Category Archives: Karen Tashkovski

Consumation

When I was in college, my fashion design professor gave this bit of advice.  Always start a conversation, whether it is in a cover letter, job interview or any networking opportunity, with the following statement:

My life is consumed with fashion.

The truth is that I am consumed with a lot of things – consumed, obsessed, whatever you what to call it – but what happens is I get an idea in my head and get all gung-ho/coo-coo-munga on it.  The fashionista in me got into a lot of financial trouble this way, which happened the moment I found a kindred spirit in Trina Turk whose size 2s fit me to perfection.

With teaching, I would get an idea for an extra-curricular project and run with it to the point of extremes where it would usurp my personal life.  There were many years where I would work 12-hour plus days in order to prep extra lessons that I technically did not need to do.  As of recently, I’ve learned to figure out a better method of time management.  Of course, that took me twenty years of trial and error, but now everything seems so manageable that I have time to pursue something else.

Which leads me to this blog – website and my art career.

I’m still working out details of selling art on-line, but yes, it is starting to happen.  Shopify will wait a bit longer, as I pursue my friend Sheri D’Elia’s (ArtistShera.com) route – redbubble.

www.redbubble.com is a site that sells merchandise with artwork on it.  I spent the better part of last night uploading some watercolor paintings and I’m just so excited by this endeavor.  Even if I don’t sell a thing, I feel enormously successful, because I took the leap, finally, and put myself out there.

Ocean by Karen Tashkovski     Doorway by Karen Tashkovski     Black Walnut by Karen Tashkovski

The paintings look incredible on those cell phone cover things. Makes me want to go out and get a cell phone.  Yes, that’s right.  I am so last century when it comes to personal technology that I seriously am in danger of becoming an anachronism.  I’m planning to get an I-phone soon, mainly to extend my social media take-over (lol) to include Instagram, where I have read many artists have launched their careers into the stratosphere of financial success.

http://www.vogue.com/872448/buying-and-selling-art-on-instagram/

I’m working on having 2,000 twitter followers by midnight.  I’m at 1,959 right now and that seems an achievement in itself since I started tweeting only about six weeks ago, something like that.  People have been so generous with the re-tweeting and so on.  I feel incredibly lucky/blessed/grateful – whatever you want to call it, that this stuff is all happening now.  I almost feel like I wasn’t ready before, if that makes any sense.

https://twitter.com/karentashkovski

I’m a late bloomer.

What consumes you?

Iris by Karen Tashkovski

 

 

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Pinning Web Dreams

Karen Tashkovski, Web, 30" x 30", 2000, oil, latex & collage, $675
Karen Tashkovski, Web, 30″ x 30″, 2000, oil, latex & collage, $675

I can’t stop drinking coffee nor do I want to.  I like Green Mountain Dark Magic Keurig cups (w/two Sweet and Lows).  I try to get two cups out of one but the second cup is blech in comparison to the first and so, as of recently, I have been going through a lot.  I don’t know why the sudden obsession.  I go through phases like this where I like something so much that it becomes the be all and end all of my world.

keurig dark magic

If you want to buy me something for Christmas, I’ll take one of those giant 48-packs of the stuff that you can get at Bed, Bath & Beyond.  We don’t exchange expensive gifts at Christmas anymore.  It’s silly when we can buy stuff for ourselves.  I bought two gifts for myself already.  The first is the Dan Brown novel Inferno – the illustrated copy.  I really wanted it, wanted to read it then give it an illustrious place of honor alongside the other two of his picture books sitting on top of my grandfather’s cedar armoire in my dining room.

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/listing/2670976394106?r=1&kpid=2670976394106&cm_mmc=Google%20Product%20Search-_-Q000000633-_-2670976394106PLA-_-Book_25To44-_-Q000000633-_-2670976394106

The second gift?  I upgraded this website to business grade status, which means a new facade and the ability to sell artwork from here and/or from an off-site venue like Shopify, if only I could figure out how to do that.  (If you have any tips to share, by all means help a girl out).  I believe it will take more money to operate, as money seems to be the only way to make money these days.

I will then try to curb my spending and start saving (easier said than done).  Someday I’m going to go to Paris – climb to the top of the Eiffel tower (or take an elevator depending on how old I am when I get there), stare at the Parisian city-scape and think, been there, done that.  No, I’m sure it will be phenomenal enough to elicit a better response than that.

I have 194 pins of the Eiffel Tower on a board on Pinterest.com.

http://www.pinterest.com/KarenTashkovski/eiffel-tower/

I’m thinking its shape should and will manifest on the yet unplanned/unfocused series of paintings mulling about in my head (Futura).

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I actually paid for a passport a couple weeks ago.  Then I’ll have ten years to make this Paris thing come true.  Hopefully, I will figure out how to both save money and sell art by then, right?

What is on your bucket list?  If you had unlimited wishes, what would you wish for?

 

Tree Time

We had our first bout with cold weather here in Syracuse, NY,  enough to constitute school delays for some – minor flurries and icy conditions.  We usually win the trophy for the most inches of snowfall in New York State, but I will be more than happy to concede to Buffalo this year because the alternative of catching up to them is something I don’t even want to fathom.  Nothing here really even stuck and I’m hearing a weather forecast that I’m liking for Monday – sixties!  So it was like a Braxton-Hicks.

This false holiday weather tricked me into a desire to decorate my home for the holidays.

Yes, you heard.  I put my Christmas tree up.  In my defense, I will probably trim the tree at my parents’ house again this year and it’s kind of like putting the oxygen mask on yourself first, so that you can calm down and breathe your way through the chaos of it all.  Or in this case – me.  So I can breathe.

My house always looks messier at first until I decide where to put everything.  I rearranged furniture then put it back and so it pretty much ended up looking like it did last year with minor adjustments.  This took all day for some reason, a lot longer than I remember taking in previous years, but maybe that’s because it is like a pregnancy.  Labor intensive then you (not me – I’m just guessing the analogy fits) tend to forget all the annoying parts and all that’s left is an aesthetically beautiful thing.

christmas tree 2014

I love the way the house looks with this extra bit of decor.  I am partial to reds and greens in here anyhow so it all looks as harmonious as a Christmas song (I played the Sarah McLachlan Wintersong CD about a dozen times during the process – I ❤ her voice).  The trick now will be to try to prevent the kit-cats from climbing it.

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The above picture was taken in 2011, their first year with me.  They were launching themselves off my great-grandmother’s chair and hurling into the tree despite my protests.

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For about fifteen years or so (give or take), I’ve donated a Christmas tree to the Everson Museum of Art for their annual Festival of Trees event.  It’s a fundraiser for the museum.  They used to give the donors free tickets to the patron party and so that was the best part.  Create an artistic tree that pretty much cost well over $200 to put together and enjoy the glamour of sipping champagne and eating little roast beef sandwiches and slices of sage-infused cheddar while traipsing through the galleries until you found your creation then hovering around it waiting to eavesdrop on someone saying something complimentary, allowing you the permission to think they like me, they really like me! 

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Of course, the point of the thing is that someone buys your tree.  Many corporations simply do it for the publicity – here’s a tree from blah, blah and now they will buy it back insuring the Everson actually makes money instead of the hoping way that I used.  I’m not sure how many of my trees were actually purchased and enjoyed, and how many ended up in the museum’s archives collecting dust (or thrown away?).

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They don’t give artists the golden ticket anymore.  They offer one for 1/2 off the hundred dollar fee, which is still too expensive for me.  This year the Everson Museum Festival of Trees runs from December 5th- December 14th, 2014.

http://www.everson.org/events/fot.php

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I’ve done many trees with my students throughout my teaching career as well, the most recent was last year when we created a card tree based on George Rodrigue’s Blue Dog paintings.  A few of my students and I had interacted with his wife Wendy on his Facebook like page after I had posted student artwork on his website based on his beloved blue dogs.  He died last year, coincidentally, on the final day of the festival.  I still don’t know if that tree sold or not and to whom.  I hope it found a good home.

 http://www.chittenangoschools.org/teacherpage.cfm?teacher=3110

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Lost & Found

When you suffer a disappointment, the trick is to throw yourself into something that is fun, something that maybe you are good at, something that you love.

I made a painting.

Lost & Found,  encaustic on canvas panel,  11" x 14", 2014
Lost & Found,
encaustic on canvas panel,
11″ x 14″, 2014

I’m doing an encaustic lesson with my 9th period classes, using my own supplies from home – crock-pot of wax, two pancake griddles and my messy wax-only brushes.  The melted beeswax was seducing me with its pungency.  That plus thinking about Linda Bigness enjoying the bliss of mark-making.  She sold the painting that I watched her create during that video we made.

And so, when my friend Stephanie asked for a bigger painting of a heart, I complied.

I lacquered it and mounted it to chalkboard-painted masonite and added the dominoes as a frame.  It will be ready to ship to Florida in about a month.  Steph is officially a patron, owning four (and soon five) of my paintings.

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I want to make another series of heart encaustics now (no doubt due to my obsession with making a dozen of something – I know you were thinking it!).

In 2012, when I took that Syracuse University graduate course on encaustic with the amazing Davana Wilkins as instructor and mentor, I had this idea that I would just make a bunch of heart paintings. She convinced me to push myself out of my comfort zone and create other iconography, the result of which were the horse and cow paintings.

I’ve sold all but two of the heart paintings.  I need to take inventory of the rest.  I think I have sold four of the twelve horse paintings now and I gave away a cow painting to one of my favorite students, Zachary, who lives on a dairy farm.  The cows are more of a tough sell, I guess.

But hearts, now that is the motif of motifs.  You gotta love a heart. ❤

The Unicorn Festival

Most teachers can relate to this simple fact.  Students always react strangely when they see us outside of school.  It’s either a hyper-freak out – OMG! Ms. Tash, Ms. Tash! or the total reverse; a shy backing away and a chorus of whispers – I think that’s Ms. Tash!  What’s she doing here?

Do they think we are robots that are turned off and put away at the end of the day, like a stack of I-Pads?  I talked to my sister about this and she said, “Look at it from their perspective.  Seeing you outside of school is like seeing a unicorn.”

I am a bit of a unicorn.  Because in this day and age, in a culture of me, me, me social media and with it the belief that we are all the stars of our own reality shows, it seems that everyone wants to be recognized for their individuality.  Their spirit, creativity and the like should make them the black hole of the universe, sucking everyone else inside their vortex.  Everyone wants to appear cray-cray, the risk-taking artist that deserves all that attention.

Maybe I’m the opposite.  The crazy person who just wants to be normal.  Am I crazy?  Sometimes people say I am, but maybe I’m the only sane one in the room and everyone else is crazy.  My last blog post generated a flurry of comments in the group postings on www.linkedin.com.  Mainly camaraderie in despair, which really made me wonder if they understood me at all.  Something made me feel sad last week.  I’ve had my share of ups and downs, wearing my heart on my sleeve and on the walls of my home, as I’ve shared in a previous blog post.  But my emotions don’t swing on a Vincent Van Gogh-caliber pendulum.  I’m still sad about that particular thing but it’s compartmentalized now and I’m, yes, perfectly normal.

Emotion certainly plays a chunk part in the world of art, though, and it’s funny how important it is to many that they are perceived as more emotional than another.  It’s not a competition, you know.  There are all sorts of emotions that come into play when making art.  It doesn’t have to be sadness.  It can be serenity, anger or euphoria….

Whatever it is, it should be nurtured and supported.  I have not been doing this as often as I should.  I get invited to local art openings and events all the time and I just don’t go.  I want to be a better friend.  This Friday  from 6-8 pm, the Edgewood Gallery is holding a reception for an exhibition and sale of artwork by Amy Bartell, Linda Bigness and Todd Conover.  Edgewood is located down the street from my parents’ house – you can see the house from the gallery’s front door if you look east.  It’s on Tecumseh Road in Dewitt, NY, right across from the Nottingham shopping plaza.

http://edgewoodartandframe.com/news/

On Saturday from 10 am-4 pm, the Delavan Center will open its doors for a holiday event and sale.  The Delavan is a building filled with local artists’ studios, many of them are Facebook and personal friends of mine.  Linda, of course (find the link at the end of this post to the video we made on Columbus Day weekend), and Amy plus Laurel Morton and a slew of others.

http://www.delavancenter.com/Coming%20Events.html

This unicorn plans to make a cameo appearance at both events.  I’ll be in black, naturally, but I draw the line at wearing a beret on my horn.  That’s way too cliche, don’t you think?

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 http://www.bignessart.com/encaustics.html

Emotionalism at Play

This morning I woke up in tears, the kind typically reserved for when Oprah interviews you.  I guess my life sometimes feels like I’m in a labyrinth, one that seems to be a lot easier for other people to navigate but incredibly road-blockey for me.  I’m sure I’ll find a way to laugh about this later but not now.  The crummy weather day is insisting I remain miserable, sad and hopeless.

The good news is that I’m going to try to bottle the feeling and use it later as an element in a new series of paintings.  I have a vague idea of what they’ll look like – I often tell my students that I tend towards having psychic visions of future work, which helps to focus me during the process of going from thumbnail sketch to reality.  There are no thumbnail sketches yet.  Just feelings, colors, and fleeting imagery.  The planned series will be titled Futura, which is funny that I know that  – the way I knew I would call my cat Jasper before I met him.

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I didn’t have a working title for a series of paper collage works I displayed back in 2004.  I received a grant from Senator John DeFrancisco and subsequently was granted a lot of press on the show that accompanied the artwork.  It didn’t actually work that way, but in reverse.  I made the art a couple years before, secured an art show at Pastabilities restaurant in Armory Square (downtown Syracuse), charged up a storm to frame the art then applied for and received the $1,000 grant (or was it $1,500?  I don’t remember).

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I used to teach at Bryant & Stratton, my second job out of college, in the long-defunct Fashion Merchandising program where as a business college professor, I learned and taught students to write press releases that would get them noticed.  I had a lot of success with my own press releases, frequently getting follow-up articles about my work published in the local papers.

John DeFrancisco is someone I’m following on Twitter.  Yeah – I tweet now.  You can see the link somewhere on the side of this blog post.  It’s https://twitter.com/karentashkovski.  I’m @KarenTashkovski.  I’ve tweeted a handful of times, mainly links to my social media activities – Pinterest, Facebook, here, etc.  I’m learning the whole hashtag culture or as I refer to it – number sign.  And I’m re-tweeting and following back.  Cyberspace is a vast black hole but it has the dichotomy of being a small world as well.  Kim Kardashian (yes, I’m following her – who isn’t?) could easily flick a thumb and retweet to her universe and all of a sudden as a consequence because we’ll become besties, I will be able to identify a Kanye West song (or not, probably not.  I’m more of a classic rock/alternative person).  Hopefully the real consequence will be resulting sales.  People have a lot of power at their fingertips, to friend you, connect with you and know you or at least your on-line persona.

I have a google email now too.  It’s ktashkovski@gmail.com.  I needed it for something, I can’t remember what now – and used it successfully to send Linda Bigness those videos through google docs.  So they should be up shortly on You Tube and on here.  Oh yeah, that’s what it was.  I’m on You Tube.  I have a channel (meant to be said with a posh British accent).  I posted three videos, two of them of my students in my super secret (not so secret) Harry Potter club at school.

The hope with that is to seek a fairy-godmother-wizard person who will pay to send my students and their families to Harry Potter World in Florida.  Oprah, are you listening?  Because I’ve mentioned you twice now.  And if you want to do a surprise interview first, then I will be well prepared.  I have mastered the ugly cry and everything.

http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQFc9d1i6QGQcQBsimYyWyQ

 

 

Retrospective Reflection

My mom is not a hoarder.  Everything she has is organized – she just keeps a lot of stuff. In her defense, it’s a lot of our stuff, my sisters and me, things we left behind when we moved out.  I can ask her for the most random thing – a super-ball for playing jacks for example, and she will produce it in thirty seconds or less.

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I went over there today to hunt for vintage bridesmaid dresses for a Halloween costume idea I have and found a dress from 1978.  Yes, it still fits, which is hilarious because it just feels so weird to put something on that I wore when I was fifteen.  More so because it even exists, lol, and is actually in decent condition.

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I started looking at the old photo albums stored in heavy duty plastic bins in the basement, which took the better part of the afternoon – all the bad hair and bad posture pictures that make me cringe and think thank God we didn’t have Facebook then.  I’d rather be the keeper of my own image and so I brought the albums home with me.

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Yesterday I went to visit Linda Bigness in her art studio at the Delavan Center in Syracuse, NY.  We did a video interview and as soon as I can figure out how to send her the video through email- it’s about 45 minutes long – she will edit it for a future post.  Watching her work made me wish I had a studio like hers and that I was as compelled to paint everyday as she is.  I used to be.

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In 1997, I worked as a Master Teacher at the New York State Summer School of the Arts.  It was held at Cazenovia College that year.  I was thrilled to have been hired by former Syracuse University professor James Ridlon because at the time they were looking for high school art teachers and I taught elementary  (although my certification is K-12) and I didn’t even have tenure.  I taught one class in the morning and spent the rest of the time in a studio space painting 36″ x 36″ canvases.  This was right after my first year at my job.  I was still living in my parents’ basement (cellar dweller) and right after that two-week stint complete with living in the dorm, I got my apartment on Woodbine Avenue where I ended up existing for nine years.

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I had lunch every day with a Cazenovia art professor, Corky Goss, who later offered me the opportunity to exhibit in their gallery. Bring everything you have is what he said, because the space was so big.  I took that literally and framed a heck of a lot of paintings for the show the following year.

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I found pictures from that show in one of the photo albums.  I think they were pictures Mom took because you can see the reception spread and Mom always documents the food.  Upon reflection, it’s so funny because I still look at that show and remember how much I thought I had arrived as an artist and how I thought I was going to be phenomenally successful and all I would need to do is wait passively for the accolades and the next step to just happen to me.  The rollercoaster ride, you know?  Like it would just happen.

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I wonder how many other artists have had that same feeling.  Probably everyone of us at one time or another.  The moment arrives and you are so sure it is a turning point but then it isn’t, wasn’t.  Art is quite a ride, whether it is visual or performing arts.  You have to have a thick skin to deal with the rejection.  Maybe nobody has a thick skin.  It’s more that we try to focus on the positive experiences and remind ourselves of them when things are not going so well.  In my career, it was never so much about not going well, it was more success-nothing-nothing-nothing-success-nothing-nothing, etc.

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Maybe things will change, maybe not.  I’m not discouraged because I do feel very lucky.  I have my family and memories complete with decades old paraphernalia.  Reflecting on the past makes me realize that there have been so many good chapters in my life and a great many goofy ones.

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