At summer’s end, I spent time with Austin-based Photographer & Videographer Richard Casteel in my studio and out in the Hill Country talking about my creative process. He recorded and filmed quite a bit of it, resulting in an experimental short that captures the essence of my current work quite well. Emmy-nominated composer Amos Cochran created music uniquely for the documentary.
I’m grateful to be surrounded by so many active, creative people.
I met Lynn, long-legged & genuine, at the East Austin Studio Tour a few years ago and we became fast friends. Originally from West Texas, he is a water conservationist, was head of Austin Museum of Art (the Contemporary) board for 10+ years, is a fly fisherman, and has great taste in art 🙋🏼♀️👈🏽. When he requested a custom piece, he left it open-ended in terms of context. He speaks of his daughters often and with great pride [he has TWO sets of twin girls, all of them intelligent and lovely in their own right]. I picked his brain and asked him questions like, “If your daughters were colors, how would you describe them? If they were birds, what kind would each of them be?”
This piece is inspired by his high regard of family and the women in his life. In the background are clippings from antique publications such as 1917 ‘The Household’ and 1949 ‘American Rifleman’. Each of the species in this piece represents each daughter – finch, hummingbird, woodpecker, owl. They uplift him, surround him, are entwined in him, and are a part of him. The orange in the twine represents his Mother, who has played a strong role in his life. He is the pistol (a rare Colt First Model Dragoon), rooted where he belongs, facing NW toward Montana, a special place for him.
“You nailed it,” he said. Such a good feeling.
See process photos in the gallery below. Click to enlarge
For commission inquiries, please email me at email@example.com.
For the first time in a while, I was genuinely shaken from watching a tv show or film. The Handmade’s Tale television series made my stomach cold … “Based on the best-selling novel by Margaret Atwood, this series is set in Gilead, a totalitarian society in what used to be part of the United States. Gilead is ruled by a fundamentalist regime that treats women as property of the state, and is faced with environmental disasters and a plummeting birth rate. In a desperate attempt to repopulate a devastated world, the few remaining fertile women are forced into sexual servitude. (Google)“ Scary stuff.
Since I hammer-watched the series last April, I’ve been excited to dress as the character “Janine” for Halloween. I mean … what’s more terrifying?
Yesterday evening, I asked photographer (and my awesome studio-mate) Scott David Gordon if he would snap a few quick photos of my costume in the parking lot of our studio. As usual, he went above and beyond and nailed it.
Thank you, Scott!! Now, to read the novel.
Visit Scott’s work at scottdavidgordon.com or catch his awesome new podcast “Austin Art Talk” where he interviews Austin artists, gallery owners and curators —> for those who create and love art.
Photography : Scott David Gordon
Creative Direction & Costume Construction : Emily Galusha
Late 2015 marked a time of change, freedom, release. By the end of the year, dust settled from several unexpected life shifts and I was ready to grab life by the … you get my point. Last year, I felt charged – hungry to explore and learn. I began writing my goals on little post-its and sticking them to the inside of my closet so that, when I dressed each morning, the hot pink pieces of paper would act as motivators. Pink bursts of positivity. One post-it read “2+ week sabbatical to work on my art“. I began speaking outwardly about my creative goal, looking for places to stay in regions like West Texas, New Mexico or the Atlantic NE. As long as I was learning and creating, I was open to what the “sabbatical” or time away looked like. The more I opened up about it, the more suggestions I got. And a beautiful offer fell into my lap.
I was accepted into an artist residency in Terni, Italy. SCORE. For over two weeks, I was away from Austin, working alongside a group of talented and passionate women, focusing on printmaking and exploration.
My lack of knowledge of anything Italian (aside from a deep love for pasta, cheese & wine), plus the fact that I hadn’t practiced printmaking regularly since 2001, was the combo that excited me most. It was an open field. No expectations. My plan was to go and be and make (and eat).
I flew to Rome for some quick site-seeing before attending a two-week printmaking workshop at La Romita School of Art, located in the hills above Terni in central Italy. The workshop was taught by Katherine Brimberry (Co-Founder, Director & Master Printer of Flatbed Press) and Susan Davidoff (accomplished Artist based in the Chihuahuan desert of west Texas).
La Romita was once a monk’s monastery established in 1548 (so dreamy!). It remained an active monastery until the early 19th century after the monks left, when the grandparents of signora Amina Quargnali purchased it as the family’s summer home and farm. Some of the olive trees at La Romita are still living it up at over 300 years old! La Romita School of Art first opened in the mid-1960s, under the guidance of Enza Quargnali. For 50+ years, artists have stayed at La Romita, painting and writing in the beautiful Umbrian hill country, “whose radiant golden light has charmed artists since the days of Perugino and his famous pupil, Rafael”. Much of the original structures remain intact, including the Chapel-Studio.
Our small group spent the majority of our time focusing on individual work or exploring Umbria and Tuscany. During the residency, I focused on my “Undercurrents” figure series. Getting my hands dirty in a different, but familiar, medium released some new ideas. I crept into a direction to further explore. Initially, it was intimidating to work alongside some of these artists who are grounded in their lifelong creative career, women with years of experience. It was energizing and humbling. More than a few times I wished my mother, also an artist, was there to experience and create. I quickly settled in and absorbed as much as possible, valuing each moment. I am nuts about the printmaking process and have a lot to learn. My dreams at night were lively and intense, my subconscious working hard to digest everything. It is rare for an artist to be given sustained time and space to create. I was in heaven.
We visited over 14 towns and historic locations and spent no less than 5 hours a day in the studio or press room: “Italian Intensive”. Below is a slideshow of artwork and various moments. Flatbed Press will be having an exhibition of our work next Spring, including some pieces created in Italy. I will also have a few prints hanging in my studio during EAST this coming November. I value my companionship with these creative people from around the globe and look forward to staying connected.
Thank you to everyone at La Romita for your warm hosting, to Kathy & Suzi for your knowledge and encouragement, to Mike for your support, to Momzie & Dad for being you. And to Italy, for lighting my fire.
During the East Austin Studio Tour last fall, I met Richard Casteel, a creative and driven photographer based in Austin, originally from Greenville, SC. He has an interesting path that includes travel, water, the earth, meditation and capturing milliseconds. We met for coffee to discuss his portrait series and ended up connecting on a few different levels, as reflected in his Artist Statement: Through the experience of loss I chose to weather the storm by meeting more people to work with and by creating more photographs.I ultimately chose freedom of creation over a false love and it has proven to be a deeply rich and beautiful experience.
He asked if I was interested in modeling for the portrait series and, his process being a synergic one, I looked forward to collaborating. We met in his studio shortly before Christmas and I brought a few items unique to my story (Luna’s hair, my antique Colt Single Action Revolver, horse skull, family jewelry, the dress I wore for my wedding reception [first time I let it touch me since], a gown I wore in DVLS RVR). We listened to music, talked, brainstormed, took some portraits. The tune of the imagery was based on where I was in life at that moment … feeling free from a past tornAdo, motivated to do and learn, high off my own resilience, excited to absorb life. His goal was to capture the freedom, power, emotion and strength I was feeling at the time. [Thank you, Richard!] I am working to open up more in my creative expression and this is part of that process. Tapping into my weird. My real.
Please read Richard’s Artist Statement below and, if you find yourself in Austin tonight, Saturday 7/22, come on out to the opening of a group show at Black Lagoon, which will feature several photos from his series.
In my past I was a scientist.I have moved on from studying cause and effect relationships of a seemingly well defined existence.I now live in a world of creation – more akin to the quantum world – where experience is deeply tied to thought and feeling.For the last few years as a photographer/artist/meditator/conscious explorer I have become and continue to become more acutely aware of the reality of this world – that which you think/feel, you create. My photographs are often an initial vision/concept/thought I have in my mind that I then express through visual media – this is the fun of the creative challenge.
I feel like this series is still in its infancy.It was born from the unexpected loss of a deep, deep love – sparked by a girlfriend insecure about me taking a boudoir photography job.Through the experience of loss I chose to weather the storm by meeting more people to work with and by creating more photographs.I ultimately chose freedom of creation over a false love and it has proven to be a deeply rich and beautiful experience.I am eternally grateful.
Watercolor and design … what a stellar combination for branding. Last fall, I was hired by Essential Qi to create an identity for their company as well as packaging for their line of Chinese Medicine Inspired Acupoint Aromatherapy. The company was started by two professional acupuncture therapists based here in Austin. They created three essential oil blends: Shielding, Restful, Soothing. Included within each roller bottle is a stone pertaining to the blend’s function. Each blend smells super yum.
Below you will find the logo I created as well as the finished packaging that I designed, illustrated and produced (using a local printer). The colors are pulled from the 5 elements in Chinese Medicine and the look is an ethereal, balanced and healing one. The packaging includes the box, roller bottle with label, and an informative insert complete with application illustration.
Full and Reverse Logos:
To learn more about this new line of traditional medicine inspired aromatherapy blends, created in Austin, click HERE.
when tread hits bridge our heads habitually turn towards the drop, our eyes scanning for the glint of sun on water, an old instinct embedded even in us big city slickers
especially out here in this border kingdom of limestone and sage where the sun punishes and all that stands between life and death is a plastic jug of hot Aquafina
and even with a jug our throats are dry and our heads are dizzy when we finally submerge in the blue seam that splits the desert, carrying sky and minnows and beads of sweat all the way to Coahuila
they say the devil came to the river in 1841 when a Texas ranger surveyed the prickly pear cliffs and muttered: hell, but like all borders the one between heaven and hell is more porous than we’d like to admit
from the hostile rock cold springs flow straight from the karst to our naked shoulders and we sigh a small prayer of relief
mixed media collaboration :
poetry by clara | drawings by emily | photos by both
On a Thursday in mid-July, close friend and writer, Clara Bensen, and I headed Southwest from Austin towards the Mexican border. Our goals were loose and simple: escape work & city with camping gear & camera.
One evening before our trip, Clara and I discussed how we’d separately hit creative walls and wanted some sort of spur or ignition. Late summer in Texas can get a bit draining, so we hoped these few days away would allow us to relax and be inspired. No timeline, just four days and a few select destinations. Being surrounded by nature of most kinds has always been stimulating, allowing a sense of release.
Our Devil’s River campsite was a 22-mile drive off of the main highway, down a rough dirt road into a desert haven rich with sotol and prickly pear cactus. To reach the river, we hiked a (long) mile and were rewarded by cool water. The land was well preserved, filled with an array of animal and plant life. Down river was a natural cold spring, busting from the rocks. We explored the area as if we first discovered it. While there we both took photographs, which planted a seed for a collaboration. It had been a long time since I shared a creative partnership with someone in this freeform fashion and I was very motivated. Something new.
The images above are from the Devil’s River area, shot by either Clara or me. The poem “DVLS RVR” is written by Clara. “Big Dipper”, “Devil’s River” and “Sotol and Cloud” are my pen and ink illustrations.
i switched majors in college when i was 19 from ballet pedagogy (university of oklahoma at norman) to visual art (university of arkansas at fayetteville). ballet was a passion of mine but i found that it may not have been my calling. i love dancing … tap, modern, theatre, lyrical, ballet. i wasn’t too shabby at it, but i felt my heart pulling towards working creatively with my hands.
diving into painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics and everything else was very therapeutic and natural. however, i missed dance like crazy. after all, i danced from when i was 4 to 18. i ended up taking instruction at a local dance studio, which satisfied that need. while finishing up my BFA, i decided to challenge myself with finding a unique way to express the melding of dance and drawing. i researched various dance photographers and took several figure study courses. figure study from professor ken stout was an inspiring set of courses that pushed me further towards my interests.
at the time, i ended up painting a few pieces that i felt achieved the goal i was going for. but after college, the project was put on hold.
last year, i was inspired by a motivated friend to do a little clean-out of ye ole soul. time leaves its baggage piled up in your chest and sometimes you have to get in there and clean it out. you also have to take time to appreciate all the goodness. it is a great favor to do for yourself. so i began to find a healthy path toward focusing on emotional, physical, spiritual clarity. it’s not something to cross off of your “to do” list, but it’s nice to shift your lifestyle just a bit to gain clarity and let go of some aging hook-ups.
during this process of journaling, sketching, reading, pacing, analyzing, resting (and a little bit of dancing), i began my “undercurrents” series. i’m a pretty private person and have been wanting to challenge myself by exposing a more emotional side in a tasteful, expressive manner. i worked with dear friend and talented photographer Lily Darragh back home in little rock to shoot a couple of dancers. i shared with her my goals, we painted a backdrop and did some planning on how this would best play out.
after spending quite some time narrowing down the emotions/narratives i intended to convey, i built playlists to correlate with each narrative. we met one afternoon with two dancers that ended up really pushing the idea. as the dancers listened to the music, i loosely “choreographed” the shoot and encouraged them to improvise and tap into their own forms of expression. it was a pretty incredible experience watching these talented girls put my description into action.
painting the backdrop.
currently working in the studio.
the photos turned out better than imagined: i now have a beautiful custom library of photographs to create from. and they all tell a personal story. i am currently in the process of organizing the photos, sketching from them and creating mixed-media paintings while also creating from live models. more to come …
thank you to jenny wittenberg, georgia & ashton, lily and momzie.
sometimes design projects come along that involve incredibly interesting subject matter. and sometimes they involve incredibly interesting people. spectacle island comes with it the pair.
bernt kuhlmann, principal of lifestyle resort solutions [<< just click that link and check it out], has created several resort concepts that are beyond one’s everyday imagination: amangiri, dunton hot springs to name a few. he masters escape & comfort while staying in-tune with exclusive features the natural surroundings might bring. he meshes luxury with design and concept.
austria-bred, austin-based bernt owns a small island in mahone bay, nova scotia, where he and his children occasionally withdraw for a bit of family time. he has decided to open up the island to travelers who are searching for a unique and somewhat primitive place to escape. i was thrilled to handle the branding of spectacle island resort.