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5 days of watercolor at the SFSU Sierra Nevada Field School

I first heard of Andie Thrams from a friend (who also happens to be an incredible artist, Courtney Cerruti). A bunch of us took a workshop with Andie at the Tilden Park botanical garden in Berkeley and I knew I wanted to learn more from her. Then a few months ago I saw that she would be teaching watercolors up in the Sierras and I started figuring out how to get myself there as well as to get baby care coverage for 5 whole days!! (many many thanks to my amazing husband and parents!!!)

The whole experience was awesome, from camping out on the SFSU field campus, eating hot meals in the canteen, having class at a different site each day in the Gold Lakes Basin area… No Instagram, no cell reception, no internet at all. No distraction. I’d wake up at 6am, get some coffee, start painting outside my tent and take a deep breath. I’m feeling a bit of culture shock now being back in the Bay Area suburbs that I call home. Each day focused on a different theme or technique. Day 1 – color, day 2 – line, day 3 – composition and so on. Here are some of the work and play that I produced. I cannot say enough good things about the people I met (the other classes happening concurrently included mycology and bird identification by song), the organizers, and of course our lovely instructor Andie.

color studies: leaves, soil/bark, flowers
color studies: leaves, soil/bark, flowers

 

leavesglaze
study of leaves, color, and glazing (with quinacridone gold), drawing in veins with a cream color pencil

 

study of line, practice the motions of mark making with pine needles
study of line, practice the motions of mark making of pine needles

 

background
wet into wet play, a good way to start background blurry colors (this feels a little bob ross to me, but oh well), I’d build on top of this over a few days

 

setting up in a field of mule's ears
setting up in a field of mule’s ears

 

before deciding what to focus on, talking a little walk around, sketching and quick color study can help me decide where to settle in
before deciding what to focus on, we’d take a little walk around, sketching and quick color study helped me decide where to settle in

 

this plant is appropriately called paint brush
this plant is appropriately called paint brush

 

fell in love with wispy plants and grasses
fell in love with wispy plants and grasses

grasses

baby hands
back at home, my studio helper assists with photography

 

brilliant pink penstemon and rock at Fraizer Falls
brilliant pink penstemon and rocks at Frazier Falls

penstemon penstemon2 penstemon3

IMG_20160609_143837

lichen - exemplifies lots of techniques, wet into wet, dry brush details layered on top, gouache details, glazing...
lichen, instructed step by step by Andie Thrams – exemplifies lots of techniques, wet into wet, dry brush details layered on top, gouache details, glazing…

 

rockflowers2
flowers and rocks, detail

 

Evening painting at camp, 3x3 grid suggested by Andie. I like this because you can see the light fading over time, from green to blue
Evening painting at camp, 3×3 grid suggested by Andie. I like this because you can see the light fading over time, from green to blue

 

painting site for the day
painting site for one of the days…I didn’t want it to end.

Lots more studies and paintings done, lots in progress, I would love to return again next year.

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SF Artist Spotlight: New Works by Chelsea Ryoko Wong

“She’s the next Maira Kalman,” Courtney whispers in my ear, “And if you don’t buy it I will.” We are standing in front of “Gossip Girls Selling Veggies on Mahabandoola Street, Yangon” and she is referring to San Francisco-based artist Chelsea Ryoko Wong who is currently in a two-woman show Hello At Last with Mia Christopher at the recently relocated Legion shop in Chinatown, San Francisco.

The piece is a celebration of women, food, and the marketplace. The colors shout out to passersby and the level of detail beckons the viewer to approach, to examine each slice of melon, each flower closeup. There is something about the vibrant scenes, flattened hierarchy and level of detail that are reminiscent of Persian miniature painting. Wong later tells us that she fell in love with this marketplace in Myanmar (Burma). “The women are the queens of the streets and you could tell they have the power,” her eyes ablaze when describing this scene.

I first met Chelsea when she dropped off artwork for #strikeawayshow a show of matchbook art which I co-curated with Courtney Cerruti in May 2015.

"Smokin' Hot Redheads Zine," 2015 Matchbook, ink, gouache. Xerox accordian fold zine. Matches.
“Smokin’ Hot Redheads Zine,” 2015
Matchbook, ink, gouache. Xerox accordian fold zine. Matches.

We fell in love with her work immediately and asked, “Um, can you make, like, six more?” “Sure!” Wong’s enthusiasm and easy-going nature make her a delight to work with. Later at the opening of Hello At Last, we see her play and gush when two little kids present her with a pink carnation. “Pink! Matches my bag, cute don’t you think?”

Another piece that called me in for a closer look was “Boys Becoming Novices, Going Forth.”

"Boys Becoming Novices, Going Forth," 2015 Gouache, water color and colored pencil on paper (9” x 12”)
“Boys Becoming Novices, Going Forth,” 2015
Gouache, water color and colored pencil on paper, 9” x 12”

Its gentle visual rhythm evokes the chanting of monks. The white, simultaneously energetic and meditative, leaps off the paper. And again, those details! Tiny scissors, candlesticks, and incense conjure sounds and smells, a before and after, of the scene.

Whether her subjects recall faraway places or near, people you know or people you want to be, they are all a celebration of life and everyday people.

Ceramics, 2015
Ceramics, 2015

The show includes a mix of original artwork, prints and ceramics. The functional pieces, again a nod to food and domesticity, a playful boost to an otherwise quotidian object, are well-paired with Mia Christopher’s larger abstract paintings.

HelloAtLast

The show runs until 11/30. Curated by Alice Wu. On view at Legion Shop, 678 Commercial St, San Francisco, CA 94111. I encourage you to check it out! M-F 11-6, Sat 1-5, closed Sunday. Photos courtesy of Chelsea R. Wong and @ccerruti.

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Submissions Now Closed (to Strike Away – a matchbook art show)

I’m thrilled to share with you that Courtney Cerruti and I are curating a show of matchbook art at Paxton Gate Curiosities in San Francisco. It’s a follow-up to Courtney’s hit show last year, 3636 Project, 36 spoons by 36 artists.

The matchbook show Strike Away opens May 22, 2015.

If you’d like to submit artwork click HERE for details.

Can’t wait!!

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Feeling Like A “Real Artist” with a Show at The Shop Friday

1411_November-01

Well my last post was about how I feel like an artistic poser at times. So I am thrilled to say that I will have work on display at November First Friday in San Mateo at my favorite printshop/workshop space/gallery The Shop at Flywheel Press. I’m feeling more like a real artist already!

I’ll be showing work next to some very talented ladies, including the lovely Rachelle Kaldani.

I’m displaying original watercolor and ink sketches that went into making my zines. I’ll have copies of the zines for sale too! All super affordable because everyone should get to own art.

Hope to see you at the opening reception this Friday, November 7, 6-9pm at 309 7th Ave, San Mateo, California 94401.

Here’s a peek at what’s to come.

assyrian

From the making of “Growing Up Half Ass(yrian)” a collab with Seana Murphy.

squat floating  bellies

 

From the making of “Expecting” a zine about pregnancy. (ps Seana made this awesome blue jean quilt)

And last but not least, my new zine about breastfeeding “Public/Private” hot off the presses!

boobs

 

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Social Sketch in life

I met Mike when Courtney asked if I’d like to join them for a sketch sesh. I said, “of course!” but was kinda nervous about sketching with the two of them. They are what you might call real artists. The kind of artists with degrees in art, who show their work in galleries, write books on art and craft, and teach others how to make art. I am a bit of a poser. I am a “paint in my living room after I finish work, don’t really know the difference between student and professional materials” kind of artist.

I decide to go sketch anyway. After scarfing down a terribly saucy, terribly delicious falafel in Mike’s studio space, we get to it. We each start on a sheet and when someone gets tired or feels like they’re done we exchange work. Then we exchange one more time so that everyone has made a mark on each sheet.

It was magic.

I loved trying to figure out how to enhance their work. I love how clearly Mike and Courtney’s styles come through, and how they play off of one another’s work. (You can see more of their collaborations on Instagram under the hashtag #ccrabbit.) I wasn’t even that scared to mess up their work because there was no ego about it. Turd it up? Doesn’t really matter, flip the page and start something new.

Here’s one of my faves from the night:

collaborativesketch

And here’s the bunch at the end of the night that we divvied up:collab sesh

This collaborative way of drawing reminds me of old Persian miniature painting. Each artist would have a specialty, such as gold leaf, color, calligraphy, and would only add that particular element to each work. Paintings were a result of several artists’ efforts.

Several years ago the Asian Art Museum here in San Francisco hosted an exhibit that played off of this idea. Karkhana: A Contemporary Collaboration included paintings that had been passed from artist to artist. Here you can get an idea of the process (excuse the shitty images throughout this post, these are quick phone snaps of the exhibit catalog):

karkhana process

karkhana_final

This brings us to the awesomeness that is Social Sketch, a monthly event recently started by Courtney and Mike which alternates between San Francisco and Oakland venues.

social sketch

It’s an open event, you can find upcoming dates on Instagram #socialsketch or Facebook. Bring beer, burritos, and your favorite pen or paints. Start a work, throw it in the middle of the table, take someone else’s and add to it.

Why I think this simple concept is so good:

there’s no ownership of the work, no ego because you don’t necessarily know who made what, no money involved so it’s not really competitive. You make something you’d never otherwise make, meet and work with skilled people, have dedicated time to hone your craft, take cool shit home. And if you make something crappy, it doesn’t much matter. Throw it in the center so someone else can fix it, and start fresh.

I would love to employ the social sketch concept in other aspects of my life. How come it’s so hard to find paid gigs with this same spirit? Projects where you work with cool people, with no ego, who help to make something that wouldn’t otherwise happen alone. I suspect work projects don’t feel this way because they involve money. As soon as you pay or get paid for shit it changes the dynamic of the relationship, and people tend to feel more possessive of the process or final products. Even so, I’m looking to embrace social sketch in other contexts because it’s a fun way to work, and a lot of cool stuff gets made.

Here’s some collaborative pieces from previous Social Sketches. Hope to see you at the next one!

socialsketch_bottles

socialsketch_house

socialsketch_french

socialsketch_shapes

socialsketch_shoes

 

 

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3636 Project Opens at Paxton Gate’s Kids in SF Friday, February 21

3636_project

36 antique spoons rebirthed by 36 artists. 3636 Project opens at Paxton Gate’s Curiosities for Kids February 21. Reception 6-8pm. 766 Valencia Street (between 18th & 19th Streets).

The curator of the show, Courtney Cerruti, is always making the world around her more beautiful. She calls herself a maker extraordinaire and that she is. Doesn’t matter the medium (although I believe her heart is happiest dripping in paint) she’ll turn it into something magical. Somehow I managed to sneak an invite to participate in the show. Lucky for me, someone who wouldn’t dare call herself an artist (at least not in front of other artists), Courtney can see creativity in most people. I think it’s because she teaches so many workshops around the Bay Area and can bring out artistic qualities in all her students.

So here I am, with a spoon in the show, alongside 35 extremely talented artists. Here’s a peek at my spoon. Come check out the rest! Some are already teasing us on Instagram #3636project

spoon

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Permission to Play

First, a plug. My lovely and talented friend Courtney Cerruti just released her first book, Playing With Image Transfers.

Image_transfers_cover

And it is wonderful. Beautiful artwork, creative projects with clear “how to” instructions, and delightful personal anecdotes that give the book warmth. It would make a wonderful holiday present for kids and adults. Just saying.

In the trailer for the book, Courtney tells us that art can be made anytime. Art making doesn’t need the perfect setup. Don’t be too precious about it. She says that image transfers in particular give you permission to play and experiment.

I really like this idea of giving ourselves permission to play. I want to figure out how to do more playing. Playing with purpose, playing to make stuff, playing just to play.

I didn’t realize how much I wasn’t playing until I visited some friends who have a three year old. She started to make believe that she was driving me to a restaurant for breakfast, and we acted out the whole scene. From parking the car to ordering to picking up the bill. It was one of those things that you just had to put your whole heart into, otherwise it would have been boring and lame. So I did. I have to say I improvised the hell out of that restaurant scene.

I stayed with those friends for a couple weeks, so there was a lot of playing, and make believe in particular. A lot of times what you end up saying is garbage, it’s not witty or doesn’t make complete sense. But the three year old is actually quite forgiving and will go along with you. And sometimes you say something that is completely out of the blue improvised and it is just magic. Just effin perfect, something I could never have thought of if I sat down to think about it.

I’m trying to bring this to my writing and sketching. With drawing I usually go for portraits. I start with the eyes and never quite know who is going to appear. Sometimes, they are really ugly or just bad. But sometimes they are so so good. Again, something I would never have made if I sat down and tried to do it.

lovetriangle

These are some improvised sketches.

If you draw a turd, just turn the page and move on. So I encourage you to try playing. Playing like you did when you were little, and to not care about looking like an ass in the process.

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synchronize: what we are all doing at the same time

marclay_clock_01

I watched a tiny piece of Christian Marclay’s The Clock at SF MoMA last week. From 4:37 – 5:05 pm or so. If you’re like me and had not heard of the work before, he (and most likely an army of unpaid interns) stitched together thousands of movie clips that reference time and matched each clip up to the actual time, minute for minute, for 24 hours. I thought it’d be a crazy hodge podgery, but the scenes, despite being from completely different movies, flow into each other quite well and create a unique narrative. It also makes for a great game, who can spot the clock reference first.

What I liked most about it, was thinking about what specific activities are time-bound. Around 5pm I saw:

sitting in an office eying the clock

working in factories

punching time cards

leaving train stations

meeting people

talking on the phone…

This made me think about our synchronous activities. If I’m eating breakfast at 7:30am, how many 1000s of other people are doing the exact same thing at this moment? Doesn’t it remind you of that scene from Amelie? The part where she wonders how many people are having an orgasm at this precise moment. And there’s something very comforting about this normalcy. I find comfort in the communal nature of every task, even if I’m doing it by myself.

What most commonly happens at 12 midnight in movies? New year’s or turning back into a pumpkin. What about 3am? Something dark, dangerous, or naughty?

What else is going on at this precise moment in time?

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Portraits of Strangers

I recently went on a business trip to Shanghai and Seoul. One week in each city. Like many folks on Instagram, I enjoy taking photographs of people I don’t know in public. Strangely, I realized that the majority of photographs I take on the street are of men.

MEN

shanghaistreet4

Often, these men were in motion…

photo 3

Most of the time they don’t notice me. But sometimes they stare back.

shanghai_street

seoul_street1

Sometimes they were from a distance.

photo 4

I noticed that I took more photographs of women in the subway.

WOMEN

seoul_subway2

Sometimes they were asleep.

seoul_subway1

Often, I was trying to keep up…

photo 1

Sometimes, I felt overdressed…or underdressed?

photo 2

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12 to 13 inclinations

We had a great time musing and rambling this year about art, design, and social awkwardness. Thanks for reading.

I hate the word “trend” so we’ve compiled “inclinations” for you instead. These are some of our favorite things from 2012 that we hope will continue into 2013. We love:

SAMSUNG

1. All that is hand-crafted, locally-produced, crunchy granola goodness. Shout out to Public Glass, Workshop, San Francisco Center for the Book, Allied Arts Guild, in fact to all craft fairs, art walks, um, Portland, popup hoodletterpress workshops, wood workers etc. etc.

SAMSUNG

2. DIY lovin for food. Who in your life isn’t making their own bread, cured meats, cheese, pickling, and making a batch of micro-brew in their tub at this very moment? Mawana winery and micro-brew in Los Gatos is our fave (but we’re biased). It’s so local and micro that it doesn’t even have a website.

3. The back-to-the-woods look. Wood paneling, well, everywhere – in restaurants, cafes, apartments, bus stops. Cabin porn. Amish chic but with iPads.

4. Commune living (but with toilets), live/work lofts, and nude frolicking.

5. Reupholstering and repurposing in general. Why build new when there is so much out there already?

6. Moving our bodies in new (and I guess, old) ways. More walking, bike lanes, self-driving cars. Here’s hoping that BART actually gets extended from Fremont to San Jose (gotta believe it’ll happen guys).

SAMSUNG

7. Knowing where our food comes from. CSA, food co-ops, exchanges, foraging. local, local, local. Urban gardens. Urban beekeeping.

8. Shifting from “users” to “people.” Standing up for our digital rights, and have a better understanding of where our data goes and who makes $$$ from it.

9. To start reading again. Big, hefty tomes at that.

10. Single-tasking.

11. Business models that don’t involve selling our data to marketers. For example, let’s take Louis CK. He produces his own content and sells directly to fans on his own website. Beautiful. Or take my friends’ design/build shop, Pas de Chocolat. Their motto is, “if we don’t do it ourselves, we do it with collaborators who share ownership.” Isn’t that cool?

12. Shorter commutes. I propose moving all of the Bay Area into San Francisco. Then we can make some real public transport and call it a day. This week I’ll drive to San Jose, San Francisco, and Berkeley for work. This is not OK.

13. Beards and the cool barber shops that go with them.

Last note. Something that we’re happy to see go: All things apocalypse related. I’m looking at you History Channel.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!