Saturday, December 31, 2011

Gifts Made by Hand Warm the Heart

In the holiday hustle, it's easy to get lost in the commercial side of Christams. Even while thinking of others, finding "the perfect gift" for someone is often a quest that proves all too stressful.

When my friend Maggie approached me with an idea for a painting involving her kids to give  as gifts, I knew she was onto something. We decided to get all the kiddos together for an impromptu art playdate to make gifts for the special people in our lives. The idea was to create something handmade by the children, but with a little more substantiality and polish. A keepsake piece.

We decided to go with a pop-art , Warhol-inspired theme: bright colors, and the simple imagery of the child's handprint. 

We took a square canvas and divided it into 4 squares, which I painted and let dry before the kiddos entered the studio to help curtail the madness of having 5 children ages 5 and under dipping their hands in unwashable paint and running amok. 

Maggie and Dylan...he was a pro from the start!
Maggie's Linley was so proud of her her handprints

I won't say that there was no madness, but once we got a system down, it was more like controlled chaos, and quite enjoyable to see each of the children's different reactions as they took in the sensations of choosing their colors, painting their hands and applying their handprint to the canvas. Maggie has two kids, and each of hers made two handprints on a canvas. My three kids each made one handprint and I had my 5 y/o daughter paint a heart on the spare square.

My Annie going to town.
My Mack, an adorable curious mess,
let's just say there's one in every crowd.

After we wrapped up, the finished pieces were so lovely. And really not too far off from the Warhols that they were inspired by. I am so glad mine made one for their Daddy so I get to enjoy it in our house, too. :)

If anyone wants their kids to come play with me more in the art studio this year, I teach at Art Stop in Preston Center on Mondays from 3:45 - 4:45, ages 5-7.  the Winter Session begins January 9. Join us!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tales of Genji

RIP Helen Frankenthaler. 
One of the first Artists to profoundly impact my work.
Your beautiful paintings will live on. 
Such a great pioneer for women Artists.

An awesome clip from her obit...just makes me love her even more:
Ms. Frankenthaler's passion for dancing was more than fulfilled in 1985 when, at a White House dinner to honor the Prince and Princess of Wales, she was partnered with a fast stepper who had been twirling the princess.
"I'd waited a lifetime for a dance like this," she wrote in a 1997 Op-Ed article for The New York Times. "He was great!"
His name meant nothing to her until, on returning to her New York studio, she showed her assistant and a friend his card. "John Travolta," it read.

In Progress

After an awesome yoga practice this morning with some of my best girls, I was really feeling the lotus love today. Surrounded by love, clarity and beauty, inspiration can strike at the strangest of times. Often for me it's after my 6 a.m. yoga practice at Exhale.

So grateful for the opportunity to paint today, since yesterday was one of those days where all I wanted to do was get into the studio but life, or should I say, Christmas Break and kiddos who needed their mama, took precedent. This morning was possible thanks to my rock star husband who worked from home this a.m. and kept and eye on our three munchkins so I could get out and play in the paint.

Once finished, the one toward the back is set to go to Rising Gallery Dallas, for Incrementum, an annual Art Auction and Fundraiser benefitting Alley's House , a non-profit organization whose mission is “Empowering teen mothers and their children to achieve independence through support services, education and mentoring.” 

The other one on the floor? Who knows...

I am honored to be a part of Incrementum for the second year in a row. “Incrementum” is Latin for growth. Alley’s House teaches young mothers the importance of growth and expanding beyond their reach. The piece of art I am creating is certainly inspired by my own interpretation of “growth.” 

Here's to nourishing your own growth today!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New Painting, "Be Still and Know"

So the darkness shall be the light
And the stillness the dance. ~T.S. Eliot

New Painting
Be Still and Know
12" x 12" x 1.5"
Oil and Mixed Media on Canvas
Available for online purchase here
The painting is a part of my birch tree and was created using oil paint, acrylic and mixed media. Canvas is museum-quality, ready to hang, and painted on all sides so there is no need to frame. Painting is highly textured and inviting to the touch, containing multiple layers of color, and depth using the monochromatic color palette. There is also a slight iridescent sheen in areas of this painting to give it a subtle glow. The painting was created using transparent layers of paint, slowly built upon one another over time to create depth and texture.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Season of Joy

"Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real 
spirit of Christmas."
-Calvin Collidge

Merry Christmas and Happy Everything 
to you and yours. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

This is why I do what I do...

The email below nearly brought tears to my is always my hope that my art will bring people the same sort of joy that I experience when creating it. 

We Awoke and Realized We Were Already in Paradise
Fine art giclee prints available here.

"Gina, I received the print and it is absolutely magnificent. You are extremely talented and I can't wait to hang it. I know now what people mean when they talk about art. So many of your pieces have caught my eye before but this one I had to have. When I saw it online I can't describe what it made me feel. When I opened it and saw my print, it literally took my breath away. Thank you!"  
-Kelly, Brooklyn, NY

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Boys

Yes, my older son (4 in Feb.) is wearing a space suit with cowboy boots.
And there's a Superman shirt underneath.
Because when you're almost four, you can wear what you want.

These cold Winter days seem slower with everyone out of school for Christmas. Sweeter. Even my boys, who go just twice a week, are enjoying their down time. We spent a lazy morning sleeping in, snuggling and working on some canvases. The studio was too frosty, so we set up camp right by the Christmas tree.

I love to watch them create. That place of freedom from which it comes is somewhere completely pure. 

It comes from their hearts, filled only with love. 

I wish I could keep them this little forever.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

New Painting, "There's A Certain Peace That Comes with Surrender"

 24" x 24" x 1.5"
Oil and Mixed Media on Canvas

Here's a new painting inspired by my amazing Exhale Spa Dallas, yoga teacher Susie Caicedo . Susie encourages us daily and shines light for us to look w/in ourselves for strength & grace.

In the Yoga SutraPatanjali refers to this inner presence of Ishvara as our foremost teacher (I.26). Through intimate listening to this voice within us, we begin to have a relationship with inner guidance in all aspects of our life. When I think of my most important teachers, including my parents, I see that they were there not just for the big lessons but also in a thousand small ways, constantly showing me when I was on target or beginning to wander off the path, opening my being to new vistas and reminding me when I was closing myself to life. My experience of my inner teacher is similar: As my attunement to this inner sense of direction grows, it increasingly guides my thoughts, speech, and actions.

If Ishvara is the inner compass, pranidhana is remembering to stay connected to that essence not just occasionally but throughout the day. Ishvara pranidhana is also translated as "offering the fruits of one's actions to the Divine." So many misinterpret "surrender" as a giving up, accepting defeat, but when you examine the word from a sense of letting go of resistance, of accepting and being at peace with where you are, it takes on a beautiful new meaning. your painting, your life circumstances, is not always easy. It's a learning involves taking that leap, that fearless risk, but if we can let it take us there, it's a really a beautiful thing.



Sunday, December 18, 2011

Follow Your Bliss

The City of Blinding Lights
24"x 36" x 1.5"
Oil and Mixed Media on Canvas
Original is available at Mecox Gardens in Dallas
Canvas Giclee prints are available via The Art Menu

"If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be." 
-- Joseph Campbell in Reflections in the Art of Living: A Joseph Campbell Companion

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Evolution of a Painting

This painting is a part of a recent pair of large pieces (3 feet by 4 feet) I completed for a local Designer and her client. The creative exchange in commissioned pieces is such a give-and-take, and throughout the process I was continuously emailing pics of the works in progress to the Designer and then working from her feedback to ensure the finished paintings' colors met --and hopefully surpassed-- her client's expectations. 

Here is a little glimpse into that process, and how the painting evolved:

Client requested the addition of blues and yellows...

Client requested less contrast...

We explored some gray-blues and warming up the  general feeling of the piece.

People often ask, "How do you know when a painting is finished?". I can understand why, especially with an abstract composition that is so non-objective, this is such a common question.  The best answer I can give is that I know I'm finished when I look at the painting and it doesn't bug me anymore. I look at it and am at peace.  

Peace. :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Prayer for Little Children

Last week a family in our community lost their newborn daughter unexpectedly. It is in the wake of this loss, in a grief I cannot comprehend, that we can only be comforted knowing that God is so much greater than us, and He has a 
plan for all. 

Our souls are not of this Earth.

The moments with our very young children are gifts for us to see through their eyes that life is precious and beauitful. In many ways, they are our angels so much more than we are 
My daughter on Halloween.
A prayer for little Molly Mae and all children of the world:

Flowers of Life, children are. 
Their perfume fills the Earth with joy,
Their shine draws us closer to our own essence,
Their tender beauty reminds us of the purity of Creation,
Their need of care and protection opens our hearts.
Vulnerable and innocent,
These little miracles have the power to transform our world,
And the World.
They are our hope, our future and our meaning.
May they always be protected.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

My Gift to You - Etsy Discount

And Then Came the Day
20" x 24"
This holiday season and always, I am so grateful to be able to live my art every day and could not do this without the support of my family, friends and the wonderful folks out there who follow my art.  
And You Will Rise Up Like the Sea

12" x 12"
As a way of saying thank you to my online friends, please enjoy FREE SHIPPING this month on all items in my online shop. Click on the link to view over 60 original paintings, prints and cards for sale. Simply use the code "UTOPIAPKWY" when you check out. Your support of my artistic endeavors, comments and likes add color to my every day. :)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Tonight: Working from Yourself, For Everybody Else

 The Texas Equal Access Fund, in collaboration with Smoke & Mirrors Art Gallery and Info Shop, proudly presents:

Working From Yourself, For Everybody Else: An Exhibition of Women Artists

Opening Event: December 10, 6-10 p.m.
Closing Date: January 8, 2012
100% of the Proceeds will go to benefit the Texas Equal Access Fund and their struggle to make reproductive justice a reality for North Texas Women

“I’m sorry this has to be so short, because I have a lot I’d like to talk about with you, but try to read between the lines. I hope you’re angry but get it over with fast and use it while you’ve got it. I hope you don’t stop being angry now and then until things are better for all women, not just artists; I hope you’re working from yourself and know how to fuck the art-world pressures when you get out there; and I hope you’re working for everybody else too; I hope you’ll be the one to figure out a way to keep art from being used the wrong way and for the wrong things in this society; I hope you make your art accessible to more people, to all women and to everybody; I hope you think about that now and aren’t waiting till you make it, because that’s likely to be too late. I hope you remember that being a feminist carries with it a real responsibility to be a human. I hope and I hope and I hope…”

*Reprinted from 'Anonymous Was A Woman', Feminist Art Program, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California, 1974*

Here's a shot of the painting I donated:

"In this Uncharted Journey, I Somehow Knew Our Paths Would Cross"
11 x 14"

Oil and Mixed Media on Canvas

I hope to see you there.

About Smoke & Mirrors Art Gallery and Info Shop

Smoke & Mirrors is an exciting new community space where local artists can sell and promote their artwork in a retail environment while also supporting a community Info Shop that is open to host numerous progressive community and student groups, their events, and projects. Offering meeting space, computers, free Wi-Fi, sharing boards, reference materials, etc. Artists, as well as organizers, can utilize the space to create, promote, organize, plan, and collaborate.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

New Painting: The Springtime Inside the Winter

16" x 20"
Oil and Mixed Media on Canvas
Currently on Display at Vino 100 Dallas
Available for online purchase here.

This painting was a study for a larger commissioned piece
It was inspired by one of my favorite passages from Albert Camus:

My dear,
In the midst of hate, I found there was, within me, an invincible love.
In the midst of tears, I found there was, within me, an invincible smile.
In the midst of chaos, I found there was, within me, an invincible calm.
I realized, through it all, that…
In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.
And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.
Truly yours,
Albert Camus

Monday, December 5, 2011

Launch Party: We're Taking this Baby National!

The newest issue of Origin Magazine hits stands this week.  What an honor it has been to be a part of this project, helping them put the Dallas Arts Scene on the national radar. Check out my column in the next issue.

We are thrilled that it is now available at Whole Foods and other major retailers across the country this month. 

Now it's time to celebrate.

Won't you join us?

Origin Magazine's Dallas National Launch Party w/ DJ Spooky
6:30 - 10:30 p.m.
December 8
2010 Flora StDallas, TX 75201

We are celebrating the first national Dec/Jan edition of Origin with a creative collaborative event at The Crow Collection of Asian Art. Dj Spooky will be signing his latest work, "The Book of Ice" and spinning his unique sounds. To kick off the event, a round-robin yoga class will take place, sharing our favorite yoga teachers/Origin ambassadors from 6.30-8pm. 

Art celebration begins at 8pm. 

Please bring your flyers and cards for your art, health and community organizations. We'd love to further integrate and partner with you. Come ready to Dance. Please bring food/wine and PLEASE BRING THE KIDS. This village thrives on families, mutual support and community.

See you there!

Gina Marie Dunn, Utopia Pkwy. Art Studio's Fan Box


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