memories-of-a-southern-girlhood2I’m back to work.  I’m at a place right now where I need to paint what I want to paint…  There are times when I just need to do exactly what inspires me while ignoring outward concerns.  Lately, most of my inspiration is coming from female compadres.  Specifically, I’ve been thinking alot about three sisters (me and my sisters and the 3 Bloom girls).  Our culture tends to value romantic relationships over others, which makes sense since the romanitc is the center out of which families arise.  But the relationshps that form the periphery of romantic relationships, specifically childhood friendships that last well into adulthood, are just as important.  Why do we create such a rigid hierarchy with male-female relationships at the top?  Internally I’m beginning to sense a construct that is more “weblike,” a shape that includes the people in my extended family and friendships that are quite obviously necessary to my spiritual wellbeing.  I suppose this web has always been there, but I can see that I’ve bent my awareness to fit a shape that is contrary to this web.  The “nuclear” of my nuclear family is not comprised of an isolated atom…especially now that my family life is changing shape so dramatically.  A friend keeps reminding me to keep my heart open to all that the universe has to offer, and as I do that I find that my life is incredibly full and that I’ve been blessed with so much.  And I don’t say that in a way that excludes my previous life, but in a way that includes it while opening my life and home to a wider, larger family that has always been there.

Not only that, but I’m grateful to still have my sense of humor.  What’s funnier than putting on those big girl panties and singing along (badly, I might add) while the stars come out and you have the kind of friends who let you sing as loud as you want and give you hell for being the Nancy that you are?

And the mushrooms are not a drug reference, but I kept seeing them again and again, so I put them in there.  I’ll let you know if I figure out what they’re about.



The folks over at AlaskaOne have now released this fabulous poster for their 2009 fund raising drive.  They (Tammy Tragis-McCook and Michael Letzring specifically) have been lots of fun to work with.  Here’s what the AlaskaOne website has to say:

A distinguished panel of artists and experts selected the painting titled My Funny Valentines by North Pole artist Madara Hill for the 2009 AlaskaOne poster.

Inspired by the Alaska landscape, Madara mixes wax, ink, powdered pigments, text or fabric with more conventional media while still using traditional Alaskan subjects. Madara uses vivid color to showcase this majestic trio of musk ox emblazoned across a whimsical field of color.

This enchanting oil and encaustic on canvas was chosen from over 60 submissions from artists throughout the state.

It’s rather odd to read about my work outside of myself.  But gratifying.  Now lets see if we can translate all this notariety into something permanent…
To see the full press release go HERE.

midsummer night's dream Here is “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.  I took this one into New Horizon’s a few days ago and it’s one of the 3 or so paintings that will be in the video clip that AlaskaOne is producing. And he’s going to work in some of Zoe and Finn’s artwork as well.  And I believe that  photos of my mother, my grandmother, and one of my mother’s paintings (of Grandaddy Friedrich) will be used in the montage as well.  My family is going to LOVE it.

Michael Letzring showed me some of the equipment they use to produce and, let me tell you, it was gadget heaven down there.  Huge double monitors, lightning fast processors, and enough buttons and dials to feel like a jet pilot.  It was geek heaven, Photoshop on steroids!!  Just the filters alone that were available in his software were enough to make me giddy.  He ran one called “Mary” over my face and it made me look like I just stepped out of a Renaissance painting, all chiariscuroed and soft.  Someone should invent a holographic projector that you can wear as a necklace and just project that filter 24/7 onto my face.  Who needs plastic surgery?  I should have been an inventor…

But I think I’ll just stick to painting, thank you very much.  That’s invention enough for me.  I’m still studying Klimt, obviously.  Trying to figure out how his compositions work.  I’m amazed at how well he creates dynamic compositions from rather static fields of shape.  Color appears to be the trick.  Color and the presence of larger shapes that are void of the smaller, repetitive shapes that make up most of the composition.  The man was a genius.  His Beethoven Freize (this photo is one it’s side–the whole thing is 34 meters long) is absolutely enormous and I can’t imagine the sheer number of hours he must have spent with a paintbrush over the course of his life.  They say that 10,000 hours is the magic number that separates the genius from the dilettante.  I don’t know how many hours I have to go before I’m even half the artist Klimt was, but I look forward to every single one.

zoe-in-progress Here is a photo of the progress I made today on Zoe’s portrait.  There are some problems with the right eye that I’m having a hard time solving.  And some issues with the shape of the face that I hope won’t be too hard to fix.  There are a few other problems but let’s not nitpick.  Overall I’m pretty satisfied with how it’s coming along.

On another note I’m pleased to announce that (drumroll….) I received a call last night informing me that I won the 2009 Alaska One Poster Contest.  It comes with quite a bit of exposure.  I think fame and fortune will come easy to me and rest assured I won’t forget about the little people.  My close friends and family are welcome to free rides on the Lear Jet they provide, but the rest of you will have to talk to my bodyguards if you want to even get near me. That’s just the way these things go…

Seriously, this could be a harbinger (the good kind not the ominous kind) of things to come.  If I play my cards right I can leverage this in my favor.  Some pretty recognizable names have  graced the face of the Alaska One posters:  Claire Fejes, David Rosenthal, Bill Brody, Karin Franzen, Randall Compton, Byron Birdsall,  Barbara LaValle, Ree Nancarrow, Todd Sherman, David Mollett, and Jon Van Zyle to name just a few.  These are big deal Alaskan artists and one day I might be like that guy in Office Space; I’ll casually rest an elbow on my cubicle wall with a cup of coffee in my hand and say something like: “Sooooo…I’m kind of a big deal around here.”  I can’t wait.

Oh, and don’t even ask which painting won because it’s all very top secret until the grand unveiling.  They’re keeping the painting in a vault at the Pentagon until March.  I’ve taken a vow of silence.

preliminary sketch To the right is the preliminary sketch for a portrait I’m working on of my daughter.  I’m satisfied with the results of the sketch.  I spent quite a few hours getting it right.  After I got the whole figure down onto canvas (the first hour or so) it looked like this:  first draft

The right eye was way off and the shape of her face was too round.  along with a number of other issues.  What comes next is going over the charcoal in a thin wash of burnt umber and then I’ll lay down the first layers of color.  However, from experience I know that everything and anything can go wrong from this point on.  The charcoal on canvas is the easy part since you can erase to your heart’s content.  Paint is another matter though.

Here is the photo I’m working from:

original photoSuch a pretty girl!  I hope I can do her justice…

Later that same day….  I’ve put the first layer of paint on and am feeling good about it.  I think I’ll stop here for the day.portrait in oil

muscovy-duckTook my kids to a park here in ATL today and saw this very odd duck.  We thought maybe it was just sick at first because it wasn’t moving, even when we came very close.  Once I got close enough, it seemed healthy enough, just looked pretty odd.  Turns out its called a “Muscovy” duck.  Very cool, but not very elegant.  The warts on his head reminded me of a turkey.  He didn’t seem interested or bothered by the 50 or so Canadian geese and Mallard ducks that were swimming close by.

blue-heron On the more elegant end of the bird spectrum, this gorgeous blue heron showed up again today.  I also got some great shots of him yesterday against a beautiful lakeside sunset.  Good inspiration for a painting maybe?

Also managed to eat a large pile of hot boiled peanuts today.  Let me tell you, that is food for the soul right there.  This whole trip so far has done me a world of good.  Between the sunshine, new sights, and good food, I might just make it to the new year!  My horoscope says that travel is on the agenda after a 12 year hiatus from my sign.  I hope that’s true.  There are few things I enjoy more than travel to new places with new (or in this case, old) food to be eaten.