Monday, May 23, 2011

On the Surface

Traditional portraiture depicts “who” a subject is. But the true origins of portraiture are connected with fashion. Early secular portraits, were at least as much about portraying the wealth and possessions as the personalities of the subjects (who were usually the patrons). For example, in 1533 Hans Holbein painted the French Ambassadors in the most luxurious of fabrics, flanking their rack of expensive, exotic items from foreign lands. So, in this 4 part series of heads, I used papers, including pages from high-end fashion magazines that are designed to create envy and desire for the goods of the wealthy. The viewer does not know these people; who they are is irrelevant to what they represent. When we browse glossy fashion mags, we aren’t fantasizing about the lives of the models; we are getting carried away by the story told by the clothes and styling. I'm fascinated by the way fashion, perception, and identity intertwine, and I continue to search for new ways to express my ponderings. The word "surface" connects the concept of identity with the physicality of the materials.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

15.4 Final Digital Portfolio

 project 1, ten 6"x6", papers on paper

project 2, one 40"x40" papers and acrylic on board

 project 3, three 15.5"x18", papers and acrylic on paper

project 4, five 16"x18" , papers, fabric, and acrylic

from Sarah:
Fantastic to see this all together! Great semester.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

15.2 - Creating a submission packet/ moving forward/

One of the best parts about going to school online is that digital portfolio is always up to date. It's easy for my to build my website because I already have everything shot and sized. My DS Blogs are another added benefit because even after classes close I have access to sizes and media of images, if need be even, if I'm traveling or stored the paintings away.  I update my website after each semester as when I tried to do it as i went along I ended up painting on everything again so it was a waste of time. What I need to do is make some new cards that have my website on them. I hand printed a bunch back when the site was about my hand-sewn garments but they are all out in the world. My other card has my email and phone but not the site. I want to make them specifically for the site so the card has the same feel as the site. 

 I have three different versions of resumes for different endeavors, one for teaching, one for exhibiting, one with everything including retail jobs etc. 

 I've exhibited in several different venues but I have never applied for a show. I all the solo exhibiting I've done was either through a program or someone who owned the space wanted to me to hang my work there. Same with jobs, i hate applying for stuff (Sarah is so laughing right now because I'm about to start the application process from hell looking for a job teaching undergrad...) but i don't know, I've always just beleived that if I'm true to myself my work and I end up where we need to be. I have submitted and gotten into several juried shows but just a piece or two here and there. 

I'm definitely going to work on exhibiting at Gallery 5. First I'm going to work on getting the drink and draw show up there and go from there. The space is about community so I think that's more important right now. And I think that can lead to a solo or collaborative show with my own work in it, plus it gets a ton of traffic and I think being the organizer of something awesome will get me some interesting contacts. It's easier for me to make art relationships as the head of something bigger than me. Even though I'm one of the most self-righteous people I know, telling people how awesome I am/my work is has always felt like a misguided endeavor. I think in a way I'm afraid of being famous. I know that's a weird thing to say, but it's true. It's like I kind of want to keep myself a secret until I'm ready or something. Ready for what? I'm not sure. 

Ultimately, I would love to have an Ellingsworth Women exhibit at Arts Illiana. My mom is a member there and I think it would be super cool for my mom's pottery and wood sculpture (the pic in the link is from my mom's cousin's project of shooting all of his grandfather's spawn and in-laws wearing his (my great grandfather, Pop's) hat. This shot is my dad in front of my mom's sculpture called holy trinity) my paintings, and my sisters wearable art (that's her etsy store but she also made this cat hoodie that I'm wearing, she has gotten all her VIPs to wear this same get-up and strung together a huge Polaroid collage. yay silly collaborative art) all on display together.

My friend, Kim, just put out this call for artists. I think I'm going to do it, too, because my abstract work is about freedom and being adventurous and to me that's a very American concept even though it gets convoluted these days and used and an excuse to act like jerks...

A Call for Art
Made In America:
What Does It Mean To Be Patriotic?

The FolksArt wants you. Is there Liberty and Justice for All? Do we believe in the words on the Statute of Liberty? Is the Patriot Act patriotic? Tell us what you think through your art.

Artists are encouraged to submit work in ALL mediums, including but not limited to ReUse, Mixed-Media, Wearable Art, Poetry, Essays and other writings. Music, and live performance art is also encouraged, as several events will take place throughout the duration of the exhibit.

The Details Artists can enter up to 5 different pieces of art.
Please submit no more than one digital image to for each piece, unless the piece is 3D. For 3D art, up to 3 digital images can be submitted per piece.
Submit audio files in Mpeg format, and image files in JPEG format, at least 72 dpi, and at least 600 pixels but not greater than 1200 pixels in either direction. The file size cannot exceed 1 MB for any individual image.
Files MUST BE labeled as follows: LAST Name, FIRST Name and the # and title of the piece.
example: smith, jane #1 The Flag. smith, jane #2 The Statue.
Upon acceptance to the show, art must be delivered to The FolksArt no later than 5pm on Tuesday, June 28. Exhibit space might limit the size of artwork accepted. Show dates are from July 1, 2011 through September 23, 2011.
Artists are encouraged to have their artwork for sale, but it is not a requirement for acceptance into the show. A 70/30 commission will apply to all original art sold.

The Incentive Awards will be given. Selected works will be eligible for use on T-shirts, note cards, postcards, buttons, bumper stickers and other printmaking opportunities. Artists will receive artist credit and a 5% royalty on gross sales, plus free or reduced rate items featuring their art.
The Fine Print: All work must be eligible for publishing for brochures and marketing materials.
For more information contact Kim Joris at or via phone at 828-557-6954.
The FolksArt is located at 108 W. Hancock St., Milledgeville, GA.

Also the woman who took over for me at the school I taught at in Asheville is doing this online art thing about still life:
Assemble a still life arrangement, take a picture of it, and send it to

ALL entries will be posted on

Some guidelines:

•You do not have to be an Asheville resident to participate.

•Do not send more than 2 jpegs.

•Please make them a reasonable size so as not to blow up my email account.

•Please send contact info and/or website so I can include them with your entry. (You may remain anonymous if you wish.)

I will post anything and everything I receive before June 1st, 2011.

I haven't done it yet, but it's a cool concept I think.

15.3 - Self evaluation of course progress

I think ultimately I did achieve my goals. I expected to do more tests but it turned out that what would be a test was actually art, so I went with it. I definitely think I pushed the concept in a lot of different ways. The most valuable thing for me, the thing that I’m still working through is carving out a space between figurative and abstract. I don’t always set out to make work about identity, but it seems to keep arising. I am fascinated by identity and the way people change in different company and grow through life. I like clothing as an artifact of that process.  I want to always be honing my skills with looking and drawing and making thinks look a certain way intentionally but also have unbridled aggressive application that is about materials and the magical things that happen when you aren’t sure what will happen  (“Only when he doesn’t know what he’s doing does the painter do good things ~ Edger Degas) This class was a wonderful opportunity to play in the space where I combine these elements in various ways. I think the last project comes closest to what I was hoping to get to.  I do think eventually I will work on some portraiture of specific people. 

I have a few related projects in mind. One is to do a book (or 2 rather) of portraits (in the style of project 1) of my huge catholic families (86 people in all with just my aunts, uncles, first cousins, and their spouses and kids. That doesn’t even include my 5 dead grandparents.) I see that as being a ways down the road but something to be working on over time, maybe finish for my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary or something in 2014.

Another thing I want to work on that I think I’ll do this summer is a daily fashion illustration of myself. I’m going to dedicate a sketchbook to it and just chronicle my owns style and the way I put clothes together, some days might have multiple ones, but it’s already and intense work load so I may just pick one outfit per day.  (the way I dress for work at the baby store and they way I dress to go out to bars and the way I dress to paint are all very different so I’m not sure how I want to organize it or what I want to include.) I thought about maybe having a page per day and then taping in more outfits that hinge the opposite way of the book binding. I also thought about making a paper doll of myself and then drawing all my garments with little tabs as I wear them and then just doing a digital chronicle of my styles by dressing the paper me in the paper outfits. I’m not sure, just something I’ve been thinking about for a while.

A couple weeks ago I took on the role of coordinator of the RVA Drink 'n' Draw meetup group and hosted my first event on Tuesday, Exquisite Corpse Happy Hour (Lori you should join the group and come up for one as I think you only live and hour away!!) The event was to go from 5:30 to 7:30, around 8:15 the last person left and then a bunch of my friends showed up at the bar as I was packing up and a whole second round erupted. Then I was so jazzed (and buzzed) I took my show on the road and got a bunch of drunks smoking cigarettes outside all the bars in my neighborhood to draw some. I ended up with 48 3-part collaborative drawings. One of the members’ daughter runs a gallery and I’m hoping to do an exhibition of our creatures there. I want to have a 1 or 2 more events first and then have a framing party where we collage cardboard frames for all of them.

I took my teaching packet down tot the Visual Arts Center in hopes of getting a job there for fall. Not counting on it, it seems my particular interests in teaching may be overlap in their program currently, but I also said I can sub or take on just about anything if they have someone drop out, so we’ll see.

I also want to take a grant writing class this summer. Multiple people (including Sarah) have advised me that it would be helpful in finding undergrad level teaching position if I have that skill in my pocket, and obviously I know how to write. I just want the tips and tricks on content and formatting. The first grant I want to write is for myself to get funding to maybe either write a book or write a class to teach teachers how to teach color. I really think that we (United States) have the most limited concept of teaching color at all levels. I mean the fact that people are graduating with MFAs in painting and don’t know what PV19 means is quite frankly, preposterous. I want to change that. I want people to know that “red” is a very broad adjective, like “hot”, it’s relative and doesn’t actually mean anything without a bunch more info.  And buying a “set” of paints (where someone else has chosen the colors) is the worse investment ever.

Monday, May 9, 2011

project 4

These encompass a little from a lot of different trains of thought that I've had over the past couple of years. I've been working on how to describe "what I do" all semester and I feel like I do a lot of different things the same way. Next week I'll post how that turns out, but these will be important examples as they bridge a gap between my abstract and more figurative work. To begin with these are about identity, individuality, isolation, invisibility, the materials, the physical process, the present moment, and chance. 

I'm pretty happy with how these turned out. I'm not madly in love, but I can dig it. 
Each is between  16"x 18. Acrylic, fabric, water-soluble crayons, colored pencils, ink, fibers, plastic, and various found papers on wood. 






Crit from Judy:
1) What are the work's strongest points?  The concept of veiled portraits is an interesting one that you have  been exploring all semester  also the use of color is very good.

2) Which areas could use more development?  These seem to be rather flat with little depth.  You are using layered paper as the base for the painting but it would be nice if the paper used had patterns, text or something that could be read through the paint in places to glimpses another layer and also to incorporate it into the work more rather than just as part of the substrate.  I also like to see more layering in the paint, variations in value in each actual segment of color

3) Is the content strengthened by the materials and methods used?  If more collage elements were used then the materials could be really strong.  The ones used such as textiles and magazine elements add real interest  to the flat areas of color.

4) Would the subject be clearer in another medium?
 These could be done in paint only but the collage does add a lot of texture
5) Do the content and aesthetic choices work together?
 yes the overall concept and style works well to establish a context but the use of collage materials could be strengthend if they related to the actual person in the portrait or just the theme of a person..these seem to be young children so adding elements that relate to children would be nice...even partially hidden pictures, childrenn' handwritting or drawings..items like that could give these a level of detail that I think is missing
6) Are there technical issues that need to be resolved?
I covered most of these already.
7) How does this project fit within the larger ideas of the artist and the goals of this class?  As part of you directed study doing these faceless portraits these fit in well.  I don't know the context of what you are trying to say with these and feel that there could be just a bit more included in the piece to make them feel complete

In reference to:  post by Judy Klich

I'm wondering about this children thing. I hadn't really thought of them as children. I hadn't thought about who they were at all since the "who" is not what they are about. But I do work at a baby store. I do hang out with and talk to a lot lof tiny humans. But I'm wondering WHY YOU think they are kids.

As I've been saying, I knew these wouldn't me as "deep" as I'd like considering they were flat planes of color a week ago, I knew there was only so much I'd be able to get on there. I may work back into these, I may move on, I may paint them into something else, I don't know....

Did you read my remarks in progress about why I chose the paper sack? I did use some patterned paper in several areas, but it's buried. The thing is, I think flat and shallow are 2 very different things. I want this to be flat. I'm not trying to create an illusion of depth. These are on the surface. The concept is about surface. It's more about not revealing what's underneath. But no areas have less than 2-3 layers and some have 5-6. Remember this is a painting, not encaustic. I kept the layers thin. I'm not saying that some couldn't use more build up I'm just saying, that I don't think that where the layers are now conflict with the concept.


Crit from Sarah :I don't know, Emily, I am close to in love with these. They bring together your ideas, approaches, core interests in authentic and compelling final pieces. They are very "no bullshit" and I am not sure I would have you do anything at all to them.

They are definitely all about surface and I really with I could see them in person - I have a sensation, like Oliveira, that there is more going on than is obvious here. Which is great.
They are obstinate (which is fitting) and deliberately withhold what we imagine is crucial information - the face. We are left with posture, surface, shape, color and must puzzle out "identity" from there. Clearly, these are not portraits - they are paintings about the nature of the portrait and it inability to talk about identity.

Two artist come to mind - not at all for style, but for content. One is Alexandr Rodchenko, an early experimental photographer in the Soviet Union, who was later forced by Stalin to ink out the faces of the early Leninists he had photographed. I cannot find a single image of these photos but check out Episode 2 of the BBC series The Genius of Photography.

I also think of John Baldessari, who talks about his strategy of covering faces with circles of color in Art 21. His intention is to deliberately remove the expected information of facial expression to draw our attention to the context, to everything that is happening around the face.

In your paintings, you reduce things even further, so we are left just with surface - but what a surface!

I think Judy's impression of children comes from the reductive quality. These are people stripped down to something almost less than essential. And for all our universal love of children, they are unformed - we don't know precisely who they will be when their "identity" is complete.

Really excited about these. Perhaps you can push the surface more - but go slow. These are terrific.


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