medium /// contemporary

“where our happiness lives”

The title of this episode sort of says it all. Following what excites you / what makes you happy, will create work that excites you / makes you happy… and for Los Angeles based artist Michelle Kingdom, that happens to be telling stories with thread. I already admired her work so much, but finding out that she’s not only a well-known contemporary artist whose work is shown in galleries all over the world, Michelle is ALSO a full-time preschool teacher and the mother of a teenage daughter?! Well, the admiration went through the roof! When does she sleep? Apparently, she doesn’t. Listen right up there under “Life Will Divide Us”, or you can subscribe on iTunes.

First, just a whole bunch of Michelle’s work that I love… plus closeups, because who doesn’t wanna see closeups!?:

Yep. Those stitches, the stories, all of the stuff. Love.

Next up, this is the benefit of following Michelle on Instagram… you get to see everything that goes into each meticulous piece:

Seriously, I don’t know how she has the patience to do this kind of work… but I’m really happy she does!

You know who else is happy? Pillow Talk, the band that used “What Is Done Cannot Be Undone” for the cover of their latest album:

So. Cool.

Also cool {and admittedly a personal dream of mine}, a full feature in Hi-Fructose Magazine:

Gah! Ridiculously cool.

Now, I think this is so important to show, and so great that Michelle has these pieces on her website. These are some of her older works – the pieces she mentioned that were stitched onto little bits of silk and other random fabric {and shown to no one for years}:

Oh, so fascinating to see where she began her artistic journey, and my goodness, how far she’s come!

And finally, I obviously had to include the red Mary-Janes, and maybe just a couple of photos of Michelle in action too:

Love love love. Gigantic thanks to Michelle for taking time away from her insanely busy life to talk to me; thanks to Saatchi Art for supporting yet another episode {FYI: Saatchi’s hosting “The Other Art Fair” in LA this weekend so check it out if you’re in town}; and big old thanks to you for listening. There will be more Art For Your Ear next Saturday.

ps. Also, a super huge gigantic THANK YOU to my amazing husband/producer, Greg, who edited this podcast from a hotel room in Toronto so there’d be an episode this weekend! xoxo

Other links:

  1. Michelle’s show in New York at Foley Gallery, April 4 – May 13
  2. Michelle on Instagram


vincent xeus

Oh, so dreamy. These ice creamy-colored oil paintings are the work of China-born, California-based artist Vincent Xeus. All of them have a old meets new feeling… perhaps this is why:

[via Artsy] “Vincent Xeus’s atmospheric portraits are driven by a reverence for Italian and Dutch Old Master paintings as well as a desire to challenge classical constraints. “I loved their traditions and I had an equally strong desire to break away from it,” he has said of 16th- and 17th-century artists. “This conflict gave me struggle, and the struggle kept painting alive for me.” After immigrating to the United States from China to pursue a career in architecture, Xeus shifted his focus to oil painting. In portraits of historical figures, cultural idols, and personal friends, Xeus combines traditional techniques such as impasto and chiaroscuro with bold strokes and idiosyncratic details that disrupt otherwise classical compositions.”

Beautiful. Happy Friday.

ying chew

In. Awe. This is the elegant, meticulous, and kind of haunting work {hand embroidery, petit point on cotton} of Australia-based artist Ying Chew. All of these lovely faces look like they have stories to tell … and quite a few secrets to keep. Beautiful.

max seckel

Now this is my kind of mess! Neon tape, bright orange construction cones, and the greenest plants I’ve ever seen. These paintings {acrylic, gouache, latex, and spray paint on canvas} are the work of Swiss born, New Orleans based artist Max Seckel. Here’s where these crazy worlds come from:

“My work aims to explore my own reactions to and perception of the world surrounding me. Informed by memories, dreams, conversations, and just plain looking around and being I assemble a world constructed of absurdities and references. Objects are clustered together and arranged with little respect to context, intending to create a sense of wonder and confusion as the viewer works to make sense of the situation presented.”

Wonder and confusion, indeed. Love.

david wightman

Acrylic and collaged wallpaper on canvas. I thought I should say that right up front since my first question was, “what is that!?”. This the unconventional landscape work of UK based artist David Wightman… now, if I could find a lemon yellow waterfall to jump off, my summer vacation would already be in the calendar!

ps. Some of David’s work is available via Rise Art.

kaylee dalton

Encaustic monotypes on paper… PLUS a whole bunch of layers of mixed media goodness on top of that! This is the work of American artist Kaylee Dalton, and this is her description of why she does what she does:

“My work is a whimsical interpretation of the garden landscape. A focus on the fascinating consistency of new plant growth and the expressive characteristics natural forms exude. Abstracting the intricacies of leaves, blooms and the unseen world beneath the soil of roots and earthly formations. Building up layers of encaustic, while embedding watermedia painted papers and textiles, I strive for strong textural differences reflective of the various surfaces found in nature.”

Nailed it. Happy Monday.

“use it or lose it”

So, today’s episode is kind of insane. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I’m sure you’ve seen the recently revealed official portrait of Michelle Obama. I honestly can’t believe she made time to talk to me, but yes, Baltimore based painter Amy Sherald is my guest today. We definitely talked about the piece of American history she just finished painting {no pressure}, but I also wanted to know everything that led up to this exciting moment in her life. Amy and I are talking about her original plan to become a doctor, the years she worked as a bouncer at a bar, and how she found the path to her own very unique style. Listen right up there under “LIGHT IS EASY TO LOVE”, or you can subscribe on iTunes.

First, a few of the costumes we were talking about. Let’s start off with the unicorn equestrian that I obviously had to bring up:

The queen is fantastic! And, I think that last one is a costume. I hope.

Next, just people being people… in a stunning, engaging, brightly colored, Amy Sherald kind of way:

Seriously, she is so good. That final piece above is the ten-year-old we mentioned, Amy’s youngest subject so far.

Oooh, and this is “Miss.Everything”… and she really is:

This is the painting that made Amy the first woman to be awarded the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition grand prize. That close-up! Her skin is gorgeous. It’s so soft-looking, I can hardly believe it’s paint.

Speaking of soft skin {according to Amy’s sister}, here is the official portrait of FLOTUS, Michelle Obama:

Sigh. Ok, I already loved this painting so much, but hearing the behind-the-scenes story directly from Amy made me love it even more. The reference to quilts {Gee’s Bend}, Michelle’s elegant pose, and again, that lovely grey-scale skin… beautiful. All of that work – the selection process, choosing wardrobe, taking photographs, going back for more photographs, and then, oh yes, painting a portrait to be hung in the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian as part of American history – definitely worth some celebrating:

And, clearly, I’m not the only one who’s in awe of Amy’s work. A two-year-old named Parker is mesmerized as well. She thinks this is a painting of a queen. Rightly so.

Finally, I can’t finish the post without this:

Awwww! I’d warm up his food too. Thanks so much to Amy for taking time out of her insanely busy life to talk to me {enjoy those margaritas, Amy!}; thanks to Saatchi Art and Create Magazine for supporting the episode; and thank you for listening. There will be more art for your ear next weekend.

Other links:

  1. Amy on Instagram
  2. Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis {Amy’s show in May}
  3. Hauser & Wirth, New York {2019 show}
  4. The soon to be historic photo of Parker & the Portrait, snapped by Ben Hines


amy ross

Ah, the wonderful world of Boston based artist Amy Ross. I wrote about her years ago {2011 to be exact}, but just stumbled onto a few of her latest nature-inspired collages. Oh I love those mushroom people… but wait, ocean creature people? How is a girl supposed to decide!? Too close to call. Happy Friday.

{via Walker Contemporary}

julia hall

Doesn’t this immediately transport you to your favorite gallery… well, a gallery for those of us with a penchant for people watching, that is! This is just one series in the lovely portfolio of UK based artist Julia Hall. Ahhh yes, there’s nothing quite like sitting on a quiet gallery bench watching people from all walks of life wander by … add a little eavesdropping and I’m totally in. Here’s to women artists painting women looking at paintings… Happy International Women’s Day!

ps. I also want to mention Julia’s latest, and very powerful, series titled “If Not Now When”. Julia has been painting snippets from “the media conveyor belt, and the slow, rigorous layering of oil paint solidifies the moment, giving longevity to an otherwise fleeting event.” I was going to write a whole post featuring everything in this series, but to be totally honest, I’m having a really hard time with the constant stream of news, fake or otherwise, that we are constantly bombarded with. I find it absolutely overwhelming … I’d much rather be people-watching in a beautiful gallery. That said, I love this piece… in an “Oh no, please make it stop” kind of way. Also, it shows off Julia’s insane painting skills. Keep an eye on this very powerful ongoing series via Julia’s Instagram feed.

lauren munns

“Pink Blots” … these are just a few of the dreamy, female-inspired collages from this ongoing series by Brooklyn based artist Lauren Munns. What do you see in these Rorschach-esque pieces… you know, besides pelvic bones and gold glitter. BOSS, indeed ♥