Category Archives: watercolor

Cardi Week

Someone on Linkedin.com asked me what the purpose was of a particular blog post, as if, perhaps, I appear as a scatter brain all over the place artist, like I have no purpose, maybe?  On the same day, a reader professed a non-stalker style (he assured) love for me and my personality.

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This all necessitated another one of my existential meditation quests.  Who am I, and what am I doing here?  I paint in oils with collage, paper collage, watercolors and encaustics, and have many different looks to my work – the symbology look, the abstract expressionism one….  I also like to draw realistically.

I am a visual artist who has had gallery representation in the past and is seeking it again, an artist who wants to sell my work in whatever/wherever the venue.  In this case, it is on the internet – on this blog, on shopify on redbubble and through other social media – my Facebook like page and now on Instagram.

I broke down and entered the new millennium, and purchased a smart phone.  Now I can tackle instagramming my head off, because I had read it is the place for savvy art business peeps.

I am also a person who loves fashion, something that seems to go against the rules of the starving artist.  I can’t help it.  I posted about Karen Bakke’s fashion illustrations last week and in a previous post, shared my sewing skills with costume design.

When I first started this blog, it was to share only my artwork.  Then it snowballed into the what-I-want-you-to-know-about-me more three dimensional me.  Kind of a let the chips fall where they may and by chips, I guess I mean the puzzle pieces of my persona.   I am many things and I can’t pigeonhole myself into being one person, place or thing.

Last weekend I was a judge for a juried exhibition of artwork.  It was sponsored by the local penwomen association.  I used my expertise as an art critic, something I don’t technically do when I blog about local art shows.  And I do that because I feel like you can’t just exist alone in a small city art community.  I’ve always believed that we Syracuse artists can be successful together as a team rather than going the lone wolf route.

I’m not being paid to blog, so why not blog about whatever art related topic is going on in my world or in my head, or whatever.  I love writing, and it seems like maybe that is what I’m doing here, to answer that linkedin woman’s question.

With that said, I’m really fascinated by the job of fashion blogger. That it is a job, I guess.  Something that would have appealed to me when  I was in college and still does.

Lord & Taylor cardigan, Banana Republic T, BCBGMaxAzria pants, BCBGGeneration sandals
Lord & Taylor cardigan, Banana Republic T, BCBGMaxAzria pants, BCBGGeneration sandals

Now that I am on Instagram.com (my handle is karen_tashkovski), I’ve decided to post #ootd, which stands for outfit of the day, if you don’t know the lingo.  Someone takes a picture of me so that I can post my head-to-toe fashion and in this way I am a fashion blogger too!

Free People Cardigan, Bailey 44 top, Trina Turk pants, Nine West booties
Free People Cardigan, Bailey 44 top, Trina Turk pants, Nine West booties

My favorite designer is Trina Turk.  She liked the above picture on Instagram as did shopBailey44 because I’m wearing a Bailey 44 top. Those likes totally made my life.  They really did.  Because it still fascinates me that the world has become so small that you can reach out to your favorite _______, whether it be designer, fashion house, famous artist or celebrity, and they will respond with a little red heart.

Banana Republic cardigan, Trina Turk blouse, Rachel Roy top, BCBGMaxAzria leggings, Ralph Lauren boots
Banana Republic cardigan, Trina Turk blouse, Rachel Roy top, BCBGMaxAzria leggings, Ralph Lauren boots

That positive energy blows my mind.  It is such a feel good feeling!

Free People cardigan, Trina Turk dress, Calvin Klein jeans, Nine West booties
Free People cardigan, Trina Turk dress, Calvin Klein jeans, Nine West booties

My work look is about layering.  I pretty much always top it all off with a cardigan (or blazer).  Long sleeves are difficult because my hands are in all sorts of things from clay and plaster to paint.  I’m constantly washing and drying them, so I usually remove the sweater and add an apron or smock and maybe a pencil or two behind the ear.

I worked five days straight and I can’t remember the last time that happened what with all the snow days we’ve had, the superintendent’s conference days without kids (technically still work, but you know what I mean), the bout with the flu and vacations.  I’m thinking of doing a dress or skirt week soon.  Well, as soon as it stops freaking snowing here in the ‘cuse.

Banana Republic cardigan and pants, J Crew tissue T with Champion tank underneath, BCBGGeneration booties
Banana Republic cardigan and pants, J Crew tissue T with Champion tank underneath, BCBGGeneration booties

No #ootd today.  I’m still in my pjs (Calvin Klein).

Grape Art Expectations

Now that school is in full swing, I’ve become a blog slacker.  I feel bad about that because I had made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t be a quitter and then, you know how that goes, life happens, and all sorts of junk takes up the space of what was supposed to be art time.

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I’m in a full stop pattern with regard to creating new artwork with the exception of art samples of lessons I create for my students.  This is such a weird thing.  Like a music teacher who doesn’t sing or a gym teacher who doesn’t exercise.  Drawing becomes this foreign language that has the magical capacity to come back to me (like riding a bike) when I do a demonstration in class and that is always a little weirdly wizard-like.

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It’s not that I no longer believe in myself as an artist.  Last night I finally watched that movie filmed here in Syracuse – Adult World, about a girl who thinks she is going to be the next great poet and I have to say I found myself identifying with John Cusak’s professor character so much.  Yes, it’s great to believe in yourself but not everyone is going to be great on the first try was his mantra even though he had become a well-known poet in his youth.  I’ve been making art for many years but I am certainly no financial role model, no great business woman, and so I mostly give away my artwork, art that truth-be-told was made for myself as another character in that movie stated about his own, and not with the intent that someone else would get it and in the process get me, despite what I may have said in previous blog posts, lol.  So I guess that makes me both the successful and the emerging artist simultaneously.

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I’ve had many art shows in the past, peddling my paintings all over the place, wherever opportunity smiled at me.  My watercolors were particularly of interest outside of this area possibly due to their formal principles-led abstract expressionist style.  I sold four to one person visiting Syracuse from NYC several years ago when they were on exhibit at Pastabilities Restaurant here in Armory Square, four or five to a friend from Connecticut, many to my patrons in South Florida, several during a stint with a gallery in Rockville, Maryland and this one in Boston.  For a year about ten years ago or so, I was the house artist for a hair salon (known as the Best of Boston according to Vogue magazine at the time) James Joseph Salon. http://www.jamesjosephsalon.com/

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As I reflect on these photographs, I can’t even remember which pieces I’ve sold or given away as gifts and which are still in my possession.  They are all currently wrapped in brown paper and stored away in a hidey-hole.  Such is the way of the world for an artist with a lot of inventory who, for a self-professed organized person, keeps lousy records.

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My www.linkedin.com activity has summoned another opportunity though, and many of these pieces will see the light of day and maybe even get a chance to live on the walls of strangers’ homes instead of cluttering up my limited storage space.  I was invited to participate in an event called Grape Expectations, a wine tasting benefit to raise money for Catholic Charities of Oswego, NY.  It’s happening Sunday, September 28th, 2014 from 3-6 pm at the River Vista in Fulton, New York.  Kathy’s Cakes will cater and Canvas Moon’s going to perform.  Tickets are $25.

http://www.ccoswego.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Catholic-Charities-Fundraiser2014.pdf

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It will probably blow my mind if someone comes up to me and says, “I read your blog” or something to the effect that acknowledges I am in some way successfully navigating a marketing strategy that will catapult me from rock bottom to someplace else.  But of course, you can only go up once you hit bottom and that is the kind of optimistic course I choose to plot while wearing my Dorothy costume and humming Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

dorothy costume 001

 

 

Jasper’s Legacy

There is this book called Why Cats Paint.

http://www.amazon.com/Why-Cats-Paint-Theory-Aesthetics/dp/0898156122

In it, the author presents a number of cats throughout the world who put their paws in paint and create abstract art.  I bought the book as a joke.  I had it for several years before I sat down and read the text.  What’s great about it is it’s written in a serious manner, like a master’s thesis, with various theories and evidence of proof to support them.  It’s hilarious but also brilliant, especially the part where the author convincingly suggests the cats are actually painting representationally.  That if you turn it all upside down you can spot clear contour line imagery much like they do on that show Ancient Aliens when they are trying to convince you that some stone mountain in South America is really an Egyptian sphinx.

Sometimes the Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park’s animals make art that they auction off to raise money and there is a tiger who is an abstract expressionist master.  Her name is either Tanya or Tatiana – huge paw prints with the perfect juxtaposition of complementary colors.  Crazy, really.

Sunday was Jasper’s birthday and next Tuesday is his death day.  He was fourteen when he died.  I grew up with cats as pets but Jasper was the first pet I took care of all on my own.  He represented almost my entire career at work at that time (save the first year) and as well, he was the same age as the students I had just taught that school year.

He had cancer and I had to put him down, something I thought I would never ever do to an animal.  Never wanted to do.  It still haunts me.  He was alive in my arms when I kissed him good-bye and then I had him killed.  Everyone said I had done the right thing.  I saw the MRI.  Cancer appears as white spots on it and his whole body was pretty much snowflakes.  He was very ill.  He’d stopped eating and although the specialist said he was not in pain, I knew that pain was imminent.  I didn’t want him to suffer.

I just loved him so much.

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I found him at the Humane Association on Taft Road in Liverpool, NY.  I had called ahead looking for a tiger tabby.  I already knew I would call him Jasper after Jasper Johns.  He had been brought there one day prior and was sitting inside a milk crate.  If you have ever been there, at least it was like this in the ’90s, you would know that the cat area is one large room with cats of all ages roaming freely.  Smaller kittens were in cages.  Jasper was a kitten too but he was fifteen weeks old and about four pounds.

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I didn’t see him at first because I was busy trying to get a giant monkey-like black cat off my back.  It was clinging to my wool coat with monster claws.  I managed to escape and walked up to Jasper.  I picked him up and said, “Are you my kitty?”  I put him down and waited to see what he’d do.  I kind of walked away and he approached  me.  When other kittens his size did the same (I believe they were his brothers because I was told he came in with four others from his litter), Jasper hissed at them forcing them to scatter.

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I walked to the exit and checked to see if he would follow me.  He did and that was that.  Because I noticed that he had target markings on his fur!  Definitely a sign that we were meant to be.

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

I made the bulk of my artwork during the Jasper years.  The cat paintings from the Echo/Rune series and Dream Time series were obviously peppered with Jasper references, both Jasper the man and Jasper the cat.  Lots of target markings and neutral colors, as well as stenciling and found object additions.

Rune-11, 18" x 18", 2005, mixed media
Rune-11, 18″ x 18″, 2005, mixed media, $200

I created hundreds of watercolors too.  Growing up I had a cat named Tiny who planted his foot in a watercolor painting I did in college, but Jasper never once wanted to paint.

Echo-3, 18" x 18", 2005, mixed media
Echo-3, 18″ x 18″, 2005, mixed media, $200

He was extremely feisty.  That hissing incident when we first met was not an isolated one.  He used to hiss at everyone except me.  Once he jumped on my sister’s friend (as she sat on my sofa) and bit her on the head.  The technician at the vet’s told me that she and Jasper were “blood-brothers”.  Yep, he did bite a lot too.  A lot a lot, and I was not the exception.  I still have scars on my arms to prove it.  Scarification, it turns out, was his art form.

Touch, 9" x 12", 2001, mixed media
Touch, 9″ x 12″, 2001, mixed media, $75

I have two cats now.  They are very cuddly and loving.  They do not hiss or bite.  More docile than feisty for sure.  I don’t know if they will turn out to be artists.  They are polydactyls, Georges (named for Georges Braque) with six toes on one foot and seven on the other and Pablo (Picasso, naturally) with five on each and both with nails intact; so with those giant tootsie paws they could well become the stars of the next Why Cats Paint if there is another edition planned.  They are already turning the wicker baskets into deconstructed confetti heaps, so, maybe sculpture is their thing.

Karen Tashkovski, Ruby, 11" x  7 1/2", 2001, mixed media paper collage, $50
Karen Tashkovski, Ruby, 11″ x 7 1/2″, 2001, mixed media paper collage, $50

 

Karen Tashkovski, Play, 18" x 24", 2000, oil, latex & collage, $500
Karen Tashkovski, Play, 18″ x 24″, 2000, oil, latex & collage, $500