Saturday, December 8, 2012

Thank You

Here a some pictures of the people who helped apply gold leaf to the mural. With a tight deadline and almost 400 square feet of painting I couldn't have done it without them. This is Isobel and Will. Isobel is drawing with a bottle of glue. Will is applying the glue with a sponge. Later they will stick gold leaf to the area. It seems it was a good idea to have children all those years ago. (Isobel is my daughter)

My mum. 

Ericka who amazingly lent us her house to work in since my studio was too tiny. Can you believe how sweet that is?

Kenna from Starbucks who art directed this whole project.

My mum, Aileen, Chris, Leslie, Kai and me.  I remember the sunshine. Distantly. I think I look a little stressed. I wonder why. I think at this point the deadline was a few days away.

Jeff and Chris.

My youngest helper, Morgan, and his mum Nicole. With Aileen applying leaf. I don't have pictures of Pat and Daniel who put in so many hours. Sandra and Tracy helped too. It was so great to have support from you all. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Installed in Kuwait

Here is the mural installed at Starbucks, The Avenues, Kuwait. Some day maybe I'll get to see it. It was such a big part of my life for the past year I kind of miss it. So many friends worked on it with me, from people at the date palm society, friends in Jordan who advised on plants and sent me photos (Dino, Bill Ammar) friends and neighbors here in Seattle who helped me apply gold leaf. So much gold leaf!Family who came down from Canada to help. The wonderful guys at Rainier who cut the wood. I'll find some pictures of us working and post everyone's names. It was a huge amount of fun and a wonderful adventure.

Finally - Ladies and Gentlemen - The Kuwait Mural!

I painted a mural for Starbucks Kuwait this summer. I made it here and it was shipped to the site. It was recently installed and the store has opened so I can post pictures of it now. Here is the blurb that Starbucks uses to describe the subject. We chose the subject matter very carefully with a great deal of consultation between Kuwait and Seattle.

"Imagine that you are walking along the sea shore - in the desert country of Kuwait. The year is 2012. Or 1912. Or any time. You come upon an old stone wall where a pearl fisher recently sat, opening oysters and drinking coffee...

...You are surrounded by the beautiful desert plants of Kuwait, including a shrub with yellow flowers called Arfaj which is symbolic of the country. Hoopoe birds keep watch over the scene...

...In the distance you see pearl fishing dhows sailing the waters of the Gulf...

...And beyond the bay the distant profile of Mutla Ridge rises against the golden sky. In the hot sun everything shines with gold!"

The team - Heather and Kenna who art directed the project. Colin and Damon who oversaw the cutting of the wooden trees. And Ericka who lent me her house to use as a studio. Ray - I don't have a picture of. Tim who got this all started. So many more people helped with this project.

There are painted dates. And dates cut out of wood! The fruit is important to arab culture and tradition.

The wood was cut so carefully with a water jet!
This is the largest painting I have ever made and measures 28x14 feet. (8.5x4.9 metres). Though we planned this for six months, all the painting and woodwork was done in the last five weeks. I developed callouses on my hands from moving the panels around over and over again as I painted.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

30 Days of Art

It's time for the 30 Pieces of Art in 30 Days show! On Wednesday, 5 December, you can come for a preview and see all the art on display at the Toshiro Kaplan building in Pioneer Square, Seattle. On Thursday you can buy any of the pieces for $50. I have 30 pen and ink drawings on display. (Some of them were posted a while ago if you scroll down.) Doors open on Thursday at 6pm.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Bellingham Peacehealth St Joseph Medical Center

It's finished and delivered to the beautiful new hospital in Bellingham. Here I am with Mary and Linda of Lucia Douglas Gallery who commissioned this piece and organized all the art for the hospital. It's gorgeous and full of art! What a wonderful job they did. All the art has something to do with nature and the hospital itself is in the woods with native plantings all around.

Hey there's that sweater again. 

Here is the reception area. The painting will be hung higher on the wall.

Most of the fish and reptiles in the painting were suggested by people on Facebook. Here is our ubiquitous Pacific Northwest banana slug. And a shaggy mouse nudibranch. How could I resist?

While all the animals are native to this area, the plants are just things from my own garden. I was happy to include our native Oregon Grape (Mahonia) since its leaves have wonderful gothic arches and a complex structure. I needed to counter all that Rococo gold with a reference to a more serene period of art. Well in my mind it works like that. I also included some tulips since the Skagit Valley is a major tulip growing area.

The sunlight peeked through our November clouds the other day and fell on the trumpeter swan in my studio. Yesterday while I drove the mural up to the hospital I passed the Skagit Valley farm fields full of these swans and their companions, the snow geese.

I wish strength and health to all the people who see this tree of life welcoming them to the cancer hospital.

And now I can vacuum the studio floor.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bellies and Guts

Last night in the studio Huckleberry fell asleep on my lap with all his paws in the air and his belly facing up. If you know cats you will recognize this pose as one of trust. Cats only bare their bellies when they feel secure.

I have been thinking about bellies and stomachs. Guts. And vulnerability. When a person is brave we say she has guts. More accurately we might say that she bares her guts, or makes herself vulnerable. Vulnerability is one of the most important themes of my painting when I paint small intimate oils. I have been missing it during these recent adventures with show-off gold and giant scale. But I think I have found a way to add a feeling of vulnerability to my large work now too. I have started to smooth out some of the ribs and angles of my creatures, adding sagging and bulging bellies. Who at my age doesn't feel vulnerable showing off the sags and bags of stomach and jowls? I'm not saying I want to become Jenny Saville who creates paintings of such extreme exposure they are brutal. I am trying instead for a feeling of intimacy. Think of the extraordinary round and wobbly sac of guts that is a baby's belly. Did nature really design them with no protection for all the important things inside them?

I like when people expose their hearts and guts and fears to me. I like the intimacy of friendships like these. There is no better way, I believe, to feel connected.

I'm going to work a little more on painting these saggy belly animals. I haven't got it right yet.

If this subject interests you Brene Brown has a new Ted Talk that I recommend as well as her original one.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Textures and Perspectives

The Tree of Life mural is progressing. As I work with the textures of paint on gold and gold on paint it feels appropriate to the theme. Life itself is layered and textured and full of roughness and sweetness and accidents. So I am enjoying a more painterly approach to this than is usual in my work. There are even some drips, though I always swore I wouldn't use that old painting trick. I might leave them.

Some of the drips were made by my son exuberantly painting his Halloween costume which was a Jackson Pollock painting, in my studio. I like the idea of including his work in this celebration of life. 

One of the most interesting things about working with gold leaf is how it changes both with the shifting light through the day and also with the angle it is viewed from. What better metaphor for life. Right? Sometimes it actually absorbs light and seems black. And at other times it reflects everything around it and emanates. My favourite moment each day comes when Huckleberry and I shut down the studio lights, one by one to go down to the house to make dinner. And the colors on the mural disappear. All that is left is the gold leaf reflecting light that I didn't even know was there. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Mural Details

I am responding to a wonderful list of suggestions that happened on Facebook (jean bradbury art) for fish and reptiles to include in my Tree of Life mural. Here is the first - a Rockfish. Some of the texture and gold surrounding it will remain and some will be painted over with plants. Below you can see the large oval shape that will be filled with painted flowers, leaves and animals as well as the tree branches. The painting is twelve feet wide.

Sunday, November 4, 2012