Coming up this November, artist Kim Valentine and I will have an exhibition of our artwork at The Mims Gallery located in The Dunn Center on the campus of North Carolina Wesleyan University in Rocky Mount, NC. For this upcoming show, Kim and I decided on the theme of Connections. Much of our existing work already examines the many aspects and importance of connections. With time drawing near, concentrating on the theme has become even more important for me. In order to stay focused and to really start streamlining my focus, I decided to create a mood/theme board on connections and what it means to me.
I started by writing a definition of sorts for “connections” and why it’s important. Next, I zeroed in on key words and phrases that really spoke to me or seemed more powerful with what I want to convey.
Next, I searched through magazines and snapshots for visuals that symbolized and/or related to my ideas. In doing this, I was also looking for common threads between the images.
Finally, I considered the colors. Asking myself, how do I see color in regard to connections. What are those colors? So far, I’ve added green, blue (Prussian blue to be exact,) and golds. Why these colors? I’m thinking of green for its lushness and growth much like a well cultivated garden. Blue comes to mind because of its symbolism to deep wells and life giving water. Last and certainly not least, I’ve included golds because of its warmth and energy.
Will my mood/theme board change as I continue to work on pieces for the Connections show? My goodness, I hope so. I have to believe that as I continue creating, more will be added as things inspire me and as I refine my focal point even more. I’ve left plenty of open space on the board and in my mind to do just that.
Welcome to where the magic now happens! I am now working as a studio artist in Kinston, NC at the Community Council of the Arts. I am so thrilled to share my new space for creating with you. Last month's update, showed the before stage. Now, I'm all moved in and I'd love for you to see the after photos. Take a look!
I'm moving! Here's a first look at my new studio space at Community Council for the Arts in downtown Kinston.
Obviously, these are before pictures. I have not been living a secret life as a pottery artist. Lol! The studio has not been used as a studio for some time. The council will be cleaning it out and giving it a fresh coat paint. I can't wait to share the after pictures with you once I give it my touches.
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold
-Yeats, “The Second Coming”
According to Collins Dictionary, state of affairs means the general situation and circumstances connected with someone or something. For the last eight months, the general situation surrounding my place of creation, artistic flair, and business has been in limbo. I am not alone in this state of affairs, but for the purpose of what I’m expressing here, I am only speaking for myself.
Let me explain what I mean by limbo. I’ll try to do this quickly since many of you are already familiar with this situation. I rent a studio from the Arts Council of Wayne County. In August, we learned that the ACWC’s lease was not being renewed on the building. Two extensions later, we were given until the end of May. Now it is two months away until this final lease extension is up. There is no new location which has been finalized. Of course, there’s been buildings looked at, but nothing to date that has been legally finalized. In addition to the paper side of things, once a building has been decided upon, there’s the renovating and all it entails such as inspections, acquiring permits, as well as acquiring the needed materials to upfit any building to the needs of ACWC. In our current climate, thanks to Covid, it’s not so much a snap of the fingers to get all that you need to make things happen. I’m just being realistic. Two months away from the move out. How long, really though, before things are ready?
This writing is not to complain even though it surely must look that way. My intention is to explain the effect on my artistic process and perhaps a little of my day to day. I’ll try to keep it as brief as possible.
August- The day after receiving the news. At this time, we had to be out by the end of August.
Expressed the turmoil which was being experienced both internally and externally into a piece of work titled Peace, Be Still.
September and October- The next few months, I moved into some small works that really didn’t require much feeling other than being something pretty. Don’t get me wrong, beauty is very important and I don’t mean to downplay it. Being productive has its own benefits such as taking your mind off of things. Then again, when creating by rote (doing something without thinking about it), it does clear the way to ponder or obsess about more pressing matters.
November- Precious time away with family and dear friends, but the current situation is still there in the back of the mind.
What an awesome blessing in the midst of turmoil to be accepted into a new gallery! God is still in the center.
December- The busyness and lightheartedness of Christmas. Additionally, at this time some information concerning our relocation had finally been divulged to the studio artists.
Christmas = Joy (Thank you Jesus!)
January- It was interesting to say the least. The offices and half of the studios lost heat back in December, but it seems like it was really being felt in January. I wonder why…maybe because January can be one of the coldest months of the year.
Has the heat been fixed? No.
I was one of the lucky ones. With the exception of a handful of days, I didn’t lose heat in my studio. Luckily, temperatures in North Carolina vary moment to moment. Some say we can have all four seasons in a day. This means, however, even in the spring, we can still have a day that feels like winter. Just two days ago, it was 59 degrees in the studio when I arrived. If there was any rhyme or reason to when the heat works or doesn’t work, it would certainly make planning a lot easier, not to mention saving on the gas it takes to go to my studio only to find that it’s too cold to work.
February- I need to send out a newsletter and update my website. I am unmotivated. What do I have to say? Remember the piece titled Peace, Be Still? It earned an honorable mention in the Water and Sky show at Carolina Artist Gallery in Morehead City and I finally started work on a piece that represents something close to my heart- the importance of community and connection.
Time away with my honey. He and doing things together like this is always a strong runner up in things of importance. What! You may say. Yes, I said runner up. God is always number 1.
March- I need to send out a newsletter and update my website. I am unmotivated. What do I have to say? I played and explored with something new which then led to taking what I found through exploration into bigger pieces.
Today, March 31st- I need to send out a newsletter and update my website. What do I have to say? I actually have something to say. My opening paragraphs explain the current situation and mood; although, I am reminded that when things are falling apart and the center is not holding that there is one true center. God. He is already at the end of my current state of affairs. He knows the outcome. He’s already there.
When I look over the last eight months, yes, it’s been quite a rollercoaster. I am very tired of the unknowing. For the longest time, I thought there was no sense of urgency as well as the appearance of being lackadaisical. I chose the word appearance because I only have had a very small part of the picture and appearances can be deceiving after all.
Bottom line, stay the course and keep the faith. In between all the falling apart, keep creating whether it’s from a place of deep feeling, creating by rote, or creating for the sake of creating. Just keep creating.
I attended a board meeting tonight, so my picture is a little larger. What did I learn? It's not so much about what I thought I was perceiving. Instead, there's been a definite a lack of communication and perhaps making assumptions. Although there's still an uncertainty, hopefully, a new line of communication has opened and questions will be asked in stead of making assumptions.
In closing, I hope and pray I will have some news to share with you sometime in the near future. . . .
Coming out of the Christmas season and into the new year, there's no better time to reflect on where you've been and to consider where you're going in the new year. This year as I've thought back, I couldn't help but remember one of my favorite blogs from way back in 2015. Something in my soul knew I needed this reminder. Although I was still working "my paying job" at the time, it still applies to today. As you read, just substitute whatever it is that has you running and possibly even burned out.
From December 12, 2015
Since pounding out pieces for a show more than a month ago, I’ve been on somewhat of a creative hiatus. It’s like my creativity, a sponge, was wrung and there was nothing left to squeeze out. In the time of doing basically nothing, I’ve not really been a very content person and I know this inevitably always happens. It’s a been there, done that kind of thing. I come in from the “paying” job burned out and feeling totally spent and the weekends are no better. Set the alarm clock so I can get up to paint? No, are you kidding! I have only wanted to sleep in and then take all that and wrap it up in the busyness of Christmas…oh my.
Speaking of Christmas and my self-inflicted season of discontent, I realize the underlying cause which I have sometimes overlooked. Actually, the cause is not that it’s been overlooked, but that I just haven’t prioritized it. By prioritizing, I mean that my moments of creativity are a time of connecting with God and when I’m not engaged creatively, I grow quite silent and miserable. When I’m creating, my studio a.k.a. the kitchen is filled with worship music. It’s a time of thanksgiving, a time of talking about all my concerns, the problems I face, the world in which we live, my perceived needs and yes, even my wants (He wants it all). It’s also a time of just listening. I’ll admit the listening part is hard to do. If only I could shut up long enough. (My students would definitely agree.)
This morning with my alarm clock set, I was up at sunrise. I didn’t create anything exceptionally or remotely outstanding. It was just about making marks, committing the time, and reconnecting. Just making marks with no preconceived idea what the end product would be. It’s a matter of putting whatever medium is being used to the paper.
Today, it was chalk on newsprint. I looked for my charcoal, but it was nowhere to be found. Little did I know at the time that it was the color I was also missing. Love how that happens. With chalk in hand and Van Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately” playing, I began. The first marks were simple lines and dots following along with the movement of the music. Then, shapes take form, and then I see where it’s going. It may just be making marks, but sometimes that’s all it needs to be- a start, a beginning, a first step, asking a question like “have I told you lately that I love you.”
Would you be surprised if I said that the months of November and December have been unusually busy? I gander to say probably not. It’s the time of year for travels, gatherings, shopping, and parties after all. With this being my first year as a full time working artist, I’ve added a few more things to the busyness of my Christmas schedule. I have to say, however, it has all been worthwhile.
Here’s a photo montage of the happenings in this artist's life both personally and artistically, since November.
Creating for Christmas, Preparing/Preping Prints, and Packaging
Inspiration for More One of a Kind Artworks and Filling the Creative Well on the Outer Banks.
Family Time at the Whirligig Festival in Wilson, NC
Always Learning! First Time Attending Art of the Carolinas as a Full Time Artist! Three Days of Creative Bliss!
Work is now in Belle Arts Gallery in Belhaven and in the Art Market at the Community Council for the Arts in Kinston, Many things happened in Wayne County like First Fridays & Open Studios and a pop up gallery at the Arts Council of Wayne County through December.
Who can turn down an invitation to the art museum especially by my wonderful studio neighbor? Finding new art to love and being inspired by the Mucha exhibit at North Carolina Museum of Art.
Celebrating the holidays with friends in Rougemont requires a stay at the Colonial Inn. So much history and architectural inspiration, oh my!
Merry Christmas everyone! There's only a few days left and if you find yourself short on a Christmas Card, look no further because I've got you covered. Sign up for my newsletter (to the right), and I'll send you a card to print from home. Love, peace, and joy to you all this Christmas!
Have you ever pulled a loose thread thinking it would detach rather easily only it doesn’t? Once you pull a thread, it causes something else to unravel. Before you know it, there’s a whole domino effect happening.
Summer Breeze; 16” x 20”; acrylic on paper (Before)
I thought about naming this post “When a Painting Doesn’t Know When to Quit.” The more I thought about it, however, I came to understand that a better name may be “When the Artist Doesn’t Know When to Quit.”
During the transformation.
What started out as a “simple” fix to a sky that I was less than satisfied with led to the addition of flowers, collage elements, a new mount, an isolation coat, and multiple layers of cold wax. At any point in time, I could have given up and chalked the entire piece up to experience. Experience is the best teacher after all.
I actually do like the finished piece much more than the original, but it certainly took a lot longer. Was it worth it? Should I have given up on the piece? I honestly and in all likelihood could have started from scratch and finished sooner than what this piece ended up taking. But what would have been lost if I had? Sometimes, those loose threads and the process of unraveling can uncover or lead to something quite unexpected. One thing is for sure, I experimented with this piece and combined techniques that I’ve learned over time. Some worked out and others didn’t. Without pulling that thread, I am not sure if I would have ever tried combining some of the techniques in which I did for this type of painting.
Wind Blown; 16” x 20”; mounted to cradled board with cold wax finish
Back to the question…uh questions. Was it worth it? Yes. Always yes. Should I have given up on the piece? That one is a little more difficult to answer. Probably, but I think it could be both at the same time.
Ain't I cute? Don't tell any of my former students that I just used "ain't," but this picture calls for it. Here I am in the early years- second grade to be exact. You see those circles on my poster? Oh, that's just where I glued my favorite cereal, Fruit Loops, or was it a favorite candy, Lifesavers, onto the poster. This was an early attempt at mixed media. If my memory serves correctly, the were placed inside a lasso and I may or may not have been using them as bullet points. Then again, my memory could be a little faulty going back that long ago.
I am very much so the serious little artist here, but cute with a head full of blond hair. And that prize money! I can't remember if I received $5.00 or $3.00, but I remember it feeling like the world. That was dime store shopping money.
The hear and now: I won't mention how many years must have passed between second grade and when the photo above was taken which was about a year ago at the 41st Annual National Wayne County Juried Show. One thing is for certain, oh, the mixed media...and maybe the food...? I'm still gluing as you can see in the mixed media piece, "Gather 'Round." It's completely created with patterned paper and acrylic paint.
If you want to read more of my story from the there to the here, check out the beautifully written editorial from my friend Rebecca J. Whitman over on her blog, The Bohemian Princess Journal.
Early in August, I set a goal for myself. Feeling the need for more sky, sunrise, and saltwater, I started a new painting. What is the goal you may ask. Oh, that's easy to answer. It was only painting the largest canvas I have ever painted at the same time finishing it by the end of the month. By the end of August I had completed Peace, Be Still, a 30" x 40" acrylic seascape on canvas. It's the largest painting I've completed in the shortest amount time.
Goals can be good if you meet them or not. There's so much to learn about skill and yourself.
Check out the progression of a painting.
Not only is the original seascape available, but prints may be coming soon too! In the mean time, I've just added prints of Carolina's Calling: Kure Beach Sunrise to the shop. Please be sure to give it a look.
you Craven Arts Council for such an opportunity. New Bern is a fabulous town and it holds a special place in my heart. Stardust Gallery in New Bern was one of the first places my art was shown. Thanks Dara!
Series on Limitations
Since I started working full time in the studio this summer, I have finished works started during the school year and I have completed new works of art as well as revisited older works. These will all be available from Craven Arts Council during August and if you would like more information on any of these pieces, please leave me a comment or if you're interested in becoming the owning of one of these pieces, contact Craven Arts Council anytime during August.
I'm an artist working in acrylic and mixed media. I love looking for the seen and the unseen by exploring matters of the heart. My one of a kind works of art are in the style of expressionism, representational art, and inspirational art. All of my works of art share in the qualities of redemptive art.
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