The sweeper in soccer is a defensive player who usually works her magic to intercept the ball when the opponent has penetrated the line of defense. This player can also move the ball up field and even score on occasion, and is typically one of the fastest players.
In baseball, a pinch hitter’s role is to bat for another player. Usually this person is an outfielder who is also a good hitter. And yes, I am as well-versed in sports as Amy Schumer’s character is in the movie Trainwreck, lol, which is to say not at all. I had to Google search these definitions because I was trying to create a sports analogy that defines my role in the new art exhibition at the Syracuse Tech Garden (235 Harrison Street, Syracuse, NY 13202).
Forty-six paintings are on display in The Boys of Summer: Baseball Meets Art with a reception this Thursday, August 20, 2015, from 5 – 7 pm. Steve Nyland is the curator.
My role in this show is a blend of sweeper and pinch hitter. I added thirty-two paintings and paper collage pieces to round out the show and fill the walls. My watercolors were untitled before and now they have baseball themed titles – cliché, perhaps but whateves. I think it is kind of hilarious and fun, and makes me feel like a part of a team, the way Amy did during the climax of what was really a pretty terrific rom-com.
Steve is also sharing his paintings in the art show, which will run through October 9th if you don’t have a chance to make it to the opening.
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.
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.
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.
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….
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.
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?
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.
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.
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).
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 email@example.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.
So when I create art I have this thing about crafting a dozen pieces in a series. It has to be twelve for some reason and when it’s not I feel a little bit like the the TV detective Monk – a little OCD-ish about it. You can imagine what this is like for me when I sell only one out of a series and I’m left with stupid eleven. It is, I don’t know – I’m weird, let’s just put that out there right now.
If you watch New Girl on Fox, you would have caught the last episode where Jessie explains about how we all have stupid stuff wrong with us – we’re all weird. It’s a wonder anyone ever finds anyone to love, really. (Or am I the only one who identified with that episode?)
These pieces are meant to be purchased together, so they are technically one work of art even though I signed each one for some reason. They are 12″ x 12″ canvases, layered with thick canvas and painted with latex paint.
I traced a heart stencil I hand-made and cut up all sorts of textures to attach resulting in individually unique hearts. I added playing cards, suede and other fabric, and photographs from old calendars – Pre-Raphaelite imagery as well as Harry Potter film photos and international pictures from Paris, Greece, Scotland, Venice…and maps.
I don’t travel at all but I feel like a traveler in a way because my artwork can go anywhere in the world and I can feel transported by it. I almost can’t believe how many people from different countries have viewed this website, by the way. People from every continent. I assure you that I have no cousins in South America or Africa. I really need to get a passport and put myself out there for real, but then I would probably want all my pages stamped in the united colors of the over fifty countries represented here.
The finished hearts are stitched with embroidery floss then I added collage items – checkers, Scrabble pieces, wooden spools, tinker toys, buttons, sea glass and coins. Each is a separate entity but when together they tell a story, like always, a puzzle of my life or yours, or whoever embodies them/buys them and adds their own interpretation.
The one above now resides in a friend’s house and I can’t tell you in words what that means to me because it is poetically emotional in a way I just cannot express. It’s supercalifragilistically amazing when someone else cares for my work as much as I do. If you want one of these sets, let me know. I think I have five of them ($600 for a set of twelve).
I sell the 5″ x 7″ cards for $5 each. They can be framed or used as greeting cards and mailed. (They are blank inside).
They take hours to make so in terms of being paid what I’m worth? Lol. People seem to equate time with money. Non-artists frequently ask me how long it takes me to make an abstract painting, as though it should cost a lot less than realism even though there are a million Bob Ross types who sell “realistic” landscape paintings made without reference materials.
The answer, naturally, is it took me my whole life. My whole life to figure out that I had a style, a body of work that represents me as an artist and as a person.
The cards contain stitched fabric and paper – some watercolors, some oils, and all of my favorite collage items – coins, stamps, sea shells, sea glass, playing cards, leather bits. I love the smell of leather or as my colleague at work and I call it, leathaaaaaaaaaaa!
They are among my favorites of my body of work because they engage all the senses.
These types of art shows are mainly for the experience, the social aspect, the putting yourself out there business of being an artist and rarely about sales. My mother generously spent the day with me so it was more about hanging out with her and laughing and eating roast beef sandwiches.
After cleaning the house – vacuuming, dusting, Windex, etc., I sat back on the sofa to admire my work. You know the feeling, when the house is camera ready and you fantasize it looks good enough for the pages of an interior decorating magazine.
When you live in a small space, even though everything has a place, it will still read cluttered to a minimalist. But to me at that moment in my little corner of the world, that feeling of pride for my place filled me with a kind of home-sweet-home bliss.
I worked with this science teacher who had animal bones and carcasses, and taxidermied things all around his classroom, many dangling from the ceiling, like something out of a horror movie. I had to substitute for him once and in my mind, I could hear the screechingly haunting scream-music from the movie Psycho as I turned and locked my eyes on the individual grossness of each object.
So there I was staring at my own artwork covering literally every wall of my home and I noticed that my art is virtually littered with hearts. I didn’t realize, you know what I mean? Evidently, I am obsessed with hearts and consequently, with the idea of love in all forms. I’m in love with love. I love to love. I love things, fashion, foods, exercise, art. I love friendship, intimacy…and romance too, of course; who doesn’t? I say I love you a lot. Or I love this or that or I’m in love with stuff pretty much all the time to the point that some of my students have labelled me a creeper. And some say I love you back.
I can imagine what adults who don’t easily love would think of the overabundance of heart motif on every wall of my home. I’m like a love psycho.
Paper collage, oil paintings, encaustic….it’s really all about the heart in here!
Artists see beauty all around them. There is beauty in symmetry and in rhythm, and texture. My perception of the world is that it is a beautiful place. I’m lucky that I get paid to color all day. It might seem frivolous to people who are close-minded to aesthetics, and I have to say I feel sad for them. Because life is a lot more fun with love in your heart and with hearts all around you to remind you of it. To remind you to love. <3
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It is very addicting, especially when you start to see all of your boards come together. I found pictures on the site to illustrate found object items I use, like game pieces and fabric. That was fun. I still need to figure out how to add the widget to this site and all of that computer speak in order to successfully link the two, but I am working on it. The site is a business site rather than a personal one so it will feature primarily art and art inspirations.
The paper collages I recently “pinned” haven’t been uploaded to this website yet so here they are –
I created these in February 2001. This was around the time my maternal grandfather passed away. I was living in Eastwood in a two bedroom flat where there was not much space to make art. These could be constructed while sitting on the sofa. I cut up some abstract oil paintings created on paper canvas. Some of them have abstract watercolor hearts as well and so, these pieces combine literally all that I am as an artist! Sewing, drawing, collage, painting, and two of my favorite motifs – hearts and kittens.