This life we's strange, painful at times, but oh so beautiful.

I am a fusion dance artist and teacher, a fire dancer, and a visual artist. I draw inspiration from nature, music, and the amazing people that come into my life. I am also a conservationist who makes jewelry and found object multimedia craft type art in my spare time (when I'm not reading, writing, or lighting things on fire and dancing around with them). I love to dance barefoot on the beach, watch the stars move inexorably across the heavens, and to laugh with the people that I love. I am currently based in Greenville SC, working with Discordia Arts to provide unique and exciting entertainment to the Upstate.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Finding Inspiration in the Storm

Storm Goddess on Silk
I've been doing a lot of figure work lately, and had begun moving towards more representational work as opposed to the very abstract pieces that I started with. This one is a move back towards my abstract pieces, drawing on inspiration from nature and movement - she's a storm goddess, whether conjured up by a storm or creating the wind, I will leave it to the viewer to decide. I used 7 different washes of blue for the figure and a range of greys, greens, browns and water to paint the background. The leaves blowing by introduce just a hint of color. I'm in a tumultuous place spiritually right now, and the intense weather that so many of us have been seeing recently really lent the inspiration for this piece. I can't wait to steam set and iron this one to see how she turns out.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Freedom Weekend Aloft Artists' Showcase

Roberto Cortez
The decision to hold an artists showcase at Freedom Weekend Aloft was apparently a last minute one, but they couldn't have found a more eclectic and fabulous group of people to showcase!

Nichole Madonna
When I arrived at the venue for the pre-set up meeting, I immediately met Roberto Cortez and his wife (some of my new favorite people - by the way). Transplanted to Greenville from California, they are an amazing couple. Roberto's art work is full of color and life, and his abstract paintings really draw the eye. I am still debating between five or six pieces to try and figure out which is my favorite.

We set up ahead of time, on Thursday, and I met my booth neighbor, Nichole Madonna (no relation to Madonna Madonna - just in case you were concerned - as some have been). Another transplant to the area (this time from Pennsylvania), Nichole does really fascinating pieces that have an organic feel to them. I've enjoyed chatting with Nichole and her fella throughout the course of the weekend.
Lexique Studios

When I arrived Saturday for the first day of the showcase, I was early - I'm always early, but it's better than always being late! I met Stephanie, the force behind Lexique Studios, a jeweler and another kindred and kind soul.

Once we got started, I met my other booth neighbor, Mel Rivera. Mel is possibly one of the best pencil portrait artists that I have had the pleasure of meeting, and he's a joy to share space with - though he lost his cellphone on day one and has had all kind of problems trying to access the WiFi, Mel has been upbeat and pleasant the entire time, and people love his drawings!
Mel Rivera

Stephanie of Steph-n-Annie and Elizabeth of Elizabeth studios are sharing a booth across from us where they display Stephanie's whimsical mosaic work and Elizabeth's gorgeous photography. Stephanie and Elizabeth are tons of fun to chat with, and I really wish I had lots of money so that I could buy pieces from them both! Behind them, Dan Taylor spent the past two days both selling and making stained glass. His leaf inspired pieces are absolutely stunning.
Stephanie and Elizabeth

Rounding out the art, Laura Nance reminds me of the mother that loves everyone. Her watercolors reflect a soul that is full of joy and kindness. She paints flowers, and they are amazing! Bossy Mossy Beads have a great display right by the front door, and Jocelyn Davis' paintings make me want to go run around in the mountains somewhere until I find a beautiful view and then sit...and enjoy.

 hot air balloons and me
Around 7 pm, someone noticed that all of the hot air balloons were taking off, and we ran outside to see them floating away. It was a beautiful sight. I rounded out the day watching the Wailers play some of my favorite reggae tunes while the sun set over the trees.

It's been an incredible two days, and I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Uniq by Jaidra's Upcoming Events

Uniq by Jaidra Silk Scarves
I will be exhibiting artwork at Freedom Weekend Aloft this coming weekend on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday (May 28 - 30) . The artists' showcase will run from 2 to 7 pm each afternoon. If you're going to be in Greenville this weekend, this is going to be an incredible event with concerts, frisbee dog competition, games, hot air balloons, and of course ART!
I will have silk scarves, pillows, veils, and paintings available as well as jewelry.

Jaidra Sword Dance

The following Sunday, June 5, I will be teaching this Sword Dance Workshop in Williamston, SC. I am looking forward to this one. Some bellydance experience is necessary to get the most out of this class. I will be focusing on swinging and spinning the sword, balance, and fluidity with a brief lecture section on proper care and storage of swords.

Custom Fairy Henna Back Piece
I am following this up with henna at the Savannah Asian Festival as a guest artist with Crimson Arts Henna. Elizebeth, Crimson Arts' main artist taught me how to mix and apply henna and continues to function as my henna art mentor and I am honored that she asked me to help out at this event on June 11.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Enchanted Chalice Renaissance Faire - A Dancer's View

Sword Dance
 I have the strangest sunburn. Luckily, I took my parasol with me, but it didn't keep me from burning in an odd pattern around my bodice, necklace, and turkish vest. The sunburn is totally worth it though. Yesterday was amazing!

I am having a great time!
We arrived at the Faire at noon and were pleasantly surprised at the size and scope of the event. For a small Renaissance Faire located at a church in Greenville, was wonderful. Two stages were set up, along with wide variety of vendors, events, games, and demonstrations.

 My first performance was as a guest of the Daughters of Ishtar at 12:30. I have been dancing for almost ten years now (and loving every second of it), but I've only recently begun to consider myself a professional performer - and events like this are what made me realize that I am becoming what I have long aspire to be.

Greenville ATS Dancers
I didn't have a plan - other than dance the best that I could and plop a sword on my head. I was thrilled that I hadn't tried to choreograph anything because there's no way that it would have worked.

 The "stage" was a grassy hillside with a bamboo mat laid on the grass. I was blessed to have a wonderful musician as my accompaniment, and a spectacular audience topped it all off.

I even managed a little floorwork on the hillside!

Jaidra with Veil
Belly Dancers
I was followed by the lovely Greenville ATS dancers who absolutely rocked it out. I love watching these ladies dance - grace and skill topped with a joy that is palpable. The crowd loved them, as they should.

We topped it off with a free for all belly dance jam session. I broke out my veil and played, and a good time was had by all.

 We spent a little time recuperating in the shade before the 1 pm processional march following the king and queen around the faire grounds.
All Hail the King and Queen

The grounds were absolutely lovely. Our musician spent a little time with us before taking off to do SCA reenactments in the baking sun - hats off to those guys!

We Love a Parade
 The bellydancers had a wonderful time in the processional. Brandy and I spent the majority of the time coming up with new and exciting ways to dance and walk at the same time.

 After the parade, we had a little time to wander around the faire grounds and check out the miriad vendors and activities. I was especially impressed with the phase of the moon jewelry and the picture cutouts. Aren't we adorable as a princess and knight!

We took a mid day break from the Faire to eat and rest in the shade before I had to be back on stage with Thee Inner Cirkus.

Add caption
I opened Thee Inner Cirkus' set with a fire fan performance at the chalice stage. This stage was more stage like, and more comfortable for fire dance. I didn't have to worry about falling down a hill - just setting the backdrop on fire (just kidding - I had a great fire safety guy ready to put out the set or me if a problem presented itself, and luckily he didn't have a job to do).

I unfortunately didn't get photos of the other cirkus folks, but they were Phenomenal! Andy Greenman and Mel debuted their acrobalance act, which was stunning. Robin rocked out the fire hoop, Leila and Andy were extremely impressive with contact fire and fire breathing.

Jaidra with Fire Fans
 Crickett was as ever, a consummate performer on a balance board with fire devil sticks - super cool! Kenny Phoenix, whom I just got to meet, is a wonderful contact juggler and awed the crowd. I made a second appearance with the was a rousing show and a wonderful time!
Jaidra with Fire Fans

Jaidra with Veil
Sunburned and exhausted, I left the Faire richer in friends and experience and thrilled to have gotten the chance to participate in the inaugural event of what I am sure will become an upstate staple!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Finished Fae Princess Silk Painting

Silk shot on an angle in attempt to show shimmer of fabric
 I used 8 different jewel toned and lighter washes to create the abstract background for my princess silk. I applied alcohol liberally over the dyes while they were wet and mixed colors in broad swathes directly onto the dry silk. I then placed both fine and large grained salt in streaks across the silk while the dye was wet. The alcohol and salt create fabulous abstract patterns on the silk. Unfortunately, I don't believe photos can accurately portray silk paintings - the silk glows, and the dye takes on jewel like qualities.
Finished Fae Princess silk - still on stretcher frame

Saturday, May 14, 2011

More Happy Accidents in Silk

So often, I decide that I want to try something and I have no idea how it's going to work out. I guess that an important trait in art as well as in life is to have the courage to try something new while knowing that you very well may fail.

Something I have attempted multiple times and never been able to do is paint a person's face in detail. Silk isn't easy, and though I know it's possible, I've had difficulty in the past with the human form. Shading in detail enough to create highlights on a face that are relatively realistic is difficult on silk, so what I decided to try this time was painting very pale washes of pink and brown onto wet silk. I was hoping that since the colors were light and I was working on wet silk that I would be able to fade out the edges and create gentle highlights.

I made a sketch and transferred the sketch to silk. I hated the hair - it looked I changed it, using a technique that I've used in small scale, breaking up the hair in small sections to give the finished piece a very mosaic look...and I'm thrilled with the results. Today I'm going to attempt to remove the old hair resist lines and paint in an abstract background around her.

Silk Painting

Friday, May 6, 2011

Dancer Series Silk Paintings: Go Go

sketch of go go dancer
Oh my! It's rare that I get more than one full silk painting done in one day - it's a long and intricate process from start to finish, and unfortunately I only have one stretcher frame for each size silk that I work on. Hopefully that will change when I get a studio, but who knows when that will be!

I had a bit of a head start on today since I already had the Cancan dancer resist lines finished and only had to paint (the easiest part for me), but what really got me through was the energy that I'm feeling from these silks. I'm enjoying every part of working on this series, and I'm not running out of inspiration any time soon. My new batch of silks came in the mail and I was off and running.

Resist Lines for Go Go Dancer Silk

I didn't need to look up photos for the Go Go Dancer silk since I was initially inspired to start this series following my own experience dancing for a 70's disco themed benefit last weekend.  I used the costume I wore as the general starting point and went from there. The sketch turned out exactly the way I wanted it on the first try (a rare experience), and I immediately got to work on the resist lines.

I chose the checkerboard and disco ball themes to add in extra ties to the 70s, and left little resist circles along the checkerboard to make it seem as if they were spots from the disco ball.

The color scheme I went with was bright on bright. I used thin resist lines on the top part of the background with the intention of flooding the lines and letting the colors run together. I enhanced this effect by putting salt along the resist lines to draw the dye.

Go Go Dancer Silk - Finished
It's late now, and I'm exhausted, but happy. I love dancing, and I love bright colors, and this piece has a whole lot of both - that's the way I like it (uh huh, uh huh!)

Dancer Series Silk Paintings: CanCan

CanCan Dancer Silk Painting
I personally find it fascinating that when I sat down to decide which dance styles to represent in my new silk paintings series, I went straight to the dance styles that in their time were risque - flapper, burlesque, cancan, disco, bellydance, etc.

The third piece in the series is the CanCan dancer. I spent a good bit of time looking at pictures on the internet for my inspiration in this piece. I did what I normally do, which is take bits and pieces from different photographs as my inspiration, sketch out an outline, and then free hand the resist lines on the silk.

This piece turned out bright and bubbly, just as I planned. Now I have a few days of material imposed rest while I wait for my order of silks to get here...and then I'll get to work on my disco dancer!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Dancer Series Silk Paintings: Burlesque

fans still drying
After deciding to work on a series of silk paintings depicting dancers, I spent the morning making a list of styles that I thought may be fun to paint. Of course, I found myself listing dance styles that my friends are involved in first.

I ended up with 16 specific styles of dance that I feel can be depicted through costuming, color, and body position. I probably won't end up painting all of these, but it's a good place to start. I then did a google image search for some of these dance styles and played around with my sketch pad.

I ended up with two finished sketches, one of a cancan dancer and the second of a burlesque dancer with huge ostrich feather fans - I feel that these fans are gorgeous, and highly evocative of this dance style. 
I knew that the fans would be the most difficult part of this piece to paint, so I started there, using a process similar to the flapper dress I worked on yesterday - washes of black dye and water applied liberally around and through the black streaks to fade and fan the color.

I chose orange and pink for the dancer's body, depicted her stage in browns and grays and painted the background red using water and the same black washes to fade vertical streaks through the red in order to make the background look like curtains.

Burlesque Dancer Silk Painting
She's super sexy - can't wait to see what's going to happen next in this series!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Flapper Silk

I had a fabulous gig on Saturday night. The Go-Go dance group the 2-3s asked me to come dance with them for the Moonlight and Magnolia's benefit for the American Cancer Society at Zen in downtown Greenville.

flapper resist lines
Of course,  I was thrilled to get to dance with these women for a variety of reasons. The first being that they are all beautiful, super cool girls who I'm lucky to count as some of my first friends in a new city...the second being that my mother is a breast cancer survivor and since I am not yet monetarily capable of supporting charities that I believe in, I am always thrilled to find other ways to donate my time and talents for a good cause...and the third being the fact that I got to go dancing, and I've never found a dance floor that I didn't like!

The event was a wonderful time, and I hope that it marked the first of many events that I get to participate in with the 2-3s. Also, I became inspired by the women I was with and my love of dance to begin work on a new series of silk paintings.
I'm a silk painting fool

Though I have played with dance and the female form in quite a few of my silk paintings, I have kept the figures mostly unadorned and very general. This series is going to celebrate dance by representing specific dance styles through costuming.

The first piece I decided to work on is a direct result of Saturday night. One of the girls wore a beautiful white fringe flapper style dress. The movement of the fringe while she danced was absolutely mesmerizing, so I decided to begin this series with "The Flapper"

I did a preliminary sketch for this one - from memory and my imagination. I decided to keep the face and body general but to really increase the detail on the ornamentation: her dress and hair piece.

Flapper with background started
I chose washes of black and water for the dress and feathers to give the impression of movement, and I went pink and purple on her body with pink, purple, gray, and blue bubbles behind her.

I used a variety of green, blue-green, and yellow washes and mixed them liberally with water both on and off of the silk in order to achieve a patchy sort of grass looking base. I mixed cyan, dark blue, and black to achieve a bold background for the sky, and I faded that into a gray-blue top section.

I'm thrilled with this piece. I also finished a set of modified shibori style scarves today, and I'm impatiently waiting for them all to dry so that I can take the finished flapper off of the stretcher and start on my next dancer. More soon!