Superclusters (of thread)

Superclusters (Left)


Superclusters  (Right)


Billboards are typically utilized as a way of advertising commercial products or services on a large scale. Playing on this idea, these images for the Missouri Bank Art Boards (Fall 2012) represent the largest structures in the universe presently known to mankind. In a time filled with economic gloom, where one debt crisis after another rises to the surface of our attention, it is easy to lose perspective on the true scale of things. Perhaps a reminder is in order for what constitutes a big deal on a universal level and the biggest deal of all is, in fact, galaxy superclusters.

Galaxies cluster together due to gravity, and then these groups of galaxies also cluster on an even larger scale into sheets and filaments, creating galaxy superclusters (incidentally, our little galaxy makes its home in the Virgo Supercluster).

In this representation of galaxy superclusters, materials and process are as important as the image itself. The filament-like nature of images of superclusters is represented by threads. A web of delicate threads is created by using a film that stabilizes the threads while sewing. The film is later dissolved (to a degree in other works), leaving voids. Incidentally, astronomers theorize that the voids between galaxy superclusters may not be empty, but home to mysterious dark matter. The use and removal of the film acknowledges a structure that exists but is invisible.

 This submission also plays into a subject that needs advertising with the American youth:  science. From the United States ending the NASA shuttle program this summer, depending on Russia to get American astronauts off the ground to the 2011 shut down of the Tevatron, the once awesome particle accelerator near Chicago that is now obsolete due to Europe’s Large Hadron Collider, our country is falling behind in scientific innovation.

In process – “Boomers” (working title) & completed “Patriarch”

This is basically as early as I can bring you into the process. Here are are the first conceptual sketches in a little notebook I carry around, followed by thumbnail compositional sketches where I’m working out more exact spacing, followed by the first chalk outline on a 30×30 canvas .


Visually, this series loosely references the celosia, or coxcomb flower. My father, an avid if not zealous gardener, gave me seeds from a particular large, beautiful hybrid he had grown and I was able to grow them in my first city-garden and collect seeds for the next year.

So this gives way to the budding conceptual basis of this series, which at this point, is just thinking about some different phrases:  knowledge handed down through generations, the impact of one generation on the next, or generation(in the family context) upon generation (in a creative or generative concext). Concept becomes more defined as I work on a piece, usually.

Boomers is the working title for a few reasons. This may be my version of  a portrait of my parents. I don’t really know that for sure yet, but they are baby boomers. But it may also be one generation and its subsequent offspring, not sure…  However, at a particularly long meeting at work, I was drawing some of these forms over and over. A co-worker noticed and wrote “Boom!”  I guess they looked like mushroom clouds…

Also, I realized I never posted the finished version of an acrylic painting, which I’ve titled Patriarch, so here it is. I consider it a stand alone piece now, rather than part of a diptych.

A studio reorganized is a beautiful thing.

There are very few bright sides when one of your best friends moves out of the country. But they are usually trying to get rid of practically everything they own. So when they offer you something that you have been looking for, like tall shelving with casters, at a fantastic price…well, I don’t know if that quite qualifies as a silver lining, but I take what I can get.

So Lark and I spent a day a couple of weekends ago totally reorganizing the drawing studio / office and the difference is huge. So, maybe this doesn’t look organized to you, but to me, it’s a seriously vast improvement. 


I now also have a blank painting/hanging wall, which I really wanted so I could work on bigger pieces upstairs and work standing up. I have a “mess” studio downstairs where I gessoed the panel seen hanging below and do all the ceramic work, but it’s dreary and frankly, a chaotic mess of disaster (And yes, I know who to blame for that).


And yes, that’s the start of a new piece hanging there (post coming soon). And no, I did not choose the wall color.

I have about four regular workstations throughout the house.

1) This drawing studio/office

2) downstairs “mess” studio

3) kitchen table is the felting area (we don’t eat there anyways) – working on Mandala #2 there

4) mini-station and hanging wall near the couch in the living room, mainly for hand-sewing or other hand-techniques – working on 2nd wall vessel (first one here)  & Mandala #1 hangs there

So if you’re thinking, wow, she just kind of takes over the whole house, yeah, well, ok, it’s true. If artists are good at this, then I am functioning at the stage of “pure awesome.” 🙂

In process – Mandala #2

So this piece is still pretty rough and a little difficult even to show, but that’s how everything starts out. This mandala will almost exclusively be made by needle felting. This process mechanically forces the fibers to tangle. The first mandala was about the melding of world views, this one is more reflective of world views forced on us by birth or environment. I’ll go into more detail when it’s completed, which might be a while. This will require many, many more hours at the felting machine.


Here I’m working on the second layer, the lace layer. Some bits have been felted down already, but many are still just pinned (the ones you more defined edges)

Art & Construction Companies? Yes. Yes, indeed.

Went and checked out a space where I’ll be showing from October through December of this year. It’s a major consturction company and it’s big. As in four stories big. Okay, I’m not having to cover every wall; more like a central core with some auxilary spaces. It’s a very nice space though. One doesn’t generally think “modern” when describing a construction company. The interior is clean and contemporary; they have tracks and lighting for the art areas. It’ll work nicely. I just won’t have much of a break after my show goes up next month though. Need lots of work.

Like the Lyric Opera House show next month, this show is through the Art Council of Metro KC’s  Now Showing Program. It’s a program where participating businesses get to choose from a roster of artists and have several shows at their business  throughout the year. I’ve had quite a few exhibits at architectural firms in KC this way.

Oh, and this place? McCownGordon Construction. Even briefly met the CEO.

And, ok, so this shot from their website makes the space look a bit more “classical,” but you’ll just have to trust me. It will be lovely.

Learn New Tricks & Finished Work, “Kitchen Sink Mandala”

I felted a wall hanging in January. It’s been hanging on my kitchen wall, supposedly done. But it just…needed…something, some sort of edging to go around the piece. I’ve had a hankering to learn hand-heaving techniques lately and had seen a book on the glorious inter-web called 200 Braids, which is really more than just braids. After over-experimenting and way too much deliberating, I selected a knotting structure, technically known as “double opposite half-hitches over a core.” Fun stuff. I could do it all day. And I did.

Thus, introducing the finished piece, “Kitchen Sink Mandala.” I intend this as the first in a series of three. Most often used in reference to Buddhist spiritual practices, mandala are images or patterns that symbolically represents the cosmos, as interpreted by the human perspective. The psychoanalyst Carl Jung also saw the mandala as “a representation of the unconscious self.”  The lotus-like shape I’ve chosen is not the usual shape for a Buddhist mandala, but is seen in Hindu yantras, and also in Christianity (rose windows). This was an idea of meshing worldviews, reflected in the form and use of numerous materials that blend overall. While the other pieces in the series will consist of one piece, this mandals uses two elements that hang separately, a sort of “existing independently, but working together” idea.

Kitchen Sink Mandala 36 x 36 x 3/4″


Here’s a detail of that knotted edging.


I threw a lot into this thing, yes, everything but the….

I try to reflect the meaning of a piece not only in the visual language, but also through the materials. And…it was just a lot of fun throwing all sorts of things into the felting process. The main element is natural white Shetland wool. Then there is angora wool(goat), silk fabric, silk fiber, hemp fiber, various synthetic yarns, and ceramic beads.


My first attempt at felting it in the washing machine didn’t exactly work out, as I didn’t have the room or setup to do some things that, in the end, you really just can’t skip. Here are some pics from the initial layout, after wetting it down, and then rolled up and tied,  ready for felting. I basically took over the living room for a day. For scale, the sheet is about four feet across.


But I worked it out in the end. Live, learn.

Finished Work – Inextricable (wall hanging vessel)



I do like this fella. He was certainly a pain before I got smart enough to build a stand so I could leave it in one position while I worked. A pain like this (and worse).


The next version, which I just started Friday morning, should go more smoothly.

The process itself was simple, but pretty time-consuming. Also, found a good use for some of my half-podbaby pit-fired shells I have laying around.

 The meaning is pretty self-explanatory. The farther we go, the more tangled things become, for better or worse, until you wake up and can’t figure out where, when, how something started or ended and you can’t seem to do much about it. I suppose that’s not a very optimistic outlook, just thoughts in my head as I made all these tangled paths of thread.

Materials: Slip cast earthenware, rayon (Sulky) thread, glass beads


To see images of the piece in progress, check out this earlier post.

Finished Work – Untitled

After rather detailed postings on the making of this piece, here is the finished result. I may make a smaller companion piece for the show. Not sure…

I’m still struggling with the title. I can’t find succint words to describe the meaning. The overall forms are flower-like, yes, but the  materials, silk and wool, are derived from animals. I see them as somewhat Venus Flytrap like. The tendrils absorb energy from the environment, like some sort of osmosis, capillary action, etc. Haven’t decided if they absorb only positive or negative energy, or if it’s just dependent on one’s mood at the time, but somehow, I see them being a bit greedy. These are just musing, of course. I’m trying to find more meaningful words for “Energy Suckers.” Ha. Final Dimensions: 36x12x4″ Materials: silk, wet-felted shetland wool, oil sticks, acrylic on panel

Pics from Monster Drawing Rally

Photos by Robert Martinović

Looks like I’m concentrating.


While it can be distracting to talk to people while you work, it’s actually kind of fun too.


Ok. After a few of these, I realize I need a haircut. It’s all shapeless in the back. Needs to be super short in the back. Yes, yes it does.


Work, work, work.

As I said earlier, I should have stopped while I was ahead, but I plan on doing some larger pieces in this style soon, so hopefully they’ll be more controlled. The canvases are gessoed and awaiting their destiny…

Monster Drawing Rally painting

Having a hard time find the time to blog this week. Here is what I did in the hour of the Monster Drawing Rally last Friday. I’ll be honest, I’m not really happy with the piece. I didn’t do a trial run before like last year. I really just should have stopped while I was ahead. It’s really easy to over-do this subject. But, it is what it is.

The background is black matboard, coated with gel medium. I used a mix of Golden Open Acrylic in Buff and regular white, as I needed it to dry faster (otherwise I would use just Open acrylics). 

The rally itself was packed as usual and it was fun talking to people as I worked.