100 Day Project: Last Two Days

100 Day Project, Projects

Day 99: April 29

Pacing myself. I thought when I started this I wouldn’t care how many pieces I made, then I figured fifty would be a fine number. As it became clear that I was averaging one a day, even if that’s not exactly when I finished them, I decided to shoot for 100 pieces.

Day 100: April 30

I thought I’d bring this project to a close the same way I opened it: with a self portrait. 100 pieces. 100 Days. A road trip across the country home. A pandemic. Strange times. Bittersweet.

100/100 Days

100 Day Project: Week 2

100 Day Project, Projects

The spine, the backbone, the skeleton, the outline, my guide….

  • Use the blog to reflect on the work daily, posting content weekly.
  • Work at a 5 x 7 size on paper
  • Multi-media works
  • Use inspiration from travels, literature, and anywhere else I can.
  • Explore elements I work with already. See where it goes. Reflect on what those elements mean.
Progress of whole so far…

Day 8: January 29

I had to work fast this morning, today is a travel day and I needed time to let paint dry. I chose to explore another aspect of my current paintings: fabric texture. I’ve been adding scraps of fabric onto my paintings allowing the threads to unravel, also assisting in that unraveling. sometimes letting the patterns peak through, usually painting over them with a second coat of white acrylic paint. But why? Out loud now Taryn, why are you doing this? I savor the subtle difference in textures. I like how the paint takes to it differently. There is something about fabric I am also always drawn to. I love the texture and patterns. I’ll never be a sewer that is clear from my clumsy attempts, but I do look for ways to incorporate fabric into my work. Unraveling threads also bring to mind the fates of mythology. Or the long tradition of women working at the loom weaving cloth. I had a period of time as a child when I worked with small weavings, but weaving lost out to drawing. I am a woman attracted to using cloth, but I like it unraveling. That says something about me indeed. I will control the unraveling.

Day 9: January 30

Another Day on the road. We found a place to park very late last night. I was tired and ideas came out tumbling of my head, as they do during the worst possible times. Some early trials at Polaroid emulsion lifts fell out of my sketchbook and I decided to use them. I like to do that, find ways of using experiments that would otherwise sit around.

One of them was a print of a digital photograph I lost the original file for. I was very excited to find a way to use that image, even though all I had left was the poor quality Facebook shared image. After I went through the emulsion lift process I thought I would try to give it an embroidered border, because using thread in art looks cool. I like the added meaning behind it. I should try it right? NO TARYN, you should not. You hate sewing, remember? I never finished my little experiment. For which I am glad, because it works even more for the piece, with the thread swirling away from the work. Escaping, forever unfinished to remind me: I hate sewing.

Day 10: January 31

Not much time today either. I thought I would this evening, but everything has gone wrong and we are still driving. Last night I went to pull out paints, but found my computer sideways and pulled that out instead. I backed it up on it’s hard-drive once I saw it was fine. This morning I prepared some photos for reference. That’s all I was able to do today. And this quick check-in while on the road.

Day 11: February 1

Between naps of neural recovery from the stress of yesterday I managed to experiment with two pieces based on the same raven image. One using pastel, pen ink, cotton cloth and acrylic the other skipping the pastel for more line work. I don’t know how I feel about them. I may have been too drained to be creative today. Disappointing because I so looked forward to finally working with those images.

Day 12: February 2

This morning I had nothing. I hated my work from yesterday. I didn’t want to do art today. This, I thought, is why I never committed to the 100 Day Project before. So I started a new piece of paper and did just lines. Then I put some thalo blue paint over the ink drawing of the raven from yesterday and I liked it better. I pulled out my “wet box” finally. Started using some cement stucco textures. I can see where this 100 Day Project is useful now. Off to see some of Death Valley.

Day 13: February 3

This morning I did a little here and there, even using different colors. I was finally able to get into my paints. The important thing that happened was some thinking. I’ve been getting whiplash from all the different ideas and ways of making art. From instagram there’s always someone new who has a new technique. I started following galleries, websites and magazines that promote artists. And my head just wants to explode from all the different ways of creating. AM I DOING IT RIGHT?

Then I finally got to listening to this podcast The Jealous Curator after an artist friend sent me the link. It’s been full of wonderful information, but then this:

What is it about you that is special that you want to share?

… that changes everything.

I want to show the world what I see. I want people to see a dead tree and see how beautiful its structure is and continues to be. How life keeps going on around it even after its life is technically over. I want them to make that connection to their own lives. Green burial anyone? I want one. I want to go back to the earth.

I want people to see the intelligence in an animals eyes. I was trying to get photos of a raven yesterday and a man asked me if it was bothering me. No, I was bothering him. I want people to see them as sentient beings, living out their lives alongside us.

There’s more. But I’m tired. I’ll have to keep thinking about this topic.

Day 14: February 4

I finished up the red/yellow piece this morning with oil pastels and tried out about idea from on of my playa photos; we’ll see. I wanted to lay everything out today for photos and put out the weekly blog. Since I haven’t been taking progress photos this week and it’s the end of the seven day stretch! However, it is still windy here in Death Valley so no photos are happening. And I’m currently without internet connection. I’m putting my thoughts down and I’ll get it put together when I can.

Update: I was able to get the writing uploaded. I’m still waiting on better weather conditions for doing the photos.

Week 2 progress, finished works
Another look at Week 1, just the finished works.

100 Day Project: Week 1

100 Day Project, Projects

January 20, 2020

I have considered the 100 day project a little more.

  • Use the blog to reflect on the work daily, posting content weekly.
  • Work at a 5 x 7 size on paper
  • Multi-media works
  • Use inspiration from travels, literature, and anywhere else I can. I am an omnivore and a scavenger.
  • Explore elements I work with already. See where it goes. Reflect on what those elements mean.

Day 1: January 22

Where to start? With procrastinating of course! So I opened my new book titled: A big important Art Book; Now With Women, and the first thing it did was prompt an exercise doing self portraits. So why not start there? But first I have to lay the ground work.

  • Made a template instead of measuring each piece of paper.
  • Playing with texture by laying the paint down differently on each paper.
  • I didn’t paint each paper yet, just enough to get started. Don’t want to lock myself in.
  • I started working this way on the sketchbook project. (I am in the digital sketchbook library). I really enjoyed the results of those mixed-media pieces. I have four sketchbooks in the Brooklyn Art Library, three mixed media. I enjoyed doing them and knowing they are there in Brooklyn, New York being seen. I get emails notifying me.

Day 2: January 23

I picked up again last night, excited by the self portrait. I’ve been doing polaroid emulsion lifts to document my travels and new film was delivered last night. I printed from my polaroid lab and chose one of the papers layered with acrylic. (was wondering about that texture and the Polaroid Transfer for some time).

At first I tried to pencil in words around the image.

Scrapped that idea real fast.

I decided to combine the polaroid portrait with an original love: ink doodling. The gatekeeper that launched my head and heart back into art making. I am pleased with the balance.

  • Strathmore 400 mixed-media paper 186 lb
  • Titanium white acrylic paint
  • Self Portrait taken with iPhone
  • Printed with Polaroid lab on I-type 600 film
  • emulsion lift process
  • Faber-Castell ink pen

I tend to hate images of myself, I was drawn to one that was just a partial of my face. I edited it to black and white to see how the color of the film would interpret it in print. This time it came out nearly sepia. In the drawing portion I added spiral symbols. Something I’m drawn to subconsciously and consciously.

Lifting image in water onto paper.
Image after drying and working on it.

Day 3: January 24

All the ideas I had swirling around my head fell out somewhere. I turned to doodling on the paper I prepared. Four ink doodles. Two with a white acrylic ground, two without. They’ll be the start for something, I just don’t know what yet. Doing ink line work is meditative and intuitive. I can disappear into the flow until my brain is inspired. Nothing this early morning. It’ll come.

Day 4: January 25

96 bottles of beer on the wall, 96 bottles of beer… I’ve never once gotten past about 90 in that song. I am too distractible.

I’m still feeling stuck. I painted thalo blue grounds, experimenting with the acrylic application. I have been impatient to try oil pastels over acrylic. It is not my favorite piece. Doesn’t feel like me. Maybe I’ll feel better about it in the future.

  • Strathmore 400 mixed-media paper 186 lb
  • Thalo Blue acrylic on paper
  • White posca pen
  • Oil pastel
Trying to capture the essence of the saguaro at night.

I think my second experiment of the day was more successful at combining old and new ideas with different media.

  • Strathmore 400 mixed-media paper 186 lb
  • Thalo blue acrylic ground
  • Faber-Castell black ink pen
  • White Posca pen
  • Oil pastel
The thought in my head while doodling: connect my old style of working with a new way.

Day 5: January 26

Today I am keeping the theme of connections going. All day I kept it in my head to get back to the camper and pick up one of the pieces I ink doodled on dry paper (I ran a small test to see if it would stand up to submerging in water). I wanted to use one of the photographs I took of the spiral petroglyphs and combine it with the spiral doodle. Letting it dry overnight now.

Today I also picked up an art print by Raina Gentry that I admired both for its differences from my work and its similarities. I am reminded that I need to give myself permission to make the art that I want to make and to quit second guessing myself.

Day 6: January 27

I bounced last nights experiment off of my husband. He did not like it, so I decided this morning to push it further and then asked him again. “I don’t get it.” I don’t know if that means it’s genius or crap, but I find the results interesting enough to keep. Maybe even continue to push further.

  • Strathmore 400 mixed-media paper 186 lb
  • Faber-Castell black ink pen
  • Black and white polaroid
  • Nikon D7200 image using iPhone to Polaroid Lab print
January 26-27 experiment with lines and polaroid emulsion lift. Idea: connection.

Day 7: January 28

One week feels like an accomplishment. Ninety-three days to go. I did a little more with line work on one of the thalo blue painted papers with a white Posca pen. I believe I intuitively did this in response to doing so much line work in black ink. Then I spread out my weeks work for a look. (After spraying the pieces using oil pastel with a fixative).

First Week. Top row: probably finished pieces, middle row: mid-thought, last row: potential.

Cultural Appropriation: Mixed Thoughts from a Visual Artist

Art Journal, Thoughts

On good days I think I get the arguments around cultural appropriation. On others I throw in the towel and decide I am irrelevant to cultural debates at my ripe age of thirty-seven. I’ve had it explained to me by those in the “know” aka as a college age girl deeply into social issues. I’ve read articles and been subjected to the hostility of news reports. Just when my brain says yes that very much makes sense… it gets pushed too far and says “wait… what?!?”

The Beyonce Argument

I will admit that I was pulled into a Facebook battle about cultural appropriation with wits far exceeding mine. I was being schooled on cultural appropriation. Just as I was losing I asked if it was ok for Beyonce to do it.

Is it ok for Beyonce to do it?

That is how art gets created. Ideas and imagery are exchanged and woven together to create a new narrative. Artists look for new languages of symbolism to inform their work. We travel, frequent museums and galleries, and read obscure literature. We look for inspiration in every aspect of our world and beyond. If you have an interest, there is an artist out there making work about it.

In one answer it was ok for Beyonce to do it because she was a woman of color and it was somehow different. “It just was.”

In another answer it was not. Beyonce held the power as a western woman, the various groups she wore the costumes of did not.

I do cringe now when I see a pop star step out in the dress of another culture. The results are often beautiful and interesting see Iggy Izaelia, Beyonce, Nikki Minaj, and Gwen Stefani (note: probably all of them at one time or another).

And…

I’ll tell you.

While sitting through an informative video at the Walter Anderson Museum of Art in Ocean Springs Mississippi these thoughts crossed my mind. This white Ocean Springs’ male artist like many artists before was influenced by primitive cultures and their symbolism.

More well known was the influence of Japanese art on Western art starting with Impressionism. We are talking influence on artists from Klimt to Monet.

Should the way art history is taught in light of cultural appropriation change? I would say yes. (At least from how I was taught)

Should artists stop being influenced by other people and cultures. I don’t know what the right answer is. I am absolutely sure that there will be a richness among the arts lost if that give and take between diverse people is quashed.

Voodoo dolls in a gift shop. Many people pick up this mass produced keepsake in Louisiana. Voodoo is mixed up with Hoodoo in the common imagination. It is far richer and more interesting than a tourist shop doll.
Alligator Heads at a small town restaurant, Louisiana. They may be the most authentic thing I’ve ever seen for sale ever anywhere.

Here is my understanding as of November 30, 2019. (Warning I can and will change my mind as new arguments are presented to me).

  • If you visit another culture and (for example) take photographs of a ceremony. Then later exhibit them with an explanation and sensitive understanding, this would be of cultural value.
  • If you bring back an object of spiritual value from that same culture and use it in a photoshoot with a model and no context, this would be construed as offensive, even if the results were aesthetically pleasing.
  • Authenticity can be difficult to come by. We should try to support it. What do I mean? When you are out there in the world buy local. That could mean local artists and/or indigenous goods from indigenous people. (not an original thought, a mix of my beliefs and newly acquired learning from the inter-webs). Spend a little more for something handmade by the real deal. In some cases less, but whatever you do, please run as fast as you can from mass produced tourist junk shops imported from China. If you visit China find a local artist to buy from.
  • When minority groups ask for local school mascot to have a name change from say “Redmen” or “Redskins.” Instead of digging in our heels and saying its always been that way, may be listen to why. We’ll get used to a new name.
  • Halloween… sometimes we could let somethings be politically incorrect.
  • If art history surveys are still taught the same as they were approximately ten years ago when I went to a liberal arts college, some adjustments could be considered. Even at that time they were struggling even with how to talk about women in the world of art history, unless it was the great Frida. Seeing the history of Western art through the lens of cultural appropriation would be beneficial. Anyone taking a good course? Shout it out in the comments.

Writing about this topic has helped immensely in solidifying my understanding, but the term cultural appropriation is being tossed around the media like a hot potato. I just like to remind myself that I can be a kind person and a supreme jerk. People are people wherever you go, even when google maps takes you through the rougher sides of city.

Let’s have a dialog. Thoughts? Opinions? Corrections? Leave a message.

Thoughts from the Road: Part 1

Art Journal, The Road

Ohio

Ohio as I remembered and expected it is still farms and wayward old farmhouses, a very similar vista to southern Lower Michigan. I was able to stop and catch, what was for me the quintessential Ohio landscape, a lonely old abandoned farmhouse.

Abandoned Ohio Farm House

Southern Ohio was the surprise. Hills and what could be defined as mountains set back from the empty fall fields with morning fog rolling back. Winding narrow roads with old wood barns built up tight to them covered in vines and bereft of paint. Covered wood bridges heaving their last breath of life, or in some cases carefully conserved. Federal Style houses set neatly right up to the sidewalks in tiny towns or elsewhere abandoned to the woods. New builds up in the hills with winding driveways and gated across from the river. On the river little houses toggled together defying paint and right angles. Indian burial mounds both set aside in state parks to enjoy and popping up lonely in farmer’s fields.

Morning Fog Along the Ohio River
Serpent Mound, Peebles, Ohio

Kentucky

Fall Leaves with Frost in Kentucky

Kentucky and Tennessee are combined in my memory as one big green drive from before. On this trip we crossed into Northern Kentucky from over the Ohio River and drove along narrow winding tree covered roads hugging the side of a small mountain. Eventually this gave way to rolling green hills with little farms as far as the eye could see. My first thought was “this must be that Kentucky Blue Grass.” I felt like we were high up in elevation maybe we were, maybe it was my imagination. Each turn another perfect vista. Old barns with tobacco drying. Cows and horses and sheep in the fields. The horses. Tall delicate golden, brown, black, white, silver stately dancing horses. Huge horses. Running horses. Horses to make you weep they were so perfect.

1792 Barton Distillery

Tennessee

A building in German Town, Nashville, Tennessee

Tennessee sticks in my head as all mountains and huge valleys containing the roads and the houses. This human felt very small driving through those valleys trying to see all the rocky outcrops. The houses changed to a lot of tin roofs and front porches. The cities we saw were busy building and it all felt new. Brick paver sidewalks and the muted fall colors just starting at the beginning of November.

We took an unplanned lunch in Nashville and walked German town. Checked out the farmer’s market. There was a moving monument to Tennessee’s history from the geological formation of the area to the state’s part in the Civil War through when it the monument was constructed.

The Upper Peninsula was so untouched by the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement for example, that as we drive through towns and cities richer in American history for better or worse, I am not tempered to its realities emotionally. And there I am reading on a stone wall about the end of a nation. About Tennessee’s role in the downfall of the Cherokee, this thing I read about. This thing that I watched documentaries on. There. In stone in front of me, because this is one of the places the people should be.

It will not be the last time I will walk away feeling mixed up. And it wasn’t the first.

The view of Nashville from Germantown
Part of Monument Downtown Nashville, Tennessee. A collection of quotes and facts about Tennessee.
Monument to Tennessee History, downtown Nashville, Tennessee. A wall following Tennessee’s historical timeline

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The Mondrian Garage Project

Projects

There are going to be very few moments that make you feel like you “are” an artist. Most of my life I have suffered greatly from imposter syndrome especially during my BFA studies for art (more on that some other time) but that was not the case during Marquette’s Fifth Annual Art Week.

Opportunities Come from Saying Yes

As a member of the Marquette Artist Collective I was asked to volunteer my time and talent to create a mural on a garage door by Northern Lights Glass and the City of Marquette Arts and Culture director Tiina Harris. A Piet Mondrian inspired mural was suggested. And this mural would be part of the art week celebration in Marquette, MI.

And because I’ve always wanted to be a part of a public project I said yes! I also have some handy skills at the ready to attack such a project.

Each Challenge is a Chance to Learn

There were two obstacles to proceeding with this project: the shape the door was in and height of the garage. I had to use scaffolding to reach the top. This is nearly a two story garage, you could park a bus in it. I also had to use a specialty peel stop primer (the first I ever heard of such a thing). After scraping away the loose paint chips and a quick wash, I painted on two layers of primer. For good measure I used a high quality exterior paint for the mural itself. I hope that will help the mural survive the brutal temperature changes Marquette goes through for as long as possible.

The Process

Photoshop sketch

The design was straight forward and easy to execute. I used the lines of the garage door for most of the color blocks. The time saver: using a projector to get the red winged blackbird on door rather than a grid.

Prior to painting I created a garage template in photoshop and painted a few different versions of the color blocks. Originally I was going to have a cat on the door instead of the red-winged blackbird, but I couldn’t resist the way the colors in the wing nodded back to Mondrian’s palette.

Inspired by Piet Mondrian

If I was looking for inspirational artists from the twentieth century to create a mural from, Mondrian would not be my pick. I was honestly never a fan and I bristled a little when I first heard the suggestion. Within moments I got over my personal feelings about the design aesthetics (maturity?) and realized the potential of this inspiration pairing with the underlaying structure of the door. I also concluded that I would have control over the shades of red, yellow and blue I used. That ability to put my personal touch on the project made it an easy yes, despite it being a project outside my usual aesthetics.

A Lot Like an Artist

Then Art Stroll, the cherry on top of everything! Tamama Dance Company Danced their way through town and up to the mural just as the local news was doing a live spot on it. I even sucked it up and participated in an interview and tried not to be too difficult. A bit of a crowd showed up.

And then it happened…

I felt a whole lot like an artist.

I have some Thanks to Give.

I was too overwhelmed in the moment to properly socialize. So I’m saying my proper thank you’s here.

Tamama Dance Company: That Art Stroll performance was amazing

Tiina Harris and The City of Marquette Arts and Culture Center: I always wanted to do something fun like this. And thankfully they were able to help with the equipment.

Marquette Artist Collective: Cheers to opportunities and dreams coming true.

HOTplate Pottery: having the tool a woman needed (a projector, don’t be weird)

TV6 News: really. For showing up when you did and putting up with the weird. I’m glad I did it.