Sunday, May 18, 2008

Embroidery Portrait Artist & His Studio: Michael Aaron McAllister

I've been spending time lately looking at other artists' studios and trying to gather inspiration for organization, space utilization, and productivity tools. I've seen gorgeous 4,000 sq.ft. farm barn lofts, reconverted spare bedrooms, and sneakily-claimed corners of a home or a kitchen table to serve as a working studio for artists who are producing incredibly marketable works.

The 2008 Special Issue of Cloth Paper Scissors features a host of art studios - or spas for the creative soul - and offers storage solutions, studio makeovers, and ways to personalize your creative space. Within the issue, I fell upon wonderful quilting and mixed-media artist's websites and two notable oddities.

The first is an embroidered portrait quilt artist; an oddity in a day where it is rare to find people who have mastered needlework crafts and are working to keep this traditional art form very much alive. The second is the fact that this particular embroidery artist happens to be a man. Michael Aaron McAllister of Saint Louis, Missouri, is producing detailed works inspired by his heroes. Above is featured Salvador Dali, 2005.

Some of McAllister's miniature quilts are prize-winning testaments to a love of color and technique. He holds a BFA and MFA in Ceramics, and like many artists, does not work in the medium of his professional training. Art is a journey after all, and it's a joy to discover bookmaking when one is an oil painter. McAllister says his needlework is the first thing he does in the morning and the last thing in the evening. When you check out his work and his site, be sure to take a peak at the works entitled, Self-Portrait with the Artist's Mother (2007) and Anne Frank (2006). Of course, you won't want to miss his Studio link complete with pictures of highly-enviable authentic DMC bins used to store all skein colors.

A Beautiful Creation Turns 21

Happy Birthday Lorenzo! I love you and am so proud of you!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Artists' Pens Updates

Faber Castell's been in business with the same family since 1761, so it is no wonder that they know what it takes to make a fine India Ink artists pen. Their Pitt Artist Pens far surpass PrismaColor for color saturation in our opinion - although PrismaColor does have the advantage of a much wider brush nib at one end. We also still love the Pilot Precise V7 Fine Rolling Ball for black ink outlining and writing. Pentel's RSVP Fine Black Ink pen is one we often reach for. Sharpie's come a long way with their new line of colored markers in various sizes ... there are just some surfaces where only a Sharpie will do!

Many artists like the Pantone Tria Letraset markers as the color identification numbers haven't changed very much over the years. Personally, I love the shape and feel of the Stabilo Boss Original highlighters. More classics-school artists might argue that Staedtler makes some of the finest writing tools available to both artists and architects - you won't get an argument from me; I just find them somewhat more utilitarian.

Our favorite Pearl Store carries all the above, you can also find products online through Blick; Utrecht; A.C. Moore; Michaels; and at many of your local hobby and craft art supply stores. Don't forget about e-Bay - great bargains can be had if you have the patience to wait through bidding. I also like to check Craigslist - it's amazing what people practically give away.

I'm working on a series of graph paper color application works with squares of colored pencils, pastel pencils, watercolors, markers, and artists pens. These pieces are time consuming and somewhat of a commitment. Once a color theme is selected, and the work has begun, there's no going back - I feel sort of "locked in" - I hope to show these soon through the City Galleries Program and will let you know how they are coming along (especially with my new Pitt Pens!)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Residential & Commercial Mosaic Art Trends

Our friends at Mixed-Up Mosaics show off some of their recent commercial and residential artistry in this month's newsletter. Strong color blocking, defined edging, experimentation with new tile shaping, and glass pattern variations all result in vibrant, timeless, and energetic options for interior form and function. Just imagine image 4 above as the floor of a swimming pool with sparkling sunbeams on the water's surface - just refreshingly brilliant!

As you may know, we recently gave Mixed-Up Mosaics our thumbs up for its work in tattoo-inspired mosaics. And if you've not seen some of their floor tile casino medallions in person, you've missed out on an opportunity to envision Native American themes in growing mega-entertainment complexes. These collaborations work because they reflect movement. And as Alice Paul said: I always feel the movement is a sort of mosaic.

Beautiful Stationery Papers for Artists

Artists of all genres often seek beautiful and high-quality papers to use in testing tints, application techinques, artists business cards, price tags, and other arts needs. Breathtakingly beautiful stationery, stickers, stamps, notecards, and frames are available through Cavallini & Co. (photo credit above features Cavallini's Bird Gift Tag line). I

In our view, Cavallini's cornered the market on color, style, and design. Many of their products are sold through sites like Anthropologie and the Library of Congress. Other highly notable luxury paper companies are: Crane & Co.; Vera Wang Papers (gorgeous wedding invitations); Anna Griffin (we love their stamp ink); Mrs. John L. Strong; The Wren Press; Smythson; and every writer's standby - Moleskin.

Beach Stones

In keeping with current art trends themes of incorporating the natural world, we saw a brilliant photography book at our favorite Paper Source store last night. Beach Stones is a nice accompaniment to Seashells; both books reflect the free beauty available in seaside locations throughout the world and offer inspiration to artists seeking new creative pathways. The photographer, Josie Iselin, also worked on a photography collections called Heart Stones and Leaves and Pods. Ms. Iselin is an artistically well-trained San Franciscan specializing in photography and installation art. She is scheduled to appear at the Whole Children Whole Planet Expo this coming weekend.

Henna Artists & Talented Musicians

We were honored to be able to help the staff of top recording artist Erykah Badu yesterday. Erykah, with her distinctively earthy vocals, performed at the DAR Constitution Hall and was looking for assistance in finding exceptional henna artists in the DC area. We know the concert was a memorable success, and we hope our art advisory references were helpful. (Photo Credit: Sarboo on Flickr)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

the resurgence of birds in art - part 1

It happens slowly. At first, you notice the little starling who seems to fly out from the roof eaves whenever you open your main door. And then you hear him chirping away just outside your bedroom window at 3, 4, and 5:00 a.m. Finally, you surprisingly notice he's nested just above your entrance wall light in a safe alcove. Built himself a tidy nest with a heat source, easy access, and all in a protected environment. Birds are like that. They kind of well, creep up on you.

And while its true that birds have been prevalent in art since before the 1800's and not just in the United States (the drawing above comes from Germany), it's also true that their resurgence in today's art is unmistakable. This is no new revelation to Wisconsin's Woodson Art Museum and their annual Birds in Art program which has been in effect as a major fundraiser since 1976. Or take worldwide nature art lovers and conservation proponents (such as Artists for Conservation) who have focused on various natural elements since the cows started jumping over the moon.

What I see in review of tons of art magazines, websites, gallery openings, and new museum acquisitions, is a resurgence of bird images, bird life related themes (nests, eggs, feathers), and birds presented in ad hoc methods through paint, collage, murals, and sculpture. Who can argue that the depiction of both the owl and the raven have grown substantially in past years? Or that birds have held a steady place in Asian art for centuries? But we notice a new art trend with the bird being presented in a not-so-flighty way. The birds in art today are somewhat of a pseudo psychological element - the carriers of secrets, the communicators of thoughts, a dancing and lively presence in dark fields, or perhaps memories of little things long forgotten.

In this four-part series, we will review bird art as it appears in traditional art, contemporary art, altered art and new media. We'll show you some examples, we'll pose questions about meaning, and we'll try to demonstrate in a small way, how birds in art are enjoying a healthy and robust resurgence today.

The Bird's Nest
I know a place, in the ivy on a tree
Where a bird's nest is and the eggs are three
And the bird is brown, and the eggs are blue
And the twigs are old but the moss is new
And I go quite near, though I think I should have heard
The sound of me watching, if I had been a bird
by John Drinkwater

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

danielle muller - the vintage dragonfly

I first saw Danielle Muller's work in Somerset Studio's Dragonfly Jar series. Her art is cutting edge in the field of romantic ephemera, mixed media, and collage works because of its ingenuity and ability to re-invent antique vintage ideals. Muller's creations and "The Vintage Dragonfly" website are a quiet and sweet compilation of birds, seaside life, nesting, and muted vintage images from her collage art, collaborations, and art swaps. Danielle's also incorporated the new Internet art trend of including instrumental, peaceful, and unique musical composition arrangements on her website; thereby marrying sight and sound for an end-user experience.

Dragonfly art, especially art encompassing nature and all its elements, is hot, hot, hot. Match it up with some poetry or individual words or musical scores as background motifs and you nearly have a sure seller for craft fairs and festivals. Although the work has to "speak" and have its own "voice" - the right combination of muted tints, fabrics, and interesting little odds and ends will help the artist create a solid market presence. Dragonfly addicts will love these sites:; The Nature Store; and What we love is Muller's commitment to sharing works of other like-minded artists with visitors to her site - that's a true cool art trend we hope continues for decades.