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Cathie Bleck
World Wildlife Fund magazine
posted:
I had the pleasure of doing a commission for one of my favorite organizations, the World Wildlife Fund for an article on the Marshal Field Family and their ongoing support giving to some great causes : Tigers and Monarch butterflies.  Pentagram Austin contacted me to produce a double page spread for the magazine.  The Field family lives only 30 minutes from where I grew up in the northern suburbs of Chicago on Lake Michigan.  
After gathering the reference, I began the final piece and sent this WIP to the client.  The only instructions I was given was to do a painting-lots of creative license here and they wanted the tiger to be incorporated into a tree across the spread.  The Marshal Field family sent a photo of their favorite oak tree from their back yard in Lake Forest, IL, so I decided to try to mimic the shape of their tree.
Here is the finished piece in the World Wildlife Magazine.  I want to subscribe to this magazine...it is not only one of the most beautifully printed and designed magazines around, but the content is fascinating and important!
2014 Favorite Commission :: Chapter 24 Vineyards
posted:

I was approached by Arcade Creative Group (an agency born out of Sony Music) to create a mythological, narrative artwork inspired by and for Chapter 24 Vineyards in the Willamette Valley in Oregon which is Mark Tarlov's new winery (ex Hollywood producer of many successful 90's films including "Simply Irresistable").
A week later after their initial call, a box of their fine wines Flood, Fire and The Last Chapter (named after the final scene in "The Odessey") arrived at my doorstep which was followed by a Skype meeting with Mark Tarlov, the art director Jeff Gilligan and several others involved in the project from Arcade.  Not wanting to drink alone I also invited my dear friend Marianne Berardi, an art historian to join us.  We popped the corks and began the tasting in an exchange on what each of these wines provoked and inspired. It was by far one of my most enjoyable journeys into a commission.  At the helm of the creative team at Sony is the great art director Christopher Astopchuck who had suggested me for the project, our second collaboration since Brandi Carlisle's CD "The Story".
The commission was unspecific as to where and how they would use the artwork, most likely not on their label however.  This set me off on sketching for the next several weeks and finalizing what I would show them into about 15-18 ideas.
Here are just a few of the first drawings. 




It is important to note that 16-1 was one image I just threw in at the last minute...my desk was stacked with many vellum drawings most of which were far more rendered and this one was the loosest and provoked the most excitement from the client.  It often requires many many drawings in order to get the kind of fluidity of line that evokes the most energy in a drawing.  Getting limber is the most important part for me in my working process and then honing down the finished idea borrowing a little from a few good ideas.  The above and below images were getting closer to the finished concept "Fire" : a more aggressive wine represented by a goddess rising from a volcano creating a universe of fire and smoke. "Flood" : a more subtle and smooth wine that seems to be in almost a mother earth figure rising elegantly from the landscape of water and terrain.

After reviewing about 4 more combinations of images a color study was finalized and then compositional adjustments made, flopping the Flood goddess.

I decided to do a black and white study in scratchboard as the painting is quite large roughly 24"x 48"and it is difficult to create the same loose line work that I am able to achieve in a small piece. This study was then blown up into a photocopy and transferred to the clayboard

Here is a WIP showing the pencil transfer lines, inks and kaolin pigments that make and the initial scraping with my tool.

Almost completed....additional blue was added just above the Flood goddess where the large yellow area of rays are shedding light. Then a hi res scan was made at Paul Duda Gallery (he works with clients all over the country-luckily 30 min. from my studio!)


This is my favorite details in the piece.
Definately, this commission was one of the highlights from this last year if not this past decade.  I enjoyed every aspect (though the studio time working on completing such a complicated piece can be very tiring-but it is just part of the process!). It was also great to finally meet the team at Arcade when I was in NYC this past May!
The client also purchased the painting and it has been made into a mural at their winery so if you are in the Willematte Valley perhaps you can send me a selfie in front of the mural and raise a glass to all the great collaborations that support art and artists such as this one.
Happy New Year everyone!!
"Rarely Home" : Cleveland @ Maria Neil Art Project : Cathie Bleck Amy Casey
posted:
 
Around April this year Amy Casey, a fabulous artist here in Cleveland, who has been featured multiple times in New American Paintings, asked me to join her in a show here at home. I was thrilled and honored to show with her at a new project space in the Waterloo Arts District,  Maria Neil Art Projects  (There are some photos from the opening on the gallery website).  Neither of us show in Cleveland regularly so the title "Rarely Home" was especially fitting and I created a body of small and intimate pieces returning to my signature style of black and white works, often taking work on the road this past year.
These paintings provide little windows into the emotions that occur from the pleasures of leaving "home" which to is not always the physical home but rather the "place" we feel most at ease.  When I think of physical travel away from my house I also think about the dual curse of what is left in the trail (someone is always excited that you are visiting and someone else is always sad that you are gone).  It is a lot of work to travel, but I have always viewed it as an experience embracing the unknown and enjoy thinking fast on my feet when obstacles occur.  Perhaps it is at a core level a necessary act for people in order to understand the meaning of their own lives. We sometimes don't see what is staring us right in our face, we must leave our comfort zone and step into darkness in order to see the light. 
From the book The Power of the Obvious by Aldo Papone:
travel, (a word that comes from travail, meaning work or torment-and “travail”, in turn, was derived from the Latin word tripalium, which was a three-staked instrument of torture!) Historically, humans have encountered travel as a marvel that brings light and wonder into our lives, making knowledge and experience accessible. 
I spent about 6 months this year traveling, gathering research for my artwork, often bringing smaller works with me on the road to work on.  For 3-4 months of the year I worked prolifically in my Cleveland Heights studio, inspired by the visual vocabulary and experiences of what I have taken in from my travels, these include hundreds of journals some of which will be on view in this show.  In many ways these journals are how I process information and heighten recording personal memories-my external hardrive of my brain.  
This body of work includes fourteen intimate black and white works, three dimensional color pieces, as well as journals from the past few years cascading over a dimensional waterfall of kaolin and blue pigments painted doors. Also included are laser jet cut pieces in clay board in the forms of a light box as well as an antique Samsonite suitcase which holds a small illuminated dimensional diorama which can be seen through a door peep hole on the outside.
These works are sort of little windows into the emotions that occur from the pleasures of leaving "home" which to is not always the physical home but rather the "place" we feel most at ease.  When I think of physical travel away from my house I also think about the dual curse of what is left in the trail (someone is always excited that you are visiting and someone else is always sad that you are gone).  It is a lot of work to travel, but I have always viewed it as an experience embracing the unknown and enjoy thinking fast on my feet when obstacles occur.  Perhaps it is at a core level a necessary act for people in order to understand the meaning of their own lives. We sometimes don't see what is staring us right in our face, we must leave our comfort zone and step into darkness in order to see the light. 
 
Exploring the meaning of travel : 
from the book The Power of the Obvious by Aldo Papone:
travel, (a word that comes from travail, meaning work or torment-and “travail”, in turn, was derived from the Latin word tripalium, which was a three-staked instrument of torture!) Historically, humans have encountered travel as a marvel that brings light and wonder into our lives, making knowledge and experience accessible. 
 
I spent about 6 months this year traveling, gathering research for my artwork, often bringing smaller works with me on the road to work on.  For 3-4 months of the year I worked prolifically in my Cleveland Heights studio, inspired by the visual vocabulary and experiences of what I have taken in from my travels, these include hundreds of journals some of which will be on view in this show.  In many ways these journals are how I process information and heighten recording personal memories-my external hardrive of my brain.  
 
I grew up on a tree farm just outside of Chicago, a very still life and after college moved to San Francisco then back to Chicago and then onto Dallas, England and New York City prior to being transplanted to Cleveland for the past 26 years. In this show “Rarely Home”, I am returning to my signature-style of black and white scratchboard (my personal "home" style)  in search of the portals of dreams, discoveries, adventures and the emotional aftermaths of what it means to be "rarely home" figuratively and subjectively.Humans beings are natural travelers.  –its an essential human activity, beyond commerce and leisure.  I spent 6 months traveling this year off and on, gathering research, sometimes working on small pieces on the road and spent the rest of the time working prolifically in my Cleveland Heights studio.  This past year I have traveled to Arizona, Idaho, Utah, San Francisco, New York City, four trips to Chicago, Vancouver, Boston and this November to Thailand. “Home” has become a migrating refuge for me, working up close to new discoveries that shed light into a creative pathway.  I am fascinated by the "energy" of travel; the tension of emotional bridges that become formed in the physical gaps between people combining with the residue created from the physical seperation from those who live with us daily.

 This body of work includes fourteen intimate black and white works as well as journals from the past few years cascading over a dimensional waterfall of kaolin and blue pigments painted on doors. Also included are laser jet cut pieces in clay board in the forms of a light box as well as an antique Samsonite suitcase which holds a small illuminated dimensional diorama which can be seen through a door peep hole on the outside.
These works are sort of little windows into the emotions that occur from the pleasures of leaving "home" which to is not always the physical home but rather the "place" we feel most at ease.  When I think of physical travel away from my house I also think about the dual curse of what is left in the trail (someone is always excited that you are visiting and someone else is always sad that you are gone).  It is a lot of work to travel, but I have always viewed it as an experience embracing the unknown and enjoy thinking fast on my feet when obstacles occur.  Perhaps it is at a core level a necessary act for people in order to understand the meaning of their own lives. We sometimes don't see what is staring us right in our face, we must leave our comfort zone and step into darkness in order to see the light. 
 
Exploring the meaning of travel : 
from the book The Power of the Obvious by Aldo Papone:
travel, (a word that comes from travail, meaning work or torment-and “travail”, in turn, was derived from the Latin word tripalium, which was a three-staked instrument of torture!) Historically, humans have encountered travel as a marvel that brings light and wonder into our lives, making knowledge and experience accessible. 
 
I spent about 6 months this year traveling, gathering research for my artwork, often bringing smaller works with me on the road to work on.  For 3-4 months of the year I worked prolifically in my Cleveland Heights studio, inspired by the visual vocabulary and experiences of what I have taken in from my travels, these include hundreds of journals some of which will be on view in this show.  In many ways these journals are how I process information and heighten recording personal memories-my external hardrive of my brain.  
 
I grew up on a tree farm just outside of Chicago, a very still life and after college moved to San Francisco then back to Chicago and then onto Dallas, England and New York City prior to being transplanted to Cleveland for the past 26 years. In this show “Rarely Home”, I am returning to my signature-style of black and white scratchboard (my personal "home" style)  in search of the portals of dreams, discoveries, adventures and the emotional aftermaths of what it means to be "rarely home" figuratively and subjectively.Humans beings are natural travelers.  –its an essential human activity, beyond commerce and leisure.  I spent 6 months traveling this year off and on, gathering research, sometimes working on small pieces on the road and spent the rest of the time working prolifically in my Cleveland Heights studio.  This past year I have traveled to Arizona, Idaho, Utah, San Francisco, New York City, four trips to Chicago, Vancouver, Boston and this November to Thailand. “Home” has become a migrating refuge for me, working up close to new discoveries that shed light into a creative pathway.  I am fascinated by the "energy" of travel; the tension of emotional bridges that become formed in the physical gaps between people combining with the residue created from the physical seperation from those who live with us daily.

 This body of work includes fourteen intimate black and white works as well as journals from the past few years cascading over a dimensional waterfall of kaolin and blue pigments painted on doors. Also included are laser jet cut pieces in clay board in the forms of a light box as well as an antique Samsonite suitcase which holds a small illuminated dimensional diorama which can be seen through a door peep hole on the outside.
 This body of work includes fourteen intimate black and white works as well as journals from the past few years cascading over a dimensional waterfall of kaolin and blue pigments painted on doors. Also included are laser jet cut pieces in clay board in the forms of a light box as well as an antique Samsonite suitcase which holds a small illuminated dimensional diorama which can be seen through a door peep hole on the outside.
 This body of work includes fourteen intimate black and white works as well as journals from the past few years cascading over a dimensional waterfall of kaolin and blue pigments painted on doors. Also included are laser jet cut pieces in clay board in the forms of a light box as well as an antique Samsonite suitcase which holds a small illuminated dimensional diorama which can be seen through a door peep hole on the outside.
 
 This body of work includes fourteen intimate black and white works as well as journals from the past few years cascading over a dimensional waterfall of kaolin and blue pigments painted on doors. Also included are laser jet cut pieces in clay board in the forms of a light box as well as an antique Samsonite suitcase which holds a small illuminated dimensional diorama which can be seen through a door peep hole on the outside.
 This body of work includes fourteen intimate black and white works as well as journals from the past few years cascading over a dimensional waterfall of kaolin and blue pigments painted on doors. Also included are laser jet cut pieces in clay board in the forms of a light box as well as an antique Samsonite suitcase which holds a small illuminated dimensional diorama which can be seen through a door peep hole on the outside.


Offered up a cascade of sketchbooks

Project spaces are liberating. It opens up room for exploration, so I played around with some laser cutting at Case Western University in the engineering building creating a lightbox as well as a diorama inside a suitcase with a lense for viewing.

Inside the viewfinder, difficult to photograph through the lense.

Amy Casey's work is highly detailed and epic in size for the kind of labor that is involved. It was a great exchange and success-thank you Cleveland. Here is a great little article in Belt Mag on Amy's work and Cleveland... it showcases the paintings she has in this current show.
Thank you Juxtapoz Magazine for featuring our show on your blog!
The energy in the art world in Cleveland is surging.  So many great articles about it in national news and here is a recent one in Arts Antiques Design. It is an affordable city with world class museums, lots of opportunities to make art, teach art and experiment.  There are inexpensive studio spaces and affordable live/work homes.  It is halfway between Chicago and New York City and 6 hours to Toronto.  Let me know if you art pals are ever in town, I'd be happy to show you around!

A squirell
posted:
There was more to this illustration for Readers Digest (shown last month in their magazine) but I just really liked this squirell the best. Sometimes that happens.  You fill the page to fill the page to fill the story (that was a bit flat) and sometimes a piece is salvaged that you can carry forward and this is how I feel about Mr. Squirell.  
And speaking of squirells...here is another from a while back.  I need to do a drawing of the very fat squirell who is raiding our birdfeeders.  
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