For The Love of Color

There were many lessons I learned from a certain challenging assignment while I was in school. I learned to loosen up, to not put so much pressure on my work, and to experiment with color. My love of studying color stems from this project. What you might not know about my work is that I often paint the first layer of my paintings with garishly bright colors. I’m talking hot pinks, neon oranges, the most awful yellows, and cartoon blues. But then I layer softer colors on top of that. And then I keep layering. The result is a painting that appears soft, but has an inner glow from those first layers. It is through this process that I am able to feel what I am painting, and how people who see my work derive their emotional responses.

Below is an example of bright and loud colors in the first layers that I build on for the finished product: 

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So...clearly the first layers are totally different from the finished painting. I just wish all of you could see this in person, so you could see the effect that first layer has, even three or four layers deep. While the final layer of the blue sky is a more muted cobalt blue, hidden underneath is a glowing turquoise that is so hard to capture in a photo, let alone on canvas. The dark areas are rich and deep, and the lighter areas shine from the combinations of colors built up. This layering technique is by far the most effective way that I maximize the utility of my color palette. And, quite frankly, it is just plain fun to slap nearly-neon colors on a blank white canvas. It's like the secret painting underneath the "real" painting - a secret that I'm sharing with you, and only you! So let's keep it on the DL, ok? Shhhh.....

What draws me most to the subject of color is its endless possibilities. I have had the same set of paints since my first painting class, yet my palette continues to evolve. All of these combinations from the same set of paints?!? Blows my mind. Every time. I often post daily palette pictures on my Instagram Stories, which I find a fun way to communicate the mood of my palette and the tone I am setting for that day in the studio. To me, these images chronicle my color journey, and its fun to see the different color phases that my palette has gone through. There is so much more I want to say about color, and tons more to say about my process, so stay tuned for more to come! 

If you want to see all of these colors in action, check out my latest collection, The Color of My Sky!

NEW COLLECTION: The Color of My Sky

I am so excited to share the first nine paintings of my new collection!
Stay tuned for the next round of paintings, coming next Thursday, June 19 at 9am

This collection of paintings is the deep, long exhale after a period of major life change and the busiest, most jam-packed schedule of my life. With a brain that finally has the space to create again, I found rest in returning to my original inspiration: land, sky, and the wide open spaces in between. I have fallen into rest in these places; they rejuvenate me like no other place can.

These paintings signify a return to an old place in a new personal context. While many things have changed since last finishing a painting, this place has stayed the same. Now I’m seeing it with fresh eyes, and looking even closer into the relationship between the land and the sky. I want to capture the dual feelings of constancy and change, of fleeting moments in a permanent place. The colors of my sky might be changing, but its colors are always beautiful.  

Finding New Words

It’s been a while since I wrote about my work, about my life, about my thoughts. It’s been a while, probably too long. When I had to talk about my work and write about my work in school, these words came easier, and it seemed like I had more to say. It’s funny how that works; the more you talk, the more you have to say.

Maybe I'm just figuring it out? Maybe the past couple of years out of school have been a transitional time, a time where I get to keep making, not really knowing what direction it’s headed, but knowing that I can’t stop or else I won’t be able to start again. It’s the necessity of creating, rather than the need for the finished product. I can’t lose that side of my work! I have been so focused on selling and the post-production aspect of my practice, that it is easy to lose sight of the making itself.

One of my former professor would give us the same challenge with each new semester: make something you have never done before and never seen before. Every time she introduced the assignment, it was usually met with protest and anger. How is that even possible? How are we supposed to do that? But I’m a landscape/portrait/abstract painter! I can’t do something else but that, right?

What I learned to love about this assignment was that it forced me to face my creative fear head-on. I had to face the unknown and make it known. The pieces that I made from this assignment usually did not carry through in theme in the following paintings I made that semester. I specifically remember a time when I made an abstract painting from images off my phone that I’d layered and manipulated. It certainly wasn’t a landscape painting. However, I learned how to layer, to bring parts of the painting forward, to send parts of it back. I learned that I don’t have to work thickly, and I stopped using the palette knife as a primary tool for globbing paint on the surface of the canvas. I could work in thin delicate layers, using unexpected colors on the first layers, so that they would have an impact from underneath once I layered more paint on. The second painting I made from that semester was the first of my landscape paintings. It was the painting where I decided that, yes, I am a landscape painter! That painting currently hangs in my living room, and will never be for sale. It was the cornerstone piece to my artistic practice for the remainder of my college years, and has carried me through my artistic practice today. 

This assignment helped me find new words to my visual language, and reminds me to always be curious about what I can do each time I pick up my paintbrush. 

The Farm

Capital T, capital F - The Farm. Located in the heart of South Texas, an hour and a half southwest of Houston, it’s set on roughly 80 acres of the the gentlest rolling land. Nearly-historic oak trees and stately groves of pecan trees grow their roots in its ground. And on a cloudless night, the sky is the clearest window to the stars that you can’t find within big city limits. It started as a place where my family could keep their hands busy and scratch the itch to get out of the city. What I didn’t expect was that it would change my life and my artwork in the best way. 

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The Farm came into my life freshman year of TCU. I was a budding art student pushing all kinds of boundaries with my work - cake slices revealing new worlds within! Waterfalls gushing from conch shells! Some pretty earth-shattering stuff, right? Ha. Then I went to Italy for a semester, which I wouldn’t trade for anything, but came back a little tired of cherubs and Renaissance Italian dignitaries, so I started painting abstract paintings.My dad began beekeeping at The Farm, so the honeycomb shape became the basis of this period of abstracts. They kept me busy for a semester, but I knew they wouldn’t be “my thing.” Still, slowly, The Farm was creeping into my work. 

Then junior year came. I had to start considering how I was going to take my art major into the real world. I started getting scared, nervous, and unsure. During this time of uncertainty, I started going to The Farm more often. It felt safe and certain, like home. I was drawn to the wide skies, the changing light, and how the same place can look different depending on the time of day, the weather and the temperature. 

Curiosity got the best of me, and I used the photos I took at The Farm back to the painting studio, finished my first landscape painting, and haven’t looked back since.

Since that first landscape painting, a lot has changed: I graduated, I chose to pursue my art seriously, and I got married. But one thing that hasn’t changed? The Farm. The magnetic pull of the slower pace, the fresh air, and the big Texas sky always draws me in at the right time. Painting my favorite views from The Farm became my escape, so that, even when I was in the city, in the thick of whatever was happening, I could look at the painting and take myself back to that place and time.  

And that’s exactly what I want these paintings to be to whoever they belong to - an exhale, a place of rest. Wherever your happy place is, whether it’s a physical location, a time in your life, or even a person, my hope is that these paintings take you there. Maybe it’s just me, but having a deep longing for somewhere/someone/sometime that a part of your heart belongs to makes day-to-day routines more meaningful. I feel that I’m working towards the day when I can hop in the car and make the drive to a place that might be the middle of nowhere to some people, but is everywhere to me.