4th Annual Coaster Show

Tomorrow - be there or be square! Opening reception for the 4th Annual Coaster Show at La Luz de Jesus Gallery.

Click image to join Facebook event page

I'm excited to be a part of this highly-anticipated annual event featuring mini-paintings on 4-inch regular beer coasters (round or square) and priced at $250 or less.  Scroll down to view my 4 coaster paintings ($60 each) - click each image to view making-of timelapse videos.  Read full story of how the Coaster show originated here (scroll down past featured artist Mark Todd).

C. Rasmussen |  Breaking Through  |   2016 | $60 | Oil on 4-inch coaster |  Click image  to view making-of timelapse video

C. Rasmussen | Breaking Through | 2016 | $60 | Oil on 4-inch coaster | Click image to view making-of timelapse video

C. Rasmussen |  Gushing Forth  |   2016 | $60 | Oil on 4-inch coaster |  Click image  to view making-of timelapse video

C. Rasmussen | Gushing Forth | 2016 | $60 | Oil on 4-inch coaster | Click image to view making-of timelapse video

C. Rasmussen |  Grabbing Hold  |   2016 | $60 | Oil on 4-inch coaster |  Click image  to view making-of timelapse video

C. Rasmussen | Grabbing Hold | 2016 | $60 | Oil on 4-inch coaster | Click image to view making-of timelapse video

C. Rasmussen |  Grabbing Hold  |   2016 | $60 | Oil on 4-inch coaster |  Click image  to view making-of timelapse video

C. Rasmussen | Grabbing Hold | 2016 | $60 | Oil on 4-inch coaster | Click image to view making-of timelapse video

Luck is the Residue of Design

I was excitedly telling a good friend about a new venture I'm embarking on, and she quoted me these lines: 

This gave me pause. There have been several moments in my life where I have felt incredibly lucky, and have expressed this. But upon hearing the quote, I looked back at a couple of these instances, and I can understand what Branch Rickey* means.

For example, only when I stopped looking for love did it find me - quite literally. After having spent most of my college career (privately) lamenting my lack of a boyfriend, I spent my last semester focusing on my painting and my own emotional well being** and stopped giving much thought to boys. One month after graduation, I met my future partner at a friend's party and gave him my number. Six years later, I'm still in the most amazing relationship. Had I met my guy 6 months earlier, I have no doubt that the outcome would have been totally different, for a variety of reasons. Some might call this fate, but I can also see how only when I dropped my desperation at not having a boyfriend was I able to blossom into a more confident (and mature!) person who attracted the attention of this amazing man - and held it. As he has mine. 

Right now I'm feeling "lucky" to be pursuing my art as a career - something my high school art teacher might have predicted, but I certainly didn't. I feel "lucky" to be living in the great metropolis of Los Angeles, and at a time when I'm finally embracing my "urban landscape" moniker - this city has too much to offer in terms of inspiration for me to worry about being "just another urban landscape painter." If that's what I am, so be it. And I feel "lucky"...scratch that - I actually feel grateful for my past work experience in administration, operations, communications and event planning. All these "day jobs" have taught me skills that continue to come in useful daily as I run my own business - in a creative field, with creativity. I could say, what an amazing coincidence! Or, I could acknowledge that where I am today is actually a result of my past life and work experience, working for my benefit - who I am and what I'm doing in this moment - without me consciously knowing it. Now that I am a little tuned in, I feel like my intentional decisions and actions can be made and taken with more confidence; more "design," if you will. 

I can't wait to see what happens next! I'm feeling lucky ;)


*I'm not a baseball fan so I had no idea who Branch Rickey was, but it turns out he was an MLB executive who, among other things, broke the color line by signing Jackie Robinson. 
**I began seeing a therapist, which completely changed my life. 

New Exhibit Up @ Hive Gallery

I'm pleased as punch, as they say. This month I'm renting a wall space at the Hive Gallery & Studios, so instead of craning one's neck up to see work displayed on the banister of my studio, you can now view it at eye-level. 

My display at Hive Gallery, April 9-30. 

I'm showcasing one piece from my She Was Just A Dream series, and 20 paintings from my Windows series - click on the link to read more about my 50|50 project. 

The show will be up April 9-30, with events on:

  • April 9 for The Hive's 11-year Anniversary Show (8-11PM) and
  • April 14 for DTLA Art Walk (1-11PM). 

Regular gallery hours are Wed-Sat, 1-6PM. 

"What's that?" you ask. The wall is covered in faux-fur from the last occupant. This place is quite an experience! Come check it out. 

Trials and Triumphs of Live Painting

Last night I had a table set up in front of the Hive Gallery, selling prints and painting as part of DTLA Art Walk. I rarely paint in front of other people, and I have to admit I was a little nervous about the whole endeavor. 

My set-up in front of Hive Gallery for DTLA Art Walk on 3/10/16. 

My set-up in front of Hive Gallery for DTLA Art Walk on 3/10/16. 

The first time I painted live at an event was in 2008, and it was a disaster! I was one of 3 featured artists at the grand opening of my friend's t-shirt printing store, and I had no idea what I was doing. I've blocked out some of the memories from that night, but what I recall is this: 

  • I was seated on the floor with my canvas propped up by the wall, trying not to get accidentally kicked by onlookers as it was both crowded and pretty dark in there.
  • I chose to paint in acrylics to avoid making too much of a mess, even though at the time I had really only painted with oils, and didn't know any tricks to help with drying time and blending, etc. 
  • This was back in college when I was on a bit of an abstract kick, and contrary to popular belief, abstract painting is actually VERY difficult to do WELL

By the end of the night, I had a hopelessly half-finished, HORRIBLE painting, and I felt awful. It was such a terrifying experience that I vowed never to do it again.

Fast forward to 2016. You know that saying, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again"? Well, I finally overcame my fears, and decided to do just that - with amazing results! 

Click image to view in-progress video. 

Click image to view in-progress video. 

I had fun painting this little number over the course of 3 hours (stopping often to chat with people) AND I'm pleased with how it turned out:).  I know that I did things better this time: 

  • I had a proper setup behind a table with a light; 
  • I didn't try to go too big - working on a 6x6inch panel; 
  • I used my trusted oil paints; 
  • AND I used a source photo - very important since with all the interruptions I had a reference to keep me on track.

Untitled (suggestions?), oil on wood panel, 6x6inches. Sold. 

Most importantly of all, I was way more CONFIDENT this time. I think that's because I have more experience now and I have my own style. Also, my 50|50 project from last summer really taught me a lot, and showed me that I could indeed finish a painting in one sitting. 

Now that I'm over the fear and doubt, I foresee more live painting in my future!

How Malala Inspired My Painting

What do I have in common with Nobel Peace Prize winner & advocate Malala Yousafzai? We were both born in Pakistan and we both care about girls' education (albeit, she has risked her life for this cause).
 

Malala Yousufzai, Nobel Peace prize winner

Malala Yousufzai, Nobel Peace prize winner

That's where the commonality ends, but I absolutely admire this daring young woman who is changing the world. I encourage you to check her work out: www.malala.org. It is  Women's History Month after all!

My admiration led me to create this painting:

Malala is the youngest recipient and first Pakistani to win the Nobel Peace Prize, hence the title "Nobel Laureate." What a wonderful icon for young girls (and not so young, like myself!) to look up to; she really has raised awareness by bravely speaking up. 

I show the interior of a Pakistani classroom, but with the clothes in Malala's signature pink (rather than the traditional blue & white school uniforms). The view out the window is from a photo I took in one of my favorite places, the Hunza Valley, close to the same region where Malala grew up. 

New Work: "Peeping Tom"

One of the perks of having a studio at The Hive Gallery is that I get to participate in their monthly group shows. This month I'm putting a piece in the "Erotica"-themed show (mature audiences only). Mine is a playful take on the subject, using body-less clothing as I'm wont to do. 

C. Rasmussen, Peeping Tom, 2016 | $193 | 12"x9" | Oil on wood panel. 

Show opens February 6 (8-11PM) and is up through Feb. 27 (gallery hours Wed-Sat 1-6PM or by appointment). 

Click link to view a short video on Instagram of me painting the cloth.

Latest Flawless Series Addition: M.O.M.

Despite being preoccupied with my 50|50 daily paintings right now, I recently finished this painting for my Flawless series

M.O.M., 2015. Oil on canvas, 12"x12". 

I've been starting to do more paintings in dresses from around the world, and really enjoyed painting this sari from India. I was intimidated by the embroidery at first, which definitely took some time to do. But in the end I enjoyed the challenge and am pleased with the result. 

The title of the piece, M.O.M., comes from the name given to the Indian Mars Orbiter Spacecraft, which launched last year. There was this great photo and story of the women scientists involved in the success of the mission, which struck me both because there were more women (many of them mothers themselves) working at the Indian Space Research Organization than at NASA, and because they wore saris to work. So I wanted to celebrate these smart, successful and feminine women in my painting. 

In my Flawless series I strive to reshape gender norms by refusing to apologize for femininity, recognizing that pretty isn't weak. 

Artist as Story Teller

I heard a story on NPR the other day about this journalist, Paul Salopek, who is traveling the world by foot over 7 years and gathering stories along the way. The exact opposite to the book Around the World in 80 Days, yet seemingly just as crazy. What a wild and extremely fascinating idea! Clearly a journalist's job is to collect stories, but I think this is an innovative way of going about it - not rushing around to find the story but instead meandering and observing life along the way.  You can follow his stories here.

Most artists are story tellers, and I think their inspiration often comes from slowing down, taking time to smell the flowers or notice the color purple. For me, it's not that everything I see or hear goes directly into my paintings; rather, noticing the quality of light just before sunset in the late part of spring on my way home from the office, or the bird of prey that sits on a wire above the expressway every morning on my commute triggers something in me that makes me want to create.

I think my attention to detail and appreciation of beauty in the everyday comes from a childhood growing up in rural areas with limited electricity.  When I wasn't voraciously reading novels, National Geographic or World Book Encyclopedias (yes, I was a nerd), I was running around making up games to play. My family didn't own a TV or a computer until I was well into middle school, and I didn't get a cell phone (which I had to share with my twin brother) until I was 16.  So I had plenty of time to think and imagine things, something that has certainly affected both my world view and my art.  Of course, now-a-days I am all too often caught up in the fast pace of our tech-centered world, and I have to remind myself to slow down and find that centered vantage point of chronicler and story teller.

Which is why I like hearing stories like this Ted Talk by artist Shea Hembrey: How I became 100 ArtistsHembrey created a biennial featuring art by 100 artists from all over the world, except that all of the artists were personas that he created. Not only did he make multiple pieces of art in 100 different styles, but he also created back stories for each artist so that the concept behind each body of work was based on something to do with the artist's life experiences, interests or topics of exploration.  Now that is some great story telling!

Two takeaways from this fascinating project: first, Shea's criteria for the work that the artist must be able to explain the work to their grandma in 5 minutes or less, thus making it more refined and more accessible to the general public. I think this is extremely important in the current climate of overly-convoluted contemporary art. Second, that it have the three H's: head - "interesting intellectual concepts", heart - "passion and soul," and hand - "in that it would be greatly crafted,"  simple enough instructions that I, for one, hope to uphold in my work. 

Handyman Artist

I have been thinking a lot the last couple of months about what it means to be an artist.  The word has so many connotations and often negative ones, as if people still think becoming an artist is this easy thing that rich, privileged kids get to do for fun.  Well, that hasn't been my experience nor that of any of the artists that I know, so I thought I would so a shout-out to all my hard working artist peers who pour their sweat and blood into being an artist, which requires being a bit of a renaissance (wo)man.  This is installment #1, and is dedicated to my mom, who gifted me my trusty toolbox, my artistic talent and most of my handyman knowledge.  Thanks Mom!

IMG_2783

Almost all the artists I know are very handy, especially the female ones.  Even non-visual artists, particularly those into theater props or costumes.  I find it sort of amusing (and terrifying!) when people ask me what I do as an artist - meaning, do I paint? If so, what?  But there is so much more to it than simply rendering a picture on canvas.  Occasionally people do ask about my process, and I enjoy explaining how I take (amateur) photographs or sketches, collage them together and then create a painting.

And then there's the nuts and bolts part of that question.  The part that makes a hardware store my 2nd most favorite type of store to shop in (after the grocery store and before the art store, which has many, many beautiful and unaffordable things).  As a painter, my first order of business is making my own stretcher bars, stretching and prepping my canvases, and when the painting is complete, attaching the proper materials to hang the piece on different types of walls.  That is pretty standard, but then there is the harder stuff.  Like painting walls between every show at the gallery you work at, or tearing up the old nasty carpet and replacing it with faux wood flooring in the building you are helping renovate for your new art collective.  The stuff that builds your muscles, or as Calvin's dad would say, "builds character."

And this is not necessarily a bad thing!  I know many artists who have worked as house painters, construction workers, home-improvement builders and/or in hardware stores as their day job to support their art.  One often reaps benefits from this type of work: discounts on materials, free use of tools, seasonal work that allows you to work on your art, introduction to cheaper, non-traditional materials that inspire new and more interesting art (not to mention the know-how to make your own home improvements when you do become rich and famous and buy a house!).  All-in-all I think there is a sort of toughness that develops the more serious one is about pursuing art, and this translates into the work, whatever medium it may be (stand-up comedy, musical theater, poetry).  This sort of thing weeds out the people who became art majors in college to study something "easy" from those of us who are (maybe too) serious about our work.

 

See my art this weekend!

So I have a couple of shows this weekend, would love to see you there! 1) Group show "Vital" @ The Usuals

Opening reception: Friday Jan. 25, 7-10PM

Where: The Usuals, 1020 The Alameda, San Jose, CA 95126

vital_flyer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2) Meet-and-Greet (closing reception) @ Barefoot Coffee Campbell

What: Last chance to see my show Heavy Traffic before it comes down on Jan. 31st

When: Sunday January 27th, 2-4PM

Where: Barefoot Coffee, 1819 South Bascom Avenue, Campbell, CA 95008

Why: Opportunity to meet me and ask any questions you want.Last chance to see the show before it comes down. Fulfill your New Year's resolution early (you know that one where you said you wanted to buy more original artwork in 2013?)! Get some awesome Barefoot coffee!! Come on, what else have you got to do on a Sunday afternoon?

Falcon_small

New paintings and what inspired them

Here are two new paintings to prove that although I have been slacking off in the blog-o-sphere, I have been hard at work in real life.  I hope you like them.

We Celebrate the Freaks

The title of the above piece is a paraphrase from a passage in a Salman Rushdie book that I love, The Ground Beneath Her Feet.  The imagery is from photographs I took in the Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (NB: Although many famous Argentines are buried here, including Eva Peron, this has nothing to do with my painting).  I am inspired by the architecture of fancy graveyards and I like how the statues look silhouetted against the sky, something I accentuated in this painting. I was also reading The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon while painting this, which is set in Barcelona and has several scenes in graveyards. Although a great read, this is quite a dark book about a writer selling his soul to the devil, so I'm sure some of that got into this painting too...

When I'm Alone I Get Carried Away_small

When I'm Alone I Get Carried Away

The title of this piece is not a quote, but rather refers to the stir-crazy feeling I had while painting this piece.  Really, the turmoil I was feeling was in other parts of my life, and painting this was calming.  Yet some of that anxiety and loneliness got into the painting, something a friend pointed out to me upon seeing the completed piece.  Perhaps I subconsciously think that by having control in my painting I will be able to exert some more control in my life.  Isn't psychology fascinating? And just to thicken the plot, I should note that I actually painted these two paintings simultaneously... And yes, the dresses continue, albeit in an evolved way.

You can view these hot-off-the press pieces at my current show at Barefoot Coffee Campbell.  The opening reception is tomorrow, December 8th from 4-7, but the show is up through Jan. 31st so just pop by whenever.

Heavy Traffic - My upcoming show @ Barefoot Coffee Campbell

Come check out my upcoming show at Barefoot Coffee Campbell December 1, 2012 - January 31, 2013.  OPENING RECEPTION: Saturday December 8th 4-7PM.  1819 S. Bascom Ave., Campbell, CA 95008

The title of the show (and the featured painting above), Heavy Traffic, is inspired by that Neil Young quote I read in a Rolling Stone interview some years ago: “There’s many different people inside you. Many different beings traveling through you. On the outside you may look like you, but it may be that several different things are coming through you, and it’s heavy traffic.”   This idea is reflected in the range of the work I have selected to show, which will include some never-before-shown older paintings along with some brand-new ones straight out of the studio.

Join the opening reception event.

"Like" my Facebook artist's page.

www.christinekeenarasmussen.com

I Still Don't Know If I am a Falcon

My newest finished painting: [singlepic id=110 w=125 h=250 ]

Again, it was inspired by this poem by Rainer Maria Rilke:

I live my life in growing orbits which move out over the things of the world.

Perhaps I can never achieve the last but that will be my attempt.

I am circling around God, around the ancient tower,

And I have been circling for a thousand years,

And I still don't know if I am a falcon,

or a storm,

or a great song.

New Work: In Progress

I am painting again! Here's what I'm working on:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It's inspired by this poem by Rainer Maria Rilke:

I live my life in growing orbits which move out over the things of the world.

Perhaps I can never achieve the last but that will be my attempt.

I am circling around God, around the ancient tower,

And I have been circling for a thousand years,

And I still don't know if I am a falcon,

or a storm,

or a great song.

And in case you're interested, here's some photos of the painting in different stages:

First I sketch an image, then I pick out source materials to get guidance.

If I Could Dance...

Back in June and July I made a series of paintings of body-less dancers titled "If I Could Dance". While I received good feedback from many people, I also feel like I left a lot of people hanging by not having an artist statement to go along with the work.  Here I am talking about the values of making "ugly" paintings whilst making (purposefully) "pretty" paintings.  Yet it is not so hypocritical as you might imagine - the "prettiness" is part of the message.

I grew up in a culture where my first consciousness about my body was one of shame.  I was taught an extreme form of modesty to be culturally sensitive to, and safer in, the norms of Muslim Pakistan.  The idea was to become invisible and not react to the stares or calls or groping which my white skin and reddish-blonde hair sticking out in a sea of brown people did not help.  I remember being embarrassed at age 8, which led to being self-conscious almost all the way through high school.  When I wasn't hiding my body under baggy clothes, I was trying to play sports and pretending to be tough.  I thought any attention from the opposite sex was negative, and I scorned the "cheerleader"-type and swore to never be a "girlie-girl".  Along with this I tried not to make "pretty" paintings because I wanted to be taken seriously as an artist and my lack of knowledge about successful female artists led me to believe that by simply being a woman my art was at a disadvantage - relegated to the cute category of "hobby".

Then a couples years ago I started to embrace the "girl" inside of me.  I started wearing dresses, make-up and jewelry -- heels even! I gained confidence as a woman and decided owning my femininity was to my advantage.  But I still resisted it in my art.  I now knew about and admired many successful women artists, but I still didn't want to make paintings about gender, again, out of some kind of fear of being taken less seriously.  Until this series.  I decided I wanted to celebrate the female form, critics of "pretty" paintings be damned!  And what better way than through dance?  I have always lacked confidence in dancing, but I love watching it - dance inspires me and makes me appreciate the human body even more. I feel connected through dance.

These dresses show the form of the dancer while being body-less because I didn't want to put a face or race or body-type to cloud the universal beauty of dance.  One of the amazing things about dance to me is that it can be so expressive and convey whole narratives and complex emotions without a single word, hence negating any language barrier.

I explored different types of dance from around the world because I find them beautiful and I suppose I was being instinctively culturally inclusive.  Dance is a celebration of the human body, and I've decided to be a part of it and celebrate in my own way.

Making of "Shadows"

One of my original ideas for this blog was to post in-progress paintings so people can have a look into my process and/or get painting tips.  Since I haven't been able to paint in awhile, here's a step-by-step guide to an older painting - "Shadows", completed in June. Sketch: I often find that students new to painting want to draw with pencil on their canvas before starting with paint. I never do that. I map out my composition very simply with a brush and some paint like so. You can see how I changed the size of the figure dramatically, not worrying about erasing because I was just going to paint over it anyway.

 

 

 

 

 

Color & Texture: Next, I start blocking in the painting, making adjustments and adding texture as I go. Painting is a very layered process for me, so there are often layers that never see the light of day, but add a richness (both in body/texture and in color) to the final painting.

I have been on this kick where when I use photographic references, I print them out in black and white and then paint my own colors. This has some challenges but also adds a level of mystery and excitement for me, the painter, because I'm letting the painting tell me where to go.

 

 

 

Figure: In this case I painted the figure and her dress in monochromatic colors because I was planning on glazing the colors on later. I purposefully kept her skin very light, while keeping the dress dark because I wanted the glazing to be more subtle on the dress.

 

 

 

 

 

Details: The picture I was working from was a night scene, so all the colors got more bluish in this stage. I also added more detail around the figure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glazing: I finally got to the glazing stage, but by this time had decided I didn't want to glaze any of the skin. I liked that it was fresh looking and yet nostalgic because the burnt sienna base made it look like an old-fashioned tinted photograph.

Critique stage: At this point I felt kind of stuck with the painting, so I went to the art collective I am a part of to get some some constructive criticism from my peers. It's always good to get some outside feedback, to point out glaring errors and/or minor tweaks that make a world of difference.

 

 

 

Final: The suggestions I got were most helpful and definitely helped finish the painting. By darkening a shadow here and changing the direction of a line there, I was able to get a better and more effective painting.

I was also reminded to include reflective light. This means, simply, that if the reddish dress is next to the purple pail, then there should be some purple on the dress and some red on the pail. Likewise, there is some color in the shadow from whatever object is casting the shadow.