Last year I was asked to participate in a group show at Museo Gallery, where we were asked to pick a quote from a Shakespeare play and depict it visually. I chose the quote "If I be waspish, best beware my sting" by Katherine from "Taming of the Shrew".
I enjoyed painting her so much I decided she needed a friend, another angry female friend: and Ophelia from Hamlet joined her. But only two paintings a series does not make: so I just completed the angriest of them all: Lavinia from Titus Andronicus.
So we have a "mini" series of three that I have decided to call "Vexed", for obvious reasons. And guess what? There is no lacking in other Shakespeare heroines who wish to express their anger, so this may become more than a mini series.....
The Story of Shakespeare’s Lavinia Andronicus
Lavinia is the virtuous and often silent daughter of a Roman Soldier, Titus Andronicus in the Shakespeare play by the same name.
Because of her fathers’ war crimes and ensuing revenge drama with Tamora, Queen of the Goths, Lavinia’s husband is murdered and she is raped, after which her hands and tongue are cut off to prevent her from revealing her attackers.
However, she is able to communicate the names of her rapists, by both using her nephew’s copy of Ovid’s book Metamorphosis, and writing in the sand with a stick she holds with her arms and teeth.
In Ovid’s book, the character Philomela is raped by her sister’s husband, Tereus, who also cuts out her tongue - similar to Lavinia. Philomela’s ultimate fate is to be turned into a nightingale by the Gods. Unfortunately, Lavinia’s ultimate fate is to be executed by her father, who cannot bear the shame of her rape, after assisting him in the murder of her attackers.
Well, Fuck that noise.
Let’s rewind a bit, shall we? (cue remind noise)
…Because Lavinia’s beloved nephew, Lucius, has revealed to her that her father is deranged and plans to kill her, she stays for one last evening to participate in Titus’ revenge upon her ravishers, Demetrius and Chiron.
After collecting the blood from their cut throats, she throws it in her fathers face and flees the premises.
She joins a group of traveling Roma people, who design new hands for her out of stolen silver from her former family.
They take her to Britain, where she joins Queen Boudica’s army against the Romans. She becomes known for her heroism and skills as a defender of women and children, and burning down Roman settlements. Her new name is Tacita Mulier, which is Latin for The Silent Woman.
The Story of Ophelia from Shakespeare's "Hamlet"
Ophelia is the daughter of Polonius, sister to Laertes, and sweet on Hamlet. Polonius and Laertes both believe Hamlet to be not a good match for Ophelia, however. That is, until he bursts into her room uninvited and stares at her. Which isn't creepy at all. But that apparently is enough for Polonius, who goes to Hamlet's uncle, King Claudius of Denmark. They decide they should spy on Hamlet and Ophelia to confirm that he is, in fact, sick with love for Ophelia.
Hamlet, however, tells Ophelia in no uncertain terms that marriage is for suckers. Ophelia, being a kind person, is worried for his mental health due to his odd outburst.
She is rewarded for her concern the next time they meet, at a play, where he then accuses women for being fickle and also makes sexually inappropriate remarks. Great guy. He follows this up by killing Ophelia's father later that night. Did I mention that he was a great guy? What a catch!
Poor Ophelia is heartbroken, and the rest of her time in the story is singing and rhyming about the symbolism of herbs...
"There’s fennel for you, and columbines. There’s rue for you, and here’s some for me; we may call it “herb of grace” o’ Sundays. You may wear your rue with a difference. "
Rue is a bitter and stinky plant, and in folklore was a symbol of repentance (hence "rue the day"). Ophelia calls it "an herb of grace on Sundays;" because the wearer of rue, when entering a church on Sunday, dipped it in Holy Water, and blessed himself with it, in the hope of obtaining God's "grace" or mercy.
"There's rue for you," she says to the Queen, and "here's some for me." The Queen, however, is to wear hers with a difference, that is, in token of repentance, while Ophelia will wear it in regret and grief at the loss of her father and Hamlet as her love interest.
The story for Ophelia ends after an ill-fated climb into a willow tree, which she falls from into a brook and drowns. Then Laertes and Hamlet fight over who loved her more over her grave.
Let's try again.
~VEXED RE-WRITE ~
We re-open the scene at her grave, after Laertes and Hamlet have their skirmish (spoiler: things do not turn out well for them).
Three women approach her grave with shovels, and dis-inter our heroine. They are the Weird + Weyward Sisters from Shakespeare's Macbeth, who noting Ophelia's knowledge of herbs and plants, decide to bring in a fourth Sister. They bring her back to life, and the now Undead Ophelia joins them in the woods and works as a Hedge Witch and Psycho-Therapist.
The Story of Katerina, from Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew"
Kate is a daughter and a sister, who is far too clever with her words, and quite frustrated with her life in a small Italian town, and isn't afraid to let everyone know this. Her younger sister is nice and quiet and pretty, and has many suitors. However, her father tells these suitors that she cannot wed until her older sister, our Kate, is married.
One of little sister Bianca's suitors finds a gentleman who is looking for a rich wife and does not care what she is like: angry or otherwise. Petruchio meets Kate; and tells her they will be wed no matter what she thinks, and tells her father that she's into him (nope).
Her father agrees to the marriage: then comes the wedding day, and Petruchio shows up late, dressed badly, and drunk. Then he calls Kate his property, drags her away to the country - and proceeds to deprive her of food and clothing, as well as manipulate and shame her for her shrew-ish behavior.
By the end of the play, Kate is parroting her husband regardless of what he says is true or not; and delivers a long speech to her newly married sister and another about the virtue of obeying their husbands. The End.
So what happened THERE?
Option A: Petruchio changed her behavior and her mind by reflecting her bad attitude back to her.
Option B: Stockholm syndrome: Petruchio brainwashed Kate through food + sleep deprivation and by being a dick.
Option C: Kate learned to pretend to be a good wife just to get through.
New and Improved "VEXED" ending.....
...after Bianca's wedding and Kate's speech, she gets her husband drunk and escapes. She's been stashing money and valuables this whole time and investing them in real estate with a secret partner - the un-named wealthy Widow that marries the same day as Bianca. One of the things she purchases is una taverna in southern Spain, where she and her new best pal the un-named Widow travel to. She then creates a channel from Italy to Spain for abused wives. The name of la taverna is "La Arpía y La Viuda" (the Shrew and the Widow).
Greetings from the Studio!
I could use your help, art fan!
As we enter the season of eating and napping, I could use some direction for when I come out of hibernation in 2020. I currently have 4 (!) series of work that I have started over the past couple years (I think my inner artist has ADHD), and I want to know which one you think I should focus more energy on, rather than spin off and start a whole new one.
The four series are:
1. The Goddess/Saint/Heroine Series: Icon Illustrations of the Feminine Archetype (currently have 3 completed)
2. Vexed: a Re-telling of Tragic Shakespeare Heroines (currently have 3 completed)
3. Angry Bee Girls (currently have 4 completed)
4. Our-topia: Envisioning a Hopeful Future (currently have 3 completed)
You can see examples below.
I have many, many ideas for each series.... but do you have a fave? I'm curious to find out! Here's a survey!
I'm excited to invite you to a show that I am co-curating with my talented artist friend Jane Richlovsky of The Good Arts Building in Seattle.
I have been envisioning both the artwork and this show, I'm not kidding, for 10 years. Originally I was going to call it The Good Life Project - but DANG IT if that title wasn't already taken! So Jane and I came up with Our-topia.
In response to all the horrible dystopian images that fill our airwaves (and consequently our mind-waves) I wanted to create an illustrated vision of the future that I wanted to see.... one that inspires hope and gives a blueprint that the viewers could move towards.
I've been thinking a lot about what kind of energy it requires to foster positive change. The energy I'm filled with in response to the constant barrage of bad news tends towards outrage and despair. Though anger can spark action, it can't sustain it. What sustains long term change is excitement, enthusiasm, and hope. And what inspires excitement, enthusiasm and hope? Something to look FORWARD to, not just things to fight against or run away from.
It's kinda like riding a bike. When you are on a trail, and there are all kinds of sticks or rocks, or other bikers, or dogs running around, if you focus on those things you tend to accidentally steer TOWARDS them. You have to look for the clear trail you want to ride on and then it's easy breezy.
I know that sounds *suspiciously* like manifest-y positive thinking woo woo speak. However, I don't believe you should just focus on the good stuff without understanding the bad stuff. There has to be a balance.
The words "balance" and "sustainable" just keep popping up in both what I want within my life now and what future I want to see. The "Good Life" for me is a home and lifestyle that is environmentally sustainable, and fossil-fuel free. It means community designed living and gathering spaces. It means education that is service oriented and designed to match the growing patterns of a child's mind and body. It means freedom from fear - of un-regulated guns or a fascist un-humanitarian government.
So now I've been trying to illustrate those lofty goals! I've completed two and the 3rd is close to completion, but I will be making more for sure. I plan on moving this show to an online format, where I can invite artists of all stripes to contribute with their visions.
The image on the top left is inspired by the work of Ebenezer Howard and the Garden City Movement, as well as New Urbanism, which are both methods of urban planning that focuses on community, walkability, and environmentalism (the "map" in the background shows a bit of the Garden City). The houses are powered by solar tiles and "wind trees" (wind turbines designed to look like trees). The land surrounding homes is designed and cultivated with the principles of permaculture.
The illustration in the center goes into one of my future homes, specifically into the bathroom. An intrinsic part of my dream world health care will be preventative: part of that system will include data gathering by our very own powder room! The floors will automatically weigh us as we enter, as well as calculate body fat, water percentage, bone density, and your resting heart rate. Information will be gathered from samples of our waste, saliva and blood to alert us to any illnesses. All of this info will be reflected in our "Med Mirrors"... which will also provide tips for food, vitamins, and exercise customized to us based on the data collected. This information will then shared privately with our family doctor if we need more specialized care. All of this isn't actually all that futuristic: smart scales and smart mirrors have already been invented. I imagine them incorporated into the structure of our homes.
The artwork at the right is entitled "The Home-Maker", and illustrates our need to recycle and re-sue items in our household. We are aided by our very own "home-maker" 3d printer, which accept raw materials (trash or broken items from either our own homes or landfills/ocean clean up) that can create new items. This artwork celebrates the movement AWAY from rampant consumerism and back to home made or locally made artifacts.
The illustrations are 8" X 10" egg tempera paintings on claybord, which I've also scratched into to create very textured images.
PS......PRINTS ARE NOW AVAILABLE!
Official Like Description of the Show:
Our-Topia: Artists Create the Future
What does the “good life” mean to you?
Face it, things are bleak. Climate change, police brutality, gun violence, inequality, blatant racism, authoritarian populism threatening our democracy…the list just seems to go on and on. It’s difficult not to feel discouraged and fearful. Outrage and fear are courted by the media and amplified in the echo chambers of social media.
Humanity badly needs a path forward at this juncture. Artists have the creative chops, and with it a sacred responsibility to envision a different future. Just imagine if our media, film, literature and art offered blueprints for hopeful and bright futures. Instead of reinforcing immobilizing fear, they could inspire positive action.
That is the theme of this show, OUR-TOPIA, ARTISTS CREATE THE FUTURE. 10 artists share their visions of the world they would like to see.
Come and be inspired... and perhaps you too can start envisioning a brighter tomorrow.
Opening night is DECEMBER 5TH, 5:30 PM - 8PM
Cherry Street Coffee House
700 1st Ave, Seattle WA
The show runs September? -December 31.
Lin Lin Mao
As we were taking down all of our art at Blueschool, after the annual Whidbey Working Artist Studio Tour, I was once again so impressed with the talent we have under our roof and how GORGeous our work looks hanging together. Some of you were able to see it in person; but it seemed a shame not to share it with the rest of you!
So I took some pics - and let's go on a virtual tour together! :-)
Welcome to Blueschool Arts: Studios + Creative Space
Click on the images below to see full photo + description of the artworks.
If you are interested in diving deeper into any of the individual artists work, you can see Sara at www.sarasalteeart.com;
Tammi at www.mybrownwren.com;
Doug at www.doughansencreative.com;
and Mel at www.melissakochfinearts.com.
In the center of the room, we had tables set up to show off Tammi Sloan's jewelry, Melissa Koch's prints, and my smaller artwork.
You can purchase Tammi's jewelry at www.mybrownwren.com.
Sara's assemblages are at www.sarasalteeart.com
Mel's work is at www.melissakochfinearts.com
My Bee Girl Prints/Psyche Prints/Hildegard prints here on my site. If you are interested in any of the pendants or Medieval Critter prints, message me - they are currently available at The Bard's Boutique in Langley.
Next, come on in to my studio! It's all clean and I hung up some of my old pieces that are still looking for a forever home.
My 5”x 5” egg tempera portraits (embellished with real gold leaf) based on the quote:
“Every woman I know has been storing anger for years in her body and it’s starting to feel like bees are going to pour out of all of our mouths at the same time.” Erin Keane @eekshecried
When my friend Kristen shared this tweet with me, I instantly wanted to create an image based on it, because it resonated so completely with how I've been feeling for the last few years... Raise your hand if you also are a woman who is so pissed bees are coming out of your mouth. The timing of this inspiration also correlated with my desire to change up my preferred medium, which has been acrylic paint. I love acrylic paint. But I hate plastic.
What's an eco-artist to do?
I had learned about egg tempera, which is pigment suspended in a substrate of egg yolk (as opposed to plastic like acrylic), from a couple icon classes I have taken. However, I have felt too intimidated by the alchemist-like preparation one has to do to use this ancient technique. You have to crack an egg, separate the yolk from the white, mix it with distilled water, then mix it with the pigment, make sure not to inhale.... that's way too many steps, dude. Luckily a fabulous artist by the name of Fred Wessel came to Whidbey Island and taught a class, and I finally was able to take the leap. I now find that I prefer using egg tempera: it is like painting with velvet - both soft and rich in consistency and color.
This has also changed my painting/brush technique a little bit. With egg tempera, I'm building up my colors and shading with small little strokes, as opposed to blending the colors like one would do with oil... or the "puddle and push" technique I learned with icon writing. I imagine the more I use it, I will come up with some blend of all of these.
The Bee Girlz are available for purchase HERE.
Above are some in-process photos: the portraits are started with a base of either a blue tone or a green tone, and then layers of flesh colors are applied until they aren't so smurf or corpse like.
I'm over the moon that the French Feminist Magazine, Causette, requested the use of my Hildegarde for their special "30 Female Pariahs of History". Didn't they do a beautiful job?
If you want to read what I wrote about Hildegarde, you can read this Blog Post. If you'd like your very own print, go HERE.
Super excited to report that my painting "Wear Your Rue with a Difference" is featured in House & Garden, in the "The Art Edit" section. I feel so fancy.
I made Ophelia in "Rue" so that my other Shakespeare painting, "Beware my Sting" featuring Kate from Taming of the Shrew, could have a companion. I'm trying to view these heroines through the lens of they're pissed rather than the typical female role, both from that era or everything coming after that!!!
My Ophelia, rather than tragic, rues the fact that the two men in her life that she loved the most had so much power over her that they could drive her mad and drive her to death. She's back and she has unfinished business. She is going to "wear her rue with a difference".
I plan on making at least one more in this series - which I'm tentatively calling "Vexed".
Which Shakespeare heroine with an attitude would you like to see?
PS: Both Ophelia and Kate are available for purchase. They are $1200. For enquiries, contact me at email@example.com.
I will be participating in my shared studio space, Blueschool Arts, new holiday tradition: the Makers Tour! We have some super cool makers in our neighborhood, besides the fab artists that are sheltered by Blueschool.
I will be contributing my art pendants, some cool art pebbles (aka magnets), and some embellished prints.
6451 S. HARDING CLINTON WA
The other participants are as follows:
Participating Artists from Blueschool:
Tammi Sloan, My Brown Wren Jewelry
Kim Hodges, Whidbey Wares Beeswax Candles
Melissa Koch, Fine Art and Prints
Port Clinton Participants:
Abundant Earth Fiber Mill
Winter Market in the Clinton Community Hall.
Whidbey Island Waldorf (Saturday only, 10AM-1PM)
Meet "Queen Wasp" or alternative titles "If I Be Waspish" or "Beware My Sting". She is my most recent painting, completed in January, made specifically for the "All The World is a Stage" Shakespeare themed show at Museo Gallery in Langley WA. The assignment for the show was for us to pick a quote from any Shakespeare play and then create an artwork that also incorporated the quote within it. I chose "If I be Waspish, beware my sting." from Taming of the Shrew. You can see the quote within the lace on her chest, which is actual silk cord that I adhered to the painting. Her earrings and the boning of her corset are also little embellishments. Her hairstyle is a wasp nest (2018's answer to the 50's beehive, HA!), and her dress is decorated with designs inspired by wasp wings and hive structure. For me she represents the anger that has been stirred up within the feminine psyche against all of the injustices perpetrated by toxic masculinity. Don't kick the wasp's nest if you don't want to get stung.
"If I be Waspish" is 24" X 36" on a cradled birch panel, Mixed Media Acrylic Painting. $1200. through Museo Gallery. Show ends February 20th.
Around the same time that I completed the painting, the international fancy pants magazine World of Interiors (a Condé Nast publication) reached out and asked if I wanted to participate in their Artistic Impressions ad campaign. I said WHY YES, YES I WOULD, and so Queen Wasp now graces the pages of this hipster styley mag. I think she fits right in!
"I actually drink a lot of water already so my 2018 resolution is to tear down the patriarchy." - Melinda Taub @MelindaTaub
Last year at this time, I wrote about how the usual resolutions we tend to revisit every year, that are centered on appearances or insecurities, just feel so... frivolous during this pivotal time in history. Now a year later, on the heels of #metoo, it seems even less significant to worry about our holiday muffin top.
Well, personally I STILL have to fight the bad habit of being overly concerned with a number on a scale. I wish I could say I was so enlightened in my feminist self that my heart didn't fall when even my fat pants are too small after a holiday season of an excess of cheese bread and sugar. MMMMM cheese bread and sugar.
But you know fuck it. I'm almost 46 years old. If you look through history, women in their middle years tend to be big bosomed with thickened waists. They also have clear eyes, firm jaws, and strong arms - a reflection of the maturity that comes with children, hard work, and more stories to tell (or keep). They were NOT all blonde, lithesome yoga practitioners with a resume worthy of a international diplomat.
What's important right now, for me, is to keep doing my art, loving my family, and participating in my community.
Oh, and taking down the patriarchy. ;-)