Alchemical Vessel 2018 - Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery

I am so honored to be a participating artist for the Alchemical Vessel 2018 fundraising event for Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery. This is the first year I was nominated and it could not have been better timing. Here is my story:

I forced myself to start this painting a few days after the loss of a dear friend. I did not want to paint this painting. I did not want to feel this grief. I did not know how to take this grief and connect with others who have suffered loss or may be dealing with their own mortality. I just didn’t. I just couldn’t. But I needed to. 

Instead of coming up with an “idea”, I decided I would just start. I picked up the sphere, the circle of wholeness, of eternity, of everlasting love and started to write. I wrote stream of consciousness, no thinking, just pouring. Pouring out of emotions, raw, fragile, true, the secret thoughts inside my own head, the feelings I was experiencing, the grief, the anger, the confusion. I wanted this emotion to be the background of whatever came to be on this surface, even if it was not to be seen. I sealed it in. 

Then I began painting. 

Usually when I start a painting, I attack the surface with bold expressive brush strokes, but here I found myself treating the surface tentatively, in an effort to preserve the precious words, knowing that in time they would be smoothed over inside my own body, inside my own mind. Eventually, I let go. I worked to build up layers, an interconnected history of trial and error, of beauty and struggle, of losing and finding. These are the moments in our lives, a layering of experiences, both good and bad, that no matter how hard we try to preserve or bury them, they are still there creating who we are as a person, bringing out the strength and beauty in each of us. 

ps: the title of this painting is Missing You with an alternative title It's Not Dark! because he used to tease me that all my paintings were dark and depressing, but now my life is full of color, which I know he was happy about. 

Missing You (It's Not Dark!)
Acrylic, oil pastel and graphite on wood

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Art Commission

You can't wait for them to come to you, you need to find them!

I found that out several months ago when I became determined to pay for an upcoming trip to Italy. Feeling guilty that I was traveling with painting friends rather than any of my family members (although now I get to travel with my sister…yay!) I become determined to pay for the trip through the sale of my artwork — it was going to be an art related trip after all. So, sitting down at my trusted laptop, I reached out to local designers, developers, builders, and art consultants and was amazed by the encouraging responses. Not only did many people reply with such kind words about my work, but the timing was just about perfect when I reached a builder who was considering original artwork for a new apartment building in SW DC.

 They arrived!! 

They arrived!! 

A few emails, a phone call, a meeting, a site visit, and finally a contract, it was time to get started. Three large paintings on canvas— one 70”x70” and two 60”x94”— my biggest paintings yet! I have always wanted to paint large and after my amazing time at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, I was convinced that was what I was supposed to be doing. So, I quickly realized that I will need to stretch my own canvases (which I love doing) and found Upper Canada Stretchers, ordered all the supplies and was excited to get started.

The frames were quite easy to construct and I was lucky enough to enlist my super talented friend, Laurie Breen to assist me in the stretching part. Thank goodness. Not to boast, but we did an amazing job! So, three coats of gesso later, I was ready to go!

 Upper Canada Stretchers made them super easy to build.

Upper Canada Stretchers made them super easy to build.

 First frame built!

First frame built!

 Laurie, me and let's get started! 

Laurie, me and let's get started! 

 

How do you start on such large paintings? Just START! My favorite part!

 Setup for something to work from.   

Setup for something to work from.

 

 Making a mess.   

Making a mess.

 

The client had given me an interior design rendering to use as a guide for the color palette so I set up a still life with similar colors from which to work. I knew I wouldn't actually be painting a still life but I needed some forms and connections to work from. After the first visit from the client to see the 70”x70”, I was freed – no longer did I need to stick to the palette. A little conflicted with that news (sometimes it’s actually nice to have parameters) but I forged ahead, loving every second.

Seriously.
Loving.
Every
.
Second.

So much painting, so much movement, so much thinking, painting, flipping, looking, meditating, and more painting. What could be more fun?!

By now my studio now had all three canvases up on the walls, covering 75% of my wall space. Did I mention these were WAY too big to go on an easel? I thought it was challenging rotating the large square piece but now I had two that were 60”x94” that were 10 lbs heavier and they were infinitely harder to manage! Yes, I can see why a studio mate would be nice. Lucky for me, Studio 3807 has their studio next door and my trusted neighbor was kind enough to help me when I swallowed my pride and asked for it. So painting, painting, painting continued to fill my days for the next two months, with some welcome interruptions of graphics responsibilities.

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As these paintings began to emerge, it was fascinating seeing how the abstraction of the city became apparent. Somehow harbors, boats, sidewalks, trees, buildings, cranes, bridges, streets, telephone poles, wires, chaos all started appearing without me consciously painting them. Not only did I see that imagery but others who came to the studio did as well. Is that a boat? Are those monuments? Is that the bridge in Georgetown? Is that a crane in SE? Is that the waterfront? Are those office buildings? Sure! If that is what you see, then that is what it is. I love to engage people’s imagination and see how the history inside of them affects what they see in my abstract paintings. They are left loose for a reason.

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So, the day came when they were approved, packaged up and off they went to the client. I was sad but excited to see them go, and I cannot wait to see them in their new home at 301 M Street, SW in February! I will finally be able to get some distance on them! I hope others enjoy them as much as I enjoyed painting them.

 I don't often look this tiny!

I don't often look this tiny!

Harbor
Acrylic on canvas
60"x94"

Intersection
Acrylic on canvas
0"x94"

Fresh Outlook
Acrylic on canvas
70"x70"

 
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