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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Brotherly Love- Julius and Jordan

Monoamniotic Twins

The first time Nikki came over to my house, she glanced around at my unsold paintings which hang on the walls of my own house, like most people do when they come over for the first time. But then when she saw the painting of conjoined twins, she stopped and stared longer than most people do.... and not in a confused, head cocked, scrunched up nose way that says, "why would she want to paint conjoined twins??". I could tell that it intrigued her more than it does most people. But I didn't discuss it with her for a while. Then, about a month later, she emailed me inquiring about doing a "family portrait"... which left a bitter taste in my mouth- until she explained that it would be a different kind of family portrait. The painting of the conjoined twins had struck a chord with her because she had once carried two boys, named Julius and Jordan, that had a lot in common with conjoined twins- they were monoamniotic twins- twins that start out the same way as conjoined twins do, and reside in the same amniotic sack throughout the pregnancy (normally twins are in separate sacks), so they are literally as close as any two people can possibly be, without being conjoined. Sadly, the boys died very shortly before they were due to be born, because they're umbilical cords became tangled and constricted. Nikki wanted a painting that could memorialize their special and unique life that didn't make it past the womb.

I enjoyed putting the painting together, because I did the majority of it in the weeks before Christmas while the kids were out of school, and it was very educational for them. I had checked out a stack of books from the library about fetal developement so I could use them as visual referrences. The kids also loved looking through the amazing pictures of babies prebirth, and they asked tons of questions, and learned a lot about reproduction and how people start. Telling them about it in simple terms, and seeing the look on their faces, made me realize again how awesome and amazing the process really is. Then they wanted to go look at their own baby pictures again and think and talk about how they had just come out of my "tummy" and how wierd but cool that is, and how they wished they could remember it all.

They also learned about Julius and Jordan and their story, about how their mother loved them so much even though they weren't even born yet, and how devestated she was when they died- which I could tell disturbed them some. I told them I wanted to create something beautiful for her to remember them by. When it was done, Rocket told me he thought it was beautiful and thought Nikki would like it. Roxanne said she was just angry because she wished she could paint like that, which I took as a compliment too. I hope Nikki liked it- she said she did, but most people dont say when they dont. And I hope that I never stop being thankful the beauty of my own kids, and the amazing fact that they actually came into existance. And I really hope that they can never stop being thankful and amazed by awesome and beautiful things like that too.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Final Advent Painting

This is the last video of the advent paintings. I feel that if I were a better painter I wouldn't need to preface it by saying this: Be sure to look carefully when all four of the paintings come together (that's why I intentionally set the slide length to be annoyingly long) and remember that "the whole is more than the sum of its parts".

Originally, I tried to place the symbols of captivity and sorrow in the dark sections of the painting and the symbols of freedom, liberation and peace in the light sections. At the end, this division of light and dark values is how I formed the Jesus face. However, on about the third painting, I started to get confused about all my symbols, which I think lead to somewhat of a revelation. The symbols that I thought represented freeing things, like butterflies, airplanes, etc., began to seem like negative things in light of the fact that we are separated from them. I started thinking about how the very things that represent freedom to us, are usually what we are held captive by.

For example, I used the Rockstar Energy drink logo as a positive symbol in the second painting (the yellow star with two Rs in it), because of the feeling of freedom to accomplish more that I get when drinking a Rockstar. But the more I thought of it, the more I realized that it's really something I am held captive by since I am so dependant on it, and probably am never fully satisfied with the high it gives me. I am sure this is true of many different kinds of addictions.

Initially, all the flying things seemed like symbols of hope, but as I started looking at the characters in my painting (like the girl longing to fly on a bike like ET and the girl with homemade wings), I realized that this longing for something we can't have is actually something that will eventually destroy our souls, if we don't learn to be satisfied otherwise, which leads me to moral of the story.... And that is that humans are very near sighted things, often only seeing the many pictures within the larger picture. And the larger picture is Jesus- the only true Messiah who can rescue us from ourselves, from our longings, from our captivity, from our sorrow. Or atleast that's what I believe.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Advent Painting Week 3

OK, my apologies, I forgot to post last weeks video on my blog. I posted it on Facebook, but not on my blog. So here it is.

The concept of week three is very similar to the concept of week two. It is supposed to be of a little girl who has made wings for herself out of paper, and then has gotten a bunch of helium balloons and is looking to the sky, as if she is attempting to fly- trying to transcend the limitations of this world. I took pictures of Roxanne posing for me in her art apron, and she obviously inspired a lot of this picture. Roxanne's art always seems to represent an escape to me. She is still so imaginative, free spirited and whimsical- feelings that I think can lead to cynicism as we discover the reality of the captivity this world holds the human soul.

I just got done with painting #4- the grande finale. Now I am going to go work on putting it in a video format.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Advent Painting Part 2 of 4

OK, here is week two. Again, I am incredibly irritated by how much I am in the way- watching the painting evolve isn't nearly as cool when I am standing right it front of it. But I still want to show the video, because just showing the finished product doesn't really communicate the same metaphor- the process, the struggle, the production, is what the painting is about- not so much the outcome.

Lots of people seem to think the painting needs an explanation. If you weren't there to see it be done live, the sermon being preached simultaneously is about the hymn "Oh Come Emmanuel". Each of the four weeks concentrates on a different verse of the hymn, which basically is about the captivity of Isreal and their longing for a liberator. As is much of the historical events recorded in the Bible, this is such a powerful metaphor for the human condition in any time period. My paintings so far have been about human limitations/struggles/pains (represented in the darker sections) and contrasts them with the freedom we long for (represented in the lighter sections).
For this week in particular, the girl stares into a snow globe which separates her from a world where freedom is achieved (yes, it is the iconic scene from E.T. where Elliots bike suddenly takes flight).

On black Friday, Jodi and I went thrift store shopping, and at one Goodwill, I found a snow globe just like this. I kept looking at it thinking it was so cool and wished I had someone that it would make a good Christmas gift for. I couldn't think of anybody so I didn't buy it. But the image stuck with me, so that's why I put it in the painting.

Both of the paintings, so far, are filled with all kinds of symbols. Some of them are pretty self-explanatory, and others are things that are just personal to me, so maybe only friends and Matt would know what they mean. Its amazing how each year the subject matter of the advent series always seems to resonate with me so deeply in light of recent feelings and events in my life... it's almost, like, magical. But, ultimately, I would hope that other people would be able to relate to the concept of the painting. If I can touch and connect with someone else, that is what I would most long for... but connecting with others freely, is the freedom I long for, that I am painting about... and that I am tragically separated from.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Advent Painting Part 1/4

It's the advent season again, which means I will be painting live at church each week until Christmas. This year, there will be four paintings that will culminate in one gigantic heavy painting that I am not sure how to hang yet, but am hoping that Matt will come up with something. I am not so thrilled about compiling a video this year, since I am not painting on plexiglass, like last year- so you see a whole lot of the back of me (not my favorite part of me) blocking the painting. But here is part 1 anyways.

Africa Panels
Yes, I am playing catch-up on my blog today... don't think I am commiting to any long term upkeep though!
I didn't actually get to attend the event these pieces were displayed at, because it was in Iowa, but it was something I was so excited to be a part of! Jody and all the people that do all that water4christmas stuff sent me three wooden Africa cutouts to paint any way I wanted. I pawned one of them onto Jodi (the Colorado Jodi, not the Iowa Jody- notice the spelling difference), and these are the other two that I did: Then, once back in Iowa, they were displayed and auctioned off at a water4christmas banquet. I wish I could have been there to see all of the Africa's all together. A special informant, who was actually at the event, told me that both of my pieces ended up going for over $300 each! That's really exciting, because last year, I threw a big present wrapping party, in efforts to raise money for water4christmas, and after a whole lot of party throwing work (and that's hard work) I raised roughly the same amount of money. I think I am meant to paint much more than I am meant to throw parties.
That same special informant also told me that they subscribed to my blog yesterday. Unlike the previously mentioned information, this information sortof burdened me, as I remembered how pathetic my blog had become.... its gotten all skinny, its ribs are starting to show, its hair is falling out and its been staring at me with this really insane psychotic gaze that's kindof freakin me out! So, you understand, why I am trying to revive it... we were once so in love. I don't know what happened.
Baseball Art
I was asked to participate in a baseball art show recently. Since baseball isn't something I'm exactly passionate about, I had a hard time coming up with subject matter. However, I do know somebody that I am crazy about who IS passionate about baseball... so I decided to paint that little person- Rocket. I decided to draw him thinking about baseball, because while it is true that he would like to spend most of his time actually swinging the bat or throwing the ball, in actuality, he probably spends the majority of his time begging and wishing he had someone to do it with. And I threw Friday in there too cause he's so cute!
The art show was totally not the kind I am used to being a part of! It was in a fancy ballroom with Chandeliers, and we got served some really delicious food. Matt thought it was the best art show I had ever been in, since he was more interested in the speakers than I was. Dick Monfort, the rich guy who owns the Rockies, and other former baseball players talked endlessly about baseball and the Rockies and whatnot... yawn. Matt sure looks nice in his purple shirt, huh?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I know my blog has suffered from a gigantic lack of upkeep lately, but I feel compelled to post this, if nothing else, before the end of the year.

With Thanksgiving right around the... tomorrow... I'm sure you've got Christmas shopping on your mind. If you're not going to Christmas shop at Nomi's Orphanage (my own Etsy shop) then you should most definately shop with a purpose at Etsy4Water where all of the proceeds of whatever you buy go towards helping bring clean water to people in Africa! (Go to water4christmas.com for more information about the charity). Some of my own store's items can also be found there! Be mindful of where your money goes this Christmas season! Here is the link:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Orange Peel At Dr. Sketchy's

I haven't posted about Dr. Sketchy's in a while for fear that it was becoming a little redundant- especially to the not-so-artsy type. However, this past Sunday's Dr. Sketchy was so much fun that I just can't help but share. Orange Peel Moses, a local Denver performer posed for us and blessed us with his eccentric costumes and hilarious dances. I almost fell in love with the guy. I tried to make a stop motion video (as seen above) in order to convey how freakin awesome his dance was, but really it only gives you a glimpse.

This is Peel with my drawing of him at the end:
This is my drawing of him wearing an owl mask: Which I only included in this blog, because also wanted to show you this: This is Roxanne's drawing which she did off of my drawing the next day at home. I felt like her drawing was more impressive than mine. Picasso would have been delighted, I think.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Loveliest Children in the World....
They decided to "decorate" eachother tonight... and they were quite proud of themselves.

Friday, October 09, 2009

With Roxanne now in Kindergarten, I have found increasing pressure from myself and others, to make my time more profitable. I have known for a while, that I don't work well with others, so I have decided to try my hand in the Etsy world (where coworkers don't exist). I strategically decided to open my Etsy store, entitled "Nomi's Orphanage" today- two days before the grand opening of the Highlands Ranch Super Target, so as to provide some healthy competition in the suburbs. So go check out my store:

As you browse through my merchandise, don't forget to take note of my lovely model, Juliana (seen above), who agreed to model for me in exchange for me dying her hair turquoise. I made true on my promise, and hope to come up with some more items for her to display on my site before her lovely turquoise hair fades.

As of now, I have already sold THREE items on my first day open! I am super excited about it, especially because two of my customers were complete strangers-which means they weren't just buying from me to make me feel good, and I take that as a HUGE compliment!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Love The Burbacks.....
but sick of family portraits.

I seriously love this family more than any other family I have never met. Sometimes I think they're like a little mirror image of my own family (oh, except for the extra baby...). Although I've never met any of them in person, I feel like I've gotten to know them pretty well through Cassie's blog. Reading it makes me feel like we are living in parallel universes. I began noticing the similarities the week that I began the flylady program, and then read that Cassie had began the program the very same day!! Incase your wondering, no I haven't kept up with the program... but my shoes are tied right now. And I've read about her 7 year old baseball obsessed little boy, who relishes going to see live games at the baseball stadium with his dad. And her little girl, the artist, who spends her time painting, and tip toeing through nature and creating masterpieces, but could care less about learning letters. All this sound familiar? There's more parralles as well- I can't even start to list them all.
The other night, we were having a typical family evening- Matt and Rocket were watching Rockies baseball, and me and Roxy were at the kitchen table doing something crafty. That's when I overheard the guys discussing the Rockie's oponent of the night- the Cardinals... which normally wouldn't have registered with me, except that I had just recently google searched the word "cardinal" so that I could know what it looked like, so that I could paint the mascot on Cassie's little boy's hat. That's when I began imaging that the Burback household was probably a very similar scene at that very moment- the two boys cheering for the Cardinals and booing the Rockies; the girls making something pretty. So, perhaps I feel like I know this family better than I really do, just because I imagine them to be exactly like my own (well... except for the adorable little baby... which I won't discuss... but I DO have an adorable little doggy that I sometimes pretend is a baby).
On another note... please don't hate me for saying this but... I think I might have to make this my last family portrait project. I actually do enjoy the actual process of figuring out how to best portray a family to reflect their personality and dinamic. The problem is that I spend WAY to much time on it, for the amount of money I charge. The problem with charging more money is that when doing high priced commission jobs, customers begin to demand more a level of perfection that I cannot live up to. I would rather do ten $100 jobs, and receive a lot of grace than do one $1,000 job and be expected to turn out perfection. Matt does a good job at bringing my attention to this issue by calculating the amount of time I spend on each project (...and informaing me about all the other things I COULD have gotten done with that time). Maybe I will return to family portraits when my painting skills have gotten better... or perfect. Don't wait around.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fun At MorphThing.com

There is quite a bit of fun to be had at morphthing.com. The site enables you to upload photos and morph them with other photos.

Here is what Matt and I would look like if we were the same person. I created it with a simple recipe of one part Matt, one part Naomi:

Then I made things even more complicated by morphing images that were already morphed, in order to make more multifaceted morph recipes. This one depicts what Rocket could likely look like when he is older: two parts Rocket, two parts Matt, one part Naomi:

And what Roxanne might likely look like: two parts Roxanne, two parts Naomi, one part Matt. I just asked Roxanne who this was and she said "Me... no wait... you... ummm... Actually, I don't know that person."

This is me and MonaLisa....

This is Matt and Einstein:

And the site even has a baby making function. This is what it says Matt and I's baby should look like.... oddly enough it doesn't seem to look anything like Rocket or Roxanne.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

And Then She Turned Six
Since I started blogging, I've never failed to blog about each and every one of my kids' birthdays. Despite my blogging lull of late, I musn't forget about the latest one either, because it has brought with it much realization to me of how much I truly enjoy my six year old.
On Friday, we celebrated the day by having three of her girl friends (and one who is also a cousin) over after school. I assisted the girls in creating their own tie dye shirts, a craft for which I have developed a specific method. I will share that method with you now, so that you can also learn from my years of trial and error.
The day before the celebration, Jodi and I practiced tiedying on our own in order to make sure the method would work. I originally told Jodi that the best way to tie dye is basically do everything, and then just leave it in God's hands, since we really have no control over tie dye results. She disagreed with me, and in the end her's turned out slightly better than mine, thus disproving my theory about leaving it in God's hands. Determined to perfect my tiedyeing methodology, I tried again on Thursday night.... and this time I got it right. So here is my completely perfected tie dye method:
Step 1. Rubber band up your tshirt (or whatnot) in whatever which way you want.
Step 2. Use a squirty bottle filled with a concoction of different types of dyes to squirt your shirt- be sure to squirt deep into the folds using the nozzle of the squirty bottle.
Step 3. Put your tshirt in the microwave for 12 minutes or until the residual dye is kindof crusty and the shirt is steaming.
Step 4. Leave the results in God's hands
Step 5. (this is the new step I added) Pray for the tiedye while it is cooking.
Step 6. Rinse with cold water until it runs kindof clearish (it never runs completely clear).
Step 7. Put it in the dryer until it is dry and then wear it!
The tiedye turned out well for the girls (and Rocket) on Friday as well:

Then we took all the kids to the infamous Casa Bonitas (a Las Vegas style Mexican restaurant with strange skits, cliff diving, waterfalls, haunted caves, and puppet shows). They all wore their new tiedye shirts. In this picture Roxanne is angry because she just had to have a time out in the car when we got there, because she was very naughty during the car ride. I was most excited for Roxanne's birthday, because I had made her a gift that I couldn't wait to give her, because I knew she would love it- a painting apron. A few years ago, her Auntie Sarah had given her an apron that she wore almost constantly, but it was getting to be too small, so I thought it was time for a change. Plus, it was filled with her very own paint brushes, so me and her don't have to fight over the good brush anymore. I think she liked it. She hasn't taken it off very much since she got it. But then things got even better, because we also gave her what she has been begging for: canvases. She is always pretty angry that I paint on canvases, and she has to paint on paper, and is always asking me to buy her her very own canvas to paint on. So we gave her eleven canvases. And lastly, we gave her a paint set with "real" paint. I'll tell you something- once you let a kid use nice artist paints, they will never ever want to use craft paint or tempera paint again. I guess I can understand that. She completely her first painting on a canvas today, but says, "I can't use another canvas for a while, because I want to save them."
Her birthday ended in a fort, with her favorite cousin. They were supposed to go to sleep in there, but when I checked on them at about 11pm, I found that their barbie dolls were still whispering to each other. But, I guess that's what birthdays, and cousins, and barbies are for. Even though she doesnt always enjoy me, she doesn't know that I am always smiling at her because I see myself in her.... it would probably drive her crazy if she did know! And that's why I enjoy her so much. We are artist together, and my favorite times are when we are both wearing our painting aprons, making our own separate creations, and chatting about what's pretty and what's not and how you should mix colors. I can't wait to see what beautiful things she will create as she grows up.... my little artist.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Many Faces of Roxanne

As Roxanne has been showing more and more interest in her artistic side, I have been showing her the "correct" way to draw a face, by teaching her about facial proportions (as seen in the diagram to the left). Subsequently, I have been noticing quite a few intriguing portraits showing up in her vicinty.
Last week, we strapped on our painting aprons and went to the pottery painting store (one of our most favorite place to go) while the boys were at the baseball game. Together, Roxanne and I created this serving bowl. Roxanne drew the faces and I painted them in, and I think it turned out fabulous. Unfortunately, my mom paid for it, so she gets to keep it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

When Life Hands You FlipFlops, Make FlipFlopinade

After writing my last, highly negatively charged post, my sister-in-law, Becca emailed me this video that puts a positive spin on my "rainbow of flip flops", as she called it. It's actually really cool...

Chunky Funk

I have been in a funk lately... for a month or two now. It's a "I dont care" funk... hence my lack of blog. I seem to have not been caring about a lot of things lately. Somedays I wake up not caring about any aspect of life at all, and I just mosy about doing the things that absolutely have to be done, like a robot... I've been plagued by unmotivation and indifference. I'm not sure why. There's a short list of things I still have been caring about...

1. Wishing I were skinny
2. Wishing I didn't have zits
3. Food/stuffing my face/hershey syrup/cookies
4. Free sushi samples at the grocery store... maybe that should be combined with #3
5. Facebook notifications

The list of things I don't care about is long... I'll try to make it shorter by only listing notable things that I actually did care about at some time...

1. Blogging
2. Painting
3. Answering the phone (especially when it's somebody who wants something from me... which is everyone).
4. Friends
5. Enemies
6. You
7. Blablablahblah
8. I dont even care about finishing this list

Oh, yeah... here's one other thing I DO care about:
The fact that my dog only has an appetite for right footed flipflops!!!!!!!!! I can wear two unmatching flip flops, but I can't wear two left footed flipflops! It friggen sucks!

If me not blogging bothers you.... I don't care. If you want to try to get me out of this funk maybe you should try mailing me presents.... but unless it's food, a skinny pill, sushi samples or a right footed flip flop, I probably won't care.
I do hope to emerge from this, and I'm not happy with who I am right now- I should definately be more entertaining than this. In any case, consider yourself lucky for having gotten an explanation. That's more than most people around me are getting these days.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Senior Pics in Prague

Like I said, I spent my last day in the Czech taking portraits in Prague of the seniors on our team. It was a great means by which to explore the most attractive parts of this really amazing city! Here are a couple of my favorite pictures of each student:

During our time in the Czech, I learned that Ben is a super free spirited kid, who can best be described at colorful, dramatic and yet always at peace with everyone. For this reason, the Lennon Wall was the perfect setting in which to capture Ben. The Lennon Wall is a continually changing wall of graffiti, poetry, and other artistic messages, that came about as a rebelious response to the stifling nature of communism. Today it is a symbol of beauty, love and peace in the Czech. Ben is a modern day hippie- always wearing tye dye, constanty singing, dancing or strumming his guitar, but most importantly, always encouraging the other students (even the most unlikeable ones).

Religious iconography like this was strewn throughout the city- If you know anything about me, you'd know, I couldn't have asked for anything more!

In this picture, Ben sits on the side of the famous Charles Bridge, impersonating the dozens of other street performers there. I thought the set up was a clever idea, but the other students were so embarressed that they wouldn't even stand nearby while I took pics. They thought we would get in trouble for not having a performing license, so I told Ben to make sure he didnt actually play his guitar- just pretend to... and all the money in his case was Beth's, and we gave it back to her when we were done.

The only bad thing about this was that we were stuck carrying around Ben's guitar and guitar case (which was heavier than I imagined) the whole day all over Prague- we took shifts.


Beth didn't take any bad pictures. If the picture didn't turn out good, it was because of me, but she always looked gorgeous no matter what, so she was extra fun for me to take pictures of.

This picture was outside the Prague Castle. Here she is in the middle of a rose garden that we found at the very top of a mountain after about a one mile hike (don't forget about the guitar). Even after the sweaty workout, I thought she looked elegant. And come to think of it, elegant, would be the best way to describe Beth, because even under all the pressures that we were under throughout the three weeks, Beth always showed elegance, in the way she talked, acted, looked- everything. I'm not so sure the same could have been said about me! This is the Lennon Wall again. Perhaps Beth's elegance comes from her experience with dancing. While trying to perfectly capture this picture, I actually made her spin around in circles for about five minutes... which is pretty impressive!


Justin is a super charming kid who uses the word "JoBro" as an adjective, which is coincidental because he himself is totally JoBro! If you're not cool enough to know already, JoBro stands for Jonas Brothers. That is probably why he drove just about every Czech girl wild and that's probably also why it was super easy to take his picture- I mean, with a smile like this, what boy band member wouldn't take a perfect picture?

I called this is "Justin Timberlake" pose. Again, outside the Prague Castle.

I hope his mother likes this one.
This one was also on the Charles bridge, as he contemplates his future in the tween pop industry...