New Paintings

ImageTonight is the opening of the carnival themed show I’ve got going on at the shop and holy cow, it looks like a Mardi Gras bomb exploded in the store.  Pictures of that to follow; but first, I’m SO excited to have some of my work in the gallery again.  If you follow along with my blog then you know I inherited a WHOLE bunch of vintage Mardi Gras beads from the previous owners of the house we’re renovating.  Feeling inspired by the sweet note they left me, I wanted to figure out something to do with them.  I had painted some florals for my sister’s business cards and because of that, the idea of plant based pieces popped into my head.  I most like painting people and faces so ethereal women seemed like an obvious choice to compliment the flowers.  I decided to go with indigenous flowers to base each painting off of and that the canvases would have beads sewn into them.  I won’t like when I say I’m not the best at sewing but I found my groove while working on these and I’m really happy with how everything turned out.

So with my theme in mind, I did some sketches.  I always think it’s interesting to peek inside of other people’s sketchbooks and I hope you do too!

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Laurel was one I wanted to do even though it’s more of a leafy plant than a flower.  The house we purchased is on Laurel Street so it felt like a must.  Laurel crowns are, and always have been, very popular in art and architecture so I wanted to incorporate that idea.  I got REALLY carried away with the beading on this one.  They’re all through out her crown and on her robe.  She’s wearing them as well as holding a strand as if she’s waiting to give it away.  I used one of the fabulous old hanging “Made in Czechoslovakia” tags on the hanging strand of beads.ImageImageImageImage

Camellia was actually the first sketch I completed.  I associate Camellias with the south; they’re the state flower of Georgia and hello, Camellia Grill, anyone?!  I decided early on that I wanted to do a teal background with a gold stencil on top.  They have something along those lines in the dressing room of Trashy Diva Lingerie and I’ve always loved it.  Plus they’re my neighbors at the store so it felt like a natural choice.ImageImage

Iris, with its purple flowers, lent herself to becoming the embodiment of Mardi Gras.  After decided to used a stencil for Camellia, I wanted to carry that theme through out and a Fleur de Lis felt like the obvious choice for Ms. Iris.  She ended up getting REALLY purple, which I love in conjunction with her lime green background and her gold accenting.ImageImage

Last but not least, Magnolias are basically the most Southern flower around.  It’s the state flower of Louisiana (and Mississippi) and I just love them.  I really love the way Ms. Magnolia turned out.  She’s wearing one of my most favorite strands of beads.  It’s the black and gold one with the big teal bead in the center.  Speaking of the beading I used all broken strands in the flowers and I ended up sacrificing some intact stands for the women to wear; that’s true of all four paintings.  Iris is wearing one of my other favorite strands; it’s the one in the center that’s purple, green, and gold.ImageImageImage

Finally, I wanted to have a couple smaller paintings of just solo florals with some beading worked in for those who loved the large scale oils but couldn’t afford a big one.  I ended up only finishing two of those in time for tonight’s opening but I plan on doing more.  I’m feeling happy and inspired again and I can’t wait to get back to work after the carnival season is over.  Until then I have a lot of costuming and parading to do!

I’m a Glutton for Stress

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It’s true, I can’t help myself.  I constantly take on way too much.  I know I’m doing it and that I’m going to make myself crazy, but I do it anyway.  I currently have tons of projects in the works.  The way I get myself through times like these is I say, “It’s only six weeks of my life.  Or it’s only a week I won’t be sleeping…”  You know, things like that.  Currently, one of my big projects being the eagle bike.  It’s a mini man powered Mardi Gras float that I’ll be riding during Muses and Tucks.  Holy crap do I have a lot of paper mache to do.  I’m working on it while I’m at the store because all of my time on my days off is spent working on paintings for a group show I’m hosting at the gallery on February 20th.  I’m putting in really long days painting but it will be so worth it when I have some of my own work in the gallery again.  Here are some of the canvases I’m working on in various stages of completion.

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ImageWhen I finish these gals I’ll post in full about the meaning behind each along with a photo.  I may be hella busy but I’m still taking time to have some fun.  Last night was the 610 Stomper Debutante Ball and it was a blast.  It was 80’s themed, Six Ten Candles, hence those glorious getups.Image

Bring on my most favorite time of year!

On Football

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I didn’t grow up in a home where we watched sports.  My dad isn’t a football fan and my mom isn’t much of one either; in short, we never root root rooted for the home team.  It wasn’t until I moved to New Orleans, that I fell in love with a sports team and found a passion for football.  Finding myself actually enjoying watching a football game is something that I NEVER thought would happen for me, but it has.  The enthusiasm and love that the Saints generate for this city is undeniable.  The energy and excitement that pulses through New Orleans is palpable on game days.  The camaraderie you feel whether you’re watching a game at a bar or at home with friends and family is unlike anything I’ve experienced; it’s magic.  You celebrate the wins and console each other on the losses.

While I would have rather seen the Broncos win last night after the Seahawks took us out of the playoffs, I can imagine the celebration on the streets of Seattle and I’m happy for the fans.  The 2010 Superbowl, where the Saints defeated the Colts and brought New Orleans our first ever Lombardi trophy will forever remain one of the most fun filled days of my life.  Seattle, like NOLA before the 2009 season, had never won a world championship before and it was well deserved for them.  Job well done, Seahawks.  I know I can’t wait for the next time The Saints head to the big game and bring us home another victory.

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Christmas and Resolutions for a New Year

It’s New Year’s day and I’m sitting here drinking my coffee.  I, in no way, had a wild night last night.  Our big plans were to cook some steaks that were in the freezer but then Nate got called offshore for a small job leaving me solo for the night.  I cooked myself lamb chops, ate a mini peanut butter pie I had been gifted with earlier that day, and drank a whole lot of wine.  I snuggled my pups in bed while I watched Netflix and it was so nice and relaxing.  I listened to the fireworks outside and I thought about how this is probably what it sounded like if you were living near a civil war battle field.  The holidays are so great because I actually do give myself a chance to breathe.  I don’t think about what other things I should be doing and I just take the day for me and only me and it’s okay because it’s what you’re supposed to do on days like Christmas and New Year’s.  Although, if I’m being honest I feel like I should go and open the shop today, ugh. ImageImageImageImageOn Christmas Eve, in Gramercy Louisiana, they have this crazy awesome tradition of lighting huge bon fires.  The story goes that it started as a way to light a path for Papa Noel (Santa Claus) so that he would know where to land his sled and bring presents to all the good boys and girls.  Over the years it has evolved into a wild night, almost like a festival; I’ve never seen anything like it.  It’s one of those “only in Louisiana” things that I’ve grown so accustomed to seeing in my time living in New Orleans.  For ten miles, every 100 feet or so there is a HUGE bonfire.  It’s an insane sight to see.  Everyone is partying their tits off: high schoolers drinking cheap beer, kids sliding down the levees on card board, you never know when the fires are going to topple; it’s madness!  This was Nate and my first year seeing the fires.  Our friends Brent and Lissa had been before and drove us the hour or so it takes to get into the small town.  Gramercy really only exists because of the oil refineries in it.  It’s such a rural place that you would never visit otherwise.  It was an experience I’ll never forget.

Christmas day we woke up and drank coffee, we opened presents, I baked us some EPIC cinnamon rolls (thanks Joy the Baker!), and I made the dogs take pictures in their Christmas tree hats.  They are not fans of the Christmas tree hats.  We made bloody mary’s and took the dogs to the golf course to let them run around.  We called our families and took it easy.  It was so nice having the time with Nate because we’ve both been so busy.  He’s been offshore a lot and now that he’s been in he spends everyday working at the house while I spend every day at the store and my days off in my studio.  I can’t wait to get into our new house and get my newest series of paintings up in the gallery so we can have some more days like these ones.  That night, Brent and Lissa invited us over for an amazing Christmas dinner.  We drank mulled wine, played trivial pursuit and watched their new pig Lily Munster grunt and root around the house.  So low key and perfect.  I missed my family this Christmas but I still couldn’t have asked for a better one here in New Orleans.ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageNow for my resolutions.  I have a hard time keeping them so let’s just call them goals.  These are realistic goals that I am setting for myself and I am actively going to try to achieve for 2014:

1)  In my business life I want to be better at record keeping.  I’m already prepping for 2013’s taxes and if I would just track things and organize my receipts on a regular basis I wouldn’t have such a daunting mountain of paperwork in front of me.  I want to take a day every month and track all of the gallery’s expenses.  I want to account for every receipt and keep them all together so that when 2014’s taxes roll around I won’t be pulling my hair out and if I ever get audited (please god don’t ever let me have to deal with that head ache!) everything will be neatly stored for my IRS agent.

2) In my life as an artist I want to make time to produce more work.  The hardest part about having the gallery is that I have NO time to work on my own pieces.  Every day people come into the store and ask if I am also an artist.  I say that I am and they inevitably ask which work is mine and then I have to be like, “Oh, this ornament…”  It sucks.  What I really want want to say is, “Yes, these insanely awesome paintings covering this whole wall just so happen to be mine, BAM!”  I’m already working to facilitate this goal.  While we’re remodeling our new home, I’m renting studio space from my friend at her shop.  Once we’re in the house I’ll have my permanent studio space.  I’m going to have a new grouping of work for February because I already have a group show planned for the 19th.  Let’s do this 2014.

3) In my social life I want to make an effort to go and see more live music.  I’m currently listening to a record I bought from the opening band of the Steve Earle show. They’re called The Mastersons, and I saw them back in November.  I had a great time!  I live in one of the greatest cities to go and see live shows.  Why don’t I go and do it?  I don’t know either!  I think this goal will be made even easier to achieve once we move into our new home and we’re walking distance from both Tipitina’s and Le Bon Temps.

4) Take more pictures, not just phone pictures, real camera pictures:  I’ve got a REALLY nice Nikon and a great little digital cannon.  Those pictures from Christmas, I love ’em!  I don’t bring my camera out enough.  That needs to change.  I also need to back up my photos on hard drives and print them out and stick them in frames.  Totally doable, you got this, Shannon.

5) Stop worrying so much.  I am a worrier, people.  It’s just in my nature.  It’s what I do.  While researching Ernest Hemingway quotes for my Dad’s birthday presents I found this one.  There are many like it but for some reason, this one struck a chord.  “Worry a little bit every day and in a lifetime you will loose a couple of years.  If something is wrong, fix it if you can.  But train yourself not to worry; worry never fixes anything.”  Damn, Ernest you are so right.  I have definitely already lost a year or two to worry.  I’ve got to work on that.

6)  Then there is the usual get healthier.  I’m not talking about some crazy diet or running five miles a day.  I’m just talking about being more active, going for longer walks, eating less sugar.  This body is the one body I’ve been given, I’ve got to treat it right so it will take care of me in return.  So bring it on 2014, I think you and I are going to make a great team!

The Doll Show and The Most Surprised I’ve EVER Been

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I know the opening of the Doll Show was back on December 7th, but with the holidays I’m just now getting around to posting about it!  It feels like that always seems to be happening these days.  I’m happy to report, it went swimmingly!  The hanging day was a long one.  Thank god my friend (and one of the artists I carry at the store year round), Scott, was there to help me do it.  We were working from 10am to 10pm but we got all of the pieces up on the walls and out on their pedestals.  I also have a friend who blogs for Huffington Post and asked if she could feature the show to which I replied, “Uh, DUH!  Yes, yes please.”  That article went up the day of the show and you can check it out here.

The weather that night was crappy as crappy can be; cold, misty rain and because of it there was no one walking around.  That didn’t stop our party and we had a great turn out considering.

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ImageImageImageImageThat first picture is of my finished bottle toppers.  I’m really happy with how they turned out!  I’ll definitely be playing around with polymer clay again.  Thank you to my wonderful friends and family who made the show a success!  It will be running through January so make sure to pop in and see it if you haven’t already.

So now for the surprise!  My FAVORITE piece from the show was “Mr. Fred.”  When the artist brought him in, I instantly fell in love.  I wanted to buy him for myself and when I told Nate he poo pooed the idea and ended up talking me out of it.  He then went behind my back and had my sister Erin pretend like some one from her work had seen it and wanted to buy it for his girlfriend for Christmas.  Erin told me she had shown them the Huffington slide show and that was how he had known he wanted to buy it.  She made up such an elaborate lie, that she told me his girlfriend specialized in “dark fairy tale tattoos” and that she was going to just die when she got it.  Erin gave me the cash for the piece and I packaged Fred up with a thank you not to “Sam” and gave him to Erin to bring to work with her.  So yeah, I totally bought it…hook line and sinker.  In the week or two between when Mr. Fred left the shop to Christmas, I actually told people about how awesome he was and how I had wanted to buy him.  I showed them pictures on my phone.  I regretted not having purchased him for myself.  Well, Nate had been rubbing in how amazing my Christmas present was and how my mind was going to be blown on Christmas morning when I opened it, so when I ripped apart that wrapping paper and saw Mr. Fred there I was so overwhelmed by surprise I actually started crying.  The sneakiest and BEST husband ever, I tell you.  How was your Christmas?  Mine certainly was a merry one!  More on that next time.Image

Doll Show This Weekend

ImageThis weekend, I’m hosting my first actual gallery opening at the shop.  I’ve done many parties with new art on display but this is the first time I am ever actually shutting down the store for a whole day to rearrange, prepare, and hang artworks.  Kook Teflon made this show possible.  She’s a fabulous doll maker whose work I’ve been carrying for the past year and the one who curated the show.  I’ll just be adorning the gallery walls with the dolls and enjoying them all month long.  Every box of art I have opened so far has been amazing.  I am currently very stressed out with the daunting days I have ahead of me and also extremely excited.  I (very last minute) created two pieces that I will paint tomorrow so that they can be a part of the show as well.  They’re bottle toppers for you bar!  Pardon the poor picture quality.  Each has a beer to sit on top of.  The horned on is Krampus (obviously) and the bald guy with big ears is Horace the Bad Elf.  They can move from bottle to bottle with ease making them, in my opinion, the perfect addition to any holiday bar!  Expect pictures of the show to follow!

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Cotton

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Last month Nate and I celebrated our second anniversary.  Well, he ended up being offshore so it was a belated celebration and I could hardly contain myself when it cam time to give gifts.  The traditional gift for your second year of marriage is cotton.  I’ve decided to go the traditional route every year because it’s pretty fun, or at least it has been so far, figuring out what to give that falls into said category.  High off of last years’s success with paper, I knew exactly what I wanted to do this year.

I’ve had my gift on lockdown since February thanks to my Grammy.  I’ve never met a couple more in love than my paternal grandparents.  When my Grandad passed away suddenly it was hard on all of us, especially my Gram.  She made this needlepoint for my Grandaddy while he was still alive and he proudly displayed it on his desk.  My sisters and I have always loved it.  The needlepoint stayed on his desk, his office unchanged until my Gram said I could give it to Nate for our anniversary.  I’m a big sap and extremely sentimental and I am elated to have this (now) family heirloom in my possession.  Once we’ve moved into our new home, it will be proudly displayed somewhere I can gaze at it everyday and remind myself of the great love my grandparents shared and how lucky I am to be married to my best friend.