Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A Story in the Round: "While We Are Sleeping"

This fall my husband placed his game cameras to photograph any animals that might be coming in for apple snacks. It turned out to be an amazing collection of animals came in the night. When he turned it into a video, it became almost a dance of comings and goings. Of course there was our horse, Lil Bit, but right along with her were deer, bears, raccoons, foxes and skunks. It was pretty fun to see who was out there night after night. We discovered that not only bears, but also foxes climb trees.

Being an artist, I started thinking about making this into a story of sorts. I knew our grandchildren would love seeing it someway other than on the computer screen. I had seen the beautiful lazy susans made by a company in the mid-west and thought that I might be able to do something similar, but telling our story, "While We Are Sleeping."

First I needed a 29-inch wood tray. Looking on the internet I found a nice looking birch plywood tray with a laminated edge, covering the plywood edge. Naturally the maker of the tray lived across the country, so I had to place an order and wait for it to arrive.

With Christmas just around the corner, I had to make good use of my time, so I started practicing with my wood burning tool to see how I might put it to use in this project. (I'd never used one before!)

I made 29-inch circles out of brown craft paper, and started to plan out the story. It's harder than you might think to put an idea out on a round surface. I asked Mike to produce some single images from his videos. (The ones you see from the photos above.)  I then made drawings from those and made cut-outs of the animals to move around my round shape.

Finally the tray arrived and I started my wood burning with great trepidation. I am no expert, but I managed to outline my images, write my carefully chosen words, and make animal foot prints around the tray.

I had never used my acrylic paints to stain wood before, but I watered them down, and away I went.

Like a gift should be, this became a labor of love. I was pretty tickled with myself as this gift turned out to be truly one of a kind and personal.

And here it is in use in Arizona! Merry Christmas Carters!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

What is a Painting Worth?

What is a painting worth? There are so many ways of looking at this. Are we talking about a dollar amount? Are we talking about building an art collection? Are we talking about the enjoyment of looking at a piece of art day after day and seeing something in a new light?

The topic has come to mind recently as I have made some sales, created new art, and have put prices on the new pieces. I'd like to use a painting I hung this week as an example of the different thoughts I had on pricing it.

Tam Giang Lagoon—Laundry Day
Transparent Watercolor on Paper
22" x 20"
Since our trip to Southeast Asia, every time I push the button to start my washing machine, I think of this woman and the other women I met on this trip. I not only think of the conveniences of my life, of all that I have, but also of the connection I feel to the women I meet in my travels. 

I am thankful to be invited into a home to use a flush toilet which is a source of pride for the home owner. I enjoy being allowed to peel garlic in preparation for the up-coming festivities. I am honored that a woman wants to touch my pale skin and wispy hair. These are all ways we relate to and touch each other. We are communicating and saying we are women and understand each other in the deepest ways. We are the mothers, the cooks, the washer-women. We have a universal bonding because of our gender. (Although in our country, men are now taking on much more of the domestic duties, that is not a world-wide trend.)

So how do I put a price on this piece of art? It is full of meaning to me and I trust it will touch someone else. This painting might speak to an American who has traveled the world, a woman or man who can relate to the daily tasks we all participate in. It might attract a viewer who loves the background neutrals in contrast to the bright colors of the human figure and sees it as a beautiful piece of art. It might go to the home of a collector, who has seen my work mature over the years and wants to add to their art collection.

I once read that to price your art, an artist must consider the money paid out for education, supplies, time spent, etc. And then would I include my travel, my life experience? If that were the case, this piece of art would be worth thousands of dollars!

But, of course, this is simply a work on paper where I tried to capture a moment and convey a bit of everyday life of a woman halfway around the world from me. It's size is somewhere between a half-sheet and full sheet of watercolor paper. This is reality of how I price my work. A painting this size, whether it includes a trip around the world or a 2-hour crazy inspiration, I price at $750-$800 framed and ready to hang on the wall. It seems like a bargain to me!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

My Own Art Sale and A Sneak Peak at My New Series

Living 42 miles from town, in a rural area, makes it difficult to sell my art from home. I have been envious of all my art buddies who have been involved with studio sales and smaller gallery opportunities. So what I have done to encourage some of my followers and collectors to buy original art this holiday season, is put a 20% discount on all my paintings hanging at Excelsior Restaurant and Inn. It is here in Eugene, Oregon, but I would certainly ship any work that was chosen by someone out of area.

I am posting some of my favorite paintings hanging there on facebook, for any of you who have an account. We'll see if my experiment in marketing as a rural artist brings in any sales!

Yosemite Trickster
Matted and Framed
22 x 18
All About That Vase
Mounted on a cradle
20 x 14
The Collector
Matted and Framed
11 x 15

Sneak Peak at what I'm working on in the studio. For the last couple of months I've been concentrating on my "Night Sky" series. Here are 2 recent pieces I consider finished. More of this series is brewing in my mind!

The World Is My Oyster
29 x 21
Teen Dreams
29 x 21

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Snowball Effect: Signs of a Full Life

I used to think of the "snowball effect" as the crazy time post-Thanksgiving through New Years Day. But this year I've been "snowballing" since the first of November and, as I look at my calendar, I don't expect it to end until the end of January. Let me say that this is not a complaint, it is a appreciation of a full life!

November started with two trips to the Oregon Coast. We enjoyed the music of the Newport Symphony and the company of relatives. Then in a quick turnaround we spent a couple of days in Yachats with our Alabama friends, Adrienne and Russell, who became engaged while there.

We raced back to Eugene to attend the opening of the current show at the David Joyce Gallery, where my painting "The Nineteen Percent" is hanging.

We just settled back into our home and studio for a few days before it was time to fly to Gilbert, AZ to have a week in the sun and celebrate Thanksgiving with our younger daughter and her family. We were delighted that my sister, Janice, traveled with us. Here is a photo journal of our trip.

Before Thanksgiving, Marin and I painted a chalkboard on her bedroom wall. Here she is prepared to run the sander.

Auntie J. enjoying the lively kids.
Our hosts, Rachel and Josh.

Hannah now has 2 more missing teeth--she's a Jack-o-lantern!

Noah is a meat guy!

The fancy "turkey" tray Rachel and Janice put together.

We were lucky to meet so many of the Carter's friends--
they hosted 25 family members and friends for Thanksgiving dinner.

And, of course, a little pool time.

I talked the kids into some photo shoots for future night sky paintings.
Art News:

I received the good news that "Will She Be Allowed" will be hanging in the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, Eugene, OR as part of the WSO Spring 2017 Exhibition.

I also have this award sticker from Artist's Magazine for having a painting selected as a finalist in the animal/wildlife division. The painting I entered was "Herons' Winter Dreams."

And now we've moved into the December Christmas tree hunt which only required 4-wheel drive and chains. I am ever thankful that I found this Yankee on the East Coast and coaxed him to the West.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Hourglass Figure

Once again this past summer, I traveled to Ventura, CA to spend two weeks in an art retreat with Katherine Chang Liu and 20+ other artist. My paintings created during that time were all focused on women's themes: freedom of choice, the right to vote, equal pay, etc. I tried out different ways to put my ideas on paper.

I pulled this piece out yesterday to photograph. When creating it my focus was women's bodies: how women are expected to have, told by advertisers, pressured by society to work toward the "hourglass figure." Many women just aren't born with that potential. Through the years we age, gravity prevails and our bodies no longer have the youthful curves and lovely skin.

So that is the story I was telling in August. But when I looked at the piece this week, I so clearly saw how it related to the current political fray. I almost felt like a clairvoyant. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Sometimes I listen: Before and After

I created this piece, I See You, a few months ago. It was based on my experience sleeping under the night sky on rafting trips where the connection with our ancestors seemed strong, and the waking hours in the middle of the night were comforting. As I watched the "W" shaped stars of Cassiopeia move across the sky, I was interested in what she might have looked like in the eyes of the Greeks. 
Many friends asked why she had a nightgown of with two different colors. To me it represented the figure's connection with both the sky and the earth. But as I had to explain my thoughts, I realized that the painting was becoming more about the nightgown than the connectivity between us and our ancestors, and the peaceful moments under a night sky which I wanted viewers to feel.

Then I put the painting in a critique session at the Watercolor Society of Oregon convention. The juror felt that the green earth conflicted with the blues of the sky. Where is the color unity?

So I brought the painting out this week and let go of the "preciousness" I was hanging on to. If resolving the questions about the nightgown, and questions about the green earth would lead viewers to more clearly see what I was trying to communicate, then I should change it.

What do you think? Have the changes  to I See You redirected the focus of the painting to the relationship between humans and our imagination of the unknown that the night sky evokes?

Monday, October 17, 2016

A Lesson in History: Why Hillary Wore White

So where do paintings come from? Is it an idea floating around until it lands on an artist? That is a bit like I see it. I get an idea and it takes awhile to ferment and brew until I start seeing the painting itself.

This painting started with the big picture of women's issues. It was triggered also by this tumultuous election and campaign we are experiencing. So there are a couple of ideas percolating with more to come.

To add more content, I started reading more about the Suffragette movement. I looked at photographs from both England and America catching women in droves marching for voting rights. I then learned that there were colors woman wore to show sisterhood in the movement. In England, ribbons of purple, white and green were made by Selerfridge & Co. for women to adorn their hats, representing the 3 symbolic colors English Suffragettes wore.

Finally I came across an article about Hillary Clinton's choice to wear white for her Democratic Convention acceptance speech. The choice of white was a nod to the women who marched a century ago to gain the women's right to vote with the 19th Amendment. How could I not paint about that!

The working title is They Marched for Our Future. Do you have a title in mind?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Women: Another Painting

"Lightly Beaten" is my working title for this painting. Being an idea driven and symbolic painter, I could not get the piece I heard on the radio out of my mind. Did I hear right? In Pakistan, a law has been proposed that allows a husband to lightly beat his wife.

That sent me to the computer to verify and read more about this. Here is a brief quote from the Washington Post: "The head of a powerful Islamic council is refusing to back down from a proposal that makes it legal for husbands to "lightly beat" their wives in Pakistan."

My brain started churning. How could I paint this story? I started looking at the attire of Pakistani women and children (my theme in this series). I looked at photos of Pakistan and a painting began to take shape in my mind. The mosque became the backdrop for the figures as a symbol of the extremist religious leaders proposing such a law. The women are in a posture which says, "what can we do?' And the child is jumping away. What will her future be?

I'd like to share the details of the actual painting of this piece. As I took on the large task of simplifying the architecture and decoration of the mosque, I found I really enjoyed creating the detail and patterns in the mosque. It was painted with admiration and respect for the beauty of the building, despite my symbolic use of the structure. 

As I painted the women, I thought of them as gems. The colors they wear and poses as they sit are so feminine. 

And the child--I painted her leaping into an unknown future. But I hope it is a future of more freedom!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Thinking Ahead--Upcoming Workshop 2017

If you are like me, if I don't put something down on the calendar, I miss opportunities. And if the post-holiday blues get you down, here is a great art workshop to brighten up February.

This is a new workshop I'm presenting, so take a look and sign up early, as there is a limited class size. The 4-day workshop will be held in Portland at the Oregon Society of Artists. And feel free to contact me with any questions:

Oregon Society of Artists
2185 S.W. Park Place
Portland, Oregon 97205

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Jumping the Gun

Ten days ago, I finished and posted a painting that I felt excited about. My joy was partly due to the fact that I had not had much studio time lately, but mostly because I loved the design, colors, and simplicity of the piece.

But as I lived with it and got comments from various people, I realized that I had missed the mark when the main figure did not read as feminine. Also people were seeing ethnicity in the figures, when none was intended.  One art friend said he thought the top chef was a Swedish man!

Since the idea behind the story is the fact that most top chefs are male. It is a difficult journey for a woman to get the same kind of recognition in the restaurant world. In fact, women represent around 19% of top chefs.

What did work were the colors, the design, the left white, and the idea. What failed was the main figure. I guess it is mostly androgynous. I wouldn't say that the painting failed, because I see it as fun and interesting, but it doesn't say what I meant.

So the last few days were spent with a redo. Let me know what you think. Below is the first rendition of Top Chef.

Top Chef
29 x 22 inches
Transparent Watercolor

And below take a look at version 2, "Nineteen Percent."

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Inspiration, Influences, and Interpretation

I've always loved alliterations!

Inspiration:  For a long time I have wanted to create a painting about my older daughter's love of cooking. From the time Meg won the grand prize at the Curry County Fair for a red velvet cake at the age of 10 or 11, until now, she has developed a reputation as a great chef. I have one photo of her where her smirky look really tickles me--it's the smile she has when her dad calls her to get her recipe for BBQ ribs. However, I am not into painting realistic portraits, as you readers know. ( There are so many wonderful painter friends who do that!)

The other inspiration comes from my recent interest in painting about women's issues. I looked into women chef numbers to find that in US hotels only 19% of top chefs are women. Also a woman needs the credentials of a culinary school, as opposed to men who more often climb to the top from experience outside of formal education.

The irony of this amazes me. Think of who prepared the vast majority of food you ate growing up and the generation before you and the many generations before that!

I enjoy the simplicity of Toulouse Lautrec posters or Milton Avery paintings. I enjoy creating a flat painting without shadows and depth. Where the light comes from does not interest me.

Image result for milton avery

I have always liked leaving the white of the paper in a painting. It is so powerful, contemporary and brave in my mind. Last year in the Katherine Chang Liu studio workshop, I painted a piece with left whites and very little detail in a tee-shirt. I really liked the feel of this painting "Run," but I  did not enjoy the hard work and disappointment in creating a likeness of my younger daughter, Rachel.

30 x 22
Transparent Watercolor on Paper
Now the trick is to come up with a simple design that puts the woman in the forefront, shows men's numbers much higher in the profession, captures the cute smirk of my daughter, uses the "19%" and leaves a lot of the powerful white. Add on, using my familiar kimono shape format. How did I do?

Top Chef (working title)
30 x 22 inches
Transparent Watercolor on Paper


Thursday, June 30, 2016

Summer Joys: Small to Large

As June comes to a close, I have a multitude of Summer Joys. Some are small:

Four o'clock flowers blooming in with my Asiatic lilies,

Swallows nesting, flying, and sitting on lines.

Some joys are lifelong: Family.

And some joys come from the fruits of my labor: I am honored and delighted to have my painting Life Cycle Imperative #8 accepted by my mentorKatherine Chang Liu, to hang in the Rocky Mountain National Watermedia Exhibition. The show will be held in  Foothills Art Center, in Golden, Colorado this fall.