Sunday, December 25, 2011

mini 22

Baking - another one of my favorite things (actually, the part I like most is the decorating).  These are my take on gingerbread men - they're gingerbread emoticons.  If you've ever gotten an email from me, you may know that I love emoticons.  I think I like them because they represent a way of inserting a picture into writing.  Now, while I actually can justify my love of emoticons, given the chance, I know that chance won't always present itself; so, I treat them as an artistic tool - I remind myself that the potency of an artistic property is inversely proportional to the frequency of its use (i.e. one bright color in a gray+ painting can be more powerful than all the colors in a painting which is vibrant throughout).  So the technique I use for dealing with my love of emoticons is one of erasure.  I use as many emoticons as I want, and then go back and edit them down to the most important one (or none) before hitting send.  

Now, you may be wondering how this relates to the mini for this week (bear with me here...)

First off, mini 22 is on gold ground, and metallics do not photograph well (the grainy texture is the result of light reflecting back to the camera at slightly different angles); however, the fading which occurs toward the lower right corner isn't a trick of the light.  I made the drawing in several layers and used aerosol paint to cover over some areas.  Loosing information and work/ labor time can be hard because it requires faith that it will lead to something better without any assurance that it will work out (and sometimes it doesn't, and there's no going back).  But, hopefully, sometimes it all works out for the best.
Miniature #22 - December 19 - 25, 2011, 7 x 5 in, charcoal and paint on board

On that note, mini 22 is the last mini of 2011.  There will be no mini next week, but it's not because I'm giving up.  As laid out in the initial project proposal ( ), my goal is 50 miniatures in a year, with one week off between Christmas and New Years and one reserved for dealing with a non-art emergency (hopefully that won't be necessary, but just in case...).  So no mini next week. Thank you for following in 2011, and I hope you'll stick with me for the second half of the project in 2012! 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Mini 21

I’ve been listening to some music and reading some articles that have me thinking about space/time this past week. This is a huge theoretical issue that touches on most aspects of art-making, and I’m usually more tiny-centric, but I’ve been trying to bite off and digest a mini-sized chunk of this topic...

I’ve been thinking that it’s been too long since the last sculptural mini (mini 4).  The thing is, even though I studied sculpture in school, I find that I end up working in 2D media far more often than 3D because I don’t need to be in a particularly creative mood in order to draw or paint (not to say that I necessarily do these things well when I’m not in a creative mood…), but there are so many layers to most of my 2D works, that the ultimate effect tends to be cumulative - the finished product is the result of the layering of time, the vast majority of which takes place after the initial moment of design (for which I do need to be in a creative mood).  On the other hand, I don’t make 3D work unless I feel particularly motivated.   Some of this has to do with materials – I always have the materials for drawing and painting on-hand and accessible - but some of it has to do with space.  I move frequently and always live in small places, and it’s been easy to use that as an excuse not to make sculpture; however, I once read that making art is not about all the things you don’t have, but effectively using what you do have, and I think that’s a positive approach.  (It reminds me of Giacometti and his “match box” series of sculptures, literally, sculptures that fits inside matchboxes – can we guess how I feel about these? Yes.)  So, I’ve been thinking about it, and, really, I do have space for sculpture, I just needed to adjust the parameters a little bit (after all - who doesn’t have space somewhere for a 3.25 x 2” golden heart in a jar, right?)

Miniature #21 - "Work in Progress," December 12 - 18, 2011, 3.25 x 2 (D) in, mixed media

And because I couldn’t help myself …

Apparently, knocking ornaments off the Christmas tree is exhausting (or why I've learned to hang up my coat, most of the time).

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mini 20

Mini 20 is ball point pen - I know it seems like I say this about everything, but it really is one of my favorite media (I guess it makes me feel like all the doodling in margins I've done over the course of my life is being put to some use.) I haven't worked with it in a while (in the past, I've found is extraordinarily unforgiving in terms of erasing), but I used the same technique I used with mini 18, where I put it down in layers with isolating coats of acrylic. I've also never used it on panel before, but I think the unyielding surface works well (not sure yet how I feel about the mitering though...)

In other news, I helped make a film this week. My next door neighbor is a film maker and asked me to be in his work (I'm not an actress, but was basically playing myself and didn't have to talk, so I said yes). It was interesting for me to see art-in-motion from a different perspective, and I'm glad I could help out.

I also graded 100+ essays, submitted a rough draft of a graduate paper, and decorated a Christmas tree (oy -let's just say getting all of the lights working at one time was not as easy as plugging them in [is it ever?]). Perhaps not surprisingly, it's a miniature tree with tons of miniature, color, lights, and I love it. I included a picture, and while I know it's probably not as exciting to others as it is to me, I put the soft, stuffed ornaments and the ones with bells near the bottom, so there is at least one creature who loves the tree more than I do - I think I made one little cat very happy this week.

Miniature #20 - December 4 - 11, 2011, 5 x 5 in, ball point pen and acrylic on panel

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Mini 19

Mini 19 relates to a larger scale (24 x 48 in) work on panel that's currently in process. Often, smaller works precede larger ones, but in this instance, I started the larger work first, and liked it so much that I decided to make a mini with a similar theme. The relationship between the minis and my other work is a complicated one. One question I've been asked is if I'm working on the mini project in place of my life-sized scale work, and the answer is no, the minis are in addition to my other work (which can be seen on my artist page - ) In general, my larger works take months (sometimes years), so I don't write about them on the blog because I think it would get kind of boring: "working on...still working on...and still working on." In that regard, it's been nice having the minis because they allow me to feel like I accomplish something concrete each week, and having a weekly deadline helps me get myself into the studio daily, even when I'm tired, busy, or overwhelmed. The process of digitally documenting the project has also kept me on my toes as, believe it or not, despite being part of the millennial generation, I'm kind of suspicious of technology (long story for another day perhaps). On the other hand, it's hard for me to see exactly how individual minis contribute to my larger works because I may make 20 or 30 minis and still be working on the same painting (at this point, one of my larger, in-process paintings still predates the minis and is unlikely to be complete when the minis project concludes. I work on 2 to 3 life-sized scale works at a time). While, being in the midst of the project, it's hard for me to see how specific minis impact my other work, I feel like they're given me the chance to test new materials, techniques, and content, so for now, I'll hold on to hope that hindsight turns out to be 20/20.

Miniature #19 - November 28 - December 4, 2011, 2.5 x 3.5 in, charcoal, pencil and acrylic on paper board

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Mini 18

Mini 18, on time and on schedule. With this mini, I used the technique from Mini 17, but layered it, using isolating coats of acrylic between the layers of charcoal. I'm pleased with the result - I feel like the mini project has really helped me explore and develop some new techniques. I'm looking to apply this technique to a larger scale work in the next month or so (...we'll see)

Miniature #18 - November 21 - 27, 2011, 4.5 x 4.5 in, charcoal and acrylic on panel

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mini 17

"Economy of mark" is one of those qualities which I recognize as desirable, but don't typically associate with my own work. I use many different media and techniques, but one commonality is that I tend to favor labor intensive processes (unfortunately for me). Mini 17 is a rare, rare example of a piece I made in a single (long) sitting. It is all laid down in a single layer of one medium, vine charcoal. The light areas are all done by erasing back to the background tone. Vine charcoal is extremely delicate and easy to smear or wipe off completely, so there were moments while I was working on this piece when afraid I was going to sneeze and completely lose the image. Luckily, my experience working with gold and platinum leafing (as an assistant to another artist) came in handy, in that I seem to have developed through practice the ability "not to breathe too hard if it may damage the artwork." I rarely say this, but on a technical level, I'm very proud of this piece. Looks like I may be learning something from this project after all.

Miniature #17 - November 14 - 20, 2011, 5 x 7 in, vine charcoal on toned canvas board

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mini 16

I was feeling pretty exhausted last week (art, job, school, family, friends). I’m not complaining – all things I am happy to have in my life, but I feel last week’s commentary was a little ho-hum. Fortunately, this project is all about moving forward, so I’ll endeavor to be a little more thorough this week…

As I mentioned with mini 9, my art history thesis focused on the iconography of winged figures. This interest acts like a feedback loop for me – I was curious enough about winged figures to want to spend hours in the library reading about them. Then, the more time I spent studying them, the more interested I became and the more often they crop up in my artwork, leading me to more study and greater interest… so ultimately, I don’t think it would be wrong to say that I’m a little bit obsessed.

Now, I always think of them as “winged figures,” but I know most people look at them and jump straight to “angel.” In that case, the iconography may read as fairly straightforward and even trite (gasp – forbid! - though I would point out, that far more people believe in angels than believe in God, an interesting statistic in and of itself.) For these individuals, the best I can hope for is that my technique may still act like a hook , and that the work may still merit a second glance because there’s something inherently satisfying about something so small and exact (though that may just be me with my love of the tiny and technical.)

While I know that the iconography may not be all that interesting to everyone, I would argue that winged figures are actually relevant and exemplary of post-modernism in that they are hybrids (shout out to all the James Patterson fans out there). Not only are they physically human-avian hybrids which therefore symbolically relate to both the human and the bird with its connotations of the soul and freedom, but they inhabit the liminal spaces between – between male and female, heaven and earth, human and divine. I also like to depict my figure as blindfolded further playing on a dichotomy between sight and knowledge (nerd tidbit – the words have the same root verb in ancient Greek ) The figure can’t see, so may therefore be more able to know (or not?) So, I think they can be pretty interesting still and that there is a reason that the winged figure continues to act as an archetype for that which is between in many cultures.

On a technical level, this piece is the first mini on which I’ve used oil paint (in the black to get a very deep black in the background.) I love, love oil paint, but I also love, love layering, and I essentially had to choose one or the other for this project due to the time constraints. This piece represents a compromise in that the piece is multi-layered (maybe 20+ layers, though I don’t count), but it has oil in the top layer to allow for sufficient drying time. Of course, after saying with mini 6 that I need a break from panels, I find myself mostly working on panel. However, the wood for this mini and mini 14 is scrap and therefore free… hmmmm.

Miniature #16 - November 7 - 13, 2011, 1.5 x 2.25 in, mixed media on wood

Monday, November 7, 2011

Minis 14 and 15

I may be slightly behind in posting the minis, but, fortunately, I'm not behind in making them (yet). Mini 14 is one of the smallest and most intricate yet, so, of course, it's one of my favorites (yes, I just had to have that blue, millimeter-scaled diamond pattern on the back). I like this one so much that I carried it around in my coat pocket all day today (it has several coats of varnish on it, so it was perfectly safe for the mini so long as I didn't put anything sharp, like keys, in my pocket). Mini 15 is a pretty standard figure drawing. I haven't done much of it lately, and I miss it.

Miniature #14 - October 23 - 29, 2011, 1.5 x 2.25 in, mixed media on wood

Miniature #15 - October 30 - November 6, 2011, 5 x 7 in, mixed media on canvas panel

Friday, October 28, 2011

Mini 13 and Gertrude Herbert benefit

Miniature #13 - October 16 - 22, 2011, 6 x 6 in, mixed media on panel

So, I'm going to come right out and admit it - I'm a little superstitious. Working on mini 13, I kept expecting to accidentally spill paint on it, drop it face down, smear it, etc. Perhaps to counteract my natural, superstitious tendency, I picked an especially ambitious project for mini 13. I attempted to fuse some of the most successful elements from previous minis: the panel preparation and varnishing from mini 6, with the layering technique from mini 7, and the palette and tracery from mini 10. Though there are elelments that I still need to perfect, I'm pretty happy with the result, (and no, I have not dropped the panel so far - knock on wood).

I had several additional projects going this week. One was a panel for the silent auction benefit for the Gertrude Herbert Institute of art next week and another was a work on paper dealing with the same theme as mini 12, which I ended up taping to the floor to work on (long story). With about four different projects in process, my studio is beginning to look like an art bomb went off. It defies description, so I've included a picture below.

Fortunately, the minis have escaped the chaos unscathed.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mini 12

I can't believe that this is mini 12, and I'm 3 months in, or 1/4 of the way through, the "Power in Precision" project. Mini 12 is mixed media with digital collage. I enjoy digital collage - it's a different sort of work than that which goes into a painting. I'm testing some ideas with this piece for a larger scale work I'm still thinking through. It may take me a few more collages to get the ideas worked out, but I feel I'm headed in the right direction. The theme for the collage and the piece I'm considering is "Apiphobia" (the fear of bees). The bees in this piece are metallic ink and the ground is stained Japanese paper with gold accents.

Miniature #12 - October 9 - 15, 2011, 5 x 7 in, mixed media and digital collage

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Mini 11 and Erskine Show

Last week was pretty busy, with two exhibitions opening and another one closing (Yay!) I've included a photo below of me with my work at the Bowie Arts Center at Erskine College in Due West, SC. I've changed my hair since painting this one, but turquoise is still one of my favorite colors.

Now on to last week's mini. So this may not be surprising given the nature of the one miniature per week project, but the program where I studied art evaluated students partially based on the quantity of their work (as in x works were expected per y months). When I was a student, I was never quite sure whether this was a good idea, but since graduating, I've started to think differently about it. I'm beginning to think that, at least for me, quantity really does matter in the sense that it's important always to be making something. Even if every piece doesn't work out, at least it will lead somewhere, and so making something (anything) is generally better than making nothing. I mention this because I really struggled with last weeks mini, and there were several times when I considered scrapping it and starting something else. While I think it was useful for exploring the idea of internal framing, when I look at it, I'm reminded of a story about Edvard Munch, who was said to have taken his paintings out into the snow and scolded them when they caused him frustration... hmmmm.
Miniature #11 - October 2 - 9, 2011, 3 x 3 in, mixed media on canvas

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Mini 10

Miniature #10 - September 25 - October 1, 2011, 2 x 3 in, mixed media on canvas

Mini 10 is the most intricate mini yet. If one were to ask me how I painted the tracery, my answer, in all seriousness, would have to be: "very carefully."

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mini 9

A factoid about me - I wrote a Master's thesis on winged figures in art; so I've seen a lot of winged figures, and many of them (even the not so good ones) now occupy my mental real estate for better or worse. Mini 9 is the largest mini to date, coming in at the specified maximum size limit for the project, 5 x 7 in. Like Mini 7, it uses a gray scale + gold palette (another favorite of mine). I'm still thinking this one through, trying to decide if I'd like to produce a larger scale work along this line. I have a 36 x 36" canvas gessoed and ready and hope to start working on it tomorrow, so I'll have to think fast!
Miniature #9 - September 18 - 24, 2011, 5 x 7 in, mixed media on canvas

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Westobou show and Mini 8

Firstly - upcoming group exhibition as part of the Westobou Art's Festival in Augusta, GA (Sept. 29 - Oct. 8)! Check out the show, "Ancora Imparo" and the rest of the Westobou calendar of events at:

Ok, now that I've done the self-promotion thing like a good artist :), onward to Mini 8 ->

I had a lot going on this week personally and professionally, and I thought for about 2 seconds that I'd have to use the "emergency week," the week of no mini, which I built into the project originally (50 miniatures a year, not 52, the other mini-less week being the week between Christmas and New Years). The idea of a week with no mini made me sad, and I was able to focus and produce Mini 8 (which is 2-sided after all that.) I enjoy this piece and have already worn it. The motif comes from some of the work I did over the summer, currently on display at Estel Gallery in Nashville (see previous entry or online at -

Miniature #8 - September 11 - 17, 2011, 2 x 1 in, two-sided, ink and color pencil on paper

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Mini 7

So 7 weeks into this project, I feel like I may be starting to get the hang of this (somewhat, a little). Working on the same scale this week as mini 1 (3.5 x 2.5 in), I am feeling more comfortable with the tiny scale and have also benefited from some specialized equipment - thank you Mom for the magnification light! After the extreme neatness of mini 6, I needed a change, and so I made mini 7 with a different technique - one which involves wiping the whole image out over and over. It's a layering technique which involves some erasure, and I'm really liking how gritty and dark the image got. The bird is actually metallic gold and a bit shiny. The whole little painting looks a bit to me like the love child of a Brancusi sculpture and a Francis Bacon painting. While I say that jokingly, I used to be a gallery guard in a museum which had works by both artists (as well as by Cornell, another favorite), and I revisited this collection for the first time in years over the summer, and so I do think that maybe it's been rolling around in my mind ever since. Lastly, for those keen observers out there, that is mini 2 that I'm wearing as a necklace in this painting.

Miniature #7 - September 4 - 10, 2011, 3.5 x 2.5 in, mixed media on board

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Mini 6

I present to you mini 6. No need to adjust your screen saturation, the palette for this work is black and white with just a hint of color. It's a palette I particularly like and have come to think of as "gray+." This week's mini is mixed media on panel and presented some challenges in that I ended up spending much of the week preparing the panel; however, I think the added prep time ultimately paid off - though it's difficult to see in the photo, the finished surface is almost perfectly smooth! While it may seem odd that I'm so excited by a quality that basically comes down to neatness (yes, the '!' was intentional), it's actually taken me years of guess and check to arrive at the technique for obtaining this type of surface. A hint on my methods - it necessitates much sanding, some cleaning of the environment, and occasional removal of dust which has dried into the surface with a scalpel, then even more sanding. While I do find the surface satisfying, it was a push to finish this one in time (as my friend and neighbor can attest, my studio lights often burn into the no-longer-so-wee hours of the morning), so I while I haven't decided yet what next week's mini will be, I'm pretty sure it won't be on panel.

Miniature #6 - August 28 - September 3, 2011, 4 x 4 in, mixed media on panel

Friday, September 2, 2011

Show at Estel Gallery

Not about the minis, but exciting news none the less - for all my Tennessee people - I'll have three prints on display in the show "Elvis and Other Kings" at Estel Gallery in Nashville. For those who can't make it, the gallery has also put together a digital showcase:
Unfortunately, I won't be able to make the opening, but I'm excited about the show. I've shown work in a juried show at the gallery before, in 2009, and think it's a jem, and I'm very happy to see some of my work is making it's way out of my studio and into the big wide world!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

First Mini Print

So in the last month, not 1, not 2, but 3 friends have spontaneously sent me art work or printed examples of their work. Getting these surprises in the mail has really brightened my days, and I feel so lucky to have such thoughtful friends. I'd really like to send them each something in return (and particularly a mini); however, I also want to try to keep the minis that are part of the project together for now - fortunately there's a solution to this problem - printmaking! My goal for this week was to make a small edition of prints. (I say goal, because in actuality, I completed the block and hand printed a few images, one of which is the miniature for this week (below), but I'm still working on the "editioning" aspect. In my defense, I will say, the absence of a press does present some interesting challenges.)

Miniature #5 - August 21 - 27, hummingbird, 2 x 3 in., hand printed, woodblock on 5 x 7 in. mulberry paper.

sheet of proofs - adjusting the ink viscosity and pressure.

Friday, August 19, 2011

First Mini Sculpture

I love painting (especially tiny painting), but I also love sculpture. An odd fact about me - my undergrad work is in sculpture and my grad training focused on mixed media, general arts. Despite this, I haven't made much sculpture over the last few years, because I let myself be overwhelmed by the logistics involved - accessing equipment and tools, the cost of materials, moving and storing the finished work, etc. However, I'd like to be the kind of artist who works with logistical issues rather than against them, and I think this project provides a helpful framework for me to dip my toes back into the sculpture pool.

Miniature #4 - August 14 - 20, 2011, 4.5 H x 2.25D, mixed media

So making this sculpture was an adventure. It includes dirt from my yard and some of the tiniest drawings I've made so far.

I included a close-up of the birds which are ink drawings on paper below. While drawing/painting small may be challenging, I've learned that cutting out something this small - and then not loosing it - is a challenge in itself.

The task had an added element of difficulty considering I had a purring "helper" sitting on my paper and occasionally head butting my elbows. While this did complicate things somewhat - could you ever be annoyed at a creature with a face like this? Didn't think so :)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Miniatures 2 and 3

Two weeks worth of Minis. The first two images are one, two-sided, piece. It's ink, colored pencil, and water color on paper, placed between glass in a metal frame. I've been wearing it as a necklace - acquiring some jewelry out of this project has been an unforeseen bonus (though personal adornment is one of the traditional uses for miniatures). The second piece is oil on canvas. It includes metallic pigments, which, unfortunately, do not photograph well, but the background is layered silver and the eyes have accents of gold. I bought the canvas pre-stretched (because I haven't found miniature stretcher bars anywhere yet) and thought it was a slightly unusual size (3 x3 in.); however, I was out the other day and came across the perfect frame for it. It is not framed yet (because it's still wet!), but I will try to post an additional picture of it in the frame in the coming weeks. I'm finding that a down side to doing one work a week is that I'm photographing the paintings wet. Luckily (though oddly), my natural clumsiness seems to dissipate around the minis, and no paintings have been harmed during the photographing process thus far.

Miniature #2 - July 31 - August 6, 2011, 1 x 1 in, pencil, watercolor, ink on paper

Miniature #3 - August 7 - 13, 2011, 3 x 3 in, oil on canvas

Add Image

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Power in Precision Project

So, I've decided to take on a new project! Beginning with the last week in July, I will be making one miniature for each week of the year for a year.

WHAT: miniatures, defined for the purpose of this project as 5 x 7 inches and smaller

HOW: any medium, any technique

WHEN: one work to represent each week (with the exception of the week between Christmas and New Year's, because, let's be honest, no work gets done that week.) The majority of the work will be done during the week which the artwork represents, though I will go back in and revise as necessary.

HOW MANY: one for each week (52) - the week after Christmas (-1), and allowing one week for emergencies (-1) = (52-1-1 = 50)

WHY: I love anything tiny - tiny paintings, houses, perfume samples, even travel size shampoo! I think that by reducing the size of the artwork, but maintaining the potency of the content, I may be able to make the ideas denser. Working small will hopefully enable me to produce one work a week, and therefore explore many ideas and techniques. At the end of the year, the 50 miniatures will act as an archive, documenting of my life and work from July 2011 - July 2012. And let's not forget the practical advantages to miniatures - the materials are relatively inexpensive and transportation and storage are more straightforward.

Here is the first attempt...

Miniature #1 - July 24 - 30th 2011, 3.5 x 2.5 in, oil on board

Friday, July 29, 2011


For two weeks at the end of June and early July I went to the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina to take a course on letterpress and etching. Though I had worked with letterpress in college, it had been a while since I had access to type and a Vardercook press (and it turns out, I had forgotten a lot...), and I have been wanting to learn more about etching. The course was really wonderful, though I went through some drama to get there (think my 3rd flat tire on a road trip in the last year. I'm just lucky I guess :P ). Below is some of the work I made. All three are small etchings (maximum 5 inches) on nickel plates, printed on gray Rives paper.