Tuesday, March 17, 2015

new original paintings, prints, and free shipping

Lots of new work to share with you! This is the view from my loft/upstairs hall:

mae chevrette studio

Yesterday I picked up five paintings at my print shop and finished listing them for sale in my shop. Many original paintings sold over the holidays so it feels good to have a new batch of finished work back up on my walls.

Lately I've been really enjoying working on a big scale… three of those canvases are 36"x48" and the one on the easel is 36"x60". The amount of material required by large paintings is a bit of a challenge and especially daunting in the beginning, when it's just a big white canvas staring back at me, but I love  how much detail it's possible to include in these big ones.

"Salt-Faded Memories" (36"x48" mixed media on canvas)
Original painting and prints available

"A Summer Night in Newport" (48"x36" mixed media on canvas)
Original painting and prints available

"Watch With Glittering Eyes" (11"x14" mixed media on canvas)
Original painting and prints available

"Rose Light" (60"x36" mixed media on canvas)
Original painting available

"Sweet Blows the Wind" (24"x24" mixed media on canvas)

"Ghosts of the Coast" (36"x48" mixed media on canvas)
Original painting and prints available

Back in February I had four paintings hanging in an awesome group collage show at Wedeman Gallery in Newton. It was so fun to meet the other artists in the show, including Ana Linares and her incredible Floriography Tarot work and a longtime favorite encaustic artist Caroline Bowden. Here's Mike and I at the end of the artist's reception alongside Ghosts of the Coast. 

All of these original paintings are up in my shop and all ship free until midnight tonight with the code FREESHIPSPRING. I'll be taking a break from shipping originals and canvas prints starting Thursday, 3/19 until Monday, 4/26 while I am on a month-long road trip around the country, though Mike will still be shipping paper prints while I'm gone :)

Friday, March 13, 2015

back to plum island

Thanks for your kind comments and emails after my last post! It helps to know I'm not alone in the world of creative ruts, art copycats and barfy kitties.

After dropping off my finished paintings from the last few weeks up at my print shop, I took advantage of being an hour north and spent the rest of the afternoon at Plum Island (where I found this book) on the far North shore of the Massachusetts coast. In the middle of a 30-degree week there were two days of 60-degree sunshine and soft winds, so I walked around the dunes, along the shore and through the salt marsh to get some fresh air and see what the last few storms had washed up on shore.

Someone I know once called this a "beach bouquet"… a large mess of lobster trap, dune fence posts, bird feathers, bits of buoys and piers, driftwood and rope washed ashore after a storm. There were several of these along the length of the beach and I snagged a couple pieces of it for a new painting I'm working on.

Plum Island is a thin, 11-mile long island with salt marsh on one side -- usually full of cranes, hawks and foxes roaming around and supposedly hosts migrating snowy owls right now, though I didn't see any --  and boardwalks over sand dunes on the other. The salt marsh was frozen over, the lowland still completely covered in about two feet of packed snow, and there was still snow right on the beach too. I loved the sight of violet and pearl mussel shells, porcelain moon snails, twinkling sea glass and other detritus littered right up to the edge of the remaining snowbanks.

(p.s. Please excuse these photos if they're weird sizes or the color is off… I'm trying to learn how to post from the road, using a tablet and gas station wifi. More on that next week.)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

above all else

“Above all else, it is about leaving a mark that I existed: I was here. I was hungry. I was defeated. I was happy. I was sad. I was in love. I was afraid. I was hopeful. I had an idea and I had a good purpose and that's why I make works of art." - Felix Gonzalez-Torres

So! The past few weeks have had their share of bumps and roadblocks. Several exciting and important client projects were shelved, travel was postponed, expensive technological glitches and breakdowns happened all over the place. Wedding planning isn't quite 
what I expected it would be. I stumbled upon yet another art copycat which always throws me off for a few days how do you tell someone, kindly, to stop imitating your work? Four snowstorms in a row left our neighborhood buried and gridlocked for days, and in the middle of the last blizzard, Chubby Boots suddenly became very ill, barely moving and refusing to eat or drink at all. It was so scary. He had to be bottle-fed until we could get a vet appointment the next day, at which time my car wouldn't start -- just one of many signs that it's at the end of its time.

Thankfully, CB is back to his normal healthy self, and I'm aware that everything else is totally insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but it just felt like one thing after another and kind of overwhelmed me. I have trouble channelling creativity energy when I'm feeling sad or upset or frustrated and all these bumps in the road were swirling around my brain and heavily affecting my work. I don't know. Any artists out there ever feel this way? Like it's hard to function creatively when bad energy abounds in other areas?

So I made an effort to take this rough month full circle, I guess, and shift my focus away from all the distractions and letdowns and extraneous non-creative parts of being a working artist and back to the very most basic part of my "road," which is just making art. Painting. I put everything else on hold and just painted, spending 8-9 daylight hours working on new pieces -- paintings I wanted to make -- and sketching or priming canvases in the evening. 

We spent a lot of time with our friends and went on a few fun excursions, but most of the last month was work. At one point I had four large paintings going at once and was hopping from painting to painting each time one had a drying period or the inspiration struck. It felt really good to spend so much time with my hands messy, rough, caked in paint and glue, busy with the basis of what brought me to this very particular point in my life. With Mike topping off my coffee mid-morning and Chubby Boots lolling around on torn paper at my feet it felt as though I was slowly slipping back into a good flow separate from all the bad energy.

And I got so much done! Five paintings are waiting at my print shop to be scanned and made into prints. But more than that, the act of creating art is cathartic in itself, and the time spent repetitively layering, painting, sanding and drying allowed for a lot of thought. I paint because I have something to tell you
 that I can't put into words, and it will always be that way whether I have a dozen clients and projects or a blank slate for months. It will always be about the painting, the sole act of describing experiences on a flat plane of canvas and nothing else, despite what distractions and hurdles abound. The simplest things are the easiest to overlook.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

snow and paint

It's been a frigid, snowy few weeks here in Boston. As I type this, it's 10 degrees outside. The city saw a record snowfall of 40 inches in just seven days, and with that immense amount of snow comes parking and shoveling woes, subway shutdowns, driving bans and just general misery when trying to get anything done outside. During these snowstorms I've been hunkered down in my studio, enjoying our fireplace and the snowy view and getting a lot of painting and organizing done. 

During the first blizzard there was a 24-hour driving ban and subway shutdown, but Mike still had to make it to his lab in order to check on his current experiment so we bundled up in all our snowboarding gear and walked across the Mass Ave Bridge to Cambridge. It was funny to see this normally super congested 4-lane bridge completely empty except for the occasional plow and a few people on skis.

It kind of looks like there's not a lot of snow on the road, right? That's because the wind was blowing over 40 miles per hour, whipping it onto the frozen Charles River and at our faces and nearly blowing us backwards in the middle of the bridge. At MIT, where Mike works, it was desolate… not a single other person in his whole lab, and no other buildings or businesses open. Even after living in New England for ten years I'm still excited and impressed by winters here… it takes a crazy storm to shut down New England and this was that storm. Here's my studio building and my street, totally deserted.

That's not to say it wasn't beautiful though. I don't live on some majestic sweeping prairie or up a forest trail where things are already pretty and made extra ethereal by fallen snow… however, a blanket of white does favors for my normally (overwhelmingly) bustling neighborhood. The train outside my studio windows stopped running and the thick flakes stifled what little sound was left from crunching boots and skis. When I went outside to snap a few photos after the storm, the air was so still that I heard the bouncing of each kernel of birdseed thrown by the priest next door and the flutter of chickadee wings swooping down from their evergreen homes before I even saw them around the corner. Holiday lights still wrapped around trees and hanging on brownstones made icy snowdrifts glimmer in the fading dusk light. Here's Commonwealth Avenue, three blocks from my studio:

Snow storms are a massive pain but kind of a blessing as well… they force most of us to snuggle in and turn down just a bit. Because I couldn't drive out of the city I had to reschedule my painting drop off at a local gallery, in turn giving me a few more hours with "Ghosts of the Coast," and I made some changes and additions that I otherwise wouldn't have had time to do.

When we last left off I had prepped a big canvas with old book pages for strength and dimension, and glued down some corrugated cardboard and newspaper. I'll be totally honest… one of my goals this year is to explore some new color territory and to help with that I'm picking paint swatches at the start of each painting and taping them to my canvas to keep me honest. I really wanted this piece to be a little neutral in color and let the found paper and textures do a lot of the talking, so I settled on this palette full of suburban beige, grey plums and arctic lavenders.

(Special thanks to Economy Hardware, whose employees are generous with paint chips even though I clearly am a renter with no walls to paint.)

For most of the rest of this painting I focused on texture, adding a lot of unexpected layers and objects.

One of my favorite new materials to work with was this discarded fishing net that I found on a beach pier in Maine during my last road trip. I have a totally new respect for my cousins Erica and Christina, Alaskan fisherwomen who have each lived on boats for weeks at a time hauling up salmon and halibut in the Bering Sea. Because this. stuff. stinks.

It stinks so bad!
It smells like fish in the worst way.
The worst.
Um, probably because it was used to haul fish and then left to rot on a pier in the sun for who knows how long until some naive trespasser thought it would be a great thing to bring home and then leave in a ziplock bag for three months. I was almost afraid to use it because it could have made my painting smell like THE WORST FISH (I really hope this is getting across how terribly terrible this rope smelled)… but luckily soaking it in ethanol took away the smell and the sealant I used put an impermeable layer over it. And it looks great! The texture is fantastic and unique, holding in little bits of paint and really roughing up the bottom edge. But really. It was gross at first.

I really love incorporating text and lettering into my paintings but it's not always necessary for the text to be the focal point, so I did so really subtle stenciling over the resting space of this canvas. The text was big enough to be a bold detail but not so heavy that it overwhelmed the main image.

Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of the finished piece. However, it's currently hanging at Wedeman Gallery in Newton, MA at my first group art show, aptly titled Paper/Cut: The Contemporary Collage Show, until February 21. If you're in the area I hope you'll check it out! That is, if we're not all buried in snow by then...