Thursday, March 31, 2016

Preparing for a Resdiency

 I love residencies! It's my favorite way to make art. You put your life on hold, and then you just make art, because you have met all your deadlines and expectations and everything else you have to do is taken care of for the next couple weeks. I have done eight? I think residencies in the past, this one isn't at an accredited artist retreat, but we are treating it the same, so the preparation is the same. I vacillate between being so excited and overly stimulated and all the possibilities-and then overwhelmed at how to put a 1200 foot studio into a Toyota forerunner. Although it is a times like these that I do envy colored pencil  or watercolor artists who just have  to pack one medium and some supports.  But going through my flea market ephemera, my papers, pressed botanical and stocking up I knew inks spray paints and papers is very motivating for me. Now-just to see if it'll all fit in the truck. 

it fit! time to hit the road....

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Little Houses Series- a pictorial development

So this week is a visual of how one of the little houses series- "Trees Waiting for the Blooms" developed. More pictures, less words. If you are reading this- you are probably visual too! 

I started out with a version of song lyrics written on raw wood, then coated with beeswax. 

added some encaustic paint and pastel....



"Auditioned" a tree sketch I had reduced to fit on this house...

transferred it on...

Then added those written words again- but use graphite paper this time so they'd be more legible, prominent.  I also used the graphite to emphasize parts of the tree. The tree is in the stage right before it starts to leaf out, as are the trees outside right now. I had the 10,000 maniacs song “These Are Days” playing in the background. This verse inspired the text inscribed them around a tree: 

You’ll know it’s true that you are blessed and lucky
It’s true that you are touched by something
That will grow and bloom and you

so I wrote "Waitin for the rains to end, and blooms to start."


A little more encaustic detail on the side (and an ice pack to help speed cooling- yes, I am impatient.)

Now to prepare for the roof. 


I LOVE bark- but it can be challenging to work with! 
I had to clamp it down two days in row to get it to behave.

I cut up several branches to find just the right feet- 


...and the finished piece. 
All the wrestling with the bark for the roof was worth it! love the "modern rustic" look! 

PS- I can feel my writer friends cringing at the long, run on sentences with horrific punctuation and capitalization. Yes, it was intentional. 
I am experimenting with focusing on the images rather than the writing....

Available now on new Etsy shop!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Exploring a tropical ecosystem- Costa Rica: Corobici River Rafting

I had a rough draft of this week’s blog already in the works from the series I’m working on the studio, but last week we escaped the cold and went to Costa Rica! If you are familiar with me or my work at all, you know I'm a loyal Midwestern girl. But it was very exciting to explore the tropics for a week!  Costa Rica is considered to be one of the 20 countries with greatest biodiversity in the world.  Its geographic position, its two coasts and its mountainous system, which provides numerous and varied microclimates, are some of the reasons that explain this natural wealth, both in terms of species and ecosystems. (-Institute Nacional de Biodiversidad)

While many people we met at the resort were setting up zip line or water park excursions, I was on a hunt to set up a tour based on seeing as much flora and fauna as possible. After asking around, we ended up booking a private tour with a local guide.  He knew where to go to avoid the crowds so that we would see more animals.  We started with a very early morning rafting trip down the Corobici River. 

Since it was during the dry season, it was loaded with activity. I added tons of new birds to my life list, had , swimming next to the raft, 

howler monkeys hooting and swinging overhead, (see my FB page for video to hear em howl!)
(yes there is a whole family of monkeys in right pic- so included guide book illustration since ya can't see them!)

several agouti, and a sleek, long-haired, chocolate-brown tayra (locals call it tolumuco--a meter-long giant of the weasel family) prowling around in the trees down the shore.

 Birds were everywhere, and these were not necessarily camouflaged at all. Saw birds every couple minutes, rather than waiting by a bird feeder for hours....Even got to see a  redwing Macaw, and my new favorite, the Blue-crowned motmot, Nicaragua's national bird


TONS of osprey fishing, herons- the funkiest being the boat billed heron. 

   Bright and early morning I didn't expect to see any owls-but we got to see two tucked away into this little den carved into a cliff.  (upper left hand corner)


And too many kingfishers to count!!
While I was taking pictures, I was too busy being present and watching it all to take perfect photographs, so I've included images from the guidebook and research as well.

Plant wise it was hard to inspect close up from the raft- but our guide pulled us over to check out the sleeping plant, which closed up as soon as you touched it, and huge flowers like these just hung over the water- our guide plucked one so I put it on the raft for a portable centerpiece. :)

How will this impact my work in the studio? Sometimes directly, or it can be as subtle as a brighter palette, or tucking in a feather of a rare bird or tropical plant.  But I feel a Costa Rica series buzzing round my head, so I'll share as it develops.  But I guess what it really comes down to is that it just renews my faith and fascination what a huge diversity of life we have on this planet, which is what motivates most of my art! 

Pura Vida! my favorite new phrase....

Spanish for "pure life." 
The law of the land in Costa Rica. The expression is used in many forms, from a greeting, to a synonym for "excellent." Ticos follow this lifestyle and are some of the most wonderful people on earth. A synonym of "hakuna matata." Life is wonderful; enjoy it.
"Pura vida!" (Damn right!) 
"Que Me 'Ice Mae, Pura Vida?" (What's up dude, all good?)