Still Life Paintings at Magnolias

manhattan-72-500 Manhattan. Acrylic on unstretched canvas, 30 x 30 inches, 2015 by Sarah Atlee. $1,800 For purchase inquiries, contact Ro2 Art at (214) 803 9597 or visit this piece on Artsy.

Are you in or about Dallas, looking for the perfect cup of coffee? Look no further than Magnolias Sous le Pont. And while you're there, enjoy a gathering of succulent still life paintings by Sarah Atlee!

Put this on your calendar for next year (and every year): September 29 is National Coffee Day. Magnolias celebrated this year with a day of music, art, and endless cups of that heavenly brown nectar. They were also nice enough to interview me about my work and process.

Still Life will be up at Magnolias (map link) through 7 January 2017.

All Things Fowl for A Hiding Place

All Things Fowl. Scratchboard, 10 x 8 inches, 2016 by Sarah Atlee All Things Fowl Scratchboard, 10 x 8 inches, 2016 by Sarah Atlee. $330 For purchase inquiries, contact [Artspace] at Untitled at info@1ne3.org or by calling 405.815.9995

This post first appeared on my Patreon page.

A Hiding Place: Artists Respond to Poetry

"As children we all played hide and seek. We learned through that game: the stillness of hiding and the necessity of being found. Both are essential to living the communal life. this collaborative project expolores these themes through poetry and art. We have generated a creative conversation of the senses, of image and movement and language, so that what is hidden can be known."

- From the statement by curator and poet Jane Vincent Taylor

All Things Fowl is based on Jane Vincent Taylor's poem, "Being Little Catholic Girls." A snippet:

We lit candles. It was dangerous. Incense smoked out all things foul.

About the Imagery

The composition is based on traditional Byzantine icon paintings. Guillem Ramon-Poqui's book The Technique of Icon Painting (Amazon) is a great resource on this topic.

Who's that hen? The nun's habit and background images are inspired by the early Christian mystic and polymath, Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179). You can read about her remarkable life on Wikipedia.

Among her accomplishments, Hildegard invented an alphabet and language known as the Lingua Ignota. The little hula doll in the corner is using Hildegard's Litterae Ignotae to say "Aloha."

all things fowl detail eye 2 72 500

Scratchboard is a wonderful process of reductive drawing. It's all about what you take away. And the level of detail I can get with my x-acto knife is so pleasing.

A Hiding Place opens at [Artpsace] at Untitled on Thursday, July 28, and will be up through September 10. Visit the gallery website for more details.

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Food Tells a Story of Love

ponyo ramen This post first appeared on my Patreon page. Join by July 31 2016 for your free bonus drawing!

"I loved to cook, so I cooked. And then cooking became a way of saying I love you. And then cooking became the easy way of saying I love you. And then cooking became the only way of saying I love you." - Nora Ephron, Heartburn*

Inspiration comes from all around. My love of food isn't just from my own experience. I'm also moved by other people sharing their love for food. For a heaping dish of inspiration, I turn to the movies.

I like to watch movies in the studio. Or, more accurately, I like to listen to movies via headphones while I work. There's a part of my brain - you know, the little voice that whispers that everything you do is crap and you should probably give up forever? Yeah, I need that part to take a seat while my good creative stuff is flowing. A little background narrative is a great place to park the verbal critic so I can create in peace.

However, some movies demand my full attention. And not just my eyes and ears. They take over my tastebuds, too.

What makes a good food movie? It's not just pretty shots of sumptuous dishes. Food tells a story of love. Love of craft, love of nature, love of color and texture and flavor, and the way we take these things in with all of our senses. We use food to show love, and a good food story does too.

It also makes us hungry. So here, in no particular order, is a list of movies that I absolutely cannot play while I'm working. Because of the drool.

Links point to the films' entries on IMDB.

Chef (2014) This movie is a love song to the Cuban sandwich. Ham, pork, cheese, mustard, pickles, butter, bread. Also, follow your dreams and that stuff.

"Okay well my credit cards are maxed out and we're not charging for food yet so we're gonna have to wait on the sound system."

"Yeah, but you look happy, baby, don't you?"

"So happy. So happy."

Chocolat (2000) It's not all sticky sweets in this quaint French village. Raw cacao beans? Ground chile pepper? Roasted rabbit with chocolate mole? Seconds, please. And while we're in France...

The Hundred-Foot Journey (2014) What happens when Too French and Not French Enough become neighbors.

"Now, last night, we served this. Miserable, overcooked asparagus. In this restaurant, the cuisine is not an old, tired marriage. It is a passionate affair of the heart!"

Ratatouille (2007) I'm now realizing how heavily my list skews French. We're not even done.

"How do you tell how good bread is without tasting it? Not the smell, not the look, but the sound of the crust. Listen. A symphony of crackle. Only great bread sound this way."

Babette's Feast (1987) Classical French cuisine ventures out to the austere reaches of Denmark. Food so rich you'll feel a little ashamed of watching people eat it.

The Lunch Box (2013) Have you heard of the dabbawalas of Mumbai? They use a meal delivery system so complex and accurate that the Harvard Business School marvels at how well it works. Until one day it doesn't.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011) The world is so big that it seems hard to believe that anyone could be the best at something. But here's Jiro. Not to mention Jiro's rice dealer, who only sells his best grains to Jiro because no one else in the world can cook them as well. And don't get me started on the omelettes.

Julie & Julia (2009) And we're back in France. Does anyone in the world love their cuisine as much as the French do? Maybe they deserve it.

"Every time you taste something that's delicious beyond imagining, and you say, 'what is in this?' The answer is always going to be 'butter.'"

*I recently read Heartburn for the first time, loved it, and can't wait to see the movie. I have a feeling it will land on this list with a bullet. Ephron also wrote the screenplay for Julie & Julia.

Honorable Mention: anything directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Spirited Away, Ponyo, Kiki's Delivery Service, Howl's Moving Castle, and so on. Every Miyazaki film has at least one spectacular food scene in it. It's practically its own subgenre. Here's a starter kit.

These are my favorites, and there are plenty of food movies I haven't seen yet. What should I taste-test next?

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Amanuensis and the Good Sounds

Amanuensis, acrylic on canvas, 10 x 10 inches, 2015 by Sarah Atlee Amanuensis. Acrylic on canvas, 10 x 10 inches, 2015 by Sarah Atlee Sometimes I can't sleep.

Sometimes my mind wakes up before my body is ready and I have to try to convince it to settle down and go back to sleep. My mind, rebellious, goes to the Bad Thoughts. I think of every time I've ever been angry, hurt, or humiliated. I rehash the memories in detail, resulting in more feelings of anger, hurt, and humiliation, and so on until the birds chirp nyah nyah na-nyah nyah and I give in and go make coffee.

This pattern of thinking is sometimes called rumination. The mind goes round and round, thinking that if it just thinks hard enough, it can stop thinking about a thing. Of course, it doesn't work like that.

Practicing mindfulness is a great way to break this destructive pattern. In The Mindful Way through Depression, the authors remind us that "There is an alternative strategy for handling the negative moods, memories, and thinking patterns in the present moment, as they arise. ... It is called awareness." (If you'd like to learn more, I highly recommend this book.)

Mindfulness and meditation are things you practice, however, meaning that no one does them perfectly right out of the gate. I've found a tool that helps me through these wakeful Bad Thought times.

Space Hotel

I first heard Al Gromer Khan's album Space Hotel years ago, by accident at a friend's house. It's been a consistent favorite of mine for over 15 years. It's the perfect blend of soothing, mysterious, colorful, and calm. Listening to these beautiful sounds provides my mind with a focal point, someplace to return while letting the Bad Thoughts pass away like clouds. A sample:

Khan gave me Amanuensis.

The image you see above floated into my consciousness while meditating on Space Hotel. I saw this spongy white rectangle, like a tofu cake, with yellow arcs passing through it. Layered, repeating passages put me in mind of a cosmic game of telephone, hence the title Amanuensis - one who copies.

Learn more about Al Gromer Khan at New Earth Records, Khan's website, and his Facebook page.

Zoe Keating

I recently learned of experimental cellist Zoe Keating's solo career. I didn't realize I'd been listening to her play with Rasputina for many years. Her album Into The Trees has become another touchstone of Good Sounds to battle the Bad Thoughts. Listen for yourself:

Honestly, does it get any better than this? Explore Zoe Keating's music on her website and Facebook page.

On Presence: Texas Galleries at the 2015 Dallas Art Fair

Two still life paintings by Sarah Atlee at the 2015 Dallas Art Fair.Breakfast: Peaches, Coffee, Shogun and Peaches & Quilt by Sarah Atlee. Seen here as part of Ro2 Art's exhibition at the 2015 Dallas Art Fair.

Ugh, another art fair?

Art fairs. We've come to expect a certain amount of cynicism connected with these events. There's the jaded art press, the buyers with more money than sense, the gallerists pushing the latest shock-&-schlock, and artists like me - who feel left out of the whole insular art fair circuit.

That's one very dismal view of this business. I'd like to offer a counterpoint, based on my recent experience at the Dallas Art Fair.

The DAF has been running annually for the past seven years. The number of galleries from Texas and the surrounding region has dwindled to make way for exhibitors from around the globe, making it a truly international affair. This was my first visit to the DAF. It was also the first time I had work in an art fair.

Visitors discussing work at the Dallas Art Fair, 2015 Fair visitors discussing work in Ro2 Art's booth.

It was exciting to participate in such a global event. However, the Texas galleries represented at the 2015 DAF stood out firmly from the crowd. What was the one thing that made the difference?

Engagement.

Nobody from a Texas gallery was too cool to talk to me. Nobody from a Texas gallery looked at my shoes and decided that I wasn't about to drop six figures in their booth, so I must not be worth their time. Nobody from a Texas gallery sat staring at their iPad while I looked at the art on their walls.

Instead, the Texas gallerists were greeting visitors, offering information about the artists and their work, all with smiles on their faces. They were engaged. They know that long-term success in the art business isn't about trends, stars, or dollars - it's about relationships. And a good relationship starts with courtesy and a smile.

(This isn't to say that the Texas gallerists were the only engaged participants at the fair. But the atmosphere of presence was so noticeable in the local booths that it's worth noting.)

Ro2 Art co-owner Jordan Roth greeting visitors to his booth at the 2015 Dallas Art Fair.

Ro2 Art co-owner Jordan Roth greeting visitors at the 2015 Dallas Art Fair.

Thank you, Texas.

I want to thank the following galleries for representing my new home state so beautifully: Barry Whistler Gallery, Conduit Gallery, Cris Worley Fine Arts, Galleri Urbane Marfa + Dallas, Kirk Hopper Fine Art, Ro2 Art, Sicardi Gallery, Talley Dunn Gallery, Valley House Gallery & Sculpture Garden, William Campbell Contemporary Art, and Zhulong Gallery.

For the first time, I'm very proud to be a Texas artist.

Read more about the 2015 Dallas Art Fair

Glasstire: A Loose Guide: Some Picks and Pics of the Dallas Art Fair, More Dallas Art Fair 2015

Artnews: Gone to Texas: The Art World Flocks to Dallas Art Fair for a Little Lonestar Hospitality

Interview: 10 Picks from the Dallas Art Fair 2015 (3 of the 10 are from Texas galleries.)

Blouin Art Info International: What to See (and Buy) at the Dallas Art Fair

See the whole enchilada on Artsy.