Tag Archives: Inside the Artist’s Studio

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Mandi Antonucci

I like to think of myself as a crafter of visual stories.  I attempt to create drawings that provide more questions than answers, more ambiguity than certainty.  My intention is to leave the viewer with an open ended narrative that allows one to fill in the blanks from their own personal experiences.  

"Swarm"

“Swarm”

I grew up in Syracuse, New York with an unconventional family that instilled in me an appreciation for bird watching, collecting antique typewriters, and art.  My relationship with art was formed inside the walls of the Everson Museum where my grandfather served on the Board of Directors, and by watching my grandmother create ornate pieces with needlepoint.  These two factors served to inspire my great love for art history and attention to detail.  

"Family Tree"

“Family Tree”

I received my Bachelor’s degree in Studio in Art and Art History from Nazareth College, and my Masters in Art Education from Rochester Institute of Technology.  For the past 13 years, I have been an Art Teacher at Batavia High School.  I love my job.  It’s a unique opportunity that enables me to be constantly in the company of other artists.  I love the give and take of ideas, and the constant progression of concepts and materials that come with being an educator.  My students keep me on my toes, pushing me with their talent and insight to become a better artist while I help them to find their own artistic voice.  Nearly everyday, they give me hope for the next generation of creative thinkers.

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I like to invite my students into my creative process.  Aside from talking through my concepts and symbolism, many of them have become my subjects for my portraits.  They never seem to mind when I ask them to make weird faces or pose in a certain way.

"Queen of Crows"

“Queen of Crows”

My work as a whole is best described as Pop Surrealism, though I try my best not to label myself too strictly as I don’t want the identification to become a limitation.  While I will use a variety of materials, I generally use mostly colored pencil and graphite.  I love the control and versatility of my colored pencils; I love the feel of a sharp pencil and the look of a sharp edge. However, I also love the way in which colored pencil allows me to build subtle layers, like a recipe for the perfect color.

I generally don’t have a finished concept in my mind when I start a piece.  Rather, I like to start with a story in mind, or a picture I have taken, and let the creative process dictate my direction.  My best ideas come from the act of making, so it’s not uncommon for me to have five or six drawings in various states of completion as I work.

In progress

In progress

My work explores the themes of mental illness, loss, and the fragility of life.  I like to think of my drawings as a visual memoir of the struggles and achievements of myself and the others I share my life with.   My drawings often include the human form in some way, whether it’s with portraits or hands.  I am drawn to the automatic sense of emotion that comes with portraying the human form.  I want my work to tell a symbolic story of the strength of the individual while still leaving the details to the interpretation of the observer. My drawings attempt to show the vulnerability of my subject, their precarious and fantastical reality, and the effects their mental state has made in their lives.  

"The Future is Female"

“The Future is Female”

I tend to use a lot of pattern in my work as a design and symbolic element.  I am particularly drawn to the honeycomb pattern because it stands as a reminder that beauty can be born from chaos.  I feel like I’m just scratching the surface as to where I am headed in terms of my use of pattern; I’m excited to see where the process will take me.

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"Daydream Believer"

“Daydream Believer”

When I’m not at school or in my studio, I can be found at home in Geneseo with my husband and two children, surrounded by cornfields and distant horizon lines.  

"Boy Wonder"

“Boy Wonder”

My work can be found at www.mandiantonucci.com or on Instagram @skywardagain


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Mandi’s work in our current exhibition “Utopia/Dystopia” (juried by John Massier, curator at Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center in Buffalo, NY). The exhibition runs through June 30, 2017. Mandi’s piece, “Boy Wonder”, is also available for purchase in our online gallery shop: store.mainstreetartsgallery.com

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Neil Marcello

I was born in Bombay, India, before I moved to Dubai, where I spent my childhood years. Dubai exposed me to the various industrial landscapes, like oil and natural gas production, large-scale infrastructure construction, and shipping ports that helped transform this desert city into the thriving manufactured oasis it has become today. These industrial scenes also left a lasting impression on me that continue to inform the imagery I produce today.

Photo Credit: Joanna Kula, 2015

Photo Credit: Joanna Kula, 2015

I have been making photographs for the past 10 years, during which time my focus and approach to creating images evolved from casual snapshots, towards images that are research based and might take on a critical role that can raise questions.

I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from the Indiana State University, where my studies were concentrated in conceptual design and urban architecture. As a photographer I am self-taught, though computer technology, Hollywood films, and filmmaking factored heavily in my understanding of the aspects of image-making, as have the works of Caspar David Friedrich, Charles Sheeler and Edward Burtynsky that influenced me at pivotal junctures in my development as an artist

My body of work takes on an abstract quality without losing the sight of its origins. This is not a deliberate effort in which I go looking to create an abstracted view instead I find it to be inherent in the evidence left behind by our highly evolved consumer society.

CA #014, Coincidental Accretion, 2015

CA #014, Coincidental Accretion, 2015

To record my images I use a medium format, analog camera and film stock that best compliment the subject matter. I print using large format digital printers. This hybrid approach offers me the best of what the analog and digital formats have to offer, while continuing to challenge my sensibilities as a photographer and an artist.

My projects focus on conceptual ideas derived from industrial solutions, often created in the name of progress, that I now view as having become problems that bear examination. When I approach a specific idea, it is usually with the mindset that the viewer needs to be visually captivated before there is any chance of my idea being accepted. If the resulting image holds this type of interest, then it might draw the viewer into further discussion and thought on the perspective about the subject matter. Overall I think my work communicates a contemporary view more than it does any kind of popular view or trend in art.

#1JKS, Beyond the Heliopause, 2012

#1JKS, Beyond the Heliopause, 2012

With my most recent project, titled “Sweet Tooth”, the focus is on synthetic dyes derived from crude oil, and their role in the mass production of candy.

Sweet Tooth Series, 2014-2016

Sweet Tooth Series, 2014-2016

The project’s concept touches on themes of industry, mass production, consumerism and some of the resulting negative effects which may be seen in the piece, titled “Good and Plenty”, featured in the “Utopia/Dystopia” exhibition at Main Street Arts.

The idea for “Sweet Tooth” was born out of a need to find healthy candy for kids trick-or-treating on Halloween in my neighborhood when I was living in Los Angeles. I discovered news articles and a radio show on National Public Radio, that discussed the topic of synthetic dyes being used by candy companies in the US for their production of candy, while using natural dyes in the same candies in Europe.

Having just completed my work on “Mulholland’s Gold”, a project that dealt with the industrialization of water in Los Angeles, I was exposed to the various facets of the oil industry in California. So the connection between crude oil and synthetic dyes only became more apparent in my idea.

Oil #001, Mulholland's Gold, 2011-2014

Oil #001, Mulholland’s Gold, 2011-2014

The process behind “Sweet Tooth” was to place the candy that I was familiar with as a child and young adult, into an industrial backdrop. So I began with making rough sketches on paper to get the initial ideas down.

Good and Plenty Sketch, Pen on Paper, 2014

Good and Plenty Sketch, Pen on Paper, 2014

I would then scan and enhance these sketches in Photoshop to figure out the composition and color schemes.

Good and Plenty Schematic, Digital Rendering, 2014

Good and Plenty Schematic, Digital Rendering, 2014

Once I have finalized the schematic I set about building and painting the dioramas using household goods, broken or used model kits, architectural model building materials and synthetic paints mostly derived from crude oil.

Good and Plenty Diorama, 2015

Good and Plenty Diorama, 2015

Some of these dioramas measured up to 4 to 5 feet in height, width and/or depth, before I photographed them and progressed into post-production to create the final image and print.

Good and Plenty, Sweet Tooth Series, 2014-2016

Good and Plenty, Sweet Tooth Series, 2014-2016

The most challenging aspect to making my art is in how to rethink my fascination with the sublime in contemporary society, and translate this into a unique visual that can continue to attract and engage the viewer in a necessary dialogue about our time.

If you are interested in learning more about my works and background please visit my website www.neilmarcello.com. You can also connect with me on Instagram @neilmarcello and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/neil.marcello/


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Neil’s work in our current exhibition “Utopia/Dystopia” (juried by John Massier, curator at Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center in Buffalo, NY). The exhibition runs through June 30, 2017. Neil’s piece, “Good and Plenty, The Sweet Tooth Series”, is also available for purchase in our online gallery shop:
store.mainstreetartsgallery.com

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Brittany Rea

My interest in art started before my memories truly do. I was raised in Branchburg, NJ, a small town in Northern Central New Jersey. Growing up I had incredibly supportive parents and a slew of amazing art teachers who showed me the importance and allure of art. I have since spent most of my post-high school life moving throughout New York State and had a short stay in California for an artist residency at the Sonoma Community Center.

Photo Credit: bridget Hagen, 2016

Photo Credit: bridget Hagen, 2016

Art has been one of the few constants in my life, though its meaning in my life has evolved over the years. Growing up I enjoyed drawing mostly in pastel, which led to painting, which led to going to art school. I took classes as a high school student at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and attended a vocational school where I spent many hours of my day in a classroom specially focused on graphic design and fine art. I attended Pratt at Munson-Williams-Proctor Art Institute for Art Education which would lead me directly to my dream school, Pratt Art Institute. While at PrattMWP I took my first ceramics wheel class, which changed my entire path. The mesmerizing and meditative qualities of clay instantly captivated me. My professor, Bryan McGrath, encouraged me to apply to the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, one of the top ceramics schools in the country. I started at Alfred the following semester. Here, I also found a love for sculpture, specifically creating room installations, and clay and sculpture were my concentrations for the remainder of my higher education, continuing all the while with a minor in Art Education.

Healing Memory 2013

Healing Memory 2013

As Above, So Below 2013

As Above, So Below 2013

Upon graduation, I began working at the Creative Studios of the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, NY and began working as the Production Assistant for my former professor and immense talent, Kala Stein. While her assistant, Kala was hired as the Ceramics Director at the Sonoma Community Center in Sonoma, California. She encouraged me to apply for the technician position, and  through this application I was offered a six month artist residency at Sonoma Ceramics, where my more recognizable jewelry design style and work was born.

Photo Credit Nicoletta Camerin

Photo Credit Nicoletta Camerin

I had been working with a jeweler, Marisa Krol of Interstellar Lovecraft, while in Rochester prior to my residency, working to learn the basics of jewelry making. I had always been interested in making jewelry, and grew up creating simple pieces for my family and myself. Ironically enough, I was enrolled in a Small Metals class while at PrattMWP but decided to continue on with another ceramics class instead- just shows how things can come full circle! While I was in Sonoma I decide to try my hand at making wearable clay jewelry.

Then v. Now

Then v. Now

This original work was based off of sketches I was doing from rocks and shells I had found while in Maine at Haystack Mountain School of Craft working as a Studio Assistant to David Eichelberger. These first pieces were not the strongest, but I felt I was onto something, so I persisted.

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Using Nichrome Wire to make small attachments and simple adornments on my jewelry designs, I continued to push this idea further by layering the thin wire and playing with the negative/positive space it created. I started using Cassius Clay, a cone 5 clay that fires black, to contrast the use of the chrome-colored wire.

Nicoletta Camerin

Nicoletta Camerin

Wanting to continue with this method of making but also having an urge to work larger, I began making hundreds of these small, pendant-like pieces to create an installation.

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intro|spectate 2016

intro|spectate 2016

intro|spectate, Self + Sonder, and 10 Suggestions are collections of work by Brittany Rea with a central focus on introspection and the inadvertent impact we have on those around us. The object-hood of this work is one facet of its existence while the awareness of self and the unidentified other are consequential.

Through the use of vitreous black clay embellished with delicately crafted metallic wire, Rea exemplifies the idea of inherent beauty. The use of open space invites the viewer to look beyond the materiality of the objects to further examine their abstract significance. The duality of intro|spectate creates two experiences: one of material, one of spectator.

This exhibition is about reflection brought by looking and seeing, both within and without and is the culmination of Rea’s time spent as the Resident Artist at the Sonoma Community Center.“ (Artist Statement from exit show)

intro|spectate (detail)

intro|spectate (detail)

intro|spectate (detail)

intro|spectate (detail)

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Upon returning to Rochester I was offered a residency at the Adorned Studios – joining the amazing forces of Interstellar Lovecraft and Inner Loop Design Co.

The Adorned Studio -I'm pictured with Amber Dutcher of Inner Loop Design Co (center) and Marisa Krol of Interstellar Lovecraft (right) photo credit Arielle Ferraro

The Adorned Studio -I’m pictured with Amber Dutcher of Inner Loop Design Co (center) and Marisa Krol of Interstellar Lovecraft (right) photo credit Arielle Ferraro

At this time I found that a lack of easy access to kilns would drastically alter my studio process, so I started to delve further into metal fabrication.

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This is when I started to push my ideas as a designer, and started using more quality materials such as sterling silver. Even with this new process, I wanted to maintain the aesthetic of the work I was making in California, so I began using polymer clay.

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This material was easily malleable meaning I could form it to be seamless within my designs, and I didn’t have to wait for a kiln to cool, so the turnover time was incredible!

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I could start and finish a piece in one day – never before was that a possibility with clay.

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Polymer was a great material to use for a time, but I wanted to continue to grow and use more sophisticated, quality materials.

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I started incorporating gemstones into my work, and am continuing to push this further. In the past few months I’ve enjoyed using my work for a greater good.

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(JBOS Series – Proceeds go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and a breast cancer survivor)

I started to make lines devoted to specific causes with proceeds being donated to different foundations and causes.

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One Collective Heart (Proceeds are divided and donated to the Americans Civil Liberties Union, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Natural Resource Defense Council).

I hope to continue pushing my abilities, and using my work for the betterment of those and that which surround me. I am currently moving into a new studio situation and am looking forward to the inspiration new beginnings can bring!

Photo credit Bridget Hagen 2016

Photo credit Bridget Hagen 2016

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Stop by Main Street Arts to see Brittany’s jewelry in our gallery shop. Visit Brittany’s website at www.brittanyrea.com and follow Brittany on Instagram @rea.designs to see her artwork, process, and even some travel photos! Find Brittany on Facebook at www.facebook.com/brittanyreajewelryandart.

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by local artist Andy Reddout.

Inside (or outside) the Artist’s Studio with Andy Reddout

Andy’s artwork is on view in “Sketchbooks: Genine Carvalheira-Gehman and Andy Reddout” in our second floor gallery. His work is available for purchase in our Online Shop:
store.mainstreetartsgallery.com


Sketching in the back fields at The Apple Farm in Victor NY

Sketching in the back fields at The Apple Farm in Victor NY

I grew up in Victor NY, and attended Victor High School. After taking all of the art courses Victor had to offer I attended SUNY Cortland to become an art teacher. After realizing they threw out my major and didn’t tell me, I enrolled in their Studio Art program. During that time my printmaking professor introduced me to the graphic design program at RIT. The day after graduating from RIT I was fortunate enough to get my first job as an Art Director in the local advertising scene. I made TV commercials, ads, web sites, logos and billboards for international and local companies. After about eight years of working twelve hour days, weekends and holidays I needed a change. I eventually quit, got my Masters in Art Education from RIT (again), and became an art teacher. For the past 10 years I taught K-5 elementary art in Bloomfield NY, coached basketball, soccer and tennis. This past year I made the switch to Victor Senior High School where I teach Studio Art and Computer Generated Art. I also coach Modified Boys Basketball and Modified Boys Tennis.

Sketching at the Public Market, Rochester NY.

Sketching at the Public Market, Rochester NY.

I don’t want label myself as a “sketchbook artist” because it seems to take away from what I love to do which is capturing moments as I see them. If I don’t have my whole sketching kit with me–I can be found having a sketchbook and pen handy. I like to arrive early to doctor’s appointments and sketch the other patients, take an extra half an hour at Wegmans, or sit quietly in the corner of my favorite restaurant sketching away. I find I love layovers in airports since I started sketching–when people are engrossed in technology they make great models!

A majority of my drawings are made “en plein air” which is a term reserved for painting outdoors, or on-site. I will start and finish my drawings on-site and if my model moves, or a car parks in front of my subject–so be it!

A detail of my ever-expanding drawing kit.

A detail of my ever-expanding drawing kit.

Since I am drawing and painting on location my sketching tools have to be portable and reliable. I use a handful of different fountain pens filled with different colored inks–some of which are water-soluable and make for great effects. My watercolor kit contains 24 colors with emphasis on the primary colors (I have 9 different blues!) I have a few travel brushes, as well as some water brushes with water in the handles for quick painting. I rarely sketch in pencil first, but when I do I use some overpriced pencil I bought in Paris. My sketchbook choice took some twists and turns but after some amazing customer service and paper quality that can’t be beat, I use Stillman & Birn sketchbooks. I am a huge fan of their “Beta” paper which is an extra heavy weight paper ideal for watercolor and general abuse. I put all of this in my trusty Timbuk2 bag which has been to different countries, had coffee spilled in it, and pins pierced through the flap from where my sketches have taken me.

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When I started sketching I stayed away from people and anything people related. Instead, I focused a lot on objects and places. Whenever I attempted to sketch people they turned out like cartoon characters and lacked expression. So for a year I focused on sketching people only and failed over and over again. I even took a portrait drawing class trying to overcome my fear. So if you look back on my sketches in book #2–my people are very-remedial and limited in scope. And now I feel as if I can capture a person’s likeness and emotion light-years beyond where I was.

A sketch on the streets of Montefioralle, Italy

A sketch on the streets of Montefioralle, Italy

Sketching for me is a way to capture life’s moments in a more meaningful way than a snap of a camera. With all of my sketches–and with great detail–I can recall who I was with, the weather, our conversations–even what I was wearing that day. I’ve been fortunate enough to have travelled to Europe and have sketched my way through the trips. A camera is an easy way to capture a moment and often a forgotten memento. But with my constant drawing these sketchbooks turn into prized possessions that tell a story. A recorded history. Moments in time. So as I progress, I’d just very simply like to continue to do what I am doing. Draw.

Captured on a sketchcrawl through Rochester, NY

Captured on a sketchcrawl through Rochester, NY

I get a lot of my inspiration from other artists that are sketching on location. Finding UrbanSketchers.org has changed the world of sketching for me. There are numerous links to artists, techniques and tools. You can get lost in there for days! I will be attending their UrbanSketchers Symposium this July in Chicago. Every year they pick a different city and this year is finally back in the states. I will have the chance to meet–and take classes from–a few of the “urban sketching all stars” that I look up to. Meeting and talking with other artists is a major influence and part of what makes this process so fun.

Sketching at the Cajun Jam at Coffee Connections

Sketching at the Cajun Jam at Coffee Connections

I attempt to maintain a blog of my work and travels: reddout.blogspot.com but Instagram (areddout) has made it more enjoyable to post art work and interact with other artists. With Instagram I’ve been able to meet other artists I admire, and actually got to go sketch with two of them while visiting Barcelona!


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Andy’s artwork in “Sketchbooks: Genine Carvalheira-Gehman and Andy Reddout” in our second floor gallery from  February 25–March 31, 2017. Visit his website at www.reddout.blogspot.com and follow Andy on Instagram @areddout.

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by photographer Jenn Libby.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Ian Sherlock

Ian’s artwork is on view in “Alternative Photographic Process”. His work is available for purchase in our Online Shop:
store.mainstreetartsgallery.com


I make photographs, sounds, and drawings centered around the land. I studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and Syracuse University in Upstate New York where I earned my BFA in Fine Art Photography. Upon graduating, I worked as a professional printmaker at Lightwork and have recently made the move to further my understanding of “natural” environments by leaving for a job with the Boy Scouts of America in the Green Mountains. I play in a punk band, run for lengths of time that cause my organs to fail, and make art from time to time.

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Photography is the medium I work in most for my art.  I am always seeking calmness and stillness and photography aids in the preservation of this quality. It creates tranquility, which is something I appreciate. I photograph primarily in black and white as I like the simplicity of only looking at/for light, shadow, and contrast versus color relationships. Working in greyscale also removes the image from reality even further, as I am not interested in documentation but rather using photographs to describe and evoke feelings, moods, and metaphors.

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Most of my images are shot on film as it elevates the medium to the same level of preciousness as the subjects that I am photographing. This process slows me down, makes me think more completely, and allows me to spend more time looking at and interacting with landscapes or subjects versus firing the shutter blindly. Post-image making, film allows me the ability to make prints by hand, in a more intuitive and intimate fashion. Working in the darkroom engages my hands and helps to synchronize mind and body in the same way my other practices like running do.

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Photography’s other strength is that it can exist on paper, as opposed to mediums like sculpture or video. Prints are tangible and can either be considered disposable or precious merely by their presentation. In particular, photo books have an incredible ability to encapsulate a completed work that a photographer is trying to express. This is appealing to me as I like projects that have a definitive conclusion.

A photo book can also evoke a certain sense of preciousness and intimacy. Looking at a book is usually a more private experience and it is on the terms of the viewer.

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My creative interests originated in my early involvement in the punk scene. While the “Do It Yourself” ethics of punk fundamentally aid in all of my endeavors, they are displayed most explicitly in my sound art. I hesitate to consider my sound pieces “music”, but the aggression, tension and vulnerability that is present in my work stems very much from the punk music I grew up immersed in and continue to listen to today. My introduction to sound art has also allowed me to interact with an entirely different audience, as I am able to share this category of my work at concerts with people unfamiliar with or uninterested in contemporary visual art.

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Like in my other mediums, interaction with the land is crucial in my sound art. I usually start with an experience in a “natural” environment or use field recordings from a place. I then utilize synthesizers, various re-purposed pedals, contact microphones on objects and cassettes to add an atmosphere that I feel best represents the feelings I have in those spaces that is not necessarily there to record.

I am growing increasingly interested in the relationship between sound and image and how I can better blend the two mediums into a synonymous and singular project.

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I don’t have a studio per say, at least not in a physical form. Much of my time thinking, reflecting, and conceptualizing is done while running. To me, running is very much the same as art making. While I run to come up with ideas to make art about, sometimes the run itself is the action and resolution to those thoughts or feelings. It is a medium of equal importance and possibility as a visual or sonic art. The meditative repetition and direct interaction with the land puts me in a deep inner space where I can reflect and conceptualize. I also race in events called ultra-marathons; which consist of distances that are longer than marathons. When I push myself to these limits, I feel a unique form of vulnerability and explore parts of my own mind that I feel are unreachable otherwise.

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The project I have most recently concluded is called “Dearheart”. “Dearheart” represents my personal fantasies of escapism, and an understanding of our society’s universal fascination with this idea as well. More specifically, I’m interested in the evidence of how this notion of escapism has manifested physically in the landscape itself, transformed in the wake of our endeavors to be transported, and to escape. The land has similar desires to us when it comes to escaping, solitude, and the act of hiding. I believe my consideration of this relationship creates a stronger connection between myself and the spaces I occupy. The process of making these images is an attempt at better understanding this relationship and I hope to translate my efforts to others the best that I am able.

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Stop by Main Street Arts to see Ian Sherlock’s artwork in “Alternative Photographic Process” (runs February 25–March 31, 2017). Visit Ian’s website at www.ian-sherlock.com and follow him on Instagram @iansherlockxvx. You can email Ian at iansherlockxvx@gmail.com.

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by Rochester artist Rachel Cordaro.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Rachel Cordaro

“Leave room for inspiration and the mood to create will present itself.”

~Rachel Cordaro

Artist Rachel Cordaro Photography by Katie Finnerty

Artist Rachel Cordaro Photography by Katie Finnerty

Hi! I’m Rachel Cordaro, a Rochester NY native- born and raised. I grew up with great encouraging artistic parents. I am the youngest of three hilariously endearing siblings. I have been an artist my whole life. Dabbling in art shows I decided to make it a permanent career in 2010. I am best known for my vibrant and cheerful floral paintings using acrylics on canvas as well as my hand crochet neck ruffs! Most recently I am taking my career to the next level as I have been pursuing the textile world! Putting my floral prints on pillows, tablecloths and other home fabrics!

My home studio! Photography by Kate Finnerty

My home studio! Photography by Kate Finnerty

What makes me tick!??
I am extremely passionate about what I do. I have a super supportive husband and family. Rochester makes me feel inspired to do what I do. It is truly a platform for entrepreneurs and a rich art community. Painting and textile work for me is therapeutic and fulfilling. There is no better feeling than expressing what is inside of me onto canvas and creating for the world to see.

My favorite part of what I do is having the luxury to be the BOSS!! I work best that way. I can create at my leisure and it is fantastic. Also I love that my husband Cordell and I are both artists so we can be on the same page.

Magnolias are one of my favorite flowers to paint. "Flower Market" Original Painting by Rachel Cordaro. Photography by Katie Finnerty

Magnolias are one of my favorite flowers to paint. “Flower Market” Original Painting by Rachel Cordaro. Photography by Katie Finnerty

Artist Rachel Cordaro Photography by Hannah Betts

Artist Rachel Cordaro Photography by Hannah Betts


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Rachel Cordaro’s paintings and neck ruff in the gallery. Visit Rachel’s website at www.rachelcordaro.com and follow her on Instagram @rachelcordaroart

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by Jessie Marianacci Valone of jmv ceramics.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Jillian Cooper

I spent my early childhood growing up in Manchester, New Hampshire and then moved to Lubbock, Texas where I remained for 20 years.  I earned my MFA with concentrations in Ceramics and Metalsmithing/Jewelry from Texas Tech University in 2015.  Currently, I am living in Plano, Texas where I work at Collin College as the Ceramics Lab Coordinator.

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I enjoy using lace in my work because it can be found embellishing everything from tablecloths to underwear.  It can be innocent, seductive, outrageous, delicate, timeless and trendy. It appears on babies, brides, entertainers and grandmothers.  The incorporation of lace allows me to simultaneously represent a variety of associations.

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I have only recently began using plaid in my work.  It started as a suggestion from a friend and I ran with it.  The more I research it, the more I enjoy using it much for the same reason I use lace. Its broad spectrum of use and associations from historic family tartans, to the lumberjack, to the school girl leave so much room for interpretation

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“Plaid Mug” featured in The Cup, The Mug exhibition

I use Laguna Dark Brown boxed clay. I start out with a simple slab built cylinder.  I slip and score the seam and use the overlap as part of my design instead of smoothing it out.

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When the cylinder is formed I use it as a template to cut out a rough circle for the bottom.

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Thick slip is painted over lace on the slab that is going to be the inside bottom of the mug.

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When the slip is no longer tacky, I peel away the lace.

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The bottom of the cylinder is slipped and scored and carefully attached to the bottom.

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The excess slip around the edges is wiped away and the remaining clay is pushed up against the cylinder creating a lip around the bottom.  The basic cylinder shape is gently formed into a softer edged form.

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I use a rubber tipped tool to divide the surface into an area that will have lace added to it.  The area without the lace is pushed out slightly more from the inside.

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Again, thick slip is painted over lace and allowed to sit until it is no longer tacky.

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The lace is peeled away and any excess slip is wiped away with a rubber tipped tool.  I use a drill bit to remove clay so that the stitches are recessed into the clay and not just sitting on top.

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Small coils are rolled out and pressed into the holes to create the stitches.

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When the clay dry, I sketch out a (very) rough plaid pattern.

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Three coats of underglaze are applied, then it is bisque fired to cone 08.

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After bisque firing, a clear or celadon glaze is applied on the interior.  The lace and stitches are waxed and a clear glaze is applied over the outside.  I then fire to cone 10 in reduction.

My plaid cups are still in their early stages of experimentation and development, but I am excited to see what they grow into from here.  You can find me and my work on Instagram @toberninejilly or on my website at www.jilliancooper.com


Stop by Main Street Arts to see the mug shown above by Jillian Cooper in our current exhibition “The Cup, The Mug: A National Juried Exhibition of Drinking Vessels” (juried by ceramic artist Peter Pincus, exhibition runs through January 6th). 

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Cat Clay: Pop Vintage

Cat Clay’s work is on view in our juried exhibition “Small Works 2016”. Their work is available for purchase in our Online Gallery Shop:
store.mainstreetartsgallery.com


Cat Clay was founded by Clifton Wood, a gorgeous calico who stepped on a rainbow the same day as Prince.

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Miss Clifton Wood

She has been reincarnated as the Dalai Kitten, Miss Beckett. The sole employee of Cat Clay is Sabra, who also doubles as a mediocre kitten servant.

Our studio was founded 10 years ago, after taking classes at Genesee Pottery and RIT, as well as working alongside Stephen Merritt & Richard Aerni. We are located in the historic Hungerford Building in Rochester, New York. Cat Clay’s cozy studio has all the usual components: wheel, slab roller, kiln, display shelves. Plus an executive gym for Beckett.

Cat Clay studio

Cat Clay studio

We make functional pottery and sculpture, and are best known for our mug shot mugs.

David Bowie mugshot mug

David Bowie mugshot mug

And this time of year, we make ornaments – lots & lots of ornaments. With critical quality control being provided by senior management.

Quality control of ornaments by Miss Beckett Wood

Quality control of ornaments by Miss Beckett Wood

The other mainstay of our studio is Pop Vintage, where we transform vintage china into pieces that appeal to a new generation of collectors. This is done by designing an image with pop references, applying it to the china, then re-firing it in the kiln.

The first step in creating a Pop Vintage piece is to buy vintage china. A lot of vintage china. 6 shelving units of vintage china. Too much china? A lot of our friends are enablers, acting as pickers – keeping a lookout when they go thrifting or to estate sales.

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When we bring home a new pattern, we test it for lead – both to meet federal regulations, and to be sure our kiln is not contaminated and fuming lead on everything that’s fired in it.

Once we pass that hurdle, the guess work begins: how hot was the glaze fired on the vintage china?

If under-fired, the image isn’t melted enough into the surface of the glaze and will rub off. If over-fired, the image will disappear. Or bloating can happen, so that the piece looks like it has the plague, like poor Mr. Sloth (pictured below). Or even worse, the piece can melt down, turning into a lava flow in the kiln, and taking out everything in its path. Most of our vintage china is successfully re-fired to a point from 1900-2300 degrees – and a mere 50 degree difference can spell success or failure.

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Even if we guess correctly, there may be a defect in the piece that isn’t visible until after the firing. Soup saves lives, but it couldn’t save the invisible crack that grew in the kiln.

Bowl cracked during firing

Bowl cracked during firing

When we started making pop vintage, about 3 out of 10 pieces were successful. But we fell in love with those successes and kept plugging away. Now, given a new china pattern by an unknown maker, we guess correctly about 70% of the time.

And our images? We design them using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.  Sometimes current events inspire a design, such as our St. Bowie ornament, where we added renaissance wings and halo.

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Other times, we incorporate  lots of vintage illustrations with a snarky twist, to make the bridge from vintage to pop. For Valentine’s Day, we’ll couple an old print of cutlery and pair it with the caption, “Spooning leads to forking”. Or take a vintage cupid, and substitute an AK47 for the bow and arrow, with the added words, “Love hurts”.

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Then comes marrying the image to a specific piece of china, taking into account how the china’s colors will change from the kiln’s heat. And adjusting the contrast of the image so that it pairs well with the vintage glaze characteristics.

Once that’s done, we  re-size the image for the specific china, print it on special paper that creates a water-slide decal, cut it out, soak it in water and apply it to the plate. At this point, the decal is a stark black. A design may be a simple one-image decal. Or there can be over 20 individual decals that are hand-placed on one object.

Plates with images, before firing

Plates with images, before firing

Now it’s time to carefully pack up everything, load it in the car and take it to the kiln at the studio.

The kiln will fire for 8-12 hours and cool for 16 hours before we can unload it. And at the end, if all has gone well, we have a Pop Vintage piece. The decal image is now a warm sepia, and the original colors of the vintage china have softened.

"Surrender, Soviet Shark Subs"

“Surrender, Soviet Shark Subs”

Want to see more of our work? Look no further than Main Street Arts, which carries our Pop Vintage year round. Or check us out on Instagram: @cat.clay. And feel free to visit the studio – we’re there a lot!

In our spare time, we host Graphic Ear, a radio show on WAYO 104.3.

Our radio show on WAYO 104.3

Our radio show on WAYO 104.3

Each Thursday at 6pm, we have a visual artist as our guest, and talk about their life & work and play the music their favorite music. And we’ve had members of the Main Street Arts on – both Bradley Butler and Melissa Huang!

Bradley Butler on Graphic Ear

Bradley Butler on Graphic Ear


 

Stop by Main Street Arts to see Cat Clay’s work in our current exhibition “Small Works 2016” (juried by Bleu Cease, Executive Director/Curator of RoCo; exhibition runs through January 6th). Sabra and Beckett’s work is available in our Online Gallery Shop: store.mainstreetartsgallery.com. and in our physical gallery shop. 

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Werner Sun: Redbud Reconsidered

Werner’s artwork is on view in our juried exhibition “Small Works 2016”. His work is available for purchase in our Online Gallery Shop:
store.mainstreetartsgallery.com


I am an abstract artist from Ithaca, NY and I work with digital prints, drawings, and other paper materials that I cut and fold into three-dimensional patterns. I started making these paper sculptures about five years ago. At the time I was experimenting with digital photographic compositions, but I wanted them to be more than just pixels on a computer screen; I wanted to work with them as physical objects. These folded sculptures are my way of establishing a kind of intimacy with my images.

Werner Sun in his studio.

Werner Sun in his studio.

Below, I show the process I used for a recent wall sculpture (18″ x 24″ x 2″) called Redbud Reconsidered. This piece began with a photograph I took of a redbud tree in my yard on a sunny October day, when the leaves were a brilliant shade of gold.

Source photograph for Redbud Reconsidered.

Source photograph for Redbud Reconsidered.

Then, I brought this image into Photoshop and combined it with some abstracted floating shapes derived from a different photograph.

Manipulated photograph for Redbud Reconsidered.

Manipulated photograph for Redbud Reconsidered.

At this point, I made a 12″ x 16″ archival inkjet print of the image. Instead of folding the print itself (as I usually do), I decided to overlay some patterns made from plain white paper. Below, you can see the folded elements being constructed and then arranged on the print.

Constructing the folded paper elements.

Constructing the folded paper elements.

Sculptural folded paper patterns.

Sculptural folded paper patterns.

Folded paper elements with manipulated photograph.

Folded paper elements with manipulated photograph.

In playing around with the composition, I couldn’t get the proportions quite right. So, I reprinted the image in a larger size and added pencil drawings on top. I also introduced a second, smaller version of the folded pattern to soften the visual rhythm. Finally, I mounted the new print and the folded elements on a 18″ x 24″ x 1.5″ wooden board (painted black), and I coated all the exposed paper with protective acrylic varnish. The finished piece is shown below.

Redbud Reconsidered, full view from front.

Redbud Reconsidered, full view from front.

Redbud Reconsidered, detail view.

Redbud Reconsidered, detail view.

Redbud Reconsidered, detail view.

Redbud Reconsidered, detail view.

Redbud Reconsidered, side view.

Redbud Reconsidered, side view.

A consistent theme in my work has been the use of patterns to transform my visual materials. I am a particle physicist by training, and I’m fascinated by how people figure things out, how our brains can come up with new knowledge by teasing out patterns from a sea of data. So, in a way, my artistic process mirrors my scientific process. In Redbud Reconsidered, I’m treating the source image as data to be understood, and the alterations I’ve made by hand — the pencil drawings and folded paper — grow out of a close examination of the material. These superimposed patterns therefore serve as a lasting record of my own curiosity.


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Werner’s work in our current exhibition “Small Works 2016” (juried by Bleu Cease, Executive Director/Curator of RoCo; exhibition runs through January 6th). Werner’s work is available in our Online Gallery Shop: store.mainstreetartsgallery.com. Visit his website at www.wernersun.com and follow him on Instagram @wernersun.

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by painter Kathryn E. Noska.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Kathryn E. Noska

Kathryn’s artwork is on view in our juried exhibition “Small Works 2016”. Her work is available for purchase in our Online Gallery Shop:
store.mainstreetartsgallery.com


I hold an Associates in Fine Art and reside in Pennsylvania.  I’ve been accepted in numerous juried exhibitions and have won several local and national awards.  My motto, “Take Time to Find the Unseen” is realized through Symbolism, the language of my art.  I paint mystic still life in mythic landscapes using curious compositions, representational symbolism, and philosophic whimsy.

As an artist with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, (sensitization to extremely low levels of many seemingly unrelated chemicals, pollutants and toxins), I’ve traveled a winding road to find safe, nontoxic materials that won’t trigger any symptoms.  My goal is to express my personal sense of creativity – healthfully.

Come with me as I relate this journey…

Me in my studio

Me in my studio

I was trained as an oil painter from the age of 12, but by college I had to give it up due to reactions to the solvents.  I then worked with acrylics for many years, but my symptoms gradually increased because the formaldehyde and ammonia in acrylics was too much for my body to handle.

Knowing that I could not work with any solvents or chemicals, I stopped painting altogether and for the last 5 years worked on a series of drawings.  However, being an oil painter at heart with a strong passion, purpose and persistence, I went back to research in 2015 and learned about the solvent-free oil painting method used by many Old Master Painters.

Studio with still life setup

Studio with still life setup

My journey continued as I searched for a chemical and alkyd free oil paint.  After trying the paints from several very good companies, to which my body still reacted, I discovered Art Treehouse, which makes paint with cold-pressed walnut oil that are completely free of chemicals at all stages of the processing.  Huzzah!

The Art Treehouse colors and oils I use

The Art Treehouse colors and oils I use

Now that I am working completely solvent-free with slower drying walnut oil paints, I have to make some adjustments to my familiar painting process.

Stages of my painting process:

First, I develop a detailed drawing on grid paper using a harmonic grid to aid the placement of my composition.

The drawing composition on grid paper.

The drawing composition on grid paper.

Harmonic Grid I use to create a pleasing composition.

Harmonic Grid I use to create a pleasing composition.

Next, I trace it on a panel using a burnt umber oil transfer technique, then thinly paint a brunaille underpainting.

Oil transfer onto panel and brunaille underpainting.

Oil transfer onto panel and brunaille underpainting.

Once the underpainting is dry, I apply many mechanically thin layers of color often adding a small amount of umber and/or rubbing the paint down with paper towel to help them dry a little faster.  Because walnut oil is less viscous than linseed oil, I have no need for any additional medium.  I work with straight tube paint, only adding a little water-washed walnut oil to the upper layers as needed.

First layer of color applied thinly.

First layer of color applied thinly.

Beginning to add volume and details.

Beginning to add volume and details.

Both heat and light help speed the oxidation process of oils.  I place the painting inside an insulated box using the small amount of heat from either a low 25 watt incandescent or high wattage LED lightbulb to help speed the drying time – free of solvent and sensitivity!  (Of course it still requires patience.)  :-)

Paintings inside the heat box.  I use an old insulated cooler with LED lamp.  The box is kept closed :-)

Paintings in the heat box (old insulated cooler).  If using an incandescent, keep the lid open slightly to allow air flow.  If using an LED keep the lid closed – they don’t produce much heat.

Clean up is easy.  Walnut oil is expensive, so rather than use it for clean up I use a less expensive oil like grapeseed or sunflower.  I rinse the brushes in the oil and wipe them on a paper towel repeating this several times to remove most of the oil paint.  I then repeatedly wash the brushes using an oil soap (I use Dr. Bronner’s Unscented bar soap) until the soapsuds remain white.  The palette I use is a butcher’s tray which is cleaned up just as easily by wiping with oil, then with soap and water.

Symbolism of Finished Painting:  This painting depicts going within to sweep away negativity.

Grapefruit: One’s state of mind – sour or sweet.  Broom: Change; Material and spiritual cleansing; Clean sweep.  Book: Knowledge; Wisdom; Chronicle of existence.

Mind Sweep - Sour or Sweet.  8 x 10  Oil on Panel  © 2016 Kathryn E. Noska

Mind Sweep – Sour or Sweet    8″ x 10″    Oil on Panel    © 2016 Kathryn E. Noska

“Metaphor is the path I travel to perceive, consider and understand the world.  I faithfully represent the seen, exterior of objects while revealing an internal, unseen spirit, thus transcending reality.  My paintings become a means for uncovering the veiled layers of reality cultivating conscious awareness of my life path”.

Gratefully, my journey continues!  Thanks for coming along with me. To keep in touch with what I’m doing or to see more of my art check out my website KathrynENoska.com and Like my Facebook Page – Kathryn E. Noska.  I love sharing my process on Instagram, too.  Please follow me @kathrynenoska.


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Kathryn’s work in our current exhibition “Small Works 2016” (juried by Bleu Cease, Executive Director/Curator of RoCo; exhibition runs through January 6th). Kathryn’s work is available in our Online Gallery Shop: store.mainstreetartsgallery.com

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by artist Megan Armstrong.