Loving Vincent

Last month my mom and I saw the movie Loving Vincent at the Detroit Institute of Arts. The four-year project, directed by a Polish husband and wife team was brought to life by 120 artists from around the world. Together, they created the first ever hand-painted movie.

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Some of the Paintings Used In the Movie

Told through the eyes of the Postman’s son, the directors used Vincent’s letters and his incredible works of art to explore the mystery of why or even if Vincent took his own life at only 37 years old.

One-hundred-fifty oil paintings were painstakingly reproduced in Vincent’s style by the artists. Real-life actors, shot in front of a green screen, portrayed the characters in his paintings. In the end, the 90 minute movie used a total of 64,000 frames, each one hand-painted, to tell Vincent’s story.

If you have the opportunity to watch this incredibly unique and beautiful film, please do so. You will not regret it! Follow this link to see a video about the making of Loving Vincent.

Niagara Falls

Just prior to my surgery, mentioned in my last post, “Catching Up“, my family went on a mini weekend vacation to Niagara Falls. Originally we were thinking of doing a big vacation to California, but because I had no idea of how the recuperation would go and my husband’s work travel schedule, we had to nix it for now. So we settled on a long weekend over the July 4th holiday to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.

Little did we know it was the 150th anniversary of Canada Day on July 1st and boy were we in for a huge surprise! We left from Michigan in the afternoon and made great time until we got close to the hotel; I swear it took us an additional 3 hours to go 5 miles! By the time we actually got to our hotel it was almost dark.

We stayed at Sheraton on the Falls, located at the heart of Clifton Hill. Our room was beautiful! We had a corner suite on the 4th floor overlooking the Falls with a small wrap-around veranda. Shortly after we got settled, the fireworks began over the Falls.  It was magnificent! What a nice welcome and a great unexpected way to kick off our vacation!

I thought us Americans were crazy about our Independence Day Celebrations – but Holy Cow I hadn’t seen anything like this in the States. The crowds were akin to the New Years Eve Celebration in Times Square, New York City. Thank goodness the crowds dissipated after the evening and didn’t return for the rest of the vacation.

The next couple of days we ventured to the Falls, walked up and down Clifton Street, swam at the top of the hotel, ate lots of food and enjoyed a few cocktails. The short weekend was all we needed to take everything in. It was a nice little get away for the family to experience one of the natural wonders of the world!

Catching Up

It’s been a very long time since I posted anything let alone created a piece of art. Summer has come and gone, the school year has begun, and Fall is upon us. My artistic life has been put on hold, yet again.  It’s a darn good thing I’m not relying on this gig to make a living!

Shortly after the art workshop at the BBAC, I had another surgery. This time due to complications from an auto-immune disease called Oral Lichen Planus. Basically it’s when the cells inside your mouth aren’t happy and become irritated causing sores and pain eventually leading to difficultly eating certain foods, using regular toothpaste, or ingesting anything that’s not pure vanilla bland. After keeping it at bay with steroids for a couple of years, my body decided it was time to up the anti and fight back: the tissue underneath my tongue became pre-cancerous and had to be removed.

So…that was fun (said no one ever!) Luckily, I have a wonderful Oral Surgeon and the surgery, called a partial glossectomy, was successful; he was able to remove all the abnormal tissue with clear margins without having to go too deep into the muscle. Now, 3 months later, you’d never know I had this done unless for my little-lopsided tongue. I can eat whatever I want again and use normal toothpaste without burning pain. And, although the nerves are a bit dulled, I’ll take that over pain any day!

Abstract Figures

Last week I took a 3-day workshop on abstracting figures. I’ve been wanting to really loosen up in my work and have this idea of just slapping on paint, stepping back, and voila, I’ve created a masterpiece! While I know that’s a pipedream, I’d like to work towards it anyway. So, this workshop was exactly what I needed to push me in the right direction.

Contoured Line Drawings

Our instructor, Leslie Masters, is a wonderful older lady whose been around forever and styles herself in the most quirky bright-colored clothing; all shades of pinks and oranges! She tough but sweet at the same time and you can tell she really knows her stuff!

The first day we talked about Picasso and Matisse and started with contoured line drawings of faces from magazines. I chose a beautiful Asian model and copied her face onto tracing paper starting with simple line, more detailed line, straight lines, and curved lines.

From there, we chose one to paint, using bold blocky strokes focusing on the value and shapes.

Below are my classmates works from the first day:

(Side note: most everyone in my class worked in acrylic or watercolor. Acrylic lends itself to these exercises very well – working in oil was much more difficult.)

The following day we began with looking at Pop Art especially Peter Max. I was not familiar with his work and didn’t really care for his style; flat, colorful with black outlines – very cartoony, 70’s psychedelic; think Beatles Yellow Submarine.

Our task for the morning was to work with a partner and transfer an outline of our profile onto a canvas, then create a bubbly landscape in the background that followed the curvy lines from our portrait. I must have missed the memo, because I used straight lines to create my background. I didn’t get too far with the painting and I’ll probably gesso over this one and use the canvas for something else. However, I loved the way some of my classmates turned out. Below is my partially finished design/painting.

Jen Profile Pop Art

In the afternoon we created figure collages based on images from magazines focusing on the large shapes. Next, we painted the figures in an environment – channeling the abstract artist Richard Diebenkorn.

The third and final day was really fun!! We were channeling de Kooning and our task was to create a large, loose, messy, abstract figure painting using house paints and large brushes. I chose to paint from a favorite picture of my young son when he was about 4 years old. Below is the original picture and my abstract interpretation: my pièce de résistance!

In the afternoon, we each took turns showcasing our works from the three days and gave a brief synopsis of what we learned, what we liked / didn’t. It was a great foray into abstraction; I learned several ways to approach the subject without feeling overwhelmed, great techniques to get started, and about several abstract artists. Now, I can take what I learned and hopefully approach my paintings a bit looser. We’ll see, stay tuned!

Eli Tea Bar

I am happy to announce that I have been chosen as the Featured Artist of the Month at  Eli Tea Bar in downtown Birmingham, Michigan. Each month a local artist is chosen to showcase their work on the large 9′ x 13′ wall just inside the contemporary cozy atmosphere.

About two months ago, I serendipitously stumbled upon their website and noticed a call for local artists. I filled out the contact info with a link to my website. When I received the email congratulating me as the featured artist for June, I was shocked and excited: I had completely forgotten about it!

For the next few weeks I prepared for the show. I had to talk my son and Mom into letting me “borrow” their beloved paintings for the month with the promise that they would not be sold! However, my son let me know that he would not be completely opposed to selling if I was offered a nice price and split it with him. Always the little business man!

Eli Tea Bar
Eli Tea Bar With My Featured Paintings

It turned into a family affair: my husband helped me arrange and hang my paintings while the boys entertained themselves; one sitting outside, always on the lookout for exotic, high-end vehicles, and the other performing card tricks for the tea patrons. (He even made $10 that evening!)

Later this month we’ll have a meet and greet and if I’m really lucky maybe I’ll even sell a painting or two! Thank you Eli!

The Tea Bar was established by Eli in 2013. Over 50 types of tea and herbal infusions are offered and each cup of tea is brewed from loose leaf to order. They also sell loose tea in bulk and all of their teas are free of artificial ingredients and flavors.


Tea can take you anywhere. The Himalayas. The Hawaiian Islands. The Horn of Africa. And right back home. Every cup is a journey. Every sip, a step forward. And wherever you end up, it all starts in Detroit.

What better place to celebrate the land, people and culture of tea than a city known for creativity and community? What better place from which to visit foreign lands than the land of opportunity, itself? Right now, it’s not just Detroit’s time. It’s Detroit’s Tea Time. The only question is, where do you want to go?

– Eli, CEO / Tea Master of Eli Tea

Well Hello, Dahlia

Dahlia
Dahlia_12″x12″_Oil on Ampersand Board

A few months ago, my friend posted a beautiful picture of a Dahlia flower on Facebook. To date, I hadn’t painted a close-up lone flower – the fear of all that detail – but I have seen many artists accomplish the task beautifully and I felt up for the challenge. What could be more perfect for Spring?

The Dahlia originated from Mexico and was discovered in the 16th Century by Spanish adventurers. There are over 20 known species resulting in thousands of hybrids. The Dahlia is unique because it has six genes rather than the standard two found in most flowers; therefore it can take on a myriad of shapes, colors, and sizes.