Monday, November 30, 2009

My Pottery Boy



My husband is a brilliant artist. He won’t toot his own horn, so I’ve taken it upon myself to let everyone know what a great talent he is. He will cringe when he reads the words brilliant and great, but I’m not taking them back.

Scott is a ceramic sculptor, and has recently been creating a new line of gorgeous vessels. They carry on the signature forms and surfaces of his earlier, more experimental, abstract sculptures. The vessels are curvy like a voluptuous female figure, and are glazed using Scott’s very unique, impossible-to-copy techniques that look molten and sensuous at the same time.

Images of his work and info about him can be found on our website at www.reddotgallery.com To buy his reasonably priced work, pick from the website and contact scott@reddotgallery for availability, or ask him where he’s exhibiting locally.

For some extra tooting, here’s a really quick summation of his impressive career: Masters in Ceramics from Ohio State University, Designer for Bath and Body Works for 7 years, Exhibitor at major shows such as Smithsonian Craft Show and Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, Inclusion in several Biennials of the National Council on the Education of Ceramic Arts, Featured in several Lark Book Publications, and now, Currently serves on the Advisory Board for Ceramics Monthly Magazine, and Owner of Red Dot Gallery. Huh? Pretty good.

Look to my blog for even more tooting to come about Scott! (This is going to kill him.)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Step Aside, Fred and Ginger

My daughter, Annabelle, and I had the post-Thanksgiving lazy syndrome today, so although it was beautiful outside (see above) we opted to lay on the floor in the kitchen and stare, play a few games of Yahtzee, and eat leftovers.

The highlight of the day came when I decided to educate her via Youtube about some of the most famous dancers of all time. Fred and Ginger were her favorites, but Gregory Hines and Baryshnikov were close seconds. Sammy Davis, Jr. fared well, too. I didn't mean for the lesson to get us off our butts, but after we closed up the laptop, we spontaneously leapt (literally) into a ballet/tap/nut-job dance contest throughout the house.

We tried to break the world record for ballet spins, or pirouettes (which, we found on Youtube, is officially 35) and after some strenuous and dizzying practice, got up to a grand total of 1 (one). We worked on our do-si-do, our arabesque, and our just-push-each-other-around moves, but found the most fun to be the flying leaps. With great effort we pushed out bodies to their limits, just like Mikhail, only to find we could launch ourselves not much more than five inches off the ground. Annabelle did imitations of my mid-leap facial expressions, which looked like a bug-eyed lizard sticking its tongue out.

I don't think I've ever found a more exhilarating or hysterically funny way to get myself out of the post-holiday doldrums, and I highly recommend it. Youtube's got everything you need to get inspired.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thankful For....



For one, I'm grateful that our Red Dot is 5 Opening was our most successful show in the 5 years we've been open. I was always told that 90% of small businesses go under in their first 5 years, so this milestone feels real good. And we're not suffering like many small businesses today. Classes are bustling and art is selling.

So here's the rest of my grateful list.

1.) My in-laws are visiting and they are good, nice, people.
2.) I don't live in Siberia. (Too cold, from what I hear.) I did have a Siberian student this year, though, and she loved it there. She taught me to count from one to ten in Russian.
3.) We are having a ham instead of turkey tomorrow. Ham = better.
4.) My housekeeper comes on Monday! I get to continue Thanksgiving laziness indefinitely.
5.) I'm grateful for my excellent yoga teacher, my fantastic acupuncturist, my amazing life coach, my smart web marketing consultant, and, oh yeah, my hottie husband, for their moral support throughout the year.
6.) My daughter is with me for this Thanksgiving. Holidays are always better with her around.
7.) My book (My Steamboat) is out this month, and I'm getting some wonderful feedback. After years of writing, I'm getting to hear what people think, and it's just what I'd hoped for.
8.) I've been good about keeping up with my blog.
9.) All my limbs and organs are in good working order.
10.) Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and it's tomorrow.

The painting detail above is from "Grow," one of my paintings.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Opening Tonight at Red Dot


"Red Dot is 5 " opens tonight. Featured artists on today's blog are: ME! (and my husband Scott Bennett.) My small teapot paintings are shown above.


These small pots are part of Scott's new series of vessels. See my future blog about his wonderful new work. All work at our holiday opening is very affordable. See you tonight!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Red Dot is 5 Opens Tomorrow

I'm highlighting a few more exhibitors who are showcased the "Red Dot is 5" show. The opening is tomorrow night, Friday the 20th of November from 5 to 10.

Teresa McCombs (above) won a Red Dot class in a fundraiser silent auction and never stopped coming. She’s been having great success working with a thick, almost impasto painting style, on her traditional subjects such as florals and landscapes. Teresa’s contagious enthusiasm and optimism comes across in her work. She uses bold color and contrast, heavy paint, and cheerful subjects. Watching her fearlessness with the brush is a joy to behold. We really miss her when she doesn’t come to class!


Ellen Moore came to Red Dot (a year ago) with some painting experience, looking for more focus and direction in her work. Not long at all after she began classes, Ellen’s work found its voice, and her love of painting blossomed along with her technical prowess. She’s so happy about it she comes to 3 classes per week! Her adept use of color and facility with the brush give her work its signature freshness, which balances nicely with her skill at rendering. Her work, which usually depicts children in nature, always gets ohs and ahs in class.


Erin Hardin has been studying at Red Dot for several months. She showed up with some experience at painting and exhibiting, but using oil paint is new to her. She is rapidly mastering the medium. Her pieces in the “Red Dot is 5” exhibit show her careful treatment of her subjects, especially in her use of color and her attention to detail. She chose images for this show that highlight beautiful churches around the world. They are presented in miniature, which emphasizes the preciousness of the subject. Erin’s dedication to her craft is inspirational. She will go far.






Wednesday, November 18, 2009

More Art from "Red Dot is 5" Exhibit

The 5 year anniversary show of Red Dot Gallery is Friday night! Introducing two more fabulous artists to be included in the show:

Jeanne Alexander, a 4 year Red Dot oil painting veteran, (see painting above) has so impressively developed her style and abilities since I’ve know her that she, well, blows my socks off. Plainly stated: This girl can paint! I believe her love of her subject—her family and nature—keep her inspired and working hard at her craft. Her portrayals of her loved ones are much more than traditional portraiture; they are modern genre paintings—lovingly rendered snapshots of everyday life. For the “Red Dot is 5” show Jeanne exhibits smaller landscapes without people.


Shannon Brooks-Hamilton is a 4-year Red Dot student. Shannon has taken drawing for most of her time at Red Dot, and usually works with pen and ink. For this show she’s exhibiting some gorgeous gift boxes covered with crazy, obsessive abstract patterns. Each piece has a matching broach that sits atop or inside the piece, to be used to decorate the box or be worn as jewelry. Her work is very popular around town, so I always get loads of compliments when I wear her jewelry.

We look forward to seeing you at the opening! We'll have festive music, pastries by Culinard, nice non-snooty people, and VERY reasonably priced art. Please join us.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Red Dot Holiday Exbhibitors

Here are more works by artists exhibiting in our "Red Dot is 5" Anniversary and Holiday Show.

Kristen Martin (above) has been taking oil painting classes for almost 4 years. She works as a fundraiser for non-profit organizations, such as the art museum, symphony, and Girl Scouts. Kristen’s work illuminates simple scenes of kids, animals, and landscapes with thick paint and broad strokes. Her striking pieces are as much about light, color, and gesture as they are about the subject portrayed. It is a joy to watch her paint; she is quick and skillful but makes it look effortless.


Beverly Phillips is a Spanish teacher at Vestavia Hills High School with 3 years of Red Dot painting experience. She usually paints animals; dogs and sheep seem to show up on her canvas most. Beverly is a talented realist, but uses expansive color and interesting brushwork to express something more than a straightforward rendering. Her imaginative compositions seem to animate and elevate her subjects. We always know the plain old sheep she’s depicting will look like a wise old friend when Beverly’s done with him.

Mary Kay Culpepper has been a student at Red Dot for 2 years. Outside class she has been a very successful journalist and editor (Cooking Light!) for most of her life, but has recently retired, and will get her masters in Creative Studies soon. She is exhibiting a selection of lovely pen and watercolor drawings of botanicals. She gathers inspirational material from the gardens of her neighbors. (She claims to have no green thumb herself.) Her poetic style is fresh and immediate; her work comes across as happy, smart, and strong. (Sounds a lot like Mary Kay.)

Five Years of Super Students


I am a very lucky art instructor because all my classes are filled with students who are amazingly good learners. But even better—they all are nice, fun, generous, good people. I mean all of them. I don’t know why I don’t have any abrasive apples in the bunch. And if students stay long enough, we become friends, so I am extra lucky that my life is filled with a smorgasbord of first-class individuals. Folks who know me well know that I don’t sugarcoat things, so this gushing about my students is not for show. My students will tell you, too: We have a fine bunch of people at Red Dot.

To celebrate our fifth anniversary we are having a holiday show at Red Dot. (opening November 20th, 5 pm) We’ve invited 20 artists who have been students or teachers at Red Dot at some time. Over the next few days, I'll post highlights of the work we'll be presenting.

Above is shown a piece by Laura Kimes. Laura has been taking painting classes at Red Dot for over a year. She focuses on the human figure with striking accuracy, and employs a smooth, finely finished style. It is inspiring to watch her constant attention to detail, yet she wisely remains open to “loosening up.” It keeps her work clean, but not too tight. Her pieces for this show are a small series of lovely paintings of human hands in various devotional and lyrical positions. Exquisite!

I'll post the work of other exhibitors in subsequent blogs. (Still learning how to add pictures.)



Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Deep Adventure

I got my braces off last week, and many adults are relaying to me their childhood memories of that wonderful smooth-teeth-feeling from their post-braces days. Well, my experience is different. I didn’t get the disruptive two years of metal-mouth-misery. I got Invisalign. Benefits? I got to remove them when I ate; no one knew I had braces unless I told them so; they were virtually painless, very low maintenance, and (drum roll please) I got them off on schedule. It took only 9 months, just as I was quoted.

I had no intention of getting braces as an adult. My teeth had been crooked my whole life, and I saw no reason why it should matter. But when my dentist, Dr. Deep (no joke) wanted to trade one of my paintings for these fancy new braces, I had some thinking to do. Keep in mind, the painting was a large, time-intensive, very expensive piece with great sentimental value. I’d barely finished it when he offered the trade.

I polled adults and children. Did it really matter if my teeth were straight? Most people were undecided on the matter, but I did get some emphatic opinions from several women older than me. Some of my female students in their late 50s and 60s expressed their very positive take on the matter. GET THEM! They said that as you get older everything about you gets wrinklier, saggier, and lumpier. You need every last thing you have control over to look good as long as it can. So, since I am indeed getting wrinklier, saggier, and lumpier as we speak, I thought I’d take the advice of some wise (and still beautiful, I might add) women who have experienced the wrinkly, saggy, and lumpy years a little longer than I have. Besides, if nothing else, getting braces is a life adventure. I’ve had this habit my whole life of saying yes to most anything. I am insatiably curious.

So my Deep adventure is over. My teeth are beautifully straight, and I am very, very glad I said yes. I got to watch some amazing medical technology at work, my teeth are easier to take of, and most importantly, I have a nicer smile. The smile is a benefit I hadn’t thought of when I made the decision, but it’s obvious to me now that it is THE thing I profited in all this. I smile bigger, and that’s deep.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Finally. My Steamboat on Amazon

My newest book, "My Steamboat" is now available on Amazon.com. I started the book in 2001, and what a wonderful feeling it is to be able to offer it to the world. Big sigh.

And now we wait for the reviews.....

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween Spa Night

Last night I went to one of my favorite annual events, the Halloween party of Shannon, one of my students. The people were fun, the libations and treats delightful, and every inch of the house was decked with goofy spooky decorations, most of them electronic and noisy. But the costumes of the party guests were the talk of the night. There were couples dressed as flappers, beatniks, psychiatric doctors, pirates, and also the controversial Larry Langford and Betty Fine Collins (of very recent Birmingham scandalous political news.) The winner of the night was the Christmas tree, complete with real ornaments and lit lights.

Scott and I dressed as “Ready or Not.” He wore a business suit (the first time I’ve ever seen it—gorgeous!) and I dressed in pink jammies, pink hair curlers, pink fuzzy slippers, a pink facial mask, and carried a pink pillow and pink Pepto Bismol. All night Scott voiced his disbelief that men actually wore these crazy suits everyday, and I was so comfortable and cozy that I was sleepy all night.

But the true Halloween surprise came this morning when I woke up and looked in the mirror. I looked terrific! The mask and rollers had done their duty for 4 hours straight, and what a job they did. I fingered my skin in disbelief, and tossed my fluffy hair around like I was in a shampoo commercial. So here’s a little tip. You can steal my costume idea for your next masquerade party, and be the Pajama Mama (or Papa.) You’ll get lots of laughs AND have a luxurious spa night, guaranteed to make you look fabulous the next day. Just don’t drink too much or the hangover will ruin everything.