Friday, April 30, 2010


What, pray tell, is a shindig you ask? In essence it’s a dance, a celebration, a party full of merrymaking and exuberance! The best part of all is that this one is free! On Sunday, May 2nd in Downtown Greensboro at the 300 block of South Elm St., local artists, musicians, dancers and delicious restaurants will converge to offer you the best that Greensboro has to offer.

Over 80 artists, crafters and vintage sellers are joining together to display and sell their latest creations. Many of the artists are part of a new Greensboro movement called Handmade Triad. If you’re tired of mass-produced-made-in-China products cluttering our lives and our landfills come check out what these local artists have to offer. They’re real people using their hearts and minds to create beautiful art that will withstand the test of time. For a sneak preview of the goods, view the Handmade Triad website (

Eight bands will liven up the afternoon featuring music by Holy Ghost Tent Revival, Filthybird, Decoration Ghost and more. Their sounds range from blue-grassy and soulful to straight up rock and roll. Food from Zaytoons, Iron Hen (my new favorite restaurant), Fincastles, and Thai Pan will keep you fat and sassy and handcrafted local beer from Natty Greene’s will quench your thirst in the sweet sunshine.

The Shindig is an event associated with Art Beat Greensboro, the third annual celebration of local art that features over 60 events in 10 days. Theater, music and visual art events pack the calendar from April 30-May 9 thanks to professional arts organizations that call our city home. To see other Art Beat events in town, visit and for more information on The Shindig, visit the blog of Mischief Makers816 (

Monday, April 19, 2010

Art appreciation & Art communication

This painting excites me. It takes me right back to 7th grade when I was discovering that I could make a beautiful thing out of a few basic materials (markers, paper, tape, gule). Art lets you communicate without saying a word. That's what I've always loved about it. Even if you have a horrid fear of public speaking or there's something you can't say in person, you can still make a painting that tells your story for you-- while you stand back with a shy smile.

Art is such a fascinating way to communicate. For the longest time, art was so personal to me-- so ingrained in my very nature and self-identity, that I had a difficult time talking about it. The funny thing is-- everyone wants to ask you about your art! That's perfectly normal... it's just that talking about one's art is sometimes like airing dirty laundry or owning up to your secret hopes, dreams and fears to the lady at the DMV counter. It's not always an easy task.

I find a lot of artists composing complicated and lofty artist statements that seem to do nothing but lead their viewers down convoluted paths of confusion. I don't like that approach. If an artist statement contains the words "blur the boundaries between art and life" I'm no longer interested. Anyone can speak art-speak. It takes a lot more courage to speak from the heart.

To me, art is simple-- I don't paint for shock-value or to push the boundaries. I paint because I love to paint. I choose imagery that compels me to preserve it on canvas. I exaggerate colors, light, lines and moods that speak to me personally with the high hopes that others might appreciate those same things too.

Appreciating a painting is like appreciating a meaty little poem or a well-written work of fiction. When I find something impressive, I think- wow! I know exactly what she's talking about... I know what she's trying to say and she's said it beautifully and elegantly...That's all there is to it.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Cake Wrecks and Cup-cakes

One of the funniest sites I've run across this year is cake wrecks ( I get a huge kick out of messed-up-cakes as long as they're not mine. Yesterday I had an order to bake cupcakes for a birthday party. I did what smart bakers NEVER do-- I tried a new recipe the day of my order. What resulted was a cupcake-spread that resembled more of a sheet-cake than perky little cupcakes.

I sulked for a bit, ate a few of the ruined edges (delicious!) and then ran out to the grocery store so that I could try again. Apparently I did something wrong in the mixing process and overfilled my cupcake pan. There's a chance the heat in my oven is off too-- but it's not THAT off, mind you.

The second recipe I used was an old-faithful cupcake-recipe from Smitten Kitchen's blog ( Her work never fails and the cupcakes came out beautifully! They were perky, fluffy, sweet and warm--everything homemade cupcakes should be.

I decorated them with gerber daisy icing flowers and then added these happy-go-lucky bumble bees that have goofy smiles. You can't look at them without smiling... I dare you...

I always learn by example-- failure failure failure and then ta-da, something clicks. Note to self-- give yourself enough time to mess up so that you can figure out how to make things right!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Emily's Bridal Bouquet

Who doesn't love weddings? I know I do. I love seeing every last detail that the bride picked out, especially her dress and her flower bouquet. Last year I began painting bridal bouquets for brides and for very special wedding gifts. This is an example of a recent commission for a bouquet painting. The goal is not to capture every last detail, but instead to capture the moment-- the joy-- a symbol to help you remember your special day.

The colors play a crucial part. Usually a bride or a couple will choose some of their favorite colors for their wedding flowers and decorations. These are always meant to be an expression of the couple getting married. Capturing those colors in a painting for the couple's home is a great way to ensure that they can use their wedding colors in a sentimental accent piece.

I usually work from a wedding photograph or an engagement photograph. Above is an example of the framed piece along with the photograph inspiration and a handmade card. When opened, the card includes a pop-up flower that is the same type of flower found in the bride's bouquet. I am so honored to be part of these special wedding gifts and I want every last detail to be extra special.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Plein Air Painting

There is an undeniable urgency when painting outdoors – nature's so grand, the canvas so small. It takes the human mind with all its grand abilities and complexities to sort through the overwhelming visual feast set before it and re-create on canvas the essential components of such beauty and wonder. (Jan Blencowe)

To look, to see, to understand, to capture – however imperfectly – is to be part of the land in a way like no other. (Jan Blencowe)

This Jan Blencowe is a smart cookie! These quotes sum it up perfectly...this is exactly how it feels to paint en plein air! My friend Hollis and I ventured out to Battleground park recently for an afternoon painting session. This is a picture from the middle of the process. I stopped in the middle of my painting due to a beautiful yet painful glaring sun, but we will have to go back. Next time I will bring my hat... just like Hollis!

Painting en plein air is all about losing yourself in the moment. You have to look with all of your heart.. and quickly too! The light shifts, highlighting different bands of color at different times. It takes an urgency and a tenacity to commit the outdoors to canvas... but it is rewarding... and so fun!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Blue Tree-line Waiting for Spring

Dab, dab, dab, dab-- more dabbing and voila! The dabs have been calling my name since my last painting, Impression Fog. This time, they led me to a blue tree line. After struggling on a piece with soft brush strokes, I returned to dabbing again. What is it about Monet? Somehow he figured out that thick rough dabs of paint can create a softer effect than smooth gentle brush strokes. I like his agressive approach. Painting dabs is something you can do with reckless abandon-- and I like to "reckless abandon" away in my studio on a regular basis.
This impressionist/post-impressionist technique takes me back to 7th grade... At North Asheboro Middle School, Ms. Vicki Essick was my art teacher and she lead the class through a pointillism still-life project. That project taught me more about working with color than anything else I can remember. To me, it was as if she'd spilled the beans on a giant magic trick. Ms. Essick revealed the power of complimentary colors, analagous colors and different tints and shades. She also taught us about mark-making's density and how that could help render an object in 3D form. I'm going to have to dig out that old pointillism project. I'm willing to bet that I'll still be proud as a pig that my name is on it. Thanks Ms. Essick!

After I finished this piece, I ordered the postcards for my May show, The Vivid Fog. I can't wait! They're going to be beautiful. There's something about seeing a glossy printed postcard that just makes everything official. It makes the deadline real-- and with that, I'm off to paint again. I have a long way to go until May.