I'm working on another painting about the line between imagination and reality. This is something that has always interested me, but more and more lately I'm understanding what it's all about for me. I've come to believe that, if we practice thinking differently, we will see that the solid walls that form barriers in our lives, are actually bars that we can slip between.
As children, we're so connected to our imaginations. Magic is real, unicorns and fairies really do exist. We're filled with wonder about the world and excited because we know anything is possible. I'm reading "The Secret Garden" to my daughter and it's this idea, that there's something magical and secret lying in wait just behind the wall that I'm really interested in conveying in my art.
As we grow up, we have to learn the rules. We're taught the structure of society, the way things need to be, and we learn our place within that structure. Rules are necessary, of course, but we forget that all things are possible. The rules forms walls around us that we think are real and solid. We live with those wall surrounding us for so long that we aren't able to see any other way. They are our reality.
It takes a new kind of thinking to snap us out of our adulthood, to give us back our imaginations and to realize the rules are just rules, not walls. In fact, if we remember how to truly see the possibilities, how to follow our hearts, we'll find a key. If we listen to ourselves, deep inside, we'll find the door. We can get through the wall, to a secret place that was there all along, just waiting to be discovered.
Here's what I'm reading and listening to as I work on my current artwork.
The Man with the Blue Guitar by Wallace Stevens
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird by Wallace Stevens
Between the Bars by Elliot Smith
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Blackbird by The Beatles
The idea for "Possibilities" came to me while I was on a walk. I was taking a break from another painting of this same girl, getting some exercise and reflecting on things.
I know how important it is to get outside, to free my mind while moving my body. I quite often discover a new perspective on a problem while I'm on a walk or run. So, when a vision for this painting popped into my head while I was walking, I laughed out loud, because how funny - it seemed so, almost predictable, actually.
"Possibilities" in Progress
I thought it might be interesting to show the progression of creating this piece. This is my largest pastel painting to date and it was, to be honest, a little brain-straining. I really enjoyed creating it, but I had to step back and take a lot of breaks from it so I could keep my original vision clear through to the end.
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? 😄
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.
I realize that I haven't been at all outspoken about the body of textile art I'm currently working on. Lately, I've been thinking about what I want to say in my artist statement for the upcoming exhibition of my work. It seems an almost impossible task to get down all the thoughts I have while I work into a one-page, 18-point-font statement!
Yesterday I wrote down a sentence I heard Joshua Johnson say on the radio: "How you see the world depends on where you look." It's a timely quote for me.
I'm interested in viewpoints, and humanity, and creativity, and how we're interconnected, and how we each see the world. Thoughts about these ideas float through my head while I work. I take little notes about things I hear and read, and somehow, they all seem connected to a larger idea I have forming in my mind. It's hard for me to put these ideas into words, so I put them into my art.
Everyone sees/experiences/understands the world slightly differently. I don't know if there is a right way or a wrong way to see things. I think maybe there are just different ways. Together, all these different viewpoints add up to create the world of humanity.
Personally, I think we probably need them all. Who is to choose which ones we don't need? Everyone has a different viewpoint. Everyone has a different opinion.
Maybe, instead of thinking one way is right and another one is wrong - if instead we're open to the 'other' - that is the best way. Listen to other people, learn from their experiences of the world, ask them what they see, what they notice; hear their opinions, respect their viewpoints, be curious. If you can be open to the other, your world can only expand.
I invite you to see my textile art in person at the exhibition "Orient, Disorient, Repeat". The opening reception on May 23rd starts at 5:30pm with artist remarks at 6:00pm.
I hope to see you there! I'll be more than interested in hearing your viewpoint.
What's new in my studio this spring?! While I've been a bit quiet on my blog lately, I actually have loads going on behind the scenes...
Pastel Painting Challenges
Last month I finished 6 pastel portraits in 6 weeks. When I finished that fun challenge, I immediately decided to start another! I zeroed in on one that would allow me more practice with painting landscape scenes. 10 Views of Lake Nokomis is the challenge I settled on; each week for 10 weeks, I am taking a photo of my neighborhood lake. Then, I paint the scene in my studio, using the photo as a reference.
I've completed views 1 & 2, but have gotten a few weeks behind on the paintings. Photos of views 3 & 4 are still waiting to be started! I will continue taking my weekly photos and I hope to eventually get to all 10 views. The 10 paintings will portray the transition from the beginning to the end of Spring.
Textile Art - Jerome Project Grant
I've been working on my Jerome Project Grant since last summer. Now, in 4 short weeks, the exhibition of my work will be opening! This grant has been a journey: challenging, joyful, confusing, boundary pushing. I feel that it has really gotten me to grow creatively and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to do so with this grant!
The exhibition, entitled ORIENT, DISORIENT, REPEAT, opens May 23. My work, along with two other grantees, will be on display at Textile Center's Mondale Gallery through the end of July. Find more event information here.
Mary Pow actively investigates the creative process through her methodical cut-and-sewn color block work where she explores the multitude of viewpoints contained within the world of humanity.
Mary Pow Handbags + Accessories
Good news! You'll be able to shop my collection of textile handbags + accessories at Textile Center's gift shop during the exhibition. I'm not doing many shows this year, so this is one of just a few opportunities to purchase my work!
Pastel Paintings - Recently Completed
I am continuing to love love painting with pastels! Here are some of my recently completed works. You can find more in my portfolio. I've discovered that commissions are one of my favorite things to do! Contact me if you have something in mind.
Thanks for reading!
This week I found out that I will have to wait on painting the twins' portraits due to some challenges with getting reference photographs. Their portraits will come eventually, but they won't be part of the six week time period. I anticipated this happening last week and added another portrait (Abigail) and officially decided to include Matthew's portrait in the group of six.
During week 5, I added more details to Savannah's and Penelope's portraits. I also finished or mostly finished Henry, Matthew, and Abigail.
Here are some detailed photos of the six portraits at Week 5.
All of these portraits will get wrapped up during week six. Then I'll photograph them and I'll reveal the completed set in a week. I'm excited to show you!
Side note: I've added more finished paintings to my portfolio page. Take a look at them here.
My studio is filling up with faces and loads of color! It is truly a joy to be in this space during this snowy-white winter we're currently experiencing in Minnesota.
This week I changed my plan a bit since I wasn't able to start the final two portraits of my Portrait Project as I had hoped. So, while waiting for photos of the twins to arrive in my inbox, I added more details to some of the portraits I already have in progress.
I also chose another subject to add to the project since I was getting antsy without a portrait to start! So, here's my progress on Abigail this past week.
What comes next?
I'm also considering what my next step will be after this Portrait Project comes to an end. I definitely don't want to stop making portraits. I think I'm learning quite a bit, discovering my style, and getting into a groove. I especially love to see the faces as they emerge from a black page.
Please let me know if I can make a portrait for you!
I'm halfway through my Portrait Project! I've discovered that one of my favorite parts of creating a portrait is working out the contours of the face. It's like putting together a puzzle. I feel compelled to keep working on it until all the pieces come together just right -and click!- I've created the likeness of the person. It's very satisfying and challenging all at once.
This week I started two portraits! The two girls are sisters and I want to be sure their portraits work together as a set. It's been a fun challenge to be sure their color schemes jive and their compositions work well as a pair when placed next to each other.
Penelope (and Savannah)
As I mentioned last week, I'm going to hold off on finishing each portrait until the final week of the 6-week long Portrait Project. I want to be able to bounce from one to the next and back again, so I can learn from each one as I go along.
This coming week I'm hoping to start on Jonah and Noah, another pair of portraits! This time the duo is not only siblings, but they're identical twins!
Yes, I'm taking commissions!
I am an artist and designer based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. My specialties are textiles and pastels.