Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Commission Conundrum

A lovely couple in Austin already own some of my work...
Several months ago, Husband contacted me and asked if I would create a special piece for their 50th Anniversary. He was going to send me some photos... due date way in the future.

I was in the middle of a really large corporate commission, so I didn't even take a peek at the photo[s] until I was getting close to starting.
This is what I found.
Original size? About 8x10"
Oh boy.
I was in trouble.

Husband wanted a piece 16x20" - usually no problem. But it wasn't a close up. It was their wedding pic from 1964! Husband wanted both of them in the pic, veil, cake and all.

Uh oh.
I was in BIG trouble.

Usually, a 16x20" portrait is a very close head shot.
I work from photos, and these were aged...faded...the colors were a little off.  I couldn't see both of them as clearly as I would like.
I asked... can I just do a close up wife? [no]
Can I skip the cake? [I hope not]
Can I see some more photos? [sure]

Husband sent more pics.
Didn't help.

I tried sketching, I tried painting. I wanted to say "uncle." 
I wrote - I'm sorry, I can't do it.

Husband wrote me a short, but lovely note. It hit me in the heart. I suddenly felt even MORE connected to this couple. I studied their photos. She looks like a doll...so lovely. He looks so happy.
Alright... I'll do it.

That's why they call it making Art the Agony and the Ecstasy
It reminded me... why artists sometimes feel like they're painting the Sistine Chapel. A portrait is so personal, so meaningful. I mean.. I can't screw this up!
It's too important.









 
I cropped the photo to this. I tried to amp up the colors.
I started, like always, with a sketch.
Terrified.

Is this going to work?

I painted, I cut paper, I got into it.
Suddenly, I felt like I was in the groove.

I looked forward to every day spent with the couple.

Parts of this portrait are really simple, parts are VERY complicated.

I kept going back and forth between their wedding photo and their portrait to be. I figured out what would work for me... and hoped they'd like it.


Here's the finished piece and some details. The majority is upcycled junk mail [like I do] and I used paper doilies to create the lace... some rhinestones for details in the veil [and ring]. I made a few color changes and a bit of paint to hopefully make the tulle more realistic. This is not in professional lighting...just a quick pic while still on the easel... sorry about the glare.



A challenge met is a real triumph. I'm very proud of what I created.
And, the happy couple is really happy, too. I was out of town when Husband received the finished piece. His note to me made me cry.

Say what you want about suffering for your art - making something with your heart and soul...with your own two hands - that has such a tremendous affect on another person[s] is what it's all about, baby.
I will forever be connected to this lovely couple who have a piece of me on their wall and I have a piece of them in my heart.

10 years in the making - HARAJUKU Girls Kawaii! Style...

Something like...oh, ten years ago Gwen Stefani's song Harajuku Girls came out. I liked the song, the album, and thought the styles the Harajuku girls developed was so much fun! I never forgot it.
Here's a pic of Gwen with a few of the girls... and here's a LINK to the song on YouTube.

 I had a dream about a year ago... in it, I was creating these ridiculous necklaces featuring plastic babies, that were flocked. I searched high and low for the right size babies, bought 'em, painted 'em, flocked 'em. They're still in my studio waiting for a place to go.

I rediscovered Harajuku girls again... and there are a LOT of different styles. I like the Kawaii style that includes a lot of toys, baby colors, and ornaments. Here are some samples of what's happening in 2014:


Cute, right? I love the sparkles, the Hello Kitty look, the bright colored hair... so I decided to create a portrait of some Harajuku girls using upcycled items. I collected a lot of used things from thrift stores... barrettes, yarn, buttons, toys, jewelry, glittery things... and then started drawing, painting and cutting paper.

I made some changes along the way - in color scheme and a few other things...my motto is "The Impulse is the Action!" I put some red and white rays in the back to simulate the Japanese flag... everything else is from my imagination and inspiration.

first sketch
The paper I used is in my studio...a collection Holiday cards, packaging, postcards, business cards, menus, calendars, training manuals, trade magazine covers, catalogs, business cards, tags, etc. I save everything. All the paper used in the background is Christmas cards, or paper with metallic. Every single piece is cut by hand and glued on to the painting -I created- on canvas.
I cover all of the painting with paper... and the only paint at the end is used on the eyes.
Paper part done!
After I finished the paper mosaic, I added a little blush [yeah, real makeup] to the "girls" to tint the paper! I sealed the composition with a non-toxic gloss lacquer. Ah...but I wasn't done yet.

I assembled all those thrift store toys, jewels, etc. to add to the portrait. I know - the girls are flat, and the toys are dimensional. I HAD TO follow through with my vision. I attached, using glue, thread and fishing line... a variety of "stuff."
I even took some of those babies, painted on some pajamas, flocked them with irridescent glitter and coated them... drilled holes into them and made them into a necklace!
plastic babies in their glitter onsies


I cut slits into the canvas to attach hair clips, a crown and earrings. There are jewels, a doll, a pony, hello kitty eraser, a baby pull toy, more weird plastic babies, teddy bears, buttons, and other jewelry.
I was going to use lavender yarn for hair, but it didn't lay right.
At the very end, I touched up the eyes, adding just a bit of paint. The finished piece is 30x40" unframed, but edges are finished. You can see it "in person" in Miami in December at the Spectrum Art Fair. For information on how to get tickets to the oepning, send an email.

Yeah, it took 10 years for a song to make it to my easel, and to finally get some babies on a necklace!
Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Shut Up and F*@$ing Kiss Me, Already!

Shut up and Kiss Me...again! Again!

I've always wanted to show my art in Miami. It's been a goal to get into Art Basel, but I'm not represented by a gallery that will be there. So, I found another way to be Art Basel-adjacent.
I have a few things I want to show, but the most popular image I've ever created is called...
"Shut Up and Kiss Me."
I got out the sketch book and played with an image I've done before... a few times, in different sizes, different color schemes, different styles, different compositions each time.
They're not the same!
They're all one of a kind, all drawn by hand, using a whole group of new materials. I improvise as I go...after all, the impulse is the action!

Newest version, bad lighting...in my studio just after completion.

I decided to share a bit of my process with you by taking photos as I went along...  you'll see, if you look closely, I change the drawing, the color scheme, and make adjustments to different features. And, it's all done by hand, there are no computer programs that I use, just old-fashioned ART.
I hope you like seeing the process over a length of time.

Some of the strips of orange junk mail I was sorting...and my high tech cutting tool!

One version, in a private collection in New York

Another version, in a private collection in Texas

Another version, in a private collection in Mexico
The newest version is 30x40" - and will debut in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida - November 15th, 2014
You're invited!
click here for more info on the opening                                            
And then here:



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Smoke and Mirrors and Wolves and Wall St. and Feet of Iron and Clay

Magazines, Celebrity and Advertising - a toxic blend
in the "Age of AspirationTM".
They've sucked you in and made you believe in a world of smoke and mirrors...and you consume the nonsense and you consume the products and rich get richer...
unless they don't...

Poor L'Wren. It's not the first time a beautiful, talented person met with a devastating end. What seemed like a perfect existence to many on the outside - wealth, famous friends, luxurious surroundings and the best mode of travel... Might be like the life you want...but it may not be all as it seems on the surface. She killed herself. Because she was in debt.
A life beyond her means, and I don't just mean financial means. She reinvented herself and bought into a lie...that the fashion industry [like so many other creative industries] would reward her, with air kisses and fawning praise and great reviews, but more importantly - with a fabulous income. Not enough. So she killed herself because she wasn’t what she seemed.
Suicide due to embarrassment? L’Wren - isn't your legacy so much WORSE? Every news outlet imaginable picking apart your bones - digging in your trash - interviewing everyone you didn't want to know to truth... Just to find out you're in debt... ? It's SO sad. So many were jealous of your life. But now?
Look, it's not that I am unempathetic. I'm baffled! I think there is a problem in our culture.

WHY MUST WE ALL BE FILTHY RICH RIGHT NOW?
‘Cause we live in the "Age of AspirationTM".
And the people that are most highly regarded by popular demand appear to be RICH beyond your wildest dreams. Grab your Cristal and take a seat while I snark it out.

I mean, really? What is on the cover of almost any magazine - not including “the one” causing all the controversy right now?

Ugh... photoshopped people doing impossible [for you and me] things - in exotic places - with other beautiful people. Yippee - they’re even losing weight while in the Maldives!

Inside? Photoshopped people in extremely expensive clothing you can't afford...BUT they are holding ASPIRATION pieces that you might... Can't afford the Prada dress? [What, it's not de rigueur for that parent teacher meeting Wednesday night?] Well...maybe you can afford the handbag...no? perhaps the shoes... no? Come on, the bracelet... alright, how about the perfume? NO??? FINE, just rub the sample on your wrist and call it a day.


And while I'm at it...not EVERYTHING can be HAUTE couture [so stop saying it, it means something very specific].
And not EVERY event deserves a carpet...much less a RED ONE. [What, no RED CARPET at The Bachelorette viewing party you're going to in last year’s Chico’s outlet pants and oversized T clutching a container of hummus and a bottle of three-buck-chuck?]



Look at who is being admired!
Yeah, allegedly getting sued by Trump "University" students who said they didn't learn anything.

Far be it from me to name the talentless, vapid brood nestled in Calabasas raking in YOUR MONEY  pause....pause... pause... And FOR WHAT? What are you thinking? ASPIRATION - "if I buy this perfume, or this clothing off the rack at Sears or watch this show or buy this magazine... then surely I'll be her friend? I'll have an out-of-wedlock baby? I'll have a vacation in Mexico? I’ll need another waxing by Thursday?
No. Nothing will happen. Well...they will make more money. And the magazine will buy more photos of them doing “normal” things.
Proud of yourself?

How about a movie [or two] starring Leo DiC that glorifies an outright thief, liar, drug abuser and serial cheat that only glorifies his own low-life self for three hours. So you watch it - no redemption, no remorse, no retribution [well, maybe in one of them, but only by accident]. Real life asshat gets cameo at the end of the other and probably a few mil for the story. Your reward for consuming? ASPIRATION Surely you will get a yacht? a hooker? a trophy wife?
No. Don't think so. But, you probably had a hankerin' for coke [one movie] or ran to Tiffany to buy a piece of jewelry "inspired" by the other movie.

Of course, you must have a Cadillac. Go ahead, you work hard.
Of course, you must have a Louis Vuitton bag for your chihuahua.
Of course, you must party in Ibiza. Tonight!
Of course, you must book Beyonce for little Clementine's bat mitzvah. And don’t forget to invite little Blue!

What has our society come to?
IT'S YOUR FAULT! You click on their images, you buy their magazines, their books, their products, you want to look like them, be like them, what's wrong with YOU??? [I mean...what's wrong with you just being you, you're okay the way you are, just ask your dog]

In the "Age of AspirationTM" everyone wants what they can't get or don't deserve.
Who gets MILLIONS OF DOLLARS into debt? - Oh yeah, those people------>

Who has that kind of credit?
I know people that can't afford their MORTGAGE PAYMENT - or their kid's daycare - or their retirement - or a vacation.

And those goofballs you see on TV living a fabulous life? They're getting paid to do that. And getting freebies all the time. Producers are providing plastic surgery for even the most minor characters [think Storage Wars] so they'll look the part - or disguise smoke and mirrors in camo and facial hair. Every clothing, jewelry, accessory manager under the sun is sending them stuff to wear on TV, sending them on trips, shepherding them into their restaurants and clubs... so their lush life is only getting plusher because of your aspirations!

STOP BUYING INTO IT!!!

Silly Rabbits, We've been trixed before.
Why do we admire these people?
All you sports fans who thought - if I buy this glove, this hat, this shirt, these shoes, this bat, this mitt... I'll look like, hit like, run like, Lance or Marion or A-Rod...or so many more...and it was BULL-hockey.

You voted for cheaters, liars, schemers...who thought they had us fooled until the mistresses showed up in blue dresses or in maternity clothes. Or military officers who fell for the cheeziest milf on the block while protecting others who abused women. The worst lined their pockets with gun money while graves filled with sons and daughters and husbands and brothers. TV channels have talking AIR HEADS spewing vitriol 24/7 so you’ll get mad, or even...and nothing changes because they’re just getting louder, not smarter because it’s all designed to keep you stoopid.

You wanted to make a boat load of moolah so you trusted Bernie who made off with bazillions.

Swaggert'd out of plenty of money... Jim and Tammy'd your prayers for nuthin'.

"Culture:" That beautiful young starlet turned forty and now she looks like she was hit straight on by a 40-mile-an-hour hockey puck. Did that aging actor have a screw installed in the back of his head that his doctor turns half a twist every six months? LOOK...WE CAN SEE your plastic surgery...you're not fooling anyone. What animal died on John Travolta’s head? Wouldn't we accept him without hair?
It worked for Sean Connery... and ladies, if you can act...a wrinkle or two isn't gonna keep us from admiring talent.

YOUR IDOLS HAVE FEET OF CLAY!!!

Remember Sex in the City? I just read the average income in NYC is $50,000 a year. Awesome! Who was going out for sushi and $12 Cosmos in their new Jimmy Choo's - at only $1600 a pop!?  Gallery assistant? Making...how much?


This "Age of AspirationTM" is crazy! It’s rampant. And believe me, I know it... I’m a JOB CREATOR [if you count me, sole proprietor] who creates a product I want you to buy [consume! consume!] and I’m trying real hard not to sell my soul just so kiddo can finish college or I can take the dachshunds to the vet or... you know, eat. Does that mean I have to get gussied up in a satin prom dress, get extensions, a fake tan and nails, 6 inch heels and fling a gimlet in the nearest “real housewife of Colonial Height’s” eye just because she cut me off in line at Panera? I hope not, because they don’t sell alcohol there. Me, [just like L’Wren was] is hoping talent [and the universe] will allow me to make a living.

Monday, December 16, 2013

My Appropriation Story...Biography and then some.

Old habits are hard to break, and even harder when YOU'RE old.

I am guilty of appropriation. But I vow... not in the future.
But how did I get here?

Here's the back story...

I could blame it on my revered High School Art Teacher, Mr. Levine. I loved him [not romantically]. He taught me a lot, but also some bad habits... including the DEADLY opaque projector technique.

High School - Photo by Robert Schimmel, double exposure.
I spent most of my spare time in High School in the Art room. Actually, spent some Chemistry, Geometry and Physics time in there, too. I was often fetched by a fellow student and dragged to class. My Math teacher, Babe Steen would just stand the hallway and yell - SCHIMMEL!!!! I only went to science classes [reluctantly] because Mr. Green was so cute. I would rather be in the art room than anywhere. But let us go back further...

When I was a very little girl, I was painfully shy. I started playing piano when I was 4. By ear. I have perfect pitch, and after my older brother's piano teacher left, I would walk over to the piano and play his lessons. My Mom was in the kitchen and thought Bob was practicing. When she realized it was me, she signed me up for lessons and immediately started thinking "child prodigy" and Julliard and the Ed Sullivan Show. Terror!
shy little girl in Reading, PA

I also started drawing when I was little.
I would stay in my room and draw. For hours. I always drew people. Or clothes [on people] or shoes [on people]. I can draw. I learned on my own. Did not get much help later on except a few classes I took on my own. What an easy kid for my parents to raise. Piano lessons, practice [ick] and quiet hours alone drawing or reading.

My favorite books were [and still are] about people. I read every biography book in my school. Mostly about Native Americans.
I still read biographies.

Left to my own devices [literally], I'll watch documentaries about PEOPLE.We went to the JCC in Reading, PA and I took lots of art classes. Ceramics was my favorite. I still have EVERYTHING I ever made, even if it's cracked or broken.

In 6th grade, I made a puppet. I put him a plaid kilt, and a Tam O'Shanter... I remember arguing with my teacher who insisted I had to decide whether he was Irish or Scots. What a bitch...how would I know the difference at 11? Now, on reflection...I'm thinking Scottish, I could swear it's the Black Watch tartan. I still have that puppet, too...molting away somewhere in a box. And now I know the difference.

In junior high, I really started thinking more about art and got great grades in drawing, and got an award for a portrait I did of my typing teacher [yeah... I'm THAT old]. Mr. Hobart really forced us to think outside the box... slapping metal rulers on the table and shouting "WAKE UP PEOPLE, it's the Pepsi Generation!"

I was not the "best" artist in school, that was Nancy Kintisch. And there were others. We were not in competition. The cameraderie in art rooms in high school was positive. But, encouragement on the home front was non-existent.

In the years between high-school and today... I bounced around colleges [4] and was an on-again off-again art major. I have to say, I learned very little in art class. One teacher I had for live drawing absolutely HATED me and ignored me all semester. At another college, one professor said "You know what you're doing, I can't teach you anything, just come back at the end of the semester with 12 paintings and I'll give you an A."
I was in a hard-edge acrylic non-representational phase for a while. But mostly, PEOPLE...always people. My degree is actually in Psychology [that's a long story about Eidetic Imagery experiments - on ME] ...but I did finish classes to get a BFA later.
Maybe I wasn't paying attention, or maybe it wasn't covered, but I never really learned how to BE an artist, how to make a living as a fine artist, how to get into galleries, or musuems, and I still don't know what a fellowship or residency is.
I'm not a joiner, and I need to learn things quickly. If I can't pick it up, I don't get it.
Well.. I got kicked out of graduate school since I could not pick a concentration. But, it was fun taking Textile design, and Surface design, and Metal work and Jewelry and Fiber Arts... even though I knew painting people was my thing.
And maybe fashion design...or shoe design...see, I'm still doing it!

So naturally, I went into retail. What a joke. But then came Display. Although I designed all sorts of things - from handbags to T-shirts to jewelry, my career in Display, Window Trimmer, Visual Merchandiser kept me alive. And fed the creative side of me. And painting on the side. Always painting.

Fast forward to the naughts. Frustrated in a corporate career, divorced, single parent... I decide to go get back into Art. After playing around with mosaics, I am finally SURE of what I want to do, a style, a technique I developed. Turning junk mail into tiles, and creating mosaics with them. Mosaics of PEOPLE. New husband, my angel, said quit your job and be an artist.
My first Mosaic experiment...a self-portrait
So, with an anthem to rock, we built a studio and never looked back.

Okay - it's gonna be people. What people? I scour through magazines and pull out photos. I paste them on my studio walls. I draw from them, I simplify, but... I am using photos from magazines for my subjects. Look, I never lied about it - it's just he way I worked. My whole vision was to USE those very objects - women's faces - and create something new.

My latest work is my last appropriation. The photo on the left is from W magazine, and is by Patrick Demarchelier. I loved this girl's face and the composition. So, I drew from it. I made enough changes that I believe it is "transformative," and the new piece has new elements I added...having started out thinking Tudor age then switched to a Renaissance feel. There she is on the right - in my messy studio. Either way, I am guilty of appropriation and that's that.

But now, I've decided to stop doing that. I have a lot of commission work going on through the next several months, but starting in the spring, I vow to create my own images and work from those.

In the spirit of letting go, I'm holding a clearance sale now through Christmas to clear out the studio and my head.

Looking forward to a new year and new direction. Cheers!

Sandhi