Friday, March 4, 2016

Upcoming Artist Lecture at LCAD 

It's fun to see your painting pop up on the home page:

Also, make sure you come check out my husband's lecture the day before.  He will be sharing way too much about designing monsters and characters.

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 10.06.32 AM

Outside the Box Merit Award

This is a bit of good news from a few months ago, which I neglected to share here at the time. 

I am pleased and honored to share that the Portrait Society of America has given my painting Paper Wishes a 10th Merit Award for the Outside the Box category for their annual Member's Only Competition.  Thank you Portrait Society for the recognition!

Paper Wishes, oil on panel, 48" x 36", 2015

Thursday, March 3, 2016


Delude, oil on acm panel, 40" x 30" 

Delude, oil on acm panel, 40" x 30"  detail

I love getting lost in this detail.

 Delude, oil on acm panel, 40" x 30" detail

I am purposely not going to say much about this painting, but if you feel so inclined, please share with me in the comments what you think this painting is about or how you read it.  I look forward to seeing if my intentions at all come through to how you understand the work.

*FYI if you have a PC you can right click on an image to view in a new tab to see a larger image (and zoom in).  I don't know how or if that is possible on an apple computer, but maybe someone will say so in a comment.

NikonD610 vs D80 What a Difference

As I mentioned in a previous post (found here), I was recently awarded a grant from the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County to purchase new studio equipment, specifically a new Nikon D610 digital camera with a fixed focal length lens.

I want to take this moment to appreciate the vast improvement that this camera offers in shooting images of my paintings.  Below you will find images comparing the same painting shot with my old Nikon D80 versus this new Nikon D610.

First, I will discuss a few of the major advantages I have found that the D610 offers, for my purposes.  Most importantly, the image quality if far superior with the D610.  With 24 megapixel vs 10mp resolution capabilities, I immediately notice much less graininess to the D610 photos.  I also immediately appreciate the more accurate color taken with this camera and lens.  Also, the LCD screen on the back of the D610 camera is quite a bit larger, and also has a higher resolution, so I can more easily and quickly assess if the photos I am taking are exactly what I need.  One feature the D610 offers that I look forward to using is the high resolution video capabilities.  I foresee creating timelapse films of my works in progress or short how to videos.  The D80 is only capable of taking still shots.  If you would like to read a more detailed comparison of these two cameras let me suggest this website.

Now for the image comparison:

Rising Tide, oil on panel 34" x 54" Shot with D80

Rising Tide, oil on panel 34" x 54" Shot with D610

 Rising Tide detail, oil on panel 34" x 54" Shot with D80

Rising Tide detail, oil on panel 34" x 54" Shot with D610
Again, I want to thank the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County for this wonderful opportunity.  I very much appreciate the support this local institution provides for our area artists.  

The Regional Artist Project Grant is funded and administered by the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County.  This project is supported by the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources.  The program is operated in partnership with the Franklin County Arts Council, Johnston County Arts Council, Vance County Arts Council and Warren County Arts Council.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Sight Unseen

I am so excited to share that I will be curating an issue of PoetsArtists which will then become an exhibition at Abend Gallery in Denver, CO in the Spring of 2017.  I was given the task of writing a Call for Submission.  Here is what I came up with.

Sight Unseen - by Alia El-Bermani

Artists have long created works based on the observations of what they see.  For this issue of Poets & Artists I am interested in sharing representational works that look beneath the realities of the surface and reveal a greater, hidden significance.  These artists will be peering at the mercurial boundary between the known and the unknown.  It is in this space between, that the vibration of life, of existence cannot be seen but can be felt.  How do you represent what you cannot see?  How do you paint, draw or sculpt thought or emotion, the human spirit or the supernatural? 

Einstein once wrote, “The most beautiful experience we can have is in the mysterious.  It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and science”.  It is our ceaseless questioning that propels our creative endeavors and compels our viewers to pause and to feel union in the unknown.  This is where our visual language will transform to poetry.
So much of our daily lives have become superficial, from the thousands of virtual connections we call friends, to the hordes of advertising that bombard our senses.  As artists, it’s our calling to seek, and to instill deeper connections, to revel in a more meaningful existence.  Thru compassion for each other and the mysteries that tie us, we have the power to inspire.  We can have a profound impact on our society if we choose to look beneath and remind viewers of the wealth found within those depths.

I am asking a lot.  I am asking for you to seek a mix of what we see and know with what we cannot explain.  I am asking for you to tap your own soul and experience, to be vulnerable and imperfect.  Let your layered marks bear witness to the emotions that wash thru you during creation.  In this, you will take your viewer in and out of awareness of their own rise and fall of emotions, of breath.  Together there, we can feel a greater connectedness to each other and to the universe with which we are a part.  

The words ‘representational works’ can be read as broadly as you like.  Submitted works must be paintings, drawing or sculpture but in how tight or loose your interpretation of what is seen is up to you. 
Submission Call: Sight Unseen
Publication: PoetsArtists
Curator: Alia El-Bermani

Gallery: Abend Gallery
Deadline: September 1, 2016
Formats: Exhibition, Print-on-Demand, Online, Digital, and PDF

Exhibition Dates: Spring 2017 (March)

For more info and to submit your works: 

For more about Abend Gallery:

Thursday, February 18, 2016

2016 Regional Artist Project Grant - Recipient

I am very pleased to announce that I have recently been awarded a grant from the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County to purchase new studio equipment, specifically a new Nikon D610 digital camera.  These Regional Artist Project Grants (RAPG) are awarded annually to qualifying applicants to provide financial support for projects that will advance the applicant's career in demonstrable ways.

Nikon D610 camera with my recent painting Eulogy in the background

This camera and the attached Nikkor 50mm lens is a huge improvement over my old Nikon D80.  With this camera and the Britek lighting set up that was awarded to me from a previous 2012 RPAG, I will now be able to take professional photographs of my finished works with out the expense of paying a professional photographer.  Any photo reference I may need will also vastly be improved.  The last added benefit is that this D610 is capable of taking high quality video.  I foresee using this feature to create both promotional and "how-to" videos.  

I want to thank the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County, especially Brandi Neuwirth, for this wonderful opportunity.  I very much appreciate the support this local institution provides for our area artists.  

The Regional Artist Project Grant is funded and administered by the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County.  This project is supported by the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources.  The program is operated in partnership with the Franklin County Arts Council, Johnston County Arts Council, Vance County Arts Council and Warren County Arts Council.

Nikon D610 camera (back) with my recent painting Eulogy in the background


Tuesday, February 16, 2016


When we are touched by death it's not just the one death that we experience.  We are reminded of every death.  Lately, with the sudden passing of our beloved two and half year old Great Dane pup I've been thinking of every loss.  It's not a practice in morbidity, instead I find it a helpful reminder of how every life can have an indelible impact on us if we choose to honor and respect those memories.

Today, I am thinking of my first loss.  Well, perhaps there was a hamster or three that preceded this loss yet, today I remember Calvin.  I was just a girl of eleven.  The same vulnerable and volatile age as my daughter now.  He was my neighbor, a best friend and perhaps even my first crush.  I don't reliably remember the sequence of his illness.  I think that is a gift of youth.  He was just a fun kid.

Slowly (and painfully) he withered from the inside out.  My mother would not allow me to go to his service.  The entire school was bused to the beach, except for me.  Even my brother got to go.  Was this her form of protection?   I know she wanted to shelter me from the pain and grief, yet how could she?  I remember thinking "why won't she let me go"?  Was this some form of hidden, disguised, unintentional sexism at work?  My brother, though two years older was surely not as mature as I and yet he could go?  Was a girl just too weak to confront the finality of death?  And so his death was never final for me.  It lingered painfully, awkwardly casting a shadow (forever perhaps) over the gangly young adult I was becoming.  I know my mother's intentions were good, but I felt extreme guilt and embarrassment to not have been there to say good bye on the sands of that frigid ocean.  Guilt and embarrassment that I was not there to console his sister, even younger than me, who I adored. 

As a parent now, I can't imagine what his solo father was going through.  I can't imagine all that comes to fill the loss of a child.  Just yesterday his father left a comment on facebook that took me right back to that time.  He was commenting on a post about an upcoming lecture and he was stating his desire to be able to be present in the back of the room.  "i remember sitting in the back corner of a room once when a young girl came and held my hand when I needed just that... look at her now".  Through the fog of time I can't remember this exact moment as well as he, but I picture him in his stalwart mother's living-room, with her high chroma, plush carpet (was it blue or green? Funny that I can't clearly remember that detail).  I picture him limp, and curled over, stuffing gone.  Is it arrogant to be proud of what must have been my natural reaction - to go hold his hand, to just be with him?  To try to will some of the grief to pass through our hands, to bear some of that weight for him.  Calvin's life and death has surely had an indelible impact on who I am today.  I don't think I would be as empathetic to others if I had not witnessed his families suffering during his illness and through the years that followed.

I feel like it would be nice of me to end this on a positive note.  To wrap things up neat and tidy.  To say something meaningful about death but really I can't find the words.  I am literally at a loss. So much loss...

It makes me happy to think of Calvin.  It makes me remember what eleven was.  And no matter how far life can take us from our past and the people of our past, it is good to remember and honor them as they were.

This painting was done a morning shortly after my dear dog Zombie passed.  It was a quiet morning and as the snow hushed these woods, it was as if nature was taking a moment of silence for my pup.  His death has opened me up raw.  I would apologize for that rawness and intensity, except that I'm not sorry.  I am grateful for being shaken into remembering and cherishing and truly feeling the impact of all those I have loved.

Eulogy, oil on acm panel, 20" x 16", 2016

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Figurativas '15

Paper Wishes, oil on panel, 48" x 36"

As some of you may have heard on Facebook, I found out last week that my painting Paper Wishes has been accepted through the first round of the jury process of this year's Figurativas exhibition which is held annually at the Museu Europeu d'Art Modern (MEAM) in Barcelona, Spain.  This competition and exhibition are organized by the Fundacion de las Artes y los Artistas.  I am so excited and honored to have made it this far in the competition.  The next round of the jury process will be done in person, so I will have to ship my painting overseas to Barcelona.  A friend (and talented photographer), Lea Ciceraro has started a Go Fund Me page to raise money to help me afford to take full advantage of this awesome opportunity.  The cost of crating, insuring and shipping a work of this size to Europe seemed impossible for our family to take on.  With Lea's insistence and support this Go Fund Me page has already made this opportunity more of a reality for me.  But honestly, the best part has been getting all the supportive comments, emails, messages and shares.  Today, I realized just how many wonderful people are out there rooting for me.  It means the world to me that you see my work and that you care!  To those of you who have already donated or shared advice and support I can't THANK YOU enough.  I am so grateful for the outpouring support of my friends and peers.

UPDATE:  My painting Paper Wishes was acquired by MEAM and will remain in the permanent collection!  I am thrilled, and extremely honored.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Catching Up is Hard to Do - Exhibitions

Well good grief.  It has been about nine months since I last took a stab at writing in this here blog.  I think part of the reason it has been so long, is that it is just so darn hard to catch back up.  But time doesn't make that any easier.  So here goes...  My work has been included in many exhibitions since last May, more work has been created, I am offering more classes, and most excitingly the studio is finished!  I will be breaking up these catch up posts into those themes, starting with Exhibitions. 

Below you will find a few key exhibitions my work has been included in since May 2014.  Each one of these truly deserve their own blog article but this is the best I am able to do with the time I have.
Artists Proof, Julie, charcoal on vellum, 38" x 25"

Nest, oil on panel, 8" x 8"

In celebration of Sullivan Goss Gallery's 30th year in business they presented a special exhibition featuring each of the gallery's regularly represented artists.  The Celebrating 30 Years of Art exhibition ran from September 4 - November 30, 2014.  I was honored to have the two works above included in this exhibition.  Sullivan Goss was the first gallery that really took a chance on me right after graduating from art school.  They offered me two solo exhibitions as well as producing catalogs of those works presented.  They are such good people who care deeply about the Art they present.  There is a scholarly affection and historical appreciation for Art.  I am ever grateful for their continued support.  Please be sure to stop in if you happen to find yourself near Santa Barbara.
Sullivan Goss - 11 East Anapamu Street Santa Barbara, CA

Women Painting Women - Principle Gallery Charleston September 2014

Sienna as Archer, oil on panel, 48" x 36"

At the Edge, oil on panel, 12" x 6" in artist made frame

As you may know, I am one of the co-founders of Women Painting Women.  2014 marked the Fifth Year Anniversary for the site.  As a celebration of that milestone we helped to arrange a large juried exhibition at Principle Gallery - Charleston.  Allison Mallafronte was the esteemed juror who chose over 85 paintings to be presented.  It was a powerful exhibition which showcased a variety of styles and interpretations of how women see themselves today.  I was honored to have the two works above included.  The folks at Principle Gallery have been such a supportive crew for our efforts - having now hosted four exhibitions at their two venues as well as various Face Off painting demonstrations featuring many of the WPW artists.  Below you will find both installation shots as well as images from the hugely attended opening reception.  Thank you to Principle Gallery for being such an encouraging and generous venue!    

The artists that were able to attend the WPW opening reception.

Myself with my self-portrait titled At the Edge.

Sharing wall space with Diane Feissel, Cathy Prescott, Cindy Procious,
Terry Strickland and Rachel Constantine

At evenings end the reception was still packed!

 And lastly, but most recently I am honored to have three works currently up in the Self Portraits by NC Artists exhibition at the GreenHill in Greensboro, NC. The exhibition features over 30 artists works and will remain on exhibition Jan 30 - April 2, 2014.  Make sure you stop by to see this very diverse show.  GreenHill 200 N. Davie St. Greensboro, NC 

The Boring Truth, charcoal on paper, 20" x 16"

The Skeptic, oil on panel, 20" x 16"

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Renovating a Studio

In September of 2012, now nearly two years ago, we decided to buy a quaint little house (that needed some de-80'sification) in a beautiful neighborhood in a small town of North Carolina.  There were two things that sold the house for me.  The first was the incredible, large, wooded yard that featured many 30+ year established plants, including a lovely fig tree, and the second reason was an unfinished space above the garage that could (seemingly) easily be turned into a wonderful studio.  Over the last nearly two years, we have slowly but surely been chipping away at the to-do list to turn this house into our home.  Both my husband and I are very handy and compliment each other's DIY skills quite well.  We have managed to completely update and beautify one of the ugliest and most malfunctioning kitchens that there has ever been, along side working on completing the studio space.  This once storage space turned out to be a much bigger project than we could have ever foreseen.


All of the insulation and partial drywall had to be taken out.  The previous owner had chosen too inefficient an insulation to condition the space, and also curiously, they decided to use deer netting to keep the insulation in place.  This meant that we had to spend countless hours removing staple after staple from each and every stud and joist.  We also started to notice how the acrylic bubble skylights began to leak.  Though they were south facing, we had not planned to replace them, which significantly impacted our budget and in turn impacted our timeline.

We knew the 3/8 inch plywood subflooring would have to be replaced, so we took that opportunity to also correctly insulate under the floor as well.

Below you will see how we had to remove the old leaky skylights which we splurged by replacing them with really nice north-facing ones on the opposite side of the roof.

 To re-do the subflooring correctly, we had to remove the knee-walls, which turns out, where not properly installed in the first place.  Surprise, surprise.  So in re-building the knee-walls, we got our design approved by the city, which was to utilize the space for extra storage, with some open shelving and pre-built cabinets as well as slots to fit my flat files on the south side of the studio.

We also decided to give my easels a bit more head room and raised the ceiling joists.

Now at this point, we realized that we would need to fix the stairs to bring them up to code.  Ironically, I do not have any pictures of this step.  It is likely due to the fact that it was one of the most contentious parts of the project.  I am happy to say our marriage was strong enough to survive the disagreements.

The last bit of fun left to us by the previous owner was some very "iffy" looking, obviously home grown electrical work.  We decided to hire a professional for this aspect of the job, especially since it required installing a special plug for the heat/ AC unit we will be installing.


 I am so happy to say that on Wednesday, all of the rough work passed the city's building inspection.  It was a huge relief and now means we can move forward with insulation and drywall.  Though the list is still long, I think we have turned the corner and are much, much closer to me being able to use this amazing and inspiring space (more comfortably) soon.  Below you will see two panoramic shots that kind of stretched the wall lenghts just a wee bit, but it's fun to see the whole space in one picture.

I will leave you with a painting which was in progress in the midst of this renovation.