Hidey ho good neighbor! HerrSuite Enterprises Industries Incorporated Studios has been a busy busy place over the past few months (I think my last blog post was like 4 months ago??), so it's high time for some highlights!
(As usual, I hereby refresh my vow to post here more regularly, since it's a nice diary for myself and a handy way to keep track of everything that's going on. However! If you would like to see more, Instagram and Facebook are good places to find work-in-progress pictures etc.)
In May I was the Artist of the Month for New Normal Apparel, a local clothing maker, screenprinter, and retailer. They printed a tshirt and pencil case with my designs on them, and hosted a show of my work featuring six tiny houses, a rare painting on canvas, and two small murals that I painted for the occasion. I'm lucky enough to get an extended stay in their storefront - my work will be up until the end of June, so if you're in the RVA, swing on by!
The first week of June, I went to the west coast for the first time! I participated in magical adventure created by a group of people called Legendeer - conceived by Sterling Hundley (a professor of mine at VCU, with whom I've worked on several projects since graduating), Legendeer is ... hard to describe. I highly recommend checking out the website and facebook group, especially if you are a creative person with an interest in exploration and storytelling. I'll try to describe the purpose of the group by describing the weeklong event:
The first half took place in San Francisco and the second half in Yosemite (Wawona Campground, in the south of the park). In San Francisco approx. 100 people gathered to hear and deliver lectures and workshops about creativity, inspiration, artmaking, journeying, exploring, and storytelling. The presenters were highly successful illustrators, a photo director from National Geographic, a crazy guy who is a famous rock climber AND illustrator, a former classmate of mine who is now a rising star in the world of slam poetry (THE AMAZING ROB GIBSUN)... and also a whole swarm of fabulous attendees who you could hardly tell apart from the presenters. You know the feeling a room gets near the end of party where everyone's really comfortable and fairly drunk and everything seems very positive and all you want to talk about is how great everybody else is? "Oh my god no really this is so important, I love you SO much!" That's how the end of our time in San Francisco felt, except there was no alcohol involved. We were drunk on INSPIRATION.
So then 50 of us pile into a bus and go to Yosemite! There we hiked and drew and painted and wrote - it was basically summer camp for professional creatives (I would say 'artists' but that term is weirdly too exclusive and inclusive at the same time) complete with a big cafeteria that served a lot of tater tots ♥ I did a terrible job documenting this experience but an excellent job of collecting reference for future projects. The whole trip was designed to be a great seeding of fertile fields, an experience to inform and incite future projects.
For me, I feel a renewed vigor in regards to painting for myself - practicing and experimenting and having fun in between commissioned projects. I love my commissioned work, but it always comes with the price of stressing about how the client will react. I also did a lot of reflecting on my mobile studio project, and had several great conversations about the potential in a tiny mobile studio space. I'd like to use that project (it's coming!) to promote the values Legendeer endorses, like living consciously and taking control of your own story, as well as the values of the Tiny House community, like reduced consumerism, flexibility, and alternative lifestyles.
If you want a very abbreviated cliffs notes of this giant dose of inspiration, read Art+Fear, the book a chose to bring along for the week. I had the very surreal experience of having lots of great conversations about art, and then immediately afterward reading those same conversations (essentially) in this book. It's completely on-point.
This past week was a whirlwind of a big mural collaboration between HerrSuite and Sure Hand Signs, put together by Welcoming Walls. In three days, immediately after my flight from SF touched down, Ross Trimmer (the sign painter) and I painted a ~20'x60' wall on Belle Isle Craft Spirits' distillery at 615 Maury St, getting a big helping hand in the first half-day from Altria volunteers. Welcoming Walls is a program started by Mickael Broth (another muralist) that I fully endorse. It is "focused on beautifying the highways and gateways to Richmond, Virginia with large scale public artworks." I think it's a fabulous application of the mural medium, and Mickael's has formed a partnership with the Valentine Museum to link these murals with Richmond history.
Not only was it exciting to work with well-known Richmond artists (Mickael and Ross are awesome), but it was very freeing to not have to coordinate anything...! All I had to do was show up and paint, which basically never happens - usually there's a myriad of other tasks leading up to the small bit of time where I actually put paint on a wall. Point being, thanks to Mickael for doing all the hard stuff! ;)
My current project is with Be Here Now Yoga in Washington DC - that's where I've been pretty much all of the time in between that other stuff. I'm about 1/5th of the way through a hugely exciting series of murals in this yoga studio - I'm painting Shiva, Ganesha, Hanuman, and a tree of life throughout the rooms of the studio. The client requested that the designs be heavily influenced by the style of Gustav Klimt, so I checked out some big Klimt art books from the library and am basically a Klimt expert now, no biggie. It's been really interesting to study one artist in-depth, but very daunting and confusing to incorporate a different style into my own techniques.
I am currently working on Shiva, the largest of the four murals at 42'
Whew! And these are just the high points! If you can't tell, my days are totally packed with work and play and adventure, and there's only more of it to come. I have a few more mural projects lined up, I'm still on the lookout for the perfect RV, and I should be headed back to the west coast in August for a whole nother adventure, with a date this time (oh yeah - I'm dating my celebrity crush?? I can't believe it, it's been 6 months and I'm still pretty sure I'm dreaming.) As my lovely lovely aunt would say, "Life is full and rich."