Barnyard Totem

Barnyard Totem

It started with a board.
Just a plain hardwood plank.
Measuring 7.5 inches by 86 inches.

I found it abandoned in the garage when we first purchased our home.
Everything else left behind by the previous owners was pure trash.
And treated accordingly.
But there was something I liked about the board.
So I wiped it clean and set it aside.

About two years ago,
I used the board as part of an obstacle course while playing agility games with our beloved Barkus
(then a complete puppy terror).

Once we tired of our game,
I once again tucked the board away.

Fast forward to the present.
I’d been reading up about totem poles.
One article mentioned that totem poles were sometimes created to commemorate an event.
Hmmm… I liked the idea of that….
Suddenly I knew what I was going to do with that old board

Images from Barnyard Totem by Val Chan (2019)

My brother and his family were visiting for the holidays.
I would create a totem pole to represent us and how much fun we had together!
We each chose a barnyard animal as our totem.
The kids drew a rough sketch to get me started.

It’s always sad when the holidays draw to a close.
And lonely to say good-bye to family.
But I tell you what,
working on this goofy mixed media “totem pole” really extended the Christmas time fun for me.

In case you’re wondering:
I’m the goat (tough and stubborn).
My husband is the herd dog (because he takes care of us all).
E is the bull (he’s a big dude in his dreams).
Si is the clever pig.
My brother is the workhorse.
His wife is the farm cat.
My niece the lovable silly green chicken.
And our three dogs are represented by the onigiri shaped mice

Mina’s response to last night’s instagram post showing the completed “Barnyard Totem,”
“My CHICKEN!!!!!! I love it!!”

My family.
I love them.
And it cracks me up to show my affection through this medium.

Boro Boards

Boro Boards

Gallery C3 2018 Intersection Show

Here I am again.
Same puzzled situation as last month.
Where did the time go?
And now we’re just three days out from Christmas.

It’s been a busy month.
But, frankly, I can’t pin point exactly what I’ve been busy with.

There’s the daily mom stuff.
And the house chores, of course.
Plus I’ve been hitting the gym quite a bit.
When faced with the choice between art making and Christmas crafting,
I confess to choosing Christmas crafting every time.
It’s been a really great season of making garlands.
Fabric garlands.
Multiple long strands of felted beads.
And even a day given over to folding and stringing origami stars.

But the art.
Well, there’s been a little hiatus from the art.
But I do have this latest series to share with you;
Created for our annual Intersections show at C3 Lab.

“Boro Boards”
Mixed media on oak boards.
I sure had a lot of fun making these.
And was really pleased at the reaction from folks during our show

“Boro Boards” by Val Chan (Mixed media on oak boards)

So actually, I did do some art this month!
Just not as much as I should have…
That’s it.
I’m making my new years resolution now.
For 2019:
A little more discipline.
A little more art.
Plus, a weekly update to you.
And now I’m off to tag some gifts and drink some cider.
Wishing you the merriest during this holiday season!

Thanksgiving… Already?!

Thanksgiving… Already?!

My C3 Lab studio art wall featuring a current work in progress: The Grid” – hanging on the lower right corner

Here’s a statement that puts panic into my heart:
Thanksgiving is next week.
You know what that means, right?
It means Christmas is barrelling down at us.
And I’m NOT ready!

How did I lose October?
And the beginning of November to boot?
One moment, I was chugging along to meet September deadlines.
Then I took a short hiatus to visit my family.
Made a few Halloween arts and crafts.
And then… what?
I zoned out an entire month?

That can’t be right.
I’ve really been working on all sorts of things.

“The Grid” for one.
A series of small mixed media pieces on 6-inch by 6-inch cradled artist board.
My ultimate goal is to create & hang 99 pieces.
I completed 45.
Overcame my fear of power drill and actually hung up 36 of the pieces.
So that’s something, right?

Got a top-secret project in the pipeline.
Can’t tell you about it now,
but it’s another time consuming obsessive-compulsive type thing.
Exactly the stuff I like.

Made a crazy wig for myself out of all the skeins of black yarn folk keep giving me.
Attached a hand sewn felt crow to the top of it.
Wore it proudly for Halloween.

Crocheted a half dozen pumpkins.
And am currently preparing madly for this year’s upcoming
Small Business Saturday at C3-Lab.

So you see?
I didn’t exactly “lose” October.
I think all the creative days just sort of fused together into one big making bonanza.

But it’s still a shocker to realize that…
Next week IS Thanksgiving.
So  let me wish you a very happy turkey day.
Eat lots.
Take a nap.
And thanks for checking in with me.

In Series

In Series

I’ve been blogging only sporadically.
Part of the reason is because of Instagram.
(Sure, let’s blame social media)
I snap a pic when the mood strikes.
Write a one-liner.
Hashtag it.
Hit post.
Near instant gratification.
Easier and faster than blogging.
With the upside of potential “likes” from friends & followers.

My other reason for being an infrequent blogger?
Because I can either make art OR talk about making art.
I’m just not skilled enough to do both.
Add to that a new method of creative madness.
Working in series.

A few favorites from #the100dayproject

I’ve always liked things in multiples.
For example, I don’t want to buy just one of something.
I want to buy a whole set.
Then I want to take it home and line it up just so.
I figured it was part of my obsessive-compulsive leanings and went with it.

This past spring/summer, I participated in #the100dayproject.
Quite frankly,
It made me a little nutty to crank out a mixed media drawing a day for 100 days straight.
But thanks to those OC tendencies,
I powered through those 100 days.
And in the process learned that my attraction to multiples carried over into my art.
It was a real a-ha moment.

I decided to shift my focus from stand alone pieces to series of smaller works.
So here’s some of what I’ve been chipping away at since.

Poppets 2018 (Ink on collaged 8×10 inch canvas)

The poppets are goofy little Halloween figures that are supposed to be cutely-creepy.
They crack me up.
A bunch of the 2017 poppets sold immediately.
I rather miss them.
So I made a new set for Halloween 2018.

“Round and Round” (mixed media on 5×5 inch canvas)

I’ve spent the last two years focusing on oil painting.
But over time, realized that oil paints don’t exactly play nice with other mediums.
More and more,
I’ve been itching to experiment with mixed media.

“Round and Round” is a 10-piece mixed media series
on 5-inch by 5-inch gallery wrapped canvas.
Though I’m quite pleased with result.
I wanted to upgrade from canvas to cradled artist board.

Round 1 for “The Grid” (mixed media on 6×6 inch cradled artist board)

Here’s Round 1 for my next series, “The Grid.”
I’m very satisfied with the clean look of the 6-inch by 6-inch cradled artist boards.
And I LOVE playing in mixed media.
Round 1 consists of 9 pieces.
I’m planning at least 9 more rounds to form “The Grid.”
Like I said,
It’s a whole new direction in my method of creative madness.
In series.

Cutting, Pasting and Waiting Out the Storm

Cutting, Pasting and Waiting Out the Storm

It’s Hurricane Florence weekend.
I’ve spent the week prepping as much as I could for this.
Grocery shopping.
Hauling the outside stuff in.
Really, for the most part,
just doing the usual stuff that has to get done,
But this week with an edge of nervous energy and tense anticipation.

We watched news of the storm hitting the NC coast and then crawling across the state.
Winds picked up yesterday.
Lights flickered a few times.
Rain hit Charlotte today.
But to our great relief, it appears that the storm is sweeping around us.
The weather will be nasty another few days.
But we are spared the onslaught we feared.
(Though never say never about power outages).

So here I am.
Fridge stocked with food.
Power happily still on.
Family quietly scattered about our house.
One kid drawing.
One kid gaming.
Spouse working out & enjoying some quiet time.
And me in my studio.
Furry baby sprawled sleeping by my feet.

I’ve sorted all my hoarded scraps of paper color.
Tearing some of the paper.
Carefully cutting images from other sheets.
Pondering what’s next.
Waiting out the storm.

100 Days of Learning

100 Days of Learning

93 days ago, I joined #the100dayproject on a whim.
I happened to see a friend’s post about it.
It was our first morning on spring break vacation.
I had a little time on my hands.
So I thought,
“Why not?”

Days 1, 2 and 3 were effortless.
I was on vacation, after all.
I woke up a good hour or two before everyone else in the morning.
I’d grab a cuppa and draw quietly while I waited for our day to start.
Things got a little more challenging after that.
Around day 10, I started struggling over what to draw next.
I actually felt a bit of despair over the thought of all the days of drawing and posting I’d committed to.
I gritted my teeth and drew on.

I felt a big sense of accomplishment on day 40.
Until I remembered that meant 60 more days to go.

Day 50 came and went unnoticed.

Somewhere between days 70 and 80,
a fellow artist commented that 50 days sounded like plenty.
Why not just go 50 days?
Why 100?

I’m sure the folks who came up with the 100 count had their reasons.
And “100” does have a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
I’d learned plenty by day 50.
But personally,
I’m glad I kept slogging on with 100 days as my goal.
Because a few things didn’t start clicking for me til well after day 50.

I discovered:
I like to draw small objects.
I like mixing ink and watercolors.
I LOVE the look of “dirty” watercolors.
Especially when I layer color on color.
I don’t particularly care for colored pencils.
It’s ok to draw from photos.
But the photos are only a reference.
And I can make changes to what I see.
I don’t have to love everyday’s drawing.
I shouldn’t fuss too hard about what to draw.
I just need to draw.
The most important thing from all these days of drawing?
I’ve remembered I love to draw.

Just a few more days to go til I hit that magic 100 day goal.
I’m not going to say I had fun.
But I will say it’s been a good thing.
And call me crazy,
but I’m thinking to do it again next year.