Friday, May 29, 2009

Quirks of following a blog

So.... there are some quirks to following a blog. Above is a sketch I just finished of Andy, one of the "followers" of my blog. It was really nice meeting him, and he was an excellent model. He also gave me a little extra time, which, I think, helped me out to make him look more human than some of my other sketches this week:)
My dad is coming into town tomorrow, which I am SO excited about. 
Other news.... Veronique and I are moving to the Southside July 1st!! So  excited... right off of Main street (now we can actually TOTALLY bombard CreateHere at all times....) 
Ok, that's all I've got for now.... I've been painting gallery paintings throughout the week, and am due for a mini-vacation with my daddy. Have a great weekend! Thanks again, Andy!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Studio sketches

So far......... I've been having a GREAT time!!! These are mostly from this past week..... A lot from this weekend. I feel like I'm burning through paint right now....

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Calling all Chattanoogans

Hey, everyone!
I wanted to extend the invitation to sit for a portrait for me... I have asked all of my friends and anyone else who lives in Chattanooga if they would like to donate one hour to posing. I already have ten people for next week!! In addition to painting in cafes and shopfronts I also want to invite people to my studio. Basically, I paint a portrait of you, I keep the portrait until my exhibit "The Faces of Chattanooga" when I will have a separate section called Sketches of Chattanooga. Once the exhibit is over, I will give everyone who would like their portraits back to them.
What do you think? Got an hour? I can't promise the results, but it is a fun experience, and I think this opens up a portrait of this city much more. You should see my studio... I primed 36 pieces of watercolor paper yesterday! I'll post a pic later today... it looks hilarious!
So please tell anyone you know. My email is listed on this blog. It's a win-win situation, as long as I get the portrait to look roughly human ;)
I'm doing a lot of portraits in my studio this week, then next week I'm going to go to the Community Kitchen and set up shop. After that I will be out of town for a fun trip up north for my sis' birthday...
Ok, thanks everyone!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Veronique a.k.a Bad Ass

My sister, Veronique, is seriously one of the coolest chicks I have ever known. AND, she is my sis!!! I kind of followed her around yesterday..... her and her fellow Chattarati staff all went to Petunia's Silver Jalapeno for lunch to try the fish tacos. They were SUPERB!!! Please, please go there.... Petunia is amazing, and the tacos were out of this world. Veronique sort of leads Summer of Taco, and she is absolutely hilarious in her irony and wit about it all. 
Then, last night, Veronique also read some of her poetry at an invitational reading at Rock Point Books on Broad street. She was the last of 7 poets,  and by far the youngest that was asked to read. I was so proud of her. Her poetry, especially her poems about the rooms in a house, are really subtle. I think that is what I like so much about her writing..... it always has a lot of imagery, but the sounds of the words together, along with the underlying meaning, are all somewhat under the radar. You have to really savor her work. Like a painting you can come back to over and over again, but the initial feeling is obviously strong. I'm a big fan, and I truly hope she gets to write more often and make a living off of it. My poor parents....  they are stuck with a painter and a poet. Guess they are not retiring anytime soon:)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Quick sketch

I did this last night.... fellow painter Grant Williams posed for me for about 45 minutes. I'm really happy with this sketch..... 
Today is a new day! Let's see who I can talk into sitting for me. Yesterday was a record 4 portraits (Sandy came to pose for an hour for Caleb, Grant and I).  I am learning so much right now. Have a great day, all!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Street paintin'

Ok... here are the two head sketches I did outside today..... they were each exactly an hour. I had SO much fun. I parked myself in front of the library and just asked this guy if he wanted to make a quick $20 by posing for me for an hour, right there. Someone definitely put a flame under my ass for that hour, I assure you! It is so intoxicating to paint quickly from life!! I threw down a lot of color, and some of my drawing suffered along the way. But you gotta start somewhere, right? Then I got another woman to pose for me for one hour.... she was really into it. I've got a lot of work to do, but just practicing is so, so much fun. If I could plan my own future and life, I would just travel for 8 months a year painting people in their environments in other countries (and this one), and then spend the other 4 months trying to sell them all to pay for the next trip. Yup, that's what I would do. Paint from life EVERY day. Plus you meet the coolest people.... I was a little intimidated at first, walking around with my easel and hat and overalls, but once I found some nice people, I loosened up and just listened. Some people have seriously hard lives..... the guy, Wes, has 5 kids and he is younger than me. And he is a Muslim, which he said gets tricky here in Chattanooga and just generally the South. He was SO friendly. 
I can't wait to do more! I think I need to start paying less, though, or else I'm going to go broke by next week :)

Summer of Sketches

To keep up with my little sis Veronique, who is the food writer and person spearheading "Summer of Taco" on the local blog Chattarati (this blog is hilarious, folks.... a group of locals with super-dry senses of humor are going on the ultimate quest for the perfect taco in Chattanooga. Beware of the wit that is on the video!), I've decided to create my own....... Summer Of Something.

Actually, I'm going to add to all my other projects, since, you know, I really don't have enough already.
After looking at my "Faces of Chattanooga" project a bit more in-depth, I have found it somewhat debilitating to only paint 9 people from the community. I was surfing artist websites the other day, and went to Rose Frantzen, a wonderfully talented artist. She has a section on her website of portraits of people in her hometown. What a great idea..... she set herself up in a store front and just painted anyone who wanted to sit for her. So, I'm going to take her great idea, and try it for myself. This summer, I'm getting together with a few local shop owners and cafes, and am going to set up a painting area for people to come and have a quick oil sketch (on that watercolor paper...oh yeah) done of them.  I'm re-adjusting my project (yet again) , so that these sketches will be included in the final project of "The Faces of Chattanooga".  I have been so stressed out that I'm going to "miss" someone in the community....
Plus, it's free models. For any painter, this is a HUGE luxury. And it will keep me on my toes with painting from life. I'm going to post a schedule this week of the where and whens. I also want this to help the business owners who are hosting me.... I'm not setting up shop in any chains or non-local companies. I know Coffee Crafters will be one of the venues, and I'm hoping Market Street Tavern and Grey Friars will want to get involved. So if you live in Chattanooga, please come by this summer and have your portrait sketch painted. I would like to keep the portraits until the exhibit, after which they will be given to the sitters or family members. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Something a little more helpful....

So, I'm actually going to write something USEFUL..... wow!

I found recently that a good, archival-safe, and MUCH cheaper alternative to using linen for oil sketches is paper. I like to stain the paper first (I use coffee and tea, but you can use any watercolor), then apply 3 coats of rabbit skin glue. I tape the edges completely so that no curling happens. I primed a whole pad this way, and have been using the sheets whenever I do a quick head study (like the one above of my friend Nacha) and the texture is really nice, as opposed to slippery boards. 
I thought of this when I was looking at Kate Lehman' website where she does sketches of her fellow painter peers on paper. She seems to prime hers with the standard Water Street Atelier gray ground.  She is such a badass female painter... please check her out!!!

Very Serious art.

Voila. This is my new self-portrait. I feel it really , um, transcends the attitude I put into my work through vigorous brushstrokes and lighting and color. Please quote me on that. 
It's a bit bold, I would think I would have opted for more grays and greens, since those are my favorite colors, but alas, hot pink is more how I'm feeling these days. I guess green and pink are complimentary colors.  

Monday, May 18, 2009


My posts are completely schizophrenic! One day it's raining and I'm moping about everything, the next day I'm high on life!! Today is a beautiful, cool, breezy, sunny day. It's one of those days you just want to plop yourself at an outdoor cafe with a sketchbook and pencil  and draw the locals for hours. Seriously, it reminds me of many days in Boston and Florence when I would draw for entire afternoons and drink too many decadent espressos. By the end of the day, I was sunburned, jittery, and totally happy.
Some weird news recently.... the documentary filmmaker Linda who wants to make a film on my project," The Faces of Chattanooga" has just found out she was only partially funded from a grant we were counting on. Which is totally fine. She turned it down (it was not a substantial amount of money to make the film she wants), and now we are peddling the trailer to try to find funding to continue with the project. I really believe in her work... she doesn't skimp out on quality. The shots she cut for the trailer are rich and breathtaking.... (I guess shooting on a Red camera helps that too....). I'm going to be taking copies of the trailer with me when I travel this month.... I hope to find someone who sees the quality and intent of this film, and would like to back it up. I'm open to any suggestions...... I really want to see this happen. 
What else? 
The Chattanooga Aquarium is hosting a fabulous idea for an art show.... glass and jellyfish! I'm going to go see it this week.... I absolutely LOVE jellyfish. I have always wanted to own one in a large glass container in my home.... I find the way they swim so incredibly beautiful. The image on my blog is of moon jellies, one of the many jellyfish that are being exhibited at the aquarium. The show at the aquarium is in conjunction with the Hunter Museum. The museum is showcasing glass artists like Dale Chihuly ,  and local glass maker Thomas Spake ,who make total sense with aquatic sea forms.  EEEEE! I'm SO excited to go to this!!!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

past lives

It's late again. I've had a headache for two days now..... the pressure of all the storms passing through Chattanooga this week seems to give me this pinching all around my eyes.

I've had a lot of dreams of traveling to Asia lately. I have this little theory that is a good conversation starter.... I think a lot of people, for no reason really, can associate with a certain culture they have never lived within. Sounds confusing? I guess what I mean is, most people I know are a little obsessed with some far away culture they don't really know all that well first-hand; as if they just have some affinity for it. Like one of my best friends.... she cannot get enough about India, even though she has never been there. My mom is obsessed with Italy, even if she did visit. I personally feel very close with parts of Asia. I have always wanted to go to Japan, Vietnam, Nepal and Indonesia. I have no idea why. There is just something in the art, the architecture, the ideas and the history that gets to me. Movies set in Asia always get my senses rolling....
I think my theory also applies to landscapes. I know many people who just feel right at home in a very certain landscape, not necessarily the one they grew up around. I think some of this might have to do with our ancestry, though. Like my mom is at total peace on a cold beach with storms rolling towards her. My dad loves warmer climates. My mom's family is originally from Normandy (cold beaches) and my dad's family is from the Loire valley (sunnier part of France). Makes some sense. I love rocky beaches and misty air. I LOVE moss growing on rocks on the beach. Something about all those misty greys and then the pop of bright green..... makes my heart melt. I have no idea why, but I am always drawn to this landscape. I have never lived around it, though. And I have absolutely no love of sunny beaches and palm trees. Although I'm curious about Mexico.....
maybe I've just got wander lust :)

ok.ok. What a weird post. It is fun to ask people those two things, though. And to ask yourself. I found when I asked my parents, a lot of stories came out. It's like asking someone what their last meal would be (another of my FAVORITE conversation starters)..... the stories just start pouring out, and it's a good way to get to know someone.
Just a thought.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

New Painting

"April" oil on linen 14"x18"

Pterodactyls, coffee and zen.

Wake up!!!!!! It's a beautiful day out today!!!!! This is one of those incredible days in Chattanooga when the temperature is just right, everyone is outside and smiling, and everything has a little humor spinkled into it. I caught myself laughing this morning at the birds that my sister Veronique has coined as the "damned pterodactyls" that keep flying into our apartment. They freak her out so much she screams and runs around the apartment as if these sweet little grey and white birds really are the flying reptiles from the Jurassic Era. Watching them outside of this context of terrorizing my sis, they just tweet tweet and eat little bread crumbs outside the local coffee shop I go to every morning, Coffee Crafters. I LOVE this place! If you live in Chattanooga, this is the best, most low-key cafe in town. It sits on Vine Street and Houston, literally next door to my abode. The owners Kent and Steve (I think Steve is part owner...) are hilarious. They never cease to make me giggle.... something truly brave given they are the only ones that see me before my coffee. Amy is my favorite. She is sort of like the coffee nazi.... mixed with the Flanders kids, and just a dash of George Carlin.  Yup, that's Amy. She will have me doubled over with laughter just at how she looks at some of the customers. And the food at Coffee Crafters...... best lunch or breakfast! My personal favorite is the "Veg Out", a bagel with cream cheese, fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, banana peppers, and a drizzle of honey mustard. This is the ultimate cure for any bad previous night. 
And now I've walked to my studio, delicious hot brew in hand. A Feist song is going through my head, and the world is cheery (watch this video... her toast turn into pterodactyls!!! I didn't even know that!!).

 I'm excited to paint. I wish every day could be like today, but I know it took being in bed hurling my brains out for a day and a half  to fully appreciate what's in front of me now. Sometimes pain is a way to show you what's so beautiful. Life is short. 

Monday, May 11, 2009

Top 5

Phew! I am SO glad to have finally come through the mussel melancholy.... it was truly awful! I spent a good portion of today in bed, trying to lower my fever. I'm pretty much totally fine now. 
 I also watched High Fidelity, an absolute classic of a movie. In the film, John Cusack spends a lot of time making "top 5" lists of everything from all-time love songs to top five breakups in his young life. It's pretty hilarious, and he is such a fabulous actor. 
I couldn't help but to start to make Top 5 lists of some of the events in my life.... top 5 most embarrassing moments (not of a nature I could write in a blog...), top 5 lowest moments, top 5 most romantic moments, top 5 goals to be reached, top 5 most romantic songs, top 5 places in the world I want to see. My energy level is still pretty low, so I'm not going to go through all of them, nor bore you, dear readers.  I also have a Top 10 painting list I keep on  my laptop that changes pretty regularly. I highly recommend having one.... it really helps in keeping up inspiration, and makes you think about what you are drawn to. 
Ok, kind of a boring post...sorry! Thanks to all of my friends who sent me sweet messages to feel better! 

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Hello, all. I don't know what is in the air... although I have had a wonderful week, I also have had some weird stuff happen. My FaceBook account was hacked, and the phishing site that did it was sending all of my friends spam. And they were very obviously not too appreciative about it, understandably.
But today sucks. I ate a bad mussel last night.
I don't know if any of you have been put through eating one, but I DO NOT recommend it...
I woke up at 2am with an extremely sharp pain in my stomach. 3 hours of projectile vomit later, and my mom is picking me off the floor from almost blacking out. I didn't know this, but mussels are not like getting normal food poisoning. The marine bacteria that makes you sick actually affects you neurologically as well. I had tingly hands and my legs feel like I have the worst case of restless leg syndrome imaginable. Plus my lower back is totally inflamed.
Fun, huh?
I'm totally writing as a way to pity myself today...
So lesson learned... if you have a second thought about eating a mussel, DON'T DO IT!

Friday, May 8, 2009

It's late.

It's 12:30 at night. I just got home. This might actually be my first booty-call blog. Haha! Too bad there is NO booty in sight!
I'm sitting at my kitchen table, a rather awkward table, actually, since it is WAY too big for my kitchen and too modern as well. I'm eating a wheat bagel with salami and cheese and cucumber ranch dressing (mayonaise gives me zits...), and thinking about what an interesting and unexpected day I have had.
It started off with me getting to my studio in a total torrential downpour of rain, coffee in hand, cup probably full of acid rain (yum). I check my email, and there is a torrent of messages about how my FaceBook account has spammed all of my friends. Again. Yuck. I close my laptop, look over at my studio, and realize I should probably clean up the 5 dirty coffee cups and paper towels on the floor before my 6 gregorian monks come to visit. (who the hell can say THAT!) I clean up a bit, look over at the rather odd painting I am working on, and start dabbling at some of the flaws I see for the first time. Three hours later, I am still "dabbling" . Oy...I'm hungry and my Lean Cuisine calls... (btw... I am totally against diet regimes, but, instead of spending $6 on food everyday, I realized not so long ago that Lean Cuisines are a pleasant, though embarrassing alternative in the day). Moo Shu beef...... hmmmm. I don't think it's beef, and I doubt that the term "moo shu" should be used here. Still, it fills me up, and I can keep working.
All of a sudden, as I think is true with many people, 3 o'clock rolls around, and I'm having the mid-day snoozies.
The monks show up. Wine and cheese is served to my friends who are oohing and ahhing at the painting I did of Brother Ron Fender. Did you know there are only 45 Gregorain monks IN THE WHOLE WORLD????? WOW!!!!! I was floored. Here I am in a room with 6 of them.... like 15% of the entire group!!!! I feel SO honored. We sip and laugh. Bart Lindsrom comes downstairs and Grace Kim, and the whole thing feels really natural. I look around and think, "Whoa, my group of friends is REALLY diverse!". I'm happy.
The monks leave, and Grace and Bart and I get into a long discussion about following your heart (this subject is a hot topic lately...). I'm so thankful to have friends who have more experience that I, and can wave from the other side and tell me about their travels.
I have a few glasses of wine. I'm not going to lie.
And now I'm at home. With my bagel. A bit lonely, but mostly thankful. What a great day, filled with diversity and challenges. What more can you ask for, right? Oh, well, maybe companionship.....
But hey, we are where we are, right? And there is a reason for it. So I'm just sitting back, waiting, enjoying, and working on what's in front of me. It's nice.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Geez, I must be REALLY bored..... two posts in one day!! No, actually, I'm just energized. This morning I had Gordon Wetmore, Michele Anderson, Jim Aplin, Joe Mullican, and Alexandra Wetmore over in my studio to paint a lovely model April. I am SO thankful for my studio... here is a quick pic (I hid my painting from this morning... haha) I feel very lucky to have a great group of people to paint with on a fairly consistent basis. 
By the way.... for any painters out there, wholesale wallpaper makes a FABULOUS backdrop for models. We are lucky to have a cheap one here in Chattanooga. I bought the turquoise on in this photo. They also have ones with Smurfs, if that's your sort of thing.....

Chanel No 5

Last night I went over to my best friend Erica's house. She works for Chanel, and we were talking about how yesterday was the day of the release of the No 5 short film. I hadn't heard about it, but apparently Chanel funded a short film as a prelude to the movie about Coco Chanel's life coming out in September. 
Maybe it is the romantic idealist in my heart, but I love this short little film. AND it stars my favorite actress Audrey Tatou. As far as cinematography is concerned it is simple and stunning. Fabulous idea..... just the seizing allure of a woman's scent. 
Plus, it's rainy today, and I'm trying to pretend like Chattanooga is Paris.....(!)
Here is the YouTube Link... the Chanel website is a little slow. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Jean-Leon Gerome

More images for inspiration......
I'm working on a very small figurative piece right now, and I started looking at how wonderfully Jean Leon Gerome paints on such a small scale. Him and Charles Bargue were some of the best draftsmen the French Academy  could boast about. I personally spend a lot of time oohing and aahing over marks made in painting..... but I think it is a good idea to keep in mind those masters that really tried to get all of their painting to a high-level finish. It's not easy, especially on a small scale. If any of you have ever seen the gorgeous Bargue painting at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston of an Arab sentinel, you would know what I mean. The thing is superb, showy marks or not. 

Monday, May 4, 2009

Inspiration of the day

Hovsep Pushman-- one of the my all-time favorite designers of still-lifes by far. He is not widely known, unfortunately. Few modern figurative painters can touch this guy as far as handling, color and design. Yum.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Spring Air

HELLO, Fellow readers!  Oh, my dearies, one might think I didn't care about you all.... but I have faith you know better. I'm so, so sorry for my infrequency and sometimes random posts. Between taxes, traveling, and personal hoo-ha, I've had NO time to write.  
I hope you are all doing great! I, personally feel like an altogether new person. Some of it bad, some quite good. 
I was out of town for the past week for a wonderful conference on painting, specifically portrait painting.  I MUST tell you that there really is nothing like being around your peers and talking shop-talk. A lot was made very clear while I was away. 
One of the main things I came face to face with while I was away is just how clear our heart can speak. There have been a lot of issues about my painting I have been going through over the winter.  Insecurities, loss of want, troubling economic hard times to say the least. And to paint alone in a dark studio does not always lend itself to, ahem, clarity. 
BUT SPRING IS HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  A time when the earth allows what was blooming underground all along to finally break through the earth and burst into a million blossoms! Ok, I'm being cheesy, I know. But seriously, spring affords new visions and a sense of renewed listening to what you heart REALLY craves.  And I found out a lot. I am SO excited to paint anew! The sky is the limit, as far as I am concerned. Main lesson in all of this...... Whatever you believe spiritually, I think that Big force wants us to be happy, and to feel. Really feel. It's pretty simple.
Ok, I sound like a fool. Knowing me, my next post will be about how rain is just, oh, so appropriate for the tortured artist soul. 
But today is today. And today the world seems big and engaging and exciting and full of wonder. 
EAT IT UP!!!!!!!!!!