From Above, Alone

I was finishing up From Above, Alone for a personal art project when Illustration Friday’s topic for the week, Lonely, showed up in my email. I don’t submit often to IF because I’m usually too busy working on something else, but this seemed like a serendipitous perfect fit. Watercolor, ink and graphite on hot press paper.

From Above, Alone is a companion piece, albeit a sad one, to From Above, a painting I created in 2009.

If you’re a Facebook user, you can follow me there: The Gretchen Show on FB. 

A chirping chorus

“A chirping chorus wakens Annie” – a full color illo from part three of Douglas has a Dilemma. You can read some of parts one and two  here and here.

Douglas has a Dilemma, my illustrated love story for adults, has grown since its inception in the summer of 2009. Two years ago I was fortunate to be signed by a great lit agent. Since then, with her guidance, I’ve been rewriting, editing and sketching to prepare my small book for submission to publishing houses. This illo is one of the final (I hope!) steps.

You may also be interested in my blog, Half Agony, Half Hope, an illustrated memoir of thwarted love.

Library Freak – because books are badass.

I am a serious book-loving artist and a proud library freak. Art and books are two of my biggest passions. When I can combine my love of both, as in this bookmark, it makes me very happy.

I’m also a bit of a Luddite when it comes to books: I like to read them printed on paper. I love the feel of a book in my hands, its heft or lightness. As precious as they are to me, I don’t treat my books very well. Dog-eared pages abound in my favorite ones even though I am a collector and committed user of bookmarks. Sometimes you’ve just got to turn down the corner of a page. I do try to resist that impulse with library books, although I’m not always successful.

Books are badass. Go read one. And if you’d like a library freak bookmark of your own, you can buy some here: Library Freak bookmark.  Or stop by my place this Saturday during the Oak Cliff Studio Tour  and pick some up then.

Everyone loves a Giant Parade

photo courtesy of Willie Baronet

I’ve not posted here for some time because, well, I’ve had my hands full with giant puppetry. Yes, that is correct. In late January, I was selected by La Reunion, a Dallas arts organization, as one of 15 local artists to create massive puppets for The Parade of Giants, one of several signature events to commemorate the opening of the new Margaret Hill Hunt Bridge that spans from downtown Dallas to West Dallas. For the better part of 6 weeks, I’ve been pretty much immersed in building a very big puppet. How big? About 14 ft.

Bonnie in front of the Margaret Hill Hunt Bridge - photo courtesy of Jeff Baker

The puppets represented West Dallas notable figures; most were honorable citizens, a couple weren’t. I was happy to have one of the latter: Bonnie Parker, the notorious bandit/poetress from the 1930s, who, with her partner Clyde Barrow, remains infamous to this day.

The event was designed as a community affair to bring awareness to West Dallas history, so each artist was teamed with a West Dallas organization. Mine was The Fort Worth Avenue Development Group and they are a great bunch of people. I couldn’t have built Bonnie without their assistance and enthusiasm. I documented my progress in photos on my facebook art page, The Gretchen Show, so hop over there if you’re interested in seeing how she started as nothing more than a humble piece of cardboard and some bamboo poles.  This is a great video clip from the Dallas Morning News of the parade itself. See more of Jeff Baker’s work here.

photo courtesy of Jeff Baker

The weeks of preparation and the parade itself were an inspiring experience for me. To see all of the artists’ and volunteers hard work come together in a visually dazzling procession, displayed against the magnificent backdrop of the Calatrava-designed bridge and the Dallas skyline, was a once-in-a-lifetime event. Thousands of people lined Singleton Avenue and the bridge itself; to parade my artwork down the middle of it all along with the other giant puppets, artists and volunteers and see so many delighted faces was a thrill and an honor.

Many thanks to David Lyles, Catherine Horsey, Nicole Horn, Janet Longstreth, Jan and Richard Doherty, Jennifer Snow, Katherine Homan, Ken Smith, Deborah Carpenter, Savannah Deering, my mom, Annie Byrd Goetz, who crocheted Bonnie’s giant beret, and Ron Veech, the brave man who actually carried Bonnie on his back (under her skirt!) for the better part of two hours; having a real person walk the puppet brought her to life.

On the shelf

It’s fun to see Garden District Bloody Marys (for which I created the brand image of Mary) showing up on retail shelves. This particular shelf is at Bolsa Mercado in the cool neighborhood of Oak Cliff in Dallas, Texas. To read a bit more about Mary and see her in color and some seasonal getups, click on over here.

What’s in a name?

I’ve been thinking a lot about iconography since my last post, where I discussed the symbolism in Renewal. I love symbols, signs, icons and pictograms and incorporate them often into my work but I don’t point them out. I like leaving them as little secrets for viewers to discover on their own.

But I do always sign my work and that is never hidden, although it is discreetly placed. Signatures are symbols of ourselves. An architect friend’s signature is completely unreadable as his actual name but is entirely recognizable as his personal mark. I have rather lovely handwriting ; ) and like the signature I use for my art but started thinking maybe I should also have something a bit more distinctive, like Albrecht Dürer’s famous monogram.

Image

Or I could do a Prince, discard my name and become known only as a symbol. But no, I’m too fond of Gretchen (which has its own richness in symbolism and meaning). Maybe I just need a chop (an identifying symbol used by artists in Eastern cultures) to accompany my signature. These are the symbols I’m considering: the alchemical marks for mercury and the astrological sign for Gemini. Why? Because I like the confluence of their meanings in the framework of my life. And they look cool. Plus curvy lines and little devil horns. An abbreviated summary: Mercury rules Gemini, which I am; although I am not an ardent follower of astrology, I do identify with my sign’s most common characteristic of duality, which appears even in my initials.

Fun to consider, but I will continue to sign my name as I do now (I occasionally sign with double Gs, see above) and be happy to insert my secret symbols into hidden spaces in my art. Or right out in the open.  Keep a look out.

Art for a new year

Symbolism plays a big part in my life and my art (yes, I’ve got a little of that hippie thing going). Celebrating a new year is in itself a form of symbolism. It represents new beginnings and hope for a better future. Life is constant renewal and we have the opportunity to renew and reinvent ourselves every day.  So, in this piece to mark the beginning of 2012, I incorporated some of my favorite icons to express that idea. Butterflies are symbols of metamorphosis, renewal, reincarnation, Psyche and the soul. The moon represents the feminine spirit, resurrection and the cyclical nature of all things. The fish is a masculine symbol and stands for the life-giving properties of water as well creativity. Circles have no beginning or end and therefore symbolize eternity and the infinite. I threw in the alchemical symbol for mercury to represent myself.  I won’t elaborate on that. ; ) Prints are available here. 

May you have a creative and abundant new year.

Latte Lounge

Yes, Melissa, there IS a Latte Lounge!  This commissioned piece has a great story behind it. As I love my art to be narrative, it was a joy to create.

My client and his wife met online several years ago. After a few emails and phone conversations, they agreed to meet for coffee at a central location, as they lived in cities about 30 miles apart. D. looked up coffee houses in the mid-city, picked the Latte Lounge and sent the info to M. The appointed time came and passed. M. was desperately driving up and down and around the given address but no Latte Lounge, as was D. After multiple, harried cell phone calls, they finally met (for the first time!) at a corner gas station and went on the hunt together. Alas, the mysterious Latte Lounge was never found but Cupid’s shot was straight. The story has become part of D & M’s family lore and I was honored to put it on paper.

I like incorporating arcane details in my illustrations and paintings; there are several in the Latte Lounge, including Spike, the lizard with the mutated tail. Watercolor, gouache, colored pencil and ink on hot press Arches paper. 16″ x 12″.