Friday, January 30, 2015

Inspired by an Amazing Discovery

I'm working on a group of three oil/cold wax pieces, 24" x 24" on deep cradled panels. I'm inspired here by the discovery in 2013 of the skeleton of the controversial King Richard III of England (1452-1485.) The body was found under a parking lot in Leicester, England. It's a moving and fascinating story.

I'm working backward, so here is the third part of the series.

Hic Jacet Ricardus Rex  #3              OIl/Cold Wax on Deep Cradled Panel

If you'd like to learn more about this compelling story, check out this video and this book, not to mention many internet sites.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Transformations in Oil and Cold Wax

Kudos to my talented and adventurous students who took my oil and cold wax class over the past two Saturdays! The first session of the class involved starting many pieces and learning techniques like scraping, incising, using a squeegee and many weird utensils to produce texture. We used birch boards and two kinds of paper for the pieces. Each student also put a textured layer of Venetian Plaster on a cradled board so they could paint over it at the second session. Finally, they learned how to add collage in the form of images on tracing paper for added interest.

Using a palette knife to add a new layer of paint and cold wax

Using a pottery scraper to reveal previous layers

The invaluable squeegee

During the first session, students had to work on trusting that their pieces would turn out to be paintings. Oil and wax pieces undergo many changes and at first they may not look so great! By the end of the two sessions, the work was looking wonderful. I managed to get photos of most of the finished work and there are many more pieces waiting for more oil and wax.

This student let me guide her toward eloquent simplicity in her work. Here's a piece on plaster with a touch of collage.

This student explored rich colors with subtle pattern and movement. The incising is a perfect accent.

Here she lets earlier layers come through.

Rich color appeared in many of this student's pieces. Again, you can see a touch of collage here.

In earlier stages

The finished piece

This student created dreamy imaginary landscapes. Stillness and movement combine in this piece.

An abstract landscape-again a perfect blend of stillness and movement

A student incises into her layers with a bamboo skewer. The edges of the paper are taped.

Here's what the piece looks like when the tape is removed. The border sets off the pieces on paper beautifully. We had a lot of fun at the end of the second day when one student peeled the tape off her paper piece. It made such a difference! Others were going to wait, but we ended with a frenzy of tape-removing.

The first reveal!

Here are some more reveals:

I'll be teaching a one day oil and cold wax class at Art and Soul Retreat here in Portland, OR on March 6. Only two spots left! People are loving this medium!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Banish the January Blahs With An Art Class!

Winter Clarity                              Oil/Cold Wax on Panel

 Happy New Year to you all!

I'm excitedly gathering supplies for my upcoming two-session class at my studio. We'll explore using oil paint, cold wax medium, and mixed media on wood panels and on two kinds of oil-friendly paper.This class is all about experimentation, boldness, and intuition--a great way to start 2015.

Cold wax mixes with oil paint to produce a gorgeous paint surface with a subtle sheen. In this two session workshop you’ll experiment with free and bold abstract work. Enjoy exploring this unusual and interactive medium. You’ll leave with several gorgeous pieces!
January 10 & 17   11-5

SE Portland, OR

Two spots left! Information/Registration on my site.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Three books and a movie for art-lovers

As this year starts to close, I want to share some inspiring material on abstract art that I've discovered this year. Not all of it is new--it's just been new to me and has kept me inspired.

The first is an e-book that I read on my Kindle app. This book is full of breathtaking black and white photographs that embody the spirit of wabi-sabi. I wish the book were available in print, but I certainly recommend the e-book. I keep going back to the photos and text (including haiku) and come away renewed.

Wabi-Sabi: The Beauty of Photography

Seth Apter's second North Light book has been a revelation. I have meant to review it here so many times! Each time that I look through it for things to include in a review, I get distracted by the stunning and meaningful art and the intimate feelings and thoughts shared by Seth and the guest artists. Reading the text is like getting soul-baring letters from members of your beloved tribe and feeling the warmth of connection with each one.

The book does include tricks and tips, and thank heavens, it does not include "how you can make a piece exactly like mine." The book urges us to look within ourselves and to mine deeply for the gold within us with the same courage and humor as the artists in this book.

You can get this free if you have Kindle Unlimited, but I strongly urge you to buy a print copy. I like to see the art work bigger and to enjoy the gorgeous design of the book. And to hold the book lovingly in my hands as I drool over it.

As I become more and more committed to intuitive abstract painting, I look for books on mid to late 20th century art--something I neglected to some extent in my first foray into teaching myself art history. Now that I work in abstraction, I find myself responding to work that seemed beyond my grasp in the past. I recently purchased a large book by Jane Livingston called The Paintings of Joan Mitchell. I have been aware of Mitchell's work for some time, but this book allowed me to immerse myself in her color, composition,and boldness. 

Mitchell received considerable recognition in her lifetime but, surprise, surprise, not as much as her Abstract Expressionist male peers. She is now highly honored, as she should be. Her work is unique and unafraid. If you are interested in making and/or appreciating abstract painting, I suggest you become familiar with Mitchell's work. This book makes it a joy to do so, from the stunning images to the story of Mitchell's artistic life.

You might also like a film on Mitchell, directed by the late Marion Cajori. The film has lots of footage of Mitchell painting, hanging around with friends, and just thinking. I love how when asked about her paintings (how she made them, their meanings, etc.) she just laughs and shrugs. 

The more I get into abstraction, the harder it is for me to talk about what I do. I'm pretty good with words in most cases, but ask me about my art and I go blank. I can imagine why this is true for many abstract painters, and was especially true for Mitchell. Her work comes from an emotional and visual place that is deeper than words.

You can watch the film streaming on Hulu Plus, get the DVD from Netflix, or buy the film from Amazon.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Visual Haiku in Salem

Last weekend I was privileged to teach at a new venue for me: The Art Department, Inc. in Salem, Oregon. Owner Katy Vigeland is a delight to work with and I was thrilled that she took the class also.

I lived in Salem many years ago and there was nothing like The Art Department there then. That was long before I became an artist, though as I told the class, I may have become one much sooner if there had been a store like Katy's in Salem when I was there.

The class was called "Visual Haiku." It's a  concept that is a bit hard to explain, but everyone got it! They all did really complex and lovely work. Here are some works from the class, both finished and in progress. I showed the class how to seal their pieces with cold wax. Apparently in doing so I got cold wax on my camera lens, rendering a few of the pictures unusable. Those of you who know me won't be a bit surprised.