Sunday, August 19, 2018

Thinking of Shapes, Lines and Patterns

If you follow my blog and view my art, you know that my paintings are usually content driven: women's issues, the future of children, exploring world problems, or the natural world. But every once in awhile, I head to the studio with no big idea, just the desire to play with shapes, lines and patterns.

I started these 2 small pieces (8 1/2 inches square) as I often do, blocking out an interesting shape with tape, film, contact paper or something similar.

The next step: add texture using a mouth atomizer.

At this point I start to think about what the shapes imply--clown faces? I apply paint, building shapes and strong design. The radiant design was easy to emphasize with some collage materials. Why the tweezers? When working with collage on a small piece, tweezers really help getting each collage piece to the right place.

Here are the two pieces with some metallic gold as a last touch to bring forth an elegance. Somewhere in the process they seem to have developed a bit of an Asian feel and I like it!

I had two similar gold frames to put the art into. The last decision to be made was what orientation made the strongest presentation. Below are the two framed paintings.

Radiation I
Mixed Medium
8.5" x 8.5"

Radiation II
Mixed Medium
8.5" x 8.5"

They are now ready to hang on a wall. Contact me if you have the perfect spot.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Does an Artist Have to Commit to a Style?

I know I am not alone in questioning my dedication to painting in one voice or style. Over 20 plus years of painting I've gone down paths that came to a dead end, yet others branched out to something related, but broader and more fulfilling.

After my trip to Paris this spring, I saw the work of many famous artists whose work evolved over many years. And last week I visited the Portland Art Museum featuring the early work of Richard Diebenkorn. Best known for his Ocean Park Series and figurative work, this exhibit was titled "Beginnings."

So from these early abstracts came these later works:

I am not trying to compare my own work with this artist, but it has given me permission to let my paintings take sashays here and there. I feel relieved in a way.

I am calling my current artwork "Margaret's Careful Period." It seems that my path toward simplification has also led me to a more exact painting style. I don't feel I have to justify it in any way. I will just accept it as a part of my journey.

Both of these new pieces are simplified and carefully painted. Both are related to my recent subject matter of feminine issues (although the tree climber is a stretch.) Perhaps it relates to women being the gatherers. And the art tells a story. I guess I am still on track!

Comments are always welcome.

Women's Work
Transparent Watercolor
22" x 22"

Tree Climber (working title)
Transparent Watercolor
22" x 22"

Sunday, July 22, 2018

A Mid-summer Ending

Our Arizona family comes up to Oregon to beat the heat of the desert for several weeks during the grandchildren's summer break. Their school begins at the end of July, so we had to say farewell (for now) this week. The summer was filled with lots of play on our acres, hikes, fishing, picnics, and, of course, art.

The younger two spent much of their time outdoors. They looked for and caught frogs. made up spy games, utilized the four swings and ran through sprinklers. Marin, at 13, spent time communicating with friends; baking cakes, cookies, and cobblers; and getting craft ideas from Pinterest. She also earned money scrubbing fence with a little help from Noah.

Here are some outdoor highlights. The pond photos make me think of Monet. (The small dory is a new addition to the front pond.)

Toward the last of their stay, the temperature soared to the high 90's, low 100's. Right after I had said to Mike that the young ones had outgrown Legos and Little People, the heat drove Hannah and Noah inside for play and guess what . . .

While out in my studio, Marin asked how I had done a certain painting. It was an idea I got from a book by Betsy Dillard Stroud, so I pulled out the book and we spent the last days using this technique.

Step 1: put down a watercolor underpainting.
Step 2: draw on top of the dried underpainting.
Step 3: mask out the part of the painting you want to keep in the underpainting with gauche (Betsy says use tempera paint which I don't have).

Step 4: let that dry thoroughly. 
Step 5: cover the paper with waterproof ink and let that dry overnight.

Step 6: Hose down the painting. (This is definitely the most fun and exciting part!)

The final step is to touch up, add detail, etc. after the painting has completely dried. 

Marin ended up with a wonderful finished product. For me, it was a fun reminder that there are so many ways to create art.

The end product reminds me of illustrations in books from my childhood. 

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Summer--So Far Part II

Art Life

As family, activities, and short trips take up much of my time, my art life continues in the background.

Yesterday I delivered 23 paintings to the Coos Art Museum in Coos Bay, Oregon. My solo exhibit  "Legends of the Northwest Rivers" will run from July 14, 2018 to September 29, 2018. This series features my years of spending time with my family on the white water rivers in our area. My hope is to help my viewers see the many layers of interest nature offers us from history to geography to flora and fauna. I really enjoy representing the rivers in an abstract manner, using symbols and collage materials for interest.

I also recently lined up a 3-day workshop at Oregon Society of Artists in Portland. The dates are February 22-24, 2019. I hope getting the word out early will help fellow artists plan ahead of time and sign up for this. Although I am using the title "Playing with Patterns" again, every workshop brings forth many new ideas, and my one on one time with participants is always appreciated. Contact me for more information.

I have spent enough time in my studio to work on 4 studies of my granddaughter's legs. I loved a photo I took of her looking for olives in an tree in Spain. As I worked on this, I went from more realistic to simpler and flatter. (My current interests in applying paint.) I left the olive tree behind to create a better design and composition. I also left behind my original idea of a more elegant attire for the contemporary outfit she was really wearing. After all the story is about a young girl climbing trees, the olive tree is an unnecessary detail. How many years does it take for me to let go of what is in a photo to paint what should be? Which of the 4 pleases your eye more. I appreciate hearing from you!

Study #1
Study #2

Study #3

Study #4

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Summer--So Far Part I

In my blogs, I like to include information about my art life, as well as my personal and family adventures. This summer, so far, my life is filled with both, and thus, my next posts will cover it all.

Road Trip 

On May 31 I flew down to Gilbert, Arizona to help our daughter Rachel and her three children (oh, and one beagle) take the long drive to Oregon--1221 miles to our home. (Josh, my son-in-law, was on a business trip to Hong Kong and Manilla.) I was only in Gilbert for one day before we started the drive, but that is plenty long to see why folks want to leave to beat the summer heat.

I had carefully and diligently looked at maps, TripAdvisor, and the internet to plan a four-day trip. If you look at a map, you will see that there is a whole lot of flat desert between Arizona and Oregon, but we did see a sight or two along the way.                         

Hoover Dam--a great achievement from the Great Depression.

Then on to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation area where we saw spectacular rocks and one flower.

Then it was miles and miles of sand and sage brush as we made our way to Tonapah, Nevada. Never heard of it? Well, it was a surprising gem of our trip, and well worth a stop. We arrived in the nick of time to have a great tour of the Tonopah Historic Mining Park late in the afternoon. We had a ride around in a quad-like vehicle with a guide full of information about the history, geology and the silver.

Later that night we went searching for ghosts at the Mizpah Hotel. Yes, it was a close call with the spirits that night!

We left Tonopah with the mission to cross the Oregon border for a night at Field's Station. The cafe stops taking orders at 3:30 pm, so we had to drive like crazy to get there in time for a meal. We found Field's Station to be an oasis in the Oregon desert. And we did make it in time to get burgers and milkshakes. 

The evening was topped off with nature showing us her might with a thunderstorm and high winds.

One more long day's drive and we were in Blue River. Whew!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

A Great Mentor and New Tools

In April I attended the Fran Larsen workshop sponsored by the Watercolor Society of Oregon. Fran did not teach techniques, which is perfect for someone like me. I've "seen that, done that"for years. What she gave me were words of wisdom that inspired me to be more exploratory regarding ideas, "Think of 10 different ways to paint that," and more adventurous when beginning a painting "What if?" So coming away from the workshop, I have begun to paint several topics from different points of view or in different ways.

I painted "Lightly Beaten #1" almost 2 years ago. Much of my work is now inspired by women and children's issues. And an article I read in the newspaper sparked this idea.

I was not satisfied with this painting, even though painting the decorative mosque took a lot of time. I later used it as a practice piece for applying gold leaf. (That is probably never going to be my thing.)

But I still liked the idea driving the painting, so I took it along to Fran's workshop, where she inspired me with "What if?"

What if I neutralized most of the painting, leaving the running child in color? What if one of the women seated outside of the mosque was also in color? Would that help tell a story?

I had painted this in a workshop, working fast to make the most use of my time with Fran--meaning letting many "What if's" come my way.

But now in my own studio, I continued to work with this idea. This time going more toward my current goals: simplify more, use patterns, paint flat. So here is the process I used to create the next painting from one idea.

I started out with two neutral, flatly painted colors. I protected the women, archway and child with two new tools.

Oramask stencil film #13 is much easier to work with than contact paper and it can be reused. It is pretty leak proof if you burnish down the edges. (thanks Geoff McCormack)

And a student (Mary Holt) in one of my workshops introduced my to Nichiban tape, another great product for protecting.

I lifted the windows, pillars and the outer arch using plastic protection and a good, clean, well wrung out , natural sponge. 

I made some stamps/stencils to add a different element to the piece, including some language--my apologies to anyone who reads Urdu.

With this I began to add my pattern making. Then added the darks.

Creating the figures in the doorway was a bit challenging--lifting, but not too much. I wanted to give them a mysteriousness. 

Finally it was time to put in the color. 

Simplify more--Check 
Use patterns--Check 
Paint flat--Check

I would love to hear your thoughts.