Saturday, November 19, 2011

It's all quiet for about 2 more seconds

Every week I get several hours to paint and draw. Make whatever my little heart desires. No kids, pandora radio and a few new-ish tubes of waterproof gouache.
Sounds cliche, but I am beginning to be inspired by the everyday. Maybe just the things we see all the time that we rush past. The things that aren't necessarily considered beautiful. Raising kids forces one to be in the present. There's no time to lolligag in those deep corners of your brain. There are shoes to put on, buckles to be buckled, tantrums to be squelched. Where is the time for imagination? Should I work harder to find it while I play with the kids?

When I lived in Las Vegas, I came back to Chicago for two weeks in March. I rode the el downtown to work for my former employer while he was doing flowers for the Park Hyatt in Dubai. It was cold in the city and so gray. I loved how the pigeons puffed themselves up into balls trying to keep warm at the el stops. I loved seeing the backs of all the apartment buildings, the garbage cans, the wear and tear of the street signs, how curbs crumbled a little, the trash that blew around. I loved how gritty it looked. In contrast to shiny Las Vegas, where history is erased and newer is better.

So below are my two newest paintings. I am working one day a week at the same outfit, and to leave at 6:30 am when it's still dark feels like I am slipping out into the night, escaping, leaving it all behind. Know what? It kinda feels awesome. I can pretend I feel reckless. with purpose.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Today's the day!!

Today is The Big Day! The opening reception for my very first art show.

I gotta say - people are genuinely excited for me. My family, my friends... they all recognize this as a big deal. I'm excited. and nervous. and all of this leads me to wonder - what are people expecting? Are they expecting a quiet gallery, large and white and spacious with classical music quietly wafting around the air? and pieces of artwork to ponder and discuss for an evening. Uh oh.
I'm not worried that no one will show. I know many friends who will be there - including my friends Sarah and Dave who are in town for the occasion. (Holla!!!) I'm more worried that it'll be a big disappointment. Like... we got babysitters for this? This is dumb. (Don't pity me. I'm just saying out loud what everyone thinks when they host a party.) Or that someone will ask me what my art is about, and my brain will turn into mush all over again, Cuttyhunk-style. The What Am I Trying To Say struggle remains. (Wasn't it obvious from my "on meaning" post? It's like I slipped out the back door while everyone was looking.) I have been telling myself for weeks to sit down and write an artist statement. I think to myself "it'll help. I will finally put into words what I have been subconsciously putting on paper. But, alas, I have been avoiding writing such a statement Big Time.
Well, self, what's wrong with just being honest? Admitting that I make art for the sake of making something. creating. meditating. releasing. owning a chunk of time, time all to myself.
Time's up. Jasper is awake.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I Make Art Because, part II

On Meaning

Between my jobs as a floral designer and moving to Evanston, I lived in Las Vegas and worked as a showgirl. Just kidding.
I started painting again just before I left my job at Epoch floral in Chicago and moved to Las Vegas. It was January 2007 when I carved out my first art studio in our 4200 square foot rental house and made art a daily priority. okay maybe weekly. What was it that unleashed in me then?

The big blue skies. The freedom of a new beginning. The excitement of our future together. No job. No expectations.

I started painting on a 22" by 30" piece of heavy paper with no plan, no formal ideas. I started painting just to see where I could go. Where my brain would take me. Like stream of consciousness. In my mind I was sewing together the squares of a quilt. Putting together colors that were pretty and mimicking shapes and patterns that I noticed on my walks through the desert - the shadows of the cacti, the jagged silhouette of the mountains. When I was finished every square inch of the paper was covered with color like a big tapestry. I named the pieceJourney Through a Quilted Subconscious.

It felt good to let go of all compositional worries and just paint for the sake of painting. I clung to that freedom and did a couple more paintings in this "horror vacui" style. I stood back to study the paintings solely to determine what colors and shapes might work best next to the ones I had just laid down on the paper. I think upon reflection that I was interested solely in creating an environment for the viewer the way a quilt creates an environment for a snuggler. ha! wait. or maybe I was interested solely in painting as a means of self expression. Maybe I tried (in vain) to just enjoy the journey and forget the end result.

My mom took me to see poet Gwendolyn Brooks speak when I was about 12 years old. When it was over my mom said to me, "your art doesn't always have to be pretty. It can really just be an expression of how you feel."


Unfortunately, my train of thought ends there because I wrote this a couple of weeks ago. Before I left for vacation. And then I left, went to Cuttyhunk Island, and my brain turned to mush.

Monday, June 27, 2011


My next post "I make art because, part II: On Meaning" has been delayed for just a bit until I can finish it. But here's the thing: without the "meaning," "beauty" just seems shallow and vain. That last post is just not sitting right with me at all. In fact I feel downright weird about it. (Did I really refer to myself as part of a "spectacular" staff. oh Gawd... weird face, rolling eyes. OOPS that came out all wrong. I was an outsider looking in - an innocent bystander watching the staff from the sidelines, a dorky author hiding behind a computer screen.)

Now. Yes, I like to create pretty environments and visually pleasing things. But that's not all!!!!! So bear with me... the meat is coming. "On beauty" can and does not stand on its own...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I Make Art Because, part I

I had a lot of clarity after my workout at the gym this afternoon. I drove home, turned on Super Nanny and ate a Jello pudding cup and 2 chocolate squares whereupon things got fuzzy again.

But I do want to begin hashing out why it is I feel compelled to make art and what exactly I am trying to say because at some point I'd like to cull all of my thoughts into some sort of artist statement. Do a sweep-up of thoughts from all corners of my brain like a big dust pile. So without further ado.

On Beauty

Let me start with this quote by impressionist painter Renoir from the year 1910:

For me a picture... should be something likeable, joyous, and pretty - yes, pretty. There are enough ugly things in life for us not to add to them.

In 1998, my sophmore year in college, I glued that clipping into the very first page of a journal. Subconsciously I believe it became a mantra of mine. For my final Conceptual Art class project sophomore year at Washington University all my energy went towards simply "creating something beautiful." I had had it up to here with illustrating concepts and... well, congnition. All I wanted was to play with color and line - to see how colors react to each other and to see the way lines can move your eye around a page - or not.

Junior year of college I tumbled into my fashion design major and upon graduating moved back to Chicago where shortly thereafter I stumbled into floral design. What really matters in an arrangement of flowers? Texture, design, color. The way one flower plays part of the whole bouqet. It was around this time that I stopped drawing and painting. I was creating floral arrangements, and that was fulfilling my need for creativity. It was like making living 3D sculptures.

In my early 20's I worked for Marion Perry, owner of A New Leaf in Chicago. She hired lots of young artist, musician types who had no money and were often bull-headed and quirky. And we all dressed very strangely. Marion's flower shops are to this day spectacular, and as one of my co workers at the time pointed out - so was her staff. "It is very clear that Marion likes beautiful things." This struck me - the choice and capability to surround yourself with beauty on a very conscious level. hmmm.

Since we have moved to Evanston and into a house we might be in for, like, ever, I think I have unearthed the interior designer in me. In the 11 months that we have lived here I have painted our downstairs powder room "Twilight Magenta," laid an animal print carpet runner on the stairs and hall and furnished our dining room with lavender Mr. Impossible chairs. God bless, stop me before our house looks like a rainbow threw up in it.

Beige be damned. My name is Kate, I am 33 years old, and I love pretty colors.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

In preparation for...

August 4 - August 16, 2011
Art Exhibition

Frame Warehouse, Evanston, IL

Home 2009
acrylic, pen and marker on paper

Return fall 2010
acrylic, pen and colored pencil on paper

Anabelle Violet Brown fall 2010
pen on paper

Rhino fall 2010
pen and gouache on paper

Ferdinand fall 2010
pen, gouache, colored pencil and cut paper on paper

Paper Quilt spring 2011
paint chips, fabric and thread on paper

On the brink of falling to pieces spring 2011
colored pencil, pen, watercolor and marker on paper