30 Days, 30 Paintings

It's not often that I take up a challenge like this but when I heard about the 30x30 challenge from my friend Linda Johnson, I clicked and jumped. I want to try exploring collage in a tactile way with luscious mediums, creamy acrylics and pieced together botanical imagery.  My studio for Day 1 is a dining room table in my friend's San Francisco flat. Compact and perfect, it's just blocks away from the SF Botanical Gardens where I'm gathering inspiration.


The 30x30 challenge is sponsored by Leslie Saeta. If you have a chance to check it out, there is some amazing work on display. And now, let the wild rumpus begin!

The Pleasures of Collaboration

Attachment-1 (23) It's the hot hazy days of summer here with temps scrolling over the 100's, grass crisped to a dull gold, trees and bushes thirsty for whatever moisture may come their way. The best places to cool off are low at the ocean or high in the Sierra. Failing that, I'll take my studio, fortified with air conditioning, glasses of ice tea and mineral water.

Recently, my friend Linda Clark Johnson* joined me there for an afternoon. Hauling her Mary Poppins bag of art supplies up the stairs, she commented on the virtue of stairs as an exercise device. We'd planned this day together for a month and neither of us stinted as we placed double lines of acrylics, brayers and paper on the tables. Linda sifted through prints with primary layers, pondering her next move for each, while I tore thick, white sheets out of my notebook.

There's something wonderful about sharing a space with another artist for a few hours...a time of no specific agenda, no attempt to forward the "serious work," simply experimenting, to see what might happen working side by side.

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Walking down my back alley to gather plant materials, we discovered some bounty of the Central Valley spilling over the fence: grapes, figs, oranges, and pomegranates.

Wishing I could simply place a ripe fig on my printing plate and squish it, I experimented with dried seed heads of fennel, using color combinations of mustard, tangerine and rose.

Linda enjoyed some time with fuchsia and pink, bringing in purple shades, which reminded me of the dusky blue grapes ripening on the hot wooden fence.

Gel monoprint with fennel

We worked until we'd covered a good portion of my floor; we noted the hits, the misses and the sweet surprises. I discovered that the seeds of the fennel created little spots that remind me of using salt with watercolor. Linda tried out a new color, warm gray, and found that it worked elegantly as a top layer for the subtle underpinnings of purples, blues and greens.

Bleeding Heart Leaf, 2015, Linda Clark Johnson, Matted Monoprint

Later, harvesting a bag of succulent figs for Linda to take home, I reflected on the afternoon, thinking how important it is to make things in the company of others. Perhaps the artistic variant of jamming, working together stirs up ideas, offers new perspectives and a rich exchange takes place. What kind of artist jams carry you away?

*If you'd like to see more of Linda's gorgeous prints, you can catch her at the Sacramento Open Studios Tour, the weekend of September 19th and 20th. to find out more information, click here.

2015 in Motion!

From the Davis Open Studio Tour 2015 website I feel like someone with a diary--who hasn't made an entry in a looong time. Which usually means lots has been going on. In December I wrote about my fear of preparing for my open studio. Like many things one fears, it turned out to be far easier, much less stressful and a whole lot more fun than I imagined.

So much fun in fact that when my friend, Sara Post, told me about the Davis Art Studio Tour coming in April, I signed right up. I felt like a kid who'd just gone down a slide, saying "Wheee! I want to do that again!"

So here I go, the Studio Tour is a cooperative of 30 artists, and like a well oiled machine, each person has their part to play. I look forward to this collaboration; working with Linda Clark Johnson on the December Open Studio was a huge learning curve and definitely a friendship deepener.

Linda and I caught framing up a print.

Kim Tackett and Linda Clark Johnson at our Open Studio in December









In order to prepare, I've been making loose plans; plans that will become more detailed in the days ahead.

In the meantime, my family and I just returned from time spent in one of my favorite places; Kauai. I've established the habit of bringing art supplies along with me and I spent all the time, when I wasn't hiking swimming or walking the beaches, immersed in plant materials and nice gooey acrylics. I want to make sure that some of the Studio Tour artwork includes and reflects the richness of this beloved island.

I'll be sharing more about the Davis Art Studio Tour as the next couple months unfold. Now, up to the studio!







Ruth's Table

Clarion Alley, SF. From left, Monica Lee, myself, Linda Clark Johnson and Leslie Flores

I recently met a new friend, Monica Lee, a San Francisco photographer and artist-in-residence at Ruth's table; a place and a space where people of all generations can meet and explore the arts. The organization was named after artist and sculptor, Ruth Asawa, and is situated in a senior housing facility in the Mission District.

Fascinated, I decided that visiting Ruth's Table would be a perfect artist/art therapist field trip. Securing a professional leave day, I planned an excursion with another artist, Linda Clark Johnson, Monica and her artist friend, Leslie Flores. Monica made a list of artistic destinations and we set off early on a Tuesday morning, all meeting up at the Ferry Building.

After our first compulsory stop at Dick Blick to pick up art supplies, we stopped off at the Andrea Schwartz Gallery to view the work of artist, Wynne Hayakawa, whose landscapes of trees, frozen in a moment of stop motion, provided a perfect first stop.

Wynne Hayakawa ©2014, Oil on canvas

Wynne's worked intrigued me; the size of the works was large, probably 4' x 4' and they made an impression not unlike that of virtually driving through a forest, looking out the window and trying to secure the images as time and the car moved on.

We also dropped in at San Francisco Center for the Book, a bookbinding and letterpress studio that promotes traditional and experimental book art forms. Walking into the vast open studio space was like wandering around my undergraduate days in the letterpress studio at the University of Iowa. Since then, I thought the art of handset type had almost died out. I was happy to see the trays of type, the Vandercook presses and the exquisite display of books by the Hand Bookbinders of California.



I was also astounded by the landscape of San Francisco and how much it has changed since living there some 30 years ago. It was as if bulldozers had leveled street after street, replacing the old dwellings with newer, trendier but hopefully more earthquake safe townhouses.

However, I needn't have worried that the entire city was remodeled. Our next location was tucked away in an old warehouse district off of Army St. SCRAP, or Scroungers Center for Usable Art Parts was a feast for my recycling eyes. Sprawling in a San Francisco School District warehouse in the Bayview district of San Francisco, SCRAP is the country's oldest creative reuse center, and has been diverting waste from landfills for use as art supplies for over 35 years. According to the website, each year over 200 tons of redeployed junk avoid the fate of the land fill. I'm here to say, that you could create an infinite number of installations with the goods provided there.

SCRAP, an art scavenger's paradise.

After a delicious lunch of fresh fish tacos, served on heavy timbered tables at a Mission taqueria, we made our way to Ruth's Table.

As we entered, Monica explained that the idea for Ruth's Table was the idea of director, Lola Fraknoi. After meeting Lola, we were treated to a tour and entertainment by an older, blind gentleman who had simply walked in off the street and begun to play, quite beautifully, on their grand piano. It was a beguiling scene; the white grand piano (donated by Princess Cruises) set in a spacious gallery with an exquisite calligraphic exhibit and this maestro of the moment, bent over the keys and playing his heart out.

A grandmother and her granddaughter walked in and Monica introduced us to them as two of her students. Monica had recently learned about gelli printing and wanted Linda and I to do a quick demo. We happily obliged using dog fennel that I'd gathered at SCRAP and some plants that her students had picked on their way over.


A quick half an hour later, we were covered in paint and a handful of prints displayed our efforts. Monica dropped Linda and I off at Megabus, where tired and paint stained, we climbed aboard with our backpacks, stuffed with memories of the day.