Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Sketchbook Project

I've spent the last 4 months trying to keep quiet about this fun project that I decided to be a part of, because... well, I wasn't sure if I could pull it off. I must admit it did help quite a bit that they extended the deadline.

The Sketchbook Project, now in its fourth variation, is a opportunity for anyone to submit a sketch-filled moleskine, sketchbook to become part of the permanent Library of Art House Gallery.
Steven Peterman and Shane Zucker have recently announced that they will also be opening up a new space in Red Hook in Brooklyn, NY in January 2010. The Sketchbook Project Volume 4 exhibition will begin touring January 29th, starting in Atlanta and moving to NYC, then Los Angeles, St. Louis, MO and Chicago, IL. Hundreds of people will be able to receive a library card to be able to get a hands on look at the sketchbooks.

Each participating artist was given one of 30 possible themes to base their creations on. The theme idea was created to help the artists get a clear focus as well aid the visitors in finding the books they are most interested in viewing. The theme I was randomly given was "The Aftermath of..." and I filled in the blank for the title/ theme to read
The Aftermath of Line and Sight. You can click that link to view more pages from my submission.

I am so very happy to be a part of such a huge community driven project. I love that so many people will get to handle the book and see the drawings up close. I hope you will take a look at this link for the touring dates. If the books come to your neck of the woods, go take a-look-see. I think you get to keep your library card.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Good Art in Raleigh

Shortly after relocating to North Carolina, about one year ago, I went out to experience my first Raleigh art walk (known as First Friday), which happened to fall on January 2nd 2009. What an unfortunate first impression this night left on me. Having come from Southern California, where there are almost too many Art Walks to choose from each month, Raleigh's art scene appeared a very ho-hum, dead scene. People must have been recovering from their festivities, because I now know this isn't the typical First Friday scenario. But on that blustery, night I happened to walk into the (then quiet) studios of 311 W. Martin St. It was there that I met an artist who gave me hope that Raleigh wasn't the cultural vacuum I had assumed.

Julie Niskanen has her studio at 311 W. Martin Studios, which houses many fine print makers and a few painters as well as hosts gallery exhibits in the front space. I immediately fell in love with the rich blacks of Julie's mezzotints as well as her seemingly simple compositions. I've been coveting one of her piece's in particular, since that night. And today my husband and I celebrated our twelfth anniversary by purchasing this piece. Please take the time to look through her website which includes installation shots and mixed media pieces as well as drawings and of course her beautiful prints.

Julie Niskanen, Sanctuary, mezzotint, 18" x 24"

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Winter Figures

The top two drawings were done with graphite, the rest are ink using a new brush pen that my husband picked up for me. This is THE best brush pen I have come across. You can get incredibly fine lines with it, (which has been my main complaint with the majority of commercial brush pens). I love to use an ink well and series 7 brush when in the studio, but this is so much easier to tote to the many figure drawing groups I go to. A lot less clean up as well. My husband, Greg Baldwin (of Creaturebox) gives the details about the maker of the brush pen and describes how he is using it on his blog which you can check out here. We discovered that if you order it from the UK, you get extra refills and it's slightly cheaper (even with shipping). I hope some of you will give it a try.

Monday, November 30, 2009

and There's Always Mexico

How could I have forgotten? This is a true sign of too much going on all at once. Why do I have all shows converging on the same month, at the end of the year, instead of spread out nicely through out the year? Don't get me wrong dear Art Gods.... I appreciate all the shows. I do!

If you are planning a trip to Mexico please make sure to stop into The Loft Galeria in Puerta Vallarta. I have three figurative pieces there currently that are some of my favorites! Tell John I sent you.

The Loft Galeria Corona 176A, Centro 93800 Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico

Nude Seated, oil on panel, 17" x 14"

Nude Seated, charcoal on vellum, 17" x 14"

Public Restroom, oil on panel, 20" x 30"

Alia Fine Art Newsletter

Since this is such a busy time for me, I thought that I should start a Newsletter to keep us all up on recent events, upcoming exhibitions and workshops. You can view my very first e-Newsletter by clicking on this link.

If you haven't all ready, you can sign up from either here on my blog (see right) or directly from the Newsletter (at the top, in the grey bar you should see 'Subscribe to List'). If you have any trouble feel free to email me your contact info, and I'll be happy to do it manually for you.

I really appreciate all your support and I hope I will get to see you at one of these events soon!

Opening Reception THIS Friday!!

I am very pleased to annonuce that I will be exhibiting the paintings below as one of VAE's Exchange Gallery Artists for the month of December, along with fellow artists Kathy Brancato, Janet Harrell, Mary Ann Scherr and Sean Byrne.

Please join us for the Opening Reception this Friday, December 4, from 6-9pm. The exhibition will continue thru December 24, 2009. Hope to see you there!

Visual Art Exchange - 325 Blake St. Raleigh, NC 27601 (919)-828-7834

CaryAnn, oil on panel, 18" x 14"

Allison at Mirror, oil on panel, 26" x 16"

Leslie, oil on panel, 26" x 20"

related post

Monday, November 23, 2009


oil on panel
8" x 8"

I've worked on this itty painting now for 7 sessions of about 3-4 hours a piece and it is nearly complete. There are just a few little areas I'd like to work on a bit more before I can call this one 'done'. It's been such a joy to paint this beautiful nest and broken egg. I've loved having them set up in my studio, protecting them from visitors and a studio cat. It will be sad to put these on a shelf, out of their singular light...

I hope to make another progress video from the still shots I've taken of this painting's progression. At the very least, I will share with you the individual progress shots, but for now, I must get ready for our upcoming holiday. For those of you that celebrate it, Happy Thanksgiving. I have much to be thankful for this year, and your support is one such thing. I so appreciate all the kind comments and silent viewers that come to share in my studio experiences and art related ramblings.

Thank you!

see related post

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

She's not a Stranger to me...

My dear friend Diane Feissel has abandoned me. She's up and gone, as fast as I got to know her. I'm sad for myself and the rest of Raleigh, but very happy for her and her new home town of Philadelphia. That city suits her much better and I hope she'll acclimate quickly. I've known for awhile now that she was going to be moving around November 1st. But it wasn't until about three weeks before that date that the full reality set in. I got the bright idea to do a portrait of her, which 1)would leave a nice remembrance of her for me in my studio, and 2)force her to sit for me, chatting away while she stared at a speck on the wall. Amazingly, she agreed and we were able to get 2 three hour sittings in before her departure. We were hoping to get one more session in, but she ended up being a virus magnet and was quite ill, in the midst of packing. I may be devious, but I'm not cruel, so I didn't make her sit for me her last week here in Raleigh. Here are a few photos of how I developed this painting.

Diane with Kitten, oil on panel, 24" x 18"
While painting this, I had a few of life's persistent distractions. It's taken me longer than I had hoped. And now, there is still more I would like to do (for instance on the shirt). While I was painting it this week and last, I had a nagging thought that really I should be working on something else (like the Nest painting); that this painting was merely a selfish practice that probably shouldn't/ couldn't go into my impeding solo show, since it's JUST a portrait of a stranger to most people. Yet, I am so happy I chose to indulge myself, after all, Diane is not a stranger to me!

Also, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the kitten inclusion. My husband thinks I'm crazy to have Diane holding it like that. "What will people think"? I like that it adds a sort of maniacal aspect to the portrait. I feel that it's inclusion has brought a heck of a lot more interest to what was a stark, frontal portrait. {insert villain chuckle... boo waa...a..a.a.a}

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

In Flight 2

Hunting Buddies, Passenger 8D
graphite on paper
9.75" x 7.5"

Passenger 26D
graphite on paper
9.75" x 7.5"

These two drawings were done on my recent trip to California. The two gentlemen (one very lightly drawn across the aisle) in the first drawing were headed to Sioux Falls on a pheasant hunting trip. He turned out to be a very interesting guy and showed enough interest in the Arts, that I felt comfortable enough to show him the drawing when he woke up. His reply was a very Southern "oh, bless your heart". Now my understanding of that term is that it is a southern way of 1) filling space in a conversation, but more importantly 2)a nice way of insulting the person you are saying it to. Perhaps, passenger 8D did not intend to use it in that way, but I could not help chuckling to myself. I guess its similar to the term "oh, how interesting", not necessarily bad, but not so good either. Maybe he was just uncomfortable with the realization that a stranger had taken advantage of his sleeping visage (which is a thought that also makes me chuckle). Passenger 26D, in fact, was visibly annoyed with me for drawing him, turning a cold shoulder to me at one point, but I continued to draw him despite his discomfort. He had no interest in even saying hello when he sat down next to me and therefore I felt no obligation to be generous with the decency to stop drawing him when I noticed his discomfort. Horrible, I know.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

100 GRAND Reception

I thought I should post some photos of the fabulous Opening Reception that I enjoyed being a part of this past Thursday night for the 100 GRAND group exhibition at Sullivan Goss, which will be on exhibit thru January 31st, 2010. I enjoyed seeing old friends and meeting new ones. Thank you to Frank, Susan and Jeremy and all the hard working folks at Sullivan Goss (who got to hang these 100 paintings, and will get to patch all those holes...) It was a truly fantastic evening. Also, a huge thank you to my friend Fatima who became my personal chauffeur and roommate.

Chauffeur Fatima and myself.

me with friend and fellow exhibitor Adam Normandin (those beautiful train paintings are his).

Some of the participating artists attended. photo courtesy of Sullivan Goss - An American Gallery

Left to right: Guy Diehl, Ian Putnam, Angela Perko, Pamela Enticknap, Robert Redfield, Alia El-Bermani, Tracey Sylvester-Harris, Adam Normandin, John Nava, Susan Bush (Director), Colin Gray, Ken Bortolazzo, Dane Goodman, Robert Townsend, Dave Lefner

Below you can see a sampling of some of the art as hung on the walls (I somehow managed to miss photographing a few walls, sorry to those artists who's work was on these walls). To see more work and a short video click here. Or to see a close up of just my two paintings you can click here.

west wall

southwest corner

east wall

Also exhibiting that night were John Nava in the center gallery and Robert Townsend in the back gallery. Both have created amazing paintings, Nava in oils and Townsend in watercolor on large paper. Nava's paintings have a quiet calm that celebrates the beauty of the figure and local west coastline, while Townsend's depiction of the retro, which appeared meticulous from afar, have a wonderful painterly quality in many areas.

John Nava talking briefly (while in 4th position) about his recent paintings.

A few of John Nava's beautiful Facing West paintings

Robert Townsend's Thiebaud Does Watercolor, from his 'A Pop Mythology' series.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


oil on panel
20" x 16"

oil on panel
20" x 16"

I am pleased to announce that I have been juried in as an Artspace Associated Artist. Artspace is the center of all things Art related in Raleigh. As a non-profit visual art center Artspace has been providing the community with quality exhibitions and educational opportunities since 1986. The building is an incredible space with several exhibition galleries, education rooms and several artist studios (you would drool over some of these studio spaces). Being an AAArtist member provides numerous opportunities to exhibit and interact with the community. I'm taking full advantage of that all ready. If you are in the area, you can see these two paintings hanging in the hallowed halls of Artspace now thru January 23rd 2010. Have a night on the town and enjoy Raleigh's growing art scene every First Friday for a gallery walk, music and yummy food. The next Art Night is coming this week, Friday November 6th (unfortunately, I will miss this one as I will be in Santa Barbara for the 100 GRAND exhibit).

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Bartlett Worshop Insights

**UPDATE November 1, 2009:
After I posted this I realized I had failed to mention another very moving part of the weekend. During our lunch break Bo shared with us the documentary he helped produce on Andrew Wyeth, called Snow Hill. It was an incredibly moving and beautiful film and a stunning tribute to one of the most important American painters of our lifetime. You can purchase the dvd at either the Farnsworth Museum's Store or Brandywine River Musuem store.**

Bo Bartlett, Demo Painting, oil on panel, done at PAFA 10/09
I have purposefully taken my time to write out what it is I ‘learned’ from the recent workshop with artist Bo Bartlett that I attended in Philadelphia. I wanted to give all the information and insights time to seep into all the right places. In fact, when I returned, it was rather hard to get back into the ‘normal’ routine. For several days I found myself daydreaming about thoughts raised by this long weekend. I have only been to one other workshop (with artist Stephen Assael, several years ago) so I don’t have a real good idea of what happens normally during such workshops. Yet still, I HAVE to think this was a unique workshop experience. I think most workshop attendees expect to be taught the artist’s trick or technique, given simple step by step instructions to create a masterpiece. Bo had a totally different idea about what was a valuable lesson. For me, this workshop was more about the Philosophies of an artist than a technical explanation. In fact, his method of teaching was also very different than any I ever have encountered. His calm approach and inquisitive nature pulled ideas forth from each individual present and we were given several opportunities to connect and share with each other. We started each morning in a semi circle, greet and share session. People shared life stories and art concerns as well as technical questions. It was a very organic meeting which ended with us all doing Yoga together. I am a skeptic by nature but I was really trying to be open and excepting of whatever it was he would share with us or ask us to do.
The first studio practice he had us do, was so simple and yet for me, so profound. He started by telling us we would be drawing the model for the first day. Then he continued to talk about line. All he wanted us to do was draw a straight line from one side of the page to the other. At first take, this was merely an exercise to warm up or practice line, but as he continued to talk in his slow, meandering way, it emerged that there was more to this seemingly simple exercise. The first line was to be a line that represented “me or myself”. Faithfully and studiously, I drew a straight line at the top of the page from left to right, conscious of the weight quality and line variation, thinking every wobble was a valid symbol for the flaws within me as a human. I listened carefully and followed his instructions with each stroke, trying to put real thought and intent and meaning into each line. Next, (as if to continue the farce that this was merely about technique) he asked us to think “STRAIGHT LINE” (insert stern voice). I thought he was trying to show us how we may get constipated if we put too much pressure on ourselves for making the perfect line or artwork for that matter. Maybe that was part of it. Then he said, “Now draw a line your mother would like”. Hmm, pause… but, ok here I go… not bad I guess. “Now draw one for your Dad”… I could feel my eyes tear up. All of a sudden I became aware of how loud my sniffles were. Embarrassment flushed my face. But ok, here’s a broken, dashed confused line to represent the strange concoction of emotions that represent my feelings toward my dad… “Now draw a line for Pain” and this is where my eyes turned to an open faucet with my nose soon following suit. I tried to breath and calm myself so I could draw that damn line. I tried. I just honestly couldn’t think of a way to draw that line. And through all the thoughts of what would be a ‘good’ representation of PAIN came the thought “I don’t want to”. Relief! I had the choice to represent pain or not. Long ago when my first child was born, I made a conscience decision to try to represent the beauty of this world for her and to not focus on the easily represented pain of it. So in this simple exercise and with his gentle approach, Bo had reminded me of something so deep and so powerful.

Bo Bartlett, demo drawing (detail and full image), charcoal on paper, done at PAFA 10/09

The rest of that day was spent on several drawings of the model progressing from simple 20 minute line drawing all the way to a full scale, full value charcoal drawing using the pull out method. It was a great way to familiarize ourselves with the model. In fact that night, I found myself doing several thumbnail portrait sketches of the model from memory (which had decent likeness). Bo explained that he only uses people he knows for his paintings. In fact, the model he set up in front of (there were two models for our large group) he brought from his home town. The final thing we did that first day was to do a simple quick grisaille painting of the model which was to be wiped out at the end of the day. It reminded me of how I used to love the figure sculpture classes in school, because we would do one pose all day and then tear it down. There was no pressure to have a ‘finished’ work at the end of the day and therefore there was so much freedom and ease to each sculpture.

Alisa, chacoal on paper, 24" x 18", painted at PAFA 10/09 Bartlett workshop
The next two days were spent developing a painting from a finished grisaille through to full color. I am not accustomed to using a full prismatic, high chroma palette. I usually compare subtle variations of mud (earth colors), to make a full color painting. Not being familiar with each color on his palette was definitely a disadvantage for me. Most of the pigments had high tinting strength and yet I found that in the end my painting was very chalky looking. I've included 2 photos of my work here. The first I took once at home with my 'good' slr digital camera, and the second is poorer quality because it was taken with my phone, but better color, I think because it was taken in the same north light that the painting was painted under.
Alisa Study, oil on panel, 24" x 18", painted at PAFA 10/09 Bartlett workshop
Bo Bartlett’s Full Color Palette:
Alizarin Crimson
Burnt Sienna
Cad Red Dark
Cad Red Medium
Cad Orange
Cad Yellow Dark
Cad Yellow Medium
Yellow Ochre (or Raw Sienna)
Cad Green
Raw Umber
Cobalt Blue
Ultramarine Blue
Cobalt Violet

Something that I found interesting about his approach was that he really only paints the figures in his compositions with this process of developed grisaille to full color. All the other elements and background of his images may be sketched in, but then painted directly with local colors. I am not clear if he does this is for expedience sake or to make the figure be the main focus.

There really is so much more that I got out of this weekend, but I can’t seem to articulate, at the moment. I guess the two things that I’d like to remember the most from this weekend with Bo Bartlett, is that I do deserve success and that I had forgotten how to dream big. Self doubt is a nefarious creature capable of stopping any endeavor, but to push past this nasty beast and see the full value of one’s work is a great gift to the world. Life has seemed to stall my fast growth as an artist. But, it is ok that my career is at a slow progression right now, for perhaps (I’d like to think), it is like a good soup stock that takes several hours on low heat to come to its final full flavor.

Lastly, I am so grateful to have been able to have this experience in Philly. I feel so much appreciation to my dear husband who knows me better than I do. He knew how much I would benefit from this experience. He knew how much it would feed me. I am so blessed to have such a loving and caring man!
Downtown Philly (it rained the entire 4 days!)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

100 GRAND Exhibition

As you can tell from the previous post/ title below, I've been having some technical issues lately. I think (crossing fingers and toes), it is all worked out now. Thank you for your patience.

I am pleased to announce that two of my recent paintings will be exhibited at Sullivan Goss Gallery in Santa Barbara, CA in a group show titled 100 GRAND. If you are in beautiful Santa Barbara, please visit this exciting show, where all works are $1,000 or under. This is a great opportunity to build your collection of great art at great prices. I am happy to say, I will be at the opening reception Thursday, November 5th from 5-8pm. I'd love to see you. The exhibition continues thru January 31. More information can be found at the gallery's website:

Below you will see my two paintings all framed up and ready! Again, I hope to see you at the Opening Reception on Thursday Nov. 5th 5-8

Old Laurel Creek
oil on panel
10" x 8"

Sugar Bowl
oil on panel
8" x 8"