Friday, November 16, 2012

A New World


I've just come to the realization that right now, (early Nov.) is the 4-year anniversary of my having left my last "regular" job to pursue a wholly creative path. (Regular as in set hours, a steady paycheck, paid time off, health benefits, etc.)

When I was young, all I understood about the world was that you needed regular employment to survive and how more often than not, your job would be a sucky one. For the longest time it just never occurred to me that I could have a say in how I chose to provide for myself. I'd look at people who went to college and feel like their whole existence was foreign to me. That they were specially privileged in ways I could never hope to access. I can remember always being drawn to all things art related- wanting to spend as much time as possible in art class and around the art teachers in general but never imagining for even a second, that I myself could be like them. It just wasn't possible.

During high school, I applied but was not accepted into the Vo-Tech Commercial Art program. I'd also sent away for college materials from the Art Institute of Philadelphia but the booklets went unnoticed by my Mom who was doing everything she could for the two of us to barely scrape by. (I knew nothing about college loans/scholarships.) Though I had been tested early in elementary school and been given the designation as "gifted" I was a highly unmotivated student who grew more and more uncomfortable with my surroundings until I would drop out of high school literally days following my 16th birthday. Soon after, I'd start my first full-time job having moved out of my house to live with a boyfriend.

The three jobs I'd work for the next 24 years paid little and had no real room for advancement, but in every scenario I'd learn as much as possible, mostly because I get bored easily and have the need to be continuously challenged. In that time I'd learn retail sales, photography, photo-finishing on a mini-lab, customer service, merchandise display, order picking/shipping, inventory control, how to use a computer, accounts receivable, commercial collections, relationship building, how to write training manuals... In my spare time I'd learn to sell on Ebay, then started my own business making and selling jewelry at craft shows and art festivals. I'd facilitate drum circles and organize events for other facilitators, all of which included the marketing of said events via internet user groups and social media sites. I'd build websites for myself and help others maintain their web presence. I learned to play percussion and would play local festivals with a drumming group. All while working a full-time job, I'd also begin helping a friend write a book.

November of 2008 was the first time I'd come to really recognize and accept that it was possible for me to become fully self employed. That I could, and would, always figure out how to do whatever it takes because that's what I'd been doing all along to survive. Now I would just be doing it for me.

Once I set myself free, I'd continue helping my friend with his book for another year or so and would also start writing for Rhodia Drive. I'd also develop and begin to facilitate my art empowerment workshops and be invited to teach them at retreats in PA and NY. I'd begin to sell my art on Etsy and then one day, I had an idea to apply to become an artist in residence at a local arts & education center - which I would be granted just about a year ago. Another November anniversary.

During this first year of my residency at The Banana Factory, I've met wonderful people and learned more than I would have ever imagined. It's allowed me to connect hundreds upon hundreds of people to my art, and has also offered me teaching opportunities I ]wouldn't likely have discovered on my own. (Sometimes hard to realize the value of what you know.)

But even though I'm "living the dream," it's not without challenge. Overall, it's a world very much unlike any I'd ever really been a part of because you absolutely MUST be completely self-motivated, organized and disciplined with all of your actions (creative and business related) to ensure sustainability. My biggest challenges include not allowing (and maybe I just don't know how) my brain to turn off. It's all work, all the time, 24/7. I haven't really taken any time off since moving into my studio at the BF and trust me, I know how bad that is for stress and anxiety levels. (I recently started taking yoga classes which is definitely helping...)

Another big challenge is the art itself. Not the creation of it, but the WHY. I often feel like I don't belong/can't relate to other artists because I'm so unlike them. Many of the artists I come into contact with are in some way replicating what their eyes can see. They have been trained in art, (history and technique) and can translate from their eye, via what they've learned, onto a canvas and then are able to speak knowledgeably about what they have created. Lacking any formal art training, at times it makes me feel "less than" despite the billion hours I've spent creating and learning on my own because art is so often defined by historical parameters. I find myself constantly searching for words and labels like "visionary artist" and "non-objective" to help me feel like my work has value. (Dear Stephanie your work has value because YOU created it!) 

The mandalas first started for me six years ago as a self-soothing exercise- a creative meditation which through their ever expanding rhythms and patterns, would help me gain focus and clarity to help transform outdated ways of thinking. (I quit my job, quit smoking, learned Reiki I & II, got my GED...) They would also allow me to connect with a higher part of myself which would in turn, make me feel whole.

While researching material for my workshops, I'd learn how mandalas are utilized across the globe for a wide variety of cultural and religious purposes - defining my own creations as process based and spiritual/therapeutic in nature. My initial pleasure was in the creation itself- in the experimentation of the form in all different kinds of media with no real fixed notion on an outcome. (Despite the fact that their quality was improving due to the sheer quantity I was producing - literally thousands...) Up until the spring of 2011, I had not "shown" any of my work locally - it had all been accessible on the web which at the time felt very freeing, but in retrospect, was pretty safe.


The most confusing aspect of my current artistic life pertains to my expressions and how they may be influenced by my perceived need for my "self-employment" to be sustainable. I'll find myself creating complimentary pieces which in turn allows for a pleasing display in my studio, but I don't know whether or not that's driven by my retail background or a refined artistic sense which has developed as part of my over all "process."

I wish I knew of others like me so I could learn from them. I'm not necessarily looking for any specific answers, just that it would be a great feeling to know that I'm not alone. Any suggestions? I probably should take a drive down to the Visionary Arts Museum in Baltimore...

The painting at the top of this post is entitled "A New World" and is available for purchase in my Etsy shop. In celebration of my 4 year anniversary as an independent artist, I'm offering FREE US SHIPPING on everything in my Etsy shop from now through 11/23. Simply enter the code 4YEARS at checkout.

A New World indeed.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Something New: Collaged Mandala

Work in Progress

I got this far and wasn't sure how to proceed.

Work in progress

About a dozen years ago, I bought a scrapbook at a junk shop filled with old Hollywood beauties like this but I never knew what to do with them. It was time... (The center image is dated 1937)

Work in progress

I'm not sure what to do next. People visiting my studio this past First Friday said they liked it like this but I don't know... I think there's more to come.

Moleskine Exchange

This is the only ever thing I used any of those old images for. This was created as part of the 2011 Moleskine Exchange project.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Fearless ArtMaking Classes begin Sept. 20th Are You In?


Fearless ArtMaking is a program designed by Stephanie Smith to help you build your creative confidence. Stephanie leads this small group through a five week series of creative activities intended to encourage a fearless attitude towards personal artistic expression. Adults of any skill level need only be willing to try new ways of thinking and can in return, expect a safe and noncompetitive environment in which to create.

This is an experimental class with an emphasis on the mindfulness of the activities rather than on the quality of a finished product. Fearless ArtMaking activities will be varied and may include paint, collage, mark making, and found object assemblages.

This series will be held on Thursdays from 6:30-8:30pm 9/20-10/18 in studio #250 at the Banana Factory, 25 W. Third St. Bethlehem, PA 18015

Class is limited to 5 students. Adults 18+ Cost is $149. Materials provided. No art experience necessary. Registrations can be made via cash/check/credit card and must be made prior to the beginning of the first class. Please call Stephanie at 484-893-0336 to register.

Why Fearless?

It was my friend Jaqui MacMillan that first called me a fearless artist. When I asked her to elaborate, she explained that through her experience of art world (she was an art major in college) that many artists play it safe with regards to trying new things. This was one of the greatest compliments that I’ve ever received because she took notice. My mantra with art is “What’s the worst that could happen?” if the project doesn’t work I walk away with, “Well, I know not to do that again.” Either way, I’m always happy to share my experiences so others can feel confident when wanting to try new things.


What exactly will you be teaching?

A traditional art class may focus on teaching you a technique or developing a specific skill. Fearless ArtMaking uses mindful activities such as "Playing With Color" "Found Poetry" or "Mandala Making" to emphasize the joy of being creative without regard for quality.

What can I expect to gain from this experience?

In the past 4 years that I have been teaching my workshop "Mandala: An Artful Meditation" I can't tell you how many times I've heard the following comments: "I'm not an artist" "I want to create art but I'm no good at it" "When I was young, my art teacher told me I couldn't color the trees red and so I stopped making art." More than anything, it's comments like these that inspire me to help people take their creative power back!

EVERYONE can be an artist because to be an artist, one simply has to make art. (Art as a profession is a different topic of conversation and one for another day.) Right now, I only want to speak to the benefits of allowing yourself to be creative without anyone (including you!) being critical of the quality of your efforts. Just think about it, our lives are FILLED with responsibilities that require us to perform them to a certain degree of quality. From raising children, to performing a job, to managing a household, you get the picture. Allowing yourself the freedom to express your creativity in an unedited way- whether through art, playing music, dancing, singing, or writing, these are the kinds of activities that nourishes your soul.

Fearless ArtMaking is a journey that we will be taking together.

Participant testimonials from my past mandala workshops can be found here.

The video below shows one way that I play with color. The image above shows another.

Questions? Or want to talk to me about private lessons or a mandala workshop at your location? Call 484-893-0336 or e-mail

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Formation of Belief: Completion Through Release


It is probably no big secret that I struggle greatly with various aspects of my being - especially with the notion that I, as a human being on this planet, have value simply because I exist. Throughout my entire life I’ve found myself relentlessly questioning my worth- which ultimately keeps me from moving forward and growing as a person. 

Sometimes I am surprised that I am able to accomplish anything at all. Yes, really. 

We are who we are because of our life experiences. Early childhood development plays the most crucial role and for many years I would place blame on my parents and early caregivers for all of my adult inadequacies. And then there were my (very outdated) religious beliefs constantly reminding me to forgive and forget. 


Bullshit because my version of forgiveness doesn’t mean the unhelpful beliefs are automatically replaced with healthy ones. When as an adult you discover that you have the ability to actually change what you’ve been taught, it doesn’t happen overnight which makes that whole forgiveness thing an extremely bitter pill to swallow. 

Sometimes the best we can do is simply knowing that there is another way to be - and that’s a great place to begin. I made the decision about 8 years ago to take real control of my life and since that time have been busting my ass to move past many of the unhelpful messages I’ve received over the years. 

One of the most helpful things I’ve found was to begin reading and working through the exercises in a book called “Healing your Emotional Self.” It’s always been easy for me to see which aspects were in need of revision, but without the right kind of role models, I never really knew what I wanted - only what I didn’t want. And as like attracts like, when focusing on what you don’t want, you’ll only get more of it. This book finally brought to light an understanding of new healthy behaviors- ones that made sense to me and that I could work with to make my own. 


I’ve been working on this painting and my first inclination was to fill the background with helpful messages, things I believe in. Then it hits me that I needed to go deeper- that there was more “work” to do. I decide to fill the left side with all of the unhelpful messages and beliefs I’d collected throughout my life, and the right side would be filled with the helpful messages I’ve been working so hard to call my own. 

It took me several tries, but I finally managed to fill the page of a large sketchbook with all the various messages. It was, unfortunately all too easy to come up with the unhelpful ones  - which made me very sad. Each day I’d look at this list hanging in my studio and try to figure out how to incorporate it into the background of this piece but nothing was coming to me. 

I then I went away on a 5 day retreat and something in me shifted. I came back and realized that while the process of my writing out the helpful/unhelpful messages was necessary at this time, putting it on public display was not. My original intentions for putting it on display had been to give a voice to anyone who has felt frustration by what society had taught them to believe about themselves, but then I realized that I was going about this all wrong. My feelings of inadequacy were as real in my head as the earth is round, but the key was in finally discovering that it wasn’t helpful to continue allowing these experiences to DEFINE ME. 

I can honestly say that I’ve restricted a tremendous amount of growth by allowing my past to define me. Even now I often struggle with being “the artist without the formal background” instead being proud for being “the artist who figured things out on her own.” I guess to a degree I fear not being who people expect or want me to be- that my real story isn’t good enough and so I have to be apologetic for it. And as you can probably guess, this kind of thinking loops back around to the kinds of messages we’ve received and internalized to become our own worst inner critic. 

Our stories are obviously important to our growth and can be very helpful in helping to empower others, but if we allow them to constantly define who we are in the present day, we are kept forever in the past. 

Formation of Belief: Work in Progress

Once I abandoned the idea of the helpful vs. unhelpful, I used an iPad app called Procreate to doodle over the most recent image to help choose a new direction for the piece.  Black over white or white over black....

Having created thousands of mandalas as a way to raise my consciousness, it only seemed fitting to once again have them surrounding me. (By now you must have realized that these women are idealized self-portraits, right?)

Formation of Belief: Work in Progress

White over black paint has always somewhat felt like healing old scars. Coming home from the retreat, I didn't feel like looking at all that black space any more. Adding the white feels in some strange way, healing.

Formation of Belief: Work in Progress

It is feeling very good at this point.

Formation of Belief: Work in Progress

I start filling the background with mandalas -

Formation of Belief: Work in Progress

And then more.

Formation of Belief: Work in Progress

It feels to be a little much so I start working white over the background mandalas so they aren't as prominent. I finish the details on her body and clean up some of the black area in the center of the mandala.

It is now time to cut 5 inches from the sides so the piece is adhering to the 48" maximum width requirement. I carefully measure 2 inches in from the left, 3 inches from the right, ask one of the other artists to double check my measuring and then snip!

Formation of Belief: Work in Progress

Background has been toned down and I've also finished the white outline around both her and the mandala. She has now been cut down to 48"which wasn't as painful as I'd expected - though it feels incomplete. (I saved the two long strips I cut off from each side - which may be used in a future project)

Formation of Belief: Finished piece

I add a black border and it feels perfect. She is finished!
Do you see the hidden message?

43" wide by 63" tall. Acrylic on canvas. Available for purchase - Price available upon request.

She is currently on display in the Crayola Galley at The Banana Factory in Bethlehem, PA as part of: "Perspectives: The Banana Factory Resident Artist Annual Exhibition" The show officially opens Friday September 7th and there will be a 2nd reception on Friday October 5th. It will remain on display until October 14th.

My official artist statement for the piece is as follows:

per·spec·tive: the state of one's ideas, the facts known to one.

Our core beliefs are the things we know to be true about ourselves and of the world around us. We learn these things through our parents, teachers, employers, religion, culture, family, friends and peers. In childhood or any time we lack a strong sense of self, it can be all too easy to assimilate beliefs that are damaging, unhelpful, or in some way restrictive to our personal growth.

As adults, we can choose to identify the origins of each belief and make conscious decisions to keep those which serve our highest good, to abandon the ones which exist out of guilt or fear, and to search for new beliefs which resonate with the person we wish to be.

Do your beliefs lovingly support each and every aspect of your existence?

Read Part 1: Formation of Belief: The Beginning
Read Part 2: Formation of Belief: Visualization and Acceptance
Read Part 3: Formation of Belief: Completion Through Release

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Formation of Belief: Visualization and Acceptance

Formation of Belief: Work in Progress (Image in Catalog)
This is the image that I submit for the exhibition catalog. We have to submit it well in advance of the actual exhibit and many of the artist works are shown in progress.
Last year's Artist Annual catalog and this year's.
I had submitted my "package" (artist resume, bio, letter of intent, and CD of images) to become a resident artist at The Banana Factory in October of 2011. Prior to my interview, I'd visited the BF on the First Friday in November 2011 and picked up a copy of that year's Artist Annual. (The blue catalog in the photo.) 

I remember coming home and looking over that catalog (again and again) and in my head saying to myself, "As soon as I become a resident artist, my work will be in next year's catalog."
Formation of Belief (in progress) in the Perspectives catalog
This is my work in this year's catalog.

I can say with 110% certainty that all this has happened because of creative visualization. (Though a whole lot of hard work, blood, sweat and tears didn't hurt.) From the day I received an ArtsQuest e-mail advertisement listing an open call for resident artists, I knew this was where I was going - I knew this is who I would become.

I am by no means saying that it's easy to become a resident artist at the Banana Factory because it isn't - there are few to none open residencies at any given time. You are interviewed in front of no less than 6 people - which in my case included the Director of the BF, the curator, the visual arts and education manager, three senior resident artists and several prominent community members who sit on the Visual Arts board.

But throughout the entire application and interview process, (which included me having to construct my entire package over a 72 hour period to meet the applicant deadline) I never once thought that I wouldn't get in. I always held the thought in my mind of, "It's mine. I just need to know when I can move in." I took the time to imagine myself already there. How I would set up my studio, walking to get pizza for lunch, walking to mail packages at the post office, cleaning snow off of my car in the winter. (All things I've actually done since moving in) I did everything I could to act "as if" I was already living this life because I believe this is how you attract what you most desire.

If you concentrate on what you don't have, (lack) or what you are wanting - the law of attraction being that like attracts like, will keep you lacking or wanting.

Formation of Belief: Work in Progress

Soon after submitting this photo and continuing to work on this piece, I discover something awful. I somehow had neglected to pay attention to the size limitations for our submitted works to this show. I remembered the 72" height restriction, but hadn't at all remembered the 48" width restriction. Remember yesterday's post? She's at 53" and her arms are almost touching the sides of the canvas.

I am sick to my stomach when I discover this. I check with the show curator - they cannot make an exception. I momentarily contemplate starting over from scratch. I want to cry. I can't immediately see a way to change this piece so I can cut 5" off the sides and still be true to my concept.

I have to do something so I cut her arms off.

Over lunch with Arturo, (a new resident artist - he's 18 and unbelievably talented...) he gives me the idea of a way to change the arms that would be acceptable to what I was envisioning.
Formation of Belief: Work in Progress
And now we are here and I am happy. But I still have to work out the background.

Tomorrow we go much deeper... Stay tuned.

Read Part 1: Formation of Belief: The Beginning
Read Part 2: Formation of Belief: Visualization and Acceptance
Read Part 3: Formation of Belief: Completion Through Release

Formation of Belief: The Beginning

Original concept sketch for Formation of Belief
As an artist in residence at The Banana Factory, (a community arts and education center in Bethlehem, PA) we are invited to participate in a yearly exhibition for current resident artists only. This year's show came with a theme of "Perspectives" which to an artist, could mean just about anything.

I first played around with the idea of submitting a large photograph of a mandala found in nature, then of an altered photograph. I ultimately decided to paint a large mandala and pulled out my roll of canvas (63" in height) and decided to cut it 63x63". So I laid it out, precisely measured it THREE times and cut it at 53".

I seriously couldn't understand why it wasn't square...
Deciding not to fret over my faux pas, (because I believe that everything happens for a reason) I gesso the canvas black and staple it to the wall of my (old) studio.

With this new rectangle to work with, I start to wonder if I can somehow combine one of my women figures with a mandala.
Formation of Belief: Work in Progress
It's probably a good time to tell you that I almost never conceptualize a piece prior to working on it. My style is to start, see where it goes and then figure out the story.

I remember grabbing a small brush, blue paint, and an 8x10" mat board that I had previously covered with black gesso. I quickly sketched out a simple design and then once dry, made several black and white photocopies so I could play around with the idea. (See top photo) Since the blue paint showed as white on the copy, I used blue paint over the copy which ultimately gave me the inspiration to work with black, white and blue in the final piece.
Formation of Belief: Work in Progress
I begin by sketching the design with a white charcoal pencil onto the canvas.

Contemplating the Perspectives theme at this time, my thoughts are metaphorical in nature: perspective = core beliefs and I initially consider filling the background of this piece with my own positive beliefs about the world. (More on this later.)
Formation of Belief: Work in Progress
I paint in the white and immediately feel as though I've applied the white heavier than I'd wanted.
Formation of Belief: Work in Progress
Blue over top of the white does not give the same feel as the original concept sketch and her body proportions feel very off.
Formation of Belief: Work in Progress
I move her into my new studio and work to modify her body.
Formation of Belief: Work in Progress
I end up completely painting out the body and drawing it in again. (It is not a comfortable feeling for me to have to "re-do" something in a painting. My process is typically to move forward with whatever happens but when you introduce a concern for quality, you learn to make adjustments.)
Formation of Belief: Work in Progress
Body comes back in white.
Formation of Belief: Work in Progress
Then blue. (I'm liking her much better now)
Formation of Belief: Work in Progress
I continue to re-shape her.

The story continues tomorrow...... stay tuned!

Read Part 1: Formation of Belief: The Beginning
Read Part 2: Formation of Belief: Visualization and Acceptance
Read Part 3: Formation of Belief: Completion Through Release

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Transformation: Serpent's Lair

Unnamed - Work in Progress
I had created this piece, (which I rather liked) in early 2011 but wasn't sure if it was finished.
Psychological Projection Per Wiki: "a psychological defense mechanism where a person subconsciously denies his or her own attributes, thoughts, and emotions, which are then ascribed to the outside world, usually to other people."

My feelings were hurt through the comments of another and I took out my frustrations on this painting.

From this experience, I would learn that you can never control how someone else will respond to anything you say or do. It also helped me to gain a deeper understanding of unconditional love and compassion for myself and for those around me.
Letting Go
Allowing myself to let go of the pain, I painted over it again with compassionate reminder.
Feeling as though I had successfully transformed the negativity surrounding that experience, I painted over it yet again, with something completely different... or so I thought. The heart shape remains and the snake is of course, the ultimate symbol of transformation - something I wasn't consciously aware of as I was painting it.

And then there is also Kundalini. (From Wiki: "literally means coiled. In yoga, a "corporeal energy" - an unconscious, instinctive or libidinal force or Shakti, lies coiled at the base of the spine. It is envisioned either as a goddess or else as a sleeping serpent, hence a number of English renderings of the term such as 'serpent power'. Reportedly, kundalini awakening results in deep meditation, enlightenment and bliss.")

Acrylic paints on canvas board. Completed in November of 2011, this piece is available for purchase - please message me for details.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

My New and Bigger Art Studio at The Banana Factory


When I became a resident artist at The Banana Factory, (an arts & education center in Bethlehem, PA) I was asked what my ultimate studio would look like. My response was something along the lines of, "A great big studio with a view." This is that space. As there are a very limited number of open studios, it is common for artists to take whatever studio is open and then move once a more suitable space becomes available.

I wanted a space with a view - but not one that is distracting. I can see loads of sky and clouds with this northern exposure and it makes me very happy.

The image above is from when I first moved in and was trying to decide where everything should go.

West Wall - Reds

I wanted to set it up in a way that would be very open and inviting. The larger space will allow me to comfortably do group lessons and mini-workshops - stay tuned for more details on that. (Fearless Art Warrior classes coming soon!)

South wall - greens

As with my previous studio, I paid close attention to the rules of Feng Shui to set up a comfortable energetic flow within the space. (I use this book: Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life: How to Use Feng Shui to Get Love, Money, Respect, and Happiness)

The slideshow above shows me moving in and setting up studio #250

The video above shows the last walk-through I did in studio #249.

My studio hours vary, but when I am there working during building hours, you are welcome to visit. Want to schedule a visit? I will do my best to accommodate - contact me: stephanie at biffybeans dot com.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

She Continues to Grow Part 8: She Sells and I Let Go

03/02 First Friday as Featured Artist at the Banana Factory - "She" Sells.....

Sometime around 4pm on March 2nd while getting ready for my First Friday as a Featured Artist at The Banana Factory, I called it. I said to my husband, "I'm going to sell the mural tonight." And that's just what I did. I had no idea who I'd sell it to, I just knew I'd sell it.

My featured artist wall for March 2012 at The Banana Factory

The whole night was a blur... My Mom and Stepdad came out, my friend Diane from Long Island had driven down, oodles and oodles of friends new and old came to support me that night and I remember hugs and kisses and well wishes and conversations and answering questions to a group of high school girls about my work and, and....

Banana Factory Director Janice Lipzin placing the red "sold" sticker on my mural.

About halfway through the night, I was approached by a woman who tells me that she wanted to purchase the mural. I didn't get it right away, as if she was speaking a different language. Wait...You mean for real? Holy cow! On top of that, she tells me that it will be permanently installed in a new healing arts center in my area and I can't imagine it going to a better place. Tears of joy? Oh yeah, you bet.

Not long after, I start to go a little crazy as a plethora of emotions go surging through me. "I did all that work, I worked so hard, and I sold it. I visualized it sold and it sold." That day when I got so emotional before it was finished? Even before it was completed I was starting to let go because I knew it would be leaving my possession.

I had wished that more of my Rhythm Friends had come to the opening - but wasn't that what this was all about? Letting go of feeling that I "need" them around me to tell me that I did good? I worked my ASS off, of course I did good! Gratitude. Humility. Acceptance. I am very excited. Some artists go their whole lives creating important works and never selling them or even having the opportunity for people to see them.

07/19/12 It had been my intention to initially publish this post closer to the actual event, but I felt I needed time and perspective to really put words to it.

I've been a resident artist at the Banana Factory now for just about 8 months and though I understand I am exactly where I am supposed to be, I still often feel like I am struggling alone in a strange new world. For 24 years I worked jobs to pay the bills because that was pretty much all I knew to do. Growing up, it never seemed to be an option to explore a career in something I was good at or enjoyed. I remember receiving college catalogs for the Art Institute of Philadelphia, but I couldn't seem to get anyone's attention about my wanting to attend college at all. I guess I came to believe that college was for "other" people, and making a living through art was absolutely and completely out of the realm of possibility.  

It took my own perseverance in finding my tribe - my family of people who love me unconditionally and who are able to see in me what I can't always see in myself, to help me onto this path and for that, I will be forever grateful.

While this mural was first started with only a very loose concept regarding transformation and growth, as it grew, so did I- in understanding how everything is connected. You can't be who you are without all of your experiences, and all of your relationships. My issue, (one I continue to work on) is that I hold on so very tightly to specific memories of people or situations that it inhibits my growth.

We must let go so that we can grow...

The creation, completion and subsequent sale of this mural is what I expect to be one of many grand exercises in my emotional healing. I just wish it wasn't so painful to keep shedding all these layers.

Speaking of shedding, I am currently working on another large piece entitled "Foundation of Belief" for the upcoming Artist's Annual exhibition at The Banana Factory which opens Sept. 7th 2012. It pertains to the way we learn many helpful and unhelpful core beliefs from our parents, religions, family, peers, educators and employers. It has me looking at everything I know to be true in this world under a microscope and let me tell you, it hasn't been easy. Stay tuned for more updates about this piece.

Formation of Belief: Work in Progress

She Continues to Grow Part 9: Installed In Her New Home!
She Continues to Grow Part 8: She Sells and I Let Go
She Continues to Grow Part 7: Pushing it Further towards The End
She Continues to Grow Part 6: The Process as a Whole
She Continues to Grow Part 5: Heather comes to Visit and I Let Go
She Continues to Grow Part 4: Little Details and the Background
She Continues to Grow Part 3: The Painting Begins
She Continues to Grow Part 2 The 90 Minute Sketch
She Continues to Grow Part 1: The Beginning

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Good Times in May

"Good Times in May"

The image on top (acrylic paint on rough watercolor paper) received so much positive feedback that I decided to quickly remove it from sale and keep it as a reference for future pieces such as this one.

A 10x30" canvas was first primed with black gesso, then I used a palette knife to add cadmium red paint. A white conte crayon was used to outline the seven lovely ladies.

"Good Times in May"

The ladies were then painted in with black gesso.

"Good Times in May"

Once again outlined with Conte crayon.

"Good Times in May"

Blue painted over black.

"Good Times in May"

Once again outlined with Conte crayon.

"Good Times in May"

Close up of the details.

"Good Times in May"

A lot of touch-up to be done yet.

"Good Times in May"

Black gesso.

"Good Times in May"

Comparing the two.

"Good Times in May"

On the original image, I used a white gel pen to add the white detail. This time I used a Posca acrylic marker.

"Good Times in May"


This painting is available for purchase, $285.00 plus $20 shipping in the US. (6% sales tax collected in PA) Please contact me for details.  stephanie at biffybeans dot com

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