Friday, August 26, 2011


Last minute addition:Show. Time.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

OK, so I love acrylic...

As I've finished 3 more acrylic pieces (below), I realize that I never really gave acrylic a fair shot. I got frustrated quickly and sought relief in oil. Graciously, oil accepted my advances and there was no need to turn back. Until. I forced it. And while general skin and some modeling has been difficult, I fell in love with acrylic while working on the fabric for my "Sleep" piece. I couldn't be happier with how it looks, and it was truly enjoyable.

Basic Need : Physical : Sleep - inspired by a lion snoozing at the zoo, a piece at the MNBA (El Reposo - Eduardo Schiaffino), and a local facade
Basic Need : Emotional : Community - inspired by packs of animals & the stenciled street art in Bs As
Basic Need : Physiological : Communication - poses are based on a meerkat (L) and monkey (R) - close up, there is text in the background

My goal as of now (Tuesday) is to have a total of 15. This means starting and finishing 2 more pieces for the show Saturday. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.

Friday, August 19, 2011


In addition to the 9 that I've posted the last two days, I finished this one today:

Basic Need : Psychological : Success
The idea for this piece came when I went to the Natural Science Museum here in La Plata: The museum has a great reputation as being one of the largest museums of its kind worldwide. In an old train station, the main level is filled with skeletons and taxidermied animals.
I saw quite a few stuffed animals with smaller animals hanging limply in their mouths. Thinking of bringing home a kill, or "bringing home the bacon" in human terms, really summed up a crucial type of success for survival in regards to both animals and humans.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Finished products (mas, mas!)

Basic Need : Psychological : Belonging
Basic Need : Psychological : Identity/Identification
Comfort : Instinct : Licking wounds -- Could also be a reference to health, which incidentally is not listed as a human need. (Thanks Hannah for this idea!!!!)Basic Need : Physical : Elimination Basic Need : Physical : Clothing

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Finished products so far...

Human Need : Physical : Food (& water)
Creature Comfort : Instinct : Protection/Security (I can't believe this isn't a "basic need")
Basic Need : Psychological : Purpose/Work

And the popular Argentine Meat poster I referenced:
Basic Need : Physical : Shelter

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I hate acrylic paint.

Oh boy oh boy do I. I had forgotten my hatred for acrylic. The pieces I've done so far here at Corazon have been with gouache. I forgot how much I love gouache! Barely any of the actual product has to be used and it covers fairly evenly. AND. The best is that it blends beautifully. Acrylic just lays there and has the audacity to DRY. What the hell, acrylic, I expect you to stay alive as long as it takes me to blend you. That's ALL I expect. And no, nothing. However, acrylic, I will say the one good thing about you is that there is much more flexibility in detailing. Gouache blends almost too well - you add a new color and it absorbs the color with the moisture of the water. With acrylic, I remembered to layer. And ended up enjoying it.

Rant over, yesterday and today, I have been working feverishly to finish this piece...

Human Need : Physical : Shelter
I use the word "finish" too liberally. I'm not sure if I'm finished, but man oh man that rhino took a lot of time. And I'm really happy with it. Which is finished enough for me, for now. Shelter is one of the top basic human needs. I got the idea of using Durer's rhinoceros (below) because I saw it used in Bs As in one of the huge stenciled street art pieces. I thought of scrounging to find shelter, and how it would be whatever is available and covers me. The thought of the rhinoceros as an animal having its own shelter was one thought, but thinking of if a rhino lost its skin, similarly to a snake, this would make a great shelter. And the arrangement of the shield-like pieces comes from Durer. He had never seen a rhinoceros when he did the below etching. This was just based on descriptions, so, the real theme behind this piece is scrounging and make-shifting to satisfy one of the most important basic needs of humanity - for shelter and protection.

**As a note, I've recently finished the books: The Help, The Poisonwood Bible and am now listening to The Hunger Games. I find it so fitting that I'm immersing myself (unknowingly until now) in literature steeped in these basic needs of humanity and creature comforts. Pretty great how things work.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Rain + Hail + Sickness = Productivity

Today it started to rain. Hard. Praise Lord in heaven that Laura told me to bring my rainboots! This way, trotting off to get more OJ and pick up my laundry was not a complete calamity. The rain made the roads look like this:
Who bikes in the rain, really?

And then it started to hail. And that looked like this:
So I decided to paint. And that looks like this:
This is the emotional need for individualism and identification. Inspired by tropical birds, mostly a peacock.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

From sketches...

Here are some in progress shots. They might be finished, not so sure yet!
Above is the first one that I started (on Tuesday), based on the meat poster found here. It satisfies the emotional need for purpose. I'm a little peeved at how the lettering turned out as my pen was runny and I just went with it, smudges and all. No turning back with gouache...

This second one is based on the emotional need to belong. I actually saw a dog sitting patiently for its master with its leash in its mouth in Buenos Aires. It's not uncommon to see such well behaved dogs here.

Last but not least, the need for protection and security. When an animal bares its teeth, it is telling you to back off. No necessary violence may come next, but this warning is an instinct for self-preservation.

So THIS is what 3 days of work feels like.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Creature Comfort/Human Need

The purpose and outcome of this residency is a solo show at the end of the month. I decided to not think about the concept of the show until I was here. My arrival in Argentina was not challenging, as I had a friend to pick me up from the airport and tell the taxi where to go. My time in Buenos Aires with her was easy as she could explain things for me or tell me where to go for a converter, bus ticket, etc. Since my arrival in La Plata, I've really been thinking of those extra things in life that make one feel secure, comfortable, happy. As I was without a basic human need (heat) for the first few days here, I started thinking of those as well. Whenever I can't get things off my mind, I seem to need to express them artistically in order to work through them. Thus, my show concept was born.

I've been researching the basic human needs as well as noticing different creature comforts that humans (assumed) need/want. In order to illustrate these, I took a cue from the animals in the streets and at the La Plata Zoo, and will use their poses in a human form (mine for lack of model options). The following are just preliminary sketches - gouache on watercolor paper:

As meat is a huge part of the gastro culture of Argentina, there is a well known poster of the Argentine cuts of beef. The above is illustrating the psychological need for a purpose. The plan is to use an art nouveau border to mimic the poster look, and label the cow parts on a human.

This is a pose shown to me by a monkey in the zoo - sucking on a bit of rope. I'm not sure if this was out of boredom or habit, but it brought to mind the idea of a security blanket, the need for something familiar.

I saw a stray dog sleeping in a doorway, shielding itself from the cold. Another comfort, would be the ability to comfort outselves, and the need for warmth. Not sure which way I'm going to go with this one, but the fetal position is pretty symbolic for comfort.

Based on a peacock I saw at the zoo, posing proudly, this represents the need for identification and individuality.

Yeah, I know it's creepy. This is for the need for protection/safety. Dog baring it's teeth - personified by yours truly. Don't ask me to make this face for you, it's evidently terrifying.

As I said, these are just sketches to get me started. I have a lot of ideas just waiting to come out, so stay tuned and see how things progress! Working with gouache is not a new thing for me, but it is such a departure from my life with oil paints. This more fickle and delicate medium on paper that warps, will no doubt continue to be challenging, but that's just part of the fun. So here goes!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Street Art Tour - Buenos Aires

Back peddling a few steps - I realized I never really blogged about Buenos Aires! As it is a pseudo home base for me on this trip, I will be returning before I return to the states - meaning, there will be more to come. However, before I forget about this wonderful experience, here are some images from my favorite experience in Argentina thus far:

Graffitimundo offers a very comprehensive and interactive tour of the street art of Buenos Aires. Unfortunately the weather had turned mighty cold after we met, and most of the tour (obviously) is outside. However, we were brought to different neighborhoods all over the city that had some amazing art on their walls.
This is an example of the oh so present collaborative projects on the walls of Bs As. My new favorite street artist, JAZ, did the animals, his frequent collaborator, Ever, did the bottom of the face, and a visiting street artist (I believe from Korea? I missed that part of the story) did the top of the face.
In Bs As, graffiti/street art is illegal. However, the authorities aren't going to arrest someone with a spray paint can. If you own the wall that's being painted, and you have a problem with it, you are free to press charges. What most people have done, is sought out these artists for site specific murals. So there's actually a chance for a lucrative career and fame through street art. The above wall had just been painted white, and we had the pleasure of seeing it in progress.
Above, again, is a collaborative wall. The large smiley face was made by an artist who filled a fire extinguisher with black paint and aimed it from across the street.
This is JAZ and Ever again - the story behind the walls used is very interesting. The Argentine government will let someone squat in an empty building, legally, if there is someone who is sick, old, or under 18. As our tour guide explained, by the time the youngest child would turn 18, they would most likely have a child, so, legally, families can continue to live in abandoned/empty buildings forever. Some land owners, upset by this, and instead of fixing up the property or rebuilding, will demolish the building and leave the rubble in its place so no one can live in it. This is precisely the case with the above scene. The wall in the foreground with the posters on it is the outside wall, the wall with the street art would be the interior of the building. The rubble lies in between. The tour guide said that when JAZ and Ever came out to paint, the neighborhood came out and cheered, showing their support.
And finally, the highlight of the tour. The best thing about these street artists being known in the city is that we got to meet them. (!!!!!) JAZ let us into his amazing studio and answered any questions we had. His english was very good, and so I got to chat with him a bit. He is so humble and ... well, normal. The piece he was working on (you can see it on the bottom of the photo, laying flat) was just drying. He mentioned it was a commissioned piece, so I asked him where it was going - Shanghai. Yes, this guy is known. And chatted with me about painting. Star. Struck. And I want that studio - amazing.

I took about 300 more pictures, as all the art was fantastic, and it was really great to get to see and learn the story behind the pieces and artists. Makes me wonder, if these public art forms were more embraced around the world, what amazing things we could see! However, if it's not rebelling, would there be a need for it anymore? Hmmmm.....

Introspection vs Distraction

Insanity, as we all know, is defined as trying the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I may be insane. Starting with taking a semester abroad my sophomore year of college, I've been doing the same thing over and over again. Escaping. The monotony of working in a field I have no passion for, the relational drama, the distractions of living a "normal" life always makes me feel uncomfortable. So I feel that I must go out - experience - live. Yet, each time I try something like this, I end up miserable for a period of time. And each time, I've selected a more challenging circumstance or location. Each time, I tell myself, never again. Each time, I look back on how much I learned from the experience. Well, I better learn something grand from this trip, as I think I've outdone myself. Being alone in a foreign country where next to no one speaks your language and there's no set schedule or task list (I do much better with structure...) has been really really hard. I've taken to walking for hours each morning just to get myself out. Today, after my breakfast of champions (burnt "fried" eggs - must get used to this stove), I successfully stomped from one edge of town to the other and back (roughly 5 miles). And without my usual walking companion (zee iPod), there's nothing to distract me. I've also limited my internet streaming most of my time here (except last night when I gave in to 5 episodes of How I Met Your Mother) to rid myself of the normal time wasting distractions. This has led to much introspection. I've never been a person to shy away from alone time, but when it is the only option, it is easy to get overwhelmed with yourself.

When you're alone:
- Time is much more prevalent. For the most part, it does not fly.
- Is there a need to use your vocal chords?
- Thoughts seem to be very self-centered. This is the part that concerns me. While introspection is a good thing, and I have already learned some things about myself (ie as hard as this has been, I am doing it, and I'm doing ok), I tend to think that being too self-involved is awful. However, it is good that we deal with our problems/situations as distracting ourselves (with friends, work, entertainment, etc) will only delay the inevitable. So I'm trying to strike up a good mix of introspection to deal and catalogue my experiences and production and distraction.
- You can let yourself go (a bit, let's not get too carried away with this one)
- What you really want/need is made a bit more clear
- What you have becomes much more dear

For these reasons and others, I've realized (yet again) how important people are to me. And also, how easy we have it in the US.

I know this has been wordy, congratulate yourself with these other things:
- Graffiti I stumbled upon today. Shirley Temple saying "I said no" and the pink figures say "I am a lesbian" and "lesbian power"
- I heard Mambo #5 today coming out of a car - yes, the English version
- I had an empanada from a cafe called Capitan Medialuna - medialuna is the word here for croissant, so this means Captain Croissant. Cute, no?
- I got a new space heater/best friend. Amazing. I put it right by my bed and only had to sleep in one layer. Miracle.
- For those of you who have never traveled outside the US, this image of my bathroom may shock you:
I'm getting quite good at 2 minute showers, as any longer than that, the water turns to ice. Adding that to my life resume....

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Finishing up something else

I started this piece over a month ago - figured it was time to continue my experiment with watercolor and add some pen.... So, here's the process:

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Something to get us started...

Between to lungs it was released
The breath that carried me
The sigh that blew me forward
Because it was trapped, trapped between two lungs

The breath that passed from you to me
It flew between us as we slept
Slipped from your mouth into mine it crept

Gone are the days of begging, the days of theft
No more gasping for a breath
The air filled me head to toe
And I can see the ground far below
I have this breath and I hold it tight
And I keep it in my chest with all my might
I pray to God this breath will last as it pushes past my lips

I've been wanting to illustrate Florence and the Machine's Between Two Lungs since I heard it. It's so full of imagery. So. Sitting here in La Plata, waiting for some inspiration (which I believe I now have - more on that later), I decided to do it. It's not exactly what I had originally imagined, but what ever is?

La Plata, Argentina

Hola, La Plata! La Plata is the capitol of the province of Buenos Aires. Located just about an hour outside of the city of Buenos Aires, La Plata is near enough to the big city, but also holds its own as a major city. La Plata, much like Washington DC, was highly planned on a grid and diagonal basis. As you can see in the map below, there is a park every 6 square blocks. I'm in the NW region, just a quick walk away from the huge park (bosque - see, I'm learning Spanish) at the top.
Much, again, like Washington DC, there is a central "mall" area. At the end of this mall is this:
Yes, that is a beautiful HUGE cathedral. Yes, I went inside. Yes, it's gorgeous. Tuesday, yesterday, I took an inaugural walk around the city, covered maybe 1/4 of it. It's big, but do-able by foot. There are many beautiful old buildings, much like Buenos Aires. Example 1, the bank pictured here:
The thing I'm learning about Argentina is that it is absolutely beautiful, but not kept up too well. The political climate is ever changing and the money is not necessarily rolling in. So unfortunately, although there are many beautiful buildings, many are covered in graffiti (not the pleasant stuff, but just messages written in spray paint), and many are just falling apart all together. So some buildings look like this:
And have a very ragged looking pony pulling a cart in front of them. I do love this pony.

At the end of my walk, I found a gallery at the Cultural Center at Plaza Islas Malvinas. From what I could understand from the Spanish description, the permanent piece below is commemorating all the missing Argentines from wars. With such a corrupt governmental and military past, there are many of these memorials, unfortunately, of people who disappeared. Don't worry, I won't be one of them.
On my first day here, Rodrigo, one of the men who runs the residency, gave me the skeleton keys to unlock and lock the doors here at Corazon. He speaks very little English, so our conversations have been quite hilarious with my broken Spanish - many many gestures :) Anyway, he said "This is your home now" as he handed them to me. That really hit me. Yes, I'm paying rent here, so technically, this isn't a gift of home, but it was a feeling, that goes along with the coming and parting kiss on the cheek, that this is a warm place. Home. Now, if only it was actually warm inside......