Tag Archives: Mixed Media

Meet the Artist in Residence: Marisa Boyd

Marisa Boyd, artist in residence at Main Street Arts, during the month of May 2018, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Marisa some questions about her work and studio practice:

marisa boyd

Marisa Boyd

Q: Tell us about your background.
I am from Central Illinois, living in the town of Bloomington-Normal. I am originally from Channahon, IL which is near Joliet, IL. I moved to Bloomington-Normal in 2013 to attend college at Illinois State University for my BFA. Now that I am graduated, I enjoy reading a number of books I have laid out throughout my apartment and keeping a daily drawing practice. I spend my days walking throughout the downtown area of Bloomington and sharing an art studio with my best friend.

Q: How long have you been making artwork?
I have always been making art since I was a child. Moving forward into high school, I focused on more realism and narrative scenes. During the beginning of art school, my practice began to shift into abstraction. I went to Illinois State University for art school.

"Nothing Entirely Surprising" by Marisa Boyd

“Nothing Entirely Surprising” by Marisa Boyd

Q: What was your experience like at art school?
My experience was the most beautiful, busy, stressful part of my life that I have encountered so far. I have never not slept so much, staying up all hours of the night obsessing over the latest idea that popped into my brain.…which would word vomit to anyone I began talking to about art to in the hallway. I was similar to many former and current art students being willing to do anything to get further into their inquiry while simultaneously feeling like there was more that could be done. I still struggle with this today. Ultimately, I met incredible people and artists that have influenced me throughout my time at Illinois State University.

Q: Do you have a job other than making art?
I am a server at a farm to table restaurant called Anju Above in Bloomington, IL. On most days, I actually really enjoy my job!

Q: How would you describe your work?
I would describe it to be quiet with a hint of distress. I make simple drawings that are made with a micron pen. As well as shape cutouts that are made of wood, fiber board, paper, or fabric. I embrace simple gestures. My typical subject matter is abstract focusing on the “activity” of marks rather than an image.

Marisa Boyd

Marisa Boyd

 Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
For two years I have been developing a personal drawing practice that engages me to seek a space within myself. Creating “Closed Eye” drawings is meditative that focuses on silence and my ability to see, hear, and feel my surroundings. I wait for the after image behind my eyelids to disappear, then I seek out shapes and specific colors. My closed eye drawings are my primary source material for creating larger works out of plywood, fiberboard, paper, etc. I cut into the drawings to create a hole and have a whole shape remaining.

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
I tend to plan too much, I set far too many goals instead of focusing on one or two things to work on. I have had a sketchbook project in my mind for the past month that I can’t wait to get the time to complete. In addition, my goal is to create as many paper drawing/ paintings as possible. I hope to find some material that will speak to me in a way that urges me to use my jigsaw to cut it into a shape with beveled edges. I am bringing a collection of velvet fabrics that are waiting to be the covering of a shape or used as a atmospheric ground.

Work by Marisa Boyd

Work by Marisa Boyd

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio?
I call it my “sharp tool,” although I believe it is for printmaking. I stumbled upon it at the DickBlick outlet in Galesburg, IL. This tool lead me to a revelation with my work. I began to scratch lines into paper and tear it creating sharp openings. The lines became an outline for cutting out a shape around the contour of the drawing.

Q: Do you collect anything?
I collect a variety of objects. My rock collection began at an early age and I still have the same jar containing the rocks from when I was a child. I look at the ground often when I walk, which leads me to collecting natural objects and photographs of them with their surroundings. The strangest thing I collect is lint from when I dry my clothes in the dryer. I began doing this in the beginning of 2017 thinking about my body and what covers it. I held attachment to lint because of the various colors of fibers and the shape it makes.

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why?
Eva Hesse is my favorite artist. Her approach to Abstract Expression inspires me to not reject that label. The artwork existed in that realm while also developing into something of its own. Her persistence is an inspiration to me. I love that she explored drawing, painting and sculpture. During the last five years of her life, she produced so many incredible works of art. I have traveled to the MoMA, Seattle Art Museum, and Milwaukee Art Museum to see her artwork in person.

"Vital" by Marisa Boud

“Vital” by Marisa Boud

Q: What’s next for you?
Simply put…a road trip back to Illinois.

Q: Where else can we find you?
I can be found on Instagram @artsymars and at www.marisaboyd.com

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Matt Duquette

Matt Duquette

Matt Duquette

Being a 40-year-old commercial artist and graphic designer, gallery work has always been an idea in the back of my mind. I haven’t dedicated much effort to painting and showing because most of my creative energies are spent in the day-to-day of a design and illustration studio in Buffalo, NY. The gallery seems to be an allusive place where I’m required to be extroverted and share my thoughts and experiences. It does, however, offer an opportunity to create something purely for my own, with materials that allow for exploration.

While in school at RIT, I began to develop a loose, painterly style because I liked to convey action or even emotion of the moment. I was leaning more towards candid portraiture since most of my interests laid in music and sports. In 2000 I attended The School of Visual Art (SVA) in New York City to further develop my visual storytelling. Here, I began to include collaged elements—paper, photos, notes—to help explain the storyline and add visual texture.

Mixed media work from early 2000's

Mixed media work from early 2000′s

Many of my older paintings focused on personal life experiences or at least followed a surreal storytelling approach and almost always involved a figure. I was exploring concepts of home and family, along with the stresses of caring for an ill parent.

Matt Duquette

Figurative work “A New Day” & “Homesick”

A few years ago, after taking some time off from painting, I began drawing the chickens we raising on our small farm. It started merely as an exercise in making art, but I rather enjoyed it because there wasn’t much thought involved. I just drew pictures that I wanted to draw. That experiment has since sparked a number of paintings and drawings, and a new excitement which has allowed me to focus on style. I also get to talk about my chickens.

Matt Duquette

Chicken portraits

The series I worked on for the Dream State show a came at a time when my wife had just experienced a guided meditation dream involving an owl. Even before the show I knew that I wanted to do some type of bird interaction so it was perfect timing. Owl dreams have so many interpretations, but I did the best I could to remain close to her experience. The focus, of course, was the majestic owl guide in a outer space-like atmosphere.

Matt Duquette

Process detail

I’m most comfortable with acrylic paint because it’s fast drying, easy to control, and easy to clean up. It works well with collaged elements and layering of drawings. I typically work with washes of color to build the forms but quickly move to a dry brush technique to layer on the paint. I like to mix the color on the surface, so many times I’ll just use paint straight from the tube. For sometime I’ve used basically the same 6 colors: black, raw umber, burnt sienna, yellow ochre, pthalo blue, and gesso as my white. I only have 3–4 brushes that I’m comfortable using so I try to make it work with what little I have. Again, I would not classify myself as a fine artist.

Matt Duquette

Materials used for painting

You can view more of my personal artwork at mattduquette.com or follow my art and farming adventures on the Instagrams @matt12grain. Thanks for looking!


Five paintings by Matt Duquette can be seen in Dream State, on display through February 16, 2018. The exhibition also features photographs by Bill Finger (Seattle, WA), sculpture by Carrianne Hendrickson (Rochester, NY), and paintings by Lin Price (Ithaca, NY). Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased online. 

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Colleen Pendry: What it means to be a Hybrid Artist

For the artist, the process of “making” may appear aloof. We are independent thinkers, and for the most part are reserved. We pride ourselves in our separateness, however, we, or at least I, find great energy in the overall closeness we have with others through the sharing of our work.

Over the past 50 years, my work has taken on many forms. From copying “how to be an artist” matchbook covers when I was kid, to watercolor painting in the early seventies to oils and pastels in the eighties. In those early years my work was primarily seated in a two-dimensional realm, but, I always thought there was something missing. My aesthetic conversation seemed to be stifled…nothing more to say on a flat surface. The pretty pictures were simply that…pretty…lacking content and an extended dialogue.

Little did I know how growing up in the 1960′s, would truly impact my work. As history continued to repeat itself in the art world, I could see the same happening in my own work. The regurgitation of memory and materials, over and over again, began emerging as a relentless new discourse. Multiplicity, multiplicity, multiplicity.

Testimonial IV (2011) mixed media on acrylic panel

Testimonial IV (2011) mixed media on acrylic panel

Testimonial I (2011) mixed media on acrylic panel

Testimonial I (2011) mixed media on acrylic panel

My work made a significant departure from painting throughout the nineties when I began to merge genres and combine disparate materials and techniques. From a metaphorical standpoint this was the perfect path in pushing not only the making process, but  content as well. “There is a story to be told”, my mother always reminded me, and “you just need to find a way to tell it.”

As painting began to be pushed off the wall and then stripped totally from a traditional gallery installation, the dialogue changed, becoming compelling in both form and intent.

If This Wall Could Talk (2012) mixed media and light

If This Wall Could Talk  (2012) mixed media and light

 A Room with a View (2012) mixed media installation

A Room with a View (2012) mixed media installation

If you visit my studio you will find a great deal of stuff as I continue to embrace this new identity. I have found these collections of nothing a relevant source of material in most of my work and an endless reflection of the stuff in my head. This following series of small narratives, which had been brewing for quite some time, emerged from the studio in a most unexpected way.

In this series titled Where Have All the Flowers Gone, my intent was not to reveal any conclusions, but, force an inquisition, and open ended conversation about concepts relating to objectivity, political correctness, preciousness, humility and humanity. Underlying themes are complex and uncomfortable and meaning is uncertain. This particular work can be described as an intellectual layering by way of circumstance. Captured on shelves and in pristine plastic boxes familiar objects appear tangible yet illusive. Juxtaposed with the silhouette, memory becomes a source of meaning, albeit complicated and skewed. This circumstantial evidence, left to its own devices, has the potential to elicit from viewers the unexpected.

Because You're Worth It (2017) Gelatin capsules, silhouette, Barbie, wire, acrylic

Because You’re Worth It (2017)
Gelatin capsules, silhouette, Barbie, wire, acrylic

In a Heartbeat (2017) Shell casings, pedestal, silhouette, American Flag, toy gun,barbed wire, acrylic

In a Heartbeat (2017)
Shell casings, pedestal, silhouette, American Flag, toy gun, barbed wire, acrylic

First Responders (2017) Ashes, silhouette, Bible, Koran, ribbon, acrylic

First Responders (2017)
Ashes, silhouette, Bible, Koran, ribbon, acrylic

See Jane Run (2017) Doll parts, silhouette, Mary Jane shoes, acrylic *Where Have All the Flowers Gone – photography by Jeremy Leadbetter

See Jane Run (2017)
Doll parts, silhouette, Mary Jane shoes, acrylic
*Where Have All the Flowers Gone – photography by Jeremy Leadbetter

From this series came the work currently in the Small Works Exhibition at Main Street Arts.

Nature/Nurture (2017) Cicadidae shell, paper, beeswax, pedestal, silhouette, gold bands, string, acrylic

Nature/Nurture (2017)
Cicadidae shell, paper, beeswax, pedestal, silhouette, gold bands, string, acrylic

Nature/Nurture - detail

Nature/Nurture – detail

Nature:Nurture (2017) Cicadidae shells, handmade paper, crushed wasp next, baling twine, Swarovski crystal, synthetic pearl (collectively)

Nature:Nurture (2017)
Cicadidae shells, handmade paper, crushed wasp next, baling twine, Swarovski crystal, synthetic pearl (collectively)

As an homage to the wondrous images of Robert Mapplethorpe and the eternal debate of nature vs nurture, these works continue. The juxtaposition of form and content seem contradictory…makes sense I think.

Nature:Nurture IV Cicadidae shell, handmade paper, silver thread, silver beads

Nature:Nurture IV (2017)
Cicadidae shell, handmade paper, silver thread, silver beads

Nature:Nurture V (2017) Cicadidae shell, handmade paper, snakeskin

Nature:Nurture V (2017)
Cicadidae shell, handmade paper, snakeskin

Nature:Nurture VI (2017) Cicadidae shell, handmade paper, snake skin head

Nature:Nurture VI (2017)
Cicadidae shell, handmade paper, snake skin head

Thank you to Main Street Arts for the opportunity to share this work. I am truly grateful.

Colleen Pendry


Three of Colleen’s “Nature:Nurture” pieces are currently on display in Main Street Arts’ fourth annual “Small Works” exhibition (juried by Cory E. Card, former curator at View Arts Center in Old Forge, NY). The exhibition runs through January 4, 2018 and can be previewed onlinestore.mainstreetartsgallery.com

 

Meet the Artist in Residence: Ali Herrmann

Ali Herrmann, artist in residence at Main Street Arts during the month of September, 2017,  will be working on mixed-media encaustic paintings featuring female icons and role models. We asked Ali a few questions about her artwork and studio practice:

Ali Herrmann

Ali Herrmann

Q:  Tell us about your background
I live in the Berkshires; travel around upstate NY and Hudson River Valley selling my work at markets, fairs, and events.  I have been making art since a very young age—coloring books and a box of Crayola crayons were always my go to.  I went to Colgate University to pursue geology, but after not being satisfied with my choice in college and the academic requirements surrounding the school, I decided to switch majors, transfer, and convinced my geology professor to write a recommendation for application to Bennington College.  My intent was to focus on ceramics and painting, but as it turned out, fell in love with printmaking and continued to pursue painting. I’ve always maintained a multimedia approach to my work, even to this day.  In addition to making art, I teach classes in bookmaking and encaustic painting, bringing my techniques, knowledge and shared experiences to each class.

Encaustic Landscape with Trees

Encaustic Landscape with Trees

Q:  How would you describe your work?
My work is painting with a multi-media approach, using inks, papers, paint, encaustic wax, found object…the idea dictates the medium of choice. I often use multiple things in one painting, hence why I say ‘multi-media.’  Subject matter is typically botanical and nature oriented, in ways that I tend to personify it’s beauty.  There’s a graphic design element to my work, which is a trickle down effect from the very graphic-illustrative nature contributed by college printmaking techniques.

At work in the studio at Main Street Arts

At work in the studio at Main Street Arts

Q:  What is your process for creating a work of art?
My day typically starts around 7:25 am,  getting up with my built in alarm clock, then I head for coffee and journal writing.  It takes me a good hour to fully ‘wake up’ in the morning, even after I’ve gotten out of bed, so I’ve learned this is a good time to let out the thoughts, dreams, ideas, and mental clutter into my journals.  After that, depending on the weather, I may head to the studio or go for a walk/jog.  If I head to the studio, I am likely to turn on the hot plate and slowly start heating up my encaustic paints.  While I’m waiting for the materials to liquify to working state, I clean off the work surface from the day before, prep paper collage materials I think I may want to use, and organize my workspace…much like decluttering my mind in the morning journals. When the materials are ready, I begin with a meditative layering and heat setting process with the wax, developing a surface upon which to work.  Encaustic works in layers, so this medium suits me particularly well, given that I utilize a multi-media approach to other paint processes.  Some of the pieces take days or weeks, while others may be done in a few hours…the elements and working properties of the wax dictate the direction, so it’s an experience of being both in control at times and letting go.

Uma: B. Kiddo, 6” x 6” panel encaustic, 2017

Uma: B. Kiddo, 6” x 6” panel encaustic, 2017

Q:  What are your goals for this residency?
My goal for this residency is to create a body of work that uses portraiture as subject matter, particularly women icons and role models.  I anticipate creating 100 6”x6” encaustic portraits of women, using illustrative drawings, paper collage techniques, writings, and encaustic wax.  Portraiture is almost a big diversion from my typical work in encaustic, since I tend to be more focussed on incorporating color abstraction and illustrative narratives using symbols of plants, trees, and sailboats. However, working with the more illustrative pieces in my tree series, where I embed text, I felt a sense of empowerment through the text and it led me to want to personify a strong women icon series.  And with everything going on in the world of current events/politics, I personally find this a perfect time to explore this series. Also interesting is the idea of ‘icons’, since the history of encaustic was predominantly a process of preserving pieces, such as the face masks from the Fayum wedding portraits, so in a sense, I feel as if I am bringing my love and knowledge of encaustic full circle. Going back to the beginnings and root of why this medium gained attention, while bringing attention to modern day women.

A collection of small, handmade sketchbooks

A collection of small, handmade sketchbooks

Q:  Do you collect anything?
I have a fascination for collecting ‘objects of containment’, yes this needs defining.  For a long time, I used to collect sketchbooks and they would sit on a shelf, pristine blank books, waiting and wanting to be used, but at the time, I was out of college and focused on a day job, completely unrelated to anything artistic.  The blank books became a thing of admiration, a collection of sorts: pretty covers, sizes, different bindings.  Once I took a course on different bookmaking techniques and realized how ordinary these were, I started using them to sketch, paint, & write while I made more fun books to eventually use.  While I do have a collection of sketchbooks I’ve made, it’s more for demonstrations and teaching purposes, but they do get used!  Additionally, I have other objects of containment, ranging from a modern, funky purse collection to old wooden boxes: rice boxes, tea boxes, cheese boxes, wine boxes, pencil boxes, and shelf boxes.

Q:  Where are your favorite places to see artwork?
While I enjoy going to a gallery or museum to see work, I really never want to make a full day of it or spend a lot of time in them.  There is a silent, sterile quality that somehow ‘quiets’ the art for me.  I believe this is because I am a process oriented person.  I like to see work in progress, the sketches, the inner brainchild workings, the silly notes, and the processes involved in making work.  The two places I really enjoy to see art are in peoples homes or artist studios.  I think there’s a real intimacy seeing what people collect and how they display it in their environment.  As for artist studios, you get to see the raw and visceral experience of being engaged in the process.

Six, 6x6 inch panels in progress

Six, 6×6 inch panels in progress

Q:  Do you collect artwork?
I think artists always collect artwork.  My collection started in college, where I exchanged a few etchings and monoprints with other printmakers.  Having an affinity for pottery and coffee, I have always loved collecting mugs, though the functional, everyday use aspect of it never made me think I was ‘collecting art’, but rather, creating a collection of enjoyment.  My first purchase that actually made me feel like I was buying art ‘to collect’ was a small portrait piece I found in a boutique type gift shop in Asheville, NC ironically during a pottery visit in 2003.  I saw this lovely portrait and it reminded me of myself: haircut, red background (at the time I had a red Jeep wrangler), seeming poignant, isolated, alone, but having this ingrained presence that could light up a room.  I kept looking at it; however, did not buy it that moment because I thought: why would I want to buy a portrait?   Of who? Of someone I didn’t know?… and so continued on my journey around Asheville.  When my trip reached it’s end, I found myself racing back to the store in the early morning, hoping they would be open, because I simply needed my this piece in my life, regardless of who this person was in the portrait.  I think I even floored the shop owner when I said, ‘I need that’.  She was so excited for the artist, to be selling a piece of their work, but it was more than a sale or a purchase, I somehow connected with that piece in a way that went beyond the imagery, so it became needing it in my life, not simply wanting it.

Since then, I have collected etchings from an artist in New Hampshire, and tiny paintings from artists based in Portland, OR.  Overall, I can say that all the work has a very illustrative feel, despite some being whimsical paintings and others being detailed bug/botanical prints…they all have images of birds, bugs, botany, with the artists personal vision/flair. Artists include: Cori Dantini, Michele Maule, Rachel Austin, J. Ann Eldridge  

Q:  What is the most useful tool in your studio?
The most useful tool is the most unattractive, bright yellow, mundane looking tool: an automotive bond application/spreading tool, but it has a great name…the Dynatron!  While I do love a palette knife, I find this tool in my car, my purse, in the kitchen, and yes, all over the studio for all media, so it is the most purposeful.  Life changing actually!

DSC_0435

In the studio at Main Street Arts

Q:  What’s next for you?
When I return home, I hope have a full schedule teaching classes in encaustic and bookmaking, head into autumn’s beauty, and ready myself for the winter market/vending season.

Q:  Where else can we find you?
On my webiste, www.aliherrmann.com, on Instagram, @aliherrmann, on Facebook, and on my blog, www.aliherrmann.blogspot.com.

Ali is teaching an encaustic collage workshop  on Saturday, September 16 from 12 to 3 p.m. at Main Street Arts. Sign up on our website to reserve your spot!

Meet the Artist in Residence: Emily Long

Emily Long, artist in residence at Main Street Arts during the month of August 2017, will be exploring new mediums and working on a series that explores the idea that everything is fluid and connected—finding commonalities and relationships between ourselves and our surrounding that inevitably confirm our greater humanity. We asked Emily a few questions about her artwork and studio practice:

Emily Long

Emily Long

Q: Tell us a little bit about your background.
I was born and raised in Staten Island, New York. At an early age I was enrolled in multiple art programs at my local cultural center, Snug Harbor and was constantly creating things at home thanks to the support of my parents. I was fortunate enough to be accepted into an art focused high school in New York City and continued my interest in visual arts and museum studies in undergrad at Fashion Institute of Technology. Beyond creating my own art, I am passionate about art education and currently work for the New York Historical Society (NYHS) and Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt Design Museum.

Q: How would you describe your work?
My art is fluid. I am interested in exploring the relationship between one’s self and their surroundings. A majority of these works are illustrated with watercolor but I am always excited to add a new medium into my work.

Work by Emily Long, water color and ink

“Raw Synergy Recognize Symmetry”, Emily Long

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
For every piece my process is a little different depending on how much time I am able to give myself to create. Some days I will jump right into a watercolor illustration. Other days I will spend hours researching symbols and their significance; taking notes on how they can be added into a work.

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio?
My primary medium is watercolor, naturally my paintbrushes are my most used and useful tool in my studio.

Emily working in her studio at Main Street Arts

Emily working in her studio at Main Street Arts

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why?
Choosing a favorite artist feels like telling one’s children who the favorite is. With that said, I love Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh for her fearless use of multiple mediums and line use, Gustav Klimt for his use of gold, and Georgia O’Keeffe for her composition and abstraction. My favorite local artist was my childhood neighbor, Andrea Phillips.

Q: What advice would you give other artists?
Just keep working. Don’t be afraid to “waste” your materials or become upset if you create something you do not like. You have to get the “bad” art out before the masterpiece.

EmilyLong_2Pieces

Work by Emily Long: NY Time Dime (left), and Majority Too Big to Ignore (right)

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
I have had a recent interest in working with gesso and printmaking. I am excited to experiment with new mediums and making my work more sculptural while at Main Street Arts Residency. Recent projects have been inspired by folklore and myths. I plan to explore these themes with the exploration of new mediums.  

Q: What’s next for you?
In the fall, I will return to work at the museum. As for my art, I will be turning an old office space into my studio, where I hope to spend most of my free time.

Q: Where else can we find you?
On my website: emilysarahlong.com and on Instagram.


Emily is teaching a crocheted cacti gardens amigurumi workshop on Saturday, August 12 from 12 to 3 p.m. at Main Street Arts. Amigurumi is the Japanese art of crocheting small stuffed creatures/objects. Sign up on our website to reserve your spot!

Meet the Artist in Residence: Cathy Gordon

Cathy Gordon. artist in residence at Main Street Arts during the month of June 2017, is working on mixed media paintings and cut paper pieces. We asked her a few questions about her artwork and studio practice:

Cathy Gordon working in her studio at Main Street Arts

Cathy Gordon working in her studio at Main Street Arts

Q: To start off, please you tell us about your background.
While I grew up on Air Forces bases across the United States and always created art, my love affair with art began when my parents divorced. My father moved to Chicago and my mother, my sisters, brother, and I moved to western Kansas. I know that sounds odd because you would not associate art with a small town in Kansas but it was a critical time in my life and as it happened the high school art teacher in that small town was a truly great art teacher (and a gifted artist in his own right!). I can’t begin to tell you how many of his students went on to become artists, art teachers, designers, photographers etc… He continues to mentor me to this day.

I went on to paint, draw, and print my way through the University of Kansas and I eventually obtained my Master of Fine Arts from Fort Hays State University, a small school in Kansas with an exceptional art program. Once again, I was fortunate that my drawing professor, who became an important mentor in my life, taught by example. She was a great artist and held her students to very high standards.

My experiences with these two great teachers made me realize that not only did I want to teach but I had to “walk the walk” for myself as well as my students. I knew my students needed to see me create art. I have taught full-time at the college level for twenty-five years and have always used an active studio approach to my classes.

CathyGordonCutPaper

Cut paper piece by Cathy Gordon

Q: How would you describe your work?
My work has always been influenced by mathematics, Constructivist design aesthetics, and classical subject matter but most recently I have been inspired by the book, Visual Complexity, Mapping Patterns of information, by Manuel Lima. I am currently working on a series of cut paper drawings and mixed media collages that use the connecting lines and coordinates of mapping. Each coordinate represents a person, encounter, event, or transpiring moment in my life. The lines soon became a metaphor for the transience of life and our congruence with one another.

Cathy's workspace in her studio

Cathy’s workspace in her studio

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
For me, the process of creating a work of art is ongoing. I can’t turn it on and off. I am constantly contemplating a work of art whether it is in its early stages or almost completed.  It is a little embarrassing to tell you this, but I lay in bed at night thinking about artwork that I am either struggling with or considering. There is no question that the most important aspect of creation is to listen. If you truly listen to the artwork it will guide you.

On a practical note regarding creativity, it is imperative that you work on this process every day. The best-case scenario is to be in the studio working every day but if that doesn’t happen you still need to have your head in your work whether it is searching for ideas, taking notes, journaling, or exploring. We all hit creative road blocks. I once had a teacher tell me that when I feel empty and I don’t think I have anything to give, pick up a pen and draw straight lines. Keep drawing the lines as a form of meditation and the next thing you know you will be drawing. It works!

"Pear With a Five", mixed media painting by Cathleen Gordon

“Pear With a Five”, mixed media painting by Cathy Gordon

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
A: There is no question that my main goal for this residency is to create and produce art. This residency is a gift. It is a such a joy to walk into the studio and not have any of my regular life demands trying to draw me away from the studio. I am usually pretty good at dedicating time to creating art everyday but to have all day, every day to work has been nothing short incredible.

Creativity is often nurtured through experience and the fact that I came here from Texas is in and of itself, an experience. I am calling my month here, “Zen and the Art of Art.” I am looking at art along the way, creating art in the studio, meeting new people, seeing new landscapes and just trying to absorb the experiences.

I am working on both painted mixed media and cut paper projects while I am at Main Street Arts and I am working on incorporated mapping and charting into the works.

Q: What’s next for you?
A: I am a drawing and painting professor by day and an artist by night. And while that will continue, I am changing the location. As soon as I get back to Texas I will be packing up and moving to a new college in Kansas where I have accepted a new position. The adventure continues!

Q: Where else can we find you?
A: Check out my website at cathleengordonart.com

View and purchase a selection of Cathy’s work at the gallery and in our online shop

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Megan Armstrong

Megan’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


Artist Statement:
A line is a critical tool for communication – whether compositionally visual or textual, a line connected to another line creates a navigational thread to follow – this thread can be woven in and out as a form of coded language – the duplicity of a line is directly linked to the formation and understanding of words – whether drawn or written, a line can develop into structures, systems, labels, and powerful (perhaps dangerous) associations – associations spur emotional, factual, and fallible interpretations and translations – lines act as evidence of human thought – definitions, synonyms, organizations – lines slide back and forth to create new relationships, pairings, combinations, composites, connections – the limitlessness of the line is linked with it’s limitations – through repetitive, compulsive exploration and manipulation of lines I investigate notions of normalcy by examining the narrative lines between fiction and reality.

Through practical and emotional research of a specific system – mental illness and the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Version 5 (DSM-V) – I create artwork that translates the coded language within the system, as well as the individual experiences that are left out of the clinical translation of human behavior. When a system and it’s coding logic is laboriously translated into didactic lines that weave in and out, attempting individuality, but ultimately creating controlled chaos, the complexity and ambiguity of a convoluted system remains.  

Work in Progress

Megan Armstrong in her studio drawing lines for a work in progress.

For the past three years my work has focused on the exploration of lines, as a form of communication, translation, and investigation of systems and mark-making. While the width and style of the line remains consistent in each drawing, it is important that every endeavor is a challenge, whether in content or form.

Artist Studio

Megan Armstrong’s home studio.

This past summer I moved to Rochester, NY, and set up a temporary artist studio in my home. The second I step into the house I am reminded of the art I have made in the past, current pieces, and the type of work I would like to attempt in the future.

Nomenclature, 2016, Ink and graphite drawing on paper, 36"H x 42"W

Nomenclature, 2016, Ink and graphite drawing on paper, 36″H x 42″W

Hanging above my makeshift drawing table is Nomenclature, a drawing I started at the Byrdcliffe Artist Residency in Woodstock, New York in 2015, and completed in 2016. The drawing is created by individual ink lines woven together. The background was laboriously hand-drawn, erased, and re-worked in graphite.

A Reductionistic Anachronism, 2016, Ink drawings on paper, Eighteen individual 12"H x 12"W drawings

A Reductionistic Anachronism, 2016, Ink drawings on paper, Eighteen individual 12″H x 12″W drawings

Resting on the drawing table is a work in progress titled A Reductionistic Anachronism. This piece was started with the simple and necessary idea of individual drawings building and creating a larger drawing. I was in the process of moving and had packed up all of my larger works and tools, except for my micron pens. I began working on a 12″ x 12″ drawing with the intention that it would connect to another, and another, and another… In a grouping of 18 drawings as shown it measures a total of 36″H x 72″. This drawing will continue to grow indefinitely.

The Clear Virtue of Creating a Common Language (106), 2016, Ink drawing on paper, 12"H x 12"W

The Clear Virtue of Creating a Common Language (106), 2016, Ink drawing on paper, 12″H x 12″W

The drawing shown above was created for the Small Works 2016 Exhibit at Main Street Arts. I challenged myself to take content I had previously worked on in a large scale, to the restricted dimensions of 12″H x 12″W. The drawing created for Small Works 2016, which won the Director’s Choice Award, features 106 lines total, signifying the amount of mental disorders defined by the first version of the DSM. The piece is an iteration of a drawing I created for my MFA Thesis at San Francisco Institute of Art, title The Clear Virtue of Creating a Common Language for Communication (pictured below). The entire drawing includes 394 hand-drawn ink lines, depicting the number of current codes for diagnosing mental illness, as categorized by the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Version 5 (DSM-V). These pieces were created line by line, and each line is numbered, with a clear beginning and end. This means that you can follow one line in it’s entirety. In both drawings there seems to be a clear form, although abstract, when viewed from a distance. The closer you get to the drawings, the easier it is to see the distinctions between each line, the connections and interactions, as well as the varying paths traveled. Each line is completely unique and wholly individual, yet viewed on the same page and in the same space, they begin to seem the same and it is more difficult to clearly define them as separate.

The Clear Virtue of Creating a Common Language for Communication, 2016, Ink drawing on paper, 48"H x 48"W

The Clear Virtue of Creating a Common Language for Communication, 2016, Ink drawing on paper, 48″H x 48″W

Line Theory, 2015, ink drawings on paper, artist book, 7" x 8.5" x .5"

Line Theory, 2015, ink drawings on paper, artist book, 7″ x 8.5″ x .5″

Line Theory is a hand-drawn and hand-written artist book I created in collaboration with photographer Brian Dean, who beautifully hand-bound each book. Each page features a “chapter” and corresponding line drawing. The book holds 28 complete chapters (original poetry) and line drawings (the drawings grow from one line to twenty-eight lines). Line Theory is a limited edition of six, and each book in the edition features completely different drawings.


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

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by ceramic artist Renee LoPresti.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Maria Victoria Savka

Maria Victoria Savka is one of our first artists in residence at Main Street Arts! She’s working in one of our two studio spaces during the month of June 2016 (you can stop by the gallery to see Victoria’s studio and work in progress). We asked Victoria a few questions about her artwork, life, and more:

Maria Victoria Savka

Q: To start this off, would you tell us about your background?

A: I come from Rochester, NY and started doodling since I was much younger and shorter! I graduated with a Fine Arts and Illustration BFA from Rochester Institute of Technology this past May where I began to intensely focus on building a portfolio as well as pushing the limits of my own work. As a recent graduate I am exploring my options and currently browsing employment possibilities.

Q: How would you describe your work?

A: My personal work tends to be what I like calling organized chaos. Movement is key in my work as it provides me with rough, raw, and vivid imagery. I consider gestural images as some of the most genuine; they capture a moment. As an artist I deconstruct images into abstractions, hopping between subjective and objective. I’ve currently been interested the deconstruction of portraits and locations. I hope to it gives a character or narrative to my subjects.

Maria Victoria Savka, "Blueberry Jeepy", watercolor on paper, 8" x 5", 2015

Maria Victoria Savka, “Blueberry Jeepy”, watercolor on paper, 8″ x 5″, 2015

I also have an avid curiosity when it comes to printmaking. I have been in touch with this medium for the past two years and am still very much interested in exploring it further because of the ability to create and experiment with various layers.

Maria Victoria Savka, "Lydia IV", photo intaglio mono print with chine collie, 23" x 15", 2015

Maria Victoria Savka, “Lydia IV”, photo intaglio mono print with chine collie, 23″ x 15″, 2015

Currently I also have multiple small projects of all sorts that tend to be more illustrative nature I am also very excited to work on during this residency!

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?

A: My personal work starts with a 2-3 minute gestural drawing, a massive amount of loose scribbles. I find seeing the process of a piece intriguing, by seeing the process you are being told the story behind the piece. From that image I build up and create an atmosphere.

A selection of drawings and paintings by Victoria.

A selection of drawings and paintings by Victoria.

Q: What are your goals for this residency? Tell us about your current projects.

A: I would like to continue to explore printmaking. I’d like to continue playing with collage and drypoint, but would also like to dive into more linoleum cuts and perhaps woodcuts as well. Overall, I am very excited to be able to sit down and paint for hours. That is my plan.

Victoria inks a plate for a new print.

Victoria begins inking a plate for a new print.

Adding additional colors to the plate.

Adding additional colors to the plate.

Running the plate through the Main Street Arts printing press.

Running the plate through the Main Street Arts printing press.

The final print!

The final print!

Currently I also have multiple small projects of all sorts that tend to be more whimsical illustrative nature.

Drawings, collages, prints, and more pinned to Victoria's studio wall.

Drawings, collages, prints, and more pinned to Victoria’s studio wall.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: I am planning on going to graduate school in a few years, as I’m interested in teaching as much as I’m interested in making my own artwork. I hope to continue showing my artwork in galleries, and see where the wind takes me!

Q: Where can we find you?

A: You can view my work at www.mariavictoriasavka.com and Instagram @marviccarsav. You can also find my work in the next issues of Rochester’s Lake Affect Magazine and Art House Press Magazine’s second issue coming out in August!


Are you an artist looking for new opportunities? Apply for a residency at Main Street Arts! Artists in residence will have 24-hour access to a large studio on our second floor (with great natural light), the option to show work in the gallery, and the opportunity to teach paid workshops. Submissions are reviewed and awarded on an ongoing basis.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Kate Fisher

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I have been working on this body of work for over a year. Each piece involves several steps and these steps have evolved with time. I started by taking or finding photos. One of the fascinating things for me with this project has been meeting the people whom I have photographed. I usually introduce myself, show them what I am doing, and take some photos. Sometimes they share something of themselves, sometimes they say very little. Almost all of the people I have asked were very curious and willing to let me take their photograph.

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Using the photograph as reference, I then work on a contour/outline drawing. Since my very first drawing class, I have been fascinated by contour drawings. They seem related to haiku poetry. Good ones can say the most with limited lines or words. When I have gotten a drawing that I am pleased with, I use the Bernina sewing machine free motion stitch, and sew the drawing, sometimes adding texture, color or detail. Then I to go to the Genesee Book Arts Center and print the names of the figures using the Vandercook press. This involves looking through the antique wood type collection to find a font that works with my drawing. Then I go to the press where I set the type, proof the print and print the name on the stitched drawing.

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The final step is deciding which threads go and which stay. The threads are very important to these pieces. I feel that they not only add line and motion but they seem to really create a metaphor for the people I have met and stitched. They are changing, growing, and vital.

I am usually the only one to see the back of the stitched drawing. To me they are fascinating, messy and very lively, while still capturing the feel of the figures. I have included an example for you to see.

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People often ask me how long a figure has taken me to create. I never know how to answer this and mentioned it to an artist friend. She said that her response when asked that question is, “a lifetime.” Certainly that is true.


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Kate’s artwork in our current exhibition The Human Figure (runs through July 1). View her work online at www.blackbirdknits.com

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by painter Nate Hodge.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Kristen T. Woodward

Lucky foot (except for the rabbit)

A native of Rochester NY, I’m delighted to have the opportunity to exhibit my work at Main Street Arts. On display in the current Flora and Fauna exhibition are 16  encaustic paintings on wooden panels. The imagery involves abstracted animal forms, often referencing parables and children’s games.

Donkey Games

A small installation in the show also features a full scale deer target and small paintings on Black Forest carved antler plaques.

 painting on antler plaque

Painting on Black Forest carved antler plaque

While on a trip to Germany as a visiting artist last fall I encountered these plaques which included antlers from Roe deer. I found them beautiful and fascinating, and thought they would make provocative supports for small paintings that explored landscape and our sensory relationship to the natural world.

Can you guess whose lips served as a model?

All things are possible, 14x17, mixed media on wood

All things are possible, 14×17, mixed media on wood

As a Professor of Art at Albright College in Reading, PA I teach a wide variety of painting and printmaking processes, but of late I have been personally attracted to the encaustic medium (download my encaustic recipe).

wax in solid form

wax in solid form

This image shows the refined beeswax from an art supply store (it comes yellow or white) next to an unmodified block from a local beekeeper. The local brown block contains a good bit of slub gum, an impurity (bee poop).

encaustic cans on a hot plate

encaustic cans

This last image shows a skillet filled up with a bunch of small mixed colors. I have another skillet for just white and soy wax, which is used for cleaning some of the wax out of the brushes.

I’m also actively writing short reviews for  www.artists2artists.net
You can see my artist2artist page here.

Stop by Main Street Arts to see Kristen’s work in our current exhibition, Flora and Fauna. The exhibition is up through Friday, February 12. Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by watercolor artist E.L. Ryan.