This body of work began sometime in the mid 1990's, as an experiment, seeing if I could adhere a dress to a canvas and create a painting over all the textures. "Dress painting" is a term I came up with to explain these when I simply couldn't think of anything better. Over the years they have evolved, with new elements of collage being added. Dress patterns, photographs, and embroidery all appear from time to time, as well as lino block prints, rubber stamps and gold leaf. I will use this space to explore the beginnings of this series, as well as showing my latest work. If the piece is available for sale you'll find the price at the bottom. Free shipping in the U.S. Contact me at kallencole@aol.com to purchase.

Would you like to see my full website? Head over to KathrineAllenColeman.com

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A week of experiments

I have to admit, I've been feeling a little "stuck" lately. New ideas have been slow to come, and I've found myself, more often than not, spinning my wheels and reworking past ideas. I couldn't manage to keep myself in the studio for any length of time. I needed a serious kick start, but wasn't sure how to begin.

So I started a little self analysis, always a dangerous thing.

One of the issues I discovered was that supplies were becoming scarce, tubes were wrung dry, and there were only a couple empty canvases around, big expensive canvases. It is a difficult thing to take a leap of faith and start something fresh when resources are low, what if I mess up one of those big canvases? So this all meant I needed to do a little shopping.

In the art supply store I told myself I was going to get at least one new thing that I hadn't tried before, or at least not in several years. I ended up checking out with a tub of powdered graphite, three inexpensive canvases, and replacements for some of those empty paint tubes. And some really pretty papers, those still haven't been touched!

Then I simply convinced myself that this was a week off, a week of experiments. I wasn't going to try to complete anything, just start mucking around and see what happens. I grabbed some paper and tried different transfer processes, using oil of wintergreen and lacquer thinner. The oil of wintergreen works much better, and is less flammable, a good thing. But being an oily process I wasn't so sure that water based acrylic paints were going to work well on top. So I picked up a canvas and started a different transfer process using acrylic. While that was drying I was in the powdered graphite, and chalk, and pastels, and pencil, simply making marks, with no thought of a finished product.

Papers were collaged, silver leaf was added, I found some stencils, and just kept going. I ended up with a canvas that was simply full, and thanks to the graphite, quite dark. So I started cutting back in with paint, highlighting favorite parts, blocking out the bits that didn't work, by the end of the day I had this...

Now I know some of you aren't going to be thrilled with this direction, but bear with me. I have always loved abstract work, and have dabbled with it from time to time. And this just felt so fresh, and full of life that I decided to keep going. But my next piece was started with a little more deliberation.

A few photo transfers, a little graphite, some mucky brushwork...

Then more photos, silver leaf, and you can see a rough pencil drawing of one of my latest studio finds, an old birdcage. Add to this some color, reworking the cage with a little more precision, map bits, old stamps, more, more more...

I was a little slower, this one took a couple days to complete, a little less experimenting, letting things dry properly before moving on. Learning from the process. I finally decided this one was done. Time to move on to the last canvas, and the week was coming to a close.

So the last one started like the others, with very little idea of where it was going (I am a planner, so this was a breakthrough and a relief in itself.) The nest was transferred to the right hand side. The "nest" on the left was collaged using old patterns. I like drawing parallels between humans and birds and our building abilities. Rubber stamps are repeated in the background, and the gauzy thin glove attached on top, I love how transparent it is, allowing the viewer to see what is going on underneath. The bird was painted, the three little eggs are stitched with little glass beads.

What I am enjoying about this process is how it started being so random, yet became more and more symmetrical. But still keeps the visual richness. And I know this week is going to influence my new work. I am looking forward to seeing where I go from here!

All three of these pieces are 20" square, I still have to fuss over them for a while to decide if I will bring them to shows. But I am happy to be on the other side of that case of "painters block" and looking forward to my next canvas!

Sunday, December 5, 2010


All other issues aside, I think I have made one of my more difficult to photograph pieces to date! "Nest" really does shine in person, unlike this flat image. But please bear with me, and maybe you'll be able to see it at a show near you.

This is a triptych, meaning it is 3 separate canvases that fit together. It's overall size is about 36" wide x 60" tall. Working from the background forward I started with a soft antique kind of blue, leaning towards the turquoise side, but a little bit dirty. The repeated pattern was created by carving the damask sort of pattern into a sheet of linoleum, it was inked just like a block print would be, with a roller, only the medium was acrylic paint.

For those of you who have known my work for many years, this may sound somewhat familiar. Some of the first pieces I ever exhibited were lino block prints. Perhaps I'll show some older pieces in my next post. In any case, I still love to carve linoleum, a slow process as one little curl after another peels off the knife. And I love the smell of the linseed oil in the linoleum.

So the block was "inked up" with paint, deep gray at first, and stamped like a big rubber stamp. The process was repeated for each block, allowed to dry, then I repeated the process, this time in creamy white. The blocks don't register tightly on one another, the white ones wiggle a little allowing the gray to show.

The nest itself was found in a rose bush in our front yard, cardinals come and build a new one each year. I photographed it and had them enlarged to this size and used an acrylic transfer process to get them on the canvas. I was originally only intending to use one, but the painting begged for more.

The dress was laid down on top of all this background, a vintage 50's house dress with a Swiss dot texture that shows through the paint and a little floral lace trim. And painted the "starter home" plan on top. With all the "bonus rooms" and "media rooms" in today's house plans it was fun to look at how they were laid out in the '60's when two bathrooms was considered a little extravagant!

NEST was stitched through the top with embroidery floss, and filled in with a little translucent yellow paint. Sometimes I think of nest as a noun, other times as a command, it changes the flavor of the piece significantly.

So what is the point? Well I was brought up in an era of "hope chests" and "starter homes." My nesting instinct was encouraged from a very early age. And I'm really not all that sure how I feel about it. So I often come around and take a little poke at the issue. Is it instinctive, like birds building nests? Is it taught through china patterns and paint samples? Is it just brilliant marketing?

Creating a home, a place of my own, is like a constant art project mixed with a search for comfort and peace. But others seem to be much happier constantly migrating, or need little more than one room with a bed and a TV. How does this happen?

This piece I'm sure will wind up in the home of someone with a great nesting instinct, art collectors often are "nesters," and I hope it brings a little comfort and peace, and introspection on how and why it got there. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

My Sketchbook

It was my first art teacher, in the eighth grade, who preached the importance of having a sketchbook. As a place to work on your drawing skills, and to work out ideas. And I have always had one, sometimes used every day, and sometimes not for months. But I always had one around somewhere. The only thing that has changed, is how I use it.

At first, as a teen, I would pour over every drawing in there, I couldn't stand to show my work to anybody if the whole book wasn't perfect. And of course it was never perfect. Blind and partially blind contour drawings were my favorite things to do. Watercolor or ink sketches wrinkled up the pages. But I always thought of my sketchbook had to be a series of finished works.

Not now.

Now I rarely sketch, the most I ever do is a reasonably accurate line drawing of how I envision a commission to come together for a client. Now my sketchbook is there mostly just to take visual notes. These quick little 3" or so square squiggles in ballpoint pen map out the little thoughts about how to put a painting together. Scrawled notes with arrows poke into the drawing with instructions that aren't apparent in the sketch..."soft warm gray background." Just to jog my memory. My sketchbook is full of these little blocks, often working out ideas for a painting over and over again in different forms. And eventually, as I flip through all the ideas looking for one to basically blossom, boom, there it is! That idea, and this one a few pages back, all of a sudden just fit together.

And the sketch usually gets me about 3/4 of the way through a painting, the last 1/4 is the hard part though. The discussions and negotiations with the painting directly in front of you. But that's another story.

My favorite thing about my sketchbook now is how it serves as a journal. I don't think about it at all when I'm drawing in it, or making a list of whatever. But when I occasionally come across an old sketchbook, from last year or the last decade, my memory is taken on a bit of a ride, without having specific references to the outside world. Try it, put what you want in it, and don't think you have to show it to anybody!

And just as a note, the two lino blocks peeking in at the top of the page are elements from a commission I am working on. "Queen Bee" I think she'll come together just fine!

Friday, September 17, 2010


Here's the latest out of the studio, "Sugar" is 30" square. This one doesn't have a long story to it, I was just simply trying to use such a sweet southern name just a little tongue in cheek. A ring or hula hoop of candies circles her waist. The text on the dress? The chemical formula for table sugar.

I'll be in New York City on Oct 2nd and 3rd at the Gracie Square Show in Carl Schurz park, hope to see you there!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Introducing Elizabeth

Introducing Elizabeth.

I have been working on this piece both in my head and on the canvas for about 6 weeks now. A record by far. The major elements, maps, a dress, class photo, and china were planned out early. Other ideas, all needed to make the piece "whole" slowly emerged. Quietly knocking on the door of my consciousness, or occasionally barging in when all else failed.

Elizabeth was one of those quiet children. Not particularly pretty, nothing special. She grew up in a time when preparing for life as a girl included things like collecting china for a hope chest. She never wandered far from home. Not even in her mind.

The life she got was so different from the life she imagined. So different, it was almost abstract.

Starting with the larger panel on the left, the background begins as a map, a big piece of what is now "home." A green landscape. Over this is a series of linoleum block prints. A simple pattern that hopefully triggers thoughts of quilting bees, grandmothers, women's work, craft.

The dress on top, a simple house dress is washing over with waves. Ripples really. A not so subtle reference to a fish out of water, or more precisely a water girl on dry land.

This is a close up of the bottom right panel. A class photo from sometime in the 50's. A girl is singled out, in the spotlight as it were. Linoleum block prints obscure part of the class, strengthening the circle shape that is often repeated in this piece.

I have named her Elizabeth, only because I'm sure that's what her name would be somehow. In reality I have no idea who she really is. A circle of small silver beads is stitched through the canvas.

The top right hand panel begins with a map, I chose this part of the world because of the abrupt change in scenery. Driving west you are in the middle of flat nowhere. Miles and miles of nothing, then practically in an instant it all changes, a city, and mountains, huge mountains. How things change. The china floats above. Something that speaks of a simpler time, it gives a sense of stability, family dinners, and somehow, privilege.

I had a few issues working on this piece. One of the maps in the background that I had copied and spliced, layered with acrylic and set to dry, folded over on itself at some point. I may have folded it...who knows. In any case, it stuck to itself and became a wadded up heap in the trash after spending too much time trying to rescue it...
The water on the dress eluded me for days. I am not sure why, it almost became like that trick your mind plays on you when you study a single word for too long. It somehow loses it's meaning, and makes no sense. Scott told me over and over it was looking great, I would play every game in the book, looking at it upside down, from on top of a ladder, or spin around suddenly just to see if I could catch it with fresh eyes and see what was really there. Finally photographing it seems to have done the trick, because I like it in photos.
The china by the way was the simplest part, I painted it in a couple of days and it just came together beautifully. No hiccups, just poof, done. A gift from the art gods. There is a thin line of beads and freshwater pearls that mirrors the quarter circle on the bottom piece, taking your eye all the way back to the dress.
Sitting back and looking at this piece, wondering why it took so long, why so much drama? I have to think back to my original plan, separating elements in a piece, rather than piling them one on top of the other in layers. Painting water, and china, both for the first time. I think I set myself up for a huge challenge without even realizing it. Talking to a friend lately about what it takes to make it as an artist, he said, "someone asked if I could do that, and I said sure, then I had to figure out how to do it." That seems to be the whole game, set you own bar higher, then start jumping.
Elizabeth is 48" wide and 36" high. $5000

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Paper dolls

I've been enjoying using collaged papers in these new little dress pieces, and I thought I'd show a few of them off. This one has an old map of Paris as the dress, the lines are stitched with bright pink embroidery floss, and two buttons are sewn on with the same thread. The background, as with all of these, is a collage of Simplicity sewing patterns from the '50's and '60's. **sold**

This one has more of a '70's feel to it. The paper in the dress is a bit of rice paper that I marbled years ago, and tucked away in a flat file until I found a good use for it. The embroidery floss is green. The little green glass and iridescent shell beads are stitched along one side. Reminiscent of a beaded curtain!

The paper in this spring green dress has just a bit of sparkle to it, in the form of silver glitter no less! The glass button on the left has a little diamond shape of silver in it also, and mimics the notch shape just above on the pattern piece in the background.

And last but certainly not least is this transparent dress! The text that you see is an acrylic transfer from an etiquette book from 1910. Matched up with two crystal clear glass buttons, I think this one is stunning. The stitching is black, to keep it very neutral.

All of these dresses are the same size, the image size of the artwork is 5" square, they are matted in a bit of a shadowbox style to make room for the buttons. The mat is a double thick cotton (acid free) mat in off white. The overall size is 9" square. They are all shrink wrapped and ready for framing. $145 each.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Dream Sweet

"Dream Sweet" is my newest experiment with linoleum block printing in the background. Damask and floral patterns were carved into two different blocks, then "inked" and "printed" in the checkerboard pattern. I use quotation marks, because I used acrylic paint for the whole process, not the old oil based printing ink I used to use in my lino prints on paper. I did apply the paint with a roller, but the printing process was more like a stamp, or even a potato print. Kinda loose, rubbed down with fingertips rather than the trusty wooden spoon.

The dress was a donation from an artist friend, thanks Joan! A beautiful turn of the century cotton baby dress, or perhaps nightgown. It has beautiful details, netting, and embroidery, tiny little pleats. It needed little work from me, as it was lovely to begin with.

The "stars" are little freshwater pearls, individually stitched through the canvas. Dream Sweet is also stitched through with a dusty blue embroidery floss. I chose a primitive childlike hand for the words this time, if I do it again I may try a type that looks a little more formal. Such is my life, already trying to figure out how to make the next one better before this one is even good and dry.

I am sure this will hang in a baby room somewhere, and hopefully become a treasured memory. One of the fun things about making little baby dresses is knowing that my piece is the beginning of a new art collection! And I'm all for nurturing new art collectors!

24" square $695

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Busy Bird

Introducing "Busy Bird"

Steps forward in the life of a painter seem to be few and far between. As much as I know my work is improving over time, the tiny shreds of evidence are not always easy to find. What seems to me like an overwhelming epiphany in the moment, may result in little more than a shrug in the real world.

But this piece had one, perhaps a tiny one, but still it is a small step forward. Rather than use a rubber stamp from my collection to make the background, the lines of x & o's, I carved a small lino block. Not a huge task, those who have known me for many years know how familiar I am with linoleum block prints as they were my medium of choice. I've pulled dozens of multiple color reductive lino prints, never with a press, as I've never had that kind of dough, but with a wooden spoon.

But I don't think I can tell you how much I enjoyed carving that little block, the smell of linseed oil, the carving knife went through like butter. I thought it had been 3 or 4 years since I had carved a block, but I have just surprised myself. I just checked the date on the last lino I remember carving, it says 2001, time flies. Anyhow, this little change, has opened up a bunch of new possibilities, carving any patterns, or text into a block, and treating it like a stamp. Much more original than using store bought stamps, and endless possibilities.

Now back to Little Bird, the star of the show. The dress itself was a little sweater dress. I have never used a sweater dress before, and as I was soaking it in the goo, I really wasn't sure it was going to work, I expected it to stretch into some unidentifiable blob. But it went down very nicely. The key coming out of the top is silver leaf, with an acrylic transfer of a photo of this crazy little wind up bird I have. The bird is also repeated along the hem of the dress. Busy Bird is stitched into a halo shape where the head would be.

I must say this is a bit of a self portrait, it was the last piece painted in a marathon painting push after a really great show, as I was trying to get ready for the next. If you sat me down and asked me my mother's maiden name about the time I finished this, I'm not so sure I could have told you. But it is at times like that when the grand, or even puny ideas seem to come out of nowhere.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Little Bee

You can tell someone has been to art school when they have an aversion to making something "cute" or "pretty." And I have to tell you, I have this affliction in spades. Usually deep in my dress paintings, there is a little bit of irony, or snarkyness just waiting to be noticed. In fact, when someone walks into my booth and says "Oh CUTE!" (Or even worse, "cute, cute, cute, cute, cute....) I know they aren't really paying attention.

But this one....this one is simply too cute. Little Bee just sort of fell together nicely, it was going through an ugly phase...many of my paintings do, and then *poof* there it was, over the top sweet. And I just couldn't do it, I couldn't find a way to make it a little more mischievous. Or ugly it up a little, it was so pretty sitting there, that to do any of that stuff seemed as mean as poking a kitten.

So don't confuse this with an earlier "little b," where the b is the beginning of a 5 letter word. This one is what it is, just sweet. And I know it will be in a baby room soon, making everyone giggle. I can hear Moms everywhere making little bee buzzing noises, while they tickle someone small to sleep. And I guess that's ok too!

If you click on the image to make it bigger, you'll notice little stitched wings above the shoulders. Now I'm off to the studio to work on the next one, which will probably be a little snarky, just to make up for it. And please, don't tell any of my art teachers from college!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

New Birds

A couple of new birds...

I am having fun with these new birds, the backgrounds are loose and abstract and I love them!

I've spent many years painting pure abstract work, much more of a challenge than you would expect. Making something beautiful and balanced, without having anything representational to "anchor" to is tricky.

But these give me a foot in both worlds, the tightly controlled little birds contrast nicely in both color and style to the backgrounds they sit in. And the dots of color as well as the changes in the top layer of color lead the eye around the composition.

Chatterbox is stitched in cross stitch through the top one, and although the thread looks black in the photo, it's actually a deep greenish brown, mirroring some of the deeper colors in the bird. This bird is a real chatterbox by the way, he or one like him sits on the peak of my studio in the morning and sings a good morning song that can be heard all through the yard!

A female cardinal is the next "bird in the hand" she is currently on the easel, if I get her finished before packing the van for the next show I'll try to put her up. Have a great day!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Goody Two Shoes

Somewhere deep in the first pages of this blog you will find the first "Goody Two Shoes." It was one of my all time favorites, and she sold either the first, or second time she was shown. So it's time to re visit the theme. This one is smaller, at 24" square. I'm loving the jade green, red, and yellow, colors straight out of the 40's and 50's. The dress itself is also from around that time. "Goody" is stitched along the top in black embroidery floss. And the photos are gussied up a bit with yellow polka dots and a little transparent white to make them pop.

I'm quite pleased with this one, and will be packing it (her?) up to go to Ann Arbor next week, along with many others. See you there!

Goody Two Shoes has sold, and is on her way to L.A. you go girl!

Monday, July 12, 2010


Wallflower is fresh off the easel. It has quite a different look from most if it's "sisters," partly because the dress is more from the 70's era rather than the 40's and 50's. The pattern is a loose interpretation of what was actually on the dress, enlarged to bigger than wallpaper size. What I love about this piece is the contrast or "push-pull" between the transparent color and the opaque ground. I added a bit of a shadow behind the dress just to make it pop a bit, but I already know there will be many, many people who will breeze by this piece and never even know there is a dress under the paint. Most of my paintings hold some sort of surprise for those who are really looking! You will have to look closely though to see her name, "wallflower" is stitched along the bottom hem of the dress in black floss. This piece will show for the first time in Ann Arbor, Michigan at the "Original" show, here is a link to their site http://www.artfair.org/
Wallflower is 24" square.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


A question I hear over and over at art shows is "how do you come up with all these ideas?" It always sort of takes my by surprise, because I guess I never think I have enough. I am always building piles of new ideas, in my head, in my sketchbook, on scraps of paper beside the bed. They come in the form of photographs, scribbled notes, random sketches.

Walking the familiar route from studio to kitchen this past winter the buds on my dogwood tree caught my eye.

The contrast is what caught me, they tell you in art school that the human eye registers contrast between light and dark faster than any other aspect, even bright colors.

So I went in to grab the camera and made a few shots. All the while little birds were out fluttering in the chilly air. So here I was out shivering in the cold, while they were out doing whatever little birds do. And, well, I can't carry on with this thought much further without sounding like a complete nut. Suffice it to say I must have been heavily influenced by Disney's Dr. Doolittle as a child, I wish from the bottom of my heart that I could talk to these little creatures. In fact I do talk to them, all forms of animals, lizards, dogs, frogs, birds, even bugs on occasion, so I guess what I really wish is that they could understand, or even talk back!

So as I watched the birds, it dawned on me one was gathering bits for a nest. And I was simply cheering her on, "attagirl" as my father would say.

This is the second I've done like this, the earlier one can be seen a page or so back in this blog. The bird is a pine warbler, not the same as the little brown bird that was building it's nest, but a later visitor. And who knows, this may be a male, being such a bright yellow, but I'm still going with "attagirl." And if you need to see it, I have my artistic licence in my wallet somewhere!

Attagirl is 24" square and has sold!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

New post coming soon!

I am catching up on my to do list, and will post a new painting soon. Maybe even this afternoon! But I just wanted you to know I've created a Facebook page, so if you are a FB junkie (like me) please take a minute to seach me out. You'll find me under "Kathrine Allen-Coleman, mixed media artist."

Or try this link... http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Kathrine-Allen-Coleman-Mixed-Media-Artist/114416795259825

Please join my page by clicking the "like" button at the top, it's the easiest way to hear about what I'm working on and where you can find me. Thanks!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Smarty Pants

This isn't the first "smarty pants" I've done, and it won't be the last, but this one sure does make me smile. Rather than explain the process of this one from start to finish, I'll just run through some of the elements.

Front and center is a piece of cherry pie, cherry pie a la mode actually, just paint, nothing tricky. Her little apron has these funny little pac man shapes on it, circles with little pie chunks cut away. Her cherry red dress relates back to the color of the pie, and is covered in little polka dots. And finally the background. What's up with the numbers anyway?

Here's the back story on Smarty Pants. I was at a show a few weeks ago, and a jeweler was next to me, Amy Pfaffman, we've been neighbors before. She is very sweet and I have a few of her pieces. You can see her work here http://amyjewelry.com/ Her jewelry is made of all kinds of bits and pieces, scrabble tiles, watch faces, just cool stuff.

So during the show I occasionally hear people asking her what the numbers mean? I eventually peek in when she isn't busy, and see a few pieces with 3.14159 in them. SO of course I have to ask too. "It's PI" she says exasperated, "I wanted to use numbers, and I thought everyone would know what pi was!"

I just can't resist a good pun.

And maybe with all the extra clues there will be the occasional "Smarty Pants" who will figure out pi=pie all on their own! Smarty Pants is 24" square and is sold.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Ragamuffin has finally declared herself finished! Like most of my paintings, I don't begin with a solid plan on what the finished piece will look like. I start with a few elements, and work from there. Adding more, and tweaking this or that as time goes on. (This process makes my artist husband more than a little mental I might add, as we work in very different ways!)

This piece began as a collision between the name, something my mother said to my sister and I on more than one occasion, "You look like a couple of ragamuffins!" And a photo I found in a second hand shop in Atlanta. The bare feet and wild hair connected with me immediately. These elements paired perfectly with a dress I'd had on the back burner for quite some time.

The dandelion relates back to another phrase I often heard as a child, "You're growing like a weed!" I assume it was always meant as a complement? But I was never sure...

The dress itself is adorned with dots made with glazes of color altering the purple base, which makes for a related, fairly neutral, yet interesting palette. Several more layers of paint, and stitching the name in with embroidery floss, and she finally made me smile.

You should see all the things I do in the studio, trying to see a painting "fresh" after working on it for several days. Hang it in a different spot, whirl around and look at it quickly after taking a break, squinting...it probably looks quite comical from the outside!

Well, enough chatter, deadlines are calling. Today I start on a new "smarty pants" and I'm quite excited about her, she should be up by next week!

Monday, May 10, 2010

I got in Old Town!

I applied to The Old Town Art Fair in Chicago again this year, even though it is an extremely difficult show to get into. Then a minor miracle happened, I made it on the wait list. Now for a full body slam in the miracle department, I got a phone call a couple of days ago. A spot opened up, and I was invited. Can you say tickled!?

I haven't even made the change to my schedule yet, but I said you'd be first to know. I'll see you in Chicago on June 12 & 13!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A color junkie

Everyone is probably familiar with the idea of an artist's palette. Usually the first thing that comes to mind is that kidney shaped flat thing with a hole for the thumb. I have been painting for over 20 years now, and I've never actually used one of those! Empty yogurt and cottage cheese containers are usually my palette of choice, with a nice slick expanse of tempered glass as a backup from time to time. But today, I am stitching some of my little "Paper Dolls," so a wad of embroidery thread is my palette.
My grandmother taught me how to embroider sometime around the second grade. I remember even then being mesmerized by the shiny floss, how the deep saturated colors changed as the light hit. I still love to look at these, line them up sorted into analogous colors, or from pure hue to more neutral shades. I think we call that play?
Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Atta Boy

The question I get asked most often at art shows is definitely "do you do commissions?" But I am also often asked "why don't you do boy's clothes?" Well I do, but pretty much only as commissions. "Atta Boy" was requested to be a companion piece for a little dress painting I did called "Smarty Pants."
"Atta Boy" has a background of transferred Farmers Almanac pages, it is glazed over with quinacridone gold. A row of buttons from a Navy jacket runs along the top. The name is stitched through the canvas, and the oval shape is surrounded by a line of little brass beads. And yes, the little overalls were blue, but I still repaint them entirely to give them lots of depth. This was a fun piece to do, especially because I was given lots of freedom in the process, simply a companion. Something that would feel good in Iowa. Both hang in an oral surgery office, I hope they bring smiles.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Paper dolls and the flip side

Here is the latest paper doll. I've taken this one one small tiny step further by choosing pink as the color of the embroidery thread rather than green. Pink and this green are a complimentary discord, a term color theory fans are probably familiar with. This is because red and green are complementary colors, as they sit opposite each other on the color wheel. But they also become a discord when the value of the colors, (meaning the lightness or darkness) are changed. Red, in it's pure form is a darker value than green in it's pure form, so when you lighten one, or in this case both, so that they are of similar value, or the red (pink) is even lighter than the green you get a discord.

I have always been color theory obsessed, it may even be a medical condition.

And, I have to announce, this is the first piece I have done as a "grown up" that has a touch of that dreaded craft supply...glitter! Cheap? Maybe. Tawdry? Possibly, but I must say I do like it in this case!

And I often have people browsing through these little pieces at a show, and they often can't really tell what they are. Is this paint? Do you use glue? Possibly just a general need for reading glasses, but I thought I'd show you the flip side. All the embroidery work is stitched through the paper, as are the beads and buttons. These little babies routinely take 3 hours or more to complete. Fortunately though not all this needs to be done in studio, I'll often stitch these while Scott is driving the van to a show, or in the hotel room, wherever that is, even at a show if the crowds are light.

That's it for now, have a great day!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The paper dress blues

One of the things that I like about this blog is that I can post something whenever I start down a new road. It doesn't have to be major, something worthy of a whole new web page, just something like this. This little paper series that I've been doing along with the big dresses on canvas has taken a little shift. Rather than strictly using paint, I've started to collage art papers on top of the pattern pieces. This opens up a whole bunch of decorative possibilities, and gives me a good excuse to buy some of the beautiful hand made papers at the art supply store!
And little ideas rarely stay little for long, my mind is already mulling over ways to expand on these. I guess that's why they call it a creative process, one thing always seems to lead to another.
This piece is 5" square and framed in acid free materials. Sold

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Good Show

Good Show! As children, putting on a show was one of the highlights of visiting my grandparent's house. My cousins, my sister, and I would arrange variety shows and fashion shows where we would parade through the living room dressed in Grandma's and even Great Grandma's stored away treasures. Singing, dancing, it was a hoot. And we certainly weren't alone. Many women come into my booth and tell me their similar stories when they see this piece. The photo transfers are of my mother and her cousins doing the same thing about 20 years earlier. The dress is from sometime in the 1950's, and the little lines of red stitching in the background represents the imaginary red velvet curtain. Although we all know that bed sheets on the clothes line work just as well!

Good show is 24" square, and will be showing with the rest of my work tomorrow and through the weekend at "Main St. Fort Worth" in Ft. Worth Texas. Hope to see you there!

"Good Show" has sold (yay!)

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Motormouth made it to Houston! She arrived unfinished, the stitching of her name across the top, and placing and sewing on the buttons took place at our studio annex, in this case a Crown Plaza just off I-59. The background, a series of stamped "M's" not only stands as initials MM=motormouth, but is much more amusing if thought of a little more phonetically. Try this, say the name of the letter, sounds like "em" and repeat "em em emm emmmmmmm."

Motormouth is stitched through the acrylic transfer of the engine block, and the scattered pattern of dots on her dress are actually the shapes of gears, or flywheels, or whatever you'd call those things with teeth. My Dad was the mechanically inclined one, not me! The dress itself was a 50's vintage smocked dress by Polly Flinders, a name many girls who grew up in the east are familiar with!

Below is a photo of my booth at the Houston show. The weather was fantastic, there is nothing better than putting on sunscreen after a long cold winter! Motormouth was a hit, even though she didn't find a new home. Her buddy "Goody Two Shoes" did, and I was a little sad to see her go. We will be returning to Texas in just a few days as I will be showing in Main St. Fort Worth. Hope to see you all there!

Motormouth is available for $1400

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Nest is a new, and already sold, addition to my "Bird in the Hand" series. The star is a female cardinal, so unremarkable next to her crimson counterpart. Yet when placed alone on a neutral background, her colors start to sing. Mossy greens, touches of brick red, the same bright red beak as the boys. I placed her on a background of vintage patterns, underscoring the instinctive need to build, create, and fluff up our homes, both for the birds, and us. The polka dot pattern on the glove is actually a scattering of egg shapes, a sign of hope, and faith in the future. You go girl! Nest is 12" square.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


As often as I have a painting that I struggle with, I have one like this that just falls together before my eyes. The bulls eye begins where her mouth would be, sort of an epicenter for all the noise. All the collaged bits of type came from vintage magazines. I use acrylic transfers, rather than collaging the old papers for conservation reasons, collaged papers disintegrate quickly, and the acid released in the process can "burn" other parts of the painting. So I transfer the ink into acrylic paint, and wash the paper away. Chatterbox was stitched with a running stitch, and then painted, there is a bit of pearlescent paint in there, to tie to the mother of pearl buttons.
There aren't many ways I can get away with using pink that doesn't come across as super sweet and girly, but a strong element such as a bulls eye seems to be the answer in this case!
I showed this piece for the first time in Tampa, and spoke with many people about the process. The question posed as often as others is "where do you get all your ideas?" I guess the simple answer is I am always, always, always, looking for them. They arrive most often as I am about to fall asleep, or in the car, very rarely when I am sitting at the drawing board searching for one. Often times the answer to one problem comes when I am working on another. And sometimes they come from you. A fellow walked through my booth, saw this piece and said, "ya oughta do one called motormouth..." And he was gone, I don't even remember what he looked like, my head just instantly filled with the possibilities for a "motormouth" painting. It's not quite on the drawing board yet, but I am gathering the elements, look out world!
This "Chatterbox" has sold (yay!)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Good Egg

Good Egg was a greedy, greedy painting. One of those you have to wrestle into submission. It took days longer than I had anticipated, all the while Scott is shaking his head. Why do I make it so difficult?

This piece is 36" square, the dress sits to the left, so what to do with the right side? Well, I knew she was to be "Good Egg." So I began collecting anything egg related. The first thing was to find egg related literature in a 50's vintage farmers almanac. These pages were made into acrylic transfers, a multi step process that transfers the printing ink into layers of acrylic medium. These transfers are applied to the primed canvas. Over this, I used text from a cookbook and painted the words using a negative painting technique, essentially painting around the letters, letting the first layer come through. The outline of the word "good" is lightly drawn on the canvas with pencil, and the stitching begins...

Once the stitching was finished it needed more, it just wasn't visible enough, so I painted the insides of the letters a similar yellow, just for definition. Buttons were sewn through the canvas to make this retro oval shape which helped tie all the different elements together.

This is a detail of the stitched egg cup, you can see the layers showing through. I used transparent and semi transparent layers of paint to add definition.

This is the finished result, the eggcups are transparent, allowing the original pattern of the dress to show through. This is the first time I've done this, and in this case I like the result. The eggs themselves have a wash of white over top. The new pattern of yellow dots is painted over the dress. And the deviled egg was painted in the top right hand side.

So why "Good Egg?" I guess this is really a painting about my relationship with my Grandmother. "You're a good egg" is one of her higher compliments, and boiled eggs in egg cups were one of her breakfast specialties when we stayed at her house... Strawberry shortcake was another, but that's a whole new story! My Grandma is weeks away from her 90th birthday, she will celebrate with my Grandpa who passed that landmark a couple of years ago.

Good Egg is available at $3000

Monday, February 22, 2010

Bird in the hand "Chatterbox"

Chatterbox is the newest addition to my "bird in the hand" series. It is 12" square on a gallery wrapped canvas. The background is a pattern made by the repetition of "la la la la." The vintage glove has been painted bright red, to match "chatterbox" which has been sewn through the canvas with embroidery floss. Just as a side note, embroidery floss is catalogued by number, so those who cross stitch patterns will know what color to use where, well DMC, the manufacturer of this floss numbered this color red 666, coincidence? Perhaps they have a sense of humor!?
In any case, the little bird is some variety of wren, I love birds and can pick out a few, but I'm not quite sure on this one. In any case, this little bird has quite a voice, a true chatterbox.
After all the stress of getting ready for, and doing a show, I often arrive back in the studio pretty burned out. I find these small pieces are a good way to get back into the creative swing of things, like a warm up for the next marathon. Well, I'm part way into the next marathon as it were, "Good Egg" is on the easel, I'll post about her soon, perhaps with a few shots in progress!
"Chatterbox has sold, (yay!)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Goody Two Shoes

Goody Two Shoes was finished just in time for the show at Boca Raton! The interesting thing about this piece is all the layers. The blocks in the background alternate, there are photos of vintage shoes cut in with opaque paint, then finished with a pattern in pencil. And the 2's are stenciled over photo transfers of pages from an etiquette book from the 1920's. The sailor dress sits on top, and "goody goody goody" is stitched through the top with bright green embroidery floss.
I am interested in looking at what the ideal of being "good" is all about, especially in the context of being a "good girl." How can you be good, without being so good as to be a goody two shoes? Who decides what the rules are? And how do we know when they change?
Goody Two Shoes is 30" square on canvas, and is sold.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A commission

Even though my main body of work is often cheeky, perhaps even a bit irreverent, my commission work is almost always sweet as pie! A baptismal dress was my beginning point, and we decided on robin egg blue should be included somehow. After that I was pretty much on my own. The dress itself has lots of pretty bits of embroidery throughout, so I decided to use a similar floral pattern in the background. Many layers of paint, often in alternating layers of glazing and dry brush are applied. The final touch is a hula hoop shape of embroidered nicknames. This piece was finished late yesterday, the client was thrilled, and the piece is already home!
Now I am up to my elbows in the next one...not quite so sweet! "Goody Two Shoes" is on the easel, I'll post again when she's done!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Paper Dress Collage

If you've ever seen my work at a show, you are familiar with these little paper dresses. But this one is a little different. I begin by collaging bits of vintage dress patterns in the background, then paint the shape of the dress. But rather than use paint this time, I've collaged a little piece of marbled paper. This is one of the last bits of paper I marbled myself at a workshop in Victoria many years ago, a tiny fraction of the u-haul truckload of "things" Scott and I drove across the country when I moved here...but clearly I digress. Once the collage elements are all glued down and have had a chance to dry, the dress shape is stitched. I punch the holes with an awl, and sew the dress by hand with embroidery floss. The little halo is a circle of white glass beads that are also stitched through the paper.
The backing paper I use for these is a soft rag or cotton printing paper from France, and they are all matted in an eight ply conservation quality matboard. Backed with acid free foam board, and shrink wrapped. The overall size is 9" square, with the art being about 5" square.