Thursday, May 27, 2010

Salute to Trees

My preferred time of year to observe trees is in the winter. This time of year when the leaves are full I miss that. Oh I love the shade summer trees provide and the beautiful colors of fall but there is something starkly majestic about a tree with all its limbs exposed and spread against the sky. I think it must have something to do with the feeling of quietude and patient anticipation of the coming spring. Trees are among my favorite subjects to paint, I have a few old friends I watch through the seasons around the neighborhood.

My home is in an area that urban sprawl is gobbling up and it's saddening when beautiful mature trees are taken out for strip malls and new housing development. Often times the new neighborhoods take on the very names of the trees that were felled... wonder what the trees think about that? I've recently lost a few old familiars for the sake of widening a road and so they are gone, silently, with no outcry or gesture of disapproval on the part of the tree of course. The subdivision I live in was once part of a large farm almost 30 years ago so our trees are fairly mature here, but I realize at one time this too was a "new" development and I, with my home and car and consumption of well-everything- have contributed to the loss of those trees.

I'll share a couple of favorite quotes on the subject and two recent paintings of trees.

You will find something more in woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters.
Saint Bernard

I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.

Dr. Suess

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Two New Paintings

Just thought I would post a couple of paintings I recently finished.
This one is titled Angel Emerging, and is on Ampersand cradled board. I used acrylic, watercolor, ink and also collaged on textured paper for the garment that I stamped with an old hand carved wooden stamp used for batik. The hair has bits of paper and burlap looking stuff added for dimension. The belt is flattened, rusted bottle caps I pick up from time to time, usually when buying gas for my truck. They are too interesting not to pick up, I figured the caps would eventually make their way onto a piece of art and sure enough the occasion presented itself on this piece. I wrapped the painting around the edges so you get different glimpses from various angles, it measures 10"x30"x2".

This painting I call The Promenade, it is acrylic on stretched canvas 8"x20"x1.5" I really do enjoy these humorous paintings whether anyone else does or not. Comic relief is a good thing! For some reason I'm  into rectangular shaped paintings at the moment, as with everything, it will run its course and I'll notice some other pattern about what I'm producing.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Visit with Andre Gandin

Andre calls himself an American industrial folk artist, after my visit with him I think he may be part wizard too. His studios, yes plural, are captivating in a very magical sort of way, and he thoroughly enjoys what he is doing, whether it be working with steel or sand casting. That exuberance about his work spills over to his creations without fail.

Andre gives new life to found objects and discarded metal in the form of sculpture for the home and garden. He also incorporates his sand castings in much of his work in intriguing ways.
The above pictures are at his metal working studio and below I've shared some images of his sand casting studio at another location. He says the casting is a more organic process for him and provides a refreshing change of pace. The gloves are an experiment, I can't wait to see what he comes up with!

And here is my latest and greatest acquisition from Andre's 'Goddess Series' an artful combination of sand casting and welded steel. She's just grand!!
He has managed to capture the sacred and mystical aspects of the feminine spirit here. It is in my garden for the photos, but I have since brought her inside, she's sitting on the mantel now. I may have to travel round the house and garden with her a bit to decide what she likes best.

In addition to the wee sampling I've shown you Andre creates very intriguing sand writers that have a wonderful calming effect when you're around them. You can see more of his work at his website

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Fast forward several months on Laughing Crow progress

When the decision was made to turn the tool shed into a studio I decided to have the ceiling raised to give it a feeling of more space. Since it also housed the water storage tank for a well on the property this entailed moving pipes that were up there. After a minor deconstruction hiccup and lots of water, repeat lots of water, flooding into the little space, quite a bit more sheetrock work than I expected ensued. But in the end I feel like it was worth the effort.

In marches one of the coldest winters on record for the Houston area in 20 years. Paint does not dry very well under these conditions, so slow going on the walls and even slower for the floors since the concrete needed to be at least 50 degrees or so to accept paint.

Debbie is having her share of set backs and delays with the weather as well for the workshop facility. She also discovered some drainage issues after a few heavy rains.  My initial goal was to be moved in by the end of February so I could get back to painting things that weren't on sheetrock. Then it was March.....then April.....hey I made the April goal!!

Victor, Debbie's all round construction guy put the stained glass in, it added a third source of light and made a huge difference. I cut a stencil with crows and a leaf motif and used it on four closet doors to make a folding screen that covers the holding tank for the well. Added a stencil to the ceiling too, so that it brings the eye up when you step through those pretty garden doors. I went to a lot of trouble to get the ceiling raised, might as well flaunt it I thought.

In the mean time Debbie is moving at the speed of light getting The Purple Elephant Gallery stocked and The Iron Butterfly Studio ready for classes and workshops and the clean up station plumbed and a ton of other things done for the May 1st grand opening. This is the fabulous clean up station.
And here's the front of Laughing Crow just a couple weeks before opening day.
I still have to put the plants in the pots, but I finished painting the sign and got it hung, the veranda is wonderful and the cleaning station is just to the right of the door.
A few more pics of everything all fluffed and puffed for opening day:
The grand opening was yesterday, May 1st and I was one of the featured artists in the main gallery. It was a wonderful day, the weather was perfect and there was a huge turn out.

One last image of a painting I finished literally just before the opening. I titled it Moonlight Bath.

How Laughing Crow art studio came to be.

Back in the fall of this past year a friend had acquired a property she intended for use as a gift shop/art gallery. We were talking over coffee and decided to drive on over so she could show me around. I really didn't know what to expect, since she had told me it was a little house and woodworking shop. Well, I instantly fell in love! Beautiful trees every where, the birds were chirping away, an adorable covered back porch and cute little breezeway. Wow! I told my friend, this is fantastic and I love the vibes, so peaceful.

As we were walking around she filled me in on some of her plans to refurb the woodworking shop as an art studio for workshops and classes and what she wanted to do with the house for the gift shop and gallery. She gave me a brief run down on some of her long term plans for more out buildings to lease as artists studios.

We were walking back from the workshop to the house and I asked what was in the tiny little building attached to the breezeway part of the house, it was too small to be a garage. Oh, that's the tool shed and pump house, I keep the riding mower in there she said. We opened it up to have a look see inside and I told here it would make a cute little studio space. Ya' think? my friend responded, and from there Laughing Crow just sort of came into being.

That's my friend Debbie Reese on the mower, and my darling hubby standing in the humble little tool shed before its rebirth as an art studio.