100 Sketches of Max Ends Today!
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This project can be viewed in full here: All About Max

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I was sharing with a family member the other day about Max and mentioned that I'm finishing 100 sketches of him. She laughed hard and said "That's not love, that's obsession!" YES. Guilty.

But even as I type this out, I'm smiling. I believe that simple attention and caring towards anyone we love with the instrument of creativity is a big time celebration. Obsession phases make nicely condensed memories in the heart and mind. I have found myself feeling a little silly this whole time as I came up with new scenes to sketch about this little black and white loaf of personality and love that hops around the apartment inventing new games to play and new ways to connect with me. It wasn't hard to have ideas that capture his sweet - highly intelligent character. But I had to fully accept and digest that the exposition on social media (that is getting more complex by the day) could challenge the reputation of the abstract painter selling to collectors. These are very rough silly sketches about a rabbit. A bit of a departure. And while it's true I lost followers on this project while in 2016 I gained a couple thousand with abstract painting, I'm not sorry I did it. The day that trends on social media dictates how I express my little 'obsessions from the heart' is the day I will feel less like an artist and more like a puppet of... of what? Can we even say anymore? The world is a bit varied at the moment.

This project is about honoring how critters can change our lives, even our heart's chemistry. Max is pretty special because he behaves more like a dog and less like a rabbit. He's the first rabbit I've known who listens to the rules and never forgets them. He also has memorized every angle of our habitat and makes his own world of games and loving every day. He's also 7 years old now and is half blind. I needed to capture his wonderful spirit before the day of 'goodbye' comes. And I am proud now that I did. I feel really good about this project. 

What's next? I do want to create an interactive project with these drawings. Whether this is animation, or a graphic novel or a proposal to chronicle books is yet to be thought through. But I have a stack of Max content to play with and I couldn't be more pleased.

Acknowledgements: Elle Luna for everything she is about. This is my second finished 100 project inspired by her.  Also, Max! You can see and follow him here: Max the big bunny. And to the good folks who support me and love and care for Max. So grateful. 

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Niya ChristineComment
How Painting is a Natural Relationship Therapist

When the paint is flying I often feel various shades of vulnerability, joy, curiosity and amazement. The journey of creative action is the one place (for me anyway) where I SO-NOT-IN-CONTROL. And, that feels right to me. Like a bit of delightful truth in a sea of daily cultural messages and dramas that often feel shocking and disorienting. Painting is a place that takes me to my own little private island of adventure and life force. No matter what happens on the canvas I find comfort in this dynamic. 

That's why I'm smiling a bit about what happened this weekend. I had a private studio collector / friends gathering on Saturday night that resulted in the sales of several paintings. Most of them my new work that I've been questioning as valid for the public. This past year I let painting go completely for 6 months as I tackled a difficult job environment. It took all of my energy. Coming back to painting has been quite a journey. I have been surprised how hard it was to get back and also how a new style emerged. My hands simply wouldn't stop moving. So I've created several pieces with lots of dense marks, some animals. A departure from the calm color conversations once held in each piece to more of a mosh pit of abstract expressionism. She was most drawn to these pieces. And she gave herself her most favorite painting. A 4 ft large Koi on loose canvas and several others. I have been reeling ever since. 

Painting not only commands a very close relationship between artist and the creation process but also between artist and public. It's humbling and community building to open up the studio to a collector or have an exhibit and really listen to what people say and how the art imprints on their minds, hearts and souls. For me this is about as meaningful as life itself and a delicious slice of chocolate cake. To see the paintings sold you can see that here: instagram gallery.

Niya ChristineComment
Character Development Project

As a student at UCLA in film writing something an instructor said stuck with me, "complex characters, simple plot." To achieve this takes some hacking ... lots of sketching, notes, observing in ways I normally do not. 

All of that is well and good, but let's add a couple of twists. It's an animal. An animal not well understood or socially accepted as a house pet. A rabbit. Rabbits who live on farms, in the wild, in Beatrice Potter's books. And a rabbit who is like a dog and cat in one. Who will not accept a mate because he's decided on the human equivalent, who sleeps in the bed and is perfectly polite about toilet habits. And much more.

To do this would take daily work for awhile. Lots of content that could be trashed, an MD notebook in storyboard form and the motivation of a community doing 100 drawings. A hundred drawings is about right. 

At the moment I've created 60 with 40 to go and it's been a learning process for sure. It's challenging not to take it to the fantasy realm - high concept and fictional. The way I've handled that is to carve away at a characteristic with many scenes until I capture a real quality about his character. 

Looking forward to pulling it altogether into a book. To see it in process you can see it here. Or see it as a gallery here

Randall Children's Hospital Installation

The thought that something I made is bringing a bit of color to the lives of children in the hospital gives me a lot of joy. It keeps me painting. But these things rarely happen with the wave of wishful wand. I think the story is a good one, so I wanted to share.

I met a woman some years back who was going through a divorce and decided to start a new business. What I admired most in this sparkly and strong person was how she faced loss and decided to surf it all the way. In painters terms this would be scraping the canvas to its essential material. Then, bravely...(often shakily) splashing on that first layer of color with a sense of abandon and curiosity. She chose me to create her new brand. As I did her head shots in a local wine bar (she made it easy with her natural beauty) and worked with her on her copy we got to know one another a bit. One day while she visited me at home, I shared with her about a new series I was doing in a studio class: The Girl Series. It was about missing information from childhood and longings in adulthood. When she saw Girl on Haystack she wrote me a check then and there and that was that. It was instant for her. She needed something from that painting.

I have this weird psychology that doesn't allow me to like my paintings at first. I was still in that stage when she bought it. I've learned since to never sell a painting in that stage. It's like taking insurance money while still in shock. You lose. But in this case it was a lucky call. She paid me well and the painting truly served her. 

Now it's serving sick children in an otherwise not so cheery space. She made this happen. The business she created at the time she purchased the art took her to a job serving this hospital. She is dialed in and I am honored. The feedback is coming in that it is lifting spirits already. So glad.

I'm thinking about ways to get more of my art into environments of healing. Color has this way of speaking a language straight to the heart. And color is why I paint. 

See... wasn't that a good story?