Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Painting is Completed and I Announce New Classes

Wil Continues to Work Upside Down (the painting, not him)

Last week I promised to show you the completed painting by a new coaching student. Above and below he works with the reproduction he's painting from upside down so that he can see it as a series of shapes. He also turns his painting upside down--it works great for him!

Almost there...what glowing colors and an emotive portrait

The completed painting. Wow.

Wil finished his painting today. Now he
may go back later and adjust it a little...but he wisely left it at my studio until his next coaching session. He feared he might mess with it too much if he took it with him. Better to give it some time and then decide. How often have I regretted not doing that? My favorite feedback on my work is, "It's perfect, don't touch a thing!" My least favorite is, "Oh. I liked it better before." Patience and taking breaks from the work are keys to not "over-egging the pudding."

I'm excited to be offering several new classes in 2009. Here's a preview:

The Nun, the Entrepreneur, and the Courtesan

March 15 12-5
Tuition: 75. All supplies and light snacks provided.

What do a nun, a painter and a courtesan have in common? Learn about the fascinating lives and works of Caterina Vigri, Lavinia Fontana, and Veronica Franco--you won't find it in history books! Taking these women as your muses you'll make a creation or two, choosing among collage, painting, mixed media pieces, or assemblage. Let these women inspire and motivate you in this workshop version of my popular Portland State University classes.

Papers Primavera

April 19 12-4

Tuition: 65. All supplies and light snack provided.

Celebrate spring by creating delectable hand-embellished papers! You'll learn how to create your own moldable form stamps and to use them along with inks, markers, acrylic paints, and other media to decorate tissue and Asian papers. You'll leave with a collection of unique papers for future art projects and gift wrapping.

Journal to the Center

June 14 12-5
Tuition: 70.

Most supplies and a light snack provided.

You'll bring a blank journal to begin your artful descent to your center with visual journaling! You'll receive written and visual prompts to inspire you to begin writing and illustrating your experiences, thoughts, and feelings. Whether your subjects are profound or everyday, you will create a lavish and enticing book in which to record and honor your life.

If you aren't subscribed to my email newsletter and would like to be, contact me and I'll add you to the list to get the latest on events and classes.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Toilets, Treats, and Cool Student Work

Deux Toilettes

Well, here's a nice artsy photo. The big excitement in my away from work life this weekend was getting our three toilets replaced and the pipes scrubbed out. It's a great thing to have had done, but I was concerned my life was getting a bit boring, with home repairs and breaking up fights between our two cats. I did have to document two of the old porcelain receptacles headed for oblivion.

Today I decided to treat myself. When I'm super busy I often wish that things were more quiet and uneventful. When they are, I get bored. So I decided on some simple non-boring pleasures. I went to a local French bistro and had the most delicious scrambled eggs, baguette pieces with jam and fresh fruit. Yum. I didn't think to take a photo until after I'd demolished same.

Only a Memory

I then repaired to my favorite mystery bookstore, Murder by the Book. These lovely folks will let you rent hardbacks if, like me, you don't have any more room for books in your house. I checked out The Good Thief's Guide to Paris--a funny page turner that entertained me mightily.

I have a show coming up soon at Cube Gallery, along with Kimberly Kent and Mandy Main. (Why aren't I alliterative?) This is an encaustic show and I haven't done any encaustic for awhile. I scanned details of what I did today.

Fresco Wall (detail) Encaustic/Collage

The Watchers (detail) Encaustic

Sparkling new "facilities", delicious food, entertaining reading and making art. A pretty great weekend, after all.

Coaching for creativity is never boring! Thought I'd share with you the evolution of a piece by a new coaching student. He's a graphic artist for a big company but wants to play around with painting what he chooses. He opened a large art book of mine and chose a painting at random to work from. It happened to be a piece by Velasquez that I had worked from about a year ago. He said the page number happened to be his lucky number as well!

The first stage of Wil's painting

Wil did the beginning stage of the painting with re-inkers and acrylic medium. This gave a rich ochre and umber cast to the underpainting. (See above.) He put in the basic lights and darks the first time we met. By the time he was through I could tell the painting would be wonderful. He wasn't sure, but said he'd trust me on that! Several people admired the first stage of the piece while it was drying in the studio for a week.

Wil came up with a great way to work with the painting when we met for the second time. He said he was influenced by Betty Edward's book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain to practice seeing shapes as they are, rather than what he expects to see. To do this he turned his painting upside down and continued to layer on color and shape. He used acrylic paint and water this time for faster drying time.

Wil looks at Velasquez' shapes and his painting takes shape as well

I was impressed with the rich Spanish colors Wil used, as well as his loose brushstrokes that made the picture look three dimensional. His character had a strong presence from the first. Below he's added more color, light, and shadow. He switched to a small brush at the end of the painting session to add the finer detail.

This guy looks great upside down. You can see the inspiration in the book under the painting on our top left.

Here's how the painting looks now! So much life in this portrait! Next week I'll have a photograph of the completed piece to show you. I'm definitely going to try the upside down method more--I'm always learning from my students!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Wabi-Sabi Wonder Workshop

Nicole's Work
4" square
Re-inkers ,alcohol, and acrylic glaze medium

Today was my pilot workshop for Wabi-Sabi Wonder. Connie and Nicole joined me as enthusiastic experimenters. The goal of the workshop was to enjoy the process of creating and to work with whatever happy accidents and "mistakes" came up. We talked a bit about the Japanese aesthetic and philosophy called wabi-sabi. We used muted colors, texture, random effects, weathering, and incising to create surfaces that were seasoned, subtle, and layered.

Nicole jumped in, working loosely and joyfully. Connie brought some larger 12" square boards she had gotten at Home Depot. She too, worked expansively and with pleasure. She tried something different, using black gesso over her panels, rather than the white of the prepared panels. This allowed her to use brighter colors and still get the muted, seasoned looking shades she wanted.

I demonstrated using Adirondack Ranger Reinkers, acrylic paint in warm gray, white, and Payne's Gray, alcohol ink, gel medium, glaze medium, self-leveling medium, and molding paste. The self-leveling medium is fairly new to me and I'm just discovering all its uses. For this workshop I showed how to drip this honey-like medium onto a surface to add texture. Molding paste also added texture, and sometimes I used the two together.

To work on the gessoed wood panels, I add glaze medium to the reinkers so that the color adheres better and doesn't get absorbed too far into the surface of the panel.

Nicole used the self-leveling medium to get the texture at the bottom and lower sides of this piece. She used alcohol with her ink to make the soft main image with feathered edges.

This piece by Nicole reminds me of the lights of a hilltop city with a deep textured sky above. Nicole used some lacy paper for the image in the upper left. I really like how she tore the paper so that it was ragged and not a complete circle. Note the very small patch of red in the upper right corner that sets off the whole piece and makes it sing.

I've heard this kind of small, unexpected accent called "The Eye of the Tiger." Or maybe it was "The Eye of the Dragon." Either way it can add so much to a work.

Connie wasn't sure she was finished with her last piece of the day, but it does glow beautufully.

This was Nicole's final piece. She again used bits of the textured lace paper with acrylic paint and reinkers to bring this piece together in an organic way.

Connie made a shimmering, almost breathing layered piece. The background is layered and scraped with bright golds and oranges combined with subtle grays.

In this detail of Connie's Spiral piece you can see where she scraped down to previous layers, much as she would have with an encaustic surface.

This is a detail from Connie's first piece of the day. She incised with a steel tip pen and a utility knife. She used alcohol ink to create the horizontal edge in the upper half of the painting. My mind wants to read these as mountains.

This is the whole piece from which the above detail was taken. I think this photo has more accurate colors. Connie deliberately chose a very muted palette for today's work. She used many layers of subtle gradations of color accented with a little white and off-white for punch.

After the workshop I played some more with some surfaces I'd used for demonstrations. This panel has a combination of self-leveling medium and molding paste under the paint and ink for 3-D texture. After taking this piece home, I decided to turn it upside down. liking the composition better that way.

4" square

This piece kind of made itself as I slapped on ink during the workshop to the cheers of Nicole and Connie. Later I incised it like mad and added a rich red line on the right side and the curved black line at the bottom.

Shooting Stars (also 4" square)

I have to admit I had a terrible time with the piece below. That's all part of the process. When Connie and Nicole arrived I had this great textured surface that I'd done yesterday. It looked cool and I added some rich sienna color to it. I don't know what happens sometimes, but this piece went through so many incarnations. Several times I really liked it but in then searching for the "Eye of the Whatever-Animal-It-Is, I'd "wreck" the whole thing. Nicole who in previous workshops has had me urge her to loosen up, today was loose and relaxed while I wrestled with this textured work. Fortunately, I retained some sense of humor about this reversal and the others didn't tease me too much! I didn't get this work where I wanted it until the others had left the studio. That's just how it goes sometimes. Doing this "wabi-sabi" work is just like living. Sometimes it comes easy and sometimes it doesn't, but if you keep at it, it eventually becomes what it is meant to be.

Conjunction ( 4" square)

As the Crow Flies (4 " square)

The above went fast also. The green in the center was Connie's inspiration.

I added some to this 5" square piece done earlier in the week. When I added the torn book text, Nicole said that was what it needed. This piece also had earlier incarnations. I was happy with how it looked after I first made it, but after a few days the ink background had sunk and faded. In subsequent revisions I used glaze medium with the inks and added some off white paint. Now I like it again!

A Huge "Thank You!" to Connie and Nicole for joining me for a fabulously fun day. We are looking forward to scheduling a Wabi-Sabi II sometime soon!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

In Which I Take Pictures of an Assemblage and My Partner Begins NaNoWriMo

Outside lid of assemblage: "What We Found Backstage"

Thought I'd share these photographs of one of my assemblages. I made it last year, but have just gotten around to taking pictures of it. The assemblage is called, "What We Found Backstage." The inspirations were my past life as a (mostly amateur) actor and my love for the theater.

Back in the 80's an movie theater that was an opera and vaudeville theater in the old days was remodeled in Salem. Before the remodeling commenced, some lucky folks got to go back to the old dressing rooms and found a kind of time capsule. This story also inspired my piece.

Open Assemblage Box

Large Detail of Assemblage

If you noticed the title of this post you may be wondering what NaNoWriMo is. It is an exciting kind of collective madness, perhaps akin to the dancing frenzies of the Middle Ages. The idea is to write a novel in a month. No big deal, right? What??

As of yesterday, there were 90,000 would-be novel writers registered and more were being added. The event began last night at midnight. My partner was one of those who gathered at a local cafe to begin writing at the stroke of 12:01. Yesterday I found out that my adult son has also pledged to participate in this divine insanity. I am so proud of both of them!

To explain further, the novel does not have to be a good one. The goal is to just complete all 50, 000 words in a month. That will produce a novel about the size of John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath.

The founder of this communal craziness, Chris Baty, has a book out that tells all you need to know about participating. His book is called No Plot, No Problem. It's hilarious and inspiring--made me want to try NaNoWriMo someday.

To read more about my partner's participation, check out her site. Maybe my son Ian's partner, Ruby, and I should form a NaNoWriMo widows support group...