Landscapes (and Life) Through Lenses

I am an artist.

That’s the answer I give when people say “What do you do?”

But, saying you’re an artist is like saying you’re an office worker.  Or a human.  It’s a ridiculously broad answer – perhaps an answer that, for my part anyway, needs some retooling.  Really, when I stop to think about it, I’m an explorer.  It just so happens that the results of my explorations are ‘art’.

For the last 12 years I have been very interested in place and identity – the ways in which the places we work, play, live, and learn affect who we are, and the ways in which we – in turn – affect those places.  I have painted portraits of people in situ, their settings and their personae inextricably and obviously bound.  I have also painted a wide range of ‘scapes’ – city, land, sky, mind.  Most recently, most of my ‘scapes’ paintings have been of urban settings – or of the odd and uncomfortable, liminal spaces between the urban and the other-than-urban.

 

 

The Edge of That Place

 

Increasingly, however, I’m called to consider my own ties to place rather than the nearly complete lack of ties to place I experienced as a result of my childhood in a military family that moved quite frequently.  I have begun to think about the ways in which the artwork and crafts completed by members of my family for generations before me tie me to Appalachia and, far before the arrival of my ancestors, to places beyond the shores of what we refer to presently as The United States.

What has arisen is a series of works that are initially painted in a traditional manner – oil on canvas or panel – but are then converted to stitching (needlepoint) patterns.  I’m fascinated by what happens to the ‘feel’ of the work when the very masculine form of the initial artwork is translated into what has been considered a very feminine form (needlework).  This line of exploration has led me to consider the ways in which landscapes are gendered – and the ways in which artists’ depictions of them are gendered (and empowered – or not) as well.

LadianneHenderson_NAP_PaintedLadies300dpi

 

In addition to all of this, I’m led to think about the relationship between craft and place – and the gendered nature of craft – even in this day.  So, on I go – exploring.

The next time someone asks what I do, I suppose the best answer might be – “I explore places.”

We’ll see…

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Body. Beauty.

My art practice involves the constant turning over and picking apart social narratives around theories of place, identity, community, and communication. Beauty looms over my illustration and art practice in the form of an irritant, a dystopian ideal, a distant Platonic value, a strange and unsettling shadow, and a tool (weapon?) of criticism, judgment, and justification.

Today I have spent a considerable amount of time thinking through a potential project that will put me up against my own lifelong discomfort with the term Beauty, while engaging others in the area in which I live in dialogue about ideas around Beauty.  In sifting through the myriad notions and reactions I have to the term, I’ve become compelled toward the  dismantling and dissection of the term Beauty through the following questions:

 

  • How are our own identities, perceptions of place, and systems of community and communication tied to definitions of beauty most frequently (and unconsciously) constructed of base arguments from analogy?
  • Is it possible that collective unpacking of elements used to develop these arguments from analogy might make space for Beauty as process of discernment rather than Beauty as an ultimate value?

I can directly tie my need to explore theories of place and identity to the fact that I am the child of a teacher and a U.S. Navy officer – and to decades of constant transience induced by my father’s career. But I want to know how other people struggle with ideas around Beauty, Place, and Identity – and if my own struggles with ideas around Beauty spring from my rootless childhood. I want to know if it is possible to turn dialogue(s) around ideas of beauty, place, identity, and community into opportunities for shared experience.  Toward that end, I’m applying to a program that will allow me the space, time, and resources to bring these questions out into the light and share them with people in and around my city – with the goal of turning the resulting conversations into an illustrated treatise on our city’s ideas of Beauty.  Perhaps, through all of this, through this engagement in dialogue, I’ll begin to solidify my own ideas around Beauty.

After thinking through all of this I worked through my ideas of Beauty as related to the body, for submission to a juried show upcoming at Ciel Gallery in Charlotte.  As I started trying to apply my morning’s intellectual sifting and sorting to notions of the corporeal, I felt it necessary to apply my aesthetic to the figurative.  Here are the results:

11141281_10153049428986705_8221907263207820482_n Henderson_Hers Henderson_His

 

 

 

 

 

 

What a WEEK!

Wow!  Ok – so, I’m going to blop out a bunch of stuff!

First, I got up this morning and realized my client, the Arts & Science Council, published the presentation I illustrated for them on their blog!  How COOL!  You can see it here….

Also, I decided to publish an eBook version of my illustration portfolio on Blurb.com!  I mean – HEY – why not?  The truth behind that whole project is that I needed to update my portfolio, and I decided that actually doing it as a publishing project would be a great learning experience.  Believe  you me, it was just that…  Click on the cover below to see the listing on Blurb.com!

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As if THAT wasn’t enough this week, I dug into the business side of things and started using Xero.com for my bookkeeping!  I know – ACK!  Bookkeeping?!  Yep – part of running a studio is running the business side of things.  And I actually kind of enjoy it – or, well, I enjoy having my business and if I want to keep it that way I have to make sure I do what has to be done from a back office perspective!  At any rate, if you are interested, check out XERO!  I really like it!

Skewing The Masters: A Peek Into Process

So, I am SUPER HAPPY to now be a member artist at Ciel Gallery, a fine art collective in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Immediately after being accepted as a member, I found myself in the throes of preparation for their May exhibit:  Skewing The Masters.  The exhibit challenges the artists to take masterpieces and turn them, twist them, and completely skew them.  For one of my pieces (I’m feeling ambitious this morning…we’ll see…hopefully I’ll get more than one done), I decided to use Paris and Helen of Troy, a piece by Salvador Dalí.  I have loved this piece for…well…not really forever.  Actually, my mom and dad have a copy of this work in their house – and I looked at it the whole time I was growing up – and didn’t think a thing about it.  Here’s an image of that piece:Ladianne_Dali

Recently, however, I really began studying the lines when I was at their house.  So, for this exhibit, that’s the piece I decided to start with.  I am an illustrator – so I opted to turn his drawing into an illustration, and then pushed it further by turning it into a coloring book page.  Then…I went further still and decided to sew the illustration using free motion embroidery on my sewing machine.

The process began with a sketch – my interpretation of the piece with kids as the characters.  Here is that sketch:IMG_6541

Next, I inked the lines of the sketch.  That piece of the process is here:

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Next step was to turn that line drawing into an Adobe Shape vector image.  Then, from that I created this coloring page:

ParisandHelenOfTroySkew copy copy

Finally, I started sewing.  I outlined the image I’d transferred to the fabric, then I started coloring it in using various colored threads. IMG_6578IMG_6588

IMG_6593The final product is here:

TroyandParis

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Fun process!  And I feel the final image invites all sorts of conversations around all sorts of topics…  Pretty cool.

The Studies: Cherries in a Pottery Colander

So, this year I am engaged in what I am calling ‘The Studies’.  They’re paintings that are intended as examinations of various facets of image creation.  This is one of my recent works – from last week.  I’m just going to go ahead and put up the works that are the foundations of this year’s painting journey.

This painting, done in oil on canvas sheet, is from a snapshot I took last summer or the one before – of cherries in a handmade pottery colander I got at an arts festival in Kentucky some years ago.  The colander is sitting on a table on our back deck – and the table is tiled with slate.  This painting is about 9″x12″ as will be most of this year’s works.  Or – well – something on that order.  The focus in this work is on the contrast in textures between the very matte piece of pottery and the shiny cherries.

Here is the sketch I worked up and an image of the final work.

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Cherries in Pottery Colander

Painting The Journey

Here begins a journey!  I’m an artist – and I’ve done LOTS of different things.  They’ve all been enjoyable, but none have felt as genuine and connective as my recently begun process of painting the places, things, and people in my life.  This isn’t to say I didn’t do such things before – on occasion – but my bent was really toward mindscape sorts of stuff.  Abstractions and the like…and while I loved doing those, I’m ready to dig into the sometimes still, and sometimes raging, beauty in the simply ‘encountered’ stuff of life.

The two paintings in this post were done years ago – at a point when I briefly delved into ‘realism’. I really abhor that word – because all art explores the real and imagined all at once (or, well, I could certainly argue somewhat intelligently for such a point).  So, here is the beginning of our journey:

My ex-husband’s coat and shoes.  He didn’t actually have that hat – I added it.  Oddly enough, however, my mother recently gave me my grandfather’s hat – and it looks just like that one.  And it fits me!  Yay!  No, I don’t wear my ex-husband’s coat and shoes.

Coat, Shoes, Hat

This painting was done from an image I found online – of people rushing through what appears to be a subway station or train station.  It’s far from an direct depiction, and I was just working through the idea of people going, doing, moving, seemingly with purpose.  It does remind me of all of the time I spent on the metro when I worked in the Washington, D.C. area.

People Going and Doing