Sunday, February 16, 2014

KEEPING BUSY.....

MOTHER GIRAFFE
In case you were wondering where I am..........I have been keeping busy in my studio since my Creative Creature project at the Potter Park Zoo came to an end.  I have been working in my studio almost every day while we here in Michigan are caught up in this polar vortex! They say it has snowed every day since Dec. 2nd!  My loving husband (he edited this, lol) snow blows me a path out to my studio almost every day so I can make it out there safely. I have been fighting off the urge to hibernate away these dark and snowy months.  So out to my studio everyday to work on paintings, techniques and prepare for upcoming classes I will be teaching. I am trying to get ahead of schedule while we are in this deep freeze as I have a couple of exhibitions coming up in the spring and summer.  I keep looking out my studio window and dreaming of all the beautiful blooms I hope to see soon in my gardens.  When the gardens thaw and start to bloom, I will be out there weeding so it is good to have this down time to get some paintings done.
Yesterday I worked with a great bunch of kids at our local art center  They made my job easy as I gave them the tools, some techniques and reference photos and they created some great art!  One boy was so proud of his tiger painting that he wrapped it up in some paper and wrote "Happy Valentine Day Mom" on the package.  He said it was the best painting he ever did! Love it!  As much as I enjoy painting and creating art, teaching and sharing it with others is the best part of my job and to see the excitement on their faces is priceless.
I am excited to have also been asked to teach a class at the Community Mental Health office this spring for a group of disabled adults.  I have always felt the therapeutic effects of creating art personally and I hope they will discover it also.

MY BILLBOARD ON I-69 IN MICHIGAN
On another note, my billboard went up in December so if you are driving
 in Michigan on I-69 east of Charlotte near the Potterville exit you
 will see my painting of a lion watching your driving, lol 

CREATIVE CREATURES ON EXHIBITION

My complete collection of my Creative Creatures is hanging at 
Absolute Gallery in Old Town Lansing, Michigan.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

CREATIVE CREATURE ENCOUNTER COME TO A CLOSE..........................


As you probably can tell by the long silence from me on this blog, I have been very busy with my grant project.  My Creative Creature Encounter has officially come to a very successful end. Over the summer, I had over 300 children and some adults paint with me at Potter Park Zoo in Lansing, Michigan.  I had all the supplies available for the kids to sit down and paint with me, and we painted tigers, ducks, butterflies and giraffes.  Everyone that participated went home with a painting. This was all made possible through a grant from the Arts Council of Greater Lansing and thanks to them, I was able to supply paint, brushes and canvases for everyone to paint with.

I met a lot of awesome kids and great painters during my project.  It amazes me what great paintings the kids did with just a little direction from me.  I hope I inspired at least a few young people to follow their creative spirit.


During the times I was not at the zoo painting I was in my home studio painting 10 of the animals that reside at Potter Park Zoo.  I also managed to fit in time to paint an exhibit for the Golden Lion Tamarins that the zoo acquired. Now they have a new home with a mural of the rain forest canopy as their back drop. My daughter Katie and I worked on it together  and I think it looks pretty good for our first attempt at a mural. 

Potter Park Zoo is a lovely park with great staff who are very friendly and helpful. They made me feel at home and welcomed me into their family (human, that is). They have a very wide variety of animals for all to see.

My Creative Creature Encounter project ended with an exhibition of my 10 paintings in their Safari Room.  On September 15th there was a free reception open to the public. We had a great turn out. The paintings continued to be on display until October 5th.

As a result of the grant from the ACGL I will have an outdoor billboard with the Lion on it somewhere along the highway! The Arts Council has partnered with Adams Outdoor Advertising to produce billboards for artist member grantees of the Arts Council. I am very honored and excited about this and as soon as I know where it will be I will let everyone know of it's whereabouts!

What I learned from this project:

Kids are great, creative, energetic and inspiring (but I really already knew that!)
This project enabled me to share my passion for art with others.
I was challenged and I stepped up to the challenge.
I was able to hone my craft over the 6 months of the project.
Painting wildlife is still my favorite subject to paint.
Don't stand too close to the Mandrill's cage as they have very long arms! lol


Most important lesson of all: 
I would like to acknowledge and thank my family and friends for believing in and supporting me!


Friday, June 7, 2013

CREATIVE CREATURE ENCOUNTER HAS BEGUN...............








On June 1st the Greater Lansing Visitors and Convention Bureau coordinated "Be a Tourist in Your Own Town" by convincing over 70 businesses and attractions to waive their admission fees and hold special events - all to celebrate how much art, culture and entertainment our city has.  At Potter Park Zoo they threw a truly wild party by celebrating International Migratory Bird Day on June 1st as well!  One of the main components of the Individual Artist Grant that I received from the Arts Council of Greater Lansing was "community impact".  I couldn't have picked a better day or a better place to get more people in our community as passionate about painting wildlife as I am. I knew it would be a busy day, but I had no idea how busy!  I prepared over 70 canvases, did line drawings of a Bengal Tiger, a Wood Duck and numerous varieties of butterflies for children of all ages to create art with me.  I also brought my trusty side kick and sister Christine along, and thank goodness I did!  4,687 visitors came to the zoo that day!  I was set up down by the duck pond on a deck with a canopy in case of rain.  The rain held off all day and we had a great time painting.  I don't think any kids that passed by didn't stop to paint.  I did a line drawing of a Wood Duck in honor of Migratory Bird Day and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service asked me to promote their Federal Junior Duck Stamp contest. We had so many kids painting that 2 hours before the event ended I ran out of canvases and paper to paint on!  The last few kids that came through painted on the copy paper I had printed the line drawings on.  Christine kept them supplied with paint, brushes and paper while I gave them direction but they knew what they wanted to paint and they did a great job with or without my guidance. We had all ages from 2 years on up, even had a young couple sit down and paint the Wood Ducks together.  I was very impressed with how well behaved and eager to paint the children were.   I am looking forward to another great turnout when I return to the zoo on July 19th, August 17th and again on October 5th.  
Come paint with me and try your hand at art! 

                                                      Painting Tigers at the Zoo



        Made possible by:
      


 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

CREATIVE CREATURE ENCOUNTER.........


is a go at Potter Park Zoo in Lansing, Michigan!  It is official - I got the grant I applied for back in January.   Thanks to the Arts Council of Greater Lansing for believing in me and my project.  There were 2 categories of grants; emerging artist and established artist.  I actually fall into a category of re-emerging artist but that wasn't a choice so after looking over my resume, publications and awards the director decided I would fit in the established artist category.
The day the letter came telling me of my award my grandson became ill and was rushed to the hospital.  It is with a heavy and broken heart that I tell of his passing.  I read the letter in his hospital room and one hour later he took his last breath!  I will continue on, for and because of Ethan, but this is going to be very hard as I have lost the love of my life!  Ethan would have loved to be at the zoo with me and all the kids around us.  His room was full of animals - stuffed and painted.


As I said before my project will be an Artist in Residence at the Potter Park Zoo.  I will be demonstrating acrylic painting techniques to the public during "Tourist in your own town" day on June 1st.  Then again on July 19th and August 17th.  I hope to encourage young and old (and those in between) to pick up a brush and apply paint to a canvas.  I will be providing paint, brushes and small canvases with help from the grant.  Just picking up a brush and applying paint to a canvas is a big step for some.  I will enjoy sharing the awesome feeling I get everytime I pick up my brushes to paint. It can be relaxing and/or therapeutic,  it can be an escape or an embrace.  You can tell stories with your art or just paint something because it is pretty or interesting.  I hope to help many take the first step to picking up a brush and putting paint on a canvas.  I hope it will be the beginning of many journeys for me and them!


              Made possible by:



Wednesday, February 27, 2013

TROPICAL BLUES

TROPICAL BLUES


Well a midst the construction of my work stations I have been trying to paint in a little corner of my studio.  I decided to recreate a painting that I had intended to keep for myself but in the heat of the moment I sold it.  Many things influence my paintings so it is almost impossible to re-create one exactly as before.  This week the weather was changing everyday along with my moods.  I heard birds outside my window at the beginning of the week just to find out we were going to have another "snow storm of the century" by midweek!  Well what we got was a "wintry mess" but not as much snow as promised.  This along with my caring for my grandson took it's toll on my moods.  I thought if I painted a tropical painting it would lift my mood. What started out as a light airy painting soon turned dark.  I struggled not to grey down my tropical colors. I like the contrasts with the vibrant oranges and yellow greens against the dark background but it is not as fresh as I had planned it to be.  I have learned to step away from my paintings when I get overwhelmed and I did that many times with this one.  At one point it had too much bright green (yes I said too much bright, lol) so I painted blues and purples on tissue paper and then tore it into shapes that fit between the leaves to see how the colors looked as a background.  This is a good way to try out background colors without mucking up the painting. When I finally liked the depth of color that the tissue paper added I started washing it onto the painting where need be. I also use my cell phone to take photos of the painting as I go along.  This helps me see the contrasts much like a reducing glass does.  Having struggled with the background I will say that the hummingbird and the blossom were enjoyable to paint! 

I have found some useful advise on acrylic painting from Michele Theberge at MicheleTheberge.com  I am still learning about all the mediums used in Acrylic Painting and she has some helpful advice in this video:
http://www.themindfulartist.com/2013/01/worst-mistake-acrylic-painters-make/  Check it out and let me know what you think.

 I can't wait to see blue skies and all the colors of my garden soon!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

STUDIO RENOVATIONS CONTINUE

STUDIO BEFORE AND ALMOST AFTER.....
STUDIO RENOVATIONS CONTINUED..................

I am still in the process,with a lot of help from my Son-in-law Scott, of remolding an adjacent garage into my art studio. This will be my first studio outside of my home even though it is just 50 feet or so away. We basically started with the shell of a garage and built it up from floor to ceiling, I'm learning a new trade in the process. lol I now know how to drywall, mud, lay wood flooring and various other builder trades.  In the past my studio has always been in my basement along with the kilns. So far I have a kiln room/garden tool storage, art supplies storage room and art studio. We started this project about 2 years ago and the largest part of the renovation is done.  After about a year off to work on other projects Scott is doing the final phase of building my work station and cabinets.  We tried to find ready made cabinets that we could just put a counter top on but could not find any that fit the bill, so back to the drawing board and Scott will customize them to my specifications.  The counter top alone is going to be exciting but a challenge as we are using 140 year old barn wood to make it and then clear coat it with Verathane. I didn't want a total white out like so many studios and this will help bring in a little rustic flare.
This week he got the base cabinet done that will be part of my work station and it took me most of the week to prime and paint it including all the shelves.  I have moved my painting area to the back of the room on my patio table.  I was able to finish and start a new painting while I was waiting for the layers of white to dry.  I am sure it is going to get more and more difficult to get paintings done as the space gets more crowded with the construction but I plan on trying my best to keep painting.
ACRYLIC 6" x 6" POPPY ON CLAYBORD
We hope to get all the cabinetry done by the end of March so I can get busy with my new project at the Zoo.  I hope to have a  series of great animal portraits done by the end of summer or sooner.  I am already planning out my next series of paintings when I am done with the animals.  I feel like I have to make up for lost time! lol
Hope you all stay tuned for the next phase of my art studio and artistic work.
You can follow me on Facebook at:  www.facebook.com/C.L.Tonning.Artist

Monday, February 4, 2013

GETTING BACK ONTO THE ART SCENE

Giraffe on 9" x 12" Clayboard

GETTING BACK ONTO THE ART SCENE

I have been busy since the first of the year trying to do some self promotion at the encouragement of my friends and family.  First off I applied for an artist grant to help me re-emerge onto the art scene.  I have been out of the loop for a few years while taking care of my disabled grandson and although I still help care for Ethan every day, it has become easier for me to integrate time to paint into my weekly schedule.  I have found that painting with acrylics allows me flexibility to work on a piece in short sittings, yet still enjoy the therapeutic benefits of simply picking up a brush and creating art. I am also eager to make new connections and colleagues in the greater Lansing area.  My proposed project for the grant is to be the first "Artist in Residence" for the Potter Park Zoo in Lansing, MI.  I will be painting, demonstrating and teaching wildlife art in the midst of Wildlife!  I am super excited about this because through this project I will have the opportunity to paint my favorite subjects more accurately as I will be able to observe them live and up-close, capturing their essence, characteristics and personality.  I will also have more ownership of the creative process through this project  because I will have access to take my own photographs, make sketches, and even record video of the animal so that I will have exactly the reference material that I need to create the best finished pieces.    
The most engaging portion of my project will be the public demonstrations that will be accessible to anyone who visits the zoo while I am there painting.  I have found that nature is often the subject that new artists, both young and old, are drawn to. Painting at the zoo seems a perfect way to engage people and ignite their creative spirit.  While demonstrating, I will have an assortment of blank canvas boards, brushes and paints available for anyone who wishes to try their hand at painting. I know from experience that it can be intimidating to try something new, but my hope is that individuals will feel comfortable joining in even if they may not feel confident in their artistic abilities, they will be intrigued and inspired by the live animals, and will want to learn how to capture them through painting.
  I plan to kick-off my series as a demonstrator at Potter Park Zoo during  their annual International Migratory Bird Day Celebration on June 1st.  Throughout the summer I will demonstrate and hold acrylic painting classes at the zoo.  My project will culminate with an exhibition of my 10 completed pieces that will be held in the zoo’s Safari Room on September 15th.  The Potter Park Zoo has been very generous in offering to help me procure this grant by offering the space for my classes and waving my numerous admissions to the zoo as an in-kind donation.  
I will try to keep a journal of my progress over the summer months and share it here.  You can also follow my zoo adventures on my facebook page www.facebook.com/C.L.Tonning.Artist  I look forward to meeting new artists and making new friends through this project, and of course all the cool animals I get to paint!