Friday, June 19, 2009

Start of Obamaland #2: Speech in Egypt (Iranian Uprising)

Obama gave his speech on Middle Eastern relations on June 4, in Cairo, Egypt. I was so excited about it, I knew it was time now for me to make my second piece for Peg Keeney's "Sense of Place" exhibition (which will begin touring in Sept, 2010.) This piece is now shifting to being about the election protests in Iran. A few days after starting Obamaland #2, when I was writing airpen diary entries, mixed in with quotes from Obama's speech, I realized that I really wanted to talk about the Iranian election and the very moving citizens' uprising after the election was stolen by the current leader, Ahmadinejad.

Here's my one and only sketch for this piece. In the old days, I often didn't sketch at all, before just jumping in and making art. But over the years, and especially since my current body of work has become so complex, I've made many sketches before settling on one idea for a composition. I would usually change that idea again, as I worked freehand on the actual line drawing on the real piece with permanent lines. But this time, I knew with the first sketch that I was happy.

This is me starting to draw in the black paint lines with my Aztek airbrush. I have the air-to-paint ratio set pretty high, so that I can get some strong, fattish lines. When I put the airpen writing all over the piece, the forms will mush together, if I don't have really heavy outlines on them.

The coloring for this piece is mostly yellows and oranges, the hot colors of a desert. But later I fogged in some blue, first for the sky, and then to shade the forms. This created a greenish tint over the yellows and oranges. I love to do my color mixing as transparent layers, whether I'm using my airbrush or regular boar bristle brushes.

Here's "Obamaland #2: Speech in Egypt," all colored and ready to start airpen writing on. I can tell you I'm probably going to change this subtitle, but we'll see.
That's Peter O'Toole as Lawrence of Arabia, on Obama's left (the guy, not the Sphinx!) I watched Lawrence of Arabia for the first time last month, with my girlfriend Carolyn Robinson, who had lived in Lebanon and then Jordan for several years recently. Carolyn was the perfect narrator for this movie, and I really loved it. I think Lawrence would really be happy with Obama's stance on the Middle East, wanting peace and cooperation between all nations.

On the left here is my "Obamaland #1: The Inauguration," which is 48.5"h x 32.5"w. I didn't look at it when I was starting the second Obamaland piece. But when I put them up on the wall together, I realized I could have made Obama larger in my desert piece, too. Well, it is what it is! On #1 I wrote my own impressions of the inauguraion, but also transcribed Obama's whole inaugural speech onto his suit, the Bible, and Michelle's hand. I loved that speech!

Here's the start of the airpen writing on #2. For the first time, I was using printing for the speech quotes, to help define it as different from my diary entries, besides just putting it in quotes. Of the 11 pages of the printed out speech, I only got about a page, so far, and am considering only writing now about Iran and the election fraud protests. But I may be able to put in some more of Obama's remarks from June 4. You never know.

Eventually all of the piece will have this small writing on it. I may start adding a few of those 140 character posts from Twitter, from Iranian protesters. I joined Twitter this week, because I wanted to read their stories of the protests of the election and support them. Someone suggested we all put on our Twitter profiles that we live in Tehran, since their government is trying to find out who's posting from there, to stop them. I hadn't ever thought Twitter could be such an important tool for helping people. I am blown away by how it's been their only way to get their message out, especialy since the government has kicked out foreign reporters.

Here's a fairly far along version of the case Jimmy's making right now. Remember he takes custom orders only, for his all hand made fly fishing equipment cases. There's no one else in the world doing what Jimmy does with leather, and it's so beautiful and so incredibly well made!

We went up to Lakewood (Cleveland) the evening of June 16, to see our kids, as Gretchen, our daughter had just come back from a week of working at the Nashville art museum, regarding an exhibition from her Cleveland Museum of Art. Here are Gretchen, Eva, and Eva's doll Elizabeth. We were discussing how eventually we can make doll clothes together.

Here are Eva and her doll, who look a lot alike.

I made a one-of-a-kind little book last week, to send to Kathy Malkasian of Valley Ridge Art Studio, as a "class sample" for my upcoming August class there. (Diary Paintings for Quilted Art Books, August 12 - 16.) I made this book on paper, which is how I've always made my little books, after Kathy asked for a class sample. The reality is that this is the first time I'll be teaching this class, so I don't have a fabric book for her to use to promote my class. In this story, I hypnotize her into thinking that this book IS made of cloth ... Then I describe what will be done in the class, in my PAPER book.

This is Pages 10 and 11 of the book, with me heatsetting some paint on fabric, which is something I do a LOT. The respirator is my trusty fashion statement and closest art-and-health friend. I made this book with marker and colored pencil, in a 24-hour extravaganza of creative outburst. My fave way to work!

Right now our dear friends Rita Scannell and her son Anthony are here at our house, visiting the US for five weeks, from Cork, Ireland. Here they are with Jimmy in his studio.

Here are Anthony and Rita in front of my Obama garage door mural, just before they took off on their next adventure: Rita showing Anthony Ohio's Amish Country. Their trip began in Chicago and will end there again, after they've seen St Louis, many parts of Ohio, Washington DC, NYC, some parts of Canada, and a fast tour of Michigan!

They're on their way to QSDS in Columbus, where they'll be taking a five day class with Fran Skiles. Then they're off to DC, NY, Canada, etc, etc. What adventurers! We met Rita in 1991 at QSDS, when I was teaching there for the first time. It was the second year of the symposium. Then Jimmy and I went to Ireland to teach in 1994, and we got to spend a lot of good times with Rita and her sweet husband Willie. It's thunderstorming outside, but I'm hoping we can run into downtown Wooster, for a little tour of my favorite shops, like the co-op and the Bead Café, before they leave. Then Jimmy and I will finish packing for our respective trips: his to his fly fishing week in Grayling, MI and mine to my class at Shakerag Workshops in Sewanee, TN.
When we get home, I'll be teaching a Turtle Art Camp at our house, July 1 to 7. You can check all my teaching schedule for the rest of 2009 and into 2010 on my website's front page.

Please send safety and positive change to Iran.
Love and thanks, Lucky


  1. It's great to see how you grab the moment in time and go! I love reading your process, as well. I think the book class is a perfect outlet, and I'll bet your sample whammy works!
    BTW, thanks for calling Chris last night about the NPR interview. He was really touched.

  2. Thanks Gayle. We loved hearing that interview with Chris and his dad. Think I'll go over to NPR's site and bookmark the interview, if it's posted. He and his father must be feelin' groovy over this!!!! How was your trip to Columbus??? Love, Susi

  3. Okay Susan,
    Why did you put Obama's face on a separate piece of fabric. I am not sure I have seen you do that before. It is an amazing piece of art.
    Mari Linfesty

  4. Susan!!!
    I found your blog today and its so glad to "see" you again. Its been sooooo long.
    Your work is as always incredible...Love your Obama piece. You are just amazing and "little" Eva is getting soooo big!!

  5. Hi everyone. Gayle, Jimmy and I were both really moved by the NPR story about Chris and his dad. Congrats big time! Mary, I didn't like the first face I drew with my airbrush (freehand) of Obama, so I cut out a small rectangle, pinned it over the big fabric and simply redrew his face. I've only done that once before. Ophelia! So good to hear from you! Yes, Eva is a young lady girlie now! Four and a half. :)
    I'm teaching at Shakerag Workshops right now, an amazing two week summer program at St Andrew's School in Sewanee, TN. During the school year, it's a coed boarding school. Absolutely stunning people and good political vibes! Big Obama town, Sewanee! Honestly!
    Love to all, Susan