Thursday, November 19, 2015

Illustration Friday: Animal.

Just a rough concept sketch to be able to participate in this week's prompt over on Illustration Friday. I'd like to develop her into a painting I think. Just starting to move into my studio. It felt nice to break open a sketchbook again.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Artist Interview: Nina Weiss.

Recently, I was perusing Saatchi Art, and my eye caught the work of Nina Weiss.  I sent her an interview request and she kindly accepted.  I am excited to know more about Nina and her beautifully vibrant landscapes.  So, without further introduction, let the Q&A begin.

"Big Flower Prairie"

1. Were you always an art kid, or did you stumble upon the creative life later on?

I always made art! My father worked at a medical center; and he would bring home the rolls of paper that covered the examining tables….we would make murals on the floor. When I was older; I spent time in my room copying master drawings…then in high school moved on to larger oil paintings of my favorite album covers which I would give to my friends.

"Causeway:  Queechee Gorge"

2. What style of art is your favorite and why?

When I was in art school; I began looking at the works of the German Expressionists and Viennese Successionist. I also identify with a group of painters from Canada from the 1930’s called “The Group of Seven”. These painters use colors and mark- making that are expressive and bold. I have always found their work extremely visually engaging.

"Hidden Reflections II"

3. What do you use for inspiration, or how do you generate ideas?

At every possible opportunity; I am looking for landscapes to draw and paint! I have built entire vacations (and even my honeymoon!) around locations with promising landscapes. I document them in the field and complete my large-scale landscape drawings in the studio. I visit forest preserves; national parks; and local prairie preserves. I have also been know to cull landscapes from golf courses and parking lots!

"Ikibana Landscape"

4. Walk us through your creative process from idea to finished project.

My photographic reference is the basis for my paintings; so when I am in the field with my camera I am looking for compositions that are strong; dramatic; and inspiring. I then crop the photos in my studio to further refine the strongest of possible compositions. Canvasses are gessoed 2-3X and then coated with a colored ground; I then draw my composition out linearly with a thinned down paint. I do a bright; saturated underpainting; then build up the painting from there with broken-brushstroke; glazing; and layering.

"Independance Prairie"

5. What is a typical day in your life?

Pretty full! I have a teenager; a husband; cats; a house; and more than a few jobs (right now I am teaching at three different places; plus my studio). I go to the gym in the morning; and if it is not a teaching day I will be at the studio around 11:00 and work until I am needed after school by my daughter. Studio time also includes time for the business of art; this also continues in the evening when I am home. If I am teaching in the evening; the day is even fuller with gym; studio; daughter; then evening class. Somewhere in between there I also take care of whatever other business life throws at me!

"Midwestern Prairie"

6. What do you think draws you to other people's work?

Integrity; gesture; surface; mark-making; color

"Old School Reflections"

7. What are your interests/hobbies?

I am a big biker; so cycling is another way for me to be out in the landscape gathering images! I speak Italian; and love to travel (another way to get landscapes!). Our family spends as much time together traveling as possible. I am a life-long vegetarian and lover of animals…we have four cats; my daughter and I often volunteer with no-kill shelters to help get cats adopted.

"Pink Sky Landscape"

8. Is this your full time job, or do you have a job out-of-studio?

Teaching/creating art is my full time job!!!!

"Rhapsody in Blue with Bridge"

9. What is your favorite piece you've ever made and why?

I don’t think I have a single favorite; but it looks like I have somehow held on to a piece from each important phase of my artistic development. I have a large chalk pastel on paper drawing; a gouache on board painting; and am thinking about MAYBE keeping one of my recent oils…..but I don’t create art to keep it.

"Shaw Homestead"

10. What advice would you give to an artist just starting out in the business world?

If you pursue your craft as honestly as possible; working very hard for a very long time; there will be SOME people who respond to your work. Get it out there! Shows; galleries; art consultants; social media; websites; all very important. Most important though is to DO THE WORK.

"Skokie Lagoon"

11. Describe your work space.

I am in my third year now renting a wonderful; large; light-filled studio with lots of wall space. I use it to work in; teach; and as a show-room. It has a separate office space where I have built racks to store works that I am not displaying; and another separate small space that I use as a gallery in which I have shows for my students and other artists. I have a slop sink; skylight; storage closet; northern light; bathroom and small kitchen. It’s in one of two one-story industrial buildings separated by a nicely landscaped courtyard filled with rocks. It’s pretty much perfect! When I first moved in; upon entering; I heard heavenly music; angels singing; etc.

Her Studio.

12. Did you face any setbacks on your path to being an artist?

Graduate school was a bust; an inspiration killer. I opened my own studio; regrouped; and continued on my own after getting a teaching degree. So it may not even have been a setback; but something that propelled me forward.

Another Studio Shot.

13. What milestones, goals, or achievements are you striving for right now?

I have my first small museum show coming up this Spring! I would like to continue showing in museum venues.

Nina at Work.

14. Are your landscapes from life, or imaginary, or both?

Always from life! Though I have looked at a gazillion landscapes; I could never pretend to know what nature is doing. I like to observe color/form/light.

"Waimea Valley Waterway"

15. Your color palette is very unique for landscapes, how did you develop your color

My color choices are mostly intuitive but also informed by color theory. I love my darks; and have been told that the paintings are a bit “moody”. I am always striving to see beyond “green” landscapes; and often do not interpret them as green at all!

A Work In Progress.

Nina Weiss can be found:
Saatchi Art

Thank you so much for you time, Nina--and please keep up the beautiful work.  

Saturday, September 26, 2015

What a Summer.

If you would've asked me at the start of this year what life had in store for me, I sure never would've guessed where I'd be now.  That simple Sunday drive earlier this spring that had us stumbling upon a forgotten "For Sale" sign, the roller coaster of trying to sell our farm, the heartbreak and anxiety that comes with offers falling through, the impossible hopeless feeling of having to wait through four months of unknown outcomes, it all leads to this happy statement of:  The new farm will be ours soon!  In just a couple weeks we will finally close on seventy-five acres of pure bliss.  A long, long driveway, a creek, woods, and lots of solitude and wilderness to hunker down in.

Something I'm looking especially forward to is the fact that I get a large studio space.  A very large, only for me, studio space.  I've got big goals to work toward in that space.  It will be splendid.

We should be closing on my daughter's birthday which adds a bit of extra specialness to the whole transaction.

So here's to a future full of new art, a large garden, and lots of additional livestock to add to the mix.  I can't wait.  Excited doesn't even begin to cover the level of happiness that is coursing through my veins.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Artist Interview: Another Conversation with John W. Shanabrook

Almost two years ago now, I got the wonderful opportunity to interview an artist whose paintings often make my heart catch in my chest. Quite a bit has changed in his world since that time, and he's graciously agreed to let me interview him once again with a whole fresh batch of questions. So without further introduction by me, here is a second interview with John W. Shanabrook, complete with some of his more recent work to illustrate the post: 

1. I write "Once Upon a Time" type stories about the dream life I long for. What would your "Once Upon a Time" consist of?

A small, bright, and quiet house on the shortgrass prairie of Eastern New Mexico.

"A Grocer's, a dark day, a song"

2. Can you give me some insight into where your wonderful titles come from?

That’s a good question, Julia, especially because I don’t really know. It’s a little mysterious, a little ghostly. I think of my mind as wandering through an attic of association and implication and feeling, picking up and discarding odd objects and remembrances and quotations and words until what it holds in its mental hands are, suddenly, resonant and poetry.

"Comes a Dark Hero with a Dire Taste for Gunpowder Dramatics

3. The places you paint, are they memories, places you've read about, or just from your imagination (or a combination of all three)?

These landscapes are essentially what my heart makes of what I’ve known, of what I might long for, and of what sometimes happens unexpectedly at three in the morning.

"Hidden Winter"

4. What do you think people would be surprised to learn about you?

Five years ago, a medical school in Ohio offered me a place in their class of 2010.

"Milkmaid's Moon"

5. Do you have any artists you're currently admiring?

I don’t know why it is, but admiration’s something I’ve never been very good at.

"Night Softly"

6. Where do you spend time online? What sites do you gawk at or read, if any?

I try to stay away from the Internet for entertainment, using it only for my painting and for buying things I need. I’m not always successful, but it terrifies me how much time I can spend online to no real purpose otherwise.

"Night to the Plateau"

7. What's your favorite season and why?

Summer, to be sure, because summer is warmth and warmth is freedom. There’s certainly more poetry in fall, winter, and spring, but there’s not as much life.

"Plains Morning, Christmas"

8. What is your favorite book?

This is a question I could never answer. If you were to ask me to name the one book I’d take with me to a desert island, I’d probably just ask for paper and pencil so I could write my own.

"The Spinney"

9. Do you work in any mediums besides oil? Is there any medium you've wanted to try?

Just oil. Oil paint and words. I don’t know which I’m better at. 

"Shotgun Storm"

10. You said you didn't start out being an artist, tell me about what made you try painting. What made you stick with it?

I tried painting because one Christmas a very good friend of mine named Margaret surprised me with a packet of panels and a clever little painting box of Winsor & Newton paints and brushes. I stuck with painting because I’m a terribly sedulous and persevering and stubborn soul.


11. It's hard to find much about you out there—is the mystery purposeful or just coincidence?

It’s pretty simple, really. All my life I’ve stayed out of the world.

"The Pumpkin Field"

12. What else should people know about you or your work?

My landscapes often surprise me into liking them. They sometimes seem to know far more about the world than I do.

"To Go a Silver Journey"

Find more of John's Work here:

Seminary Road on Etsy:
Wordpress Blog:

Previous Interview Here.

And a huge thanks to John for being kind enough to take the time to answer my questions.

Monday, June 8, 2015

STUDIO CLEARANCE SALE--50% Off Everything!

Lots of art up for grabs!  Still more pieces to add to the album.  Sale started this morning and will continue until Sunday June 14th!  Details on the Facebook page here.