Wednesday, June 29, 2016

2 new paintings 6.29.16

Two new paintings, different approaches. 

The first is on a 20" X 20" X 2" wood panel. The painting wraps around the edges. I worked with acrylic and charcoal and added some paper. There is a bit of sgraffito, too. I might have taken this further, thinking that at this point it was an under-painting, but two artist friends whose opinions I cherish suggested that it was done. My paintings rarely happen that quickly and I was hesitant to trust that is was finished. So I stared at it for another couple of months, and when it didn't come back with wanting anything else I said okay, done. I do like it, but I don't have the same relationship with it that I do others that I've slaved over... like this second one...

This one is 40" square, on paper, acrylic, black and white charcoal, oil and chalk pastel, some collage. I wish I had taken pictures of this one in progress because, boy, did it change. I was painting it for a show called "Take it Outside". At first I thought I was going to do big trees, as I've done before. Then just a line of smaller trees on a ridge. Then a bunch of smaller trees on a bunch of ridges - that stage looked terribly austere and sort of Tibetan...not that I've ever been to Tibet, but it had a mysterious Asian feeling to it. At any rate, it wasn't me. I realized that I was trying to make something sort of representational for this show and my whimsical side was fighting that.

So I gave in to the play and the painting started to be mine.

An interesting sidebar to this painting is that I knew I wanted it to be less Tibet and more my home, West Virginia. While I was painting it the southern part of this state had horrific flooding. People died, homes and businesses were washed away. I didn't put that in the painting intentionally, in fact I had the watery, obscured imagery in it before I heard about the flood. But now I can't see anything else.

Monday, June 20, 2016

3rd Pillar

A third pillar. At least seven feet high, maybe more. The wood base is 20" square. It is topped with branches trimmed from an Osage Orange. The branches are glued into holes drilled into the top, everything painted black.

I approached this one differently. With the first two I followed the spiral of the paper as it wrapped around the tube, treating it like a horizon, so that a continuous scene was created from the base to the top. On this one I didn't want to depend on that line so much. I didn't want to be quite so tight with the images, either. Nothing against the first two, I love their strength AND playfulness - that combination. But I wanted to see if I could free up the quality of the painting and make it more like my flat paintings and less of just filling in shapes with color. And I wanted to treat the whole surface as a unit and not a continuous spiral. Anyway, it was another way to try to solve the challenge of the tube as a painting and I like the way it came out.

Again, this started as a cardboard cement (or concrete? - I don't know the difference) form 16" in diameter. I coated it with gesso and used a charcoal pencil to create gestural lines in the surface before the gesso dried. I painted the yellow ochre on as a base color and then, finding shapes and lines from the charcoal, added dark tones with burnt sienna, most of which was painted over with other colors.

I took all three pillars to Bridge Gallery (Shepherdstown, WV) today, where they will be part of the summer show during our Contemporary American Theater Festival, which fills our little town with wonderful people. I thought they looked pretty great in the gallery and I'm looking forward to seeing what the public thinks! This was such a fun project.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Paintings on Pillars 6.17.16

I've made the transitions from painting on paper to boxes and now pillars. These are acrylic and charcoal on cardboard cement forms. They are about 7 feet tall, including the 20" square base.

It was Bridge Gallery owner, Kathryn Burns who suggested to me that she saw my paintings on pillars and asked me to do some for her Summer Show. I had already made the move from flat paper to wood panels so it seemed like a great idea to me.

I found the 16" diameter forms at Home Depot. I first painted the surface with gesso which I scored with a spatula to create lines, shapes and texture. I then stained the piece with a yellow ochre base, added some gold and from there started picking out details from the gesso's surface to enhance with charcoal line first then acrylic paint. I started at the bottom and painted along the spiral line created by the paper wrapped around the tube, which I treated as a horizon, until I got to the top. I found creatures and structures and gave them color and credence.

The tops are wood discs in which I drilled holes and glued painted sticks. This second one also has a bird's nest I found at the barn.

Here's a detail of the top of the first one...

Friday, May 20, 2016

Guest House - showing the painting in stages as it comes into being...

"The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work."
- Emile Zola

Not sure why it is so hard to remember, at the start of each painting, what a challenge the process is - how much work is involved in bringing one into being - how often a reminder is necessary to keep the faith that it will evolve into something, with persistence, even when there are doubts.

This painting was no exception. 

This was how it started. A coat of gesso on a wood panel 18" X 24" X 2". Then, in an attempt to force a strong focal point, a layer of tissue was applied, using gel medium, within the outline of a bird shape. At first the bird was black on a white background, then it changed color a number of times.

Realizing that the bird shape was just too restricting, not allowing for the build up of layers in the background, the hardened tissue was joyfully scraped off - a very physical and satisfying activity! 

The surface was sanded, but not down to the wood, leaving some of the texture.

A new layer of gesso was applied...

...making a yummy image of white with all kinds of hidden treasures. This is when the painting really started to talk back. One thing it said was that it wanted to be horizontal.

Within the texture of the white surface, lines and shapes suggested areas for color and enhancement. The familiar boat/pod shape showed up. So far, we have acrylic, charcoal and watercolor.

(This is about the stage when the temptation is to paint over the whole thing with gesso again and start over - the trouble with that is this - the painting will reach a point, again, when the temptation is to paint over the whole thing with gesso and start over, over and over. So, it is more productive to stick with it, push through the inertia, and see what happens.)

More charcoal, then paper cut out and glued on the left edge, in flag-like shapes. The paper was created by layering a Rumi poem called 'Guest House' over a print of a previous painting. 

More details sought out and emphasized. White charcoal trees in the blue area, black charcoal trees on the white - a little house. 

In the finished painting, the landscape aspect is colored in with gold/brown acrylic wash. Chalk and oil pastels are used to strengthen areas. Another paper collage piece is added to top right corner. More teeny details just for fun and to encourage exploration!

Monday, March 28, 2016

New paintings on panels

Some more paintings on work for a show at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Frederick, MD. I'm inspired to come up with titles for the occasion.

boat/house - 10" X 10" X 2", acrylic and charcoal

white bird with a green twig - 10" X 10" X 2", acrylic, charcoal and oil pastel

companions - 10" X 10" X 2", acrylic and charcoal

little town on woods' edge - 12 X 12" X 2", acrylic, charcoal and oil pastel

white house in the trees - 12" X 12" X 2", acrylic, charcoal and oil pastel

rainbow/ghost boat - 12" X 12" X 2", acrylic, charcoal and pastel

pieces of the sky falling on your neighbor's yard - 12" X 12" X 2", acrylic and charcoal

red bridge - 10" X 10" X 2", acrylic, charcoal and paper

green-faced bird - 6" X 6" X 2", acrylic and charcoal

when the trees bloom by the blue house - 10" X 10" X 2", acrylic and charcoal

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Discovery at a Skip Lawrence Workshop

I just spent 7 wonderful days at a beautiful retreat center studying with Skip Lawrence. 

My work area was by a window that let in the warm spring breeze and looked out on a lovely pond with singing frogs.

For the past year and a half I've been painting on gessoed watercolor paper. At this workshop I decided to take a bunch of painting panels I've had for a long time, and just experiment, see what I could do.

Turns out I'm hooked! I love painting on the wood and wrapping the images around the sides. I was working small, this one is 8" X 8" X 2". Here's the painting from the front...

This is done with acrylic, charcoal, gauze, Pellon and oil pastel.

6" X 6" X 2" Acrylic and charcoal

6" X 6" X 2" Acrylic and charcoal

8" X 8" X 2" Acrylic, charcoal and oil pastel

8" X 8" X 2" Acrylic, charcoal and oil pastel

8" X 8" X 2" Acrylic and charcoal

12" X 12" X 2" Acrylic and charcoal

12" X 12" X 2" Acrylic, charcoal and paper

Thursday, February 25, 2016

9 New Small Paintings, start to finish

Here is how I started nine 5" X 7" paintings. I worked on heavy watercolor paper, masking out the edges of each image with tape. Gesso was used to prepare the paper. I applied materials to the surfaces of some of the paintings, such as tissue and Pellon.

I like to work on a number at a time with small pieces. Sometimes one will need to dry or just "rest" and that allows me to work on another. Often a problem solved in one will inform what could be done with the next.

This is the group finished. The top three are up-side-down. (I turned the board to work on those.)

The materials used on these include acrylic, black and white charcoal, chalk and oil pastel, Pellon, rice paper, gauze, tissue, ink, colored pencil and watercolor,