Sometimes the Universe tells you that when you are about to pack up your studio, it is time for a blitz art show. For one night only this Friday, from 5-8 pm, I will have a quick solo show at Cultivate Studios in Old Colorado City!
The show will feature the remaining work from my "Out and Back" solo show from February 2020 (also known as the "before times") when I completed 100 paintings in 100 days based on images I collected from a decade of travel. The show was a love letter to travel and connected with an audience who saw the beaches from their childhood summers, the bridge on which they proposed to their wife, and places they were eager to go. I am ready for the next decade of images, so I have about 30 pieces left and they are priced to sell!
Cultivate Studios is located at 10 S. 25th st. Colorado Springs, CO 80904, and is one of the coolest places I have ever exhibited work in. The studio is participating in the First Friday Art Walk, and is a rentable space for photographers and creatives to work, so even if you have seen my work already, it's worth coming by the space to see what cool setups they have for Spring.
Below are some of the available pieces. Hope to see you there!
The story I like to tell is that a week after I graduated college, I came back to Fountain Valley School for Reunion Weekend, and they gave me a job.
It was the middle of a recession and it seemed like a no-brainer to come back to my school for a year to work in the admission office while I started paying off student debt and I figured out how I was going use my Environmental Science and Creative Writing degrees. And, Admissions was the perfect first job. I got to travel, learn, coach, plan events, and award scholarships. Meanwhile, I made art. Art had always been a background character in my narrative and I would challenge myself to do 30-day drawing projects and The Brooklyn Art Library's traveling Sketchbook Project. I began to make intricate collages and delicate ceramic fish. I would do this for a few years while I figured out the next steps.
But this place has a way of getting it's hooks in me, and when the Studio Art position opened up for the first time in 30 years, I was ready for a new challenge. Those first teaching years, I was more student than teacher, so I had to hustle to reverse engineer an art degree, and I learned new techniques alongside my students. My skills grew, and I found myself doing my best imitation of my mentors. Over the past 9 years, this school has sent me to Iceland and Italy, I've instructed artists at the foot of Mt. Princeton, and swam Alcatraz three times. Additionally, Fountain Valley supported me in pursuing mentorships with professional illustrators and I started to find my voice. I never stopped being a student, even after more than a decade on payroll.
So it was bittersweet when I finally made the decision to resign from the Dream Job and search for the next classroom. 12 years of incredible growth and challenge have left me in need of a reset, and I don't know what is next. Maybe more of the same, maybe something totally different... but I'll wander for a year, and maybe I will find out.
If you are reading this, you are likely part of the group of family and friends upon whose hospitality I am likely to trespass. In advance, I love you all, and thank you!
Back in October, I began the #socceringreenland challenge where I would do a painting a day until I reached 100. I gave myself the challenge because I wanted to see if I could fund a trip to Greenland by creating art that was based on my love of travel. The response has been encouraging and lovely, and I've been thrilled to be able to send so many pieces out to art lovers around the country.
But the true nature of the challenge has been a catharsis. The accountability to myself and this selfish pursuit has been like climbing a mountain. Each day I paint, I square up to my easel and place oil on canvas, every brush stroke like a step taken on a rocky path up a steep slope. No one told me to climb. Only my pride draws me towards the summit.
As I write this, I've completed 86 paintings, and I'm struck by what a privilege it has been to be able to collect and record all of these moments, but also panicked by how many I have neglected to finish. I'm overwhelmed. When I hike, I am not good at pausing for longer than it takes to snap a photo. I'm so focused on the destination, and not tripping, that I miss out on being present. Completing these paintings is like reconnecting with a life I've forgotten I lived.
So, on February 28th, at 6 PM in the Bedford Gallery of the Art Barn at Fountain Valley School*, I'm giving myself permission to be finished. I invite you all to come and experience images from the past decade with me.
Hope to see you there!
*The Opening will go from 6-8 pm on Friday, February 28th, and the show can be viewed in the Bedford Gallery through March.
Last September, I read an article about the national soccer tournament in Greenland which takes place over 6 days and is considered one of the most grueling tournaments in the world. The teams that qualify come from tiny towns scattered around the edges of the country, many of which cannot be accessed by roads, so a large fishing vessel will go from port to port, collecting the teams that qualify and bringing them to Sisimiut, where the tournament is held. The journey on the boat takes longer than the tournament itself. While Sisimiut boasts a turf field, there are no stands, so spectators sit along the edge of a tall cliff. Reading that article made it clear to me that I need to find a way to get to Greenland. I want to watch soccer from the side of a cliff!
My work has always heavily drawn from travel and the nature moments I get to experience almost daily as a teacher at Fountain Valley School. I have been fortunate that I have had the time and the means over the past 10 years to see some extraordinary vistas, both in the US and abroad. I'm eager to add a Greenlandic soccer game to my collection.
So, at the end of #Inktober, I decided to carry that momentum into a 100 day painting challenge. Every day, I would find at least an hour to complete a piece that showed something I've seen since I graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in May 2010. Commissioned work would not count towards my total. Armed with a stack of discarded canvases from my students, and the easel my grandmother gave me for my 11th birthday, I've diligently finished a piece every day since October 26th.
As of this post I've completed 32 paintings and will continue to post work and update this site once a week. If I stay on schedule, I should be finished with my challenge by the beginning of February, 2020. Let me know if you are inspired by my challenge to purchase a piece. Painting by painting, perhaps I'll be able to achieve my silly goal (no pun intended).
All poses were 20 minutes or fewer and done with nupastel.
Here is what I know about my father:
My sources are varied and include my Mother, my Dad’s family, friends, my siblings, and me. This guarantees that most of this information is incorrect, or at least only partially accurate. But that is how we are supposed to see our parents.
I read a book in one sitting, today. 7 hours and 361 pages later, I had seen a story through climax and conclusion. This used to be common for me and I'd burn through 30-50 novels a year. Now I'm pleased with myself if I get through 5. I don't think I read less... I just read shorter things: articles, recaps, editorials, etc.. There is also a lot more media vying for my attention. I subscribe to more than 70 YouTube channels and listen to 10 different weekly podcasts on topics ranging from science to dystopian noir. I like to think I'm reasonably cultured and I consume media that makes me an interesting person to talk to.
The thing is that I tend to do two or more of those things at once. I read blog posts while I watch Netflix. I listen to podcasts while I load the dishwasher, and I play web videos while I fall asleep.
But reading a novel requires more of me and my attention span has disintegrated. Sometimes, I hope that simply turning off my computer or leaving my phone in the other room will be enough to allow me to find the rhythm of reading, but my will is weak. The buzz of a new email or text too easily pulls me out of my fictional universe and the pages become cumbersome words rather than vivid scenes with complex characters.
Today, on a rare, rainy day in Colorado, I reunited with the narrative and felt my heart beat race and my muscles tense as I followed my protagonist through peril after peril. I feel a sense of accomplishment, but also fear because the book I finished was the second in a trilogy. I have the next one ready to go, but I worry that lightning can't strike twice, and that I've used my focus and willpower for the next few months. I also recognize that 8 hours of binge-reading is 8 hours that I'm not walking my dog, learning a new skill, exercising, folding laundry, catching up with friends...
When I envisioned my life as an adult, I never expected that I would feel anxiety or regret about a day of reading. Add this to the list of reasons why growing up is stupid.
Sometimes, we are so worried about perfecting the final product that we never get started. Ask any writer, artist, chef, YouTuber, or other content creator what the key was to their success, and they will most likely tell you that failure and crappy beginnings are the bedrock of their talent. It is important to make the bad things so you can learn to make the good things.
When I share my blog posts, sketches, or my amateur videos, I am aware they could be better. There are clumsy edits, unintelligible lines, and goofy proportions, but I share them anyway as a way to force myself to move on. Keeping the rough stuff hidden, and quietly agonizing over my flaws impedes my progress, and feeds my anxiety that I will never measure up.
I ache to make. Even as I'm writing this, I'm thinking about the paintings I could be doing, the table I could be refinishing, the weeds I could be pulling, the laundry I could be folding... (jokes, that laundry is going nowhere!). I am baffled by the people who seem to be constantly occupied and flawless in their presentation. I think quality is important, but mess can be endearing.
When it comes to products that people pay for (an online course, a catered meal, wedding invitations), then quality control is obviously important. Being thorough at the beginning will prevent oneself from having to redo work later, and lends the creator credibility. But the free stuff benefits from a little authenticity.
As a teacher and as an artist, it can be easy to hide my mistakes and never try to take risks. But I don't. I own up when I screw up, and hopefully my students will too. Failure on a public stage is painful, but if you fail publicly when the stakes are low, take the feedback you get and apply it to bigger and better things, then perhaps your successes will eclipse the failures that came before.
That's all I've got this week. Check back next week for something a little bit more coherent.
I think in pictures. I remember things in pictures. I understand things in pictures. In Elementary school, I excelled in visual aids. I would spend hours making timelines, collages, and models of the solar system. As an adult, I have absolutely no time for that. Fortunately, there's Piktochart.
Piktochart... is one of the best things to ever happen to me. It looks great, is interactive, and is coherent. It distills information in a way that my visual brain understands and has been invaluable in helping me to analyze the data for my graduate research. Tools like this can help present information online to learners whose eyes may glaze over when they look at tables or paragraphs of information. Check out a gorgeous example below from one of my classes.