Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Happy Holidays!

It's four days until Christmas, and things are finally settling down.  My art shows are over.  The Holiday cards have been sent.  The presents have been wrapped.

We got the inside of the house decorated, but I've been too busy to do the outside.  Now it hardly seems worth it.  We'll see.

I finally made the Christmas cookies for neighbors and friends, and I have enough left over to have as dessert for Christmas dinner.  (Do you know what tastes good?  Butter and sugar taste good!) Of course I'll have one more batch of Magoo-edible cookies, but then that will be that.

Despite the fact that there are many gifts under the tree now, I have left a space for Java.  She loves sitting under there.  There's a cozy tree skirt, it's protected, and it's right up against the radiator.  Mmmmm - so warm!  Sometimes when she's under there, she'll let out a little mew, inviting someone to lay flat on their belly and pet her under the tree. 
And so we settle in to enjoy the holidays.

Thank you so much for coming in and having a little peek into my life.  Please know that I wish you all a very Happy Holiday Season and all the best in 2017!  I'll check in again then.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Peek Inside the Pop-Up Show

Photo: Phyllis Meredith
This weekend was the WeHa Artists Emporium Holiday Pop-Up Show.  It was kind of a big deal for me because this is the first one I've ever helped to organize.  We rented a warehouse.  We booked artists.  We taped off space.  We got heat.  We did LOTS of marketing.  (And a bunch of other little details.)  It was the brainchild of the group's founder, Stefanie Marco (below) but I'm kinda her right-hand man.  We both put a lot of work into it - and others in the group helps a lot too.

I'm happy to report it was a smashing success!  Let me take you inside the event.

Above:  A shot of my space.  This is more of a craft show then a fine art show, so I only brought the one big painting.  The rest of my goodies were rocks, picture books, ornaments, softies, prints, cards, and original works of art in the rack.

Below: Stefanie does a lot of art shows, so she has a very nice set-up.  Here she is on one side of her tent.  So many wonderful items!
Photo: Phyllis Meredith
Below:  Hannah Jackson's area was right next to mine. She really went all out.  It looked like an Anthropology store in there.  She did a lot of textiles dyed with Indigo.  The woman brought a rug - classy!

Photo: Phyllis Meredith

Here's a shot of the warehouse filled with people.  On Saturday it was crazy busy - like awesome good for artists busy- but we were all hustling.

And there were two food trucks outside.  One sold donuts.  Do you know that 100% of redheads love donuts?  It's a fact!  Even if you're a dye job, like me.

Photo: Phyllis Meredith
At the end of Sunday, we were a group of tired, but happy, artists.  Here's a group shot of all twenty of us.
Photo: Chris Meredith

There were just too many wonderful artists for me to feature, but if you click on the brochure above, you can see a thumbnail image of their work and their contact information.  Some people may sell online.  Most of us don't.  But you can always contact artists via email and ask about products.

Big kudos to Stefanie Marco- she really pulled it off!
I think we're all looking forward to the next one, but not before we kick back and enjoy the holiday season.

Thanks so much for stopping in!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Holiday Pop-Up Show

Finders Keepers is well under way.  And - with the exception of some people I suspect were hoarding rocks on Day 1 - it's been going very well.  So now it's time to move onto the next event on my agenda: The WeHa Artists Emporium Holiday Pop-Up Show.

Last year, we did a small on in a member's house.  We could only fit 6 artists.  And you know what?  It was fine.  Easy.  This year - mainly due to interest from other artists - we're going bigger.  We're renting a space.  (Not as easy, but should be fun.)

This is what it looks like now:

But this weekend it will be filled with 19 artists and their goods.  We're also having 2 food trucks on the premises, which will be great for the artists.  We get hungry.  And one of them is a donut truck!  Yes please!

This is Stefanie and me with the sign Stef made.  Here's one of my promo posters.  Oh, the marketing!

So now, with one week to go, I am trying to work in as many little goodies as I can.  I've been painting more rocks (because, after Finders Keepers, people will want rocks) and making ornaments and softies.  Here's a peek.

In my spare time, I'll be baking.  I like to make holiday cookies for my neighbors and friends.  Sometimes I curse myself for doing it because it's time consuming and messy, but still, I like to hand over the boxes of goodies.  It's Christmastime!

Hope everyone is healthy and well and enjoying the holiday spirit.
If you're in the area (and I don't think you are) please come by the Holiday Pop-Up Show next weekend.  You can get a donut.  :)
Thanks for stopping in!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Gearing Up for Finders Keepers

I find myself in a position of juggling several artistic adventures at once.  The Holiday Pop-Up Show is December 10-11, the group show RED goes up in the Noah Webster Library on January 3, and on Thursday, December 1st FINDERS KEEPERS begins.

If you don't know, FINDERS KEEPERS is an artistic rock hunt that we've been doing in West Hartford for three years now.  It was hugely successful the first year, so we've kept it up.  It really is very fun.  We post clues daily as to what rocks are hidden and where they are hidden and people got out and find them.  And it's totally free. 

These are some of the promos I've done to show off the rocks and get people involved.

Seventeen artists participated this year, which really blows me away.  Everyone has been so generous with their time, skills, and paints.  And it's a special thing to do at this time of year, when we all want to come together and give.

So, as always, I'm pretty busy trying to keep all the plates spinning, but I am looking forward to the fun of Finders Keepers this year.

If you're local, sign up for the 2016 Finders Keepers Event on Facebook for clues.  If you're not ... sorry.  (I think you can still peek on the page though.)

Hope everyone had digested their turkey and is now settling into the holiday season.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Open Studio Weekend 2016

Forgive me for a quick post, but already my to-do list is piling up.  Open Studio Weekend went pretty well.  My good friend Angela Shenk, who I normally sit next to, was sick, so I was all by my lonesome this time.  But - lucky for me - many of my wonderful friends came to see me, support the arts, and commiserate over what is, to me and many of my people, a very disturbing and disappointing presidential election.

And now I must prepare for the NEXT art show.  The WeHa Artists Emporium is having a Holiday Pop-Up Show in December.  Since we're throwing it, there's a ton of organizing to do.  And Finders Keepers is right around the corner.  And now the group is curating the main gallery of the Noah Webster Library so there's that.  And there's a little thing called Christmas right around the corner.  Woosh!

So I'm off to get some things done.

Thanks so much for stopping by.
Wishing you a good week.
Stay strong and be kind to each other.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

I Voted!

It's a big day, people!  Very exciting.  I dug through my closet to find the only blazer I own and put together the closest thing I could to a pantsuit to go out and vote for my candidate.  Woo hoo!  Go Hillary!  (In case the pantsuit didn't tip you off.)

I hope you all voted, too.

In other news, Open Studio Hartford is this weekend.

I'm dotting the i's and crossing the t's, packing things up and making my signs.  The weather is supposed to be cold, but clear.  PERFECT conditions for going to an art show.  Now, all I need is a good election, because this is Connecticut.  This is Hillary country.  And if she does not win, people around here will be unhappy.  Unhappy people don't buy art.

I'm hanging my show in a new way this year.  It's always such a bummer to bring a lot of framed work to these shows and leave with a lot of framed work.  Frames are heavy.  Frames are delicate. You can knick them easily and sometimes the glass breaks.  In fact, that just happened.  I was packing up a crate of art from my recent Wind & Water show, and I have a rather large watercolor of two koi.  I propped the painting up against a wall so I could slide the crate into the backseat of my friend's car when a gust of wind came and knocked over the paint.  Crash.  To add injury to insult, when cleaning up the glass, I cut myself.  Then, I bled on my white mat.  It was a comedy of errors.

So that was fun.  (I am fine, by the way.  The cut was not big, but it was a gusher.)

This year, I am bringing far less framed work.  Instead, I am going to run some "clothing lines" along the wall and clamp matted pieces to it.  My idea is that the pieces will be less fragile, less expensive, and more accessible - which I think the Open Studio crowd likes.  And then I can just swap pieces in and out from my standing rack.

Open Studio is THIS WEEKEND.  If you're in the Hartford, CT area, stop on by.

Thanks so much for stopping in!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

It was my birthday!

I like birthdays.  I like to have a cake, make a wish, open gifts, and celebrate with friends, so I throw myself a party every year.  This year was no exception.

(Above)  I made a very delicious chocolate avocado cake.  Oh - it came out so moist and rich! This is the recipe I use.  Try it.

(Below)  Taylor Swift has her crew and I have mine.  Heather, Adrian, Angela, me, and Jackie all pose for a pic between talking politics and eating chocolate and Trader Joe's Shrimp Toast.   Isn't Shrimp Toast a bland, crude name?  Shrimp Toast.  But it was really good!  If you need a nice little appetizer for your party, try Trader Joe's Shrimp Toast!

I love a small, fun party where I can talk to everyone and it's chill and we all have a good time.  And that's exactly what I got.  And this mug!  Go Hillary!

And the necklace I'm wearing is from my son.  He picked it out himself.  Good job, Magoo!

So that was my birthday.  The husband and the son mingled in and out of the room, but mainly it was me and my gal pals.

Thanks so much for stopping by.  I'd give you all a piece of chocolate avocado cake if I could.  :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Pre-Show Prep

Hi all!   It's a busy, busy time right now.  Open Studio Hartford is November 12-13.  Finders Keepers starts December 1st.  And there's a WeHa Artists' Emporium Pop-Up Show on Dec. 10 - 11th.  All of this means there's a lot to organize, prep, package, make signs for, write press releases for, and a whole bunch of other things.

Here's a peek at some of the art I've been working on for these events.

Bear Rocks                  2016                   j.c.phillipps
 Bears!  There have been a lot of bear sightings in West Hartford this past year.  They seem to be coming in off the mountain a little more.  They've inspired me.  I've made a series of bear rocks, and I just started a series of collages called Bear Sightings where bears have wandered into town and they're just sorta living an everyday life.  (Below) This one is my favorite so far, Bear Sighting: Pool.

Bear Sighting: Pool              2016               j.c. phillipps

I have been bagging card sets and prints.

And I made a bunch of softies.  I made the usual characters from my books (Wink, Monkey Ono, Dizzy and Rocco), but this year I expanded and just started making whatever I wanted.  I made some teddy bears, a sloth, a sheep, a snail, a robber, a fox.  They're not cost effective by any stretch of the imagination but they're fun!

Various Softies                                 j. c. phillipps

This year I'm trying something new.  I was playing with my art gum eraser one day and molding it into faces and I thought, These look kinda cool.  So I bought some small canvases (3" x 3") and made a bunch of tiny clay faces.  I glued them onto the canvas, painted them, then added a protective gloss coating.  I think they're kinda cool.  We'll see if they sell though.  Sometimes my experiments can't find homes.  They're the lonely orphans of my imagination.

In addition to all of this, I am actively looking for a new literary agent and submitting some picture book projects to publishers that do not require an agent to submit. There's a ton of research and prep that goes into every one of those submissions.

So, I'm keeping pretty busy these days. 

Thanks so much for stopping by!
I hope you're all enjoying Autumn.  It's my favorite month and the colors up here are glorious!


Monday, October 10, 2016

Night Fall 2016

Night Fall is a newer Hartford tradition.  I think it started about four years ago by a wonderful artist, Anne Cubberly.  If you want to know more about it and her, read this.  Anyhoo, it's a wonderful visual performance with costumed players, music, and giant puppets.  So ... right up my alley.

Here's Magoo doing a little reading before showtime.  Night Fall takes place in rotating parks each year.  This year, it was close to home.  People bring their own chairs or blankets.  I knew if we wanted a decent seat that we needed to be there an hour early, thus, book.

There are characters that work the crowd before the show.  Here's a bird meeting some young audience members.

When night falls (there's your title right there, folks) the show begins.  This year the theme was Differences, and that was evident in the performances.  In the shot below, a group of woodland creatures and insects are having their picture taken, on the photographer wants to separate the mammals from the bugs.  All the critters keep having to fight and trick to stay together.

Here the Rain Goddess (I don't know if that's what she's actually called, but that's what I got from her) is dancing with her rain drops.

And my favorite, the giant monkeys!  I'm not 100% sure what was happening in their sketch, but they're loads of fun.

I have to confess, we didn't stay for the whole thing.  It started to rain and we didn't have the car, so Magoo and I took off a bit early.  Still, it was a wonderful thing to see and I'm so thrilled to live in a place where fantastic community events are created and shared.

Thanks so much for stopping in!
Hope you all have a great week!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Writing Narratives at Bowers School

I'm back at Bowers!  Yay!  Bowers Elementary School in Manchester, CT is this really wonderful school that had me come in for four days last year to talk about building characters.  I was able to spend time with each and every classroom and really enjoyed the teachers and students.  It was a wonderful school visit.  And - lucky me - they invited me back this year for another four days!

This time I am talking about writing narratives.  Yesterday was presentation day.  I did one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  I work really hard on building my presentations.  I try to pack a lot of good info in there, but I also want the students to participate.  It's less like a lecture and more like a big group workshop.  (Above) I put some games in the presentation too.  Here, I'm asking for volunteers to join me on stage.

I also did some classroom workshops with the first graders.  For the younger students, I wanted them to start thinking about moments in their lives that they associated with big emotions, because a strong emotion is usually linked to something that would make a good personal narrative story.

Then we looked at one of Mo Willem's Elephant & Piggie books, because the way Mr. Willems draws emotions is SO PERFECT!  He's a master of it.  We looked at pictures and I got the kids focused on the shape of the eyebrows and the mouth, and if the chin was tilted up or down.  We talked about how we knew what the characters were feeling even if they weren't saying anything because of their expressions.

Then I lead them through an exercise where made an emotion reference sheet.  (Because when the little ones write stories, they draw them too.)  Now, when the time comes for them to work on stories and draw themselves, they can look back on how they drew different emotions.

We did happy, sad, angry, surprised, confused, and proud.  And they did such a GOOD JOB!  I could have shown you fifty of these - they were so fun!

I'm back at Bowers today, doing more emotions and working with the third graders on creating endings for their stories.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Collage Mosaic Process

Yesterday I gallery-sat for the Face Forward show at the West Hartford Art League.  The Face Forward Show is a group show of about sixteen different artists all doing self-portraits.  Gallery sitting is when someone sits there to open the gallery, answer questions, and sell art if the art is for sale.  Most of the time when I gallery sit, I bring a book or some handiwork, because there's not a lot of action.  This time, a few people came in. 

One lady walked around and stopped at my portrait.  She asked me questions and I answered as if I wasn't the artist.  I felt like if I said, "Oh, that's mine." Then she'd feel obligated to pay me a compliment.  I'd much rather discuss a work without anyone feeling awkward.  I'd rather have the honest feedback.  But as it so happened, she liked the work without knowing it was mine and she asked a lot of questions about how it was made.  Having made it, I had the answers.  

First, I sketched my face out on a white canvas.  (The show required us to work on 24" X 24" canvases.)  Then I broke down the shapes in my face, one by one.  I started with the nose.  I cut squares from watercolor paper that I had painted in my skin tones and laid those paper "tiles" out on the nose.  I think there were 16 pieces.  Then I moved them off to the side and painted the nose - and only the nose - black.  When the paint was dry, I glued the "tiles" back on top, keeping track of their placement.

Then I moved on to the eyes.  Same process.  Cut the paper into "tiles" and lay them out.  Move them to the side.  Paint only the eye black.  Glue the "tiles" down.  Move to the next eye.  Then I did the mouth.  Then I anchored down the circles for the cheeks.  Once I had the key features down, I could paint the rest of the face and glue those tiles down.

You'll notice that there are different colors in the skin tone and different shapes.  All of that helps to define the shading and surface of the face.

Then I added the hair.  Then the neck.  I left the shirt blank because I had a vision for the background, but not for the shirt.  I figured I'd get the background flowers in and then see what colors worked best for the shirt.  (I ended up using a piece of wallpaper.)

And so forth and so on, bit by bit.  I defined a shape on the canvas, cut the paper tiles, moved the tiles aside, painted the section black, and glued the tiles back in place.  It was slow work, but not overly complicated.  When it was all done, I coated it in High Gloss Mod Podge and sealed the sucker up.

Here I am at the Face Forward opening with my piece.

If you're in town, stop by the Saltbox Gallery at the West Hartford Art League.  It really is a cool show.  Every artist did a different style, a different medium.  We all had an open choice as to how we wanted to portray ourselves and it's pretty interesting to see what everyone chose.   For me, I couldn't imagine doing a 24" X 24" realistic self-portrait.  No one's going to buy it and I don't want to stare at a realistic depiction of myself all day long.  But with this technique, I can enjoy it without it really feeling like I'm basking in the glory of me, yanno.  I like it and I like the way it turned out, but the medium is what holds me, not the subject matter.  So I'll be happy to find a place for it in my home.

Thanks so much for stopping by!
I hope you all have a great week!