Tuesday, November 25, 2014

And Baby Makes Five.

No, we aren't expecting, and I only have one human child.  My daughter wanted a brother a couple of years ago, so we found Piggybank (the Mastiff, Irish Wolfhound, Rottweiler, St. Bernard Mutt).  She started asking about getting another sibling, so we surprised her with a Boston Terrier Mix Baby.  So without any further ado, here is Tuna (named by a five year old).

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My Before 30 List.

I want to re-learn how to enjoy life the way my daughter does.
I turned twenty-nine back in August, and I've been working on my goal list for the year before I turn thirty.  Here is what I've got so far:

  1. Six-pack Abs.
  2. Daily Yoga.
  3. Learn to Sew.
  4. Enter a Juried Art Show.
  5. Can Some Garden Produce.
  6. Start a 365-Project.
  7. Write a Short Novel.
  8. Explore 5 New County Fairs.
  9. Go to 5 New Art Galleries.
  10. Visit 2 New Museums.
  11. Paint an Extra-Large Painting Just For Me.
  12. Hang Up All My Collected Artwork.
  13. Start and Keep to a Cleaning Schedule.
  14. Go to a Play.
  15. Go Camping.
  16. Find a Deer Antler Shed.
  17. Buy a Potter's Wheel and Kiln.
  18. Build a Garage.
  19. Explore an Abandoned House.
  20. Reach 550 Sales in the Shop.
  21. Make a Quilt.
  22. Get Dressed Up and Go Out.
  23. Take a Class/Workshop.
  24. Make a Habit of Going to Estate Sales.
  25. Move Chickens to New Coop.
  26. Buy a Piano.
  27. Be More Spontaneous.
  28. Make a Printing Press.
  29. Go to the Junk Gypsy Prom in Texas.
  30. See the West Coast.
  31. Travel to Maine.
  32. Daily Painting/Drawing Habit.
  33. Read Fifteen Books.
  34. Blog on a more reliable basis.
  35. Pursue the John Deere Building into Art Space Realization.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Snow, Winter Farm Chores, and November.

This time last year I was teaching two first-time momma cows how to let me milk all while learning how to milk them.  It was quite the steep learning curve, but we all came out in good shape.  They'd both calved heifers (girl calves), and were doing a very good job raising them.  Fast forward and the calves are a year old, mommas are bred to a Hereford bull to have spring calves, and they are all out grazing in the woods lot tonight.  We hit a cold spell this past week here in Southern Indiana.  It is actually snowing as I type.  Farm chores take twice as long this time of year.  Ice is broken, fresh water is poured, and animals are checked over well while they eat their feed twice a day.  What normally takes all of a half an hour in the summer takes about two full hours in the winter.

Things are really heading quickly into the end of the year.  Doesn't seem possible, but I'm sure 2015 will be here in a blink of an eye.  The chores won't get easier until things thaw out next spring, but at least I have the hope that two more adorable calves will be here in about five months.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Have no fear, I'm not lost.

So, it's been a busy summer / fall.  Again I seem to have abandoned my blog.  Have no fear, I am back, and (will hopefully) be posting on a regular basis again.  Here is a quick glimpse of some things I've been up to.  If you want, you can follow me on Instagram for more images like this.

In other news, I'm doing my first craft fair this weekend.  I'm excited, nervous, and hoping for the best.  Stick close, and I'll write again soon.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Illinois Gallivant and Updates.

When I took my artwork to The Open Gallery last week, I decided to celebrate with a gallivant in Illinois.  One of the first towns I came across was Bird.  It was sort of a ghost town, but still lovely and every street had a bird name.
Road Signs in Bird, Illinois.

I also drove through Palestine, and they had (at one time) and Opera House, how amazing is that?!

Fife Opera House, Palestine, Illinois.

My favorite part about any gallivant are the forgotten and rundown places.  This church wasn't as dilapidated as most that I photograph, but I thought it was interesting.

Abandoned Church on a Back Road in Illinois.

This grain elevator caught my eye from clear across the town of Palestine.

Grain Elevator, Palestine, Illinois.

On the home front, Joelee is growing like a weed.  She has matured so much these past few months.  Most days now she can be found (usually barefoot) outside playing on her swing, or hauling her poor kitten around under one arm.  It is amazing how much I love this no-so-little girl.

Joelee a little over four and a half years old.

And I don't think I ever wrote about it, but directly after my grandfather passed away last year, this Hollyhock started growing near our kitchen door.  It might not be that shocking, except we don't have ANY Hollyhocks on the property or nearby that I know of, and Hollyhocks were one of his most favorite flowers.  It's looking like it might bloom on the anniversary of his death.

My mysterious Hollyhock.

And it happens to be my favorite time of year.  The Catalpa trees are blooming.  They have always been my favorite tree, and seeing them bloom every year makes me so happy.

Catalpa Trees are blooming.

In one week and one day is my Art Show's Artist Reception.  It is such a dream come true to have a solo show, and I'm really looking forward to getting to witness other people looking at my artwork.

If you are in the Vincennes area next Friday, stop by The Open Gallery at 329 Main Street, Vincennes, IN from 5-8pm.  I'd love to see you.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

My artwork went to the gallery yesterday.

One of the posters for the show.
I've been working on this collection of pieces since the beginning of the year.  Amongst the "Mommy-Mommy-Mommy"s and the udder-checking of the milk cows I somehow managed to churn out (get that little pun, churn--milk cows, I slay myself) 23 canvases ranging in size from 10x14 to 20x30 inches.  Yesterday, I loaded them all into the back of my vehicle and drove them down to Vincennes to The Open Gallery.

I titled my show "Memories, Back Roads, and Tangents" and that really seems to encompass the soul of it.  Each piece started with one of my photographs, and using found paper ephemera, from photos to handwritten notes, I collaged around them creating a unique story for each one.  Along with each piece I also included a poem that I felt best created a mood for the viewer to respond to.  In all honesty, these pieces are nowhere close to what I had originally intended to create.  However, when I got started, the canvases took on a life of their own, and I blinked and this is what emerged.  I couldn't be happier.

One of the pieces in process on the easel.

I also had some small photography prints processed to sell along side of the big canvas pieces, and wanted something unique to display them and my business cards with.  Enter my husband, and his incredible talent to make things.  He tore off some of the fence boards on the old corral at the barn.

Old fence boards.

He planed them down and revealed some of the most beautiful graining I have ever seen.

Freshly plained fence board.

Then he created these nifty little boxes that seemed to absolutely match the feeling of my photographs.  I'm so glad he "gets" me.

I'm very proud of the little group of artwork I came up with.  I'm very interested to see how they will look hanging on the wall.  It will be a surprise for me, since they were going to hang it up after I left.

All stacked up and ready to be loaded in the vehicle.

Below are a few of my favorite pieces.  All of these are 24x20 inches on stretched canvas.

"Accidental Wild Child"

"The Heart of Summer"

Willingly Tamed

If you don't have any plans, the artist reception is June 6, from 5-8pm at The Open Gallery, 329 Main Street, Vincennes, IN 47591.  I'd love to see lots of people there!  It's been such a fun journey to this solo show, and I'm excited to show it to everyone.

After I dropped of the pieces at the gallery, I decided to have a celebratory gallivant in Illinois before heading back home.  I will blog about that adventure soon.  It was such a fantastic jaunt!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Architecture and Interiors: Little Collections.

Via Sous Style.
I love little collections around the home.  Mine currently has none--all of our things are still tucked away here and there as we aren't done renovating (sigh, maybe someday).  I'm a sucker for old photos, and rusty artifacts, and fossils.  The above collection is actually in a store called The Apartment.  Quite the neat little write up by Sous Style!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Blog Envy: The Blog of Michelle Armas.

Great photos mixed with witty writing, and I'm hooked.  Go check it out, you won't be disappointed!

Artist Interview: Brienne Brown.

I found this artist via Daily Paintworks which is a wonderful place to discover new art every day.  Brienne has a handle on Watercolors to be inspired greatly by.  I hope you enjoy her work and her interview as much as I did.  Here is Brienne Brown:
1.  Were you always an art kid, or did you stumble upon it later in life?

Always an art kid! I loved to draw at an early age. I had a fantastic Jr. High art teacher that taught me how to see as an artist and draw. I also took private lessons from her. When I started painting, my mom would complain that I didn’t own an article of clothing without paint on it. I hardly ever thought to change my clothes before painting… I just had to get started. I still have this problem. I continued studying art through college. However, I had not thought of art as a career until later in life. I started a double major in art and chemistry at the University of Utah, but only completed a B.S. in Chemistry. I had always thought that art would just be a hobby that I would enjoy from time to time. However, while I was in graduate school for chemistry, I had no time to paint or draw, and found myself very unhappy. So, I took a community watercolor class ensuring I would have at least 2 hours per week devoted to art. This was my first lesson that art was more to me than a passing hobby, it was essential to my happiness. I have made it a priority ever since. I also found my true love during those community classes: watercolor! I finished a Master’s degree and worked for a number of years as a Toxicologist, while being sure to make time for painting. However, it wasn’t until my husband and I had our first son, and I decided to stay home, that I also started a career as a professional artist.

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

I like a lot of styles, but I guess my favorite would be impressionism. I like paintings that look like paintings, not photographs. I like to feel the impressions and feelings that an artist had for the scene, not just a record or statement of what they saw. I also like paintings that tell a story. Some of my favorite master artists would have to be Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Cezanne, Claude Monet, John Singer Sargent, and Edward Hopper. Some of my favorite more recent artists are John Pike, Joseph Zbukvic, Alvaro Castagnet, Robert Wade, and Dean Mitchell.

Flat Iron and Hunter's Home.

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

I find beauty in everyday life, the so called “mundane”. Ordinary people going about their everyday lives inspire me. I especially enjoy painting ‘en plein air’, where each painting reminds me of where I was, of the experiences I had, the sounds, smells, and the people I met. My paintings are always more about a moment in time than about a particular location. Being a landscape artist, my favorite way to get inspiration is to paint on location, painting ‘en plein air’. I love to be outside, experiencing the place I am painting, in an attempt to paint my impression of the place. I also get inspiration from photos and sketches of places as I travel. I like including figures in my landscape and cityscape paintings, so I often sketch figures from observation and my own imagination. These sketches are not only useful tools, but good practice for when I paint ‘en plein air’. After all, people are usually not standing still as I paint. I have to be quick!

Moo's Cows and Dusk.

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

I love the wonderful sense of freedom, and slightly controlled chaos, that watercolor provides. All of my paintings begin with choosing a subject, whether I am on location or painting from photographs. I look for interesting shapes, designs, and light patterns. After a small value sketch, where I plan my composition, I lightly draw on my paper for a general guideline. I then paint a first wash in one go, only painting around a few areas that I want to remain white. This first wash is my favorite step, fast and messy! While the first wash is drying, I look for inspiration in the scene, in the people I see, and in the paint on the paper. I start to look less and less at the scene in front of me, and more at my evolving painting. This helps me to focus less on the details of my subject, and more on my impressions of where I am. If you would like more details about my process, please refer to my blog: http://briennembrown.com/blog/65193/painting-on-location. I have a number of posts that explain my process in detail, and I also have many step by step demonstrations.

Brienne working en Plein Air.

5.  What is a typical day in your life?

Haha… A typical day in my life at this point doesn’t always involve art. I have two very active boys, ages 3 and 5. So, my days are crazy and chaotic. However, like I said previously, I have made a commitment to make the time to paint. My boys are now in kindergarten and pre-school, so I get about 20 hours per week for art related activities. I will walk you through a typical art day…

I wake-up at 6:30am to get my oldest out the door and on the bus by 7:20am. I then get my youngest ready for the bus by 8:10am. With both boys gone, I eat breakfast and take a quick shower in peace. Now it is time to get to work. If I am going to paint ‘en plein air’, I grab my stuff and leave. If I am working in the studio, I get my reference photo and sketchbook and start planning my painting. Depending on the size, I can usually finish a painting by 12:00-1:00pm. I have learned to work fast…I have to. Also, even though my painting time is short, while I am with my boys, I am thinking of my next painting and planning some of it in my head. This helps. My youngest gets home around 1:30pm. The rest of my day is spent with the boys and doing house work. After putting the boys to bed, I usually spend some time each night for the ‘business side of art’: updating inventory, photographing art work, printing out reference photos, updating my website, or anything else that might need to be done. I would love more time to paint, but that is just not possible at this time in my life. I know it will come. For now, I have made a commitment to myself to do what I can, and not put the brush down while my kids are young. I am an artist. I paint because I have to! It is necessary!

A Plein Air set up and Black Moshannon.
 6.  What do you think draws you to other people's work?

This is an interesting question…I like a lot of styles of art work. As I said before, my favorite style is probably impressionistic paintings. However, I am drawn to many styles, subjects and mediums. I guess what draws me most to a work of art, besides good design, is an intangible quality that I call expressionism. One of my college professors took us to an art show of an artist whose name I don’t remember, but her style was described as ‘abstract expressionism’. I can’t even describe the impact those paintings had on me. The paintings were more than wonderful abstract paintings. As I studied them, I felt a range of different emotions and was completely drawn to them. That is what I strive to convey in my work and what I like to see in other artists work. Now, one thing I love about art is that different artists will connect with different viewers, but I think that is what artists try to do.

Shorty's House and Whitehall Fields.
 7.  What are your interests/hobbies?

My main interests, at this time in my life, are my family and my art. However, I also love to read fiction, some non-fiction, and (surprise, surprise) art books. I play the piano, or I used to. My boys don’t let me play much anymore. Every time I start, they come to help… and I am sure you can imagine how well that goes. I like to play sports, especially softball and volleyball. I play volleyball once a week with some great ladies and it has been a great stress reliever. Among other things, I like to hike, camp, and cook.

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

I think of myself as a full-time mother and part-time artist. However, as my boys grow older, I will get to make more time for painting. 

Brienne's Studio.

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

Boy, this is the toughest question you have asked. I don’t think I can pick one favorite. I have many for various reasons. Each one reminds me of either a place or time in my life. Also, I am always looking forward to the next painting…
However, two that stand out in my mind are ‘Discussing Grandpa’s House’ and ‘Garek’. My painting, ‘Discussing Grandpa’s House’, I painted from a photo I took of a wonderful old house down the street from where I live. No, it is not my grandfather’s house, but my grandfather had passed away earlier that year. The man that owns the house has been placed in a rest home, so it has fallen under disrepair, but I love it. With the experience of my own grandfather, I could just imagine the family’s discussion of what to do with the house after their father/grandfather passes away. This is something that happens in many families at one point or another. My other painting that I like, ‘Garek’, is a painting of my youngest son. I like it not just because it is a painting of my son, but the method I used. I actually painted this during a workshop I took. The artist was giving us ideas for mixed media paintings. This was done with watercolor, fluid acrylics, and oil pastel. I think I like this painting because it was so fun to paint. I have done others paintings with this method, but I love this one because it just seemed to paint itself. That is an exciting, but rare event. This is one of those paintings that I will never sell. 

Way's Fruit Farm.

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

The best advice I got, was from a friend and fellow artist, Rob Adamson. He told me to just paint and show my work, the rest would take care of itself. At first, I didn’t believe him, but he was right. Keep painting (or working in whatever medium you do), perfecting your art, and get it out there for people to see. It is not quick! Here is some more good advice:

Don’t think of going into art to become a millionaire. Go there because there is no other choice. Something deep inside you propels you, a voice that demands to be heard.” -Carl Purcell

Painting Demo and Finished Piece, Autumn Morning.
11.  Describe your work space.

My workspace is just a spare room in our house. It has an important feature: a door that locks! This helps keep my boys out. One day my oldest found a squirt bottle and proceeded to spray one of my paintings. Luckily, he didn’t totally ruin it, hey maybe he even helped it… But, I will tell you that he never did that again. I have two working tables and a large easel for larger works of art. I have shelves for stuff, always lots of stuff. I have my ‘plein air’ bag always ready to go. I have a flat file to hold paper, unframed paintings, mat board, etc. One project I have this spring is to build some storage for framed paintings. Right now, they are hanging on my walls and leaning against other walls. I need more room! It is an ongoing discussion I have with my husband…

Discussing Grandpa's House.
12.  Did you face any setbacks on your path to being an artist?

Sure. My biggest setback was probably when I stopped painting during graduate school like I explained earlier. Now, I wasn’t a professional artist at the time, but I have always been an artist at heart, I just had to learn that. Other than that, I am not sure I have had what I would call setbacks, more detours. Having more children have been detours for me. Also, I have not set really high goals for myself yet until my children grow older. But, I have been improving my art by painting as much as I can. Though I always want more time…

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

I have set goals to make more time, to paint more often, especially ‘en plein air’. Also, I am working on earning signature status in the American Watercolor Society and the National Watercolor Society. These are my main goals and achievements I am working on right now. I have other more long term goals, like teaching more workshops, which I really enjoy. However, some of these goals might have wait until my boys are older and I can make more time…

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions and letting me show off your lovely work.

You can find Brienne Brown at Daily Paintworks, her website, and her blog