "The Lion, The Kids, and the Smokies!"

I think I will use this as inspiration for my rainy day art morning, and I want to finish my sketchbook page that featured my Rosetti interpretation.
More later, once I have something to share.

This the start of my drawn version of the above photo creation.

Beginning with a gesture study of the movement in the drawing and finding the positioning of the basic shapes. I have now started to develop the drawing, by adding somr of the features, mainly for positioning at this point.

I have spent about 15 minutes on this so far, and am working in graphite

In this next step, I have another half hour or so into the drawing, adding color and definition with watercolor pencils. I am using the tiniest bit of moisture to smudge the color of the pencils, rather than trying to do a wash at this point.

Water beads up on the Moleskine paper, which won't work well for this part of the image. It would obsure the detail in the face and hands.
I will probably use a wash for the mountains in the background, though.

Here, I realize that some things are not quite right with my lioness: when I made her head smaller, I somehow elongated her neck. Well, I suppose it is OK, since this is fantasy, and just a study (which is why we do studies!!)

I have started adding in washes, and am still using the watercolor pencils on top. I have about 2 hours total into the drawing so far. It looks to be a little over halfway finished to my eyes, so I will keep plugging along, but need to get to some of my real world household tasks today, so will have to come back to this later on. Until then....

Here is the final sketchbook version. I tried to fix some of the proportional issues, and gave a lot more detail to the lioness, the boy's shirt, finished the girl's clothing, and scenery. Maybe this will make it to a final painting when I can get back to it.