It’s Called Monkey Balls or Osage Orange

Carolyn brought me a beautiful gift last week. It was this spiky pod.


A gift from Carolyn

A gift from Carolyn


I later photographed it and took it into Photoshop and Illustrator. I made it into what Adobe calls a symbol. It is a digital instance. I make them a lot, and then I sometimes use them in a layer or texture or I like to take these instances and make them into something out of context.

Pod as texture

Pod as texture

This pod will become some sort of hovering celestial body in my drawing of the moon and the Estrella Mountains and then become part of my user-defined library, my collection of digital instances.

Hovering Pod

Hovering Pod


gift of time

Sharon Lavender in the role of studio assistant.

Normally I spend many hours alone in my studio.  During a deadline I become hermit-like, while my friends, family and my husband tolerate my absence.  I have received help in the past, but there isn’t a lot for someone else to do.  A lot of my work consists of personal drawing technique.  The format of this piece allows for a helper.  Monica donated a day to me and now, my mom Sharon, has been putting in hours.  In fact, she has calculated that it will be 75 hours, done over 11 days.  I am fortunate that she has been able and willing to do this.  And it is such a switch, since studio time is usually time spent away from family rather than time spent with them.  There has been lots of family talk to go with the art making.


Mom’s hands while she transfers my lines on to a panel.


Preservation Woods photoshop sketch.

Here is the complete image, which will be transferred on to 10 panels for a total size of 80 x 160″.  Thanks Mom!!


10 x 10″ MCA benefit show

All proceeds benefit MCA exhibitions and educational programs.

Mesa Contemporary Arts (MCA) is having its Fourth Annual 10 x 10 Benefit Show & Sale, which features the work of more than 100 artists from Arizona and beyond. Participating artists created original work (2-D or 3-D) of art in keeping with the 10 x 10″ theme. The pieces will be on display at MCA from Oct 3-14 and sold at the reception on Oct 10. Each piece will be available for $100. First come, first pick! Doors open at 6pm sharp!

Mary and I are participating.

Martinez – Homage to the Cat
mixed media collage on canvas

Shindell – Tulip
Hand colored archival inkjet print

For more information and a list of participating artists, please visit their website.

WHO:     Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum’s
WHAT:    4th Annual 10 x 10 Benefit Show & Sale
WHEN:    Weds, Oct 10 (6-8 pm)

the unplanned

Carolyn Lavender speaking at Golden West Gallery talk.    Exhibition: Nature, Natural, Simulated- Jean Vavrek, Carolyn Lavender    Stehekin, Washington, September 2012.

My recent show in Stehekin, Washington is an interesting contrast to showing in the large metropolitan cities that I am accustomed to.  Depending on the time of the year, there are 70 to 200 residents in this small mountain community.  Our 2 person exhibition also included local artist, Jean Vavrek, which is only part of the explanation for the large attendance that gallery receptions receive in this community.  My guess is that maybe 50 to 75 people attended our gallery talk.  This is my third trip to this special place at the headwaters of Lake Chelan.  Last year I spent some time there with my sister, at her cabin, constantly photographing the woods everywhere we hiked.  I also took a snapshot of this stuffed beaver that is in the building that also houses the art gallery.

Taxidermy beaver in case, Stehekin, Washington

A few months later I used that beaver image in my drawing, The Woods- Preservation.

Eventually, Jean contacted me, and asked that I apply for a show with her.  I made some new work for the show, but also exhibited The Woods- Preservation.

And, when I did my portion of the gallery talk, it was fun to point out that it was actually “their” beaver in my drawing.  I think the preserved beaver was also enjoying the moment from his regular spot in the next room.  A little moment of unplanned.

The Woods- Preservation detail (The Stehekin Beaver)

mary’s model of the north gallery

I connect with Carolyn and Mary to see how things are coming along. I ask about artwork and video.  I wonder out loud if we’ll be making the light boxes. I don’t feel the latter will pull together. Should it go?

Mary’s responds …
I will have the one wall piece which will be the mountain and then 3 suspended sculptures 2′ x 6″ d, 3 suspended sculpture 4′ x 6″d and  3 (maybe) freestanding existing pieces, these may be superfluous.

I made a model of the space and I have adjusted my installation somewhat. If you want to send me your images so far I can scale them to go in the model or I can use placeholders of your existing work. I am using .5″ = 1′ scale.

I’m thinking you are right about the x-ray boxes – maybe too late to add that in – maybe too different? Maybe next time?

Mary’s Model of North Gallery at MCA

About her work :
The mountain will be like a large sticker or wallpaper type object so it will be very flat to the wall. She notes … This is just the gradient layer so it is much softer in reality – the top of the mountain  has a cut out edge that follows the form. The stick on surface is like linen – not shiny or weird.

Her work is flat? I think this will work with my largest drawings, they too will be up against the wall hanging like maps. I know Carolyn has a similar set up with her one drawing, no framing.

About her video:
On the video I was thinking of just somehow making a short one that would show the layers of the digital drawing as it opens – so the viewer could see the various parts of it build. And maybe we put the videos in the large nook?

Three short videos is probably best. They’re educational elements. Right now mine is running about 2 1/2 minutes of layering and process. The nook? In the hallway, at the entrance?  I wonder if that will create congestion. It’s a walkway.  We can leave that to Tiffany.

Carolyn’s response is short and … mysterious :
I am here, trying to be as highly functioning as possible.  I will e-mail tomorrow with more info.

As of this writing I’ve not sent Mary my images, but I will soon.  My brain doesn’t work with 3D space in the way that hers does.

…  this is how we roll.

deer days of august

There is a quietness and a heaviness to the August Phoenix heat that really works with my current drawings.  I am doing delicate, realistic graphite drawings of deer with no backgrounds.  I like the camera distortion in the one below.  These are deer that I photographed last summer when I was in Stehekin, Washington.

Carolyn Lavender Stehekin Deer 2– in progress

These very simple drawings are meant to show with my Woods- Fabrication drawings.  Pictured is a full size photoshop sketch for the next drawing.  This drawing will be full of bear objects inserted into a Stehekin woods scene.  I did see 2 actual bears when I was in Stehekin, but did not take photos of them.  Only one was close enough, and I was too busy being thrilled by the experience.  So, the deer will be my contrast.

Carolyn Lavender photoshop sketch for The Woods- Fabrication Bears and Stehekin Deer 1

These drawings will be shown in my two person exhibition with Jean Vavreck in the Golden West Gallery, Stehekin, Washington.  Show opens September 7th, 2012.  It is an interesting place to show, the only way to get there is by foot, boat, or plane.

the back body – on paper

I see my body as an instrument, rather than an ornament.  ~Alanis Morissette

A new work on paper is progressing incredibly slow. It’s a posterior rendering of the structure of the torso.

I have realized how unfamiliar with the back body I really am. A few days of research and a few days of layout finally allowed me to start painting and still I had errors to correct. It’s great learning. There is allot going on back there. And despite all the work I still have yet to get to the primary focal point if you can imagine that.  This work may not be in the exhibit in the way it shows here. I’ll probably complete it, photograph it and re-present it.

An idea brews as I continue.

digital landscape

This is a drawing I am working on for the January show. I photographed my computer tablet so you can see how I work. The part of the drawing that is red is the part I am working on for this post.

line layer

zooming in 200%

The scale is large 48 x 216″. As you can see, there is a lot of ground to cover. This layer is important because I will use it to create the color and tone in the drawing with live paint and the draw inside tool in Adobe Illustraitor. Because I know I want to use these tools it is important that I make each area a closed shape. That means no open forms.

zooming in to 400%

Notice all the open forms and overlapping lines-they were drawn as I was more concerned with building the form of the mountain. Now I am cleaning them up as a foundation for future manipulation.The whole drawing requires this kind of attention at this point so that I can push it farther as I continue to add imagery and drawing.

clean forms

Now the forms in this area are closed. I work back and forth horizontally across the picture plane.  It will take about six days to clean up the entire drawing. Because I do the first part of the drawing with the Wacom Pen using the pencil tool  it looks more free and loose and I like to have that as the base of the drawing -it does make the clean up a labor of love though.

Yes it is verifiable-I am a geek.