Follow by Email

Friday, February 16, 2018

Velentines Recap

Printmaking set up
I was late this year.
Part of the excuse was another event I got involved with that took most of my creative time.
In the spirit of finding something significant to do for Shrove Tuesday, I found myself working with St Thomas Episcopal church (here in Miami) and Didi Bertrand's Women and Girls Initiative to help traumatized women in Haiti and Rwanda get access to healing, education and leadership training.
I volunteered the art club students and several of my colleagues to make decorations for the tables for an event that would raise money. We had a silent auction, and ate crepes. Didi, a medical anthropologist and the wife of PIH Paul Farmer, shared about the work she is doing and her enthusiasm was infectious. Access to an educatation is vital and life transforming. Changing the life of a woman actually changes the economical status of her family and heals a village. Women are care givers and want to give back.
So that is how I came to draw the image for this years Valentine print. A pencil signifies school supplies, and the heart grows as we work together. I printed it on an assortment of recycled paper scraps, so each one is different, but with the same message. Love is a choice. We can all do it!

Lino Print, edition of 34 plus 4 AP

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Is Painting a window to the world or to the soul?

This question has been on my mind lately as I contemplate painting from "life" , or from a photographic source, or from my doodles. What is it that makes an artist's work valuable?
Coincidentally my lover gifted me a valentine, a hard to find book of David Hockney's works called, A Bigger Picture, that addresses just such questions. Hockney is one of my favorite artists and this is the first book of his I have ever owned. It is a luscious testament to landscape, celebrating an artist's viewpoint in watercolor, oil, iPad drawing and film.

Hockney's Pearblossom Highway is a shifting collage that walks us through the landscape
His digital drawings combine collage and stylus work to create surreal personal landscapes
I would love to own Hockney's Secret Knowledge, a controversial book he produced after years of studying old master paintings. He argues that artists since the 1400's knew of the camera lens tricks, way before the chemical process of photography was invented. After studying perspective and camera lens usage, and acknowledging the use of cameras in much of his work, Hockney, in his 70's, shifted to depicting the landscape through a more eastern perspective of multiple viewpoints, opening up and converging with the viewer.

Look how many brushes!!! Each color has its own...that is how his work stays so vibrant and clean.
Hockney also works from life more, quickly capturing a fleeting season or ray of sunlight and then he returns to his studio to repaint the image from memory. I know from experience that the image changes when working like that. We can not look at anything without bringing our personal memory to it.  And our memory edits and highlights it's own details as part of our selective mental storage process. These works, windows to the world and to the soul, are the true gift of Hockney to us.
Painting a scene he knows well, Totem, but from memory... simplified details, highlights the celestial

I just missed him teaching at CU by 15 years, darn it!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Designing a new website

It seems an unavoidable fact that we all need a website. It is an amazing gift to be able to work in a barn in the woods or in a garage in a stinky corner of a city and still be able to reach people all around the world! I have never made the leap to Facebook, mostly for fear of the "timesink" I see in those close to me who dabble on that platform.
traditional studio tools (sketchbook)
I battle with ideas where to spend my time. It feels so limited.
After painting, teaching, being a good parent and partner, I have not much time left in a day to spend on the computer. (My blog entries have fallen remarkably from my record years ago.) So naturally I viewed rehabilitating my old website (or starting a new one from scratch) with as much enthusiasm as greeting cockroaches under a flickering night light.
(scene from indiana jones)
To the rescue came my dearest friend Michael Conti, a videographer in Boulder Colorado. He is guiding me through the process of updating and redesigning my website. We are going to launch it in two weeks!
I can't tell you enough good things about Michael. He is brilliant, generous, insightful, and compassionate. We met in college, in art class and our friendship has continued to inspire me over the last 30+ years. Currently, Michael is filming and producing a series of films about mystics. He did a film about Saint Hildegard of Bingen and is almost done with a new film about John Muir! Michael has helped lots of artists and business people put their best work on the web. He Check out his skills.  He comes highly recommended.

Stay tuned for mine!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Pet portraits make people happy

The sweet mug of a domesticated animal can soften even the most brittle heart. Our love for dogs, (tattoos, and booze), defies all rationalization. It must lie in a recognition of the limits to our agendas. With a gesture, we can communicate with our pets. They can sniff out if we are hurt or ill. We receive love regardless of our grades, or our income. In their eyes, we can escape politics as usual. We can feel accepted for who we are. Ask anyone and they will say their pet is all about unconditional love...
I have been painting cats, dogs, and now horses for the last few weeks (see my instagram: Tilly Strauss). Some of the pet portraits start on paper that is already painted on, so the background and colors in the edges may seem a bit abstract. Send me an email with the picture of your favorite pet. I am eager to paint more and more dogs before the official start to the Chinese Year of the Dog. You do not have to purchase the painting, as long as you let me use the image and sell it to someone else.
In a few weeks I will be launching my new website:
It will have a store for purchasing small unframed works. I am putting assorted pet portraits there. Please check and see if anything interests you. This is one dogged persuit.
I know that the dogs in our family have all left their mark on me. How about you?

Sunday, January 7, 2018

What is the purpose of art?

linoleum print, Edition sold out
I drag my art tools everywhere, and run to my studio as often as possible in order to hold onto things I love because I know everything, everyone, and every moment is fleeting. Above all else, I fear that I have a bad memory! I can't even remember, without notes, what I was doing this day last week, last month or last year. By tracking and documenting the details of a day, I feel more whole. I am marked in a spot and it is proof I exist. It must be different for the collector.
Taking notice of details and highlighting something artistically brings out beauty and preserves an experience.
For the viewer, art can be where you feel welcomed and where you can pause on your own journey.

When my mother was moving out of her home and we had crated, packed, loaded into storage almost everything, she spontaneously gave several of my works (from her collection) to the moving men. The pieces, made in my youth, felt singular and rare to me... connecting me to a timeline. They were posts for me to check in with whenever I visited her. They were also nicely framed and she thought, in her usual generous manner, that the young men could use some good art. 
New Year's Chair with Mother's Hourglass, drawing on paper, 2018
Initially I had a hard time (I cried), because I was struck with a fear that those years, those memories, were now lost. That isn’t true. I still have the memories, but now the gentlemen collectors have the signposts.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Is world peace too much to ask for?

As artists, one of our jobs is to show others the dream and to manifest a potent desire to make it a reality. So... I am unapologetic about calling for every wishbone cracked, every fallen star, every stray eyelash, every birthday candle blown and every other wishful opportunity given, to be the doorway to world peace.
My sons probably tire of me. They collect guns. But ironically it is in their faces that I see the urgency of my request. It is their beautiful spirits and the miracle I know involved in their being that makes me ask for the silly, seemingly year-2017-unrealistic-world-peace.
I am not going to talk about the American president. Or the obnoxious GNP of the USA.
Instead I will talk about the beauty of new babies- grandchildren.
And of poets... playful lovers who remind me that world peace begins in our own homes.
 Thank God for music, poetry and art and roofs over our heads. And let there be world peace!
#worldpeace #guncontrol #motherson #poets4thePeace #militarygames #militaryhistory

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Six words for the end of the year

 small painted magnets
Suspended between Christmas and New Years Eve, I ponder the gift of being present. First, I take the opportunity to truly rest. Then, I notice what is outside, this glorious earthly paradise. (Best time of year to be in Miami!)
My perception manifests my faith. It is all connected!

If I added more words to this period between years, they would be:
...............   reflect
digest ..................
...............................   embrace
and laugh  ..................

Do you agree?