Monday, December 29, 2008

Mise En Place

I just learned this term - mise en place - while reading a cooking blog. It is a French term, defined by the Culinary Institute of America (according to Wikipedia), that means everything in it's place. It's what you see when you watch a cooking demonstration and see that everything is already prepared and laid out ahead of the actual cooking. Everything is measured, chopped, sifted, and so on, and cooking utensils are clean and ready to go. It makes the process seem so much more effortless and flowing.

It got me to thinking about studio practices and how well the concept might transfer and at what place preparation and forethought, spontaneity and creativity intersect. When I'm working with encaustics or watercolor I know that I spend a lot more time in preparation, mainly because both mediums set so quickly. That means laying out a palette - in watercolor waking up the colors with water so that they are ready to use, as well as stretching the paper, wetting and laying out the brushes, sponges, and whatever else is used to apply the paint, and making sure plenty of clean water is on hand. With encaustic preparation involves getting out specialized tools, many of which need to be plugged in and warmed up. The paint also needs to be brought to melting point. In oils I plan to have the right size and proportioned canvases or boards ready ahead of time and to have paint on hand, within reason, but since the drying process is slower preparation doesn't have the same intensity for me, at least not until later on in the process. Then I find, in the heat of the moment, it's imperative to be able to have exactly the right color and brush at the tip of your fingers.

Anyway, something to think about while I paint the studio walls this week.

Update: I have learned from a reader from France that "mise en place" is not a French term, but an American term coming from France that seems to translate more accurately as a verb: "an action to fix things in place."

Friday, December 26, 2008

Works For Everyone Group Show

Works For Everyone is the next exhibit I'll have a piece of work in at TAG Gallery. It's a group show that opens January 7th and runs through the 31st. The reception is on Saturday, January 10th from 5 - 8 pm. Until then the gallery is closed for renovation.

Monday, December 15, 2008

What I'm Working on Now

Evening's Light Not Yet Gone   © 2009 Katherine Kean
oil on linen  18 x 24"
At last a moment to update this blog. It is finally feeling like winter in Los Angeles. It rained all night and this morning I built a fire to warm up the house. I connected the last two rain barrels on my rain water collection "system" this weekend and they are now all full to capacity! I'm waiting for the first jar of olives to finish curing. I try an olive every week. To my taste they still have a little bit of bitterness to dissipate.

TAG Gallery is starting 2009 with a group exhibit in January so I'll be painting the edges and wiring for hanging the painting above. The exhibit starts January 7th and runs through the 31st.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Effects of the Wind

It's been a strange couple of days with fires everywhere and all the wind and heat complicating the scenario. This fire seems to be a bit closer than the last one, just one month ago, but has been traveling in the other direction. My heart goes out to the people that had to evacuate and those who lost their homes. The winds have died down now, so it looks like the fire will be contained in the next couple of days. I hope it's all out before the wind changes direction - I don't mind not having to breathe all that smoke.

One thing that's been helpful about these winds is that it knocked the olives out of the tree that were too high to reach to pick. I just happened to be out in the garden (mulching again - or is that still) and looked down to see a couple of ripe olives on the ground, so I picked them up. Then I saw another and another and before long my pockets were full. (It helps to wear cargo pants in the garden.) I've had to move the whole curing process to a much larger jar.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Olives again

I was going to just ignore the olives this year, but with the winds the olives from my neighbors tree rain down onto the roof and deck, sounding like very fat raindrops. I decided to check my olive trees to see if they had olives and ended up picking about a pound. I think I'm going to try a simple salt cure this time - it seems easier, just layering the olives with the salt and shaking them every day for three weeks or so.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Rain Catcher

We seem to get all of our rain in the fall and winter and then almost none the rest of the year. This summer I ordered 10 used barrels - previously used for shipping greek olives - I'm guessing - from the faint tangy scent leftover. These barrels have been refitted with overflow spouts, a hose bib, and a mesh screen on the lid to filter leaves and debris and keep critters and mosquitos out. I had the barrels hooked up to a downspout on Friday with an extra pipe to travel along the outside wall and turn a corner to go through the trellis under the back deck where the barrels are. From there a flexible drain pipe feeds the water into the barrels. And it rained, enough that the first barrel is already full! I'm looking forward to being able to use this water next summer on my vegetables. And if it keeps on raining I'll order more barrels until I run out of room.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Reality Checks

When I was in Hawaii I attended a Lucid Dreaming Workshop. One of the techniques we learned to aid in lucidity is to do reality checks throughout the day - that is, whenever things seem a little odd to stop and check to make sure it isn't a dream.

The other day, for example, I went to the gas station and while I was filling the tank I noticed a very tall man who seemed to be wearing no pants, or if he was wearing pants they were shorter than his shirt, so it had the effect of wearing no pants. He was waiting at the bus stop up until it was time for me to pull back into traffic, at which point he stepped right into the oncoming traffic motioning for the cars to stop. Horns blared, cars swerved, people shouted, nobody stopped, but luckily the man was not hit. Then unfazed, still standing in the middle of the traffic lane he turned and looked at me. I shook my head at him and pointed at him and then at the sidewalk to indicate that he should get out of the road. This he did and went to the corner waiting for the light to change before crossing the street, apparently forgetting about the bus. Maybe he realized he needed pants, or longer pants.

This was followed by a couple of days of things in general not functioning. The power went out for a few hours, an application on the computer stopped working and while looking for the software the lighbulb on a halogen light blew out. Hmmm, my dreams are so normal in comparison.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Unpack or Not?

I got back from my trip to Hawaii early on yesterday morning. By early I mean just after 5am. I didn't hear very much news while I was away. I heard a little about the stock market meltdown and a little about the debate, but while I was waiting for my flight home at the Honolulu airport I checked my messages and there were a couple that were alarming - something about a fire in the vicinity. I managed to reach someone on the phone (before my battery died) to learn that the fire was considered under control. However as the car approached the junction of the 118 and 210 freeways on the way home I saw a hillside in flames and then the car was driving through thick smoke. Apparently high winds had rekindled the blaze. Flames climbing the crest of a mountain on the horizon were visible from my house. I took pictures of the fire from my front door - which didn't come out due to darkness - and then, why not, I went ahead and hosed down the house and trees for good measure.

The fire was 5 or so miles away with the wind blowing the smoke and flames in the other direction. I did eventually unpack my suitcase. I thought that if things took a turn for the worse I should have clean laundry to take with me during the evacuation. I'm feeling lucky that it didn't come to that.

Monday, September 29, 2008

New Work, Small Works

I brought these two new paintings to TAG Gallery to be part of the upcoming "Small Works" Group Show. This exhibition will be in the East Gallery and running concurrently with a two person show in the West Gallery. Each of the paintings below is 12 x 12", oil on linen.

One of the artists in the two person show is friend Carole Garland. I'm really looking froward to seeing her latest pieces.

Overtaken By Dusk

Unraveling the Day

Monday, September 22, 2008

Small Works

"Small Works" Group Show

October 1st - October 25th, 2008

Artist's Reception: Saturday, October 4th 5-8pm

TAG Gallery

2903 Santa Monica Blvd. , Santa Monica, CA 90404


Saturday, September 06, 2008

Relax at Massage Envy

This week I delivered these two watercolors for hanging at Massage Envy, in Rolling Hills Estates. "Whispering Sticks" and "Silent Waiting" will be on display in the Quiet Room, which is where one waits for a massage after checking in. Appropriate titles, don't you think?

Whispering Sticks

Silent Waiting

And, just in case you should happen to fall in love with them - they are for sale!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Snake Visits Again

I was heading out the front gate just as my new friend was heading toward the same gate. This time I ran back in to get my camera. The snake waited obligingly in place until I could get back outside and allowed me to take these pictures. I shot a few motion pictures as well, but until I figure out how to edit them I won't be posting those.

I hope my snake friend can help out by reducing the critter population around here. This week I was surprised on two occasions by a rat falling off the bird feeder - he was startled by my stepping out the door and lost his grip. The third time he managed to hang on as I came out and then disappeared up on the roof. Every single young vegetable plant and seedling has been chewed down to the root, perhaps by possums, but I'm not sure. This only happens while I'm sleeping. Cole, my cat, has stepped up to the plate to catch one or two a day. He brings them inside to show me. Unfortunately usually at 4:00 in the morning.

Monday, August 04, 2008


I opened the front door to find a California King Snake, a beautiful, big one - about 3 feet long. The snake's appearance got the dog barking, causing the snake to slither away, rather gracefully down the steps and into the wood pile. I'm happy about having him on the property (now that I've Googled to make sure it's not harmful). Apparently they make wonderful pets, and they eat rodents. Maybe I should have invited him in.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

It's August Already?

I've been catching up on all the things that I'd been putting off, including; small home repairs and gardening. I've been researching rain water collection systems - I'd love to get one installed before the next rainy season starts - in October or November.

I'm signed up to attend a lucid dream workshop this fall. My dreams have been wild since I signed up - but except for one - not lucid.

And, I've been painting of course. TAG will have a group show in October, in addition to the two person exhibit in the West Gallery, the East Gallery will be all work 12 x 12". Currently the piece below is available, and can be found in the North Gallery.

Above and Below Katherine Kean
oil on linen 18 x 24 inches

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Afternoon in the Lagoon

This is Malibu Lagoon, a saltwater marsh where Malibu Creek empties into the Pacific. As I understand it this area was previously used as a dump site, but in the 80's was excavated to restore the marsh habitat. The restoration results in a beautiful and very popular place, although it continues to suffer from pollution caused by urban runoff.

We had a great time getting here. Deciding to take surface streets instead of freeways we ended up taking Moomat Ahiko Way to get to PCH instead of the California Incline. We are both long time residents of Southern California and we couldn't remember ever taking this street before. It turns out that the name was changed in 2004. It was formerly Route 187. The new name means "Breath of the Ocean" and is of the Tongva language

Fellow painter Barbara:

Curiously, after finding a spot with a decent view off the main path and concealed somewhat by vegetation we set up to paint only to have two men come along needing to measure a part of the area we were occupying. Fortunately it only took them a few minutes to take their measurements and leave.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Harbor Park

This is the first time I went to explore this location. It's full name is Ken Malloy Regional Harbor Park, or just Harbor Park for short. I was curious after seeing some beautiful photos on a website about the park. I took heed of the warning about not going alone, and brought someone with me, although it seemed perfectly safe, even the geese weren't too menacing. Our goal was to capture images late in the day, but having seen the place I now think it might have more atmosphere in the morning. Maybe next time my dog will want to go with me. I wonder what he'd make of the wildlife.

Friday, June 20, 2008

New Tree

A friend brought me a new tree the other day. It's a Norfolk Pine, the kind that many people have for a living Christmas Tree. They make excellent houseplants or live happily on a deck. However they can eventually outgrow a pot and given the chance will eventually grow to massive proportions.

I haven't picked out a permanent place in the garden yet and given the current heat wave I'll wait until conditions are better for planting.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Distance Close

We had perfect weather for the artist reception at TAG Gallery last weekend. And since the new, cooler lights have been installed it never became too hot in the gallery even with all the people filling the space.

Photo courtesy of Anne M. Bray

It was great to see so many friends and wonderful to have the opportunity to meet some new friends. A couple of people came that I've only emailed with before; it was super to meet them in person.

The exhibition continues through June 14th. The gallery hours are Wednesday - Saturday from 11am until 5pm.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Exhibit, Conversations, Publications

Last week went by really quickly. I hung my paintings on Tuesday on the very freshly painted walls and the exhibit opened on Wednesday with Conversations With the Artists. I really enjoyed this event. We didn't speak at great length - I think I only said about a third of what I intended to say but it felt like the evening went by very quickly. It was a nice turnout - thanks to all who came. I'm looking forward to the reception on Saturday, the 31st.

There is a nice blurb about the gallery in the current issue of Luxury, Life and Style Magazine on page 39.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Upcoming Exhibit: Still Places

Where the Water Goes oil on linen 18 x 24" (c) 2008

May 21 - June 14, 2008 at TAG Gallery in Santa Monica.

Also exhibiting is Danielle Eubank Waterscapes and Anne M. Bray Irwindale.

We will be having a conversation with the artists on May 21st from 6-8pm. The reception is Saturday, May 31st, 5-8pm. Please join us!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

It seems I had to put everything on hold to work on my taxes and get ready for an upcoming show. I did find the time to see L.A. video: Uncensored at the Getty-my friend is on the program cover. There was a warning on the program stating that the program contains content that may be offensive to some viewers and the museum offered to refund parking vouchers to anyone who wanted to leave, so I was well prepared to be shocked and offended. Either I'm more jaded than I realized, but I was relieved that most of the videos were more playful than offending.

I also went to see Tula Telfair's grand scale paintings - ranging from 60 x 60' to 72x 92 1/2" - at the Forum Gallery. The exhibit felt very airy and magical in a very grounded way-if that makes any sense. This exhibit continues through May 30th.

And I'm still working along on new paintings-here's one:


Saturday, March 08, 2008

A Day of Portraits: About Face, Byron Werner

I made it to the Long Beach Museum of Art to see About Face: Portraiture Now. Along with the exhibition the museum also presented a live painting demonstration, from Sean Cheetham, F. Scott Hess, Jeremy Lipking outside in the courtyard. It was a beautiful day and fun to watch, inspite of a freezing wind blowing in from the ocean at times.

Then I made it to the last day of Brad Benedicts Sideshow at The Merry Karnowsky Gallery to see Byron Werner's psychedelic collage portrait of Timothy Leary. I've posted a jpeg below. Byron's work is always amazing and this one is no exception and of course it's even more dazzling in person. In my opinion the best work in the exhibit. I'm glad I got to experience it.

Byron Werner's Tim Leary portrait: 2X3 ft., 8,000-10,000
pieces, and two months in the works.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Cypress Grove, Point Lobos

Katherine Kean, contemporary landscape painting, Point Lobos State Park, Monterey Cypress, trees, monochromatic
Cypress Grove Katherine Kean
oil on linen 16 x 20 inches

Here's another in a series I've been working on from Point Lobos. It's oil on linen 16 x 20".

Friday, January 25, 2008

Sugar Coated Mountain Tops in Los Angeles

My dog woke me up early yesterday morning wanting to go out. I was sad because it was the first time I've been able to sleep for any length without waking up from a coughing fit since I caught this cold a week ago. However I forgave him when I opened the door to see that the snow level was low enough to dust the tops of the nearby mountains.

After I took the pictures I went back to bed for another blissful 6 hours of rest.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Upcoming Exhibit: Opening January 26th

Presented by the Canoga Park Youth Art Center Gallery

Artists Featured:

Yvonne Beatty
Linda L. Carlson
Joanell Connolly
Katherine Kean
Lina Kogan
Cindy Rinne

January 26th - March 1st, 2008

Reception: Saturday, January 26th

Artist Talk: Saturday March 1st, 2008

Gallery Hours are Tuesday - Saturday 10:00am-4:00pm
(818) 346-7099

Canoga Park Youth Art Center
7222 Remmet Avenue
Canoga Park, CA 91303



Here's a new painting. It's a small oil, 6 x 8" and is
available at TAG Gallery.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Artist Statement

I paint landscapes that explore margins of atmosphere and form and the interplay between imaginary and real places.

Like the point between dream and waking, subtle edges of earth and water, tree and sky, dissolve and reappear, caught at that moment when boundaries are undetermined and reality is malleable.

Beginning with underpainting, I modulate the intensity of light that spreads from the center of the canvas. Lines and shapes are defined and then partially obscured. Layer is painted over layer, resulting in unexpected gradations and tones. Elusive shapes are muted by fog or shadow.
Imagination’s alchemy transforms the recognizable into delicately nuanced layers of color and tone, to gently invoke mystery, sensation, and mood.

Bolton Hall Museum Gift Shop

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