Friday, December 10, 2010


Student teaching starts soon. I am excited, I actually got assigned to the two schools I was hoping to get, which is probably a miracle.

All of my projects are finished for this semester, including a crappy collage of torn out magazine photographs illustrating "Rites of Passage" which, if assigned at the beginning of the semester, would have been really fun, but now was just really, eh. Even given the deranged look on Mother Nature's face in one of the pictures.

Since the pressure is off, I am contemplating creativity.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

It's about perception

I went to see Nan Wilson's show at the Art Center.
The Art Center is beautiful, cold, and reminds me of the Guggenheim museum, only not. The staff is unwelcoming. I only think this because nobody is around when you walk thru the doors, but as soon as you begin to walk up the stairs, someone begins to stalk your movement. I assume (my perception) is they do not know or care who I am. Does the Sioux City art scene really care if regular people see or want their work? Regular people have discretionary income too. Or maybe the rumors are true and it is a miserable place to work. They certainly have gone thru a lot of directors. Anyway if I worked at the Art Center I would at least smile and welcome people in. Mainly being in the Art Center is like being at Wal Mart, you know somebody should be around if you needed help, but you don't see them. If you do see them, they ignore you, but at the same time you know they're watching you. I learned that as an artist, I want to be careful about the environment in which I show my work. Every thing I have ever learned about getting and keeping patrons, customers, clients, (what ever you want to call those people with potential to support your work) involves making them feel something. I base this on how I want to feel. I want to feel welcome and comfortable. So keeping in mind Nan Wilson's show is about perception (even if the title is "It's about time") I had to think about my perception of the Art Center too. It doesn't hurt my feelings if they have dour docents, nobody should feel bad for me about my experience. They should feel worried that less contemplative people who walk through their doors may have a similar experience. Or maybe they do not care. Maybe the taxpayers fund them? Only that doesn't make sense because taxpayers vote. Oh well.

So, despite my perception of the Art Center itself,  Nan Wilson's artwork is large and beautiful. Her choices for color combination and freedom with line were probably my favorite that I have seen in a long time. The canvases remind me a little bit of the artwork I did in the 90s, and a little bit of the doggie I re-painted recently. The things on my walls at home are similar, but most of my paintings have less defined shapes, and fewer combined colors, and way smaller! Recently I have become more confident with color, so I wonder how my canvas scrap additions would look when combined with my newly found interest in color? Nan Wilson does things with wire on a large scale in combination with her canvas, which looks like it would be fun. Everything I did with wire at NLU is tiny and somewhat like paperclips. The caulk was a great idea, shiny and slick and bumpy. Her wire and caulk additions are somewhat like my rock, chewing gum and canvas scraps additions, only much larger. I really enjoyed the quality of the oil paint on the canvas. Oil paint looks so much richer than acrylic. Acrylic can probably be modified to resemble oil by adding a shiny coating.

I was really intrigued by the hanging canvases suspended from the ceiling idea. I can see myself doing some fun stuff with that idea, except I wouldn't want to do it now because it would be too easy to just copy somebody else's idea. I think I would love to make some hanging canvases eventually. I like the idea because I hate stretching canvas, it hurts my hands now. My hands feel like they are falling apart sometimes, and none of my helpers understand how tight I want the canvas on the stretcher. We saw similar ones when visiting (insert forgotten name here)'s studio, when she put the grommets in the canvas and painted the fetal goose bird creatures against the wall. I wonder how that would look in 3D with the canvas patches added instead of using all that caulk? I might have space for something like that. What do they even call suspended stretcher-free canvases? I can not find them online.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I wrote and illustrated a book (finally)

The Little Red Hen Plants Pumpkin Seeds
by Miss K. and Ms. W.
illustrated by Ms. W.

(c) Rita Lauren Wainwright 2010

The Little Red Hen found some seeds. She said, “Who is going to help me plant these seeds?”

(c) Rita Lauren Wainwright 2010
The ghost, the witch and the mummy said, “Not I!”
They would not help her.

The Little Red Hen said, “I will plant them myself,” and she did.

So she planted the seeds. 

The seeds began to grow into tiny plants.

The Little Red Hen said, “Who will help me water the plants?”

The ghost, the witch and the mummy said, “We will not help you!”

“I will water the plants myself,” said the hen. And she did.
(c) Rita Lauren Wainwright 2010

The tiny plants grew bigger and bigger. Soon weeds grew in the garden, too.

“Who will help me pull out these weeds?” asked the Little Red Hen

“Not us!” said the ghost, the witch and the mummy.

“I will pull up the weeds myself,” said the Little Red Hen, and she did.

(c) Rita Lauren Wainwright 2010

The plants grew into long vines with big leaves and orange flowers. 

(c) Rita Lauren Wainwright 2010

The orange flowers grew into beautiful pumpkins!

“Who will help me pick these pumpkins?” asked the Little Red Hen.

(c) Rita Lauren Wainwright 2010

“Not us!” said the ghost, the witch and the mummy.

“I will pick them myself,” said the Little Red Hen, and she did.

(c) Rita Lauren Wainwright 2010
There were so many pumpkins she needed help!

(c) Rita Lauren Wainwright 2010

“Who will help me bake these pumpkin seeds? Who will help me carve the pumpkins?” asked the Little Red Hen.

“Not us!” said the ghost, the witch, and the mummy.

“I will do it myself!” said the hen. And she did!

“Who will help me eat these delicious pumpkin seeds?” asked the Little Red Hen.

“I will!” said the ghost.
“I will!” said the witch.
“I will!” said the mummy.

“No! I will!” said the Little Red Hen.

And she did.

Monday, October 25, 2010

owly & a compliment

Today I recieved a very kind compliment about my photography, and I clumsily deflected it with some crazy talk about it being all luck that someone can take 500 photographs, and get three good ones. I realize the ones I show off are nice, and I really will only admit I have a good eye for compositions, and how to best manipulate the light I've managed to catch through a lens. I do love my photographs.

A photographer once told another photographer, "Never let them see your crap!" I suppose this is necessary to uphold an illusion that we always take beautiful photographs. This may also be the reason many people feel they are not artists. Are all people really capable of creating good art? Or do they just not know it when they see it? Do I want everyone to feel they can make art? Or don't I?

Really, does it take an artist to shoot a photo? When I think about that, I realize it does not. Nor does it take any real talent to grab a camera and call yourself a photographer these days. So many people are making a living wielding a Nikon and a copy of PhotoShop. The more nonsense they throw out there, the more confusing the situation becomes. The public really does not know the difference. In fact, the more trendy it is, the more they seem to eat it up.

I have lately been concerned about the prevalence of trendy looking portraits, with no head. Purposeful decapitation. Deliver me please from portraits of a pregnant torso gripping her abdomen. I do not want to think about the headless wedding couple's snazzy outfits, I want to see their smiling faces! Plucked chicken infants served up naked on a shiny kitchen table in a crochet bonnet cause me to recoil.

Usually I do not find myself that excited about inappropriate trends in photography, but lately I have noticed more weirdness in commercial portraits than I can handle. And, yes, I can do better! Sincerely I can.

Meanwhile, I am headed in other directions.

Friday, October 15, 2010


In my secondary methods class we have been practicing co-teaching.

I sat through two lessons involving art teachers co-teaching with other content areas. One was physics or something, and for the art aspect of the lesson, we covered a tissue box with paper and used pipe cleaners and pompoms to create an atom. Mine was carbon. I went 3D. I was disappointed. What does covering a tissue box have to do with art? Since when is covering tissue boxes with paper for any other purpose than 2nd grade Valentine mailboxes? Is that an affront to our secondary grade level intelligence? Even so, I threw my creativity into the creation of this carbon atom, and in my delight at being the only interactive atom (you pull your tissue up through the nucleus of my carbon atom) I didn't really consider how kindergarteny that felt until about an hour later.

The other lesson was art/social studies/math. We were told to do a poster. Large sheets of paper and markers were plunked down in front of us and we were given instructions to "make a poster" about our assigned era of American economics. We got Reaganomics. A. I don't know enough about the subject to make a poster yet. B. Political poster making is only art if it's truly inspired by political angst or delight or something. I ended up writing an algebraic formula on the paper, and a big colorful dollar bill with a question mark in the middle of it. Then we ran out of time. On their rubric I did mention I wasn't sure what making economics project posters had to do with art.

Today we had an art/writing lesson with some very creative surrealist style writing, but the surreal style art was limited to an informative PowerPoint presentation. I had tons of fun doing the writing and was expecting to then illustrate some of our surreal if then statements. The first person was to write If statement, and then fold down the paper over their statement. The second person would write a Then statement, which was also folded down into the paper. The third person would write an If statement, and so on. I loved the lesson, and I believe illustrating the statements would have been a brilliant next move for the co-teachers.

My math teaching co-teacher and I taught a lesson on tessellation, which included a PowerPoint about tessellations and M.C. Escher, and a worksheet requiring work with five geometry manipulative stations which were set up around the room. Students were encouraged to experiment with translucent  polygon tiles projected by overhead projector on the white board. They were also given the opportunity to experiment with wooden polygon tiles, trace cardstock shapes arranged into tessellations, and also to make their own tessellation tile by cutting two sides of a perfect square notecard, and taping the cut away to the opposite edge, and tracing it in a tiled pattern as well.

As our hypothetical unit progressed, the tessellation ideas would be used to develop ideas for tessellated tile patterns. I came up with the made-up goal of submitting them to the fictional school board for possible use in new school buildings. Future lessons in our unit would be designing the tile patterns. My secondary methods professor was so convinced he had to ask, was this real? Would student ideas really be used in new schools, or was it just made up?

Now, I think it's an educational lesson. I think with a little more work it's going to encourage higher order thinking and introduce interesting concepts to students who might be math-haters (me!) to see math as a means toward making art, and hopefully less threatening or annoying of hateful. I don't think the lesson was perfect. I usually hit my stride after having some more time to live with a lesson (anyone's lesson) and really feel how the improvements need to be made. For example, I would really love to know why we need tessellations, so I could have answered that question. As far as I know, in art, we either use them to tile floors, or we use them because we can.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Photo transfers work well, except the little canvi are so little, the little words on the little artwork are a little hard to read. And, they turned out red, when I thought they would be black. Maybe I need to make a photo copy in black of the print I make in black, because it seems the printer used red ink under black ink, or something. And what I got was red. Still very interesting. I think I could ink over it, too.
So I'll play with that more over the weekend.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Non-Objective vs. Abstract

The term abstract can be misused in art, and sometimes the meaning intended by someone using the term abstract is actually non-objective. Before I can discuss my process in creating non-objective (non-representational ?) artwork I must clear up the abstract thing. Abstract art looks like something, you might have to search for it, but the subject matter is there, and has been abstracted, which is to say somethings have been removed from it. Google "abstract picasso" for images which mostly include abstract art.

Non objective paintings are very enjoyable for me. For example, this peachy painting has a lack of external subject. It does not depict a person, place, or thing in the natural world. It is art, because I say it is. It is not about geometry, no matter if you argue till you are blue in the face, although if you want to believe that, fine with me. It looks different in different light, which I find very endearing, almost like having three or four different paintings at all times. It is very pleasant to have around and I enjoy it hanging above my couch.We frequently pose for photographs in front of this painting because it casts a very friendly light upon our countenance.

I suppose this painting of undersea coral could be considered abstract. It contains my very favorite use of color, orange purple blue and green. The orange doggie painting is also an abstraction of a real dog. Find here for your viewing pleasure a very bad "before" picture of the doggie.

(not to be confused or even compared to the famous Blue Dog which is far superior in every way to my dog.)
I promise, I will take an after picture of the orange doggie and post it here very soon. 
And a suggestion of what he looks like hanging on my wall in a smaller drawing with colored smushy crayon stuff: 

The maroon painting below is about a broken heart, if you believe the poet who wrote a poem after he looked at it. I believe him, and I wasn't really thinking about it at the time, but it makes sense to me now and it did in 2005.  

 Poem inspired by "Maroon with Strings and Flap Attachments"

Hearts don't break. They don't.

Bad analogy for a soft thing like love.

They squish like oranges in a press

and the juice that runs out is sour.

They wad up like the paper that

her goodbye came on.

They dive into a dark hole

like a tiny animal running

from a hunter's boot.

 by Gary C. Wilkens


 I thought, well, now that you mention it, 
I did paint the maroon painting with a broken heart.  
Sometimes that's just unavoidable.

But really, what do you see? These things were painted because I was scared to try and paint an object. When a person has a certain belief about how objects should look, and a lack of confidence about his or her abilities to paint objects the way he or she believes they should appear, it is generally easier to paint in the non-objective fashion. So I concentrated on how very beautiful paint looks when you don't quite mix it all the way. I took great pains to spread it just so. To attach rocks and canvas squares and hunks of chewed up bubble gum, and to paint over and around them in ways that for me were a celebration of what I can do with color.  If I didn't like the way the streaks of white turned out while dragging it through the wet purple and violet, I could easily repaint that area.

This gigantic watercolor by David Hagerbaumer currently dominates my living room, and it isn't even hanging on the wall because I'm scared it will jump off. This is a perfect example of a representational painting. The details are beautiful. I am mostly just sharing this because it is right there, sharing my space, the size of a person.

Footnotes: The maroon painting is about as big as my 9 year old. 

The abstract undersea coral is not very big at all, only about 15" x 24"

I am not sure I have completed the assignment of discussing how I make non-objective paintings. I need to think about it more. And to go back and read the sticky note in my purse with the assignment written on it. 

Saturday, September 11, 2010

gesso-ing 20 of the 30 canvi

I lined 20 canvi up on the pushed together desks in my studio.

I used a yogurt cup of white gesso, threw in some pinkish paint, mixed that in well, and began to gesso the first row of canvi. I did not like the uniform pink.

I globbed in some burnt umber which was partially dried out. This resulted in very desirable muted pinkish brown, with darker umber streaks where the partly dried paint smeared on the canvas without mixing thoroughly with the gesso.

I began applying the gesso thickly to some of the canvi

In most cases, I flopped one wet canvas on top of another and rubbed the handle of the paintbrush on the dry back of the top canvas. This created a print. So some of the canvi are very similar to one other canvas in the group. 

I'll post before and after photos soon.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

little canvi

I went to the Dollah Tree and bought 30 little bitty canvi. Yes that has to be the plural for canvas (es) plus, these things don't seem to be made of real canvas, at least nothing I've known. But they will be snazzy for my mass painting project. 2 per week, super duper. Tomorrow I can gesso those puppies between classes and get started playing around with color options. More cuteness:
I'm wondering if the owl makes it to the paintings. I have this thing right now for toadstools, owls, and other cutesy stuff. (Duckies and cardinals? Not so much.)

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Tonight I scanned the parts of my 1940's era magazines that I think will work as collage items for the artwork I would like to create. Here is my favorite. Are they adorable or what? I think I need to make these hats. 

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

orange dog

The original orange dog was a prop in the painting studio in Bry Hall at NLU before it was ULM. Yesterday I spent an hour or so painting a canvas I started years ago. It was hanging in my living room and people asked if I planned to finish it. I sort of liked it unfinished, but I enjoyed working on it yesterday and I think it is pretty much done. After looking at this, I might make a few changes. For example, in the painting the nose is pinkish but it appears blue green in person. I am just not sure. When I get the keys back to the studio I will take some photos to post.

  •  little canvases from Dollar Tree
  • tracing paper