IIIIII thought so!
This Wednesday, October 25, I will be planting myself on the 2nd floor of the Gladwyne Library taking orders for custom silhouettes. Have a kid? Grandkid? Niece? Nephew? Friend? NEIGHBOR? BOSS? Up your gift game this year but giving the gift of the traditional silhouette (or the traditional silhouette with a twist). Skip the ihome that you found at Costco (no one is into that stuff anymore). Monogrammed robe from Restoration Hardware? I know they are the softest, but really, is Grandpa Joe going to wear it? You know that friend you’ve maybe, kinda, sorta neglected since they spawned? Show you still care with a custom cutting of their sweet, little angel!
Visit on Wednesday and 20% of your purchase will benefit the Gladwyne Library – that’s an amazing gift, supporting local art, AND a charitable donation to a library. How can you go wrong? Also, all orders placed Wednesday have a guaranteed turn-around time before or by the December 2017 holidays.
I will NOT be cutting the silhouettes live, because performance art is not my bag. I spent five years as a face painter and vowed never create art live again- on someone’s face or of someone’s face. I will be taking a photo, chatting with you about options, so it’s important you bring with you the person you need a photo of. If you can’t bring them, just place the order with me and I will contact you to get the photo at a later date.
Feel free to email me with questions or pricing information at: email@example.com
Sweet Mabel is cool shop in a cool town, and I think I am one of the only people on the main line that hadn’t visited until this year. For people that mentioned the shop to me (about 25), I think it must have been like quoting The Princess Bride or Labyrinth and hearing, “Never watched it.” Madness! Tracy and Dave are as cool as their little shop, …and creative …and laid back, and I’m not just saying that because for the first time ever I didn’t have to hang my own pieces (and stress about how they are ordered). Thank you, Dave, thank you… Do you “freelance hang”?
If you’re in Narberth, stop by Sweet Mabel and buy all the things, because you will want to and life is short. Also, you can’t take it with you, and you only live once, and all the cliches. If you think about it, shopping is the hunting and gathering of our time. If you’ve never heard of Narberth – gasp – go there today. Have some cheese, see a film, watch the crossing guard do her thing, buy a book from a real bookstore, go to Sweet Mabel and buy gifts for everyone (and yourself), go to the little market, smell the hardware store (even better than “library smell”), buy some wine and hop a train home (unless you drove, then don’t).
Also, take a look at the paper cutting on display, because it’s mine and I made it with love, which I think is the theme for one of the coolest towns on the main line.
When I was in school at Gladwyne Elementary, I entered a drawing of Marvel’s (X-Men) Wolverine in the Gladwyne Library League’s Annual Art & Craft Show and won a blue ribbon. I don’t want to say it was the highlight of my childhood, but it felt fabulous. I took a decade and half off, but began entering my pieces in Library show around 2011 and found it was just as delightful to partake in as an adult as it was when I was a kid.
Recently, the little library in Gladwyne was renovated to allow for an elevator to the second floor, and I decided to “cut the library” as a gift upon their grand reopening. Spending more time at the library, enjoying the volunteers, board members, employees, and community friends, I started to understand why the library is referred to as the “heart of the village.” I also reflected on how the annual art show seems to bring so many of these great people together. Gladwyne is a cute town, but there isn’t a hopping cultural or social scene, for that you typically venture towards the beaten path of Lancaster Avenue. Shortly thereafter I emailed the folks at the library and asked if they would consider hosting me for a solo exhibition in their 2nd floor space (just a short elevator ride up), and to open up the conversation about having a greater art presence right in the heart of Gladwyne. I proposed, they said yes, and I guess that makes me and the library like Ray Kinsella and his tractor from Field of Dreams: if we call the artists, they will come!
And I got to go first! So here is a sampling of the 80 pieces that I hung at the Gladwyne Library on September 15. They will remain for your viewing pleasure until October 27.
Through a family connection (thanks mom), I had the opportunity to contribute to a large piece to be displayed in the Hilton Hotel at Penn’s Landing. The location of the piece within the hotel is less important (near the head), than the fantastic way that it turned out. For a such a success, it’s surprising it started the way most fiascoes kick-off; with my mom asking, “Hi! Can I commission something from you?” It might sound odd that such a question would elicit a negative response, but usually the request is something unusual, and somehow “working” for my mom immediately reminds me of being a teenager; it’s like hearing, “I need to talk to you,” as soon as you get home from school. But it worked out, in large part due to her having the base art completed before my part began. Overthinking and over-planning are my two worst enemies.
She asked me to cut the Statue of Liberty, poor gal (she’s feelin’ it right now), based on a simple photograph. She had already laid out a black background with torn strips of red, white, and blue, so all I had to do was design Lady Liberty out of yellow (goldenrod?) Canson paper and cut to fit.
That was it! I sketched it up, drew it out, cut it out, laid it down. No drama. It looks fantastic. If you look closely you’ll see something very unusual for my work – she is in three pieces. It’s very rare for my cuttings not to be one piece, but in this case, I wanted to be able to re-position her as-needed to fit the tall and narrow frame.
For the month of July (until the first weekend in August) I have the pleasure of showing at the Gryphon Cafe with two other artists. Within a day of taking down this show, I will be bringing the pieces to the Athenaeum in Philadelphia to be scanned, at which point I’ll have some high quality photos to share. For now, please enjoy some snapshots in my signature style: rushed, blurry, and crooked.
A few familiar favorites, an assortment of throwbacks, and some of my newest work. Stayed tuned for up-to-date pictures (mid August).
I have two Instagram accounts: @brownpapercutter and @lovelylucybrown. One for my artwork because not having one isn’t an option, and one for my dog because I only have one foot in the millennial pool and I also have an irrational fear that the thousands of pictures I take of my dog, Lucy, will somehow disappear. On varying levels, some much more natural and reasonable, I assume this is how most pet owners feel about their fur babies, so I was very excited when the Gladwyne Animal Hospital accepted my proposal to hang pet portraits in their waiting and exam rooms. These pieces will be rotating as I produce new work, and will of course be available for sale – commissions welcomed and accepted!
The pet portraits below are not hanging in the animal hospital, but I couldn’t leave ’em out… cute ‘lil guys.
Until my second show at Waverly Heights, I had never realized that it is standard procedure for many artists to frame their work generically or inexpensively with the expectation that the buyer will reframe the work to suit their tastes. I had never considered that option, so for me, framing began as a necessity. Furthermore, because the work inside the frame is so delicate the idea of a buyer or framer handling it is an upsetting notion. Through the years the necessity has stayed the same, but the process has become so essential to the work itself that I don’t consider a piece finished until it is backed, matted, framed, and the brown paper sealed on the back. The framing process can often be the most difficult, but it can also certainly be the most rewarding as it’s all that stands between a stand-out piece and one that stays in flat file on show day.
I typically maintain that unless there is a flaw in the selection or finishing process, there is a lid for every pot when it comes to selling. I’ve said before, and it’s true, I’m more concerned with achieving a positive reaction than a sale. If people seem to love a piece, but it appears in show after show, I’m rarely concerned. I love to show the work, and if it takes years for the right person to see it; so be it.
There are some conditions under which I will reframe work, however. For example:
If it is with me so long that my taste evolves…
I find the original materials aren’t up to my current standards…
If I selected a frame simply to “get it on the wall,” but was not committed to it…
Something about the piece just bugs me…
My mom has worn me down (and stylistically, she’s usually right)…
I sold my first paper cutting over 10 years ago off the sidewalk during Olde City’s First Friday. I was a little excited to sell something, but even then I was disappointed I was haggled down from $35. If I’m honest? Twenty dollars was generous given that I used black cardstock (acid-free or archival weren’t terms I knew then), and the frame was a $3 clearance special from Michaels. The composition and style left a lot to be desired as well, but I think enough has been said on that…
Everybody grows, everybody progresses, and in fact, as an artist, that natural growth is all part of the process and can be part of the excitement for followers and collectors. However, there is a delicate balance between honesty and the implication that your previous works simply weren’t as good or made from quality materials like the work you are currently producing. I can joke about the $3 special now because the “statute of limitations” for shiesty art dealings goes out the window when you don’t sign your work, hock it on a street corner to an unknown buyer, and stop working completely for more than five years after said transaction**. But as for work in recent history, there is something to be said for forethought.
Few artists (I would assume) have the forethought (and funds) when they are starting out to think, “I’d better do this first piece to the letter to set the bar for the future.” They just do it. I just did it. When my mom first said to me, “You need to start framing with conservation glass,” I laughed. The idea that I wouldn’t use the glass packaged up with the frame, but would rather spend 3 times over (or more) for glass was absurd. But today? I’d never frame a piece without it. It’s a small price to protect your work (and avoid upsetting calls down the road).
That was then, and “this” (the last five years) is now. When I hung my first show, a miracle in itself because I only had a handful of pieces when I accepted it, there were some glaring mistakes that I have since corrected. Each time these differences or improvements come up, I have a moment of panic when I think, “Am I going to upset or offend an early buyer.” I am quick to remember, that while I have come a long, long way since then, I had enough forethought to honor enough elements of the process to ensure lasting work. The pieces from my first show are lovely, and have stood the test of time. Like a patient in a hospital gown, they may experience an occasional breeze from behind if they are not properly backed and lovingly sealed with my trademark “brown paper,” the frames might not all pass my “litmus test” today, but they remain sturdy and adequate, and while the glass may or may not be conservation glass, the run-of-the-mill glass has done well to protect them all the same (or so those early pieces that hang in my home tell me).
**If you did buy my artwork on a street corner all those years ago, like Travis from Clueless said, “Thank you for taking a chance on an unknown kid.” I owe you one.