Monday, April 25, 2022

Move Over Dick and Jane

More exciting news on the art front! This is QUITE the year!

My artwork, "Move Over Dick and Jane," has been accepted into the exhibition: “Let Me Tell You: Work by Women Artists, Taking Up Space” at Chris White Gallery. Opening Reception is Friday, May 6, from 5-8pm. https://www.chriswhitegallery.com/exhibitions I hope you can join us for this celebration of stories told by women! (fyi, I will be there for the later part, as we ALSO have a National Art Honor Society exhibition by Cab Calloway School of the Arts visual arts students at the Talleyville Frame Shoppe & Gallery. More info forthcoming!!




About my dear friend:
This collaborative painting is of my good friend Susan M. I met Susan through a high school friend who set us up on a friend 'blind date.' We immediately hit it off and bonded over our shared desire to learn how to salsa dance and brush up on our Spanish together! Ever since I met her, I knew that Susan was a serious powerhouse. She is this insanely smart, competent powerful woman who excels at so many of the things that to me are super intimidating, and truth be told, are often considered typically male dominated territory.
The woman wields power tools like no one else I know (and thankfully has helped me with many home projects!) and isn't afraid to knock down walls, rebuild them, and put them back up all by herself. She is an engineer and freaking mathematical genius! When I met her she was a bridge engineer (how many people do you know that you can drive down the road with and have them casually point out - oh, hey, I designed that bridge over there... WHAT?!?!?! SO COOL!!!!!) and has since moved up in the world to oversee massive construction efforts in our state on major highways!! (now you know who to blame for all those construction traffic delays, ha!) I love to think of her waltzing (or perhaps more accurately...salsa-ing) her way out of her bad-ass construction truck, with her officious deldot hat on, clipboard in hand, dolling out commands to all of the construction workers! Whether or not she does, I also like to imagine her sass-ily sassing people!
I also remember one night, I came over and she cooked me up some delicious enchiladas (an amazing cook on top of all this), and we talked about her job and all of the challenges she had to over come. Because let's be real she IS in a man's world! While the tide is changing, she was still one of the very few engineering majors in her class, and even of of the fewer bridge engineers in her job, and even FEWER female AND latina engineers on the job.
I honestly don't even have the words to convey how much I respect and love Susan. Not only is she a bad-ass in her job, but she (for awhile, before she had her baby - a beautiful baby girl!) tutored kids in math and SAT prep. And salsa danced?!?! And is an amazing friend???? Like.... yeah. Such an amazing person on literally every level. She has been there for me so many times on so many levels. I am so grateful to Susan for everything that she is, and everything that she brings to the world.
I can think of NO better role model for the next generation of kids out there - what an amazing example of what you can achieve and who you can be, despite all of the odds against you.
I love ya Susan, and thank you for being you!!!!
About the painting:
This work actually originated as a coloring book drawing, for my collaborative coloring book, A Portrait of Delaware. https://www.maiapalmer.com/coloringbooks I then started working on a series of collaborative paintings/artworks of people that I know who are creating the change that they want to see in the world, and I could think of no better example than Susan. She isn't consciously setting the world on fire, she is simply following her passions, but by doing so is creating a role model for other women to follow in her footsteps. I love the idea of riffing off of the Dick and Jane readers that so many of us learned from when we were small children. These educational readers were great - if you were white and heteronormative. They set the standard not only for how to read but for societal expectations. Even today, there are still relatively few children's books that focus on the experiences of the "other." I like the idea of usurping this format for modern day experiences that can touch and resonate with a larger group of people, and help set a new norm through a collaborate approach with people from more diverse walks of life. Keep your eyes open for more of these works to come 😉
Exhibition Info:
The exhibition, curated by Jen Hintz Eggers and Rebecca Howell, features emerging female-identifying and non-binary artists participating in group storytelling. Space will be held for the voices and stories of those often relegated to secondary roles in patriarchal society and traditional gallery structures. The story an artist wishes to share and the manner in which they tell it is their choice. These stories will be shown, heard, honored, and revered in this space.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Anxiety vs. Figure Drawing: Who Will Win?

Anyone who is close to me knows that I deal with some pretty high anxiety, even though the face most familiar to people is that of the enthusiastic, perennially happy and upbeat version of myself. Unfortunately, living with anxiety is not unique to me. So many people in my life, both adult and student, suffer similarly. And it often has no rhythm or reason as to when it might strike, even in the most unlikely of situations - such as an artist/art teaching going to a figure drawing session...

Consider that I have been teaching art, on and off, since 1999, have six years of high level art education under my belt, and I recently won a major award.... And yet...and yet.... something as simple as going to a figure drawing class has the ability to get under my skin, when drawing is for me, like breathing! I love it, always, unconditionally. And yet...

          1-5 minute poses


















Anxiety, for me, is typically triggered by anything that feels "new" or "unfamiliar", whether this pertains to people, places, or activities. And thus is struck today (and really, it started last night, because, you know, worrying is best done well in advance, ha!) I haven't attended a formal figure drawing session in possibly close to three years, so it falls easily into the category of "unfamiliar" at the moment. What if I got lost on the way and arrived late? What if I was terrible and people noticed? Who would be there? What if there weren't enough seats? How would I arrange my art materials? All of these questions and more ran through my head. 

And yet....

           10-20 minute poses












I did go, and I'm so glad! This may seem like a small victory, but every time we go up against those fears, as small and irrational as they may be, pat yourself on the back and be proud of the small wins! In the end it was a great two hours, I feel super pumped (and apparently in the sharing kind of mood) and plan to attend every month. FYI - it was at the Delaware Contemporary, every third Saturday from 10am-12. It's run by Jenna Lucente, an amazing local artist (check out her work at www.jennalucente.com,) and the museum is well worth a visit. I may not have produced my best figure drawings ever, but everyone was so welcoming and it felt so good to stretch my life drawing muscles again!

For those of you who would like to go to a figure drawing session, but are feeling a little intimidated, let me know and I will be your hype woman! You typically start with several one minute poses to get warmed up, then a few five minute, some tens, and then you end with some 20 minute poses. It is a great way to get those drawing hours in and really up your game!

What are some of the anxieties that you face that you have overcome lately? The more we share our experiences, the stronger we will become! 

Monday, January 10, 2022

Individual Artist Fellowship 2022: Works on Paper

Dear friends, I'm so so happy to announce that I have been awarded a 2022 Individual Artist Fellowship by the Delaware Division of the Arts in the category of Works on Paper for my "Making the Invisible, Visible" migraine series of self-portraits.

Words can not even begin to express my enthusiasm - mostly because anyone who knows me, knows my enthusiasm is most aptly expressed by exuberantly jumping up and down with an excessive waving of the arms... Oh wait, here's a video of me doing just that...

 


So, it's fair to say I am BEYOND thrilled! I have seen so many talented Delaware artists like Shannon Woodloe, Eric Zippe, and Lauren E. Peters awarded this fellowship in past years and I am so excited to join their ranks! It is rather funny timing, as I was just discussing this body of work in my last blog post, and how it has taken me many years to follow the advice from my professors at the Carnegie Mellon School of Art about creating a cohesive body of work. And well, my friends, here is the proof, because it was with that very same body of work that I created over the summer that I was awarded the fellowship!

A little bit about the fellowship and what it means for me and why I am so excited. The fellowship "recognize[s] artists for their outstanding quality of work and provide[s] monetary awards. Individual Artist Fellows are publicly acknowledged and benefit from the additional exposure to their work." In addition to the monetary award, fellows are given the opportunity for a solo exhibition as well as participation in the group exhibition, Award Winners XXII, at the Biggs Museum of American Art tentatively set for June 3 through July 23, 2022 with an award ceremony and reception to be announced. 

As a longer lasting bonus, awards such as these add to an artist's general reputation and can be helpful in winning future awards, residences, other exhibition opportunities, etc. In other words, it looks kick-ass on your resume! 

You can learn more about the Individual Artists Fellowships awarded this year here: https://arts.delaware.gov/iafrecipients/ and stay tuned for more information about upcoming exhibitions and events!

If you haven't already seen some of my work in this series, you can read my artist's statement here: https://www.maiapalmer.com/selfportraits. When you have gone through six years of intensive art school training, you get used to writing about your own work pretty quickly. But I've never really read someone else's interpretation of my work before! Getting the news that I had won the fellowship made me so incredibly happy, but reading the juror's comments and knowing that a complete stranger resonated so with my work made me want to cry! Particularly given that this work has been so personal and meaningful to me, even just knowing that it could reach someone else who has suffered in a similar way makes me feel that I have succeeded. And so, I leave you now (to go jump up and down some more, obviously) with the words of the juror...

"The works shown are impressive. For anyone unfamiliar with this "invisible illness" the drawings on glassine paper, china marker and thread are beautifully rendered and convey the intense frustrating pain that accompanies this illness. The works rendered in pastel and paper are haunting, and show the despair, nausea and depression that this disease can bring. They show the intense claustrophobic isolation that one endures. In these works the artist has indeed may the invisible visible. As a one time suffer, I appreciate the artist acknowledgement of the creative power and strength that can be obtained by overcoming this debilitating disease." 

Okay, one LAST last word: Thank you to all my amazing friends and family who have supported me to help me get to this place in my career - I sincerely couldn't have done it without you in so so many ways!!!!!! Seriously, Delaware is my home because I live here, was born here, and work here... but most importantly it's home because the people that I love and that love and support me are right here with me! Sending you guys All. The. Love!



Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Coming Full Circle

Updating my website has been an ongoing endeavor, but as I worked on it these past few weeks, I was reminded of some most excellent advice that I got as an undergraduate at Carnegie Mellon School of Art. At both my sophomore and senior year portfolio review, the repeated, resounding advice that I consistently got was, FOCUS, MAIA, FOCUS!!! Sometimes I wanted to paint, sometimes draw, sometimes work in the foundry… Their advice definitely checks out, because as I have found in the real world, most applications, fellowships, grants, etc. are looking for works that speaks as a whole, not a little bit of this, a little bit of that. So clearly, armed with all of this real world knowledge on top of 6 years of art school, I took their sage advice, and…

…Completely ignored it! My work continues to be all over the board, ha! Some days I feel like cats and comics, some days I like to revel in the beauty of a landscape, or maybe some creepy skulls, but no, what about portraits? Let’s paint them, no, let’s draw them, wait, what about a coloring book? So yeah, I continue to explore my vast and varied interests which leads to a bit of a random website, but on the upshot, it definitely helps me as an art teacher!
I’m still not quite sure how I landed my dream job at the premiere art school in Delaware, but I’m pretty sure that my knowledge of everything from printmaking, digital art and photography, murals, ceramics, painting, and drawing may have played a part in it. (Also for which I have CMU to thank for giving me such a well-rounded foundation!) One of the biggest challenges I have found teaching at the AP level is that students are doing ALL sorts of different artwork, and having a diverse skillset to be able to help them is definitely key, although let’s be very clear, I am STILL very much learning! I am lucky to have had such amazing coworkers over the past few years, like Cheryl Lynn, Kate Huffman and @dweldzius , and now Lindsey Ostafy– I have learned SO much from all of them!
Aaaaaaand, circling back to my professors at undergrad, Mary Weidnerand Susanne Slavick, they will be happy to know that I did SOMEWHAT take their message to heart... It took about 20 years, but I think that this past summer I finally figured it out, and have created a body of work that I’m truly proud of. It is cohesive, meaningful on a personal level, and it is a style/technique that I find myself falling into and in love with and see so much potential for coming projects. It’s actually interesting that I have come full circle in more than one way. It was in undergrad that I embraced large scale charcoal drawings, and I loved it so much! But somehow, somewhere along the way, drawing fell by the wayside for me. I think I fell into the trap of trying to make the artwork that I thought would be “marketable” or saleable versus the artwork that I truly felt compelled to make. Another great thing about teaching, is that hey! I don’t have to sell my work for money – that’s what the teaching is for, ha! But realizing this means that I feel more freedom to pursue my own interests, and I’m not beholden to any market.
So thank you to my profs so much for helping me all those years ago – I’m still learning from you both, and I’m super excited to see where this body of work will take me! Ya’lls can check out this body of work under the “Portraits” tab (okay, and then the “Self-portraits” tab… yes… still too many tabs and sub menus, but hey, work in progress, right?). Check it out and let me know what you think of my website!

Monday, January 3, 2022

Once an art teacher, always an art teacher!

Now that I have been teaching art for some time now, I have a hard time turning my teacher brain off! As I was working on this drawing, I kept thinking about all of the things that I would tell my students to notice if they watched this video, or what I would tell the if they were creating a similar drawing (newsflash, they will be, quite soon!)


It was also heartening to realize that I do, in fact, do the things that I am always telling my kids to do! I think they think I'm nuts, with some of the advice that I give (particularly the not using black for shadows part), but I truly do believe what I tell them, and am about to tell you :)

Some of the advice that I would give, that I think I did pretty well in this piece are as follows:

1. Don't be scared to start over! Students HAAAAATE to start over, and I get it, it's scary and hard and it sucks to have spent time on something just to realize that you may need to do it again. This is actually my 3rd version of this drawing. I did one in my sketchbook, liked it so drew it larger (you can see the remnants of it in the top right hand corner at the start of the video), but I didn't like it so I erased/smeared over it, and then did version 3 straight up on top of it. And am happier with this version than either of the 2 prior.
2. Plans are helpful, but sometimes you have no idea WTF you are doing till you do it! I hadn't intended for this work to be in color, it was black and white, with maybe some purple for my hair as I envisioned it in my head. But I was so confused by my earlier drawing, I had to add color to help me sort out new/old drawing, and then I just ran with it. Sometimes, you just gotta go where you drawing takes you!
3. Don't use just "skin" colors for skin tone!!!! I mean, you CAN, and some artists do that very convincingly. But after my initial pass of a skin tone, I ran with the reds, purples, blues and even some greens. I love it when you layer colors and the hints of one color peeps through to the next layer.
4. Avoid black holes!!!!! omg. If I have to take away one more black colored pencil LOL. To be fair, I did go in with some black conte crayon at the end, but only after I had exhausted my full repertoire of conte crayon colors. And I love working with black and white! But why make a shadow with just black when you can get such a richer more lively dark shade by layering colors?? My kids laugh at me b/c they know my answer to almost every color question is JUST USE PURPLE (so they won't be surprised when I show up to school with purple hair at least haha!)
5. Mark making is beautiful! STOP THE SMUDGING! I totally get it's not everyone's jam. But sooooo many of my kids default to using a smudge stick (or heaven forbid, THEIR FINGERS!....actually.... I smear my big charcoals drawings with my hands all the time for the same reason I tell them not too, shhhh!!!) In my opinion, this can be a bit of a cop out. If this is the ONLY way that students know how to create a gradient, then they won't have as many skills in their skill set as the student who can both use a smudge stick AND one who can use just the pressure of the pencil to create variances in value. I always feel like why learn only one method that only will get you one sort of result, when you could learn MANY methods and then choose the one that makes more sense for your desired goal????
6. LOOK AT YOUR SOURCE IMAGE! Students will spend more time looking at their drawing then at their reference and then wonder why it doesn't look right, ha! But no, my kids are doing well this year, and they suffered through a lot of blind contour drawings, and they are pretty good at actually looking at the thing they are drawing/painting. But watching this video made me laugh with my constant frantic head turning haha. It's because my computer is set up in the corner with my image. I usually have a print out but it was black and white so I preferred looking at my actual photo so I could see the colors better.
Can you see evidence of my tips in the video???