First residency- Artist in the Schools- Underwood Elementary!

Backyard Birds


Keith and I completed our first Artist in the Schools project. The program is run by United Arts Council, and provides funding for artists to do projects related to the curriculum the students are learning. We created the backyard birds project to help students learn to identify common local birds. We worked with students in the public art elective and the birding elective at Underwood elementary. 

We started by showing the students things to look for when identifying birds like size, wing shape, flight pattern and behavior. Then each kid drew an image of a bird out of a bag- there were 35 different images of local species- and that was the bird they would create for the project. We used birds such as the Cardinal, Blue Jay, Blue  Bird, Slate Junco, Titmouse, Chickadee, and many other common birds. 

We first drew our birds in our sketchbooks to get an idea of their body shapes and typical postures. Then we used newspaper and tape to sculpt the bird bodies. We covered the bodies with plaster- then painted the colors on the birds. 

We decided to use real tree branches for the birds to perch on. Keith and I built an 8 x 8' structure to hold the branches and birds. This is an exterior piece and will hang in the courtyard at Underwood. There will be a guidebook labeling the birds to help students learn to identify birds.

We had a lot of fun working on this project and hope to do it again at another school!

How I came to be a painter- or my introduction to Marc Chagall


Below is a painting made with a photo transfer of me as a teen. You could say I was rather disaffected at this particular stage, not particularly good at any subject, not very interested in anything. I rolled with the artsy misfit kids at school but didn't consider myself creative especially. 

I went to an art show at the Cummer Art Museum in Jacksonville, FL where I grew up. The show had works by several post impressionists, I don't remember the details, it was a long time ago! I do remember seeing this Chagall painting though. It wasn't the vase of flowers that drew me in, it was the dream images in the background. I saw so many hidden half spoken mysteries in this piece. I knew standing in front of that painting on that day that my destiny was to be a painter. I felt the painting express to me so much that couldn't be put into words. I felt the possibility of communicating through painting so much of what I hadn't been able to express. I felt so much passion under my surface in that moment. 


Russian primitivism- Natalia Goncharova

I have been reading a biography about Marc Chagall by Jackie Wullschlager- which mentions Natalia Goncharova as his contemporary during the time he was studying in St Petersburg. I wasn't familiar with her work and looked it up- and was amazed by her colors and style. I really like the cubism influence of the first two paintings, and the "primitive" Gauguin influence in the last three. I love the parrots. There is something that reminds me a little of my own work- also I have ancestors from Belarus. 



Cats- Natalia Goncharova


Yellow and Green Forest- Natalia Goncharova


Gardening- Natalia Goncharova


Natalia Goncharova- Parrots


Natalia Goncharova- Between East and West



Painting and Sewing- my students' work from the Sertoma Art Center

I just wrapped up my sewing and painting class last week. This is the first class of its kind I have offered at the Sertoma Arts center. The idea is to create unique hand painted fabrics through several processes that can be used as backgrounds and for appliqué. We create our designs using embroidery, appliqué and additional hand painting. We then stretch the fabric around canvas stretchers to create a piece that can hang on the wall. Here are some examples of the work my students did. I may offer this again in the fall- stay tuned! 


Encaustic painting- my students' work- The Cary Arts Center

I just finished teaching a session of beginning Encaustic painting at the Cart Arts Center. I was lucky to have a very lovely and talented group of students that produced lots of quality work. Along with learning the basic techniques of painting with wax, I cover making lines, drawing, texture, photo transfer, collage/assemblage and stencil techniques. I'm always happy to see each student incorporating the techniques in their own style. Next class starts in April! 


Gunta Stölzl

Gunta Stölzl was a textile artist in the Buauhaus school in Germany. She worked to elevate weaving, quilting and other forms of textile work to the level of fine art instead of merely "women's work". She's a feminist art hero, and I'm very drawn to the color palette she uses in her work, as well as her composition design. 


I especially relate to the composition of this piece. I like the harmony of the curvilinear lines and the horizontal and vertical grid. It reminds me of architecture in a landscape.  You can really see the effort she makes here to push weaving beyond the traditional limitations, elevating it to a freer, more responsive medium.


I love the spring colors she uses in this quilt.  The design is more traditional, but the patterns become a sort of language. I always love o see turquoise and lavender together, one of my favorite combinations. 


Sonia Delaunay

a mesmerizing colorist! She painted, drew, designed, and sewed. I love the asthetic of orphism, a type of cubist painting she invented with her husband, Robert. 


I'm inspired by her pattern design,  geometric abstractions and her ability to cross into different media: painting, quilting,  fashion. 


I would totally wear any one of these. Especially the one with blue red and brown chevron. 


This quilt could easily be an abstract painting- 


And I can see this painting as a quilt!  


Always fabulous. 


Self portraits with Ursula Gullow at Artspace!

Ingrid and I had the pleasure of participating in a self portrait project at Artspace with Ursula Gullow. She is set up in the upfront gallery ( the small gallery too your left as you walk in Artspace's front door) with a myriad of painting and drawing supples, waiting for anyone to come and add their own self portrait to the growing collection. Ursula herself has been using the format of self portraiture as a mode of self expression and as a catalyst to motivate other work. She has committed to painting one self portrait every day, a practice she has strictly adhered to for four years. Artists have such a wonderful work ethic! 


above- self portraits by Ingrid and I.  

Below- I could dream myself anywhere by Ursula Gullow. 


During July, Ursula Gullow will work in the Upfront Gallery to create an exhibition that will open in August.

Gullow states, “My background in sociology informs a visual investigation into the individual’s relationship to themselves, each other and their landscape. I emphasize the in-between spaces of story-telling and bodies in motion. I am conceptually swayed by political theory and popular media.”


Women artists that I love- Gabrielle Münter

Gabrielle Münter was  a student of Kandinsky, one of my favorite abstract painters. She was a German expressionist and belonged to the art collective "Der Bleu Reiter".  Unlike other women in her time, she lived a relatively free and unrestricted life. 

I love her self portrait painting. I love it's simplicity and lack of frills. I love that it shows her in the act of painting. I love the bright colors. I think about women living in that time that may have been artists except for their duties as housewives or work. She was lucky to have the circumstances to pursue her passion. She lived her life to the fullest and was a free spirit, traveling the world. 

I have a weakness for well designed still life paintings. And complementary color schemes. Also I wonder about the statue in the middle- it looks like a saint holding a doll. 

This could be me on a winter morning. Watching the birds out of my window....

I love the blue in this painting. All the blue.  

Painting as a healing element

I wouldn't be the first one to feel personally damaged by recent political events. This past year in politics has been brutal for many- especially those who are more sensitive. At the root of that sensitivity lies compassion and empathy for those who were treated poorly and continue to be abused by our new president. 

It was out of this sense of helplessness and disappointment that I created my newest painting- The Multifaceted Present Moment. I started without a clear plan- in the beginning it was just abstracted shapes. The very act of applying paint to canvas in circular motions began to move me from helplessness into action. Slowly, a city and figures emerged. A girl and two women. I strongly feel that positive change will in this world happen because of women. The crystal tower symbolizes the multifaceted aspect of all women. We are everything. We are the beginning and the end. 

Teen Center Workshop

I had the pleasure of doing an encaustic project last week at the Raleigh Boys and Girl's Club teen center, thanks to funding from Cary Visual Art. 

The idea was to do an abstract encaustic painting with colors acting as an emotional landscape. The final component was a transferred image of the artist. 

The teen center is a pretty cool place. It has a restaurant, pool tables, art room, library, media room with a recording studio, gym and even a place to style hair. The kids there are super creative and did a great job. 

I hope to do more workshops through Cary Visual Art. The organization partners with non profits to provide artist workshops for underserved communities. I like being able to share the creative process with people who may not otherwise get an opportunity. Everyone benefits from self expression! 

Orphan Kitty

There's so many reasons I like giving my daughter handmade presents. This kitty took me about 5 hours to sew and make clothes and backpack for. She also carries two mini handmade books in her pack. Keith did the packaging. She comes with adoption papers, like Build a Bear, but not cookie cutter. 

The rag tag look is because I restricted myself to just using supplies I already had.  

The awesome byproduct of me sequestering myself with this project is that it kept me out of Target during the time of year that I absolutely hate to shop. 

Here's wishing everyone a happy and creative holiday! Let's all do more handmade things in 2016!

Encaustic class- student work

For the past six weeks I've been teaching encaustic classes at both Pullen and Cary arts centers. The paintings my students created are so amazing- I'm so proud- I just had to share. 

In my beginning class, I focus on teaching different encaustic techniques. I rely on the students to bring their own ideas and art experience to create work that is uniquely personal to them. As they get further into the class, they work on combining several techniques in any way they like to express their visions. 

Beginning Encaustics at Cary Arts Center-

Beginning Encaustics at the Pullen Arts Center-


Cary Arts Center Summer Encaustic Workshop (high school age)-

Quiet and Creative Space

An artist friend once told me that her bookshelves are a metaphor for mental availability. When they are cram packed with books, there is no room to take in anything new. She and her son regularly pass on the books they are done with so that they can be more open to new ideas or any new thing that comes along. 

Sometimes I feel that way about noise. Actual noise and mental static. Sometimes a new idea will creep up on you and if it's not quiet, it will slip by. 

Shopping for art supplies intuitively at Askew- Taylor's

My best shopping experiences are at places that allow for creative and intuitive browsing. The kind of places you can spend a few hours in wandering into nooks and crannies. Art supply shopping is an intuitive process for me. The materials themselves each represent infinite possibility. They suggest ideas. It's entirely possible to end up on a different path with a project that I hadn't thought of before.

The floorboards creak, the wallpaper is at least 70 years old. Peeling paint and a worn staircase are just another dimension in a multi faceted experience. Finding materials at Askew Taylors feels like discovery. It's inspiring. 

The store is quiet. Not creepy quiet, but warmly quiet like a bookstore. Since it's an art supply store there are rainbow color spectrums of pastels, pencils, pens and paint tubes. There's a room full of every type of paper:  colorful and patterned, lacy, fancy, plain. 

Askew Taylor's has been in business for a LONG time. It's a family run art store. Kirk, the owner, is a great person to have a conversation with, and always super helpful and generous with artists, letting us try supplies out. He has passed the baton to his daughter Helen who is equally friendly and helpful. 

Being Raleigh, and somewhat of a smallish city, you can count on running into an artist friend or two when you visit the store. It's the kind of place that you can be in and out of in five minutes or linger for hours. 

I like that it's not slick or made of shiny plastic. I like that it's not a "big box" though they carry everything a "big box" would. It's friendly and personable. It's a place with a soul.