Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I haven't been blogging, but I have been busy. Busy working, busy looking for more work. Busy moving-- which, for me, included vacating my studio space and setting it up in a corner of the apartment. Sometimes when you're busy, inspiration is hard to come by. That's been the case for me, lately. I submitted a piece for a themed contest, which gave me a starting point for a piece, but once that was done (and accepted for the exhibition!) I didn't feel my usual "push" to make the next painting.

I don't believe in not making work merely because you lack inspiration. My dad doesn't take a day off of work because he's not "inspired" to provide IT solutions. I'd rather make crap work than no work, so I decided the cure was a marathon.

My goal for this art marathon is ten pieces a day, but in the back of my mind I know that's just an arbitrary number, and what I'm really seeking is some kind or eye-opening insight into my work. When I'm marathoning, I try to keep an open mind about what a piece can be, or mean, or how something relates to "my work".

Today I made a bunch of pieces, and the theme that emerged was one of occupying space. I like to be my own figure model, and model for myself in the mirror, but I don't have the giant mirrors I once used in my rented studio. So I was faced with the challenge of drawing my body from life in a mirror about 4"x12". That means some interesting cropped, cramped poses. Other pieces were nonfigurative and featured architectural elements like water towers and cement processing plants, but even these seemed concerned with the occupation of space. Small narratives began to emerge of people reclaiming these industrial spaces with temporary, outmoded shelters encamped around the steel structures. Sort of a dreamlike space that reflects some of my thoughts lately about community a form of rebellion.

Now I am so tired. I did a lot of drawing and thinking and errands today. I think I even found a job. But now I gotta go find some food.

Monday, April 30, 2012

What Is: Drawing, Painting, Photography

Recently I've been grappling with ideas about the boundary between drawing and photography.

I use photographs as preliminary or collage materials in my work, but never without a sense of conflict. I'm not a photographer, I have little understanding of the mechanics of a camera, and everything I've learned about photography has been simply from playing around with cameras. On the one hand, I feel like photography is my natural right, simply by virtue of my having been born into the age of digital cameras. I've scarcely known a world where cameras haven't been so prevalent as to exist in places where I don't even want or need them. On the other hand, I feel a responsibility to be educated about the camera and photography if I'm going to use them in my work, especially since I abhor the underresearched art student.

I found a happy medium in this struggle in the form of my printer/copier. Photocopying is a photographic process. However, the minimal history and codified "rules" of copier art relative to traditional photography make me much more comfortable using it in my practice. Photocopied drawings still resemble drawings, and other photocopied material can be reduced to resemble drawings or paintings as well. In addition, Xeroxes lend themselves to transfers, meaning the material can be taken even further from the source to become more and more drawinglike.

Lately, however, my thoughts have turned to the origin of the word "photography" and some of the earliest photographic processes. Broken down, "photography" translates to "drawing with light"--hence, early light-based tracing techniques, like the camera obscura or camera lucida, can be considered photographic. My concern is, where does this distinction end? Is a "photo-drawing", such as a camera lucida tracing, a "photograph"?  Is a lithograph made from a tracing of a camera lucida tracing a "photo-drawing", and if so, are the resultant prints  "photographs"?

This preoccupation recently collided with issues life size self-portraiture that I'd also been working on, and yielded a studio experiment that provided even more food for thought. I sat down in front of a large mirror, approximately 4' tall, and using a washable marker, traced my image in the mirror. As a left-hander, I was unable to draw my left hand in the act of drawing my left hand, so the end of the figure's right arm dissolved into specific but abstract marks. Once I'd finished tracing myself, I laid a sheet of bond paper over the mirror, traced my tracing, and cleaned the mirror for the next piece. I made about eight of these tracings without stopping much to think, then stepped back to survey what I'd done.

The first question, of course, was whether what I'd made was a drawing or photograph. If camera lucida tracings are photographs then surely what I'd made was a series of photographs. If, however, a "photo-drawing" is more drawing than photo, I'd made a body of drawings.

Another concern was the right arm--my left arm. The marks describing this arm look gestural, but they're a series of tracings-- as accurate as I could manage-- of a moving arm. Is this a gesture, or the most tedious kind of contour drawing? This question depends on the definition of gesture. If a gesture is a series of marks that create an illusion of motion, my work is a gesture. If a gesture is a mark made with an intuitive sense of body to describe the motion of a body, then my pieces were almost the exact opposite.

Another surprise was scale. When I looked in the mirror--a mirror that's taller than me when I sit down--I felt as though  I was seeing a life size image of myself. My drawings, however, all fit comfortably into an 18"x24" sheet of paper. Given that these images were direct tracings, the dissonance was strange.

Finally, on reviewing the tracings, I found that I'd inadvertently used two different techniques that yielded two different results. During the first few tracings, I'd kept one eye closed, flattening the mirror image and allowing a highly accurate likeness. In other drawings, I'd kept both eyes open and struggled with the shifting that occurred as my eyes moved and refocused. The binocular drawings were more interesting to me--they contained dead-end lines that reminded me of pentimenti and gesture. Because the image was more ambiguous when viewed through both eyes, tracing it required some measure of interpretation, which qualified these pieces--in my mind--as drawings.

I hope to discover other experiments I can do to help me get to the bottom of this struggle. I'm not looking for an authoritative answer, just the answer that's true to me-- and I hope it will give me some clue of how to proceed in my work.

Monday, April 23, 2012


When I'm stressed, I have dreams. They're not bad and they're not good but they're usually confusing and often tiring.

Last night I dreamt that I was trying to get to class, but better and more meaningful experiences kept presenting themselves. I fought it for a while, but eventually gave up on class and found myself listening to my minstrels play at a bookstore. That's got to be more important than the class I'm supposed to be attending this morning, which I dread.

In another dream, one of my professors told me that it was really important that I go to Iceland. That it would do good things for my work.

I'm jealous of dream-me. She gets all the good opportunities.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The BFA Show is the day after tomorrow. I have no idea how this happened.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Portfolio is Live

Check out my new portfolio at It's a bit incomplete right now but the highlights are there.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

                                                                 Daphne, 2012
                                                                 Oil on Board

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

My Second Research Conference

Research Conference 2.0 was a very different experience than the first one. My new and improved poster looked a lot more professional and polished, and I felt more prepared and knew what to expect. I didn't get many questions, or get to strike up very many conversations. The other researchers were busy at their boards, and the faculty don't seem interested in wandering outside of their discipline to ask questions.

 I did meet two young women who had plenty of excellent questions. They weren't presenters, in fact, I'm not sure why they were there. But they were very happy to talk to me, despite professing they didn't know a lot about art.

 Well! For not knowing a lot about art, these ladies were asking some hard-hitting questions. "How does your environment affect your work? What leads you from one piece to the next? How do you know when your work is finished?" It was a challenge to answer these on the spot, as they're exactly the kind of questions I struggle with in my day-to-day studio practice. But conversations like these are gifts; it's so much easier to answer a question in discussion with another person, rather than just digging deeper and deeper into yourself.

 Moments like this remind me that art is an experience, one you can approach with little to know outside knowledge and come away from with new insights. In fact, I think every discipline should take this approach. It's akin to how we learn as kids. I didn't understand fluid dynamics at eight, but I was fascinated that water, oil, and honey would layer instead of mix in a jar. I was able to intuit some of these scientific principles by having new experiences.

 We are all researchers, and we should all be open to sharing. It doesn't require a ton of technical knowledge on the part of the listener. Just a patient explainer and a willingness to share an experience.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


The semester is wrapping up faster than I could have imagined. I'm surprised that I'm not freaking out more, but I think that's merely because it hasn't "sunk in" yet. I'll be graduating with my BFA in a month and a day.

I'm tired and uninspired. I wonder what will happen when I don't have professors to make me turn in work?

Monday, March 26, 2012


I've been altering this piece some, and it's getting better.
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Research Forever!

I just got accepted to FAU's research conference!
Poster time ahoy!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Making Work

Recently, I made a painting that I actually like. This hasn't happened in a while, so I was pretty excited.

The trouble is, I'm not sure this painting is about the stuff I want my work to be about. Actually, right now, I'm really not sure what I want my work to be about at all.

Most of the things I've made and liked lately have had little to do with my authenticity/anachronism ideas, but I still think that's what I want my work to be about. I have all these other ideas kicking around in my head, but I can't commit to them, because they feel like plan b. The only thing I feel certain about right now is figure painting. I can commit--at least right now--to the idea of being a figurative artist. Drawing, too, is something that feels right, and the combination of drawing and painting in my last work was pretty energizing.

Is it time to take a step back from concept and focus on form and process? That's what I did with my marathon project and it was refreshing but not totally satisfying.

I know I need to make work, but I don't know what kind of work I need to make.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Debriefing the Undergraduate Research Conference

Over the past week, I've been processing my experience at the Florida Undergraduate Research Conference, and I've come to a few conclusions. Number one is that I'm glad I went. I think it was good practice to present myself as a professional and dedicated researcher, and I did pretty well holding my own in discussion. I also relish the opportunity to talk with colleagues about matters they're heavily invested in. I think that kind of passion is contagious across disciplines.

In addition, I learned a lot about how this kind of conference works, and how participants in other disciplines present their work. I'm hoping to apply this knowledge to FAU's upcoming research symposium, and perhaps retool my poster so it's more in line with traditional templates.

This has been a week of great conversations with people in and out of my discipline and concentration. In this last semester of college, I find my perspectives shifting regarding my relationship to other people on campus. Lines are beginning to blur, and classmates and professors are all becoming simply colleagues. I hope that's not terribly presumptuous of me. I just mean that I'm working together with all kinds of folks in all kinds of meaningful ways.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Today I am at the Florida undergraduate research conference presenting my poster, which I believe is the only visual arts poster here and looks very different than Irs peers. I am pretty uncomfortable! I guess I can always pretend I'm doing a performance piece about art and academica...

Saturday, March 10, 2012


I'm so frustrated with Spring Break being basically over and the Research conference hot on my trail same weekend Surfing Florida opens and it's almost time to get my BFA show pieces approved and why haven't I made anything good lately and am I really a painter or should I run away.

happy birthday!

Friday, March 9, 2012

BFA Show Prep

Yesterday was a highly unsatisfying studio day. Eight hours with not much to show for it, but I will chalk that up to my tendency to do fairly in-depth preliminary work, and the humidity making my gesso dry really slow. Just because I don't put paint down doesn't mean I didn't have a productive day I suppose. Today should finally be a painting day.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Permission not to Know

When I first started working with collected images (mostly photos), I had this problem where I'd weed out images that I actually liked. I'd look at materials and think, "Wow. I love this. But it's too pretty/silly/weird/unrelated subject matter to go with the rest of the imagery."

This blog is proof that I've struggled with that-- just look at the tuning musicians photo that I wasn't going to paint.

Fortunately, I've learned that materials don't need to be homogenous to be related, and that if I love something that's probably a sign that I should include it in my projects. I've given myself permission not to know exactly where a project will take me, or how components will work together, or what something means. I try not to stumble blindly into my projects, but leaving my mind open keeps me from prematurely killing a good idea that might pop up.

I try to use this newfound power judiciously. Just because I love a picture of my little sister leaning over a stingray pool doesn't mean it belongs in a painting about, say, personal adornment (though even as I typed that, I thought -- ooh, maybe it does!). One really big challenge right now is trying to remain open-minded even as I do things like write artist statements and work on the BFA show which tend to be narrowing, focusing activities. I feel like every few days I'm asking myself what I want my art to be about, what I want it to look like. It's exhausting and discouraging, but remembering that just about anything can find a place in my work lets me breathe a little easier.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Notes From the Studio

1. Just finished my Marathon project. Not feelin' great about it.

2. Just finished a commission piece for Robin Hood. Now a little part of me will get to travel to Faires everywhere.

3. Realized yesterday that I'm not really sure what I want my work to be about. After writing my artist statement and telling myself over and over what it is my work is saying, I'm not sure I want to say that any more.

4. On Tuesday I got to figure draw for three hours. Three hours! It was such a beautiful experience, especially since we had the most professional, graceful model you could hope for-- and boy, could she hold a pose. And she played me a viking song on her iphone after class! I get called "academic" a lot by my classmates in that class, and it's frustrating, but maybe I am an academic at heart. I like doing things oldfashionedly.

5. It's getting to the wire and I have no idea what work I want to put in the BFA show. I wanted to make something new but I'm just not sure that's possible.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Symposium Success!

I'm going to Stetson!!!

For the Symposium, not for school. I already go to school.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Research Symposium

I just applied to go to an Undergraduate Research Symposium at Stetson. My abstract read thusly:

This poster will showcase the development of a series of paintings based on my research into anachronism through photographs taken at Renaissance Festivals. Initial photographs were taken on-location at two Renaissance Festivals, and focused on performers whose attempts to re-create the world of the past were interrupted by intrusions of the modern. Special attention was given to musicians whose period clothing and instruments were at odds with their microphones and amplifiers. Renaissance and Baroque paintings provided context for the ideas generated by my photography and sketches. Work by artists including Honthorst and Terbrugghen served as inspiration during the creation of compositions. Elements of strangeness in these classical paintings—especially those which related to imagery in my photographs—were of special interest during this research stage. In the studio, photographs were cropped, collaged, painted on, and reflected in mirrors to further confuse the time and space that the subjects of the photos were occupying. This manipulation of images generated new ways of thinking about the paintings and their underlying themes. The resultant body of work combined modern concepts and techniques with highly traditional subject matter in unusual ways. The work related to, but expanded upon, classical paintings from art history, and incorporated unexpected findings from my photography and manipulation sessions. Perhaps most importantly, creating these works also focused and defined my interests as a painter and opened my mind to new forms that my art can take. The concepts and techniques that I developed within this project were incorporated into other bodies of work as well, unifying my work as a whole and also encouraging my development as a painter outside the bounds of this project.

wow wall of text. But I think it's pretty solid. I made it by going to the FAU research poster guidelines and looking at the headings and layouts and whatnot. Then I basically wrote the text for the entire poster and took the best bits and made an abstract. I have to say that, having just given my artist talk in class, this was really easy to write. It's nice to know my work.

IN OTHER NEWS I am making things all day every day except when I stop to go read some one-of-a-kind artists' books which is my JOB which I get PAID FOR. Ohmygoodness why are they making me graduate things will never be this good again.

Lately I have learned that my garment construction skills are getting a lot better and I can make things with a good fit and finish. I also found out I can make paintings by drawing with pastels and pouring acrylic medium over them and that some goat puppets only cost five bucks.

I'm trying to make my life collide. I don't want to be a painter/costumer/student/researcher/viking. I just want to be me. The way I am doing this is by not cleaning my studio. No, seriously! I just let all my projects go at once and if I decide that I need to do a self portrait in a half-finished dress or paint something on a shield I do it. It's exciting.
This is the best time of year.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Motivation follows Action

Hello all,
I don't have pictures today. I don't have much interesting to say.
I'm writing this to break the cycle.
I run on streaks. If I post today, I'll probably post tomorrow. If I wait for something good, I wait indefinitely.
Watch this space.