Bottles for Light Grey Art Lab’s 6 Degrees Show

Several weeks ago I saw a call for art at Light Grey Art Lab. The show is called 6 Degrees, and it’s an, “exhibition and project celebrating the work and cultures of artists from around the globe–a show about the power of the collective voice”. To be considered for the show, I had to submit a portfolio site for review.

I’ve wanted to participate in one of LGAL’s group shows ever since I took a couple of workshops with them back in 2012. This one seemed perfect for me, so I put together a portfolio site on Cargo, submitted the link for consideration, and crossed my fingers.

I was so happy to see my name a few weeks later listed among the accepted artists!

I was asked to, “think of your surroundings and the environments, people and places that make your world special,” and base my piece for the show on those ideas. I gave it a lot of thought and the process lead me through the macro and micro environments in which I live.

I’m from the US, but what does it mean to be from Maryland? What’s the distinction about being from Gaithersburg? What is it like to live in my neighborhood? How is the street I live on unique? What about my house and yard? That lead me to one more general question: how do I interact with my environment, wherever I might be–whether at home exploring the back yard, running errands in a nearby town, or checking out museums in DC.

I realized: I’m a collector. No matter what environment I’m in, I go into noticing mode. I collect images with a camera, and I gather treasures that I find, both natural and manmade. Collecting ideas and items is my way of registering the inspiring details I encounter day to day that might otherwise be forgotten.

Since the theme of the postcards ultimately was to be about me, I got to thinking about my immediate environment where I spend the most time–my yard, my house, my street, and the nearby creek.

Initially I planned to create a still life sourced from some of my collections gathered in my surroundings–bottles found by the creek, feathers I come across on neighborhood walks, flowers from the garden, or one of my many potted plants. As I started gathering items together, I focused more and more on my collection of bottles.

bottle collection

I’ve found all of these bottles (and more) down by the creek. There is an old farm dump down there, and I can always count on finding a few glass treasures when I go exploring, especially after we get a lot of rain. My most prized bottles are the blue one, the old ink pot, and the small milk jar. I’m still amazed at the variety of bottles I can find so close to home!

But I digress. To get started, I decided to do a few loose sketches of the various bottles in my sketchbook.

bottles sketch

I had an idea to do washes of color over the bottles as a nod to the translucent colors of the glass. I chose colors that were inspired by real bottle colors, but since most of the actual bottles are clear, I took creative license and used the colors at full strength.

Although I had intended this to be the first step in an entirely different process, I really liked the result of this initial experiment, so I chose to pursue the idea further.

I found these initial sketchy drawings quite charming, but I decided to redraw the bottles twice more. While still maintaining the spontaneous line quality, I drew the bottles more carefully and included more details.

bottle drawing with more detail

I drew them once more in a looser style, though still somewhat more refined than the the original sketches.

bottle drawing, looser

Then I had two versions to work with. Both similar and both good!

I went ahead and painted both versions with the gouache wash technique I tried in my sketchbook.

both versions: refined on left, looser on right

Still both similar and good! How to choose?

Ultimately it came down to the size at which the art was going to be displayed. We had to get postcards printed of our art which would be displayed at the show. I chose to go with the standard 4×6 inch size because anything bigger requires the same stamp as an envelope! Since the final size is on the small side, I chose to use the looser of the two drawings for the final piece. Since the lines were bolder and less detailed, it actually made a better impact at postcard size.

final bottles for Light Grey Art Lab 6 Degrees Show

I got the cards printed at Overnight Prints on uncoated stock, and they turned out beautifully!

bottle postcards

I signed and numbered all 100 cards, bundled them up and shipped them off to Minneapolis. The show opened December 6th and is on display through January 17th, so if you happen to be in the area, do stop by and check out all the awesome postcard sized art work.

If you won’t get a chance to see the art in person, check out the show’s online page where you can see all the cards! You can also purchase larger prints of any of the postcard art on Light Grey’s site. I’m offering the print of my “Bottle Collection” at 13×19 inches for $30, and there are also a limited number of postcards available for just $6. Here’s a link to the listing for my “Bottle Collection” card and print, and another link to the main LGAL shop.

A New Kaleidoscope Drawing

After hanging up all the work I framed at Metropolitan Cafe, I was 99% satisfied, except for one area where the triptych seemed too small for the prominent space above the fireplace.

Circle Drawings on the Wall

I decided to make a larger drawing to hang in its place, moving the triptych on the wall that’s to the right of the space shown in the image above. I started working on the new drawing the very night I got home from hanging the show.

I started by drawing a grid on some smooth drawing paper with a pencil (and a ruler of course), and then drew the outline of the circle with the help of my trusty compass set.


After drawing the grid I actually erased most of it, leaving only a hint of the lines, just dark enough so I could make out the grid while I was adding the colors. I started with pink.


Unfortunately the pencil lead kept breaking, so before I knew it, the pink pencil was down to a little stub. Luckily the peach color in the set was very similar in tone, so I switched to peach to finish the first layer.

Best Part

With the first color finished, I started the next one: chartreuse green. Adding a new color is the best part of these drawings because that’s when I get to see how the colors will interact as they are layered.

Once the chartreuse was finished, I used true green to start the next layer.

Best Part 2

Ice Cream Cone

I took one more in progress photo when I finished the true green layer, but then got so wrapped up in finishing the drawing that I forgot to take any more in progress pics! Instead I took a photo of all the colored pencils I used for this drawing, which include those I’ve mentioned, plus aquamarine, carmine red, magenta, and violet.

Colored Pencils

Large Kaleidoscope Drawing

When my mom saw the final drawing she said, “it looks like a kaleidoscope”. I think that’s a great observation, so I’ll be calling this series “kaleidoscopes” from now on.

Before I could snap a photo of the finished drawing, I framed it and whisked it away to Baltimore to add it to the show. While I was at Metropolitan, I took a photo of the framed drawing. I wish I’d taken a wide shot of the room so you could see the difference now that the triptych has been moved. I’m sure I’ll visit the cafe again soon, so I’ll update this when I get the shot.

Metropolitan Cafe Art Show, Virtual Tour

For the month of May my art is hanging up in a lovely little restaurant in Baltimore. I’ve been wanting to schedule a show at the Metropolitan Cafe for a while now, but it wasn’t until I had the last minute opportunity to show my artwork there that I got my work together and framed.

There are two levels to Metropolitan. Downstairs, there’s a lovely, big brick wall on which three of my large shadow drawings are hanging.

Art Downstairs

Each drawing is similar in style, but I used a different medium to color each one. The golden drawing is colored with colored pencil, the pink one is a watercolor painting that I finished the night before hanging the show, and the gray was created with Prismacolor markers.

Shadow Drawings

Gray Shadow Drawing

All the smaller pieces of art can be seen upstairs.

Three more shadow drawings hang together on another beautiful brick wall.

Shadow drawings on brick

All three are prints of originals that I colored with watercolor.

Gray & Teal on Brick

Blue on Brick

The set of six pattern drawings were all hung near each other on a bright yellow wall.

Framed Patterns

Each is a print of an original drawing or watercolor.

The final group of my recent geometric circle drawing were hung by the upstairs fireplace.

Circle Drawings on the Wall

Admittedly, they look a little small for the space, but I love them anyway! Look how nice the triptych turned out:

Circle Triptych

If you are in the Baltimore area, I’d love if you stopped by to see the show for yourself, but if you can’t make it, or aren’t in the area, I hope you enjoyed this mini-virtual tour of my show at Metropolitan Cafe. I love the way the art looks on the brick walls especially, but even the yellow walls look great as a backdrop for my brightly colored drawings.

If you want to see more, I posted a few extra photos on flickr that are not shown here, as well as close-ups of most of the work in the show.

Metropolitan Cafe Art Show, The Story

Last Saturday, April 30th, I got a call from my friend Jessica wondering if I’d like to show my art at the cafe where she works for the month of May. I paused for a second before asking, “May. As in, tomorrow?” She laughed and admitted that yes, it was kind of short notice. Apparently the artist scheduled for May had backed out, and they were looking for someone to fill in. Not one to back away from a challenge, I decided to go for it. Luckily there was no major rush, so I was able to take a few days to gather my artwork together and figure out the framing.

I decided Thursday May 5th would be the day to hang my work and started working toward the deadline. On Tuesday I woke up with a sore neck, which made everything that much more difficult. I admit that at one point I considered calling the whole thing off because I was in so much pain. However, I really wanted to do the show, so I went to the chiropractor and then adopted an easier pace, taking frequent breaks from working when I needed to.

Somewhere in between all that drama I was concerned that I wouldn’t have a cohesive looking collection of artworks to show. I tend to be all over the place when it comes to art, trying this and that, but not usually focusing on one style or subject for any length of time. After sifting through many drawings and paintings, certain styles did become apparent. Ultimately I decided to have 3 distinct groups of art. One would be shadow drawings, of which I had several large pieces, as well as a few smaller ones, another would be a set of pattern-y drawings, and the third would be a selection of my most recent geometric circle drawings.


Slowly but surely everything started to fall into place. As with other projects in the past, I worked until the last minute, but also like the past, I got everything done. I even made pricing labels to affix to the side of the frames.

I drove to Baltimore yesterday with my trunk full of framed art, and with the help of Justin Wainio, the coordinator of the artshows at Metropolitan Cafe, I got everything hung up within an hour and a half.

Art Downstairs

One of my main goals has been to show my work in public, and while I didn’t expect for a show to come together so precipitously, it feels really great to have accomplished something significant in such a short amount of time.