Feb 3, 2014

Big Art

The past few months I have been working on so many fun and different commissioned paintings. One of my favorites was a giant abstract painting for Suzanne, a friend from high school, and her husband Chris, who now both live in Chicago.

Suzanne's living room is gorgeous, classic, and very neutral.  The room has lots of symmetry and clean lines, so Suzanne was looking for something to tie it all together and make a statement.  Another challenge was her extra long couch and huge amount of empty wall space.

After chatting about a few different options, Suzanne went with my suggestion of going with one very large painting.  Since the room is so symmetrical and already broken up by the four couch cushions, and the matching tables, lamps, and chairs flanking the couch, we decided that one one large piece would help tie it all together, whereas two or three smaller paintings hung together might make the room look further segmented.  Here's the plan that we came up with for Suzanne and Chris: 

I made them the fun little "digital sketchbook" page above to help them visualize what we were going for along with the colors, and size, just to give an idea of the desired effect.  Suzanne also referenced one of my Etsy paintings that she especially loved for inspiration, to give me a better idea of the style that she was hoping for.  

The painting, (huge - 48" x 72"), took over an entire wall of our dining room and wouldn't even fit on my large easel, so I worked with it propped against the wall with a drop cloth on the floor.  The piece took me about a month to complete.

Here is the painting in its early stages, with lots of gestural brush strokes and movement.  This laid the foundation for the painting, on top of which I built layers of brush strokes and color.  


A few weeks later, and with many layers of movement and paint built up along the way, we ended up with this painting - playful, bright, and dynamic! 


Here I am holding the painting, proud and ready for delivery. It's HUGE!
Here are photos of the final piece, hung and installed (by Chris!) in their living room. 



I could not be happier with the way that it all turned out, and I cannot thank Suzanne and Chris enough for taking a chance on me and letting me work on this for them.  It was so much fun, and I am so glad that they are happy with it.  I LOVE big paintings! 

P.S. - Want to help me out? Please feel free to share or pin away on Pinterest if you see anything you like! I'm trying to grow my business and would love your help spreading the word :) 

Happy Monday! 



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Jan 29, 2014

Seriously good eats

When I have time, I love to cook and try new recipes.  Charlie jokes that I never make the same thing twice, which is mostly true.  But if I did have a rotation, these recent faves would be in it:





Please try this amazingly good and tasty Pot Roast from The Pioneer Woman. (I like to add extra veggies and mushrooms.)


Double Roast Chicken and Vegetables.  Such good comfort food! Need to make dinner for a friend? Make this chicken, then! (One for you, one for them.)

For the best Chicken Pot Pie of all time, this one from Smitten Kitchen and The Barefoot Contessa will do the trick.

Quick White Bean Stew with Swiss Chard and Tomatoes, an old favorite, tried and true.  It doesn't get much easier than this! (Make it even easier by buying a bag of pre-cut swiss chard, kale, or other greens from Trader Joe's.)

Two crazy good soups with fun condiments and add-ins: 
Easiest Posole from Gwenyth's newish cookbook, It's All Good  

Do you ever make recipes from The Kitchn? They're my favorite! I can't get enough of these: 

Want to use your slow cooker? I love this recipe for Pulled Pork from Skinny Taste. 

I love this easy recipe for Lee's Rocking Fish Tacos from goop.  I could happily eat them three times a week!

And lastly, something sweet: Hummingbird Cake.  I made it for Charlie's birthday and we've been eating it all week, as dessert and breakfast. A total winner!

Let me know if you try any of these! What have you been cooking lately? 



Photo by Clare Wilkinson

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Dec 3, 2013

What now? Anthro + Art


one of my Etsy shop paintings! 
Friends!

Have I told you how awesome you are lately?!? Well, you’re all really awesome! I was blown away by the all the love and support you sent me following my recent blog post about my short-lived job from H-E-double-hockey-sticks... Wow! I am so glad I shared about that and was able to connect with so many of you over the perils of employment gone wrong.

So you may be wondering what I’m doing now that I quit my anxiety-inducing teaching job. I started working part-time at Anthropologie in September and am loving it! It’s a wonderful work environment and my colleagues are amazing. I love being surrounded by beautiful things and creative people while I am at work. I am learning a ton and recently received a promotion, which was really exciting!

Since I’m only working at Anthro part time, I also have time to myself to work on my paintings, and I am loving that! I’d love to see my business continue to grow, and so far it is really starting to take off. I am currently booked with commissions through the end of January! Right now, lots of the projects that I’m working on are hush hush (Christmas gifts!), but I look forward to sharing some photos of what I’ve been working on after the holidays. I also have my paintings for sale in one of my favorite shops, which is SO FUN! (If you’re in Virginia, you can check them out at Fraîche in Richmond! Side note: Fraîche also has amazing holiday decor!)

P.S. - Did you know that I now sell gift certificates that can be used in my Etsy shop or on commissions and custom paintings? You can choose your amount and purchase them here!

ALSO… 15% of all sales from my Etsy Shop (gift certificates included!) will be donated to ProNiño USA, a non-profit organization that helps street children in Honduras. My mom and sisters have been closely involved with this organization over the past few years, so I’m excited that I’ve found a way that I can also contribute!


Have a great week!!! Fa la la! 

Nov 3, 2013

That time I quit my crazy teaching job...


If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you may have seen my posts about life changes over the past few months (nope - not a baby!). I’m talking serious job changes.

Those who know me well know that I when I commit to something, I commit. I will work my hardest and give whatever I am working on my all, big time. Even if I overextend myself, I will put all of my commitments over my own needs so that I don’t let anyone else down. As an art teacher, this meant spending countless hours after school planning and prepping lessons, organizing artwork for area art shows, and making sure that every inch of blank wall or bulletin board were covered in student art work. Even while teaching and attending grad school, I did it all and I made sure I did it well.

In August, I started my new teaching job with two weeks of teacher training at an extremely urban, low-income charter school in Chicago. I am no stranger to hard work and although I was nervous about starting a new job, I was so excited and ready. Day one and two of teacher training (for all of the teachers at the school) were overwhelming, but I figured that this was normal for a new job, especially after having three years off from teaching while we lived in the Caribbean. Day three, I came home after school and broke down into a sobbing mess. And the remainder of the two weeks of training followed in the same suit - anxiety and tears, daily, after school (and unfortunately, on several occasions, also at school, in front of my new colleagues). Never in my life had I felt so much stress and anxiousness - and this was only the teacher training! 

You are probably wondering what was so bad about this school that I was crying on a daily basis. You’re also probably thinking that I sound like a giant baby - and maybe I was - but this school was unlike any school environment that I have ever seen. Basically, the way that the school was run was completely incompatible with my personality. Although I love talking to people in small groups, speaking in front of large groups makes me extremely uncomfortable. I have serious stage fright. It also takes me a while to process things. I need quiet and a little bit of time to think about things on my own before I can digest them fully. 

So, constantly being called on to model teaching techniques and scenarios in front of 30 people I don’t know and then being critiqued on them, and then being asked to do them again, again, and again until I perfected them was extremely difficult for me. Implementing strategies in front of huge groups, that I had just been introduced to two minutes before, made me sick to my stomach. Changing the way that I spoke to make sure that everything I said only used a concise and minimal amount of words - almost like speaking in commands - and doing so in a strong and authoritative voice (and without smiling!) was really tough for me. In my own classroom, I smile all the time. I am warm. This does not mean that I don’t enforce rules in my classroom - I absolutely do - but I am just not capable of using a scary voice and never smiling, like I was being asked to do. 

I was also asked to give my students packets of worksheets each week rather than doing actual art projects. Lots of fill-in-the blanks and word searches were involved, and then on the final page of the worksheet packet were small boxes that, “Now, you try!” This was were students were supposed to create their art. In packets of worksheets. 

The school was run almost like a military school. Rules were strict and were enforced school wide, which I think can be a great thing, but the degree of strictness was just something I couldn’t handle. 

Middle schoolers were walked from class to class by teachers, using the craziest, strictest line formations that I’ve ever seen. Students could only enter the classrooms facing East (or some direction - I am so nondirectional that I literally had panic attacks just trying to remember the proper classroom entry procedure!), so this involved marching students down the hallway in a certain direction, using commands like “about face!” and hand signals to have them turn around, and then have them march back towards the classroom door, in two staggered lines, with one floor tile in between each student, all standing a certain number of tiles away from the door. YOU GUYS. NO. I just couldn’t do it.

So after 9 days of training, I threw the towel in. I had to quit. (If the mere training for your job makes you sob on a daily basis - weekends included - and also gives you panic attacks - which you have never, ever had before - and makes you wonder what is wrong with you - and also makes you think that the only way you could possibly survive the school year is to take anxiety medication - then you probably need to quit!) Charlie was the greatest husband ever to comfort the mess that I was for those two weeks. He was also the best for completely supporting me when I told him that I wanted to quit. 

I woke up early on the final Friday of training, arrived at school at 6 AM when the doors opened, and turned in my keys, laptop, and letter of resignation before anyone except the higher powers had even entered the building.

Did I feel horrible for leaving the school in the lurch right before school started? Absolutely. But was that any reason to sacrifice my sanity and spend the year an emotional and crazy mess? No way.

I should also mention that as a charter school, there were no contracts. Thus, I was free to go at anytime, and the school could also fire me at any point. Last year’s new art teacher quit in November. The morale at the school was also atrocious - 75% of the teachers were brand new teachers, while the majority of the remaining 25% all seemed to HATE their jobs. Bad news. 

So, while I think the school is probably a great place for some people - maybe if you are Type A - it was absolutely NOT the place for a free spirit like myself. I was not allowed to be myself and I was not allowed to be creative. I have never, ever followed a schedule that I have made for myself - I get what I need to do done, but I do things in my own way. I have my own sort of structure and organization, which is different each day. I am not good at routines. I think that this school may be a great fit for some teachers and students - but I do not happen to be one of them.

I have never quit a job or anything like this in my entire life, but the relief that I felt the minute that I made the decision to quit let me know, absolutely, that I had made the right choice.

After going through such a crazy and emotional experience, I took a few personality tests to figure out what exactly about the school did not sit well with me - and it turns out that the school’s environment was basically the word possible match for someone with my personality type, and INFP (Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving). I am in idealist, and while teaching, helping others, and creative fields were right up my alley, rigorous structure and data entry (also a huge part of the job!), constant critiques, and being forced to be extroverted were just not my thing. 

Have you ever taken a personality test? I highly recommend doing so. It was fascinating for me to learn and understand why I reacted so badly to this situation, and to see what suits me - and what does not. 

I loved reading Joy’s recent blog post about introverts and personality types - it’s right along these lines! 


Photo by Clare Wilkinson

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Oct 10, 2013

Custom oil landscapes, perfect for the holidays!

I've decided it's time to break out my oil paints and get back together with my first love - little oil landscapes!

I've had such an interest in this, so I've decided to do something fun and special for the holidays: custom, 8"x8" oil landscape paintings in gold leaf frames.  I think that these would make such a wonderful, personalized Christmas gift!

Check out the details below, and let me know if you have any questions or would like to get on the list!




Fonts used: 
MasanaScript
Typewriter Hand
Type Keys

Paintings by Clare Wilkinson.

Enjoying what you see? Like Clare Wilkinson Studio on Facebook!

Sep 4, 2013

My artistic process

I receive a lot of questions about my artistic process and exactly how I complete my paintings, so I thought it would be fun to talk a little bit about that and share some progress photos that show the evolution of some of my pieces from start to finish. 

I have always been really inspired by abstract expressionist painters - I love the movement in their paintings and the visible brush strokes, marks, drips, and layers.  I really enjoy painting along the same lines.  

When I paint, I tune out everything and just begin painting spontaneously and intuitively, whatever comes to me, letting the movement of my arm and paint brush guide me.  These initial spontaneous strokes lay the foundation for the painting.  Once I have made some marks on the canvas, I step back and take a break.  I evaluate what is on the canvas, and think about the composition and color, and then figure out how to respond next - which areas are working well and which need more attention.  I build up layers in this way, painting spontaneously, then stepping back, evaluating, and responding deliberately to the brush strokes on the canvas and to areas in need of attention.  It is easy to overwork a painting, which sometimes results in painting over the whole piece and starting over, but it's all just part of the process. 

Stage 1: The foundation, gestural brush strokes. 


Stage 2: Building up layers and adding color. 


Stage 3: Filling in what's missing, adding tonal variations, and perfecting the composition. 


Stage 1:


Stage 2:


Stage 3:


Stage 1:


Stage 2:


Stage 3:



Paintings by Clare Wilkinson.  

Interested in my paintings?  Contact me, send me a message on Facebook, or visit my Etsy Shop

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Aug 29, 2013

Lately {in the studio}

This summer, I've been lucky enough to spend a great deal of my time painting.  I love having the time and the space to create my favorite sort of paintings: large, abstract pieces.  Here are a few of those large pieces:



Currently for sale in my Etsy shop! 



I love painting on large canvases and panels because they leave lots of room for sweeping, gestural brush strokes and movement within the paintings.  I had so much fun working on  these pieces for clients, and can't wait to see what they look like in their new homes - that's always such a treat!  



Paintings by Clare Wilkinson.

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Jul 9, 2013

Clare Wilkinson Studio >> now open!


Today I launched my Etsy Shop, Clare Wilkinson Studio!  I've spent the past couple of months working on paintings and ideas, and last week I finally took photos of my work, designed my logo, and figured out all the little details.  

In the shop you'll find original paintings in a variety of sizes, as well as a retro-inspired alphabet print (pictured above) that I designed and had printed for the nurseries of some dear friends and family who've had little ones in the past year.  New pieces will be added periodically along with some other ideas that I have in the works (I'm thinking custom house and room portraits!).  Custom paintings are also available, just contact me for details and pricing.  

I'd love for you to check out my Etsy shop, spread the word, and let me know what you think! 



Image by Clare Wilkinson

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