Thursday, July 21, 2011

Frida Kahlo Painting at The Harry Ransom Center

Frida Kahlo (Mexican, 1907-1954)
Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, 1940
Oil on canvas, 61.25 cm x 47 cm
Harry Ransom Center

This painting was created just after Frida's marriage to Diego Rivera ended. She was broken hearted and this painting is a significant piece in her body of work because of when she created it and the symbolism held within it. If you'll notice there are three injuries on her neck from the thorns, these represent the three major traumas in her life; her childhood, the accident, and her husband's infidelity.

There are also magical signs, the black cat, the frozen butterflies, the flying flowers, and the dead hummingbird. The hummingbird is actually a known amulet of Venus which was supposed to protect her from the madness of love.

Kahlo (1907-1954) taught herself how to paint after she was severely injured in a bus accident at the age of 18. For Kahlo, painting became an act of cathartic ritual, and her symbolic images portray a cycle of pain, death and rebirth.

Kahlo's affair in New York City with her friend, the Hungarian-born photographer Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), which ended in 1939, and her divorce from the artist Diego Rivera at the end of the year, left her heartbroken and lonely, but she produced some of her most powerful and compelling paintings and self-portraits during this time.

Muray purchased the self-portrait from Kahlo to help her during a difficult financial period. It is part of the Ransom Center's Nickolas Muray collection of more than 100 works of modern Mexican art, which was acquired by the Center in 1966. The collection also includes "Still Life with Parrott and Fruit" (1951) and the drawing "Diego y Yo" (1930) by Kahlo.

"Mexican artist Frida Kahlo's "Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird" (1940) is back on view for a limited time at the Harry Ransom Center. The portrait, one of the Center’s most famous and frequently borrowed art works, will be on exhibit from July 6, 2011 through January 8, 2012.

Since 1990 the Kahlo painting has been on almost continuous loan, featured in exhibitions in more than 25 museums in the United States and around the world. The painting was most recently on view in exhibitions in Berlin, Germany; Vienna, Austria; and Madrid, Spain. It will next be on view in the three-venue exhibition "In Wonderland: The Surrealist Activities of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States," organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). LACMA hosts the exhibition from January 29, 2012 through May 6, 2012. It then travels to the Musée National des Beaux-arts du Quebec in Quebec City, Canada, from June 7 to September 3, 2012 and at the Museo de Arte Moderno in Mexico City, Mexico, from September 27, 2012 through January 13, 2013." -From the Harry Ransom Center website. Visit the link for more, an interactive map and a documentary video.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Vintage Photo - Ice Cream Shop

I found this picture among my dad's things. I just love the nostalgia, the quaintness and innocence in this photo. I will be turning this image into a painting one day.

I'm really good at starting painting, so I need to finish a couple first.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Work In Progress - Twin Birds

I have been saving this bird image for the right project. I first showed you all this in 2010 here. Now I have the perfect plan for it, my very good friend just had twins and I am painting this for the girls' room.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Work In Progress: Tree

I started by drawing the tree in pencil. Then I laid down a wet wash and added the blue and purple putting salt down in the wet paint to create a starry sky. I also did a wet wash in yellow and orange over the bulbs on the tree to give myself a base color to build on. After that dried I inked over the pencil lines.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Art History - Juan Antonio Roda

Columbia in the 1970's was under the leadership of President Laureno Gómez. The Catholic Church imposed extreme censorship and restrictions on art and the media. As a result the artists of the region began to express this repression, it manifested itself in erotic images sometimes with religious and violent themes. Most of the artists were educated in Art History and therefore used famous works of art as jump-off points and references for their own unique art. One artist in particular was working at this time, Juan Antonio Roda, the etchings he created in the seventies are erotic, religious, and evoke the well-known Baroque artists, Carravaggio and Bernini.

Roda, born in Spain in 1921 was a remarkable draftsman, printmaker and painter. Major themes in his work were, time, pleasure and pain. Two series of etchings he created in the seventies demonstrate these themes very well. The first series entitled Delirio de las Monjas Muertas is dedicated to the deaths of nuns and how in fact they represent an end of one life and a beginning of another. The second series entitled "Amarraperros" is dedicated to captured dogs, deprived of attention and other basic needs.

The lights and darks are stark and the grey tones are scarce. In the Baroque style, objects emerge from a dark background. The figure, and the erotic nature of the subjects are aspects common to both series. They were shown together in New York City at the Noble Polans Gallery.

In colonial days it was customary to take a photograph of a deceased nun. Roda uses these photographs as inspiration for his series of Etchings entitled Delrio de las Monjas Muertas, delirium of the dead nuns. The nun, in life lived to serve and therefore did not experience all the pleasures in life. In death Roda depicts these nuns as beautiful, delicate, and erotic feminine creatures in eternal slumber. All the happiness and elation waiting for them in the afterlife is evident on their calm smirking faces. Their faces express a hint of ecstasy.

The Amarraperros series, meaning captured dogs, is a truly disturbing series of etchings depicting tired dogs, humans, ropes, and violence. The idea of time is evident in the series through the use of body language in the figures and the dogs. The idea of capturing and controlling a living creature speaks to the nature and state of Columbia at the time these etchings were created and also transcends time because the desire for power over others is universal and part of nature.

In conclusion, Roda's work is amazing and timeless. The imagery is beautiful, strong and at times shocking.

These are photos of copies from an exhibition catalog, so I apologize for the quality. There just isn't enough information about this artist, in English, on the internet, which is why I wanted to share the information I have.

Further Reading:

Twentieth-Century Art of Latin America by Jacqueline Barnitz (Barnitz was one of my professor at The University of Texas)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Art Producing Playlist

I love listening to music, especially in the car. Sometimes this music inspires me and I get a lot of ideas for paintings this way. These are a couple of songs that are influencing me recently.

The radio station here in Austin I listen to is KGSR, they play a good mix of old, new and classic music.






Thursday, July 7, 2011

Making a Commission Agreement

Before I do a commission for someone I fill out a sheet with all the information for the project. My commission sheet has

Client Information-
client's name
phone number
*I want more than one way to contact my client. If I am shipping the art it's extremely important to have the address exactly right and you can double check it online at

Type of commission (i.e. concept painting, portrait, or design work)

Reference material - Does it need to be returned? Watch out for copyrighted material.

Materials Needed and Cost - This is always different, make sure you know what you will need and how much it is going to cost before you give a quote. I sometimes ask for a deposit in this amount so I'm not out the materials cost if the client backs out.

Size - This is an important aspect for me since I use pre-stretched canvases. I usually get an idea of size then I have to tell the client what sizes are available. This may take some research on your part. Can you get it locally? How long will it take if you have to order it? Works on paper are similar, I try to feel out the client for how much they want to spend on framing.
*I never frame my works on paper, I rather the client find a framer in their area where they can pick out the frame, matting, and glass. These options start to add up and the time for framing can vary from a week to 4 weeks.

Price - Everyone has their own pricing system, but agree ahead of time how much this will cost and do not add to that total without consulting your client, nothing would be worse then for your client to have to pay more in the end because you decided to change materials or it took you longer than you thought it would. Allow yourself some wiggle room when you give a quote. Offer a payment plan if needed and then outline when you expect to be paid with dates and your accepted payment methods (check, cash, PayPal, etc.).

Shipping - Never include shipping in the price of the piece, cost of shipping can change based on fuel costs, always arrange for them to pay the shipping about a week before delivery, then follow through and ship the art on time and packed well.

Timeline - For large pieces that will take several months to complete I set up a timeline with multiple deadlines along the way so that there is a set of expectations already outlined and the client isn't contacting me randomly.

Deposit - Decide whether you will require a deposit, I usually ask for the cost of materials at a minimum.

What they get with the commission - Certificate of Authenticity, Instructions for Care, and Free Delivery within my hometown are a few of the things I give to all my commissions.

If possible get the client to sign the agreement, especially if it's a lot of money.

Hope this helps.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011 Art Website

I just read in Shape magazine about this website that offers unique limited edition art prints for collectors. You can purchase art at a reasonable price, and your friends won't have it too. As an artist I don't really like hanging my own art in my home. I would love to trade would other artists or find unique paintings or as an Art Historian I also like to find prints of my favorites for my own place.

The website is

It's a cool concept and thought I'd share this unique place with my art lover friends.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Giveaway Winner Announcement

Thank you to everyone who posted a comment on my Giveaway post, I really appreciate the feedback. The winner is Kelsey! Stay tuned for more chances to win art, notebooks, cards or prints from me in the future. Or you can always visit my Etsy shop

Friday, July 1, 2011

Vintage Photo Progress

Do you remember my father's Day post, well I started the painting this week. This is watercolor on watercolor canvas, not sure about the medium yet, thinking I should have done it in acrylic. I'm going to see it through, but may do the same painting in acrylic later. Anyone use the watercolor canvas on a regular basis? I could use any helpful hints you may have.