Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Hey everyone!

A few weeks ago I started working at an artisan ceramic tile studio in Portland called Clayhaus, all of the tile is made by hand through every step in production. While working in production is not ideal, this position really has allowed me to continue to learn and to add to my tool set. They are a great team and wonderful people, I am very happy to be working with them.

I am kind of the float studio assistant, helping out wherever I'm needed. This rocks because I am learning new things all the time. Mostly I am working the 30 ton ram press to make tiles, the images below demonstrate the process of making a dye for the press to create tiles.

Okay so the way the dye on a press works is this: It is basically a two part plaster mold. Inside the mold is a wire mesh with a hollow chord winding through it, this will be the tunnel for air to travel through. The mold is hooked up to an air compressor, when you press the pedal air is pushed through the tube inside the mold and then out through microscopic air paths created when the mold is curing. The air and water forced out through these paths allows the clay to release from the mold.
This is the machine the dye goes on.
Inserting the wire mesh with attached hollow chord for air flow.
Sealing the bottom of the dye with plasticine so the plaster won't leak out.
Freshly poured plaster, 55 lb bag! 
Scraping off the extra plaster to create a smooth surface, (this is a bottom dye so it is completely flat)
Air is purging the water out of the plaster creating the pathways for air to travel through when in use. 
Air and stem coming out, this much plaster took a while to kick but you can see the heat! 
Anyways: Here is a little more of the studio, loading and unloading kilns.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Tool Libraries

I have made an incredible discovery recently, upon my move to Portland I found myself without a woodshop. For the past few years I have been spoiled with the luxurious facilities of my university with a full blown wood, metal and materials shop and a digital lab with plotters, 3Dprinters, laser cutters and cnc mills. I could go and get a membership to a maker space such as Portland's ADX or Techshop which has locations popping up everywhere! However those memberships range from $50-$200 per month plus class fees.

Here is a cheap (& often free) alternative! Do a google search to find a tool library in your neighborhood! Mine, North East Portland Tool Library (NEPTL), is completely volunteer run and donation based! Tool libraries make sense economically and environmentally plus it can bring a community together! I myself have taken to volunteering my time, plus I know a little about tools so that helps!

Want to find one near you?

Check this Wiki list to see if there is one near you!  

What is a Tool Library?

Tool libraries are just like traditional libraries, but with tools instead of books.  They are great for people who can’t/don’t want to buy/rent tools they are only going to use once in a while.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Head in the clouds

Hey all! It's been lovely getting used to Portland, not sure when I'll feel like an official Portlander, Portlandier? Starting a lovely teaching job this week! I get to work with kids a few hours a week. Another favorite activity of mine recently is volunteering at the tool library, look to see if you can find one in your area. It is awesome- tool sharing is free, economically smart and planet friendly!

Analog: In the Studio
If you are interested in purchasing a work please email me for prices. You can see available works here. They are going like hot cakes!

Digital: In the Cloud
This weekend I spent some time learning about making patterns. Here is a brush I made, you are welcome to download and use it! 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Sami Lee Woolhiser’s “Enso” Unveiled at Sicky Nar Nar

Just found this article by the wonderful Kayla Goggin from the Savannah Art Informer (one of my favorite publications and art promoters)! I do appreciate the critique she offers here and I do have to agree with many of her comments. The frame supporting the work could use some engineering modifications, I can't say I didn't learn anything from this experience. If I didn't then it wouldn't really be worth it now would it?

I do have to give a big thank you to Sicky Nar Nar for providing me with the space and the exhibition fellowship. While their identity can be ambiguous and their methods unconventional it is run by a group of passionate artists who are interested in displaying the many facets that create Sicky Nar Nar.

Sami Lee Woolhiser’s “Enso” Unveiled at Sicky Nar Nar

by Kayla Goggin, Editor-in-chief. Photographs by Lauren Flotte, SAI Contributor.

Last Friday night Sicky Nar Nar gallery hosted the opening of Sami Lee Woolhiser’s exhibit Enso. The show was comprised of a single work of art: a fabric installation, the second in a series of “passages” Woolhiser has created. About 45 sheets of fabric hung in a circle (the bottoms of the fabric floated several inches off the floor), creating a circular passageway. Atonal music made up of the sounds of water dripping, wind-chimes, and soft rustling played in the background.


It was a kinetic, experiential artwork that encouraged visitors to stroke the fabric as they walked through, their touch moving the piece in an undulating tide that circled around to greet the next person. In a short conversation, Woolhiser revealed that the fabric she used is actually twin-sized bedsheets which she chose for their familiar, comforting quality. During our chat, the artist mentioned that she wanted to evoke the childhood memory of running through drying sheets on a clothesline; she seems interested in overlapping images of domesticity and of nature, including the glacial ice caves that the dip-dyed white-to-blue fabric is so reminiscent of. Whatever the mind conjured up inside of Enso – it was all wrapped up in feelings of intimacy and calm.


The experience of engaging with this work was entirely meditative. The arrangement of the piece suggested a form of walking meditation: you follow behind the patron in front of you, adapting to their pace as you slowly walk in a circle. Some people chose to walk in a straight line, bisecting the piece and disrupting the flow, but inside of Enso everything seemed permissible. The piece asked little of the viewer, it was merely an invitation into a peaceful, endless space. The stacked fabrics floated inches off the ground like thin veils, quivering diaphanously in the slight breeze that came through the gallery door. A tree in a wooden planter stood in the center. It might have been easy to imagine oneself in a monastery somewhere in the forest if not for the tiled gallery floor and (unfortunately) visible PVC armature.
The work was complimented by atonal music from Kevin Lee, Jr., which Woolhiser told me was interactive. She claimed that the chimes, water drips and ethereal clinks of Lee Jr.’s composition were corresponding to the movements of visitors inside the installation. When asked where the sensors were located Woolhiser refused to say. “That’s a secret,” she said. Either way, the music helped round out the trance-like reverie the piece attempted to create.


As a conceptual work of art (a la Christo’s The GatesEnso was aesthetically engaging from the perspective of both the viewer and the participant. But its success was ultimately limited by the space it was housed in. It is my opinion that the work might have been more effective in a space better prepared to create an atmosphere appropriate to Woolhiser’s vision. It is unfortunate that Sicky Nar Nar failed to seize the opportunity to coalesce here; a change in lighting, for example, could have made a significant difference. Why not use the uber-hip mason jars hung from the focalized tree to create ambient lighting? Why not hold off on the coffee sales for an evening in favor of an environment free from the intrusion of those transactions? I applaud the gallery for exhibiting Woolhiser’s refreshing work (god knows it’s nice to see an installation in Savannah!) but I question their prioritization of the art itself. What does Sicky Nar Nar want to be? A gallery? A coffee shop? A yoga studio? A venue?
As a result, the effectiveness of the piece on its audience was indeterminable. Enso was engaging aesthetically (though a second incarnation with a concealed armature would be a welcome improvement) but failed to provide lasting sustenance as an artwork. Woolhiser is obviously a young artist with extraordinary promise and creativity. I hope that her next offering is as ambitious experientially as it is conceptually.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

From Air to Canvas

So this post is for Kristen Crouch! My A-team/ dream studio bud! While I was editing some of the photos from my flight this past weekend I had some hick-ups in Photoshop, these images are the results. Made me think of you Kris.

My favorite one. Maybe I'll make a print!
Anyways, here are more of me actually doing what I was trying to do in the first place...

I am not ashamed to say I paint from photographs. Not just because it would be very difficult to paint something in a moving plane. Humanity takes photographs so literally, people believe that that image is a representation of something true that actually existed at one point in time and that it captured a moment that is otherwise intangible. This is true and it is false, the light that was interpreted by the camera did filter through the lens (or however that works) but it is also not the actual thing. Anyways I work from these images and interpret them in my paintings through my color palette and mark making, to me everything and all experiences are translations of actual existence. So it goes.

Monday, September 22, 2014

First Flight- McMinnville Municipal Airport

Here is a peak of the reference images for my upcoming works! Took a little flight in a 172 out McMinnville Municipal Airport. I even got to fly it during take off!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Fresh Aerial Landscape Series

Here are some of my recent works since I've arrived in Portland. To create these works I have referenced photographs I have taken when flying to and from Cali. These locations are primarily the Portland area and Sacramento delta area. Enjoy!

Please send me an email if you are interested in acquiring any of these works! samileeart@gmail.com

River Bend
16x20 inches
Oil on Canvas

16x20 inches
Oil on Canvas

Delta Crossroads
12x16 inches
Oil on Canvas

Delta Fields
16x20 inches
Oil on Canvas

Inside Fields Far Away
20x16 inches
Oil on Canvas

River Road
16x20 inches
Oil on Canvas

Water Finds Its Way
16x12 inches
Oil on Canvas

Through The Delta The
River Runs
12x16 inches
Oil on Canvas

Surround Me in Foliage
16x20 inches
Oil on Canvas

Sun Sets Shadows
16x20 inches
Oil on Canvas

Friday, August 29, 2014

My First Last Thursday

So I'm new to Portland, just heard about the Alberta Last Thursday art fair, every last thursday all summer long. I decided to bring my aerial landscapes out for some feedback and to meet some artists. I had the pleasure of speaking to art enthusiasts, artists and creatives today. Here is my little set up:

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Samalama Studios PDX

Hey everyone!

I am in love with Portland! I have been busy working in the studio, exploring my beautiful neighborhood and looking to be involved in the making/ art community here! Here are a few images of my small painting studio, I can't wait to get involved with a maker space community so I can get my hands on some power tools!


my nook

Detail of an aerial landscape painting in the works!

Westley asleep in the violin case!