Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Doing Laps and reflections

Doing Laps, pastel, 9.5 x 6
Who wants to go someplace sunny? I do! This painting is from a photo reference of a trip to Florida last year visiting my husband's family. Being an artist is a lot like swimming laps. You get up, get ready, go do it. Round and round you go. Some days it's a lot of work and you struggle for every stroke, every kick. Other days you get in the zone and the time passes quickly. Every day you get stronger, though. The main thing is to get into the pool.

2011 creative accomplishments: Launched this blog; joined Daily Paintworks; attended Dawn Emerson and Casey Klahn pastel workshops; participated in exhibits at White House on the Gorge and Portland's Cathedral Park Place; finished a few paintings; sold a few paintings; attended several meetings of the Portland Plein Air and Studio Painters and the Cathedral Park Place artists' group; painted and organized my studio; designed and sold fairy gardens; worked on "nuts and bolts" aspects of my art business;  and most importantly, found inspiration, encouragement and valuable information by reading countless blog posts by other artists,  making several new friends along the way.

"Columbia Gorge Vista" included in plein air exhibit

"Columbia Gorge Vista", pastel, 7x5
I recently participated in a show of plein air paintings at Cathedral Park Place in North Portland's St. Johns neighborhood. Oil painter Celeste Bergin posted a video of the event on her blog. A couple stopped in front of my "Columbia Gorge Vista" painting and excitedly told me they recognized the scene because they've hiked there many times. I was pleased that my painting stimulated happy memories for them shared my own joy in painting "en plein air" (outside in nature), especially on the Columbia Gorge. Although plein air painting is very popular these days it was revolutionary in the late 1880s when the Impressionists "invented" it. 

I was the only pastelist in the show (other works were in oil, watercolor or acrylic.) This gave me an opportunity to share information about pastels, a frequently misunderstood medium. Because pastels are hard and often cylindrical in shape, people sometimes think they are chalk but they aren't and don't contain chalk (limestone). Pastels are made of pure pigment held together with a gum or other resin binder and formed into round or square sticks. All colored art media contains pigment--it's the nature of the binder that creates the specific "kind" of paint (oil paint pigment is held together with linseed oil, for example).  Pastels are a dry medium applied by hand to a ground (paper or other surface). The artist can moisten the pastel, blend it or smudge it, and I have a friend who's currently experimenting with applying encaustic wax on top of pastel! The Pastel Society of America calls it "the most permanent of all media when applied to a permanent ground and properly framed. There is no oil to cause darkening or cracking, nor other substance or medium to cause fading or blistering. Pastels from the 16th Century exist today, as fresh and alive as the day they were painted!"

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"Tapestry Cow" and Portland Open Studio

"Tapestry Cow", pastel, 9.5x9.5
Every October one hundred artists in the Portland Metro area open their studios to the public during Portland Open Studios. A nominal fee gets you a map/admission ticket enabling you to visit the artists where they work, look at their projects, observe techniques, and ask questions. The art's for sale, too, of course! Some studios are in the artists' homes, basements, garages or attics, and some are rented spaces in old or new buildings. Many printmakers form collectives to share studio space and equipment. I made a point of meeting some of the artists who live in my neighborhood, among them Andrea McFarland, a fellow pastelist, and Christopher Wagner, whose wood sculptures are sophisticated yet hit a primal nerve. Elsewhere in town I visited Renee Hartig and got pretty excited about her powerful oil paintings. Mark Diamond's intricate metalwork and cloisonne blew my mind.

Inspired to "do something different" with my own work, I'm using a familiar subject (a cow) in a new style that reminds me of an old tapestry. What do you think?

Friday, November 4, 2011

India: Giving thanks for the memories

"Bangles", pastel, 9.5x7
Remembering Thanksgiving 2009 in Delhi, India: Navigating streets swarming with food vendors, tuk-tuks, dogs, motorbikes, goats, beggars, and camels, we meandered down narrow alleys, peeked into homes through open doorways, marveling at the electrical wiring tangled and dangling overhead, and narrowly escaped stepping into fresh piles of poop. A grizzled and cheerful chaiwallah pounded fresh ginger, tossing it into a steaming pot of milk and black tea simmering over an open flame. Delicious. Goats, everywhere, had been brought to market by Muslim herders hoping to make tidy profits during Eid. New owners would lead their goats  back home through the alleys to live for days or hours before ritual slaughter, cooking and consumption. We visited a Sikh temple where we left our shoes outside, covered our heads, and received a tutorial about Sikh philosophy, the hallmark of which is service. Inside the temple kitchen I did my part by making chapatis.

Sarah and Alan, Old Delhi '09
Learning the goat business
Do-it-yourself electrical, Old Delhi
Making chapatis, Sikh Temple, Delhi

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Lonely Tree and "The Cool School"

Lonely Tree, pastel, 11x8
The landscape in Southern Oregon and Northern California is often spectacular with dramatic skies. On a car trip from Portland to San Francisco I got many great photos that have translated into paintings that I really love such as Lonely Tree, featured here.

On the theme of California:   "The Cool School" is a documentary about the genesis of the LA art scene starting in the late 1950s and focuses on the role of the Ferus Gallery, which opened in 1957, in coalescing the movement. Apparently there wasn't a strong West Coast art scene at the time, with only a nascent one in SF--everything was happening in NY. But a guy named Walter Hopps, inspired by an encounter with Marcel Duchamps, had a vision to promote abstract art. As soon as he partnered with the more dynamic and ambitious Irving Blum they created the LA art scene by cultivating and promoting local artists including Ed Kienholz, Ed Ruscha, Robert Irwin, Ed Moses, Wallace Berman, Craig Kauffman, Billy Al Bengston,  and John Altoon. Nevertheless, it's telling that it wasn't until Blum brought the theretofore unknown Andy Warhol and his soup can series from NY to LA that Ferus Gallery really took off. Architect Frank Gehry hung around with these visual artists, feeling more energized by them than by other architects. During this time period Dennis Hopper was also part of the gang--it was definitely a boys club.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Another addition to the herd

Day's End, pastel,  4.5x6
Who, Me?, 5.5x7.5
Lately I've been painting cows. I know some of you will look at this one and say, hey, that's not a cow, it's a male. Okay, then, I've been painting cattle. But I like the word "cows" better than the word "cattle" and after checking with several sources--including the Oregon State Extension service--I think it's okay to use the colloquial term, cows, to refer to this group of animals. I really liked the way the setting sun sparkled on both the field and his silhouette. The next image, "Who, Me?" was selected by the winner of my recent drawing and is no longer available for sale. I've got another cow on the easel and will post it sooooon.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

And the winner is...Jayme Armstrong!

Sunny Road, 5x7, $125
Congratulations to Jayme Armstrong of Portland, winner of my 58th Birthday Drawing for a Painting. Her prize is a $58 credit toward the purchase of one my paintings, some of which appear below. My husband, Alan, has been helping me photograph paintings, inventory/catalog the images, and protect/store the paintings. There is much more work to be done, and I'm grateful for his help and patience. Also want to express deep appreciation to oil painter Randall David Tipton for meeting with me a couple weeks ago to chat about blogs. He is a phenomenal painter and a wonderful person and his encouragement means a lot to me. Another artist I want to acknowledge for support and encouragement is pastelist Casey Klahn--thanks so much!

Snake Plant, 4.5x6, $40
Gray Sky, 9x6, $125

Who, Me? 8x6, $125

Wet Beach, 6x9, $125
Vendor in Green Dress, 4.5x6, $40
Summer Shadows, 7.5x6.25, $50
Reading on the Beach, 6x4.5, $40
Limes, 6x4.5, $40
Lime Reflections, 6x4.5, $40

Monday, October 10, 2011

Playing with pastels

model in red kimono
 The Milwaukee Art Museum will feature more than 100 works on paper, including pastel paintings, at "Impressionism: Masterworks on Paper" starting Oct. 14 and running through Jan. 8, 2012. Unfortunately, this show is in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, not Milwaukie, Oregon, and I'll most likely miss it. Cassatt, Degas, Renoir, van Gogh, Cezanne and Toulouse-Lautrec all played with pastels with gorgeous results. Many contemporary artists also choose pastel as their favorite medium. Among them, I greatly admire Dawn Emerson, from whom I took a workshop in March at Dakota Art's LaConner Art Workshops. Here are the results of some of my own play with pastels at Dawn's workshop, followed by a couple photos of Dawn.
cropping experiments
composition I selected
owls in charcoal and pastel
Dawn Emerson at work/play
Dawn Emerson and early incarnations of her buffalo paintings

Saturday, October 8, 2011

More hands

Found a couple more paintings featuring hands. Here's one of my husband's brother, George. Although the perspective is off on the hand resting on his belly and I'm not sure how I feel about the "vertically amputated" hand resting on the chair, I do like what I did with the foot, ankle, shin and knee in the foreground.
Portrait of George Peroutka 2010
The second painting features my husband's hand holding a sprig of lavender.  It took hours to get the lines and calluses the way I wanted them and I'm happy with the result. I like this painting quite a bit but need a better photo.
Sprig of Lavender (in my lover's hand)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hands don't sell

This year I entered my first juried show and my paintings were not accepted. After shedding a couple tears (it was my first juried show, after all!) I wrote a brief and respectful email to the juror asking for suggestions about how I could improve so I could try again next year. He wrote back that my technique was okay, but the subject--hands--wasn't something that sells. Hmm. Maybe hands don't sell but they do hold glasses of wine and beer, prop up an arm during a nap on the beach, show a life of hard work, and wait a minute! I have proof that they sell--here are some hands selling bangles in Delhi!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

"Herb and Dorothy" movie review

Untitled (Vogel living room drawn by memory) by John Salt
 Another movie review:  Herb and Dorothy Vogel married in 1962, cultivated a mutual love of art, and obsessively began collecting. They lived in a rent controlled apartment--he worked at the post office and she at the Brooklyn Public Library--and steadily amassed a collection of 4,782 pieces of conceptual and minimalist art that they eventually gifted to the National Gallery. A traveling show, Fifty Works for Fifty States, appeared in Oregon at the Portland Art Museum in Winter 2010. Sadly, I missed it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"Paradise Found"

...is the title of a 2003 Kiefer Sutherland movie about Post-Impressionist and early Colorist Paul Gauguin. Haven't heard of the movie? No wonder--it's not very good. But is does do a good job portraying an artist's passion to create, especially something new, and dramatizes the sacrifices artists and their families make in the pursuit of art. Memorable quote: "To create something new it is necessary to go back to the infancy of humanity, face to face with the mystery of our origins--where do we come from? what are we? where are we going?" Gauguin created something new--by referencing something old. His explorations of symbols and "primitivism" in the 1890s eventually led other artists into the world of Surrealism.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Enter to win!

Self portrait in progress 2010

Since early childhood "being an artist" has been my strongest desire. I'm going to use this blog to discover what "being an artist" means, to explore my creativity and to hold myself accountable. You can sign up to follow my blog by clicking the "Join this site" button and if you do so by October 15 (my 58th birthday) your name will be entered into a drawing for a $58 credit toward the purchase of one of my paintings (current work ranges in price from $60 to $200). I welcome you to observe my progress as an artist and a blogger, and to provide your feedback. Thanks, and love.

Monday, September 12, 2011

On my easel this summer...

Louisiana swamp (from a photo taken Dec. 2010)

Watching the waves in Mazatlan (en plein air Nov. 2010)
Sauvie Island (en plein air) mid-summer 2011

Sauvie Island slope, mid-summer 2011
Sauvie Island pathway (influenced by Casey Klahn)

Looking for shade, Sauvie Island, mid-summer 2011

Sauvie Island shade, mid-summer 2011