Carpe Tea-em?

The phrase otium cum dignitate (leisure with dignity) has remained with me from the very first time I heard it in Latin class (circa 2006). I have always been a supporter of the idea of spending free time seeking enriching activities-- reading great works of literature, studying nature, playing the piano, writing, exercising, visiting museums and historical sites-- I firmly believe that what comes out of my mind or mouth is a direct reflection of what I have done to nourish my spirit. Part of the way I prefer to do such things, whenever possible, is with a cup of tea at hand. Chai, Oolongs, Lapsang Souchong, Senchas-- a fine tea is always irresistible to me, an aesthetically rewarding experience in and of itself. Though the Romans never knew the joy of tea, I am certain that, had camellia sinensis come into Roman life, Cicero would have been delighted to contemplate his art collection with a cup nearby and Horace would be inclined to seize the leaves with gusto. I would not care to begin my early morning hours without a pot of tea, my journal, and a book to flip through. First Cup [above], painted using primarily acrylic, is my tribute to reaching forward for a delightful first sip and a morning of rewarding contemplation.

Steampunk Trilogy

The newest addition to my steam-inspired series, The Compass [above] is about navigation, maps, an adventurer and her gadgets and machines. Unlike the Clockwork Woman, this girl is far less cryptic, perhaps more in control. I am particularly amused by the fact that the type of compass pictured is a drafting tool, reflective of my own vocation as an artist and interest in geometric patterns, and that such compasses were often used in Medieval manuscripts as a symbol of God's act of creation.

As for the technical aspects of the painting, it is smoother and less abstract than the first piece in the series, less simplified than the second. . . I partly wanted to pay homage to 50's movie posters and sci-fi illustrations, but also liked the idea of the figure developing clarity and distinction from the various swirls and general mechanical shapes around her. Where will the series go from here? Will our traveler take a closer look at her map or will she take a wild leap into uncharted territory?

All Ye Know on Earth, and All Ye Need to Know

During the summer of 2011, I spent a few pleasant afternoons taking reference photos of friends for future art projects. Though I had (and still have) other plans for exploring the possibilities these images present, the coolly wistful gaze in one of them and the completion of my Organic Compositions series gave me an idea that needed attention. Liz in an Abstract Landscape [above] combines the figure of one of my friends with the arabesques and expressionistic meanderings of the compositions, making the image both a classic ode to beauty à la John Keats and a story about one's relationship with one's surroundings in the modern world.

Of course, as for my own current relationship with my surroundings, spring has enticed my eyes, ears, and nose to observe the world with renewed intensity. I have a fierce desire to absorb every shadow's angle, every flower, every breeze. . . and so I have pulled out my trusty ballpoint pen again to sketch. Although my approach to #Draw365 has certainly changed over time, I have continued to sketch each day. . . yet most of my sketches are incomplete conceptual records; I would like to return to doing a few more "finished" sketches as well. The above drawing is of a nearby greenway; below, I was studying the blossoms from a tree growing outside one of my windows. While my pen strokes remain loose and general, I find myself increasingly curious about details that I might usually simplify, wanting to know my reality more thoroughly, more closely. . .


Ah, Spring! Seafare 2012, March Interview. . .

In light of Huntsville's unpredictable early spring, my imagination is romping enthusiastically through breezy days, clumps of daffodils, and boughs heavy with white, lilac, and pink blooms, but wildly fluctuating temperatures and humidity have left my canvases sluggish. I currently have two water-based oil pieces and one acrylic in the works, but they remain so wet and sticky that I must proceed uncharacteristically slowly to avoid cracking.

That having been said, when I was recently offered the opportunity to paint a buoy [above] for The Huntsville Arts Council's spring fundraiser, "Seafare 2012", I was more than happy to not only support an excellent local arts organization but try out a new surface (and have yet another project to work on while the others still refuse to dry). Many artists have contributed hand-decorated buoys to go on auction tomorrow, some of which can be viewed on The Arts Council's Facebook page. The surface, a slightly bumpy plastic, was intriguing, as was the shape, and while it took four coats of acrylic to cover it evenly (and it also remained sticky far longer than expected), determining how to work with its shape and texture was quite pleasant. I gave "Louisiana Romance" [top photo] a base warmed with metallic gold and used a ballpoint pen for finishing touches. Since the theme was water- and ocean-related, I drew on my memories of vacations to the Gulf Coast for inspiration, wanting to create a thematically relevant piece that still oozed Southern charm and a sense of history.

In other notes, I have just today posted this month's Huntsville Art Blog interview with NA Crafters founding member and local jewelry maker Jessica Moon. In it, she talks about her role in the group and how others can become involved-- she and a few fellow members have also worked together to decorate a buoy for the Arts Council fundraiser, which, along with the full interview, can be seen by clicking here.