Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Tree House
self portrait drawing (felt tip markers on paper)
by Rosa Phoenix

Happy Holidays!

I can't believe it's already the end of 2010! I'm very grateful to connect with you and share art and ideas with you, here in the blogosphere.

I hope for a peaceful holiday season and new year for you, your family and friends.

I have a holiday gift for you: in honor of you and all the good spirits who help me in my life journey, I am donating funds to plant 500 trees in Haiti, with the help of Trees for the Future.

Thanks for sharing your time, energy and art with me in 2010, and I can't wait to connect with you again in 2011!

Warmest wishes,

Rosa Phoenix

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Selma Brown's 1960's Art

Selma Brown
San Francisco Artist

It isn't every day that I get a scoop on a newly discovered historical cache of 1960's original San Francisco art!

Selma Brown arrived in San Francisco's Hippie Haight Ashbury District more than 40 years ago, during the "Summer of Love."

She is a San Francisco treasure who has contributed to many of the city's famous murals. 

I've had the good fortune to befriend this lovely artist.

She has taught me a lot about art and life. She continually inspires me with her creativity and productivity. She is always working and experimenting with new techniques and ideas. And I love to visit her in her cozy, colorful apartment that is filled with her art.

Recently she called me with news that she had found a portfolio of paintings in a closet, that she hadn't seen in about 40 years!

Seeing the work filled her with emotion.

She thought these pieces had a freedom and intensity that truly reflected the turbulent 1960's and the spirit of San Francisco.

Of course, I had to interview Selma and feature these works on my blog, Artists Up Rising

Click on the link below to get the full story and see the paintings!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Tree in Autumn

Painting by Rosa Phoenix

I love the trees in all seasons. I roam the parks of San Francisco with my sketchbook, pens and pencils. The stark, bare limbs of this tree called out to me. I simplified the shape and turned it into a black silhouette against an autumn sky.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day of Souls

Devil face and Reina de las Rosas skull face
polymer clay sculptures by Rosa Phoenix

I made these faces with colored Sculpey (polymer clay). Tin foil is the base underneath. Sculpey is fun to play with, very easy and it doesn't make a mess. To harden it, you simply bake it in the oven. With the colored Sculpey, no painting is required. I glued magnets to the backs and made them refrigerator magnets. I think that I should do something else with them, though. One day maybe, I will make dolls, and these will be the faces. Wouldn't that be cool, Day of the Dead dolls?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Full Moon Black Magic

Full Moon
mural by Rosa Phoenix

polymer clay faces sculptures
by Rosa Phoenix

Japanese stone carving

moon glowing in the dark
by Rosa Phoenix

Friday, October 15, 2010

Water: Blog Action Day 2010

Today is Blog Action Day. This year's topic is Water.


Nothing is more precious!
Change.org|Start Petition

Monday, October 4, 2010

Alice Waters

sketch by Rosa Phoenix

This is a contour drawing I did of Alice Waters.

Alice Waters is well-known in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond for founding the Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse, and for championing local, organically-grown food.

She also created the Edible Schoolyard project at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, California, which is an educational program that centers around students growing and preparing their own food at school.

I briefly lived in Berkeley in 2008, in the neighborhood known as the Gourmet Ghetto (so-called because of the many wonderful markets, specialty food shops and restaurants).

Of course Chez Panisse is there and Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School's Edible Schoolyard garden, where I enjoyed occasional morning walks watching the squirrels taking the best figs from the fig tree. So I admire Alice Waters and what she has done for Berkeley, food, local farmers and the community.

A contour drawing is a nice exercise to try. Use a single line to make your drawing and don't lift your pen or pencil from the page. You are supposed to make a contour drawing without even looking at the page, but it's OK to cheat a little bit. This is a good way to stop thinking about what you are drawing, and just rely on your eye and your hand. 

You will have to draw slowly to get a good drawing. 

Try it, you will be surprised at the results!


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Analog Girl in a Digital World

 Phoenix Fire
digital image by Rosa Phoenix

I grew up in a mostly analog world. 

I was born around the time that the first personal computers were coming onto the scene, although most people didn't have one at that time. 

My family's first computer was a Commodore Vic 20. You couldn't do much with it, except play some primitive video games like Frogger. I learned how to type on a manual typewriter in my dad's medical office.

When I was a kid, I learned BASIC programming. My brother used it to create a picture of the space shuttle, programming it line by line, pixel by pixel, a slow and arduous process.

In high school I created a zine. I printed out the text on the computer, in columns, and literally cut and pasted them into my pages, and I used the photocopy machine to produce some blurry copies.

I learned photography with real film, and we processed the film in a darkroom, with chemicals. You wouldn't see your image until you saw it emerge in the chemical bath, under the eerie red light of the darkroom.

I moved to New York in the 1990's. When I was 18, I took a summer film class and we filmed with 16 mm black and white film. We edited by literally cutting the film with a blade, and splicing the cuts together with tape.

"When we go to digital, everything will change" the instructors were always saying. 

Everyone in the film industry was looking forward to this magical future age, when everything could be changed with the push of a button.

BookBook MacBook case
by Twelve South

I worked for a publishing house for a little while. 

The people there, editors and publishers, also spoke of the coming digital age. 

They weren't looking forward to it. Publishing was already a dying industry. 

They knew these were the last days of print, that e-books would kill the publishing business. They didn't know how much time they had left, but they knew that it wouldn't be long. Soon their jobs would be obsolete.

Everything about the publishing house was agonizingly slow. Stacks of manuscripts were marked with red pencils, and then they were typed all over again with the corrections. Paper was everywhere. 

Going from manuscript, to galley, to published book, to distribution, could take a year.

Unsolicited submissions came in the mail in big mailbags and bins, and were promptly thrown in the garbage.  

These wanna-be authors didn't know how to get their novel in front of the editors. 

They didn't have an agent, they didn't know the editors, they didn't have the right connections. 

No one had the time to read their words and stories.

digital collage by Rosa Phoenix

Now the digital world is here. Our whole world is changing fast.

There is nostalgia, there are things that I love about analog. 

I prefer the tactile pleasures of painting with paint and brush, to making digital art on the computer. 

But I love my computer too. I love the creative programs like PhotoShop and Illustrator, with its layers, the Undo button, changes that can be made with the click of a button. To me it's magic.

I love books and print, but I don't miss the cultural gatekeepers who determined which stories would be told and shared with the world, and which would never see the light of day.

fire girl image by MISHA
digital collage by Rosa Phoenix

I love self-publishing on my blog and my website.  

I love the democratization of expression that the digital age makes possible. 

 I love reaching people all around the world, who I would never get to meet in person, and share my art and ideas with them. 

I love not having to go through the middlemen--the agents, the editors, the cultural gatekeepers, who have to look out for the bottom line and ask the question "will it sell?" 

That isn't a concern that I have.

I know now that I've been waiting for this day to come, all my life.  

I was born in an analog world, and I am also a part of the digital revolution. 

I love to use my hands and heart to create, and I also love my computer, which is another creative tool, that also allows me to reach the wider world.

P.S. the title of this blog post comes from a song by the fabulous Erykah Badu, who has embraced digital media.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

St. Ignatius Church Sketch

 crayon and color pencil sketch
by Rosa Phoenix

I keep sketching St. Ignatius Church.  

This view is from Buena Vista Park. 

The foreground shapes suggested sheep, so I went with it. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I Love Old Books

book by TeoStudio

Now that we have e-books, real books are becoming obsolete. 

I've said farewell to many of my favorite bookstores, where I used to hang out for hours. I loved the soft chairs, the smells of the books and discovering books and authors.

Sadly, these places where I spent happy afternoons have all gone out of business. Sorry, but Amazon.com and the iPad just aren't the same!

I will always love old books. I have some really old ones I've picked up, I even have one that is 100+ years old.

Luckily the art of bookmaking is still alive and well. And there are even some new uses for old books, too.

miniature book by TeoStudio

I discovered TeoStudio on Etsy. This wonderful bookbinder uses worn, vintage leather and antique hardware to create one-of-a-kind blank books.

book by TeoStudio

Another Etsy seller, spoonfulofchocolate recycles old books into cute handbags.

recycled book handbag by spoonfulofchocolate

book handbag by spoonfulofchocolate

For my birthday I got this wonderful case for my MacBook. Made by Twelve South, it's called Book Book.
BookBook by Twelve South

The best part is it smells like an old book.

I also love PaperBlanks line of dayplanners, address books and journals that look like beautiful old books.

PaperBlank dayplanner

Do you cherish old books? What about bookstores? How are you adjusting to the transition to digital media?


TeoStudio on Etsy

TeoStudio Vintage Journals Blog (please take a look if you are interested in the book-making process...it's fascinating!)

Spoonful of Chocolate on Etsy

Twelve South


Saturday, September 4, 2010

New Blog! Cole Valley Art Blog

Cole Valley House by Rosa Phoenix

I made a new blog! It's a blog for the artists of Cole Valley (my neighborhood in San Francisco). Cole Valley seems to be a magnet for artists and creative people. So I thought that a blog would be a nice way to showcase the wonderful work that is made right in our local area.

Check it out, and more artwork coming soon!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

365 just show up: How to find your Muse

Burst of Blue
painting by Rosa Phoenix

I'm guest blogging on 365 just show up. It's a new blog about the creative practice.

Maybe some of you also follow Audrey Low, who has the fabulous blogs Papaya Tree Limited and Wildhoop Productions. Audrey created 365 just show up to encourage people on the creative journey. (Audrey creates a lot of fascinating work herself, as an ethnographer, writer, photographer and documentary filmmaker!)

Click on the link below to read my post, How to find your Muse:


Monday, August 23, 2010

Cloud Mini Paintings

3 mini paintings by Rosa Phoenix

I was thinking of the saying "every cloud has a silver lining"

There is a light beyond the storm.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Monday, August 9, 2010

Rathyatra Festival 2010

Rathyatra Festival, Hindu Festival of Chariots, in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco 2010. 

all photos by Rosa Phoenix

Altar of deities, Jagannath, Balarama and Subhadra

 decorated with garlands of flowers

worshippers pull the cart containing the deities

beautiful chariot colorful with flowers

likeness of Prabhupada, teacher of the Hare Krishnas

All photos were taken with my iPhone using Camera+ app. Camera+ is great. It has a zoom feature, guidelines so you can get straight shots, lots of neat editing features and effects. Before editing, the photos didn't look great. With some experimentation, I was able to improve them a lot.


Rathayatra Festival

Camera + app for iPhone

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Washington Mews, New York City

 photos by Rosa Phoenix

There are quaint little streets with cobblestones, and cute little houses, like you would see in a village in Europe.

Washington Mews is near Washington Square.

One of the lovely old streets of Greenwich Village.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Are you a Consumer? Are you a Producer?

 Photo by PressPhoto

I hear the word consumer used a lot, as a measure of personal and collective financial health. We live in a consumer culture. We read Consumer Reports. We measure various consumer statistics to determine the health of our economy. When consumer spending goes up, we feel better, because we think we are richer.

What does the word consumer mean? Literally, to consume means to eat. According to Mirriam Webster Dictionary, the word is derived from Latin consumere, which means to take.

Consume has various meanings:
  1. to do away with completely, to destroy (fire consumes buildings)
  2. to spend wastefully, squander, use up (time-consuming)
  3. to eat or drink especially in great quantity, to enjoy avidly, devour (consumed a feast)
  4. to engage fully (consumed with curiosity)
  5. to utilize as a customer (consumer goods)

We are all consumers. We are constantly making exchanges with others. We exchange money for time, services, things.

I believe there is an over-emphasis on the word consumer. There is an imbalance, because we don't often hear the word producer.

So what's a producer? According to Mirriam Webster Dictionary, producer also has various meanings:
  1. one that produces; especially one that grows agricultural products or manufactures crude materials into articles of use
  2. a person who supervises or finances a work for exhibition or dissemination to the public (like a movie producer)
  3. an autotrophic organism (as a green plant) viewed as a source of biomas that can be consumed by other organisms
So the producer grows the food source, or in the case of the green plant, it is the actual food source, that will be consumed.

I think a producer is a maker, a grower, a creator. Someone who can take raw materials and make useful things out of them. Someone who can generate, invent, improve, craft, cook. A producer uses hard work and wizardry to make something that wasn't there before.

What if we valued producers as much as we value consumers? What if we talk about producer culture, and read Producer Reports? What if we use production quality and numbers as a measure of abundance in our lives? What if we identify ourselves as producers, as much as we identify ourselves as consumers?

 African Christmas beads and charms
jewelry by Rosa Phoenix

A few years ago I decided that I want to produce more than I consume. I realized that being a consumer is time-consuming, and also money-consuming.

I opted out of a lot of things I used to consume regularly: movies, TV, books, magazines, a lot of entertainment and pop culture. After taking in so many images, stories, ideas that had been produced by others for my consumption, I grew full. I needed to go on a fast for awhile.

I want to be a producer of ideas and art. So instead of using my time to consume, I use that time to produce.

Of course we are all consumers and producers. I want to find a healthy balance between producing and consuming. I want to create as much as I consume.

I recently went to MakerFaire for the first time. I was happy to find an event that was more about producing, than consuming. It wasn't so much about buying things. The things for sale were materials, kits and how-to books. Lots more people were making things, than buying things. Ideas are free.

How do you feel about being a consumer? How about being a producer?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bethany Vanderputten's "Expressive Art to Capture the Heart"

Bethany Vanderputten in her San Francisco art studio
photo by Rosa Phoenix

I'm excited to announce Bethany Vanderputten's upcoming art show, opening on July 1 at Gallery 688 in San Francisco!

They say a picture says a thousand words. Bethany Vanderputten's naturalistic acrylic paintings go deeper than words. They are explorations of the inner and outer world.
Bethany's paintings glow softly with luminous colors, expressive brushwork and textures that hint at layers of multiple meanings.
Ideas and emotions seem to drift fluidly just beneath the surface. Experiencing these paintings, we travel back and forth across the border of what is real and what is imagined, dreamed, or felt emotionally.
Bethany's art is inspired by her love of travel and adventure, music (she sings and plays piano), heroic stories and quotations from literature and poetry.
Bethany was kind enough to let me interview her in her San Francisco art studio. This interview is on my other blog, Artists Up Rising.