underpinnings 2

underpinnings 1

quiet pond

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quiet pond

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oakcrest lane 1

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beechisland 1

artZilla 2014



Windows to the soul

I know what you’re thinking. “What? Two posts in one month?!” Can you stand it?
I’m still working thru my artist block and haven’t really slept soundly in ages. No different than my husband when he stays up at night worrying about our kids or a problem at the plant. I worry about what to paint. And how to paint it.
So far I’ve decided to go back to house shapes and trees. I’m taking my love for siberian architecture and channeling it into the houses and thinking about combining that with the tree element. Maybe the trees are against the backdrop of the architecture. These windows at Nalichniki are what have me all a dither lately.
The man who writes this blog published a book of his photographs. If I can figure out to to read Cyrillic I’m going to buy a copy. I figure it will arrive in about 6 months in time for my block to have sufficiently worked itself out:-)
Time to paint early this morning.
Happy Wednesday!



Too much of everything?

As I sit here at the dentist’s office reading an article about the building of the stone monuments at Orkney Island in Scotland (a Neolithic site predating Stonehenge built without modern tools), listening to the news in the background covering the senseless destruction of property in Ferguson, it strikes me–people today have everything. All of their needs are met. They have food, clothing, shelter, and so much more. Young people today are not spending their energy hunting and gathering in the wild. They aren’t building anything. Their minds have too much idle time. From what I am witnessing from my quiet little corner of the world it seems to me that what we need is to stop making life so easy for people. Let’s teach them to garden instead of handing them an EBT card. Let’s teach them construction rather than handing over the keys to subsidized housing. Let’s give them a plot of land and teach them how to be productive self sufficient members of society.
It all makes me too sad.

New works. New ideas. New day.

Just sitting on the back porch listening to the wind play with the beeches and counting my blessings. I love it here.

So what’s got me all thoughtful to the point of writing? Well you know how I’m always exploring themes in my work and striving to turn out pieces with personal meaning and reflection? I decided, after a heart to heart with a gallery owner whom I respect more than just about anybody, that it was time to take my work in a more serious direction. Playful is fine in the artwork but it doesn’t garner the paycheck of its more “sophisticated” non representational counterparts. At least this has been my experience. You can make the argument on both sides of this coin but if I’m ever going to be taken seriously for what I do I am going to have to appeal to a different collector and painting chickens in bright colors isn’t going to get me there right now.

Where was I? Meaningful. Serious. Oh! I was tooling around with softer color pallet punctuated with darks and simple abstract compositions and my son pointed out that it had a coal mining industrial feel to it and I jumped on that thought like a teenaged boy jumps on a tank top and short shorts. Shazaam! Coal mining and strip mines and altered landscapes are a huge part of my familial heritage so it was one of those karmic conversations that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

I’m keeping most of the new work under wraps for a bit longer but here is a look at a work in progress. It needs a final coat of wax and some antiquing and sgraffito work but you’ll get the general idea of where I’m heading. The detail photo is what the overall finished texture looks like on these new pieces. Love the subtle romantic quality of the colors.

Seems Zane, Rosie, Andrew and Anna are still whispering in my ear. Thanks gang:-)




After teaching the workshop “release your creative spirit” dozens of times, I’m still constantly amazed at how individual all of the paintings turn out. Since it’s throwback Thursday I thought why not take a trip down memory lane and highlight some of my favorites from workshops passed. And for more artwork, take a look at my old blog here>









Adult Summer Art Camp

I am so excited with the work that my grown up campers are doing this week I thought I’d pop in and share. We still have two more days left to go. I can only imagine the gorgeousness that will ensue.

And we’ve discussed having class later in the day in the future and enjoying a little adult beverage to loosen up the paint brushes. I’m thinking Yes!

Check out some of their work below and you decide. So fab!







enough about me…

work by Daniel Mcclendon

work by Daniel Mcclendon

I just got back from Asheville, NC yesterday after 3 fabulous days away with the hubster. Yes, three days of galleries, junkin’, beautiful flowers, and great food. Wait, you haven’t been? Go! Make your reservations NOW!

While we were trolling around the River Arts District, we fell into the most fabulous studio/gallery of Daniel Mcclendon.  He was there and we chatted him up for a bit. His new work is so energetic and immediate. You can just feel him painting it when you see it in person. His background is in realism and he says he painted that way for years until he became disenfranchised with his work and wanted to do work that was more a personal expression. 

Take a look at his website. I think the reason I responded to his work is partly his story. I can relate to that time in his career when he felt the need to switch gears and paint with more personal meaning. I’ve been there. When you are painting for a living it is all to easy to get stuck churning out work that is expected of you. But if you are brave and remain true to yourself, your work doesn’t need to become predictable.

Take risks. Paint from your heart. Create without thinking. Just do.



Oregon Recap!

Or “what I did over my west coast spring break teaching extravaganza”.

Last week I had the unbelievable pleasure to lead a group of 12 women for 2 days of painting and mixed media fun. We started Monday morning with some color mixing practice and then quickly moved on to applying that experience to simple color play using blues, yellows, and whites. We painted on a piece of wood and then cut that wood up into interesting shapes then reassembling those shapes into landscape pieces. So stinking fun. I love seeing how other people interpret my process and instructions. Here are a couple of examples. Aren’t they fun?!



After taking a break for dinner, we reconvened monday evening and using similar technique and process, we worked on small canvases and created bird paintings. In 3 hours! Gorgeous.



Tuesday we worked LARGE, as in 24″x48″. Again, using the same process, we created large figurative paintings. I’ll write more about the process we used and show some W.I.P. shots in my next posts but I wanted to share some of my favs from Tuesday’s marathon painting session. 9 hours, lots of large wood, lots of salted carmel toffee from Nevada City, CA (Thanks Terri!!), coffee, and I think a glass of wine or three. Wait until you see all of the pieces they made. I’m definitely going to be offering this series of workshops together like this again, probably in Aiken or Augusta, GA. Stay tuned.

And if you were at the retreat and read this, know that I had a blast and hope that we can do it again next year! So glad to have met each and every one of you!!

XO  ~staci




So it’s been a while:~)

Does anyone remember when I said that I would try to write every Tuesday? Oops.

After the craziness of the winter we had and hubby’s accident that I found myself in a funk. But I’m happy to say that RTB’s injuries are 99% healed, the sun is shining, the pond is back to full level, and I’m starting to feel like my old self again.

Since last I wrote I’ve had the show opening at Carolina Gallery, a show open at The Gertrude Herbert, a mini show celebrating the novel Moby Dick, and signed a contract with Winn Devon/Canadian Art Prints. I know, crazy, right? CAP will be carrying my tree paintings and I couldn’t be happier.

I will try (key word TRY) to write regularly again. I’m going to be preparing a new series of miniature pieces for a show coming up this summer so maybe if I plan ahead I can write directions or some such.




Carolina Gallery

It finally happened. My show at Carolina Gallery in Spartanburg, SC came to fruition. I’m so blessed that Shannon and Ed Emory afforded me the opportunity to showcase all of the different aspects of my art all in one place. Take a look below. Please contact the gallery if you are interested in any of these pieces. 864-585-3335. www.carolinagalleryart.com

Oh…and happy spring equinox.













Old Pond Pottery sur la table

luncheon set

luncheon set

Who’d have thought that when I painted those plates for my mother a few months ago that I’d find myself in the dinnerware business? But I’d told the Universe what I wanted to do with my career and this is what it delivered. I’m excited. I’m figuring out how to add a new page to my website and will have them here just as soon as I read my instructions for WordPress. Meanwhile, I added an Etsy shop named OldPondPottery and  you can purchase the pieces there. I will be adding items regularly so check back often. My next plan after getting this current colorway launched is to add a neutral color line this summer/fall…grey…camel…ivory…moss…soft orange…

Have a creative week everybody!










The Ice Storm Cometh

As you may or may not have heard we’ve had the mother of all ice storms here in Aiken and Augusta. Finally took a drive around downtown Aiken yesterday and it is so sad. Hundreds and hundreds of old growth magnolias just torn down. I’m seriously looking forward to spring at this point.
My husband had an unfortunate incident with a tree during the worst of the crazy sleet and freezing rain that was coming down on Wednesday. One of the doz or so that had fallen across our road down to the house kicked back on him as he was trying to cut it and caught him squarely in the face. Obliterated his rt cheekbone and broke the left side clear to his upper jaw. After spending 3 days in the hospital we came home to a few more days of no power or running water.
But I can honestly say that I have the dearest friends and support group ever and we made it thru no worse for wear. Hubby’s face is returning to normal proportions and the discoloration is starting to subside.
We are most fortunate.
Encaustic is still teasing me and I’m still trying to figure out the process. But research and playing around are starting to yield results. Not perfect yet but soldiering onward because that’s what we do around here.
This too shall pass.
Hugs and love to all.


nothing to see here

1300 spam comments.

every week.

it’s actually becoming a problem. I’ve adjusted a few things in my settings and I apologize to any of my legitimate readers if I’ve inadvertently labeled your comments as spam. Please don’t take it personally. It’s a little overwhelming to scan thru that much BS and try to discern what’s real and what’s spam. I’m now holding any and all comments for review so as not to allow the creepy advertisements to show up on my blog. If it doesn’t get better I’m going to take it down. I just can’t keep up with it. I never had this problem when I was on Blogger.

Ok. I’m done whining.

So Trinity is over and if I learned anything from that show it’s that abstract non-representational pieces are still king in the decorator market. Which got me thinking about what I’m painting for the show up in Spartanburg next month. I’ve exercised a few artistic demons over the last few months painting people and narrative pieces and my brain hurts. So I’m taking a break and painting textural abstract pieces. Still layering up my designs and line drawings, just removing the images. So the paintings right now are just about pattern, color, and texture. I’m picturing old deconstructed walls. The best part is playing with some new colors and seeing what I can do with neutrals and naturals….this week. Who knows what whim will grab me after a few canvases are underway.

hugs and kisses…staci


Encaustic and Everything Else

Well I know I promised to get these posts written on a Monday and in the mail by Tuesday mornings but by now you know how I am and last night I was attended  Spotlight on Art at the Trinity School in Atlanta. What a lovely evening. Spoke with friends both old and new and caught up with a few folks who bought artwork last year. Here’s hoping for another successful show for everyone. Keep your fingers crossed for the auction Saturday night at the Four Seasons and pray those 2 paintings I did with 3rd grade help to keep an art teacher employed for another year. If you haven’t seen them, here’s a link to a post I wrote a few months ago about how we did it. Two paintings total. Good times!

Let’s see…what else is new…the water level in the lake is down about 3ft so that everyone can work on their shoreline and docks. Hubster and I will be doing neither since we are still renovating a bathroom and contemplating building a barn/garage so that I have more storage and work space. I’m afraid the dock will have to wait. But YIKES! The tree stumps right in front of our property. It looks like an army of gnomes are rising up out of the depths. Kind of creepy in a Tim Burton sort of way. I am now terrified that if we do get our dock built, Waldo, the world’s largest lab, will hurl himself off of the end at high speed and impale himself on a gnome hat. Best not to dwell on it, Stac.

Artwise, I’ve been toying with the idea of encaustics for a few weeks now and finally this week I stole a few minutes from “producing” to experiment. I’ve got a long learning curve ahead of me on this one but I can really see the possibilities as far as layering. I started with a 24″x 24″ piece of birch plywood and did my usual drawing and painting, total disregard for color and form, just slapped that paint on there and painted without thinking. Then I cut the board up into 8″ squares. First let me say that if you are planning on cutting up your board, this would NOT be the wood to use. Yikes. Totally shredded the edges and I had to sand everything down. Then I painted melted beeswax over the surface, working with a heat gun to fuse the layers and keep it smooth. Carved it with a pencil then rubbed some black oil stick into the incised lines, rubbed in/off the excess with a paper towel and then went over it again with the heat gun. If you know anything about encaustics you know that there are more flaws to my process and use of materials than Carters has liver pills.  But I didn’t want to order supplies before I had a chance to just try it and (sheepish grin) I may have been a little impatient to wait for another order from Dick Blick :~) …I’ll be ordering items tomorrow.

The example below is far from perfect but I’ve decided to forge ahead because like I said earlier, I really am intrigued with the possibilities. I’m planning on using this series of miniatures for the show at Carolina Gallery next March.

So that’s what’s been going on around here. Back to work for me. Dishes to paint and 3 more large canvases to finish. I hope everyone is staying safe, warm, and smiling. Hugs. ~staci



Snowmagedden 2014

Only in our little corner of the universe could I be working in the garage chopping frames wearing a pair of shorts, the doors open to the outside while I think about running to the store to buy kerosene for tomorrow’s impending ice storm. Today it was somewhere in the vicinity of 60 degrees. Tomorrow we are expecting a high of 30 and 5″ of show and ice. I’ve never lived anywhere else with this kind of crazy bipolar weather. 

I admit that I’m more than a bit excited. Sure, we live in the woods and lose power at the slightest gust of wind. And sure, our driveway is so steep that the UPS man won’t come down to deliver my art supplies to the door.  And yes, I’m planning on wearing flannel pajamas for the next 72 hours. But I made my son stack up the firewood on the back porch to keep it dry and I did fight someone for the last pint of goats milk so at least we will have fire and food…’ish. 

Now all I need to do is finish framing all of the artwork I’m taking to Atlanta to Trinity School’s Spotlight on Art and I am OFF DUTY! Yes. You read that right. I’m giving myself a snow day on Wednesday. THAT is something to get me excited. I’m going to enjoy my 72 hours of winter. Then it’s time to think Spring and plan for the next workshop in Nashville at Studio Be. I’ll tell you more about that next week. Here’s a peek…                                                                                                  



Got to go throw another log  on the fire. I’m planning ahead:~)     


what’s it all for, anyway?

OMG. Sounds ominous, doesn’t it? Actually it’s the second part of my lesson from last week…”What in the name of **** do I really want to get out of this?” Or in simple down home country speak “why are you doing this Anni?”

Oh, in case you didn’t know, my mother calls me Anni from time to time, mostly when I’m being a pill. They named me Anastasia originally, after my great-grandmother but never put it on the birth certificate, in favor of Staci, a popular name back in the mid-sixties. This will surely contribute to much consternation years from now when I am gone and my paintings become worth oodles of pennies. You see, for a while, back when I was wrastling with inner demons and sorting thru the mental hoops of maturation, I went thru a phase whereby I signed my paintings “anastasia”. It was way back in the days when I was just starting to sell my work and I think I was hiding behind the name to be honest. Alas, after I took back my maiden name a few years ago I had this new found confidence and slapped that “Swider” moniker on anything and everything I could touch with a paintbrush and here I am. 

(I’m writing this at the moment on my back deck, beautiful South Carolina day out here, water flowing by on Johnson’s Lake ((really it’s just an extra large pond)) and the sweetest sparrows are flitting around at me feet. Let’s take a moment to pause and express thanks for this gift…) Ok. What was I talking about? Oh. Said Blog. It started out as a way to share my thoughts and ideas with other artists back when I wasn’t coming into contact with them on a daily basis. Back in the days when I lived in a cave. But that was eons ago and I’m happy to say that slowly but surely I’m building a network of friends and acquaintances who satisfy that side of my social cravings so I think I can tick that one off of the list. 

It helps me to keep to a schedule?  If you’ve been following for any length of time we all know that I’m full of horse poop on that one:~) My current yen is to write every Monday afternoon and schedule a drop into the ether in the wee hours of Tuesdays. Somebody call me on the carpet on that one in a few weeks:~)

Alright. Enough BS. These poor folks have work to get to and coffee to drink and you’ve been at it for what, like 4 paragraphs already and still haven’t made your point, Anni. (I can hear my mother’s voice as I’m typing.) I write because I need a way to stay in touch with potential workshop attendees. But more than that, who I am, what plays in the narrative inside of my head, is 100% a part of the artwork that I produce and I think the blog is a way to share that with people, both collectors and students. Some days I will share a bit about process, some days I’ll share a bit about inspiration and maybe inspire someone else. And almost always I will share a little bit of me, the person, the goings on out here on our old pond or down the street in our neck of the woods in our corner of the world. It’s that simple really. 

If you haven’t seen it already, here is a link to a talk I gave a few weeks ago. This will really give you food for fodder into who I am and why I do it. Enjoy. Hugs. ~staci

Blog Triage!

You’d think I’d have started this 2 months ago. I had a Eureka! moment several weeks ago and decided to sign up for help from Cynthia Morris and Alyson Stanfield thinking “Well, you’ve invested in this fancy new website. Better make the most of it and keep the ball rolling.” Sounds simple in theory, right? I mean, it’s not like I don’t get to sit here in my husband’s sweatshirt and my slippers every morning, laptop atop said lap, coffee next to me on the bed while I watch the morning news and listen to the cat play with her toys. Right?

So it’s time to stop making excuses and get down to brass tacks and make the most of my investment. I still haven’t figured out RSS feeds and spam comments on my blog that all seem to be coming from Germany, but dammit! At least I can figure out who I’m addressing when I write and what I want to get out of all of this. Can’t I?

(Cat update: we bought her one of those feather toys with the bell attached and she is currently wrastling it around from one end of the carpet to the other. And Big Boy Waldo is barking to be let in. I really don’t think they make a Kong feeder big enough to keep him busy for more than 5 minutes. Maybe a smaller hole? That’ll be next on my list of inventions for the future…)

Ok. Fresh coffee in hand. Dog in. Cat entertained. Other dog in her bed. Where was I?

Lesson 1: Who am I writing for? You’d think this is obvious but when you get down to it it’s really not so simple is it? On the one hand I am talking to the sweet sweet ladies on the west coast who enjoy taking my workshops. I love these gals by the way. All of them. There are 2 pairs in particular that I call to mind. All 4 of them are in their 50’s-60’s, creative in their own right, funny and charming as hell, and like to make art as gifts for people and to keep themselves busy in the off times. I’m not sure if any of them make artwork to sell but certainly they are all capable. I write part of my blog to keep them thinking and on their toes. There are other students out there that I’ve had and I hope to do the same for them as well. I think other professional artists who happen by here also fall into this category. While they’ve probably never taken a class or workshop from me maybe they will glean something useful from my process and make it their own.

I’m also writing for those folks who’ve invested in collecting my work. I want them not only to know when I’ve got new work coming but also to give them insight into how it all evolves. Who I am on the inside is so much a part of what ends up on the canvas, so to speak, and every time someone buys a painting or piece of sculpture from me they really are taking a part of me into their home or office and I like to think that we have some kind of connection.

I will promise to be more regular with my writing, now that the holidays are over and life is returning to somewhat normal. I need structure. So a big Thank You to Alyson Stanfield and Cynthia Morris for making these lessons available online. You can read more about them HERE and HERE. Let’s see if I can make the most of this!

Meanwhile, here’s a snippet from yesterday’s sketchbook. Organizing my thoughts re:dinnerware. I get to see the new samples today! I can hardly wait!!

Hugs. ~staci


Try something new

So it’s a new year and I firmly believe that when your artwork gets predictable you need to turn it on its ear. With that in mind I decided to change things up a little. Where I usually use blacks and super darks to draw and outline my images I decided to try blues. I think I like it. Very lively edges created. Tell me what you think!

Ciao babies!

Careful. Inspiration can strike anytime!

Sorry to not have written much recently. The holidays and preparing for several events have had me stretched and I afraid writing has taken a back seat. I actually signed up for a self directed class with Alyson Stanfield to improve my blog and still haven’t really started the assignments.

I just really want to check in with every one out in creative cyber land to say Happy new year! 2014 is already off to a crazy good start and I can’t wait to share everything that’s happening. Here is a quick peak at some newness…a dinnerware line by yours truly. Even the hubster is in on this One and he’s just as excited as I am. Here are a few pics of some of the designs.



That’s all for right now. Off to show the house again. One of these days someone is going to say they will take it and I can breathe a deep sigh of relief.
Follow your dreams my friends. You have absolutely no idea where they will escort you.

All is white in the world

Ok. So a few things here. We are driving up to Virginia to visit the inlaws. I was so looking forward to snow and winter scenery but they tell me it’s going to be 70 this weekend. Sigh. The good news is that I don’t have any shoes that look good with socks so I guess I can stop panicking about being a fashion victim this weekend.
Incidentally, this portion of highway going thru the state Capitol of South Carolina is OBNOXIOUS! What the hell? The bumping is about to make me vomit.
Where was I? Oh. Winter. Well to be more exact snow. Ain’t gonna happen this year. I’ll consider it a temporary setback until next year. Regardless, we are driving and stuck here in the car together…me the quiet one, and my spouse and step daughter who are talkers. Like “talkers who talk to themselves when no one is around” talkers. We are an interesting bunch. I love them but I need earplugs. But I’m learning a lot about chimeras and weird Human science and the Autobahn. No idea the stream of consciousness there. I keep tuning in and out and picking up snippets.
And I’ve lost my train of thought.

Back to the all white theme…
This is the latest painting on the easel. Another ancestor piece. The reason I’m sharing it is the whites. This is my current calculated choice lately when it comes to color…lots of whites contrasted by strong darks. My plan here is to fill in the background with strong darkest darks. (If you’re wondering, her headdress has shafts of wheat sticking out of it. Can’t wait to play with those colors!)
Did I talk before about the use of black? Well don’t! Avoid it. Instead use phthaylo blue or green and mix it with burnt umber, maybe add a little red to lighten it. So much livelier than a dead black area.
Below is a close up of the whites in her scarf and dress. Not a great picture but hey, I’m on my phone and I gots what I gots at my disposal. When I’m painting whites I like to have unbleached titanium, ttitanium, and them make it dirty with bits of nasty from my pallet. Doesn’t sound very scientific but it seems to work so I’m going with it until some highbrow curator tells me to stop. But then again, if some highbrow curator notices my work I will have gained a stature in my career that I can tell them all to pound sand.

I guess that’s all from me for now. Get sexy with your whites and make ’em dirty just a little. Not too dirty! Just add enough variety to make them interesting.
Pray for us quiet types this weekend. The inlaws won’t allow alcohol in the house. Last time Hubby and I made this trip we kept a tiny bourbon in our room. Shhh….don’t tell on me.

Conscious Transformation

I love the holidays. I love family get togethers and decorations and snow. This time of year always has me thinking about the old traditions of my grandmothers. Rosie was the baker and we always had nut roll and poppyseed bread. Anna made soups and Holy Night supper, a traditional Slavic meal served Christmas Eve. I miss the old days but I’m enjoying creating new traditions for my children.

It’s with all of this in mind that I’m preparing for a sermon (yes, you read that right) that I will be giving in January at the Unitarian church in Augusta. They asked me to speak about spirituality and my artwork and I jumped at the chance. No idea exactly what I will say yet but I’ve still got a month to get my thoughts together.

As part of the month long arts celebration 5 of us will be displaying our paintings in the sanctuary. How freaking cool is that??!!! So I’m painting these ancestor pieces and feeling all warm and grounded.

Live your life and be true to who you are. It’s a beautiful journey. The painting below is called “conscious transformation” and it’s my grandmother, Rose. Enjoy.








A little paint for today

On Saturday I had the pleasure of speaking with Brenda Durant, executive director of the Greater Augusta Arts Councel, on Jazz 92.3 fm. We talked about the family portraits I’m painting these days. I was a little off as I’d been sick as a dog the night before but all in all I had a nice Time and I think I pulled it off without sounding drunk from medicine:-) You can listen here and judge for yourself.

Meanwhile I think this canvas I’m working keeps growing! I always forget how long it takes to paint these large pieces. Here’s some lovely from today’s session with the brush. Working out most of the reds.




Have you got your shopping finished? Um. Yeah…