LIVE PAINTING HAPPENS AT FESTIVALS AND EVENT THROUGHOUT CALIFORNIA
In 2011, I attended my first Lightning in a Bottle – a four day, interactive, participatory art and music festival in Southern California. I describe it as a mini Burning Man with more shade and free water (a huge perk of this particular festival). LiB is where I bonded with my dear friend Rob Bell and helped him build his zomes, where I met new friends who continue to inspire me through their creative work, even where I met Sergio – my partner of four years. The entire event is very well produced and festival grounds are scattered with stages, tents, structures, art pieces, and all sorts of eye candy. On my first day, I saw an artist working on a large canvas and stopped to ask him what he was doing. That is when he told me about Lightning in a Paintcan – the festival’s curated live painting program.
Do Art Foundation is a non profit organization that brings live painters to Lightning in a Bottle every year. Live painting is when artists spend four days at the festival working on an art piece that is then for sale in a silent auction on the last night. Live painting is becoming more of a thing at events and festivals and can be good exposure for the artist. LiB in particular is nice because if the piece sells, the artist gets paid! The lure of it for me came from advice from artists I met at LiB. They all told me how live painting kind of forces you to create work and can become a good excuse to produce. Not only that, but they all told me how it can lead to other opportunities – like my dear friend Miles, who painted and sold his prints a few years ago to a man who then hosted him as an artist in residence in India.
I met several artists that weekend who I became friends with. All of them explained to me what a big difference live painting meant for their careers and how much they all enjoyed it. Some of my favorites, like John Park and Dave Zaboski, inspired me to check out Do Art Foundation and see how I could get involved. Shortly after that first festival experience, I moved to Los Angeles, where I made the jump to freelancing. I worked briefly with Do Art Foundation on a handful of their projects and went to Lightning in a Bottle 2012 as a Do Art helper. My artist relationships continued to grow and build and it was actually through these first friendships with artists, hearing their stories and their big dreams, that has helped me define what it is I want from this journey.
Through Do Art Foundation, I have live painted at 3 Lightning in a Bottle festivals and other events. Most of my live work has sold, I have met some really amazing people, and also had some incredibly memorable experiences. It feels good to be showered in compliments from strangers, but also to have super deep conversations with other artists about their unique process on their unique journey. As I mentioned earlier, it is these conversations that have stayed with me for years and are helping me carve out my own experience. My live art reflects what I want to be doing more of in my personal art with a focus on charcoal and chalk pastel. I enjoy working with these mediums on wood because it is easy to manipulate and super forgiving. If you really mess up – you can always sand away all the work and start over. I am still learning how to use acrylic but am enjoying using it with my live work.
My live work also represents two different subjects I am obsessed with. As seen with a lot of my other work, nature plays a big inspirational role. I want my work to be a reminder to all of us to slow down and really take in what is around us. The beauty nature creates so effortlessly is mind blowing when we really begin to pay attention. I feel that art has helped turn me on to quieting my mind and simply experiencing the present moment. Juicy succulents, colorful flowers, lacy petals, twisting vines, and sacred geometry truly do allow me to lose myself.
Hands play an inspirational role in my work, too. I learned how to use charcoal when I was in college and through it truly learned about light and shadow. Faces are still difficult for me, but hands have always been one of my favorite art subjects. When living in LA, I belonged to a yoga studio where I learned different hand “mudras” or different ways to hold your hands during practice. Some of the mudras are so beautiful and I especially use them during meditation. I have photographed several friends and their hands and am always exploring how I want to portray them.
The more I live paint, the more my confidence and strength grows about my own work. I usually come back to the dream of not having to work for money and instead making money through my work. I am on the way towards this and recognize that my current experiences are shaping me for what is next