Monday, August 30, 2010

Kiley

August 31st, 2010 marks the one year anniversary of my dog passing away. I will never forget her.

I got Kiley as a birthday present for my thirteenth birthday. I had wanted my parents to get a dog all summer and after three months of begging they finally gave in.  My mother and I went to the Largo SPCA and there she was. My mother saw her first. A tiny yellow lab mix sitting quietly in her cage. Somehow my mom knew she was the one and went to call my dad. I sat in the cage with her and she chewed on my fingers. I felt like I had spent all summer at the SPCA and always left empty-handed. Always teased with the possibility of getting a pet. I didn't want to get too excited incase my parents decided they didn't want her. 

My mom came back and said that we were going to take her home. I remember sitting in the lobby stunned while she filled out all the paper work. The vet said she had been one of a litter of puppies they had found abandoned and with worms. She would have to take some medicine for a few weeks but she was the healthiest puppy in the bunch. We got her during the "Dog Days of Summer Special" and she was half off the usual going rate. She would come to be referred to as the best $15.00 we ever spent.

My mom and I brought her to the van to take her home. I got in the passenger seat and placed her on my lap. I told my mom that I had decided to name her Kiley. My mom asked if I wanted to put her on floor for the ride home. I wrapped my arms around Kiley and I said "No, she is my girl, she stays with me". That was the moment that I allowed myself to fall head over heals in love with her. That moment set the tone for our entire relationship. 

She followed me around the house, stayed in my room with me while I was drawing, and cuddled with me every chance she got. For thirteen years she was my constant companion. I moved to Orlando to go to college but I never got tired of her jumping on me every time I walked thru the door. 

On my way to work one day my mother called me to tell me that Kiley wasn't doing well. She was old and had been having some health problems for a while, and earlier that morning she had fallen over and was unable to get herself back up.  I got my shift covered and raced back to St. Petersburg.

By the time I got home I realized she was in a coma. She was still breathing but she couldn't move or open her eyes. I laid down next to her and said "Baby Girl I'm home". She made some faint squeak as if she was trying to let me know that she could hear me.  I laid on the floor next to her for five hours. Always touching her so that she knew I was there. I had my arms wrapped around her when she passed away.

A short time after she died I made my first copper plate print. I wanted it to be in memory of her. 

"The Garden" 

Once I moved away to college I was always afraid that I wouldn't be able to be with her when she died. As difficult as that day was, I was so glad that I was there to comfort her in the end. I was there on the day we got her and I was there on the day she left us. Every day in the middle was gift.

In life she always looked out for me and in death I took care of her. For the copper plate I show myself standing over her with my hands behind my back. This is meant to represent that I am protective of her, yet I understand that I have to let her go.  The tree of life grows from her and shelters us both to show that life goes on and there is renewal in death.

I miss you Baby Girl. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Pond

The sky is a textured water color of blues, rosy purples, and dusty grays. I have my bath towel spread out over the grass and I lay on my stomach looking out over the pond. For some reason I like being out here at night. I can still see my apartment complex across the water. I can hear the faint whirls of the cars driving on the street behind me. But this patch of grass in the middle belongs to me.

The tall grass rocks back and forth in the breeze and some bats flutter across the sky. The frogs share their song with me. Most of the time I am giving and receiving information - constantly communicating and interacting. But in instances like these I can simply receive. I don't have to give anything back to enjoy this moment. All I have to do is just take it in.

I roll over on my back to face the sky. I place my right hand underneath my head and use my other hand to stroke some blades of grass. I can see four sparkling stars through the cotton sheet of clouds.

Sweet, self-indulgent solitude.

After a few moments I gather up my towel and make my way home in the dark. As I walk around the pond I pass a bush with a small green light on one of its leaves. I take a closer look. A tiny lightning bug grasps the edge of the leaf and flickers. He lights my way home.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Digital Portraits

I love portraits and I was looking for a way to make them in a digital format. The following picture is a self portrait that I took from my computer. I then drew on top of the image in Photoshop. Since I have studied anatomy I try to pick out shapes based more on bone structure rather than shadows. I think that this approach leads to a more "structural" portrait. 


Working on it was a little bit of a struggle. This type of illustration can be very time consuming and tends to look bizarre during the process. Throughout the creation of this picture I kept wondering if it would come out looking good at all. I'm so glad I saw it through till the end, because it was certainly worth the effort.

I decided to take this further by using my friends as models. I wanted to do a series where I made two pictures of each person. Ultimately I wanted this to represent duality. I myself had gone through some very difficult years and have come to a better place because of what I have been through. I wanted to honor my friends who offered support while also facing their own personal conflicts. 

Because, at the end of the day, you can only conquer it if you are strong enough to face it. 

For the series of sad portraits I used muted colors, vacant backgrounds, and chose to have the subject looking away from the viewer. I wanted to let them be in a moment of inner reflection. 


My best friend and roommate, Amber. One of the most responsible people I know. She constantly deals with the fear of having to taking care of her mother. 


Nic, an amazing friend who I value so much for his clear-headed way of relating to the world. I worked with him for a year before he confided that he was bi-polar. 


Jimmy, one of the most loving and open people I have ever meet. He struggles with drug addiction and the hurt that it caused his family. 


For the series of happy portraits I wanted the background to be full of life and color. The subjects eyes finally meet the viewer. This is the truest version of themselves. They show off the light and energy that brought me to them in the first place.


I've known Amber since we were about fifteen years old. She has never once failed to help me do anything. From sorting out life's big issues to telling me to get some sleep. She is the strongest, most capable person I have ever meet. I'm so lucky to have her as a friend. She is truly one on a million.


Nic has the amazing ability to turn a bad day around in a matter of seconds. I could go to work on the worst day of my life and if I walked in the door and saw him working, I knew I was going leave laughing. Not just laughing - really laughing. The kind of laugh that doesn't make any noise and prevents you from seeing straight. He will always be my favorite accomplice. 
I never expected so much love to come from someone with such a difficult life. Jimmy is all smiles and playfulness, yet if he even thought that you needed him, he would never hesitate to help. There were so many times that he was comforting me before I even knew that I needed it. For some reason my walls were just invisible to him.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Influence from DRIP

These are some watercolor and ink paintings that I was inspired to make after working with DRIP when we did our "WET" show at the Orlando Fringe Festival in 2008. 





Sunday, August 8, 2010

Feet: A Series

Three things have led to this unexpected series: I love to paint my toenails, I tend to stare at the ground, and I usually have my camera with me.


This was taken when I went to Boston for the PhotoShop World Conference. My group left on Friday but I decided to spend a few extra days in Boston by myself. I was in my hotel room writing in my journal and reflecting on a perfect day. 


On the beach after my graduation from UCF.


This was during an 80's party. Somewhere during the night I noticed a hole in my sock. I thought it was funny how the nail polish almost made it look purposeful. 


The blue dot was actually an accident from the DRIP warehouse. I was moving paint and managed to spill a single drop in the center of my right toenail.  It seemed to compliment my already colorful sandals. 


Savoring the view from my uncle's dock in St. Petersburg Florida. 


This was taken while my friend Ronnie was fixing the bumper on my car. I was enjoying the company of his shop dog, Chig.  


This was at the Photoshop World Conference in Orlando. I was in a hotel finishing up emails when I decided to look at photos from the conference in Boston the previous year. I came across this picture and thought it was hilarious because I was wearing the exact same pair of pajama pants. I had to take a picture. I just couldn't resist. 


This was taken outside of my apartment complex. I was moving my artwork outside to take pictures of it to post on this very blog. I decided to take a picture of my feet against the pebbles of the walkway. That was when I got the idea to turn these photographs into a series. 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Lake Eola

There aren't many places that calm my nerves, but Lake Eola is one of them. I keep finding myself here more and more frequently. The first time I was here I spent two hours wondering around enjoying the company of other people's dogs and the misguided birds who thought I had food. There was so much simple pleasure in having a few hours by myself to enjoy nature. Today a scheduling error has brought me to Lake Eola and I decided to make the best of it.

I went to grab a sub from the Publix supermarket across the street. I walked into the park to find a bench overlooking the lake. Paramedics were attending to a man who had collapsed in the park about 200 feet away from me. He seemed okay, but he still needed medical attention. I selected my bench and went about the business of eating my sandwich. The paramedics proceeded to load the man into the ambulance while several joggers made their laps around the park. Moments like these like these make me feel like I am in a big city. There is so much going on - all you have to do is sit back and watch the chaos of life unfold all around you.

The sun sets thru the trees to my left. Birds flock to the hedges in front of me. A pigeon snatches a chip I had dropped earlier. The other birds storm the pigeon and in a flurry of feathers, chirps and squawks, the chip disappears.

I look across the pond and I notice that the fountain is working again. It had been in disrepair for a few months. People always talk about the fountain as one of those icons of Orlando. It is beautiful but I've always felt that Orlando will be Orlando whether the fountain is working or not.

The city of Orlando has a strange skyline. We don't have many tall buildings and the ones we do have all possess unusual architecture and oddly shaped silhouettes. They are all interesting to look at, however, as a group they are somewhat disjointed.

I pause from my writing to brush an ant off my leg. The breeze feels good. We don't get a lot of this nice weather in August.

Birds land on top of the lighting post to complete the structure. A black swan in the distance reminds me of a miniature Loch Ness monster. The clouds that carried the ran earlier sink further into the distance. The sky opens up to blue for a few brief moments before changing again for sunset.

Sometimes scheduling errors are good for the soul.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Nike Print

My favorite artist is a man named Albrecht Durer. He was a German painter and printmaker. What I love about Albrecht Durer was the seemingly endless detail in his prints and his ability to capture the personality of his subjects in his portrait painting. He was also know for his great curiosity and love of travel. 

I decided to take up printmaking because of my background with graphic design. I wanted to model one of my prints after a piece of art by Albrecht Durer. However, I knew my approach to making the print would have to be very different. Albrecht Durer was a perfectionist and almost fanatical about detail. I, on the other hand, am relatively new to printmaking. I wanted to focus more on the image and getting acquainted with the materials. I chose to create a large image on a rough piece of board to prevent myself from being too overly concerned with detail. 

I modeled this piece after Albrecht Durer's engraving Nemeis.


I was very pleased with the way this print came out.  I love the textures and patterns I was able to get, especially in the background. It ended up have a very expressive feel because the wood grain pattern was so erratic. Because I was so happy with the way this came out, I found ways to keep taking it further.


The color in this print was achieved through chine-colle. Chine-colle is a method where colored paper is added to the main piece of paper before it is printed. 


As a nod to my graphic design background I continued the chine-colle series based on the CMYK color model.


I also ended up taking the cut-outs from the previous prints and used them to create this image. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

Boston Changed Everything

I was lucky enough to be able to go to Boston for the Photoshop World conference in Spring 2009. I had never been to Boston before and I couldn't wait to take it all in. Once we got to our hotel room I noticed this building outside of our hotel window. It was highly reflective and I love the way it caught the light. I took one picture in the late afternoon and the other just after dusk.


The Photoshop Conference was amazing and I learned so much. But the most surprising source of inspiration came from a photographer named Jay Maisel.

The Photoshop conference has multiple class going on at the same time. At that specific time there were no classes pertaining to design so I wondered into Jay Maisel's class. I wasn't expecting to get much out of it because at the time I was not especially interested in photography.

Mr. Maisel went up to give his presentation and I was blown away. He did one segment relating to 9/11. He went to photograph ground zero but he was told he not allowed. Instead he photographed the faces of the people as they walked past where the twin towers once stood. The people were unaware they were being photographed and he ended up with some very raw and emotional portraits.

He then showed a series of photographs he had taken over the years. They were full of interesting perspectives, unusual light, bold color, and expressive gestures. His photographs reminded me of how I see the world. I always end up noticing these interesting and unique things but I never take pictures of them because I though no one would ever find them as interesting as I did. Jay was taking the pictures that I was too shy to take. I left that class and saw the world in a whole new way.

I decided to stop taking pictures like a tourist and and start taking pictures like an artist.


This was a piece of Iranian art from the Boston Museum. Rather than getting a "perfect shot" I captured the reflection of the window because it was made to fit the style of the art work in the room. 


Instead of trying to get the entire statue in one shot I focus on what drew me to look at it in the first place.  I loved the serenity in their faces and the subtle colors in the background. 


One of my favorites! Instead of only filling the photo with the statue, I stood back and gave him a setting. 


I loved the simple elegance and the quiet reflection of their face along with their juxtaposition against the wall.


The Boston sky at dusk.



Instead of taking this shot at eye level I crouched down next to the statue and pointed the camera up towards the ceiling. I think the dynamic angle really makes the shot. I love how it looks like she is reaching up for the light. 



This piece of art was in a room filled with artifacts that related to the afterlife. I have no idea whether it was intentional or not, but this was placed over and exit sign and I thought it was hilarious. 


Once again, rather than taking a picture of the entire statue I decided to focus on what I was most attracted to. The face, the gesture, and the reflection of the window made this image memorable.


This was a practice cast of a bust. This was something that never would have been on display in ancient Egypt, it was only meant for the sculptor  to use as a reference. Simple objects like these tend to make me think more about the individual artist who created them. Almost like you are so close to being able to look back in time because you are so close to an object they have touched. That is why I took a picture that included the objects reflection.



This particular statue was enormous. When in front of it you were forced to look up towards the ceiling. It happened to be raining outside and I wanted to capture the beauty of the statue's face as well as the rain cascading down the skylight. 


I love the way this historic church is surrounded by all of these modern sky scrappers that vanish into the fog. Only the light from the windows lets you know how far up the building rises.


A statue of an angel with outstretched arms in the Boston rain.



This was taken the morning I was leaving to go back to Orlando. It was raining but still wanted to see as much of the city as I possibly could. I'm so glad I went out that morning.


There is still beauty in a cloudy day.

The Break

In 2007 I was enrolled in an Advanced Drawing class. All of our projects were centered around human anatomy. The teacher left the students to decide the context of the imagery. My boyfriend and I were going through a break up and I decided to let the inner workings of the human body become a metaphor for my inner conflict.


We were both grounded on the floor to symbolize how hurt we were. I gave him the musculature and an upright position as a reference to my hope that he would take charge of the situation and be stronger. His hopeless downward gaze and his back being turn to the viewer was meant to represent his detachment and lack of resolve. He extends his feet rather than his arms to signify a disrespect for my feelings. 

I lay across from him with my entire body on the floor and bone structure visible to represent the depth of the hurt I was feeling. My body is more open to the viewer to symbolize my willingness to face the problem. My left arm wraps around my legs to show my desire to save myself. My right arm reaches out to him and I am looking up waiting for him to move. He continues to stare at the floor. 




This is a large multi-panel piece. It starts of with a large portrait of myself lost in thought. The rest of the panels are manifestations of my thoughts. The smaller picture of my ex and I is a reference to the previous two panel piece. However, in this image I am completely turned away from him. I am moving in the opposite direction toward a steep drop.  This is my acknowledgment of the difficult road ahead but also knowing that it is the only way out. The image of myself in the background drawing on the easel was meant to symbolize my change in perspective and willingness to embrace the future. The image of myself sitting in front of the skeleton was my way of expressing a desire to be true to my inner self. 

Nude Study


This was a study of a live nude model I did in junior college. A few years later, with the encouragement of an instructor, I photographed the image, reprinted it on arches paper and drew the musculature over the original. 


Pasta Dish


This was an illustration I made for a recipe card. I don't normally draw food so this ended up being quite a challenge. It took several hours but I love the way it came out. My eyes enjoy the deep contrast between the warm, earthy colors of the plate and the cool, rich colors in the background. 

Self Portrait with Bone Structure


Since I gravitate towards figure drawing, anatomy is a very important part of the artwork I make. I'm blessed with a good eye for proportions, however, getting the figure and the skeleton to look right independent of each other is very different from getting them to match up together. It it a difficult way to approach anatomy but it it is ultimately worthwhile.


The hardest part of these drawings is that you have to take the skeleton that is available and adjust it to fit your own anatomy. You end up learning more about yourself without even realizing it. 


Of the three, this one is my favorite. I think it is the best self portrait but I also love the composition of the background. I ended up positioning myself between two huge mirrors and was able to capture the ongoing reflection of the frames. 

Froggies


I don't even remember what this assignment was for. All I know is that it makes me smile. 

Collage


This was a collage project. We had to carve out simple shapes on to a rubber stamp, print them on paper, and make a larger pattern with them. For some reason I found the repetitiveness of the project cathartic. I ended up making several rubber stamps with variations of the pattern as well as printing them in many different colors and on multiple sheet of tissue paper. I ended up having the largest and most complex pattern in the class.

Wings

This was made just before I started junior college. This was a very difficult time for me. I had originally wanted to go to the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, however, the school was expensive and the money simply wasn't there.  I ended up enrolling in the St. Petersburg Junior College to get my AA degree. I was frustrated because I felt like I was putting my dreams on hold to take more general education courses. More importantly was the backlash I seemed to get from those closest to me. I had been creating art since I was old enough to hold a crayon and yet most people I knew seemed genuinely shocked that I wanted to make I career out of art. I wondered why people hadn't been taking me seriously for the first 19 years of my life. I felt like people thought art was this phase I was suddenly going to snap out of. As if somehow by magic college was going to turn me into a doctor or engineer. 

Because I am the only artist in my family I felt like I had no one to relate to during this difficult time. I remember being so overwhelmed with frustration yet unable to talk about it. I've never been someone who bottles up emotion so I knew I needed to release it somehow. I created this page in one of my sketchbooks. 


It became this one page that contained all of my raw emotion. It was executed in a very brash and uncontrolled manner. It was the visual representation of the anger I was feeling. Now I had a way to literally face it and move on. 

I never threw it away because I wanted the ability to look back on it and see how far I had come emotionally and artistically. 

The following work was the first piece of art I made at junior college. I think the only parameter for the assignment was that it had to contain writing. Since enrolling at the junior college I had committed myself to a renewed ambition to make a career out of art so I decided to write about that. 



The words in the piece read as follows:
"Art is what I am made of. It will never be separated from me. I would always get mad at people when they told me to put other things in my life first. But art is what keeps me going. Anyone who ridiculed why I made art ridiculed my reason To Be. Everyone saw is as a fire of destruction, but I saw it as a fire of strength and growth. Everyone says that art is too hard to make a career out of, but if it is all I've wanted, why hold me back? I'm ready to give it my all because that is the only way I will ever be outstanding. I'm ready to let go with both hands and embrace what is mine. Art gives me a sense of wholeness that nothing else can. I'm tired of people testing my convictions, waiting for me to fail. Could it be so hard to believe that I know what is best for me? The one thing that makes great people great was their ability to listen to their instincts and say 'this is what I'm made for'. Letting go with both hands doesn't mean you have a safety net waiting. Letting go with both hands means you are ready to find your wings. This is not too good to be true."

Written across the edges of the landscape is a quote from a band named Trust Company:
"No one can see anything on the other side of me. I walk, I crawl, loosing everything waiting for a downfall."

I loved the way the lyrics tied into the piece. I had chosen to face away from the viewer because I was looking toward the future and walking my own path. I was ready to fly.

Much to my surprise most of the people in the class tried to offer me help because they thought I was suicidal. I had to explain to them that it was ultimately an optimistic piece about knowing who you are and allowing yourself to be that person.

When I look at this piece I see self awareness and hope. I didn't see my situation as a setback any more, I was just being redirected.