Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Out and about

Today I visited the Oregon State Capitol to view the extensive art collection housed there.  I recently purchased this book:

Art of the Time Oregon's State Capitol Art Collection (I've linked it to an online version) which is a catalog of the State art collection.  The physical publication is inexpensive (I think I picked mine up for $5 in the basement of the capitol building).  There is a photograph of almost each piece in the collection (ones not included are either deteriorated or are missing...a mystery! makes me wonder).  I purchased my copy of the book a few weeks ago then studied the pieces and made notes of where to find my favorites.  I ended up with a lengthy list and spent the morning visiting all sorts of areas of the capitol building I've never seen before.  I found all but three pieces and pretty much saw almost the entire collection as well (I'll have to go back for those last three, I was too tired to ask for help by the end).

I took notes on pieces I liked (and a few on ones that didn't do anything for me, still can learn something from them too).  This is so helpful for me to grow in my own work.  By seeing what I like (and don't like) in the work of others, I can better explore these preferences in my own work.  

Afterwords, I made some progress on these paintings:

I think stage two on the Lord and Schryver paintings is now complete and onto stage three (and possibly the final stage?).  Not exactly sure what I am doing next on each of them but I expect it will all come together in the end.

And then visited a local glass shop for a piece of acrylic glass (I guess that is what you call it?) to use in monoprinting.  So easy and cheap, I can't believe I didn't get one sooner.  So looking forward to using it.

Monday, April 25, 2011

This and that

I've been thinking a lot about where my art is going now, particularly after my retreat.  The last few days I've been working on some new little portraits but dreaming of other things.  It is not that I don't like painting people anymore.  I'm just wanting to work on other things.

Like this:

from my Lord and Schryver series, very much still in progress.  I'm trying to decide right now how much to separate the different bodies of work on places like my website (people inspired verses Northwest inspired work).  Tricky to know how much to split the two.  I'm so excited about the new work!  Just can't wait to finish a few pieces, see where they end up.

Meanwhile, received some new supplies in the mail including a new Sta-Wet Palette for my acrylics:

It keeps the paint wet longer, a good thing as I'm frequently interrupted.  And one nice thing about my little studio corner is the view:

Many flowers to come and lots of wildlife viewing (though at this moment it was raining...again...).  Nice big north facing window, the light is fantastic.  Even on a day like today.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Retreat: Day 6, Final Day

So yesterday was the sixth and final day of my retreat.  In the morning, I visited the Bush Barn Museum (Salem Art Association) with Mary Lou Zeek (of the Mary Lou Zeek Gallery) to see the current shows.  So fun to visit with her and see the current exhibit through her eyes.

Then the rest of the day flew by with some more painting (the second half of the Lord and Schryver series and are very much still in progress):

Then I tried monoprinting with Golden fluid acrylics on my glass palette (really need to get some more appropriate tools) and I really enjoyed this much more than the previous ones with the Golden Open acrylics.  Both are good, I just preferred working with the fluids.  I just flooded the colors with water and moved very quickly as the paint dries quite fast.  Here are the results:

Then I painted just a little the first two sculptures I made earlier in the week.  Probably will do a little more with them but here they are:

(Sorry the second sculpture looks a bit dark in this photo.)

Thus ends the retreat.  I was going to add some thoughts to this post sort of to sum up my time but I think I'll either save that for another post or perhaps pepper them into future posts.  I want some time to digest everything and I really need to get this posted before the day is over (and almost is!).

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Retreat: Day 5

I spent the morning at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art in Salem, Oregon.  A gorgeous museum and I highly recommend it should you be in the neighborhood.  I went to see the new exhibits but also to study the Pacific Northwest art collection on permanent display.  The new exhibits include the senior art show from Willamette University and there were some really interesting pieces (I'm shy about taking photos in a place like this but you can see some over on my friend Bonnie's blog).  I was also impressed how many had already sold.  Way to go seniors!  When I went to Willamette, the Hallie Ford Museum was but a dream.  I am so envious that the art majors have this amazing venue now. 

My goal, though, was to study the permanent collection of Northwest art.  Whenever I was particularly drawn to a piece, I stopped to take notes so I would remember what I liked and why.  Then before I left I sat and tried to bring together my thoughts.  Some of my favorites for this exercise?  I will tell you but I'm afraid I can't find the actual pieces I saw but just some examples of their work:  Constance Fowler (I found the painting I studied here, go through the slide show to "Low Tide"), Louis Bunce, Carl Morris, and my previously mentioned friend Bonnie Hull who's explanation of her work was my favorite (this quote might not be perfect), "Hull is interested in artistic process involving the transformation of materials." I noticed a trend with the paintings I was drawn to: abstract.  Or at least expressionist.  Interesting.  I might do another post on another day about my conclusions, perhaps after I've thought about it for awhile.

In the afternoon I painted.  I worked on the Lord and Schryver series.  I was a bit nervous to get started on these as they were through stage one and stage two meant painting over some of what I had already done.  A bit daunting.  What if I regretted the changes?  Keeping in mind what I've learned about my intentions from the retreat, I forged ahead and I must say I had a blast.  I haven't been that freed up in painting for a long time.  By the end I was quite pleased with my progress:

Stage two needs some more work, obviously, but I'll be moving over to the other three paintings in the series today and let these dry a bit.

I worked on another sculpture but it didn't go well.  Instead I'll share this oil pastel sketch:

Today is day 6 of the retreat and my final day.  Hard to believe, it went so fast!  I'll be back tomorrow with today's events and a round up of the retreat.  One other thing I am going to try later today is monoprinting with liquid acrylics.  The previous attempts were using Golden Open Acrylics and they tend to be slower drying and transparent.  I'm curious to see how the liquid acrylics work out.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Retreat: Day 4

Yesterday I stopped in at the Mary Lou Zeek Gallery in Salem, Oregon, to see the current exhibit by Doug Dacar and hoping to see Mary Lou herself, which I did.  The show is really interesting with layered, textured mixed media paintings and ceramics.  It was also fun to see the other sections of the gallery, it is always changing with new work by the various artists represented there.

I also worked on a bit of sculpture with my daughter.  Her piece is on the right:

And a few oil pastels, though this is the only one not to end up in the garbage:
A little more work on the mixed media/collage piece which you will see on the easel in my little studio corner:

I also worked on a couple of paintings in oil which are nearing completion (one has been in progress since I think September...).  But I'm not sharing photos of those today.
As it is so late in getting this out I could almost write Day 5's post but I'll wait hoping to work some more tonight.  It was a good day, trip to the Hallie Ford Museum.  But I'll wait to share until tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Retreat: Day 3

So for Day 3 I did get out for a little bit.  I went to pick up some art supplies and also found out about a source for plexiglass to use on the monoprints.  A good thing as I have been using a very old linoleum block (I think it was my great grandmother's if you can believe it).  It works tolerably well, but glass or the like would be much better so I will have to go get a piece.

Since there was a brief break in the rain, I stopped by the Union Street Railroad Bridge right near downtown Salem to take some photographs of the Willamette river.  I'll post a few shots of that at the end of this post.  The bridge was a railroad bridge originally but was recently converted into a pedestrian/bicycle bridge and I think it takes you to a park on the other side.  I've never gone over the entire way but will one of these days.

Here is what I worked on for the day:

A monoprint (I worked on a second but it was awful):

I finished the first stage on the Lord and Schryver series:

Next they are getting coats of acrylic gel mediums before moving onto the next stage.  I expect them to change greatly as I'm thinking about some abstract/expressionist elements layering over the existing paintings (I've probably said that many times before...).

And finally, watercolor sketches:

I read and watched a documentary called The Eloquent Nude about the photographer Edward Weston and Charis Wilson.  Beautiful photography of course but I was captivated with Charis Wilson discussing their work and relationship.

Today I am going to the Mary Lou Zeek Gallery to see the new exhibit, playing with a new sculpture (I bought some more clay, still air-dry but not paperclay this time), more sketches, more painting (probably oil today).

And now for the bridge photos:

So glad they transformed the unused bridge rather than removing it.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Retreat: Day Two

Subtle shifts in thinking, in creating.  This is what I am hoping for from this retreat.  Of course radical changes could come too, I am open.  Meanwhile, here is what I did yesterday on the second day of my retreat.

Another watercolor sketch no doubt inspired by the forget-me-nots of Cathy Cullis:

One more sculpture of paperclay (need to buy some more!):

Still deciding whether or not I will paint any of it after it dries.

Some more work on my Lord and Schryver series but not enough to bother sharing a photo of them today.  I finished stage one on three of them and hope to on the rest today and then I'll share a photo of them all.

And finally I started a collage/mixed media piece:


(Sorry the lighting is not great this early in the morning.) 
Curious to see where that one goes.

That is it for creating but I also read some more, studied some more.  

As of the initial writing of this post, I am still deciding what I want to do today.  To stay home and work or study or to go out.  I'm thinking at least a trip to the art supply store.  Maybe.  I'll let you know tomorrow.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Retreat: Day One

Yesterday was the first day of my artist retreat.  I kept it pretty open, moving from medium to medium.  Just exploring and trying out things.  I have collected quite a few mediums and projects to try over the years and they have sat and waited for a time like this.  It is nice to allow myself to play around a bit!

As I had no specific goals with each project, I did whatever came naturally.  Abstract, expressionist, whatever.  Just let it all go.

First, a watercolor sketch:

Next, sculpting with paperclay:

Paperclay is really fun to work with.  This was my first try and I loved the feel of it.  The clay air dries and it might crack a bit but you can see these are very organic and I don't think cracks will bother me.  The idea here is to fill the bowl with the objects and have it be a changing sculpture (of sorts).  After the clay dries completely, I plan to paint a few of the little balls but leave most of it in the natural white of the clay.

Then I worked on some paintings.  These are from the Lord and Schryver series I mentioned earlier and are all in very early stages:

And finally I worked on monoprinting with Golden Open Acrylics.  I've had these in my cupboard for a couple of years almost unused but I knew I'd come back to them some day.  I don't really have the rest of the tools I think one needs for monoprinting but I made do.  My Dad gave me some leftover paper from a book he is working on and there are about 8 pages the same size and I plan to use them all with the monoprinting and bind them together.  Here's what I did last night:

I need to practice a bit but it was fun.  I made the first page first and then came back to it, layering over the top of the original.  I was much more satisfied with the second page and only added a few details over the top of the first.

And with the leftover paint I did this rough sketch:

I particularly like the image on top:

As for the rest of the day, I looked through an art magazine and books, ate a wonderful meal, vegetarian gumbo, my lovely Mom brought by to help with the retreat (thanks Mom!):

and thought about what I'd like to work on for day 2 (today).  More of the same except I am going to try a little collage with the cover of a vintage book I have and some papers.  I hope to be back to update my retreat each day so I hope you enjoy!  The retreat is 6 days so 5 more (including today) to go.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Today I went to Borders and stocked up on some reading material for my artist retreat.  One book and several artist magazines including one called Selvedge.  Never heard of it before and although it is not exactly what I was looking for I just couldn't resist.  Here is a sample:

An indulgence as was the book but as this really is my only expense for the retreat I decided to treat myself.  The hard part is I am not going to look at any of these until the retreat starts on Saturday.  Very difficult to resist!   Particularly this morning when I stopped for a coffee at the bookstore after my purchase.  Fortunately I had a book with me.

The rest of the stack includes: Acrylic Renovation by Nancy Reyner, Artforum, The Artist Magazine, and ARTnews.

You might have noticed those two little oddities under the magazines.  The one on the left is a board I use to try out new materials.  My daughter (who is 4) was fascinated by it.  So many textures and iridescent colors.  I let her create her own using various paints and mediums.  This is a work in progress:

Although I helped, the creation is all hers.  She plans to work on it tomorrow and paint over the top with some translucent and shimmery colors.  It was so much for to show her the different things you can do with the paint like dripping and swirling.  She says the working title is "Big Condition Manition".  I'll let you interpret that one for yourself.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

In the studio

I have been trying to balance my time between finishing up some larger paintings and trying out some new pieces and new ideas.  It is always challenging for me to finish the old before starting the new.  If I haven't done very much with a piece, I often end up either painting over or putting it away.  But when a painting is very close to being done I try very hard to push myself to finish.

However, it is so very difficult when I have all sorts of ideas I want to try on something new.  So I'm doing a little of both right now.  Below is something new in progress and I'm calling this stage one:

The under painting is done and now I'm adding various gel mediums to the top before I move on to stage two.  Haven't decided yet what stage two will bring but I have a couple of ideas.  There will be at least one more stage and those details are even more foggy.  I suspect those stages will totally change the soft, pleasant landscape you see here.  I have several more in progress from my Lord and Schryver-inspired series but they are not quite so far along.  I'll share more about them soon I hope.  Similar palette and stages so it gives you an idea.  (And by the way, under this painting was an older, unfinished painting.  One I set aside many paintings ago.  At least the panel was not wasted.)

Here's a bit of my "studio" (aka corner of the kitchen).  I'm using all sorts of mediums right now and, other than having to put one away before bringing out another (due to the space), it has been really fun having the variety.

This coming weekend I begin my "artist retreat".  Still planning a few details but here's what my plan is so far.  First, lots of painting and other art making, naturally.  Next, visit museums and galleries for inspiration and education.  Then, go hiking/walking somewhere in the area with my camera and take lots of inspiring photographs for later.  And finally, I hope to peruse artist magazines, books, and watch some art documentaries.  Really, just try to keep the focus on art as much as I can take it (and I can usually take quite a bit of art).  I'll try to journal the whole thing here as much as possible.