Progress update

My job schedule is stabilized, my studio time has been set, appointments have been made, and materials have been organized. Not the most productive art week, but i feel i am coming out of my low.

It eased so much of my anxiety to get both my house and my studio finally clean this week. I got going on two projects and an working tonight on HTTYD helmets.

studio.jpg
Progress on the Grief series…

Progress on the Grief series…

Well, back to work.

SJ


Progress Update, a little late...

This has been a new adventure week!

Last week was my last week with my old job; it was bittersweet to leave my friends there, but I am making new friends at my new job already! I have new daytime hours and a much longer commute, but I also have better pay and benefits. I’m still in training mode, and adjusting the rest of my day/week to fit this new occupation.

I got to start my last week with a great chat with Syowia, and she gave me some fantastic insight and direction for how to incorporate my costuming and portrait work. We discussed taking famous works of art that tie into the costume in some way, and photographing the costumes in similar poses or settings. From there, I can create a new portrait/work based on the costume and the original work of art, giving a different meaning to the inspiring work and the costume work.

I took this idea and used the photoshoot we did last week to work in a few works I love of strong women. It was a very fun shoot, but we realized many of the shots I want will be better captured indoors, so we are going to schedule a studio time to get these shots. While we were out for the shoot, we were stopped many times by people in the canyon who wanted pictures either with or of our group. It felt great to see so many strangers appreciate our fun.

Now I just have to wait on the photos from the photographer. In the meantime, I am still wading through the chaos of my studio- cleaning and organizing, and getting started on a new commission. Pics from that to come next week, hopefully!

I know this isn’t much of an update, but I will have more next week!

Cheers,

SJ

How to Train Your Dragon

Well, I’m back!

It’s time for weekly blog posts again. Let me tell you about this past week; it was full of learning experiences, some new ideas, and feedback on my last post with my cohort.

First, some feedback from my cohort on my Rococo Disney cosplay- I got some great ideas and some very encouraging words from my colleagues, as well as some challenges. I think the title for this semester/year may end up being “Portraits of Real and Imaginary People,” thanks to the Skype chat we had after everyone had a chance to review my work and the public reveal of the Rococo dresses. Peter challenged me to look at the costuming I do not as just the shell of the performance, but as a work of art itself. He mentioned finding me working on my skirt in Wusten Bucholz and that he finally saw me in my element, creating the costume, something into which I poured dozens and dozens of hours of work. He wanted to know what would happen if I stopped bifurcating my focus between cosplay and portraits and focused solely on the cosplay for a portion, and what might grow or change for my research in that sense. It’s something that I fought against, especially when it was first presented to me in a very vulnerable moment, and I wasn’t ready for the concept. But I am at a point now where I can relate it to my portrait work and ask, how much of me is in a cosplay, as an artist? Is that a new question for my research? How much input, how much artistic sway do I let shine out? Also, how much might that change from when I do an original character vs. a modified character (like rococo Ariel) vs. what we began working on this month? I have a slew of new questions now, like from Sheila- how do I inhabit the characters I create? Are my portraits more meditations, whereas the cosplays are more “hyper-alive?”

Rudi shared a quote and some questions, that coupled with Syowia’s insights, may have given me a way to bring my flavor of cosplay into the contemporary art sphere more solidly:

The quote, from Cindy Sherman, “…And that being a woman is always, in some way, a performance. [...] that's oftentimes the way these are understood; that she's kind of masquerading, donning these different outfits. Some people see this as kind of liberating; that what she does is she in some ways dislodges the idea that your identity is fixed. [...]And it can be chosen instead.“ This idea, coupled with some of the insights from Syowia, that I could bridge my portraits and cosplay through “repositioning the feminist voice” in my work by resting contemporary characters in an historical painting setting or pose- photographing my characters in ways to change the story told in the painting referenced.

I am imagining taking the cosplays, photographing them in ways to mimic the setting and posing of a famous work, but changing the narrative with the costumes and anchoring them in the present. Then taking this image as a reference for a new painting.

It’s a lot tumbling around in my brain, and there are a lot of ideas I want to pursue. I am excited to discuss this with my advisors and hear their perspectives on this new branch of inquiry.

Now, for something else I learned this week- I am claustrophobic when I can’t take a deep breath, to the point of having a severe panic attack and nearly passing out. Fun Fact! While we research images, videos, and tutorials for our How To Train Your Dragon 3 cosplays, we have been accumulating supplies, planning, and starting on the helmets. This week we started working on body molds, so we have something sold to form our armor on and to test fit patterns and such. Using plaster strips on a well-lubricated body (I can still smell the petroleum jelly on my skin, after tons of showers), we encase the upper torso to create an accurate replica in hard plaster. While Christie was a champ at being solidified in stone dust and fabric, I had to be ripped out of my nearly-dry mold because I nearly passed out. I’m talking tunnel vision, everyone sounded like they were across a football field, I was hot, seeing spots, and couldn’t breath. I haven’t had a panic attack that severe in a while, and I haven’t come that close to blacking out in ages. We’ve decided to cast me just front, then just back, and piece the two halves together after to avoid another episode. Once we finish the casting, we will fill the molds with expanding foam, cover them with duct tape, and have an accurate replica to form armor on.

We are still adding to our group, but us 4 have started now. I keep telling them that the real deadline isn’t next September’s con, but my graduate dialogue….

till next week!

Christie doing a great job of being a model, and her cast is being patched back together today-  Our character inspiration  Me being plastered, then just before it had to be ripped off (you can see the difference in my facial expressions and coloring)

Christie doing a great job of being a model, and her cast is being patched back together today-

Our character inspiration

Me being plastered, then just before it had to be ripped off (you can see the difference in my facial expressions and coloring)


Class is back in Session! First Critique Blog

I’m at a 7 right now.  I’m excited to begin this new year but I’m also a feeling some uncertainty.

I feel confident in my costuming, but I’m struggling with how to turn my cosplay “performances” into a moment that feels like something with more substance.  I’m not sure what I am saying with my costumes, beyond the sheer joy of sharing it with the public. I know why I choose to cosplay most of my characters, and I love exploring cosplay as a form of living portrait/self-portraits. I feel like there’s something just around the bend for it though, the next level to take it further into fine art, without losing what it is now…

Is it in the documentation?  Is the performance going to be a more “formal” performance, with a venue, start times, and an audience aware of the performance? I’m not sure how to push it further.

My biggest question is how to take my cosplay to a new level of performance, and how to keep it fun.  

Coming back from Berlin was a whirlwind.  In the past the returning jetlag hasn’t been an issue but this year it hit me hard.  I went back to work immediately and worked extensively to finish up all my costumes for FanX, so there was no downtime. 

FanX took place at the Salt Palace in downtown Salt Lake City, September 5- 7. I wore a different cosplay each day; Thursday I wore my not-quite-finished Sugar Glider, Friday was Lost Boys with the Anarchy Girls and the Chaos Squad, and Saturday we did Rococo Disney.

Sugar Glider posing with Jimmy Olsen from the Daily Planet, The Lost Boys, and Rococo Disney with Queen Elizabeth.

Sugar Glider posing with Jimmy Olsen from the Daily Planet, The Lost Boys, and Rococo Disney with Queen Elizabeth.

For my Rococo Ariel, I still had to finish styling the wig (much thanks to Lou for starting it for me), paint and bejewel the shoes, and bead the bodice of the dress.  Styling the wig was a new challenge for me, trying to incorporate the asymmetric styles of rococo wigs, but also finding stability. I needed the wig (and overall costume) to feel balanced and playful but not mirrored, like the dress.

In-progress shots of everything I had to finish when I came home from Berlin

In-progress shots of everything I had to finish when I came home from Berlin

We had until September 2 to have everything finished for a photo shoot with a professional photographer, Chiseled Light.  Bryan and his assistant met us at Thanksgiving Point, where we trekked to the Rose Gardens and the waterfall stairs. Not only did he get some fantastic shots of our hard work, but it was a great test run to see what worked, what needed to be adjusted, and what didn’t work.

All images here courtesy of Chiseled Light Photography  With Christie, Lou, and C.L.

All images here courtesy of Chiseled Light Photography

With Christie, Lou, and C.L.

On Wednesday we set up our booth on the Vendor Floor for FanX.  We discovered that we had an entire row, and extra booth space that we had not planned for. We wound up having an Anarchy Girls Gallery, where Yaz and I displayed our most recent artwork, along with a few of our Chaos Squad members as well.  I was able to share the Survey Series, a self portrait (the only non-nudity one) and some pours. It was a nice chance to talk to our cosplay fans about our various art mediums, and to share a different facet of our group.

On Saturday, all our work for the past 8 months paid off. We were on the convention floor as soon as it opened, and traveling was a process.  We were stopped nearly 200 times for photos, and we were interviewed multiple times. The absolute best moments were when little kids lit up when they recognized us, and we got to be “on” as Disney princesses. Second best was taking it all off.

Saturday at FanX, top L-R: Disney cosplay group photos, being interviewed for a cable show, tattoos!, selfies had to happen, Finding other princesses and a prince, being interviewed again, and getting stopped for photos for an hour in the hall.

Saturday at FanX, top L-R: Disney cosplay group photos, being interviewed for a cable show, tattoos!, selfies had to happen, Finding other princesses and a prince, being interviewed again, and getting stopped for photos for an hour in the hall.

I did two other photoshoots with Chiseled Light during the week, with Anarchy Girls.  On Labor Day we shot our costumes from the Midsummer Masquerade Ball, and Friday night after the con we shot our Lost Boys gender-bent group.

The Seelie and Unseelie Queens, with the White Hind- photos courtesy of Chiseled Light  With Kapi and Yazmine

The Seelie and Unseelie Queens, with the White Hind- photos courtesy of Chiseled Light

With Kapi and Yazmine

Lost Boys, all photos courtesy of Chiseled Light  With Kapi, Yazmine, Jonathon, and JoMeghann.

Lost Boys, all photos courtesy of Chiseled Light

With Kapi, Yazmine, Jonathon, and JoMeghann.

For the future, I have at least 2 costumes happening for sure: The Childlike Empress from the Never Ending Story for the next Masquerade Ball, and Astrid from How to Train Your Dragon 3, as a group with Ian, Christie, Lou, Jon, and Ally. We’ve already started on HTTYD3, so we have plenty of time to figure out how to do full armor suits in dragon scales.

I’m interested in finding new ways to share and perform my cosplays, and I’m open to suggestions on how to accomplish this.

This next week I plan on cleaning, organizing, and cataloging my studio.  I want to try to start on my new works with what I already have, rather than buying new materials (thanks to TIER!), unless it’s for a commission.

That’s all for now!

Well, kind of progress? 6/23

I worked my little tushy off the past few weeks, cranking out pours and such to have a bounty of wares for the John Wesley Powell River festival. I got everything loaded up after I photographed it and headed to Vernal. I got there and attempted to set up my booth, but the wind had other ideas. After zip tying my art to the wire grid, the wind blew my canopy tent to bits, literally. The fabric tore, the metal poles bent and cracked, and the sandbags split. Two of my painting blew off and scratched each other, and a bunch of my poured frames blew off the table, with one breaking. I was so upset at the weather.

my attempted set up, trying to battle the wind.  I lost.

my attempted set up, trying to battle the wind. I lost.

A peek at some of the new pours

A peek at some of the new pours

Then I got the call that there was an emergency, like an EMERGENCY at work, and I had to cancel the rest of my time at the festival to go back to work. I drove the 175 miles back to SLC after I packed up completely. I can’t talk about it here, but let’s just say I’m going to be really busy at work the next few weeks. Sheesh.

Duct tape form and progress on my White Hind.  Also, green hair now!

Duct tape form and progress on my White Hind. Also, green hair now!

So I made it back home and my friends helped me work on some costuming to not be so upset about missing out on the festival and my work situation. We worked on duct tape forms for fitting our Rococo dresses and I made some great progress this morning on my costume for the Midsummer Ball. Holy hannah, I have to get that finished for this weekend!

Well, back to work for me.

Hopefully I manage to be more consistent in the coming weeks.

Cheers

Progress, 6/12

I have had a very messy week, but the good kind of messy. The, I’ve-got-so-much-paint-to-apply, look-at-all-this-beautiful-lace, I’m-on-such-a-deadline kind of messy. I’ve been cranking out the pours this week, as I sold most of what I had at the Art Show in May. With the John Wesley Powell Art Festival next week, I have to replenish my stock. It’s been a very messy, very paint-covered week in my little painting space.

I started doing pours on photo frames; we’ll see if people like them as much as I do!

I started doing pours on photo frames; we’ll see if people like them as much as I do!

I also brought my human, Ian, into the studio with me. He wanted to see what all goes into an actual poured painting and help me get as many going as possible. It was a lot of fun having him in the space with me, talking and walking him through my whole process. He helped me get a whole mess of panels laid out and ready for paint, and then we gathered all of the materials needed and sat on the floor. I showed him how I select the colors, how to mix in the pouring medium and the silicone oil, and how to judge the consistency and whether or not the cup needed to be thinned. I did a few dirty pours, some flip-cup, some were pours straight, and I did a few swipes as well. I did one set of 4” square panels from the same cup, and he was totally shocked that they looked so different. Ian wanted to find a scientific way to control or replicate certain patterns or pours- which for me, is impossible. For me, pours are all about relinquishing control, about color theory and experimentation. Sometimes they work, sometimes you paint right over the top. He conceded that it was probably really difficult to duplicate results, and that the process was enjoyable.

I love that Ian wants to know more about what I do and how I do pours. Although he had fun I have a feeling he’s going to stick to his 3D printing.

I love that Ian wants to know more about what I do and how I do pours. Although he had fun I have a feeling he’s going to stick to his 3D printing.

Then Ian wanted to try a pour. He picked colors, mixed up his paint, and did a direct dirty pour on his panel. I didn’t assist at all, and he managed to come up with a beautiful pour in purple, blue, grey, black, and white. He used the “spray fire,” what he called my blow torch when he couldn’t remember the name, and got some beautiful patterns and cells. I’m going back today to see how all our pours have turned out, because what you leave and what you come back to are always different. I have never had a pour look the same dry as it did when I left it wet. I’ll have dry images of everything next week, along with some new progress pics of our Disney Rococo cosplays.

Ian’s pour

Ian’s pour

On that note: we made some progress on our Rococo dresses as well, as Lou, Christie, and I got all the pattern pieces cut out, ironed, and the final bits of lace and notions all together. We are sewing again this weekend, hopefully getting bodices sewn and ready for fitting….

My loot and my mess on top, then patterns, fabrics, and Lou, oh my!

My loot and my mess on top, then patterns, fabrics, and Lou, oh my!

Well, till next week, cheers!

SJ

504, Synthesis, Part B

Part B – Second Year MFA Proposal Outline

Here is my list of answers, that hopefully give an idea of what I want to do in my second year. Much is up for interpretation, debate, and editing.


01- Title of project

??? I’ve no idea yet…. DUALITY OF PORTRAITS        MODEL AGENCY :(SELF) PORTRAITS OF OTHERS                                         PAINTING PEOPLE DRESSED UP AS OTHER PEOPLE: COSPLAY AS PORTRAITURE


02- Name of student and any collaborators and their roles

N/A, unless my cohorts volunteer to let me paint them…


03- Suggested advisors for studio and for research element (first, second, third choices, if any). Explain your choices.

Mark Roth and Michael Bowdidge- they have seen my progress and understands my process; I feel they can help keep me going in productive, positive directions with my studio work. I would like to keep working with them if they are both willing and able; if not, I am open to suggestions.


04- Description of proposed project or body of work – practical element

Paint people who want to be painted, how they want to be painted, creating a blended filter for their persona.  Also, paint some of these participants, these models, in cosplay,


05- Description of project report or thesis – written element

A write up of the process of obtaining models, the relationships with each model, their choices, my choices, and how both sets of decisions shape the portrait. With the added element of cosplay, how does that alter the portrait. Compare and contrast portraits of individuals painted in and out of cosplay.


06- Project results, e.g. documentation, performance, script, intervention, website, exhibition, book, journal

An exhibition of the two sets of survey series works, the cosplay portraits, and the panel of the cosplay as a self-portrait and a performance piece at Salt Lake Fan X.


07- Brief description of research method

Studio practice: documenting the questions, ideas, experiments, and results in the process of the ongoing survey series and the cosplay portraiture

Researching contemporary artists who give more agency, more participation or gravity to their models


08- Initial bibliography for written element

n/a, so far


09- Research question or hypothesis for thesis. For project report only if applicable.

How do I expand on what I have learned from the Survey Series?  What direction do I take the works, the models, and the questions between us to delve deeper into the model/artist relationship? How do I create work that is meaningful to myself, my model, and the viewer? Is a work considered successful when the viewer can accurately decode the relationship between myself and my model?  The viewer is seeing the model through a filter that we, the artist and model, created together. How much does the relationship shape the final work?


10- Intended audience

Contemporary artists, cosplayers, anyone who works with models in their practice.


11- Short statement on your current practice

As a portrait painter, I am exploring the roles of the artist and the model, their relationship and responsibilities and how all of these elements shape the final pieces of work.


12- Formulate entire project in 2-3 meaningful sentences.

I am approaching my second year with a three pronged approach to my studio practice: painting portraits in a continuation of the survey series; painting models in their cosplays who have filled out the survey as both their character and themselves; and applying my cosplay as type of performance art- documenting the process from creation to performance. I want to find unison between my love of portraiture and cosplay.


13- Technical description and production process including medium, quantity, size or duration

·       Another series of portraits, on 12”x12”-24”x24” panels, the number decided by who chooses to participate in the second round, hopefully around 6-8. Acrylic and mixed media on wood panels.

·       Portraits of models in their cosplays, 12”x12”-24”x24” panels, mixed media, acrylic, and fabric on wood panels.

·       A 1-hour panel at Salt Lake FanX, with a PowerPoint of progress images, videos, and pics from a final photoshoot. This too, will be documented, and then all edited together into a short video depicting the whole process of creation to performance.


14- Connect past and future project

The survey series will continue, with an adjusted survey and dimensions.  I will also extend this structure to the cosplay portraits, allowing models to select the cosplay they wish wear for the portrait, and consider in their survey answers. I may invite some strangers from the local cosplay community to participate in this portion, as a sort of control to the portraits of those individuals I know well.


15- Connect studio and research project (if separate), explain how they inform each other.

My studio project is directly tied to my research; I am exploring my relationships with my models, attempting to give them a participatory role in the creation of their portrait, and honoring the contributions made to the practice. How do our connections to our models shape our work?  How do their personas shape our use of materials, composition, elements of design, or vice versa?


16- Brief description of conceptual motivation

I aspired to create a more complete portrait of my models, who are almost always friends and family, without my filters overshadowing their persona in the work.  I have also sought a way to marry my cosplay work with my portraiture, to show the construction and performance of a character both in person and in paint.


17- Short description and abstract (50-100 word) of written element

This paper will examine how I am exploring my relationships with my models, attempting to give them a participatory role in the creation of their portrait, and honoring the contributions they make to the process.  I will attempt to answer the following questions: how do our connections to our models shape our work?  How do their personas shape our use of materials, composition, elements of design, or vice versa? I will also compare and contrast other contemporary artists who have documented their relationships with their models, looking for a stronger voice for models in art.


18- Proportion of written/practical element

50/50


19- Possible location for the project

Somewhere with A/V capabilities to share the video of the Rococo project and somewhere to hang/display the survey series/cosplay portraits (cont).


20- Timeline for realisation of project

Panel will be held at SLFanX in September ‘19.  Video edit will be put together soon after.

Portraits will be begun in September, with work continuing through December.

Cosplay portraits will begin in January and be finished by May. Any unfinished work will be completed in May.

 


21- Budget

Continued Survey Series: $450

Cosplay Portraits: $400

Cosplay Performance (SLFanX in September) $600 – includes hotel, display materials, documentation, and photoshoot

            ($550 already spent on Ariel)


22- Additional supporting information

Possible questions for the second semester, or later:

Does the level of intimacy (i.e. how well you know your model, how close you are) affect the amount of input needed from the model to create the most complete portrait of them?  For example, if I know them well, do I need less input or more?  When does the level of input become detrimental?

504 Synthesis, Part A

Part A – MFA synthesis (reflection) paper
I won’t lie, I feel like my Studio Write Up post from May 15 does a pretty good job of describing my studio project, and showing how it both influenced my research and that my research fed into my studio practice. My research definitely helped define the new direction in which my project went; it helped me hone my work and narrow my focus of what I wanted to be painting and what I wanted to know.

01- Write a concise description of your studio project

I began my fall studio practice with the idea of working with a stranger would allow me to make a portrait that was not influenced by my prior knowledge, my schematic of who they are as a person.  I had hoped that this would allow me to create a more complete portrait, with only input from a quick questionnaire and what I could physically see. I also had Anna, my model, share with me some of her insights, from the perspective of the model, on how the sessions were going and how she felt the paintings were progressing. While the practice of drawing and painting from life was a good return, I still used photo references and sketches to work from. While working with her was a positive experience, I quickly realized that I don’t really enjoy painting strangers, and the better I got to know my model the more successful my pieces became.  I was still looking for a way to limit my imprint on a portrait, so I gave up most of my choices. I asked for volunteers from amongst my friends to be my models and to decide how they were portrayed- but allowed them to give some control back to me if desired. As I gave my models a multitude of choices, we were able to find an equilibrium of participation- I wasn’t simply using the models as placeholders, mannequins for posing, and I was not simply a tool to create their portrait. We both contributed, and when the series was finished, I was amazed at how complete the pieces were.  Each piece became a stand-alone work, with varying materials, styles, and poses, but they all fit together as a unit as well.  I also learned that giving up all my choices, tying my hands too much, led to less successful works.


02- How did the research impact upon your project and your working practice?

My research and my studio practice have been heavily intertwined, both informing the shape of the other, and both answering questions and pushing me to ask even more.

My research focused on the relationship between artist and model and how that can impact the final work that arises from the partnership. I discovered how little credit models have been given across the centuries, and how little we know about the people they were and what influences they may have had on the artists with whom they worked.

My original goal was to find a way to limit my influence as much as possible to get an artwork that showcased the pure essence of the model.  I had experienced my aesthetic choices taking over the portrait of a friend, to the point she became a placeholder and the work stopped being a portrait of her. I wanted to avoid that, so I set up a new survey, a new questionnaire, with 8 friends who volunteered to be a part of the experiment.  I asked for what they wanted to see in a portrait, how they wanted it created, in what mediums, etc.


03- What directions does your project suggest for further research?

I plan to research contemporary artists who work with portraits and inquire on the status of their models. Are they friends, family, acquaintances, or strangers?  Is it a professional, personal, or casual relationship?  Do they work with multiple models just once, or do they return to certain models, or even work solely with a small group? Then I would like to compare and contrast the varying levels of intimacy across the artists, myself included, and see what impact we feel the relations we have with the models affects the final work.  

I also would like to explore what level of input, versus how well I know my model, is needed to get a balance of presence in the final portrait. Do the questions I ask in my surveys, and how I ask them, change the responses of my models?  If and when I ask my models to pose again, will I get different answers from them on the survey?

The next step of research will examine how I am exploring my relationships with my models, attempting to give them a participatory role in the creation of their portrait, and honoring the contributions they make to the process.  I will attempt to answer the following questions: how do our connections to our models shape our work?  How do their personas shape our use of materials, composition, elements of design, or vice versa? I will also compare and contrast other contemporary artists who have documented their relationships with their models, looking for a stronger voice for models in art.

 

Progress, June 3

It’s Monday again. Yesterday, Ian and I drove home from Vernal, UT, and went to a Pride celebration with our friends before crashing into bed at home. It was a great weekend full of familiar faces, tight hugs, art talk, and terrible hotel beds. Ian teased me all weekend because I forgot my Survey Series painting of him. I’ve had it in a separate space in my studio as I have been working on the second piece for his place in the series, and managed to leave it behind. I also managed to leave all of my secondary tags, my business cards, and a few other things. I didn’t realize how much I missed until we were setting up, so, I’ll definitely be packing early for the next show.

The Anna Experiment was along the west wall, directly to the left as you walked into the show.  I felt it was a good way to see my progression, my experimentation, and to lead you to the rest of my work further in the show.

The Anna Experiment was along the west wall, directly to the left as you walked into the show. I felt it was a good way to see my progression, my experimentation, and to lead you to the rest of my work further in the show.

Arranged together, I feel that the Anna Experiment gives you a more complete look at Anna, with multiple facets shining through each piece.

Arranged together, I feel that the Anna Experiment gives you a more complete look at Anna, with multiple facets shining through each piece.

I was amazed at how quickly we were able to set up our gallery, and we had the finishing touches in place just in time for the first guests to arrive. We had a steady stream of people in our space for the entire 4 hours- it was so satisfying to share our art with our hometown. Christina Blackwood brought her ceramic work and Chelsea Frankovich brought her photography and I brought 3 of my painting series along with some pours and lumens. The space had a good layout and flow, with doors at each end of the building. Thanks to Chelsea, we were able to find a vacant store front for our pop-up gallery. The owners allowed us to rent the space for the evening and the following morning for cleanup, which was a boon as many of the places we inquired about wanted us to be out that night.

Depression, Pain, and Guilt  was my most talked about image from the show.

Depression, Pain, and Guilt was my most talked about image from the show.

The Seven Stages of Grief, in it’s nook.  You only saw direct nudity when you walked from the front to the back, or if you came in through the back entrance. It was slightly cordoned off, but still a part of the show.

The Seven Stages of Grief, in it’s nook. You only saw direct nudity when you walked from the front to the back, or if you came in through the back entrance. It was slightly cordoned off, but still a part of the show.

I was honored by how many of my friends, family, and acquaintances attended our show. There was so much support, for all three of us, from this small town. I was able to talk about my Seven Stages and Survey Series with lots of new people, and even had someone try to buy Jon- we got to talk about the series, the piece, and the resulting commission that arose from his portrait. I sold almost all of my pours, and had a family pick out a handful of lumens for gifts. It made my heart happy to have little pieces of me go home with so many new people. It felt so good to have such a warm reception of my work- I was so nervous to both show it and be there when it was seen.

The Survey Series, minus Ian, and with my old banner.

The Survey Series, minus Ian, and with my old banner.

Me, with Christina and Chelsea in front of some of Chelsea’s prints.

Me, with Christina and Chelsea in front of some of Chelsea’s prints.

I had great learning experiences in how to talk about my art quickly and succinctly, and how to quell the giddy pointing of hormonal young men around my nude self portraits. Encouraging them to read the blurb about my Seven Stages of Grief series brought them back to seeing me in the artwork, and not just my breasts. On that note, I had a disclaimer printed up, ready to hang, and we totally forgot it. I was so proud of the attendees of the show; other than the two gentlemen mentioned above, no one had anything to say about the nudity. I won’t be bringing the Grief series to the next festival, at least not the more revealing portraits. I will be bringing a slew of new pours, my lumens, the Survey Series, and some of the pieces of Anna Experiment. Oh- that’s what I titled the works from my sessions with Anna, because I like to name things, the Anna Experiment.

till next time,

SJ

Progress, May 27

Well, I had this beautiful post written out, I hit the publish button, and it deleted it all. No amount of Ctrl+z, back buttons, or screaming at my computer brought it back. Now normally, I write out my posts in Word first, then copy them over to my blog to publish, but for some reason today I did not. So now I will do my best to rewrite what was written.

This week I worked mainly on readying all of my work and materials for my show in Vernal, Utah on May 31. I have been prepping all of the panels to hang, making labels for all the works that will be on display, and gathering all the tools to install the show. I have no idea what our venue looks like on the inside as one of the other women from our show has been handling all of the arrangements for the space. I bought some new, easy to install and remove lighting, spotlights, and lamps for the space. I found some wire display grids at a shop and and got those for hanging larger works without drilling into walls. I have no idea what I will be allowed to do to hang, so I am taking lots of options with me.

Ian and I are driving to Vernal on Thursday, and it will be a test to see how much art and materials we can fit in my car and still manage to fit both of us in it as well. I am bringing the Survey Series, some pours and lumens, and several of the Seven Stages of Grief series. I am also showing 4 of my pieces from my time with Anna, so I will be writing up blurbs for each section of the show. I am a little apprehensive about showing my Seven Stages in Vernal; both for the subject matter and the concept. In a very conservative town, sharing both my body and my grief may not go over well. I am discussing with the other women in the show whether or not to include a warning of the nudity in my works at the entrance of the show.

I did get going on the the second piece of Ian, but in a fit of irritability at how the drawing was going I decided to collage over the top of it. I’m still going to try to get it completed for the show, so here’s to last minute panic as a great motivator!

I’ll post pics from the Art Show next week!

Till then,

SJ

Progress, May 19

Whelp. It’s Sunday. I hope your week went well!

I don’t have a ton of progress to show, as I spent a fair bit of time on Wednesday’s post, and the rest of the time after that in the hospital with my mom, or at the funeral for Geraldine, my best friend’s grandmother. I found out my mom was in the hospital (and that it was serious) and that Geri had died within 3 minutes of each other. Needless to say, my anxiety for my mom and my friend skyrocketed. I still had finishing touches to put on my studio wrap up, so I worked on those Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon, while at work. I got it done, but it was by the skin of my teeth as I was definitely distracted. I was living through the phone calls, texts, and updates from my Aunt and Uncle and my dad, Wade.

I spent Thursday morning in Provo, UT, to see my mom before she went into surgery; then we waited. My Aunt and Uncle were there, along with my dad Wade, while we waited to see how things went. I got the grave news that if she hadn’t been brought to the hospital when she was that she wouldn’t have made it through the night. What’s so scary about that is that my mother is a phenomenally stubborn woman. We’ve had to jostle, cajole, argue, and bribe my mom to go to the hospital before. It’s understandable, her reluctance, because she spends so much time there. Between her liver transplant in 2011, her dialysis, broken hips, ribs, and other ailments, she sees doctors almost more than her family. Sometimes she tries to put off going, to downplay symptoms, to avoid it until absolutely necessary. I’m always terrified when I get voicemails from my dad or vague text messages because we all know my mom isn’t getting better. I’m not ready to lose another parent.

I had to have a frank discussion with my Aunt and Uncle about what’s coming and how to keep her morale up, to keep her fighting. My Uncle is doing his best to be there for his sister, and I know this has been hard on him as well. I lost my dad Mike in September and I’m not ready to lose my mom. She and I often don’t see eye to eye, and her medications have made her say cruel things in the past, but she’s still my mom. Her dementia has been worsening, but she’s aware of it now, and it’s helped our relationship. I love her. I want her to see me graduate. I want to share that accomplishment with her, to be able to show her I did good things with the life she gave me. Do you hear that, Universe? I want my mom to get to see that. I’m keeping her until then. You can’t have her yet.

On Saturday I got up very early and drove up to Logan, UT to be there for Laura and her family as they said goodbye to Grandma Geri. She was an incredibly sweet, kindhearted woman who was a part of my life for the last 14 years. I managed to not totally destroy my makeup during the services, and I got to hug a lot of people I hadn’t seen since September. It was bittersweet.

In the work I did get done…

Beginning of the day to the end.

Beginning of the day to the end.

I finished a piece of Anna that had been sitting sadly in my studio, begging for attention. I’m happy with the way the collage fit together. There’s definitely influence from my Survey Series leaking through here, but I hope in a good way. I had fun with the paint pens, the ink, and the collage elements.

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I also started another of my Seven Stages series, because dammit I am going to get it done! I’ll be working on this one this week, so look for updates on it next week.

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Cheers,

SJ

May 15, Studio Write Up

I am shocked to realize it has been a year since I applied to Transart Institute.  It has been a tumultuous year, with great highs and deep lows, but moments that all contributed to growth. I must thank my advisors, Michael Bowdidge and Mark Roth for the patience, input, and guidance they have given me in this process. They encouraged me when I felt hesitant or unsure, and helped keep me on a path of progress. My cohort group has also been insightful and supportive, while maintaining an honest and helpful voice.  I’ve learned. I have experimented. I was able to create work that felt emotionally and aesthetically resonant.  I have a long way to go, but I feel less like an imposter in my journey.

I revisited my initial creative plan, from my application, and I hate to admit that a fair bit of it went out the window.  I did almost no plein air work aside from some small sketches and I didn’t manage to get in weekly visits to the park.  And that is okay, because my other focus, working from a life, working from multiple models, did factor into my studio very much. I had a solid idea of what I wanted to try with my large pieces, which evolved with every meeting with my advisors.  My focus of portraits, specifically portraits of the people prominent in my day to day life, is the central factor that remained a constant. I am rich in the fact that my framily has been so supportive of what I am doing, and that they have been willing to participate and model for me.

I knew that my plan was already changing during our first residency in Berlin last summer.  I had so many questions, so many ideas that sprang up from our workshops, our conversations, and my readings. I missed having a sounding board of other artists who are interested in your growth as an artist, in helping you to create new and meaningful work.  At the end of the residency I had new research questions as well as the knowledge that my research and my studio practice would be heavily intertwined.  I was so excited and ready to begin this new adventure, and then life threw me some curve balls.

Self Portrait Sketches

Self Portrait Sketches

Study of Ian

Study of Ian

My dad Mike, who had Multiple Sclerosis since I was a baby, was dying. I flew out when we thought he was still going to pull through, then came home. We were wrong, and I went back almost immediately. I was lucky enough to spend the last few weeks of his life sitting with him, reading to him, and holding his hand. He died and I flew back home from California.  I felt relieved, guilty, sadness, anger, and emptiness. I tried to throw myself into this new studio, into my work, but it was hard.  I was grieving and trying to not grieve at the same time. I struggled to get things going, to get the motivation to work with a stranger, according to my plan.

A studio evolution(top to bottom, then left to right): the 3 left photos are from when I first moved in to the basement.  Then I filled it up, even if it was too cold to work in.  Finally, Francis the Dinosaur helped me move in to the new studio upstairs, in which I promptly made a mess.

A studio evolution(top to bottom, then left to right): the 3 left photos are from when I first moved in to the basement. Then I filled it up, even if it was too cold to work in. Finally, Francis the Dinosaur helped me move in to the new studio upstairs, in which I promptly made a mess.

By October I had my space set up, met my model and had our first session.  I had Anna fill out a survey in an attempt to get more of the model’s perspective of arrangement.  I immediately liked her demeanor and we got along well.  I think I was still feeling unsure in my process, and in the way we interacted in our sessions.  I was used to models sitting still, not talking, and not having much of an affect on the final work- but Anna wanted to have conversations with me while I painted.  She gestured and she moved.  She smiled, looked around the room, sometimes even brought her adorable little dogs.  It was a new way to connect to my model.  I don’t feel I was able to get as academically accurate a depiction of Anna, but I was able to capture more of how our sessions went with each work. 

All of the Iterations of Anna… From L to R, top to bottom:   Anna in Progress ,  Anna’s Colors ,  Unfinished Anna ,  Anna Rolling ,  Anna’s Face ,  Anna in Bloom .

All of the Iterations of Anna… From L to R, top to bottom:

Anna in Progress, Anna’s Colors, Unfinished Anna, Anna Rolling, Anna’s Face, Anna in Bloom.

Anna in Bloom .

Anna in Bloom.

We had our last session in December. I had initially planned on having her sit for one more piece but our schedules never seemed to line up again. I also got to move my studio from the frigid basement to an enclosed space upstairs. It felt like my fingers would fall off in the basement and this area was properly heated and had a locking door.  It feels much more like a proper studio, and I love working on my paintings in my new space.

Of course I have my eyes shut… Happily freezing for the Walkie Talkie Dream Garden Soundwalk with Dafna Naphtali and the rest of the TI gang. Thanks to Peter for the photo!

Of course I have my eyes shut… Happily freezing for the Walkie Talkie Dream Garden Soundwalk with Dafna Naphtali and the rest of the TI gang. Thanks to Peter for the photo!

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While in California with my Dad, some of my work was on display at The Red Fox in Logan, UT, as a part of the Gallery Stroll in conjunction with The Block Film and Art Festival. I wasn’t able to hang any of it, but my friends took good care of my work.

While in California with my Dad, some of my work was on display at The Red Fox in Logan, UT, as a part of the Gallery Stroll in conjunction with The Block Film and Art Festival. I wasn’t able to hang any of it, but my friends took good care of my work.

The new space was much needed after our January residency. There were so many modern portrait artists, persons using beautiful colors, symbols, and painting the people around them! I truly felt like my path was being considered by our Transart advisors and faculty, and I found a plethora of new artists to follow for inspiration.  The Drawing Center was a brilliant moment for me.  I got to see how other artists are incorporating symbols and collaging into their portrait work (even if the collaging is drawn on).  Elijah Burgher’s work was especially moving to me, as I saw portraits painted entirely from symbols created in a language only known by the artist.  I don’t think I will move to that far of abstracted portraits for most of my work, but the idea took root.

I was also encouraged to find ways to bring my love of cosplay into my studio practice.  I’m not entirely sure how that is going to work, but its something I am formulating now. I have spoken with my advisors on possible ways to bring cosplay and portraiture, specifically my style of portraiture, together, and next year I will implement some of those ideas.  I am both excited and terrified to see how it goes.

Getting Betty complete was so fulfilling, but getting to wear her with the rest of my Rat Queens made it so much better!

Getting Betty complete was so fulfilling, but getting to wear her with the rest of my Rat Queens made it so much better!

So much progress, so much work, but it was all worth it! The three biggest prop builds I did for this group: the daggers for Betty and the shield and belt piece for Dee.

So much progress, so much work, but it was all worth it! The three biggest prop builds I did for this group: the daggers for Betty and the shield and belt piece for Dee.

I am so pleased with the final iteration of Carnage and how Chiseled Light helped me capture her essence in these photos.  Creating a character who got to live out some of my more violent tendencies (the build became a pseudo-self portrait), an alternate self, was a blast.

I am so pleased with the final iteration of Carnage and how Chiseled Light helped me capture her essence in these photos. Creating a character who got to live out some of my more violent tendencies (the build became a pseudo-self portrait), an alternate self, was a blast.

Fabric is here, patterns have been cut out, and mannequins are ready to be draped.  We are making slow but steady progress now on our Rococo Disney princesses.  Holy horseradish, these gowns are going to be soooo heavy!

Fabric is here, patterns have been cut out, and mannequins are ready to be draped. We are making slow but steady progress now on our Rococo Disney princesses. Holy horseradish, these gowns are going to be soooo heavy!

Unfortunately, one of my projects has had to take a bit of a back seat- The Symbol of the 12, which was a part of Man Bar, has been temporarily shelved, as all of those involved had have major work schedule shifts, so finding a dedicated time to meet has been difficult. Meeting has been spotty at best, so we are working on figuring out a way to get back on track.

The Symbol of the 12 (we call these our cult bags) and the individual symbols of each god.

The Symbol of the 12 (we call these our cult bags) and the individual symbols of each god.

When I got home, I started the process for my Survey Series, based on the process of inquiry with Anna and the help of my advisors.  My research focused on the relationship between artist and model and how that can impact the final work that arises from the partnership. My original goal was to find a way to limit my influence as much as possible to get an artwork that showcased the pure essence of the model.  Yes, it sounds a bit silly to me now, but I had experienced my aesthetic choices taking over the portrait of a friend, to the point she became a placeholder and the work stopped being a portrait of her. I wanted to avoid that, so I set up a new survey, a new questionnaire, with 8 friends who volunteered to be a part of the experiment.  I asked for what they wanted to see in a portrait, how they wanted it created, in what mediums, etc. I didn’t know how I was going to make all these very different portraits feel like they belong together, and I was terrified that my friends wouldn’t like what I created.  I wanted to make a work that captured who these people are to me, how important and loved they are, without me overshadowing them.  As I spoke with my advisors I realized that I couldn’t completely erase myself from the portrait for a number of reasons; A- I was the one creating the work, B- our relationship is what fueled the piece to begin with, so our mutual experiences are what shaped how I see them and how we interact. Once I had made my peace with that knowledge, the first few of the series went really well. Even when I hit snags in the process, I enjoyed making each part of the piece. And the reactions to the finished work was rewarding, as Lou and Christie loved what I had created.

L to R, top to bottom:   Lou ,  Christie ,  Ian ,  Carly ,  Ally ,  Jon ,  Baron ,  CL ; all are 9”x12”, mixed media on panel.

L to R, top to bottom: Lou, Christie, Ian, Carly, Ally, Jon, Baron, CL; all are 9”x12”, mixed media on panel.

Lou , Mixed media on panel   Christie , mixed media on panel

Lou, Mixed media on panel

Christie, mixed media on panel

Carly , Acrylic, acetate, and collage on panel   Ian , Acrylic on panel

Carly, Acrylic, acetate, and collage on panel

Ian, Acrylic on panel

Ally , Acrylic, acetate, ink, and foam on panel   Jon , Collage on panel

Ally, Acrylic, acetate, ink, and foam on panel

Jon, Collage on panel

Baron , Mixed media on panel   CL , Acrylic and acetate on panel

Baron, Mixed media on panel

CL, Acrylic and acetate on panel

Then I hit Ian’s piece.  He wanted a very realistic portrait, in either black and white or very natural colors, which is not how I feel comfortable working. It was a challenge, and I don’t think I succeeded with his piece, especially in comparison to the other 7 in the series. It doesn’t have the same emotional resonance that the other works do, and I feel it doesn’t quite fit with the series.  I learned from the failure of his piece, in comparison with the others, that it’s okay to keep some of my favorite tools.  It is okay to know what my strengths are and where my weaknesses are as an artist.  I learned that pulling too much of myself out of a work can make it less successful, and less impactful. I still plan on redoing his portrait, but with less realistic colors and a collaged background that I hope will more accurately portray how I see him and how important he is to me.

Various Pours as either color studies or stress relief.

Various Pours as either color studies or stress relief.

A few random pages from my sketch book and some digital collaging that I printed out as I try to figure out the logististics of hanging the Survey Series, and possible expansions for the series.

A few random pages from my sketch book and some digital collaging that I printed out as I try to figure out the logististics of hanging the Survey Series, and possible expansions for the series.

I also learned, over the course of this past year, that I tend to be overly optimistic with how much I can accomplish in a set amount of time.  I had planned on having my Seven Stages of Grief series finished at the end of this year, and yet I still have pieces to finish. I realize I had to put them aside for a bit while I grieved my dad; it was too fresh and painful to work on while still mourning him. I got one large piece started this month for the series, and I hope to have it finished by the end of the month.  It’s good to keep setting goals, and I plan to work that into my next year, setting smaller goals that can compound.  I’ve also noticed that having the weekly blog helps me keep track of my progress better and writing each week has helped me detangle some of my thoughts and processes in my head. I’m making good habits and building a good base for my studio practice. 

In-progress piece for the Seven Stages series.

In-progress piece for the Seven Stages series.

I’m excited for the next residency and to keep developing as an artist.  I feel like I’ve made progress in so many areas, and I feel slightly less like an imposter after the work of this past year.  My framily, my advisors, my cohort, and my school have given me the space, the structure and the freedom to grow. 

Thank you for following along on this process!

Progress, May 12

Happy Mother’s Day, to all the people out there being mothers!

This week’s post is short and sweet, because I’m bringing you a great post, a studio reflection, on Wednesday. Also, I’m a tired cat- this week was a whirlwind!

I filled in for my boss at work this week as he’s had some medical issues and doctor’s appointments; I am happy to say he is well! Let me just say I am glad I don’t do his job all the time- it made finagling my studio time a little trickier because I was off of my usual schedule. I did get my large piece of Anna finished though, and I’ve titled it Anna in Bloom. I spent at least 16 hours hunched over the panel, pouring pigment into the different levels and my back is very angry with me over it. I never cease to be amazed at how much I hate the first few layers I pour, thinking I have ruined the whole thing, and then am satisfied with how it all looks dried. I’m excited to see this finished, as it took much more time to complete than I had anticipated.

From the beginning of the week to the end of the week.

From the beginning of the week to the end of the week.

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Anna in Bloom, Acrylic on Panel, 36”x48,” 2019.

I also worked on one other piece of Anna that I want to finish for the studio review; We’ll see if I get it completed in time. I think I tend to underestimate how much time I will actually spend on each piece I create which leads me to being overly optimistic on how much I can finish in any given time frame. It’s something I’ll work on better next semester.

And as mentioned, here are a few shots of my cosplay Carnage, from the photoshoot I did with Chiseled Light Photography. It was really grounding for the character to be in a “natural” environment for her, it felt good to get dirty, play with rusty things, and scare/confuse the junkyard workers. Enjoy, Sheila!

Carnage, photos courtesy of Chiseled Light Photography

Carnage, photos courtesy of Chiseled Light Photography

I also got to celebrate the birthday of Lou, one of my friends/models from the Survey Series. We grilled, played some games, and soaked up some sunshine. I love this lady, so so much. Here’s her portrait with a photo from her birthday shenanigans yesterday.

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Till Wednesday,

SJ


Progress, May 5

Happy Cinco de Mayo, Revenge of the 5th, and a belated Free Comic Book Day and May the 4th be With You!

This week consisted of a lot of writing, editing, and second-guessing myself to turn in my final research paper. Then I finished up my portrait of CL and continued to work to finish up a few straggling pieces in my studio. I was a bit stumped on how to adjust the background for CL without doing a complete color shift. I’ve chatted with her about the ephemeral, and I love her sparkling personality. At first I thought about adding an overall layer of interference, but it didn’t seem complex enough for her, and neither did adding sparklers. I really contemplated the way she helps people find the bright, the light, in dark times, in unhappy times. She helps people to bring things in their life full circle, so I added bubbles, but not hyper realistic bubbles. Bubbles that are light without masking completely the darkness behind them, but that make that darkness less scary to face. She wanted purple, so I gave her so much purple! I haven’t had a chance to share the finished piece with her in person yet, but I will get to do so this week. I am looking forward and also very nervous to see her reaction.

The original background, the original transparency, and two progress shots…

The original background, the original transparency, and two progress shots…

CL

CL

I’m still plugging away at the large poured portrait of Anna. I finally got all of the succulent pattern painted in and can begin the pouring this week. The halo took a bit to work out color-wise, but I feel it looks like it’s progressing well as a whole. I hope to share it finished with you next week!

Slowly but surely getting this completed…

Slowly but surely getting this completed…

Now, for a response from my group’s critique session of the Survey Series:

Sheila, thank you for the positive sentiments! I love that the Survey series is appealing to those of us who love the tactile elements of a painting. I enjoyed including new textures, 3d elements, and a variety of sheens.  I am excited to start a new Survey Series with the next round of people, hopefully this summer, to expand and experiment more. I am so glad people want to explore the settings I am putting the models in, because they are very much microcosms, little universes that belong to my models.  Each background helps tell their story, incorporates elements they either asked for or what I felt was fitting for their personas. 

Peter, thank you for your comments; I want to play with text elements and symbolism, and I will be following that concept to see where it leads, how it can incorporate into the portraits. I feel like this series has allowed me to take the best pieces of my previous work and take it down new paths and create works that are more successful while still being intimate and convey a relationship between model and artist.

Rudi, thanks for the insight in on having more open-ended questions for a future survey.  The whole idea was to give as many choices over to my models, and some of the questions, I feel, were very straight forward, but I can also see how those things may be very foreign to a less art-centric person.  I think I will tweak the survey for the next round, because I definitely have to try another round.

A few of my group as well as my advisors have expressed an interest in seeing me combine my portrait paintings with my love of cosplay somehow. It is something I have wanted to do for a time, but combining cosplay and portraiture- I’m still figuring out how to do that, in my style of artwork, and how to incorporate costume in the portrait without it becoming a portrait of the character/costume. Mark mentioned that the cosplay portraits could almost become a triad of personas in the work, between the model, the artist, and the character.  There are three different dialogues that could happen, and I want to figure out how to make all three heard.

I have a lot of work to do and some ends to wrap up!

Till next week,

SJ

M503 Final Paper

Sarah Jane Eaton

Michael Bowdidge and Mark Roth

M503 Year 1

30 April 2019

The Relationships Between Artist, Model, and Work

The following research examines the relationship between Model and Artist, a dynamic that has changed and shifted with each new artist and model. I focused my attention on the ways the relationship affects the final artwork, the effect on the process of creating a piece, and how much of each participant is visible in the final work. Through examining the recorded connections between past artists and models, as well as my own studio research, I will document how artists are influenced by their models and the relationships with them and how the final artwork captures those associations.

The way our personal biases, experiences, social structures, and communications shape our interactions with one another creates a lens through which we perceive each other. This filter can be very strong if an artist has a current or direct connection with their model and will impact the final image. Because of this, I worked with models who were acquaintances and friends, myself through self-portraits, and strangers, to compare the undercurrents and the connection between model and artist.

Part of my studio research involves giving my models a stronger role in the partnership of creation by allowing them to make choices in how they are depicted, which will hopefully allow me to capture more of their essence- their persona- on my panel. I do not want to completely remove myself from the process or the final piece, but in some works I endeavored to limit the level of my individual aesthetic, my filters, that may cloud the persona of my models. In others I let my perception of the model take over. I found a distinct difference in how successful a piece became when I tried to eliminate my presence completely.

This paper aims to give shape and voice to the model and their contributions to artists, to highlight the power dynamics present, and to investigate the ways the model/artist relationship changes the art produced.

The relationship between model and artist can have a profound effect on the artwork generated from the sessions spent together. The artworks describe the form as well as the presence of the model, which in turn gives shape to the connection the model shared with the artist. There is a balance of responsibility and dependency between the two, which has historically been skewed in the artist’s favor. My questions are: Can the artist give more voice to their models, relinquishing choices, allowing for the model to have a more participatory role? Is this visible in a work of art? How much of the relationship is present in the final work, and does that make each portrait, in part, a self-portrait of the artist?

First, we need to examine some of the traditional arrangements between the model and artist. There will always be some level of association, whether it is professional or personal, between the model and artist. Models were either the subject of the artwork or a placeholder, depending on what the artist projected on to them in the work. Very often little was known about a model, even though their face/body/likeness was preserved in the work of the artist. Even though there is a partnership needed in the creation of a work of art, between the model and the artist, the artist rarely credits the model. This partnership can extend beyond the studio into personal life via friendship, romantic relations, or acquaintanceship (Oakley).

Figure models were often thought of as barely above prostitutes in the 1800’s, regardless of their relationships outside of the studio, just a person to pay for the use of their body. The model was there as a physical object for the artist to capture the light, the form, detached from personal life. Howard Oakley brings this up when referencing Joanna Hiffernan, an Irish woman who transcended the professional role to become a companion to multiple artists. She appears in paintings by both James Abbott McNeill Whistler and Gustave Courbet and was a lover to both. In some of their works, she is named in the titles where other works she takes on the mantle of the mannequin, standing in for fictitious characters (Oakley). It presents the question of whether she would have been named had she not had such close relationships with the artists? She became a part of their personal lives, attached to more than just the canvases she graced.

As an artist, I am more interested in painting the people around me, my friends, family, and acquaintances as they are rather than using them as stand ins for specific poses. They inspire me and encourage me. I will admit that there must be some attraction, but for me it is rarely sexual. Gilbert J. Rose examines the ambiguity of the model/artist pairing, noting that often the act of posing for a painting is a way to sanction a relationship between a model and the artist, but that artists such as Picasso and Henri Matisse saw themselves as the most important element, and that the model was simply a “trampoline” off of which they could bounce themselves (Rose). Since my models are primarily from my daily life, I feel like I humanize them more; I am not looking for what I can get out of them, but rather a way to give back to the important individuals in my life.

One of the most significant pieces I set out to create, which was not a self-portrait, was of a dear friend named Joanna who agreed to sit for a session. The original concept had a beautiful, detailed, and vibrant design, bringing in my love of Byzantine halos and Art Nouveau framework. I had a great plan to use drawing, collage, and tar gel, but I could not make it work. The painting fought me as soon as I started drawing on the panel and kept fighting me until I took a step back. I realized the concept was too busy for my minimalist friend, that I was projecting onto them because we had a history, a past relationship that my brain was trying to push on to her portrait. She was becoming a placeholder and not a subject, until I scaled down what I saw as my influence on her esthetic. I felt like our friendship and my excitement were obscuring her persona in my original rough draft, as if there was too much of me accounted for in the image. This led me to the question of what percentage of me and what percentage of her was in the first piece versus the final painting? How much was actual presence, and how much was a product of misplaced enthusiasm?

I wanted to show Joanna as she is, without my influence diminishing her essence in the painting. An article in The International Journal of Psychoanalysis recounts a panel discussion on the relationship’s artists have with their models, and not just the humans in front of them but the mental models as well. Harold and Elsa Blum bring up how Pablo Picasso painted his “’family’ of friends” into his work, but that he also superimposed his own symbolic costuming, creating self-portraits of the figures included in Family of Saltimbanques (1). Not only does he remove their essence in this way, leaving only their resemblance, but he uses other elements to reinforce his superiority in the group, reminding the viewer (or himself, or them?) that he is the most important element to the dynamic (Miller, J. David & Gilbert J. Rose (2005).

I wanted to know how the relationships of artists and models may affect the final artworks generated from their time together. One of the most well-known figure painters is Picasso. Much has been written about his tumultuous affairs, marriages, and unions with almost all his female models. His relationship with surrealist artist Dora Maar led to some of his most iconic paintings, including Dora Maar au Chat (2), and the relationship they shared is evident in the way her portrayed her. Their turbulent time together is detailed in the way he has taken her apart and remade her. The sharp angles and distinct lines that dismantle her body, reconstructing her broken form, the red slash at her neck all feel violent. Even the color on her arms is set in separate, unblended sections, further rupturing her to pieces. The only place on her we see a softening is in the color on her rearranged face. She is so large in an imposing chair, filling the space of the room floor to ceiling, side to side. He painted her as a person who filled the space of a room which may seem flattering or may seem domineering, and her claw-like fingernails are a clue to her fierceness. I also found it interesting that the cat suffers no fragmentation, just basic flattening and scale reduction. Unlike Maar, this kitten does not seem to have hurt Picasso in any meaningful ways.

In the article, “Pablo Picasso: Women are Either Goddesses or Doormats,” Mark Hudson details the many models with which the artist engaged in affairs, relationships, and even marriage. Picasso would even see multiple women at the same time, sometimes pitting them against each other. The models were used up, drained of what he could extract from their lives, then discarded for the next woman. Hudson also notes on the mental health of Picasso’s models, after their relationship had ended, and it is not a comforting idea that many of his models struggled with depression, isolation, or other issues after parting company with the artist.

It seems curious then, that in his late life he met a young woman whom he could not conquer. Sylvette came to his attention in the spring of 1954, with multiple drawings and paintings coming from their modeling sessions, often portraying her with her high ponytail. The care and delicacy of the linework, the gentleness in her fragmentation for his cubist works seems almost reverential to me (3). Some critics write off the work from this era as less emotional, but I like the idea that Picasso could still create beautiful, moving work, without having to sleep with the model, without destroying another human being (Sooke). They had very different relationships which I feel is obvious in the ways he portrayed the two distinct women.

In my readings I came across an article from Grace Glueck where she proposes that many of her contemporary artists (the 1980’s) choose to work from professional models to eliminate “the complex psychological, emotional and sexual overtones of such relationships” that arise from working with close friends, relatives, or lovers. She too comments on the way Picasso worked his way through lovers as models, and that his catalog is virtually a documentation of his conquests. His associations with his models were almost always intimate, where many artists prefer to keep a professional distance. She notes that some artists still prefer the familiarity of working with known models, often documenting their growth and changes, both physically and emotionally, across a span of works.

This left me to wonder about how these varying levels of intimacy could affect the final work, or how that relationship may be evident in the portrayal of the model. “The Artist’s Model” details the way the dynamic between the two can shift. It demonstrates how the artist can make visible emotions, and how they can manipulate the medium to make an image that is both representational of an individual while at the same time creating a foreign entity (Gordon). My models are all people close to me, persons with whom I share a close connection. I am constantly learning about them and the ways we connect as I create around them. Even when I paint myself, it helps me to articulate my emotional state, my thoughts, and my ideas. I can explore my relationship with myself, or my relationship with my model through the work.

I have always worked with models that I knew on some level, even in my undergraduate studies, people with which I shared connections. I am not unique in this instance, as contemporary artists use people in their immediate lives as models. Wendy Weitman notes that Elizabeth Peyton “turned to those around her, friends and colleagues, many of whom are also artists, whose beauty has affected her own life deeply” to pose as models, when reviewing the works included in Ghost. While Peyton is recognized for her depictions of celebrities and historical figures, she also includes her close friends.

Since I almost exclusively use friends and relatives as models, I was curious to see if my artwork looked different, if it felt different from my usual style if I used a model who was a stranger to me. There was no personal relationship, no shared history to influence how I saw the model or to color my perception of them. I put out a call for individuals willing to be a part of my research and who I had never met before. That was how I came to know Anna. We had a connection through a mutual friend, and she agreed to pose for me as well as answer questions about the process from her point of view.

I encouraged Anna to pose however she felt most at ease, and at the level of nudity with which she was comfortable; I wanted this to be a positive experience for each of us. She asked to have conversations while I worked, rather than a silent session. This presented a challenge as she moved while we talked, becoming very animated at various moments in the exchange. It gave me more insight into her mannerisms, her expressions, and her personality. Even though we began as strangers, our familiarity grew into an acquaintanceship, then eventually a friendship, with both of us becoming more relaxed in each session. We had conversations about large and small things, and I began to see our relationship evolve. As I would paint, Anna would comment on the colors, how I painted her nose, the way I used the various materials, and we began to share ideas.

I had begun a large painting of Anna from our first sitting, combined with a few notes she gave me as a part of a questionnaire. I had asked for simple symbols to include in a work that would be self-described, without my filter on her persona. I worked on this larger piece concurrently with our smaller sessions from life, and I was amazed to see how it evolved as we began to be better acquainted. There was an issue that kept coming up in my studio research- how do I create a work that has less of my own schema filtered on to that of my model? I still saw some of my perception of her personality filtering in, and I wanted to lessen my influence to give Anna a portrait that was wholly her.

I also realized how dependent the artist is on the model when it comes to creating. If the model is late, or does not show, the work cannot progress. There were times our schedules did not match up and we would go weeks without getting to work together. In her blog post “The Relationship Between Artist and Model,” for the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Ellen Altfest remarked, “It might seem like the artist has all the power in the artist model relationship, but the model has a real power, and that is the power to leave.” Unless a portrait artist works solely from photographs or in self-portraits, this is one of the greatest powers a model has over the artist. I feel that I want to give more emphasis, more voice to my models; I want to hear their side of the story, share the power with them.

Some artists involve their models to higher degrees than others. Maynard Dixon became friends with his model George Whitewing, eventually collaborating on other projects, becoming equal creative contributors (Winther). Dixon’s poem “Interpreter” conveys the idea that the artist is interpreting a living moment, an idea, and capturing it, where as the model is doing their best to interpret the intent, the drive or need of the artist, to feed it back to them. Alberto Giacometti exemplified this, believing that his models were active participants in the process. James Lord shared his account of being painted by Giacometti, who actively sought his model’s opinion and input (Lord). It is fascinating to see an extended account of a sitting from the model’s perspective, as we often only see the finished artwork, with some blurb from the artist.

Another account of a sitting with a famous portrait artist comes from Mary D. Garrard, when she commissioned, with her mother, a portrait by Alice Neel (4). Garrard offers a keen take on the proclivities of the artist, the way she pulled out truths from her models to embed in the paint, the way she liked to catch them off guard. Garrard recounts how Neel insisted on painting her just as she was when she walked into the studio. It was a choice she made, as the artist, on how best to capture the persona of Garrard on a canvas. The pose, the androgyny, the flattening of color are all characteristics familiar in Neel’s portraits, the choices she made as the artist to convey who her model was. Her choices, not the model’s- her influence, her presence is in the work, a filter on the model. I wondered if I could limit my choices, allowing for more of the models’ essence, their persona to shine through my work.

I began, with the help of my advisers, to relinquish some of my choices to my models. With Anna, I made the choices on the canvas, she made the choices of the form. I was still painting her with some of my byzantine-styled halos, with patterns creating a background, with unnatural color. But I wanted to go further. I wanted to explore what would happen if I gave my models the chance to make the majority of the choices for their portraits, and what that might do to the resulting work. Could I limit my presence in a work, to get an unfiltered depiction of my models? I asked for a group of friends to be a part of this experiment, giving them a survey on what they would want to see, how they would want to be painted by me.

I gave my models the decisions on materials, style, even the pose and framing of the portrait. My goal was to give them as many choices as possible to capture a more complete version of them. Most of the eight participants gave some of the choices back to me, one gave almost all the decision-making power back to me, and one was very determined in what he wanted to see me create. On the lenient end, Lou gave me very minimal direction; she wanted a close-up portrait with bright colors and elements of collage. At first, I was a little dismayed that she did not have more preferences, but she assured me that she trusted me to make something beautiful that displayed our friendship (5). I combined painting, drawing, and collage to create a unique piece, free from constraints. I am now looking to artists such as Mickalene Thomas for inspiration to incorporate collage and assemblage into my paintings. Her work is expressive, dimensional, and layered, and the way she combines various mediums into one image feels very deliberate, as if she is selecting each element to represent the model accurate to her perception of them.

On the opposite end, Ian was very specific in the way he wanted to see himself portrayed, with an emphasis on what I liked about him. I struggled with his portrait. His choices eliminated most of my standard art-making avenues, and I did not know how to complete the work to his satisfaction without my usual tools at my disposal (6). My vibrant, emotional colors, my abstractions and exaggerations were gone. I was left with a portrait that feels less solid than the others, less representative of how I actually feel about Ian. In comparing the emotion of Lou’s portrait and Ian’s, I think I limited myself too much- I took too much of myself out of his portrait that it feels less dimensional than the other works in the experiment. In trying to limit myself, I limited the amount of our relationship that could show in the painting.

This realization reinforced my idea that all portraits are a type of self-portrait, in that we are capturing our relationship with the model in the way we paint them. This also made me recognize that my goal of eliminating the artist’s presence in a piece is counterproductive to creating emotionally resonant work. We can try to lessen the percentage of our essence in a piece, but removing it completely takes some of the strength of the portrayal away. While I had to remove some of my aesthetic from my piece of Joanna, I still wanted to convey my love and appreciation for her. I can reign in my ideas, so I don’t smother the presence of my model without taking away the richness our relationship gives the artwork.

The relationship between model and artist can have a profound effect on the artwork generated from the sessions spent together. Being aware of the type of relationship you have with your model allows you to manage how that is portrayed in your work. As artists, we are responsible for recognizing how our models influence our creative processes and giving them credit for how they contribute to the progression and completion of our work. We have the ability to capture our connections and preserve them, honoring their vital role in our artistry.

1.  Family of Saltimbanques,  Pablo Picasso, Oil on Canvas, 1905

1. Family of Saltimbanques, Pablo Picasso, Oil on Canvas, 1905

2.  Dora Maar au Chat , Pablo Picasso, Oil on Canvas, 1941

2. Dora Maar au Chat, Pablo Picasso, Oil on Canvas, 1941

3.  Portrait de Sylvette David 21 , Pablo Picasso, Oil on Canvas, 1954

3. Portrait de Sylvette David 21, Pablo Picasso, Oil on Canvas, 1954

4.  Mary D. Garrard 1977 , Alice Neel, 1977

4. Mary D. Garrard 1977, Alice Neel, 1977

5.  Ian , Sarah Jane Eaton, Acrylic and Ink on Panel, 2019

5. Ian, Sarah Jane Eaton, Acrylic and Ink on Panel, 2019

6.  Lou , Sarah Jane Eaton, Mixed Media on Panel, 2019

6. Lou, Sarah Jane Eaton, Mixed Media on Panel, 2019

Bibliography:

Progress, April 27

Happy Saturday!  This is coming in a day early as tomorrow will be jam packed with nerdiness.  We have a Rat Queens photoshoot first thing in the morning, then a Dungeons and Dragons session, all wrapped up with an episode of Game of Thrones at the end.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to fit a nice round of writing in there without bailing on long made plans, so here ya go. 

It felt good to get back to studio work this week.  After recovering from con, managing to dodge con crud, and putting my house back together I got down to business on CL and Baron (no huns were defeated, sadly). I was able to get the piece of Baron completed, and I’m about 75% through with CL.  I also got another edit of my paper finished, reviewed, and just have to make my final edits before turning it in.  I can’t believe the semester will be over in just a few weeks, but I’m also relieved as I have 2 art shows to gear up for and cracking down hard on our Disney Rococo starts as soon as I turn in my final reflection.  I also received a commission from an individual who wants me to create an entire series of portraits done in the style of Jon’s piece, with the layering of paper and possibly thicker layers, personalized for each model.  It makes my heart happy that the work I’m doing is resonating so well with those who view it.  I hope the Survey Series goes over well at the shows this summer. 

IMG_0576.jpg

I got to share Baron’s portrait with him last night.  He grinned his big silly grin and just giggled a bit when he first saw it, which was a good sign.  I got to explain all of the elements I included, with which he seemed very pleased. I began his piece with the most “natural” background paper I had, an earthy brown with a leaf motif done in a raw umber, outlined in pale beige.  I added a digital image I had made of his light levels, taking it down to basic lines, and collaged that on to the panel.  I then built up layers of transparent paint, beginning with yellows, then adding oranges, reds, and finally burnt umber and raw umber.  By the time I had finished the deepest shades, they original yellow wasn’t as “poppy” as I wanted, so I went through and added elements of neon yellow in the highlights and for his zipper teeth. I loved the color gradation and the way it references fire.

Baron is our nature boy, and worked summers at a scout camp, so I wanted to include elements of fire (he’s bordering on being a pyromaniac), camping, and dirt (he is also always joking about just laying in the dirt).  Instead of a halo I gave him a haze of gold, as if the gold is the heat distortion rising from the fire he became, but the gold is still there, keeping that “holy” element.  I knew I also wanted to include matches and duct tape, as they are some of his staples for camping, and somehow incorporate the essence of the 12, as Baron helped us create the Cult of the 12.  I struggled with getting the burnt matches to stop breaking as I tried to attach them to the piece.  My original idea was to frame all of the edges in a pattern of matches, but they kept breaking. Then I realized I could include 12 matches, half of them burnt, half of them whole, to represent the 12 gods.  I was still trying to find a good way to reinforce the burnt matches and wound up dipping them in mod podge and flex bond to stop them from crumbling .  I wrapped the edges in duct tape and secured the matches to the panel with more tape.  More mod podge filled in the gaps in the tape, which was too shiny and got a dry brushing with more burnt umber to dirty it up.  I added the hexagon stickers for Baron’s passion for D&D as well as the 3 main gods from the 12, further bringing that to the surface.  It’s not a super shiny painting, it’s a little dirty, and a little bumpy, but warm and cozy, just like Baron.  I’m pleased with how it turned out and how it fits in the series.

Close up of progress on CL.

Close up of progress on CL.

CL’s piece is coming along as well.  I need to finish her face, and add more oomf to her hair.  I am absolutely having a blast adding layers and layers to her hair.  Some of it is matte, some gloss, some is mixed with interference, some has more opacity, other spots have lots of layers of transparent paint built up.  I am still decided on how to incorporate a few elements into a background that fits with where the rest of the painting has gone.  The original background seems a bit too dark, and not quite right.  It will be something to work on this week. I feel like her personality it beginning to shine through though, so it’s going in a good direction.  Well, I think that is all for this week, friends.

I’m off to bed for a good night’s sleep to prep for the shenanigans tomorrow.

Cheers!

Progress, but not really, April 21

I am a very tired, very happy, almost sick, human. This week was jam-packed with costuming, every single day. Smooshed into every day, around my work schedule, we ground out all of the Rat Queens, a demon, a few Game of Thrones character touch-ups, and an artwork con kit.  Each day there were friends at our house frantically finishing our cosplays for FanX, which took place April 19-20 at the Salt Palace downtown.  I was finished with Betty at the beginning of the week, so I spent quite a few hours helping my friends get their costumes put together.  Con Crunch was in full effect, doing all of the last-minute painting, attaching, accessorizing, and planning for wearing a costume for 8+ hours on a convention floor.  Inevitably, there are issues last minute, including foam pieces melting, shoes breaking, losing bits, and makeup malfunctions.  Luckily, as all of those happened, we either had a quick fix or a “well, fuck it,” attitude that allowed us to have a blast. 

Sleep was not my friend this weekend, as most nights I was lucky to get to sleep by 11pm.  My Friday and Saturday started with my panic-waking at 4:30am each morning, afraid I would sleep through my alarm.  Needless to say, I got a little loopy each day from sleep deprivation.  It made for an interesting convention…  I got painted by CrowCawFx (https://crowcawfx.com/) at 7am Friday morning.  We made it to the convention by 10am (after running in to the store on the way and freaking a few people out) where we spent the next 10 hours running around for pictures, photo ops, and supporting fellow cosplayers and artists in Cosplay Central.  Kapi and I made a point to try to stay in character when interacting with new people, which was hilarious.  We often got asked what we were from, a common question asked by fans if unfamiliar with your cosplay character.  With perfect deadpan, we replied, “Hell,” and watched the processing zoom across their faces.  The “play” part of cosplay is one of my favorite elements, because it takes costuming into the realm of performance art.  I’m not just wearing a cosplay, I am performing the character on a grand and very personal scale, and it can be exhausting.

Over six feet tall and raising hell!  Photos courtesy of FanX, Chiseled Light, and Mark Loertscher.

Over six feet tall and raising hell! Photos courtesy of FanX, Chiseled Light, and Mark Loertscher.

 I made it home by 9:30pm to spend over an hour scrubbing red paint off of my body.  I’m still getting pink off in my shower today.

The next day I was back at con by 8:30am to get my prosthetic ears put on by Jonathon before all the people were allowed on the vendor floor.  Being in character for Betty was so easy.  She loves candy, drinking, psychedelics, and her friends.  When the rest of my Queens made it to the con my shift at the booth was over, so we roamed the convention floor, looking for wares on which to spend our coin.  Drinking the whole time.  I may have been inebriated, but we were so in character that the few people who recognized us loved it.  I fed tiny chocolate candy mushrooms to our security detail (***See footnote on security below), told everyone I was absolutely scarier than a squirrel, and generally made mischief and fun all day.  At the end of the con, we cut off all our feet (ha! we wish), loaded out our booth, and collapsed into piles of tired people-goo.  

Betty the Smidgen!  I am really proud of how this turned out. Being Betty for the day was a blast, and it was even better with the rest of my Queens by my side…

Betty the Smidgen! I am really proud of how this turned out. Being Betty for the day was a blast, and it was even better with the rest of my Queens by my side…

Cosplay photos courtesy of Chiseled Light, with FanX.  I think we nailed it.

Cosplay photos courtesy of Chiseled Light, with FanX. I think we nailed it.

To the slaughter, Rat Queens! I am really damn proud of our group.  Photo on the left again courtesy of Chiseled Light and FanX.

To the slaughter, Rat Queens! I am really damn proud of our group. Photo on the left again courtesy of Chiseled Light and FanX.

We got to meet Tom Ellis and Mark Pellegrino, aka Lucifers, from the television shows Lucifer and Supernatural, respectively, with our friend Ekalb the Elf dressed as Constantine.  Tony Todd was very sweet, and Alice Cooper didn’t know what to think of my Betty.

We got to meet Tom Ellis and Mark Pellegrino, aka Lucifers, from the television shows Lucifer and Supernatural, respectively, with our friend Ekalb the Elf dressed as Constantine. Tony Todd was very sweet, and Alice Cooper didn’t know what to think of my Betty.

Since we don’t have a physical location for Cospace at this time, we used our booth to help promote the artistic endeavors of our members.  I had a small sampling of my art up for sale and display and I got to have some really great discussions about my methods, practice, and my studies (a few of my pieces found new homes!  Yay!).  We had work from Yaz, one of our founding members, as well as the work of Lisa and Val.  Our photographer Kirk had a photo backdrop set up, helping promote his work as well as advertising for our Midsummer’s Eve Ball.  {I’m really excited that he is going to do a location shoot for our Rat Queens group this coming Sunday!  We put so much work into our cosplay so I wanted us to have some great shots to show it off.}

Our Cosplay Central guests did an amazing job of promoting their craft, interacting with fans, and having a great time.  It was wonderful to see all of their dedication pay off in well-made costumes, spot-on character play, and some made that money selling prints! 

On top of getting everything ready for FanX, I was asked by a phenomenal photographer to do an on-site shoot in a cosplay of my choosing on Wednesday.  Considering that he is brought in from out of state to shoot cosplay photos for each Salt Lake FanX and always manages to make my cosplays look amazing, I couldn’t say no!  Bryan, aka Chiseled Light Photography (https://www.chiseledlight.com/cosplay) and I met early to go to a scrapyard to set the scene for Carnage.  She’s my first complete Original Character design, so I really wanted to get some stellar images of her in a natural habitat, finding shiny things and dirty things and creepy things in the junkyard.  I got to tell Bryan all about the concept and evolution of Carnage, the induction as an official Anarchy Girls Cosplay member, and scare the hell out of the scrap yard employees.  You see, in Carnage, I am over six feet tall, and with the hair and bullet crown, I stand right around 6’4”.  With the makeup, the armor, and all the bullets, they didn’t really know what to do with me.  Since this shoot was on Wednesday and the convention was Friday and Saturday, I probably won’t get the images back for a few weeks. I’ll share some when I do!

In non-cosplay related news, I was invited to show and sell my work at the John Wesley Powell 150th Fine Arts Festival in June.  I’ll be processing new lumens, creating a few larger pours inspired by the Green and Colorado Rivers once my semester is fully over.  I’m also scouting locations for our Art Show in May when I’m in Vernal this weekend.  I’ll be dealing with some family matters and making some plans for the care of my mother, so wish me luck, as she is not happy about it.  Her memory is deteriorating at an alarming rate and she refuses to admit it or allow us to set up any doctor appointments to address the issue.  This growing up stuff is for the birds; watching my best friend, my mother, become less and less herself is devastating, and it’s definitely taking a toll on our family.  I sometimes wish I could go back to the time when I was young and my mom and dad were invincible, infallible, and would always be there for me.  Besides wearing pants and student loan debt, it’s one of the worst parts of growing up.

Well, on that note, I’m going to put my house back together now, drink some juice, and get ready to hit my studio hard this week! 

Cheers!

SJ

 

***Security.  So, at comic conventions, just like the real world, there are bad eggs.  Cosplayers especially deal with people who either can’t separate character from human or think cosplay=consent.  It does not.  I have had issues with people touching without permission, taking my photo in compromising positions (like making adjustments in a corner or trying for upskirt or downshirt shots), trying to “casually" touch my breasts or backside, and others who just don’t know how to take “NO” for an answer.  Many of the well-known cosplayers deal with this behavior regularly, unfortunately, and some cosplayers deal with stalking.  I, in fact, have a Civil Stalking Injunction against an individual who couldn’t understand that I wanted nothing to do with him and that my cosplay didn’t entitle him to be a part of my life. Court is expensive but worth not having to deal with him again. 

Because of this issue, Salt Lake FanX has a security team dedicated to our cosplayers.  They actively monitor our booths and make sure no one is bothering us, and that known offenders aren’t allowed near us.  They are a phenomenal team; Patrick, their lead, takes great care of us at each convention.  The one downside is that we aren’t allowed to leave the booth without an escort, a security detail to maintain our safety (unfortunately, yes, some cosplayers have been physically assaulted in the past).  Anytime we need to leave the booth for food, bathroom breaks, or to leave for photo-ops or to walk the floor we have a “puppy” with us.  I call them our puppies because they have to follow us around, and it’s absolutely an affectionate term- I genuinely love our security team. 

I have been in trouble with our detail for accidentally losing them in the crowd (distracted by shiny things) or for wandering too far from the booth in conversation, and Patrick usually gets stuck corralling me. (Sometimes he gets stuck shopping with me too, and ends up carrying my plushies- picture a big tattooed air force guy carrying around an armful of tentacle kitties and purrmaids- he’s such a good sport!)  I try to be a good cosplayer now and only leave with them in tow.   When we were walking around as Rat Queens, even though I was off shift from the booth, I had a few puppies with us (they rotate for breaks).  Each was a great sport and wasn’t obvious, and dealt with my tipsy-ass self, feeding them candy and pretending to stab people.  Eventually, Patrick said we were safe to walk around unattended, so whatever issue was there was dealt with in a professional manner, without any fuss.  Kudos to the whole FanX Security- They are great peeps!