Archive | May, 2012

Supple Geometry: Laurel Sparks

31 May

You may have noticed that I’ve been a bit out of touch for the last few days.. or maybe you haven’t.. ūüėČ ¬†Hubby and I moved rentals and getting the internet connection to work with our Mac has been a bit of a challenge. ¬†And then there’s the unpacking and getting settled part AND we have very dear friends coming to visit tomorrow! ¬†Needless to say, things are busier than normal in my crazy little life. ¬†So please forgive me if the blog posts are not as chatty as usual!

Today’s artist, Laurel Sparks, uses interlacing lines and shapes to create her mixed media abstracts. ¬†Each piece becomes a web-like beacon, inviting us in to explore the world that she has crafted.

God’s Eye, acrylic, marble dust, paper mache, glitter, pom-poms on canvas, 36×39

Constellation, acrylic, marble dust, paper mache, glitter, pom-poms on canvas, 36×39

Her use of unexpected materials like rhinestones, pom-poms and “googly-eyes”, keep the work feeling fresh and feminine. ¬†Yet her use of graphic pattern and colors produce bold compositions.

Conflagration, acrylic, marble dust, paper mache, glitter, beads, rhinestones on canvas, 36×33

Forum, acrylic, marble dust, paper mache, glitter, beads on canvas, 39×36

To see more of Laurel Sparks’ work, please visit her website.

Featured image is¬†Gris Gris, acrylic, gouache, marble dust, colored pencil, black glitter, googly eyes on canvas, 27×31. ¬†All images are via the artist’s website.

Botanic Modern: Jennifer Bain

30 May

One of the things I love about my husband is how excited he gets about wildflowers.  He is the manliest of men, but when spring arrives, he begins the hunt for perfumed beauties.  Our camera card gets filled with glorious specimens to remember and identify.  We joyfully observe butterflies and bees making their rounds, testing each bud.  Artist Jennifer Bain shares our fascination with the beauty that awaits just outside our windows.

Regeneration, mixed media on panel, 24×24

Like yesterday’s artist, Charlene Liu, Bain takes the traditional floral still life and reinvents it. ¬†Each work may contain a few realistic portrayals of birds or flowers, but it is the juxtaposition of more contemporary, silhouetted elements and textile-like patterns that give these pieces post-modern punch.

Uphill Climb, mixed media on panel, 12×12

The simple linear shapes give the work a fleeting, unfinished quality which creates a beautifully dynamic tension between those and the more detailed elements.

Seekers, mixed media on panel, 36×48

Butterflies and birds flit across each piece, seeming to be drunk on loveliness.  Like the butterflies, I too, would love to dance among these beauties.

Pretty Bird, mixed media on panel, 36×48

Swallowtail, mixed media on panel, 18×24

To see more of Jennifer Bain’s work, please visit her website. ¬†Oh and Jennifer is another artist represented by Skidmore Contemporary. ¬†I told you they had great taste!

PS– Didn’t realize when scheduling these posts that I featured two floral artists within two days. ¬†I’m interested to hear your takes on both!

Featured image is Seekers, mixed media on panel, 48×36. ¬†All images are via the Skidmore Contemporary website.

Artsy on Escape Into Life: Dennis Ziemienski

29 May

There are certain galleries that I’ve found are treasure troves of artists whose work appeals to me. ¬†Skidmore Contemporary in Los Angeles is one of my go-to galleries for fantastic contemporary realism. ¬†So far, I’ve featured three of their artists and more to come. ¬†Today’s Artist Watch feature on Escape Into Life is the latest Skidmore artist whose work captured me, Dennis Ziemienski. ¬†So retro, so fresh, so California.

California Theatre by Dennis Ziemienski

Dennis Ziemienski on Escape Into Life

Delicate Pulp: Charlene Liu

29 May

I like to think that a big part of an artist’s purpose is to present the world with a new way of seeing something familiar. ¬†Assumptions that were once made and scenes taken for granted are turned on their ear by the artist’s unique vision. ¬†In Eugene, Oregon artist Charlene Liu’s most recent body of work, the artist takes an often prosaic subject and gives it fresh, new life.

Comings and Goings, handmade paper, pigmented pulp, acrylic, 35×37

Upon Waking, handmade paper, pigmented pulp, acrylic, 24×32

Her use of handmade paper brings the organic nature of her creations to the forefront.  She then takes her playfulness with material a step further, using pigmented pulp to create her delicate floral palette.

Swoops and Cyclone, watercolor, handmade paper, pigmented pulp, 40.5×50.5

Like a cottage garden, the elements of each work are layered and wild, where floral still lifes were once a staid domain, they are now delicately set free.

Mad Bloom, mixed media on paper, 30×30

To see more of Charlene Liu’s work, please visit the website of her representing gallery, Taylor de Cordoba, another of my favorite gallery resources for amazing work!

Featured image is Mad Bloom, mixed media on paper, 30×30. ¬†All images are via the Taylor de Cordoba website.

Waterlogged: Laura Sanders

28 May

Happy Memorial Day, Artsies! ¬†Hope you are out celebrating with friends and family. ¬†Chances are if you aren’t completely land-locked, you’ll be spending some time in, on or near the water. ¬†Hubby & I are spending the holiday moving from our temporary rental in town to our summer rental on Hayden Lake here in Northern Idaho. ¬†It’s still been pretty chilly here, so we won’t be doing any in-water activities, but I’m sure we’ll find ourselves soaking up the sun and just enjoying lake life. ¬†Columbus, Ohio artist Laura Sanders perfectly captures the wonder of water-logged summers.

Obstructed Horizon, oil on canvas

I was immediately drawn to Sanders’ work, not just because George & I will be enjoying lake life this summer, but also because her work beautifully portrays the joyful memories of my own summer lake experiences as a young girl. ¬†My older brother, Jason & I used to spend a few weeks of every summer at the home of our great aunt & uncle, who were active retirees living on small Hall Lake in Northern Florida. ¬†Aunt Helen & Uncle Vernon were still fairly young, but had no grandchildren yet, so we filled the void, spending lazy days swimming, fishing, biking and just generally having the time of our lives.

Untitled, oil on canvas, 36×36

Jason was into taking my uncle’s little johnboat around the lake for a spin and biking up and down the clay road, while I, like the girls Sanders’ paints, was more the little mermaid. ¬†I loved being in the water, the feel of it on my skin, the sun beating down, heating up the inner tube until it got just hot enough to need to dunk under for a bit of relief. ¬†Uncle Vernon loved to swim, too, and spent hours in the lake with us, while Aunt Helen was the disciplinarian. ¬†She firmly believed in the no swimming just after lunch rule.. much to our chagrin. ¬†But she always brought us Fla-Vor-Ice’s while we swam, so all was forgiven.

Noon, oil on canvas, 25×27

As we grew older, our time at the lake grew shorter. ¬†We became busy with teenage life and Aunt Helen & Uncle Vernon finally had a grandson of their own to spoil. ¬†We moved on, but they held a very special place in our hearts. ¬†They’ve both passed now, Vernon several years ago and Helen just last year. ¬†But the memories we made with them live on. ¬†Every once in a while, a breeze stirs up or I’m near the water, or see paintings like Laura Sanders’ and I am immediately transported back to Hall Lake. ¬†I can feel their presence and hear Aunt Helen scolding Uncle Vernon for keeping us in the water too long, just before she rings the old dinner bell by the back door.

Cloud Cover, oil on canvas, 52×42

Later Summer, oil on canvas

I hope you’ve spent this Memorial Day making some wonderful memories of your own! ¬†To see more of Laura Sanders’ work, please visit her website. ¬†For a little bonus, scroll down to the end of this post to see a special photo from my days at Hall Lake. ūüėČ

Featured image is Girls and Plastic Floating, oil on canvas. ¬†All images are via the artist’s website or the website of her representing gallery, Rebecca Ibel Gallery.

Here’s your bonus pic!

Hall Lake, Summer 1982
l to r: My brother Jason, our friend & lake neighbor Glenn Hayhurst,
his sister Shelley, yours truly

Friday Faves: A Walk in the Woods

25 May

I’ve made no secret here of how enamored I am by trees. ¬†There is just something so inherently beautiful within the elements of a tree, it isn’t any wonder than artists whose work utilizes wood possess such natural grace and elegance. ¬†Here are a few of my favorites!

Nestler series by Grant Ward, maple burl, spun aluminum
& padauk, 19×8

Cleave series by Joe Segal, 9×18

Cities and Signs by Evan Blackwell, wood, 26x22x2

A Lightness in Being, Exercises in Zen #2 by Christian Burchard, madrone burl, 12x12x26

Grant Ward  | Joe Segal | Evan Blackwell | Christian Burchard 

How about you, Artsies?  Any wood-obsessed artists I should know about?  Tell me in the comments below!

Featured image is Untitled ( Birds on a Wire ) by Evan Blackwell, mixed media, 8×11.75×2.75. ¬†All images are via the artist’s websites, linked above.

The Sweet By & By: Deann Hebert

24 May

There are times I wonder if I have multiple personalities. ¬†I love big cities for all of their energy, culture and swagger. ¬†New York continues to be one of my favorite places in the world. ¬†But I also adore the sweet, slower pace and relaxed living of more rural areas. ¬†Maybe it’s my grandmother’s farm girl roots or my love of quiet and the outdoors. ¬†But whatever the cause, the work of Franklin, TN artist Deann Hebert reminds me of the glory of picnics and winding country roads.


Obviously, Deann’s subject matter brings to mind life’s simple pleasures.. fields full of flowers, the wonder of a bird’s nest, the sweetness of a secluded little country church.

Fall Whispers

She reinforces her bucolic atmospheres by using a soft, neutral palette and layer upon layers of painted texture reminiscent of tree bark and peeling barn paint.


Her work makes me want to load up a picnic in my bike basket ( ok, I don’t have one yet, but I’m working on it! ) and ride along the fence line, saying hello to cows and horses and passersby.

The Painted Fence

Country Barn

In the words of John Denver, Country roads, take me home! ¬†At least that’s what the country mouse side of my personality is longing for today. ¬†The city mouse may show up again tomorrow. ūüėČ ¬†To see more of Deann Hebert’s work, please visit her website and Facebook page.

Featured image is Easter Sunday. ¬†All images are via the artist’s website.

Uninhibited Aberrations: Michelle Y Williams

23 May

I have such admiration for people who live moment to moment, seizing each day as if it were their last.  The artwork of Houston artist Michelle Y. Williams is the artistic equivalent of the ultimate in uninhibited spontaneity.

Plan I, mixed media on canvas, 56×58

Perhaps it is the perceived improvisation of abstracts like Williams’ that attracts me so deeply. ¬†They call to the place in my spirit that longs to be the kind of person who doesn’t need to plan carefully, one who can just pick up and go at a moment’s notice.

12-143, mixed media, 12×12

Pops of fluid color flow across the canvas among veiled foggy tones and textures, like vivid mirage-like pools.

Plan K, mixed media on canvas, 52×52

In the midst of the tonal textures, we find surprises of color and light. ¬†It’s almost as if we’re wandering lost through the fog, catching glimpses of life in the mist.

Plan h, mixed media on canvas, 56×58

Plan i, mixed media on canvas, 56×58

Please visit Michelle Y. Williams’ website to see more of her work. ¬†If you happen to be near Tulsa, OK, be sure to check out her current exhibition at Exhibit by Abersons, a beautifully curated gallery!

Featured image is Plan G, mixed media on canvas, 77×39. ¬†All images are via the artist’s website.

Artsy on Escape Into Life: Christina Baker

22 May

I love it when fans of an artist’s work remind me to feature them! ¬†So of course, I had a V-8ish slap-myself-on-the-forehead moment when the Managing Editor at Escape Into Life saw me post on Twitter about Christina Baker’s work and reminded me how awesome it would be to feature her over there.

Runaway Tears by Christina Baker, acrylic on canvas, 48×48

Please go over and take a look!

Christina Baker on Escape Into Life

Natural Replications: Brenda Mallory

22 May

Whenever we go hiking, my eyes are always drawn to the textures and details surrounding me. ¬†I love running my hand over rough & scaly tree bark and soft, green moss. ¬†Portland artist Brenda Mallory’s sculptures mimic the abstracted details found in nature, the very ones that enchant and fascinate me each time I step outside.

Explosion in Gold, wax cloth and welded steel, 18x18x10

Explosion in Gold ( detail )

Mallory’s work follows nature’s patterns of repetition and rhythm, organic forms grouped together to a soft, undulating whole.

Undulations, Waxed cloth, nuts, bolts, welded steel, 48x70x6

She juxtaposes the natural molds and materials with more industrial elements like bolts and welded steel so that the sculptures become a statement man’s impact on old growth systems and environments.

Scaffold, waxed cloth, welded steel, 14x18x4

Waveform (dark), waxed cloth, threaded rods, nuts, 31x5x4.5(detail on right)

To see more of Brenda Mallory’s work, please check out her website!

Featured image is¬†Trophy ( detail ), cloth, wax, welded steel, 20x20x13. ¬†All images are via the artist’s website.

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