Saturday, February 26, 2011

First Friday art show next week!

I wish I could tell you I'd gotten a chance to paint this week, but I haven't. It's fine - some great things in the works. I will have some of my work hanging in a show for First Friday next week (March 4th) at a little coffeeshop down the street from me called The Lola Bean in Fishtown. (Working on trying to get music as well!) I've spent most of my week 1) being sick, and 2) designing a new business card, flyers for the show, updating my website and facebook page about it and figuring out my rehearsal schedules and meeting times for all the other fun stuff I do. And of course, some *real* work that sort of pays the bills. But that's boring.

I have been absolutely losing myself in designing all these things - I'm pretty fluent in Photoshop and Illustrator (though I only really use the former) and have graphic design training, so even though it sometimes is a struggle I try and design as much of my own stuff as I can.

My new business card design (front and back)

Anyway, I'm pretty happy with the results. The left/front card is part of my "A Night in Wyman Park"/super expensive painting. Super expensive because it's my favorite. (Prints are available!) I've been using it for most of my promo graphics since November - I guess I feel like it represents my work the best at the moment. I have a feeling my commissioned Merkaba painting is going to be similarly regarded.

I recently got some scans done of some of my smaller paintings, so I could make prints, as well as a few other things, like this photograph from, say, 2003?

I'm wearing a wig in this photo (over my then very-short dreads), but due to my new haircut I kind of look closer to this "character" than I ever have in real life. I went through a long period of characters in my work - paintings of them, photographs, then onto costumes and my fashion shows. This one was called "Lucila."

Anyway, if you live in Philly, come out to my First Friday show next week. Hopefully I'll have some new stuff up and of course, there will be free wine and snacks. But buy some coffee maybe, because The Lola Bean is run by really cool people and they need support, too.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Performance/Art and the Penny Treats!

One of the streetscapes I've been working on. Still in progress, but it's close to being done.

Hello, vast sea of internet readers. (Joke. I kid.) It's been a little too long since I've posted any pictures of my work, but I have a REALLY good reason. And now I have a few, just from finally being able to paint today following a week of chaos.

Want to see my reason? You can, a little later. (I'll post the video at the end of this post, along with a disclaimer and apology to my parents.) This past weekend was one of my favorite burner parties of the year - PEX's Heartburn. Set in a secret warehouse location, the party spans multiple massive floors, and more decorated rooms than I cared to count. DJ's, bands, art (I had a painting in the gallery this time), performances of all kinds, lasers, projections, and hundreds of happy partygoers all dressed up dancing the night away. And it's always a costume party. (It's my favorite way to celebrate a Hallmark holiday that otherwise means nothing in the dead of winter.)

My friend and I were invited to perform our burlesque act that we did as a part of Scorch this summer, for PEX Summer Festival and the Philly Fringe. Unfortunately our act involved fire, which was prohibited inside the venue. Unfortunately the fire part of our act took up about half of the performance, so we didn't think we'd be able to do it. Somehow by last Monday we were convinced that we should, and we should spent as much time as possible between then and that Saturday night coming up with a new second half of the routine. SO - needless to say, I didn't have a lot of free time last week for anything art related. The performance was fantastic, and it will certainly not be the last time you see us perform burlesque. We're adopting the name "The Penny Treats", graphics and logo forthcoming. (Penn Treaty is a park/area of Philly right near where both of us live.)

Anyway, today is literally the first day in a long time that I've had a chance to paint, and I've been itching to work on my commissioned piece and finish a couple other things up. It's not 100% confirmed, but I will probably have my work (some of it at least) hanging up in a local coffee shop called The Lola Bean for the month of March. I responded to an art inquiry and the woman immediately contacted me and said she loved my paintings and to see if I could do something that soon. As it is, the majority of my work is ready to hang from the last show, and although the First Friday opening will probably not be as big of a to do as the one at Grindstone, whatever. Maybe I'll sell something! (Mental note/list: Need more business cards. And flyers this time. And money to pay for that shit. Sigh.)

Here is a somewhat crappy shot of the commissioned painting I'm working on. Sorry - the glare just wouldn't go away, it's the afternoon. Please keep in mind I am still in the very beginning stages - I only just started to actually oil paint on top of the drawings within the last 2 sessions I've spent working on it.

Commissioned piece featuring merkaba, in progress.

It's slowly coming together. Even though I've planned out and gridded out a large part of the space, I want there to be much more and I'm not too sure what exactly that "more" is going to be of. I trust my process enough that I know it will come to me, organically, as the painting progresses, but I think it's because I'm so excited every time I work on this one that I find myself constantly thinking about it, imagining pieces, drawing and re-drawing sketches. I want to include an element of something natural, like vines perhaps, to contrast the sharp edges of the hexagons... and then I thought of including a red feather, because the painting is for my burlesque partner and her fiancé. (Newly engaged, congratulations lovelies!) I also want to somehow incorporate some kind of fractal design that is reminiscent of a plant or vine, but in addition to some kind of actual nature or plant life, not instead of. And the colors - just starting to figure out what is working and what isn't. Colors are often the one thing that I don't plan, but in this case I was given a vague idea of the palette that they wanted - however I didn't include color in most of my sketches so far.

Since there are so many lines, I've taken to using paint markers to draw them out before I paint. I learned (from a mistake) that paint markers and sharpies tend to show through a moderate to thin layer of oil paint, so in this piece I'm using that mistake to my advantage. I can hopefully avoid having to paint lots of thin, precise lines by letting the paint marker show through as much as I want - and so far I'm hoping it will become a subtle accent and not as obvious and bright as in the photograph above.

The first picture up top that I posted is another painting that I've been working on and sort of put on hold for the commissioned piece. It's a tiny streetscape and it's not done yet, but I'm hoping to be able to hang it up in the coffeeshop in March (because it's kind of a boring painting, and I'll make it kind of inexpensive comparatively, and maybe it'll sell.)

SO - now the moment you've all been waiting for! My burlesque show from Heartburn -we are The Penny Treats and the song is a remix of "Do Right"- (the Amy Irving/Jessica Rabbit version, the Gramaphondzie remix, and the Peggy Lee version all smashed together courtesy of Kezner, a DJ friend of mine who's too busy being married and having babies to play music right now. That's okay Kez, I love you anyway.)

Oh right - and before you watch...

DISCLAIMER: Please do not post this on Facebook or anywhere else on the internet without the express permission of myself and Lady J.

APOLOGY: Dear Mom & Dad - in case you haven't heard, I've been incorporating a little burlesque into my performance career. That said, please be aware that you will see some skin at the end of the video. BUT - it's ok, my nipples are covered, and it's tasteful. It could be worse - I could be a stripper - and I promise it will stay in the vein of burlesque and fire, and will not get trashy. Anyway, I'm sorry, but you're probably going to have to get used to it - and as you'll be able to hear, the crowd freakin' loves us! Lots of love, Xtina.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Solving a visual problem

A little bit of the commissioned painting I've been working on. Haven't done much actual painting yet, just drawing. It probably won't even resemble this later. Other than that, I've spent a LOT of time staring at this canvas and thinking, doing drawings and sketches, maybe working on the actual piece for an hour and then back to staring and thinking. (I'm not even at the fun part yet. Now, do I count the staring/thinking sessions as part of my "hours worked" on this project or what? I can't decide. If I'm supposed to do that, I lost track a long time ago.)

Whenever I'm working on something I bet I probably spend just as much time staring and thinking as I do actually painting. It's like solving a math problem, except the "problem" is visual, and I'm trying to figure out how to make it look exactly the way it's supposed to, even if I'm not totally sure what that is.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Martha Graham to Agnes Demille

(Martha Graham)

The piece below I was given as a senior in college - it's probably the most inspirational thing that I received from my Senior Thesis class instructor, who otherwise wasn't very helpful with the work I was doing at the time. I hope you all find it as inspiring as I did.

Martha Graham (to Agnes Demille)

There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is; nor how valuable it is; nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate YOU. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction; a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.

Until recently, I never even bothered to look up the two women that were having the conversation that made up one of my most treasured and inspiring quotations. (I have been referencing the part I highlighted in bold for years now, and the original paper is still on display in my studio area where I work.) I assumed they were artists of some kind, but was fascinated to finally discover that they were both choreographers and dancers during the early/mid 20th century. Wikipedia says this of Martha Graham:

"Martha Graham (May 11, 1894 – April 1, 1991) was an American dancer choreographer regarded as one of the foremost pioneers of modern dance, whose influence on dance can be compared to the influence Stravinsky had on music, Picasso had on the visual arts, or Frank Lloyd Wright had on architecture. Graham was a galvanizing performer, a choreographer of astounding moves. She invented a new language of movement, and used it to reveal the passion, the rage and the ecstasy common to human experience."

...Sounds like my kinda broad. :)

Artist's Statement, November 2010


“These are not words I'm making up, these are the actual words that were used in ancient times to describe this. I think they called it the Flower of Life because it looks like a flower and because it [represents] the laws and proportions for everything alive and even not alive; everything that's manifested. ” Drunvalo Melchizedek, speaking in a presentation on the Flower of Life.

I have been creating art for as long as I can remember. Enrolled in various art programs since I was 9 years old, I went to a prestigious art and design high school, and then on to an even more prestigious fine arts college. I experimented with video and photography, I sewed dresses out of plastic bags and gauze and shower curtains, I put on avant-garde performance pieces and anti-fashion shows, and I left college with my “thesis” fitting into the constructs of a single DVD. After graduation, I took an extended break from art; I partied too hard at night and worked in a cafe during the day to just barely get by. After a series of disastrous, life-altering events, I found myself alone in an apartment I could barely afford, heartbroken, depressed, and nearly friendless. And that is when I started to paint again.

I studied Buddhism and learned to practice meditation. I started doing yoga again, and painted my first oil painting in nearly five years: Pyramid of Zen. (I had no idea what I was doing and it took , literally, years to dry.) The world had suddenly opened up, and the possibilities were vast, and I had a mission. I began painting Buddhas to give to my friends as gifts. I painted day and night, in all of my spare time. It became my joy. I experienced what some would describe as a spiritual awakening, translated into oils and acrylics, careful brush strokes, vivid and often psychedelic colors. Painting has become my life force: a methodical, intense exploration into the collective unconscious and the sacred balance of the universe.

Often, I feel uncontrollably compelled to repeat certain shapes and compositions (such as the flower of life or seed of life, and the sacred mandala). My tiny brushes seem to glide themselves through near-perfect spirals and swirls, and the petal shapes seem to multiply as if they were microbial fractals in constant motion. Revisiting high school geometry (but with more zest), and finding myself intrigued by the concepts of physics and quantum mechanics, I begin planning a painting by measuring and gridding out the canvas. Architectural drawing tools have become just as significant as the paint itself, for without them my mathematical fascinations would never be realized.

However, if all of the work I made always involved such extreme precision, I would soon drive myself insane. I shift the intensity from geometry to purposeful brush strokes and distinguishing color, inventing a language of flowers and bamboo, of portraits and empathetic perspective - a different interpretation of the same story. Over time, my two worlds have started to fuse together... co-existing like man and nature, like a careful blade of grass steadily and deliberately pushing itself through the concrete. Every so often I paint a self-portrait for the purpose of self-discovery as well as documentation, like a time stamp of my current mantra. Like any balanced system, it cannot always be love and light - the darkness is sometimes just as necessary for my interpretation of the human experience. The action of art-making becomes a harmony of problem solving equations and therapeutic expression, an attempt to explain, express, and assimilate the interconnectedness beyond man and nature - the vibration of energy that is in everything.

My paintings are interpretations of fascinations, obsessions, and respect for the natural world and the ethereal realm, and their complex relationship with humankind. I place them somewhere in between realism and fantasy; empathetic telepathy, spiritual awareness, and aesthetic beauty; moments of consciousness connecting the elements of nature, man, and god. I create because I have no other choice, and I seek to inspire, enlighten, and provoke my viewer; to share my vision and my passion.

I believe strongly that I should share this with the world. Spaces that are not everything there is, but that which is beautiful enough and important enough that we should celebrate them.

: Xtina Carbone (de la Schuetz)

“Art is in essence a gift to the artist from spirit. The drive to share one’s artwork with others is healthy and necessary. The gift must be given to the world.” - Alex Grey, The Mission of Art