Sunday, November 1, 2015

Saying Good-Bye to Studio 81

This is probably one of the most difficult announcements I've had to make in a long time.   The building that houses Studio 81 and Ann Litrel Art has been sold, and we will be moving out very soon.  I have decided to close Studio 81 at the end of November.  

I was lucky to call this space my Home Away From Home for five years.  The opportunity to share this space with Ann came at a time that I found myself desperately needing a place to work without the constant needs of my two very young children.  (Although...there were a lot of times they came and painted there with me!)

One of the first regular classes, and one of the staples at the studio, was our weekly Figure Drawing group.  We've had several hundred sessions over the last few years, very fortunate to have a roster of incredibly talented and generous figure models that inspired us every week.

And of course I could not have kept the studio open without my morning painting classes and mini workshops.  There have been numerous faces in and out of these groups over the years, and as life keeps taking us on our journey, health, finances, obligations often changed the size of the groups, but the joy that teaching brings me never wavered.

Over the past few months, I realized that the studio - while never in the red, and I am thankful for that - was not generating enough income for me to justify, as a single mother, maintaining the space.  This was very difficult for me, because I never really thought of the studio as "Mine".  The studio always became Alive when it was filled with creative souls, and I felt - as I am sure Ann did - that this space was meant to be here, in downtown Woodstock.  It was destined to bring creative souls together. And it was partly my privilege to do so.

One of the things I am most grateful for is the fact that this gorgeous space, nestled in the heart of our wonderful downtown, allowed me to bring some of the most amazing artists today to teach workshops.  Casey Baugh ended up teaching four workshops here, Kerry Dunn twice, and Jeff Hein will be back in just a couple weeks to help celebrate the final weeks of our studio with his second workshop.  These workshops invigorated me, inspired me, and have helped me grow both as an artist and as instructor.  They will forever be some of my favorite memories at the studio.

Looking through photos, I realize that my children have greatly benefited from enjoying the space as well.  They often created along side me, or used the quiet time to read, and grew up these last five years getting to know downtown Woodstock.  It was important for me, too, that they saw me having a place to work and create.  

And anyone who has met my children know that they are quite the characters.  Jack would stand on the sidewalk shouting out "Art Show!  Come see the Art Show!" for Friday night live (when he wasn't entertaining the adults, of course!)  

Critique nights, Friday Night Live, watching the sunset from the roof, sharing wine with friends, laughing until it hurts, spilling pastels (you know who you are!), explaining the naked woman in the middle of the room to the police officer, and way too many other memories to count.  What a joy it has been to call this studio Home for as long as I have, and it was only a home because I got to share it with all of you.

So what will happen next?  Well my Tuesday morning students barely took a breath before they started planning who would get to host the first class at their house!  So I don't think they'll let me sit idle for too long!  And I wouldn't have that any other way.  

The first thing on my to-do list will be to liquidate as much of the props, furniture, easels, and of course - ART - at the studio in the next few weeks.  

And, I am currently looking for a home, hopefully with a home studio space.  

In some ways, I hope that saying good-bye to this space will help me pursue one of my biggest goals, which is to get to the point where I can teach a workshop anywhere in the world.  If I keep the studio, I will always be in the mindset of bringing students and other artists to me.  I'm excited about the new adventure of going out into the world and teaching all over.  

What beautiful bookends I have on my time in the studio - how the universe brought me the opportunity at a time when my on-line business was bringing in enough money for me to pay the rent and start teaching.  When I needed a space outside my home, when I needed to remind myself that I was more than just Mom.  And now, as the universe has set this move in motion, I am lucky enough to have a large commission that will carry me through the next few months as I settle into a new teaching routine, and I feel that it is also that nudge to "Go...pursue the next step".  I am tearfully grateful that I am being watched out for.

Thank you so much, Ann Litrel, for seeing the beauty and potential in this gorgeous room, and allowing me to share it with you all of these years.  And thank you to every single one of you who made it all worth while.

I will be sending out a final schedule for the month, including our last two Figure drawing evenings, my last Friday Night Live, and the big studio clearance sale.

Much love to you all, and Happy Creating,


Monday, August 3, 2015

Figure Drawing Open Studio Woodstock GA

I'm excited to announce that the open figure drawing studio sessions are starting again!

Every Tuesday night August - September 2015
(No Session on September 22nd)

Model schedule still in the works but so far...

August 4th - Mike
August 11th - Melanie T.
August 18th - Michika
August 25th - Ellie

Monday, July 13, 2015

July Portrait Painting Workshops and Fall Art Classes in Woodstock, GA

Thursday and Friday - Mini Portrait Workshop
July 16th and 17th
9:30 - 1:00

Artists' Choice!  Kristina will be on hand as you enjoy two full days from the live model (African American Female)  Monochromatic, painterly, inspired by another artist - you decide!


Email Kristina right away to hold your spot!

$80.00 per artist

-If you can only attend Thursday or Friday - contact Kristina to see if a daily spot is open.

Thursday and Friday - Mini Portrait Workshop
July 30th and 31st
9:30 - 1:00

Artists' Choice!  Kristina will be on hand as you enjoy two full days from the live model. Monochromatic, painterly, inspired by another artist - you decide!

SPECIAL PRICE - for any student who has attended a workshop this summer - $50 for the two day class!

New Students $80.00

ENROLL NOW to save your spot!

Fall Classes Begin August 4th!

This fall I will be offering Tuesday and Wednesday morning painting classes.  These classes are for all levels.

New students will be required to complete two still-life paintings before venturing on to other subject matter.

Continuing students are encouraged to alternate between photo reference and live subjects (still life, sculpture, live model, etc)

Tuesday and/or Wednesday Mornings
9:30 - 12:30 (Doors will open at 9:15)

8 week session August 4th - September 30th (no class 9/22 and 9/30)
$200.00 for 8 weeks.

Drop in rates of $30 per class available if space permits.

SPACE IS LIMITED - contact Kristina to reserve a spot or ask questions!  

Tuesday Night Live Model Group 

I miss drawing and painting from the live model - don't you?!? I'm looking for a core group of artists dedicated to bringing back a weekly figure model session.  

Tuesday nights August 4th - Sept 29th (no class 9/22)

I'm looking for 6 fellow artists who want to pre-register for only $10 a week - must commit to all eight weeks!  That's only $80!

After the first 6 artists- drop-in artists can attend any week for $15.00.

I will ONLY hold these sessions if the minimum artist count is met - let me know ASAP if you want to join!

Full nude, artists can work on portrait or figure.  We will make timing of poses artists' choice week to week - either a variety of long and short poses or one long pose.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Portrait Painting of Lord Tywin Lannister, Actor Charles Dance - Game of Thrones Fan Art

As explained in my previous post about my portrait of Maester Luwin, I am obsessed with the Game of Thrones series, not just because of the amazing actors, but the brilliant cinematography.  I pretty much want to paint every scene!

So here is Charles Dance, who plays Lord Tywin Lannister, as he stares down his son Tyrion.  Spoiler alert!!!  OK this has already aired, so you probably know...this is the scene where Tyrion is looking at his father over a crossbow, as his father perches in a most humiliating spot, on the privy in the middle of the night.  Never flinching, his stoic gaze remains fixed, firm, and confident. And while all this brilliant acting is going on, I am saying to myself "look at that pretty light on the side of his face!" and I have to paint it.

Of course, poor guy, many people still look at this portrait and say "Hey!  It's that guy from "The Golden Child!"

Monday, April 27, 2015

Yoga for the Artist's Soul

I started my Yoga practice about two years ago, and I am continually grateful that I came to the Yoga practice when I did.  I needed the quiet, the introspective time, sometimes the opportunity to think deeply, to cry freely, to let things get worked out in class.  It was part yoga, part therapy.

I started yoga around the same time I realized that there was a deep problem in my marriage, mostly on my end.  My feelings had changed, my love had changed, and I didn't think I was ever going to be able to go back.  I had reached an exhausted point - I was physically and emotionally wiped out.  I felt I had nothing left to give.  I had stopped decorating for holidays, stopped doing fun things with my kids, stopped reading, stopped trying to make new foods.  I was just...done.  And I hated that feeling.

On the surface, very few people could tell anything was wrong.  There were a couple poor souls who were subjected to my almost weekly phone calls, filled with tears and heartache, trying to figure out what I should do.  I kept teaching class, kept working out, kept painting.  Hardly anyone knew I moved out until several months after it happened.

It's been over a year since I moved out, just about one year since all the papers were signed.  Yet, this has been the most difficult month so far.

I'm starting to come to terms with one of the biggest factors that led to the demise of my marriage, and in fact, the thing that keeps coming up in most of my relationships.

My problem is that I try to make people happy because in turn I wait for them to make me happy.

It's not as simple as "I made you dinner now tomorrow you make me dinner", or "I bought you a new shirt now you go and buy me a new shirt".  It was giving in a lot of little ways, every day.  I enjoyed making the foods that my family loved, I enjoyed sending birthday cards and gifts like clockwork, I enjoyed keeping a clean home.  There were days when from sun up to sun down, it was just me, doing things for my kids, doing things for my husband, and never having anything done for me in return.

This is where I am sure many of you are saying "Well wasn't your husband out working so you COULD stay home with your kids? In-grateful bitch!"  "Don't you call paying the bills DOING something for you?!"  OK.  Fine.  I get that.  You don't know the whole story.  And I was a wife, not a servant.

(It happened in other relationships, too, but I am not going to create a laundry list of "I did this yet they didn't do that".)

Just sharing how my mind worked for most of the day, every day:  How can I make ____ happy? - for every person in my life.  And it wasn't just about was about who I was, how I was trying to make other people happy in the way I lived my life, instead of living a life that made me happy.  I thought "If I am the person they want me to be, they will get involved...they will love me back"  when all that did was make me miserable, and it did not get them involved.

I realize that I stopped enjoying just giving to people.  Giving little gifts, giving extra hugs, giving homemade food, giving any little thing, just because.  Giving turned into a desperation.  I was in desperate need of...connecting.  I was desperate for my happiness to matter to someone. I was desperately hoping for reciprocity.

I am not saying that people did not CARE.  I was feeling alone, isolated, forgotten, taken advantage of.  I was not being my authentic self, either.  Sometimes people just don't realize it's happening, or that this is how I felt.  I was out of sight, out of mind, for most people.  And, truly, I know we are all busy people.

(I do not want to sound like nobody did anything for me, ever...there were nice things done for me sometimes. And sometimes, it was so unexpected, and I was so out of practice accepting something thoughtful, that I would be shocked into tears)

But I was letting a lack of connection with my husband create a desperate need in myself for SOMEONE to care.  And I tried to get that by doing whatever I could for anyone else in my life.  And, eventually, I realized that this was the wrong way to go about it, because the only thing that was happening was that I was making myself miserable.  I was not making myself happy.

So here's where I finally come back to yoga.

Today in class, my instructor had the class pair off, so that we could practice Thai Massage on each other.  As we massaged each other's feet and took turns rubbing shoulders, he repeated several times "Giving and Receiving are the same thing.  This is a two way process."

I'm sure everyone interprets quotes and anecdotes and lessons in different ways, but for me, I had to get back to what giving USED to mean to me: that I was showing someone love, that I was showing someone I cared, that I found JOY in making those around me happy.  I had to start finding the JOY in giving, rather than give as a desperate attempt to have someone else do something to bring me a bit of happiness.

Which brings me to the second part of today's lesson.
Paraphrasing my fabulous instructor, he reminded us that "breathing is the key.  It is how we react to the moments in life that define us, not the moments themselves.  Breathe about it.  Don't react to it".
So...learning about where I am and how I got here... I have terrible reactions.  A lot.  I react with guns full blazing to a lot of little moments.  I am slowly realizing, though, that it has very little to do with that particularly difficult moment, and a lot more to do with my own happiness.
Now I must admit - I think the phrase"you are in charge of your own happiness" gets used as a cop-out by some people when they do not want to take any responsibility for how they can make other people feel.  Intentionally or not, if you hurt someone's feelings, you don't turn to that person and say "well I'm not here to make you happy.  That's your own job".  
I know that it is my job to seek out the relationships in my life that feed my soul.  I know it is my job to let go of those that don't.  I know it's my job to nourish my art, because my art makes me happy.  I know it's my privilege to raise two amazing, healthy, smart, funny kids, and that it is truly a joy to do so.  I know what I wear, what I eat, where I go, how I dance, should all make me happy...not fit the mold of what I *think* will please someone else enough to want me in their lives.
I need to get back to giving because I WANT to give.  I have to get back to doting on my children while realizing - they are just kids.  Kids who are self involved and not yet capable of reciprocity. 
For a little while, I was thinking to myself "you need to stop doing things for people.  It just doesn't work".
And you know what?  That thought made me miserable.  I love doing things for the people I care about.  I need to stop doing things for people as a deposit on future return, though - I need to treat giving like it is receiving.  End of story.  I give, I get joy.  Done. 
It's been a tough year, and a very difficult month.  I am thankful for my art, my time in my studio, which truly is my joy, and my therapy.  There have been many tear-filled nights holding a brush, trying to work through difficult passages in a painting while also trying to comprehend all of these emotions. know...progress is being made.  See? I got my handstand...well...almost...soon enough I won't need the wall :)

Yoga is a practice.  Art is a practice.  I am so thankful that I am learning these lessons, whether it's the first time or the tenth time.  I am grateful.  And...becoming happy. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Inspired By Game of Thrones - Portrait Practice - Master Luwin played by Donald Sumpter

Someone who shall remain nameless got me sucked into Game of Thrones.  So for the last three months I chain watched episodes and caught up to season 4.  I was one of - apparently - 8 million people who turned in on Sunday night to start Season 5.

From the very first scene in the series, I was enamored of the lighting and the costumes.  I am horrible with names, my attention span isn't what it used to be, and darn it!  I have to stay caught up in my Words with Friends Games!  But all the world stops when I watch GoT.

So far I have done three portraits, and I'll share this one first - Maester Luwin from Winterfell, played by Donald Sumpter.

One of the aspects I am working on in my paintings is my tendency to paint very "hot" - too much red and orange in my skin tones (we can debate if that's a good or bad thing later...I just want to try and paint in a cooler palette, experiment with the color)  So I loved the color of Maester Lewin, especially in this scene where he is teaching Bran about Westeros in the episode "The Wolf and the Lion".

I started with very cool, dark, transparent colors to block in the face.

I then started to block in some of the flesh on the face.  I realized - when taking photos - that my camera (ok iphone) tends to make everything look warmer - more red - than in "real life".  So that could be one of my problems - when painting from photographs the reds are too strong.

Anyway, I purposefully only used cool colors on my palette - the "warmest" color was transparent red oxide.  

Because the scene was filmed in an outdoor cool light, the flesh had a cool feeling, very icy blue, everywhere except his ear.  That is the only spot I used any cadmium orange and red.  It was a nice contrast to the predominantly cool painting.

I took great care to try and capture what Mr. Sumpter brought to the role of Maester Luwin - the incredible warmth partnered with deep wisdom.  I have incredible respect for these marvelous actors, and everyone on the Game of Thrones team...they are all artists.

The painting is done on an oil primed linen, that had a previous life as another painting, and was then recovered with oil based primer.  I intentionally leave some texture along the edges, a little peak of the history of the surface.  This portrait is 11" x 14".

Monday, March 23, 2015

Self Portrait With My Daughter - Part Two

OK back to the self are a few shots of developing my profile...

I did my best not to over-work it...I love the cool light from the window on my profile, and the warm light from the floor on my chin.  And many of you know...I have an addiction to color, I mean it's worse than my love of dark chocolate.  So although I *try* to tone down the red, the painting always ends up feeling dull and lifeless when I do that.  I find myself thinking "Do I need to be bland to get into the big shows?  Do I need to use just brown and white to be taken seriously?" and truth is...when I do that?  I hate the painting.  I want my paintings to be fun and joyful and colorful, awards may not agree, but that's where my heart lies.

And here are a few of the process shots developing Arianna's face.  You can see it starts out very abstract, and features come into focus after I establish the larger shapes of the face.  No point in making a pretty eye that's too big, too small, or too far to the left - get everything else around the eye correct first.

These pictures are all from my cell phone, so forgive the poor detail.  The final piece...(well...a cropped version of the final...)

I have titled this piece "In My Shelter She Will  Live, Beyond My Shadow She Will Thrive"  It's a combination of a couple quotes I read about Motherhood.  We moms have a very difficult job, to support our daughters yet push them out of the nest as well.  I am realizing that my daughter is already doing things "just to make Mom happy" take certain dance classes she doesn't really like, because I want her to enjoy it so much.  I want her to have the chance I didn't have, which was to really take her dance as far as it can go (OK she's eight! I'll give it time!)  So here's the thing:  How do we moms give our kids the support and encouragement they need to succeed, yet give them their own spotlight?  I live with too many regrets, of always leveling out in everything I have done, never reaching a level just above "OK".  I don't want her to be almost 40, wishing she had achieved more.

And yet...she is not me...she is her own person...and my job is not to correct my mistakes though her, but to enjoy her every success along side her, and always, always, let her know that I will support any opportunity that comes her way.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Mother and Daughter Painting - the Start

Well hello 2015....when did you get here?  I haven't been blogging...sorry...but I have been painting!

Early this year I began a self portrait with my daughter.  Quite accidentally, actually.  I was taking photos in the studio one day, and my kids were there with me.  I asked Ari to be my photographer, and then I asked her to jump into the photos.

This is the self portrait I worked on from the photos that day...I will post a better picture when it is all dried and finished!

Of course she couldn't just sit - first she gathered up a mask and some roses to "accessorize" our pose, and THEN we could take the picture.  So about a hundred photos later, I cut and pasted a few together that gave me the look I wanted in her face and mine.

This is just one photo so you can get the idea of the window light on the floor, and of course, see the fancy accessories Ari added.

So first steps are shown below - I have so many pictures I am going to break it up into a couple posts.  But my plan was to start with bold colors and big shapes, then work into the shadows, then the details.

This is a wood panel, 36" square, primed with oil.  I did put a 9 square grid on the surface so that I could get the scale correct of the two figures.  I only began to work on the faces after everything was blocked in - no reason to have the perfect face, and then find out later it should have been two inches to the left or a couple inches smaller! I purposefully aimed to have Ari's face in the middle.  When I moved the entire composition to the right, it became to mom-centric.  It was a very conscious choice to move me to the left.