Finding My Own Artsy. Slowing down. Gaining Focus.

Summer is the perfect time for slowing down and regrouping.  Lately I’ve been feeling pulled in a dozen different directions, like a jack of all trades but master of none.  In the back of my mind, I knew I needed to regroup, but I kept putting it off.


All of that would have been enough to prompt a good long look at what I was doing, but getting some difficult news last week threw things into perspective.  If you follow along on Instagram, you may know, but my mom was diagnosed with Stage 3C Ovarian Peritoneal Cancer last week.  She begins four months of chemo next week.  She is in Florida and for the moment, Mr. F & I are still in California, so there isn’t much I can physically do for her from here.  But her fight for her life has made me rethink how I’m spending my time.

At least for the next month or so, I’m going to ease up on blogging a bit– they’ll still be a new “Daily Artsy” each Monday through Friday but I won’t be posting extra features like Design Foraging, Don’t Miss Artsiness, etc. on a regular basis for a while.  I have lots of freelance work coming up that needs to take priority, a special project I’ve started for my mom, and I’d like to devote some serious time to painting.  I’ll still be here and on Artsy Forager’s social media, just taking a little time to slow down and think about what’s really important.

Painted Air. Clara Fialho

It’s true, I love work filled with deep color and contrast.  But occasionally I crave something that feels fresh and light as air.  The work of Brazilian born, New York based artist Clara Fialho feels like such a breath of fresh painted air.  A balm for this artsy’s spirit.

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While some of Fialho’s work has a much more saturated palette, it was to these lighter paintings and drawings I found myself drawn.  There is such a delicacy to them, not just in the lightness of hue but in the way many of the shapes seem to float weightlessly above the surface.  There seems a sense of freedom to these pieces, the shackles of saturation cast away and a dance of joy begun.

To see more of Clara Fialho‘s work, please visit her website.

All work via the artist’s website.

Design Foraging. Studio Arhoj

If you’re a painter in the studio, you know what a challenge it can be to avoid getting paint splattered all over yourself!  When I came across the wonderfully whimsical work of Studio Arhoj, I loved the glazes melting over the tops of ceramic shapes, reminding me of various objects that tend to get covered in paint in a studio.  Plus, who couldn’t love those expressive little eyes?!

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To see more offerings by Studio Arhoj, please visit their website.  You can find a list of retailers all over the world there, as well!

All images are via the Studio Arhoj website.

Shapes Surrounding. Joshua Abarbanel

Whenever Mr. F and I go hiking or beach walking, I get a sore neck.  That might seem a bit weird, but it’s really not when you learn that I spend a lot of time looking down.  Not just because of my klutzy tendencies, but because of all the amazing shapes and patterns to be found beneath our feet.  California artist Joshua Abarbanel fashions incredible wood sculptures inspired by nature’s forms and shapes.

Joshua Abarbanel | artsy forager #art #artists #sculpture #contemporaryart Joshua Abarbanel | artsy forager #art #artists #sculpture #contemporaryart Joshua Abarbanel | artsy forager #art #artists #sculpture #contemporaryart Joshua Abarbanel | artsy forager #art #artists #sculpture #contemporaryart Joshua Abarbanel | artsy forager #art #artists #sculpture #contemporaryart


Abarbanel uses a mix of technology, mechanical tools, and handiwork to craft these amazing sculptures.  The way all the elements fit together seems perfectly in sync, a delicate balance like the life on a coral reef or gears of a clock.

To see more of the work of Joshua Abarbanel, please visit his website.  His work can currently be seen at Hinge Parallel in Culver City, CA.

All images are via the artist’s website.

Hiding in Plain Sight. Flora Borsi

It can be so easy to push what we are or what we’re feeling back into the depths.  Everyday life necessitates that we “get on with it” and we genuinely want to.  But not being real with ourselves and with the people around us leads to surface relationships in which we just can’t be real.  This series by Hungarian artist Flora Borsi beautifully seems to illustrate the struggle to balance self protection and vulnerability.

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We need those people in our lives we can get real with.  The ones that will cry with us, listen to us, laugh us through the weeping.  Maybe we think no one else will understand our struggle.  But if we never give them the chance, how will we know?

Borsi mixes photographic elements with painting techniques to create these emotionally charged images.  To see more of Flora Borsi‘s work, please visit her website.

All images via the artist’s website.  Artist found via I Need a Guide.

Camp Camo: Tara Lee Guild

‘Tis the season for camping!  While Mr. F and I are currently tent campers, we have a soft spot for Airstreams.  We aren’t the only ones, though, these aluminum beauties have fans all over the world.  Vancouver artist Taralee Guild captures the way their reflective surfaces camouflage and distort their surroundings.

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Mr. F and I are definitely low-impact campers– we try not to disturb our surroundings much when we camp.  That kind of philosophy may seem to be at odds with these kinds of campers, yet the Airstreams mirror-like surface make them seem almost holographic, taking in and then reflecting back their surroundings.  They blend in, yet are still set apart.

To see more of Tara Lee Guild‘s work, please visit her website.  We’re heading out to do some of our own sleeping under the stars this weekend.  What kind of camper are you?  Tent or trailer?  RV or cabin?

All images are via the artist’s website.

Don’t Miss Artsiness 7.17.14

Gallery Shows You Should See

I would love to get lost in an interesting and compelling art show right about now.  In case you’re looking to do the same, here are a few gallery shows you might want to check out– NSWE collage 7.10.2014 north | Kinetic Sculptures, Prints, and Carved Wood Panels by John Buck at Greg Kucera Gallery

south | Women in Abstract at Hidell Brooks Gallery

west | Chroma, Hue, Value featuring Gerardo Hacer at Gilman Contemporary

east | Joan Mitchell: Trees at Cheim & Reid

I am especially jealous of anyone who gets to see the Joan Mitchell show.  So very very jealous!  If you go, tag me on Instagram with the hashtag #dontmissartsiness!

All image sources linked above.

Tumbling On: Leah Yerpe

Sometimes it feels as if we are simply tumbling through life, being swayed to and fro like a pinball or a tumbleweed.  In these incredible large scale drawings, Brooklyn artist Leah Yerpe multiplies her figures as they spill through the air.

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Placing her figures on a blank background, we lose any sense of situation, leaving them to float through the air as if caught in a tornado, hurtling down toward the ground.  There’s a sense of a loss of control, yet the faces are calm and peaceful– though the winds blow, they simple let themselves be carried.

To see more of the work of Leah Yerpe, please visit her website.

All images are via the artist’s website.  Artist found via I Need a Guide.

Artsy Abroad: On the Artistic Ledge with Federico Tomasi

by Ellen C. Caldwell
Federico Tomasi studio | artsy forager #art #artists #studios In my series of guest posts for The Artsy Forager, I have been writing about my time in Bali during an arts residency earlier this year. I was introduced to painter Federico Tomasi by another artist Giovanni Lovisetto on a trip to Bali in 2012 and upon my return, I was lucky to revisit Tomasi’s studio and discuss his current works.

As many of us in creative fields know, artistic inspiration is always something of a process. As artists, we are constantly pursuing new creative styles, mediums, subjects, narratives, and voices. Through this process of searching for ourselves, we get used to the circle of finding our grounding, losing our footing, and continuously rebuilding our foundations.

This process can feel painful, isolating, and challenging, but it can also offer creative redemption, freedom, and inspiration. As I discussed in an earlier essay The Writer’s Ledge, these moments on the creative “ledge” are simultaneously terrifying, jarring, and exciting, ultimately yielding the most creative and unique results. It was a joy to visit with Tomasi and discuss the pitfalls and roadblocks we all endure during the creative process—while also seeing the moving and dynamic results coming from this beautiful struggle.

In discussing the beauties and beasts of the unknown, the cycle of returning back to our roots and formal training, and the bounty of this very endeavor, Tomasi and I explored the ongoing challenges that come with living the creative process.
Federico Tomasi studio | artsy forager #art #artists #studios Ellen Caldwell | Please tell me about the large-scale, monumental portraits you are working on in your studio now.

Federico Tomasi | The large, vertical-scaled portraits are simply the desire to make them have a monumental aspect even if they are paintings—more as sculptures, huge and oversized for a different perspective. The chromatic choice of colors goes from that marbled, transparent feeling to the copper and bronze. And of course the unusual dimension (3 meters tall and 1 meter wide) helped me to reach what I had in my mind. I actually like them leaned on the wall rather than hung so they look more three dimensional, as sculptures are. It’s still an open chapter for me so let’s see how it will end.

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EC | How do they differ from your previous bodies of work?

FT | I don’t think those particular ones are very different from my previous paintings in terms of technique and apart from what I mentioned before, of course. There is a step forward or a research of something different, chromatically speaking, and there are more visible parts of the body instead of the close up facial portraits I used to focus on. There are so many elements that occur to me in this process so it’s a bit difficult to give a harmonic answer…
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EC | Who are you painting in your portraits now? Could you tell me a little bit about how you have chosen your current subjects or is it still too soon to discuss?

FT | I really don’t know where I’m going right now! I’m trying different things at the same time and the subjects just come either from pictures or movies or my own sketches. I’m still waiting for that sparkle to arrive and a bit of anxiety made me just paint without thinking too much! I have been working on two large portraits of my grandmother who passed away last year. She was incredible, so that brought me to another level. I remember working day and night on those pieces as they where so personal to me. I painted them with oils, which also made it very intense.
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EC | We talked a lot about artistic background and training – how often an artist will learn to paint by copying and mimicking the masters. And you were saying that in some ways you felt like you had to return to this time and go back to more of your original training. What inspired you to move in this direction?

FT | Well each artist has his masters and backgrounds to actually admire and learn from—it depends on your goal—for sure not by copying, but what I was saying was that there are skills when it comes to figurative art that have to be there and it’s important to feed those skills to be able to move on. I believe you have to know how to do things in a traditional way to be able to do something very different in the future. I guess it’s the technique that matters in my case… When I feel it’s time to move forward, I always start from some basic skills (traditional) and from there find my own direction

EC | Where do you see yourself moving, having circled back to this original training? Do you see it taking you in an entirely new direction now?

FT | I see myself in moment of transition—a bit frustrating when things are not always coming out how I thought. But that’s part of the game; persistence will take me to a new direction.
Federico Tomasi studio | artsy forager #art #artists #studios EC | Yes, that’s part of the beauty and agony of the process, right? How has living and practicing your art in Bali impacted your work—or has it?

FT | Unconsciously probably, it’s more the lifestyle—the freedom and the beauty everywhere that makes the difference but not more than that. Bali is not the same as when I arrived; the tourism and the development of businesses became very chaotic in the last years so it’s not really inspiring me anymore. And I’ve been here for 14 years almost so maybe it’s time to move again!

EC | When did you first start painting and how did you learn or train?

FT | My father was studying at the Academy of Arts in Stockholm when I was around eight years old and I was always surrounded by creative people, so that was my first introduction to that world. After I decided to study five years of art school in Rimini, Italy, and that’s where I started to take my first steps… I’m still learning and hopefully I will learn more in the future.
Federico Tomasi studio | artsy forager #art #artists #studios EC | Regarding plastic in Bali, we discussed the over-packaging of products and how there is such a vast amount of plastic debris all over – in the rice paddies, on the streets, and filling the ocean and beaches after big rains… Could you discuss this a bit?

FT |This is a global problem not only about Bali, and it’s very sad. It’s about a lack of education and personal responsibility towards mother nature. For sure there are solutions, but there are too many businesses involved to change unfortunately. It’s incredible, sometimes I manage to see such a perfection and beauty in nature compared to what we humans have been able to do …we are terrible! Sometimes I feel ashamed to be a human being.

EC | Do you feel like you address this plastic problem as an artist or activist – or more simply just on an individual level?

FT | It’s difficult as an individual to change the world but you can always be aware of things in your little microcosm. I collect stuff on the beach, just walking with my dog, for example. I do it even if I know it will not solve the problem, hoping someone sees and gets the message. I said before it’s all about education so let’s start ASAP. It will take a generation to change if we are lucky…
Federico Tomasi studio | artsy forager #art #artists #studios
Born in Stockholm, Sweden, Federico Tomasi began showing his work in 1997 after moving to Asia. Since then, he has shown internationally in Italy, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Lebanon, and the U.S.

Ellen C. Caldwell is an LA-based art historian, writer, and editor. Read about her last interview with Tomasi in “History Revisited: Federico Tomasi’s Puputan Paintings” for New American Paintings.

All images are courtesy of Federico Tomasi; all display works in progress in his studio.

Blocked In: Louise Belcourt

We are down to seven more weeks left in Eureka.  That is, if Mr. F’s contract doesn’t get extended, which we think it will.  Mr. F always knows exactly how many weeks we have left in one spot.  He is such a wanderer, too long in one place and he begins to feel a bit hemmed in.  And I admit, it’s rubbed off a bit on me.  Living in someone else’s home, with their stuff, a view that I didn’t choose, will often leave me a bit unsatisfied, too and ready to move on in our adventures.  In her work, Brooklyn artist Louise Belcourt explores her own views in the shapes and forms she sees and the one’s that block her vision.

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Belcourt takes her inspiration from the views she sees, using color and form to play with their spatiality and physicality.  Forms seem to recede and advance at the same time, just as our time in one place seems both long and short-lived.

To see more of Louise Belcourt‘s work, please visit her website.

All images are via the artist’s website.

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