Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Crow Man--new painting


So I finally made it out to the studio to actually paint, not to clean, not to look for diversions. I approached the paint and paper with ideas I brought back from Taos. It is also all from my own imagination, based on a memory from a trip to Astoria this spring.

* Don't be tied to all the rules.
* Use plenty of paint.
* Try for lots of patterns.
* Feel free to be whimsical.
* Try to have one word in mind for the painting.

Here is what I had by the end of the day.

I'm pondering my own reaction to the piece. I'm happy that I could paint so freely and with a sense of fun and freedom, but the picture is so unlike what I've painted in the past. It's surely full of activity and things to look at and think about.

I hope you all will have some helpful remarks.

P.S. If you want to enlarge an image, just click on it.
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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

After It All Settles Down

I've now been back in Oregon for nearly two weeks after adventures first in Taos and then in Hawaii. I'm disappointed in myself. I should be back in my studio letting paint fly exploring my new found penchant for patterns.

Instead I've found many diversions and ways to avoid getting back to work. And work it is. I think many people assume artists have an ongoing passion that is a bottomless pit of inspiration and motivation. That may be true for some, but for me the passion is interspersed with fear of failure, indecision, and other character flaws that keep me from putting brush to paper.

To help myself move forward, I decided to look at and analyze the two versions of two paintings inspired by my trip to Italy.

Umbrellas before and during Taos workshop.

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As I look at these two paintings, I see that I was stuck with a composition, not allowing myself to try rearranging things in the second version. Of course, that wasn't the point. My task was to explore the painting with the creation of patterns in mind. I also freed myself up to painting in a flat more contemporary way.

What I enjoy about the second piece is that it seems less stiff to me. It has a more playful and joyous feel. The colors are more vibrant, as I was painting with lots of pigment. I really love the plaza and the repeat of the round shapes from the plaza to the trees to the umbrellas. And confetti effect says celebration.

Now a look at the Man with Wine, before and during Taos workshop.

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Looking at these two paintings, I see them as making the same statement in very different ways. The thought here is Alone. The first painting is so much more tied to realism, though painted loosely. You see the sun-drenched face and shirt, the dark shadows and a realistic wine glass w/wine. In that regard, this is a successful painting, but safe.

The second painting is kind of wild in the regard of vibrant colors and patterns everywhere. I was playing with taking the live plants and flowers into the background umbrella fabric, so you can't really tell where one ends and the other begins. Believe it or not it takes boldness to paint a wine glass by pure line with no illusions of reality. I used more lines to make leaves and the table in the back. The man is now much more a part of a picture and not necessarily the thing your eye lingers on. He is still alone with his wine, however. So this is a painting where I diverge from being safe to having more fun with just making stuff. All that just came out of my brain and out through the brush. It took courage.

I do think this little exploration of the paintings has been helpful to me. By putting my experiences into words, I'm more focused on the direction I'm going in my next painting.

I'd love to get responses to this blog. It's odd to put myself out there like this. Who's even reading this stuff?

By the way, my digital camera went into the drink and is on the way to a repair shop, so it will be a while before I'll have new photos to add to my blog.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

An Opening and Workshop in Hilo

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I had the best time in Hilo May 28 - June 4! After much planning and preparation, I scheduled an art-filled trip including an art opening at Chase and Hanes Gallery and a 2 day workshop at Hilo Art and Glass Supply. The preparation began back in January, contacting the gallery and workshop location, coordinating a time far enough in the future that publicity of the events could be arranged. I also needed time create new art for the opening, get giclees made, order mats and frames, etc.

On my part, I used an internet source to make a postcard announcing the opening. That had its own learning curve, as the first batch of 300 had a typo (my fault) and the painting image was too dark. Fortunately, the cards are cheap and the mistake only cost me $50. I also created posters which I mailed off to the gallery. (If anyone reading this wants more details about preparing for an opening, I'd be happy to share all my limited knowledge.)

The day before the opening I really got excited when a painting sold as the gallery owner and I were just hanging the new pieces. A very nice family from Tokyo walked in the gallery and bought "Hawaiian Charm." I felt charmed indeed!

The opening night was so affirming! So many of my friends and acquaintances showed up. A few things sold, but more importantly it was just plain fun.

**For more pics of the opening:

The morning after the opening I held a 2-day workshop focusing on abstract work.

Day one: Using ink and a straw.

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Day 2: Using collage to build a painting.
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The workshop was full and the participants were very creative and came up with some wonderful pieces during the two days.

As you can see from my work, I am adding pattern to my paintings. I'm just in the early stages of going in a new direction.

I wrapped up the 8-day trip by taking 3 new paintings up to the Volcano Art Center, seeing the gas plume rising out of Halema'uma'u Crater, and sneaking in 2 1/2 deliciously wasteful hours seeing "Sex in the City."

Saturday, June 7, 2008

My Art Journey ISS Taos

The beginning of any workshop is always awkward. And sitting in a space with 100 other artists and 5 art masters was even more difficult than other workshops I've attended. I began the first day with no direction, so I pulled out a photo of Italy and painted a very uninspired scene of Vernazza from the water.

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When Skip Lawrence came by, he agreed with me that this was a boring painting, so I tried his suggestion of placing a warm mosaic pattern over the entire surface. Do you see the clock tower and people on the beach?

By Day 2 I'd met with Alex Powers for my one on one critique where he looked at 10 slides of my artwork. He felt that patterns were a strength he could see throughout my work. So I began working on pattern paintings. Although I'd painted these umbrellas before, in this picture, they are flatter and more symbolic. The trees are flat also. The plaza recieved kudos from Katherine Chang Lui.

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The next paintings were attempts to incorporate painting people with patterns.

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This next one is probably the best of the work I did in Taos. Katherine suggested having just a one word message in mind as I painted. The word might be "friendship" for this one. Fran Larsen suggested darkening the woman on the right which made this painting much more effective.

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Then more patterns for my Italian friend with his wine. Do you see a one word message?

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At Skip's suggestion, I painted the fellow again without any face, but lots of pattern.
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So there it is in a nutshell. So much happened during the ten days in Taos, but this is most of the painting I did there and definitely illustrate the direction I was encouraged to follow.

I'd love to get your feedback.