Wednesday, March 28, 2012

She Continues to Grow Part 7: Pushing it Further towards The End

02/24 I could be finished but I'm not.
02/24 I could be finished but I'm not. Unhappy with the belly graphic I added the previous day, I cover it up. I take a deep breath after deciding the blue/white graphics on the girl are a little bland and start filling in some areas with red. White fill is added to wing areas.

I am still feeling as though the background might be too much.
02/26 Pushing it further
02/26 I had to push it further....

02/26 Pushing it further
After talking with a few of my fellow artists, I make a bold decision (not without fear) to outline the whole of the girl and two mandalas with white paint - literally obscuring hours and hours of work.
02/26 Pushing it further
It's difficult at first to make such a huge last minute decision which will impact a month's worth of work but I can immediately see how it makes the foreground pop against the background.
02/26 Pushing it further
02/26 Pushing it further
02/26 Pushing it further
This was a 5 hour session which included more tweaking and rework to the black outlines and the white fill.
02/28/12 "This is the end, my beautiful friend"
02/28/12 "This is the end, my beautiful friend"

True story: standing in my studio after another 6 or so hours working on the mural while listening to my classic rock playlist, paintbrush in hand and pondering what to do next or if maybe I'm finished when I suddenly realize that the song playing is "The End" by the Doors. I get it, I get it! It's done!

This 6 hours of painting was spent retouching the black outlines, and white fill within those black lines, ensuring the main white outline was opaque enough to my liking and also going back over each of the major colors in each of the mandalas to make them "pop." I am very happy I added the white outline.

02/28/12 "This is the end, my beautiful friend"

02/29/12 My mural "She Continues to Grow" is officially finished.

02/29/12 My mural "She Continues to Grow" is officially finished.

I do one last pass over yesterday's dried paint with the palette knife and she's finished.

02/29/12 My mural "She Continues to Grow" is officially finished.

02/29/12 My mural "She Continues to Grow" is officially finished.

02/29/12 My mural "She Continues to Grow" is officially finished.

02/29/12 My mural "She Continues to Grow" is officially finished.

My husband is with me as I do this. Fellow Banana Factory artist Holly Scott helps me to remove the staples that have been holding it up for the last 35 days and we roll it up, take it down to the 1st floor and install it on the featured artist wall across from the main entrance to the Banana Factory.

03/25 - Quick Update - The finished mural is on display at The Banana Factory through the end of March if you'd like to see it before it moves on to it's new home.

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, March 27, 2012

She Continues to Grow Part 6: The Process as a Whole

02/19
On 02/18 I'd teach my empowerment workshop (Mandala: An Artful Meditation) to 33 people at the Baum School of Art in Allentown, PA. I had been a little nervous to teach such a big group (I think my largest had been about 25) but I showed up fully present and it went very well. I even sold several pieces of art at the end. I told the group how I would be putting together a small studio workgroup to teach fearless artmaking and several of the participants were immediately interested.
02/20
I am back working on the mural, adding more background, more painting/scraping...
02/20
02/20 I FINALLY decide how to make the bottom of the wings look more like wings and I love it! I white out the area around her midriff and add detail inside the wings.
02/20
I start to add the "fills" on her body - the white detail over the black outlines. It will take a great deal of thought from this point forward of where all to put it as sometimes I'm not sure whether or not to leave some of the black lines show.
02/20
The background is almost completely filled in...
02/20
I start to feel really depressed. I want this thing DONE already. I feel like it's taking everything out of me.

(It was and it did. It was at this point I would realize that I was starting to experience separation anxiety. I knew the mural would be finding a new home (that was a gut feeling) and before it was even finished, I was mourning it's loss. Or rather, morning the loss of those old parts of me that the mural had come to represent.)
02/23
02/23 In the last few days/week that I would work on the mural, I would begin to feel very good about the process as a whole. I can be stubborn as can be with regards to letting go and moving forward because it's difficult for me to see my own potential. I am so very grateful I've had the pleasure of having friends with whom I was able to trust with helping to guide my personal growth. I wouldn't be who I am without them.
02/23
02/23 With the background complete I remember feeling like it might be a bit too much.

02/23
Signed but not yet finished.
02/23
02/23
And so what do I do? Add more graphics to the girl and the wings to make the whole thing even busier. I notice that some of the "tattoos" have personal symbolism that hadn't really shown up to this point - most specifically the triangle shaped arrows.

I add detail to the rounded white areas near her belly and I am happy that I decided to carve that area out.

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

Monday, March 26, 2012

She Continues to Grow Part 5: Heather comes to Visit and I Let Go

02/13
02/13 Background covered in white (but not opaque - I want the black to show through) More mini-mandalas are added.

Her wings are painted in and I really struggled for a long time with choosing the color. I used Golden's Quinacridone Violet - which unlike all of the other colors I would use, isn't nearly opaque. As soon as I started filling in the wings I was very fearful that I had made a mistake. (They would eventually get several coats and prove to be the most perfect color.... )

I remember being extremely emotional working in my studio on this day. I think the amount of energy I was spending on this project was starting to get to me.
02/13
I painted in her halo/crown and added the first body detail. I replicated the pendant from a previous painting - this makes me happy to repeat symbolism from piece to piece.

I am not happy with the bottom of the wings.
02/14
02/14 My dear friend Heather comes to visit and in this shot, finally allows for a sense of scale. (She is 5ft. and the canvas is actually 5'4" high)
02/14
Yellow is added to the crown and more detail work is added to the mandalas.
02/16
02/16 I continue working on the background while Heather relaxes in my studio. If it wasn't for her, there wouldn't be any pictures of me working on it. Thanks Heather!
02/16
I contemplate asking her to add a mandala - after all, this is someone who has taken 6 of my mandala workshops over the years at the Rhythm Renewal and Rhythm Revival. But if I do, then I wouldn't be able to say it was wholly mine.
02/16
I do wish I could have ALL of my Rhythm family add a mandala to it- Jim Donovan, Bryan Fazio, PJ Roduta, Jaqui MacMillan, Becky Bickford, Mike Deaton, Kim Cooper, Jen Mills... (The list goes on and on...)
02/16
It is during this background work when I think a lot about what this piece represents. It took me until I was 36 to find my "tribe." Prior to that I'd never really felt like I fit anywhere and this would often be quite painful and difficult as a child. In high school it would get worse as I didn't have any close friends and would often just disappear in the crowd, and eventually disappear altogether when I quit school at the beginning of my junior year.

In 2005 when I got up the nerve to go to a few drum circles, it was like a massive puzzle piece clicking into place. I *finally* found a group of people that encouraged me to express myself without judgment.
02/16
I would eventually become close friends with Jim Donovan - a drum workshop facilitator, university music instructor and one of the founding members of the band Rusted Root. I would come to learn that drums were the tool through which Jim would teach us all how to be more present in our lives and to let go of anything which wasn't serving our highest good - a spiritual message that would resonate so very deeply with me....
02/16
I began to work with Jim to promote his events, write ad copy, do web design... Then one day, we decided that I would help him write a book and for the next two and a half years I would become immersed into his life... we eventually assembled a large number of anecdotes which when combined with a series of conceptual pieces based upon his personal beliefs, created a very powerful inspirational memoir. Through the process of working with someone with a wealth of world experience who was willing to share, I myself would grow by leaps and bounds not only by listening, but through his (seemingly relentless) encouragement and motivation.
02/16
Through Jim, I would go on to meet many other wonderful friends - honest people who were also standing and shining, living in their truth. These people became my tribe, my family and I felt warm and embraced in this world.
02/16
As the years started to pass and I started following Jim's suggestions to empower myself, I noticed something that began to concern me. As I started working on myself and the things that were important to me, some of these relationships started to, how should I say, "thin out." These were the people that loved me unconditionally and who lifted me up any time I would talk to them, be around them..... but I had another life to begin. I know that these people will always be a part of me, that they haven't gone anywhere and that they all still love me as much as I love them...

I had to start letting them go. I had to start letting the old parts of me go. It was time for me to take what I'd learned and start teaching. Embracing myself as an individual. Coming "out" as an artist in my local community. Using all of the skills I'd learned while working with Jim - it was time to start using them for my own benefit.

Having Heather come to visit, it was hard. I've known her (through Jim) for the last 5 or so years. But it also wasn't as hard as I'd anticipated. I shared with her my fears of letting go - and she understood and loved me just the same.
02/16
To have spent a lifetime finding a world where you are accepted with open arms, the thought of letting go was excruciating - but I knew I had to do it anyway. "She continues to grow." The 60+ hours I'd eventually spend on this piece would be my way of letting go - and at times it hurt so bad...

The thing about letting go is that you can't unlearn, you can't unremember. While things once very important are allowed to be released, they are still always a part of who you are in this very moment. It's a knowing that no matter what, it's all good. And so I continue to grow...

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

Sunday, March 25, 2012

She Continues to Grow Part 4: Little Details and the Background

02/07
02/07 The left mandalas continues to grow and I begin to add white fill over the black outlines.
02/07
02/07

I will continue to work and re-work these outline/fills almost to the very end - a reminder that I should maybe try working a little neater so I don't have to go back and fix it. (Or continue to work spontaneously and in the moment) Live and learn....

Untitled
I begin to wonder what the background will include. One of my fellow artists suggests "a million little mandalas." Great minds think alike as that was at the top of my shortlist of ideas.
02/07
I take a deep breath and begin adding the white over the black (which was painted over white) with a small palette knife. I am fearful at first and then it quickly clicks into place.
02/07
I add a few mandala to the section of background I had painted and think... "YES!" (Black over white over black over white - Seriously? Yup)
02/08
02/08 More mini-mandalas added.
02/08
These go quickly since I'm so used to drawing these designs but still take a fairly long time to complete. I am working with Liquitex black gesso. I only stop when my right elbow and shoulder begin to ache.

It is at this point that I start to realize that I might be slightly insane.
Untitled
02/08
02/08
More paint and details added to the mandalas. Scrape, scrape.

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

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

She Continues to Grow - Part 3: The Painting Begins

01/28
 01/28 I hold my breath and decide to paint over the sketch I had created with the Neocolor I Artist crayons. 

I think it was probably right around this moment when I realized that despite the fact that some of the crayon had rubbed off, they still were wax crayons with "water resistant" on the label. Though the Caran D'Ache website did state that they could be used for underpaintings... (As a wax resist)

01/28
The way I would work from this moment until completion was to use acrylic paint with a dry brush with paint straight from the tube - with no added water. Once the paint was dry to the touch I'd grab a palette knife and scratch at the paint to reveal the wax underneath. (Think sgraffito) Some of the crayon would become obscured by the paint but by using this scraping process, I allowed some of the crayon to show through which gave the painting a worn, aged folk art look that made me want to do back flips of joy.

01/28
After thin layers of paint and subsequent scrapings, I would create a mural which (to me) had an aged folk art look that reminded me of an old side show banner. If there is one thing for certain about my art - it's that I prefer unique and organic. I absolutely "love" when old layers of paint show through - it leads me to ponder the history of a piece. I am *very* pleased at what I would consider to be a "happy accident."

01/29
01/29 More paint is added and for the most part, I am following the colors that I used in the original sketch. Paint/scrape paint/scrape.

01/29
Interesting to note that the black center ring on the right hand mandala would not be filled in until almost the last day of painting on the mural.

01/31
01/31 More painting/scraping. The left mandala starts to slightly change form. The girl gets painted in.

01/31 01/3102/02
02/02 The mandalas continue to get painted - I stop working to complete "Hayden's Adventure" a 10x10" painting I will be submitting into the Banana Factory's upcoming White Works Show. I also start to get ready for First Friday.

02/02

02/02
02/06 I want to leave the mural as is and allow people to see it at this stage.

02/02
These are the paint scrapings from when I reveal the wax resist. I ponder keeping them in a small jar but in the end, I throw them away.

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
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