Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Masterpieces, minutes and the moon

"An artists only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection,
and on his own terms, not anyone else's."

(J.D. Salinger)

A great big huge THANK YOU to everyone that came out for First Friday. And an extra special thanks to Terrence Laragione at Buzz Cafe for hosting, and my fabulous husband Alex for helping me out with every little thing.

In total, I managed to get roughly 5 new paintings finished in time for the show. And three paintings "sold", including two that several friends of mine were fighting over. I say "sold" in quotations because I haven't received payment for these paintings yet, nor have they actually left the show to be in the hands of their new owners. (But they will be, and have been marked as such.) There were no actual fights, but some cash did get thrown at me at one point. I wasn't really prepared to sell anything on the spot. In fact, I'm lucky I got there dressed (half an hour after the official start time) and that all my paintings were hanging where they should be. With tags, frames and hardware. If it wasn't for the last minute... I would never, ever, get anything done. My mantra for life, apparently.

I'm also very happy to announce the (sans a few minor touch-ups) COMPLETION, yes, it's finished - of this monstrous painting that has been consuming my life for over a year now. It's done, and my plan was to give it to it's new owners right after the opening. Alas, that situation is now also complicated, so for now it's on display in Buzz Cafe.

And here is my beauty, my masterpiece, my magnum opus... ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you in it's finally finished state -

The Honeycomb Merkaba.

The commissioned painting that I've been working on for over a year.
"The Honeycomb Merkaba" / 30" x 40" /oil, mixed media on canvas.

I've been meaning to write something - it's own special little artist's statement - about this painting. It deserves it, after this long - after studying, scrutinizing every line, shade and tone over a billion times. I want to be able to explain it better, and taking some time to figure out exactly what it's about and what it means would serve me well I think. I've started, written a few words and began looking through the notes I took in my many stages of planning and reworking... and of course, the numerous in-progress posts here in my blog. I took plenty of pictures throughout this process, although after the fact I wish they had all been standardized (all on the same wall or in the same kind of lighting setup) so I could turn them into some kind of gif or animation. I think I can still work out some kind of presentation of what I have where you can really literally see it changing and things being added and taken away. It just won't look as nice as it could have.

"Puerto Rico #1" / 16" x 20" /oil on canvas (NEW)
— at Buzz Cafe Philly.

Another piece that was finally completed in time for the show. Not three days before I was working on it, "touching it up", and inadvertently repainted nearly the entire thing. (Ooops. It's done though, now. Promise.) It does look, finally, how I wanted it to. It feels like Puerto Rico to me, that moment sitting on the balcony, the ocean seconds away, rum and ice clinging in the glass he's holding. Palm trees just out of view, blowing in the warm breeze. It's #1 because obviously I intend to paint more from this one and only vacation my husband and I have taken together. So it goes.

"Organic/Chemical/Mechanical" / 12" x 24"/ oil, paint marker on canvas (left)
and "Tree of Life" / 19" x 11.5" / acrylic on wood (right)

More new pieces on display. The one on the right I've posted before, and the one on the left was another one finished just in time, with a custom frame made for it by my wonderful hubby.

That painting, Organic/Chemical/Mechanical, started as an experiment, a side project using up extra paint in between working on The Honeycomb Merkaba. It was, originally, inspired by crop circle formations, though it has come a long way from where it began. I used a similar method of combining oil-based paint markers and oil paint (shh, my "secret" weapon) as I did in Honeycomb. And for some reason, people really liked it.

I never expected it to turn out so well (a side note, the colors don't show up as well in the photo here as they are in real life) and never expected one of my friends to want to buy it, for the sticker price too, during my show that very night. Problem was, I was working on it a month or two ago, and another friend of mine who happened to be at our house at that moment, expressed his interest for it as well. I threw out a (too low, apparently) price, his feedback inadvertently provided inspiration for the title, and I said... "It's not done. You can't have it yet, and yes if you show up with a wad of cash wanting to buy it, it's yours." That is, until I actually finished it, had a custom frame made for it, and priced it at least $100+ higher than that number for the show. I figured, not thinking it would happen, that if someone offered me that much more for the same painting (closer to what it's worth to me to sell it for) then I'd have to take it. I am trying to do this, aren't I? I put these extravagant prices, sometimes, on these paintings I end up loving intensely, thinking that whoever wants to rip this one out of my hands had better fork over enough money to satisfy my loss. Then I end up almost giving them away to dear friends, causing problems when I'm actually put in a position to make real money off my work. Le sigh, le sigh. Maybe someday, all my paintings will be worth thousands and thousands of dollars, and I'll still give them away to my friends. (Don't know you? Pay up, bitches.)

You can view the rest of the pictures from First Friday here (uploaded to my Flickr account) or here on my Art by Xtina Facebook page.

Though the show is over (it is still up through the end of April and probably most of May) there is no shortage of things on my to-do list. It's spring now, and festival season is upon us and the best weather for performing is already here. Almost every night of the week I have rehearsals or meetings, practicing fiery belly dancing with the Lux Arati ladies or burlesque with "Loco" for The Penny Treats, not to mention plotting and planning an entire variety show for PEX Summer Festival. More info on all of that to come. The next performance, and I'll post the poster & more information for it soon, is Saturday April 28th where both my dance groups are performing at Bangarang's annual Karnival bash at the Art's Garage here in Philly.

Whew. So much going on, barely enough time to breathe before the next project or event. Occasionally I need to take a moment and obsess over something more simple - like the moon, my night time sister, my astrological planet and the inspiration for my first tattoo. Not the last full moon, but the full moon before THAT - we were heading home from somewhere right after it got dark and noticed this gigantic, gorgeous orange wheel o' cheese sitting on the horizon. We rushed home and grabbed the good camera, tripods & telephoto lens, and ran out after it. We never caught the gigantic, orange beast hanging in the sky, but we did obsessively take some pretty interesting pictures of the full moon and some thick, fluffy clouds that night. Till quite late, I believe. Here is one.

On that note, a very successful show this month and a busy performing season ahead. Bring it on, world. I'm ready.

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