Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Music Video Studio Takeover

There were exciting doings over the weekend here at Chez O'Lone-Hahn. Being the artsy-fartsy family that we are, my husband Al, the very talented bass player for Knowlton Point and the rest of his bandmates took over the back yard and my studio to shoot a video for their new song "Your Way".

Their videographer Hui and his assistant Bill arrived around 11:30 to start setting up for the shoot. When I found out that the primary location was going to be the area in front of my studio, I had to scramble to get the 10 bags of mulch out of my car so that I could back it up to my studio and load in all of my artwork for a show before I wouldn't have access. I didn't have to leave for my show until 3:30 but I knew that video takes a really long time so with my husbands help, I got unloaded and reloaded and ready to go.

  Little did I know that my studio would also serve as a dressing room. I didn't mind at all, since my husbands people are totally respectful of the work and the space and wouldn't want to suffer my wrath if anything was a miss :0)...

While it was a little tedious hearing the same song over and over again while they filmed and I mulched the yard, it was an interesting process to watch. I know that some shots were done in the house, so some of my paintings will probably show up in the background. The video will be out of production in a couple of weeks and I will post so that you may enjoy their new song and play spot the KOH paintings. In the meantime, head on over to Knowlton Point's website to check out their current music and CD. http://www.knowltonpoint.com

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mother's Day-Pt. 2- Artist as Mom

(In a nod to Mother's Day, this is a repost of a previous writing. To bring you up to date, my daughter is now going to be 23 in a couple of weeks and preparing to go off to Thailand with her boyfriend for a summer of teaching English and adventure. I'm so proud of her and her fearless spirit and miss her terribly at the same time....)

My life is never seperated from my work and I have created a plethora of paintings around mothering as I journey along in one of the greatest adventures of my life.  I thought I would continue with this subject in this month when mothers are celebrated. 

Most of my paintings come from a very personal place. Even some of my cow paintings tell stories about what's going on in my life, such as in "Eat Your Broccoli" which depicts a momma cow and her  calf in a surreal field of raining broccoli. (A nod to Magritte) This painting was inspired by my Kayla who wouldn't eat broccoli as a little girl.

Before I even knew I was pregnant, I painted "My neighborhood", which depicts myself, my husband (in between the two houses) and our neighbors on their respective porches. There I am talking on the porch, very preggers, while my husband looks on.

 When I was actually pregnant, I painted this one, "Pregnant Artist." I have to laugh when I recall my pre-teen girl begging me to take it off the wall so her friends wouldn't see it. So much for being sophistcated about a little artistic nudity even though I tried to not actually show much :0) Note the Van Gogh calendar in the background and the rooster in the window. Van Gogh is my favorite and the rooster is symbolic of my husband whose last name in German means "rooster".

Sometimes I run into women who tell me that they were artists until their kids were born and then they stopped. I would just as much have stopped breathing. I don't know how they could do that, maybe they were less driven than me, but I never stopped. It helped that she was such a good, easy baby. I used to get up around 4:30 in the morning before she woke so I could paint a little, or sometimes she would sit and watch me in her little bouncy chair. At 19 months, she had her own plastic easel, paint and tam. She too created very colorful works, though she was an abstract expressionist at that time :0)..

As wonderful a baby as she was, just the shock of becoming parents can be overwhelming. The shift that takes place in your life from self centered to other-centered, and the responsibility of it all is all encompassing. I have depicted these feelings in the painting "New Baby", where the beautiful little diapered one is a giant in the space, overtaking the picture and the lives of the Mommy whom she holds in the palm of her hand and her Daddy by a string.

Having a child also was bringing up a lot of stuff for me as she grew. It was like she was holding up a mirror that reflected my life, causing me to worry and wonder about if I could make her life bettter than my upbringing had been. In this painting "Toddler" she is a hybrid of herself and me. She stands, again overwhelming the picture, but she is standing off the curb in a street between two houses, representative of the New Jersey street where I grew up. (Boy, did I have fun painting that bunny)

I painted her many more times as she has grown up, less as she approached her pre- teen and teen years when I could barely get her to be near me or smile, until this one (Flying through Life) which I painted last year, when she was leaving to go to college. It was so hard to let her go and I couldn't believe that that she was leaving already.
She and I are depicted flying through the air in our matching Mommy-Daughter dresses that I had made, through a world of things that I had taught her about or that we had discovered together.

 As I write this I am tearing up again......I know there are plenty more paintings to paint and the journey with her is not over. I just miss my baby.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

My Mother in my Art

As Mother's Day draws near, I am thinking about my own mother and how she has impacted my life as an artist, mother and woman. We are a product of our environment for good or bad and the one person in the world who tends to have the most influence over you if you grew up with her is your Mom. My mother, Elizabeth Helen Slovinski, died  in 1984 when I was 25 years old, 3 years after my father.

These are the things I remember about my mother.

1. She had a big laugh and sparkly eyes
2. She smoked a lot
3. She drank a lot.
4. She worked hard.
5. She could be cold.
6. She loved me.
7. She had suffered a lot.
8. She taught me how to make things
9. She said one encouraging, memorable thing to me in my life and it was near when she was dying. She said "I always new you were going to do something special but I don't know what it is."

Well, here I am, 54 years old and still trying to figure that out. Am I already doing it, writing books and making paintings and pottery? I don't know. Maybe it was a Mom's wishful thinking, putting her lost dreams and wishes into me. Anyway, I miss my Mom. I got married without a Mom, had my daughter and raised her without a Mom around, had Christmases, Birthdays, failures and triumphs without a Mom to cheer me on or show me how. Maybe my Mom wouldn't have been all that anyway. Sometimes she wasn't very good at being a Mom. I have painted her from memory a few times trying to get a grip on her, my struggle most obvious in the painting below called "Mother, Saint or Sinner?" in which I am trying to reconcile my feelings about her.

In "Party Girls", there is my mother and my Aunt Clara, sitting on the couch, doing what they did best together-drinking beer and smoking in what looks like a happy little party but, unfortunately, it would eventually lead to fighting.

There was a lot of that in my house. The alcoholism ran through both of my parents and my aunts and uncles. A family gathering could never be trusted as a peaceful, happy occasion. My parents were older when they had me. When I was growing up, she was already old at 46, white haired when I was 6. My father was 50, so I would always get asked if they were my grandparents.When she was 65,  I found some black and white early pictures of them in her apartment when she had gotten the cancer. I didn't know what to do about the cancer, about the fact that I was about to have no one, but I knew what I would try to do-I  would hold on. Hold on in paint. This was when I started to be a painter. I  bought some tubes of white and black oil paint and  a couple of canvases, and taught myself to paint the people in these pictures whom I had never known but was so curious about- my young mother and father and a brother 17 years older than me whom I still barely know.

My mother was not an artist but she could crochet and do macrame'. I don't remember anyone else in my family as being an artist, so I will say I got the creative gene from her. I got some of her other good traits and some of her bad. I think the most important thing I got from her was her strength and resilience and willingness to work hard. My mother was not a saint. What I have concluded is that  she was  the flawed, vulnerable person that God chose to bring me into this world and shape me to do and be what He intended. And as she could express it, she loved me and I loved her.

 Being a Mother is a rich gift and a challenge. We do our best most of the time and the rest of the time we just  pray. Much of the time we are going on what we were raised with, maintaining the good and hopefully, throwing out the bad.

I think I have done a good job at one thing with my daughter. I don't think she will ever doubt that I love her or say she suffered from a lack of affection from me. Beyond that, I have made plenty of mistakes as a Mom, but none I hope that she can't forgive me for. It's been such a joy and adventure raising a daughter and I feel blessed to have had the privilege.

Happy Mother's Day!

(The theme of motherhood and my daughter in particular have shown up in my work a lot and so this month, look for more posts on these subjects.)