It might be time for maternity leave…

With only 8 weeks left (!!!!!!!!) until we welcome another little monster to the circus troupe, I am finding myself with less and less studio time as we (okay… as my husband) finishes up some big home improvement projects around the house and I find myself needing naps to get through the day.

Although I will continue work on my 16 Things Project when I can and doing research for Ladylike Artists features, things in the studio are going to slowly get more quiet until after little one arrives. I look forward to sharing new work with you and continuing to expand the type of inventory available in my etsy shop as well as pursue more commission work when I come back.

The etsy shop will stay live until May 14 if you are interested in purchasing any of my current prints or having photo restoration done. If you want to stay up to date on what’s happening in the studio, follow this blog or follow me on instagram. (@funnyren)

Really looking forward to coming back after this break and sharing new stuff with you. In the meantime, I hope you continue to ignore the mustn’ts and the impossibles as you pursue your thing.

As always, thanks for reading.

-r.n.a.

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Ladylike Artist: Dorothea Lange

Photo by Paul Taylor. 1935.

You may not know her name, but I can guarantee you are familiar with her iconic photograph Migrant Mother. The image has come to be a staple in most U.S. History textbooks, representing the poverty that struck farmers during the Great Depression. It also is used as an example of the type of work that was done by photographers hired as part of the New Deal program, the Farm Security Administration. By the time she was hired under the FSA to document the plight of displaced farmers, she already had a portfolio full of images capturing the very real, daily effects of the Great Depression on the West Coast.

To be able to photograph people, especially people you do not know has always been something I have admired. There is a vulnerability to being photographed, a sudden self awareness, that I am uncomfortable experiencing so I am uncomfortable asking others to experience it. When I see work by a photographer like Lange’s, a photographer who spent her entire career photographing others, I am in awe. Her work alone is awe inspiring but considering her willingness to move in to an uncomfortable space to take these photos adds a level of deep reverence I am not sure I could articulate.

She believed these photographs were important, she believed that the government and the American people needed to see what was happening to their fellow citizens. It is evident she respected the individuals she asked to photograph. Although she did not spend long periods of time getting to know each of them, she made a point of introducing herself, sharing a bit of her story, what she was doing, why she was doing it, and asking for permission to document a few moments of their life.

The depth of her passion was exposed while on assignment by the military to document the Japanese American relocation and internment in California after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. They were looking for a photographer that would take the propaganda images they thought the American people needed to see in order to be assured that although these individuals were rounded up and relocated in these camps, they were being treated well and not tortured. Instead they hired a photographer unwilling to conform. Lange documented the harsh reality of what was happening to American citizens. Despite having a sensor follow her around to direct what she could and could not photograph, her images still captured the truth they didn’t want seen. Once they saw the images she was producing, she was fired and all of her work was impounded until the end of WWII. At the end of the war they were quietly released to the National Archive where they remained unseen until 2006 when they were published in the book Impounded: Dorothea Lange and the Censored Images of Japanese American Internment.

 

To learn more about the artist:

 

Ladylike Artists is a weekly feature on my blog where I write about a female artist that has inspired me.  My interest for learning more about woman artists peaked when I realized that art history rarely talks about them, saving their stories and work for specialized classes and books. There are more woman artists than we realize!  I hope their stories inspire you to ignore whatever boundaries are stopping you from pursuing your passion.

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Ladylike Artist: Agnes Martin

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Alexander Liberman, Agnes in her studio. 1960

It was in an attempt to escape the crowds at MoMA that I came across Agnes Martin’s work. I saw a gallery in the back with no one in it, and like a moth to a flame I was drawn to it’s promise of isolation. In the calm emptiness, in almost silence, I looked at her minimalist canvases hanging before me and was able to let out the deep breath I didn’t realize I was holding in.

If I had not seen her work in person, I don’t know that I would have spent any time considering it. It’s hard to understand their meditative calmness looking at the small scale reproduction on your screen. Hard to perceive the slight changes in the colored stripes floating across the canvas like you can when the painting is in front of you, filling your peripheral. Some things you just need to see in person to fully appreciate them and I would argue that her work is a part of that category of things.

I found it as no surprise reading more about her and her work that she was inspired by buddhism and what she called the ‘abstract glories of being’; happiness, joy, beauty, and innocence. The evidence of that influence is obvious when you encounter her work. The impact of experiencing her paintings that day at MoMA did not really hit me until a week later when I found myself staring out at the clear evening sky, mindlessly waiting for the dogs to come back in, when I realized the subtle bars of color lowering themselves over the horizon were an Agnes Martin painting come to life.

 

Happy Holiday 1999 by Agnes Martin 1912-2004

Agnes Martin, Happy Holidays. 1999

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Agnes Martin, Untitled #5. 1998

To learn more about the artist:

 

Ladylike Artists is a weekly feature on my blog where I write about a female artist that has inspired me.  My interest for learning more about woman artists peaked when I realized that art history rarely talks about them, saving their stories and work for specialized classes and books. There are more woman artists than we realize!  I hope their stories inspire you to ignore whatever boundaries are stopping you from pursuing your passion.

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Ladylike Artist: Dorothy Draper

Dorothy Draper, unknown.

 

Since I am in the midst of completing a few big home improvement projects it seemed fitting to crush on the pioneer of American Interior Design, Dorothy Draper, this week. Not only is she credited with starting one of the first American design firms but she is also a woman who started and ran her own business in the 1920s. That business, under her guidance turned into an empire. Her style become a classic and she revolutionized the way we decorate our homes today. She dismissed the norm of ‘period rooms’ and blended various styles with bold color to create a space unlike anyone had ever seen before.

Although my own more conservative and quiet style is far from her bold stripes and daring color combinations I have always been encouraged by her famous quote, “If it feels right, it is right.” She wasn’t worried about faux pas or technicalities and in her regular column in Good Housekeeping Magazine she encouraged women to adopt her attitude to have fun decorating their homes to fit their individual styles.

 

As always, thanks for reading.

-r.n.a.

To learn more about the artist:

 

Ladylike Artists is a weekly feature on my blog where I write about a female artist that has inspired me.  My interest for learning more about women artists peaked when I realized that art history rarely talks about them, saving their stories and work for specialized classes and books. There are more woman artists than we realize!  I hope their stories inspire you to ignore whatever boundaries are stopping you from pursuing your passion.

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Ladylike Artist: Sally Mann…

Sally Mann, photo by Liz Liguori

Sally Mann was one of the first photographers I was exposed to, one of the first photographers I could name to describe and recognize their work as being theirs. She was one of the first artists I felt I could actually have a conversation about which encouraged me to talk about her work.

Her work is easy to talk about in that it has a depth to it that continues to deepen the more you explore and discuss it. Her images are captivating but slightly uncomfortable. They challenge you to ask yourself, “Why is there this un-easiness? Why do I feel like maybe these images were not meant for me to look at?” Even her landscape photographs give you that slight feeling of trespassing.

Sally Mann, David. 2005

As a photographer you tend to photograph your surroundings, yet I struggle with photographing my children. Or maybe it would be better to say it this way, I struggle to share those photographs with others. I am not talking about the silly snap shots or videos that are shared with family, but these moments where I realize that I am not just capturing a snap shot. The image has crossed over that mythical hard to describe line into something more, something that could be art. Although my intimacy with my subject is what has allowed me to capture the moment, that intimacy has also made me incredibly protective of the image and of the subjects.

Sally Mann, Damaged Child. 1984

It could and probably is this completely differing approach that captivates me about Sally Mann. She photographed her children in those serendipitous moments and instead of hoarding and guarding them, she openly shares them with a world. A world that has often been very critical of how she has allowed her children to be seen. In her book, Holding Still, she talks about involving her children in the final selection process. She always gave them the power to say, “No, I do not want anyone to see that.”

My own children are still little, too little to offer permission or to even understand what it would mean to hang an image of them in gallery. Maybe when my children are older, when time separates the child I experience in my day to day from the one in the frame, I can have just enough of the detachment required to objectively consider them as something more.

As always, thanks for reading.

-r.n.a.

To learn more about the artist:

Ladylike Artists is a weekly feature on my blog where I write about a female artist that has inspired me.  My interest for learning more about women artists peaked when I realized that art history rarely talks about them, saving their stories and work for specialized classes and books. There are more woman artists than we realize!  I hope their stories inspire you to ignore whatever boundaries are stopping you from pursuing your passion.

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Ladylike Artist: Tamara de Lempicka…

Portrait of Tamara De Lempicka, Unknown.

F.Scott Fitzgerald is one of my favorite authors, the way he wrote about the 1920s has always captivated me, sparked my imagination in a way few authors have. I always find myself drifting back to his books to re-read his stories that are now like familiar old friends. The 1920s… the elegance, the sparkle. I imagine an era where everyone and everything was polished and elegant while jazz music always played in the background and a glass of champagne was always in everyone’s hand. Basically as if everyone was living in a highly stylized hollywood movie. It is probably why I enjoy Tamara de Lempicka’s work so much from this era. Her work is exactly what I think the world must have looked like in the 1920s.

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Tamara de Lempicka, Self Portrait in the Green Bugatti. 1925

Even reading about her life, every aspect of it had an element of glamour and high society sophistication that I wonder if she could have painted in any other way. Every photo I found of her she looks like an actress who walked off a movie set.  She is stunning and so are her portraits. She manages to turn her models into highly stylized objects while making the viewer believe it is because that is exactly how they looked in real life. There is evidence in her work that this gal knew her art, making subtle references in her work to past master’s or the current art styles that defined the times while presenting them in her own way. She wasn’t just a high society girl playing around with some paint.  She has become an influence in her own right, most notably in the commercial world for Madonna’s Vogue music video which not only shows Lempicka’s paintings in the opening scenes but is shot with the sharp contrasting light found in all of her paintings. Even the dancers and models in the video look like Lempicka portraits came to life.

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Tamara de Lempicka, Spring. 1930

I know like the characters in most of Fitzgerald’s stories, behind the beautifully polished pretense things are troubled and messy but everything is just so beautiful I don’t care. Occasionally it’s nice to indulge in the beauty of it all and ignore the messy stuff.

As always, thanks for reading.

-r.n.a.

Where to learn more:

Artist’s Website

The Art Story

Madonna Vogue Music Video

Ladylike Artists is a weekly feature on my blog where I write about a female artist that has inspired me.  My interest for learning more about women artists peaked when I realized that art history rarely talks about them, saving their stories and work for specialized classes and books. There are more woman artists than we realize!  I hope their stories inspire you to ignore whatever boundaries are stopping you from pursuing your passion.

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Still trying…

Still trying to be okay with little chunks of time. This past month my focus needed to be else where. I didn’t doubt for a second that I was doing the right thing but at the end of the month when my already molasses slow art process is making almost no visible signs of any momentum forward it’s hard not to be dis-heartened. To allow the self-doubt creep in.

I know this is just a season, and there will be times when I miss this season desperately… but right now I just wish the art side of things was happening faster. Maybe I’m not flexible enough or I’m just not acknowledging that I’m too tired. I tend to underestimate the energy required to keep up with two children that are 3yr and 1yr on a daily basis. They always wake up 5minutes before my alarm, no matter how early I set it, and after getting them down for the night I have just enough in my tank to fall into my own bed to sleep. If I am not actively trying to keep them alive my brain tends to go into sleep mode, which makes thinking about anything other than basic survival needs of my kids a challenge.

PaperboatsThis month I have snuck in a few tiny chunks of art time. Right before the holidays I offered a limited time offer on my 16 Things Prints. Those three prints are back and now available in various sizes. I am working on adding at least one more to the series this month.

I am also offering photo restoration and re-touching services through the studio store again. A sentimentalist at heart, there are very few things that I enjoy more than bringing an old photograph back to life. You can go to my website or etsy store to find out more about how the process works.

In the meantime I’m going to try to keep taking the chunks when I get them, trying to appreciate all the beautiful distractions and opportunities, and remember this is a marathon not a sprint.

Please excuse any spelling or grammatical errors as one tired momma wrote this post and attempted to edit it a few days later.

As always, thanks for reading.

-r.n.a.

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Ladylike Artist: Georgia O’Keeffe…

Alfred Stieglitz. Georgia O'Keeffe: A Portrait, 1918.

Georgia O’Keeffe was a master painter and leader in the American Modernism movement. A heavy weight in American Art History, there is no shortage on resources about this artist. I personally have come to love her work, but am often frustrated reading about her work and her life. How much of what we believe about an artist’s work is the creation of art critics and historians with no real basis in what the artist was trying to portray? Does it matter what the artist’s intention was or what the public takes away from it? Do we have the right as the viewer to say, ‘I know she, the artist and creator, says that’s not what the work represents but it definitely does!” Where is the line between what an individual takes away from the work and how what is taken away is shaped by what others say about the work?

Work by Georgia O'Keeffe at 291 Gallery

“But, Stieglitz, all these pictures say is ‘I want to have a baby,’” – Willard H. Wright, critic

The work in her early shows at the famed 291 gallery ran by her future husband, Alfred Stieglitz, was criticized for being too obvious in her desire to have children and too feminine. Whether it was an actual critique of the work or art critic friends of Stieglitz trying to warn him about the budding love affair with O’Keeffe, who knows.

Later in her career, the feminist movement artists held up her large floral paintings as their influence and inspiration for their more direct interpretation of the female anatomy. Despite O’Keeffe denying for six decades that her large floral paintings had anything to do with the human form, many give her credit for being the first to be bold enough to portray female sex organs as the main subject of their work. I can’t think of a single art professor who talked about her work during my own time at art school without referring to her ‘thinly veiled portraits’ of female anatomy. As if O’Keeffe was trying to trick us all.

Georgia O'Keeffe, Black Abstraction. 1927

My favorite piece by the artist.

Maybe it’s the whole idea that as long as they are talking about your work, it doesn’t matter what they say. That as an artist, we lose the power to control it’s interpretation as soon as we allow the work to be viewed. That once that happens, it is no longer ours to manipulate and now at the mercy of the public’s gaze. For O’Keeffe, in many ways it didn’t matter. She had her struggles with making art but it was something she continue to do up until her death at the age of 98.

“Someone else’s vision will never be as good as your own vision of your self.” – Georgia O’Keeffe

As always, thanks for reading.

-r.n.a.

 

Where to learn more:

Brooklyn Museum

O’Keeffe Museum, About

The Art Story

Portrait of An Artist: A Biography of Georgia O’Keeffe

Ladylike Artists is a weekly feature on my blog where I write about a female artist that has inspired me.  My interest for learning more about women artists peaked when I realized that art history rarely talks about them, saving their stories and work for specialized classes and books. There are more woman artists than we realize!  I hope their stories inspire you to ignore whatever boundaries are stopping you from pursuing your passion.

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Ladylike Artist: Louise Bourgeois…

Louise Bourgeois 1982, printed 1991 by Robert Mapplethorpe 1946-1989

There are thousands of reasons to crush on artist Louise Bourgeois. She has earned a place among the greatest artists with work currently being exhibited all over the world. She made work that was raw, emotional, and vulnerable. Work that so many, especially women, can relate too.

Louise Bourgeois. Femme Maison. 1947. MoMA

It wasn’t until I had seen her series Femme Maison that I was captivated by her. Translated to mean Woman House or House Wife, I was blown away by the simple genius of it. As a 25yr old recently married woman, contemplating what my new title of ‘Mrs.’ meant as I was still struggling to find my own identity, these images encapsulated all of the confusion and struggles I felt so effortlessly. To take this complex and conflicting internal emotional battle and simplify it to it’s most literal basic form… it was a moment that altered how I saw art and it’s power to evoke emotion.

The more I have learned about her over the years the more I find myself relating to her struggles as a woman, a wife, a mom, a human being that exists on this planet.  I find a comfort in her work. She is vulnerable in her interviews and in her work in a way I am often too afraid to be with myself.

When asked about her work she has been quoted as saying:

“The subject of pain is the business I am in. To give meaning and shape to frustration and suffering. The existence of pain cannot be denied. I propose no remedies or excuses.”

In December I had the opportunity to go to MoMA to see the current exhibition there of her work, Louise Bourgeois: An Unfolding Portrait. It was incredible to see some of her work in person, especially prints from Femme Maison. It’s one thing to see the work in a book or online, but in person you experience the subtle tactility of the art work that can not be experienced in any other way. When I left I was even more inspired by her and her artwork.

As always, thanks for reading.

-r.n.a.

 

Where to Learn More about the Artist:

How To See The Artist with MoMA Chief Curator Emerita Deborah Wye

Art21: Louise Bourgeois

http://www.m.theartstory.org/artist-bourgeois-louise.htm

https://www.artsy.net/artist/louise-bourgeois/biography

Louise Bourgeois, Influential Sculptor, Dies at 98

Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, The Mistress, and The Tangerine

Ladylike Artists is a weekly feature on my blog where I write about a female artist that has inspired me.  My interest for learning more about women artists peaked when I realized that art history rarely talks about them, saving their stories and work for specialized classes and books. There are more woman artists than we realize!  I hope their stories inspire you to ignore whatever boundaries are stopping you from pursuing your passion.

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A little chunk of time…

December was a busy month on all fronts. I was looking forward to some downtime after Christmas and ended up with a nasty cold. In hindsight it was probably my body’s way of ensuring I made good on my promise of resting. It was a welcome period of watching movies all day and not having a list of things to do hanging over my head, but there is also an emptiness when you shift from super busy to super not busy that can be confusing and hard to be okay with. Especially when you are extremely task orientated and find feelings of success in the moments of having something you need to write a list about and then crossing stuff off that list.

Art wise I am trying to find a groove. I would like to make writing a regular part of my studio practice (I know, I know, you have heard that before) and am trying to be more intentional about how I spend my time. I would like to be more okay with little chunks of time instead of holding out for hours to work on something. With two little ones to keep after, I rarely have hours to work on anything. But if I take the time when I get it, even if it’s 10-15minutes, I can slowly work towards making and creating. It sounds great and logical when I say it out loud. We will see how it goes as I put it into action.

As always thanks for reading,

-r.n.a.

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