Making the pieces for “A Slow Journey Home”

FULLCIRCLE_098Working on this collection of paintings and sculptures was like living in a dream world. It allowed me to visit a wonderland when ever I wanted to. This collection is a pilgrimage of the soul. I choose to  transform each snail’s shell into a house,
IMG_0700each slightly different than the other. Expressing the individuality of all beings. The houses are a metaphor for the facade people choose to show the outside world. While inside each there is a soft vulnerable being, moving ever so slowly with their ego in tow. The snail represents the slow steady progress of a soul as it travels through life. I was thinking about the ego and the ego’s baggage, what we choose to carry from place to place and what we choose to leave behind in our constant search for a peaceful place to call home.

photo 4As this work unfolded in my mind the snails began to take on characters of there own. I sketched and painted, then sculpted and photographed the sculptures. Working back and forth between mediums. Taking the pictures of the sculptures and creating new sketches from them allowed me to see the lines and shapes of the sculptures more clearly in the flattened two-dimensional form. In the process I was constantly going back and forth from the two-dimensional work to three-dimensional work. It was enlightening. As the snails migrated through my mind and on to the paper I found myself making my own slow journey home.

FULLCIRCLE_110The first sculptural I made in this collection is  Penelope. She was a hand-built version of the snail I had been sketching in my journal. As I turned the idea around in my head I realized there were many ways to construct these sculptural forms. The next few snails I choose to throw the components of the house on the wheel. I created cylinders that would be transformed into the houses and closed forms for the roofs. Throwing and altering these forms, I was able to get a different shape that I could not get hand-building. Once each snail was constructed I went back and added all kinds of little details, doors and window and small window gardens. This is when each of the sculptural snails really got their own personality.

Mercedes Rodgers On the EdgeThe paintings started with “On the Edge”, which is really a continuation of the previous series I was working on. I painted this piece because that is where I was at the time, standing on the edge looking into the abyss wondering how I was every going to cross it. In the top of that painting above the abyss is the sun shining and bringing hope. That is what the rest of these piece did they brought me hope. I worked in watercolor sketching in the characters then painting them with masking fluid. Once the masking fluid was dry I flat washed colorful backgrounds on to the paper. When all of that was dry I went back in with watercolor pencils and paint, to add each snails personal details.

To to purchase or see more of the pieces from this series please visit the Full Circle Gallery Etsy site. Or contact the gallery at (850)6362-8041. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed making them!

Turning Trash into Treasure with Folk Artist Alan Moore

In mid April I visited Folk Artist Alan Moore’s home studio to witness his
process and meet his amazingly artistic family.  I arrived just as Alan was gathering materials for us to work with.  His two oldest daughters, Isabella (11) and Emma (8), came out to greet me.  Creativity must be in the Moore genes, because these beautiful and talented girls have their own line of art that is exhibited and nationally collected.  Today, their role was garden tour guide while their father finished setting up for our studio session.

The girls walked me through their tiered garden naming the vegetables along the way.  They told me that each year the garden gets a little bigger and that this year they started planting along the fence line.  As we neared the end of our tour, I noticed an accumulation of old building materials; pieces of tin, wood, and steal.  This is the Moore Family Junk Yard.  It is refuse Alan picks up on construction sites or the side of the road.  We rounded the corner, leaving the junk yard and returning to the studio where Alan and two of his other children, Aidan (6) and Liam (4), were waiting to transform junk into art!

The Moore children sketched designs featuring birds, which are my favorite subject to draw, and of course, ninjas.  Who doesn’t love a good ninja?  I know I do.  The drawings were done on metal that Alan cuts out for them.  The kids then paint the metal birds and ninjas with bright colors.  As everyone worked on their pieces I snooped around Alan’s studio and discovered an amazing collection of vintage cans and bottle caps.

I asked Alan about the origin of his collection of vintage cans.  He told me, “My work has always included recycled materials. From painting old barns before they are torn down to finding refuse and creating with it.  In the past year I have
become very interested in working with color without using paint.  This means I find materials like old red rider wagons or weathered wood and work with the colors that are already there to create my compositions.  Recently I have found an array of colors in buttons, old tape measures, bottle tops and old steel cans.  I find the steel cans and bottle tops the most exciting.  I can assemble them into anything.”

I wanted to know where he was getting all the old steel cans.  These are not the kind of cans one finds laying around.  He told me he gets a lot of them from EBay, thrift stores or estate sales.  As an artist, I find it very curious and kind of exciting looking at all the cans and bottle tops.  These objects have literally become his paint.  Instead of going to the art supply store to pick up canvas and colors Alan sifts through old thrift stores and EBay sights for his medium.

As Alan and I talked about his work, the kids painted and ran around the yard playing.  Around 5:30 Alan’s lovely wife, Lori, came into the studio with their youngest boy, Kian (1), and let us know dinner was ready. We finished up our pieces and headed inside for Taco Night.  Lori prepared a delicious and well-balanced meal and I was excited to be a member of the family, even if only for one night.  We all held hands as Isabella said grace.  We chatted about the family while we ate.  Lori told me about her experiences home-schooling the kids, working inside the home while Alan holds down a day job along with creating his extensive body of work.  They are an amazing team giving so much to our community through their children and their art!  Thank you Moore Family for allowing me the opportunity to share in the fun.

For more information about Alan up coming show show that opens March 25th, 2012 at the Full Circle Gallery visit the website  To find out more about the Moore family check out these links:  www.themoorefamilyfolkart.comfolkartistalanmoore or sweettatersjunkyardart.

A encaustic session with artist Denielle Harmon

Transcending Decay, encaustic paintings by Denielle Harmon, will be on exhibit at Full Circle Gallery March 30 – May 13, 2012. The opening reception is Friday, March 30, from 6:00-9:00PM.

In early February, artist Denielle Harmon invited me to her studio for an introduction to her newest series of encaustic paintings titled “Transcending Decay.” Denielle best summed up her own collection by saying, “Everything changes, everything becomes decayed. As an artist I want to elevate what others see as decay and use it as a metaphor to show there is a choice in the way we evaluate an experience and choose to fall apart or move past the pain to transcend and turn ourselves into something more amazing .”

As I looked around the studio, Denielle’s process began to emerge. On the porch was a container of rusty nails and bolts, two pieces of plywood, and a large roll of sheetrock tape. Harmon explained how she takes a strip of sheetrock tape, puts it on a piece of plywood then lays the rusty nails and bolts carefully onto the strips of tape, creating a “rust print.” Once all elements are where she wants them, Denielle sprays down the entire piece with a salt water mixture and covers it with the second piece of plywood. The creation is then left to cure for 24 hours.

Finished rust prints are incorporated into her encaustic composition. Some of Denielle’s pieces have components that are sewn together while others are rust prints with layers of wax and rusted objects embedded into them. I watched as she worked on the final stages of a piece, removing the unwanted wax with heat and scraping. It looked like great fun and I was excited to jump in and get creative. It only took a short time for me to realize scraping the wax required a lot of strength and patience. Denielle definitely made it look effortless, but as I always say art is work.

Here is more from my discussion with Denielle Harmon:

Why do you create?

Denielle: “Because I cannot not create. It allows me to process myself and the world around me in a non-verbal way”.

What is your new work about and how does it tie into your past work, which was more focused on realism and the figure?

Denielle: “My past work was about understanding the human experience, about our pleasure and pain. It examined the truth that the more you love the more it has the ability to hurt. This new work is about transcending the human experience. It is about the emotional process of growth and how it takes place in people and in the materials that surround us every day.”

What made you want to switch medium from acrylic to encaustic?

Denielle: “I have wanted to work in encaustic for a while. I got a chance to take a workshop at Studio B this year and that allowed me to grow into the new medium. For some time I wanted to find a way to create dimension and depth in a medium. Encaustic seems like that bridge between sculpture and painting. I am also really interested in using rust as a symbol of transition. The encaustic medium allows me to embed rust prints or actual pieces of rusted material into my paintings. I can build up and break down the surface of the painting like we build up an break down the lairs of ourselves.”

Where do you find inspiration for your work?

Denielle: “Being awake.” The answer made both of us laugh. She continued by saying, “My work is a constant exploration to understand the human condition, life cycles and the collective consciousness. In this new body of work rust has been very inspiring. For me rust has both a literal and figurative meaning. Every experience is a transcendental move. Something we may see as negative or painful may someday be the thing that transforms our thinking or self into something new and positive. When most people look at rust they see decay and breakdown, something undesirable, and through this body of work I am trying to help people see how decomposition is just a shift to a new part of the life cycle; a transformation into something that is possibly more beautiful.”

The Slowest Moving Things: Creatures of Habit

Before the opening reception of “The Slowest Moving Things: Creatures of Habit”,  I got a chance to chat with Kendall Marsh about her newest body of work.  When ask what inspired Creatures Kendall says, “The show is about progress and the monotony of routine.”  Although seemingly contradictory, Marsh’s unique framing of her subjects reveals how progress and routine can often feed off each other; one holding you in place the other pushing you forward.

The theme of Creatures is illustrated by symbols of time and motion contrasted with images of invertebrates.  In Kendall’s own words, “The hash marks symbolize time wasted, the compass is about finding direction, the arrow  represents forward progress and the insect is the thoughtless hive creature.” Marsh’s body of work examines the constant question of whether to move forward or remain in our own habitual cycle.

When asked about her creative process Kendall says, “I start with the background, even if I don’t have an idea yet.  Then I feel a vibe, create a super loose sketch of shapes and go from there. I like what I think about while I am painting.  Its a time to let go, free my mind and find my motion.”  Our conversation closed with Kendall reflecting on those around her by saying, “The idea of creating something others will enjoy is what motivates me to work.”

Kendall Marsh’s The Slowest Moving Things: Creatures of Habit is on display at Full Circle Gallery through March 4th, 2012.  Visit our facebook page to see photos from the opening reception.  Read more about artist Kendall Marsh at .

Thanks to everyone who helped out with the show and a special thank you to Melissa Salter from My Visual Creation and Larry Beat from Bad Habits Lounge Studio for the amazing pictures.