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Artist Feature 1: Yao-pi Hsu (countdown to Open Studio 2012)

Cool Summer Salad © Jen Norton

“Cool Summer Salad,” 20 x 20", Acrylic on canvas

Hi Art Lovers and Fans…

I’m getting all my art ready and planning my booth for my Open Studio this weekend, May 12 & 13, 2012. Today I put the hanging wire on this fun piece called “Cool Summer Salad”. Doesn’t it just make you want to eat healthy? And one of these days I’m going to design some fabric with this pattern…wouldn’t that be awesome to put on my table under my cool summer salad?

I also want to introduce you to some of the other artists I’ll be showing with this weekend. There will be 14 of us in all, set up on a beautiful property at 19880 Lark Way in Saratoga, CA. I’m going to feature one artist each day this week to whet your appetite. You’ll just have to stop by the show to meet the rest of the artists!

Today’s featured artist is my friend and photographer Yao-pi Hsu. Her work was recently selected for the Chief Curator’s Choice Award by the Chief Curator himself of the Triton Museum of Art, Preston Metcalf. About her work, he said, “It is not always the case that a photographer has the eye of a painter, but Yao-pi Hsu does, and she composes her photographs with a delicate of form and color…”

See you this weekend!

Tulip © Yao Pi Hsu

“Tulip” by Yao Pi Hsu

 

A Little Cottage on an Emerald Isle

Irish Cottage painting by Jen Norton

When our daughter was about 9 months old, we traveled to Ireland (for the second time) for the wedding of some very special friends. Their family owns a traditional Irish cottage in the Cork countryside where we stayed for a week. It’s been renovated for traveling guests and now boasts a modern European kitchen and electricity. The indoor trench formerly used to wash out animal waste, should you have to bring your cows indoors during inclement weather, has been removed. The thatched roof has been replaced by a newer, less-upkeep version. It did, however, still have the meat hooks hanging from the ceiling (as it turned out, we never needed them). Each morning the proprietor would come down and light our fire for us, warming the 5-foot-thick-walled house up to a nice cozy temperature. We were traveling with other family members…enough that we needed a large van to carry us all from place to place. My husband, being an ambulance driver and the only non-drinker, got the job of primary chaperone. It’s not an easy job in a land with narrow roads and left-side driving. On some country lanes, one must pull in his side mirrors and inch by oncoming farm trucks, narrowly missing collisions on one side and the hedges on the other. It’s safe to say “shoulders” on a road were not an Irish invention. Then of course, there were the times you just have to stop and wait for a heard of sheep as they cross, just like the picture postcards! The real fun happened after our van broke down and the only replacement we could get was a 15-passenger manual transmission van! NO ONE but my husband could maneuver it…and he had to do so with a new mom (me), his own mother and a nun screaming behind him at every bump and tousle. He held his stress in check, but I know if he were a vengeful man he would have unleashed the cry of a Banshee on us during that trip! Oddly, each night he gladly volunteered to walk our colicky time-zone-traveling baby around in the quiet sheep pastures while I slept. I’m sure he was secretly regaining his calm out there in the midnight fog. There is nothing like removing noise and distraction to reconnect with your soulful self. In the end, we all survived, our daughter cut her two top teeth and took her first step, and the trip was remembered as lots of “good craic” had by all.

You can buy my little Irish Cottage painting here, or a print of it with an Irish Blessing here.

Brown Bread for a Green Day

Irish Brown Bread Painting by Jen Norton

Arán Donn (Brown Bread), 30 x 30, Acrylic on canvas

 

We were treated to some warm, delicious home-baked Irish Brown Bread upon returning from a long, drizzly day of sight-seeing while visiting our good friends in Ireland a while ago. Topped with cream cheese and smoked salmon, or just plain butter, it’s quite a treat. I had to paint the recipe of “Arán Donn”, complete with locally-grown apples and the magpies you often see along the road. There’s an old superstition about the meanings behind the number of magpies you see together. Two is for Joy! Beannachtaí na féile Pádraig…Or, if you’re not up to speed on your Irish, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Want to try it for yourself…here’s the recipe:

6 oz / 175g  whole wheatl flour
2 oz / 50g plain white flour
2 oz / 50g   steel cut oatmeal
1 oz / 25g   wheatgerm
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 large egg
10 fl oz / 275ml buttermilk

mix dry stuff in big bowl
whisk egg in the buttermilk
mix dry and wet stuff
put into buttered bread tin
make a deep cross on top and prick the four corners to let the fairies out! (very important, I hear)

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 375F for 50-60mins

Let me know what you think!

PS: You can purchase prints of this piece here. Contact me directly to inquire about the original.

 

Pig Racing in Ireland

Pig Racing in Belturbet (Co.Cavan) Ireland

Pig Racing in Belturbet by Jen Norton

 

On a recent trip to Ireland our adventures took us to Belturbet to watch Pig Racing. Not even all the locals know about this high point of culture. In fact, we arrived early unable to find where the races were to be held. At 3:30pm, there was not a sign, crowd, or hint of the impending excitement. But at 4pm, the atmosphere changed. Two trucks pulled up…one filled with pigs, which proceeded to unfold, revealing the starting line; the other transformed into the finish line. Barriers were put up, a green Astroturf® carpet was rolled out, short little pig hurdles were spaced along the route, and the bets were taken. By 4:45pm, the races began, with six contending pigs racing down the line with stuffed “jockeys” strapped to their backs.! “Watch out for #6…She’s a real flyer!!” yelled the announcer. Sure enough, five seconds later, #6 was declared winner, the pigs were rewarded with a snack and herded back to the starting truck for the second round. Six rounds of betting, six races…I lost them all, but ended up with an inspirational subject for new paintings!

This piece won the 2009 First Place Award at the SCVWS Annual Exhibition. Judge Christopher Schink commented, “It’s hard to do a good painting that amuses you. This painting is fun without being corny. With its broken-up design, this piece conveys the feeling of the subjects without seeing them. It delighted me! Not just an illustration, it is full of fun and whimsy and has an imaginative concept of design.”

If you’d like to see a short clip of the race that inspired this painting, I’ve posted it on YouTube. Click here.

You can purchase prints of this painting here.

Change is good.

Three Sisters

Three Sisters in the Garden by Jen Norton

(reposted from Apirl 2010) Every so often I take some time to re-evaluate some of my unsold work. Is it just waiting for the right buyer? Does it need a little facelift now that I see it with new eyes? Or is it hanging around like dirty laundry taunting me with reminders of my lackluster housecleaning skills? This morning I came across a piece that needed to be shed like that extra 2 lbs gained on vacation, so I splashed paint, rolled ink and otherwise destroyed what was there. I decided to go with the theme of “Linked” from Illustration Friday that appeared in my inbox. A little uncontrolled “left-hand” drawing, some simplified shape…The result is this illustration of my two sisters and I walking hand in hand along a garden path. It’s simple, imperfect, uncomplicated and sure was a lot of fun to make. Sometimes, that’s all I ask of myself. Stains gone. Laundry folded. See what you think!

note: The original painting is sold, but this image is available to order on a Garden Charm, or for licensing. Use my contact page form for either.