In the studio: shoe study

12 09 2017

I think I was in high school or early years of college when I drew this study of my (sturdy looking things, aren’t they?!) shoes. It was done with Conté crayons and charcoal on a sheet of Carson Mi-Tientes drawing paper.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

WEB LacedShoes





Annabella by the sea

27 10 2014

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Annabella by the Sea





Timothy Chambers: Living a Creative Life with Usher Syndrome

29 06 2014

Artist Timothy Chambers is our cover feature for the July/August 2014 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, which I design bimonthly for the Hearing Loss Association of America. I interviewed and photographed Timothy for this feature.

Timothy cover

 

Living a Creative Life with Usher Syndrome 

It was a breezy Sunday in May when I drove out to bucolic Berryville, Virginia, to meet Timothy Chambers and watch him paint a plein aire landscape. Tim has Usher syndrome, a condition characterized by hearing loss and progressive vision loss, but it certainly hasn’t stopped him from pursuing his passion for painting. He is funny, a great storyteller, a gifted artist and amazingly optimistic.

What is your earliest memory of hearing loss and vision loss?
In kindergarten, my teacher noticed that when she was facing me, I understood her. However, when she turned away from me toward the chalkboard, I did not. She brought this to my parents’ attention, and we visited an audiologist who confirmed that I had hearing loss, and fitted me with a set of hearing aids.

I then had speech therapy in first and second grade with Mrs. Mary Beard, who was amazing, as I have always been told that I speak much better than I hear. Although I began wearing glasses and contact lenses in middle school, it wasn’t until I was 30 years old before any doctor suggested that I had retinal issues.

Timothy Feature Page 1What was your first reaction to the diagnosis of Usher syndrome?
At the age of 30 and on the heels of coming in second place in an international portrait competition, I went for my annual routine eye checkup. It started fine, but routine quickly turned to horror when the doctor’s face went from relaxed to concerned. “Something’s not right. You need to see a retinal specialist.” The feeling was dread, it was silence, it was fear, it was unfamiliar, it couldn’t be. Please, no…

My wife (and best friend) Kim and I were referred to a retinal specialist in Washington, D.C. My worst fears were confirmed. I had Usher syndrome, a degenerative disease in which one steadily loses their hearing and vision. Unfortunately, my specialist lacked any sense of bedside manners. In an effort to provide him some background about me as we considered a plan of action, I brought a portfolio of my portrait paintings for him to view. He flipped through a few pages then thrust it back into my hands, and with the warmth of a surgical knife, said, “Find another profession.” Ugh. That hurt. To this day, I cringe when that tape plays in my mind.

Tim and wifeHave you availed yourself of any hearing or visual assistive technologies to help you live and work successfully with your dual loss?
I can get by fairly well with hearing aids and quite a bit of lip reading. Hearing over the phone, or without being able to see someone’s face, or being in a loud environment is really challenging. However I’m surrounded by people who don’t mind repeating things.

I have a good friend, Mike, who’s been incredibly thoughtful. Mike has provided me with updated computers and large monitors. But other than that, I haven’t made use of any visual aids… yet. Though I do enjoy a good pair of sunglasses with amber tint which works best to reduce glare and increase contrast.

My greatest asset is my wife Kim. She’s thoughtful in looking out for me. She makes sure that cabinets are closed, and teaches the kids to move their toys and shoes out of the way. Outdoors, she always alerts me of steps, curbs, anything I could trip over. She makes my life so much easier. Besides, it’s nice to have a beautiful woman by my side. Even my dog knows to get out of the way when she hears me coming.

What is the psychological impact of living with Usher syndrome?
It took me a couple of years to learn to deal with the news of the disease and the dual sensory loss. My worst fear was that I would lose my sight and hearing completely, and be relegated to a rocking chair, waiting for someone to come touch me and say hello. I feared that my life would become nothing, that I would have nothing to offer. I feared that I would be forgotten, dismissed, losing all dignity, a mere inconvenience in the lives of those who could still live fully. It was a deep fear, and it would take time for me to release it and trust that God truly does have plans for a future for me.

The original diagnosis and advice (“find another profession”) played mercilessly in my head, paralyzing me at times. In fact, I didn’t get a full night’s sleep for almost two years due to waking up in fear of what lay ahead.

Finally, it was our family physician who helped me get over the fears. He said, “Tim, this is an issue of faith and trust. You’re healthy. Go live.”

It wasn’t until I began to take my physician’s advice and begin to trust that God is greater than everything, including my disease and all my fears, that I began to move past the fear.

I recall sharing the original physician’s diagnosis with Dr. Irene Maumenee, head of Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins—one of the leading eye centers in the world. Her response was, “Find another profession? Why? You paint until you can’t!” Even now, as I write her charge, I get shivers of joy and thankfulness. Yes, that is how we should live, echoing Jonathan Swift: “May you live all the days of your life.”

I left there with a new lease on life. Instead of living in dread, I began to live with optimism again. Though fear might be a part of the battle, it need not prevail.

How do you compensate for both vision and hearing loss?
I’ve had a few audiologists say that one hearing aid would do me fine, but I always hear much better with two. Digital hearing aids are such a blessing. Audiologists are able to fine-tune the instruments to really hone in on what you can hear. Transpositioning is a wonderful technology, as it moves sounds outside of your hearing range to within your hearing range. Regarding my field of vision, it’s a definite challenge. I have to do a lot of scanning, and memorizing where things are really helps out a lot. I’m comfortable in familiar environments. Being in a new place or a place I haven’t been to in a long time can be stressful until I learn where everything is.

Last year, my doctor at Wilmer Eye Institute, Dr. Hendrik P. M. Scholl, told me that I have about a 17-degree visual field in each eye. That’s really small considering normally we have about a 200-degree visual field. When he told me that, I actually felt like a walking miracle, considering I’m able to do a lot of things with such a narrow range of vision.

For example, I still play tennis. The funny thing is, I can hit a ball coming at me 100 mph, but I have a difficult time finding the ball on the court two feet away. My friends help me with comments as, “Tim! nine o’clock short range!” to help me locate the ball. The perplexed look of bystanders is priceless!

Having a extremely narrow range of vision requires extra planning. Whenever I move I have to carefully look to my left and right to see if anybody’s coming. Going down the steps can be challenging because I can’t see the shadows that indicate the steps. I never know if I’m going to miss a step; falling kind of hurts, I try to avoid that!

Honestly, I am just very thankful that I still can paint. I don’t take it for granted, and each day I wake up and I can see, I smile and think “Yes! I can see!” It’s a great way to start the day to be able to see and hear and move. I’ve learned to give God many thanks for the told simple things. It doesn’t take much for me to be content like it used to.

How did you prepare—if one can prepare for such a thing—for losing so much of your sight and your hearing?
Honestly, I don’t think you can be prepared. I asked Dr. Maumanee, “Should I start learning Braille?” She replied, “No, you really can’t. When the time comes,
then you can go down that road.”

I remember seeing a book some time ago titled, Just Enough Light for the Step That I’m On, by Stormie Omartian. That’s how God has covered me; he doesn’t give me a beacon to shine a mile down the road, but he always provides enough light to get by right here, right now.

I’m going to take one step at a time, and try to enjoy the moment. And who knows? As Clint Eastwood said, “Tomorrow is promised to no one.” Enjoy and make the most of today.

How does the limited field of vision affect your everyday life?
I don’t yet walk with a cane or any other visual assistance, so to everybody else I look completely normal. My disability is invisible to them. But what they don’t know is that I can’t see anything except what’s right in front of me, which means I walk into people, cut people off, get too close to people, and so on.

For example, I would walk into a store, I see a line, and I get in at what I see as the end of it. Somebody taps me on my shoulder and says, “Who do you think you are? Cutting in front of people? Think you’re better than us?” Oftentimes, there’s not enough time to explain, so I get some dirty looks.

Every day, Kim and the kids—Lindsie (31), Drew (19) and Chloe (13)—are my eyes and ears, always working doubly hard to watch out for me. I marvel at their patience, repeating things over and over. Every day is an adventure.

I would imagine that one of the biggest changes you faced was giving up driving and the lack of freedom and independence that followed. The worst! Yes, it was hard, but it’s also a relief! I hated giving up independence, and I hated having to be a burden to everybody else, but I also didn’t want to cause an accident and hurt someone.

It’s definitely been an adjustment, especially for Kim, being the only driver at home. I have to do a lot more planning, and be ready to go at a moment’s notice when someone offers a ride. I keep a running list of things I need, so that when a ride becomes available, I’m ready. I guess I have to think a little bit more about details than I’m used to. Kim’s been great, adjusting without complaint.

Your father, William T. Chambers, is also a portrait painter. When did you discover you had talent?
I always loved to draw, and my parents gave me plenty of paper and writing instruments to draw with, and of course I learned a lot from my dad. I still do. Growing up, I spent most of my time playing outside. During the school year my favorite class was art. I would always go way overboard on the assignments and just loved it. My friends and I used to dream that we would play for the Chicago White Sox or the Cubs, but I always knew that I was going to be an artist.

Tell me about your art education.
My art education isn’t straightforward. I had a few scholarships out of high school to colleges, but I quickly realized I wasn’t going to learn anything. My dad had set a high standard of instruction for me.

During my freshman year at the University of Minnesota, my dad found an apprenticeship in an arts studio in Minneapolis. I studied with Richard Lack during the day, and took courses at the university in the evenings for two years. I began studying with Impressionist Henry Hensche at the Cape School of Art in Provincetown, Massachusetts, in 1983. It was there that I found my love for color.

Also, it was at Provincetown where I met Cedric Egeli, who invited me to study with him in Annapolis, Maryland. Cedric and his wife Joanette, both amazing artists, had a profound influence on my art. Cedric is a thinker, who believes understanding and keen observation are essential to good painting. Throughout the years I have continued to paint with them in the summers on the Cape.

I also studied at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, as well as with Sebastian Capella near San Diego.

How has your condition challenged you in your portrait business?
One question people ask me is, “Well, how in the world do you handle a portrait sitting?” People expect a portrait artist to have the best vision in the world, but I still can create beautiful paintings, even if I can’t always see where I’m walking. It’s a funny paradox. Kim and I go to portrait sittings together. I follow her around—she knows what I need to do and what I’m looking for. We set up, I get to know my surroundings, I get to know my subject, and I get to work.

I can see directly in front of me what I’m looking at; I just can’t see off to the side. But then again, a portrait is about the person in front of you. I just have to work at it a lot harder than I used to. With some customers, a friendship is established. After receiving a portrait that exceeds their expectations, I share with them about my condition, and they want to know more. But, if I share that I have an eye disease with a new client, most will view the combination of an artist with an eye malady as incompatible, and will politely show me the door. What a pleasure it is to produce a beautiful portrait for a client to cherish.

The truth is that a good portrait or painting requires a lot more than vision. It involves one with a heart and mind that truly is excited about life and is able to recognize the essence of it.

Tim Paintings

What attracts you to portraits? Do you paint other subjects?
I love painting landscapes, but portraits present the greatest challenge to an artist. My dad always said that portraiture is the king of art. He’s right. To capture the essence of a person is no small feat. I love getting to know my subjects, who they are, where life has taken them.

I’ve been asked what happens when I meet somebody who’s not pretty or handsome. I’ve never met somebody who is not beautiful. Every person whom I have painted, I look at in wonder, knowing that they are uniquely created by the hand of God. My goal is to learn what makes them unique, and to convey that in my painting.

Has developing your artwork into a means of earning a living changed either your work or your process?
That’s a great question. Yes, it has affected my work. Obviously, with a portrait, what I’m really painting is what is in the client’s mind, their expectation. When I paint a child, I am painting the mother’s perception of that child, not mine. I could have a portrait that a dozen people see in my studio, and they say, “Oh my goodness, Tim, you nailed that portrait.”

But then the mother might look at it and say, “That’s not my daughter.” Of course, it looks just like her daughter, but that mother knows something about her daughter that I haven’t quite yet captured. It could be something that’s in her mind, that no longer exists in her daughter. My job is to know what she’s thinking and then capture it. I spend time interviewing my subjects before I paint them.

With a landscape painting, the viewer is not as critical. My dad says, “Nobody’s going to say that tree is in the wrong place.” I can also take liberties with color, which excites me.

Define your painting style.
I define my work as Impressionistic with a complimentary focus on form and draftsmanship. I prefer a looser style, but then again I still have to have enough detail to capture a person’s unique likeness in a portrait. I am drawn to the freshness and vitality of a painting sketch, and I don’t possess the patience to finish something with a lot of detail. To this day, I still try to find that balance between a very loose painting and one that has sufficient detail. If I go too far in detail, I think the painting begins to look overworked. Students will ask me, “How do I know when my painting is done?” My answer is, “When you have achieved the concept that first struck you about your subject.”

Do you work on one painting at a time? What mediums do you use?
I’m at my best when I take one painting from start to finish. I usually have a few going at once though, because it allows me to step back and see the progress of them or what I could do to improve them before I jump back into them. I like working in oils the most, but also very much enjoy pastel and charcoal.

Describe your favorite portrait.
Two that come to mind are my portraits of Charles “Chuck” Colson (Prison Fellowship Ministries and Special Counsel to President Richard Nixon), and some outdoor family portraits.

Painting Chuck Colson’s portrait was a wonderful challenge. My goal was to convey the man who had such a great love for people, but was also a great statesman. He was gracious in giving me A Creative Life from page 13 plenty of time to interview him. Mr. Colson always wore a suit and tie, but if you look at his portrait, he obliged my request to remove his jacket. This gave him an approachable look, for he was a very kind man. When I arrived for the sittings, he would help me carry my equipment.

At the unveiling, celebrating the 30th anniversary of Prison Fellowship Ministries and Colson’s 75th birthday, many people exclaimed how the portrait really captured so many different things about him. That’s what a portrait artist wants to hear.

What is the best advice you were ever given as an artist?
I’ve been given plenty of good advice. Here are a few: Work hard. Love what you do. Listen to what your teacher says. Don’t defend your work. Just listen, trust, and do. Get your big shapes and masses right. My advice to other artists is all of the above plus you need to love what you are painting or the painting won’t work.

How do you maintain the demands of being a self-employed artist and raising a family?
It’s not easy, but working at home really helps. When you have your own business, you have to wear all the hats, and you can never just leave your job at work. At least I can’t. But then again, I really love what I do. It’s who I am. I get excited about the colors, shapes, and the people I see. I’m always painting in my head.

In our home, Kim is the one who holds everything together. I couldn’t live without her. I love spending time with my kids, knowing what they’re up to. Kim does well with details, where I am more of a big picture person. We’re opposite, but as time goes on, a very good fit.

Tell me about your newly-launched online painting school.
I really enjoy teaching. I started teaching about 20 years ago, beginning with a weekly drawing class in my studio. The most amazing thing about teaching is seeing people enjoy the simplicity of creating art, even on a basic level. The other amazing thing is what I learn. It’s one thing to know a concept intrinsically, but it’s another thing to articulate it so others can understand. I love the challenge, and it makes me a better painter.

I started IguanaPaint Academy (www.IguanaPaint.com) four years ago when families began asking me if I would teach their kids art. The parents were saying, “I have a child who’s gifted in art but I have no idea what to teach.” I started with local workshops, but then some students couldn’t attend and asked if I could teach them long distance.

We launched IguanaPaint’s first courses this past January 2014 and we now have students from five continents! In addition to my drawing courses, we have courses in filmmaking, video, colored pencil, photography, and even an Art of Engineering course.

What is your dream as an artist that is yet to be fulfilled?
To have an established gallery or company sponsor a series of paintings from travels around the world; I’d like to record a response to the beauty of those different locations and people. That would be incredibly exciting.

What inspires you?
Honestly, being alive. I love light, I love new things, I love stories. One of the great definers of life is perseverance. Life is hard. Loving people is hard. Learning to know what’s important and keeping things simple seems to help me enjoy life and find the beauty in what I see.

Cindy Dyer is a freelance graphic designer, artist and photographer in Alexandria, Virginia. Visit her blog at cindydyer.wordpress.com. She can be reached at dyerdesign@aol.com.





Recycled Mosaics by Daniel Scott, Jr.

4 04 2013

I interviewed fellow graphic designer, Daniel Scott, Jr., for our artist feature in the spring issue of Celebrate Home Magazine. I first interviewed Daniel on my blog two years ago. You can read that post here.

Daniel’s work is simply amazing! He creates these beautiful pop-art works of art with tiny slivers of product labels. Learn more about his work beginning on page 66 of the issue, which is free to download in the links below. He has beautiful prints available for purchase; see the store link on page 80.

The more clicks we get, the better we do with promoting and getting advertising! We thank you for your support.

Single pages version: Celebrate Home Spring 2013

Reader spreads version (my favorite!): Celebrate Home Spring 2013 Spreads

Order a print copy (at cost, plus shipping): http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/540569

You can also view it on issuu.com here.

DanielScottArt

 





Spring 2013 Celebrate Home Magazine: Artist-in-Residence

4 04 2013

Camilla and Jim Houghton’s laid-back Florida home is featured in the spring 2013 issue of Celebrate Home Magazine, now available for FREE download in the links below. Read my interview, “Artist-in-Residence,” starting on page 12 of this issue.

The more clicks we get, the better we do with promoting and getting advertising! We thank you for your support.

Single pages version: Celebrate Home Spring 2013

Reader spreads version (my favorite!): Celebrate Home Spring 2013 Spreads

Order a print copy (at cost, plus shipping): http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/540569

You can also view it on issuu.com here.

Photography © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

ArtistInResidence





Winter 2013 issue of Celebrate Home Magazine now available for digital download!

11 02 2013

The winter 2013 issue of Celebrate Home Magazine is now available for digital download in the links below. Click on either of the links below to download your FREE pdf copy of this issue. The first links is for single-page viewing (perfect for printing off your favorite recipe!); the second link is set up for “reader spreads,” so you can see the magazine in spread format (my favorite!).

The more clicks we get, the better we do with promoting and getting advertising! We thank you for your support.

Single pages version: Celebrate Home Winter 2013

Reader spreads version (my favorite!): Celebrate Home Winter 2013 Spreads

You can order a print copy of the magazine (at cost, plus shipping) here: http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/513977

Click here to view on issuu.com.

On the cover: Gladys Roldan-de-Moras, award-winning Impressionist painter from San Antonio, Texas

CHM Winter 2013 FInal Cover

In this issue:

FEATHER YOUR NEST
Winter-inspired lovelies for you and your home.

HOME
Delicious Pops of Color
Easy on the eyes, the Hedstrom house takes advantage of light-filled views with clean lines and engaging color.

FAMILY
Living the Fairy Tale: To Quit or Not to Quit?
Mothers share their struggles with jobs and families.

FOOD & ENTERTAINING
Bowls of Comfort
Take the chill out of winter with our filling soup recipes!

A Wintertime Dessert Party
Pair wine and desserts for elegant and easy entertaining.

Green Chicken: Creating a Family Heirloom Cookbook
Create a cookbook that cherishes family recipes.

The Many Seasons of Beer
Beer aficionado Jefferson Evans explores the world of seasonal brews.

THE ARTIST
Gladys Roldan-de-Moras, Impressionist Painter
Always proud of her Colombian and Mexican roots, this artist’s passion is reflected in her colorful work.

HOW-TO
Winter Photography Indoors
Stay indoors to photograph nature this winter.

PETS
How Much is That Doggie in the Window? Choosing the Family Pup

Think you’re ready to add a furry friend to your family? Here are some things to consider.

THE CREATIVE LIFE
Every Picture Tells a Story
Discover five tips for decorating your walls with original art.

THE COLLECTOR
Bejeweled: Camilla Houghton’s Unique Ring Collection
What started as a gift exchange between two sisters expanded into a beloved collection of rings.

CRAFT
Ring Bling Box
Give your rings a new home with our easy craft project.

PERSPECTIVES
What Home Means to Me

 





Heading into the drawing studio…

21 11 2012

This process reminds me of drawing portrait studies and nudes in college. We started with marker sketches, then evolved to charcoal sketches. I did some decent work then, but this artist is just phenomenal. He makes me want to pull out my drawing stuff right now!





Celebrate Home Magazine interviews Lucile Prache, watercolor artist

14 10 2012

Last month I interviewed Parisian artist Lucile Prache for our inaugural issue of Celebrate Home Magazine, which Barbara Kelley and I launched just two weeks ago. I found Lucile’s illustrations on etsy.com and had her store bookmarked because I love her sketchy, whimsical illustration style. I contacted her and she agreed to be interviewed for our magazine. Click on the link below to download the magazine to see more of Lucile’s lovely artwork.

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Spreads

Lucile’s Kitchen

When did you first discover your creative talents?
I have been drawing since my early childhood and found it quite natural to express myself in this way as I grew in a family with an artistic mood. I was very shy and I guess it was helpful to draw instead of talk.

Did you go to school for art?
Yes, I studied at the ESAG art school (also known as Penninghen) in Saint Germain des Prés in Paris and graduated—a long time ago.

Did you inherit your artistic talents from your parents?
Yes, I surely did. My father is an architect and my mother has always been making pottery (both are part of the flower power generation!).

When did you know that you wanted to be an artist (illustrator)?
I didn’t really feel like a fine artist because at art school we learned to be illustrators. Plus, I had been working for magazines, the fashion industry, and in advertising for such long time, I didn’t feel like a fine artist.

I still do these types of projects, but I love painting for my Etsy world-wide customers. Having a large audience is important for me—I don’t think “real” artists need that. Knowing that someone in Japan and someone in New York is looking at my artwork at the same time just makes my day!

How long have you been working as a freelance artist and illustrator?
I have been a freelancer for almost 25 years.

I love the fresh, loose, sketchy style of your illustrations. Did the evolution of this style come easily to you?
Thank you so much! I think I have always sketched in this style because I love travel journals (specifically Cy Twombly and Jean Michel Basquiat art). I have been very interested in Chinese calligraphy and started to learn with a Chinese teacher. He always told his French students that they never would become Chinese even after 100 years, but this could be helpful for our very Western style; I believe this is true—my work has become looser and fresher since I began studying Chinese calligraphy.

How would you describe your illustration/painting style?
I want my paintings to look carefree and happy. I have been studying ballet since my childhood, and I believe that my illustrations are just like dance pieces—everything appears to be easy. Dancers are always smiling on stage, but there is a lot of work behind the stage.

Your illustrations are unique and full of energy. Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from real life—typography on labels, dirty papers on the sidewalk (yes, I am a Parisian!), kitsch postcards of Brooklyn, a vibrant green top on a girl in the street, vintage books of English china, figs at the market—almost any image can inspire me!

What mediums do you work in other than watercolor? Do you have a favorite brand of watercolor paint? Favorite brushes and paper?
I work a lot on my Cintiq Wacom pen tablet with Photoshop when I get jobs for fashion, magazines and advertising clients. When painting with watercolor, I love Windsor and Newton because of their amazing fresh colors. I am painting with Chinese brushes on French BFK Rives paper.

I decided to leave my Wacom tablet and my computer for a while and went back to colored pencils, gouache and watercolor again. I missed the “real taste” of different papers and pigments. The printing process means CMYK colors. Original paintings allow gold, silver, fluo paintings and this just makes my day!

Do you create still life set-ups of fruits and vegetables from which to reference? What is a typical work day like?
Sometimes I stumble upon beautiful fruits or vegetables at the market and paint them before cooking them. Most of the time I reference photos or browse online for inspiration when I don’t have time to go to Chinatown and purchase Asian food for a still life set-up.

Do you do any computer illustration?
Yes, I do. It is exciting to use several devices. I work in Corel Painter, Illustrator and Photoshop on an old Mac Pro. These software programs allow me to paste labels, type and photographs into my illustrations.

What do you like most about being an illustrator?
Illustrators have freedom—this is what I like most; but we know that we sometimes have to pay a huge price to keep this freedom.

Has illustration as a profession changed over the years?
It has. Computers and the Internet changed everything. I started my career before the Internet, and I remember I had to go to Marie Claire magazine and deliver my orders in person. It was quite fun because I could talk with the art director and the redaction team. We knew each other quite well. I loved to walk in Paris from my studio to my clients, but it was time-consuming, too.

We are now networking and it is completely different, but I really enjoy the friends I’ve met around the world because of Etsy. I am meeting them sometimes in Paris, or more recently in New York, and I love this!

How long have you been selling on Etsy? Has it been a good way to get your work out to buyers?
I started selling on Etsy more than two years ago and it completely changed my life! It is always very exciting to add new paintings, communicate on Facebook and blog about the process. I am absolutely thrilled to get many buyers from all around the world—mainly from the United States. It is a delight to keep in touch with so many open-minded, cool and positive people.

Do you pursue other creative endeavors?
I like screenprinting and can’t wait to work on new designs but I need time and energy—and not to be too hungry because my screenprinting studio is my kitchen.

You are surrounded by amazing museums, which must be an inspiration to you. Tell me a little bit about life in Paris and your family. Did your children inherit your talent for art?
My children are geeks and creative ones! Please come to Paris and see how we live. After spending two weeks in New York City, Paris seems to me like a small village of farmers, But I definitely love Paris—I get inspiration from the street equally as from the museums. I plan to go and see the Gerard Richter exhibition in le Centre Pompidou tomorrow. I always forget how I can be stunned by painting in a peaceful place like a museum. I am in love with my city, but I am always dreaming of elsewhere…and I swear I will try to improve my bad English. But luckily, the language of images is international.

I noticed on your blog that you also are an avid gardener. How does gardening influence your love of illustrating food?
My garden is located on a wet and sunny island, so I only see my garden four to six weeks a year and it doesn’t take much care. I wish I had a vegetable garden and could watch it grow but it is impossible for a Parisian work addict. Too bad, because it would be very inspiring. I paint fruits, vegetables, cakes because of their beauty, but also because I enjoy cooking.

What are your influences? What artists inspire you?
I was first influenced by rock music and pop art artists such as Andy Warhol, Basquiat, Jasper Johns, Rauschenberg, French artist Hervé Télémaque, Tadanori Yokoo, Joan Mitchell—I love them all.

What are you working on now?
I just finished a collaboration with a French publisher on a cookbook about Italian food. It is a very exciting project.

I will be working for a fashion agency in late October, but currently I want to add new prints and paintings in my Etsy shop. I would love to publish my own recipe book and make it available for Christmas, but I am sure I won’t have time this year.

If you weren’t an artist what would you be?
I would be a (bad) dancer.

Any advice for aspiring illustrators?
Keep your eyes wide open unless you are asleep.

Describe yourself in three words.
Still always curious

No interview would be complete without this requisite question—You’re stranded on a deserted island. What five things must you have?
Five cards of Raoul Dufy flowers, then find a way to make tools and do mineral painting—let’s get to work!

www.etsy.com/shop/lucileskitchen

luciles-kitchen.blogspot.fr/

www.facebook.com/pages/Luciles-kitchen/197554960274042?sk=wall

Click the link below to download a two-page spread pdf of Celebrate Home Magazine:

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Spreads

Click the link below to download a pdf designed for single page printing:

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Pages

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Buy me this.

14 02 2012

(The cabinet, not the book; although while you have your wallet out, I would kinda like to have the book, too. And really, what’s another $14.91?). I’ve looked high and low for a reference to the woodworker who created this whimsically wonderful piece of furniture. How could you not smile if you could wake up looking at this piece every morning? This work of art graces the cover of the book, 500 Cabinets, written by Ray Hemachandra and published by Lark Crafts.





FAVE: Bruce Munro’s “Field of Light” projects

28 01 2012

I just discovered Bruce Munro‘s lighting art through French gardener Delphine’s blog here. While all of his work is amazing, his outdoor and garden installations are breathtaking! Learn more about Field of Light® here and see more photos of installations here.





Re-post: Rhymes with orange

19 01 2012

Originally posted January 30, 2009

For several months now I’ve been trying to catalog my images better, bit by bit (there are thousands and thousands of photos). While organizing my garden photos folder I noticed that I have a plethora of orange-hued flowers so I put together this collage of all things orange-ish to brighten your winter day.

Tangerine. Coral. Day-glow orange. Push-up popsicle orange. Sunset. Pumpkin. 70s shag carpet orange (I did window display at a department store while in college and there was multi-shaded orange shag carpet in each window. Do you know how hard it is to design around that color scheme? I covered it up every chance I got—with a decorating budget of zilch, unfortunately. I asked for $5 once for a huge set of markers and my boss freaked out).

Orange peel. Safety orange. Salmon (did you know that the “l” in salmon is silent? The correct pronunciation is “sam-uhn.” Don’t believe me? Click here).

Frou-frou-big-bowed-bridesmaid-dress-apricot (yes, I had to wear one once upon a time).

Carrot. Persimmon. Vermilion. Orange-red. Rusty can orange. Burnt orange. Tomato. Panama Brown orange (the color Dad insists his old diesel VW Rabbit was—sorry, Dad, it was orange).

After a week of designing at the computer in a cold basement, pausing only to look out at winter gray skies (save for that remarkable sunset on Wednesday), I needed a jolt of color to inspire me. What better color than orange?

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

rhymeswithorange





The Painting Years: Texas Bluebonnets

31 12 2011

This tiny painting measures just 4×6″ and is an original oil painting that I did when I was about 17 years old.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





The Painting Years: Birds in flight

30 12 2011

Here’s another painting I copied while studying with Lila Prater in Weslaco, Texas. I was about 15 when I painted this 18×24 canvas.





The Painting Years: First florals

29 12 2011

Yesterday I organized my father’s “framing shed” workshop and found some of my old oil paintings that I painted from about ages 12-17. The two paintings below are framed and hanging in the house. Discovering the unframed paintings instigated this trip down memory lane and I thought I would share some of my first paintings with you.

My parents took me to the Lila Prater Studio in Weslaco, Texas, for an interview with Lila when I was just 12 years old. I had already been drawing since elementary school and they wanted to further encourage my interest in art. Lila had a strict rule—no students under 15 years old. Classes ran from 9:00 a.m. to noon every Saturday and she discovered that most younger students don’t have the attention span nor inclination to give up a Saturday morning to paint. My dad showed her my portfolio of drawings and I remember him saying, “she’s not like other kids.” (She’s still not!)

Lila decided to make an exception and give me a spot in her Saturday morning oil painting class. I remember there were about five or six students at the time. I was the youngest at 12, the next was a young man who was about 17 or 18, and the others were in their 40s and older. I don’t remember all their names, but I remember some details of my fellow painters. One dark-haired woman, possibly in her late 40s, always dressed up for class and never spilled one drop of paint on her white-colored clothing. She wore a simple white smock/apron and never got paint on it either. I, on the other hand, occasionally used my clothing as a wipe rag (much to my mother’s chagrin).

Another woman, probably in her 50s or 60s at the time, was a retiree named Violet Treasure, who wore her silver hair in a bun perched on top of head. Hers was such an unusual name that I thought it couldn’t possibly be her real name. I did an online search but can’t find anything about her, unfortunately, but I never forgot her name. She painted on really large canvases and almost always painted female nudes. She was a supremely talented painter. I marveled at her use of color—where I tended to see skin as one tone of beige, her brush strokes infused purple, lilac, pink, green and every other hue into the figure. I would learn just how difficult this was when I attempted to copy a painting of a young Native American girl. Initially, my subject was just one shade of brown (think coloring book style) and it was just so flat and uninspiring. Under Lila’s patient guidance, my subject’s skin began to reflect all those colors that Violet used in her paintings. I never did master skin tones but I had an instant respect for Violet’s painting skills.

The young man’s last name was Somerville (or Summerville), but I don’t recall his first name. My dad, who was in Customs at the time, worked with his father, Red Somerville, who was an immigration officer at the port near Nuevo Progreso (which was a mere eight miles from where we lived in Donna, Texas). I remember how slowly he painted and how meticulous he was. He hardly uttered a word while he was in class—he was too intent on replicating works of the masters. (He would have done incredibly well as a forger!) One painting I remember him copying was The Gleaners, an oil painting by Jean-Francois Millet. I always aimed to finish a painting in one or two weekends (impatient even at that young age, I was). He, on the other hand, spent three hours painting just the hands of the wheat gleaners! I marveled at his patience and expertise. When I moved on to a new painting instructor in a different studio, he was still working on his copy of The Gleaners!

There was a pass-through from Lila’s studio to her dining and living room, where her husband, Neil Giles Prater, was bedridden with a long-term illness. I just did a search online and learned that he died at age 83 on June 10, 1977 of pneumonia.

I actually spoke with Lila sometime in the 90s and she was about 92 years old then. She was in an assisted living home and had lost her eyesight. She remembered me and some of the images I painted. I just did a search and found that one of her two daughters passed away in 2010 and the obituary indicated she was preceded in death by her parents, Lila and Neil. Further research revealed that there was a Lila V. Prater, from Weslaco, Texas, who lived to 107 and died in 2003, and I’m pretty certain she’s one and the same Lila Prater. 107 years old—amazing, isn’t it?

Lila had a huge filing cabinet that she called “the morgue,” where we could sort through and find an image to paint. As a rookie, I invariably chose images to copy that were well out of my scope, and Lila would encourage me to pick another. Sometimes she won, sometimes I did.

My first painting was a landscape, and the very next painting was the first floral piece below, done on an 11×14 canvas. When I picked the painting I wanted to copy, she said it was too soon for me to do such a detailed work. I pleaded with her, stating it was to be a gift for Mother’s Day. She relented and I faithfully replicated the work. When I was 15, I painted the second floral, a 24×36 canvas, as a present for my mother.

By copying the work of other artists, I learned myriad painting techniques and color combinations. Lila also taught me how to use the grid method to enlarge or transfer an image to a canvas. Learn more about the grid method here. For this posting, I’ve made both images the same size, although there is a huge difference between them in reality—11×14 vs. 24×36.

I studied under Lila’s direction for about five years and rarely missed a painting session. She was a wonderful teacher and gave me a great foundation in painting. When I was about 17, I began taking lessons with another instructor, Richard (last name escapes me) in Donna, Texas. His teaching method was vastly different from Lila’s—he didn’t allow us to copy anything and we had interesting exercises like using limited palettes of black and white paint only. We did a lot of still life set-ups with fruit, bowls, vases and figurines.

Re: framing—my dad would buy really beautiful but very inexpensive frames in Mexico to showcase my paintings. I remember that we would swap them out whenever I painted something new that matched the color of a particular frame!





Whimsy in the garden

22 08 2011

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





A Vibrant Morning Wake by Daniel Scott, Jr.

28 07 2011

A few months ago, Daniel (who is a graphic designer in Ft. Worth) contacted me and asked for permission to use a photo I shot of a cluster of Spiderworts blooming at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in March. My college roommate, graphic designer/artist/Austinite and dear friend Sonya who creates whimsical paper clay sculptures and “Bugs with Attitude.” Check out her website here. She took me there for an afternoon of shooting (it was my first visit there).

Daniel gave me a link to his mosaic work and I was duly impressed, so I gave him permission and anxiously awaited the final result. It is nothing short of gorgeous! I’ll be interviewing Daniel for this blog in the not-too-distant future, but wanted to share his inspirational piece now.

From Daniel’s blog, Recycled Consumer Mosaics:
I create artwork entirely from candy wrappers, drink labels, gum wrappers, sugar packets, tea packaging, etc. to utilize marketing brand awareness and color recognition from the marketplace. My swatch palette takes shape as marketing strategies change their client’s image. As each mosaic is made, more layers and techniques are worked through for the best results. That’s what makes this process fresh and unique with each blank slate, ready to be transformed into a work of art.

Below is Daniel’s beautiful mosaic along with the photo that inspired him. Stay tuned for my interview with him!





Interview with William Biggers—The Evolution of an Artist

21 05 2011

A few years ago, Bill Biggers contacted me through my blog, requesting permission to use a floral photograph as inspiration for a painting. After visiting his art websites, I wrote back and told him that I would be honored for him to paint from one of my photos. We kept in touch via e-mail and two years ago we met in person in Greenville, S.C. I was visiting my friend Carmen, who had moved to nearby Greer a few years earlier. Carmen and I met him at his home, where he gave us a tour of his studio and work, followed by a leisurely lunch in downtown Greenville.

Bill is truly a Renaissance man—skilled in so many artistic disciplines. While he is a very talented illustrator, painter, and stained glass artist, I especially liked his pottery. I collect Raku and he had some lovely pieces in his home, all created during his incarnation as a professional potter in his studio, Mountain Pond Pottery, at Lake Lanier and Lake Nottley. I felt an immediate kinship with him because like me, he loves acquiring and applying new creative skills. Graphic design, painting, drawing, printmaking, marketing, writing, pottery, stained glass painting—he does them all and he does them well.

Born in Atlanta, GA, Bill now lives in Greenville, S.C., where he creates portrait paintings and drawings on commission. I found his diverse career fascinating and he graciously agreed to be interviewed and share his career and works with my readers.

When did you first discover your creative talents?
I began drawing and painting immediately after eye surgery at age three. I could see individual leaves on trees, birds, distance and most important—single, not double images. That progressed to an impromptu crayon and paint mural on the lengthy hallway to my bedroom. Needless to say, at first Mom was upset but fell into gales of laughter.

Where did you study art?
I continued drawing and painting through high school. I had no formal training until my first classes at Georgia State University, where I majored in visual arts. I studied under the remarkable and late Jim Sitton. Additionally, I took painting courses under the late Joseph Perrin, printmaking under Jim McLean (Editor’s note: McLean retired in 1994 and has since illustrated 11 books, most of them with well-known language guru and punmeister, Richard Lederer), and pottery under a man named Potter.

Did you inherit your artistic talents from your parents?
Short answer—maybe. Late in life my mother surprised us all with a seemingly sudden and remarkable interest and talent in multiple-layer painting and firing on porcelain, which shares some characteristics with stained glass painting. Her work was beautiful.

My father, Bill Sr., was head of the Meteorology Department for Eastern Airlines, and in WWII he taught American and British pilots weather and navigation. After his retirement, photography became his hobby and lasted until he lost vision. My sister, Sydney, is a highly creative interior designer and her daughter, Lea, is a gifted jewelry designer.

What other creative mediums have you worked in?
First and foremost—drawing and painting in all painting mediums—from watercolor to oil, acrylic to tempera. That’s the most consistent media—especially watercolor—which is the most ancient and long-lasting medium. I’ve enjoyed printmaking—especially old techniques of etching and woodblock printing. I’m still an enthusiastic stained glass fan, but had to close my shop due to illness. The physicality was too demanding and I couldn’t do any work for over two years. Now I occasionally work primarily in watercolor.

Tell us about the evolution of your career.
I worked in the graphic design field for 17 years, specializing in visual tools to aid in teaching, illustration, printing, promotional and marketing materials, writing and heading an award-winning design team of artists and photographers. During my GSU tenure, I completely designed the then new Educational Media facility from the ground up with the universities chief architect. The facility design included plans for HAVAC, electrical, space usage, and a complete layout for departments of Graphics/Photography, Film/Video, Distribution, Audio and supportive staff.

I left GSU to develop award-winning consumer catalogs for an importer. Concurrently and five years prior, I developed Mountain Pond Pottery, creating one-of-a-kind and limited edition raku and stoneware. I liked raku because it’s an art with such an exciting process. (The creative process of Raku as practiced today has evolved from methods developed in Japan in the sixteenth century. A Korean tile maker’s hand-pinched tea ceremony bowls so impressed the Japanese emperor that he named the tile maker, Raku, meaning pleasure. The Raku family practices pottery to this day. Westerners have built on that simple and elegant approach by making a wide variety of forms and formulating more distinctive color glazes. After forming, bisque firing then glazing, the piece is thrust into a preheated red-hot kiln at nearly 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. At the time of glaze maturity, when the piece is close to transparent red, the piece is lifted out of the kiln with tongs and/or gloves, then plunged into a container of sawdust, straw, or a combustible material like oil rags. The piece is tightly covered and sealed to allow carbons released from the combustibles to penetrate the glaze and clay body which produces the characteristic black clay body and individual and surprisingly unpredictable glaze results now characteristic of Raku—each finished piece is scrubbed when cooled to remove soot, and bears the distinctive marks of tongs or gloves adding character to the form.)

After working with the importer, I was Resident Potter at the John C. Campbell Folk School, while also heading the marketing department there. I also taught and authored a history of the Brass Town Carvers, a then 60+ year old program at JCCS patterned after Winter Work in carving by Danish farmers.

After JC Campbell I traveled west to California to work at the former Pocket Ranch Institute and the Star Foundation. High in the mountains above the vineyards surrounding Geyserville, I produced marketing materials and a motivational video. I was also on the management team for the large 2,000 acre retreat and psychotherapeutic facility.

After several years I returned to the southeast and soon worked as Operations Director and Music Personnel Manager for the Greenville Symphony, in Greenville, S.C. Four years later I had to get back into art and left the Symphony. I took some time off and subsequently returned to my first love—the visual arts. I took a short drive to Tryon, N.C. and came upon a glass studio—Tryon Decorative Glass—owned by stained glass artist Michael Kitchen. We hit it off discussing art and art glass. I was amazed with his work.

Under Kitchen’s instruction, I learned the art of glass painting with multiple layers—painting with ground glass mixed with bonding agents, which remain on the painted glass surface long enough to place in kiln. This assured the ground glass would stay on the painted glass through handling and firing; the pieces were then fired in special glass kilns. I also learned window design and fabrication with Kitchen. At that time he was contracted to create windows for many United House Of Prayer cathedrals and small churches throughout the East and Midwest. These projects were more than inspiring. Kitchen now works with Glass Works Stained Glass Studio in Charlotte, N.C.

Two years later, in January 1998, I ventured out on my own to create Biggers Glass Painting & Stained Glass Design, with glass studio customers throughout the U.S. Throughout my career incarnations, I continued to create portraits, drawings, and products for communications, business, crafts and the arts—my specialty and passion remains portraits. (View Bill’s stained glass painting and design portfolio here.)

Do you draw every day? What is your favorite medium? 
Yes, if you include doodling. Usually it is just a couple of minutes of sketching per day because my stamina is greatly reduced. When I feel capable, I do full drawings and paintings in acrylics and primarily watercolor.

My favorite medium is watercolor—the oldest painting medium. Chemically, watercolors are pigments made from ground minerals and dyed inert powder, held together generally with gum arabic made from the acacia tree. Watercolors capture luminosity and offer a range equal to and often exceeding that of other mediums. I’ve devoted a page to the history of watercolor here on my website.

On average, how long does it take to complete a work?
The time to create a work varies enormously. Paintings take longer than drawings. Other major factors include the amount of detail and style, number of subjects and size. The time is quite variable, especially since I can only paint for short durations.

Can you explain the process on a portrait commission from start to finish? Which commissions do you enjoy the most?
It can vary by medium—oils and acrylic paintings take longer—yet a watercolor can easily be as time-consuming. First comes the initial contact and commission. I ask many questions of my client to get as much verbal information as possible to determine their needs and hopes. A portrait is special to people and I like to give them that opportunity to co-create in the beginning. Ideally I like to work on a thumbnail sketch and feature detail of a live model, and take photographs of the desired position, and from all angles. From there, I take photos of the subject and retire to my studio to begin working. For out-of-town commissions, I rely entirely on photos—requesting not only the preferred sitting, but also as many photos as possible of the subject to get a more complete feeling for the portrait.

It is hard to distinguish which commissions I like most as “I’ve never met a commission I didn’t like!” I like portraits of men, women, children and pets… the rare and occasional landscape or still life… and respect for the nuances of watercolor seem to outweigh any other medium.

How would you describe your illustration/painting style?
I “play” in every style I’m aware of, but for commissions I generally lean heavily toward “new realism,” with intense detail—at least as much detail as I can muster.

What are your influences? What artists inspire you?
Truthfully, that is the most difficult question. As a child I was amazed by artists like Norman Rockwell, Leger, Wyatt—the work of 1950s realists that I saw in magazines and in museums and galleries. As I matured, the love for these artists continued, but a mountain of other artists flooded in—from Expressionists to Impressionists, late 19th century realists to cubists, Fauves—almost every style and within those styles, many artists. 

My likes increased exponentially—I am a great lover of Monet, Manet and Van Gogh. My tastes jump back to the great 15th century European painters and sculptors. Later came appreciation for watercolor’s resurgence in the 2oth century and on to artists like Dali and other surrealists, and Picasso to Braque. Additionally, Motherwell, Frankenthaler, Pollock and just about every major artist known on the Abstract Expressionist scene—their creativity exploded into my artistic consciousness. Then there are conceptual artists like Christo and Oldenburg. A few of my favorites are the minimalists.

I have to mention the giants in stained glass design and painting from the 13th century to the 20th century—the late, great national treasure, Dick Millard. He was a friend, mentor and wild man spirit who died in March of this year. He is missed by his wife, Vicki, and literally thousands of fans worldwide.

My paintings don’t seem to reflect these many appreciations and love for visual diversity. However, I do think that these various movements expanded awareness and somehow enriched my experience as an artist. Additionally, living and working in California, Arizona, and the southeast has really influenced my work. (Above: Bill created this stained glass painting, “Prayer for Nation & The World,” to honor the 9/11 victims.)

How do you keep your work fresh and how did you come to formulate your style? Does it progress naturally? What is your creative motivation?
In a word—I try, but sometimes fail. I work at seeing things as they are in the moment. As to style, it seems to have matured to some extent. Opening my eyes each morning and scanning the room, I’m motivated and inspired by everything that surrounds me—shape, form, details and color—as much as my awareness can conceive. That wasn’t always a good characteristic—I was often described as a daydreamer in my primary school days. Catching up was swift and exciting at the college level.

What are you working on at present?
I’ve spent several months sketching and thinking about a personal project—something challenging—a young lady, hand draped over the back of a wooden chair, heavily lit from one side, only slight bounce of light on deeply shadowed part of face and form.

In the last couple of months I have worked on two caricature pieces for a niece—one for a mud run benefit that eventually was transferred to their team’s T-shirts. Another project was a caricature of her friend and co-worker’s Bon Voyage party. An occasional simple piece for a family member or friend keeps the cobwebs away. My niece suggested I render the Markley Chapel at Greenville’s 200-year-old Christ Church (right). The original artwork was sold at a silent auction to benefit the church’s school. Additionally, I made a few Giclée prints from the image, as well as notecard packages.

I noticed you have wide range of artwork on the walls in your home. Whose works do you admire and collect?
First, Jim Sitton, who was one of my university professors. He was a master of giant drawings with details, scratches and usually indistinguishable tiny forms of near microscopic size covering an entire piece. I also have a photolithograph by Jim McLean, one of the printing instructors at GSU. I was fortunate to visit China in late 1994 and acquired two contemporary Chinese paintings, one of the “Venice Of China” (an intaglio print), and a colorful primitive interior with several people. Both are outstanding and unfortunately, I do not know the artists. The three week+ trip expanded awareness and amazement of my favorite subject—other people. Photo © Bill Biggers

There are other works—photography by friends, a large print from another. My favorite pieces, which I would love to possess, are Dick Millard’s glass paintings and panels.

Tell me about your work with the Greenville Symphony.
After three interviews over three months, I was awarded the position of both Music Personnel Director and Operations Director. I managed the Symphony’s budget, attended all rehearsals and performances, contracted musicians and coordinated blind auditions. I supervised the Symphony’s music librarian and was responsible to the Music Director-conductor, David Pollitt. I suppose I enjoyed the rehearsals the most—seeing a piece be interpreted, then evolve into a performance. I also contracted numerous guest artist performers until the last few months there. In late 1994 Maestro Pollitt was offered a cultural conducting exchange with the conductor of the Shanghai Symphony. Three people were going and a benefactor paid to have me included. In all, I worked no more than three partial days followed by at least 10 days of travel. We first explored Shanghai, then Beijing, then went north to the emperor’s tombs and the Great Wall. Initially, we landed in Hong Kong, but didn’t explore until our last two days in China. A strong memory was the enormous bird market, spanning alley after alley, with species of birds I’ve never seen before nor since. I also enjoyed the Jade Market in Hong Kong. Outside the tents were old Chinese men with cloths covering the ground and many ancient jade pieces. The harbor in Shanghai was incredibly scenic and beautiful. The Chinese food was remarkable, with little similarity to Chinese food in the U.S.

How does the word passion relate to an artist?
First, I think any work, field or endeavor should done with some passion and not always with the major goal of producing income. If you are good at something, you can be a success in many ways. The key is to find that thing—or things—that jets your juices and stirs your passion enough to make each day an adventure.

If you weren’t an artist what would you be?
That’s easy—a writer and a psychologist.

Describe yourself in three words.
Curious, listener, friend

My Favorite…
Words: Peace & tranquility
Colors: Yellow & blue
Foods: Fish & pizza
Music: Mozart, Lennon, Tyler
Authors: Michener & Dickens, plus a few contemporary authors
Actors: Anthony Hopkins & Javier Bardem
Movies: To Kill A Mockingbird & Schindler’s List

No interview would be complete without the requisite “you’re stranded on a deserted island” question—what five things must you have with you?
Books, music, My Spiritual Path writings, nail clippers, and several pairs of reading and distance glasses (two pair of bifocals)

(Editor’s note: Interesting—he didn’t even mention art supplies! My answer was always something like: cheese, chocolate (never mind how they’re going to be kept fresh), a horde of fine black sharpie markers, a stack of sketchpads, and a guitar for entertainment (I could finally teach myself to play—something I’ve wanted to do for years). Then the obvious question is—why do we not say, “a boat,” so we won’t be stranded any longer!?)

I will never forget: Any slight inkling, step or expansion of awareness, and those whom I’ve loved

I wish I could: No wishes—I like to be surprised.

What is one thing you most want people to remember about you?
I guess, “He lived for a time.”

To see more of Bill’s portrait work, visit www.PortraitsByBiggers.com.

To see more of his glass painting, visit www.BiggersGlassPainting.com.

Both websites were designed by Windy Airey of Windy’s Design Studio.

Bill can be reached at Bill@PortraitsByBiggers.com or WilliamBiggers@gmail.com.





More Austin graffiti

6 04 2011

Graffiti on the “permission wall” and an artist in action (the blue building with the mad bulldog is a nearby bar)

Photos © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.






Austin graffiti

6 04 2011

Most of the artwork below was painted on the walls of bars, restaurants and stores. The Carmen Miranda illustration and the last painting was done on what is called a “permission wall”—a long warehouse wall near the railroad tracks.

Photos © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





In the words of Seinfeld’s George Costanza: “Yes. Significant shrinkage!”

9 03 2011

In early January I suggested to my friend Karen that we take a try-it class at a local clay studio. She agreed and two days later we found ourselves straddling potter’s wheels and giving it a whirl (literally) for just $35 each (including clay, two hours of instruction, firing and glazing). I had attempted the wheel way back in college. I was surprisingly bad at it and very disappointed because I tend to pick up most creative skills very quickly. Throwing pots on a wheel did not come easily to me back then.

Fast forward to January 2011: Jessica, our instructor, showed us how to center ourselves over the wheel and use proper techniques. It made all the difference.

I was quite proud of my first attempt. I surreptitiously added a “foot” to my bowl and silently declared that it could easily be included in any Pottery Barn catalog once it was fired and glazed. Karen’s bowl was lovely too even if she didn’t add a foot. Ah, grasshopper, have patience—you’ll get there.

When we said goodbye to our perfectly-formed creations, they were the size of cereal bowls. Jessica would later fire and glaze them in the studio’s signature blue color. She told us that we could pick them up in about a month.

Six weeks later, I go to pick up our projects. I searched high and low on the shelves for my Pottery Barn-worthy cereal bowl with its lovely perfect foot. Since I didn’t immediately spot my creation, I turned over the pots to see if our names were scribbled into them, courtesy of Jessica. They were. I found my cereal bowl. It had shrunk considerably. I’m fairly certain that Jessica, who was a wonderful instructor, most likely mentioned that the pots would shrink, but I was way too enthralled with clay play to process that very fact. In my head I was dreaming of throwing a plethora of pots, fulfilling orders for organic, artistic inventory for Pottery Barn, even hiring studio assistants to defray the overwhelming workload—making money hand over…wheel!

I suppose I could still use it as a cereal bowl but I’d have to go back three times to get a breakfast’s worth of goods. I included the soup spoon for scale. Yes, it may be tiny, but isn’t it the loveliest shade of blue?

Behold—my first true creation on the potter’s wheel—a $35 hearing aid caddy!

Operators are standing by to take your order. Please add $40.00 for labor, shipping and handling. Please allow two months for delivery. Not available in stores. Call in the next five minutes and we’ll throw in the soup spoon, ab-so-lute-ly free!





Alicia Royer, pastellist

8 09 2010

I met Alicia Royer a few years ago when I photographer her with her family (husband Mike, and kids Annie and Joshua) for the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). Mike, who wears a cochlear implant, is a member of HLAA. We’ve been friends ever since. I invited the family to my studio sometime later for portraits and at the time, Alicia was seven months pregnant with their daughter, Ashley Jocelyn. You can see the results of that photo session in my blog posts: Meet the Royers, And baby girl five… and Annie & Joshua. Two months later, Mike asked me if I could photograph the birth of their daughter and I jumped at the chance (and the challenge!). You can see the photos from the birth in my blog posts: Welcome to the world, Ashley Jocelyn! and Introducing Ashley Jocelyn. Ashley celebrated her second birthday this past month.

Now that Alicia has a dedicated art space in their new home, this busy mother of three has been churning out drawings and improving her skills with every effort. A few months ago, she asked if she could use a photo I shot of my friend Camilla (Cam) as a reference for a drawing. Recently, she e-mailed me the results and I thought she did a great job and wanted to share it on my blog. While I have been drawing and painting since I was a child, I haven’t done much with the pastel medium, but I do know that it isn’t an easy medium to work in—yet Alicia excels in it with her color palette choices and her layering skills. And most often she chooses portraits as her subject—not an easy task, in my opinion.

Check out her pencil drawings on www.aliciajroyer.blogspot.com and pastel drawings on www.aliciajroyer22.blogspot.com.

And she’s getting creative in the kitchen, too, with her new blogs, It Begins in the Kitchen and Alicia’s Favorites.





Just another Saturday night at Borders…

25 07 2010

At Borders, armed with a 40% off coupon and deciding what to use it on—love those 40% off-ers! I whittled down the stack of “chosen ones” and purchased this book, Botany for the Artist: An Inspirational Guide to Drawing Plants, by Sarah Simblet. Fantastic book, gorgeous botanical drawings and lots of tips. Stay tuned for my first attempt at a botanical drawing (goodness knows, I most certainly have enough floral photo references in my only library, don’t I?). I’m even wearing my botanical sandals in this shot! Photo taken with Michael’s iPhone

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Charles Wildbank, artist

20 02 2010

I met artist Charles Wildbank through my friend Mike Royer, who is a member of HLAA (Hearing Loss Association of America). I design and produce the Hearing Loss Magazine for HLAA and photographed Mike, Alicia and my friend Sue for the cover of the March/April 2008 issue (see that cover in this posting here). I’ve also photographed the Royer family in my studio and had the honor of photographing their third child, Ashley Jocelyn, coming into the world. You can see those photos in my postings: Meet the Royers; And baby girl makes five…; Annie & Joshua; Welcome to the world, Ashley Jocelyn;  and Introducing Ashley Jocelyn.

Mike knows we’re always on the lookout for interesting people who have hearing loss, so he recommended Charles for a future feature article. Charles wears hearing aids and received a cochlear implant in late 2009. I’m happy to report that Charles and I are online friends now and chat often through Facebook, discussing art techniques and materials, photography, camera gear, Photoshop, marketing our work, and life in general. I plan to drive up to North Fork, Long Island, to interview and photograph Charles for the magazine sometime this year. (Above: Charles works on a painting from his Hado series)

A prolific painter, Charles averages one or two large paintings a month and works in oil and acrylic. He does a lot of sketching on his computer with an electronic tablet, and paints with his laptop next to the easel for reference. He uses paintbrushes, applicators, squeeze bottles, detailing pens, rollers, soaking rags and drip techniques. His paintings range from 36″ minimum up to 20 feet—“the bigger the better for me—for my best expression,” he says.

Charles is currently working on a demonstration painting “performance” video that will be posted on youtube.com and vimeo.com. View a video he recently created about his painting, Luvin’ Wave, here. Check out his website at www.wildbank.com. He has been interviewed by many publications, including Fine Art Magazine, Dan’s Papers, Southampton Press, the Los Angeles Times, and others. You can read those interviews on his website here. To download his 41-page e-book, click here: WildbankEbookprint.

Some of my favorite Wildbanks paintings are from his still life series. In an interview with Dan’s Papers, he said, “Although I create large-scale subjects for my murals and commissions, I wind up interspersing my still life series with vignettes of the simple pleasures in life, such as the cup of capuccino.”

Excerpted from www.deafnotes.com:
Charles, a Long Island native, is the eldest of nine children and congenitally profoundly deaf. He was fitted with a hearing aid at age two and has a brother who is deaf and another who is hard of hearing. When he was nine years old, with the support and nurturing of his parents and grandmother, he began painting. He later attended Yale, Pratt and Columbia, graduating with honors. In 1979, Wildbank’s first exhibit at Bonwit Teller created a sensation on Fifth Avenue, with a giant sparkling rendering of the famed Cartier diamond. He had just left his position after seven years of teaching the deaf. Deciding to continue painting, he discovered that other artists were exhibiting their art in the store windows of Fifth Avenue, thought he would give it a try, and was quite successful. Soon after, he walked into a neighboring Cartier store and inquired about their windows. Three years later they gave him an entire salon upstairs, where he painted the seven foot tall painting of the Cartier diamond.

Excerpted from www.wildbank.com:

Born and raised on Long Island, Charles Bourke Wildbank drew and painted since age 4 as his prime means of communication, as he was born deaf. In an interview with Hamptons.com, Charles said, “When I was younger, drawing took the place of speaking when I couldn’t find the words. Painting or drawing was something I developed because I remember admiring the graffiti in the neighborhood. I loved to draw and found myself drawing my other hand. It developed into drawing a hand holding a ball, earth, or a pencil, sort of like the artist Escher. Art was never a means to escape; it was either a communication or even a dance, showing my skill.”

He took art classes on Saturdays with the encouragement of his family and found himself earning scholarships to Pratt Institute and Yale University where he majored in Fine Art and Photography. He delved into photorealism while at Pratt Institute, created a sensation on Fifth Avenue with a giant sparkling rendering of the famed Cartier diamond, and has painted portraits of David Hockney and the late Luciano Pavarotti. In his Hamptons.com interview, he said, “Growing up, I despaired over being able to sing and yet not hear the notes enough to discern the pitches. I can only get the melody and nuances of music with my hearing aid. I deeply love music but have transcended that with my love for color and light.” He is well known for his versatility of a wide range of figurative themes including florals, still life, portraits and seascapes. Read the full Hamptons.com interview here. (Left: Charles with his painting, Sedona)

His latest achievements include two 18-foot-high murals commissioned by the Cunard Line for the new luxury ocean liner, the Queen Mary 2. The murals depict cliffs and coastal scenes of England and America. Though the murals were applied with paint, Wildbank made extensive use of digital and photographic technology in his sketch preparations.

Wildbank is listed with some of his works in the book, Deaf Artists in America: Colonial to Contemporary, by Deborah Sonnenstrahl. He conducted workshops in Poppi, Italy during fall of 2002, and in Giverny, France during spring of 2006. View his art chronology here.

Up to present day, observable form and vivid color have long been attributed to Wildbank’s art. His recent works appear to flirt with the abstract and the surreal christened as his HADO series. His studio in Jamesport is now open to the public by appointment.

ideafnews.com recently interviewed Charles at his home in North Fork. You can view that captioned video below.





Koi pond at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

9 02 2010

On Thursday morning Michael’s father took us to the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota. The 9.5-acre bayfront property is best known for its living collection of more than 6,000 orchids as well as its large representation of warm tropical epiphytes. Epiphytes are plants that grow upon another plant (such as a tree) non-parasitically or on objects such as buildings or wires. They derive moisture and nutrients from the air and rain and are found in temperate zones. Epiphytes include some ferns, cacti, orchids, bromeliads, mosses, liverwort, Spanish moss, lichens and algae.

I shot the image below at the Koi Pond at Selby Gardens. I saw this statue and visualized the koi swirling around it, but the fish were right up against the edge of the pond, begging for handouts. So Michael ran off to buy fish food to help make my image happen (isn’t he the best?). He came back empty-handed since they ration out only a day’s worth of fish food for visitors to purchase. Not about to give up on my vision, I asked him to just splash water toward the statue. Bingo—the entire mass of fish started swimming in that direction. Psych! Click! (click, click, click…9 shots later…)

Wikipedia: Koi were developed from common carp in Japan in the 1820s and are a symbol of love and friendship. The carp is a large group of fish originally found in Central Europe and Asia….The ability of carp to survive and adapt to many climates and water conditions allowed the domesticated species to be propagated to many new locations including Japan. Carp as known as koi in Japan.

I especially enjoyed the art exhibit, Batiks Botanicos—Gardens, Plants and Flowers for the Soul, on display until February 23 at the Museum of Botany and the Arts in the Mansion at Selby Gardens. A native of Colombia, artist Angela Maria Isaza captures tropical and exotic plants using the batik process. Originating in the East, batik is a wax-resist dyeing technique. Isaza applies hot wax and various dyes to natural fiber cloth to create her beautiful paintings. This step-by-step process is based on the principle that wax resists the water-based dyes. After wax is applied to certain areas, the fabric is dyed in one color. The dye penetrates the unwaxed areas. This process is repeated several times. The wax is removed by ironing the cloth between newspaper pages.

Many of the paintings that are on display can be seen on her website here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Photographs? Well, not technically.

28 01 2010

A few years ago I dabbled in scanning flowers on my Epson flatbed scanner and got some pretty good results. The technique works best if you can cover the flower arrangement with a dark piece of fabric or black cardboard. While the original images were nice “record” shots of my flowers, I wanted to do something more with them. I ran the scanned images through some artsy Photoshop filters to give them a romantic, soft-focus glowy look. So there you have it…photographs without a camera!

Not long after I toyed with the process, I saw an exhibit of photographer Robert Creamer’s images at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. These large-scale works were amazing! He scanned all sorts of things—dead birds, flowers, fruit, bones, and more. You can read more about his Smithsonian exhibit here and see more of his work on his website here. Watch the video here for a demonstration of his setup.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.