Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Khan The Kitty Pet Portrait

KHAN the Kitty
14 x 14 Canvas
© rebecca collins /
I just provided proofing yesterday for Khan the Kitty. I love this guy's huge eyes, he almost looks like an owl to me. His photo was stunning so this was a fun one. We are starting to get busy for the holidays and I have a handful of new projects to work on. This was a donated auction portrait.

Below is a screen capture of his proofing page. Here at Art Paw I never show just one sample, I like to offer my clients a variety of background options. I often will send along little complimentary 8 x 8 mini-prints with the orders, or whatever size is easily ganged into the margins on my wide format plotter. The mini freebies are fun to frame for the office. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Mosaic Monday / Abstract Self Portraits

Self Portrait at The Cellular Level
5x7 Mixed Media Mosaic
© rebecca collins
Self Portrait at The Cellular Level #1
5x7 Mixed Media Mosaic
© rebecca collins
Last week I completed two little 5 x7 abstract self portraits using vintage medical illustrations of cells, glass, beads, millefiori, and old glass syringes. The one on the bottom is the first one I did and it is crazy busy and chaotic, much like I imagine the cancer cells to be inside my body when this disease started. The 2nd one on top is calmer and the design work is a little less intuitive and I feel it is pretty representative of where I am at with an illness that has changed my life. Powerful medicine along with some major life style changes have things under control.

I have breast cancer and yet the cancer itself is not about my breasts, it is not about any of the organs that the disease has spread to ... at the end of the day it is about cells, cells that go bad.  I am not at war with my body. I am fighting a battle yes, and I am on a journey yes, but there is more to the story. How much more I do not even know yet.  As an artist that has always been fascinated by medical illustrations and anatomy I wanted to create a work of art that depicted my cells as beautiful, even the chaotic cancer cells that do not behave.  I am sure if I looked at them under a microscope I would find them interesting and fascinating. It is not helpful for me to imagine them as evil invaders.  They are outnumbered by the healthy cells and I know they will eventually cease to exist, for now they are part of me.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Sketching through Cancer Treatments

© rebecca collins
Sketching my way through Treatments:
Ask anyone that has been by my side during this surreal cancer journey what my most constant complaint would be and they would tell you it has nothing to do with hair loss, or nausea, instead I whine about not creating enough and not having an urge to create. With that said, I have throughout all of this been creating pet portraits and doing a great job of keeping up with business. My day job at Art Paw has been a wonderful source of normalcy and I have enjoyed all of my commission projects  this year.

I have not been making mosaics and for that I beat myself up, I whine, and I feel a loss.  At the end of a short 4 or 6 hour day at the computer I am tired and I do not feel like making art for myself. I watch TV, I play on-line scrabble, but I have not been making a lot of art.  Today I was clearing my desk and I saw this cat sketch that I did just this last week in between Doctor's appointments. I am actually doing a lot more art than I am willing to give myself credit for. I would like to be working on a large 34 x 34 inch mosaic but every week, and every chemo session I am sketching. I am fitting creativity into "the new normal".  I would bet that any of you artists out there that may be complaining about not having enough time to create, I bet if you look around at how you are living your life you will see that you are in fact fitting creativity in somewhere. You will find it in a well cooked meal, a beautifully wrapped package, a doodle on a cocktail napkin, there are hundreds of small ways we live creatively and yet we all hunger for the big projects. Life as an artist is not about the next big project.

waiting room contour drawing
© rebecca collins

Water Tower Out my window ( Baylor)
© rebecca collins

Friday, October 16, 2015

Stolen Joy

"I don't want you anymore
Cause you took my joy

I'm gonna go to Slidell and look for my joy
Go to Slidell and look for my joy
Maybe in Slidell I'll find my joy
Maybe in Slidell I'll find my joy"
 - Lucinda Williams

Me and Pickle ... we are Terrier Tough
so don't even Fuck with us
Photo: Kris Hundt
  I have always loved the song "Joy" by Lucinda Williams, she belts it out in such a forceful way that you think Joy is some sort of physical object that you can take back and put in your pocket. According to Rolling Stone Magazine the song was originally penned as a kiss off to an unfaithful lover, Williams says "Joy" has always been a song "of triumph – a 'kick in the ass, screw you, motherfucker, I ain't takin' this shit no more' – song,".

Over the years cancer has stolen our joy countless times by taking Scottie dogs from us. A year and a half ago our sweet girl Pickle was diagnosed with bladder cancer and she is still hanging in there, she is terrier tough. In March I was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer and so once again cancer has darkened our door and stolen our Joy. I have had 8 rounds of Chemo, a bilateral mastectomy, and now radiation. Because of the stage of this cancer I will likely be in some sort of treatment for the rest of my life. They do not talk cure because it has traveled or metastasized to other parts of my body. They do think they can control the beast and I will have many more years ahead of me.

 I am doing great, my scans last June showed that I was kicking cancer's ass, and it was shrinking at that time. I have scans again at the end of the month and I am sure the news will be good.
I feel great, I should ....  I am working hard enough at being healthy. I have lost 30 lbs due to life style changes. I gave up both wine and Diet Coke, cut down on carbs and cut out sugar from my diet. I am exercising with Zumba classes. I am doing everything right, but still trying to find the joy, I know it is within reach.

For years I have wanted to find my voice on this blog and speak with more authenticity. I have always kept it light and business oriented, not wanting to get too personal. I try to educate other artists with tips and I try to inspire others that want to make a living at art, because yes it can be done. I could not get back to blogging until I was ready to share the journey I am on. I think I am ready to do that. I am heading in a great direction, cancer does not define me, but it has stolen my joy and I am going to get it back.   "I ain't takin' this shit no more." I may have to go to West Memphis, but I will find my Joy. I will find my Joy.

Me and Pickle
Photo: Kris Hundt