Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Inspiring Artist

Sorry for the long delay in posts.  I came down with the flu a couple of weeks ago and the recovery process has been taking forever (and if this post seems a little scattered you'll know why).  But I'm getting back to things and last weekend I had the pleasure of attending an "informal discussion" between the artist Henk Pander and art historian (as well as friend and my college professor) Roger Hull.  It was the last day of Henk Pander's exhibit at the Hallie Ford Museum in Salem, Oregon, and I'm so glad that I did not miss seeing the show.  You can see some of his work here and some photos of the gentlemen at the event on my friend Bonnie's blog (Henk Pander on our left, Roger Hull on our right and Henk's painting behind).  His paintings were gorgeous, surprising, and so large on some I felt like I could walk right into the scene.  Not kidding.  I would guess the larger ones were at least 15 feet wide by 10 feet tall.  I might be way off on that, but it gives you an idea.  I can't even imagine the logistics of painting that large.  Makes my largest painting feel like a postage stamp.

Roger started things rolling by asking Henk some questions.  Henk was more than generous sharing his thoughts about his work and process.  I wish I had been able to take more notes but alas I spent much of the time paranoid of having a coughing fit (mentioned I have been ill, right?) so it was all I could do to just listen.  I did jot down a couple of things though that struck me.  One was on the topic of his very large pieces.  I believe someone asked how he kept the momentum going on a piece so large and he mentioned having to forget about the subject and just treat it as a project.  As I often lose momentum in paintings that are taking too long to finish (like a few I have right now...) I related very well to this. 

The other note I made still is sinking in for me in relation to his work (and how to relate it to my own).  Several of the paintings in the show were of difficult subject matter in one way or another.  And he had an interesting way of painting that subject, rather indirectly I guess you could say.  He made a difficult scene beautiful I thought while often still being somewhat disturbing knowing the subject matter.  And the thing he said (and this is not a direct quote as I'm sure I missed something) was, "take the meaningless and give it meaning through making a work of art out of it."  Or something along those lines.  I rather liked that idea.  Propelling the barely noticed into the spotlight.

I love going to artist talks or talks about artists and I really need to get to more.  Not only do I learn so much about these other artists, I inevitably get insight or inspiration into my own work.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Inspired by another's artist retreat

I was inspired by Erika Lee Sears and her idea for an artist retreat.  Erika lives in Portland, Oregon, and creates wonderful oil paintings.  She hopes to go to on an artist retreat to Hong Kong and has even created a way others can all help her reach that goal by setting up a site so please go check that out here.  She even has things you can get for pledging various amounts.  So cool.

I thought that was such a great idea.  A break from the daily routine and interruptions and a chance to focus on art.  I would like to do that too!  However, I can't really go anywhere right now (bummer!).  But I thought why not set aside some time, a few days or maybe almost a week, and really focus on art.  Not just my own art.  I think I will visit museums and galleries.  Maybe spend sometime in nature.  Play with techniques and experiment.  And really give some thought to what I want to create and why.

I've cleared some time in my schedule for approximately the second week of April.  I might have to change that, should something come up, but for now it looks good.  So I'll get my house clean and the errands run before and I won't schedule any social events (unless with another artist, hey, that's a good idea!).  I will just keep it as much about art as I possibly can.  As much as my four year old will let me anyway.

And of course I'll share things about it here.  Good luck Erika and thanks for the great idea!

One other thing, I attended the reception on Friday for the Parks for People show, in which I was invited to participate, and I did a blog post about it here.

Monday, March 7, 2011

New Project

I am (mentally) overdue for a new art project. Something totally different (this will be in addition to my usual figurative work, not instead of). I am going to start a new series of paintings which will have, I think anyway, a loose expressionist (possibly somewhat abstract) base. I need to shake things up and frankly I need to paint something other than just people. Just to keep things interesting.

So with this in mind, I have bought a bunch of canvas just for this project. The ideas I have are to keep the inspiration for these pieces regional (which for me is the Willamette Valley in Oregon). Whether inspired by nature, historical, buildings, or people (though again not painting people) I am going to let this idea just go where it will. Perhaps nothing will come of it or perhaps it will, we shall see!

For this first body of work I decided to pull my inspiration from the work of Elizabeth Lord and Edith Schryver. They were landscape architects who lived nearby and whose work was throughout the Northwest. They began their work together in 1929 and their influence seems to be throughout the city (and beyond). I love that these women were so influential during their time, a time when it was less common to find women doing this work.

Today I visited one of their more well known and maintained gardens in Salem (Oregon) and took about 100 photographs to bring back and get some ideas from. I won't share all of them with you. Just my favorites. Hope you enjoy!

This first group is from what I would call the natural part of the garden and includes lovely little trails and wild flowers. Also some wonderful moss, lichen, and rotting trees which I love.

Isn't this interesting? Some fungus, lichen, moss, and feathers stuck to a dead tree.

Another decaying tree (sensing a theme here?). I loved the shades of green on this one.

This is the same tree as the prior photo. Looks like this might have been the root system at one point.

Now into the more formal gardens. I love the ironwork.

Isn't this green gorgeous?

One aspect of Lord and Schryver gardens that I love is the formality of the trimmed boxwood and the wildness of the trees. They are allowed to grow as they will and they only seemed to be trimmed for their own health and longevity.

See that mystery pillar hidden in the tree? Curious.

I had to share this as I loved how the light poked through the trellis. Also, that is my little helper in the distance. She was looking for clues of fairies.

From inside that same trellis. I loved the knots in the ivy. My flash went off inside here which I think gave it such an interesting affect.

Are you curious to see what I paint from this? Me too. I'll be starting something later this week (I hope) and will keep updating here with my progress.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Welcome to My New Studio/Inspiration Blog

I have decided to start this blog back up as a studio/inspirations journal for my art. I wrote a post on my other blog about how this decision came about and I don't want to repeat it all here so if you haven't seen that post, and are curious, please go here.

My idea for this blog is to keep it a casual journal of studio work, ideas, inspirations but not a showcase for my finished work. For that you would want to visit my other blog. I will keep that one strictly for finished work and upcoming show information. But there will be some crossover here. I will show some finished pieces, particularly if I have been sharing a lot of the process. I will also share upcoming show information because that is what is happening in my little art world.

So if you are interested in the process, the life, the ramblings, etc. of an artist I hope you will join me here.

The inspiration for all this, again without repeating myself, were my multiple journals. I thought I'd share more about them on this blog.

The stack above includes these journals (from top to bottom): 1. a mixed media journal where I glue things, draw things, complain, store ideas, and whatever else I feel like, 2. sketch journal for figure paintings, 3. a writing journal (for daily stuff and ideas), 4. new watercolor sketch book, 5. new abstract/expressionist paintings sketch book (more about those later), and 6 and 7 are more sketch journals for larger sketches. These are just the current ones. I have hoards of unfinished art/writing journals stashed around my cupboards but I am not currently using any of them.

One of my favorites is my mixed media journal. I love how it barely stays closed and I am curious to see how it looks when it is full. I stick all sorts of clippings, interesting papers, and doodles in here. Here's a look at a page:

I just do whatever I want in it and often go back over pages to glue on new things or cover up things I don't like anymore. I don't work in any of these journals with the intention of sharing them as I think that would stifle me but I am amused to think of someone in the future trying to piece all the journals together chronologically. Putting all the pieces together from each of the books. Assuming anyone would be interested in such a thing.

Thanks for joining me here! Can't say how often I will stop in but I'm hoping it will be fairly regularly.