Material Honesty is a term I learned while studying architecture at the University of Washington, Seattle. They were very big on teaching us future architects how to be true to our building materials.
Although I'm not designing buildings now, I do think about material honesty quite a bit while I work. I've come to love the idea of hinting at my process and using materials in the way that works best for them.
Using the idea of Material Honesty in my art
If I'm using pastels atop a colored paper, then when I'm finished I feel that one should be able to determine that I used pastels and a colored paper for the piece.
Here are some ways that I accomplish the idea of material honesty with pastels, illustrated with details from my artwork "I Dare You".
Being expressive; not photo-realistic
For me, my art is about expressing a mood and getting at the heart of what inspired me in a subject in the first place. For the painting shown here, I had taken multiple photos of my model. In one of the photos, her eyes really drew me in. They seemed to be almost daring me, the viewer, to take her on. I absolutely love the strong, determined expression on her face. Of course, the gorgeous sunlit hair only added to my desire to paint the image.
I'm not interested in creating a photographic replica with my work. It's much more interesting to me to express myself and the media I'm using. For this piece, I used a specific set of colors and very expressive mark-making to get those original inspirations down on the paper. In the end, I do feel that I captured the ideas that prompted me to paint this image in the first place.
With each new piece I paint, I'm learning more and more about pastels and their specific abilities. I hope to continue to add to my list of ways to use them honestly.
Of course, the best thing about art is there are so many different ways to approach it! What do you think? Do you think it's important for artists to be "honest" with their materials? When is it fun to fool people by being "dishonest" with materials? 😄
Having a portrait painting commissioned is fun and exciting. The process shouldn't be stressful! If you'd like me to take photos for you, I offer a convenient photoshoot option for Standard Portrait Commissions. If you'd like to use your own photos, here are some helpful tips to make choosing a reference photo easier.
How to choose a Reference Photo for a Portrait Commission.
1. It is best to choose a photo where the subject looks most natural.
2. Look for a photo where the camera caught the subject unawares. A natural expression when the subject looks most like themselves is best.
3. Do not choose a photo where the subject is smiling "cheese!" for the camera.
4. Consider a photo where the subject is not facing the camera straight on.
5. An angled face, an interesting expression, and good lighting is great.
6. You do not need a perfectly framed head shot. I will crop your photo and change the composition.
7. Most importantly, be sure the subject is clear and in focus. Zoom in on the face to be sure that it is not pixelated or blurry.
Let me know if you have any questions about how to choose a reference photo! I'm happy to help. Contact me here.
If you're interested in having a portrait commissioned, perhaps you'd like to try my new Artist's Choice option. You'll receive an original work of art - and maybe a bit of a surprise, too!
What is Artist's Choice?
Artist's Choice is a portrait commission very similar to a Standard portrait commission, except with less client involvement, and therefore, a lower price!
Artist's Choice gives the artist (me) much more control over the work of art. The client (you) has much less involvement. If you like a deal, you're okay with surprises, and you feel comfortable giving full creative license over to an artist, you'll love this!
What makes it different from a Standard Portrait Commission?
With a Standard Portrait Commission, the client submits a specific reference photo to be used or we start with a photoshoot (the photoshoot option does not apply to Artist's Choice). The client receives updates and is able to give feedback along the way. The client can request a certain color scheme and has the last say on the finished piece.
What is Included in Artist's Choice?
Artist's Choice Portrait Commission includes:
How does it work?
It's easy! All you need to do is purchase the Artist's Choice Portrait Commission listing.
When I receive your order, I will email follow-up instructions to you and we'll get started!
What you will need to provide:
I look forward to creating a work of art for you!
If you're curious, yes I still have MinneBites! But I'm slowly moving away from that product line, which I did almost exclusively for about 8 years. Although I may decide to continue making and selling MinneBites in the future, for now I've decided to concentrate on fine art, both painting and textiles. In fact, I'm getting ready for something new on that end right now - selling at outdoor festivals!
You can find MinneBites: handmade bags with bite in my Etsy shop,
I still have quite a bit in stock, but you may want to shop now for the best selection.
Step three - and very importantly! - I've got to purchase a tent. It'll happen soon. I'm doing research.
Edina Fall Into the Arts
And so! This September, I'll be at the Edina Fall Into the Arts Festival. This will be my first ever outdoor art fair! I'll have a tent full of my new work in pastels, both originals and prints, along with a nice selection of my textile art work. I'm very excited. I'm hoping for nice weather and a great crowd!
Examples of the work I'll have at the festival
I hope to see you at the Edina Fall into the Arts Festival this September!
Find more of my upcoming events here.
I find that I'm drawn more and more to painting people. I've been inspired by a number of photographs taken by friends and family and have used their photos, with permission, to create artworks. However, I believe it's time for me find willing subjects (my own kids really don't like getting their photos taken!) so I can have a variety of my own photo references to work from.
I'm looking for models!
Being a model is fun and easy. Here are some things to know.
If you, your kids, or someone you know is interested in being subjects for my art, please contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I put the final touches on Jonah's portrait today. So, now my Portrait Project "Addendum" has wrapped up and my Portrait Project is officially finished!
Twins Noah and Jonah are a coordinated set of paintings, meant to be framed separately, but displayed together. I focused on capturing their two different personalities, while also having the pair of paintings still match. They are twins, after all!
I kept my mark-making loose and free with this pair. Preteen boys are endlessly growing and changing, and always active. I feel that this loose look showcases the idea that these paintings capture but a moment in time.
Thanks to all of my Portrait Project "Addendum" subjects!
The Portrait Project may be over, but I will continue with portraits. Contact me if you're interested in having a custom portrait painted.
If you'd like to take a look at all of the portraits together, see them in my portfolio.
I'm back at work on my Portrait Project, working on the twin boys! It's going really well and I'm having a wonderful time with them. I'm sure I've said it before, but I have to say it again - I never would have guessed that painting portraits would be something that I'd enjoy this much. But it's true; I love it!
I also finished another portrait in April! So, here's Addendum, Part 1 to my Portrait Project showing my in progress work on these final three.
Noah & Jonah
I should have an Addendum, Part 2 with the finished portraits in about a week!
If you want to find out more about having a portrait commissioned, please contact me or view my commission request page. I'm always happy to chat!
I made it halfway through my goal of 10 pastel paintings of my neighborhood lake before Spring hit me full on - and I took to my garden. :)
Five finished pastel paintings of Lake Nokomis. March 23 - April 24.
All winter I've been planning a huge DIY landscaping project to overhaul my backyard and it was time to start! I love to design, I love to grow things, I love to be outside, and my kids are now old enough to handle themselves for long periods of time, so not much could stop me from getting to it. And after I finished my work for my art exhibition "Orient, Disorient Repeat" - I couldn't focus on anything else but my garden!
Now I've finished most of the planned landscaping and the summer heat has set in, so I'll be back to this pastel project soon. I have three more photographs of the lake in my queue, which will bring my total to eight. Two images short!
These are the next three photos of the lake I plan to paint.
I had wanted to include a sunrise and a sunset image, but now if I do there will be a big gap between the dates. I haven't even been on a walk around the lake since May 20th due to my yard work giving me plenty of exercise!
Oh well, I may just take some photos for those two a bit later than planned. Then I will have my 10 view of Lake Nokomis.
In one episode of the podcast Hidden Brain, host Shankar Vedantam describes a theory called the edge effect, which is the point where two ecosystems adjoin. It's at this location that the most new life forms are created.
Shankar then asks the question: "What could happen when strangers meet?" He explains that interesting things can happen when people from different cultures, backgrounds, and points of view, work together. Just like the edge effect between ecosystems, innovation is more likely to occur when diverse ideas come together. Diversity and creativity go hand in hand.
Photos of "The Edge Effect" in progress.
I've found that I can use the concept of the edge effect on an individual level to spark creativity in my art practice and my life. Simply by doing something different, trying something new, listening to another point of view, or putting uncertainty into my day, can cause a spark of creativity. Trusting that spark and seeing where it takes me is a challenging, but satisfying thing to try. In the past year, I've used these concepts to break things and start anew.
It is scary and uncomfortable to step into the unknown. But it's also exciting. And it's amazingly gratifying to come out the other side and see how you've grown!
Everyone has a desire to be comfortable and safe, but the most interesting things can happen when you allow yourself to be uncomfortable. Open your mind to possibility. Be curious.
I am an artist and designer based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. My specialties are textiles and pastels.