Two new pieces in my Etsy shop

Mar 30, 2010

Columbia River

I just added these mixed media works, Columbia River and camping with bears.  At the moment, I'm enjoying working on smaller pieces that can be completed within a couple of hours.  I have a large oil painting in progress on an easel, but I'm waiting for another wave of inspiration.  Hopefully it'll happen in the next few weeks, I'm starting to get a little antsy.

camping with bears

Here are a couple of other pieces I worked on this week, but they didn't make the cut- for now. 

How it all began

Mar 29, 2010

My mother dropped by yesterday with a box of memorabilia.  Included in the box were my class pictures from elementary school.  Here's my 2nd grade class picture; that's me in the upper right hand corner.  I remember how much I loved that vest! The back was this pink, satiny material. 

Miss Newson was my second grade teacher, and I adored her.  She had a cool silver streak in her hair, and she was always so kind to me.  I remember one day I was coloring a picture with a ship in it.  She asked me if I wanted to be part of a program for kids who wanted to learn more about art.  I enthusiastically said yes, and for the next six years I was regularly pulled out of my classroom to participate in art classes taught by specialists in the Portland area.  I took courses in weaving, still life drawing, and even clay animation. 

My artistic abilities and passions grew in those formative years.  Because of these experiences and teachers like Miss Newson, I became a public school teacher myself.  So, this picture is more than a walk down memory lane.  In a way, it represents the start of my journey as an artist.

Vending machines that dispense art

Mar 26, 2010

I first heard about Art-o-mat when I was teaching in Eugene many years ago.  A fellow colleague told me about a vintage cigarette vending machine that dispensed miniature art at the local community college for $5 apiece.  I thought it was a brilliant idea.

There are currently 82 Art-o-mats in the U.S.  Venue, the art shop in Seattle that I mentioned yesterday, has the only one in the state of Washington.  While I was at the store, a customer came in to buy art from the Art-o-mat.  She paid for a token at the counter and browsed the selection of artists listed on the vending machine.  She found a landscape artist that piqued her interest, pulled the knob, and voilá! An original work of art for just a few dollars! 

Amtrack it from Portland to Seattle

Mar 25, 2010

The beautiful ceiling in Portland's historical Union Station, which opened in 1896.  

While the kids were away for a couple of days, my husband and I decided to take a short trip to Seattle to see some friends.  We traveled by train, which is about a 3.5 hour ride to the Emerald City.   Not bad considering it can take as long or longer by car if you get stuck in Seattle traffic.

Downtown Seattle and the famous Space Needle.

We try to go to Seattle at least once a year.  I love all the hills and water surrounding the city.

Yesterday we visited the Ballard district.  For lunch, we stopped at an amazing eatery called La Carta de Oaxaca.  I loved all the beautiful photographs on the wall of the scenery and people of Oaxaca, Mexico.  A few were even illuminated from behind.  And the presentation of the food was just as impressive as the decor.  I snapped this picture of our meal before we ate it.  It was delicioso!

Mixed media painting by Seattle artist Janet Fagan and Lotus Glows made by Michelle Fokos of Luma Designs.

There is an an art retail store in Ballard that I like to go to called Venue.  The shop also functions as a studio space for several local Seattle artists.  When I first visited the shop a few years ago, I came across these great candle holders made from recycled glass.  I love how the color of the glass is illuminated onto the surface when the candle is lit!

Venue currently showcases handmade collections from over 40 artists and craftspeople.  Products carried in the stop include jewelry, stationary, soaps, linens, and handbags.  I couldn't resist these felted rocks made by Leah Adams of Spiderfelt.  They are actual rocks that are wrapped in wool! And I was so excited to finally find something to put on this wood platter-like piece in my home. Perfect!

Six months and counting

Mar 23, 2010

My first blog post showed a photo of my work table.  This is how it looks today (just organized, of course).

It's been an incredible journey the last few months discovering so many talented artists, connecting with other art enthusiasts, and dialoguing with readers. When I first started blogging, I told myself to give it at least six months, and today marks the half year point.  Nearly 200 posts later,  I am just as compelled today to share art with others as the first day of starting Habit of Art.  My plan is to continue blogging about inspirational pieces as well as talk about my own experiences and progress as an artist.  The only thing that will change is the frequency of posts.  Instead of blogging every day, it will be about 3 - 4 times a week, so that I can focus more on creating art.

Thanks again to all of you who are reading Habit of Art!  Your encouraging words the past six months have meant so much!

Oh, and don't forget about the giveaway drawing tomorrow!  To enter a chance to win a mini notebook full of my drawings, go here

Portland/Brooklyn Artist Series, Week 6: Justin "Scrappers" Morrison

Mar 22, 2010

For our final week of the artist series, I interviewed Portland artist Justin "Scrappers" Morrison.  I first met Scrappers in my shop a while back.  He was writing for the Portland Mercury at the time, and now he is their Art Director.  His creative titles actually run the gamut from painter to cartographer to gallery director to even toymaker.  He spent 11 years studying photography, oceanography, and history at the college level, but eventually got his start in art on the sidewalk of Alberta Street during Portland's monthly art event, Last Thursday.  

How would you describe your work?

My work is stupid.  Stupid like the way a good tickle makes you feel.  I try to keep it stupid and style-free, so the execution doesn't get in the way of the message.  My work is about staying wild, being human animals, falling down, getting up, pushing each other to be better people, trouble-making, bio-regionalism, the west coast, beer, camping, nipples, and having fun.

photos: Anthony Georgis

What are the greatest challenges of being an artist today?

The internet.  If I post two pieces of art and people "favorite" one piece over the other, I'm going to make more pieces like the one people favored.  So avoiding the influences the internet can have on your own ideas and messages is really difficult.  The internet also makes it easy to feel famous and that shit makes people lazy one-trick ponies who are totally limited by style and expectation.  Maybe what I'm really getting at here is the influence art fans, art collectors, and art blog commenters have on artists.  It's the supply and demand relationship that's a challenge, your feedback (demand) affects my work (supply).  If you like it when I paint unicorns, I'm going to paint more unicorns even though I want to paint a tar pit eating a Scion.

What accomplishments/works of art are you most proud of?

My son Camper.  He's pure solid 100% wild human animal.  I've never been more proud of anything else.  I always wanted to be a dad, you can see it in my work if you look close enough.

All the men in my life have given me knives.  I don't know why. / I loved painting this beast, did it all for trade (fries for life).

Tell us about the biggest risk you have taken as an artist.

Every thing I make is a risk, or at least it should be.  I recently made a copy cat Chris Johanson painting and hung it in a show at Together Gallery. I even signed it Chris Johanson really big on the front.  Then I sold it for $25.  The risk there is in hoping that the art viewer will make the effort to consider the meaning of the piece.  "Why would Scrappers make a Chris Johanson painting?"  Mostly because you're not supposed to do shit like that.

I'm building an A-frame cabin in my back yard for Camper to play in.

What do you love most about Portland?

The Nature.  We have plenty of water, trees, food and all the other things that keep people living within Nature's reach.  This place isn't like LA in the sense that the city is on life support.  Environmentally speaking, this is a healthy place to live.

Campaign for the American Indian College Fund that Scrappers was part of. / A recent show at Gallery 1988.

What makes Portland such a great place for independent art?

We all keep each other motivated and inspire each other to make impossible ideas happen.

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In upcoming months, you can see Scrappers' art at Portland gallery Grass Hut and Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles.  He has also been working on a large map project for Oregon Tourism.  See his illustrative maps of Oregon here

And be sure to check out Art Hound's interview with Brooklyn artist Kevin Cyr

Unique sketchbooks

Mar 21, 2010

While we're on the topic of sketchbooks, here are a few items I have been eying.

Death in Art journal, the time is now 
Bookcushion, fox & bear
Pocket Notebook Three Pack, Emily Martin (The Black Apple)
Handcrafted Blank Book, Wee Bindery

Giveaway: A Pocketbook Gallery!

Mar 20, 2010

There is much to celebrate in the next week and a half- the start of Spring, six months of blogging, and my birthday! It seems the perfect time to run another giveaway, and as mentioned in yesterday's post, up for grabs is a Pocketbook Gallery!  It's a little book full of original drawings and clippings of my sketches (31 to be exact). Some of the pages are perforated, so the art can easily be displayed or shared. See more pics on my Flickr page.

For a chance to win this unique gift, all you need to do is write a comment below on what has been your favorite post.  One name will be randomly drawn on Wednesday, March 24th at 9p PST.   The winner will be notified immediately after the drawing, so make sure there is a way for me to contact you via your blogger profile.  Oh, and I'll ship it to wherever you are in the world!  

Good luck, and I look forward to reading your comments!

UPDATE: Congratulations to Moodymama.  Your name was drawn as the winner of the pocketbook gallery giveaway!

Exploring new ideas

Mar 19, 2010

I'm a homebody, but my mind often thinks about lands elsewhere. A theme that I have been studying recently is exploration.  Two new pieces I added to my shop this week include arctic explorer and balloon race.  Both are mixed media works that embody this idea of adventure and exploration of different landscapes.  I'm curious and excited to see how this new theme will develop further in my work.  I already have some ideas for the next piece.  I'm thinking covered wagons. 

I have also been sketching a lot this week, which I'm happy about.  I'm actually putting together another pocketbook gallery that will be my next giveaway prize.  More on this tomorrow!

It's a small world indeed

Mar 18, 2010

Marie Watt, Marker: Complete, 2010

In recent months while searching for art on the internet, I have stumbled upon a few artists who attended the same university as I had two decades ago.  I find this to be quite coincidental, as the number of fine arts graduates is minimal.  In my graduating class alone, there were only nine studio art majors out of 400 undergraduates.  So I thought that I would display some Bearcat pride today, and feature the art of some of my fellow alumni. 

Marie Watt is a multi-dimensional artist who sculpts, prints, and sews.   Her current work is an exploration and historical study of wool blankets pertaining to indigenous people of the Northwest.  If you live in Portland, you can see her new works featured at PDX Comtemporary Art through March 27th.  

Watt, Marker: Axis Mundi, reclaimed wool and satin binding, 14.25" x 14.25", 2010.

This is one of my favorite pieces of hers. It's hand sewn! 

Watt, Custodian, reclaimed wool, 107" x 112.5", 2007.

I saw Adam Stennett's work on Artist A Day, a great website that features a different artist each day. The detail work in his paintings is pretty remarkable.  His photorealistic paintings have been displayed in various galleries and museums across the country and internationally.  He has a video installation, Mouse Swimming Overhead, showing in the Portland Art Museum through May 16th.  It's part of the exhibition DISQUIETED featuring some of the more prominent contemporary artists today. 

Stennett, Soothing Syrup with Two Poppies, oil on wood, 24" x 24", 2010.

Stennett, Underwater Mouse 1, oil on linen, 72" x 72", 2003.

I was browsing the artists featured in Sebastian Foster when I came across the works of Elizabeth Bauman.  Although she studied sculpture, she primarily paints now.  Her work is inspired by early American paintings and portrait photography. She is currently showing at Tilde in Portland. 

Bauman, The afternoon walk, acrylic, 12" x 12" panel, 2009.

Bauman, A cold day for a drive, arcylic, 8" x 16" panel, 2009.

Bauman, Lila and Fern on a holiday, acrylic, 10" x 10", 2009.

Animal portraits by Sharon Montrose

Mar 17, 2010

These animal portraits were taken by Los Angeles based photographer Sharon Montrose who has an uncanny ability to make you fall in love with animals.  Many of her pictures are of animals that are typically found in the wild.  I have to say that I'm totally smitten with the baby porcupine!  I have already named him Charlie. 

Dogs are also a popular subject in Montrose's photography, and she does such an amazing job capturing their personalities.  Here are a few of my favorites.

I laughed out loud when I saw the photo of the poodle!  Montrose's dog portraits are truly amusing and you can see more on her website.  She also sells prints of her work in her Animal Print Shop and Etsy.

My painting palettes

Mar 16, 2010

I picked up a porcelain palette this past week that I'm really excited about. It was an "as is" item at the art store because the lid had been broken and glued back together.  I wasn't really looking for a new palette, but when I saw it, I knew it would be perfect for my ink and watercolor works.  I have a terrible habit of squeezing more paint out of the tubes than necessary, and I figure the smaller wells would force me to conserve.

For oil painting, my palette needs are the other extreme.  I use palette knives when I work on larger oil paintings, so a flat and broad surface is preferable.  I purchased a glass palette many years ago that I find to be ideal.  I can quickly mix colors, and for cleanup, I just use a glass scraper on paint that has dried. 

The glass palette also fits nicely on top of this vintage rolling cart that I just found on craigslist.  The lady that I bought it from told me that the cart was from the mental institution where One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was filmed.  It even has an electrical outlet unit . . . I'd rather not think about what it was used for.

Portland/Brooklyn Artist Series, Week 5: Anthony Georgis

Mar 15, 2010

I thought the art of shooting with film was nearly dead until I met photographer Anthony Georgis.  We were both in line at the rental section of a local photo shop, and I remember Anthony mentioning something about a revolution against digital photography.  Right then, I knew I liked this guy.  

It's no secret that I am a huge fan of his work.  In the last couple of years, Anthony has worked on a few projects for our shop.  And it's been a privilege to work with him most recently on the artist interview series.  He photographed Portland artists Kate Bingaman-Burt, Trish Grantham, and Justin "Scrappers" Morrison (next week's featured artist).

Anthony's client list has included Converse, ReadyMade, Nylon, T-Mobile, and Elle, just to name a few.  Last summer, Anthony spent 30 days on the road shooting pictures for the Levi's Go Forth campaign.  Some of the photographs shown in this interview are from this assignment.

How would you describe your work?

My photographs are kind of quiet and simple with the occasional odd burst of joy and color.  I described my work as remedial once to a friend who thought I should try to come up with a better word, but I'm actually quite happy with remedial.  I've always been a very traditional photographer and I still prefer to shoot with film because it forces me to slow down and really look at things.  Photography is amazing because it has this ability to be both fact and fiction.  I like the moments in-between.

What are the greatest challenges of being an artist today?

The challenges in photography are particularly interesting because the tools are more readily available.  I think there is a lot of noise out there and it's hard to cut through all the trends, but I'm really optimistic about where things are going and I'm really excited about how the landscape is changing.  In the end good work is good work.

What accomplishments/works of art are you most proud of?

A couple years back, someone told me they saw a photograph and that they knew the instant they saw it that it was one of my images.  It just reinforced that I was on the right track and that I was making images that resonated with people.

Tell us about the biggest risk you've taken as an artist.  

I work primarily as a photographer for advertising and editorial clients, so the danger is that commercial clients think that I'm too arty and that the art photography scene considers me tainted by commercial work.  It's a very fine line and things are always a little risky when you're trying to meld art and commerce together.

What do you love most about Portland?

The cost of living is good, the coffee is great and I can ride my bike anyplace I want to go.  Now if it would just stop raining . . .

What makes Portland such a great place for independent art?

I think Portland is a great place for independent art because it's kind of cheap, scrappy and naive.  I mean that in the best possible way of course.  Portland is always going to do its own thing. 

To view the complete collection of photographs from the Levi's Go Forth project, go to Anthony's website.

Also, be sure to check out this week's featured Brooklyn artist on Art Hound.  

Nature-inspired wall installations

Mar 14, 2010

Pods and starfish

I am constantly inspired by patterned forms in nature.  It must be the Pacific Northwest in me.  While searching for pod-like shapes online, I came across amazing wall art by Canadian duo Deborah Moss and Edward Lam.  For 20 years,  Moss and Lam have been creating custom installations using materials like leather, plaster, and paper.  I love their ceramic installations, especially the layered poppies!


Rose buds

And then there's leather and velvet. Exquisite!

perforated leather

incised velvet
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