#creative UNblock no.12

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December 1. Wow. We did it. An entire year full of unblocking projects! {If you missed the other projects, no problem, you can catch up right here.} I thought this was the perfect assignment to finish with… it’s from Toronto based artist Amanda Happé, the artist who painted the cover of Creative Block! This unblocking project sums up everything this year has been about for me… making lots of work, not being too precious about it, and sharing that work with others. Well, get ready, because we’re really going to share this one:

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#creativeunblock // december // by amanda happé, pg.113

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“I challenge you to make something and leave it somewhere public — somewhere it might be found. Something not too grand or careful, but honest and perhaps lovely. When you’re creating it, think about one person happening upon it. Make them a message. If you enjoy this feeling of caring about something without feeling precious about it, do it again. And again.”

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Ok, how perfect is that for the holiday season!? When you leave your piece somewhere {exciting!}, post it to Instagram… I want to see where all of your special pieces have been left {I’ll do a big recap post in January}. Hashtag it #creativeUNblock, and as always, have fun!

*I’m in denial about this project being almost over, so instead I’ll spend this month acting like an artsy elf… yes, that might help.





nic annette miller

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Well hello latest addition to my Christmas wish-list! These are the wood-cut print sculptures of American artist Nic Annette Miller. They are “hand printed from an original woodcut onto mulberry paper with oil based ink. The print is then pasted onto 3/4″ plywood and the exact image is sawed out, sanded, wired, and made ready for your wall. Being that each one is hand printed, they all slightly vary from one another.” Hear that, Santa? READY FOR MY WALL.





angela deane

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Oh, these make me so happy… and kinda sad. Found photos starring gouachie ghosts by American artist Angela Deane. All of these pieces are from her Ghost Photographs series. Angela refers to them as “ghosts of moments” – special events gone by which may or may not be remembered fully and or correctly – which is why they make me happy… and kinda sad. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go pore over old family photos and do my very best to remember what was happening and who the hell all of those people are!

{thanks to Carol for pointing me to Angela’s portfolio}





“ufos, diaries & underdogs”

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I don’t know how I did it, but somehow I managed to get American artist Esther Pearl Watson on the podcast. Actually I know exactly how I did it … I asked Martha Rich to ask her for me. Worked like a charm. I have been a huge fan of Esther’s for years, and finally met her a few weeks ago in New York. I was nervous and intimidated… until she opened her mouth. I quickly realized that she was hilarious, really nice, and actually a little bit shy herself. Esther’s story is amazing… she had a very unique childhood, to say the least, and it fuels much of her current work. Anyway, I’ll stop typing so you can start listening. Hit play right up there under “Looking for the Swimming Hole at Dinosaur State Park”, or you can subscribe on iTunes. First up, a few of my favorite pieces from her painting portfolio. Esther refers to them as memory paintings, and I called them “postcards from childhood”:

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Amazing. Instead of sunny, perfect childhood memories, Esther illustrates the darker side… you know, things like “Before the Landlord Finds Us” {you’ll have to listen to find out why there are so many UFOs in her paintings}. Part of the reason I think she’s such a creative genius is because of the way she recognizes / embraces her experiences, good and bad, and turns them into creative projects. Speaking of which, she found an old diary in a dirty roadside gas station bathroom… and yep, she turned THAT into art too. Enter “Tammy Pierce”:

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Creative. Genius. Since that day, years ago in a gas station bathroom, Tammy Pierce has become her own woman. {ps. the real owner of the diary was not named Tammy Pierce… it’s a name that Esther made up from various names found in her husband’s high school year book… and btw, her husband is Mark Todd – another insanely talented artist / illustrator / teacher}. Here’s a little taste of Tammy’s world today:

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Oh Tammy. So many bad decisions. And there you have it… I beat the art history books and got Esther’s story now! It was such a thrill to meet her in person, and I’m over the moon that she said yes to the podcast. I hope you loved it as much as I did! Thanks to Esther for sharing her hilarious, creative stories; thanks to Saatchi Art for supporting the episode; and of course, thanks to you for listening {AND thanks to everyone that’s given a rating on iTunes… ART FOR YOUR EAR is slowly moving up, row by row, in the “What’s Hot in Art” section because of you guys!}

Other people/things we talked about:

Mark Todd  /  Ashley Mistriel  /  Martha Rich  /  Alice Neel  /  ArtCenter College of Design, LA  

ps. I mentioned my brother, playing a hand mirror as a guitar in my “bossy older sister” air band… and should have mentioned that he wrote, played, and recorded the music for this podcast! Another creative genius. Thanks Cam, you’re the best  xo. 





mr. dog’s christmas at the hollow tree inn… and a GIVE-AWAY!

Thank you to everyone that entered the draw for this lovely, heart-warming, made with love storybook! I could only draw one name, and that name is… MEGAN CARTY! If your name isn’t Megan Carty, you can still buy this beauty directly from the Cordes family. Visit their site, right here.

*Stay tuned because I’ll be giving away a little something, via my Facebook page, every Friday between now and Christmas!

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I don’t know about you, but I am in desperate need of a happy, feel-good story… this is it! All of this started with a decades long holiday family tradition, reading a story that is over 100 years old. This tale, titled “Christmas at the Hollow Tree Inn”, was written by Albert Bigelow Paine in 1898. The Cordes family has been reading it on Christmas Eve for generations. Such a shame that it has long been out of print… and so they decided to take it upon themselves to change that! Betsy Cordes, an art director with ideas, business savvy, licensing expertise, and a love of working with artists reached out to American illustrator Adam McCauley {really interesting video here with Adam talking about his traditional “crow quill” ink drawings}. With a lot of love, a truckload of hard work, and a very successful Kickstarter campaign in 2014, they brought Mr.Dog and his friends at the Hollow Tree Inn back to life! Take a look at this video of Betsy and her dad, Jim, talking about the sweet story behind this sweet story. ps. This was their Kickstarter video from 2014, which they finished with flying colors… so no need to pledge. Since this video they’ve printed a second, limited edition, run. Ok, now you can watch it…

Ah, Mr. Dog’s Christmas at the Hollow Tree Inn … I just got a copy when I was in San Francisco a few weeks ago, and it’s absolutely gorgeous! Red linen, gold foil, Adam’s illustrations! Want one? Of course you do! Leave a comment below and I will draw one name on Monday November 30, at noon PST…. and if you don’t win this give-away, you can still order one right here. But be quick… Betsy and her family were only able to print a limited number for this holiday season.





rachel levit

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I wrote about the gouache-dotted painted heads of Brooklyn based artist Rachel Levit almost two years ago. Today, it’s allllll about these ceramic heads, from a series titled, you guessed it, Heads. This entire series was cast from the same mold. For real. Simple, striking, beautiful, organic, and little bit sad … or is that just me? Sigh.

*Photos by Josefina Santos




charles h. traub

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Wednesday work blahs? No problem… these photos, from the 1970’s, of New Yorkers on their lunch breaks might cheer you up! They are the work of Charles H. Traub, from his series quite appropriately titled, Lunch Time. The color, the fashion, the whole “leaving your desk to eat lunch” thing! Ah, I love it all. Who’s with me? Shut down your computer and go outside for lunch today. Thanks Charles… we needed that.

via gothamist





ajean ryan

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“Dimensional drawings”… that’s how Colorado based artist/assoc. drawing professor Ajean Ryan refers to these pieces from her very extensive portfolio. There is something so fun, experimental, child-like about them. Bits and pieces from everyday life assembled into delicate, 3D “drawings”… drawings that have me convinced to drop everything and run to my studio so I can start gluing something to something else!





carlos ramirez

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Has it started snowing where you are? We got the first sugar dusting so I’m already in desperate need of some dappled sunlight shining through flowers… thank goodness for these gorgeous ink and acrylic abstracts by Florida based artist Carlos Ramirez. Sigh. So lovely. Speaking of lovely, I found this video of Carlos painting in his sun-filled studio. Captivating, and strangely relaxing, to watch him transform a blank canvas, layer by layer, into these nature-inspired beauties {I might also be jealous that he’s wearing flip flops}… take a look:





“what charms you”

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Thoughtful, intelligent, and full of great advice. Today I’m talking to Baltimore based artist, educator, and part-time MFA student Sidney Pink. I have loved his weird and whimsical work for years, and, I just recently found out about some really interesting research he’s been doing around “arts entrepreneurship” – standardizing and adding business curriculum to the world of art academia. Clearly I had to ask him about that… and while I had him on the line, might as well ask about the strange characters that make an appearance in most of his drawings. You can listen right up there under that Japanese schoolgirl , or you can subscribe on iTunes. First up, a few of my favorite “Sidney Pink” pieces: some schoolgirls, a business man, and an astronaut… obviously.

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Thank goodness for that lightbulb moment when Sidney realized that he loved white space and decided to roll with it! Gorgeous, weird, narrative… perfect combo. Oh, and among other odd bits {like an octopus}, here are the laser guns I mentioned:

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… and one of my most favorite pieces from Sidney’s portfolio, two girls and a tiger mask:

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Oh, and a girl in a cow mask with laser gun shooting astronaut, of course. I loved his reason for the masks {not giving it away – you have to listen!}. And along those lines, I also really loved his advice for embracing the things around you, objects and experiences that are in your day-to-day life, and incorporating them into your work. Animal masks, for example.

In the speed round I asked one question I knew the answer to. The origin, or inspiration, for his name… current name is more accurate, I suppose. Here’s where it all started:

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Reptilicus by Sid Pink. Such a good story… again, you have to listen! Ah, good old speed round comes through again. Thanks so much to Sidney for all of his great advice and wonderful perspective on life as an artist; to Saatchi Art for supporting the episode; and as always, to you for listening. I’ve already got the next episode ready to go … it will be up next weekend!

Other links from our discussion:

AKIMBO Dance & Movement Art Festival, Baltimore 

The Critical Response Process by Liz Lermon

Society for Arts Entrepreneurship Education