Wednesday, October 28, 2009

coming up for air

We're entering winter...usually the time when Genna and I both kick into coast mode, slow down our travel and rest after our fall season. Not so this year! Genna is still up to his eyeballs in pots 12-13 hours a day (540 down, about 90 to go) and I'm still going full steam in preparation for Telfair in Savannah, the Christmas commission season, and our solo show at 16 Patton.

Speaking of which, thank you to everyone who sent in submissions for our second installment of the "Inspiration Project". My fave image so far (above) was made from my friend and fellow artist Steve Frenkel's submission. I'm calling it 'Railmen'. It's a 20" x 30" oil on linen. Voting for everyone else's faves will begin in a few weeks. Here's one of Steve's fantastic acrylics that I'm proud to say is part of my budding collection:

It's a 12" square called "Hourloupe Dry Cycle". Steve and I met while we were both showing at Opus One Gallery in Atlanta. He is an incredibly talented and dedicated artist. Check out more of his work online at

I have so many more things I wanna tell everyone about...Nastiya's first commission, Genna's pot progress, my first festival experience without him (I hope it was also the last!)...but right now I have to get back to work. Cross your fingers for me.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

win a grushovenko!

Last call, everybody! Our solo show at 16 Patton in Asheville is opening November 21st. The concept is this...all works in the show will be made from photographs sent in by our friends and clients. The paintings will be posted online and put to a vote. The painting with the most votes will be given to the owner of its inspiration photo, free of charge.

We will continue accepting submissions for the next few weeks. You can email scans of your photos to Make sure to include your contact information in your email.

We did this at our gallery in LaGrange this past winter with wonderful results. We had nearly 300 photos sent in and completed better than 50 works for the show. A few of my favorites are "Boy Line, Bike Tangle" and "Good Mama" above. Both photos were sent in by LaGrange folks. You can see the results at

Thursday, October 1, 2009

pete and repeat

Lest you think all I'm doing is putting pots in boxes all day (this is almost true), I offer you my latest..."Pete and Repeat Class Portrait".

This is only the fourth or fifth time I've worked with the basic idea of yearbook picture contact sheets and it still holds alot of mystery for me, which is awesome. I don't know about any of my full time artist fellows, but for me it's easy to feel the bloom is off the rose when I feel 100% confident and comfortable about what I'm making.

This image was made by transfering individual portraits from a 1950's yearbook and then flipping them and using each portrait again (henceforth the pete and repeat title). When the time came to apply paint, I made no effort to match the pairs or make them unique but instead let each unit speak individually. I love that each character has his or her own essence and personality even without any facial features. My favorites are actually some of the units that are silouhettes only.

The exciting thing about this idea for me is making something dynamic and rhythmic that basically repeats the same basic form over and over. The palette I used was also quite narrow, relying on Genna's underpainting color for variety.

Here's a detail:

If you want to see a larger file of "Pete and Repeat", I'll be posting it on the website tomorrow along with a dozen or so other new pieces.

Headed for Houston next week. I think Genna will be thrilled to be driving the car instead of making pots 13 hours a day. Everything's relative, huh!

the baker's dozen(th?)

So here's my plan...I won't post anything here for maybe a month to six weeks at a time and then I'll post 8-10 times over the course of a few days. Just trying to keep everyone on their toes.

The piece above is the baker's dozen of my "Purdy Dozen" kia pot faves. Check out the first twelve on Genna's webpage.

All twelve are high fire stoneware with temoku glazed necks, copper wire wrap, and one of two glazes on the body...dark green or robin's egg (shown above). Can you tell which ones have which glaze?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

first 100 fired

Hello, all! Our largest project ever rolls on. Genna's Ukranian friends/assistants/saviors have both gone home for a time while we await the final count on our order. Currently we're holding at 560 total pieces. Of these, I believe Genna has nearly 400 thrown and about 150 completely finished (bisqued, wrapped, glazed, glazed, and fired).

We took 100 of our faves out to see a little sunshine Sunday on the back steps at the studio (first & second photos). I was TERRIFIED that I would knock one over on the top step and they would all go down like dominos.

Interesting to see in the second photo the range of color and texture in the glazing. We're using only two glazes, a robin egg blue/green with a subtle speckle and a transparent dark green. Slight variations in glaze application, kiln temperature, and kiln spacing create the amazing range of color you see here.

Photo three is of a particularly interesting firing. We cracked the lid and said 'Holy dingbats, Batman...what's going on in there?!' The upper level of three was a showstopper and COMPLETELY a surprise. The mid and lower levels were as dissapointing as the upper level was pleasing and we wound up with nearly twenty unusable pieces. As best we could decipher, the kiln was overpacked and caused a seriously high, too hot overfiring. One of many lessons learned along the way thus far!

I shot a dozen of my faves studio portrait style on Monday night, watch out for those soon.

Friday, September 25, 2009

they're everywhere, they're everywhere!

Wow! Genna has received two commissions from Kia Motors America...our new West Point neighbors. The first order was for 160copper wire wrapped vases, the second is for the same object and is currently at 400 pieces and counting. As of today, we have approximately 280 thrown, so we're about half way there.

In addition to being a wonderful reason for Genna to get back into the pottery studio full time, this project has created an excuse for us to invite his good friends Natasha and Tigran for an extended visit. Both were fellow potters in Ukraine...Natasha his studio mate and Tigran his very first pottery teacher. Natasha is now living in Toronto and Tigran in Detroit, and they will both be in and out lending a hand until the project wraps. They are on the right in the first photo, Genna and his lovely daughter Nastiya are on the left. Nastiya is putting her genious hands to work on the wire-wrapping portion of the process. (You don't see me there because part of my job as logistics manager was to take the photograph!)

Cross your fingers for us folks! This is the largest single commission either of us has ever taken on.

Kudos to Kia for selecting a local artist for this exciting project! The vases will be given as gifts to journalists and dealer at several events this fall.

Monday, September 21, 2009

the daily cupcake

Our good friends and fellow 'art couple' R. Scott Coleman and Kathrine Allen-Coleman have launched a new blog featuring a 'cupcake a day' by Scott. They are both incredible talents and great folks. See the blog at and both of their works at

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

favorite. commission. ever.

No offense to anyone else for whom I've made custom work, but I recently completed my favorite commission project ever.

My friend, client, and fellow artist Debbie Bruce came to me this past spring with a request to make paintings for her son Taylor's fall wedding. The idea was that there would be a small painting on each table at the wedding supper and that afterward, they would all go together as an 'installation' at the new couple's home. The images I made were of photos from the bride's and groom's childhoods. Sweetest thing ever, right? In addition to it just being a really lovely concept, her son Taylor is a good friend, as well as a writer who penned our Southern Living Feature. It was doubly an honor to be able to do this for him.

So, there are twenty pieces in the set, but I'm showing here 4 of my favorites..."Swiss Family" of the bride (henceforth known as Robin...cause that's her name) and her family on vacation, "Buff Boys" of Taylor and his friends as pre-teens, "Beach Beauty" of little Robin in her swimsuit, and "Dock" of little Taylor with a fishing pole.

I think I've listed them in backward order, but I'm sure you can figure it out. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

variations on a theme

I have been a professional painter, working within the same basic thematic parameters for the last dozen or so years. While I am constantly looking for new found photos to treat as paintings, there are a handful of images I have returned to over an over during this time. I've come to think of these as 'touchstones' for me...familiar compositions within which I can concentrate purely on new techniques or palettes.

I was looking through the 'archived' (read: sold) painting files on my computer today and decided to visit one of my 'touchstone' lines all the way back. Wow. I can't believe how much my work has changed. I suppose it's like watching your children grow. Each day they're a little bigger, so you don't notice so much until you see a picture of them 5 years before, or maybe try to put on their winter shoes from the year before.
Here are some of my "Communion After Confirmation" paintings, in roughly chronological order, oldest first.

I believe the first one was made around 1999? The most recent was just made withing the last two months (she is the still available "Dinner on the Grounds", oil on linen, 24" x 30", $900!). Genna's participation kicked in around #5.
As you can see, there is a huge stylistic shift between #'s three and four. I think the main reason for that is that I changed from sketching with paint and a brush to sketching with charcoal, allowing for a much more accurate and angular drawing.

Working with Genna also brought on another big change in my working habits as I went from creating texture and interest with brushwork to 'harnessing' the visual texture already there with the busier underlayers. My technique has become much crisper and cleaner overall.

There are techniques in the earlier works I sometimes wish to have back, but I suppose it makes better sense to look ahead to what's next. "Communion After Confirmation" 2015 will likely be a much different animal!

Friday, June 19, 2009

on the easel, eggplant brunch

I've something new on the easel.

As it often happens in my collaborative process with hubby Genna, he recently offered me up a batch of new underpaintings at which I turned up my nose, and now I'm eating all of my critical words. Genna makes my oil wash underpaintings only once a month or so, lots at a time. Two times ago, there came a whole set that seemed almost unbearably 'prime'...basic yellow, blue, and red.

On closer inspection, they're loaded with goodness. Lots of sublte, dark, shifting patches of purple and teal, punctuated with tasty little orange blobbies.

I put a big one on the easel on Thursday, 36" high and 60" wide. It's deeper and richer in tone than alot of what I've been working with lately. Several of Genna's recent 'batches' have been really crisp & tart. Here's the new piece at the beginning:

The image I chose for the new 3'x5' was this one:

I thought that the deep wash would work well in an image with lots of architecture & landscape...lighter on the figures. About a third of the way through, I was struck by how much I subconsiously pick up and use the colors of the underpainting. This far in, nearly every color I had applied was a nearly perfect match for a patch of underpainting. I can't remember ever having used that eggplant color before. Thus is the beauty of working with a partner! I never know what I'm going to get and what I'm going to do with it.

So now it's Saturday, and I'm wrapping it up. The last few hours tends to be spent in what would look like walking around drinking coffee to the untrained eye. I leave the room, positioning the piece so that it's visible from the hall. Then I wander from my desk to the computer (soduku and email) to the kitchen (coffee and peeks in the fridge), around and around, sneaking glances at the new piece out of the corner of my eye. It's important to sneak up on it so that I can see what it really looks like.

So, a few more subtle adjustments and this one should be finished and framed before we leave for DesMoines on Tuesday. She's "Poughkeepsie Brunch", oil on linen, 36" x 60"...

Oh, one more from the 'prime' set:

Gee's Bend Homage: Easy, oil on linen, 36" x 60"

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

bearden/kahlo inspiration

Last Friday night was the opening reception of "Reaction", new works by the Visual Artists Alliance of LaGrange created in reaction to a work of art by a favorite artist.

Each artist's work (20 artists, 40 works in paint, glass, collage, clay) was accompanied by a small reproduction of the inspiration piece and a statement explaining their inspiration.

The show is taking place at the Cochran Gallery on Lafayette Square, downtown LaGrange. The gallery usually showcases the collection of local collectors Wes & Missy Cochran, who have a world class collection of graphics (focused heavily on Andy Warhol) and works by African-American artists. My favorite of their collection is a fantastic 1975 aquatint/photoetching by my American Idol, Romare Bearden, entitled The Family. Here it is:

The Cochrans graciously agreed to allow me to hang the Bearden next to my offering for the show, Alfresco, Family Table...

She is an oil on canvas, 55" x 72". I made her in collaboration with Genna. My thought process was that the juxstaposition of Genna's flowing style and my broad, crisp panes of color create a similar feeling to Bearden's collaged (or in this case, collage like) images.

Our featured work for the show was created by my VAAL co-director Cora Wooley Waterhouse. Her painting is Adaptation:

Inspired by this photographic portrait of Frida Kahlo by Nikolas Muray:

I loved what Cora had to say,

"Photographs of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo remind me of my own Hungarian grandmother, Anna Schreier. Both women were proud and exotic, brave and deeply independent. Last year for my birthday, my daughter gave me a book of fantastic photographic portraits of Kahlo taken by Nikolas Muray, one of her many lovers. I chose the cover photo as inspiration for my self portrait.

For my piece, I wear a heavily embroidered vest, homage to my Hungarian mother and grandmother. The necklace is a favorite of mine, found in pieces at the old LaGrange Antique Mall shortly after we arrived here. The azaleas and maple leaves for my hair are from my own beautiful springtime yard. There is no place that blooms more beautifully than Georgia in spring.
I painted myself on a camouflage fabric ground. The idea that a fabric can help a person blend into their environment adds a wink of irony to my Adaptation and gives a nod to the patterned wallpaper background of the original work."

Kudos, Cora! Check her out online at

If you're planning to be in the LaGrange area, you can see the show Wednesday-Saturday from 1-5pm at the Cochran Gallery, E. Lafayette Square until July 2nd.

Monday, June 15, 2009


My very first exciting! Welcome all.

I'm Signe. I'm a thirty something (5) painter,

married to a fourty-ish (one) potter. My husband Genna (here he is, isn't he cute)

and I are partners in a co-operative gallery and travel widely showing our work and servicing galleries that feature our work. Genna's beautiful and talented daughter Nastiya is with us in the summers. Here she is,

Beautiful, no? She's also very smart & talented. She lives in Ukraine with her mom and just completed her second year of study in interior design. She also draws, paints, and can do every handcraft the first time she picks it up (knitting, pottery, beading, sculpture, etcetera, etcetera. It makes me absolutely green with envy how 'intelligent' her hands are!).

Anywho, this blog won't be about my family...just thought you'd like a little backstory. Visit me here to see 'what's on the easel', to hear about our art festival exploits, and to keep track of our newest inspirations. Looking forward to it!