Wednesday, April 19, 2017

2017 Home Tour

I think the best way to enjoy your favorite things is to only possess favorite things. If I don't LOVE something, I consider it a moral imperative to let it go. It's the only compassionate and sustainable thing to do.

Six months ago, I walked away from home ownership and downsized my life. My family of four and a dog moved out of a 2,500 square foot detached home with a full garden into a 1,000 square foot apartment. Now, I know that 1,000 square feet is still a lot of room. But for us, it was a huge shift. We also divested ourselves of 70% of our furniture and belongings.

And guess what? I don't miss a thing.

And to be clear, we're not minimalists. We're not part of the tiny house movement. We just want to preserve the resources we have and to enjoy more time together as a family. A smaller and more manageable household helps us to do that.

So here is the new and improved 2017 house tour. 
You can see my previous home tour HERE

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Painting Live During Easter Services

This weekend I tried something entirely new for me. I painted live during Easter services at First Unitarian Church of Dallas. For the past few weeks our ministers have been delivering sermons that focus on creativity. Our need to process life's experiences - the joy and the pain, the abundance and the lack - by transforming it into something expansive and filled with beauty and meaning, is what makes us human. So First UU decided to put an artist on the chancel for Easter to bring that message home. It was a thrilling experiment. 

My paintings were made in tandem with gorgeous hymns from our Sanctuary Choir and also some poetry readings, one of which I've included below. I painted a 48 x 48 inch piece for each of the two services during the hymns. While it's difficult to "finish" a huge piece of art in 30-40 minutes, I enjoyed the freedom of knowing that it was, by nature, an impulse-driven exercise, more concerned with process than product. Many of those in attendance filled my inbox and Facebook feed with kind messages about the service. I'm so grateful to First UU for asking me to the party. It was an Easter I won't soon forget.

Easter Exultet 
By James Broughton 

Shake out your qualms. 
Shake up your dreams. 
Deepen your roots.  
Extend your branches. 
Trust deep water 
and head for the open, 
even if your vision 
shipwrecks you. 
Quit your addiction 
to sneer and complain. 
Open a lookout. 
Dance on a brink. 
Run with your wildfire.  
You are closer to glory 
leaping an abyss 
than upholstering a rut. 
Not dawdling. 
Not doubting. 
Intrepid all the way, 
Walk toward clarity. 
At every crossroad 
Be prepared to bump into wonder. 
Only love prevails. 
En route to disaster 
insist on canticles. 
Lift your ineffable 
out of the mundane. 
Nothing perishes; 
nothing survives; 
everything transforms! 
Honeymoon with Big Joy!

Here are the pieces I created during the first and second services:

Here All Along, 48 x 48 inch acrylic on canvas

Trust Deep Water, 48 x 48 inch acrylic on canvas

Feedback from Congregants

I can't begin to tell you how privileged we felt this morning watching Sarah paint during Easter service. I admire her courage, generosity, inspiration, and talent. What a beautiful complement to Daniel's sermon. ~ Janine Fields

Watching Sarah work today was the greatest gift. We don't make it every Sunday but when we do it's always very worth the trip and the crazy... On this Easter Sunday...I am being gifted the privilege of watching Sarah Greenman create and that renews and lifts my soul in a way I didn't expect today. ~ Barrett Nash

Sunday morning was an artistic wonder - painting, music, and a sermon that was poetry. Life does not get much better than that - nor does an expression of spirit that reaches depth and wonder. ~ Charles Vorkoper

We were treated to the beauty of live painting during the service from Sarah Greenman today and a wonderful sermon about becoming awakened and "woke" and how that can change lives and the world for good. ~ Shelby Eidson

ARTWORK as a part of Easter! I can't find the words to express how much I LOVE this, so I'll just explain what it is: Sarah Greenman is painting a new piece in each of the two services this morning - painting during the musical portions of the services - whatever inspires her, and improvising. All of this is an incredible example of the creativity, openness, and joy within First Unitarian Church of Dallas and the people who are here. Huge bonus: The rich, powerful, gorgeous singing of Jonathan Greer in the solo portions of "Easter," from "Mystical Songs" by Vaughan Williams. His voice and Sarah's art are both such a treat for the ears and eyes and heart. ~ Dana Lynne White

Monday, April 17, 2017

8 Must Haves in the Studio

It was almost a year ago that my studio mate asked me to share a space with him at the Continental Gin Building in Dallas. Before that time, I created a studio space in my own home. Having my own dedicated studio, separate from my home, has been revolutionary for my art practice. When I sit down to work now, I'm more focused. I'm able to approach the work with greater clarity. And when I'm painting, I can completely disengage with the narrative of wife, mother, house-manager, schedule-keeper... it all just fades away because I am literally in a different space.

Now that I've been in my studio for 11 months, I've become dependent on a few key elements. For some artists, they need a certain amount of light or square footage or a particular kind of brush. Today, I'm going to outline some things that have become my "must haves" in the studio.

1. White Walls

I only have a couple of windows in my studio and they are covered with vining foliage, so to better reflect the natural (and artificial) light in my studio, I think white walls are best. 

2. Storage

I like to keep things tidy in my studio. I work quickly and I like to have all of my tools within reach. I don't have a fancy set up like the one below, but I'd like to!

3. Rolling work space

The table legs pictured below are from Ikea and they are the same ones I use in my space. All artists need a workspace, but it also needs to roll out of the way for studio visits, classes, and art openings. Putting your work table on wheels is the easiest way to accomplish this.

4. Task lighting

My studio, while well lit, doesn't always fit the bill. I use clamp lights and swing arm lights to illuminate spaces on the fly. My studio mate also uses this kind of lighting to light models when he hosts figure drawing classes in our studio.

5. Protective clothing

I am a super messy painter. I spatter and drip and use my fingers and wipe my hands on things. So, I need protective gear. I use good old fashioned canvas aprons while working in the studio. 

6. Golden Acrylic Paints

I work almost exclusively with Golden Acrylic paints I like both the fluid and heavy bodied paint textures. My favorite colors are always on hand.

7. Dark accent wall

I know, I know. Number 1 above was white walls. But I also like having one dark wall to provide contrast for my artwork. I like placing my work on a dark wall for perspective. I have one black wall in my studio and I love it!

8.  Space to hang my work

Its also really important to me that my studio be a place that clients and students can visit and view my work. I don't need a ton of wall space, but I need at least one clean white wall to display my work. Here's a shot of my display wall in my studio.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Eclectic Kitchen

Many of you will remember that I sold my home last fall. My family has since transitioned to a much smaller apartment, which is proving to be the perfect place for us. We've got around 1000 square feet - which is plenty for a family of four, a wheelchair and a dog.

I'm so grateful for the smaller space. My housework-load has diminished exponentially and the cost of upkeep for our 2,600 square foot ranch house has disappeared. The other benefit is that we have access to a pool, a private gym, and a lovely dog park, all of which I do not have to maintain. Heaven.

But this morning, I'm missing my kitchen stove a bit. It was a beautiful 5-gas burning stove and I loved cooking on it. My current kitchen, while bigger and certainly upgraded, does not have the charm of my previous kitchen. So today, I'm sharing photos of dreamy eclectic kitchens. These homey spaces remind me that I need to add a few more personal touches to my cookie cutter apartment kitchen.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

A Video About Art Commissions & Process

I just completed a commission for a family who was interested in creating an image of the Milky Way over a mountain pass. They enjoy hiking and getting outside - so I began thinking about the kind of vistas only available to those who seek out isolated and wild spaces. I wanted the piece to match my client's vision, but also to evoke the mystery of a night sky and the luminosity of a deep starry night. Here is the completed piece:

Last month I launched my PATREON page as a way of staying better connected with my community and my supporters. One of the perks of being a patron of my work via PATREON is that I share patron-only posts and deep-dive videos about my art process. My patrons pledge a certain amount per month and also receive art care packages, invitations to art events and more! 

For the piece above, I decided to film my first day of painting to share with my patrons. If you like the video below and want to see more like it, please come join me via PATREON


Monday, April 03, 2017

In the Studio | I Work In Layers

I paint in layers. And recently, a client who was watching me paint asked that I stop after the first layer because she liked the way it looked. I had just started, but to her eye it was finished. I had to agree with her.

My first layers are always highly intuitive and tend toward the abstract. It's mostly a simple combination of color choice and line quality. So I thought it would be interesting to share the four layers of my last painting so that you can see what happens in each stage.

With the second layer, I like to cover more of the canvas with color. And I also like to come in with white paint and block out some of what I painted in the first layer. I also start to use my fingers in creating the little circles of paint that show up in most of my paintings.

In the third layer, I like to come back with some of the colors from the first layer and build up the structure of the image I'm creating. I also add details that appear in the foreground - if there are any such objects.

And the final piece usually includes all of the little finishing touches and detailed mark making that help to bring my vision for the work into focus. Sometimes this means calming the piece down with lighter colors to create a sense of space or sometimes it means adding more marks. (I'm a hopeless maximalist when it comes to pattern.)

Here is a detail shot of the lower part of the painting.

Here's the original photo I used as inspiration for the painting. 

Oh... and surprise! I made two!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Bay Area Premier of "Leni"

Today, I'm off to California's Bay Area for the opening weekend of my play Leni currently in production at Aurora Theatre Company. I began writing this play in 2002 and completed the current version in 2006. You can read more about the play HERE.

Director Jon Tracy was interviewed about Leni this week on KDFC's State of the Arts. You can listen HERE. Also, Oakland Magazine featured the production this week with an article HERE. I'll be away from the blog for a few days, but in the meantime, wish me luck! I'm so excited to see this new incarnation!

Martha Brigham (left) and Stacy Ross (right). Photo by David Allen.