Two great things

1.  The rain barrel I painted auctioned off for $510.  Yeah for the kids who can now go to nature camp!  It was a gorgeous early spring day in a nice pastoral setting.  Here’s a picture of the scene, unfortunately you can’t really see the elk lazing around  in the background.

The second most awesome thing is that shortly after the auction I get a call at my desk at work.  A blogger from Chicago had Googled me and wanted to talk to me about my barrel.  She writes about greening libraries and decided that morning her post for the day was going to be on rain barrels, and found my barrel online since it was displayed at the public library (again with the Google).  Here’s the link.

I was also asked by someone at the auction if I’d paint a barrel for he and his wife.  Sadly had to decline.  Flattered, though, all the way around.


Meet me at the libary

Your face is red, like a strawbrerry.  Anyway my barrel is getting edumacated at the Bennett Martin in dowtown Lincoln.  Here’s some pics.

It looks smarter already

My mom took these with her new Droid.  I need to go down there with my camera one of these days.  Again, thanks for the photos, mom!

more fun on the other side

In case you’re one of the few people who hasn’t already heard this story a million times, I was called last Sunday to do a story for the LJS on the rain barrel.  The call came from the coordinator at the city office, and I recognized the prefix as the same City of Lincoln one that would frequently leave automated messages to tell me that I have overdue materials at the library, which happens at least every few weeks (ironically, the same library where the barrel is now).  So I ignored it.  Then at 9 pm I finally checked my messages and realized that no, moron, although you do have a late fee right now you also had an opportunity to brag about how awesome you are in the local paper, buuuut you missed it.  The coordinator had called from her office to see if she could give my number to a reporter who wanted to do a story that day and have it run in the paper Monday to coincide with the first day of the barrels being displayed throughout town.  This story could have been mine…. New Artistic Rain Barrels Unveiled

All the better.   It’s not about the fame, man, it’s about the music watershed management.

I Heart Watershed Management

In December I had heard about the City of Lincoln’s Artistic Rain Barrel Program and in January I submitted a design.  In February I was surprised and delighted to hear that my application was one of 25 chosen for the 2010 program!  For the rest of that month and on into March I used every spare minute to figure out how the heck I was going to turn this thing into an object of art.

primed barrel

After initially freaking out because the thing was, well, huge…it comes up to my waist and I’m 5’11″…I had imagined it shorter and fatter…I realized I could do this and my design (or an elongated version of) was appropriate for the size and shape of it.  Knowing that I lack the skill to pull off photorealism on a big bucket (or canvas for that matter) my design submission was simple–2 colors, just outlines (think KISS method).  No shading, no gradation, just cat tails and wetlands creatures outlined in a pleasing palette.  Something fairly simple and straightforward to execute and nice to look at–it’s best for everybody that way.  I had an idea of the colors I wanted so off to the art supply store I went.  Unfortunately, they had nothing that matched the paint in my head and with such a large piece I didn’t want to make the mixing formula too complicated.  I had decided on a few colors of some inexpensive acrylic paint in a bottle (not knowing what the best formulation is for a primed barrel–who does?) and mixed 2 of them in a freezer bag, squishing it around and making a mess everywhere.  Fun.  Then I got a lovely new wide brush and went to town.  Base color done.

Now for the hard part.  Making it look good.  Yikes, where to start.  Generally I would try to sketch it out on paper first with the appropriate dimensions to see how it all looks before committing to the canvas/barrel, but for a cylindrical object that sounded…hard.  I decided I had better test a small area in back to see if I liked my foreground color.  Ooh, I did.  I wonder what that dot would look like as an object…then as a scene…before I knew it I had dove in head first and come up with this. 

just put the stupid paint on the stupid barrel

I liked.  I also realized that this would require many many layers and lots of edge cleaning up to make it look striking and professional.  For the next few weeks I painted and repainted, inserting and deleting frogs, turtles, beavers, butterflies, dragonflies, and birds.  I finally got done with it last Tuesday night, waited 48 hours and had Bronson out in the garage spraying it down with topcoat.  Friday morning (the deadline for turning it in) I panicked when I couldn’t find the original bubble wrap it came in but had to get to work.  He went to 2 stores to find some and came back right in time before my mom got there in her Explorer to take it back to the city Watershed Mgt office (she also got stuck with picking it up for me because I was too sick to leave the house that day).  It takes a village to paint a barrel.  Thanks, you guys.  Here is a picture she took after she dropped it off and they unwrapped it, all shiny and topcoated.  Standing next to it is Amanda Meder, the organizer of the program, who I cropped out because I don’t know if she wants her photo on my blog!  Anyway, this will be at the downtown (Bennett Martin) library tomorrow and for the next month, so if you are in Lincoln stop on by!  Also look at the list of other businesses displaying barrels, there are some really amazing artists out there!

the front of the finished product

Also, the lovely and talented Zeljka Hassler is currently updating my website, so go to and check it out!  Some of the photos on there by Matt Miller, who graciously agreed to photograph my art outside yesterday.  Check out his site at

back side

Ages 3 and Up: Artwork Inspired by Childhood Toys

I was invited (by myself) to display at a show going on at Lincoln Community Playhouse to coincide with their performance of Babes in Toyland.  Local Hero Design put it on and is selling prints for a $5 donation to the playhouse.  There’s a ton of good art down there and it will be hanging until Dec. 20th.  I decided to do some photographs (despite the anxiety-inducing fact that I don’t actually know anything about photography other than I point the camera at things that are pretty) because I had just gotten a great new camera and wanted to justify its purchase, also I was too damn lazy and crunched for time (thanks to NaNoWriMo) to do a decent painting.  Anyway, here are my 3 favorite ones–I decided to display the last one.  I got a metallic blue frame with a white mat to hang it in, when the show’s over it’s going in my future niece’s room.

No Direction

I’m at a pretty good place in my life, meaning that right now there’s not anything I totally hate–no mean boss, bad living situation, mysterious rash, etc.  I don’t mean to say that everything is perfect, just that nothing is currently so bad that I’m fully motivated to changing the situation (like getting out of Cleveland for example).  And I’m getting comfortable.  While that’s not a bad thing, I’ve been gently prodded by others to think about where I’m going professionally and the embarassing thing is that I hadn’t given it much thought.  In fact, I’d done a great job of keeping my head down and ignoring everything but the things that need immediate attention.

Thinking about things that I don’t have the answer to is highly unpleasant so I tend to avoid it.  Like why haven’t I been blogging or painting or blogging about painting?  Short answer: macroblogging is too hard.  Long answer:  I don’t know where I want Andrea Riley the art dabbler to go.  My only goals for myself were to sell a painting at some point in my life and have an art show if I were supercool, and I’ve done both.  Now I have a blog about the art that I’m not doing and a website that although not completely polished, I could probably use for its intended purpose of marketing myself but I don’t.

After forcing myself to think about why I do art I came to the conclusion that my motives are mainly to entertain myself.  And if the object of my exploration is pleasing to someone else’s eye then great, but that’s not really why I created it.  A little for an ego boost, but mostly for funsies.  Is that enough to really want to market myself or my product?  Not sure.  There are a few things in my way.  First, if someone is out to buy a painting in this economy I’d be flattered to sell one but rather they buy from someone who doesn’t already have a full time job with benefits.  Secondly, I’ve been hit hard with humility lately and that does not a funny blog entry make.  While this is in theory a great virtue to possess, I find it hard to be humble and creative at the same time.  I can’t be reminded of my own limitations and then go out and create something awesome (although many artists have done great work based on self hate).  I would like some of my megalomania back, please.  Or a way to work within my current realm of thinking.  But frankly, I’d just rather ignore everything.

How’s Your Aspen?

Mine’s finally done!  Here is the finished enough product.  I’m having the rightful owners hang it and look at it for a while and tell me what needs tweaking.  Just FYI, for some strange reason the tree appears to be bent on top in the photo–not that way in real life.  Need to take a better pic.  On to my next project–something to hang behind my couch!

Also, speaking of art and stuff… save Nebraska’s plates!

aspen done

I Stand Corrected

On the question of is there a show today starring a girl that is awesome but not hot–my husband pointed out what was quite obvious but I hadn’t thought of before–30 Rock.  But of course!  My apologies to Tina Fey fans everywhere.