inflection point drawings

“There is always the inflection point in a drawing-the point at which it takes on its own presence and becomes more than its content. There is also the point where others view it and it becomes their image. I know that if I create art, these points will occur, and I can work to control part of the process leading up to these points. Ultimately, however, not all of it is mine to control.” Mary Shindell

Mary explains Vector and Pixel files to me and another gallery visitor. And while I understand some things, I don’t understand all of what she says. To make it clear she describes how her lines are made. A Vector file makes a clean, intense line, she says as she shows me one and compares it to a pixellated line. Once I see the quality of the line, I understand. We discuss her digital drawings and compare them to traditional printmaking, both in quality and process. I suggest she teach a class ( teach me is what I really think).

There are three large works on paper, on the east wall of the gallery. Each of the compositions stands as a unique work though they connect directly through process. One design uses the other, and then again.  Mary draws with graphite, inks, gouache, and she also draws using her computer.

Below are details from the large 42 x 42″ works on paper. Can you see how they connect? One is a digital photo of the original graphite drawing. The second is the original graphite drawing with added media, all completed by hand. The last one is computer generated and uses the other two.

Note: My photos are not perfectly aligned. I shoot the right side (first 3)  and then the left (next 3 of the drawings.


Left edge detail
Inflection Point: Estrellas, Moon
drawing, graphite, ink, digitally archived



Left edge detail
Variant 1: Bougainvillea, Sweet gum, Seed Pods, Mesquite Beans, Moon Craters
drawing, graphite, ink, prisma, pastel
42 x 42″s.


Left edge detail
Variant II: Fig, Bougainvillea, Sweet gum, Mesquite Beans, Moon Craters
digital drawing composited with graphite and ink archival ink jet print

Mary places the viewer above the work. We hover perhaps in space, and see the top view of a multi-layered landscape that in this case includes: the moon, the Estrella Mountains, and the beautiful Arizona flora.

I look closely at the work and identify elements but then I have to stand back to take it all in. The brilliant details captivate.


Right edge detail
Inflection Point: Estrellas, Moon
drawing, graphite, ink, digitally archived



Left edge detail
Variant 1: Bougainvillea, Sweet gum, Seed Pods, Mesquite Beans, Moon Craters
drawing, graphite, ink, Prisma, pastel
42 x 42″


Right edge detail
Variant II: Fig, Bougainvillea, Sweet gum, Mesquite Beans, Moon Craters
Digital drawing composited with graphite and ink archival ink jet print

Along the west wall Mary shows a series of small drawings and digital prints. She explains she works things out on these smaller works in between stages of the larger works.  Here are photos of two and a detail shot of a third.


Fig Moon Drawing
Digital Drawing
composited with graphite and ink drawing on Arches Aquarelle, archival ink jet print


Fig Moon 
Prisma and Gouache on Johanna

I ask Mary about the title of the exhibition, Inflection Point. She explains the mathematical term.  An inflection point is a point on a curve at which the curve changes from being convex to concave. I understand, I am familiar with the concept. She identifies it as a changing point, a point of transition.

I’ve known Mary for a long time – she continues to mesmerize me with her curiosity, her attention to detail and her growing skills. She is always on to something new and wonderful.

I will drop in to see the exhibition one more time – in case I missed anything.


Detail: Mesquite Beans, Moon

Inflection Point drawings opened this First Friday and will run to the end of the month.

Who: Mary Shindell
What: Inflection Point drawings
Where: 515 arts – 515 East Roosevelt, Phoenix, AZ 85004
When: 1/2/2015 – 1/31/2015 (artist’s reception 1/16/2015)


subtle variation

Mary Shindell Studio Visit: March 28, 2014


Mary Shindell talking about her newest drawing project.

Mary Shindell talking about her newest drawing project.

I haven’t been to Mary’s studio in a while, so I arrange for a visit.  Mary has two spaces, her home space and her shared warehouse space.  She has been drawing, so this takes place in her home studio where things are clean and climate controlled.  Before I greet Mary, I first need to greet Zsa Zsa, who has a very big grin on her face.

Mary's studio companion, Zsa Zsa the french bulldog.

Mary’s studio companion, Zsa Zsa the french bulldog.


In Mary’s studio I check out some of the things she keeps on hand.  Like myself, Mary is a big studio nester.  It functions as a cocoon of creativity, and the work space is littered with objects, past works, sketches, images, and art supplies.

Some studio treasures on display.

Some studio treasures on display.


Many things are familiar, but there is always evidence of fresh activity.  Today I see that some of the furniture is moved and there is a large in-progress drawing filling her drawing table.

View of studio with in-progress Moon and Estrellas drawing on drawing table.

View of studio with in-progress Moon and Estrellas drawing on drawing table.


I recognize that this is one of her satellite drawings, the title referring to the straight down perspective.  But this drawing literally makes use of satellite imagery of the Estrella Mountains.  Chosen because they are local, but also for how great they look from above.  This imagery is being combined with hand mapped moon drawings that pre-date satellites and are available for public use.  The drawing becomes an unconventional landscape where the land and the moon are collapsed into each other.

Detail of in-progress drawing, Moon and Estrellas.

Detail of in-progress drawing, Moon and Estrellas.


One of the first things I notice is that Mary is using symmetry in this drawing.  This is a great reminder of how far back our relationship goes.  I was fortunate to see Mary’s impressive 1978 MFA show at Arizona State University, where a number of the drawings were symmetrical.  Here is a drawing from that general body of work.

Mary Shindell   Brown Drawing,  30 x 22"  1976

Mary Shindell    Brown Drawing, 30 x 22″ 1976


The symmetry she is using now is for the purpose of segmenting the drawing in modular units.  This could have been done in the computer, where a section could be drawn and then easily flipped or rotated to create matching modular parts.  But Mary does not want the sections to be so exact; she is looking for the subtle energy that will be created by the slight variation that hand drawing creates.  Where this drawing will end up is still open-ended.  After the hand drawing is completed, it will be scanned and worked in the computer.  Where it will undergo steps with the idea of continuation.  Where maybe there won’t be an exact end, just pauses.  This is an influence of working on the computer where visual information in the layers of past pieces is easily used to start new pieces.  Here the process will stay contained within one piece.

Moon and Estrellas, in-progress on Mary's drawing table.

Moon and Estrellas, in-progress on Mary’s drawing table.


But Mary is playing with one more element of variation in this work.  Along with the natural variation of hand drawing she is introducing the hand of another artist.  Mary is drawing one side, and her studio assistant, Pere, is drawing the other.  In their close working relationship, they are playing off each other as they make subtle decisions as to what to emphasize and how to draw from the sources.  In some areas Mary has taken the lead, but in other areas Pere has worked ahead and Mary responds accordingly.  The differences in their two hands isn’t immediately obvious, but does add a subtle discordancy to a drawing that a viewer would assume was drawn by one person.  As the first phase of what will become a multistep digital drawing, this is just a path to something else.  It will be an artwork that plays with the differences between pencil drawing and digital drawing.  Mary doesn’t know exactly where this is taking her, but does know that it will become her January show at Five15 Arts Gallery, Phoenix.  Opening reception will be January 2nd, 2015.

There Is A mountain, The Video

When the mountain is completely installed, we make a decision. The three of us have video. Mary’s and my video show process. Carolyn’s is slightly different in that it is an actual work that can stand alone. Here it will sit on her wall along side her drawings and paintings.

blog1We discuss the flow of activity with Marco and Tiffany and conclude – 3 videos are two too many for the space. My process videos and Mary’s are in the blog only. I’ve included numerous ones here already.

Below is Mary’s video titled There Is a Mountain. It represents South Mountain, located here in Phoenix. It begins with a line, followed by each layer of form and texture that make up the various digital drawings. You see the parts first, then the series of layers appear in the order in which they sit. You get a sense of how the mountain develops. It ends with a final line that clarifies everything. Mary notes the line took an entire day to construct.

The video compresses into 3.5 minutes what took months to create.

making a prototype and a video

Mary Shindell with her prototype in hand.

 prototype  n.1.
An original type, form, or instance serving as a basis or standard for later stages.

Mary’s stuff – on top of work table.

Today the plan is to  build a prototype and figure out how to stabilize the form. There’s a lot of technical stuff to yet work out, Mary says after introducing me to her assistant – Pere.  It’s the start of building Mary’s 3D forms.

Mary uses words like LED and high-lumen count. She talks about optical fiber being soft and flexible, and emitting light from the side, see the line, she says, as she cups the fiber in her hand. The other fiber she notes is stiffer and emits light off the ends. She talks about wattage and voltage. At one point she explains to Pere how she got a measurement by  multiplying pi by 2.5.

What do you call yourself Mary? I ask – Are you still a drawer?
Yes! Always.
A printmaker?
Yes, a computer generated print – maker.

She pauses and states – I’m a multi-media artist, and right now I feel the momentum in my work is in the installation. 

I take photos and at one point it feels right to shoot film footage. There’s lots of activity. Because filming was not in the plan, I don’t have a microphone with me. Better quality sound is not an option.  I think to dub other sound into this, but in the end, I don’t.

Truth is, while I’m asking lots of questions, I am in fact removed from activity between Mary and her assistant. So keep in mind while you watch the video – observation, in silence – feels right. When I really want to listen and hear what they are saying, I mostly notice the many sounds inside the studio.  Note how noisy the video gets at certain points.

The studio belongs to artist Mitch Fry. Mitch and Ray (his assistant) are talking, cutting and drilling, a short distance away.  Maybe I hear a compressor and now and again, the traffic. So while you look at the video and you can’t hear Mary talking and you’re only getting bits of what they say, know that is also true for me. It’s real.

Mary will return to her drawing and in time a colorful, desert/olive-green print will go inside what is now only the white, paper-lined tube seen here.

Enjoy the process.  I did.

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)


Mary Shindell Studio Visit- 7-25-12

The main attraction of artist studios is the evidence of the active, thinking, and creative mind.  There is an inspirational energy, much the way a really great sketchbook feels.  Mary Shindell’s studio is a stellar example of this.  Her space is full of bits and pieces of things that represent past projects, planning for future projects, art supplies, tech gadgets, and collections of visual things.  It is the kind of space that is full of possibilities.  For instance, our conversation leads Mary to dig through some files and images.  Every time she opens a folder, or lifts something up, there is something that catches my eye.  It leaves the impression that there are endless amounts of interesting things buried beneath what is visible.

Stuck to the handle of this cart, is a magnet, which nicely holds all Mary’s metal pen nibs.

One of the first things she shows me is a motion sensitive light board.  She overlaps it with a digital drawing printed on plexi, and the blinking lights shine through the drawing.  It is nice the way the movement within the drawing is connected to the movement of the viewer.

I also spot samples and maquettes for a recently completed public art piece in Goodyear, Air, Earth, Water.  Public Art is challenging for all the obvious reasons.  The artist has to pair durability and safety with originality.  Mary proposed inserting a colorful terrazzo material into grooves incised in polished granite.  The results are colorful and bold graphic images.

Mary Shindell  Air, Earth, Water 2012

Mary Shindell  Air, Earth, Water 2012 (detail)

Mary Shindell  Air, Earth, Water 2012 (detail)

Mary shows me her ideas for the January show, both in sketch, and on the computer.  I am interested in her use of scale and ideas for addressing the space in a literal way.  She confirms that her ideas have been influenced by the Goodyear public art piece, where she had to deal with two 50’ walls and the center of a vehicle roundabout.  This also ties in nicely with the fact that it was a City of Phoenix terrazzo public art project that got Mary started drawing digitally.  She needed to do it for the project, and she found that she related to it for numerous reasons.  The step-by-step, layered process connected to her background in printmaking.   And working digitally eventually provides a massive vocabulary in tools.  Technology can be a mixed blessing.  It is not easy to work digitally, but Mary feels it is important to originate the art in the computer rather than to scan an already completed drawing.  It is the comparison of origination verses transferring.  Until it is printed out, the digital drawing does not exist anywhere else.

Mary works on such large files that, in the beginning, she had to suffer frequent file crashes and losses of her images.  While this is still possible, it is happening less frequently.  And a big advantage to the digital drawings is the way that a finished drawing can lead to the next drawing.  Just the way I might look through old sketches, Mary can open a file and look at all the layers separately.  The “click and look” process can suggest possibilities.  Then after some duplicating and pasting, she can have the start of a new drawing.

And this just the kind of thing that Mary’s studio is full of, possible ideas for future projects.

The sketch is the beginning of planning for a sculptural light piece.

selling out

Mary’s newest show is serious about poking fun at commodity art.  On top of it, these are beautiful interactive objects that come with their own remote control.

Mary Shindell at her 515 show Priced to move… Mary Shindell sells out.

Still up for the next two Saturdays, June 23rd and June 30th.
515 arts
515 E. Roosevelt, Phoenix, AZ 85004

creature, man and nature

CREATURE, MAN and NATURE – The title for our upcoming exhibit. It surfaced from each of our areas of interest. They are timely subject matter. Carolyn observes the animal kingdom, Mary respects the land, and I honor the human body. Combined, we show a deep appreciation and concern for the natural world.

We’ve met regularly for some time, to organize this project. I include bits of some of these sessions, as they’ve occurred already.

We needed a clear title, and now with that –  We officially launch our blog.

Welcome to:

FORMAL exhibit  and an INFORMAL blog
works by Carolyn Lavender, Monica Aissa Martinez, and Mary Shindell.

You’ll hear from all three of us in this blog. The plan is to share photos of our individual progress and our meetings until we are complete with the entire process. The final installation will include video, one from each of us. So  count on snippets of some of that too. We’re also thinking to invite in the occassional guest author. And we’ll post something we call a throw in.

Move over 21st century … we’re present. Though meetings always include digital equipment of some form or other…the sketchbook still presides, cause we’re visual artists.

Carolyn will draw (and maybe paint), I will paint (and maybe collage) and Mary will make sculpture (and maybe print) … maybe we’ll do a bit of all of it.  Mesa is giving us plenty of space and freedom.

Stay with us, go to the home page, look around, get acquainted, and feel free to comment.  You’re a part of it now.

…I’m done for a little while, chances are you’ll hear from Mary next.