Monday, February 20, 2012

Determination, stronger than ever

Sometimes it takes years to adapt to change. Moving here, for example, after being settled in the only other place I've lived but home for six years was a little weird. It took me a minute (and by minute I mean, a couple years) to figure out where I fit in. Now that I've infiltrated I'm working on infiltrating my art. 52 blog posts later, here I am, and this is my quest:

I need a wall.

Philly is a city full of murals. (Allegedly we have thousands and claim to have more than any other city in the country.) I need to put my work on a wall, outside. And I need to do it for free or next to nothing, unless by some miraculous feat someone trusts me enough to give me a wall and pay me too. (I've tried this a couple times in the past year or so and it has failed miserably twice.)

I'm open to suggestions as to the subject matter, and of course would be fine painting something that the wall owner requested, so long as it was along the same vein as what I normally do. I'd love to do a giant psychedelic Buddha, but I realize that may not be everyone's thing.

Maybe something like this? But more patterns, less traditional and more awesome sauce?
(I don't even want to talk about where this painting might be right now. Another time.)

So find me a wall, Philly, and I'll give you a mural.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Balancing Acts

How typical am I right now? A new cafe opened down the street from my house two weekends ago, so this morning I dragged myself here with my computer and notebook to enjoy a cup of coffee and free wi-fi in the hopes I would be less distracted and get more done. So far, it's going well. I feel comfortable here, probably because not only do I know the guy who opened Buzz Cafe, my co-worker Rachel is now employed here as well as Cafe La Maude. So far - excellent coffee, great looking menu, tasty treats, and a nice atmosphere. And this neighborhood desperately needs businesses like this, so if you live around here please come and support it.

I'm happy to report that I will be performing once again this year at PEX's annual Valentines Day bash, Heartburn 6. ("Dr. Carlos Allende's Lost Caravan of Love" - the rest of the official title.) The party is going to be once again at an ultra-secret location somewhere in Center City in Philadelphia, on Friday February 10th. I am also one of the few lucky artists asked to display work in the official gallery space at the party. I'll be spinning fire as part of my bellydance brigade, Lux Arati, as well as performing inside. I'm still working on what I'll be doing for the inside portion - it will likely include my fabulous red feather fans. This also means that I will be planning for at least three costume changes - outdoor fire performance, indoor burlesque/bellydance performance, and just something else to wear for the rest of the night.

I will also be performing again at this years Addy Awards here in Philadelphia! That was the best paying gig of my performance career, so I am definitely psyched to be part of the show again. Hopefully this year it will not be pouring down rain and we can really show off what we do for these folks.

I feel like I just started working on real art again (meaning paintings) after spending the month before and 2 weeks after the holidays working on gifts for my family. (Not to mention friends... you guys are going to have to wait.) It's been a slow process, unfortunately, and I'm thankful to be busy enough that my time for all of my activities is limited. What with work, rehearsals, my art and god forbid I relax once in awhile... it's no wonder I only manage to post in my blog once or twice a month. Happiness is often a delicate balancing act, I suppose, where we try and survive with some kind of job while still trying to focus on and dedicate time to the things we love until we can find a way for them to sustain us.

Luckily, there are some interesting projects in the works right now, and now that I've finally recovered from terrible cubicle depression and moved on to a happier place I think I can work on adjusting my jobs so I spend more time making art and performing and less time behind a counter (and running up and down stairs a million times a day and serving food.)

The Honeycomb Merkaba on my easel in my "studio space",
aka the corner of the kitchen.

This is the latest masterpiece, a still-in-progress (but nearing a finished state!) commission which I'm calling "The Honeycomb Merkaba." So, so many colored triangles. I've added things, taken them away, adjusted colors of teeny little parts ever so slightly over and over again... it's been a year now, and my thankfully patient patrons will be receiving their finished original Xtina painting in the near future. This, actually, is one of my "jobs", considering I need to finish this to get paid. I've already devoted so much time to working on this - it is definitely my "baby" and it may be hard to see it go. (Though it is going to friends and I will probably be able to see it whenever I want.) If I sold this to anyone else, I would probably charge 3 times the amount I'm doing it for, and that was actually a conscious decision. We still need to get paid for what we do, but friends get discounts (especially these friends.) Hey, at least I'm not giving away my art all the time anymore. I should have at least tried to take decent photos of everything first. :)

Gotta love a blurry self-portrait every now and again.

Speaking of self-portraits, it's probably about that time again. Every year or so I try and paint one, so in 20 years maybe, I can put them all on the same wall next to one another and examine how I aged, how I perceived my own self image over time, how I reflected what was going on in my life through my work... a retrospective. I should probably worry about that later, but it is time to investigate some new images for this years painting.

Hello please. Attempting to channel some cheesy pop gestures,
all I get is bellydance hands and a creepy stare.

The photo above is from when I was messing around trying to photograph myself with this awesome vintage feather hat (that belonged to my grandmother), that my mom sent me for Christmas this year. Don't ask me what my hand is doing. I'm not sure what effect, exactly, I was going for but obviously it didn't work.

Puerto Rico, #1 (working title)
oil on canvas, 18" x 24"

The first painting in a series inspired by my "honeymoon" trip to Puerto Rico a few years ago. I took many pictures. It's not quite finished yet, but getting there. It's oil and only about 18"x 24", and this one in particular got started one of the days I needed to take a break from the Honeycomb piece. Similar colors, as you may notice - and the exact opposite style of painting. I needed something freeing and loose to paint to recover after making myself insane with fine lines and near perfect symmetry.

Tree of Life
acrylic on wood, 19" x 11.5"

And speaking of perfect symmetry, this is a newer acrylic painting on wood that I created in the same color harmonies as the sought-after "A Night in Wyman Park (Bamboo)" painting. Much smaller, much more affordable. Love it? Want it? Make me an offer.

Until I get some better photos of new work and get through this week (and weekend - Heartburn is almost here!) this post will have to do. Springtime is coming, and that means more fire, more festivals, and hopefully another art show, if I can manage to find a good space that wants to hang my work. ( Please, send any my way if you have a tip. ) In the meantime, we will work on our balancing acts and ultimate goal of making art, our home, our life that much better.