Podcasts I Love

I’m an avid podcast listener. I’m all over the board in terms of genres, but I thought I would curate a list here of some of my favorites that might interest any artist or lover-of-the-arts.

Artist/Mother Podcast

Interviewer, mother and artist Kaylan Buteyn interviews fellow artists and mothers about their career paths and parenting journeys. Buteyn is thoughtful in her questions, leaving room for in-depth conversations about all the complicated and beautiful parts about being a mom and an artist in today’s world. I love listening to other women discuss their insecurities, their challenges, and their successes within the art community. It can feel very isolating at times to be an artist who is also a mother, and this podcast has made me feel more connected and at peace with this season of life.

Suggested Donation

If you are in the traditional atelier community, chances are you have heard of this podcast. Hosts by Tony Curanaj and Edward Minoff (who are fantastic artists in their own right) interview other contemporary artists within and on the periphery of the modern realism movement (guys, what are we calling it? We don’t know yet? Okay.) The interviews are dynamic, informative and inspiring.

The Art History Babes

I. Love. These. Ladies. Admittedly I did not pay as close of attention in Art History class as I should have. Some of my art history teachers (not all of them! Love you Laurentia) were dull as heck. The Art History Babes are knowledgeable, feminist and funny AF. I heart them. If you also suffered from Boring Art History Professor Syndrome, give these ladies a listen.

Omo

In a past life, I played violin. (Clearly I have a thing for traditional pasttimes. I was born in the wrong century.) Luthiers Rozie DeLoach, Christopher Jacoby and Jerry Lynn created Omo podcast to discuss all things related to violin making. I love this podcast because the parallels between the lives of violin-makers and classically-trained artists are vivid—from proper tool selection and the rarity of the craft, down to the anxiety of imposter syndrome.

The Discographers

This new-ish podcast by hosts Bryan Matthews and Tyler Cardwell is a deep-dive into the music catalogs of various bands. The past few months, they’ve been going through each album by the Smashing Pumpkins and dissecting it musically and thematically. They spend a lot of time explaining music theory elements and evaluate each song one-by-one. I’m just drooling over this podcas— and yes it is absolutely because they are discussing my favorite band of all time. Series 1 was all things Nine Inch Nails, so I suspect these guys have a slightly heavier edge when it comes to musical preference, if you’re into that.

If you have a favorite creative podcast, I’d love to hear about it!

A Return to Classical Techniques

I read an instagram post recently of someone who not-so-subtly declared an end in sight for the modern and abstract expressionist art movements that have dominated our society for the past 100 years and a return to more classical styles. Another renaissance, if you will. I'm not sure if we are in the dark ages of art, but I will say that I am thrilled to discover a growing interest in realist art. Before I began studying classical techniques at the Texas Academy of Figurative Art, I felt a bit lost. Out of place. My education was a strange mix of conceptual installation art (from a teacher I loved and respected, I have to admit) and a surface-level introduction to drawing techniques. My favorite class was figure drawing, where I had a taste of what would later come at the atelier. It wasn't enough, but I was studying design and wasn't meant to further pursue those classes. And, from what I hear, it wouldn't have been enough, period. We have slowly un-learned hundreds of years of classical techniques and they simply aren't a part of the art curriculum anymore. This baffles me, and the term "de-skilling" absolutely horrifies me. (More about that can be found in this article). I can't understand why anyone would want to "dumb down" their abilities, or--more likely--not learn any skills in the first place.

As someone drawn to a slower-paced approach to art, one that is more about portraying beauty, I've struggled to find my place as an artist. My degree is in design, which felt "safe," and though I didn't fail as a conceptual artist in college, it also wasn't my calling. I listened to students ramble pretentiously through a critique, speaking of grand ideas but with nothing compelling to show for it. This annoyed me.

But who was painting realistically anymore? Is that even a thing? Am I irrelevant? I went along my merry way as a designer and tried to find other outlets to feed my creative needs. Here and there I found some groups or classes where I could practice figure drawing, but it wasn't until last year that I was able to find an atelier, before I even knew what that was, and an entire community of people who thought like me, and drew like me, and painted like me. Whose ultimate goal is to master the techniques FIRST and foremost, and worry about what we have to say later. I hate this word--BLESSED--but I do feel it...for finding this thing that is feeding my soul, and discovering that others around the world are feeling it too.

50 Things I've Done.

1. Graduated college with a Bachelor of Fine Arts.

2. Got to ride First Class to Portland by beating a guy at Rock, Paper, Scissors.

3. Uma Thurman passed by me on a street in NYC. She brushed my shoulder! I have Uma dust on me!

4. In college, my friend Brad and I made a "Happy Birthday" sign for Karen O when we went to a Yeah Yeah Yeahs concert. After the show, we met Nick Zinner and gave him the sign to give to her. A few months later, there was a picture of her in Spin Magazine...holding the sign that we made!

5. I sat next to a guy on a plane that played a doctor in some popular soap opera. He was obsessed with celebrities and asked if he could read my People magazine.

6. Ate jellyfish.

7. I saw the last Smashing Pumpkins concert in Chicago when the band *officially* broke up in 2000. During one part of a song, the house lights were on and I SWEAR TO YOU that Billy Corgan pointed at me, which blew my little teenage mind. I was the only person standing up in my section of the stadium. He definitely pointed at me.

8. Pierced ears ("professionally").

9. Decorated cakes ("professionally").

10. Drove across the Mackinac bridge ALL BY MYSELF.

11. Rode across the Hangzhou Bay Bridge, the longest sea bridge in the world.

12. Stumbled upon a cooking demo in the park with Amy Sedaris.

13. Moved to Austin by myself, with whatever I could fit in my car.

14. Swore I could never date anyone who would live in Dallas...then met my husband (from Dallas).

15. Worked in an old-barn-turned-art studio in Ann Arbor.

16. Got married in an old barn in Wisconsin.

17. Ate and drank at the top of the tallest hotel in Thailand.

18. Visited the Big Buddha statue in Hong Kong.

19. Dyed my hair...all the colors.

20. Went to Hawaii.

21. Went to Mexico.

22. Spoke about Women In Design at a design conference.

23. Played violin.

24. Travelled in China by myself.

25. Rode in a tuk tuk in India.

26. Gave presentations to CEOs of a giant company (and didn't puke.)

27. Taught people about design.

28. Bought a house.

29. Became a stepmom.

30. Learned to cook.

31. Drove up the Pacific Coast Highway.

32. Got some tattoos. 

33.  Visited the home of Charles and Ray Eames. 

34. Had a baby.

35. Mastered breastfeeding, and even did it in public.

36. Learned how to make a good cup of coffee.

37. Rediscovered my passion for drawing.

38. Quit a job that was unfulfilling for a riskier option.

39. Learned how to mom.

40. Dated a poet, a philosopher, some artists, some designers, an engineer, a semi-pro snowboarder...not all at the same time. But pretty close.

41. Skipped college graduation and drank margaritas with my girlfriend instead. (Sorry, family!) This may have been foreshadowing my move to Texas...!

42. Learned how to wrap and wear my wiggly baby...then, gave up, due to said wiggles.

43. Found my favorite bookstore of all time in Taipei.

44. Perfected my chili recipe.

45. Stayed at the W in Taipei, which was probably the coolest hotel I've ever been to. They even sent someone out to buy deodorant for me when my luggage was delayed. Staying at that hotel felt pretty boss.

46. Watched fireworks from the roof of a hotel on 10.10.10 (I think this was also Taipei. Taipei has been good to me.)

47. Got swindled in Shanghai. 

48. Sold some art.

49. Saw so, so, so many bands, all over the country and at so many festivals.

50. Acupuncture and cupping.

A Birth Story.

Greta is a German name meaning "Pearl." We had been searching for names that were uncommon and interesting, but not too weird. I don't know where I found it, but I liked the sound of Greta when I stumbled across it. David liked it too. It was one of the few names we both whole-heartedly agreed on. Then, I learned that it meant "Pearl." A couple of years earlier, when we decided that we would start trying to have a baby, David took me out on a fancy-schmancy date and surprised me with a pair of pearl earrings. 

Greta. Perfect.

(And, in case you were wondering, Jayne is David's mother's middle name.)

Greta was due on February 8 (Chinese New Year). A week before her due date, she hadn't made much progress so my doctor scheduled an induction for the day after her due date (he was on call that day.) We went in at 6am and I started receiving Pitocin right away. A couple of hours later, my doctor came in to break my water. I asked him if I could have the epidural BEFORE he broke my water (at the advice of a friend), and he just laughed at me and said, "we'll see." (That's dad-talk for "NO.") At 9 or 10am, I received an epidural for contractions. I hung out at 4cm for pretty much the entire day...which made for a very uneventful day, besides me asking my doctor if I could eat something every time he came in to check on me (more "NO's.")  After a quick visit from my lovely friend Sarah, I abruptly went up to 8cm around 6pm (thanks, Sarah!) I was having strong contractions at that point but didn't feel anything, so I had some time to rest before the pushing started. I started pushing before 7pm and pushed for an hour and a half. The epidural was not as strong at that point so I could feel some of the pushing. I APPLAUD anybody who goes through that shit without medication. BRAVO. I had a weak moment where it got very real for me and I told David that I didn't want to do it anymore (ha!). But, you know...this is the ultimate project where you kinda have to finish what you started. (When I went back for my post-partum exam, my doctor said he would remember my delivery for a long time. When I asked him why, he said with a smile, "Because you didn't think you could do it...but you did it!" My doctor thinks I'm a wuss.)

Greta Jayne was born at 9:22pm on February 9th, perfectly sweet and healthy.  7lbs, 3 oz, 20in of sweet girly goodness.

After they took her to be cleaned and checked, I delivered the placenta (like you do). I asked my doctor if I could see it and he got WAY nerdy. "No one ever asks me that! I get really excited to talk about it." He showed me all the parts and described everything and how it functioned. Guys, our bodies are CRAZY awesome. Especially the lady bodies.

I am so grateful for everything...my doctor and the nurses were so amazing, and everything went so smoothly and baby girl is healthy. You really can't ask for much more than that. We are truly lucky.
 

 

35 Things to Do Before I Turn 34

GUYS. 33 is my year.

33 is my favorite number. It is an odd number. It is the title of my favorite Smashing Pumpkins song. (Coincidentally, also the age Billy Corgan was when the band broke up in 2001). This song has one of my favorite lines...

"Tomorrow's just an excuse away."

...which I have tattooed on my arm.

Last year's list was moderately successful. Much of it was hijacked by some big events (read: pregnancy), which I am fine with.

33 is the year I will give birth to a beautiful baby girl. This alone will steer my list in certain ways, though I have many things I want to do outside of being a mother to a newborn. It is impossible to go on with life and ignore this new badge. I have fears about what it will be like to maintain a creative process and have a child. People do it. I love reading about the life of Charles and Ray Eames and how wonderfully they integrated their family life with their creative life. They are my new spirit animals, if you will, for the upcoming year.

(PS I wrote this list a little earlier than usual because at the time I normally would have written it, I will be busy having a baby. My birthday isn't until March.)

  1. Journal again (you know, like an old-timey handwritten one, not a blog).
  2. At least 3 paintings per week.
  3. Go for more walks.
  4. Bake more.
  5. Finish decluttering the house.
  6. Paint the chess room.
  7. Breastfeed successfully.
  8. Learn how to use my camera.
  9. Work on loving-kindness meditation.
  10. Seriously. Lucia's. Why have we not eaten there yet?
  11. Work on my hooping.
  12. Get back to Zumba.
  13. Teach Kennedy how to take care of her new sister.
  14. Renew Kimbel membership, or get a different one.
  15. A book a month! Again!
  16. Go to the drive-in.
  17. Plant some cacti in the yard.
  18. Acquire rainboots.
  19. Smart hoop? Eh? Eh?
  20. Go to the zoo.
  21. Take a dance class to help with hooping.
  22. Fill out the baby book.
  23. Yoga
  24. Make a pie, dammit.
  25. Let David teach me how to play chess. Again.
  26. Make a hula hoop.
  27. Learn some new illustration techniques.
  28. Sell some paintings.
  29. Be more handy around the house.
  30. Learn how to make some more vegetarian dishes.
  31. Attend a coffee cupping class.
  32. Attend a class at TAFA.
  33. Figure out how to take care of a newborn.
  34. DRINK SOME BEER. (Oh, how I miss you, delicious beer...)
  35. Buy some art for the house.

Building Momentum.

I had the honor (I mean, I paid her, but it was still AN HONOR) of having a private mentorship session with one of my favorite painters, Abbey Ryan. As I continue to explore the direction I am going as an artist and a designer, talking with Abbey was revealing. It is so incredibly helpful to have someone study you and your art and give their objective feedback. I don't know Abbey personally, therefore her opinion is taken without the suspicion she might be feeding my ego, or feeling bored of me, or have any personal stake in the conversation at all, really. I have been craving this. Someone's undivided attention without feeling selfish about taking their time.

The session itself was great. I am left with a lot to process about how I move forward. We talked about the things I requested that we discuss: the process and building a sustainable practice, and my artwork itself. Abbey had a lot of great insight in both areas. If you read a lot about how to cultivate your creativity--which I do--some of the tips can get redundant, but I really felt like I was getting new information from Abbey. I think this is because she understood me and what could work for ME, and because she is a professional painter, and so the advice was speaking directly at who I want to be (or am?). Before our Skype session, I was asked to fill out a very detailed self-assessment, and it was clear that she had spent a lot of time reading and understanding what I had written. She had pointed out things that I was unaware of, such as the language I was using when referring to my art (an "indulgence") and how that may not be the best way to build a sustainable practice. I also have a hard time getting myself into the studio (you know, the one that is 10 feet from my house) because I want to make sure that my WORK work, my REAL work, my DESIGN work, gets done. She suggested I think of the two as equals, but maybe my design work is the first of equals. This was a new way of thinking about it that had not occurred to me before.

We also talked about my work itself, and this was also highly valuable to me. Maybe it is my industrial design education, maybe it is my hardened exterior shell from 10 years of corporate work, I don't know, but luckily I am able to hear a critique about the technical aspects of my work without getting butt-hurt. I'm talking about color palette choices, brushwork, all that good stuff. It is so hard to be outside of a classroom and get that sort of personal feedback, and from someone whose technical capability is undeniable. Please tell me what I am doing wrong, and I will fix it. It didn't seem like much, but I have a lot to chew on. Simple changes can make a big impact on your work, so it will take some time for me to move through the suggestions that she made to see a difference and home in on what works best for me. 

After the session, Abbey sent me a packet of notes from our discussion as well as SO many more notes on moving forward. I feel like I have a painting technique book written solely for ME. I have a lot to process. I am so grateful our paths crossed and that I was able to work with her. 

 

Things I Have Cried About While Pregnant.

1. That Johnson & Johnson commercial about nurses.

2. An episode of America's Next Top Model

3. Because I couldn't catch Moose when he was running around.

4. Because I didn't want to eat any more food.

5. No reason whatsoever. 

6. A picture of a dog being rescued by a firefighter. 

7. An episode of Project Runway.

8. A Beyoncé song.

9. ...No reason whatsoever. 

10. Because I was happy to be having a little girl. ❤️

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Life During the First Trimester.

I haven't written for a while. I haven't done much of anything for a while. As such, I've been feeling sort of down on myself about that. Really, I shouldn't beat myself up...I have been less productive for a wonderful reason...I'm pregnant!

We announced our news a few weeks ago, when I was only 10 weeks pregnant. I know that's a little early. I have had so many doctor appointments leading up to today (12 weeks). Given my history, my amazing, amazing OBGYN has been watching this little one closely. I have felt as though THIS IS IT, this is the pregnancy that will stick and give us a crying, pooping, bundle of joy. Don't get me wrong...I will always default to my Midwestern sensibilities. (Early on, my doctor stated he was "cautiously optimistic," and I had to laugh. "Cautiously Optimistic" is my game, doc.) I know that anything could happen. Anything can happen, from now until 18 years from now and beyond. But I remain hopeful. It's hard not to worry sometimes, but what kind of life is that?

In the very beginning, I was extremely nervous. It is difficult to become attached to something that has been taken away from you more than once before. I don't think I let my guard down until the ultrasound where I could actually SEE a little flutter of a heartbeat. (Even hearing the heartbeat before that was no comfort to me. I'm a visual learner.) After that, I was able to breathe. And, as of last week, my doctor is treating mine like a "normal pregnancy," meaning I can have the standard check-ups now, no extra appointments needed anymore.

And I am more calm because, boy, do I feel this pregnancy. I think I have every pregnancy symptom in the book. Basically, I feel like ass almost 24/7. I am just waiting for that magical moment that everyone talks about, the one where you feel GREAT! CLOUDS PART, RAINBOWS SPARKLING, SUN SHINING, NO-MORE-NAUSEA/HEADACHES/SINUS CONGESTION/INDIGESTION/MOODINESS/ETCANDSOONANDSOFORTH AWESOME! Because I always thought to myself, "Man, I'm really gonna like being pregnant!" But right now I am definitely not enjoying it. It is a cruel trick for nature to make your body miserable as a sign that everything is progressing as it should.

But I am grateful. :) Countdown to the sunshine.

Design School Skills I Still Use

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Sometimes I will be working on a project and the voice of a professor from the past will pop up in my head with their favorite piece of advice. I was thinking the other day about the little bits that I actually still remember and use often.

1. Measure twice, cut once. You will save so much money and heartache.

2. Adhere it twice. When sticking two things together, adhere them using two different methods. For example, pin it together AND glue it. This will guarantee a strong bond.

3. Take a picture. Before I glue something together, or move something to a different workspace, or disturb it in any way whatsoever, I take a picture of it. I've probably tried a bunch of different compositions already, and if I take a picture and then something gets messed up I don't have to sit there trying to remember how it all went together. Don't trust your brain to remember what it looked like. Just take a picture.

4. Change the blade. When using an X-acto knife, you cannot change the blade enough times. Seriously. Paper and foam board dull the blades SO quickly. I change 'em out often so I don't mess up my project.

5. If you don't know how to do something, learn it! I once told a professor about my concern that my Photoshop skills were not very developed yet. He brushed this off, and told me the ideas are the most important thing. "You can LEARN Photoshop, but you can't learn how to think." So true. He repeated this idea frequently to the designers throughout my college career.

6. Shiny black paint shows every flaw. As a freshman in Industrial Design, we had to make 5 perfectly shaped spheres out of 5 different materials, and then paint them black. The professor intentionally chose a shiny black paint because it will showcase every dimple, every crack, dent or rough spot. I don't use a lot of shiny black paint, but I always remember that. (The balls were never returned to us, for fear of passing them along to other students. When asked what they did with all those spheres after the project was graded, the professors told us that they stood at the end of the hallway and bowled them down the hall for fun. I don't think they were joking.)

Surviving As a Corporate Designer

I am almost a year out from my time as a corporate designer. Working in a large corporate setting was quite a learning experience--and I mean that in the best way possible. I am very, very happy to be working from home, but I could not be the designer I am without that training (boot camp). That being said, I've had some "survival tips" rolling around in my head that I've been wanting to share.

1. It's not your baby. Do not become attached to anything you design for a corporation, because it does not belong to you. It belongs to the company. You are simply there to help them realize their ideas and help them sell product in the way that works best for them. In a large company, chances are there are many links in the food chain that need to approve something before it moves forward. That means lots of revisions. You simply cannot have overwhelming feelings for a design under these circumstances.

2. Pick your battles. You have to be willing to compromise your designs most of the time, but occasionally there will be something you believe in with all of your heart and soul. Fight for that thing. Don't fight over simple things that don't make a huge impact to the idea (ie if they want it to be pink, just make the damn thing pink.)

3. Share your ideas...over and over and over again. I don't know what it is with people, but they need to hear something multiple times before they start to believe it. If they hear it enough times, eventually they will think it was their idea. Let them have it. You have done your job.

4. Learn from other designers. I have worked with so many amazingly talented people. Don't be intimidated. Learn from them. You will make yourself a better designer if you ask questions, watch, listen.

5. Take every opportunity. Volunteer to help with projects, extracurricular activities, etc. Leaders will take notice, and the opportunities will get better and better.

6. Connect with other designers in the local community. This is important for so many reasons. Networking, staying fresh, and basic social enjoyment. You want people to know who you are, so you can reach out to each other when you need an extra hand, or help finding the next job. And, designers are my people. It's always fun to be around your people. 

7. Work fast. Guys, you just have to.

8. Let it go. They can't all be masterpieces. Promise yourself you'll do better on the next one. Move on.

9. Go home and turn it off. Don't work extra hours unless you absolutely have to or else people will take advantage of your time, and your energy will be drained. You need that time to recharge. Spend time with your family, hang out with your friends, and work on personal projects that are creatively fulfilling to you.

10. Move on when it's time. Don't stick around so long that you get bored. Because you will be bored and then you will get bitter. This is not fair to yourself or to your company. Find a new challenge, and let your position be that same new challenge for another designer.

This Week.

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I am a dabbler. A Renaissance Lady, if you will. I like to acquire lots of different skills, just because I like to do lots of things. I like to try everything. Continuing with the hand lettering tool kit I am arming myself with, I started dabbling with calligraphy. Here are some things I wrote last night.

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34 Things To Do Before I Turn 33.

There are always so many things that I want to do. This year I have a lot of art-related tasks on my list. They're pretty vague (draw more)...which can be dangerous, but allows me a little room to breathe around the more specific ones (read 1 book per month).

You can go back and look at my list from last year. I reposted it a few weeks ago and let me tell you, nothing has changed. Nothing more has been crossed off. I think this was the least success I have had with crossing things off of my list, and I owe it all to a particularly hectic and disappointing year. Hopefully this year I will have a little bit more luck...and if not, maybe it will be because we have a particularly joyful year. One can hope.

  1. Take walks in nature.
  2. Work in the studio every day.
  3. Establish a more rigid daily routine.
  4. Compost.
  5. Read 1 book per month.
  6. Get makeup done.
  7. Try Dry Bar.
  8. Watch Gone With the Wind.
  9. Eat at Lucia.
  10. Learn more about the artists that I admire.
  11. See more art.
  12. Eat at Dallas Grilled Cheese Co.
  13. Paint the studio.
  14. Host Craft Party: Brunch Edition.
  15. Plant something we can eat.
  16. Kombucha. Steady supply. Make it happen.
  17. House project of the year: nursery.
  18. Streamline and fine-tune my wardrobe.
  19. Work on my illustration techniques (for work).
  20. Draw more.
  21. Meatless Monday.
  22. Knit or crochet 1 square per month to make a 12-square blanket by the end of the year.
  23. High-quality goodies only.
  24. Go to a hockey game.
  25. Organize Kennedy's room.
  26. Become a "member" (ie the Perot Museum? Dallas Museum of Art? The Kimbell?)
  27. Go kayaking with Joy.
  28. Daily paintings.
  29. Visit David's college, finally, because he's been wanting to take me there for so long now.
  30. Shoot some hoops with David.
  31. Girls' weekend (Austin?)
  32. Meet/socialize with local artists.
  33. Take a class.
  34. Hang with my besties more often.