Nightmare Before Christmas at Carter Sexton

–by Sarah Hage

Carter Sexton Artist Materials
5308 Laurel Canyon Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91607
(between Magnolia & Chandler)

Halloween Show

Artist Reception 6-9 PM, Friday October 11

JackCarter Sexton Artist’s Materials has been at the same location since opening in 1944. It was, and still is, a family owned business. No small feat in the time of big box stores and online suppliers. Part of its current success can be attributed to the staff who are almost all artists in their own right. Store Manager Niki Lambro has infused the locale with new life by curating a series of compelling art shows drawing on a wealth of local talent. For the Halloween Show, she even scored some original illustrations from Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”

It is my scary good luck to have two pieces in the same show as Tim Burton: my Catrina Lamp and my Rest in Peace Dead Head.

Tall Catrina Lamp

Tall Catrina Lamp

The Sushi Pirate food truck will be out front and wine and munchies indoors. Next door, the Art Parlor is having another Halloween-themed art show called Dark and Stormy…get two shows for the price of none!

Rest in Peace

Rest in Peace

Countdown to Another Painting—Week 3

Week3_dA-10-04-13Finished! With just enough time for the paint to dry before I deliver to the dA Gallery this Sunday.

White oil paint takes the longest to dry. As I type, this piece is baking in the sun on my patio. If you’re really in a hurry, artist Margaret Garcia recommends placing the work in the oven on a slow temp. There’s a punchline in there somewhere, but it’s not coming to me at the moment. If you think of a good one, please message me.

This yet-to-be-named painting and Handsome (below) can be seen at the dA Center for the Arts, 252-D Main Street, Pomona, California from October 12 through November 16. This group show is titled Aztlan: The Next Decade.


Another Vanity Posting


Vanity 2

–by Sarah Hage

Have you taken a good hard look in the mirror lately? Forget bad hair and wrinkles. Gaze into this Catrina mirror and see a grinning skull superimposed on your face for an all-in-one before-and-after picture of things to come. The skull is etched into the back of the mirror to create the effect. The rest is papier-mache (of course) and paperclay, including the skeletal hand with string of pink pearls.

Vanitas is a theme that dates back to the middle ages in European art and is still “alive” today in Mexican Day of the Dead celebrations. Central to this theme is the human skull. Images also include flowers and feathers that symbolize the fleeting aspect of life. The mirror is a symbol of reflection on mortality and the “vanity” of youth and beauty, which fade.

Not to be vain or anything, but my first Vanity was acquired from the LAVC art show by the Museum of the San Fernando Valley.



You can see Vanity 2 along with my Vegan Deer Skull with White Rose as part of The 3oth Annual Dia De Los Muertos Show at the Folk Tree from September 28th to November 3. To see what else is in the show, visit the Folk Tree Facebook page.  If you can, try to make it to the reception this Saturday, October 5th from 2-6PM. There will be music, food, floor-to-ceiling altars, and lots of Day of the Dead themed art.


Spaceship Betty Goes 3D

–by Sarah Hage

When I first met Spaceship Betty she was on the phone. Specifically, on the back of  a smart phone owned by creator and alter-ego Lynnda Rakos. She was adorable. I wanted one, and I don’t even have a smart phone. With her huge space helmet coupled with a flippy a-line dress and ballet shoes, she hearkens back to a more innocent age, which is a large part of her appeal. Plus, Spaceship Betty and her dog Bubblegum zip around the universe on their own rocket ships. Think Jetsons meet Dora the Explorer.

So when Lynnda asked me if I would help take Betty 3D, I was excited. I was going to have a papier-mâché playmate and, at least from the standpoint of a sculptor, Spaceship Betty was going to get real.

Spaceship Betty gets real

Phase 1: We rummaged around the garage for things to make the armature and came up with the usual suspects…a broken chair leg, newspaper, wire, duct tape, a ball. Lynnda was skeptical. Understandably. The skeleton version of Betty looked like an alien, and not the friendly kind. Betty’s mother wanted to cry. I reassured her and then stuck her hands in paste. It was warm and that made her feel better.

Phases 2-10: Getting the football-shaped head right posed a problem. Betty underwent several brain surgeries. Fortunately, I don’t think she remembers. Being quite top-heavy, she needed a good base to stand on…a hat box with some Quickcrete did the trick. After the paste and paper phase was done, Spaceship Betty went home with mom.

Phases 10-25: As far as I’m concerned, this part happened off-line. When Spaceship Betty went home, she whole but in rough shape. After many rounds of patching and sanding and patching and sanding; then painting and finishing. Lynnda unveiled Spaceship Betty 3D. My jaw dropped. She’s a stunner.

Spaceship Betty

Spaceship Betty

bubblegum3dGirl’s best friend

Next to follow was Bubblegum, Spaceship Betty’s aptly named dog and trusty sidekick. This time we wised up and Lynnda brought a dog-toy football for Bubblegum’s head to Phase 1. During Phases 2-10, Lynnda bemoaned that Bubblegum resembled a lizard on a stick, a phenomenon she saw in Mexico. But when Lynnda took Bubblegum home and did her magic in Phases 10-25, Bubblegum emerged as cute as a button.

Spaceship Betty takes off

In the next project, Spaceship Betty goes on her first adventure. See her streaking across the surface of a strange and wonderful robot planet in her spaceship. Look closely and you can see that the continents are robot-shaped land masses emerging from moody blue oceans. I can’t wait to see the animated version of the story!

Fun Facts about Spaceship Betty

Spaceship Betty Goes to the Robot Planet

Spaceship Betty Goes to the Robot Planet

  • Born in September 2006, the only child of a Rock ‘n Roll musician father and a scientist mother
  • Lives on a huge spaceship in an undisclosed location in the universe
  • More comfortable around robots than humans
  • Mission: “Fighting for Freedom and Fun”
  • How others describe her: “Funny Sunny”
  • Best Friend: Bubblegum, her dog
  • She is lonely on that big empty spaceship and likely to get into trouble
  • She has her own Facebook Fan Page. Be sure to Like her.

The future of Spaceship Betty

Next week Spaceship Betty’s very own song “Extraordinary Girl” will be recorded in the studio by musician song-writer David Harvey with David Burke (host and creator of animated TV show “Hey Wordy”) and musician Jay Goeppner. You’ll be able to see it on YouTube when it is done.

Coloring books are in the works. There is some buzz around an animated TV series or even a movie. I’ve got my 3D goggles ready.

Countdown to Another Painting—Week 2

Week2_dA-9-23-13This piece is for an exhibit opening Saturday, October 12 at the dA Center for the Arts ( in Pomona. “Independence Day” must be finished in about 10 days.

Started working on it around noon and hit a wall. I just couldn’t see what I needed to see in my reference photo. I knew the problem: busy brain…a morning listening to phone calls from stressed people. I put down my brush, harnessed up the pup, hopped in the car and drove to Betty Davis Park, a couple miles down the road. After a half hour surrounded by peaceful California beauty, I went back to my studio and easily slid into “Independence Day.”

At this point the painting might not make sense to you. In a week, palm trees stretching into the sky will form a frame around the sides. And there are bright highlights behind the groups of people at the bottom. Those are the last details to be added. Wisdom from a great teacher: The first thing you see is the last thing you paint.

Vegan Deer Skull with White Rose

–by Sarah Hage

Vegan Deer Skull 2

Vegan Deer Skull 2

No redemption

I’ve been hitting the seltzer hard over the summer, generating bags of empty bottles for recycling. A pet peeve of mine is that it is darn near impossible to get the full deposit back on bottles and cans in LA. I have confirmed with friends back east that it is still common practice to recoup the full amount on their recyclables anywhere that sells beverages. Not so here. Only the homeless brave the long lines at the one location in the east valley that has a machine. I admitted defeat after waiting for two hours, at which time the Recycle Nazi shut the hut down for a lunch break (he pointed to the sign where the hours of operation were posted for emphasis). There was also a cop posted next to the hut. Presumably this level of security is warranted by the commensurate level of frustration experienced by the those of us waiting in line. Now, instead of joining the ranks of angry people, I trundle my recyclables to a local joint where the proprieter weighs the lot, punches some numbers into a calculator and gives me a small fraction of what it is worth. At least there’s no line.

Georgia O'Keefe horse Skull with White RoseResurrection

Crystal Geyser Sparkling Water

One day, while contemplating one of my near worthless empties, I thought, “what could I make out of this”? Upside down, it sort of looked like the shape of a deer skull. With the help of scissors, wire, newspaper and duct tape, I fashioned the armature . Lots of papier mâché and paperclay later, the deer skull started to take shape. My husband suggested the addition of the rose as an homage to Georgia O’Keeffe.

No animals were killed to make this skull, just one bottle…redeemed at last!

The first Vegan Deer Skull with White Rose sold at the Hearts and Flowers show at the Folk Tree in Pasadena. The one shown here is on display as part of The 3oth Annual Dia De Los Muertos Show at the Folk Tree from September 28th to November 3. Gail Mishkin notified me that this piece has already been purchased by a person who saw it posted on the Folk Tree Facebook page. No worries, I have another one in the works. Each one is a little different.

Commissions available upon request.


Countdown to Another Painting—Week 1

Con Safos—a Chicano term that literally means “with respect.” This is the theme of the dA Center for the Arts October 2013 Exhibit  ( It refers to the intercultural understanding and respect artists in the region share with each other in describing their sense of place.

I’ve been invited to exhibit in Con Safos and am painting a new piece (24×18). Have less than two weeks to finish.

Week1_dAzz-9:16:13My reference photo was taken this year on July 4 at the shoreline in Long Beach. Clusters of families and friends celebrating the holiday and waiting for sundown and the big light show to begin. In the meantime, they set off their own fireworks.

The painting so far…

In the background, the sky is almost there. Have roughly blocked in the foreground crowds. The middle ground in the photo is so vibrant and detailed. At this point in my painting you don’t get a hint of that. But just wait. The last thing I’ll do is set off  fireworks with my brush!

From Surreal to Steampunk

–by Sarah Hage

In the sleepy little town of San Fernando deep in the Valley that bears its name is a gallery–a serious art gallery that showcases not just art that sells, but art that captures the imagination and inspires. I am eternally grateful for the existence of La Galeria Gitana, directed and curated by Karen Nichols. You have to understand that galleries surviving in the San Fernando Valley are as rare as the California Condor, and this one has been in operation since 2008 though many people still don’t know about it. You should go.LogoSalmon3

pmc-installation-shot-with-globesAlthough I missed the opening, I was able to catch the current exhibit, “From Surreal to Steampunk,” which will be showing through October 11.  It’s serious fun. On the surreal side of the spectrum, the large-scale canvases by Pamela Mower-Conner stand out. Whatever you feel about representational art, you have to agree that this woman can wield a paintbrush. She works in acrylic, but her paintings capture all the subtlety of oil masterworks. My favorites by her are in a series called “The Malevolence of Chairs,” which depict Victorian-style chairs in post-apocalyptic landscapes. You’ll have to go to the show to see them because they aren’t on her website yet. Her spheres are also out of this world.

On the steampunk end of the spectrum, Vincent Mattina and Ron Menashe take over with “repurposed ray guns” and bigger-than-life metal sculptures with all the gears and levers and belts you’d expect from 19th century industrial high-tech.


The piece that stole my heart was a beautiful wood-carved sperm whale by Lawrence Garcia. The top of the whale opens up. Entombed inside the whale’s head is a man mid-scream pierced by a red lance. The whale rests on a base describing how whales are driven mad by the sonic booms of human industry. In contrast to the message, the sculpture is serene–as long as you keep the lid on. Ah…the contradictions of the mixed-up surreal steampunk world we live in.


The September Issues

sept magsSeptember has arrived—can’t really even believe that summer is officially over. Hard to think too much about fall considering it is 100 degrees in Los Angeles this week. But then in the mail box all the fall issues arrive. I do feel sorry for our mail people having to deliver these issues considering they all come at the same time. But now I feel sorry for me, I think I have about 3,000 pages to go thru. The Vogue alone is 906 pages. Look forward to it all but I better hurry, October’s issues will start to arrive in a week. In all the Covers was happy to see Jennifer Lawrence on the cover of Vogue and Jessica Alba on the cover of C magazine, and Blake Lively on the cover of Lucky, the others even though they are fashion icons just feeling like we have been there before.

Countdown to a Finished Painting—Week 9—Blast Off!


by Bonnie Lambert

After I painted for a couple hours last night, Adams Hill announced itself “DONE.” The final step in the process, which never ends, is looking at the painting. I always learn almost as much meditating on the work as when I have a brush in my hands.

Adams Hill will show for the first time at Fremont Gallery Fine Art ( “Luminous City—The Artworks of Three Modern Fauvists” opens Saturday, September 14 (artists’ reception 6-9pm) and runs through September 30. Besides Adams, I have 9 other new works in the show, including Colossus (below). I hope you can attend.Colossus_40x30_180dpi

If you’ve been following Countdown, thank you very much! For me, it’s been invaluable seeing the week-by-week progress of a painting.

Watch for another Countdown blog soon!