Friday, March 26, 2021

More Art From the Ruins Part I

Just a week ago, sculptor Chris Foltz arrived on our property to begin a multi-day project. The idea was hatched in October, when we found out that the two trees in our turnaround drive were dead and would have to come down. These two incense cedars were about 70 years old and huge. They were a symbolic part of our home, having both prominence and character. They held the Christmas star we put up each year for at least 30 years. My mother requested her ashes go under those trees. The rock garden we built around the trees became "Margaret's Garden" after her death. (Yes, I'm named after my mother.) So finding out they had to be felled was heart-breaking.

I came up with the idea that if we cut them high enough, perhaps we could find a wood sculptor (chain-saw artist) who could turn them into something remarkable. Much of that type of art is bears, eagles, and fish, but I wanted something different. I wanted two abstracted humans who would symbolize the roots Mike and I have put down in that place--the home where we raised our kids, entertained family and friends, taught grandkids how to ride horses and enjoy nature. Not being a sculptor and knowing nothing about running a chainsaw, I put this heavy burden on Chris's shoulders. When we met last Friday, I realized that the art would come out as he explored the tree-stumps and found the heartwood of the trees. About all we agreed upon was there should be 2 heads that represented a male and female figures. I had no idea how he would or could somehow connect these 2 stumps, since they had a yard or two separation. they certainly would not be holding hands.

For at least two of those days the wind howled and the rain fell, but he continued to put in long hours on the scaffolding. Here are the photos of his creation. 

Almost miraculously Chris connect the two figures with a gaze between them!

At the end he put on a protective glaze, which brought out even more of their natural color.,

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Finding the Right Image for a Particular Piece of Paper

 I've been working on gold gessoed paper lately. A full sheet of watercolor paper is 22" by 30" which is sometimes too large for a painting I have in my mind. After painting the two egret paintings recently I had a long skinny piece left. I wondered what I might put on this left over piece of paper. As I walked down the hallway last week there it was--the perfect image. My granddaughter was reading a book while reposed on her bed.  "Hey, can I take a picture of you?" I asked? (She's become pretty used to me using her as a model.)

The inspiration

It didn't take long to come up with ideas for this piece. I wanted to insert a unique story about Angelica using symbols from her life. Years ago when she had to endure long drives into town as a toddler, I would use scenery to entertain her. When spring came, it was the pink trees that drew our attention as we looked out the car window and chanted "pink trees, pink trees." Then I thought to add her totem, an owl, to the tree. 

The Beginning

At first I was just mapping out the image and inserting the ideas I had for the window. I shared this image with my friend, Ruth Armitage, who convinced me that no matter how cute the photo of the upside-down owl was to Angelica and me, it wasn't the best idea for the painting. She suggested I look at Winslow Homer's painting "The New Novel" which had a similar image of a woman lying down reading a book. That gave me the idea of adding that painting to my painting. You will see it in the finished painting; a simplified copy of Homer's painting above the human's head.

Mostly done, but needing details

I simplified the tree covered with covered pink blossoms, and camouflaged the owl in the far right of the window. In this image, you can see the painting on the wall.

12" x 22.5"
Gouache on Gessoed Paper

Here is the finished piece with details added to the figure, clothing and bedding. I am still looking for a title. Send me your ideas please.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Art Rekindled by the River

A few things happened recently that rekindled my interest in painting river-themed pieces. An obvious motivation is that we have rented a house with a covered deck overlooking the McKenzie River. Even on a cold and blustery day, I can walk out a door to get a glimpse of fast flowing water, floating or flying mergansers, or the more rare bald eagle. There is something very invigorating in the river air and the moving view of the water. So when I was asked to videotape a paint demonstration for the Watercolor Society of Oregon, I searched through my file of river photos. I chose a photo I'd taken a couple of years ago on the Rogue River. The two white egrets against the rocks had stuck in my mind as great subject matter ever since I clicked the button on my phone. 

Two egrets photographed on a Rogue River raft trip

I chose to paint on a gold gessoed paper using gouache paint. (Gesso is an acrylic base you can use on watercolor paper, which you can then paint on with gouache, an opaque watercolor paint.) I had prepared several pieces of gessoed paper right after the fire and had been dragging them around for quite awhile.

I discovered filming a painting demonstration is not that easy. The particular method of painting I was using is not at all the same as applying transparent watercolor to paper. It takes more time to dry because the gouache is not absorbed by the paper, rather the gouache paint sits on top of the surface and must dry before a second layer can be applied. Anyway, back to the filming, it took me three days to finish the painting. It was truly a go-and-stop-and-go-again process. Also, it is tough to both paint and talk (explain) at the same time. Then there was the editing which I handed over to my clever husband, who soon passed it back to me after a few lessons on how to use imovie. I had recorded over 3 hours of painting and talking which had to be reduced to 1 1/2 hours. Needless to say, that took some time as well as intense thinking and decision-making. But it is now done, and in the hands of the wonderful WSO volunteers who will make it available to WSO members on YouTube. 

And here is the finished painting:  Rogue Flight.

Rogue Flight
Gouache on Gold Gessoed Watercolor Paper
18" x 22"

With more gold gessoed paper easily available, I started thinking about the paintings I lost in the fire, and how in the past I would just let my imagination create symbols to talk about the subject. I would come up with unusual ways to put a painting together, letting go of reality, creating a bridge between abstract and reality. So here is the result of learning from my past -- painted in one day. (Oh boy, it was fun!)

Rogue Egrets
Gouache on Gold Gessoed Watercolor Paper
22" x 18"