Sunday, February 1, 2015

January 2015 Wrap Up Post

 
Altamont Pass 10" x 13" acrylic on paper

Lake Alpine 10" x 13" acrylic on paper

Lake Hogan 9" x 12" acrylic on paper
New Work:
Hard to believe that January is over and February is here! It has been a productive month for me art wise and so I have selected a sampling of paintings to share. 

In January I participated in an online challenge. The goal was to make a piece of art everyday for 30 days.While that is a tall order for anyone, making art consistently and trying new things were the goals of the challenge. For the past six months or so I have been studying art history. Specifically, I have been trying to learn about other types of art that somehow relate to the kind of paintings that I make. Pulling  together the different threads in my past artwork and tying them together with some new things that I have learned, I came up with the above three paintings. They are a representative sampling of the 18 pieces that I made for the challenge. The entire collection can be seen here on my website: www.libbyfife.com. I am pleased with the results and will be pursuing these ideas in the coming months. It's the simplification of the landscape and the manipulation of shapes, lines and colors that I really enjoy. The paintings give me a feeling of peacefulness that I really appreciate.
Upcoming Show:
The above 3 pieces have been accepted into Ironstone Vineyard's Spring Obsession event. This is a great local event in Murphys and it's always a real privilege for me to be able to show my work at the winery. The main weekend is Saturday and Sunday March 7th and 8th. The show itself runs through the first part of May. Ironstone is a beautiful location and so if you can, plan a little trip to the wine country to see some art and drink some wine of course! 

Other News:
My web site has been revamped and updated. The paintings are now arranged chronologically. I hope that the group of work shown is representative of what I have done in the past several years. If you can, please take a moment to look things over (follow the link provided) and let me know what you think. Definitely let me know if there are any errors! I have also updated my blog. I hope that the new look is simpler and easy to read.

I have had some comments from friends and family asking about the palette knife work. Where is it and have I stopped doing it? The ideas are still percolating and no, I haven't stopped. Painting is like anything else that you enjoy. Things wax and wane. There are always new ideas and other things to be explored. It's what keep it all going.

And don't forget! February 6th is national Wear Red For Women Day. Many of you reading may know that I am a heart attack survivor and the proud recipient of two new bypasses for my heart. Take some time to go for a walk or just wear a little red on this day. I have included the link above in the hope that anyone reading will take a couple of minutes to learn about the warning symptoms of heart attack in women and how you can work to help your own heart be as healthy as possible. Good luck!

As always, thank you for supporting my art making by reading these posts. Please feel free to send me an email or to leave me a comment on the blog. Email me here: libbyfife@ymail.com 

Thanks,
Libby


Friday, January 30, 2015

Day 29 and 30: 30/30 Challenge

Day 29 and 30: 30/30 challenge

Hey, I think the challenge is over! This one was started on Thursday and completed today. My inspiration for the piece came from one of my very favorite places-the Altamont Pass! It's difficult to explain but the hills are quite beautiful-sensual in their curvatures and sloping motions. Right now they are green from the very little rainfall we have received. It looks like someone draped a beautiful layer of green velvet over some soft, organic forms. As I was driving to the Bay Area on Wednesday, I saw the railroad trestle out of the corner of my eye. It occurred to me that I could certainly simplify the trestle into a shape and combine in with the hills and the above ground aqueduct. The shapes were quite fun to put together. I decided to stay true to some of the colors that are actually there right now but exaggerate them to create a stronger statement. I tried to separate (somewhat) the main relationship of violet and yellow. I surrounded that with yellow-green and blue-violet. It's essentially an analogous idea (emphasis on one relationship) but missing a few hues. I am real pleased with the simplicity of the design and the feeling that it gives me. I also like that I combined elements from several scenes without relying on one scene only. 

OK, off to do some other stuff. I am rearranging the art on my studio walls and redoing my website. The three studio assistants are sleeping...
Libby

Thursday, January 29, 2015

30/30 Challenge: Day 25 and 27


30/30 Challenge Day 25

30/30 Challenge Day 27
Rest assured that even though I haven't posted every day, I have done something each day this month art related. Sometimes that has been as little as thumbnail sketches of ideas. Sometimes it has been a color study sketch and sometimes I am just looking at photos for possibilities. There really isn't a day that goes by without some sort of arty type thing happening. 

Over the weekend and earlier this week I completed the above two pieces. It's amazing to me just how often the colors of red and green show up in my landscape. The colors are always a variation of red and green too-a bluish green for some oak trees or an orangey-red for the dirt; maybe a yellowish green for the mosses and a more red-red for the tops and tips of some bushes. Our manzanita trees grow here on the sides of hills, out of some very rocky outcroppings. The bark of the trees is a bluish red and their leaves are a silvery greenish blue. It just pays to look around. 

For the above two pieces I tried to start with two complimentary colors: red and green. From there, I dialed the colors on the color wheel towards each other, selecting a yellowish green and an orangey red. My goal was to include the red-green relationship but not have those areas touching. I wanted to see if the relationship would still resonate and how the two other colors would work with it. The red in the first piece looks a little like a bluish red in the shot which it really isn't. While I can't say that I totally hit the mark, I still like the results. The colors all seem to play together nicely. I'll continue to try out this idea-starting with a complimentary pair and then dialing inward-and see what else I can come up with.

Ok, hope everyone has had a good week. And if you are still with me, thanks!
Libby

Friday, January 23, 2015

Day 23: 30/30 Challenge

Day 23: 30/30 Challenge
This one was finished up this morning. My goal was to see how I might add to the red rectangle/houseboat idea. I also wanted to change up the color scheme a bit. Working with the greens, yellowish-greens and the greenish blue played against the reds and red violets proved to be challenging. The blue borders on being more of a green blue than a true blue and so the red rectangle at the bottom has more of a yellowish base-but not by much. The smaller red houseboat is a bluer red which I liked better against those greens. I like the results but feel like I want to focus more on one main and one subordinate relationship. Clarity somehow along with simplification seems important to me. The thing about making work more frequently, what I am coming to really appreciate, is that each work that I complete allows me to ask some questions that pertain to what I want to do next. The springboard thing is mighty powerful!

OK, next week looks a little silly, schedule wise. My personal  life is getting in the way of this challenge! LOL:)

Thanks for reading and commenting,
Libby


Review and "How I Did It"

Collage review of work since 2007
Since 2007 I have been making some kind of art: quilting, painting on fabric or just straight painting. Recently my painting has taken a turn towards harder abstraction and minimalism. Where does this trend in my painting come from? Reviewing my past artwork seemed like a good way to find out.

Starting with the quilting, I can see that solid colored shapes have been my preference. The shapes themselves vary between geometric and more organic (geometric grouped together to form an organic whole). For a long time the shapes have had gradations or at least some kind of color shift. The gradations and color shifts have helped to provide some depth. About halfway through I started using obvious linework to define spaces and to provide some kind of movement. Since I was never a realist artist, some kind of abstraction has always been the norm. I started learning about composition first through my husband who tried to tell me about it from a photographer's standpoint. It's why I have lots of paintings of roads going into the distance! Figures were introduced in the last couple of years and incorporate my beginning ideas about color, shape and line. No depth other than layering really but just a manipulation of those variables set against a plain backdrop. The palette knife work came in as a frustration with the stiff style of my landscape pieces. That knife is very freeing and provides a lot of movement and color to my pieces which I felt were dull and lifeless. 

What about it? Definite shapes, well defined, with manipulation of color, layering, value, and line seem to be the underlying trends that I can spot. It's why I think I have arrived at this point of using the abstraction of shapes with their juxtaposition of color, value, and chroma. Why is that appealing to me? It suits my personality I think. I like plans and a relative amount of obvious order. Believe it or not, the style of painting that I am now trying involves quite a bit of planning and thinking as well as emotional reaction (and a strong conviction in that reaction).  In addition, simplicity really works for me. (Except maybe in my writing!) Straight talk and bottom lines are what I gravitate towards yet I enjoy reading between those lines. I have had a great time trying to analyze paintings that on the surface seem very simple. After all, what is there to know about about a couple of blocks of color on a larger field of color? Plenty! It goes back to what I have heard termed a 'harmony of arrangement." It's exciting to try and figure out what is happening, why it could be happening, and how you feel about it. How can I do it too? Shouldn't all artwork do this in some way?

OK, enough about me! How about you? Did everyone have a good week? I have some work in the offing and will be getting to it shortly. In the meantime, I made some posts earlier this week of new work so if you aren't bored silly by now, take a look!

Thanks for reading and commenting,
Libby

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Day 22: 30/30 Challenge

Day 22: 30/30 challenge
After about 6-7 thumbnail sketches with color, this one came together fairly easily. The goal with this one was to use two opposing color relationship: yellow-green/red-violet and green/red. The first color relationship takes up much of the composition. The second relationship takes up a smaller portion but perhaps has more of an impact because of the saturated red rectangle. I like all of the colors together because to me, they all relate somehow. The greens and reds all have a hue and temperature progression to them. I also like the mix of geometric and horizontal with the more diagonal and organic lines of the mountain. And lastly, the format is portrait rather than landscape which I think is an interesting opposition to those horizontals-don't forget about the frame as being part of the composition!

I bother to write all of this out for my own benefit (I like to think things through) but also in case anyone else is interested. Composition and design are such interesting things to me. The following doesn't apply to anyone else but me. I think that when you do something or like or dislike something, you should be able to explain why. It's why I write it out.

Incidentally, this piece is based on my time at Melones Reservoir yesterday. I went for a hike and had a look at the land. The reservoir is so low; it's terribly sad somehow. I could see trees that had been buried when the dam was installed. The mountains have a distinctive curvature to them and include rings of dirt and vegetation, giving them the appearance of having green and red/orange "necklaces" or "bracelets." I wanted to incorporate those features, that layering, into my painting but I didn't want to paint things as is.  I chose horizontal lines for the green grasses and a red rectangle to represent the houseboats that I used to see floating on the water. There are still boats moored there but not where I used to see them. The mountains, depending on the lighting, can take on a purplish or red/violet cast to them. I decided to push that and warm it up. 

OK, almost all done for the week. I had to rearrange some things this week so no class with PKR for me tomorrow. So, one more post hopefully! Thanks for reading and commenting.
Libby

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

30/30 Challenge: Day 21

Day 21 30/30 Challenge
Day 21! For this piece I wanted to focus on the combo of blue+ orange/yellow and golden yellow. I like the idea of contrast relationships that sort of are both generalized and specific. I used a warmer blue which I thought went nicely with the other colors that were more of an orange/yellow and a golden yellow. I added in some yellows that were a little cooler and maybe more neutral. I tried to tie everything together with the orange/yellow sun in the blue sky.

All of the pieces that I have done for this challenge so far have been based on the structure of the landscape here where I live. Some of the colorations have been my choices (based on my feelings and observations) and some were directly influenced by the artist Etel Adnan, who I have been talking about this month. It's important for me to point these two things out-that both the structure and colors used come from somewhere. I have always had the impression that much of abstract art comes strictly from imagination. That is wrong of course. Artwork comes from many places, one of which is the imagination of the artist of course, but that is only one place. The colors for the above piece remind me of the dirt and the fields that are all around me. The mountains and fields and roads-all the shapes I used-are things that I see everyday. Drawing on what I see and combining that with what I am learning is a very exciting process for me.

There will be one other post this week I think and then I am off to Peggi Kroll Roberts's class on Friday and Saturday. My last post for this week will include a collage of some of my artwork from the past five years. I did this in order to spot trends but also to establish my own bona fides, if you will. I feel like the artwork I have done this month is my own work and that it comes from what I have learned over the past five years and is based on what I see around me.  I also feel though that one of the keys that has maybe unlocked things for me is the influence of the above mentioned artist, Etel Adnan. It's difficult to explain but it feels like a stranger has given me permission to do what I want in the way that I want to do it. That may not sound right for someone who is an artist and is supposed to be "freely creative" but that is how it seems to me. I am not discarding my love of the palette knife but looking to incorporate what I like to do into a cohesive body of work.

OK, hope everyone is having a good week so far. Thanks for reading and commenting.
Libby