Sunday, October 31, 2010

halloween and some spiders

Halloween decorations are taking over my suburban neighborhood. Actually, they have been displayed for many weeks now. I really don't like them. they give me the heebie-jeebies. I don't like to walk by yards full of gravestones, and skeletons. (I prefer to look at my skeletons in life drawing class).
The most egregious display that I pass while out running with my dog (who hates the decor too) is a yard with life-size dressed human figures hanging from the trees.
( I really hope they aren't real). Oh, that place really makes me uncomfortable.

The only thing I don't mind is spiders.
I rather like them.
The spider pictured here is Anansi, a famous literary spider from West African stories. I illustrated a storybook with one of the Anansi stories. And don't forget about the beloved Charlotte of literary spider fame.
The art in this book was all made with colored pencils.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

scary story time with Grandpa

Scary stories told in the dark.
The winds were gusting fiercely one night and the power was out.
I believe I did this illustration for a McGraw-Hill project, but it was a few years ago. This has always been one of my favorites because of the warmth of the family scene.
This is a digital illustration, freehand line art and photoshop painting.

Friday, October 29, 2010

and again,

I tried something new for me, some water soluble colored pencils.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

studies of the climbing vine

Various small sketches as I thought about the vine and the possibilities for design. I wouldn't call these still life studies because these vines are not still. Constantly reaching, searching, looking upward, in a state of growth and movement.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

community, church life, and marriage

About the church and marriage painting project; I myself have been married for a very, very long time.  Reflecting on the subject within the worship theme, the image of love and marriage could be represented by the larger community that nourishes and upholds a married couple.
The climbing and twining vine that is much stronger than each individual growing stem represents to me a more true visual of what happens in a strong Christian marriage.

As I reflected on marriage and life in the church the image of that climbing vine which is now embracing my flower garden became the compelling visual metaphor. It is beautiful, and it is strong, (just try pulling it out.)
Chains do not hold a marriage together.  It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads which sew people together through the years.  ~Simone Signoret  

Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction.  ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Wind, Sand and Stars, 1939, translated from French by Lewis Galantière 

Nobody has ever before asked the nuclear family to live all by itself in a box the way we do.  With no relatives, no support, we've put it in an impossible situation.  ~Margaret Mead 

You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.  ~Frederick Buechner

Monday, October 25, 2010

community Church Art this past Sunday in October

The display shown here, as it has been appearing this month during a series of talks about Marriage and Celibacy and the community in the Church. the title is  "Imitating God: Becoming like Jesus in Marriage and Celibacy". I enjoyed the contributions of multiple artists, all of us part of the same Church body, yet so different in life experience.
 I am including a post written by the artist who headed up the project and created the art based on a traditional iconic image of the Resurrected Christ pulling Adam and Eve out of the grave.
Here is a link to view Laura Tabbut's artwork and her complete writing on the subject.
(the following is quoted from Laura Tabbut in a blog post)
"The Assignment"
Part of imitating Christ is acknowledging the fact that God created us as creative beings. When God created Adam and Eve, He gifted them with imagination and an appreciation for beauty. At Church of the Resurrection we seek to use our artistic and creative gifts to help lead others into the presence and worship of our God. In the middle of September, the worship arts team gathered a group of artists to begin creating art on the theme of imitating God and becoming like Jesus in marriage and celibacy. Seven adult artists worked in collaboration with four children to create artwork for the marriage sermon series. These artists include: Lois Easley, Brittney Dunn, Matthew Larson, Michael Skura, Laura Tabbut, Janice Wood, and Ray Wu. The artists were given the traditional iconic image of the resurrected Christ pulling Adam and Eve out of their graves for inspiration. However, the artists were allowed to develop their own artistic ideas apart from this image. After painting, the canvases were collected and attached together in the shape of a cross.
“Out of the Mouths of Babes”
Noel, one of the four children involved in the project, created a unique painting about his family. When I, Laura, first met with Noel to work on his painting, I was quite astonished by the initial sketch he created for his final painting. I had suggested to the kids that they should draw a picture of what they thought family was all about. Completely out of the blue, Noel brought me a picture a pomegranate to paint on his canvas. I thought I would be seeing a picture of his family or his new baby brother like all the other kids had drawn. When I asked him why he had chosen to draw a pomegranate. He said to me: “Well, the pomegranate is like a family. It is one fruit, but it has lots of seeds in it - like grandmas and grandpas, moms and dads and kids! And a pomegranate is like the church.” In the early Christian art of the catacombs, the pomegranate was used as a symbol of the Resurrection of Christ and the Christian hope for eternal life. Later, the pomegranate was used to symbolize the church with many seeds unified in one fruit. With his pomegranate painting, Noel added over two thousand years of artistic tradition to this collaborative artwork.
Bring It All TogetherMarriage Logo - Imitating  God
The unique quality of this artwork is that eleven people created very different images, and yet they all work in a harmonious dialogue. Together they create an energy that is greater any one of the individual images. Whether married, celibate, or a child still growing up, God has profound things to teach us, and very unique journeys for all of us. Art by Laura TabbutWritten by Laura Tabbut

The image of the pomegranate is one that I myself would like to explore in a future work!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Art for the Church

I attend an Anglican church with a vibrant artist community. And our church celebrates and supports all artists, not just the musical ones, with many events and opportunities to display our various gifts. This is very encouraging for us visual artists.
Recently 12 artists accepted a commission to portray a subject that would be the focus of a month long sermon series. Titled "Imitating God: Becoming like Jesus in Marriage and Celibacy", we were all challenged to paint a canvas with our own images on the subject. Some of us are older, some young, some married, some single, showing a variety of gifts from the church body. We all contributed 10 x10 canvases which were combined to form the shape of a cross. This finally has been displayed near the altar as a visual part of worship. I am pleased and privileged to be a part of the community.
I ended up painting two canvases which were stacked vertically at the top of the cross formation. Which brings me back to my post about the morning glory vine, as it became my theme. I have the vine beginning on one panel with a strong center climbing vine. Entering the frame from either side are two slender vines that meet at the center, find each other, twine and grow into the top panel and become a unit at the top.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 (New International Version)
 12.  Though one may be overpowered,  two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

(Showing here the work in progress, a line drawing in black on the canvas, a red under-painting and some blue-violet to begin defining my shapes. I'll show the finished version in a few days)

Friday, October 22, 2010

a climbing vine

This year we are enjoying a warm sunny autumn. Leaves are beginning to turn yellow, orange, and red but my flower garden is still blooming. It doesn't resemble a gardening magazine photo because the multi-color zinnias, yellow rudebeckia, and bright pink annuals are all overgrown and tumbling every which way. And weaving through all that chaos is a morning glory vine that I heedlessly planted from a packet of seeds years ago. I can never get rid of it. By late summer every year it has reseeded, gained strength and almost chokes the entire garden patch.
I have been involved with a painting project that seems the perfect metaphor for that climbing vine. I gathered huge clumps of the vines and put them in vases all over my (still very Messy!) studio to study and sketch. Every morning as I walked into my room I have been greeted by a new brilliant blue patch of opening flowers. They really are most brilliant in the morning.
The subject of the paintings that I've been working on is marriage(!)  Here are the two panels on my desk while in process, I like to start with a red background when using acrylics.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

painting flowers but not just flowers

Recently I was giving a presentation to several high school art classes. I found myself explaining what my large flower paintings are really about in this way; I am not so interested in flowers as my subject, but as a vehicle for shapes, positive and negative. I showed this painting, which is 5 feet by 4 feet and dominates a wall.

It is not about the lilies, it is about this; those lovely shapes and colors that the tangle of  the subject matter allows me to play with.

All those fine negative spaces to balance and contrast.

 And these shapes, playing around with almost geometric curves and straight lines.
And the smallest interplay of ends and pieces.
I find that the most fascinating part of my work.

Monday, October 18, 2010


I am refreshed, renewed by my art, re-educating, re-tooling, re-skilled and excited. I have had the opportunity of attending a Life-drawing class these past weeks. What  pleasure to devote hours to intense drawing time with a classroom of equally good students and a great teacher. 
It is just as if a classical violinist was so encumbered with household chores, meals, shopping for essentials, laundry, bed-making, floor-washing...(am I complaining too much?) And so this classical violinist just never gets around to the thing that is most important to her- hours of daily practice with the music and the instrument. Could she ever get up the old skill and energy to perform?
I have enjoyed these sessions so much. We drew hands, from a young violinist model. And another day, just backs, how complicated those bones and muscles are. And another day, just feet, this model was former ballet dancer, which gave her feet quite a lot of personality.