Tag Archives: cat paintings

Road Trip

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I drove to New Jersey on Monday.  Visited with friends in Jersey City and Morristown, and stopped in to see my art exhibition at Summit Medical Group in Berkeley Heights.  I love how easy-peasy it is to find your way around the country via Google maps/GPS, by the way. It is clearly the greatest invention to eliminate fear of travel.  It was an effortless, fun-filled journey!

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This place is so beautiful!  Space Planner Elizabeth Wiech did a magnificent job installing this show.  I feel lucky to be a part of it.  It turns out that my work is the most abstract of the bunch.  I picked up the artwork I had delivered that wasn’t used – actually my friend Anne had delivered it for me originally, and so this was my first time there.  Everyone was so nice and helpful from the valet parking attendants and security people to the reception desk ladies and maintenance.  Thank you, everyone!  I am just so incredibly grateful for the experience.

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The art exhibition is in the basement floor of the Lawrence Pavilion building in the complex at 1 Diamond Hill (Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922).  Each artist is represented with an artist statement and information on how to contact them in order to make a purchase.  A portion of sales will go to a pet charity – this is an animal-themed art show.

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Eight of my paintings are there – from my 18″ x 18″ oil & collage Echolalia series.

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The exhibition will continue through November 2016.

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Contact Elizabeth Wiech at (908) 277-8806 for more information.  This is a medical office building – she will know the building hours.  The show is open to the public and can be accessed through a separate entrance with stairs leading to the basement floor or through the main entrance using the elevator.

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Neutrality is a Cool Cat

I guess I feel most comfortable wearing neutral colors – black, white, gray, beige, navy blue….

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Banana Republic turtleneck sweater, BCBG Max Azria leggings, Ralph Lauren boots

People keep making comments to me about my wardrobe – that it seems unlimited, that my closet must be colossal, et cetera.

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Lord & Taylor cashmere cardigan, Banana Republic leather top, Trina Turk leather skirt BCBG Generation booties

It is an illusion, I think, because I have repeated a lot of separates, although I try to mix things up enough in order to create new looks.  And I have to admit, this is a lot easier when you stick with neutrals.

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Coach headband, BlackBrown1826 cashmere sweater, Bailey 44 top (underneath), BCBG Max Azria pants, Nine West booties

One of my friends wants me to be her stylist and while I love fashion, I cannot see myself as someone else’s personal shopper.  Fashion reflects one’s personality, of course, but as well as I know her, I can’t be limited by a budget.  If I desire something, I don’t stop until I get it.  I know that other people, my friend included, do not generally live by that creed.

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Bailey 44 top, BCBG Max Azria skirt, Nine West boots

Case in point – I just bought two evening dresses – a gown and a cocktail dress – for upcoming events (a BCBG Max Azria and  a Jill Jill Stuart!).

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They were in the $300 price point range.  So…I will be driving to work on fumes for three more days.  I have also lost three pounds, lol, no food in the house.  No biggie.  Everything always ends up working out for the best.

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The Limited silk scarf, Banana Republic dress, Steve Madden boots
KEY, 30X30, 2000 (300x300)
Karen Tashkovski, Key, 30″ x 30″, 2000, oil, latex & collage, $825

Hey – if I sell every “cat” painting I brought to the Summit Medical Group art exhibit (in the Lawrence Pavilion Lower Lobby Gallery) in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, I will make $11,800 less a 10% donation to that local animal care charity.

WING, 30X30, 2000 (298x300)
Karen Tashkovski, Wing, 30″ x 30″, 2000, oil, latex & collage, $825
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BCBG Max Azria cardigan and T-shirt, Banana Republic pants, Nine West booties

That’s enough to buy at least a few more clothes.  That show starts April 25, 2016.  It is open to the public – my favorite type of art show – a captive audience, people who may not seek out art venues but are at the offices for other reasons.  It’s my bread and butter (ha ha – figuratively.  You know I don’t eat bread or dairy).

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The opening reception is scheduled for Thursday, May 5th, 2016 from 5:00-8:00 pm.  Summit Medical Group is located at 1 Diamond Hill Road, Lawrence Pavilion, Berkeley Heights, New Jersey 07922.  Call (908) 277-8806 for more information.

Adopt An Echo

Rune 1, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Rune 1, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005
Rune 7, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Rune 7, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005

Bet you didn’t think you’d see me here again so soon.  I’m sure my Facebook friends will all end up blocking me because I’m posting so much.

Echo 6, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Echo 6, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005
Rune 6, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Rune 6, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005

But it is summer and I am in full-on art marketing mode!

Echo 1, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Echo 1, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005
Echo 11, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Echo 11, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005

The Natur-Tyme show has only been up for a week. No sales yet.  My thought is it is something for customers and the area to need to warm up to.  Art seems to be not in the forefront of the average Syracusan’s mindset these days.

Echo 10, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Echo 10, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005

Since they are small (18″ x 18″) and they are paintings of cats, and they are ten years old, I decided to go the way of the SPCA and other animal rescue shelters and price them the way they would an older cat who needs adopting.

Echo 9, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Echo 9, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005
Rune 11, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Rune 11, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005

This morning I changed my prices to reflect that.  Each painting is only $75!  A steal by any standards.  It’s dangerous to price paintings so low.  In the eyes of anyone, it may appear that I don’t believe in myself or that I may think my art is not of high quality and therefore not valuable.

Echo 7, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Echo 7, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005
Echo 8, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Echo 8, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005

The opposite is true.  You must know that about me by now.  But making a living off my art is a dream, not necessarily the only reason I do it.  It’s really about sharing myself – sharing my hopes and dreams, and all that emotional stuff with an audience.  Artists are formalists and create their own versions of the world with detail but above all else, we are emotional creatures filled with this unquenchable desire to be loved in some way.  Our personalities, our quirks, our talent.  We are pretty  needy people.

Echo 2, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Echo 2, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005
Echo 4, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Echo 4, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005
Rune 5, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Rune 5, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005

And so, I am trying to compromise.  I want people to enjoy my paintings.  I want them to take them home at a price point that makes them feel like they didn’t overspend – I certainly don’t want anyone to experience cognitive dissonance after purchasing a final sale item.

Rune 12, 18" x 18", oil  & collage, 2005
Rune 12, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005
Rune 4, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Rune 4, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005

The Echolalia series is a piece of me.  At its core, it’s really about how the past shaped me into who I am.  I cannot run away from it.  I can only move on from the dark stuff, own up to it and say – wow, you have really come a long way.

Rune 3, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Rune 3, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005

You assume these frolicking cats are about happy thoughts and in reality they were created out of despair.  They are all about me looking for ways to find happiness in a time when nothing at all was going my way.  Now things are so different and I see how I found and still find solace in these works.  How now, they represent a lifeline to the future world I’ve found myself in and everything is okay.

Rune 10, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2015
Rune 10, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2015
Rune 2, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Rune 2, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005

Is that too heavy?  Sorry – for me, as you know, art is about exposing myself.   But in a way that works, like the game board in Concentration.  It’s not spelled out for you but sometimes you can still decipher it.

Rune 9, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Rune 9, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005

The goal is to sell all of the Echolalia paintings so that I can start moving this massive inventory of work.  Either that or start looking for a bigger house.  I will put both out into the universe and see what sticks.

Rune 8, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Rune 8, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005
Echo 3, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Echo 3, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005

Here is the link to Maria Rizzo’s article about the venue.

The Big Reveal

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And now, the big reveal:  Starting today through September 2015, I will be showing and selling artwork at Natur-Tyme, Erie Blvd. East, Dewitt, NY.

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Maria Rizzo, Tom Huff and I are the premiere artists for this amazing experience.  Maria is the curator.  The store owner invested in the window space, purchasing a hanging system, partitions and hooks that make the art look fantastic.  The space is off to the side of the customer service desk and you can also see the art from the front window overlooking Erie Blvd.

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For those of you in the Nostalgic Syracuse group on Facebook (shout out!), it’s the old Goldberg’s Furniture store.  Natur-Tyme has been there for five years.  It’s not just a vitamin shop; it’s more of a healthy lifestyle kinda place.  They have food, a juice bar, cosmetic and hair care, a salon, fresh vegetables, vitamins and all sorts of things.  Even if you’re not in the market for art, I urge you to discover its many contents for yourself.  It’s like an oasis of bliss in there.

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Maria told me that she picked me because, aside from liking my artwork, she was impressed with the way I used social media.  She said she liked that this blog was not just to promote myself but other local artisans and cultural things.

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Isn’t that such a nice compliment?  You really never know when helping someone can lead to someone helping you.  I am very impressed with Maria as well.  She’s very young, but has this unwavering self-confidence and drive to succeed as an artist.  She uses social media wisely and has recently won grant money for a show of tree paintings.

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Framed prints of those paintings are available for sale at this venue too, in addition to other landscape paintings.  They are located on the left side facing the gallery area in the cubbies.

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I was meticulously measuring – doing that OCD Monk thing until I was satisfied.  It took me like 2 1/2 hours to completely install twenty-two paintings.  I have two that didn’t fit, which I will add once I sell two!!!!!

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And if I sell more, I will go over there and replace them with another series.

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These paintings of cats frolicking in geometric fields are from my series called Echolalia.  I just love the way they look when they are on display together.  I created them in 2005.  The last time they were exhibited was at the Rome Art Center in Rome, New York – in their library room – back in September 2008!  Since then they’ve been in my closet or on display somewhere in my house.

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It’s such a refreshing and exciting feeling to bring them out again. To see the light of day, as I mentioned about the paintings in my Sullivan Library show.

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As I was working to get everything up, a woman approached me and said, “Oh, are you the artist?  These are wonderful.  Very industrial!”  Said she’d be back to look at them again.  Whether she buys or not really doesn’t matter at this moment, because that feeling that she gave me – that thing where I realize that I am an artist.  I have a body of work that I don’t really go on ruminating about – you know what I mean?  It felt amazing.  I’ve been so busy with teaching and in my free time I’m basically doing mundane chores or exercising, or writing these blog posts.

I haven’t had time to sit down and make art.  I have this idea for a new series but stuff gets in the way or I don’t feel the passion.  I spent all day yesterday re-staining my 20 square foot deck.  Let me tell you, the idea of picking up another paintbrush anytime soon does not sit well with my sore shoulders, lol.

But put forth a compliment and I come to life like gangbusters.  I can’t wait for you to see the show. Please go to Natur-Tyme if you are in town and let me know what you think.  And if you want to buy something, I guess you just take it off the wall (get a sales associate to help) and take it to the register.  My paintings are only $200 each.

 

 

Holding The Key

So many bloggers are out there offering positive affirmations to help you make 2015 the best year ever.  Things akin to believing in yourself and following your dreams.  I can’t believe how many advocate quitting your job to follow your passion.

Karen Tashkovski, Key, 30" x 30", 2000, oil, latex & collage, $675
Karen Tashkovski, Key, 30″ x 30″, 2000, oil, latex & collage, $825

Please don’t quit your day job, people.  There is plenty of time to make things happen after work and on weekends.  It’s all about time management.   Art is something everyone should be doing in one capacity or another.  Or maybe I should just say being creative, because that is what the world is looking for – creative thinkers.  Outside the box and all that.

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

I have a lot of goals for this year, but I have to say that 2014 surpassed my expectations in so many ways.  I faced fears and made decisions that really changed my life.  I’m proud of myself that I took those necessary baby steps.  I feel like life is just some kind of a roller-coaster ride, and once you realize that you are strapped in, you can just go with the flow.  Let the ride happen.  When you start worrying about stuff, you end up like that guy in Vegas who got stuck on the zip-line and had to be rescued.  It’s great that there are people out there who will always help you when you get stuck, but being a damsel in distress is the stuff of fairy-tales, and in reality, it’s way better when you can just save yourself.  Or better yet, be a person who doesn’t need to be rescued at all.

Echo-4, 18" x 18", 2005, mixed media
Echo-4, 18″ x 18″, 2005, mixed media

Is life a roller-coaster or a dream?  I wrote down some very specific things I wanted for myself this year and they happened within three months.  It was freaky in a way, like I had the skeleton key to the universe or something, which explains why I wasn’t completely successful in bringing everything to fruition (I got a little cray-cray).  This blog and website, putting my artwork out here in cyberspace, getting financial stuff in some semblance of order and other private-life stuff that I’m still trying to process….

Welcome, 9" x 12", 2001, mixed media
Welcome, 9″ x 12″, 2001, mixed media

Maybe I should throw out more desires and see if they boomerang back as a manifestation of more dreams.  I want to sell my art.  I want to fill my passport with stamps to at least three countries in the next three years (France, Scotland and Greece come to mind since they are the ones illustrated in my heart-quilt paintings).  I want to fix the roof on this house before it is beyond repair.  I want to live an even more creative life and spend a lot more time laughing, and making art and…I don’t know.

The Way, 9" x 12", 2001, mixed media
The Way, 9″ x 12″, 2001, mixed media

Maybe I should quit promoting my art altogether and just blog about my cats.  I have spent several hours a day this vacation on all the re-tweeting and tweeting I’ve been doing on Twitter.  I mean hours of contemplating what to tweet that will bring visitors to this website and ultimately sell the art so that I can make more paintings and enjoy the benefit of financial success; be able to live the life I’m sure I want.  Just for fun, I tweeted a picture of my cats – my favorite picture taken months ago, but as you know when you have two cats, it is nearly impossible to get a good picture of both of them at the same time.  They’re very wriggly.  I’ve taken hundreds of shots of them just to get this one good one.  So, I put it out there and it went sort of viral.  The kitty tweet that went around the world or whatever.  Favorited by probably a hundred people and re-tweeted so many times I was like, what-what?  Are you kidding me?

pablo & georges portrait

Now, if I can only get half of those people to purchase some of my cat motif paintings, I’ll be in business.  I will literally have a business.  Lol…you have to laugh.  You really, really do.

 

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

 

 

 

 

Hello…hello…hello…(hello)….

I spent part of the day photographing my Echolalia series – twenty-four 18″ x 18″ paintings I created in 2005.

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I began these oil and collage paintings by gluing rough textured canvas to the stretched canvas then applying gesso to the surface.  I used pencil to draw the composition – I used two different stencils (I drew) of cats as well as a ruler to create the geometric field.

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I always draw thumbnail sketches before I begin the actual paintings to map out the direction of the series.  I used chalkboard paint in both black and green, and oil paint.  Then I added the collage items, which included text, coins, starfish, ribbon and wooden toys.

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A rune is a mystery and echo alludes to the repetition of the devices.

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You can see more of these works – I uploaded the entire series – in the portfolio section of my website.  They are for sale for $200 each.

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