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Burnished Vignettes – Contemporary Inspiration

I have a tendency to drown in other’s work. I have a hard time balancing being inspired and being paralyzed by how beautiful someone else’s work is. There are more working artists now than probably any other time in history all competing for an audience. Below are some of my latest or long time favorites.

All the below pieces are produced by contemporary artists I admire. They all inhabit a similar space in me in how I categorize artists and work. All very different but stir up similar feelings. Contemporary and antique. Like opening an old book full of yellowed pages and secrets.

Breaking From Earthly Bonds and Fated Innocence by Chrystal Chan.

I feel that all these works are successfully part of the long conversation of art history. They look backwards and forward.

Umbra by Sam Wolfe Connelly.

Theater of Cruelty by Roberto Ferri

Formerly, drawing by Allison Sommers

Satan and The Dance of Asterion by Denis Forkas

They remind me just a bit of looking into a miniature diorama, a view finder, all a scene of a single piece of work or play. They all also seem to share a similar balance of warm and cold golden browns.

I’m going to try to blog more about my influences as a way to organize my own thoughts and to help me understand what it is what I want to achieve as well.

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Here is a messy little post to show a bit of what I do at work. I should do a better job of taking pictures of my chalks as I do them.

We use chalk ink markers, not regular chalk. The markers were a bit tricky to get a hang of at first but I think I’ve become progressively more comfortable with them!

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Rust and Red

The leaves are gone. The green is fading. Everything is rust and red. It’s an odd feeling being able to see distances I couldn’t during the lush summer months. Houses and roads are gradually being revealed. Secret spaces aren’t so secret anymore. The foliage has thinned. The hills have furrowed brows.

I mostly missed Halloween this year. And now Thanksgiving and Giftmas are creeping up on me. It will be nice to have a more permanent home again, where I can nest and create traditions.

I’ve dipped. I’m low. Is it the weather? Is it that things haven’t worked out the way I had planned this year? I’d like to think I’m flexible, but my energy is low and I am sad. It would be nice to feel safe enough to let go for a day. It would be nice to feel taken care of sometimes, not because I can’t take care of myself(I know I can), but because I’m deserving of it. I’m not sure that I am, but I’d like the illusion. I’m held together by a cracked eggshell, the armor is worthless, and it’s only a membrane holding it in place and giving the appearance that it is whole.

I wrote before about learning the difference between what I want and need. I need more golden light, soft words, and unsolicited kindness. And time. Let me hoard time in a drawer. Let me grow tougher and harder and sip time. Thorns last longer than petals.

I’m not crying for help. I’m just crying. I’ve been thinking about how different people approach their public personas, specifically when expressed through the internet. I feel a pressure to only be positive, barely personal, to chronicle just the pretty parts of my struggle. I’m overly edited. It’s not honest. Hurt and disappointment are equally authentic.

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Grown Up Life

I’ve found gainful employment as a store artist at Greenlife, a local grocer owned by Wholefoods. My position is a fun mix of graphic design, data entry and illustration. I get paid to draw fruit and veggies with chalk markers! This is a huge relief. Up till now I feel as if I’ve just been floating along the summer months and watching my funds slowly deplete(and I’ve gone through them faster than I expected). Finding out that I can(probably) take care of myself has been the biggest learning experience this year so far. I suppose I realized it was there, that it may have been the most important goal beneath everything else, but coming face to face with it is much different. That isn’t to imply I was anyone elses responsibility before, but this is the first time in quite a while that I’ve been on my own. I guess I am a grown up despite still feeling like a little girl. I’ve learned so much so far, and not just about drawing and art. I’ve had to figure out what I need versus what I want. More meaningful than that, I’ve learned to mostly be satisfied with less wants. I’ve learned to take pleasure in being more self sufficient. I want to need less. I need to want less. I’ve made some progress. I think. Maybe.

The summer slowed my posing jobs down, but I expect to start picking up evening work sitting for drawing groups again. Sitting for drawing groups has been a good way to meet other artists and find out what else this town has to offer. I suspect it has a lot, but again, I’m finding that at my core I am an introvert. Working, at Greenlife or sitting, will help tug me out of myself a bit. Whether I am reclusive or not, living near Asheville keeps me in contact with out of town friends. It’s a destination and I’m lucky that friends and family come through the area regularly.

As much as I just babbled above about simplifying my life and trying to want less, I’ve been nesting quite a lot. Perhaps it’s the changing of the seasons, starting a new job, or the decision to winter in Marshall, but I can’t deny the urge to make my room on the hill as homelike as possible. It is primitive. I feel like the chickens in our yard, scratching, clucking and pushing straw and leaves around into a pleasing scene.

I have set up a desk before my bedroom window and plan on treating this as a sacred place to draw. I’m patching and painting the walls and unpacking my still life objects of bones, bottles and superstitious toys. I may only have a room to live in, but I’m making it mine. It’s all I need for the time being. I started a new moleskine and plan on filling it from front to back. I actually have two. One is larger and full of watercolor paper. In that one, shown on my table easel, I collage with paper and paint(sometimes glitter!) in an abstract way in an attempt to discover pleasing compositions and colors without the burden of subject. It also allows me to play with texture in a way I avoid on canvas. I’m not sure if these exercises inform my painting choices, but it’s fun and freeing.

I love how the flowers seem to bloom with color coordination here. A month ago it was all orange and yellow. Now it’s purple and fuchsia. Prickly thistle along the roads, butterfly bush, petunias, morning glories, passionflower and more. I’ll be bloodying my hands hacking at flowers to dry for my still life set ups and to keep me company during the winter.

The sun is setting earlier. The air is growing colder. The changing of seasons is an exciting time. It makes me fidgety. I feel like I’m supposed to be burying acorns. I’ll miss the lush summer, but I’m eager for sweaters, cinnamon and crispy leaves. It’s harvest time. I am ready for hot tea, heavy blankets and ghost stories. Western North Carolina is bound to be lovely during autumn. The leaves are turning. The trees are slowly discarding their garments and will soon just be gritty bones.

I sound silly, but Halloween is coming. I’m allowed to sound spooky.