Thoughts From the Studio Blog

22.04.2018
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Image: Photo of a painting in progress by Christina Sorace MacKinnon, used with permission Welcome to Carenly Curated! A mini series within my Thoughts from the Studio blog that will highlight other amazing artists! As a firm believer in community over competition & artists supporting artists, what better way that to demonstrate that then b  spotlighting fellow artists whose work I love! "Unpackage Yourself" by Christina Sorace MacKinnon, used with permission So for this artist spotlight, I would like to introduce you to the work of Christina Sorace MacKinnon. Hailing from New Jersey, USA, Christina creates abstract mixed media paintings.  "This Is What It Means To Be Human" by Christina Sorace MacKinnon There is something that is so playful and carefree about these works, that combined with her use of color is what draws me to the paintings the most. Adding expressive layers of line-work and swooshes of color, the paintings drawn me in as if each image is its own little imaginary world I want to explore, and the longer you look at them, the more little intricacies you see. "The Past Is Not For Living In" by Christina Sorace MacKinnon, used with permission Photo by Christina Sorace MacKinnon, used with permission You can dive in and check out more examples of Christina's work on Instagram @christinaraemac or at her website. Like this post? Join my email list so that you can stay up today on future blog posts by clicking here Click here to return to my full website. 
08.04.2018
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Earlier this year, I started to do monthly working sessions from my studio, that stream live on my Facebook page. Its a great way to get behind the scenes access to my studio practice, as well as ask me any questions while I work. This little series, called Seconds in the Studio, takes place on the second of each month. You can check out past episodes on my Facebook Page. If you tuned in to my last Seconds in The Studio  you heard me mention how I have really been loving listening to podcasts lately while I work in the studio. Here is a round up of my favorite artsy listens in no particular order. Empty Frames- Ok, for those of you who love a good mystery and also have an appreciation of art, you will LOVE Empty Frames by Tim Pilleri & Lance Reenstierna. Best of all it is based on a real-life, unsolved art heist: the 1990 robbery of the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum in Boston, Massachusetts. Robbers disguised as police officers enter the museum, tied up the security guard and left with millions of dollars worth of stolen art (we are taking big names like Rembrandt, Degas & Vermeer) never to be seen again. Still an open case, there is a $10 Million reward for anyone that can provide information leading to the recovery of the stolen artworks. Hosts Tim and Lance dig deep in to this interesting robbery which has stumped the art world and Bostonians for more than two decades. https://emptyframespodcast.com/  Art Curious- "Exploring the unexpected, the slightly odd, & the strangely wonderful in art history".  If the first two episodes don't intrigue you then I don't know what will... "Episode 1: Is the Mona Lisa a Fake?" and "Episode 2: Was Van Gogh Accidentally Murdered?". Host, Jennifer Dasal dives deep in to the scandals, mysteries and controversies and even conspiracy theories  that don't always show up in the pages of your history books, shedding a new light on the art historical figures you think you know. http://www.artcuriouspodcast.com/artcuriouspodcast The Lonely Palette- "The podcast that returns art history to the masses, one painting at a time"  though I would say it is more accurately one artwork at a time (read: no just paintings). In this podcast, host Tamar Avishai, begins by interviewing  museum guests at random as they look a particular piece of art. She then in her calming, informative voice, tells the history behind the particular artwork including tidbits about the artist, his or her process and place in art history. http://www.thelonelypalette.com/episodes/ Art for Your Ear/ The Jealous Curator-  After a bad review during her final year of fine art school, Danielle Krysa joined the graphic design world  and essentially gave up her studio practice for almost 20 years. Eventually missing her original passion for fine art, she started the Jealous Curator blog where her original tagline was "Damn. I wish I thought of That". The blog eventually also lead to her writing several books, curating shows for galleries, getting back in to her own (now not-so-jealous) studio practice, as well as the Art for Your Ear podcast where she interviews working artists to see whether or not they were "the art kid" growing up, getting behind the scenes info into their process, routines and more.  Each episode ends with a "Not-So Speedy Speed Round" where artists are asked any number of fun but random question that give listeners a further glimpse in to the life of the artist. The laid back style makes if feel as if you are sitting in on a coffee chat with friends. http://www.thejealouscurator.com/blog/art-for-your-ear-podcast/    The Sculptors Funeral-If sculpture is your thing, you will LOVE this one by modern day sculptor, Jason Arkles. From interviews with contemporary sculptors and educators, to in-depth discussions about the making of historical statues, like The David, as well as the stories behind public monuments (think Mt Rushmore, Statue of Liberty & the Lincoln Memorial), this podcast will have you wanting to go  mess around diving your hands into some clay! http://www.thesculptorsfuneral.com/episodes/ Art History Babes - To paraphrase their intro "Four recent grad school grads discuss all things visual culture". When I listen to this group of gals, who often enjoy a glass of wine during recording, I feel like I am right there with them kicking back dishing about art. Corrie, Ginny, Natalie & Jennifer discuss not only art historical figures but also tv shows, comics, color theory and more. https://www.arthistorybabes.com/the-podcast/ Like this post? Join my email list so that you can stay up today on future blog posts by clicking here Click here to return to my full website. 
11.03.2018
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 A few weeks ago I attended an in-person event where I was working on of my recent portrait pieces. And one comment came up over and over again as visitors came by my work table. They were shocked to see that my works were made, not with paint, but with colored pencils. While there is some debate over this in the art world, I consider my recent colored pencil works to be paintings. Though not made with traditional paint material such as oils, watercolors or acrylics, much of my process in working with the colored pencil mimics that of the painting process. Colored Pencil Painting in Process, laying in base tones. Process: Much like when starting a paining I make a delicately light (tradition No. 2) pencil outline drawing on to the work surface (most recently: wood panels). Then, using a kneaded eraser, I erase much of the outline sketch so that only the faintest indication is left. Just as if i were using paint, I do not want my lighter colored, colored pencils to mix with the graphite and alter the end result. Next, I block in base-tones using the burnishing technique. This is a colored pencil technique in which heavy pressure is applied so that pigment is laid down so that it looks opaque. Once I have the mid-tones down I go back in with the use of shading and highlighting techniques to help create the illusion of form by adding more value (differences in light-dark). I use wax based colored pencils which actually enable me to do blending of colors just as you would blend wet paint on a canvas. Once this is complete, I go it and add the fine, smaller details and add definition. I, personally, save the cast shadow for last. I do not use the heavy-handed burnishing technique here, instead of letting some of the ground surface show through the pigment. This is done purposely so that the case shadow has a transparent feel to it, just as a real shadow does. The last step in my colored pencil painting process is to coat it with a layer of varnish. I use a spray varnish to get a nice, quick, even coat. Not only does this help seal in the pigment and prevent any possible smudging, but also it helps prevent against wax bloom- a wax-based colored pencil pencil phenomenon in which a hazy film forms over the pigment applied to the artwork, especially in areas where burnishing was applied. Once my piece has been varnished, it is ready for the coat of resin, but that is a whole other process I'll save for another time. So there you have it, how I make paintings with colored pencils! To check out this process in action, join me on my Facebook page, at 5:30pm EST on the second of every month for my Seconds in the Studio series where I stream live while I work in my studio. Like this post? Join my email list so that you can stay up today on future blog posts by clicking here Click here to return to my full website. 
11.02.2018
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I believe that art has the power to effect our mood. Like when an upbeat song comes on the radio and you just want to dance and sing along. Or the new adult coloring book crazy that aides with stress relief and relaxation. But what about just viewing art, rather than partaking in it? Can the act of looking at art have an impact on our mood? I think it can. There are a lot of studies in to color psychology and color theory. Enough so, so that interior designers and advertisers incorporate these studies into their designs. Think of a spa for instance. The space is decorated and designed in a purposeful way to allow visitors a relaxing environment. Likewise, hospitals often pay close attention to their decor colors  because they know that it can make a difference in patients' recoveries. Major corporations have been known to use specific colors in their branding to temp consumers in to buying their goods, by it by triggering your appetite for instance. So naturally visual art, of which color (or planned lack there of), is a significant element, would also have the ability to impact our mood. But what if it goes even further than that? That is exactly what neurologist, Semir Zeki looked in to in his research. In a series of tests, participants looked at a selection of 28 artworks while researchers studied the participants' brain-activity. What they found was that viewing artwork actually increased dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is one of the main chemicals responsible for feelings of happiness. Participant's dopamine levels increased so much while viewing the artwork the researches likened it to the feeling of being in love. So that you have it- scientific evidence that looking at art literally makes you happier! So, Let's Circle That All Back Around  I believe that art can spread happiness and that color can impact your mood and transform your space. And that my friends, is why I am on a mission to brighten walls and lives with my exuberantly whimsical art. Because life is too short not to enjoy it. And because there is plenty of sadness in world- just look at the news. So why not join me, on a journey to happyland. A journey that starts in my studio, makes a stopover on your walls and culminates in your mind's state of merriment. If you want begin to transform your space and brighten your mood head on over to my shop where happy art comes in all sizes and price ranges.  To read more about Semir Zeki's research, click here Like this post? Join my email list so that you can stay up today on future blog posts by clicking here Click here to return to my full website. 
For non-artists, the art world can seem like a daunting, foreign place. Like many other industries, art has its fair share of special terms and jargon and often non-artists can be intimidated by discussing art. But you don't need formal training in art history in order to hold a meaningful conversation about works of art. So, I am going to break down some of the barriers here so you will slowly but surely become fluent in Art Speak! Ever been to a gallery, museum, or art fair and felt out of place? You are not alone. Many people feel like outsides to the art world. Here are some tips to help you navigate through these situations like a pro. Don't feel like you have to understand the meaning or artist's intent. This is especially true for contemporary and post-modern art. Historically, the purpose of artworks were more straight-forward. A painting or sculpture may have been made to capture one's likeness before cameras were invented, to illustrate a story from religious traditions or historical events, to commemorate an individual,or  to decorate a space, and so-forth . As art began to grow more and more abstract and conceptual in nature (think of all of the "ISMS" during the 1900s) the artist's intent for the artwork began to differ greatly from the previous generations. As art styles became more and more abstracted, artists began to make art for art's sake. Paintings no longer had to represent anything concrete but could make a conceptual statement of just being planes of pigment on a canvas (ex: Color Field paintings by Mark Rothko). Other artists, intend to pose a question to get the viewer to think and reflect. In some cases the artist will be explicit in their accompanying artist statement, dictating exactly the message they want you to take away from the piece. Many other times however, contemporary artists will send the work out to the universe to let the viewer determine their own interpretations. This is where often times the art novice gets caught up in trying to understand modern abstract and conceptual art. Which leads me to mt two tips you can start using today! Tip #1: Don't try to figure out what "it is" or what it means. The same work can mean different things and have different interpretations for each person who looks at it. Instead- Ask yourself how it makes you feel and talk that through. Does it make you happy, sad, excited, uncomfortable? Tip #2: Discuss the physical artwork itself in terms of the elements of art and principles of design, such as the use of space and form, its texture or smoothness, the ways lines and shapes are used. You can say how you like the color choices. The bit of yellow here, and the touch of blue right there. Discuss the materials the artist chose to use, breaking down the artwork to these kind of descriptive words. This is the best place to start and then grow your vocabulary and discussion of your thoughts on your own interpretations with time. So, there you have it! The formula so that you can now feel confident as you step in to the art world! Now get out there and explore all the amazing things our modern artists have to offer!  Like this post? Join my email list so that you can stay up today on future blog posts by clicking here Click here to return to my full website. 
11.01.2018
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Originally Published: Oct 28, 2017 For non-artists, the art world can seem like a daunting, foreign place. Like many other industries, art has its fair share of special terms and jargon. But it is nothing to be intimidated by! So I am going to break down some of the barriers here so you will slowly but surely become fluent in Art-Speak! Let take  a look at a very common word in the artist's vocabulary: Commissions.  Recently someone asked me what exactly is a commission? This particular person has a background in business/accounting where the word commission means something quite different, and did not understand how the same word applied to artists. Let's break it down: For an artist, a commission is a custom artwork created for, and often with some in-put from, a particular client. Commissions have long been a part of the art world. Many Renaissance artworks were commissioned by royalty or religious organizations to decorate their palaces and churches. It is thought that the Mona Lisa was the result of a commission request to Leonardo from an Italian Merchant (who wanted a painting of his wife). Many contemporary artists (yours truly included) still offer commission work. Some artists do not offer commissions and that is entirely their choice to make. For those artists that do offer commissions, there is usually a process that they go through in order to work with you to create your vision, while staying true to the artist's style and process. Let's take a closer look at the commission process; It may go something like this: You discovered an artist who's style you appreciate and who's work you enjoy. However you are bummed to find out that none of the current available pieces are the size or in the colors you are seeking. Or, perhaps you have a vision in your head of a particular subject matter you would like to see the artist create in his or her unique style. These are where an inquiry in to a commissioned work can be a great idea. After the initial inquiry, expect some communication with the artist to go over some of the details you would be looking for in your artwork. Again, this could be subject matter, color palettes, size, materials, etc. While it is OK to tell the artist what you are looking for, be sure to stay open to the artist's suggestions, and allow the artist plenty of creative freedom. The design creation after all is why you like the artist's work so much to begin with. The artist will work out some ideas & sketches to present to you to make sure that it meets your needs. At this point you may be asked to sign a contract and or make a down payment, which if you think of it in a bigger sense, these are both common practice for custom orders of any kind, art or otherwise. Once you have given approval, the artist can get to work on the actual piece. The artist will usually give you an estimated time frame for the work to be done, and depending on that duration may send you periodic updates. Once the work is complete the artist will often send you an photo image of it for final review, at which point a final payment would be made before shipping/delivery. Here are what some of my clients have said regarding commission work I have done: "I purchased two wall hangings for my grandson's nursery. I met with Caren to go over some ideas she was so easy to work with and very open to whatever I was thinking of. They are adorable and I am happy to say I own two of Caren Kinne's originals"-Kim "I have always been a fan of Caren's artwork so when I saw that she was creating characters to depict different people, I decided I wanted one to represent me and my experiences as an independent fashion retailer. Caren made the experience so easy and enjoyable. I gave her my ideas, was shown a few sketches and told her some of my favorite colors. Seeing the finished product was so exciting! This unique piece of artwork has made a great addition to my workspace."-Joelle Learn more about my commission work here and stay tuned for future editions of Art-Speak.  Click here to return to my full website 
11.01.2018
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Originally Published: Sept 17, 2017 So you bought yourself or perhaps were gifted an amazing piece of art. Yay! Take a minute to picture it with me: Its original and unique design caught your eye. There is just something about it that truly speaks to you. Just looking it at it brings you a sense of happiness. You know the colors of the artwork will go SO well with the rest of your style and décor. It will help add that extra touch to make your living room your own personal retreat. But before you just grab some tape (gasp!) or hammer and nails and slap that new beauty up on your wall, you should really should stop to consider a few things. Like, do I need a frame? Or, is it an artwork that doesn't require or perhaps shouldn't be framed? Have you put careful thought into where in your home you are going to display your new treasure? Do you know the correct way to care for and maintain your artwork? Did you know that your answers to eacj of these questions can impact the overall condition of the piece? So, before you hang it on the wall, make sure you have a plan in order to make sure that you can enjoy that special artwork for years to come. Sounds kind daunting doesn't it? Maybe art collecting is new to you and it all seems a bit intimidating. Perhaps with all the other tasks on your busy plate, you just don't have time to scour the internet for research. Have no fear! I have created a convenient, information-packed guide for you, called 5 Ways to Protect Your Art From Damage. And best of all? I am giving it to you for free! Yes, you read that right, FREE! To get your hands on a copy of my guide, 5 Ways to Protect Your Art From Damage, simply click here and be on your way to caring for your art like a pro! Click here to return to my full website
11.01.2018
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Originally Published: Aug 6, 2017 It was during my time in my graduate courses that I began to hear about the concept of visual culture. Historically in the art world there is often an elitist stigma of what constitutes something to be labeled as art: essentially traditionalist views of what art is. Hierarchal categories such as fine art, craft or kitsch are frequently mentioned. However, some of the most notable artists were the ones who abandoned the status-quo, were rejected from the formal salons, or transitioned from commercial design to a studio practice. Take the Impressionists for example, at first they were laughed right out of the Paris Salons and now are one of the most loved painting styles of all time. Or Andy Warhol who had a career in commercial advertising before he transitioned to the fine art field. So when I first learned about visual culture it really resonated with me. Essentially the idea that art, in one form or another, is all around us and is a reflection upon our culture. In the United States, and I am sure many other industrialized nations around the world, we are bombarded everyday with visual imagery and design. From clothing to book covers, furniture, buildings and landscaping to TV and boxes on the shelf at the grocery store, to kids toys and cartoons, and magazine layouts- design and aesthetics are all around us. Notice the details of the chair you are sitting in, someone designed that. Think of iconic logos that are recognized all over the world (here's looking at you Apple, Coca-Cola, Mickey Mouse); an artist designed that. Where language has barriers, images can make connections across cultures. Having grown up during the computer age, I can't help but notice how the concept of visual culture as only become more cemented in our world with that revolution. I am old enough to remember life before computers, but also young enough to have had computer class in elementary school. As technology improves we have only added additional means to display visual imagery every day. And the art world has taken notice. Art and design that once would have been snubbed by the art world is now a popular part of it... Graffiti anyone? This combined with the Post Modern support for appropriation, taking ideas from the past and recycling them to incorporate into new artworks breaks so many of the old concepts of what art is or could be. How liberating! So if you are like me and easily smitten by good illustration, packaging, and design, next time you pick up that thing that has caught your eye think of the behind-the-scenes artists who just added to our collective visual culture. Click here to return to my full website
11.01.2018
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Originally Published: July 4, 2017 "Silas" by Caren Kinne, color pencil & resin It's hard to believe that another 4th of July is already here! Hope everyone out there is enjoying the summer, fireworks & all things 4th of July this sunny Tuesday. As some of you readers may know, my current artwork has merged with my family tree research project that I started digging into several years ago. Little did I know what amazing people I would find in my lineage. Ten of whom, I am dedicating this posting to today. Having grown up in Massachusetts, the Revolutionary War and colonial times were frequent topics in history classes and field trips alike. While many of my friends found it dreadfully boring, I was always quite intrigued with this time period. Imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon my 6-times Great Grandfather Silas, who was the first of my ancestors that I learned fought for their freedom in the Revolutionary War. Little did I know how strong my ancestral connection to American Revolution would be, on both sides of my family. So, without further ado, here are my 10 ancestors who fought, and in some cases died, in the fight for freedom: -Silas Seward (1760-1848) Fife, CT Militia -Brotherton Seward (1724-1776) CT Militia, Died fighting near Ft Ticonderoga, NY - Midian Griswold (1763-1829) 7th CT Regiment, Sheldon's Dragoons, Cavalry -Jonathan Griswold (1741-1823) Private, 5th CT Regiment -Abel Hunt (1736-1816) 1st Lt. in Capt Hodges Company, Col.Fisher's Regiment, NY Militia -Capt Adam Kasson (1743-1828) 3rd CT Regiment -Asahel Humphrey Sr (1747-1827) Sgt, CT Militia, Bigelow's Artillery Co - Solomon Heath (1741-1776) Sgt, MA 1st Berkshire Company -Ithiel Battle (1752-1827) Private under Col John Ashley's command -Joseph Bunnell (1733-1807) Private, CT Waterbury's State Brigade I feel I would be remiss if I didn't also include the women who supported the cause & households while the men were away from home and at battle: Abigail Crane Seward, Annis Wadkins Griswold, Elizabeth Weeks Griswold, Betsy Caulkins Hunt, Dolly Taft Kasson, Prudence Merrill Humphrey, Chloe Johnson Heath, Keziah Taylor Battle, & Abiah Kirby Bunnell. So keep an eye out for these names as I continue working on my ancestry inspired portraits. Want to celebrate with "Silas"? Prints are available here. Lastly, Thank you to all who fought for our freedom, & to those who continue to do so each day. Happy 4th of July! Click here to return to my full website
11.01.2018
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Originally Published: June 4, 2017 Fishmint by Caren Kinne This third installment of art inspiration is brought to you by the Surrealists. If you look up the word surreal in the dictionary or thesaurus you will find associations like: beyond real, strange, bizarre, fantasy, nonsense and dreamlike. In art-speak, the surrealists were a group of artists, writers, musicians and thinkers who established what would become the Surrealism movement in the arts beginning in the 1920s. How interesting it must have been to sit down with this collective in the Parisian cafés they would frequent to discuss their philosophies on life and art; or to play with them in their drawing game “Exquisite Corpse” (interesting name, I know. More on that later). The foundational thought process behind the Surrealist movement was that of connecting with one’s own unconscious. Freud’s theories of psychology were very prominent at the time and there are many connections between Freudian theory and the Surrealist’s process. There are two main branches, so to speak, of Surrealism. The first deals with autonomy. Think of it as free writing…. Listing words or making marks without much conscious thought, so that the inner subconscious can come forth in its truest form. The other section, if you will, is more related to the dreamlike, or unusual juxtaposition of objects. I consider Salvador Dali and Rene Magritte’s work to fit more with the latter. They are also two of the most well known surrealists, and for good reason: their work is still captivating to this day. If you visit my archive (here) you may pick up a direct correlation between my own work and the dream surrealists. My paintings Bicycle Vending Machine and Fishmint, among others, were part of a series I did that looked directly into this concept of pairing everyday objects and images together in unordinary ways. While the Surrealists often sought for answers from their subconscious however, in my series I was more focused on pairing similar shapes, adding a touch of whimsy, humor and a dash of nostalgia. I think what I love most about surrealist art however, is their fearless approach to imagination. Their creativity held no bounds. A lobster phone? A sunlit sky over a dark-as-night street?  An image that quite appears to be raining men (and no I am not talking about the 80’s pop song). Of course to look at these they make no sense- and that’s the strange and wonderful point! The surrealists were able to create magical, impossible worlds. While I no longer work on my juxtaposition series, my current musings and portrait work does still have the influence of creating harmonious, otherworldly figures and images. Much of my work has an underlying hint toward a joyful utopia. And sometimes we all do just need to escape for a little while. So Here are TWO fun Surrealist Escapes for you to enjoy right now! #1) Destino If you have not yet seen this short video collaboration between Salvador Dali and the one and only Walt Disney you are missing out. Check out the video here #2) Remember I mentioned that crazy sounding game the surrealists used to play called "Exquisite Corpse"? Grab some friends, family, or co-workers and have some fun: - Get out a sheet of paper and pen - Fold the paper so that there are the same number of sections as there are people playing. - The first person begins a drawing in their section and extends the lines just over into the next section of the fold. When done, fold back your completed section so that only the little extension lines show in the next section of the paper. - Pass the paper on to the next person to add to the drawing starting with the lines where the person before you left off. -Continue the above drawing, folding and passing steps until you are back with the first person. - Unfold the paper so all can see the crazy silly fun Surrealist drawing you all made! Warning: you may laugh reallllly hard! Click here to return to my full website www.ckinne.com
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