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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Series, Pairings, Growing...

Hello!

First, I'm all business - if you want to see me impersonate cotton candy, put a robe on my head, and sing The Trolley Song within two minutes - please click on my audition video for 24 Hour Musical's One Night Stand and vote for me!  The last day of voting is Sunday March 11th at 11pm - which is tomorrow!  It's a fun contest for a wonderful show called 24-Hour Musicals.  You can read more about the contest here.

In the studio...

Today I am playing around with the idea of a series.

No, just kidding.  I'm trying to figure out how some of my art fits together.  In my most recent show through Beechwood Arts, the theme was "Pairings."  My pieces on display had elements of duality within them:
"Pairings" At Blue Lemon in Westport, CT
But I have also been playing around with diptych art:  "a picture or series of pictures (as an altarpiece) painted or carved on two hinged tablets"

This was one of my first attempts:
I'll spare you the story of how I used oil paint by accident and when Beechwood's curator came to see my work, the paint shmeared all over her gorgeous cashmere sweater...not the best first impression?
 Then I created this series that makes me feel very at peace looking at it - I like the sense of movement in the piece - when I paint, I paint with my body, and always try to feel the "giving" and "receiving" ends of the piece - where does the energy land?

 Then I did my usual "all or nothing"/"don't know when to back away" routine.  I drafted up a concept to the left...and then completely overdid everything.  I'm still figuring out how to salvage this...
Well-intended...
Less is more, Amy, less is more!!!!!
I tried to stop myself early enough here as well...but the damage was already done.

My eye hurts...
 So, let me ask all of you wonderful people in cyber-space?  How do you know when to back away?  When is enough enough?  For art, life, everything?  I think I carry this trait everywhere.  (And inserting a gracious thank you to all my very patient Hampshire professors that currently have to deal with my total neglect for word economy and my thousand-page essays!)
To quote a line from my one-woman show:  "Whatever I do, I tend to do obsessively..."

But I do love the concept of a Diptych - how a continuous thought  can be cut off and segmented, and still be appreciated in parts, yet takes on a grander meaning when fully assembled.  
This is a gorgeous series on Etsy right now:
You can check out more of Shiela Gosselin's work here.
Brandon took a photo for me of a series in his office:

And so I am determined to get this series thing right!  What is hard for me to discern is how you know when pieces really "go together..."  Just because the canvases are the same size doesn't mean they should all be piled on top of each other...so this trio was a potential thought:


 Which would make...

Then I tried again, with 8x10 canvases.  I'm still not sure if this is working as of yet...
I like how the sheer fabric doesn't hide all the painting I did beforehand.

I also used the lace as a "pocket" - sticking photos, buttons, etc. into the faces.

I feel like the girl in this panel gets lost.
 And drum roll...


 And I'm not giving up!  So I tried again...
When I'm unsure how to find my way through a painting, I just think giving and receiving.

Not quite it...so I tried again:

But...

Sometimes, like life, things come together as you don't expect them to.  Case and point:  A sheltered Jewish white girl with an exploding stomach who's never had a boyfriend in her life, and a computer programmer from Arizona.  Who she met online.  And sometimes they don't...



But sometimes...

They DO!  :)
One of my favorite (art) examples is my seasons series.  I created "End of Summer" quite appropriately towards the end of summer - when stuck in Yale Hospital for months.
End of Summer
I didn't have much supplies so it's not even on canvas.  

Eventually - very eventually - I was FINALLY discharged, and sadly, the seasons had already come and gone.  So I created another piece - in the hospital I was just finding my way with a paintbrush, and hardly knew what I was doing, (still don't) so I was getting a bit more comfortable with feeling the paint on the canvas and experimenting with texture etc.  And that is how "Winter Meeting" was born:
Winter Meeting
You may have noticed I love bringing my trees to life in my work.  That's because for me, trees seem like the most emotional and people-like elements of nature, who I often find myself confiding in or relating to.  I always try to stay open to their messages and absorb their wise lessons on change, growth, groundedness and transition.

I just wrote a poem about my connection to trees - one of many, which was published in the wonderful Tree Whispers blog, called Intrusion, which you can read here.  

I find a lot of inspiration from cartoons and was particularly inspired by Walt Disney's Flowers and Trees.
Since I always find so much personality and living inspiration in the trees around me, I love how Disney personifies nature so whimsically in this animated short - and in all of his Silly Symphony cartoons.  Just another great example of how all creativity is is finding the joy and vitality in everything.  Gratitude is stronger than any Duracell battery - when I start feeling the overwhelming blessings around me, I can just keep going and going and going...

I haven't been painting any trees with much personality lately, but this morning I got inspired when I saw an old background laying around...
 And...
Title:  TBA...(I literally just left the studio!)
I really love this.  It feels very me.  So maybe I haven't mastered the art of a series yet.  But I always do find my place with the trees.  Much, much gratitude for the beauty of nature today.

"Trees are the earth's endless effort to speak to the listening heaven."

And now...my studio needs a major clean-up job.  But first, my hands!
"Art gallery?  Who needs it?  Look up at the swirling silver-lined clouds in the magnificent blue sky or at the silently blazing stars at midnight.  How could indoor art be any more masterfully created than God's museum of nature?"
- I don't know who said that quote, but I've got some more proof of this statement in these gorgeous photos...

A bit of music...


I just wanted to share one of my favorite songs by Tony-Award winning composer William Finn, and also a dear mentor and friend of mine - more of that in a later post.  I performed "Infinite Joy" for my father's surprise birthday celebration last year.  You can watch me singing it (with my brother Matt playing piano) here.

Alright, I've got to go.  I have my opening reception for Canvas Talk:  A Forum of Dreams at 5pm tonight.  Wish me luck!  (And if you are a local, please do stop by the lovely Tusk & Cup Fine Coffee - it'll be a great night!)  

Oh okay, one more thing, because I realized I didn't leave you with anything fun to drool over!  I am totally making this babka/challah hybrid this week - Thanks Amy Kritzer - your blog is great for jew-food lovers worldwide!!!  Now, I wonder if that would pair well with this chocolate hummus recipe I discovered - if anyone is brave enough to try this out, please do let me know how it goes!

Oh, and I gotta balance this with something savory - so try one of these mac n' cheeses that are apparently better then a boyfriend.  Are they?  Well...we're talking cheese here...  :)

Alright, I've got all of my promotional materials ready to go...(again, thank you Brandon for being an awesome designer!)

And I'm off!  See you in Ridgefield tonight!  In person or in spirit, whatever works :)

Friday, February 27, 2015

Past, Present, Moving Foward.

Good morning, internet :)
It's staying lighter for longer - could Spring be somewhat upon us?
I'm looking forward to my artist's reception at Tusk & Cup Fine Coffee tomorrow.  In the meantime, I've been keeping up the art in the studio.
And this is the cleanest you'll ever see it!
And,  thanks to Brandon -  thank you! - you can now see all my art in wonderful little galleries on the artist section of my website.  And - you can pin whatever you want!  So pin, pin, pin!  Pin pi---owww!  Okay, maybe don't get carried away...

I keep pictures all over my studio so I'm always inspired by those I love...


Finding alternative pathways...

I've still been brainstorming how to push my painting and mixed media work in different directions.  I was pretty inspired after reading Strange Examples Of Art That You’ll Love and these alternative mixed media techniques.

I've also been trying to read up on artists who's style I may not personally resonate with.  For example, I was reading an interview with Andy Warhol, and there is something to be said for appreciating art in a different way once you have context, or what the author's personal values are.  I love when art can be a momentary glimpse into a stranger.  These are some of his more interesting takeaway quotes.  

Here's another artist who really inspires me...
Jordan Matter is an amazing photographer and artist in every sense of the word.  And a really nice guy.  Way, way back in the days of being 17, I was lucky enough to have him do my headshots.
We shot on a beautiful afternoon in the Cloisters - a lovely museum with beautiful grounds
And then I got sick, chaos ensued, etc.  Years later I came across his amazingly inspiring book, Dancers Among Us.  I urge you to look at the book's website for some amazing eye-candy, and the Dancers Among Us website.  I was so touched by what he was able to capture with his camera that I had to write to him to share how he had affected me, pre and post coma.  He was as blown away as I was by this crazy coincidence, and wrote about it in his blog - you can read his great article about it here.
Every photograph is more amazing than the next - definitely get this book!
But I think Brandon and I are a close 2nd?  (22nd...)

Thank you, thank you Jordan Matter for inspiring all of us to find the beauty in the dance of everyday living!  You have truly discovered the dancer in all of us and the music heard 'round the world.

I have yet to get new headshots after my coma, but that will happen.  For now, they are a nice reflection on what was...
Me and my one-of-a-kind parents
I can't believe those headshots were over a decade ago now.  Sometimes it does feel like I'm still barely 18, since the rug was pulled out from underneath me so suddenly my senior year of high school.
It's hard to appreciate - let alone remember - what you once had when there is absolutely no way to ever return to it again.

 

This was a blanket I made out of felt - each image is based off of a favorite childhood photograph:
Sort of puts a whole new meaning to "baby blanket..."
I do try to remember what life used to be like before my coma.  Of course I think of this idyllic childlike, safe world, but coma or not, nothing can stay like that forever, right.  Still I miss it.
But then I feel all the beautiful blessings in my life - things that never would have happened had I trailed along different pathways.
And when I look around me and become overwhelmed by that crazy sense of gratitude, how can I ever wonder "What if?"  How about "Why not?"
My family...now
 So I do wonder, because I'm human.........................and then I saw Wow, and Thanks.
And for that, I am Gutless & Grateful!
 I actually wrote a song about longing for the past in old pictures, brimming with warm childhood memories.  It's called "Picture Frame."  You can listen to the audio clip at that link, with my brother Matt accompanying me on piano.  Or you can watch me attempting to strum it on guitar (how I usually compose) here.   (The piano link's a bit better!)
Some pastel journaling
And here are some of my favorite lyrics:
"Blue Girl"
"See the bubbling in my eye?
There's a tear that longs to fall.
See the girl so scared and shy,
stands there reliving it all.
Imagine
Will she ever once reclaim
what was rightfully all hers?
Fill another picture frame
Pictures say a million words...

Parachutes
...Picture more, you can have it
This is yours, go on, grab it
Little child, little spark
show a smile
show your heart."

Break Free


 Family, memories, etc. also remind me of a beautiful song by Tony-Award winning Broadway composer Maury Yeston called My Grandmother's Love Letters.  It reminds me of how sorely I miss my own grandmother, who deserve a post of her own,  so expect that sometime soon!
Gutless & Grateful:  A Musical Feast

When I premiered Gutless & Grateful at the Triad in October 2012, it was my first real dive into the musical theatre pool after what seemed to be a lifetime of medical intrusion - even though pre-2005, I had never had any health problems in my life.  As one doctor told my family when I was first in a coma, "You are now entering an alternate universe that the outside world knows nothing about - the ICU.  Your lives will forever be changed."
Amy:  A Tragi-Comedy
 It felt strange returning to the stage with my own honest struggles and triumphs, rather than playing a role.  This was my life, my I put this together to show the polarity I felt between my medical self and my theatrical self.  This was me, whoever I was now, stripped bare for total strangers.  It was extremely nerve-wracking, but one of the most rewarding decisions of my life.
Opening Night!  Triad, NYC 2012
I've performed Gutless & Grateful in several other venues since then, and every time I feel more and more inspired by how my story is able to touch so many other people.  At that end of the day, that's why stays with you - the paintings, the applause - not the scars.
My and Jerold Goldstein, my musical director and friend since I was a bratty13 year old!
Now, in terms of the important things I'm really grateful for...

Shmura matzoh is in the grocery store this week!
I'm not even kidding that matzoh is my comfort food.  Is that weird?
(Let the Passover countdown begin...)
I eat matzoh every day - Passover or not - hey, you can do a lot of cool things with it!  (Besides substitute it for cardboard, I swear.)
I am actually snacking on this as I blog today...
But, I will try to be conscious that normal people are reading this blog too, so here is a recipe for Pizza Cake - this looks amazing.  I've actually made this delicious deep dish pizza by Bobby Flay and it's ridiculous - it uses three pounds of cheese!  You can ever make it while you wear this awesome pizza scarf.  And for your pizza loving friends, check out this pizza-tacular gift guide.  I'd like one of everything please.
And if the cake thing is too much of a to-do for you - this is how to basically turn everything into pizza, which is fine by me too.

In the world of non-pizza recipes:  These mini comfort foods are adorable
Cheese-related: these Oaxan cheese sticks might be the best snack idea ever.
Don't forget dessert: make your own girl scout cookies at home
But here's recipes  for people who don't like dessert (for Valentines day, but still lookin' good)
And if you'd love to copy some great Olive Garden food, here's how you can have an Olive Garden date night at home, thanks to the wonderful Six Sister blog.

Non-recipe stimulation...
For some animal inspiration, check out this amazing humpback whale footage, which would be very appropriate to watch while listening to the Free Willy theme song...

These are 25 of the most amazing roads on earth.
These 37 Books Every Creative Person Should Be Reading.
And the most inspiring of all:  these are things you never knew about Tic Tacs!

Keep some inspiration in your heart today - just find it anywhere.  In your journal, in the dancers among us, in a Tic Tac...