The Evolution of Beautiful Chaos

Above: The Evolution of 'Beautiful Chaos'

'To create one's world in any of the arts takes courage.' Georgia O'Keeffe

'Beautiful Chaos'.  Liker her canvas, her creation was deeply meaningful and layered.  She's been quite the evolution over several years.  Born out of a deep exploration of myself and fueled by curiosity and excitement,  her creation wouldn't exist without many intertwined layers: an amazing shoot with a stunning model, learning to follow threads of curiosity, thousands (literally) of tiny to broad brush strokes, my sharing breakthrough and my absolute adoration for printing. 

The Amazing Model and Photo Shoot 

Tons of behind the scenes production go into a photo shoot like this one.  I was working for a client that commissioned me for several restaurant and hotel fine artwork pieces.  At that same time I was working on several projects with my great friend, creative partner and co-art director, Jane Rosie, who flew into Chicago O'hare all the way from her home in London, England to help me create and art direct the studio shoot.  Great shoots require even greater thinking and planning. We spent several hours over coffee and cocktails in the couple days before the shoot discussing the shoot's creative energy and direction.  Using researched imagery, we collaged a 'vision board' of the shoot which, front and center in the studio on shoot day, provided artistic and energetic direction.  My team and I scoured all the model agencies over several days in Chicago and the Midwest and finally 'iced' (the industry's lingo for booked) the amazing Danielle Lauer.  (And lucky we did.)  I brainstormed, chose several fluid lighting set ups and spent the day before with my assistant setting up the studio.  I was ready to paint Danielle with light depending her positioning and our desired shot outcome.  With everything set, we were ready to shoot.

From Left to Right: The wonderful Jane Rosie, Our Shoot Vision Board, Danielle in Lighting Test and Behind the Scenes

 And shoot we did!  I've worked with 100's of models in my career and Danielle is a consummate pro.  When you're in that dance with a model like her, all the planning and production melts into energy and we sink into depths that feel like another dimension.  I call it the 'X' factor.  Without all the many hours of attention to detail, that cerebral and heart-felt envisioning,  and the work of creative planning the 'X' factor is unlikely to happen.  With all the planning, it's like magic.  All of those structures lift the model, the team and, me, the artist and director to a heightened energy.  The 'X' factor goes beyond reality into its own realm of possibility.  With Danielle's, mine, the lights and the camera's 'dance' we, needless to say, ended the shoot in celebration with several hundred images--a virtual library of dreamy, energetic, out-of-this-world, artistic choices.


Just a few of the hundreds of spectacular Danielle images.


Following Threads of Curiosity

In a period of 'silence', for lack of a better word, about nine months ago I re-opened the Danielle shoot files which had been dormant for a couple years prior.  Inside my own hustle, it took some real life shifts to slow down enough over the last year to hear my own threads of curiosity enough to venture back to those images. Thanks in part to my business & personal coach, Jenny Lockhart (a huge shout out to her as she is amazing!  Side note:  I believe mentors are invaluable), I was able to sit in my own white space and listen.  If you're like me--a doer, worker, mover, tasker--slowing down feels awkward, unnatural and un-intuitive.  But within this uncomfortable stillness, I was able to follow tiny hair cracks of excitement that weren't visible when I was running 100 miles per hour. I listened in the stillness and saw, in quite subtle terms, Danielle coming back to life.  So I followed.

Thousands of Brush Strokes

Within this thread of curiosity, I quite literally opened up many, many of my floral and color burst artworks and Danielle images on my Mac within photoshop.  I had no agenda but to explore, since this creative session was born simply out of curiosity, and not an assignment, task or job. Though I had the background voices within me trying to make this about money, goals and accomplishments (um, in other words, my hustle self), I was able to let that go and truly play, experiment and enjoy. 

Limited Edition 'Beautiful Chaos' 

To my surprise and delight, the general form of Beautiful Chaos emerged on the digital canvas quite quickly by combining intricate layers from several images. As with all of my art, Beautiful Chaos was no different.  It's not until my knowing when an image can evolve into what I feel is something that I can begin the work of the 'thousands of brush strokes'. I pushed and pulled her colors. Slapped and released layers time and time again.  Over many hours, I deeply finessed the tiniest of shadow and highlight details buried in the crevices and nooks. I walked away.  I came back. I sat with her.  Pondered her. Reflected with her. Over several days,  I deepened her, stirred her and raised her.  Then, when I felt it, she was 'complete'.

My Sharing Breakthrough

I was recently taken by something that one of my inspiration artists, Robert Rauschenberg said. He said an artist's work isn't complete until the viewer comments on it.  An artwork is only finished when the observer has created their own opinion and feeling about it. That struck me deeply because I haven't shared my work very widely.  At all. I began to think that if no one has seen my works are they really finished? Do they truly exist? Like for so many artists, sharing is an uncomfortable and anxious-filled process for me.  I've worked very hard over the last couple years to recognize my constraints and share anyway.  (Even as I write this I think, 'What are 'they' going to think about this?') But what really struck me in Rauschenberg's comment is that by sharing it I am completing it.  Beautiful Chaos can only exist when YOU admire her...comment on about her...and define her for yourself.  By sharing, she comes alive.  The art isn't mine really.  Like with a child I'm her parent, but for her to grow, mature and reach her full potential I must share her with the world.  Because, actually, she is yours.     

My Child-Like Adoration of the Print

Printing for me is like when I was a kid playing with Lego.  I can't wait to do it. I just love it. I get a kid-like lego build excitement when the print is coming off the big Epson. When I see that artwork come alive, I just can't believe it. It's like every print is a new being.  It's true!  I mean nobody--nobody--prints their own art who doesn't love it.  There's just so much investment in time, equipment, hardware and software that you have to adore the process to do it.  There are a ton of labs that could print my art.  But added into that child-like enthusiasm is a healthy grown-up dose of the love of papers and canvasses, the wont of pigment inks so true and vibrant and the knowing that your print is just the right color, density and tone.  I have deep pride that every print is archival, museum quality and rated for over one hundred years--the best in the industry! I print every Beautiful Chaos here at the studio, one by one.  Edition by lovely limited edition.  For you.


My 'Big Epson' hard at work.  'Beautiful Chaos' canvas coming off the printer and the canvas ready to be stretched. (We do stretch all our own canvasses!)


'Beautiful Chaos' Art Prints and Special Edition Journals and Notecards are available here .



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