new works from nellie king solomon

you may remember nellie king solomon from my previous post where i raved about her work. i haven’t changed my mind.


she’s got 2 shows currently happening: one at shasta college in redding and the other at melissa morgan fine art in palm desert, so if you are fortunate enough to be in nocal or socal, check them out. and stop by her website too.

the paintings of michael ward

i am truly enjoying these well done realistic works in acrylic from california artist michael ward. michael dedicated a good deal of time in the 1970’s roving around southern california and taking photographs, which resulted in this ongoing series of walkabout pieces. since the pulse and landscape of the area has evolved and changed over the years, many of these scenes no longer exist, and the once banal subjects take on a surprising and new nostalgic meaning. i just love the earnest quality about them, not to mention the appealing pops of color and pristine detailing (especially in the vintage fonts). and let’s not forget the light either.


see more and contact michael on his website, and purchase select prints of his work right here.

nellie king solomon paintings

i am falling into the delicious, foreboding abyss of these dynamic large scale (up to 8′ x 8′!) works by california artist nellie king solomon. it’s an extraordinary swirling, sweeping style which to me is not unlike the beginnings of a tornado. the way the blacks kick out on the surfaces is dramatic but grounding too. nellie, who uses a combination of materials including acrylic, soda ash, coffee, house paint, ink and dye, says she paints things she knows are there but cannot be seen.





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see more brilliance at brian gross fine art as well as nellie’s website.

shalene valenzuela ceramics: let’s chat!



i like to see pretty and edgy put together in art, and if it’s bright, ironic, feminine or makes a contemporary statement about society, i am all for it. you can imagine why my head nearly flipped off with delight then, when i saw the humorous and intriguing ceramic collection of shalene valenzuela. at first glance i admired shalene’s skillful command of her chosen medium, her layered style, and all the vintage shapes and molds she uses. after gazing for a little while longer though, the forms fall away to reveal secrets, histories and legacies which tell very strong, up-to-the-minute stories. let’s have a chat with shalene and find out a little more…


q: where do you live, and where do you create your art?
a: i currently live in missoula, montana. i lived in oakland, ca for several years (i am a california native), and moved up here to start a long term artist residency a year ago. i will be in missoula for at least another year, then we shall see!


q: what is your background, and did you study art formally?
a: i have a BA in art practice, and a MFA in ceramics. i have been an active studio artist for several years, and have taught many classes, mainly in ceramics.


q: what is it about clay as a medium that appeals to you most? and (without giving away any secrets of course!) can you tell us a little about the techniques you use?
a: i love the transformative qualities clay has. there’s such a wide variety of work that people have executed using the very same materials that i do: we all speak the same technical language, but the aesthetic range is amazing. my work is mainly slipcast, and i draw/paint using underglaze, and sometimes use screenprint transfers in my works, using underglaze as the printing medium. my work sort of borders on the trompe l’oeil aesthetic, but in more of a “cartoonish” manner. i want the object to be recognized, but my illustrations compose it into something else entirely. for the most part, i make my own molds, unless of course, i run across a commercial mold that is way too ridiculous to pass up.



q: i see throughout your collection a very strong theme of women in contemporary society. has your work always had feminine motifs? how has it transformed since you started making art?
a: my work always had some element of a feminine motif in it. i have always tried to combine humor with a deeper message in it, and i think as i have grown older, i have gained more of an understanding why these topics and image styles interest me. i use “dated” imagery, yes, but these images conjure up many issues that are still pertinent today, not only for women, but for society as a whole.



another thing i was thinking about recently… i loved to draw at a very young age, and as my character rendering skills developed, i noticed even the male characters i drew had a soft feminine edge to them, so i sort of gave up on drawing guys. even now, it takes a bit more focus for me to draw the male characters i may put in some pieces.


q: what is the price range of your collection?
a: from as little as $15 for ceramic teabags to about $3999 for my largest piece – 99 bottles of beer. but most of my stuff is in the “affordable” range – reasonably priced functional items, and most my sculptures are below $500, unless they are large or complicated.



q: what is your inspiration for these works? do you have a message you want to send through these pieces?
a: i’d like to think that my body of work consists of quirky pieces that reflect upon a variety of issues with a thoughtful, yet humorous tone. i am inspired by the potential of everyday common objects. i reproduce these objects in clay through handbuilding, slipcasting, or a combination of the two, and illustrate the surfaces with a variety of handpainted and screenprinted imagery. i primarily obtain my imagery from remnants of the past (instructional guides, advertisements, family photos, tall tales), and reconstruct the images in order to convey my narrative. these narratives generally deal with topics ranging from fairytales, urban mythologies, societal expectations, etiquette, and coming-of-age issues. stylistically, much of my imagery is pulled from sources around the 1950’s era. through advertising, common objects were embraced in the most royal fashion, and through television and print, images of the “perfect americana life” were portrayed. i use these images in a manner that can deal with ageless topics.



q: where can we go to see your collection in person? are you currently exhibiting in any shows or is there anything else meaningful you would like to tell us?
a: my studio is currently at the clay studio of missoula in my studio and our sales gallery, but i am in several shows and whatnot now and coming up. in missoula, i will have wall works in a solo display at bernice’s bakery in the month of june, a piece in the missoula now! show at the ceretana in september, a solo show at the clay studio of missoula in october, and a solo show at the catalyst in december. elsewhere in montana, you can find small works at b civilized in livingston.


back in the bay area, i currently have work up in a group show at the grand theater center for the arts in tracy, at the natsoulas gallery in davis. i will have a piece in a group show at ruby’s clay studio in san francisco starting in late june, and will have a solo exhibit and sale at cricket engine studio and gallery in oakland (this is my former studio, where I used to serve as gallery manager). also, i am excited to be in two consecutive shows at santa fe clay in new mexico – the first is bling, opening this week (may 23rd – june 21st)! the best bet is to always check my site for updates. i do have several things in the works, and try to make updates regularly!


thank you shalene!

jaime derringer illustrations

am i the last person on earth to know about these fun illustrations from california artist jaime derringer, aka etsy seller jaimers aka the dynamic force behind design milk, one of my regular stops in bloggyland? she uses a combination of hand drawn and digital techniques to create her limited edition collection.





i knew jaime had a good eye for minimal style from her blog and now i can see the genesis of it all. or was it the blog that came first? no matter. it all works. i love the happy colors and graphic details too.

see jaime’s full collection right here, make sure to check out her terrific blog and while you’re over there, browse through her cool finds in her design shop, called vitamindesign.

via at home with kim vallee

snapshot sunday


mustard flowers in napa valley

daisy print by christina muraczewski


oh my.

i think i love this limited edition print, made from a painting by california artist christina muraczewski. and not just because of that faux bois, but because it’s so orderly.


there is motivation behind it all, according to christina:

when i go to the store i plan to buy five things or in groups of five so i remember what i was supposed to get. i organize and categorize by a number of different systems. i make lists of activities and items and place already “checked off” activities or items on the list to get a head start. never is there room for the diagonal. a rectangle functions better as a square. a crack in a wall must be repaired. the order of natural elements must be left to its integrity. everything must match.

by employing minimal characteristics, i create formal and informal relationships that are usually subtly depicted to mimic a kind of ethereal experience desired by the minimalists, one that is disrupted purposefully by a foreign element: humor. humor in the form of obsessiveness, senselessness, or sarcasm defines the absurd to serve as a balance to the mundane. the attempt is to fashion a new hybrid: minimalism as the backbone and idiosyncrasy as the fuel. this hybrid is meant to sit in the “in-between”, the balance of abstraction and representation, the literal and the conceptual, sincerity and superficiality.


oh my.

find this print in all its glory at 20×200.

amuse bouche jewelry by blue poppy

in the food world, an amuse bouche is a tiny bite-sized morsel served before the hors d’Å“uvre or first course of a meal. they serve to tickle the taste buds, are representative of the chef’s culinary style and prepare you for the rest of the meal. now, can you imagine what an amuse bouche for would look like in jewelry form? wonder no more!

look at these fabulous amuse bouche rings from california artists jill redman and erin lockwood for their blue poppy jewelry line. they’re made of actual spices (like cloves, cayenne and wasabi on the left side below) that are encased in resin and then inlaid with teeny drops of sterling silver by hand (of course).



beautiful flowing color + organic shapes + fun talking point for your next dinner party = two thumbs up!

they also have spice earrings in an extensive color palette, just in case you’d like to complete your ensemble.

purchase the rings at uncommon goods, and be sure to see jill and erin’s website for more inspiring excitement.

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