Ben Folds and Near Death

Last night I took a journey to visit my friend JR and to see Ben Folds perform. What a fabulous evening it was! After stuffing ourselves on some super good food at the Ellensburg Pasta Co followed by dessert at Winegars (mmm mocha milkshake mmm) we headed to campus to line in with the co-eds.
I really enjoyed the show - can't believe it took me this long (10 years?) to see Ben Folds live - He's so damn GOOD! If you ever get a chance I do recommend - he IS as fantastic of a performer as rumoured. The pure energy he poured out into his piano keys was astounding. And his pure comedic joy in performing was apparent - in addition to some really great classic Ben numbers I'm not sure which I enjoyed the most - The cover of Dr. Dre or the improved jazz styled diddy about Ellensburg "Thought it was to be mountains, blue skies and cowboys but all I got was cocks & bitches la di da" (as a response to the usual unruly crowd shouting) Ah sweetness. The Australian Ben Lee opened for him who was pretty funny too. Honestly I could have just listened to him talk and sing for ages even with his tunes being pretty simple - I'm a sucker for the Aussie accent!

After the show and some quick goodnights due to the late hour, I made it home unscathed - barely. Drove right into a storm on Snoqualmie Pass! The traffic advisory board was flashing on my way out of town and I tuned in and listened to it like a good driver - it said something like "Winter driving conditions, proceed with caution". If it had stated the Actual Truth of "Winter storm crazy-ass white-out-blizzard don't even think about proceeding" then I would have turned my ass around. As it was by the time I was up in it the visibility was so bad that I couldn't even see TO turn around. OMG I feared for my life! Crept over the pass at an average speed of 20 and finally made it Home Hallelujah round 2am. Holy crap.

I think it was about an hour straight of adrenaline that got me through. By the time I came down off the mountain into Issaquah I was screaming crazy singing. I had to do some yoga before bed to recover. Still woke up this morning with the first thought on my mind being Thank You Universe!
Needless to say I’ll be giving that Pass more consideration before ever attempting that drive at night regardless of the season. Now I've got a newfound appreciation for why that road is so wide...


Take a Rest

Photo taken at the Olympic Sculpture Park, early AM Saturday

The weekend passed oh too quickly as they usually do. It started out well enough - gave myself a rest on Friday eve with the sickies, woke up Saturday feeling a bit better but in need of a walk. So I took a breakfast walk down to the Sculpture Park. I enjoy going there early in morning hours - before it get's too full with folk as I'm sure it was later on the sunny Saturday.

I had all these ideas of spending time over the weekend being my usual creative & happy self... but it just didn't work out like that. Sickies had me down with low energy and after fighting it all day Saturday (even tried to perk up for a visit from Andy - poor guy had a spacey girl) I finally just listened and napped through most of Sunday. Sometimes you just got to do what you got to do. It worked - I'm feeling a bit better today. But for some reason the duldrums won't leave. I wonder if I've just reached a point of creative burnout? Had I been burning so brightly for the past two weeks that I just burned through my stored fuel? Not sure. But for now, I'm just going to go with it and take a rest. Let the unfinished paintings lay where they be and take a rest.


Friday oh Yes Friday

Today at lunch I encountered these creepy/cute salt and pepper shakers.
What does this mean?
I have no idea.
I think Rekoj needs a nap...
Truth be told I got's a cold.
Which means that all the time for painting I was excited about will, at least for the immediate time being, be filled with zzzzzs. Hooray!
As you can see, I tried to combat the evil Cold with some spicy Thai food and some strange salt and pepper shakers. Hmm... maybe a nap is a better idea.


Happy Administrative Professional's Day!

Hope all you other administrative day job working artists out there are as lucky as I to be appreciated by your office mates. They gave me this gorgeous spring bouquet for my desk. (One of the benefits of being right next to the Pike Place Market - easy fresh local flowers!)

Being a working artist with a day job is one thing... but being a working artist with a day job that you actually like? Priceless =)

Thanks guys!

Space of Studio

This post is inspired by all the super fun fabulous studios that have been posted about over at Poppytalk. As well as the need to vent a bit.

Yes, that is my studio window... and yes - right outside is a concrete wall.

I knew the wall was coming when I moved in - it didn't deter me. Figured I would just enjoy the wonderful water & mountain view while I had it. Now, that view will be enjoyed by the condo owners next door. Tis the way of the world. I'm not upset nor am I bitter. Like I said - I knew it was coming. I'm trying to focus on the positive things that the wall will bring - like how quiet my studio is now that the wall muffles all the hollering Belltown party folk. And how nice and dark it is at night now that the streetlight is blocked.
But during the day I know I'm going to miss the sunshine. The wall has about 5 more stories to grow and once it gets that tall I know my studio will be experiencing some shade.

Oddly enough though, due to some room switching going on in my building, I had the opportunity to change to a room with more light. I gave it some consideration - there are more factors than just light. (For instance the room is on the noisiest side of the building) But the truth is that with or without light, my space feels like home. It's the most at home I've felt in a place for years which means a lot to me. It probably has more to do with me and where I am finally in my journey, but still. I've gotten pretty well rooted in this Space of my Studio.

So here I am in my space which is still enjoying plenty of northern light. Over one shoulder you can see the ladder to my loft nest. Over the other shoulder on the far wall you can see a peek of my inspiration board. The expression shows that I'm still getting used to trying to photograph myself. I'm an odd one when it comes to pictures.

For even more Rekoj Studio pictures, see this post.


Bearded Guy and Beautiful Pigeons

What oh what has Rekoj been up to?

Turning pigeons into art tis what!

The super fun play of oil painting on wood that I described last week has now evolved into my favorite medium. The oil just glides and blends into the wood with a perfection and smoothness that I always fought for on canvas. All I got to say is Buh-Bye Canvas and thanks to Audrey Kawaski!

The painting is titled "See-Line Woman Dressed in Blue" taken from the Nina Simone song. It's about 12 x 15ish.
Last week, I watched out the window of work a pigeon dive off the roof of a neighboring building. That brief flash of flight was enough to spark the desire to paint it that night. So I layed out the sketch of bird and then blended in layers and layers of oil over the week to form the prettiest little pigeon I'd ever seen. The blue lines completely embrace my Rekoj tendencies and fall into the series idea I want to continue - To combine the Rekoj line drawings that I've been doodling on clothing all this time into my oil paintings that I have kept completely separate and sporadic.

At least for now, I've found the calling of my muse. I can barely keep up with her!

And here to the right is finally, as promised, a picture of the painting I referred to in my last post.

This bearded fella is done using the same method of oil on wood as influenced by Audrey Kawaski. Does he look like one of her lovely beauties? Nope. This guy is entirely my own. Actually, I believe that he was already living in this chunk of wood anyways before I came along and pulled him out.
"God of Love Caught in a Mousesuit" 15x12ish, oil on found wood.


Art and Influences

This morning I was struck to leave a lengthy comment on the blog of an artist whom I admire and have been following for awhile. Art & Ghosts has unfortunately been experiencing some copycat problems. My heart went out to her after reading her oh so eloquent post attempting to deal with the issue. It opened a discussion on inspiration and influence verses copies. There is a distinct difference.
In my early youth, I downright copied (with tracing paper even!) the work of artists that I admired. I would color in and paint over and play and that is basically how I taught myself to draw faces. Just like a musician would learn to play by picking through their favorite songs. But would they ever think of going out and claiming that song was their own? Hell no. Just like I could never imagine EVER showing those early drawings and paintings to the public at large. Much less attempting to sell them. They are so blatantly not mine! Which is why I cannot imagine that there are people out there who copy the work of other artists and are trying to do just that - to sell it as their own. How dreadful! And it is becoming more and more prevalent in our digital age.
Through many years and tons more artistic development, I've reached a point of my own visual language and style that I'm proud of. And even then, I'm still working through and playing with new ideas and techniques. I think that many artists do - this is natural. Throughout history artists have been fueled by each other. Just look at the Impressionist movement! But it is still possible to discern one's creation from another.
Oddly enough, just last night I was playing with a new technique idea that had inspired me. It is a painting technique that is used by another artist I admire, Audrey Kawaski. She pretty much exclusively paints on wood panels that she cuts and sands herself. She then applies a layer of GAC100 to form a clear barrier for her paint while still letting the wood grain show. So last night I did just that - I had a chunk of some really pretty wood that I coated with the GAC100. I then painted quite a fun portrait of a bearded man just by pulling him out of the wood grain with some oil pigments. (Promise to post a picture soon!)
Why am I talking about this? Because it is a prime example of being inspired by another artist, learning their technique and then expressing with your own voice. My bearded guy looks NOTHING like the work of Audrey Kawaski. (Too bad for him cuz I'm sure he'd be sexier if he did look more like an Audrey Kawaski...) I'm sure that with some practice and by looking directly off the screen I could make more of a copy - but then, why would I want to?
I understand that while artists are learning, we copy work that inspires us. What I don't get is where the neurons in someones brain then makes the connection that the exact copy is theirs. It's even worse when big corporations do this. Shame shame!
How can we as artists stop it? I think we already are. Just by forming the communities that we are forming. These online support groups. An artist's work gets stolen and how does she find out? By supporters and friends who notice and let her know. And the outcry of support that follows? Deafening. How could the copycats not hear? I hope they get the message.


Artfest Glow

I'm still fully immersed in the post-Artfest glow. My studio table is covered with projects and paints and collage images are scattered in piles all around. How completely wonderful. If I had known what sort of an inspiration booster shot I was missing out on every year .... well let's just say then I wouldn't have been missing out on it!
This picture was captured on Sunday morning as we were all leaving by everyone else's camera but mine (since I had forgotten to charge it). When I saw it on Julie & Candice's blog I just loved it and had to repost. I think it captures the Artfest glow that is on all of us. Not to mention that SWEET house we all got to stay in. I miss all of them already - including Jennifer who sadly isn't pictured since she had already gotten on her shuttle to the airport 3 hours earlier.
From left to right: Candice, Me, Kecia & Julie
Kecia & I shared a room and we got along fabulously. I sense a growing friendship! And the Artnest girls were just riot - they brought such excited happy energy to our household. Jennifer & I got inspired together at the Lomography lecture and carried some great, thoughtful conversations throughout the rest of the weekend. And all 4 of them had already known each other previously by attending the Artnest in Colorado. These ladies were one of the best parts of the trip for me and I am so glad for having met all of them.


The Adventure of Artfest - a Novel

What an experience! I’m so completely inspired I can barely deal with myself today.

It’s almost to the point of being a disadvantage because I’m having a hard time focusing on anything else! After painting, playing and connecting with other artists for 4 days I'm finding it quite hard to adjust myself back to my "normal" life. (i.e. the dayjob)
More-so than any other vacation I've taken.

I am so extremely greatful that I took this opportunity, made the financial leap and went to Artfest at the last minute this year. Everything worked out so perfectly it just felt like it was meant to be. The workshops I took, which were not of my own choosing, were all AMAZING and I know that the techniques I learned within them will change the course of my artwork. Already, on the drive home on Sunday I had to stop and rough sketch out ideas for 3 new paintings.

The photo above is the art mess that was the dining room I shared with 6 other artsy ladies (including my Funky Wallpaper person from Anahata Katkin's class!).

I stayed in the Officers housing of Fort Worden - this cool old funky house across a field from all the Artfest workshops. It was a super fun house because I got to stay with some super amazing folks. I shared a room with Kecia of Lemoncholys which I felt incredibly lucky to because we got along fabulously. Much fun and talk was had between her & I. And she had another friend staying in the house as well - Jennifer, who I also got along fabulously with. Great long walks and talks of art & photography and the ways of the world with those girls!

Also in our house was Julie & Candice of the Art Nest who brought some exuberant fun energy to the group and an artist from Alaska named Jane and another artist named Jennifer. We all had some wonderful times in the house coming home after our classes and showing each other what we had made and drinking tea & wine by the fireplace in the dining room.

Kecia & Jennifer taking pictures of the Fort

The first night there was a little disconcerting. Artfest has gotten HUGE - it was way bigger than I ever imagined. So upon my arrival, which was somewhat late due to having to work that day, I quickly checked in and unloaded my stuff to an empty house and then headed off to the Commons for dinner. I got my tray of food and then walked into the dinning room to eat - and there I was - standing with my mouth agape in the doorway holding a full tray and not a single place to sit in sight. The room was huge and packed to the gills with barely room to squeeze between the tables. Waves of laughter and excited energy and bright colors abounded. An entire cavern of artists! Whoa.

I admit that I felt immediately overwhelmed like that first day in a new school. Within barely a moment though some nice folks were waving me over to an empty spot at their table where once seated, I got to witness the artfest phenomen that is "Trading". Many participants who come will make hunderds of little mini art bits - ATCs, charms, etc to trade with other artists. I knew this in advance and had just brought a few of my leftover craft show things due to time constraints. Little did I know what a frenzy it all was though. I was kind of glad to not be involved in it that first night. Much better to watch the exchanges people made. Throughout the week I did end up trading some things but mostly I just gave away things as gifts to my housemates & new friends.

On Thursday the wariness that I had felt from the massive crowd was washed away the moment my first class started. It was with LK Ludwig and the workshop was called "Seasons Journal". We got to play with many of her nature journaling techniques which included gelatin prints, layered tissue paper collage and bleaching. Messy and fast paced and exciting and fun! LK was a generous and through teacher and I enjoyed the class immensly. In the afternoon we began the process of building a journal to sew all of print pages into. I'm excited to upkeep that journal as my new Art Journal - which I've never really kept one. That in itself will change my creative process I'm sure.

Gelatin Nature Prints

After class I had to run into town to get more cough syrup because unfortunately, my Seattle Crud Cold had still not left me and I had coughed all through the previous night. Once I armoured myself with some serious cough syrup though things got better.
At the house that evening we all got more acquainted and then all turned in early in preparation for our classes the next day.

Friday came with a grey foggy northwest drizzle which was perfect for heading into a workshop with Misty Mawn. She had soft music playing in her classroom when we all came in and the rain made for a soft relaxing backdrop for a morning of learning gel transfers and painting. By lunch the rain had cleared and the sun returned. There was a building excitement that day on the Artfest campus for Vendor night was that evening. Kecia, Jennifer, Julie, Candice and I all fortified ourselves for the mad dash of Vendor night by going into town for mexican food - fabulous fun!

Artfest Vendor Night

At Vendor night Kecia was offering chair massage which I helped her garner interest from the crowd by getting to be her first "demo" massage. That was a serious treat for me - AND Kecia ended up with a line for the entire rest of the night. Guess I must have looked pretty darn relaxed. (Thanks again Kecia!)

Which I think helped me be not quite so nervous when I finally went up and introduced myself to Kelly Rae Roberts. I've read her blog for some time and have watched her grow into the amazing artist that she is today. It was through her blog post that I found out about the opening and therefore found myself at Artfest in the first place, so I had prepared a gift for her of a wood burned pendant to say thank you. I absolutely LOVED seeing her paintings in person finally (so much more depth of layers!) and I actually ended up chatting with her & her Mom for a bit. Turns out I share my name with her grandmother - how weird is that? We ran into each other a few more times the following day. She had wandered into my Saturday class midday to check out all the funky wallpaper people in process, and then I got to see her amazing workshop creations that evening at show & tell. It's an interesting thing to actually meet someone who's blog you've followed. A strange phenomen of our digital age - that feeling that you know someone and of having a friendship that you don't actually have because that person doesn't know you at all. Strange indeed. But upon meeting her and talking with her and then waving at each other at artfest, I felt like there could be perhaps a future real friendship afterall. I think all of the artist blogs that I'm drawn to are not necessarily because of the art itself, but perhaps more of just finding someone who shares a piece of your world view and who is struggling everyday with the same sort of muse and dreams that you yourself wrestle with. It's an amazing blessing that we artists of this generation have been gifted with. Our community of others is vast and wide.

The last day found me half of my housemates in the best workshop I've ever taken - Funky Wallpaper People with Anahata Katkin. The above picture is of the painting I made in that class which Anahata had commented that she looked like me. At first I balked but I think now I see it. She IS me - in a community of artists that is vast and wide, looking to the future.

For a complete viewing of all the Artfest pictures, check out my Flickr page.


ArtFest 2008

It begins today! Just stopping in to let you all know that I'm on the mend and on my way.

Port Townsend or Bust!
I'll return on Sunday tired but inspired I'm sure. Have a great week everyone!