Friday, May 25, 2007

Illustration Friday: Cars

My submission for Illustration Friday's "Cars" is a painting of a gas station and the oldest building in Santa Monica, a Landmark building in fact. If you look at these old tanks you will notice the octane is very high. They serviced all the guys that drove hot-rods that require this high octane gas. I took pictures of the place when it was in this condition and when I finally finished painting it they had refurbished it beautifully with three domed pumps, new paint, and they made it look real spiffy. Then there was a struggle over the property and now it is an office and will probably never be an old-fashioned gas station again. But in my world it will always be this place.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Illustration Friday: signs

My submission for Illustration Friday's "signs" is a painting I made for the Special Children's Art Foundation Auction.The family that put on the benenfit bought this for their daughter Kara. She is a child with special needs and "Real Estate" lives in her bedroom now. I added a quote on the back of the roof that sticks up above the frame and it says: Praise a great estate, but cultivate a small one ~Latin Proverb

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Artist Profile: Jessie Lavon

It certainly is my pleasure to write about this wonderful artist, Jessie Lavon. She is a folk artist, a mother, a daughter, a friend and a kindred spirit. I was introduced to her by way of blogs and we have enjoyed a nice rapport. One of the things I value most about her is that she is just like her paintings. Once you see her work and read her blog you will instantly know what I mean! Her art is fashioned from her childhood and lifelong memories of living in the south, replete with visions of picking cotton, fortune tellers, shanty's, voodoo, Spanish moss and many curious and appealing oddities to a West Coast girl like me. When I asked her if I might interview her she replied " I would be happier than a tick on a dog to be interviewed by you, sweet pea". I have never met anyone that talks like that but I have always wanted to and now she is my new friend. I also love the name of her blog and it drew me in completely "Purple Cucumbers". Here is what her blog says:

A Southern Folk Artist: My art is in collections and Museums in the U.S.A, Canada and Europe. It has been written up in International Magazines like RAW VISION and SOUTHERN LADY as well as being shown at the Huntsville Museum along with the art of Grand Ma Moses and Norman Rockwell. I have shown at the Atlanta Folk Fest and at Kentuck with international artists like Lisa Cain, Woddy Long, Jimmy Lee Suddeth. On Sept 23, after the death of my beloved Mother who died in my arms, I said goodbye to a 30 year art career as a folk artist on the art circuit to sell and paint as an independent folk artist. So come and travel the road back to my childhood days where the late afternoon drifts into long shadows and where I paint the memories of my days gone by. My family canning, making moon shine, the chain gang, working in the fields.

Jessie has an AVM and I believe she has endured a lot with operations and medications. She so graciously answered my questions in her southern style.

Valgal: How did you find your style?
Jessie: I created my style with the help of my Mama and my children. I wanted to tell my childhood stories and as I worked on the style, Mama and the kids would suggest colors to use. I didn't create this style until after the coma/brain surgery.

VG: What is your creative process?
J: I surround myself with things of beauty, photos, incense, flowers, fudge, love truffles and find my quiet place and in my heart and mind I return back to the cotton fields. There I can hear the sounds, voices and smells of my childhood. The slamming of the back door, the sound of rain on the tin roof, Mama, Nanny and Aunt Bea's voices and the smell of the kitchen while we were canning etc.

VG: Ho do you market/promote yourself?
J: Since I retired from the art circuit I no longer market but I used to do a lot of networking with other artists, see what galleries they used and contacted them. I used to do at least 30 shows a year. Kentuck, folk fest, etc. and when I wasn't at shows I painted to keep a good supply for the next show. I keep my name out in the newspapers and keep in touch with my states art council who put me in shows, museums and galleries. All artists should contact there state arts council with their bio and portfolio.

VG: Did/Do you have an agent/rep?
J: My Mama was my agent. Now I just enjoy my art and friends.

VG: Do you ever have a creative slump?
J: So far no. As long as I have my memories of childhood I think I can keep it at bay. I thought of giving it up after Mama died but then I realised it was my connection to her and if I retired from the circuit then I COULD ENJOY IT MORE.

VG: What do you do for fun?
J: Garden, blog, work on my books, hunt for trash and treasure to make art, enjoy my children and talk/ visit with other artists.

VG: What is the best part of what you do?
J: Living my childhood dream from age 6 of being an artist and glad Mama lived long enough to see it happen.
VG: Do you have any advice for budding folk artists?
J: NEVER GIVE UP AND ALWAYS BELIEVE IN YOURSELF FOR ART COMES FROM THE HEART. GET IN CONTACT WITH YOUR LOCAL STATES ART COUNCIL. Set aside time to paint every day, network with artists you feel comfortable with, if you get rejected move on to another gallery and STAY AWAY FROM VANITY GALLERIES THEY ARE A SCAM.
VG: Do you want to talk about your illness?
J: Yes darling, Brain AVM's are of special concern because of the damage they cause when they bleed. They are very rare and occur in less than 10% of the general population. Mine occurred while I was 4 months pregnant with my 10th child. I was in a coma for 6 weeks and had a 10 1/2 hour brain surgery. All my memories were lost except for the years from age 10-14, everything else I had to relearn except for my art. That's why my art is so important cause it is a way for me to go home again to a time I so loved.

Jessie Lavon is a rare gem from Alabama. If you want to join her in an old-fashioned porch party than pull up a chair and get prepared to be served delicious ice cold lemonade with berries, some truffles and watermelon and you will be glad you did! Jessie my friend, I'm so glad I found you, Thank You for this interview it was a privilege.

Please click on to Jessie's name to go to her blog.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Illustration Friday: Citrus

My submission for Illustration Friday's "Citrus" is from one of my Marisol greeting cards.Citrus is a common theme in California.When I was a little girl there were rows and rows of citrus trees in Orange County, hence the name.Life was slow and wonderful and you could smell the little white blossoms of the orange groves. This picture reminds me of the many missions I frequented as a child, another thread that runs through this state. In this picture I combined two of the highlights I see in my mind when I think of this sunny clime.

So sorry the painting looks so fuzzy it's behind glass.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

mini profile on artist Mark Beam

And now for something completely different! I love all kinds of art. I love thinking about art, talking about it, making it, reading about it and writing about it. I love art that makes me think and smile. I love this piece conceived by artist Mark Beam and printed by the Valgal. Mark generates really wonderful art that makes you laugh, smile and remember. I love that about his work. Long ago these pieces had a base that Mark had molded. They were blue. It made the can more of an art statement. But I always saw these in a kitchen, displayed in rows. It would be great if it was a stark environment with gleaming granite counters and rows & rows of canned smut behind glass and chrome shelves. Or maybe a country kitchen with red and white plaid table cloth fabric and Mom serving up a batch of smut. Maybe I see it this way because I printed these labels in the kitchen of my friend Patti up here in a remote area of Topanga. She was out of town and said I could use her place. I had a kick stand on the silkscreen so I didn't require assistance and I printed these babies out in a couple of hours. It was not the most complicated job but when you print something that is recognizable it must be clear, clean and legible to the naked eye so you need to keep the screen real clean. Especially since Mark included a bar code and a nutritional breakdown in a very small text. I remember that we had a discussion about whether to keep the deckled edge on the paper which I loved and felt kept it in an artsy vein. This is beautiful rag paper with a gorgeous torn edge. The date on this project is 1990, 17 years ago! I think this art is fun, clever and very well done and I loved being a part of it. We made an edition of 20 and Mark signed, dated and numbered each one.

Please click on image to view larger.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Illustration Friday: Neighbor

My submission for Illustration Friday's "Neighbor" is one of my signature "Houscapes". My neighbor Michael came to me and asked if I could paint a portrait of Decker his dog. Of course I said yes and mentioned that I paint houses and suggested that it would be great if I could pose Decker in front of his rustic shed (I look at this shed every day and have been longing to paint it). The dog posed happily as if he knew he would be immortalized and idolized for years to come.