Exciting News From the MAG Annual Exhibition!

Friday was the opening reception for the Midland Artists Guild’s Annual Juried Exhibition. What’s awesome about this year is that the show actually took place at the gallery I work at as Coordinator for one of their major programs, Creative 360. The piece that was accepted into the show was “She Is Everything At Once“, the 3rd installment in my new series I’ve been working on since late 2015. There was so much amazing work this year, I truly was just excited to get into the show and did not go in expecting any further recognition… and then my name got called for an Award of Excellence. No matter how many years I spend involved in art, I don’t think I will ever lose that factor of complete surprise when something like this happens.

 

For those of you who may have missed previous posts on my new series, I will be creating 12 mixed media, surreal, conceptual portraits in which the meaning is influenced by the use of pattern and color. They will depict women of all ages, races, and time periods, and each will communicate a different theme. I aim for the pieces to speak to women’s collective experiences beyond their differences. Each of the 12 will represent a month of the year, the one featured in the MAG show being March. We tend to think of time and events in terms of our own personal history or the history of the nation in which we reside. But of course, there are women everywhere living out their day to day life all over the world, with hopes, dreams, fears , relationships. Our situations and struggles are very different, but were we in some alternate reality all given a chance to meet, I suspect we would find some surprising similarities, maybe more than we ever expected.

My goal is to get this series into this year’s ArtPrize in Grand Rapids. With the positive responses I’ve been seeing to images from this series thus far including an award for my January piece at the Greater Michigan Art Exhibition last Fall, I’m certainly feeling hopeful!

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Art Discussion: New Year’s Resolutions

I have to admit, I never make New Year’s resolutions; partly because if you are truly dissatisfied with something, it seems silly to arbitrarily wait until the turning of the calendar to fix it. In part also because we all tend to set the same goals, those goals that we know everyone else is setting so we can easier relate to those around us as we share that we want to find our soulmate, get a promotion, or lose weight, and we can all laugh together about how we probably won’t actually do anything to work towards most of those things. But, what would happen if we committed to doing one thing that we were truly passionate about in this new year, one thing that we didn’t over analyze to death, asking ourselves, Should I want this? Is it too silly? Too shallow? Too lofty? Too weird? No one would understand anyway … 

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During my senior year of college 7 years ago (Whoa! 7 is a big number.), I entered an art book into the Annual Student Exhibition at Central Michigan University. I asked a sampling of the people I encountered in a day, some I knew well and some I did not, to think of a couple of experiences they would like to have before their life was over, and pick the most obscure one to share with me. I chose 35 different submissions to illustrate, and Underneath was  born. This was my first experiment with creating art based on collected personal stories, something I would use to create many more projects in the future. I also ended up winning the Grand Award for this piece, which was the first time I’d ever won anything for my art aside from a coloring contest in 4th grade, and not a bad way to exit my college career ;).


As annoying as it may be that the first thing anyone asks when meeting someone for the first time after “What’s your name?” is, “So what do you do?”, we kind of are what we do. This doesn’t have to mean our day jobs, or even be workplace related at all. What we do with each day is a choice, and it is these choices that reflect what we value and shape who we will become. True goals can give immense insight into each individual’s unique personality, drive, and psyche. That is why I so enjoyed sifting through the responses I received for this project.

I was reminded of Underneath recently for an unfortunate reason. The young woman who 7 years ago submitted the far right response above took her own life in a murder-suicide earlier this month. She attended my high school, but our school was so large growing up there were tons of people who walked in graduation with me that I felt like I’d never laid eyes on my whole four years there. I never knew her well, but our paths did cross and I remembered her submission deeply affecting me back then, as the news of what occurred deeply saddened me now. A couple of my good friends had had classes and clubs with her, some even keeping up over the years at least through texting and facebook, and the news hit them even harder.

This may not be a typical resolution, but something to be mindful of in the new year is this: we do not know everyone else’s story. We have no clue about everything the people we run into in our day to day life may be going through. People learn to adapt, and to act, and to portray themselves in person, at work, and in social media as how they want others to see them. I know I do it; I think we all do to a point. I have always been fascinated with the dichotomy between individual’s alone personas versus their public personas. It is a concept that is interesting to explore. It can also be a concept that is dangerous, because it can prevent people from reaching out who need help. If you make one resolution (aside from foregoing all convention and chasing your oddest dream / within reason and lawfulness, of course), resolve to be transparent and authentic, and resolve to be someone who is willing to make that reach when someone needs support either in the form of just a listening ear or otherwise. Christmas falling on a Sunday, I attended the Christmas morning church service at MFMC with my family this year. We spoke about how there is the whole Christmas story which most of us, churchgoers or not, have known since childhood. But, we all have stories, and our story, how we live and interact, can change someone else’s story for the better if we allow it to happen. We have nothing to lose for trying.

To see the rest of my art book in order, visit the album on my website.

Super Exciting News (No, I’m Not Engaged. But Read This Anyway.)

First, I must explain the title. It’s a bit of a joke because the last time I did a post in which I professed exciting news, like everyone thought I was engaged. When I was like ‘nope, even better, I won Best 2D at an art exhibition!’ they were like, ‘Oh well, I guess that’s pretty cool too.’ I think this face of epic disbelief from the 10th Doctor sums it up pretty well.

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But, back to my still super exciting news. I had mentioned earlier how thrilled I was about getting into the Greater Michigan Art Exhibition at Midland Center For The Arts because I had entered the 2 previous years as well and had yet to be chosen to exhibit. Well, first I found out that not just one but all three of my entered pieces would be hung in the show.

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Then, I found out that one of them had actually won an award! I feel so unbelievably honored to have one of my pieces receive a Juror’s Recognition Award.

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(I hate closeup pictures of me holding things  because I feel like I have freakishly short fingers. No wonder I could never play the piano well even after years of lessons. Well, that coupled with my total apathy towards the vocation and complete lack of practice, but thatis another sotry for another day. Despite finger length, I had to show off the snazzy brochure.)

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The fact that they chose the piece that is going to be one part of my 12 part series I am planning to enter into ArtPrize next year was a welcome sign that I am going in the right direction with this project, and creating something that will bring people joy, make them think, and spark their imagination. If you are in the general vicinity of Midland, I would suggest you make a trek over to see this show. It is a humongous exhibit, and there is so much awesome art to absorb.

A Mixed Bag Of Epic Battles, Social Networking, and Therapeutic Craftiness

So, this update is going to be a bit all over the place. First off, I will be participating in Do-All of Bay City‘s Art Clash for the third year in a row with a new(ish) friend I met through teaching at Creative 360. Heather is a wonderful artist and keeps an art blog as well, so be sure to check her out! We had such a great time last year. It’s crazy for me to create a piece of art from scratch completely live, since I usually don’t even share idea sketches with anyone but (occasionally) my parents and boyfriend, and in progress works in my studio area are hidden when people come over to my apartment. An example, back in college I spied a friend that was over flipping through my sketchbook (Without even asking! The audacity! – other artists, you know what I’m talking about!) on the other side of the room and I took a running start and tackled him WWE style to get it back ASAP. A fun fact about me; I basically dislike all sports, but I flat out hate wrestling, and honestly find any activity whose basis centers around causing bodily harm to another human being to be fundamentally disturbing. Despite this, apparently in the right circumstances…

The vulnerability of allowing others to see your “in progress” work all the way through, even in its awkward phases, coupled with a pretty short time limit of only 3 hours makes this kind of event something I always swore I could never do. Then, in 2013 I forced myself to try it specifically because I swore I couldn’t do it, and now I am addicted. Art battles are everywhere, but the cool thing specifically about Do-All’s art battle is that 50% of the proceeds from finished pieces auctioned at the event go to Do-All, an organization that provides activities and services to people with disabilities – pretty cool! Many of the students from their Do-Art program also participate in the battle, so you’re immersed amongst all different types of people from all walks of life which makes it a really fun environment. Last year, my piece even made it into the top 10 award winners which was super exciting. I have an idea prepared for where I want to go with this year’s piece, but it cannot be revealed at this time :). I’ll post the finished product after tomorrow evening!

Transformation, 18x24 Mixed Media, Do-All of Bay City's Annual Art Clash Award Winner

Transformation, 18×24 Mixed Media, Do-All of Bay City’s 2014 Annual Art Clash Award Winner

Next bit of news, as if I don’t have enough social media accounts … (I just finally made a twitter after discovering that there is actually a ton of interesting information and inspiration bouncing around on there, and not simply “hey guys, I just made a sandwich!” which was my initial assumption. @AlliseNoble, get at me!) I recently discovered Artistically Social, and of course since it’s completely free, I couldn’t resist creating a gallery. It’s a bit bare bones right now, but I’ll be slowly adding more prints and hopefully a lot more originals for sale as well, so please check out the gallery.

I need to finish quite a few new pieces by the end of this coming summer for some solo local exhibits around town, but I had just been feeling really burnt out lately from doing so much *serious* fine art work and longed to work on some creative pursuits that were just crafty and fun. My paper dolls and stuffed creatures for sale at Imagine That, a local handmade gift shop in Midland, also got pretty cleaned out in March so I have a legitimate excuse. I’ll post photos once I get a little further on the new paper dolls, and also introduce you to some monster friends. Another “for fun” project I’ve been working on is the amazing Artist Leesy pop vinyl! I really don’t need anymore plastic toy clutter around (if you saw my apartment, you’d understand) so I’ve restrained myself from actually buying any, but I love Funko’s Pop! Vinyl characters so, so much. After Christmas, I was at the mall perusing all the after holiday discounts and I discovered they actually had DIY blank bodies. They were on clearance, and I had a Barnes and Noble gift card – score. I did buy actual books as well, not just toys, I promise. My little mini-me muse will grace my desk from this day forth.

3 of many monster friends who have found good homes

3 of many monster friends who have found good homes

So far just the paper mache hair! (Yes, my kitchen is very green)

Vinyl Pop! Leesy: So far just the paper mache hair! (Yes, my kitchen is very green)

Adding some color (complete with freckles)

Adding some color (complete with freckles)

My characteristic magical silver slippers are a go, and all painting is done - now for the details.

My characteristic magical silver slippers are a go, and all painting is done – now for the details.

Artist Leesy and her trusty resurrected brontosaurus companion, all in a day's work.

Skirt, check! Hair bow, check! Drawing utensils, check! Artist Leesy and her trusty resurrected brontosaurus companion, all in a day’s work.

Wish me luck at the Art Clash tomorrow, photos soon!

Midland Artists Guild Annual Juried Exhibition 2015 – Time to Celebrate!

I am a member of the Midland Artists Guild in Michigan, a group of artists of all mediums and at all different levels who get together to share their work, socialize, learn new skills, and grow together. For two years I’ve served as the Program Chair on the Board of Directors, which means I get to seek out different guest artists to speak about their journey and present their work at each monthly meeting. Yes, it’s a pretty fun job. Last evening was the opening reception for MAG’s Annual Juried Exhibition – always something to look forward to. There was a wide variety of awesome art (on display at the Grace A Dow Memorial Library mezzanine – if you are in the area I suggest checking it out!), and I got some mind-blowing news. All 3 of my pieces I entered won an award, including Best 2D! It was a total surprise, and I couldn’t be more happy and excited. This year is off to a good start, and I am anticipating many more surprises and adventures. Thank you everyone for all of your interest, kindness, and support.

The Peacock, 11x14 Prismacolor Pencil

The Peacock, Best 2D

Hopeful, 11x14 Prismacolor Pencil

Hopeful, Award of Merit

Throwing Shadows, Honorable Mention

Throwing Shadows, Honorable Mention

These pieces are available as full size prints and ACEO mini prints in my ebay store, as well as T-shirts, phone cases, stickers, and other fun merch on redbubble.

Requisite goofy, awkward picture in front of my art

Requisite goofy, awkward picture in front of my art. Yes, I made my octopus necklace :).

The Value of Including Others’ Stories In Your Work

I’ve been talking a lot about stories lately.

Last year, I had the privilege of participating in ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, MI. ArtPrize is an international art competition held annually and decided by public vote in which the entire city is turned into a gigantic art gallery. For ArtPrize, you want to go big so I devised a 15 part series of drawings titled “One Thing To Say”. There was no guarantee of getting to display, so I was on pins and needles (I mean, 15 drawings take a long, LONG time) until I had secured a venue at Monroe Church.

A selection of the 15 part series "One Thing To Say".

A selection of the 15 part series “One Thing To Say”.

The premise was this: I asked a sampling of individuals this question: “If given the chance to say one thing that would be transmitted into the ears of every person on earth simultaneously, what would it be?” Methods of communication, of reaching people, in this modern age are virtually limitless. There have never been more avenues with which to share one’s views publicly, to impart something to multitudes of other people all at once. It is an amazing and fascinating opportunity. Yet, with so much freedom to express, one of two things seem to happen most : The ability is taken for granted, so we say nothing that is truly meaningful to us at all, or we abuse that which is so readily available, leading to a projectile vomiting forth of our thoughts and opinions on all things big and small, so easy to reach multitudes with one button click and little revision or afterthought. If we had to boil down our communication from pages and paragraphs into a small collection of related thoughts, a single sentence even, what would each person say? With one shot to speak to every person alive in our current time, what would be revealed as the most important to each of us, and what would that say about us personally?

"One Thing To Say", Monroe Church ArtPrize 2014

“One Thing To Say”, Monroe Church ArtPrize 2014

Me, timehop to 5 years past, showing my completed "Occupancies" series and some very black hair.

CMU Student Exhibition: Me, time travel to 5 years past, showing my completed “Occupancies” series and some very, very black dyed hair.

This was not the first time a design was prompted by the responses of other people outside of myself, some strangers some not. The first time I tried this approach was for the Student Exhibition my senior year at CMU. I entered two projects. One was a four part series of drawings. I asked a random sampling of individuals “If the inside of your mind were a physical space, what would it look like?” I then created four opposite environments in which I placed the “cast of characters”, or individual answers I received. Open “boxes” atop their heads depicting their described environment laid each person’s thoughts bare. This project was a way to combine my two loves, art and interior design (well, 3 loves – I also enjoy people watching /slash/ discovering fascinating intimate information about complete strangers). The second project was an art book. For this one, I asked the question “Think of all your life goals, those things that MUST happen before you die. Then pick the most obscure one. Funny or serious, just be honest.” I turned these answers into an illustrated book entitled “Underneath” that ended up winning the Best of Show Grand Award.

Underneath, art book

Underneath, art book, cover

Underneath, art book, watercolor and ink

Underneath, art book, watercolor and ink

Letting others’ stories inspire you in your work allows you to reach out to more people, and bridges connections between those you reach across ages, races, backgrounds, and beliefs.

One thing I aimed to reinforce with “Occupancies” as I chose whom I placed in which setting and how they interacted with the others, was that there do exist universal threads in our emotions and struggles and striving, no matter how different our brains might seem to work compared to those around us. With “Underneath”, I aimed to give a voice to those longings within us that we keep silent. Everyone wants to talk about wanting kids, finding true love, getting that dream job, but come on – we all know deep down that isn’t all there is to life. For most of us, that just isn’t enough. I hoped people would read the responses and smile, and laugh, and sometimes even nod in agreement as they realized, “I’ve imagined that before! I thought no one else thought about doing that, I thought no one else wanted that, I thought no one else…!”

Kurt Vonnegut wrote one of my favorite things once, “Still and all, why bother? Here’s my answer. Many people need desperately to receive this message: I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone.” We are taught to cling to what makes us different, and wave it as a banner, and uniqueness is good, but it sure can be a lonely feeling to be convinced that your mind and soul is an isolated space with no doors and windows, a place that no one can see into or understand. I’ve been there, and I don’t think I’m the only one.

Communicating others’ stories through art is a unique challenge (and one that I don’t take lightly!) to consider life through a different state of mind in order to depict another’s inner thought life, and to realize through the eb and flow of a life, we all have different experiences but go through similar stages of feeling, positive and painful, doubting and confident. We just think we are the only ones so no one wants to vocalize how they feel, and therefore everyone else feels they are the only ones and …. so it goes, the cycle continues. But it doesn’t have to.

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“Underneath” and “One Thing To Say” can be viewed in greater detail on my website, “Occupancies” can be found on my behance portfolio. High quality prints of my recent ArtPrize illustrations are also available in my ebay store or etsy shop.

Back From Chicago With Amazing News!

My boyfriend and I spent the last 4 days in Chicago as a “Hooray, we don’t suck at relationships!” 3 year anniversary celebration trip. Though he’s been to Chicago far more often than I have, he had never seen The Bean so we had to rectify that immediately. It was a very educational trip – we went on a museum frenzy and probably absorbed 100x the daily recommended amount of visual stimuli. We lucked out that Rotofugi Gallery was having an opening for a show paying tribute to Tim Burton Friday night, and the night before we caught a theatrical, acrobatic rendition of “Through The Looking Glass” – it’s like they knew I was coming.

Next comes the good news part! That same Friday back in Midland, the “Piece By Piece” exhibit was debuting – one of the shows I was talking about getting ready for. I missed a call later that evening, and as I gave the voicemail a listen I was informed that I’d won Best 2D for my mixed media piece I’d entered, “The Dance”. The news was particularly exciting and surprising because this was a piece I’d struggled with. Like all mixed media works, the environment built literally “piece by piece” of book pages and fabric and thread and ink … it didn’t look too great when it was still in progress. About halfway through, the image just wasn’t coming out how I’d envisioned and I freaked out. I’d put way too much time into the project to abandon it, so I instead decided to step away for a couple of days, covering up the offender laying on my drafting table with a blank sheet of paper so that I wouldn’t even look at it. Once I decided to go back to work, I only added a tiny bit of alteration per day; I stepped back from the piece to see where it needed more texture for balance, where the colors in the background needed to be darkened, and where I needed to add more detail so parts of the piece didn’t look unfinished. Not abandoning “The Dance” paid off. What art actually looks awesome in the middle of the process, anyway? Although we expect it to, it’s impossible – it’s not yet finished! Even if you start completely despising a project, never send it straight to the bin on impulse. Walk away for a couple days and let it sit. Oftentimes you’ll come back with a fresh perspective and realize it’s not the mess you made it out to be.

“The Dance” is currently available as an 8×10 print and a numbered, limited edition ACEO print in my shop.

The view from the mirrored surface of the bean! No, my boyfriend is not imaginary. Though quite handsome I assure you, he does not like his photo being posted online, so you'll have to be content with this one of just me.

The view from the mirrored surface of the bean! No, my boyfriend is not imaginary. Though quite handsome I assure you, he does not like his photo being posted online, so you’ll have to be content with this one of just me.

From the Aquarium - I had no idea sea creatures like this even existed! Living things truly are moving, breathing sculptures - complete works of art.

From the Aquarium – I had no idea sea creatures like this even existed! Living things truly are moving, breathing sculptures – complete works of art.

The Dance, Awarded Best 2D; prismacolor pencil, ink, watercolor, fabric, book pages, embroidery thread

The Dance, Awarded Best 2D; prismacolor pencil, ink, watercolor, fabric, book pages, embroidery thread