I posted a while back about some of my own artwork. I think it is important for art teachers to continue to create their own work outside of the classroom so that we stay connected with the artistic process. However that is easier said than done considering all of the hoops we have to jump through and behind the scenes work that needs to be done just to even teach a lesson. But I became an art teacher so that I could be a (non-starving) artist and pass my passion on to new generations of creative thinkers. Finding time to make art is tough but necessary for the sake of providing the best art education experience.
That being said, I was thrilled when I signed up for a drawing and painting class. I signed up for this class because I am actually back at Georgia State University to earn a master’s degree. It is an amazing but rigorous program and I could not be more excited to reconnect with some of my professors from my undergrad. I am now finished with my first semester and wanted to share some of the artwork that I created.
The first day I met with my professor, we had a long talk about life, the universe, and everything. I showed him some of my pen ink mandalas and he said “You should work with gouache.” I was kind of terrified at this point because I was not making artwork with a whole lotta color in it and the only paint I had ever really used was acrylic. Gouache is a different beast!
I went to the best art store in the world Binders and bought all the supplies I would need. I got home and started to play with this new medium and ended up tearing the paper into shreds. I was so frustrated and lost and could not figure out how I could possibly be successful with this type of art making. Then I was given some excellent advice by my ever patient S.O. He asked me, “what do you do when your students get frustrated and give up?” I replied, “I tell them to try their best and practice. Nobody is perfect at something the first time they try it.” By the time I finished that sentence he was giving me a look that basically said DUH!
So I watched some YouTube videos of people using gouache and I practiced and practiced and now I am so proud of this new body of work I have created. The following pieces will end up being part of my thesis and are taking me down an artistic path that I am very excited to follow. Enjoy!
I really wanted to start off with a self-portrait and was inspired by the notion of stepping into another realm. I guess in a way I stepped through another realm of creativity with this medium. Here is a close up of the nebula texture:
The next piece I made was a mandala. My professor told me to stick with what I know while I still try to get the hang of it. At this point I discovered the wonders of masking fluid which is like painter’s tape but its a liquid. You can draw it on, paint on top, and when you peel it off you are left with a crisp, glorious white line to contrast with color and texture.
This and the following painting were created in response to a personal and family situation. I truly believe in the powers of positive thinking and this quote really resonated with me. “Your mind is a garden, your thoughts are the seeds, you can grow flowers, or you can grow weeds.”
HOUSEHEADS (for when you dream of home)
WE ARE ALL CONNECTED
This is a commission/artist trade with Mal Wingostarr a friend and amazing jewelry artist. The three hands represent her family and the chosen quote is by Neil Degrasse Tyson. It says: “We are all connected to each other biologically, to the earth chemically, to the universe atomically.”
SO IT GOES
This one is inspired by the book Slaughter House Five. It is such a beautiful book and this imagery is some of the best from the story. The ideas of time travel and the ephemeral nature of life are what I intended to capture with this painting.
This painting is a nod to the idea that the universe is within us all. Here is a close-up of the sun mandala:
SKY AND EARTH
Why is this one round, you might ask. I hated the background so I botched it and cut the part I liked into a circle!
I wanted to play with the juxtaposition of imagery of things that are small and big. This painting is a neuron with a nod to rings in a tree or markings of a fingerprint or a delta stream system from above. The lunar phases surround it. Close up:
SECRET AND SACRED
This is the sister piece to the one above. It is an abstracted double helix with sacred geometry shapes that represent the geometric tree of life and geometric infinity. The pattern of “letters” is a made up language that I like to play around with as a motif. The letters are made up but based on actual alphabets such as Hebrew, Sumerian, Elvish, Russian, and English. It represents the microscopic language that resides inside of everything on earth that writes the story of how it exists and what it is made of.
I like the idea that as literate people, we cannot look at a word without automatically reading it. It is impossible to look back to before you could read and you saw letters as funny squiggly shapes. Recently a student asked me “who made the alphabet anyway?!” which is a very good question with a very complicated answer. Alphabets are visually beautiful and the evolution of sounds and letters millenia of human consciousness is truly fascinating.
In keeping with the microscopic theme, this is an abstracted cell. I used the alphabet pattern again and made sure to include mitochondria: the powerhouse of the cell. This is inspired by scientific illustrations which I absolutely love. That was my favorite part of science textbooks when I was in school! While not exactly scientifically accurate, this piece is at least a nod to the friendship of science and art.
I have always loved stories that deal with the origins of the universe and Terry Pratchett’s concept of A’tuin is awesome. The earth exists on a giant turtle’s back floating through space on top of which are 4 elephants holding the disc that is the world. I collect turtles so I definitely wanted to create a painting that features one of my favorite animals.
MANDALA FOR SUMMER
There are only a few weeks left of school. The weather is warm and the sun is shining. This mandala is a nod to popsicles and pooltime. To walks in the woods and picnics in the grass. I am a true summer soul.
You may have noticed that I like using the symbol of a Hamsa in my work. This symbol is important to me because it represents my culture of Judaism. The hamsa reminds me of when I went to Israel and how amazing that journey was. The all-all-seeing eye represents protection to together it is protection or guardianship of home, heart, and soul.
I wanted to further explore themes of science and I recently listened to an interesting podcast about colors and had a few conversations with different people (randomly) about rainbows. The colors of this and the next few paintings are also nostalgic. There is something about the black/nebula and the rainbow combined together that reminds me of being a little kid.
PEAKS AND VALLEYS
This painting invokes a few different ideas like layers of sediment and dirt in the earth or layers of skin or earth and water. Really it is just an in-between piece that is heavy on the design side. I wanted to make something that would involve a lot of patterns and just be kind of fun to get really into. I drew it with pencil, traced over it with masking fluid, painted on top of that, and then went into all of the little negative spaces with a pen. It was super involved but very meditative.
CRYSTAL AND CHAMELEON
This one is about light and things that catch light or emit light or change in the light. In a deeper sense, it is also about how much I have changed as an artist as I am becoming more and more familiar with gouache.
The latest member of the batch is a bit surreal and about subconscious and conscious dreams. I feel like I finally nailed the nebula texture! Close up:
If you are interested in commissioning an original painting, please contact me — I love creating works through collaborative inspiration! I plan to sell prints of these soon as well. I will be continuing to create work for personal enjoyment and later this summer for another drawing and painting class. I hope YOU are inspired to create as well! So stay tuned for more art by ms k. 🙂
*** All images are the intellectual property of Mollie Katzin and may not be reproduced, republished, distributed, transmitted, displayed, broadcast or otherwise exploited in any manner without the express prior written permission of the artist ***