Thursday, December 27, 2012

Resolutions, goals, and things left unsaid...

It's always exciting to think about a new year.  So much potential for growth, so many opportunities to experience good things, and best of all, a chance to start over.

Some art goals and resolutions for 2013...

1. See more shows.  There's lots going on in DC at pretty much any given time-- Per Kirkeby at the Phillips (through Jan 6), Lichtenstein at NGA (through Jan 13), Ai Wei Wei at the Hirshhorn (through Feb 24), and Taryn Simon at the Corcoran (through Feb 24), for example!

2. Get organized. 
       a) Create a set of ten materials packets for shows, grants, and residency applications
       b) Clear out my studio; reconfigure storage
       c) Set up better files, clear out/archive/clean up digital files and emails
       d) Update website, blog, newsletter, and all social media (regular schedule)

3. Enter more shows.  It's time to expand my reach a little farther beyond my immediate neighborhood.  

What goals have you thought about for the new year?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A year in review

2012 has been an amazing year for me artistically, and I'm quite awestruck and grateful for all that has transpired.

A year in review:

-I chose to extend my maternity leave to be more available to my second child, as well as my eldest.  In the beginning the baby slept two naps, and I was able to paint a significant body of work.  Daily walks around the lake opened my eyes to new inspiration and gave me peace of mind and body, two things that are critical to a woman post-partum.

-Little by little, with support from my husband and my friends, I was able to start making sales.  A decision was made to sign up to be an outdoor vendor at the local farmers and craft market near my home as a way to learn how to sell my work in that manner.  My business was officially established January 1, and by April my husband helped me set up the paperwork.  Morgan Johnson Norwood Visual Art was born.

-I entered several local group shows sponsored by the League of Reston Artists, which gained me showing experience, and even landed me two awards!

-In May I began showing my work at the market, and I learned that it is a really difficult, labor-intensive process, but I had more fun than I ever thought.  I am fascinated by the culture of the gypsy artist/artisan/farmer/vendor.  The idea that one can set up a shop where there previously was nothing is a triumph in capitalism and ingenuity, and packing skills!  Everything needs to fit in your car!  I learned that selling is an art all by itself.  I also learned that my work stops people in their tracks, and that pleased me greatly, but it was much harder sending the work home with someone, no matter how in love with it they were.  All of these points became big lessons.  I sold seven paintings this season, and made countless contacts.  Definitely a good learning experience, indeed.

-In September my mother-in-law and I hung a large exhibition of my paintings at North Gate Vineyard (46 paintings, now 49 are still on view).  As their inaugural artist-in-residence, I was blessed to participate in many of their functions, including my own, the Artist Inspiration Days, where 3 additional paintings were added to the exhibition.  I sold fourteen paintings (so far!) from the show, and received countless comments on how beautiful the show looks in the space.  As much as the paintings are like my children, I will be a little sad to bring the show home after such a radiant viewing period.

-And now my art has entered a much quieter time.  Things at home require much more of my attention, schedules have drastically altered, babies are now active toddlers, and my teaching has picked up a bit more.  Time in the studio is more difficult to achieve than it was, but I'm happy to say that what has been coming out of the studio is exciting to me, and reflective of all the massive changes that have been going on in the past few months.  The good point about being forced to slow down my production, I suppose, is that the work has become even better.  Stay tuned.

Monday, October 29, 2012


Raindrop Reflection
oil and charcoal on canvas
©2012 Morgan Johnson Norwood

oil on canvas, 16 x 16 inches
©2012 Morgan Johnson Norwood
I'm always inspired by nature. Please, enter my brain...


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Artist Inspiration Day

Sunday afternoon I handed over the parenting reins to my husband, packed the car with my easel and art supplies, and drove out to North Gate for the first ever Artist Inspiration Day.  The early fall weather was exceptionally perfect, and with a glass of Viognier in hand, I wandered through the rows of grape vines, breathing the crisp air, listening to the birds chattering, and taking pictures of whatever grabbed my attention.

It was glorious.

 And then I painted this outside on the patio, and felt happier than ever.  

Want to join me for the next one? 
Don't miss it!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Child's play

Blue Jello ©2012 Morgan Johnson Norwood
Blue Jello
oil and charcoal on canvas, 24 x 24 inches
©2012 Morgan Johnson Norwood

Cookie Monster ©2012 Morgan Johnson Norwood
Cookie Monster
oil and charcoal on canvas, 24 x 24 inches
©2012 Morgan Johnson Norwood

Having a preschooler in the house definitely changes one's mindset.  I used to be somewhat sophisticated, if you can believe it, rubbing elbows with famous artists at gallery openings, enjoying fancy dinners and expensive bottles of Vodka.  I would actually wear heels most days, and if necessary, was unafraid to throw out a few colorful curse words to emphasize a point.  But now my uniform is a t-shirt and jeans and a ponytail, and don't be surprised if you hear me uttering such phrases as, "your eyeball is on the floor," or "put on your fairy wings and wiggle!" because I'm a mom and that's the kind of life I have now: drably attired, perhaps, but exceptionally challenged and exponentially rewarded.

And thank goodness for naptime.  (Did you hear that?  That was the sound of thousands of mommies clinking their wine glasses in agreement.)  Naptime is the precious 90-120 minute block when I remember who I actually am under all the yogurt stains: an artist.

In creating these two recent paintings, which, like most of my work, are very much inspired from patches of dappled light and shadows on the trail, I began to employ a playful attitude.  I'm tickled with how these paintings came out, and to me they just scream childhood.  Scrawled marks from charcoal outline the borders between the bright colors, and in the case of Cookie Monster, a playful stitching harkens to one of my favorite Henson puppets.  Wouldn't they be fun hanging in a playroom?

Blue Jello and Cookie Monster are both currently on view at North Gate Vineyard as part of my solo show, Shadow | Light.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Time for an Artist Date!

If you're an artist local to the DC area, you might want to put these dates on your calendar. 

A Walk in the Vines: Artists Days at North Gate Vineyard
Sunday afternoons, 1-4pm.  September 23  &  October 14
Program is free.  Wine tasting: $5

Come spend some time on the North Gate property to photograph, paint plein air, sketch, plan, and otherwise find inspiration in a unique natural setting.  Artists are invited to bring their supplies and enjoy the afternoon exploring the colors of the vines, the barrels, the freshly harvested grapes, and whatever else grabs your artistic spirit.  Meet artist-in-residence, Morgan Johnson Norwood, for a chat about her works on view.

Call 540.668.6248 to reserve a spot!

North Gate Vineyard
16031 Hillsboro Road
Purcellville, Virginia 20132

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hanging Day at North Gate Vineyard

After months of preparation and planning and hard work, I hung art yesterday at North Gate Vineyard in Purcellville, VA.  Here are a few images from yesterday's hanging for my new show, Shadow | Light.

I rented a UHaul cargo van because there was NO WAY all this stuff would have fit in my car. 

Purcellville is about a 45-minute drive away from where I live, and North Gate is smack in the middle of the prettiest countryside ever.  Rolling hills and wooden horse fences are everywhere.

And just look at those vines!

The vines at North Gate Vineyard are heavy with grapes almost ready for harvest. 

 My lovely assistant/awesome mother-in-law and I arrived in the van and my husband and youngest daughter were waiting for us.  Unloading and placing the work went relatively quickly.
My show signage.
Unloading and setting out lots of art!
My little helper stopped by to decide where her favorites went.

Art on the walls, slowly but surely.

 Later my husband and daughter said goodbye, and then we set up the hanging supplies and got to work. 
Where's my cape?  LOL
Another wall complete.

46 paintings are hung.  I'm ready for a glass of wine, please.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Now on Houzz

I just created a page on the new site and app for interior spaces and design ideas, Houzz. You can create an ideabook of plans for your own space. Add one (or more!) of my pieces to your plans. Check back for additional works being added. houzz interior design ideas

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Art Studio News: August 2012

View my email newsletter here.  Be sure to get on the mailing list for future updates!

Current and Upcoming Exhibitions:

Night Swimming - Awarded 2nd prize
40 x 30 inches, oil & charcoal on canvas
©2012 Morgan Johnson Norwood

Show runs from:  August 1-31, 2012

Reception:  August 15 3:00 - 5:00 p.m.

US Geological Survey National Center Gallery
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive

Reston, VA 20191

Come join in the celebration of talented local Reston artists at the USGS Building!  Click here for more information about Night Swimming and other show details.

. . . . . .

Shadow | Light

Shadow Dance - winning title by Karen Smith
40 x 30 inches, oil and charcoal on canvas
©2012 Morgan Johnson Norwood
Show runs from: September 6, 2012 - January 22, 2013

Reception: September 8-9, 2012 from 2:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

North Gate Vineyard

16031 Hillsboro Road

Purcellville, VA

A solo exhibition including several NEW pieces, paired with North Gate's fabulous wine.  Let's celebrate!  Read more about the exhibition on the Leesburg Patch.

 . . . . . .

Reston Market at Lake Anne 

End of Summer 2012 Booth Dates
Saturdays 8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

August 18
September 1
October 13, 27
November 3

I look forward to helping you select a perfect painting for your space.  Hope to see you!  Click here for a map to Lake Anne Plaza.

. . . . . .

Friday, August 3, 2012

Award for Night Swimming!

Nice!  I just found out that my painting, Night Swimming, has just won an award in my current exhibition, Sizzle, now hanging at the US Geological Survey in Reston, VA.  Sponsored by the League of Reston Artists, Juror: Carolyn Grosse Gawarecki

Come celebrate with me at the reception on Wednesday, August 15, 3-5pm.  The show will hang through August 31.  It's a federal building, so don't forget to bring your ID when you visit.

Night Swimming
oil and charcoal on canvas, 40 x 30 inches
© 2012 Morgan Johnson Norwood

While evocative of bubbles and pools of water, Night Swimming, like most of the paintings I've created in the past year, is actually inspired from the patches of dappled light through the trees on the pavement.  In this piece I am exploring those round shapes; forms that also echo the pattern of holes in a lotus pod, another recurring symbol in my paintings. These shapes remind the viewer not only of patches of light, but also of rain, of air bubbles rising through deep water, and of stones. Sometimes when we explore the darkness we find the light.  In creating this painting, I used layers of paint in inky blues, warm reds, and buttery yellows through which I scrawled simple charcoal gestural drawings for texture and interest.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Name That Painting Contest--Award time!

Thank you so much to everyone who participated in my Name That Painting contest.  So many gorgeous and thoughtful titles were submitted and it took a very long time to decide the winner. 

Shadow Dance, Detail
© 2012 Morgan Johnson Norwood
Congratulations to Karen, who submitted the winning title, Shadow Dance.  Karen, please send me a message (email/website/Facebook are all fine) as to how best send you your new 6 x 6 small abstract painting!

I plan to have another similar contest in a few months, so don't let your creativity caps get dusty.  These titles were FANTASTIC.

 This painting will join three others at the US Geological Survey visitor center's National Gallery now through August 31.  I hope you are able to see it in person, but I will share pictures of the exhibition soon.

Top Finishers
1. Shadow Dance - At first I dismissed this selection because of the similar title to some of my other works, but the idea of dance kept me coming back to this title.  I like that the word dance reflects the bouncing energy of the shadowy shapes, and I like that the title is a contrast in itself between softness and liveliness.

2. Ascent - A one-word poem that embodies the movement of the shapes.  An emotional contrast to the potential opposite title (Descent), causing the viewer not to read the painting left to right, but instead from the center out.

3. Fluid Crown - A beautiful, creative combination of words that hint at ideas beyond nature.  I find myself thinking about this title all the time.

4. Forever Fall - I love the alliteration in the title, and the tie to the fall-like color scheme.  When the trees are bursting with color, I do sometimes wish that time would stop, just so I could enjoy it a little longer. 

5. Some Enchanted Evening - This title evokes a glowing sunset walk around the lake, slow and graceful. 

Honorable Mentions
6. While She Was Sleeping - This one totally made me laugh, because it's true-- all my paintings were made during naptimes. 

7. Morning Mist - I really enjoy the use of the word Mist in the title.  I see this title for a painting with a cooler palette of pinks and yellows.

8. Clarinda - A beautiful and very different name, and I like how you went about choosing this title.  But I didn't choose this one because while I was listening to music, I didn't feel the close connection to the music and/or geography necessary to affect the aesthetic.

9. Haven - A good title, evocative and peaceful, but I see this title for a different painting, perhaps for one of the seed pod-inspired paintings that examine the protective nooks and crannies

10. Vine and Vine Again - A funny play on words!

11, 12. A Magical Season, The Magical Hour -  I find the word Magical very interesting.  I am going to ponder these for awhile. 

13. Sunshine in the Rain - There is a wonderful glow that happens when the sun comes out in a rain storm.  I like this title, but perhaps for a different painting.

14. Something Firey This Way Comes - I love the use of FIRE in the title.  I like the energy that reflects the colors.

15. Dancing Vines - I like the suggestion of the movement of the vine shapes. 

Thank you all again for playing.  I hope this was as fun an exercise for you as it was for me to read and consider.

Friday, July 27, 2012

How to ship artwork

Yesterday I packed up these three 12 x 12 inch paintings to send to my newest collector in California.  There are lots of various tips on the Internet about how to pack and ship art.  Here is what I did.

L to R: In the Grass, Marina, and Fading Summer, oil and charcoal on canvas.
each painting 12 x 12 inches with 4-way wire. © 2012 Morgan Johnson Norwood

 The paintings are stretched canvas on 1 1/2 inch stretcher bars.  Protecting the paintings from damage that can occur during shipping, like laceration through said canvas, is important.
 Materials used: 
Thick insulation styrofoam
Foam packing sheets
2 ml poly bag
Appropriately sized cardboard box
Bubble wrap
Packing tape
Utility knife
Sharpie marker
Long metal ruler
Optional: craft paper

Step 1: 
Cut cardboard pieces the same size as the paintings.  I placed cardboard on both sides of the canvases, and stacked the paintings front to front and back to back.  Between the painting and cardboard I laid a 12-inch square sheet of protective packing foam that I bought from Office Depot (about $16 for a box of 100).  I placed the paintings inside a 2 ml poly plastic bag that I use for bagging larger artwork at shows.  Painters drop-cloth plastic or vapor barrier plastic will also work.

Step 2:
Next I cut down a thick styrofoam sheet I bought from Home Depot (about $6) to create a six-sided box around the paintings.  Be sure to include the measurements of the foam's thickness to create a neat box.  Mine could have been better, as I added the cardboard sheets after cutting the styrofoam and failed to account for their thickness, BUT I think it worked okay.  But let this be a lesson to you, artists.  Measure twice, cut once.

I chose to stand the paintings on their end to avoid weight pressing on the canvas while in transit.  I assembled the styrofoam around the wrapped paintings with packing tape, making a nifty little box.  I taped around the package another time or two to make sure everything felt snug.

Step 3:

Next came the shipping box.  I used a 15 inch cube-shaped box left over from my husband's pressure canner he just purchased (he's gotten the canning bug and has been turning our farmer's market yields into jams and preserves.  Mmmm... But I digress...) 

Notice the large space on either side of my little art capsule.  After padding the bottom of the box with bubble wrap we had left over from our move, I rolled longer sheets of large-bubble bubble wrap  and carefully stuffed the rolls on each side of the foam-wrapped paintings. 

Step 4: 

Last but not least, I included some marketing and contact materials, a receipt, and a personal note, then placed bubble wrap over the top of the box.  I secured the box with packing tape, then covered the box with roll kraft paper.  A shipping label with the recipient's address clearly written, and HANDLE WITH CARE, THIS SIDE UP, arrows, etc. added, and it was ready to go!

Step 5: 
Force the USPS staff and patrons to witness the joy of your otherwise happy toddler melting down (so sorry, everyone.  Thank you so much for your kindness and patience today!) and ship it off.  As expected, priority mail was about $50 to ship the package across the country.  Not too bad, and definitely cheaper than having someone else pack it too.

Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Under press-ure

Right on the heels of the interview I did with Jenny Teates for the Examiner is another article, yay!  So I wanted to share some press about the upcoming show at North Gate Vineyard.
About the partnership with North Gate Vineyard, she says, "I'm really thrilled.  Mark and Vicki's focus on the environment and sustainable growing is so encouraging and it really makes a wonderful connection to the nature-based art that I create."

Read the rest of the article here on the Leesburg Patch.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Breathe in, breathe out.

There is so much fear and vitriol in our atmosphere right now that it's absolutely palpable.  Between drowning in months, years of political insanity and now Friday's news of the horrible, senseless murders in Aurora, that crushing weight of those negative feelings is even greater.

I need to circle the wagons and find peace.  I think we all need that.

So today I picked up my brush and let it guide my hand across the canvas.  Calm, meditative energy transformed my mood, and everything felt okay again. These two paintings brought me peace, and suddenly I find my chest able to expand and breathe again.

I hope they bring you peace too.

24 x 24 inches
oil and charcoal on canvas
© Morgan Johnson Norwood

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

New products on my Zazzle shop are here!

Bloom iPhone 4/4S Case Case-mate Iphone 4 Cases
Bloom iPhone 4/4S Case Case-mate Iphone 4 Cases by MorganJohnsonNorwood
Browse Original Casemate Cases

The 'Bloom' iPhone case has won a Today's Best featured product award for July 31, 2012!

Successful Ladies Who Give Back

Recently I was interviewed for an article by Jenny Teates about women finding success in many ways, and giving back their time and attention to society.  I'm excited to share the published piece with you!

That's me!

Please comment and share how YOU enjoy giving back to your community!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Riff Raff

Riff Raff
oil and charcoal on canvas
24 x 24 inches
© 2012 Morgan Johnson Norwood

This painting always gets interesting comments when I share it with people.  One couple at the Reston Market saw rabbits leaping in a field; another saw ghosts and faces.

A few months ago I was asked to present my work to the students at my former school, John Adams Elementary School in Alexandria, and I was so excited.  So I showed up to present last month with a mini-show and all my gear, and some fabulous students helped me set up.  It was during this time that I received The Best Comment Ever about Riff Raff.  It came from Leila, a rising fifth grader.  She said, 
"I like this painting.  It looks like Spring, mixed with danger."
You really can't beat that.

For Riff Raff, I laid layers of paint over scrubbed canvas that into which I had drawn, pushing and pulling texture and details forward and back, and enjoyed the playful splashes of color in a more quiet field of gray tones.  To me, this painting seemed to have some childlike mischief.  And as Leila said, some danger. I couldn't agree more. 

So I was excited to include the piece in my presentation to the real riff raff.

For six years I enjoyed teaching art at John Adams before I made the decision to stay home with my young children.  While at John Adams, a Changing Education Through the Arts (CETA, sponsored by The Kennedy Center) school, I was most proud of the annual arts festival, which my team and I spent countless hours organizing.  The 2-day festival included a student-written and performed opera and a circus, a whole-school framed art exhibit and frame sale, and a scholarship program to help send every kid’s art home in a professional frame.  In addition to the show and performances, we invited various artists and performers in the DC-area community to teach and share their art with the students.   

But THIS year I was so happy to participate as a presenter**, allowing the students to peek into the head of someone who makes art in real life outside the classroom. 

I had a ball presenting to the kids at John Adams for their annual Festival of the Arts!
My talk was basically a Career Day for artists.  I talked about my inspiration from my regular nature walks with my kids and my love of contemporary art, and shared several pieces of my past and present work before I demonstrated a bit and answered questions.
Demonstrating a bit of my process while I introduced oil painting.

And of course, being a former art teacher, I had to give them all homework for the summer: draw something every day. It doesn't have to be an in-depth detailed drawing each time, but it should give you a chance to see your world a little differently, a little more closely. 

Want to participate in my little assignment?  Try it for a week.  A month.  The whole summer!  And don't forget to show me your drawings!  I'd love to see what you came up with.

And speaking of which, you too can participate in The Sketchbook Project 2013.  Have you signed up yet?

** DC-area artists and performers who are interested in presenting to the students at John Adams should contact me, and I can get you in contact with the right people.