Reflecting at the end of the year seems routine and natural each winter, so I am normally still caught in assessments by the start of the new year. As a result, here is a blog post [after more than a year] all about a bunch of the new and old shiny things I got to work on and with last year! Those materials included poured acrylic paints, mirrors, poster and acrylic boards, adhesive foil, vinyls and metal (all somewhat pictured below).
A Small Recap... 2020-2021.
Slowly stepping away from gigs to focus on full-time work while honing my craft and how I could be of service to others, I tried out hand-lettering digitally more in 2020. My job afforded me cool gadgets like a second-hand iPad from my younger brother, Clyde, and a Cricut machine. I was stoked to get to know how to use them as you might have noticed from posts in 2021. The year 2022 was all about transition for me. It took over four years of living by myself in Raleigh, NC to finally feel at home in a space and place, but I was long into feeling like I was ready to relocate by then. BUT WHY and WHERE TO?
Almost two years had passed since the start of a scary pandemic and I had settled into routines I was bored with, work that felt unfulfilling. and a steadily increasing cost of living and rent for a one-bedroom apartment I was growing tired of being in alone. I honestly felt stuck and couldn't really figure out how to unstick. Everyone around me seemed to be adjusting well and making the best out of their new normals... baking and cooking in kitchens they loved, renovating and redecorating in their dream homes, families, and lives, etc. I tried so hard not to get too deep in my head. As often as I could in the first year of the pandemic, I decided to get away for short trips to see relatives and loved ones in attempt to escape and/or realign since my personal art-making and creative work had slowed. I stopped seeing my therapist because it started feeling like 'what's the point? I'm paying to see and talk to someone and I feel like I'm at a dead-end.' Whenever I would visit my Dad in Delaware while working my job remotely, I'd hear from his nursing aides how he needed someone living at his house with him, especially since Clyde had recently moved out, gotten engaged, and then married. I was now the only one of his kids who was unmarried. Those words about someone being at my Dad's house with him stayed with me for months as I pondered 'where to next.' As much as they did, I still wasn't sure where I'd be going and was not fully ready to make the big change and move back to Delaware.
I made a mini coloring book, y'all! After randomly running across @jayarr.art's page on Instagram while traveling through a rabbit hole some weeks ago, and seeing a post where he had shared a tutorial on it, I HAD to try one for myself... so here it is (click the pdf link below to print).
The seed of a coloring book idea was planted during a family vacation about five years ago when one of my cousins suggested that I create one. I was open to the idea, but didn't have a clue about where to start at the time. Fast forward to now... that same cousin is going to be getting married next month and when I saw that post, I immediately thought of sharing one with her. However, with such a far out deadline and the concept floating in my head daily... an additional person came to mind- someone who was about to celebrate a birthday. That someone was thee Johnny J. Jones- one that I am honored to know and reminded to "give flowers" to loved ones while they're here by. I tested out the little custom coloring pages and loved how it came out, so I then edited it once more to finalize a general version of it with a combination of my usual handlettering and musical lyric-inspired themes.
Please feel free to share with anyone who may want to enjoy a bit of coloring! I hope they find it soothing to fill in the pages and I'd love to see any completed pages!
Have you ever been interested in making your writing look nice and fancy and wondered how to create stylish hand-written letters? Have you ever wanted to learn how to hand letter just for the fun of it? Well, I've been doing one-on-one sessions with a young student whose grandmother wanted introduced to the art of lettering, so I recently decided to record a video series of similar lessons.
When starting, you want to learn your basic terms and strokes first and then find consistency in your practice. The two images below summarize those basic terms and key strokes when lettering in the most popular style, brush script.
Below are three videos, which cover the very beginning - learning your tools and the basics all the way to forming whatever word you want and a PDF packet of sheets you can print and use as you practice along with the videos and beyond.
The image above was created in the Procreate app on an iPad with an Apple Pencil, which has pretty much been my go-to art medium all year. It was inspired by a wonderful "street painting" event I witnessed and got to be a part of this past weekend through my job in celebration of Diwali. During that event, news outlets made the announcement that the ballot counts had determined that Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris had won the race. After days of uncertainty, we finally had a President and Vice President-elect! Anyway, the awesome event, gorgeous day at the park, and news made it a memorable time. Overall, I wanted to create an image that would reflect that. A small video recap of the event can be seen in the video at the end of this post.
It has also been beautiful to witness how much vibrancy newly added bright-colored table and pavement art designs bring to the spaces they are in. Located at Dix Park near the Flowers Field and behind DHHS' Kirby Building, The Secret Garden created by Saralaine Canva (ig: @sarahsface) and unity-themed table art by OG Designs now cause the area to stand out. I was not involved in this at all, but my coworker Trey Roberts connected the artists with Dix Park City of Raleigh staff and put in hours of work to make the installations happen. Photos below show the transformation as these works of art took shape, and some before and after captures. All shots of the areas beforehand and some while in progress were taken by Trey or created by the artist. I snapped all of the shots aligning those captures with the completed work while visiting the pieces.
I love and respect all of the work created by these artists. Special shout out to Candy Carver (ig: @candycarver), a well-known Durham-based Artist I've gotten acquainted with over the years through our shared art community. She painted the two tables on the Big Field at Dix Park. These are in the middle of the same field Dreamville Festival was held at a little more than a year ago. Sarahlaine Canva also painted the pavement in this location, and you can see more of her work at www.sarahlanecalva.com. Don't forget to give all of these artists a follow if you want to keep up with their projects!
"Do you do illustrations for books?" was a question I got early last week, so I wanted to take a trip down memory lane when it comes to creating illustrations. With all that is still going on in the world, I've taken to doing more digital drawing as a familiar coping mechanism lately since mostly moving away from chalk lettering. It had been a while since I drew regularly, but getting back to it has been a relief and something I look forward to daily.
The first book illustration I ever tried was for a book cover design for a project my father published entitled Escape. I remember him giving me a synopsis of what he was writing about and asking me to draw something. At that time, I sketched it on paper with pencil and shared it with him, but the drawing didn't go much further than that. Eventually, and I'm not sure how much later it was... there was a second book that is available online via Amazon/Kindle that I did a watercolor design for and then used as a project to learn how to make vector art using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. I wrote about falling in love with that process in one of my first-ever blog posts here seven years ago.
That was only the beginning, and I had no idea that I would create illustrations for three different author's projects some years after that. I haven't seen any of these author's books as finished, printed products yet, unfortunately, but learned a lot with these early illustration works that I still use today. Read on for more about my first few storybook projects!
2016 Illustrations for Kevin Norman's book Golden
I met Kevin while attending a Valentine's event with my good friend Alicia in 2014. The singer Marcus Canty was having a concert at a venue in Fayetteville, and Kev was its host. We became cordial over the years and even casually dated before realizing it wasn't going to work out between us, but were able to collaborate on a few cool projects in that season.
One of those projects was a children's book he wanted to release and he asked me to do the illustrations. It took some months of brainstorming and tweaking, but I completed the designs and sent them to him in June 2016. Since then, I haven't heard anything more about publishing the book, unfortunately, but the illustrations can be viewed in the slideshow below. My process was to 1) sketch, 2) ink the drawing and scan it into the computer, and 3) color and edit in Photoshop, then save save as a PDF.
We are facing a pandemic; and it's the first emergency of its kind to impact the United States in the way we're currently witnessing and experiencing. Many people are under stay-at-home mandates; and we all are practicing social distancing and extreme hygiene in order to curve the spread of Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.
I miss being able to freely go out and about. During this time, however, I am grateful for good health and provision. I am grateful for my family and their safety, and the opportunity to slow down and continue to stay productive from home. I am also prayerful for the healing of the earth and anybody who is ill. As an introvert, my regular routines haven't been interrupted a whole lot. However, shopping at the grocery store has become somewhat of a sport and making a quick run to the arts and crafts is not at all possible. One thing I miss very much is going to see art exhibits. Viewing others' artwork is something I really enjoy and appreciate about the community I am blessed to be surrounded by and a part of. Getting lost in creation seems to lift my spirit and helps me empathize and better engage with important topics and issues.
As this pandemic gets more serious, I feel the need to get lost for a moment and reflect on things that lift my spirit (and also purge my camera roll in the process). Thankfully stepping outside for a few minutes of fresh air and sounds of nature's activity has been a good source of relief lately. This post will highlight 14 spaces showcasing art that I've visited over the last year and a half or so, through a collection of photos and descriptions. Some of these places are still around and some are not, unfortunately. Also, some are more accessible than others, but read on for more and enjoy!
1. Dix Park Flower Cottage, Private Showcase
This space is not open to the public, but it is used for Dix Park Conservancy-related events and meetings; and because I am a new member of their team, I recently got an exclusive tour of the space and will be visiting it more often in the upcoming year. It is extremely beautiful. I attended an event on the field behind the cottage in March 2019; and I admired the building and landscaping from outside, not having a clue that I'd be inside of it within the next year. The walls of the conference and common room are decorated with artwork by Artists Thomas H. Sayre and Damian Stamer, which can be viewed in the images below.
2. City of Raleigh Museum
Immediately following my second interview, which happened to fall on a snow day and took place in the aforementioned Flower Cottage... I decided I would spend my "day off" learning more about the history of Dix Hill. I had read so much online already and heard there was a permanent exhibit on display in downtown Raleigh. It made perfect sense to go check it out! The photos below are from the trip I took that February afternoon to see this exhibit.
3. NC Museum of History
I went to see an exhibit that featured the art of Ernie Barnes in March 2019. His style is renown due to his "Sugar Shack" piece that was often seen in the popular, classic television show Good Times and also served as a Marvin Gaye album cover.
4. Durham Art Guild's SunTrust Gallery
At the beginning of each Spring, DAG hosts its annual "Swing Into Spring" fundraiser auction. The photos below are from March 2019. This year's event was planned to take place on Friday, March 27th again at the SunTrust Gallery, but it was moved online with all that is going on right now. Moving to the virtual world allowed a one-night event to stretch to over a week long. The auction is LIVE here until Monday, April 6th. Please check it out and consider supporting through a bid or donation!
5. The Scrap Exchange's Cameron Gallery
When I reached out to Brenda Miller Holmes years ago to inquire about getting involved in her project as a volunteer, I never imagined what would come with it or after. I shared a couple of posts in the past that touched on the Durham Civil Rights History Mural Project, one in July 2014 and the other in September 2014. This year, Myra Weise received an Arts About grant from Downtown Durham, Inc. (DDI) to fund a performance event inspired by the mural. Originally, she wanted to have Brenda create the temporary ground work, but being the equity-conscious person she is, Brenda suggested getting another artist involved and recommended me. At first, I wasn't sure if I could deliver what Myra envisioned, but I got more and more excited after meeting with her, getting an overview of the event, and sketching some ideas out on paper. We even met one weekend for a photo shoot to get images for promotional material (pictured below and also taken by Zoe Litaker Photography).
On the day of the event, Myra was busy going through a super long list of logistical tasks that included things like picking up road barricades and chairs and dropping those off along with supplies and setting up, etc. I arrived on site a little after 10 a.m. and began to mark up the parking lot. The goal was for me to lay out the design in the mock up shown that would both serve as a place the community could color in for a couple of hours before the performance as well as the stage space for the dancers to perform within.
Time flew as I started installing the stage's border. I quickly went through a number of the chalk spray paint cans and began to improvise when I was running out. In the home stretch, one of the men featured in the mural stopped by... Walter Riley, who was in town visiting due to a National Lawyer Guild's convention on civil rights (he's an Attorney who's done incredible work; look him up!). We talked for a while and I learned that he, too, is an artist and paints often with oils.
All in all, it was a great experience. I wrapped up and went to work, and when I finished my shift, I came back to see bits of the performance and to check out Derrick Beasley's exhibition inside of the Durham Arts Council building. Some photos from behind the scenes are in the slideshow below as well as two brochures that were handed out during the event that share more information about the mural itself. Thanks for much for reading, and as always... feel free to leave a comment or two!
Oh, how the change of seasons forces me to be so contemplative! The cooling, crisp air all around and old, crunchy leaves on the ground make me think about the newness on the way. The dread of the upcoming holidays hit me, yet I also feel appreciative of the natural scenic makeovers. Every year, the outdoor transformations cause me reflect on the good things the warm season brought.
This summer marked another year spent with kids participating in Hidden Voices' and Blue Ribbon's Seeking the Self camp; Year Three. You may remember my recap posts in 2018 and 2017-- well, the team was able to come back once again, which is not something I take for granted at all. The fact that camp took place this year after coming close to not happening at all due to major changes in organizational structure and funding alone was something I was happy about. Thankfully, the third time was a charm. For the second time, I also joined TPPI/APPP's graduation celebration for a round of painting fun (group photo pictured above). The last time I did that was for their 2017 group (and I wrote about it here).
Below, I share more photos, a video, and summer memories related to Seeking The Self 2019.
The video below shows an overview of this year's STS Program.
The growth I got to witness in these kids during STS was super rewarding. As we worked with the students this summer, sharing other Artists' work and interpretations, I heard Will describe some of his work in a way I never experienced it before. I was inspired instantly. I wanted to try to replicate it his portrait style. I wanted to find out more. I got to see how many times he shared images of people with themselves as their own "twin" via his social media, and about how long he's been doing that. What I heard him say for the first time was that these portraits were all about love. Self love. The series was an investigation of what that self love look like. Below are some images he has shared in the past with one of my own following. Thanks so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed; and please leave any questions or comments below if you have any!
1. Acrylic Hexagon Hand-painted and Lettered Tiles
I love how these turned out! It was a total experiment, but I am glad to have been trusted enough to take on this project. Photos in the gallery below show the transformation, step-by-step, from what the painting boards looked like when I took them out of the package up until after they were cut, painted, and lettered on! It was my first time cutting acrylic with the tool I used as well> I had to find a video on YouTube to research what to get and how to use it (also posted below). The edges were not as smooth as I hoped it would be at the points when I did cut the boards, so I sanded them a little and then used a heat/wood burning tool I have used in the past to cut pieces of acrylic board for evening it out.
-Acrylic Painting Tiles from Jerry's Artarama
-Plaskolite Acrylic Cutting Tool from Lowe's
-Acrylic Paint by Liquitex Basics in Ivory Black and Artist Loft
-Chalk Markers in white by Marvy Uchida Bistro
-Wood burning/heat tool
-YouTube video resource
2. Balcony Makeover
After bringing home a houseplant from work one day and taking on the challenge to learn how to care for it, I sat on my balcony and stared around thinking I was ready for an upgrade. It had been almost exactly a month since learning I would move into my first apartment, and I couldn't believe the time had passed so swiftly. I enjoyed each month in my new home, and kept busy decorating and settling in over the time. It was now time to settle in the outdoor space. Time to decorate and make it my own... right in time for Summer 2019! That is exactly what I did (photos below); and all of it for under $100.
Outdoor rug... $35 from BJ's
Lantern... $4 from Michael's (was on sale + discounted due to damage)
Flowering shrubs... $12 from Walmart
Hanging flower basket... $16 from Gunter's Greenhouse
Table... $2 from TROSA Thrift Store
Outdoor fabric... $7 from Walmart
Batting... $0 left over from previous project
Bag of potting soil... $2 from Roses
Three cans of spray paint... $12, one from Walmart, Michaels, and Roses
Chairs... $0 given to me from a friend
Railing attachments and baskets... $0 gifted to my job and no one wanted them
Sweat-equity, blisters, and DIY perseverance to get the job done... PRICELESS
Dreamville Festival - My Vendor Recap
After collaborating on a number of projects and events, a practice I've grown to love and appreciate is having a debrief session shortly after wrapping up. Doing so helps to review, learn, and create community in many cases. In the spirit of such a helpful strategy, I'm writing and sharing this post to reflect on my vendor experience- my top three highlights and one thing that could be improved... in the inaugural Dreamville Festival that took place [almost a month ago] on Saturday, April 6, 2019.
What Worked Well?
1. Completion - It happened!
With the first attempt of having the festival on Saturday, September 15, 2018 canceled due to safety concerns caused by Hurricane Florence, simply having the festival take place was awesome. We did it, and it went very well in addition to that. That was one thing I could not help but be pleased about.
2. Intention - The energy!
There were good vibes all throughout the day. It was beautiful to be a part of this event and witness such amazing energy. Over 40,000 people in one place and it was nothing but love. Everybody attending seemed to have an expectancy that they were there to see an epic show from an incredible line up and to be a part of history. The long day was worth it; PERIOD[T], and that's another thing I was so glad about.
3. Cooperation - Sharing platforms!
A collective of organizations, companies, artists and more all came together to make the event happen. It was such an honor and blessing to be exposed to a production of this level as well as such a large audience. I can not describe my gratitude enough for the amount of thought and attention to detail that went into the execution of an event this huge. Being involved, even in my small role, was one of my highlights of Dreamville Festival 2019.
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