Sunday, December 11, 2011

NEW! Mini Print Trio Sets

Just in time for the holidays, I've put together some gift sets featuring three color-coordinated mini prints.  Each mini print measures 5" x 5" and they are perfect for groupings - either in a single multi-opening mat, or individually framed.

Hand printed in shimmering gold on textured fine art paper, each print is signed and mounted on white acid-free bristol board and comes with a certificates describing the symbolism of each design.


Each set of three minis is $35 - click the link below to visit my Etsy shop and peruse the available selection:
GYPSY MYSTERY ARTS SHOP

Mini prints are also available as singles.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

MuseHammer!

Every once in awhile I'll get hit by the MuseHammer...inspiration strikes and I'm on a creative roll.  Spent a couple super-charged hours the other afternoon sketching and ended up with a bunch of stuff I'm really happy with.  What amazes me is how physically drained I feel after one of these intense creative bursts!

Friday, October 28, 2011

“Sea Song”, My Take on a Beloved Traditional Image

"SeaSong" by Cristina McAllister
Mermaids are one of the most popular figures of myth and fantasy.  They are beautiful, alluring, mysterious…and sometimes dangerous. 

Associated with water, the moon and seductive beauty, they are symbols of feminine energy, enchantment – and capriciousness.  It was said that they could control the seas and storms, and, depending on how sailors and fishermen interacted with them, could offer a voyage of smooth sailing and abundant fishing, or the misfortune of wrathful ocean squalls, becalmed seas and empty nets.  According to others, they were deadly temptresses who lured men to watery graves with haunting voices.  Some believed this was intentional, malicious murder, while others believed that the mermaids truly desired the love of human men, but tragically, did not understand that dragging them beneath the waves would suffocate them. 

In Chinese myth, mermaids’ tears were said to turn into pearls, and that they were able to weave a kind of fabric more delicate and beautiful than the finest silk.  The Japanese believed their flesh to be delicious and could grant the eater immortality. Therefore, greedy fishermen were always seeking to catch and exploit them, and the mermaids’ entrancing (and disabling) song was employed as a form of self- defense.
"A Mermaid" by J.W. Waterhouse

More positive stories tell of mermaids rescuing drowning men, guiding lost ships back on course, and even teaching humans healing techniques.
They are often portrayed playing harps to accompany their mesmerizing voices.

The harp is one of our most ancient instruments; simple versions were being played by Egyptian musicians 4500 years ago.  Almost every culture has a version of the harp, from Europe to Africa, Latin America to the Far and Near East.

With its graceful, unearthly tones, ancients believed that harp music could link Heaven and Earth, open mystical portals to other realms, and facilitate communion with the Divine.  This may be why angels are so often portrayed playing harps. 

Governor Rekhmire's Musical Banquet.
Harpist and lute player, detail.
Tomb of Rekhmire. XVIII Dynasty, 1570-1293 BC,
New Kingdom. Necropolis at Sheikh
Abd el-Qurna, Western Thebes.
The unique resonance of harp strings has long been considered to be especially soothing and healing.  In the Old Testament, King Saul suffered bouts of rage and despair, which David (also famed for slaying the giant Goliath) could calm by playing his harp.  The ancient Celtic bardic tradition described The Three Musics; the music of mirth, the music of sorrow, and the music of sleep that the harp could produce.  The Greek god Apollo is said to have created the first harp when he discovered that the tones produced by the plucking of his bowstring could sooth souls and heal wounds.  In 16th century Latin America, it was believed that one could make a holy healing potion by scraping wood from a harp and mixing it with water.  Pythagoras theorized that the tones of his lyre could affect the human body, restoring harmony to body and soul.

Today, these ideas are still being explored, and harp music is being used in therapeutic settings.  The vibrations and harmonics of harp music have been found to have measurable effects on stress levels, heart rate, blood pressure and can even lessen the experience of pain.

I like to think of my mermaid as one of the benevolent ones, playing a healing melody, singing a poignant song that soothes and lifts the spirit. Perhaps something along the lines of this piece, “The Kelpie/Song of the Mermaid” performed by Julia Lane on a Celtic harp:



Handmade prints of my "SeaSong" piece can be purchased for $25.00 at my Etsy Shop.

This piece was inspired by my work with the Sylvia Woods Harp Center.  Check out their website for more harp info, harps, harp music, accessories and gifts: www.harpcenter.com

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Portraits of the Fallen Preview Reception, Nov. 12

Awhile back I painted a portrait of Private First Class Hannah L. Gunterman for a project called Portraits Of The Fallen.  You can read about that (quite emotional) experience here

The project is moving forward with it's ultimate plan of touring, and then installing a permanent memorial in Los Angeles. Please join us to support this heartfelt endeavor.

There will be a preview reception on Nov. 12th from 6pm-10pm at:

Terrell Moore Gallery
1221 S. Hope Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015

 "You, your family and friends are invited to a special reception in honor of Veterans Day, to view a special multi-media presentation of the first 100  art portraits completed by a diverse and talented Southern California "company" of artists. Also on display will be the actual art portraits of several of our fallen heroes whose families will be in attendance as well as a Medal of Honor recipient and a fallen member of the Navy Seal Elite Six team.
The Portraits of the Fallen Memorial project was launched last year in Palm Springs with the pairing of one soldier, one artist. The intention then was to form a 501c3 to enable the painting of all the California Fallen,(670 to date),also to develop a traveling exhibition of the art and ultimately to transfer the art to a permanent memorial. With the help and dedication of all the artists and volunteers we now have 100 finished portraits and have entered into a partnership with the prestigious Pasadena Arts Council's Emerge fiscal sponsorship program, so we can now raise the  funds  needed to accomplish these goals.

Let us always remember. Let us never forget.

Special thank you to Terrell Moore for offering his gallery for the reception and Dale Youngman, gallery manager.

Please contact: Sherry Moore for additional information: 310-980-1464"

Friday, October 21, 2011

Art Spotlight: "Sea Song"

A mermaid, seductive siren of the sea, plays a beguiling melody on her harp, serenading the moon and stars above. Her hair swirls around her, curling and weaving into intricate Art Nouveau/Celtic knotwork.

9" x 12"” image size, printed on archival paper.

This signed, hand-pulled serigraph is printed in shimmering gold ink on a subtly-textured blue background.




Now available on my Etsy Shop:
http://www.etsy.com/listing/84384629/sea-song-mermaid-playing-harp-handmade

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Video Spotlight: The Fibonacci Sequence

This is a gorgeous visualization of the amazing mathematical patterns that form the structure of our Universe.  It is mind-blowing how Nature's designs combine beauty, balance and function.  We have a lot to learn, as designers. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Art Spotlight: "Reach"

 The inspiration for this piece was the description I came across of a psychedelic vision.
The image of a branching plant or tree was superimposed over the shape of the hand - revealing the similarities of form.
This kind of fractal branching is common throughout nature - from plant structures to human veins, river systems, lightening bolts, snowflakes, mollusk shells and crystals.  It is a part of the fundamental code of creation.
Some examples can be found on THIS PAGE.

Though we humans may think ourselves very different, and separate, from other life forms on our planet, the truth is that all life on our world is related, connected and intimately entwined.


"Reach" is available as a fine art digital print on paper or canvas. Click here to see options and pricing.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Gypsy Mystery Arts at the Food Truck Chowdown

Last weekend, we participated in the Food Truck Chowdown in L.A.'s State Historic Park.  There were over 40 different food trucks, serving up everything from soul food to mini cupcakes, and choosing what to get for lunch was quite a dilemma! 
The weather started out a bit wet and gloomy, but we were snug in our booth, with Calliope the Wonder Wagon providing a cozy retreat, as well as a colorful attention-getter.  She does so love attention!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Art Spotlight: 'Numinosity'

The word “numinous” describes a sense of sacredness and wonder, a feeling that you are in the presence of the divine. Many people experience this in church.  Indeed, many temples and cathedrals were specifically built to help inspire this feeling of otherworldly awe.  Stained glass windows, elaborate sacred artwork, flickering candlelight and pungent incense can help transport us to that reverent state.
            Many people experience this in the natural world, as well.  The majesty of towering mountains, sculpted canyons, primeval forests and multi-hued sunsets can fill us with a sense of peace, joy, awe and often, humility. 
            I recall one night on a camping trip far from the city lights.  As I stepped out of my car and looked up, my breath was literally swept away by the most densely star-studded sky I’d ever seen.  This glimpse of the vastness of our universe both humbled and exalted me.  It made me acutely aware of how minuscule I am compared to the Whole of Existence, but it also filled me with a profound sense of awe and wonder at the immensity and beauty of it all, and reminded me that I am a integral part of it.
            This piece celebrates that numinous experience, which for me speaks of connection, reverence and harmony with the Universe.
            At the center is the symbol for Aum, said to represent the first vibration of creation that made the Universe manifest.  Male and female figures radiate from it, joined by entwining roots.  Each figure has two pairs of arms.  One pair performs the Namaste mudra, a gesture of reverence and greeting.  The other pair of arms reach up to become leafy branches that connect and embrace.  A snaking spiral represents kundalini– the energy of consciousness that resides in all of us.  A halo or nimbus glows around each figure’s head, indicating divine nature.  
            Lotus flowers bloom between the figures, each with an open eye at the center – an icon of spiritual awareness. 
            The figures embrace four symbols; a sun, moon and star (which represent the celestial heavens beyond Earth), the Keys to Heaven (A Christian symbol representing access to Heaven) and an alchemical sign that combines the Four Elements of the Universe; earth, water, fire and air.
            Four more symbols are surrounded by swirling flames. 
At top is the Flower of Life, a visual expression of the connections life weaves through all sentient beings.   
Next (moving clockwise) is a West African adinkra symbol called “ASASE YE DURU”, representing providence and the divinity of Mother Earth.  
Below is a nautilus shell spiral, representing the Golden Ratio – also known as the Divine Proportion.  This mathematical constant underlies many forms in nature, art, music – even our brainwaves. It is a sort of formula for balanced, harmonious and beautiful forms.   
On the left is another adinkra symbol called “NYAME DUA”, or “tree of god”, which represents god’s presence and protection.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Join Us at the Food Truck Chowdown!

We'll be at the Los Angeles Food Truck Chowdow on June 11th.
We're bringing Calliope The Wonder Wagon and a bunch of gypsy art!  There will be live music, family activities, art, shopping...and over 50 gourmet food trucks offering a huge variety of tasty vittles!  A portion of the proceeds go to support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Hope to see you there!

http://foodtruckchowdown.com/

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Monday, May 16, 2011

Inspiring Documentary Films

            Over the past year or so, I've been taking advantage of Netflix, and more recently, Hulu, and have been seeking out and watching a lot of documentaries.  I’m a sponge when it comes to information and learning about our world, and I feel very fortunate to be living in a time when many discoveries are being made, new tools to observe and understand the Universe are being developed, and information is more widely shared and accessible than ever before.
            The following films have broadened my perspective and exposed me to new ideas, or perhaps simply presented basic ideas in more comprehensive or spectacular ways.  Some have social implications, some spiritual, some historical. Some are hard to watch. Some literally took my breath away.  Some have given me glimpses into aspects of existence and ways of life I’d never considered before. I try to absorb some of the more esoteric ideas with both an open mind and a healthy dose of critical thinking, and the more I learn, the more I see how things connect and fit together into the Big Picture.
            All of these films have given me food for thought, which I have been contemplating and processing, slowly developing an ever-expanding concept of how the Universe works, our place in it, and what it all means.
            If you’re seeking to expand your knowledge of the world, I recommend the following films, which can be found on Netflix, Hulu, or on the internet:
 
David Attenborough’s Life series:
            Life in the Undergrowth
            The Private Life of Plants
            Life In Cold Blood
            The Life of Birds
            The Life of Mammals
            Life on Earth
Attenborough in Paradise
The Queen of Trees
The Story of India series
Connections series by James Burke
The Nature of Things: Biomimicry Parts 1 and2
Dirt, The Movie
Food, Inc.
Quantum Activist
The Nature of Existence
Fractals; Hunting The Hidden Dimension
10 Questions for the Dalai Lama
This Emotional Life series
Lord of the Ants
We Live In Public
Disney’s Oceans
Babies
The Human Machine
Fractals; The Colors of Infinity
Wild China series
Alex Grey: Chapel of Sacred Mirrors
Exit Through The Giftshop
Nova Science Now: How Does the Brain Work?
Nova Science Now: Can We Live Forever?
Nova Science Now: How Smart Are Animals?
I Like Killing Flies
National Geographic: Skin
National Geographic: Guns, Germs and Steel
National Geographic: The Incredible Human Machine
National Geographic: Moment of Death
Water: The Great Mystery
Unmistaken Child
Solitary Confinement
The Buddha
The Human Face
Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037
Rivers and Tides
Between the Folds
Witch Hunt
Jesus Camp
Urban Explorers: Into The Darkness
Egypt: Engineering an Empire
The Meaning of Food
Word Wars
The Phoenix Lights
Commune
Deliver Us From Evil
The Blue Planet series
The Cosmic Journeys series

 I've also just discovered Documentary Heaven, which I plan on thoroughly exploring!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

New! Art Spotlight: Mini Prints


Introducing my new Mini Prints - 5" x 5" prints, perfect for small spaces, or for mix-n-match groupings.
These Minis are each hand printed in shimmering gold on beautifully textured fine art papers in a variety of rich, vibrant colors.  Each one is signed and includes a small certificate describing the symbolism within each original design.  Some of these are totally new designs, and some are smaller, more simplified versions of my larger, more complex pieces.
Minis are sized to fit into square 5" x 5" photo frames, some suggestions:
http://www.salinepictureframe.com/showroom/category/5x5-square-photo-frames/

http://www.michaels.com/Embellished-Black-Ornate-Matted-Frame/fr0588,default,pd.html?start=4&cgid=products-framing-portraitcollection

http://www.buy.com/prod/5-x-5-picture-frame-in-silver-with-delicate-beading/q/sellerid/30885553/loc/66357/219355179.html

There are also multiple-opening frames available that would accommodate a trio of minis:
http://www.amazon.com/Collage-Picture-Frame-square-openings/dp/B0039MLCZ8
 
I have 6 designs avialable so far:

'Eternal Cycle':
Mystical oroboros, symbolizing cyclic nature, eternal return and self re-creation is combined with the sign for Infinity. The Wheel of Samsara represents the notion of reincarnation and the Endless Knot connotes infinite wisdom and interconnectedness. The 4 Elements (Air, Earth, Water & Fire) are represented by alchemical icons. The spiral signifies evolution and expansion, the Recycle sign suggests renewal and rebirth, the Yin-Yang symbolizes balance, and the adinkra symbol ‘hye wonhye’ represents imperishability.


'Lotus Blossom':
The Lotus begins life at the dark, muddy bottom of a pond, growing up toward the surface to eventually break into the light and blossom into a beautiful, fragrant flower. According to Buddhist lore, this process reflects the soul's
journey from the darkness of ignorance and materialism, through experience and learning, into the uplifting radiance of enlightenment.





'Namaste':
A figure performs the namaste mudra, a gesture of greeting and deep respect, surrounded by lotus blossoms, which represent spiritual growth and purity.







'Soul Mates':
A celebration of “soul mates”; two people who feel a deep connection to each other, whether they are close friends, lovers, partners or family. Two hearts intersect, cradling a single soul and sharing a pair of wings. A Celtic knot binds them together, a flame of passion and warmth glows between them and their roots intermingle. Ivy represents friendship and loyalty.


 'Good Karma':
The concept of Karma is essentially: "You get what you give." - a cosmic system of reciprocity and balance.  Interwoven hearts at the center radiate arrows of positive energy, which interact with other forces and return love to the center. Encircling is an ouroboros -  a mystical symbol of cyclic nature, eternal return and self-recreation. 

'Heart and Soul':
The Heart represents the Self, the Soul and the seat of emotion. Wings connote freedom, divinity and the ability to rise above our troubles. A Spiral Flame signifies warmth, light and passion. The Endless Knot is a symbol of infinite wisdom and the interconnectedness of All Things.

 Each Mini Print is only $12 each - making them truly affordable for adorning your space or giving as a special gift.
Browse the available selection here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/cristinamcallister

Friday, May 6, 2011

Portraits of the Fallen: Army Private First Class Hannah L. Gunterman

Several weeks ago I was approached by a friend who curates art shows in Los Angeles. She invited me to participate in a project commemorating fallen soldiers from California.  Each artist would be assigned a soldier and sent a photograph of them, from which a small (5" x 5") portrait would be painted. This portrait would be part of a public memorial display, along with several hundred others.


I'd recently been thinking about participating in a public art, and I decided to go for it.

I didn't realize how much it would impact me.

The soldier assigned to me was:
Army Private First Class Hannah L. Gunterman of Redlands, 20.
Based: Ft. Lewis, Wash.
542nd Maintenance Company, 44th Corps Support Battalion
Supporting: Operation Iraqi Freedom
Died: September 4, 2006
Taji, Iraq
Married, 1 child

I was sent a photograph and a link to this page: 
Wanting to learn more about this young woman, I typed her name into Google and found several articles related to her death.  What I discovered broke my heart.
For awhile, the tragic nature of her story sort of paralyzed me.  Thinking about this beautiful young woman, gone at the tender age of 20 years old, lost to her family, husband and young son, who had gone to war for our country and ended so tragically, filled me with such sadness, anger, confusion and heartbreak.  I can barely imagine the grief of her family.  I never knew Hannah, but her story tore me up inside.
I struggled with how to express all of it, how to honor her in the face of such heartache, and posted on Facebook about my situation and dilemma.  Thankfully, my friends offered me sound guidance, urging me to focus not on her death, but on her life, and her service to our country.
Ultimately I decided to paint a straightforward portrait - one that strives to capture the sparkle in her eye, her playful grin, her vibrancy.  
We hear the statistics about soldiers dying in wars all the time, but until we get a glimpse of their world, their deaths and the impact of their loss on their families, it's difficult to truly value the sacrifices they make for our freedom, and for the freedom of others.
This assignment has changed me profoundly. It's made me more aware of, and more appreciative of the risks our servicemen and women take to keep us safe and free. It is easy to enjoy our freedoms and comforts, to take them for granted and feel entitled.  But freedom is not 'free'.  There is a price, and our soldiers are willing to pay it so the rest of us don't have to.  That is a tremendous gift, and one we should all honor.
This portrait will eventually be displayed somewhere in Los Angeles, at a place and time as yet undetermined.  I will post the details when I get them

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Come See Us at the Paseo Springfest in Pasadena!


Gypsy Mystery Arts will be selling our wares at the Paseo Spring Fest in Pasadena on May 14th and 15th.  Join us for a weekend filled with arts, crafts, food and music at the beautiful Paseo Colorado Center in Pasadena.

More info at: http://laydback.com/

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Art Spotlight: 'Home Blessing'

'Home Blessing' by Cristina McAllister
A Mandala of Protection, Security, Warmth and Harmony

The snail shells represent the Home, as the snail carries its home with it - a safe place of protection that is a part of its being. The snail’s shell also has the form of a spiral, which is one of the oldest symbols in human art, signifying outward growth and cyclic expansion.
The hamsa, or “Hand of Fatima” is an ancient amulet of protection popular in the Middle East and North Africa. The ancient Jews, Egyptians and Arabs believed the Hand represented blessings, power and strength.  The five fingers have many meaning for Jews; they represent the five books of the Torah, the Hebrew number Heth, which is one of God's holy names, and serve as a reminder to use all five senses to perceive and praise God. The eye on the palm is a counter for the Evil Eye, a curse thought to be cast by an envious gaze.
Flaming hearts are sheltered by roof-like shapes, suggesting a hearth - the social center of a house, as a source of warmth, light and love.
Sprigs of sage are included to represent the Native American belief that burning sage can purify a place, banishing negative energy.
In the corners is the West African adinkra symbol fihankra (“house” or “compound”), which signifies safety and security. 
 At the center is the Chinese character for “Harmony”, which is essential for a happy household. 

This mandala makes an exceptional housewarming gift!
Unique, hand-made prints of 'Home Blessing' are available at my Etsy shop:
http://www.etsy.com/shop/cristinamcallister

Digital giclee prints of this mandala are available from Fine Art America.com:
http://fineartamerica.com/featured/home-blessing-cristina-mcallister.html

Sunday, April 3, 2011

True Life Story: The Gypsy Mystery Arts Studio and My Evolving Method

There be dragons here!
Our house (known fondly as the 'Technicolor Cottage') has become a fine art screen printing shop. 

  It’s everywhere.  In the living room are folding work tables, paints, inks and other art supplies, shipping tubes, a mat cutter, a printing press, and silk screens stacked against the walls.  The sofa and TV manage to squeeze in as well.  The bathtub is used as much for cleaning screens as it is for cleaning us.  The ‘dining room’ is half-filled with shelves and racks to store finished art and more art supplies. Dore’s garage has become an ever-evolving facility for coating and exposing screens. 
a fresh sheet of paper
          We are getting better at the process, but it can be complicated – lots of little things can go wrong, and have.  So far, we have both made more mistakes than perfect finished products.  But the ones that do turn out are turning out great, and we’re getting better with every try.

     My initial choice of substrate for my screen prints was heavy (140 lb.) watercolor paper, on which I hand-painted a background in acrylic paints.  After many frustrating printing issues, which I determined are 
painting the background with pastels
caused by the heavy paper warping slightly and sticking to the screen (ruining numerous painted backgrounds in the process), I decided to try a different substrate.
        I’d done a small run of prints on colored fine art paper (Canson Mi-Teintes) and the printing had gone much more smoothly, especially when I sprayed the press surface with a temporary adhesive that held the lighter-weight paper securely in place (the adhesive was not quite strong enough to hold onto the heavier paper). 
      The Mi-Teintes paper comes in a variety of colors and has a nice texture and was perfect for working with pastels.  I decided to try painting my backgrounds on this lighter paper with pastels, and it seems to have solved the printing problems I was having.  

the finished background
            For each piece, I trim the paper, then measure out and mark the image area. I mask off the edges of the image area, using scrap paper to shield the paper beyond the tape.  Using soft pastels, I layer colors over the paper’s base color, blending and smudging to create a background that has variation and interest, but is not too distracting.  The background needs to maintain a certain value level in order to let the metallic gold ink really shine.  The pastels actually enhance this effect, as they have a very matte, velvety finish that contrasts beautifully with the shimmering gold of the printed design.
   Once the pastel work is done, I spray it with a fixative to prevent further smudging, and remove the masking.

            Next comes the actual screen printing.  Dore built the press, which is a sort of box with a laminated surface and a pair of Speedball clamp hinges.  He has also taken charge of making the screens (a process fraught with its own technical difficulties and nuances to master). 

gold ink along top of screen
            The screen is clamped into the hinges and I determine how to line up my paper to center the design within the square of background. I mark the corner position with tape and spray a light coat of spray-mount to secure the background paper.

            The screen is pulled down and ink (which is about the consistency of creamy peanut butter) is applied along the upper edge of the screen above the image.  Using a wide squeegee, the ink is pulled down across the screen, pushing a thin layer of ink through the stencil.
Final print

  VoilĂ !  
The gold ink gleams against a vibrant field of swirling color.  Each print is then numbered, titled and signed.