Oysters are beautiful, graceful, and smooth on the inside. Their exteriors, of course, are another story. Full of barnacles and crustiness, they look like a concrete job gone wrong. When my brothers and our families took my Mom to Destin this January to celebrate her 70th birthday, my little brother suggested that we throw some oysters on the grill. The Lomonacos are all about our seafood! My mom confessed that she had never tried an oyster because of their perceived sliminess. We convinced her to give it a try. After all, we reasoned, it couldn't be much worse than her beloved calamari, could it?
Her response, "Not that bad!" The weekend was so special that I decided to scrub out all of the oyster shells and save them to make something. Oh, my poor husband : )
All of those cleaned up shells sitting around were begging to be painted. I've seen some wonderful oyster art at shows and online, so I felt compelled to try creating some of my own to commemorate the vacation.
A lot of what I paint are commissioned projects, but this one was a special memory with my mom and brothers that I had to make time for. I selfishly turned it into a project for my advanced art class. They are good sports and are used to me using our wonderful group for learning and experimentation. We joke about my inclination to work painting food into our lessons whenever I can! We studied and painted oyster shells that week. Some of the artists painted one loan oyster, while others painted a pile of them. All of us were so impressed with how colorful and reflective they actually are on the inside. We also discussed the wonderful story of how the pearl is created and the life lessons that can be gleaned from it. You can read a short poem about the pearl here.
We experimented with paint colors and discussed what we found. There were surprisingly many warm browns and yellow tones, as well as cool purples, grays and blues!
We used our fabulous mix charts to match the purples and even pulled out some iridescent watercolors that I have to imitate the pearly quality of the shells.
Nothing I could paint could capture their true beauty and intricacies, but I loved trying. I know there will be more up on my desk at some point soon!
A close up to see the details ...
Creating art from travel or fun experiences is so very satisfying! Such a great way to document life's special moments for family and friends. If you like to draw or paint, remember it doesn't have to be a masterpiece, just have fun playing and experimenting with the colors and shapes. If you'd rather hire someone to do it for you, then I'm your girl : )
For the oyster lovers among you, this print is available now on my etsy store here: Caryn's etsy shop
I'm not sure how you are about experimenting with new styles of art, food, or clothing but I'm a big fan of stretching myself. I've long loved the look of what I'm calling "flat shelfies." Basically a shelf or image that has very little shading or little attempt to look realistic. It is a more illustrative style of art. It is basic yet delightful. It reminds me of something I would paint in my travel journals or a children's book illustration. Whatever you want to call it, it is simple, light and playful.
We experimented with these as a project in my advanced art class. While the ladies were a little unenthused at first, they became big fans. We began by drawing things on shelves that we loved. Some people drew items that belonged to relatives who had passed on. Treasured heirlooms that they had in their homes and filled their shelves. One student who loved to sew filled hers with knitting needles, yarn, stacked quilts, and a sewing machine. By the time we had inked them in, we were all so happy to be able to document items we love in this whimsical way.
The little coffee maker above is one of two that I have of my grandma's. It's called a makineta. Basically, it is a tiny Italian-made, coffee maker that has been with us through our fair share of ridiculously small kitchens. Apparently they are making a come back. All they require is a little boiling hot water and some espresso style coffee grinds. Simple.
I filled my flat shelf with things that remind me of my family, of being Italian and of things I enjoy looking at. Some of these items are currently sitting on my kitchen shelves, others are around my kitchen. You can sketch your own fun shelves if you are inclined to that sort of thing, or of course tell me what you want on them : ) Either way, it's fun just to think about what are some of your favorite treasures ...
Above are my actual kitchen shelves, complete with tacky fake grapes that I refuse to get rid of.
What are a few favorite items you have lying around?
Between a new name, moving to 2 weeks and our art camp dates being set for the summer, there has been a lot of summer art camp talk going on around here. This is the 6th year that Holli Luther and I will be hosting a fun-filled camp for elementary kids. We are always working to make it the best it can be. Since there has consistently been a waiting list for camp spots, we talked, debated and prayed over if and when we should add a second week. We decided that back-to-back weeks would work perfectly. There are a few reasons for this decision. This first is so that I don't have to stock pile art supplies and project boxes in my kitchen all summer long. As the camp has grown, we've had to get good and organized with purchasing and storing the supplies in the months of May and June. The days leading up to camp, colorful materials and different mediums are bursting out of the corners of our home art studios.
The second factor that went into the decision, was that I like to have some time off in the summer to just hang with my kids. Last year, I took July mostly off and it was a great decision. We were able to plan family vacations for that month. As my teen's summers get busier and busier, I need to make sure I schedule in some fun, family time. Down time to be spontaneous with them is important to me so I'm trying to be intentional about having open spaces in my days. I hope to plan my commissioned art projects around taking July off again this summer. I don't want to miss the opportunities tucked within the days I have left with them.
Because some of the kids will most likely do both weeks, there was much debate about if each week should have different projects. Since planning the projects and shopping for supplies is such a big part of making art camp happen, we decided that both weeks will have the same projects but with different themes and twists. For example, if we teach sculpture shaping with modeling clay one week, we might do a plate of food first and clay cities the second week. This way, parents would feel free to sign up their campers for one or both weeks.
Now to explain a little bit about the new name. As the camp has grown, we've worked hard to still keep the same level of individual attention per child. We've been able to accomplish this by having wonderful helpers at each table distributing supplies and assisting the children with their projects when needed. Since the camp has started, we've given 10% of proceeds away. This year, I'm so excited to say that we'll be giving that money back to the art departments of local schools. Our first school will be Lawton Elementary in Oviedo. It is our pleasure to be able to put money back into their art department for art supplies. The hope is to help kids be boldly creative, feel inspired and understand more about viable careers available to them in the arts. Our new name is more inclusive and better communicates the mission of encouraging creativity and inspiring good character traits in our children.
Although its only January and summer seems far away, we're releasing the art camp dates ahead of time for everyone to start praying over and thinking about their summer plans. The first camp week will be June 17th through 21st, and the second week is June 24th through 28th, 2019. Both camps are Monday through Friday, 9am to noon and are held at The Foundry Church in Winter Springs, just off of the 417 overpass.
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Whether I am working with a client on their brand identity, teaching students or creating a custom watercolor piece, I hope to refresh and inspire others with my work. Read more ...