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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

One purpose of art

One purpose of art is to preserve experiences and mark time. That is why I like to paint everyday. It captures a moment or an experience for me in a way that builds a story that helps me understand what matters.

In a season of blessings, I want to share with others the creative experiences that I have had. That is why I am opening my studio to friends this Friday for an ornament decorating party. 
If you are in the area and want to drop out of the shopping madness and into your own creative juices, let me know with an email (tillystudio@aol.com). I appreciate the RSVP so I can plan ahead and have enough materials, cookies and cocktails* on hand.

*open to adults and adultish children

Monday, December 10, 2018

I went to the Miami art fairs and all I brought home was some snake oil

All I brought home was some snake oil, a stack of cards, sore feet and aching eyes. But, boy, we had fun!!!
There were so many fairs going on at once, outside the BIG ONE at the convention center, that I had to make some decisions regarding my finances, my tolerance level, and Miami traffic.
Untitled is by far my favorite fair. The tent on the beach glows with diffused light and the art work is smart.
Carl D'Alvia work (its a drawing of one of our sculptures!)

house flipping- a common sight in my neighborhood
burned out rubble of a neighborhood, spelling...

more commentary on Florida real estate?
In addition to clever drawings and sculptures, there was an abundance of good painting. I was intrigued by the works in umber and browns on top of neon yellows and oranges by Karine Hoffman of Galerie DIX9 in Paris. Very beautiful. Yet my favorite works were these crazy clever tight photographs of painted elements arranged with attention to the juxtopositions of shapes, the very edges of shapes forming new shapes, by Erin O'keefe. She calls herself an architect and a photographer and was represented by Denny Dimin of NYC. The work almost took off where de Chirico left off.
Next door in SMAC, gallery from South Africa, were some thickly painted largely smeared portraits by Georgina Gratix of Mexico city. Enjoying her work was all about the viscosity of paint.

There was such an array of materials on display! Miami artist Michelle Weinberg had a rack of bleached jean jackets for sale and for use in a daily collaborative dance performance. She was in the midst of sewing her tattoo designs onto one of them when we stopped by. We had enjoyed her open studio at Fountainhead studios last weekend and it was great to see another side of her art practice.

a series of words cut through almanac pages give new meaning to the map

these porcelain models are absorbed on their cell phones
 Topics such as immigration and technology pervaded much of the works on display. I love the use of different materials... especially the variety of the woven materials. There were woven photographs, woven furniture, recycled toothbrush heads, the plastic bags turned into dresses, and embroidery patches sewn to walls.

A good warning for some of us- but I avoided putting on the ear buds.
After Untitled we lunched with a view of the ocean, and then went into Scope. That fair was full of riffs and humor. My camera started to die, but I did get a few images... I had to wrestle past all the people striking selfie poses with the works.


I had a few "aha" moments... as an artist, as a teacher, and as a human being. I got to see in real life the paintings of Emilio Villalba from San Fransisco who I enjoy on Instagram. I saw art that gave me lesson plan ideas, such as the guy using packing tape on light boxes, Max Zorn in Stick together Gallery. And art that should have been what I was doing like the guy painting portraits out of his ice cream shoppe in BGArt Gallery from Santa Monica! For $80 John Kilduff would "serve up" a custom small 8x 10 portrait of you as an ice ream cone. Apparently he is the host of a TV series called Let's Paint TV. In other acts he paints while running on a treadmill or answering live calls on air. Basically it was a performance and a fun spot for creating a carnival atmosphere in truth.

There was serious stuff to think about such as a lot of art addressing gun control and school shootings. This exhibit gave me pause.


We left the fair in the late afternoon and then found our way, by a few clubs, to my favorite little hotel fair: Aqua. It was dark and the music was pounding. Our feet were starting to really ache. If we didn't laugh we would have cried. At one point we seriously contemplated how we could purchase a $4600 painting by John Sanchez for my son for Christmas. That's when I knew we should go home.
Somewhere along the way we picked up the bottle of snake oil.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

The student art show

At the end of the semester we hang our annual juried student art show in the dining hall for one night only. I have the task of narrowing down to 25 works, something from my 72 students. Each of the four art teachers has 25 student works in a 100 work exhibition. I madly try to cut mattes for the chosen works late into the evening before the event.
When I shared pictures of this on social media I got a lot of love from fellow art teachers. They know the routine! We turn a sows ear into a silk purse and we make timid artists feel grand.
The music and the English department collaborated so we have a variety of performances and poetry readings through out the evening.

The work is hung on temporary walls transforming the usually busy cafeteria into a gallery.


I really am proud of the department and have total respect for my colleagues. They are passionate professionals and we work very well together. It has been a great year so far.



Gellatly, guest judge, with the art department
Here closes the books on another semester. Time sure does fly!

Class act

This has been a week of many, many, art shows... before I forget, even a mini one of my own.
I  was pleased to exhibit a sampling of my teacher portraits last Tuesday night.
Sold one too! (thank you Jay!)
Added charcoal portrait of Jose, a maintenance staff genius at work

Raul liked his colors

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Inspiring teachers

 The Science teachers at the school where I work bring their passion to life in the service of education. I am painting a few of them as a "class act" series. These works are all acrylic on found papers, done in a day or two. There is more... but here is Mr. Moore!
Mr. Moore really should have a TV channel. If only every teacher were as inspiring. He has the constant rapt attention of his pupils. Everyday it is safe to say that he rocks their world in the garden, the kitchen and the lab. He is a magician,... miraculous and marvelous.
Mr. Moore and the middle school garden

Dr Nagel has to share classrooms so I most often see her in the hallways or paths between rooms with her arms full of petri dishes and a microscope. Her love of being outdoors is the inspiration of our new school tree map. When I first arrived, eight years ago, she gave me a tour of the grounds and the names of several iconic new trees entered my vocabulary, such as the Bismark, the Buttonwood, and the Gumbo limbo/Tourist tree.
Dr. Nagel between classes and worlds

Dr. Llinas at the coral tank
Dr. Llinas is the one who nudges the school to higher levels of environmental stewardship. He has us cleaning beaches, composting in the dining hall and even recycling our dry erase markers, and truly...way more initiatives are to his credit than I could list here. His coral lab has half a dozen tanks bubbling with marine life. I often go there with antsy art students to calm them down... and inspire them.
The other Science teachers are just as crazy great. One brings her dog to work and has a room filled with medical illustrations drawn by students. She teaches us yoga after school in there. Another science teacher brings his giant tortoise for my students to draw, (i.e.:live action drawing), and he tags snakes found in the courtyard. He built a butterfly garden and once he and his students released a rehabilitated falcon on our football field. 

These teachers make my working day pretty supurb.
#100favFloridathings  #MyColleagues

Saturday, November 24, 2018

I ask my students to be curioius and kind


Four or five times a day I hear students call out, “Ms. Strauss, How do I make skin color?” 
I have to patiently ask them to look again, look harder, and be more descriptive… What color they are looking for? Then, I must convince them that they will need at least 4 or 5 variations of the pigment to do the form justice…. Flesh tones are the hardest to match and they vary under different artificial and natural lighting options. My students should cultivate a curious attitude when studying skin.
It is hard for them to believe that I don’t have the hues pre-packaged like everything else in their lives. It seems like only yesterday, during the civil rights movement, that Crayola changed their “flesh” colored crayon’s name to “peach”. When did they remove their “Indian red” crayon from the market? No. Now we have to work more and look harder.
We can be afraid of what we do not know and that goes for mixing skin tones as well as for welcoming peoples from different regions of the world with varying pigments in their skin tone.
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Friday, November 23, 2018

Still Time for a Holiday Pet Portrait!

I started 2018,"The year of the Dog", painting peoples pets. It is a lot of fun and I am always game to do more. I am pretty fast and charge about $2 per square inch- working small. Let me know what you want and send me a couple pictures to work from.
Here is one just finished. Between the time the commission was proposed and the time I delivered, the big black cat had passed away and a new kitten had arrived in his place. I thought this caught them both.
see the brush for scale