Thursday, June 13, 2019

Pride Bird...

It's June and that means it's Pride Month! There are a lot of ways to observe this celebration. For me, I am drawn to how I can help. I asked myself, "what can I do to benefit the LGBTQIA+ community? How can I promote tolerance, equality, and kindness?" The answer has always been my creativity. I decided to do a painting inspired by Pride and create prints. A portion of each sale will go towards The Trevor Project. They offer suicide prevention and promote life-affirming programs for LGBTQIA+ young people.

 I've been doing crow paintings lately and continued this motif. The crow is clutching an olive branch in its talons; the olive branch is a symbol of peace, friendship, and diplomacy. It also signifies victory. In its mouth, is a rainbow ribbon. The Pride flag was invented by Gilbert Baker in 1978. The colors of the Pride Rainbow represent, "red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, blue for harmony, and purple for spirit." On top of the crow's head is a little crown. Love conquers all.

The open edition digital prints are made in-house with archival inks on acid-free Moab Entrada Rag Natural paper with a lovely matte finish. Each print is signed and dated by me and measures 4"X6". Thank you for supporting us and allowing us to give back to the LGBTQIA+ community. If this resonates with you, we would appreciate it if you shared this post and help it reach as many people as possible. Thanks again and Happy Pride Month! CLICK HERE to get your print.

Friday, June 07, 2019

Inspired by Reading: May 2019 Reveal...

We have a book club at Allegory Gallery and it’s a lot of fun. It’s called, “Inspired by Reading”. In a lot of ways, it’s like most book clubs; we read a book and then get together once a month to talk about it... but our book club has a twist! After participants finish the book, they are asked to make something inspired by what they read (or in my case, listened to on Audible)! It could be food or jewelry or anything really. One time a person made beer and another time, someone else embellished a pair of shoes!
"The Radium Girls" by Kate Moore.
For May, we read, “The Radium Girls” by Kate Moore. Almost everyone agreed that the book was fascinating and well-written, albeit disturbing. It was made all the more disturbing knowing that the book was based on real people! I don't tend to read a lot of non-fiction for pleasure, so I was pleasantly surprised by the way that the author was entertaining without being flippant and did a wonderful job fleshing out the characters. She did a wonderful job making them seem like the real people that they were.
Shine Bright Earrings by Andrew Thornton.
I had a lot of ideas of what to make, but not a lot of time. So I decided to make a pair of earrings and focus on the verdant green from the cover and the idea of the luminous, glowing quality of the radium.
Shine Bright Earrings under a UV black light.
I had these vintage German glass cabochons in a lovely, glowy shade of green and I decided to bezel set them. In the book, the author mentions that several of the characters are of German descent and I thought that using the German glass was fitting. Before I set the cabochons though, I painted the interior of the bezel that I made out of sterling silver with glow-in-the-dark paint.
Shine Bright Earrings in the dark after being "charged up".
I then smashed an antique Czech glass “Vaseline” bead and used liquid polymer clay as a binder to glue the glass crumbs in the bottoms of the bezels. The cabochons were set on top of that. Some vaseline glass is made with uranium salts. This gives a unique, vibrant yellow to the glass and under a black light, they glow! (Don’t worry! They’re not dangerously radioactive.)
On the backs, I stamped, “shine bright”. Since the book has a darker theme, I wanted to stamp something that was relevant, but a tad bit more on the positive affirmation side. I thought about doing "Lip... Dip... Paint." but then I thought that if I ever wanted to sell these, that maybe that was a wee bit too specific. The set cabochons were then dangled from sterling silver lever back earwires.

To see all the other delightful creations inspired by "The Radium Girls" (and all our other book selections), CLICK HERE to visit our Facebook page for the book club. CLICK HERE to see all of this year's selections. Up next for June is "Parable of the Sower" by Octavia E. Butler.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Crow Painting: A Bird Builds A Nest...

"A Bird Builds a Nest" by Andrew Thornton, 2019
We’ve been in the new space for about a month now. While we were moving and building things, we realized that our funds would run out. So I started a series of crow paintings to help pad our budget. (We still have a list of unfinished projects that still need attention.) I finished the first and second series, and it seemed like there were a lot of people interested in helping us out. It was lovely to see the pieces all get snapped up. But we know that not everyone had access to the paintings. So I had this idea to make a special painting specifically with the intention of making prints of it. This way more people could enjoy.

So in between all of my regular work, I set about making this painting. It was mostly painted in the wee hours of the morning, soaking up starlight through my open window. This is probably the biggest painting that I’ve worked on in years and it took considerably longer to paint than all the other paintings combined.

When we originally opened the store, a quote stuck in my head, “Petit a petit, l'oiseau fait son nid.” This translates to, “Little by little, the bird builds its nest.” And that’s just what we have done. Over the years, bead by bead, we’ve built up our business and our lives. With hope, faith, and head full of dreams, we’ve poured ourselves into making the shop a reality. (The ribbons tied to the tree are wishes.)

I knew that for the painting for the prints, I wanted to paint a nest. Plus, there was this really cool story in current events about ravens being hatched in the Tower of London for the first time in a long time. I was charmed by the story and it planted a seed in my brain.

The nest is embellished with tiny forget-me-nots. And I suppose that’s my desire not to be forgotten. I try to tell myself that I’m okay with being swallowed up by the currents of time and be forgotten by history, but there’s this secret wish that what we do matters and that it will live on, in some small way. That we won’t be forgotten when both William and I are gone. The flowers are in seed, promising that even when one flower dies and disappears, there is a hope that the legacy will live on.

Upon looking at this piece, you might read a rainbow and you wouldn’t be wrong. I remember as a child laying on my back and looking up at the sunset and seeing a rainbow there on the horizon. The fiery reds melted into blazing oranges and golds and faded into blues and deep purples. A rainbow is really just white light, but through refraction, the hidden spectrum is revealed and it is made up of such beautiful, saturated colors. To see the colors, you must look through a crystal or a glass of water or droplets of water in the air. Seen through a prism, all of the colors are revealed.

The spider web has two different meanings. Well, actually maybe three. The first calls back to my childhood. I was quite rambunctious and not always very pleasant. I remember seeing a spiderweb and for no reason at all, I took a stick and broke it up. It wasn’t harming anything. I just wanted to tear something up. I wanted to rip apart someone else’s home. When I returned the next day, to my surprise, the spider had rebuilt. It was bigger and better than before, using the wisps of its former web to make it stronger than before. And I knew then that what I had done was wrong, but despite my wrongdoing, the spider carried on. Life can be hard and we can stumble on obstacles setbacks, but that’s when we’re called to turn our breakdowns into breakthroughs. The other meaning is that despite it being seemingly fragile, made of fine, shimmering strands, it is surprisingly strong. Some say that it’s stronger than Kevlar. I guess that means that appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes what is dismissed at first is actual a deep well of strength and fortitude. The third meaning references an Ancient Greek myth about Archane, a mortal weaver who was so talented that she inspired jealousy amongst the gods and because of vanity and hubris was transformed into a spider. In my teen years, I was fascinated with myths and legends. They described the existential “why” of the Universe. I think that I was drawn to this myth, because it was a reminder that hard work and talent aren’t enough - we must strive also to be humble and have a good heart. We must be happy in our own endeavors, crafting our own happy endings, instead of getting caught up in competition or rivalry.

In hindsight, I probably should have done this painting differently! Lol! The underneath layer (which you can’t even really see) is made up of a collage mosaic of the leftover paper from my Magic Hour show. The thick watercolor paper is painted and layered with salt and sanded down. The uneven surface, while I find delightful in person, is somewhat problematic to photograph. Plus, I added so many layers of paint that the original colors are completely buried. Oh well! The other thing is that I used a lot of metallic and iridescent paints and pigments. Again, this is delightful in person and probably my favorite part, but for prints, the special effects die and can read flat. There are also some dark on dark areas that are so subtle in difference, that when photographed all the distinction sort of disappears. I started to wonder if I should make prints after all. Lol!

We did, in the end, decided to make prints!

We used our relatively new large-format, archival printer to create the limited edition prints. We printed the images of the painting on a thick, lustrous, metallic paper. I like that that helps represent some of the elements lost in translation. Prints are available in the Allegory Gallery online store and by CLICKING HERE. There's not many left, so if you desire to acquire one, don't delay.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Crow Paintings: Series Two...

We’re still saving up for improvements to the new space. While we were moving the store, we blew through the budget quickly as there were several unexpected challenges that popped up. In an effort to recoup some of the money we lost while being closed (longer than we anticipated) and to fundraise to complete unfinished projects, I started making these crow paintings.

I originally planned three series of paintings - thirteen each in the first two and six in the last. All of the first series and second series found homes. Here are the paintings from the second series. To make these paintings, I start out creating layers of paint and salt on heavy watercolor paper. The surface is sanded and then more layers are added in acrylic paints, iridescent pigments, and metallic paints. Once completed, I seal them with a spray fixative. Each painting measures 5”X5” and is signed and dated by me.

The third series should be ready soon. The best place to check on availability is on my Facebook timeline or the shop's. CLICK HERE to go to my personal Facebook page and HERE for the shop's page. They've been selling out rather quickly. I've been contacted about holds and I prefer not to do that, as it causes a lot of extra work on our end and the paper trail is scattered about, which complicates shipping and record keeping.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Crow Paintings: Series One...

It's been awhile since I last posted. I thought that I would share a look at some of what I’ve been working on. We recently moved the shop down the street to a bigger location. While we were moving, it became quickly apparent that we would blow through our moving budget. This was partly due to the fact that between illness, material delays, and bad weather, our opening date was postponed and we had to remain closed threes times longer than we originally planned. I knew that we’d have to make it up somehow and started working on a new series of paintings to help generate some funds. Even though I was deep down bone tired each day, I spent a little time each night working on the paintings. I even fell asleep at one point while I was painting and the brush dried to my shirt! 

Here are the first 13 crow paintings in this series. While the move is technically over, there’s still a lot to be done and we still need to recoup the money lost while we were closed. Each painting is 5”X5” and is on thick, cold-pressed watercolor paper. To achieve the backgrounds, I created layers of paint, salt, and acrylic medium that were sanded down. On top of the backgrounds, I added layers of acrylic paint and pigments. I embellished with metallic and iridescent paints. Each painting is spray sealed. 

All of the paintings found homes and I'm working on the next installment of this series.

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Flowers of Spring...

This has been perhaps the longest that I've gone without blogging. It's funny, because it's also a time that I feel that I'm more connected than ever. I feel like in the past, before we had the store, I could blog and then sort of check out and live life. Nowadays, it feels as though my life is more integrated than ever with technology and I'm constantly checking Facebook or Instagram or Twitter. I think a lot of that is due to how convenient it is to hold a phone and do all that, as opposed to sitting down and spending time. It feels like time is always slipping away.

In the months that I've not updated this blog, there have been a lot of developments! We're in the process of moving the store, which is the biggest thing on my mind. We've been in our current location for over five years and we've lived a lot of life there. It's bittersweet to move. We love our current location, but we've long since outgrown it and we're bursting at the seams. It'll be nice to have some space and room to grow.

I think that's been on my mind a lot lately. The idea of growing things and how the seeds I've planted have faired. Some of the seeds are duds. Nothing happened. They were cast out into the world but never took root. Other ideas have flourished and thrived.

Since I last posted, I traveled across country road trip style to attend the Tucson gem shows. I also spent a few weeks with my family down in Asheville. Then I came back and have been working away. We've been planning events and booking teachers. We were in the New York Times. So much has happened. It all seems like such a blur.

But much of my focus right now has been spent on planning for the new space and how we're going to accomplish everything that we want. It's not going to be easy and is going to take a lot of energy and fortitude, but I have a really good feeling about the future. The decision to move feels right. I really can't explain it, but I feel like there's a lot of potential and good energy in the air.