Gloria Steinem

April 13, 2009

I started a new painting today. This one’s subject is Gloria Steinem and her Address to the Women of America on July 10, 1971, at the founding of the National Women’s Political Caucus. This would become one of the era’s most memorable speeches; delivered at the height of the Women’s Movement, it is considered one of the twentieth century’s greatest speeches.

Rainy days are so perfect for painting. Below are some pictures of the work in progress.

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MLK is born

March 28, 2009

I started my next painting today. Before I even put the markers to canvas I had a feeling that this one would be my favorite. The words are from Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” and “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speeches.

MLK

MLK

MLK

MLK

MLK

MLK

MLK

MLK

MLK

MLK

I love it so much right now, but it’s going to change a lot.

MLK

MLK

MLK

MLK

Reverence

March 26, 2009

Reverence (Nelson Mandela 46664)

Reverence (Nelson Mandela 46664)

Reverence (Nelson Mandela 46664)

Reverence (Nelson Mandela 46664)

Reverence (Nelson Mandela 46664)

Reverence (Nelson Mandela 46664)

Reverence (Nelson Mandela 46664)

Reverence (Nelson Mandela 46664)

Finished. I can’t write about it yet.

I’ve been asking people lately who their favorite artists are. I started doing this because I was in the process of collecting pictures of some of my favorite artists, who have clearly influenced my art, to share here. I got curious about what other people were drawn to. I’m mostly talking about the historical sort of artists here, by the way.

Wassily Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky

First of all, I can not over-emphasize how much I adore Kandinsky. The lines and the color and the shapes – the movement – is all so purposeful. I love when Kandinsky talks about trying to express music in his paintings. As someone who played (oboe, cymbals, chimes, handbells) in bands and choirs for many years, I immensely appreciate the communication of that feeling. I can see the woodwinds and the brass and the percussion in his compositions.

Wassily Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky

Kandinsky was not afraid to take chances. He did things with his art that were unexpected. There are things that we may never understand about the pieces, but we can also see what we see, and that’s what happens everyday in the world anyway so it’s wonderful.

Wassily Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky, Several Circles, 1926. This is probably my favorite piece by my favorite artist. I don’t even know how to properly explain why I like it so much. It seems so simple, doesn’t it? But you try doing that and then tell me how simple it is.

Wassily Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky

This is another fantastic one in that same style, colorful transparent images on black.

Wassily Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky

So you can clearly see how Kandinsky has influenced my paintings, and it’s all been completely unintentional. When I’m painting I don’t think of what other people have painted. I think about the struggle of the subject in my painting.

Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright

From that I’m sure you could gather that I’m also very inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, and yes, I do consider him an artist. The clean lines and geometric patterns, the use of natural elements and seamless integration, and even the choice of materials, all seem to me to work in harmony to create a work of art.

Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright

It’s most interesting to me to see the way in which Wright left certain spaces blank, and how other areas he included great detail.

Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright

Hans Hofmann

Hans Hofmann

The way Hofmann talked about the push and pull of colors is very interesting to me. It takes a lot of guts and intention to know that you are going to place bright yellow right there in the middle of all those blues and greens. To know when to stop, where the line should go. To know how your brush will apply the paint to the canvas. These are not mistakes. They are all very intentional placements of paint.

Mark Rothko

Mark Rothko

Millions of people the world over know Rothko, but I wish I could get them all in from of an original Rothko at some point. His paintings are so much more impressive in person. I always wish I had larger canvases when I’m painting. The way his paint felt must have been incredible.

Franz Kline

Franz Kline

Ah Franz Kline. So many German artists on my list! I love how Kline is sort of like Hans Hofmann with wild abandon. It’s inspiring and moving. The way the paint flows, you could get lost in his paintings if you look at them too long. I also find it interesting that although I usually love black and white artwork, I really enjoy Kline’s pieces where he used color. I wonder if you paint a lot with black and white, you begin to see color differently.

Paul Klee

Paul Klee

This is such a fantastic Paul Klee. To me it looks like the endless farm fields of the Midwest out of an airplane window – a sight that I am very familiar with. Fantastic perspective.

Paul Klee

Paul Klee

This piece is really interesting to me, because it’s like he goes from the Midwest to Africa, and I can relate to that. I want to go back and ask him where the camels came from, and why these colors. It’s like a mirage.

Joan Miro

Joan Miro

So whenever I read about Joan Miro they’re always saying, oh he was so playful. Like I said, see whatever you want to see, because you’re going to anyway.

Joan Miro

Joan Miro

Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso

Don’t get me wrong, Picasso’s paintings are great and all, but what I realy enjoy are his sculptures. As everyone knows, Chicago has some of the greatest architecture in America, so it’s only fitting that the art that goes along with it is also great and grand.

Alexander Calder

Alexander Calder

My all-time favorite scultures are always massive, huge metal pieces. I love Alexander Calder so much he is probably my second favorite artist, after Kandinsky, and followed closely by Frank Lloyd Wright. This giant black sculpture is inside the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. Incidentally, that is where Barack Obama’s office was before he became the President of the United States.

Alexander Calder

Alexander Calder

This is the pink flamingo Calder in Chicago, or whatever you think it looks like.

Alexander Calder

Alexander Calder

Maybe a chunk of the San Francisco bridge or something?

Alexander Calder

Alexander Calder

Calder also did mobiles. The ones on really large scale are cool. But so are the small ones like below.

Alexander Calder

Alexander Calder

Alberto Giacometti

Alberto Giacometti

Finally, we have Giacometti, and I love his small scultures so much because they are simultaneously very real to what we know, and also very unreal. They make you think. The Hirshorn in DC is one of my favorite museums and they always had Giacomettis there that I’d go look at while I studied for international relations class, or something like that.

Alberto Giacometti

Alberto Giacometti

Ok, so tell me, who are your favorite artists?

Nelson Mandela Painting

March 13, 2009

So this is the newest painting I’m working on. Its subject is Nelson Mandela, the first President of South Africa after apartheid, and that is a quote from the inspiring man himself.

I wanted this painting to evoke the feeling I remember from being in Africa, so it’s going to be a lot different than the other paintings in this series, but it will still have some of the same elements. Something that struck me right away when the idea for this painting came to me was that it needed to be done in bright colors – and lots of them. All of the colors in this painting are also in the South African flag, except orange. But, for me, orange needed to be in this painting if it was going to be about Africa, because I remember the color of the sun there looking so much different than I was used to – more like orange. It’s an intense memory to me, and that’s what Africa was all about – intensity.

Another important difference in this painting is that the layers will be more transparent – more fragile, a fractured reality – existing for you to see what you want to see.

The number sequence with the dots is also going to be a bit different for this piece, but it will be bold, staying true to the rest of this painting and its subject, its story, its history.

Obama Painting

March 5, 2009

I wanted to share some updated pictures of the Obama painting. It’s still a work in progress but it’s getting there.

obama-painting1

The different shades of red and blue dots represent the red and blue states melding together as one.

I’ve started the third painting in the series I talked about a few days ago. I thought I’d give you a little behind the scenes tour of my “studio.” Hah. If you can even call it that. I paint in the unfinished basement in a corner by a window well (that has been somewhat drippy with the rain these past few days.) I know it probably sounds dreary, but this way I can turn the music up loud (lately it’s been Melissa Etheridge and Macy Gray) and really get into the painting with no distractions.

painting-1

This is the Barack Obama painting I’m working on. It’s a commemoration of the historic day he took the oath of office and became the first black President of the United States. While I work, I put a lot of thought into the message I’m trying to send with the chosen topic of my painting. For this one I’ve been thinking about the history of black leaders in America, the struggle for justice and civil rights, and the emotional battle people have internally and collectively when met with injustice and unfairness.

painting-2

All of the paintings in this series have a lot of steps, many layers. I often wait anxiously for them to dry.  They all share the same basic elements. Some have parts underneath all that paint that I will never share with the world, but with this painting I wanted to give you a glimpse into its guts – its heart and soul.

painting-3

Those shades of red, white, and blue you see will later be mixed to form the signature dots of this series. As you can see, the bottom layers of this particular painting are done in black, white, and silver acrylic paint. Every piece of my paintings has meaning.

This is the painting before it gets covered up with a special mix of brown acrylic paint. The torn pieces of paper I am using for this painting are the same banana peel paper that is used to create the journals in our shop. It has a really great texture and rugged look to it, so it goes very well with the color of brown you will see below that makes up much of what will be the finished painting’s background base color. I work with a lot of different brushes and leave different strokes of texture in the painting. I think this symbolizes the struggles that people have had to go through to get to this moment in time, and to me it shows just how messy and real life is.

These are some of the details that will be covered up forever in the final painting.

As with my other paintings, it’s enough for me to know that they are there.

This is a very tricky, and fun, process. You don’t want to cover up too much or too little. You want to leave room for the dots, but you also want the inside to shine through. It’s fun to work with thick layers of paint though. It’s even fun to wash the paint off your brushes and feel the soft colorful acrylic as it slips through your fingers.

So this is what the Barack Obama painting looks like in preparation for the dots to be added. There is only one thing I want to mention about applying the dots because I am in the process of doing that for this painting right now and there will be more pictures to come later. I spend a lot of time handpainting every single little dot on my paintings, and they are all significant because they are all moments that led up to the subject of each painting. Since the base layer of paint is so thick, I carefully paint each dot, making them as round as I possibly can while going over the dryed layers of texture. My aim is for the layers underneath to still be seen through the dots, for the viewer to see what has been put into the struggle to get to this moment in history. I always leave the edges of my paintings raw and semi-painted, with portions of blank canvas showing through. It is these imperfections that make the experience of painting these pieces so raw and real.

A Series of Paintings

February 10, 2009

I am in the process of creating a series of very special paintings. These mixed media paintings have political meaning and implied social commentary. This blog entry will give you an inside look on their meaning and process.

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Josie & 1,138

The first piece of this series was painted as a gift for Josie and currently hangs on her bedroom wall. It was done in the Human Rights Campaign‘s colors of blue and yellow. The painting has 1,138 small dots on it which symbolize the number of federal rights, protections and benefits guaranteed by marriage in the United States and denied to millions of loving same-sex couples.

Harvey Milk November 27, 1978

Harvey Milk November 27, 1978

The piece I recently finished was inspired by the life of Harvey Milk, and it is for sale in our etsy shop.

Milk was an American politician and the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California, as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. On November 27, 1978, Milk and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated by Dan White. Harvey Milk famously said, “If a bullet should enter my brain, let the bullet destroy every closet door.”

This painting is definitely a conversation starter. You’ll have people wondering from the moment they see it about the meaning behind the very specific number of dots. It has three groups of dots: 11, 27, and 1,978, symbolizing the day Harvey Milk was assassinated.

painting4

10% of the proceeds from this sale will be donated to the Human Rights Campaign. HRC is the largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.

“Like art, revolutions come from combining what exists into what has never existed before.” -Gloria Steinem

Harvey Milk November 27, 1978

Harvey Milk November 27, 1978 – Original Mixed Media Painting – 24×36

Original Mixed Media Painting

Medium: Acrylic paint, paper, & black sharpie on canvas

Title: Harvey Milk November 27, 1978

Size: 24″ x 36″

Date: February 2009

Artwork copyright © 2009 Rachel Shattuck

Signed and dated on the back

Gallery style canvas, stapled on the back

Intended to hang unframed with raw edges

painting6

Each painting is thick and textured with acrylic paint, hand torn craft paper, and black permanent sharpie marker.

So far there is one more painting planned in this series. Its focus will be the historic moment that Barack Obama became the first black President of the United States of America.

-Rachel