54, 55, 56…

For my third exhibition at Waverly Heights, I am proud to report that all goals have been met: Calm and timely finishing touches, 54 pieces hung (from a goal of “between 50-60”), cards and notices went out,  not a tear was shed, but most importantly, I received the compliment that makes any exhibition a success.  You might even forget how much you need to hear it until the words are spoken: “You have grown so much.”

If you hang a show and you hear those words, you don’t need to make a single sale to feel like you’ve achieved something.  I’ve been told to venture out and to experiment more with the medium, but I have been so truly happy doing what I am doing that I haven’t felt the need.  Hearing that I’m growing despite “staying put,” is just icing on the cake.

This being the season of giving, there are always a couple of pieces that come down to be gift wrapped. So, 54 became 52, and their replacements, 55 and 56.  I like to say that as soon a show goes up I’ll become “a person” again. I’ll have a drink after work, go shopping, read a book. Inevitably I keep drawing and cutting and framing.  For every hour I put into cleaning the framing studio at my parents house, I spend 4 undoing it all.

It ain’t over till it’s over, so until the show comes down in mid-January, I’ll be dropping in surprises. 57, 58, 59…

Just one pictures, the other 56 will be up shortly!

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It’s the Ten Day Countdown…

No matter how much you prepare for an upcoming show, you are inevitably working down to the wire.  I give myself kudos for actually buckling down this past year and cranking out work despite my natural impulse to postpone-hesitate-procrastinate until the tears are welling up at 3am the day of.  I actually DID the things I was supposed to do. I followed lists. I used a calendar. I ordered business cards before I had to swallow expedited shipping.  Lucky for me my husband is a volunteer firefighter or I would have made these strides while simultaneously neglecting him and #lovelylucybrown, but our overworking-teamwork worked out.

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I have roughly 10 days before my third show at Waverly Heights goes up. My goal was to have 60 pieces- the most ever for any of my shows.  I’m assuming the real count will be more like 45, so I’m going to aim for something in the middle. Maybe 52.  51. 52. I have about 20 pieces left to frame and I can’t stop drawing and cutting. It’s hard to “wrap up” when you’re in the middle of a very efficient and productive creative streak.  I’m going to be finished and ready to hang on Friday, December 9th.  You heard it here first. (Update to follow.

There will be some familiar pieces:

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But a lot, a lot, a lot of new pieces that I can’t post because someone (you know who you are) convinced me it was like yelling surprise in the car at someone before they even walk into the party house you were driving up to. So just a snippet…

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Just a tenth, that’s all you get. Hope to you see you on Sunday, December 11th!

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To Err is Inevitable

One of the questions I am asked most frequently is, “Do you ever make mistakes?”

It is my goal and very likely the goal of 99.9% of the world’s population to answer that question with a definitive, “Nope, never.” Obviously for the former and the latter the answer is always and forever, “Yes.”

Another variation of the question is, “Do you ever make a mistake that ruins an entire piece?”

Still, “Yes,” but funny you should ask!

Last night I took a small, intricate dragonfly to my framer for finishing (by framer, I mean of course my mom, Heidi). I needed a simple, thin, black 9″x 9″ frame which she pieced together for me. The glass fit, the mat fit; everything was copacetic. We got to the usually unpleasant stage of affixing the piece to the mat. Nothing like watching spray adhesive fall from a fine mist over a piece of delicate paper you’ve been cutting for hours upon hours. Flip it over, pray you lay it correctly and don’t tear or smudge anything. Spoiler alert: Everything finished beautifully. My mom wrapped it up in a white plastic packing and I took it home.

I’m a huge fan of the movie, The Paper, starring Michael Keaton, and in it he delivers a great line in a way only he can: “Sometimes you can just smell a horrifically shitty day on it’s way.” I was moving along on time, had my hand on the door to leave, purse and piece in tow as it was a commission for someone who lives in the community where I work, except: no keys. No problem. My dad loves me and he bought me a key-finder this past Christmas. After 15 years of driving and almost never finding my keys when I need them, I had clipped the locator on my ring, and though I had told someone just this week that I never remembered to actually use it- I was going to use it. I hit the button, I waited for the chirp, and…nothing. Not a sound. Fine. I thought, “It’s chilly, my husband probably started my car for me.” Nope, 55 degrees. I laid my piece on top of my car and ran up to get my spare key (which I also had to search for, so that was fun).

Because I was going to be late, I decided to go in at 8:30 and make some breakfast. I kicked that off by turning on the wrong burner, so doubling the cook time. I ate, got in my car and drove to work. As I was turning in the driveway I realized I had left the piece at home. I turned around and I only drove about 100 feet before I made an abrupt and rough U-turn because I knew the return trip would make me late to work. So I drove into work, clocked in, and waited for my lunch break to run home.

At lunch, I drove to the apartment and very much to my surprise the piece was nowhere to be found: not in the apartment, not in the car, now my purse was at work, but I never would have put it in there because of the fragility of the glass. Which left one option.

Like so many books, coffee cups, and miscellaneous objects from my past, the dragonfly took it’s first flight on the roof of my car. It soared safely down Conshohocken State Road, around, down, and up Youngsford Road, and all the way up Waverly Road. It would have made a safe landing in the parking lot where I work except for one tragic turn. The “abrupt and rough U-turn” I made when I thought I had forgotten it. Like all the lost things… it jettisoned off the roof 100 feet from the promised land and laid in the street waiting for a swift crushing by passing cars.

Driving back to work, I saw it lying by the side of the road in it’s little white, plastic body bag. I threw the car into park, hit the hazards, and ran back for my lost companion. As I opened the plastic, glass, wood, and shredded paper tucked inside, I knew I had been a bad girl this year.

So, yes, I make mistakes that destroy an entire piece. Have, still do, will again. Lucky for me I have a glass half-full attitude when it comes to my artwork. I think that might have something to do with how much I enjoy the process and how it feels to keep pushing to grow in a medium. If disaster isn’t followed by flying expletives, it’s usually a deep breath, a moment of silence, and a slow simmer between the ears in preparation to start again.

Rest in Peace, Dragonfly. You were beautiful and complete in a way the world (and my client) will never know.
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Lucy Love

Every time I have a show I hang “Lucy Brown” (NFS) and I have to stare a giant blank space on my wall for six weeks.  I’d never sell her, but someone always says, “Oh! I had a little dog just like her…”.  After repeated interested and four six-week stints of blank space I decided to retire “Lucy Brown” to her permanent place on the wall- above the keys, to the left of the fireplace.  I cut a piece inspired by the same which will be for sale at my upcoming show. I have a feeling it won’t be the last.

 

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Beaumont at Bryn Mawr

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The Carousel (since reframed)

 

 

 

 

 

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Poised (sold)
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Everglades (sold)
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Release
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Field Study
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The Courtship
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Glow (since reframed and sold)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Hive (sold)

 

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Flies (sold)

 

 

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Packed House (sold)
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Forum (sold)
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Spool
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Ladies of the House

Brian and I took down my show from Ludington Library on Friday, July 31, and immediately drove them over to Beaumont and hung them in their Beaumont Room.  There we met my contact and the head of the Art Committee, Jane.  She was as lovely and helpful as could be. Saturday was the official set-up day.  With the rest of the pieces in tow, my mom and I headed over to Beaumont to finishing hanging.  We were greeted by Jane and the rest of the committee.  The ladies were eager to help and very accommodating; not to mention a very fun group.  It was a long, long process, but we got it all finished.  My dad arrived to take pictures of each piece, a lifesaver for me as he has a technique to avoid the glare and get as clear a shot as will allow with the piece under glass.  I’m not always the most organized in terms of photographing before framing, so this is an essential part of the process for me.

Hearing the ladies move around the room opinionating was the perfect soundtrack for the day. There is nothing to boost your confidence and prepare you for an opening event like hearing accomplished, talented, and creative people singing your praise.  It’s so easy to criticize your own work especially when you see it every day for months.  The perspectives of others are priceless. The opening took place Sunday, August 2nd, and myself and my family thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I am very proud of this show, it is the fourth and last of the year and showcases brand new pieces that I was determined to cut.  It also has a nice sampling of pieces that have followed me throughout previous shows, and some that have been given new life.

I wouldn’t have been able to get to this point without my talented family supporting me. My husband for supplying me with my incredible desk and a workspace that takes over a large portion of our apartment. His patience while I worked long hours for weeks and months at a time. And all the little things in between: running out to pick me up a compass when I mentioned I might need one, picking up take-out when I couldn’t cook, reminding me to order blades, setting up this WordPress and making all the bits and pieces work; everything. My mom for being essential to the framing process and thinking of all the things I never think of. For introducing me to the amazing services of the Athanaeum, letting me sample the amazing stock of framing supplies at Merion Art & Repro, and probably breaking every nail closing each piece with love and care.  My dad for clearing out the studio in which he has done architectural work for almost four decades and handing it over to me and my mom for our creative ventures. For taking amazing pictures from the beginning so that I have a record of my work, without which this WordPress wouldn’t be colorful or interesting.  My brother for always being so supportive, even at a distance, and for offering words of support in the moments leading up to the hanging process which I kept in my mind the whole time.

(The above pictures are 13 of the 37 pieces in the show.)

Ludington Library

On Friday, July 31,  took down my exhibition at Ludington Library.  Ludington was my first “solo” exhibition in a public space.  Each of my solo shows thus far have been in the gallery spaces at retirement communities; which has been a surprising but fantastic niche for me.  There is nothing not to love- interesting spaces, fascinating people with incredible life experience, and the benefit of showing in a place where there is almost 24/7 thoroughfare.  I’ve been very spoiled by these communities in terms of praise and feedback and I was very curious to see how I would fare elsewhere.

I’m very happy to report that Ludington gave me a very warm reception. With exception of one tragic error on my part, showing for the month of July was a wonderful experience.  The coordinator there was extremely communicative, helpful, and welcoming.  Hanging the show was a painless process, as was bringing it down.

I see beautiful artwork everywhere I go.  It’s my horrible indecision most of the time that keeps me from pulling the trigger on a purchase, but it’s shyness that keeps me from contacting the artist to tell them how much I enjoyed their work. No more.  I received emails from no less than ten people who shared such kind reviews and words of encouragement that I was inspired to do the same for other artists I admire.  I was shocked that these people took the time not only to look closely at my work, but to actually reach out to tell me how much they enjoyed it.

There were pieces from previous shows hanging in the Ludington exhibition as well as new pieces made in between.  Everything that did not sell at Ludington (and pieces during the month it was hanging) are now hanging at my exhibition at Beaumont at Bryn Mawr, so I will post the pictures in my next entry.

Oh, my one tragic error….  Now some would advise me not to share this anecdote.  I’ll admit it makes me look flaky and irresponsible, but, because I know it was a fluke and because I am just wild about honesty… Share time!

I was so happy to be invited to speak at a Q&A at Ludington.  These events make me nervous but I always, always enjoy them.  My contact at Ludington was so helpful in setting the event up for me and allowing me to promote it.  She made sure I had a space and the capacity to have a slideshow or presentation.  At the time I was in the middle of a rush to finish as much work as I could before my next show. I had been working every night after work, every weekend, every lunch hour I could manage.  Right before it I was finishing an epic finishing session a piece called “The Carousel.”  I was 99% finished by about 8:34pm on July 20th (a Monday). I know because I checked the time after I checked my email while I was working.  The email had been sent at 7:16pm that same night and it read something like this:

“You are supposed to be giving a talk at 7:30 tonight… Did you forget?”

Yes. Yes I did.

I forget things, but I have to say this is the probably wins the award for worst.  Apologies were made; profuse apologies. I was lovingly told, “these things happen.” Far too generous, but I finally had to give myself a mulligan.  Four shows in less than a year, two handfuls of commissions, and a full-time job might have been part of the problem. I’ll go with that.  For now, I listen to my husband when he tells me to use my Google calendar.

Exhibiting New Work at Beaumont at Bryn Mawr

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My new exhibition at Beaumont is my fourth, and last, of the year!  I am extremely excited about this work.  There is a lot of new work hanging, but more significantly for me, there are several pieces that I would consider the most complicated and delicate of my work so far. I imagined them in great detail and they came into existence exactly as I wanted them too; you can’t ask for anything more than that.  I’ve been working almost every night after work and every weekend, thanks to my patience and loving husband, and I couldn’t be more proud of this show.  The response has been incredible and therefore it is officially a success.

If you would like to visit Beaumont, here are the details:

601 North Ithan Avenue in Bryn Mawr –  Directly across from Harriton High School.

Straight up the driveway to park near the main entrance.  At the desk, ask to be directed to the Beaumont Room.  Beaumont is a 24 hour facility, so technically there aren’t “hours of operation,” but I would aim for a fairly standard 8am-9pm.

This… is my desk.

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In all its sweet, sweet glory.

During my husband’s search to find me the perfect desk that would allow me to work at home (eliminating the need for a studio elsewhere), he came across this mystical IKEA gem.  When we found it had been discontinued and he proceeded to scour Craigslist for a last remaining relic.  Despite my attempts to wean him off the site for potential, be it unlikely, chances that we could cross paths with a news hungry, suburbanite killing fiend, he really pulled one out.  So we drove to Maryland to pick up my once-used, perfect condition worktable with built-in light board.

And then! He decided I needed some storage underneath, proving once again that he can navigate my brain better than I can.  We went to Home Depot where he had a piece of wood/particle/strong something  cut to slide right underneath to hold all my paper goodies, sketch books, and miscellaneous bits.

It’s so beautiful and white and clean. It doesn’t ever look like this now, of course, but it’s well loved and keeps me focused and cutting. It’s a beautiful thing.

What’s In a Face?

When you are portraying someone in a portrait it is amazing what details are- or are not- essential.  I’ve drawn, painted, and cut full face portraits and it seems like the more detail you provide, the more exact you have to be.  I’m drawn to the less is more approach. I’ve painted someone’s hair, eyes, nose, mouth, cheekbones, and after I destroyed the teeth- the piece went with it.  If you get someone’s teeth wrong, it’s a goner; that goes for all the other features as well, I guess.  However, if you draw their facial outline with nothing but blank space within, you can achieve a spot on identification.  I will say the more identifying characteristics to accompany it help, i.e. a usual hairstyle, typical earring choice, even the position of the head, or posture. We know from classic silhouettes that “less is more” can really capture the essence of someone. Very much like the Cambridge study that has shown that as long as the first and last letter of a word remain the same, it can be read with relative ease regardless of the arrangement of the letters in between.  So, it stands to reason that as long at the chin and forehead are properly positioned (and ear to ear, for that matter), facial recognition can remain consistent, even with variations.

The first pictures below show a portrait I did of a friend as a birthday gift. Obviously the most identifying characteristic is that she is wearing a veil; important because she is Muslim and she always wears it. But interestingly, those of us that know our friends, recognize more nuanced features like cheekbone structure, chin shape, and the “shape of expression.” I know I made a special point to highlight the eyelashes, just as one of the those things you notice about people.

I really enjoy simple (speak for themselves, simple) pieces like this, and even more, it’s interesting to think about what’s “in a face.” What frames a person? What pieces of them can you use to “communicate” them to someone else?

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Someday I will be clever enough to frame using light boxes, but for now, it’s just a glimpse at how much illumination can accomplish for a piece of artwork.

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On a side note, people ask me all the time how I started paper cutting. I try to compromise between dressing up what I know for a more interesting answer and being honest about what I DO remember. The two truths are: I don’t remember and I wasn’t very good with any other medium (or patient enough to become “good”). Speaking of faceless portraits, the only “beginning” of paper cutting for me that I remember was wanting to portray a photograph of my mom and not being able to properly draw or paint it. In case you’ve never tried- drawing and painting can be difficult, drawing and painting faces can be extremely difficult. The photo of my mom was so interesting, very shadowed, so I decided to try something relatively new to me. I wanted the picture to “imply” her, more than mimic the photo. I’ll try to find the original to compare the piece to, but it is shown below. I apologize for the very poor quality.
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