Tag Archives: oklahoma city

re-discovering watercolor

Throughout high school, I painted with watercolors all the time….really, that’s about all I used. I loved the watery texture. However, I also learned to control my paint such that it almost resembled the consistency of acrylics. I did all kinds of on site competitions and entered many exhibitions to showcase my abilities.

Even though I was a prolific artist in school, I realized that I needed a more technical, focused degree to build a career after college. That path was Landscape Architecture. My minimum requirement of course hours to graduate was hefty {162 hour minimum to be exact}. Although I took tons of design classes, fine art had to take a back seat.

To make a very long story very short, when I left my 8 to 5 design job to pursue art, watercolor was a skill I was eager to recapture. If you’ve ever tried it before, you know it isn’t easy. And just as with anything else, it takes tons of practice.

Needless to say, I was pretty rusty. To sharpen my rusty skills, I enrolled in a beginning art class at our local art museum. It’s a very basic class. However, it’s given me some foundational elements that I was missing when I first started. It’s awakened my enthusiasm for the medium again. My plate is full of acrylic paintings right now. But, I am also making a lot of room for watercolor. I’m excited to begin some new projects and see where they go!

It just comes down to the fact that sometimes, you need a little continuing education. Like any other field, there are always new techniques to learn….and old concepts to brush up on. If you find yourself lost, or in a creative rut sign up for one of these classes. At first glance, it may seem redundant. But, I can assure you, something can always be learned.

Below are the results of my class.

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first friday

Today is First Friday on Paseo! For those of you unaware, The Paseo is a quirky arts district nestled in the lower northwest side of Oklahoma City. Back in the day, it was the hang out for Oklahomas’ counter culture….you know, hippies. Long after the hippies grew up to be squares, the neighborhood fell into a sort of disrepair. The area surrounding the ‘main drag’ of quaint, brightly colored stucco buildings, was known for violence. Many people were mugged, robbed, and all sorts of other horrible things. To make a very long story really short, a combination of the influx of development, new business, and concerned community members helped to put the district on a course correction for better things.

Today, The Paseo is a vibrant artist community filled the galleries, restaurants, open space, and activities. One such activity is ‘First Friday Gallery Walk’. All the art galleries stay open until 10pm to exhibit work from local and national artists. My favorite part is that most galleries feature a specific show for First Friday. So, you’ll see brand new work at most galleries.

I’m particularly excited about my gallery, though. Our renovations are complete. The retail section is already doing great. A beautiful show hangs in the anterior space, ready to be received by the public. I hope it’s packed! If you’re local, please come visit us on Paseo. I promise you’ll be hooked!

Current show {FRINGE: Reverie} at AKA Gallery for First Friday

Current show {FRINGE: Reverie} at AKA Gallery for First Friday

the elephants are finished.

For the past few months, I’ve worked on my Indian elephant painting. It’s been the subject of many past posts. It’s also very well documented on my business page. But after much detail work, it’s finally finished. And I love it.

IMG_2170The colors are even more vibrant in person. The blankets are detailed with metallic gold paint. Also, at the last minute I added some pink and blue ‘flower petals’ floating around everywhere. The finished painting makes me excited to move onto the next one in the series. I was going to paint a scene from Bali. But now, I’m thinking Thailand.

I’ll have the same process pictures of the next ones up on the blog soon. Happy Monday!

aka gallery re-opening

Last night was the big reopening at AKA Gallery on Paseo!

IMG_2160My family showed up to check it out and support yours truly. The gallery space looks incredible. It’s more light, bright, and open. The show for First Friday in August is a group show by FRINGE. It’s a group of women who create and promote their art. They hung their show early for our opening. MaryAnn and I also have several pieces on the wall for the month.

Our previous arrangement could be described as eclectic. Retail mixed with art and studio space. Now, we have a clearly defined retail space up front. The back is a clean gallery space, with plenty of wall real estate for a visiting artist.

It was so well received. Everyone who attended the soft opening gave rave reviews of the new configuration. We’re so excited to be a part of this new chapter with Ashley. It’s going to be great!

{Pictures of the new space coming soon}

 

the elephants have arrived

 

You may remember earlier posts that document the creation of my newest painting. These types of paintings are slow going. The background elements are several layers of paint. The details also take a while to incorporate. But the results are beautiful.

I don’t think I mentioned how the finished composition will look once everything is done. The idea is that all of my background elements are tone on tone of one color. In this case, it’s orange. Then, I add some sort of foreground element that’s normal, full color.

In this case, the foreground elements are two very ornately decorated Indian elephants.

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IMG_2132All of their details are blocked out in white for now. I want all of the colors to be very opaque when I paint them on. The blankets will be detailed with lots of bright colors. I’ll use metallic gold paint for all of the ‘stitching’.

The details will take a little while. But, now that the elephants are in, the finish line isn’t very far away. I have to take my time. Otherwise, I get impatient and really screw things up. Completing this one makes me excited to move on to the other works. The next countries up are Bali, Japan, and Taiwan. Japan and Taiwan will be modeled after pictures I took during a trip. My hope is to have a large travel series with each country in a different color.

This is the first time in a while that I’ve felt very inspired to paint. I don’t get to travel much these days. But I have in the past. I’m pretty obsessed with traveling in the future. This is kind of my way of going to those places….That is until I can actually go to those places.

friendship bracelets {all grown up}

A few weeks ago, I picked up an issue of Martha Stewart Living on a whim. The cover pictured a crusty loaf of bread, covered in heirloom tomatoes. The tomatoes formed a rainbow, from green to red. That’s pretty much the only reason I bought the magazine. In thumbing through the pages {to find the recipe for the cover photo} I stumbled upon a small article entitled: Friendship Bracelets, All Grown Up. The article featured an image of bad ass friendship bracelets. They were more refined than what I remember making. Some had gilded thread, others had small charms, and the colors were more sophisticated.

I was immediately inspired to make some sophisticated fabric jewelry. I figured if I was terrible at it, I would wear my own creations. But if they are beautiful then I can sell them. It’s a win-win. So, I set off to Michael’s to buy embroidery floss.

IMG_2097So many colors. The good news is: embroidery floss is cheap. The bad news is: You don’t get a ridiculous amount in one of those little loops. I just kept telling myself to try a little to see how it goes. I’m extremely impatient when it comes to my art…or anything that could make money.

I bought several colors…

IMG_2099And these are the results…

Keep in mind I’m just experimenting. I’m learning how to make my knots more professional. I would also like to master more ways of treating the ends of the bracelet. I want the ties to have the same artisanal treatment as the knotted area.

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You think to yourself: tying knots isn’t difficult. However, there are subtle nuances to making a bracelet look substantial. The kind of thread you use, the tightness of your knots all contribute to the perceived quality of a piece. I bought regular cotton floss. I also tried some satin floss. I tried to incorporate the satin with the more gritty cotton. It didn’t work very well. The satin unravels easily. The knots aren’t as solid either. Although this obviously wasn’t the best choice of material, I couldn’t resist using it anyway. Except this time, I would make a monochromatic bracelet of only satin thread…

I used the goldenrod color.

IMG_2117I LOVE the way this one turned out. That shiny, silky texture looks especially good as a solid bracelet. You have to work fast, because the knots aren’t as solid. Also, the end knots aren’t holding as well. I’m contemplating burning them a little with a lighter {that’s an old trick to keep pointe shoe ribbons from fraying on the ends}.

I’m going to work my way through all my thread to make a few more bracelets. I’ll see where things are once I have a few examples. I’m always excited to add another craft to my repertoire. And who knows, I could access an untapped market of people just waiting to rediscover friendship bracelets, all grown up.

new opportunities

As I mentioned in an earlier post, big things are happening at my gallery. Yesterday, I went to check on the progress. Our new french doors have been framed in. The sales counters will be delivered today. Also, today: I get to set up my space! I’m so excited about the new possibilities on the horizon with our interior reset. I hung out with Ashley {my friend and gallery director} while she painted over the new sheet rock. In the course of our conversation we got on the subject of ‘First Friday’. {For those of you who don’t know, First Friday is our gallery walk on Paseo. More on that later.}

I’ve had some First Friday glory before. We did a group show at our gallery this past spring. It was a lot of fun, and certainly educational. However, I’ve always wanted my own show. What’s cool about waiting until now, is that with our new interior configuration, I’ll have two to three times the space I previously had.

Enter bacteria.

1013726_142322302635755_1632739760_nSeveral months ago, my friend Ryan approached me with an interesting commission. He is a periodontist. He has tons of images from his graduate work cataloging various types of bacteria found in the human mouth. He wanted four large paintings of his favorite slides. I accepted, of course. However, I was kind of nervous as to how they would turn out. Fortunately for me, and everyone else, they were a success. People loved them. Ashley loved them. So it was a no-brainer that my first, First Friday show should be an entire series of bacteria.

I quickly contacted my friend to see if I could use his images. I didn’t want to just copy some pictures off the internet. As an artist, I consider that a hollow practice. Ryan has some beautiful images. He worked hard to catalog them. He also paid me good money to paint them. I wanted to make him an offer he couldn’t refuse. He scored free advertising and some new work. I scored painting subjects, and one to two future commissions from him. I think that’s a win win.

The show will be in July of 2014. I’m going to spend the next few days mapping out wall space, buying paint, and ordering canvas in order to craft a proposal. We have our soft opening next week. Our grand opening is First Friday: August. I’m excited to see how people receive our new space. Beyond that, I’m even more excited to see what kind of opportunities arise as a result.

Happy Friday!

{You can check out the complete bacteria series under my recent commissions tab}

happenings at AKA Gallery

My home gallery is undergoing some big changes this month…

IMG_1977I’ve been renting here a couple of years now. The director, who is also my friend, is an awesome ‘landlord’. My rent is cheap, and I pretty much get free reign over my space. We’ve always had an eclectic mix of retail and fine art, usually in the same room. It was a few months ago, that Ashley {the director} decided to streamline this concept…a lot.

She’s decided to move all of the retail up front. We have an impressive collection of witty, funky merchandise, including: drinking supplies, t-shirts, and ceramic balloon dog bookends. All of the art will be relegated to the anterior space where wall real estate will be split between different artists.

My working space will become more communal in nature. I should mention I share rented space with an artist named MaryAnn Ceballos. She is a very talented and prolific abstract artist. She is an absolute joy to be around. We really love working together. Currently, we have two cubicles in the back. They’re decent sized. But, with the move, we’ll have one large cubicle to share. The working area will be much larger. Also, the wall will be oriented in such a way that we’ll face the front door….much more conducive to reeling in customers.

We hope to have all of the renovations done by our next first Friday in August. All three of us are so excited to get everything done and move into the new spaces. I’ll keep updating as major progress is made. We’re excited to be a part of this new chapter in the existence of AKA Gallery!

{AKA Gallery is located in the Paseo Arts District, at 3001 Paseo, Oklahoma City, OK, 73103}

back to ballet class

IMG_1819I’ve always been a visual artist. From an early age, I’ve always drawn and painted. However, I would say my connection with dance was even earlier than my budding interest in visual art. You see, my mom was a professional ballet dancer. She danced with Yvonne Chouteau, one of Oklahomas’ ‘Five Famous Indian Ballerinas’, as an adolescent and then again at the University of Oklahoma. She was one of two dancers in the state to receive a full scholarship to the San Fransisco Ballet and also danced with the Philadelphia Ballet Company, as well as other companies in New York. After graduating college, she was an artist in residence, teaching hearing impaired children to dance. She was a teacher for a long time. However, her residency through the Arts Council of Oklahoma City transitioned into a full time position as Director of Public Relations. So, her early career as a dancer morphed into a lifetime career in non-profit.

But, what I remember most is her dancing. I wanted to be just like her, dancing in pointe shoes, and wearing tutus. So she enrolled me in class. I adored it. I took all kinds of dance, but ballet was my favorite. As I grew older, I got more serious about my classes. Again, I took all kinds of dance, but ballet remained my true passion. I loved the nature of the movement. It’s very controlled, yet graceful. You’re contorting your body in dramatic movement, but holding all of your muscles in place at the same time. It’s like controlled chaos. I also loved the discipline. You’re never allowed to talk during class. You can’t slouch, or lean on the bar. You’re expected to remember combinations. You have to be there physically, and mentally. I actually credit ballet for my strong work ethic {and good posture}. By the time I was seventeen, I danced at two studios and my high school. I wanted to attend the University of Oklahomas’ ballet program to pursue studies in dance.

Unfortunately, I was sidelined by a pretty serious bone spur on my left foot. I was terrified of surgery, and let it go too long. I couldn’t dance on pointe with it. I still took regular ballet class. By the time the spur was big, it hurt to walk, let alone dance. I had my surgery and was forced to take a full year off. It was devastating. I tried to go back after recovering, but the damage had been done. I had lost all of my strength and flexibility. Although I still loved dance, it was a tall order to regain my former stature in a short amount of time. So, I quit.

I changed my major in high school to visual art. I also changed my career path to landscape architecture. Instead of OU, I attended Oklahoma State where I attained my degree in landscape architecture. Throughout school, I missed dance, but never took any classes. By the time I graduated, taking class was always in the back of my mind. However, I never investigated places to dance. That desire grew, though. By the end of my tenure at my office job {more about that later}, I was chomping at the bit to take a barre. I stumbled upon a little dance studio called ‘Everything Goes’. They offered adult ballet in the morning and the evening. I never looked back.

My teacher, Tomma Lou Brown, actually danced with my mom at OU. She is a patient, methodical teacher who builds a class around the limitations of an adult body. I mean, I still wake up sore the next day….and sometimes, the next day. But it’s a good sore. It’s a nostalgic feeling that I welcome. The classes build in difficulty and intensity throughout the semester. I have to say, I surprise myself with what I can still do. It’s also another creative outlet for my art. I interpret my own thoughts on canvas everyday. I love going in and interpreting her combinations with my own style of technique. It’s been a wonderful opportunity to work out, and get back to my roots a little bit.

Is there a hobby or sport from you’re past that you’re itching to rediscover?

when water is scarse…

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For those of you won’t aren’t aware, Oklahoma has been under the thumb of a severe drought for the past three years, or so. The first year was oppressive. That’s the only way I can describe it. Triple digit temperatures, no rain, and expansion joints literally breaking in the roadway. This spring, we’ve experienced record amounts of rain. People are declaring the drought to be over. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Texas and parts of western Oklahoma are still in a stage of severe drought. Central Oklahoma is still technically in the drought area ‘with lessened effects’. This means that just because we get lots of rain in spring, does not mean that summer will be as water logged. Beyond that, I wholeheartedly believe these drier weather patterns are here to stay…for good. Water rationing, conservation, and xeriscape are the way of the present. People just haven’t accepted the facts yet.

This brings me to my broader point. People in central Oklahoma are not going to be able to maintain giant gardens full of Boxwood, Hydrangea, and thousands of annuals anymore. Working in the design industry, it was so important that we incorporate as many evergreens as possible. If it’s not in a constant state of green, people freak out. I agree, evergreens have their place. However, if weather trends continue, we simply will not have the water to support them on a large scale.

Enter wildflowers. 

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I have tried to push the use of wildflowers in residential, commercial, and civic projects for YEARS. Sure, they aren’t evergreen. They appear unkempt. You have to seed them twice a year. But, they are extremely drought tolerant, and in many cases native. The deal is, you have to be strategic with where you plant. You also have to avoid any weeding until the flowers actually bloom. It is worth the work. Once these flowers bloom, it is the most incredible seasonal show. You have flowers that arrive in early spring. Those die back, and a wave of summer flowers appears. It’s a dynamic display of color and foliage. Our mix includes Larkspur, Poppy, Cosmos, Blackeyed Susan, in addition to many others. The cool thing is, certain seeds may or may not appear in a mix. So you may have the same performers for a couple of years. But have a completely different show the next. It’s pretty amazing, really.

You have to wrap your head around the fact that in the late fall and winter, the bed will be collage of dormant stems {or empty if you cut it all down}. The prospect of that may scare some people. Believe it or not, absence really does make the heart grow fonder. It’s amazing how much I look forward to spring when everything is semi-bare in the winter. It makes the appearance of the wildflowers that much more exciting. If you’ve got some empty space to work with, try wildflowers.