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Miniature Portrait of the Daughter of an Artist

Childern of artists, Miniature Portrait 

Tim Marsden used to say my dog Buster made him want to have a dog. His daughter Olwyn, the subject of this months miniature portrait, is the kind of kid who makes you want to have a kid, like the opposite of birth control.

When I first met the Marsdens at Seattle’s SOIL Gallery, Olwyn was still in a stroller. Tim and I became friends and soon hatched the plan to start Artnight. We met like clockwork to make art, each Thursday night for 14 years, and Artnight grew to over a dozen artists.  

It’s hard to fully express how meaningful that time was for me, to work in a studio full of artists, inspired by the driven people creating all around. I was privileged to watch artists mature, develop themes in their work, and perfect their craft.

Since moving north years ago, Artnight is my greatest loss. This is so hard to write. Until now, I have not realized how much I have missed my friend. While this series is about artists inspiring me to take up the challenge of parenthood, of all the artists participating, none has inspired me more than Tim.

I love spending time with Tim and Sandy. They are a warm and loving couple, and it just feels great to be around them. Tim loves nothing more than telling a funny story to a room full of people, and Sandy is Tim’s straight man. But nobody makes Tim laugh more than Sandy.

Whenever Artnight got together at Tim’s studio, Olwyn joined the group to work on her own projects. Even then, Olwyn was like a little adult to me. I don’t talk about my friends Tim and Sandy and their daughter, but rather my friends Tim, Sandy and Olwyn. Now suddenly my little Olwyn is all grown up and going to college. I don’t know how Tim and Sandy are managing it.

Olwyn is confident and headstrong and knows her mind. She is also funny, insightful and warm. I have painted the whole family over the years (including their late dog Nippy), and this is my second painting of Olwyn. See all my paintings of the Marsden’s in my previous post.

Olwyn and Tim playing with artist, Christian French’s UFO (photo Christian French)

Olwyn and Tim playing with artist, Christian French’s UFO.

From Tim:

After Olwyn was born both Sandy and I both worked part time (I was working a little less than part time, more like infrequent time) until Sandy returned to a more typical schedule. We are both happy we did. The front loading of time with your kid is best done right away and I am sure it helped with the strength of bond we all feel as a family. At the time I was renting studio space from the Two Bells, a small shop front right on 4th Avenue. Olwyn would be in a playpen we had set up in the studio and we would put serious miles on the stroller, running errands and just generally getting overstimulated until Sandy came home. The studio was right next to the apartment as well so everything was within striking distance. Apart from a fairly short stint of having a studio in a factory under the West Seattle bridge I have always had the good fortune to have my studio in the house. While there are a few restrictions borne of such a situation, the pros far outweigh the cons. It also means there is art hanging around all the time which I am certain has had a massive hand in Olwyn’s attitude to the Arts and also in how she navigates the world.

Olwyn’s presence rarely, if ever, interfered with with making art. There was no censorship for young innocent eyes, no closed door policy and she was always encouraged to work on her own projects or give me a hand stretching canvas as well as other studio practices. Having to work another job interfered far more with the making of work than having a child. Actually, the Art Museum was a pretty good place to work when Olwyn was younger and sometimes she would join me in the storage areas and write down accession numbers of pieces in the collection. Olwyn has strong memories of the Museum storage right up to the point that she was no longer welcome.

Much like if you are raised by wolves, you are not afraid of wolves, so it is with artists and their offspring. Olwyn is neither intimidated by or afraid of art. She sees it for what it is, an exploration of our world through a variety of different means- some more than successful than others executed by human beings as best they can. Warts and all we are all just people…making stuff.

Tim Marsden

"Short Stories" exhibit at Studio E Gallery

“Short Stories” exhibit at Studio E Gallery (Photo: James Arzente)

Tim Marsden has been a practicing artist for over 30 years. In that time he has shown work internationally but has been based in Seattle since moving from Europe in 1997. Primarily trained as a painter, Marsden’s work has expanded to embrace a number of different media, including but not limited to, sculpture, drawing and animation (film). Marsden’s interest in narrative has been a major influence on his work and he uses storytelling in a variety of different ways to explore the foibles and absurdities humans are subject to.

His most recent show entitled “Short Stories” was an installation composed of a number of stand-alone pieces (each composed of a number of stand-alone pieces) in order to create an overall composition in the exhibition space. Artistic influences are far too numerous to mention, although Goya, Turner and the German Expressionists are ever-present ghosts at the feast. Outside of visual art Marsden is also influenced by literature (Notably Nikolai Gogol) and films, again most notably Ealing Comedies. Marsden is currently working on a body of work tentatively titled “Sardine vs. Anchovy, two books of recipes (one in collaboration with Chef Chavez from the eponymous restaurant) and an installation (show) imagining a personal world to which you are all invited.

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Painting of a Young Man, a Portrait Miniature

Conor is the son of two artists. I’ve known his father, sculptor Tom Gormally for years. And although we only recently met, I have known of his mother as one of Seattle’s most talented portrait artists.

From the first look, I saw Conor as having a classic look. I immediately thought of one of my favorite portrait painters, Gerald Leslie Brockhurst. Brockhurst was born in the late 1800’s and painted portraits of the English gentry and Hollywood stars in the 1930’s. So I dressed Conor up a bit and added a backdrop of Mount Rainier, painted in Brockhurt’s muted style.

As Malayka and Tom write about Conor, it feels like looking into my future; and when Malayka describes her conversation with Faye Jones, I remember having the same conversation with my dear friend Andi. More and more I feel bonds of common experience, even with people I have yet to meet, like Faye Jones.

Parenthood can strain lives and challenge friendships, not to mention art making, but it is wonderful how connections are built and strengthened too. So once again I want to thank everyone who has agreed to participate in this project! And without further ado, the Gormally family:

Malayka, Tom and Connor

From Makayla:

Our son Conor turned twenty today, and we enjoyed visiting with him at his college dorm via Facetime. When I first became pregnant, I didn’t know how I would handle being an artist and a mother. Now we have a wonderful grown son, and I’m also grateful for the ways in which being a parent has affected my art practice.

I remember being pregnant and walking on Alki beach on a cloudy day with artist Faye Jones, whom I had asked to talk with me about how she combined parenting and being an artist. She had raised four children while building a successful career, and explained to me that she had painted small works at home when her children were very young, and from then-on worked a full day, every day, at a studio down on First Avenue. I remember her saying, “I just did it.”

Before becoming pregnant, I painted abstract work. I was so fascinated with my body’s changes that I started painting myself in the mirror and then painted Conor as a baby.  Over the next couple of years, I developed a commission portrait painting business which I’ve maintained to this day. In the last several years, as Conor has become more independent, I’ve been able to focus on my non-commission paintings and expand my career.

I’ve always painted at home which allowed me to be there for Conor in the afternoons, on sick days, and for school events – for which I’m grateful. It also means that Conor has been involved in every part of the art-making process. He regularly gave me feedback on portrait paintings in-progress. Conor is now my go-to business advisor as he has a good head for pricing, negotiation, etc. As a skilled writer, Conor has played a crucial role in that he serves as our editor and composition aid for every grant application, artist statement, and bio that his dad and I write. We consider Conor to be a crucial part of the family art business.

Makayla, Tom, Connor, Sean and Delvin

From Tom:

I’m the father of three boys; Conor is my youngest son. It was a surprise for me to become a father again so late in life; I love him…he is a gift. It’s been amazing to watch Conor develop as a human being and as a student; he is a wonderful young man and it makes my life richer to journey along with him. I’ve appreciated Conor’s help with writing art applications and creating work in the studio. We enjoy cooking together, watching films, and especially talking sports together and with Conor’s half-brothers Sean and Devlin.

Malayka Gormally artwork

We Are All Immigrants, oil paint on Arches oil paper, 22″ x 30″

Malayka Gormally

Malayka Gormally’s paintings are in over one hundred collections nationwide, including the collections of Safeco Insurance, the City of Kent, and the City of Seattle Portable Works Collection. Her portrait clients have included individuals who have been board members at the Seattle Art Museum, the Henry Gallery, and the Palm Springs Art Museum. She currently has work in 10x10x10xTieton 8th International Small Works Exhibition, and she is preparing for an upcoming two-person exhibition at Spaceworks Gallery in Tacoma. She completed the Artist Trust EDGE Professional Development Program in 2015 and was awarded a 2017 Art Projects Grant by 4Culture to create portraits of immigrant and refugee women in King County. Her website is MalaykaGormally.com.

Tom Gormally sculpture

“Rough Road to the Apocalypse”, installation view;
wood, resin, paint, favric, lights, electronic motors, 48″ x 168″ x 36″

Tom Gormally

Tom Gormally is known for his whimsical and thought-provoking sculptures that incorporate wood craftsmanship with found objects, diverse materials, and LED lighting. He has exhibited nationally and internationally for 40 years, including the Katonah Museum (NY), Des Moines Art Museum (IA), Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (KS), among others. He created site-specific sculptures in Seattle and Belfast, Northern Ireland, for the Horsehead International Outdoor Sculpture Exhibitions.Tom has also exhibited large-scale sculptures at the Bellwether International Sculpture Exhibitions, Bellevue, WA. Press coverage includes reviews in Sculpture Magazine and The New Art Examiner as well as BBC TV and radio interviews. Tom is a past-recipient of an NEA award for sculpture and was awarded a 2015 Artist Trust Fellowship. His work can be seen at TomGormallySculpture.com.

Learn more about other paintings in the Monthly Miniature, Children of Artists series

Contemporary Portrait Miniature of a Young Woman

Contemporary  portrait miniature  painting of a young woman by Rebecca Luncan

Portrait of Briar, oil on copper, 4″ x 4″

The children of artists: inspiration for us all.

One of the many benefits of working in the arts is meeting many wonderful, creative people. I met Avery Schwartz working at art handling company Artech. Years later his daughter Briar became my intern at the Seattle Art Museum and I was delighted to make a contemporary portrait miniature of her for my Monthly Miniature, Children of Artists series.

Briar was a dream intern, and her value went way beyond her “on-paper” qualities. With her hard work ethic, enthusiasm for trying new things, and easy and warm manner, she charmed all of us in the exhibitions department. I can easily see how she has inspired her fathers work over the course of her life and I’m very fortunate to have her pose as the subject for this Monthly Miniature painting. Her strength, confidence, and sassy wit inspired bold, but careful colors, lots of contrast and a direct composition. I’m confident that wherever Briar goes in life, she will be a source of inspiration to all around her.

Artist Rebecca Luncan holding her miniature portrait painitng of young woman

Portrait of Briar
oil on copper
4″ x 4″

From Avery:

BRIAR – Well let’s see – what about Briar? Twenty seven years ago Polly and I, 40-year-olds, finally scored after three miscarriages. So Briar is our first and only child. Having a kid is a special kind of organic experience that helps me understand what it means to be human. A real thrill to look in to eyes only a few weeks old and see them devouring information around them. And then there are those first steps that irrepressibly are destined to happen. And bulbous full dipes wattling down the sidewalk. One of Briar’s qualities is that, thankfully, she was not shy about wading in to a new group of people and so she, as a kid, acquired friends easily. And Briar has a pretty noble view toward her friends – she is loyal and caring with them and as hard as Polly and I would try to break her connection with some kid, the more she would insist on the friendship.

One of the great things for an artist who has children is to bear witness to children’s art and realize what a powerful message that unfettered creativity can be – that is, not affected by expectation. One of my favorites that Briar did was when she broke a bowl, she taped all of the minuscule pieces back together and wrote on the tape a lengthy apology. (Still have the bowl which some day will get a sculpture pedestal and case). And then there was the drawing of the outside of our house when she, in a pique of anger, threw an expressionistic fit. (Still have it).

We have found that for every phase that Briar passes through we pass through our experiences at that particular age – sort of live it all over again except for this time we calculate and dole out our wisdom in afterthought. And, of course, that affects what I create. For me painting is an intensely searching vehicle that feeds and exercises my personality. I like to work mostly in a spontaneous process, and am always hoping to find some point between what is corporeal and what is not. So I am deeply invested in psychological signals about the human condition because, as Jane Siberry writes in the song Calling All Angels (with k.d. Lang) “we’re not sure how it goes”. So, while we’re at it with quotations, this one by Kevin Bacon, the actor, always helps, “I choose to live by my own code. I just try to be a good father to my children. Be a good husband to my wife, try to be a decent person in a fucked up world, and keep doing the work.”

The Discus Thrower, oil on canvas, 31" x 42, by Avery Schwartz

The Discus Thrower, oil on canvas, 31″ x 42, by Avery Schwartz

Avery Schwartz

“I live and work in Seattle. My painting experience spans 40 years. In 1971 I was given a degree from the San Francisco Art Institute. I lived and worked in the City for sixteen years, living in and helping to develop an early rendition (in S.F.) of a live/work artist’s building – Project Artaud. I met and married my wife and moved to Seattle. We have a fantastic daughter.

I have worked many jobs over the years – everything from carpentry to working in a psychology research lab. In general I hate to work for money and as soon as I am being paid for something I begin to rebel against it. Whatever.

My grandparents were mostly Russian immigrants escaping from conscription into the Czar’s army, or from early communism, or the stigma attached to Jewish blood. My mother’s family suffered from her violent and abusive father from which her mother was divorced twice, until her uncle agreed to support them from the proceeds of an investment in land in Los Angeles. Shortly he killed himself and left the property – which became very valuable on the perimeter of LAX- to his sister, my grandmother. Meanwhile my mother, a woman of unusual beauty, upped her stage by marrying a hard-working son of a carpet salesman determined to have his first son become a doctor.

Like many artists, I was born with a brain that won’t die. Ideas and concepts keep floating in and art keeps running out.”

Portrait Miniature of Sam

Portrait miniature of child painting of young boy by Rebecca Luncan

Portrait of Sam
oil on copper
4″ x 4″

Six months in, I’ve just finished my third monthly miniature!

Although I find enough time to finish a steady stream of paintings, it goes toward commission work first. Yet it feels oddly appropriate that this series of portrait miniatures should be (comparatively) neglected: while it celebrates both parenting and art making, it also considers them as competing needs.

And I contemplate some of the people in my life that I love most, and what they bring into the world. On that note, allow me to introduce Sam Keefe, son of Andrea Wohl Keefe and Colin Keefe. When I had the idea to do this series, I thought of Sam first. His mom Andrea was my studio mate in college, and she is still a dear friend, though we’re thousands of miles apart. When I came to Seattle, she went to the opposite coast, braving the lion’s den of New York City, and is now settled in Philadelphia. We’ve stayed in touch, and I’ve had the privilege to watch Sam grow from afar.

From Andrea:

“Sam is this really great human being and I feel so lucky to have him in my life.  He’s so smart, caring, incredibly loyal and good through and through.  I really can’t believe that I’m his mom.  He’ll be eleven next month, and sometimes I still feel like his real mom is going to show up.  It’s crazy that one day you’re pregnant and the next there is this human being in your life and you’re helping to raise them.  Needless to say, I’m still figuring all this out – one day at a time.  Colin and I are both artists, and we knew we wanted to have a kid together.  But where we both have masters degrees in studio arts, there was nothing we did besides a two hour infant CPR class to prepare for becoming parents.

As for balancing parenthood and being artists, we are also still figuring this out one day at a time.  In addition to being parents, we both have full time jobs, run an exhibition space, Mount Airy Contemporary, and have our studio practices. I have decided that there is no such thing as balance, at least for me.  I am always neglecting one thing or another (like responding to your request for a statement – ugh!).  That part kind of sucks.  Thankfully, Colin and I are in this together and we do a lot of “taking turns”.  On a positive, I think Sam gets to be raised by two parents who love him unconditionally and who also are committed to making art and staying engaged with the art community.  And until his real mom shows up, he’s kind of stuck with us :)”

Artist Andrea Whol Keefe

Andrea Whol Keefe

Andrea Wohl Keefe was born and raised in Bridgewater, NJ. She received a BFA from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI, and an MFA from Miami University in Oxford, OH. Andrea currently lives in Philadelphia, PA with her husband, Colin Keefe, their son, cat and dog. She teaches art at Central High School in Philadelphia and works in her studio. Andrea and Colin also run Mount Airy Contemporary Artists Space.

Coln Keefe

Colin Keefe (born Boston, MA) received an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art and a BFA from Washington University.

Recent solo exhibitions include Robert Henry Contemporary, New York, NY, Abington Arts Center, Jenkintown, PA, and RHV Fine Art, Brooklyn, NY.  His work has been reviewed in the New York Times, Village Voice, Bushwick Daily, Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia City Paper, Toronto Globe and News, LA Times, Sculpture Magazine, theartblog.org and Title Magazine.

In addition to his studio practice, Keefe has been curating since 1995 – first, as co-director of 57 Hope in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, NY (1995-2001), and currently as co-director of Mount Airy Contemporary (2009-present).

Keefe is represented by Robert Henry Contemporary in New York.

 

Children of Artists, Portrait Painting of a Little Girl

miniature childrens Portrait painting of Maggie by Rebecca Luncan

Maggie
oil on copper
4″ x 4″

The muse for my March miniature oil portrait painting of a little girl is Maggie, daughter of Adria and Michael Magrath.

This lucky kid has two kind and creative parents, and the family lives on a dreamy property on Vashon Island. Michael works in an absolutely amazing sculpture studio he built on the property. I’ve known Michael for years and have always admired his work. I was excited for the opportunity to learn more about his lovely family for my Monthly Miniature project.

Michael sent me around fifty images for inspiration. It was great to see Maggie romping around in the water, the woods and the studio. Whether tromping through tall grass, splashing in the water or goofing around, she had a grin in almost every photo. Like when I first met her mother Adria during an artwalk years ago, I had met a kindred spirit. I think of her as a ‘wild’ child, at home in nature, so I painted her snuggling into the leafy floor of an imagined forest.

From Michael:

about Maggie, “she is such a Joker! She loves hide and seek, but wants to be sure you know where she’s hiding so you won’t get lost”

About the portrait, “Your timing could not be better. Today was Maggie’s’ 6th Birthday, so your picture arrived like a present. Its lovely and right on the essence. You nailed it. Thank you so much! thank you for pouring your heart into this, as you do into everything. You shine through every thing you do and I am honored to be your friend

Michael Magrath and his daughter Maggie at work in the Vashon Studio

Michael Magrath and his daughter Maggie at work in the Vashon Studio

About Michael Magrath, figurative sculptor

Michael Magrath has spent most of his life in the Pacific Northwest. He discovered figurative sculpture while in his early thirties, and has since dedicated his life to the betterment of his craft and the furtherance of sculptural art. Primarily self taught, he has nonetheless studied and taught in a number of rich sculptural environments, including the University of Washington, the Florence Academy of Art in Italy, and Gage Art Academy.

Reflecting a decade spent in the building trades as a carpenter, painter, foundryman, and shop technician, he brings a craftsman’s approach to his work. Regardless, his interest in the figure naturally steers toward the narrative and symbolic. Of no particular denomination of religious faith, Magrath attempts to excavate, understand, and depict the universal truths that lie at the core of religious and human experience. His primary focus lies in the embodiment and reinterpretation of mythology in contemporary contexts, and is most interested in its potential to reinvigorate the human spirit, particularly in the face of the cynicism of the modern world.

Please go to Mike’s website to see examples of his beautiful work and to learn more about him!

The Children of Artists Series Begins: A Portrait of my Son

contemporary Miniature baby painting, Portrait of my son by Rebecca Luncan

Portrait of Isaac
oil on copper
4″ x 4″

A portrait of my Son: My newest and greatest inspiration kicks off the new Monthly Miniature series

My first Monthly Miniature of 2017 is a portrait of my son Isaac. I was worried about how I was going to balance motherhood with being an artist, but I’ve been amazed at how well the two are coming together. And how could I not love making this painting? I think every artist parent wants to capture all of their favorite expressions in their little muse. I’m so happy I could record, one careful brushstroke at a time, his sweet little six month old face as it was becoming more aware and loving by the day.

For Isaac’s portrait, I chose an image of him looking directly at me. Those of you with kids might be able to remember back to those very early days when something as simple as a direct gaze was a small miracle. Most babies first make eye contact around 4-8 weeks but it’s not uncommon for it to happen as late as 3 months. Isaac was on the later side and didn’t make eye contact frequently when he was little, so when he did, it was very special.

The Children of Artists: A New Monthly Miniature Series

With this series, I celebrate those who have taken on the parenting challenge before me. They’ve given me the courage to trust that, with determination, I could be a mother and continue to make my art. I will paint a portrait a dozen different artist’s children. The Children of Artists explores my wonder at watching someone grow and develop, and loving them more than I could have imagined. I meditate on balancing two great passions. And I thank each artist I know who continues to work, particularly those who manage to raise children at the same time.

Visit my commissions page to learn about commissioning your own miniature portrait.