ART

Archive for the ‘JOY’ Category

Petite Flowers

The last in my three-part SPRING uplift;)

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Spring Unfurling

The Birds

I forget every year how intoxicating spring really is.  I’m grateful for another one.

BIG KIDS Magazine:Rachel and Me

My  artist friend Rachel is seventeen years old.  It’s difficult to assign a chronological age to this young woman because she is both wise beyond her years and as uninhibited in her creativity as a pre-schooler.  That’s how I knew she was the perfect candidate to collaborate with me on this illustration for BIG KIDS Magazine.

Tah Dah! Our collaboration is above.  The prompt for the illustration is “Treasure Maps”.  We’re mapping our creative journeys. Rachel created the left side, I worked on the right.  On my side the journey relates to Rachel, as her friend and mentor.  It helps to have an older artist friend, for encouragement and suggestions; that would be me.  I’m  in my skinny yellow house complete with family and cats and plants and that’s where Rachel comes to make art.  Rachel’s is more comprehensive… the journey so far.   Rachel wrote the beautiful poem.  The entire work is about being an artist; from play scribbles through adulthood.  Rachel, moves from scribbles scanned from an actual construction paper masterpiece she created as a very little girl, through growing pains, to near independence.

Rachel and I  decided to keep the tone or feel of the illustration light and full of kid inspiration.  After all, the inspiration was and is BIG KIDS Magazine-truly a work of collective art.

*The image accompanying the first post is a collaboration of Rachel’s work and mine. The second post, all Rachel and this post is our published collaboration in BIG KIDS Magazine.

BIG KIDS Magazine: Interview

Last post was an introduction to the fabulous Big Kids’s Magazine.  This link connects you to the homepage of the BIG blog.

You might say that BIG KIDS Magazine discovered my blog for young artists called  Portrait of a Girl and Her Art.  Lily (one of the creators),  left a wonderful comment and requested that I take a “peek” at the Big Kids blog.  I was instantly entranced by the vision and esthetic beauty of the project and left several comments on her blog.  A lovely cyber connection grew, and I enthusiastically agreed to make a collaborative illustration with a young artist friend of mine for the upcoming “Treasure Map” issue.

It made sense to me that if my excitement was any indication of the success of the up and coming magazine, you all will be excited and interested as well, so  I requested an interview with creators, Lily and Jo and senior editor Luca, to share with all of you:

December 2011

Elena: How do you (Lilly and Jo) know each other?

Lilly: We met when we were both living in Hobart, Tasmania, about 12 years ago but lost touch once I moved to New York and Jo moved to Perth. I had finished studying at art school and Jo had just left Tasdance and was the co-director of the Hobart Fringe Festival on which I was working. We met through a very brave, imaginative and generous mutual friend and while sharing care of her apartment wrote notes to each other on a large piece of brown paper that revealed an unseen poetic and charged connection between us even then. We last saw each other in 1999 but will finally meet and layout the next edition in the same city in January!

ElenaDid you grow up with unplanned time and an aptitude for daydreaming?

Lilly: I spent much of my childhood climbing trees, and one in particular, a liquidambar in our backyard that was the launching pad to witchland – an imaginary place above the clouds I frequented for much of my childhood. I have memories of collecting sticks and flowers and making elaborate installations on tree branches and in hidden parts of our massive garden. I have three siblings and the television was rarely on. We made up shows almost every day and worked on projects and performances that spanned days and weeks. Jo’s mother was a folk singer and they lived across the road from a travelling circus. I know she spent much of her childhood under the next-door neighbours house in a ‘kids’ world, and was surrounded by song.

 Elena:Do you think that the experiences of childhood have changed since your were children?

Lilly: Yes I think when we were kids there was much more time to just be in the world without structure or guidance or expectations of a particular outcome. It feels like even unstructured play has become a commodity or something to be evaluated and assessed. Though I think there are elements of childhood today that are enormously valuable and can be celebrated as well – the access to information and how that inspires inquisitiveness is wonderful: At least 10 times a day Twyla will ask a question I can’t answer and then say “Let’s look it up mum!”. I think there is a danger in romanticizing the past that can diminish the beautiful opportunities for connection and play with our children today.

Elena: Are you both moms, and if so how does being a parent influence the content of the magazine?

 Lilly: We are both mum’s and cannot imagine that we would have made BIG without this grounding, limiting, uplifting and propelling element in our lives to balance and stretch us beyond what seems possible. I think in giving birth and mothering it becomes clear that seemingly impossible things are actually possible. That you can meet a sun rise having not slept at all and still make it through the day.

Elena:You come from different artistic expressions. How has that enriched your collaboration?

Lilly: BIG is a multidisciplinary arts publication and our immersion in different arts practices broadens our base and provides us with a much wider platform to draw from. We are both connected to extraordinary artists working in varied fields and feel that exposing children to many different art languages provides them with a much wider range of investigative and expressive tools.

Elena: I know of so many children and organizations who would adore enjoying a subscription to BIG magazine in the USA, and I hope many will subscribe today! Do you hope/plan to bring the magazine online so that one may subscribe without the shipping expense in the US and other parts of the world?

Lilly: We are in the process of considering a digital version of BIG Kids Magazine so that it is more accessible to International readers. We have received enormous interest in an online option and while we don’t want to dilute the tangible experience of hand held BIG pages, we also want them to be as accessible as possible to distant readers. We are currently looking at international stockists but in the mean time it is encouraging to have received so many overseas subscriptions.

Elena: How about an ipad version?

Lilly: We are very interested in new technology and developing meaningful, interactive, illustrated apps for ipad in the future, though obviously we believe there is enormous value in having an object that can be held, ripped, scribbled on and altered in a very physical and direct way. We are working on some allegorical stories and our Books that Grow series that will most likely be adapted for ipad and other devices.

Do you accept submissions of work from children outside of Australia?

Lilly: Yes we invite and receive contributions from children all over the world. Work that is scanned at 600dpi or high quality photographs can be emailed from anywhere and we are passionate about facilitating both intergenerational and International conversations.

Are there any new projects in the works, together or individually?

Lilly: We have just launched the Mother Artist Network (our new MAN) on our blog to invite discussion and creative response to the challenges of working as a mother-artist.  I have just held an exhibition of new work and Jo is working on a new dance duet. Together we are expanding our collaboration on Books that Grow and we are currently in the middle of making of the next edition of BIG!

Your Facebook page  www.facebook.com/Bigkidsmagazine  is flourishing! How did you get the word out?

Lilly: We honestly just opened the page to our friends and it went from there. We have never pushed or asked for ‘likers’. The magazine has received many wonderful reviews on various blogs and book sites so I think they bring people to us as well.

Economies are suffering worldwide. Why did you decide to launch a new magazine now?

Lilly: Now, more than ever, kids need a place to be able to hone their interest, imagination and the ability to respond to the world in creative and curious ways. We need the next generation to be expansive and out of the box thinkers and see BIG as a way to encourage that leadership and wider view on politics that will feedback back in personal, social and dynamic ways. Yes, it definitely is a risk and nerve-wracking with it, but both Jo and I are seriously committed to engaging kids in best practice and in opening communication lines between artists and kids to foster future thinkers and movers! We are hopeful BIG will attract some best practice creative organizations in the near future and that we will find financial support for our work though contributions from larger voices and structures. We trust the work and each other, somewhat bravely, and believe in generosity as a key stakeholder in future economies.

With each subscription you give away a copy of the magazine. How do you decide where to send it?

Lilly: We are developing partnerships and donating magazines to all kinds of people and organizations that work with children. Sometimes people contact us asking if they can participate in the program, often we will reach out to an organization that we feel might benefit. We love the idea that BIG can be accessible to kids that may not otherwise be able to get hold of it but we are also interested in facilitating relationships and finding mentors who can support children to interact and contribute to the BIG world.

Elena: And now, a word from eight year old senior editor, Luca.

Elena: What do you like to do when youʼve got nothing else you have to do?

Luca: Play with my little sister, play video games, read The Phantom Tollbooth, invent lego and duplo characters and games and stories.

Elena: What is your favorite subject in school?

Luca: Free drawing

Elena: Do other kids know that you are an editor of a magazine?

Luca: Yes, they respect me a lot

Elena: What do you do as an editor?

Luca: Well, make decisions about what goes in the magazine

Elena: Whatʼs your favorite part?

Luca: Being in charge of making decisions

Elena: If you had a magic power, (maybe you already have one) what would you do with it?

Luca: Shift shaping – means you can take the shape of any object, like I could take the shape of a million dollars, I could change into a flower, or massive bumble bee, I would re build the Guilford hotel and save people and stuff like that.

Part 3 tomorrow

BIG KIDS Magazine!

Exciting stuff.  Lots of excitement…where to begin…..Big Kids Magazine.   Go on, have a click on the link, then come on back.

Back?    Did the animation alone take you to the most magical of creative places?    It literally takes me to a place where my creative energies start a-jumping.  Now imagine riding that creative wave with thousands of kids through the pages of BIG KIDS Magazine.  It makes NO difference how old or young you happen to be.

A little back round: B-I-G stand for Bravery, Imagination and Generosity.  Indeed it does. Big Kids Magazine began with a note between two friends, Jo, a dancer and Lilly a visual artist.  In the note, Jo shared with Lilly a dream that was to become a reality; a wildly creative arts based magazine for children.

The senior editor is eight years old.  The magazine is both green and ethically produced.  With every subscription, a copy of the magazine is given to a child who may not otherwise be able to receive the magazine. Children, artists, parents and educators equally share a platform for collaboration, opportunity, discovery and a passion for making art a living breathing presence in everyday life.

I’ve so much to say about the philosophy of this Australian magazine, the creators, how/why they began this creative journey, and a little about my experience with  Big Kids that this is only the first post of three about this phenomenon of pure joy,  “..A world class artistic exchange”.*

*http://blog.bigkidsmagazine.com/p/about-creators-of-big.html

Two New

Two new posts spotlighting creativity on  Portrait of a Girl.  Exciting artists from age seven to young adult.  Plus new young art on the ART SHARE page.

Our Sketchbook Project 2012

Saturday I mailed out our sketchbook for the  Sketchbook Project 2012 ‘s  January 31 deadline-whew.

It’s a project I’ll always remember because it’s a collaboration with my son Julian.  Julian inspired the concept, and we worked together truly as a team.

While I will forever treasure the memories of being a mom for my children when they were small, it’s a different kind of joy to work with my grown-up son as a friend and fellow artist.  Also a joy that our book will take a journey that we aren’t able to take ourselves, to fourteen cities around the world, and then return home to live at the Brooklyn Art Library.

I’ll be putting together a PDF of Water Music soon.   There are more collaborations with my grown-up kids coming this year.  I’m looking forward to sharing them with you.

A Hope Wish for the Holidays

Wishing every one of you kind, interesting and creative friends a holiday wish.. The one wish that is dearest to you.  The one that you scarcely allow yourself to acknowledge.  The truest most beautiful hope you can conjure.  I’m hoping it comes true for you.

Sneak Peak/New Book- Cover!

VERY soon now, Portrait of a Girl and Her Art will be available in hardcover, paperback and PDF .

I’m working on additional electronic formats.

Very soon I’ll have purchase info ready for one step clicking.

Portrait of a Girl and Her Art  already has a dedicated blog where art tips, exciting interviews with young artists, and submissions of art by young artists will keep the inspiration momentum flowing!  Please visit soon.

Sketchbook Page Prep

I love to pre-prepare my sketchbook with various media to kick-start a creative page.  Of course, there is nothing wrong with sketching directly onto a blank page, but a wet into wet watercolor wash is every so much more exciting to play with.  The above face rendered in blues, is the result of a wet into wet blend.  The second, in the violet family, is an ink into wet watercolor.  The actual sketching worked many days after the prep, is quick and rendered simply in pastel pencil. ~Fun~

KiDs aRT:sTiLl LiFE

Any memories of  a pear, a Chianti bottle, and a bicycle wheel propped, draped, lit, and placed  in front of you on a rainy Monday morning?  Ring any bells?  Art class and the mandatory still life.

What I think makes this time-honored and very useful drawing exercise somewhat more interesting, is the freedom to choose the elements and choose the placement of the elements.  Kind of a no brainer.  So, here is a time-worn marionette, a war-torn miniature bird house, and a pig candle. Two twelve-year-old friends agreed upon these objects and took charge of the composition. Point# 1:Participation equals investment.

Point# 2: The approach is similar but the two drawings are so very delightfully different from one another.  Both are well done.  Both artists have had the same instruction. They are the same age.  But look at how each work conveys the sensibilities of each artist. Look at the expressions of the marionette faces in the drawings. One artist made a choice to ignore the drape, the other made it part of the composition. One chose to embellish the marionette’s clothing, and the other chose to ignore the pattern on the shirt. One has marionette strings and the other has no strings. Look at the unique energy of the pencil strokes in each drawing.

My mantra in the studio is “draw what you see with your eyes, not with the shortcut your brain wants you to take”, and that’s good advice I think, for an exercise in drawing. Ultimately however, our eyes need our brains and we do see differently.  I find this fact absolutely thrilling.

Nice work Kate and Audrey!

Leaf Watch

All of you fellow leaf watchers might be interested to know that in The Netherlands the maples are already showing off their lush attributes.  Check out this link http://art-is-jokken.blogspot.com  and you will find evidence of such a maple.  You will also find photos of an adorable sheep, great art, and a wonderful outlook on life.

April 20, AM

I can really see them now.  The baby leaves are unfurling.   I’m still waiting for the moment that the leaves steal center stage from the blossoms.

This spring I’m going to catch it.  The moment the first tree leaves début;small, still curled, a blur of sensational spring green.  In the past, I’ve meant to take note of exactly when it happens, but I become distracted, and I ultimately forget.  The leaves open and I’ve missed it.  This year I’m concentrating on the huge maple in my yard. This is how the potential leaves look today, Tuesday afternoon, April 19.

I’ll keep you posted.

Imaginary Vacations/Beautiful Creations

Can’t get away this weekend ?  How about taking a little vacation via Kate and Audrey.  They have generously allowed us to follow them to exclusive places. Take a deep breath (go ahead), now make room in your busy mind for a beautiful respite. Exhale now and view Kate’s self-portrait.

Kate takes on a stroll through a garden of her imagining. Ocean breezes, peaceful, lovely, thoughtful, just like Kate. Ahh.

Feel better?  I thought you might. Ok, now you are ready to explore a little bit of Italy.  Audrey (who also makes gorgeous hand paintings), has finished her Italian street scene.  Buy a balloon, tourist watch or climb up the hill to enjoy the view.  Stop into the café for refreshment before you start back home.

There’s nothing like a personal tour guide.  Thanks Audrey.  I’ve always wanted to see Italy.

Chilly Breezes/Shore Memories


A bracing breeze just wafted through my window, triggering a pleasant Jersey shore memory…

It feels like early in the season, just before the boardwalk is open, except for one small candy store.  Happily, they have candy necklaces!  Those unhygienic, fabulous elastic beauties that simply cannot be resisted.  You know that you not only look stunning, but you are wearing a treat that will last most of the evening, or at least as long as a satisfying jaunt along the shore, zipped up in last year’s sweatshirt, thrilling to the feeling of  your freezing, wet toes.

Onto a Clue…

A girl detective finds what she’s looking for. 😉

Creative Kids

Were you the kid who  got lost in your paint, glue, and other art materials?   I mean it literally.   Maybe you know a child who sees her own body as an extension of her paper or canvas or sculpture.  While her peers are relatively neat and disciplined about their creative work, this child jumps right into the creative process in such an intuitive manner that she seems to lose the boundaries of her creation.

I’ve seen just about all methods of making art.  One is not “better” than the other, though there seems to be a common characteristic among most of the miniature mess machines  (and I mean that affectionately).  Kids that “jump right into” the work, all seem to have  a very strong sense of design.  They also seem to be less interested in figurative representations, and more interested in intuitively dividing space with expressive color, line, pattern, and or texture.  Most are pretty independent and let any adult in the room know that their particular process is necessary!  This immersion method, if you will, has nothing to do with impulsivity or lack of  attention span, rather it is more about spontaneity and self-satisfaction in building a few strong separate elements, not necessarily with the “finish” of the work in mind, though there is almost always a finished piece.

These assertions I have just made about this kind of artistic process are by no means scientific.  They are just observations gleaned  from  watching children,  create (my own included).  There are many different styles of visual art and there are just as many ways to go about learning to make it.  Therefore, if you know a child who needs a bath after an art project, celebrate her passion.  This child is little by little, building a joyfully solid artistic foundation by taking the process in on her own terms and essentially teaching herself.  A wonderful learning style.

I would like to thank Audrey.  She is an intuitive creator, and the artist who made the beautiful paintings above;her hand as well as the painting directly under her hand.  When she has finished the canvas painting, I hope that Audrey will allow me to publish a complete image of that piece as well:)

KIDs ArT

As promised earlier in the month, here is Samantha’s completed acrylic painting.  Clearly, Samantha is not afraid of rendering her darks and lights.  She’s a natural with values. However, translating black and white into color is a little tricky.  This is not a problem for Samantha. She dove right in with complementary colors.  They pop with energy when placed together, as you can see in this piece.  Sam didn’t stop there, she added drama with her stylized interpretation of the scene.  The design work in her  composition pulls each element together beautifully.  Samantha’s painting welcomes the viewer to step right in, pick some apples and enjoy the warmth of the scene. Very nice work.

Remaining Marketable

This isn’t easy to admit.  My work is well, sort of old-fashioned.  At least, it’s not HOT.  Not a big deal, I can change, except I really don’t want to.  Let me back up a bit.  What I love to do, is not as marketable as it could be, and I am really not at all good at what seems to be winning the children’s illustration awards in 2011. The style is spacial, heavily designed, and far less realistic than mine.  Some of it is stunning.  I simply gape.  Some of it in my humble opinion, is boring.  The work that I’m not crazy about is lacking the charm, emotion, and magic that I look for in a children’s book or app or magazine.

I enjoy working digitally. Photoshop has become a great friend.  And, I’m open to working in any kind of medium, so no problem there.  I do not want to be left behind, and I want to grow while remaining true to what I love. So, I’ll be posting some new work with a more inclusive age range, a little distortion, a different color palette, and a lot more space.  I’ll also be experimenting with texture and line drawings.

I’ve no idea what will evolve.  Please let me know what you think, especially if  you are a young person (five to about forty:>).  Seriously, all of your comments are always helpful and appreciated.

Cluster Birthdays

March is a cluster birthday month for my family. It seems that many families experience a couple of months that are simply chock full of family birthdays. And, they seem to come all in one week.  Sometimes three or four days in a row. The celebration for each individual suffers a bit I think, because they tend to get lumped together, sharing one family party.  I’m not even considering twins, triplets, quads…

This post is for all of you who must share your big day. Happy Birthday to YOU!

Nearly Spring in the Great Swamp

So many of us are yearning hopefully for the promise of spring.  It’s kind of like an alternate “New Year” sans the party.  I imagine that the creature world has had enough of  winter this year as well.    Here’s a froggy couple making plans.

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