Sunday, April 30, 2023

A Saturday in the McKenzie Valley

Somehow we jumped from winter to summer, then back to spring. Yesterday was one of the two days of a summer preview and Mike and I took advantage of it. I'll share my photos with brief narratives as I use my blog as a journal entry.

Mike knows some quiet spots in the valley.

Our lunch spot was on a spot less traveled.

After lunch, a walk on the McKenzie River Trail.

This moss was just too attractive!

Mike took a rest in the moss, as I walked on.

Sun, shade and the flowing river--what more could one ask for.

The beautiful mix of green on red branches is worth a photo.

An outstanding mix of colors!

I asked Mike to hop on a log to give a reference of how
 huge these trees are that came down this winter.
We spotted one lonely lady slipper.

But there were many trilliums.

We ended our outing with a beer at Toketee Golf Course. What a view!

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Why Take a Workshop? To Try New Stuff!!

It has been quite some time since I went to a workshop to just learn from another artist, but I did just that to learn from Vera Dickerson. She is known for wonderful figures surrounded by patterns made with stencils and collage. She also uses primarily acrylic paints. All skills I am interested in improving in my own tool box.

Vera Dickerson Teaching in Bend, Oregon

(We members of Watercolor Society of Oregon are fortunate to have internationally known artists come twice a year to teach here in Oregon. The workshops are considerably less expensive than taking a workshop elsewhere, and no flying is involved!) 

So the first day, we spent time making collage papers. Although I often make my own collage papers, Vera showed a somewhat different way, preparing the deli paper first with a wash of white gesso mixed with gel medium. Knowing stencils would be involved, I made 3 of my own using a plastic and hot gun.

My personal stencils and collage papers.

The next day, it was off to the races! We watched a wonderful demonstration by Vera, then began our own take on her process. Her stencils and patterns are mostly delicate--florals and lace-like patterns. She also uses more pastel colors, making for lovely settings for female figures. Me, I'm into bigger shapes and bolder colors, so even though I followed her technique, I came out with much wilder collage papers and wilder pictures.

So on the last of the 5 days, I softened my work to be a bit more like that of this great instructor. Plus my figure called for more sweetness.

The best things I came home with: I can use acrylics and even paint a person, I can combine collage materials and patterns, I can adapt these new skills into my own work, and finally, I can come home with something worth making into a story.

Reading in the Library

Sunday, March 19, 2023

The Artist and the Engineer Find a Solution

It has been almost a year since we moved into our new home. Most everything was done at that time by Rainbow Valley Design and Construction, with a few small projects left for Mike and me to do. One of those projects had us thinking for all the next eleven months to come up with a good solution. 

The walkway leading to the studio from the house had need of a permanent bridge to go over the small creek we created during the rebuild of our new home. For the last eleven months we walked over these 2 by 6 inch boards which took a bit of carefulness to go the 51 inches from one cement walkway to the other.

What to do? So many ideas along the way, but none seemed just right. 

And then one day Mike threw out the idea of making cement planks. As an engineer, he had figured out how to make the two planks strong enough using rebar and metal mesh inside the cement.

And the the artist (me) said okay, but plain cement is, well, plain. 
Let's color the cement and figure out way to decorate the slabs.

Before you could say Jack Robinson, Mike showed up with bags of cement, cement dye, rebar and mesh. For me he included a bucket full of shiny black rocks.

After Mike built the forms (measuring twice, thrice, and once by me for a backup) we began a day of cement mixing, smoothing and decorating.

We borrowed a cement mixer from our local Blue River Tool Library (thank you, Antony). Mixing one bag after another, we dumped 900 pounds of dyed cement into the perfectly sized forms.

As one side settled, the second plank was poured.

 Mike smoothed the cement and I started placing and pushing in the decorative smooth black rocks.

Then there was the wait period, letting the cement strengthen for almost 4 weeks. Just before moving the 2 planks into place, they were sealed with a product designed to protect and add gloss to the cement.

But how in the heck do you move 900 pounds of cement the distance of a football field? No where was there room for a vehicle, so . . .

Remember that the Pyramids and the Great Wall were built by human labor!

Our granddaughter, Angelica called some young strong friends. Mike used straps with handles to create 3 spots on each side for a total of 6 carriers. With 4 young (stronger) people, Mike and me, we miraculously  managed to move not one, but two 450 pound slabs across the not quite flat terrain of our property.

The second miracle was that they fit like a glove.

We celebrated with a chili feed!


Sunday, February 19, 2023

From Blank to Beautiful

We are now approaching an entire year in our new house, and we are feeling more and more "at home" here. "At home" means that it has things unique to Mike and me, particularly things we've created or built. Some of the examples of those unusual things at our old abode were bathroom walls I painted creating a bamboo garden or the bedroom painted in Egyptian tomb colors. Mike built a privacy fence using a Japanese design and so much more that made our home ours.

So this week was the start of really personalizing this new home and here's what happened:

My good friend Ruth Armitage arrived and . . .

We drew on the wall.

And began applying paint.

At the end of the 2nd day, this beautiful mural was complete.

As if that wasn't enough to ask of a good friend, Ruth tackled a little skinny piece of wall ending separating the home entrance from the kitchen. The white mini-wall had bothered me, but now I love the art it holds.

World's Skinniest Mural

Ruth Armitage with her creation!

What the world needs now,
Is love, sweet love,
It's the only thing that there's just too little of.
What the world needs now,
Is love, sweet love,
No, not just for some but for everyone.    
Burt Bacharach.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

When Two Ideas Mesh

In the past few months I've been doing what I think of as my "serious work." My serious work is concentrating on a body of work-- creating paintings that are all related to one another based on a central idea. Often the series will go on for several years.

But I needed a break!

Idea #1

As I was looking through my photos, one that I've thought of painting came to the forefront. In 2020, just before Covid shut down the world, Mike and I were on vacation in Costa Rica where I took this picture. This photo has stuck in my brain for the last 3 years as having the potential for an interesting painting.

What I love about this is the large bovine sitting next to a cement water catcher. But what could I do with all that grassy hill? That is just not my sort of pleasurable painting. 

Idea #2

Two artists I've admired over the years came to mind. These two women, one now dead and the other in her late 80's, found ways to make landscapes much more exciting than just a green hill. Their work is powerful enough to stay in one's brain for years.

Mary Carlton's landscape

Mary Pym's landscape

And so a three day break from "serious work" began and the meshing of ideas #1 and #2.

Because I enjoy working with collage materials, my first step was opening up my collage containers. I sorted through these papers, searching for matching colors. My hope was to find enough golds, grays and olive greens to create the long stretch of ground I envisioned. 

Breaking up the big space in interesting, somewhat geographical ways was a challenge. I used watercolor along with collage pieces to quilt together the landscape.

The final step was to paint the building and the cow. Once that was done, I used dark line work for 2 reasons. I felt that joining the pieces together with lines, helped create a fields and farming feel to the painting. Also the dark lines help connect the darks used in the top of the painting to the rest of the piece. 

Beneath the Cow
Mixed Media
22 x 15

Workshop coming up! I will be teaching a watercolor class, "Adding Texture" on May 5,6,7 in McMinnville, OR at the Currents Gallery. The space is limited, so signup early by calling 503-435-1316.

Monday, January 16, 2023

A Long Time Coming

Way back when--August 2020--I was very near launching a new website. This new one would have a "buy button" making it so easy for art lovers to click and buy a piece of my art. Then I said to my web designer that we'd wrap it up once I got back from my Rogue River raft trip. Woo-hoo! 

Then, as my followers know, our house burned down on September 7, 2020. And, of course, in the house was my computer. That was the end of focusing on a new website, since I had a whole new segment of my life to put back together. But guess what . . .

My long time web designer Judy Taylor, my husband Mike and I have all worked together to get this new website up and working. There is much more to this than meets the eye!

But here it is  My New Website

Please take a look and send me comments if you wish. Also you can push a button, go to Square and buy a painting from me.

Thursday, December 8, 2022

When Color is More Important

 Recently I have been working mostly in black and white. It started with my pen and ink pieces. For those small pieces, a bit of orange or red  behind the trees or creature was enough. The ink work told the story.

 Color As the Background

Now I am painting humans using black and white gouache. With these paintings, I am finding creating a background color quite challenging. It sets the mood for the portrait. Is the face excited, or sad, or anxious, or happy, or . . . there is such a wide range of human emotions. I now look at a wide range of colors for the backgrounds trying to capture the emotion of the human.

Take these two reds for example. They are both reds, but one conveys many thoughts to me: excitement, high energy, fear, happiness. The darker one speaks of seriousness, intellect, age, sophistication. 

Mixing colors can be a challenge. Some darker colors are harder to adjust to "just right," as the night blue I was looking for recently. 

Colors are taking on a whole new meaning and importance for this new series. Now as I mix up colors, I am keeping them in old face cream jars and labeling them--they may be needed again.  

I am not ready to put out my completed work right now. It seems like a wintery thing to just hole up in my studio and paint. I am not marketing much these days, but I am close to having a spruced up website so stay tuned for that announcement.

Although I will not put an entire painting here, I have a couple of teasers (not my favorite word) for you to see. 

             Happy Safe and Healthy Holidays to all!!