lara davies

Ahhh, Manet’s flowers and Gauguin’s Polynesia … but with a twist. These “book” oil paintings on canvas are the beautiful work of UK based painter Lara Davies. Here is her artist statement:

“Lara’s work explores the notion of painting as a method of re-portrayal, where layers of removal from the source subject transform it into something with a different, often playful new life as a painting. The environment of the studio is a constant in Lara’s work, and her paintings come from the objects that inhabit the studio alongside her.

Recently Lara has been making paintings of reproductions of other artists’ work from the books that live in her studio. As painters, inevitably we learn from and are influenced by the canon of work which has come before our own, and by making paintings of these paintings, Lara is unapologetically acknowledging these influences.”

Some of Lara’s work is currently in a two-person exhibition, with Eleanor McCullough, showing Arusha Gallery in Edinburgh {shown above}. It closes TODAY, so if you’re in Edinburgh, get over there right now!

scary basement > lovely studio

In early March 2019, I announced my plans to turn our 100 year-old {quite creepy} basement into a fully-functioning home studio. We’ve been in this house for almost seven years, and the “creepy basement” has only ever been used for storage / a home for spiders. I needed more space to work – as my pieces were going from small paper to larger panel – and this seemed like the smartest, most cost-effective way to make that happen. NOTE: I picked the cheapest paneling for the wall and ceiling that I could source! I also did all of the painting myself to bring costs down.

It’s been six months since I said, “Stay tuned for photos”. Okay, it took me a little longer than planned to put this post together, but can you blame me? I have a gorgeous new studio to play in every day!

Anywho, the day has come. These first few photos take you through the evolution from 100 year-old stone foundation and cobweb-covered fir beams, to almost done but not quite:

Gah! Yeah, that was a very exciting month. Poor Eric and John {the two fantastic guys who made this happen}… I was down there every hour or so “checking on the progress”, especially during that custom desk build! She’s a big, beautiful gal and I asked you guys, via Instagram, to name her. There were quite a few contenders, but I had to follow my heart and went with BROAD MAUD. Four feet deep and fourteen feet long … Broad Maud, indeed. Here she is in all her glory:

Oh my word, I love her so much. Now, as a hoarder of art supplies, I had a really fun time getting all set up down there. Eric and John made sure that Maud came equipped with shelves for paper, tools, and other random bits of stuff, and since she’s so big up top {it’s ok, she’s not offended by that}, I have lots of space for brushes, lamps, trays, and a bit of artwork by other artists. During the build, while I was giving sneak peeks on Instagram, the lovely folks at Society6 swooped in and offered to add some art-covered accessories… um, I’m no fool so I said, HELL YEAH:

Boob mugs, badass trays and stylish cutting boards! And, yes, my Creative Juice XXX jug by Canadian artist Susannah Montague is in the middle of everything, right below a ceramic portrait American artist Amanda Smith made for me. Being surrounded by the work of other artists always fuels my creative mojo… that must be ‘the jealous curator’ in me.

Now, while I love Broad Maud, sometimes I need to sit down, relax, flip through old books and, let’s be honest, take the occasional nap. While I’m sure Maud would be happy to accommodate, I’d be worried about splinters. So, since this previously scary basement is kinda giganticI reached out to my interior design friends, The Novogratz, to see if their furniture line could help add a cozy factor to my new space. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I know for sure I didn’t expect desk lamps {basements are dark}, a HUGE area rug {concrete floors are cold}, and a super cozy sectional sofa {sometimes a girl needs to watch Netflix}. Check this out:

WHAT?! I know. They’re a really nice family. Thank you, Robert and Cortney! Hm, I just realized I haven’t named the couch yet. Any thoughts? Cozy Carol? Anyway, the throw pillows, floor pillow and blanket {also a key part in studio-napping} are from Society6. Every item I picked from them features the work of a different artist but, clearly, I decided to keep a black and white theme going – a nice contrast to the colorful paint all over me and Broad Maud.

Now, I’m sure you think we’re finished, but nope. This space wouldn’t be “me” without at least one reference to my favorite movie of all time:

And I put it in a corner! Ahhh, good times.

Okay, that’s it. If you’re still reading, I’ll finish off by saying I totally know that I’m hashtag blessed to have had enough space in my house to pull this off, and I’m super grateful to Society6 and The Novogratz for helping turn a cold, spooky place into a warm, creative studio. I’m gonna wrap up this realllllllly long post with a photo of me getting all zen in the backyard. This is where I go when I’m feeling overwhelmed and just need a bit of fresh Canadian air to clear my head… well, unless of course I’m napping:

Om. Zzzz…

*The photos {except my iPhone “in progress” shots} are by Stephanie Seaton of Unlimited Vision. Thanks Stephanie!

shamona stokes

Gah! So fantastical, and so weird! This is the work of New Jersey based artist Shamona Stokes. I’m going to let her describe it because Shannon’s words are just as dreamy as her sculptures:

“My work is inspired by the imaginary worlds of the liminal state. These are the soft spaces before waking up from a long dream or resting within a deep meditation. In these states things can be askew, colors seem brighter, imaginary friends may say hello. Using ceramics as my primary medium, I create iconic figures: nature spirits, muses, and shadow-things who might live within these realms.”

Sigh. Beautiful. Shamona has a show in Fort Worth, Texas right this very second. “Horn of Plenty” can be seen at Fort Worth Community Arts Center until September 26, 2019.


What on earth are these gorgeous circles that seem to emit some kind of magic? I’m not sure to be totally honest, but the person responsible, French artist Lyès, refers to his work as “celestial wall sculpture”. LOVE! Speaking of love, the message behind his work is a fine blend of “The Energy of Life is in You / Love Will Conquer”. Beautiful! Now, as far as materials go? I believe we’re looking at C-Prints, plexi face-mounted on aluminum panels… with a dash of light-filled magic. Obviously.

rebecca reeves

Okay, you know how they say ‘love can be scary’… yeah, that’s how I feel about the wonderfully weird work of Pennsylvania based artist Rebecca Reeves. Here is part of her artist statement:

“In her current body of work, Reeves considers herself, the “Collector, Protector and the Keeper” of numerous family heirlooms.  Similar to the meticulously detailed Victorian human hair wreaths which represented the family tree; She obsessively cocoons the miniatures in thread in order to contain and preserve. Nearly, suffocating them in the process.” 

Suffocating cocoons. Terrifyingly poetic. She has a show opening in Seattle on Thursday September 12th (5pm) at Ghost Gallery. How perfect is that? 

{Rebecca’s most recent work, and works in progress, can be found on Instagram.}

amy sherald

“Sometimes the king is a woman” … YES. That’s the title of the first painting in this post, and I could not love it more. This is the most recent work of American painter Amy Sherald and if you’re in New York, I know what you’re doing tonight! Amy’s latest show opens TONIGHT, September 10th / 6pm, at Hauser & Wirth. I  have loved Amy’s work for years, and have written about her several times {including having her on the podcast, and oh yes, when she painted the official portrait of Michelle Obama}, and she just keeps getting more amazing. Case in point, here’s why she does what she does:

“I look at America’s heart — people, landscapes, and cityscapes — and I see it as an opportunity to add to an American art narrative… I paint because I am looking for versions of  myself in art history and in the world.”—Amy Sherald

The show runs until October 26th, 2019. GO!

{Bio photo by Melanie Dunea}

mark tennant

Gah! What happens next!? I feel like these paintings, in this order, could be a really good Netflix show. This is the work of American artist Mark Tennant, and I can only assume that he works from random found photographs … but boy oh boy, do these disjointed, yet harmonious, images paint a captivating story of Americana. White picket fence and, well, what might be going on behind that white picket fence! {Can you tell that I’m already planning on binge watching this non-existent show?}

sára molčan

Self-portraiture is almost always a vulnerable endeavor, and that is definitely the case when it comes to the most recent work of Vancouver based painter Sára Molčan. Sára has taken late-night selfies off of the phone, and onto the canvas. Here’s why:

“[She] captures the universal desire to be liked through her large-scale paintings. Using herself as a vessel, Molčan’s work speaks to the careful curation of our own displays of emotions, our imperfect existence, and the ambivalence towards romantic partners in an effort to seem like you don’t care … Drawing inspiration from user interfaces, sexting, and identity play, her larger-than-life selfies demand to be removed from context and placed back in the digital world.”

Her paintings are beautiful, vulnerable, and very candid … and I just chose the tame ones! ps. Don’t drink and text. Happy weekend.

chelsea gustafsson

Damn, I’m a week late on this one. All of these gorgeous oil paintings were part of a show at Flinders Lane Gallery in Melbourne, titled Comfort Kills, by Australian artist Chelsea Gustafsson. Afghans, succulents, pool noodles, and oh so many fabulous chairs!  The show just came down at the end of August, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy these beautifully painted, very cozy, works right now! Here is a small part of the essay from the catalogue that gets into the why behind all of those chairs:

“… For Gustafsson, the chair possesses a warm familiarity, a playfulness and vibrancy that makes them a powerful motif, implicit in the domestic experience. Be it Dad’s favourite armchair, the kitchen stool guests gravitate toward or the plastic chair offered at a friendly backyard BBQ, they each recall social interactions, economic circumstances, daily rhythms, and self expression … they also call to mind frivolous time wasting.” ~ excerpt from essay, written by Phe Luxford.

{Found via Create Magazine’s Instagram}

ps. This is an older painting of Chelsea’s – not included in this show- but I just love it so much I had to include it:

clare szydlowski odom

An art show AND an art challenge all rolled into one? Yep! California based artist Clare Szydlowski Odom stepped up to that challenge by creating 50 artworks in 50 days. I’ve written about Clare’s 2D silkscreens before, but these lovely, beautifully composed houses bring a whole new dimension to her work {see what I did there?}. Not only is there actual folded dimension, but she’s also constantly on the look out for even more than that:

“For the past three years I have been photographing the shadows in my suburban neighborhood in Burlingame where my husband and I rent an in-law unit. This Spring, we adopted a baby boy and on our walks I have continued this practice. The forms of these shadows are visually intriguing, but more interesting to me is the simultaneous sense of presence and absence they project, appearing at once substantial and insubstantial. I am also drawn to the way they mark the passage of time shifting across lawns, sidewalks and on the sides of houses. These shadows have become ghosts of my desires to own a home, to be able to freeze the precious moments of my son’s babyhood and to make the passing of time feel more substantial, something I can hold on to. Collecting these shadows has become a practice in understanding these desires, but also appreciating where I am in the present moment.”

Collecting shadows… sigh… beautiful. Clare’s shadow-covered houses are currently floating on the wall at the Sanchez Art Center in Pacifica,CA as part of their annual 50/50 Show. The show, featuring 50 pieces by over 60 artists*, runs until September 22, 2019. *Art math… that’s over 3000 pieces!