Thursday, December 29, 2011

Studio Update

Woo hoo!! Things are moving along!

I used one more can of spray paint on the "important bits" of the shelving unit. And I'm happy with it. I wish I'd only painted the sides that show in the first place. It would have saved my pocketbook and my lungs!

You can see, the couch is gone! It was a cool couch, but it was just too long. Luckily, my in-laws needed a temporary couch (huh?). They got rid of their couch when we moved in, then we moved out and took our couch. They're starting a renovation, so didn't want to buy a new couch right away. They were doing ok with a few comfy chairs, but the holidays came around, and they needed more seating. They got a neutral slip cover, and our craigslist couch now looks lovely in their living room! So happy it's getting some good use . . . before possibly going back on CL.

Now comes the organizing!

The few weeks before Christmas, the studio turned into gift wrap central. I didn't actually wrap in there (I wrapped in the living room so I could see the TV!), but the floor was covered in gift wrap, bows, and labels.

Today I packed all that away and started bringing out my art supplies. I haven't laid eyes on some of these things in a couple years, so I really need to take my time going through all my stuff, purging and examining, so I end up with a logical, efficient, but--most importantly--creative space!

Brian is extending our fence right now so the little man can more safely play in the front yard. This is our most important project right now, so he'll probably be consumed by that until he goes back to work. I will most likely only get to organize while Everett sleeps. But he's been taking a pretty long nap during the day, so I hope to make a real difference in the studio this week!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday Review: White Shelves

You know when you have a BIG project, but one little part of it is just holding up the whole darn thing!?!

That's been this shelving unit for my studio.

It's a must. I feel like I can't organize anything until I have this piece installed.

But it just hasn't been getting done. A combination of me not making it a priority (but I have dishes to do and dinner to make and Doctor Who to watch!), crappy weather (it actually got wet in an unexpected rain and needed to spend a few days in the kitchen), and it just being a project with a lot of steps (sand, clean, wood filler, sand, clean, prime, paint . . . ).

But, it's almost done!!!

before being painted

I'm stuck trying to decide if it's really really done or not. I've gone through a can and a bit of primer and FOUR cans of white semi-gloss RustOleum spray paint, and it's nowhere near completely covered. After the second can I basically gave up on the back and side that won't be showing, focusing on the side that will be showing and the shelves. But even the parts that will show aren't completely covered. I'm contemplating either getting another can or two, matching the paint and painting the top and sides with a brush, or just putting it in there as is and relying on my stuff to hide what's really going on.

It will be filled with paper, probably cans of terpenoid and medium with live on the top, and I can put cork board on the side. But it just feels weird not finishing it.

Either way, I'm super excited that I've come this far, and I hope next week to show it in the studio!

In other studio news, I will soon be loosing my couch. }: It's awesome. Even with the tinted pink cushions, I really like the upholstery. It's comfortable. It's in great shape. But it's too long. One of the things that sold me on it in the first place is now the reason it's leaving. It basically tucks under my drawing table on one side of the room and blocks the bathroom door on the other. For now we could move it against the bathroom door, but this summer, when Brian starts working on the bathroom, we'll need access. May as well move it out now.

We have some plans for it before it goes on craigslist. I hope they pan out.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What's Up?!

Well, it's been almost TWO WEEKS since I last posted! Woah.

The first week I skipped, I seriously didn't even notice. We had lots of projects to do around the house and a dinner party to host, and I just plain forgot.

Then, when I realized I hadn't blogged in a week, I started reevaluating, and one week turned into two.

My awesome Aunt Sue's words kept running through my mind: "don't apologize!"

That is her comment every time I post my late blogs on Facebook and explain why they weren't posted "when they should have been."

And I get why she says it (I think). I'm a busy mom, wife, and homeowner. I'm trying my best, getting things accomplished, and I have no one to answer to and nothing to apologize for.

Is that right Aunt Sue?

So without apologizing, this is what's up.

I think I started my blogging schedule before I was ready. The studio is taking longer to set up than I expected, and I'm getting bored writing "I organized this one thing or prepped this one shelf this week" and not talking about actually making art.

Plus, the blog is supposed to be fun, not stressful. And it was becoming stressful to get all my posts up on time.

I seriously considered taking away the blogging schedule and just posting when I have things to post (like what I'm doing with my craft and design blog). But I really like the blogging schedule I've set up, and it is a great way to keep me working and accountable (if mostly to myself).

So what I plan to do is sort of a hybrid. For now, I'll just post as I can and when I have things to share. But I will get back to my schedule, probably when the studio's done and as Everett gets a bit older and starts to spend more days with his grandmas and grandpas.

Thanks for reading! I'll post again soon. Promise. {:

Photo by Dana Holt

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Art History Day: "Big" Ancient Near East Post

I've had a hard time with this post. I wanted to be inspired by "Art History Day," and yet I've sort of been dreading it. Why oh why did I start with such a hard "topic"? Why didn't I start with an era I'm more inspired by? Dutch Golden Age?!? Oh well. This is how I arranged my calendar, and I really want to stick to it!

After reading and looking, I've come away with more of an idea to consider when working, not so much technique, style or subject matter.

I feel like I'll talk about human-animal hybrids and simplification of form when I write about Ancient Egypt, so I'm running with this thought.


Haha. I'll lighten that a little.


So little remains of the societies we lump together as "The Ancient Near East." What we have is just a fraction of what was created.

Victory Stele of Naram-Sin Akkadian Dynasty, reign of Naram-Sin (2254-2218 BC)
photo from Wikipedia

This poses an interesting dilemma. As an artist, what do you create? What do you put out into the world?

I know it's best to draw and paint as much as possible, not worrying that every piece is perfect, something to be shown. This is wisdom I agree with, and will try to comply with, even if it means a future society might find my lopsided sketch of a stool and judge our entire civilization based on that embarrassment.

But all joking aside, as a blogger, I've been thinking more and more about what to put "out there." Do I post only drawings and paintings I'm super proud of, or do I often post things I've created, just to keep myself working and accountable to my schedule.

I think the answer is to try to balance the two. I won't post total garbage, but I shouldn't fear that posting a non-masterpiece will endanger my artistic career.

It's amusing to think of my work getting recognized in any fashion in this massive internet place, but if I do, I hope it's positive recognition.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday Review

Well, it's been another crafty week.

I sure hope I'm not crafting to avoid organizing my studio and painting! {:

Ok, it hasn't been the most productive painting week, but we did set up the Fringe on the computer one evening (totally blanking on which evening) and did some organizing in the studio. It looks A LOT better, and I'm starting to be able to imagine working in there.

I gathered some materials for the painting idea I had. Very exciting. I'm not trying to keep it a secret or anything. I'm planning to do some miniature paintings on wood panels and maybe put little hooks at the top (imagine the hook at the top of a pocket watch). I think they will be really cute.

I got the wood this week, but Brian was too busy this weekend to cut it for me (I guess I should learn to use the saw). I also picked up some clear gesso and found the hooks (although they're much larger than I imagined). I'll have to find a source for smaller ones.

So that should be cool once I get all my materials gathered and prepped. I think they'd make great little Christmas presents if I get them up on Etsy before Christmas.

On to the projects I've truly been consumed by this week:

I've been realizing the last few weeks that Everett is getting to the age where he needs a place to color, play play-doh, read, etc.

We had a couple extra rugs, and following the trend of painting rugs, I decided to paint one of the rugs for him with a sort of road design. This way he can craft on top of it, and we can also move the table away and play cars/trains. I did it with blue painters tape and regular spray paint. I'll write more about it on my craft and design blog.

After that I got on a spray painting kick! I painted the legs of his table (the top of which used to be our coffee table). I painted the fish wall-hanging Frank gave us for our wedding. And I sprayed a frog figurine that used to have this weathered copper look, and is now pink!

My intention was to prep and spray my shelves for the studio this weekend. I started sanding and realized I'll need wood putty and probably more spray paint to do it well.

Next week's post should be more painting-heavy, and that's exciting to me!!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Saturday Sketch

This is a drawing of my mother and my grandfather, who recently passed away.

My cousin Juliette came across the photo I worked from when we were looking through Grandpa's albums. She said, "your next painting?" And I agreed. Great light and a very natural pose.

I am at the same time proud of this drawing and completely disappointed in it.

I like it. I think it turned out well, and if I do another one, or keep working on this one, it will be even better.

But this post is called SATURDAY SKETCH!! And this is not a sketch, it's a drawing. I spent HOURS on this drawing (and the other "Saturday Sketches" I've posted). I want the Saturday Sketch to be something I finish quickly, not labor on for many evenings.

So I will try to get better at this. Maybe I will make a 30 minute or 1 hour time limit?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Review

It's been another BIG week for projects, but not paint or studio projects, unfortunately. October has always been, and will always be, a big crafting month. It's Halloween-time, and it's also time to start thinking about Christmas presents, especially right now, when money's tight. We're thinking about a lot of homemade gifts.

I've always either made or collected objects for my own Halloween costumes, and this is the second year I've made Everett's costume (also, only his second Halloween). Last year Brian and I crafted a porcupine costume, and this year he's going to be a bird!

I'll put more details about its creation on my Beyond Fine blog after Halloween. I'll also try to remember to put up pictures of the porcupine costume. {:

The other big, exciting crafty/design project accomplished this week was grouting our kitchen tiles!!

I spent my free time (naptime) on Wednesday cutting the tiles for around the outlets and gluing them in. The next day, my in-laws took Everett ALL DAY so I could grout. And it did almost take all day with the prepping and such.

It looks so good! It's funny how you almost get used to an unfinished project in your house, but when you finally finish it, it feels SO GREAT!

Ok, the project isn't completely finished, it still needs grout caulk and grout sealer, but it is a huge improvement!

Brian wiping off the cloudiness after I did all the hard work!

If you're curious, we edged the tile with these stainless steel threaded poles. I'll talk more about our kitchen design in a Beyond Fine post (or more than one).

I have a great idea for a painting project. Unfortunately the plan for obtaining the supports fell through, but I'll figure it out! . . . hopefully before Christmas. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Art History Day

I thought it would be fun to start my monthly Art History "adventure" with a little guessing game.

What do I think my research on the Ancient Near East will uncover?

Flat figures


Inaccurate perspective

Fantastical creatures


Small hands

We'll see what my research uncovers! Come back next week!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Review

Well, this is a BIG week! Why!?!? because my studio is done! . . . being painted. Far from done, really, but it's a VERY important step. No more late nights of sanding or priming or painting for Brian (now he can move on to late nights of tiling and trimming in the kitchen or drywalling in the half bath). {:

The accent wall color is Behr Prelude.We decided to do an accent wall: 1) because I felt like an art studio should have at least one white wall, 2) but I don't like plain white walls, they're sterile, 3) we don't have much money, and we had a full gallon of Ultra Pure White in eggshell (not sure why).

We were able to do the whole wall with one quart, but with the amount of taping (that didn't work) and retouching (we had to do because our bedroom walls are super textured), painting all the walls Prelude might have been the better savings.

I learned from the accent wall experience: use an edger with the textured walls and ceiling, paint the trim last, or use that green frog tape if you're painting the trim second. But really, I don't see doing many accent walls in the future, and the next time we paint this room, we're replacing the trim!

Ok, so Brian's work is basically done in here, and my work has barely started.

We moved the couch in last night, and boy oh boy is it long! Its length was one of the things that sold me on it (although it didn't take much to sell me on a $45 couch). It means tall friends can sleep in here, and there's plenty of space to sit (for me and my 5 closest buddies). But it takes up some major room, and if we don't drastically rearrange (which is possible, but maybe not drastically, since some pieces only fit in one place--giant bookshelf), we may need to find it a new home and get a love seat or something. }:

first day working (blogging) in the studio!!

I'm also still a little hung up on the fact that the cushions are pink. Maybe if I didn't have a blog, and the whole world could never potentially see my studio, I wouldn't care, but I kinda do. It still boggles my mind that it could happen. And why didn't miss "I'm-selling-my-couch-for-45-dollars-on-craigslist" not tell me that one shouldn't wash the cushion covers in warm water?!? Ok, I'm a little obsessed, I guess. I'll get over it . . . or I'll get a slip cover.

So what's next with the studio?

Well, Brian cut the base off my file shelf thing (that I also go on craigslist, but don't worry one iota about turning pink in the wash!). It's meant to go horizontally to hold mail, but I'm going to use it vertically to hold craft paper and such. So, Brian cut the base off. I need to sand it and clean it, and I have the spray paint in the wings to paint it white!

cell photo (sorry) of the shelves "before"

I'm still very excited about this piece (even though I got it in April or May or something). It's quite hard to find pieces like this. Staples doesn't even sell the cardboard versions anymore!

now with the base cut off
 So we have the shelving. I'm thinking about painting the top of my drawing table, just to spruce it up and personalize it a bit. We have a little desk in here that I'm hoping to move out at some point. There's just too much furniture! Right now it's holding a bunch of important stuff, but we can reorganize it.

Lots of work to do, but it's exciting!!

Also big news: I started a third blog!

Haha. I know what you're thinking: "She hasn't even been able to stick to the schedules of her other blogs, how can she maintain a third?!?" Ok, I'm hoping you're not thinking that, but I guess I kind of am.

I started it in an effort to organize my life and my mind a little. I have my personal blog that I like to keep pretty much private--it would just be boring for strangers (monthly updates of my baby's milestones) and a little too personal (postpartum TMI).

I have this blog, which I want to keep focused on my painting and drawing and not distract from those pursuits with my crafts and home design interests. But I do have those interests, and I want to share! I've been getting pretty into Pinterest lately, and I'd love to be able to "pin" some of my stuff. But I don't want people checking out my "pins" to get routed to my personal site.

Added bonus! I might get some people checking out my craft/design/et cetera blog and finding my fine art blog and getting interested in my work!

When I mention a craft/home project on this site, I'll just link to it so you know what I've been up to, but I won't write a ton about those projects here. 

I won't update regularly or even frequently, just as I have interesting things to post.

You are still my main blog! {:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Art History Day: New Schedule

I usually schedule my posts to go up in the morning, so my art history post goes up on Thursday at 8:00 am. Today's is late, and I knew it would be. Here's why:

As I explained in this post, the Art History Day schedule just wasn't working for me. It was too much to ask this easily-overwhelmed mama to write a full, thoughtful "essay" relating my work to work of the past (necessitating research) every week. So I decided once a month would be good for the full, thoughtful post--and I could do a short, thoughtless post weekly. Ha.

The plan is to do my long post on the Ancient Near East on November 3rd, and my long post on Ancient Egypt on December 1st.

So how did I know this post would be late?

When I paused to reconsider the Art History Day blog post phenomenon, I came to the conclusion that using Gardner's, the internet, and my memory just wouldn't cut it. I want real, honest-to-goodness books to read. I then came to understand that the Atascadero Library has a pretty miserable selection (before you get defensive, I was focusing particularly on texts concerning ancient art history). The San Luis Obispo Library has a slightly better selection, so I decided I should take a trip to SLO every few months to pick up new inspiration.

I so took for granted the collection of the San Jose MLK Library. WOW, that is an amazing place! At least I got to use it, and used it much better than most of my fellow students.

Ok, back to SLO Library.

I plan to take a trip down there every couple months and get enough books for at least two full blog posts.

Why, you might ask, don't I just have the books shipped to the Atascadero Library? Well, they just started charging $1.00 a book for inter-library transfers, and I feel like I can find something to do in San Luis every couple months!

The reason I knew today's post would be late and didn't just write yesterday was . . . finally, she's getting to it!! . . . we went to the SLO Library TODAY! I chose today because they have their Toddler Story Time on Thursdays. I convinced my mother-in-law to take Everett and me to the library, she sat with him at story time, and I found my books. Great deal!

We might go to Paso or even Santa Maria to do this at some point. We'll see.

So, not a great selection when it came to Near East. Egypt was better, but Near East, well, I'm happy I found what I did.

I picked up Michael Balter's The Goddess and the Bull: Catalhoyuk: An Archaeological Journey to the Dawn of Civilization 2005

I probably won't read the whole book, just what's interesting to me. It seems like it spends a lot of time following the archaeologists working at the site and not necessarily the art objects, but we'll see.

Catalhoyuk is one of the earliest civilizations we know about, and super fascinating.

I know writing based on local library books is going to limit my blog's scope, but that's ok with me. It's going to be limited. It's going to be superficial. Like I've said before. I'm not a scholar. I'm just a lady with a B.A. in Art History and one in Painting. I'll write about what interests me and what I think will be interesting to you!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday Review: Reset Button

Bloggers get a few reset buttons a year, right? Well, I'm using mine. This week is a new week, and last week was scrapped. Never happened. (:

If you read my last post, you'll remember we went to southern California last weekend to attend my grandfather's memorial service. And as I'm sure you know, it's HARD to loose a weekend. I mean, we gained the experience of bidding a fond farewell to Chuck. And we basically had a family reunion (which is worth a year of lost weekends to me). But the loss of productivity at the house was quite difficult, for the blog, and as a housewife/mom.

I didn't truly feel the loss of the weekend until around Thursday when I just kind of threw in the towel, and realized I wouldn't get anything done for the blog that week. Boo.

My big (creative) project for the week was making paper chains for my best friend's baby shower. They were quite cool. Construction paper and scrapbooking paper, much of it doubled up for thinkness or to have color/pattern on both sides.

It took me much longer than I expected, but they turned out really cool. I made probably 120 feet of chain. They went along all the windows in the room, the 50 foot beam down the center, and in front of a few tables. I hope some other people got good pictures.
Arlene and Lauren admire the Atascadero Lake

I'm happy that there seems to be plans to use them as decorations in my friend's kids' bedroom or to used them for kids birthdays or showers in the future. I'm not the only one emotionally attached now.

I also made a couple diaper cakes. Yummm . . . {:

Ok. Let's pick this blogging thing back up this week!

I already started my drawing for the Saturday Sketch, and I'm very excited to show you.

I'll also have more news about the studio!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Monday Review

As I explained in my last post, this week has been a little unusual. Everett and I have been fighting this stubborn cold (so we laid around watching movies--when Everett would actually lay around).

Most of the time I could bear to be crafty, I spent making paper chains for my best friend Rachel's baby shower. They're in a fun color scheme with different types of paper. I'm excited to post pictures of the chains after the shower.

But the most important thing for this week, or for this decade, was my Grandfather's memorial service on Saturday. My mother and her three siblings, along with many cousins and other family members, converged on La Verne, California to celebrate the life of an amazing man.

The service would have made Grandpa Chuck proud, a combination of Christianity and Humanism, full of music (a vocal quartet!) and heartfelt remembrance.

Me and Grandpa at my wedding--December 2009

I didn't think I'd be able to make this post especially relevant to art or painting, but in considering the wonderful speeches given at the service (especially that of my cousin Bill), I realize his life and words supported art and creativity without being explicit.

My grandfather Charles and my grandmother Ena (who passed over a decade ago) were very loving, supportive people. Unlike many parents of their generation, they didn't pressure their children to pursue a specific type of career or path in life. They made it clear that it was important for them to spend their time doing what they love. From Chuck and Ena came four children who raised ten children, each one knowing they should do what they love in life.

My mother took this encouragement of freedom and became an art therapist and marriage and family therapist. My father, who spent so much time with Chuck as to consider him a second father, has pursued a career in fine art.

I've never questioned whether my family would approve of my decision to become an artist. If there's any doubt, it comes from my own fear of failure.

A family member (who will remain nameless) once told me he was very jealous of my mother and her siblings growing up. He recognized my grandparents' willingness to support their children's creative endeavors, and his parents' unwillingness to support his and his sibblings'. To this day he wishes his parents would have encouraged his artistic interests the way Chuck and Ena did their childrens'.

I think we have no greater gift than the encouragement and unconditional love of our parents and grandparents, especially since it's a trait that seems to be passed on.

We will miss you Grandpa Chuck, and we thank you for all you've done for us.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Saturday Sketch: Halloween Idea

Hello! Well, this has been a weird week of sickness and crafting for other events (I'll talk more about this in my Monday Review).

Everett and I have been trying to shake this stubborn cold, so we had a few "sick days" of lounging around watching muppet movies. Not the thing to do if you're trying to be a productive artist/blogger. Oh well, sometimes my baby and I just need a little Gonzo.

Then, I finally decided to check out Pinterest, and oh man is that a time-drain! Got lots of cute ideas, though, that I think will be time and money savers in the future (like homemade Christmas gifts!).

But it got me thinking about Halloween costumes for Everett. Last year he was a porcupine. Brian and I spent HOURS gluing and painting quills. It's hard to imagine topping that (with less time investment), but I'm gonna try!

Last year we built his costume on a hoodie, which I love because it's so comfortable for the baby.

This year, I'm thinking of doing the same thing, but having him be a bird! I want him to be something he recognizes, since he knows so many animals and animal sounds (but this means octopus and dragon are out, that's ok.). I was showing him bird costumes online, and he would say, "caw caw!" So cute.

So my sketch this week is my costume idea:

I took inspiration from this amazing feather cape. The original is for an older kid, so the end of the cape hooked over the kid's thumbs. Everett will only be 17-months-old, so that idea wouldn't fly (haha . . . pun intended). But I think it would be great on a hoodie.

I just put a few rainbow colors in the drawing to give you an example. I'm actually hoping to use all sorts of colorful patterned prints, like the original cape.

I'm thinking about dusting off my sewing machine for this one. I could make it all with hot glue, but if he loves it so much he wants to wear it again and again (which is just a fantasy on my part, of course.), it'd be nice for it to be sewn.

This isn't going to turn into a craft blog, I promise . . . although, from time to time, crafts will be my creative focus of the week. {:

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Art History Day: Change of Schedule

Hello! This is actually more of an administrative blog than a substantive blog.

I've already realized, in the two weeks I've been sticking to this schedule, that a weekly art history blog is just too much research and writing for me each week (it wouldn't be if I weren't a mother and "household manager"--but those are my most important jobs right now).

So I've decided on doing one long art history blog a month. I'll still have weekly updates of my research, but I'll just tell you what I've been reading and thinking about that week in maybe one paragraph.

Then, on the one long monthly blog I'll go into detail about what I've read and how what I've learned might influence and inform my work.

I've started researching The Ancient Near East. If any of you have suggestions of resources (especially websites, since our library system doesn't have a great art selection) I'd greatly appreciate it.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday Review

This was an exciting week. I started painting again!

As I explained before, I got a new (to me) French easel, and it inspired me to do a little plein air painting.

Painting outdoors seemed like a great idea. And it was . . . great to get painting again. But it's hard with Everett. He's not old enough to play outside without being constantly supervised, so I could only paint when he was either sleeping or being watched by someone else.

It's not the best option right now, but I think it will be perfect when he's a little older and I can paint while supervising him playing outside.

It felt great to paint again. It's like riding a bike . . . almost. I'm needing to wrack my brain sometimes to remember the best ways to tackle a subject, but it will all come back to me.

I think being a mom will change the way I paint. I can't paint the big, time consuming paintings I did in college. This one is 11 x 14", and I spend maybe 1 or 2 hours applying paint. Set up and clean up took time (especially since I painted a little over two days). I just don't have the hours and hours I did before Everett was born.

I'm also excited to start a new painting rather than working on my old paintings from school (that's the only work I really did in the year we lived with my in-laws). I so enjoy the small size. My school paintings were quite big (smallest is maybe 30 x 39"), so I could never do more than a sketch in a few hours.

I'm also interested in experimenting with mediums. for the big series I was working on (still working on, really), I used no mediums, except a little terpeniod if I needed to thin the paint out. I started my first painting this way, and I avoided using any mediums from then on for fear of making one painting shinier than the others. Now I can experiment!

It's a silly little painting. It's not as precise or naturalistic as I'm used to, but I had to do it so fast. It's an interesting challenge. Make a painting you're happy with but that isn't technically up to your standards. ha.

But I guess as I continue to paint quickly, my technical skills will improve for this type of painting.

I started with a pencil sketch on the canvas, which I don't normally do. And I didn't like how the pencil mixed with the paint and "muddied" my lighter colors. I should have sketched in paint.

On the first day, I painted a sort of grisaille with neural colors that corresponded to the colors in the scene. Brown pink for orange, naples yellow hue for yellow, paynes gray for blue, terre verte for green, and a bunch of burt umber and white. This underpainting was probably also a waste of time But I wanted to get down as much as possible that day without knowing the shadow situation on the next day I got to paint.

The next day I got to paint was Saturday at about 12:30. The shadows weren't good, and they weren't good the rest of the afternoon. Unfortunately, I've been checking it earlier in the morning, and I thought afternoon would be better. I'm sure I saw good light on that play structure!

I might have to move it.

But I like painting it. I like the silliness of it. I like the colors. I like that it's geometric but imperfect. The angles aren't regular to the point where if I don't get the perspective right, the whole painting will fall apart. If I find better light . . . I think I've have found my haystacks! {:


I got a couch! It's a sweet couch too. Much nicer than I thought I could get for $45 on Craigslist! So nice, in fact, that I was a little annoyed it would be my studio couch, and would inevitably get paint on it. THEN we washed the cushion covers in warm water (because they're old couch cushions from a stranger with pets), and they got dyed PINK! Well, they got a little pink-er. So weird. The inside threads are maroon (which I don't get), and they turned the water blood red. The lady I bought it from said she had just washed the cushions (in cold water?). Oh well. MUCH less concerned about getting paint on it now. I doubt I will want to switch it for my living room couch anytime soon. {: But it's super comfortable. Long, and now quite clean!

Thanks to my in-laws and to Frank for helping move the thing!

the couch!! With the pink-ish cushions. Not too bad.

But on to the most important thing that happened this weekend, my amazing husband painted!! After much sanding and cleaning of walls and trim, he was able to prime all the walls, paint 3 of the walls (one is going to be an accent wall, and I don't know what the accent is yet), and about 2 feet of the ceiling all the way around the edge (we decided to keep all the stuff in the room, paint the edge, then move the stuff and paint the middle). It's getting close! I actually need to start seriously considering my studio design!! Wow. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Saturday Sketch: Babies

Welcome to this week's Saturday Sketch!

I talked about the Impressionists a bit on Thursday, so I wanted to do an Impressionist inspired drawing for today.

Since many of the Impressionists painted/drew children, I took the opportunity to draw my child. I also mentioned Mary Cassatt in my last post, and she is famous for using children as her subjects.

I had to draw from pictures since Everett is a mover and shaker and will not stay still long enough even to take most pictures.

The Impressionists often drew on tinted paper and added highlights. I think that really added to these sketches.

I don't want to get all cutesy and start drawing babies and puppies. But this was fun.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Art History Day: Plein Air

As prophesied in the last post, I am indeed writing about Impressionism. Truth be told, I have yet to figure out how Ancient Near Eastern/Sumerian art could be influential or inspirational to my work, but OH YES I will find a connection! . . . next week.

This week, I couldn't get the idea of plein air painting out of my mind, and specifically the tube.

As I wrote on Monday, I recently purchased a French easel, and yesterday I started doing a little plein air painting. I'm not sure if it counts as plein air if you're painting 20 feet from your front door, but it works for me!

I have found my "Haystacks"!

We are so spoiled nowadays. Every product we use to paint is for sale at the local arts and crafts shop, but the artists of the past were not so lucky.

If I lived before 1841(which I clearly don't) and wanted to be a painter (which would be highly unlikely, considering I'm a woman), painting would have been a very difficult task. Imagine it's Renaissance Italy, I have chosen painting as my future profession. I couldn't do it part-time as I do now, spending most of my time watching a baby, grocery shopping, making dinner, etc., and squeezing painting in as I have time. No. I (and for this, imagine I'm male) would first become an apprentice in a workshop (ok, imagine I'm also about 13). I would learn from a master painter, but mostly I'd be his slave, grinding his pigments, mixing his colors, preparing his painting surfaces, etc., until I'd proven my worth enough to get his attention and actually learn how to paint. From what I understand, the handful of women painters before the modern movements were daughters of prominent male artists. There's no way a woman would become an apprentice to a non-relative.

pigments at a street market in India. Bet some of those colors are new!

So in the Renaissance, and for hundreds of years before and after, painting was a large-scale operation, and it had to be considering all the small jobs that needed to be done. There were no amateur artists or part-time artists. Professional artists were businessmen who ran shops full of other artists and workers.

It wasn't until "colormen" started mixing paints and selling them in pig bladders that amateur art was even possible. I'm finding a date of after 1700 on the pig bladders (c'mon! This isn't a scholarly blog.) The real date to remember is 1841, when the tin tube was invented. From then on, buying and transporting paint became much more convenient.

This made the plein air painting (painting outdoors, in nature) of the Impressionists possible. Mixing pigments with oil and other binders isn't really feasible when you're standing out in a field.

The Impressionist movement began in the 1870s. And these artists had in their ranks women AND women with children (gasp!). Pretty cool. By the 1870s, artistic tools had become so accessible that women (albeit rich women who probably had servants) could paint in their free time.

Berthe Morisot's daughter in the garden

I feel so lucky to have the luxury to paint where I want, when I can. Sometimes I complain about how long it takes me to set up and clean up, but it's nothing compared to what artists had to do hundreds of years ago. I need to remember this as I paint on the front lawn during Everett's naps. 

Beyond not needing to mix my own paints, I have access to every medium that's ever been invented, practically (I'm using medium to describe something you mix with your paints to change the characteristics somehow). If I want to try a new medium, I just go to The Artery or shop online. I'm imagining scarcity had a big impact on artists' technique in the past. There was a set of available mediums, and those are what you used. I'm glad we have the variety we do, but there's part of me that's jealous of a time when there was less variety, and painters knew how they mixed paint. Skip the experimenting and just paint!

Thinking about the past has played a big part in my life. My love of art history is one example. But I also think about what people ate in the past to inform my eating. And how people raised babies in the past to inform my child rearing. Not model, just inform. I find it very interesting and humbling to consider life before our time.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Review

Welcome to another Monday Review!

I think the most commendable art-related thing I did this week was stick to my blog schedule! Whoop whoop! I certainly hope I did, considering it was the first week! Ha. But it was a new challenge for me. The blogs were a little different than they will normally because they were the explanation and the post, so they were at least double the length. Obviously, that took longer than it normally will, and was a little difficult to fit into some evenings. But since I did, I feel confident that I can do my regular posts efficiently. It also seemed like a good order for the posts to come in, and good days for me to find time to type, draw, and think. I ran into a problem Friday evening doing my first Saturday Sketch post because that day I also had to write my monthly post about Everett's development (which is typically HUGE) for my personal blog. Luckily, I only do that once a month, and, even though I only checked the next couple months, it looks like I won't be needing to write two blogs in the same day for a while.

We're still working in the studio. We had plans to prep for painting, and possibly paint, this weekend. But we got started sanding the trim, and that's taking longer than we expected. I had explained to Brian how much work his father had put into sanding the trim in the bedrooms and hallway, and Brian said he wouldn't do as thorough a job (it's just the studio. It'll look fine!). But he started sanding, and in some cases sanded through two layers of paint all the way down to the wood (like father, like son). I'm not complaining. My studio will look GREAT one day.

Don't misunderstand me, Brian being a perfectionist wasn't the only reason we didn't get that far this weekend. We had a kid's birthday party today (Andy, the son of my best friend Rachel, turned 3!), and some time-consuming errands yesterday. One of which led to this!! . . .

We went over to Brian's parents' house to pick up our compost bin/barrel (and to see Brian's mom, she needs to see her grandbaby pretty often), and we noticed their neighbors were having a yard sale. We were curious because these neighbors are creative-types who have accumulated quite a few things over the decades, and we knew they'd be parting with some interesting stuff. Brian picked up a radial arm saw, and I got this cool french easel!

I don't know the brand, but for what I paid, I don't care. I could get a couple uses out of it and not feel like I wasted a bunch of money.

But I think I will use it! Since the studio is being "made over," I really should do some painting outdoors. We just got Everett a Little Tikes play structure (from craigslist), so he has more to do outside, not that he'll necessarily let me paint. {:

I have another easel that I think is supposed to be portable, but it's really not. It has three sizable drawers and is quite heavy.  This one's the real deal!

I'm excited! Maybe I'll even write my Art History Day post about the Impressionists while I'm in a Plein Air mood! Talk about going off the timeline soon!!

Speaking of Plein Air, The SLO Museum of Art is hosting a Plein Air Festival October 3rd through the 9th. I was just exploring their website, and it looks like a great event!

See you back here on Thursday!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Saturday Sketch!

Welcome to my first Saturday Sketch! As I said in my last post, I had the idea for the Saturday Sketch soon after I decided to do several weekly blog posts.

I don't really like drawing. It's kind of like exercising. I know I should do it. I know it would be beneficial. I wish I LOVED doing it, and desired to do it. But I don't.

I was so excited, in my American Art History class, when I found out Gilbert Stuart (the portrait painter of the founding fathers) didn't like to draw. It was like a revelation to me. You can be an awesome painter and not like to draw!?! Awesome!

So he got me off the hook there. But I still know drawing would improve my skill. I also think drawing on a regular basis is a great way to experiment with ideas I wouldn't be able to work through as large paintings.

As inspiration, I've decided to do sketches influenced by my Art History Day posts. On Art History Day I focus on how these art historical movements/periods are relevant to my art, which is why sketching in theme seems so appropriate. Of course, as in every post, I give myself the freedom to diverge from the theme if I feel like doing so, probably to the reader's benefit.

I hope to regularly put my drawings on Etsy.

So let's get started!


I had the idea to draw our local animals in the style of the Chauvet Cave paintings. It's kind of silly, but fun. 

I drew a deer, raccoon, and a squirrel.

I couldn't draw in the complete style of Chauvet, I had to be a little more realist, but I tried to implement a few ideas.

I tried to focus more on the faces and less on the bodies, also layering and meshing the bodies together. It didn't work as well as for the prehistoric artists. I did a couple thumbnails to plan out my drawing. But with a few more tries, I think I could have found a better arrangement for the animals, one where the overlapping looked better and made more sense.

My drawing style tends to be really "scribble-y," then I refine, so it was kind of awkward to try to do simple lines on the bodies. I even erased some of my scribbles to make them look more like the cave drawings, and I don't think erasing added to the final product.

I don't get to draw animals that often so it was fun. Deer are an especially beautiful and majestic creature. We're not really allowed to say that around here, but it's true!

That's all for the Saturday Sketch. See you on Monday for the Monday Review

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Art History Day!

Welcome to the first weekly Art History Day post! I'm excited. I'm an artist, and creating is pretty energizing to me. But I'm such a nerd. I enjoy learning and reading and writing, so I was drawn to art history. As soon as I took my first art history classes in college I thought, "hey, this is interesting, and I'm pretty good at it!" From then on, studio had to share me with history. Studio art is so subjective. What is "good" to someone is "bad" to someone else, and vice versa (which is great, don't get me wrong). But there's something about the academic-ness of art history that really excited me. I can ace a test; I can write an impressive paper. Oooo, I like this!

From the time I had the weekly blogging idea, I knew I wanted to include art history. It's an interest of mine, and I think it sets me apart from many other artists. But I didn't know how I would go about doing it.

Then a bunch of friends, who I was set to attend art history grad school with, started talking about "Comps" a lot on Facebook. Comps is the name used for the test at San Jose State (and possibly other institutions) that assesses a student's comprehensive knowledge of western art history.

It shows how much of a dork I am that I was excited to take Comps. I wanted to prove to everyone how much I knew about art history. I didn't care one ounce about writing a thesis, and much of the course work I would have had to do didn't interest me at all, but proving I could do well on a big test . . . bring it on!!

It's pretty obvious I wasn't cut out for grad school. And I'm grateful every day for the turn my life made.

But . . . all the Facebook Comps chatter inspired me. Why be jealous of these ladies "getting" to study for and take this big test when I could study for but not have the stress of taking the test?! I could use the studying I wanted to do as inspiration for my blog! Self indulgence + career progress = awesome!

Then I asked my wonderful friend Sarah when/where Comps studying started, and she said "3600 BCE Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Greece." Well, that's all right, but there was art before that!

Also, Comps is all about western art. And although I'm most interested in western art, there may be days I want to jump over to Japan and talk about wood block prints or Turkey and talk about The Blue Mosque. It needs to be pretty loose!

So what will Art History Day be exactly? I'm going to try to go chronologically, unless I'm really inspired by something I've read or watched lately, then I might bounce around a little (for example, I recently watched The Tudors, and if I'd been blogging at the time, I make have done some Holbein research). The chronology is mostly to give me ideas. If I don't have a spark of inspiration before my post, I will keep to the timeline.

And what will I write about? I'm not an art history professor, and I'm no Gardner or Stokstad. I'm going to talk about art as it pertains to my artwork. Or at least how it could influence my work or make me think about my work or art in general in a different way.

How long will it take to get through all of the history of art? I don't know. It depends how fast I go and how much a skip. Six months? A year? 5 years? We'll see!!


For my first art history post, I wanted to start at the very beginning! Or the beginning of what we've found. How could I start with Mesopotamia 3600 BCE when there are wonderful paintings done 35,000 years ago!?!

 As far as I know, Chauvet Cave in southern France has the oldest paintings we've ever found. Some dating from 35,000 years ago and some from 30,000 years ago.

public domain photo from Wikipedia

Prehistoric cave paintings are a mystery at this point. No one knows if they were ceremonial, tools for the hunt, or simply beautiful art. What we do know is, they are fascinating.

I think one of the most interesting things about prehistoric cave paintings is that they look so modern, but that might be because so many modern artists were inspired by them.

What are the most important aspects of this work? Well, animals. Could I try some animals in my work? It's hard to think about painting animals without it turning sappy. I don't want to start painting babies and puppy dogs. No thanks. But I'll keep an open mind to animals that seem more serious. We have a lot of deer to paint!!

The most obvious artistic choice, for me, is the layering. Animals just placed one on top of another with no concern for scale or perspective. But it's very interesting. And it's not terribly confusing or irritating. Lines going through animals' heads, and you still understand what's being depicted. And the skill with which the animals were drawn is so that the strange perspective seems intentional and not accidental. I'll keep these techniques in mind when I work, but I admit it's hard to image using these methods without creating a final painting that looks . . . Cubist.

public domain photo from Wikipedia

I think the most interesting artistic choice made here is the disparity between shading and line drawing within one animal. It's as if the artist said, "well, the head's the most important part, so I'll shade that, and the rest of the body can just be line. Who really cares." What?!? That seems like a really modern idea to me.

And I'm totally failing in my art history nerd-dom right now in saying I don't remember who started the practice in "modern" western art of spending more time on the "important" parts . . . Italian Renaissance? Leonardo Di Vinci? Titian? I think I'm pretty warm.

Anyway. It's something I do all the time. I'm a lazy artist. I know that. And I like that. I'm not one of those artists who's going to spend 500 hours on one painting. It's not my style, and it wouldn't look good. I'm one of those artists who says, "This painting looked really good after 30 minutes. I should have stopped there."

I will certainly consider using the prehistoric masters' technique in the future. Maybe in this Saturday's Saturday Sketch!

I may write more about Chauvet Cave after seeing Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams. I actually wanted to try to watch it before this post, but it's not out on DVD yet. That will probably be madness, though. {:

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday Review

Hello! Welcome to the first blog post of my weekly schedule!

As I mentioned in the last post, I plan to use Monday's blog to review what I've been working on the previous week. Monday may seem like a weird day to review, but as I plan to schedule my blogs to post in the morning, I will more likely be writing on Saturday or Sunday (whenever I can find time), and even though I'm a stay-at-home mom, I still feel like Sunday ends the week and Monday begins it . . . probably because my husband works normal hours.

So what will the Monday Review be exactly? Well, it's intended to be a post about what I've been working on during the week, particularly painting. But I'm going to allow the post to be quite loose. For example: we bought a house in April, worked on it until August when it was finally habitable, and we're just now, in September, getting around to working on my studio (not too shabby!!). As I lack a space to paint right now, my posts will primarily be updates on fixing up/designing my studio for the next couple weeks.

Some weeks I may not paint at all; being a busy mommy, wife, and friend; and those weeks I may talk about an art show I saw or article I read that made me think about my art. I may even have to write about how tiling the bathroom made me consider repetitive pattern or how planting a native garden reminded me of the beauty of organic abstract shapes. Sometimes I'll just have to work with what's going on in our life.

But I truly hope most weeks feature my work, that's the point of this post.

Of course, I reserve the right to talk about anything I choose having to do with art. This would probably be the place to do that, since my other posts are more strictly Art History and Saturday Sketch.


A little about the work we've done this week.

My husband Brian is so supportive of me. He believes in my talent so much that he's been leading the studio-rejuvenation. He's been at work all day, I've been taking care of Everett and the house/meals all day, and I'd be so ok with sitting in front of the TV and relaxing after the babe goes down, but Brian is adamant that we work in the studio, and I'm so grateful. I'd have no motivation to do it if he wasn't on board.

He seems to think one day I'll be his meal ticket, and that's fine by me. {:

The studio had naturally become our junk room (remember we moved in a little over a month ago, so this isn't a chronic problem I'm ashamed of or anything). First we needed to move some stuff out, put it in the garage, trash, Goodwill, etc.. Then we moved everything to the center to have room to paint.

everything moved to the middle of the room

You can see from the picture that the room will also be our library, since neither of us feel the need to display our books in the living room, and besides, there's nowhere else to put that massive, yet terribly useful, bookshelf.

There's a desk in there that I'm not attached to (especially considering we have TWO other desks in our living room!). Some of my artsy-craftsy furniture needs to be refurbished. Basically, there's a lot of designing to do in there. Very exciting!

Friday night we filled the holes and cracks with compound. We need to sand and wash the walls, and then it's on to primer!

The progress is kind of slow because there are many other projects around the house (projects that affect everyday living) that also need to get done. But it will come together soon!

See you back here on Thursday for Art History Day!

Blogging Schedule

Ok, so I've read and observed that it's a good idea, when blogging regularly, to have a blogging schedule. This schedule may need to be tweaked a bit as I get the hang of working and blogging (naturally), but I'm going to start out this way and see how it goes.

Monday: This is the big one. Review of what I've worked on the previous week. Boom! It may seem illogical to have the weekly review at the beginning of the week, but I plan to post my blogs in the morning, meaning I will write this blog on Sunday (or before, depending on when I have time), and this gives me the whole weekend to wrap up my work for the week.

Thursday: Art History Day! As I wrote in my first blog, I double majored in Studio Art and Art History. I was so drawn to the discipline that I had pretty much committed to going to Art History graduate school before I got pregnant. I feel like a weekly post about my thoughts on the history of art will be an interesting addition to the blog, and will be fun for me!

Saturday: Saturday Sketch! I had this idea a while back, and I want to try it! And I wanted to call it Saturday Sketch, so it's happening on SATURDAY, and I sort of scheduled the other days around it. {:

I will go into more detail about how each day will be organized in the first blog of that day. I'll be setting guidelines and themes to keep me interested and "on-task."

Haha. Should be fun.

Here we go!!!!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Studio!

It's been so long since I last posted because I've been anticipating this announcement:

We recently bought a house (!!!), and I'm SO lucky to have a studio in our new place!

Now I have to decide how to decorate it!

Going off how the studios at the university were "decorated," I'm thinking completely white walls and natural light (plus full spectrum lighting).

Of course I'll need to do more research, and I'll certainly entertain the tips of my readers!

The room is nearly 12 feet by nearly 12 feet.

Brian in the room. The carpets are clean!

There's a sweet little closet.

And a half bath!!

This is a picture of it "before." It needs to be completely re-built. I'm thinking stainless steel sink? Easy clean up for paints? Or we might just keep the old sink for budget's sake.

Of course, my studio will also act as a guest room and possibly an office, so there will be a sofa bed and maybe a desk sharing the space.

Here's another picture so you can understand where the studio is in the house. Right off the dining area, behind a pocket door, near the kitchen.

Please, give me your ideas on how to paint/decorate. And keep posted to find out my final decision and for pictures when it finally comes together.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

First Post

I'd like to start off by assuming you don't know me, even though I know full well everyone reading this in the beginning already knows me.  But I can hope that somewhere, in the very near future, people who don't know me personally will discover my art, start reading my blog, and want to go back and read "the post that started it all." A girl can dream. 

My name is Christina Asdel Cisneros. I was raised in Atascadero, California. I moved north for school (and for love), first settling in Santa Cruz for about four years, then San Jose for about four years. I double majored in Studio Art and Art History at San Jose State University, and I was about to enter the masters program in Art History when I got pregnant (hallelujah!). So my husband and I decided to move back to Atascadero, to be closer to family while raising our babe, and because it's such a gosh darn beautiful place to live! 

 I'm starting my painting career slooooowly but surely. During the week, while my wonderful husband is at work, I stay home with our son. And most weekends we house hunt. So I haven't been painting as much as I should. I've been working mostly on 'administrative' stuff: seller's permit, website, research, etc., but I'm very excited to start painting more (when we get our own house!!), and I'm hoping to have a show of my university work if a local gallery will take me.

Why blog? Well, it's a great way to keep people informed of my art-related news, to keep myself motivated and on-task. And, as my degree suggests, I like to read and write, and I look forward to sharing my discoveries and insights with you! 

I have a preliminary vision of how the blog schedule will go, but I will share that as things move along. I'll just say: expect paintings, sketching, art historical commentary, art world blabbering, and FUN! Ok, maybe not at ton of fun. A little fun. Enjoy!