Saturday, December 24, 2011

Last Looks

As mentioned in my last post, I recently had the culmination of my graduate school experience - my thesis exhibition and defense.  I am happy to say that I got over the yips, defended my thesis, passed, and officially became a Master of Fine Art in Painting!  I made it!  What a relief!!  (I'll post some photos on my website of the exhibition soon, so you can see it.)   

While I'm excited about finishing and moving on to the next phase of my life, I'm also nervous about moving on to the next phase of my life...  Finishing grad school equals change, and like most people, I don't like change!  I'm planning on staying in Grand Rapids for a little longer, so I don't have to say goodbye to everyone/thing yet, but I've already had to say some sad goodbyes.  

The first was to my studio.  I've been in this particular studio for two years now (my first semester I was down a few spaces but moved closer to the windows) and have really learned and grown SO much in this space!  I've had so much fun with my studio friends and great meetings with my professors there.  It's been a great place to just go and immerse myself in painting for hours on end.  This is where I've seen the most growth personally and professionally, so it's meant a lot to me.
Studio a couple of months ago
Last week I spent a number of hours packing it up and moving everything out (with the help of my dad and my friend/studio mate Damian).  I went back the next night to sweep it out and no one else was there.  This was a good thing, because as I was sweeping and thinking about all the good/hard times there, I got a little choked up!  A tear or two may have been shed.  Sigh.  So many good memories there!  

Emptied-Out Studio

Tried to wipe one of my favorite poems
off the wall...

The sink where we clean our brushes -
yeah, it's a little gross, but a great place
to create and be messy!

The entrance to our studios

Well-worn stairs leading up to our studios

Another goodbye I had to say was to my job.  For the last year and a half I've been the graduate assistant in Kendall's Continuing Studies program.  I work with a girl named Cori (alias Co-Rizz - she's the undergraduate assistant) and we really made our cubicle a fun place to work.  

One of the walls in our cubicle 
Another cubicle wall with holiday decor - Christmas,
Festivus, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah!

We really had some fun/ridiculous times there!  And got a lot of quality work done, too, of course.  ;) In recent weeks we've taken to throwing a crumpled-up ball of paper at each other throughout our work day just to spice things up.  (I also wrote insults from the French knights in "Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail" on it, such as, "Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries!"  It adds to the insult of being hit by a crumpled paper ball.)    

I made a "Magic 8 Drawer" so we could
receive answers to all of our most important
questions.  Cori made that little pumpkin
out of a marshmallow...  
I've enjoyed the job, had some really great coworkers and a boss that I got along with really well, and gained a lot of really valuable work experience there.  It was so sad to say goodbye on Wednesday!  While I realize I'll see them again and stay in touch, it's still sad to know that I won't see them regularly. 

The last two goodbyes were to the Kendall on-campus studios (my studio was with 10 others off-campus, the rest were on-campus inside the building) where we went for some critiques and things, and to my studio keys (there were 3).  My keychain is lighter, but my heart is heavier.  (Yeah, I said it, it's cheesy, get over it.)  ;)

Kendall studios

All of my keys before removing my studio keys
So, onward and upward, yes, but a sad goodbye to the familiar and comfortable and fun times!  Hopefully soon I'll have a post full of first looks and new adventures.  Here's hopin'!  

P.S. Merry Christmas Eve!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Yips

When most people hear about the yips, they either think about sports or TV shows that have an episode based around the yips (Psych, How I Met Your Mother).  Who knew that artists could suffer from this affliction as well?  Wikipedia, the most reliable website on the Internet (when are they going to invent a sarcasm font?!), defines yips thusly*:

"Yips or the yips is an expression used to describe the apparent loss of certain fine motor skills seemingly without explanation in one of a number of different sports."

Well, I'm just going to have to log on and change their definition to include painting, because I've got a bad case.  I've heard people talk about the yips as sometimes happening due to increased pressure - a big game coming up, a lot of things riding on a match, etc.  For me, I think it's my impending Graduate Thesis Exhibition (Opening on November 21st with my defense on the 29th) that has brought on this case.

I seem to be unable to mix the right colors, get the right effects, or generally make my paintings look the way that I want them to.  Increased pressure led to increased stress, which led to my mad painting skillz defenestrating*.

But not to worry, I have a plan.  It will involve some abstract painting, chocolate chip cookies, swimming laps, finger exercises (a la Pete & Pete, when the Petes' Dad was trying to get his fingers to fit in the bowling ball, Rolling Thunder, again), meditation, and possibly carbo-loading.  But not all at once.  And probably not carbo-loading.

I'll let you know how things go.  In the mean time, I'd appreciate any prayers, good thoughts, or chocolate chip cookies you wanted to send my way!  But mostly the prayers and good thoughts.  And the chocolate chip cookies.

*I may have the Painting Yips, but my ability to use ridiculous words has increased forthwith. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Artist's Corner: Watercolor Tips and Tricks

 As most of my readers know, I'm an artist and an art teacher.  While I've recently transitioned into doing a little more oil painting, my true love has always been watercolor.  A couple of weeks ago I taught the kids in one of my classes some tricks you can do with watercolor to create really cool effects! You can use these to create texture in pictures by layering overtop of them, or do an abstract painting using the techniques alone (I'll include some of my students' finished abstract paintings at the bottom).  
The great thing about these techniques is that they're all done with things that most people have around the house!  Below are pictures of the techniques and descriptions of how to do them.
Crumple up and flatten out a piece of aluminum foil, then
put it on top of wet paint (you may need to put something
on top of it to hold it down).  

Put cheesecloth on top of wet paper (or wet paint), then
put more paint back overtop of it.  The amount of time
you leave the cheesecloth on will determine the effect
you get (try out different drying times).

Crumple up plastic wrap and flatten it down
over wet paint; this one will also differ
depending on how long you leave it on the paint
(the longer you leave it, the sharper the edges
will be).

This one is the most well-known!  Sprinkle salt over wet paint
to get a cool snowflake effect!  Try different types of salt - table,
rock, kosher, pretzel, etc.

Drop rubbing alcohol on wet paint to make
this bubble-like effect.

Blow wet paint around your paper with
a drinking straw!

Tape off shapes with masking (or
painter's) tape, then peel up the
tape after the paint is dry.

Crayons create a wax resist (as do candles).  Draw with
white crayons (like you do with Easter eggs!) or colored
crayons, and then paint over them.
Tear small shapes out of wax paper, and place them over wet
paint; then bleed other colors around the edges.  Peel up
when paint is dry.

These are the paintings that some of my students did.  (They added details with permanent markers after the paint dried.)
Sarah, age 11
Brianna, age 11
Micaela, age 11

One last tip before you go grab your painting supplies: the more water you add to your paints, the more vibrant your colors will be!  And if you really want to get nice color, go out and spend a few more bucks to get some Prang or slightly nicer watercolors.  (That's what my students used.)  The next thing you know, you'll be amazing your friends with your mad watercolor skills!  

If you do some paintings, please email me pictures!  I'd love to see what you do!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

B, As In Blog Post

Have any of you ever been in this scenario: You're on the phone, trying to spell something out, and you have to say a letter that sounds like another (like m & n; g, t, b, v, c, d, e, p & z...etc)?  So to clarify, you need an, "as in..." example.  Like, "N, as in Nancy."  Or, "B, as in Book."

My problem is that I can't come up with normal "As in"s.  For example, a few days ago I was on the phone with my internet provider trying to update my address, and the only M example I could think of was, "M, as in manhole cover."  And a month or so ago when I was on the phone at work, I actually said, "G, as in Gandalf the Grey."  Why can't I come up with normal examples?  Just now I was trying to think of something for the letter T, and the first thing that came into my head was, "as in Tyrannosaurus Rex."  Nothing normal like, " in, Today, Tape worm, or Tap dancing."  Wait, see?!  I still can't come up with normal things!  (Is it sad that those really are the first 3 things that popped into my head?  If you're a psychologist/psychiatrist/therapist of any kind, please do not analyze that list.)

Are there standard examples?  I feel like I hear the Nancy example often, but I'm not sure of others.  I've decided that I should set the list of standard examples, since clearly I have a gift for this sort of thing.  So, here's my list:

A as in Antidisestablishmentarianism
B as in Bananas Foster
C as in Cantilevered Roof (you know, Frank Lloyd Wright-style)
D as in Daffy Duck
E as in Eeeeeeeek!
F as in Fourteen Hundred and Ninety-Two
G as in Gandalf the Grey
H as in Ham and Potato Casserole
I as in Interrogation, Methods of
J as in Jailhouse Rock
K as in Katherine the Great
L as in Luke Skywalker
M as in Manhole Cover
N as in Never-Never Land
O as in O Sole Mio
P as in Pour Some Sugar on Me
Q as in Quadrature Amplitude Modulation
R as in Raiders of the Lost Ark
S as in Shahtooshes
T as in Tyrannosaurus Rex
U as in Ursprache
V as in Va-va-voom!
W as in Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go
X as in Xanadu
Y as in Y-O-D-A Yoda
Z as in Zabaglione

So, counter-offers?  I'm willing to change my list if you have other ideas, though I'm a little set on some of them.  Then I think we should start a national campaign to see if we can get this adopted.  It's going to revolutionize the "As in" system!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends -
It gives a lovely light!
-Edna St. Vincent Millay
Blog friends, I have a confession to make.  I've been cheating on you with another blog.  I didn't mean for it to happen, but just did!

Oof, ok, that's starting to hit a little too close to reality.  The truth is, I've been writing for another blog - - which is why I've been more neglectful than usual over here.  It's not like I like it better over there or anything, it's just, well, they pay me!  But fear not (I know how worried you all have been), I've got big plans for making a comeback here at Robot Tuesdays!

Things you can expect in the near future:

- Fascinating insights on artists in the Twenty-first Century!
- Nonsensical posts about bugs and bikes!
- Tips on how to paint, draw, and make nifty crafts!
- Stories about the swim class I'm taking at the Y!  (If you're good, I might post the picture I took of myself in my swim cap and goggles...or I may take that with me to the grave...)
- Links to the posts I'm writing over at that other blog I mentioned before!

And much, much more.

In the mean time, here are some other links you can check out that further explain what I've been up to lately:

- I'm in Art Prize!  If you make it to the 2-week event, Vote up!  (Please!)
- I made a Facebook page!  And my art.  Mostly my art.  Come on over and "like" me, would ya?
- I have paintings in three other shows (1 currently, 2 are coming up soon) and my thesis exhibition is coming up in November!

So, I hope you can forgive me and we can still be friends.  If not, you could always find out how to make new friends by reading this post I wrote!

*I know that 'hornswoggling' is a different kind of cheating than the kind I mean, but I just really like to say hornswoggle. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

It's Possible!

I just watched Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella this afternoon, and I've always loved this sentiment.  It makes me feel so hopeful, so I thought I'd share it with you!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Leave of Absence

And then I walked downstairs and he was like, "what?"  And I was like, "yesterday."  

...So I thought I'd start out this post as if we were in the middle of a conversation instead of the cold, hard truth - that I haven't posted anything in months.  Months!  Here's a little run-down of what I've been up to and why my posts have been scarce:
  • wrote a paper and gave a presentation on Frank Lloyd Wright and his principles of organic expression (for school)
  • painted.  A LOT.
  • wrote and rewrote my artist's statement (9 pages now) and read a lot of James Elkins' The Domain of Images (very interesting, but takes a lot of rereading...)  
  • worked a lot
  • continued to work in the young women's program at church
  • continued chairing the Wee Folks Island committee for the Saline Celtic Festival
  • continued on as treasurer of the Kendall MFA Club
  • got a stomach virus
  • got a Twitter account
  • got a painting into the Michigan Water Color Society's annual show, this year being held in Birmingham, MI!
  • had a painting in a show at a place called Braaaaaaiiiiinnnnssss 
  • worked on my plan to take over the world (shhhh - it's a secret!)
  • worked on stuff for my website - COMING SOON!
A mini preview of one of
my most recent paintings -
it's 7' tall, 7" wide, & in oil

Here's what I didn't do:
  • post on my blog
  • have a social life
  • get normal amounts of sleep
  • eat healthy
  • exercise
What it boils down to is that the second list is becoming my list of things to do this summer!  I'll still be working from list one (painting, working, seeking after world domination, etc), but hope to intersperse some things that are a little more fun alongside sleeping and trying to fit back into my pants.  I'll also be teaching a few youth art classes, an adult drawing class, as well as a workshop on Frank Lloyd Wright on May 15.  (I'm becoming obsessed...there may or may not be a post about him soon...I can't help it!)

I'm hoping that this summer, while being busy in preparation for graduation in December, will be full of adventures!  They may be local, inexpensive adventures (who knew grad students were so broke all the time...?), but they are going to be AMAZING.  I'll keep you posted (no pun intended)!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

This Song.

Do any of you remember it?  Every once in a while I come across an old song like this that brings back memories, and this is definitely one of them.  What about you?  Any songs that remind you of your childhood?  Man, I love this song.  :)  I also love the invisible instruments in the video.  Genius.