Sunday, January 29, 2012

Mini 26

Miniature #26 - January 23 - 29, 2012, 2 in (D) oil and mixed media on wood
Mini 26 is the first mini with oil paint since mini 3.  I love oil paint - I love everything about it (except the toxicity of heavy metal paints, I guess).  It was the first medium I used the project, but I quickly learned that it's hard to build up layers in only a week due to drying time.  However, I've been thinking in through and decided to try working in acrylic and pencil on wood, then using one or two layers of oil as glazes near the end.  Mini 26 is the result.  It can't be seen it the photo, but mini 26 has a 1/4 in. thick, gold painted edge, and it was reminding me of a very fancy checker, but now, seeing it next to the coin, I find that similarity pretty funny.  I hadn't thought about the quarter while I was working (I only include it when I photograph to help give a sense of scale), but seeing these together, I guess photographing the quarter every week for 6 month made more of an impression than I realized.  This one was challenging (getting the shine in the eye was neither easy nor fun), but, I have to say, I find the oil paint particularly satisfying - somehow it has a more organic, want-to-pick-it-up feel than the pieces in acrylic (or maybe it's just the resemblance to a quarter?)

In other news - I deep cleaned the studio (though it hadn't quite reached the level of mini 13, nonetheless it was a formidable task). This month, I celebrated 1 year living in the tiny house. It may not sound like a big deal, but I've been racking my brain and can't think of another time I've lived in the same house for a year since I was a child.  I celebrated by getting a full-sized vacuum cleaner and some shelving units for the studio.  It's a hidden talent of mine that I'm actually good at assembling these sorts of things (and what's more, I like it - the directions are all in pictures, and the chance to use power tools lets me feel like I'm putting my education in sculpture to good use.)  Now moving them, on the other hand...heavy lifting is not my strong suit, but I managed.  In short, I love the tiny house (especially when it's clean and orderly).

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mini 25 - halfway point!

I can't believe I am halfway through the "Power in Precision" project!  I don't know why, but I've always liked beautiful numbers (that's why, for example, the project has 50 miniatures in a year instead of 52 (or, gasp! 51 - a hideous number that looks like it should be prime, but isn't)).  So, I'd been putting pressure on myself to make mini 25, the midway point of the project and a quarter of 100 (one of the most beautiful numbers of all), especially good.  Not surprisingly, this back-fired, and I hesitated to start this mini, and the longer I waited, the more overwhelmed I got with "making a really good mini this week" in the midst of also being extra busy (that's right - extra).  I almost used my emergency week, thinking that if I couldn't make #25 extra-special, then maybe I shouldn't make one at all this week.  But then I thought about it some more (not to bore with too much philosophizing, but I concluded that giving up would be throwing away time that I'd never be able to get back, and that seemed like a very bad idea.)  So, I refocused and on Saturday and Sunday made mini 25.

 Miniature #25 - January 16 - 22, 2012, 5 in (D), ink and acrylic on canvas

Mini 25 is ink and acrylic on canvas (I used a new pen and canvas from New York).  The style, in which the form is built up in layers of very fine hatching, reminds me a little of Paul Cadmus  (I saw a really nice, and, you guessed it, tiny work of his on display at the Whitney Museum as part of the Real/Surreal show during my trip - fantastic.)  The materials are similar to mini 20, but this time, include the element of color.  I used my favorite turquoise and offset it with its complementary red-pink.  The design is a love-child of art noveau and Austrian Expressionism (two of my favorite things).  

As for the content, I would mentally file mini 25 under the heading of "beautiful disaster" paintings, a category to which I am particularly drawn.  My hope is that, initially, it's beautiful, but in a slightly unsettling way that slowly reveals darkness upon further inspection.  The flowers are poppies, and there are flies on them (I promise they're there; they're just really tiny) – symbols for delusion and decay.  There's also a tiny plane flying overhead to suggest hovering, impending catastrophe just outside the frame (and a reference to the "fields and fields of poppies" outside the Emerald City in The Wizard of Oz suggests that there is a city outside the frame).  But it can also be viewed as a cute, little painting with flowers.  I think it's both at the same time.

Monday, January 16, 2012

mini 24

Miniature #24 - January 9 - 15, 2012, 5.5 x 4.5 in. (covers), ink on paper

Mini 24 is probably the most ambitious mini-project yet (particularly because I was out of town for the first part of the week, more on that later).  I confess that I’m triple-dipping on this one - I'll be demonstrating this bookmaking technique to my class later this week and needed a demo.  I'll also be demonstrating the “trying to keep lines parallel” technique that's inside the book (though without the ants).  The spine of the book is removable so it can be read either as an accordion or as a traditional book and in either direction (pretty cool, right?)  I first learned bookmaking as an undergraduate from one of my favorite teachers, though I wasn't exactly happy about it at the time (book building requires a lot of neatness, and that's something I've had to practice and learn over time).  I've grown to appreciate it more and hope to continue to improve.  (Plus, I discovered that the combination of bookmaking + audiobook can make even the driest Russian novel almost enjoyable - almost).

Miniature #24 - January 9 - 15, 2012, 5.5 x 4.5 in. (covers), ink on paper

For the first part of the week, I was in New York presenting a paper for school.  Before leaving, I used the trip as an excuse to do one of my favorite things - purchase “travel-size” toiletries to add to my collection (see the picture with my assistant for scale).  I also got a chance to go to the art store in New York for some miniature art supplies (available in bulk, believe it or not).  Fortunately, they're light and fit in my carry-on only luggage - which is a good thing, considering my journey home involved the typical - leave at 5 am-add an extra segment-run through the airport-arrive just in time to head to work (bah - ok, rant concluded).  In addition to seeing friends and family, one of the highlights of my trit p was seeing an exhibition, XS at the Metropolitan Museum of Art – a whole show of miniature artworks by some of the heavy-hitters of Modernism and Post-modernism!  (I confess - I jumped up and down a little bit when I came across it unexpectedly).  Overall it was a great week, though I’m happy to be back in my tiny house (with some additional travel bottles, mini art supplies, and a new book, that is).

Friday, January 6, 2012

Heritage Center show and Mini 23

Happy 2012!   The year has gotten off to an art-filled start.  Above is the invitation for a group exhibition in which I'll have several pieces (including the chess pieces on the lower right) in North Augusta, SC, beginning January 10th.  The opening will be January 20th (for details, see: No alcoholic beverages at the opening, but I will be contributing some homemade, dark chocolate chip scones.) Now that I've been a good, self-promoting artist, onward to mini 23...

Mini 23 started out life as a coaster.  Yes, it used to be a drink coaster; but not just any coaster, a really pretty one, made from handmade, sustainable, fair trade paper.  It's part of the Sustain and Heal initiative spearheaded by Annika Buxman of De Milo Design in S. Pasadena (  I got to visit the studio while I was in California for Christmas, and Annika was nice enough to give me a tour as well as some samples (which I carried on the plane and managed to defend against being crushed by some truly massive carry-ons wielded by weary, post-holiday travelers - no easy task). The coaster was a beta, which I was supposed to be testing (oops), but the paper was just so beautiful that I felt like I had to turn it into a mini.  (It's hard to see from the photo, but the paper has veins of silver in it, and 'shiny' probably comes right after 'mini' on my list of favorite things).  I still have two full sheets of the paper.  I've been hoarding them for the moment because I want to put them to the best possible use, but I suspect you'll be seeing them very soon.   

Miniature #23 - January 2-8, 2012, app. 3.5 x 3.5 in, ink and acrylic on paper on board