A Pregnancy Journal in Paintings



Fort Worth, Texas artist Lael Burns told International Fine Art Fund about her visual pregnancy journal.  Burns uploads the daily images to her instagram.  She is expecting her third child.

Your journal is an interesting project.  What inspired you to do this?

“I love the metaphors shared between experiencing the growth of human life alongside the growth of a body of work.  On the practical side, I wanted the discipline of a set of daily works to help me get working again after the challenges of early pregnancy.  I also took a break from my normal body of work at the beginning of the year to focus more on other things and felt really disconnected from those pieces when I went back to address them again later, and I’ve found that these daily paintings have inspired new vision for them.”


Have there been major differences between each child’s series of work?

“I’ve made a body of work with each of my pregnancies and they each coincided as a natural development with what I had been working on prior.  It’s just meaningful to go back later and see certain pieces that I knew I made while pregnant with each child.  I feel like this particular set of daily pregnancy journal paintings has the most deliberate association with the ideas of pregnancy to growth, new life, and spiritual rebirth.”


How does the artwork compare to work that you make when you are not pregnant?

“It all flows together really and comes from a similar place.  I was wanting to make something with these though that was a direct correlation to this particular pregnancy that reflects not just this child, but the current spiritual season of the life of my family.  There’s something powerful about the spiritual season each of my children have been born in and to see how certain things in my life seem to manifest upon their arrival into the world.  That’s why it’s so important the name we give each child, that it reflects who they are and the spiritual season they develop and are born in, and similarly I can look back at my work from those seasons as a memorial of things God had been doing at the time.”


Tell me about the show that you are currently a part of.

“The show I was just recently in was a pop up show they celebrated the one year anniversary of an art collective I show work with from time to time called Art Tooth.  It was a collaborative show of Art Tooth artists as well as other art collectives in the Forth Worth area.”

What is next for your art? 

“I will have work in an alumni show coming up soon and I’ll also have my work published with Peripheral Vision Arts this fall in their Salon 2017 issue, both of which I’m really excited about.  I’ve been taking a more laid back approach this year as far as showing my work with all the changes going on.  I’m focusing on getting the work finished that I have going on right now before this baby comes.”

Burns is also embarking on a new venture of turning her sculptural works into plushes.  Check them out @plush.pods


#art #fineart @lael_burns_studio #painting #paintings #pregnancy #pregnant #mom #creative #artoftheday


Phil Irish – Trashing Mountains

extPhil Irish has continually explored spirituality and the human relationship with natural spaces since 2004.  Mixed media, oil paint on panels, and digital elements in each of his exhibitions evolved into Trashing Mountains in 2014.  This ongoing project conveys the immense presence of nature, as well as the weight and depth of its modification.


Our rapidly paced world is draining natural resources, driving many people to dismay.  While Irish shares the feeling of horror, his artwork opens space for reflection on the potential for destruction to lead to new growth.  Irish feels that mountains and oceans have an archetypal quality that resonates within us, and he asks, “How does the mountain provide a foil for thinking through where we are headed as a culture?”


Irish’s earlier works explored the relationship between humans and nature beginning with the sentimental series Maps in 2005.  Irish invited people to draw him maps that led to emotionally resonant locations.  He followed these paths and, if he had a significant experience in the space himself, created artwork inspired by the locale and its stories.  “Interaction with, or symbolic interpretation of landscape has been a constant thread throughout my work,” says Irish.  “The map paintings are about how memory imbues specific places with meaning.  All of the maps come from other people—so it is also an exploration of empathy.  How do I understand someone else’s story? When I visit the place of their memory, do our experiences overlap? Or are they contradictory?”


In his 2010 series Growth Charting, Irish painted disruptive, sharp strokes over serene floral images.  The effect creates a tug-of-war between what is natural and what is introduced by human hands.  The synthetic lines and swirls are at once separate and a part of the images.


The thread between these works, human experiences within natural spaces, comes to a violent head in Irish’s project Trashing Mountains.  While Growth Charting was a step in this direction with bright, daring strokes, the works that have come out of Trashing Mountains are far larger and mostly sculptural.  Irish has traded wood panel for foil and sliced canvas away from its frame to drape and mold the resolute symbol of the mountain with ease.


In the exhibitions Precipice and mount pile, elements of a traditional landscape are distorted.  They communicate how the natural environment has been disturbed by destructive human interaction.  Irish’s use of foil as a canvas allows the familiar to become strange, just as formerly stable characteristics of our planet are changing around us.  The Polar icecaps steadily melt, and Siberia’s permafrost thins.  The majestic, awe-inspiring aspects of our planet are shifting and deteriorating.  In Irish’s work, Rockwell-esque renderings of mountain tops are warped, the symbol of strength distorted with a disturbing ease.  Other works, like “Peak,” are collections of jagged images forming a chaotic whole.  Devices that are used to deplete the earth of its resources have razor toothed jaws and loom in an ominous silence.  In “Eruption,” fire somehow overcomes water, the orange, red, and black shapes pierce the placid blue as if it never stood a chance.


As Trashing Mountains evolves, Irish sees his vision tapering in its focus and expanding visually. “The project started in Banff, at the Banff Centre [in Alberta, Canada.]  The first major exhibition was at the Gladstone Hotel, then Trashing Mountains at the Durham Art Gallery.  These exhibitions used most of the same elements, but in very different contexts.  In the hotel, the installation wasn’t so much distinct compositional structures as a continuous immersive experience—it started from the lobby, and rose up the grand stairs all the way to the 4th floor.  The viewer would progress from the oil sand, up through the lived experiences of our culture, and arriving at the top with the grand spectacle of the mountain peak.”  Precipice was held in a smaller space, which Irish felt was integral to Trashing Mountains.  He calls it a “condensed statement” where painting on aluminum was a technical focal point.


mount pile, on view until August 13th at the Art Gallery of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, is a culmination of the larger and small exhibition experiences.  “mount pile brings these two ways of working together.  One room is installation format, while the other room is entirely metal constructions.  mount pile also has a more exuberant palette—I was getting bored of blue, white, yellow, and black, which had dominated Precipice.  It was exciting to lean into pinks, oranges, and even rainbows!”


While the violence of global warming obviously strikes a chord within Irish, he also raises a hopeful question: Maybe destruction is a phase leading to new possibilities?


“It can be difficult to bring a hopeful angle into something as critical to our culture as global warming.  In some ways, one doesn’t want to—because it can lead to complacency.  But, actually, ‘doomsday’ messaging can also lead to complacency, because it is completely overwhelming.  You hear activists speaking about this issue.  That it is important to tell the stories of positive change, that change is not only possible but is taking its infant steps.”


Irish cites “The Prophetic Imagination” by Walter Brueggemann as a providing an example of positive change coming from shocking incidents.  “He talks about the Hebrew prophets having to jolt awake people’s imaginations, which had been compromised by the messages of the Empire.  This is very much our situation today, where we don’t believe a better world is possible—we have absorbed the complacency of our ‘first world’ entitlement, and aren’t willing to take any risks.”  Spiritual rebirth has an invasive, violent aspect because it is a process of destruction to rebuild the self from within.  It is painful, but the result is positive new growth.  “The other part of the prophet’s task is to offer a vision of something new.  And the idea that destruction can lead to new perspectives and new directions is a rich one—look, for instance, at the Gutai art movement in Japan after the devastation of the second world war.”


When asked what came first, the focus on destruction or question of possibility, Irish says both.  “In the presence of the mountains, it is hard not to be stirred, to be optimistic, to think of something larger than humanity.  But that, by itself, becomes a naive story.  Both parts are needed to be truthful.”


Currently, Irish is sailing on an ice breaker in the arctic in the midst of an artist’s residency at the Vermont Studio Center.  He’s been painting red winged black birds and letting the awe of artic ice inspire him.  “You’ll be seeing arctic ice in my future paintings, as well as something with birds….”


Keep up with Irish here:




Art Gallery of Guelph