Sunday, January 8, 2017

New work: Above and Below 3 & 4; Book Recommendations

Above and Below #3
16" x  16" painted paper collage on paper

Above and Below #4
16" x  16" painted paper collage on paper
I think these are the last two pieces in this series of four different ideas about atmosphere. The inspiration came from my drive through a valley where I live. As I drove up and down the hills to get home I caught glimpses of the sky and the horizon line. I could see different layers of colored air, most likely due to all of the particulate matter in the air and whatever else happens scientifically in the atmosphere to make those colors. And even though I was thinking about the colors that I saw on my trip, I was also reminded about the land and the sky, how they meet and what can be seen when that happens.

In the next couple of days I hope to move on to some other ideas. I have had a chest cold though since about Wednesday or Thursday so I haven't been totally focused on things. Everything in good time I guess.

In the meantime, if anyone is interested I have a book recommendation. Two actually because the subject matter of each book dovetails together nicely. The first is by Loren Eiseley and is called The Firmament of Time. Eiseley was a naturalist and anthropologist living during most of the twentieth century (he died in 1977). He wrote eloquently about natural processes and scientific discoveries, wondering aloud about mankind's current path of progress. Historical events and the key findings of scientific figures are woven together with Eiseley's reflections to give us a picture of how geology came to be and it's intersection with religion and history. 

Eiseley's book can be read along with a book by David R. Montgomery titled The Rocks Don't Lie: A Geologist Investigate's Noah's Flood. This book brings the reader up to date with current thinking about the age of the universe and how life came to be, all filtered through the prism of past and current scientific findings deftly interwoven with and juxtaposed against the biblical interpretations of Noah's flood. Whatever your thoughts are about creationism and evolution, this book  is an enlightening read.

OK, thanks for reading and commenting.
Libby


Sunday, January 1, 2017

New work: Above and Below 1 and 2

Above and Below
16" x 16" Painted paper collage on paper

Above and Below 2
16" x 16"
Painted paper collage on paper
Driving back from grocery shopping the other day, I took a route that winds through a valley between two different counties. The roads are up and down, twisting and turning until you finally hit a semi-straight spot. Because of the change in elevation, I was able to catch glimpses of the far horizon line. I noticed that there seemed to be a series of color "bands" or striations in the air. Our counties here allow burning of yard refuse and of wood. I think what I was seeing in part was that particulate matter in the atmosphere. Scientifically I don't know what was happening up there but the colors produced were subtle and beautiful. 

Much of what I see these days is winding up in these collages. And much of what I see has to do with the landscape, the sky, and the water. Rather than trying to say something with my art or to make art which is strictly process oriented, it is easier for me to think in terms of ideas and colors. Using the space of the paper along with proportion of design variables as my guide, I can put down colors that for me evoke a kind of mood or feeling. How the colors look together in the end and sometimes what the piece demands in the way of solutions are always a surprise to me. Not having any solid expectations is helpful though having a general guiding idea of the outcome is necessary. 

I suppose I have a series developing here although I am reluctant to say so. I don't like being locked into something. It is inhibiting to me, creatively. Doesn't that sound hoity toity! Anyway.

Hope everyone had a very nice new year's evening and day. Thank you for reading and commenting.

Libby

Monday, December 26, 2016

New work: River Song 1 and 2

River Song 2
16" x 16" painted paper collage on paper

River Song 1
16" x 16" painted paper collage on paper

Several months ago I joined a hiking group. Last week I was on a hike with an acquaintance from that group. We were walking towards a river and talking about this and that. She mentioned to me that she had been caught in a summer storm in Arizona which resulted in a kind of flash flood at the campground in which she was staying. I pictured torrential rain, dark gray skies and water rushing through the gullies. Specifically, I thought of red and muddy water (sort of what I imagine the Colorado River to be like) and then I thought of calm, clear water. I knew right away because the visual was so strong that I had a good idea for a collage or two.

The semi-striated paper is a new thing for me. I took my putty knife and scraped the paper as soon as I painted it with that gray color. Some of the color was removed, leaving a kind of stripey effect. Seemed like the perfect thing for what I was thinking. Lately, I constantly have the weather and the landscape on my mind. It seems to be showing up in the artwork!

I hope everyone had a good holiday. Santa and Hanukkah Harry teamed up again and brought me several books and some other goodies. I just love those guys!

Thanks for reading and commenting,
Libby

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

New Work: Stormy Days 1 and 2


Stormy Days 1
16" x 16"
painted paper collage
Stormy Days 2
16" x 16"
painted paper collage

Comanche South-Hike north and east
Lately I have been hiking a lot. The weather looks really similar to the last photo, gray and sometimes rainy. The grass now is really green and while the moss is unusual, it can be found. So,  lots of dark grays and browns and greens with every variation on those themes. It's rubbing off on me as the two above pieces show. The blues and purples in the two pieces have more to do with how bruised the sky looks at times and that cream color reminds me of some of the weak winter sun that filters through the sky.

I do love this weather though even though I don't totally enjoy being cold or rained on. It is the best time to be outside before the sun starts really shining in earnest, some time around April or May. Many of the places that I have been hiking will be nearly unbearable by then, for me anyway.  Heat is not my friend at this point.

The landscape has been very inspirational for me these days. It is a challenge to take what I see and translate that into something cohesive, color wise. There is difficulty in sorting out the details and of making choices. The size of the pieces and my own ideas on "busyness" sort of limit the number of colors to be used. I never know until I start working if what I have painted in the way of papers is going to work.  Most of the time it does but as is the case above, I had to improvise. Good thing I had other painted papers to use!

Hope everyone is set to have a wonderful Christmas holiday. Or just a blessed time with friends and family. Whatever works!
Thanks for reading and commenting,
Libby

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

New Work: Rainy Days 1, 2 and 3

Rainy Days 1, 2, & 3

Rainy Days 3
16" x 16" painted paper collage

Rainy Days 1
16" x 16" painted paper collage

Rainy Days 2
16" x 16" painted paper collage
The above 3 pieces were created over the last two weeks and are an extension of my impressions on the weather and my landscape. It's so green right now with gray skies one day and blue skies the next. The grays aren't just gray of course. There are many subtle nuances to that hue that can be seen. Browns tend to really "pop" out and you notice too that those hues have lots of different color undertones. Greens are green but they are also blue-green and green-blue. 

It's funny (but not surprising) to me that I veered so far away from where I began which was with observing the natural environment around me. I spent a lot of time in the field observing color, painting it in my sketch book and noting characteristics of the colors that I saw. Lots of time was spent trying to assess relative values too. As I took in more information about art history, things changed. Color became color for color's sake, if that makes sense. Not color field painting exactly but certainly a use of color that had no reference other than that of hue relationships. Values kind of went by the wayside. It seems to me now that as I was casting about for what to do about inspiration (specifically about color) the answer was right there all along. I love being outside and looking around. There are certain color combinations that make me happy and that I can relate to. I worked hard at trying to grasp and limit value selection. Why not draw on those things as a source of inspiration?

Anyway, the above images are actually square of course. I had some difficulty getting my collage of images (first pic) to be exactly right. Life is short though (I drove by a funeral in progress today) and so I will leave it at that!

Thanks for reading and commenting.
Libby

Monday, December 5, 2016

New Work: Songs of Weather

Songs of Weather
Painted paper collage on paper
each image approx 15" x 18"





These three pieces were completed over the last two weeks. I started with a cropped version of an earlier piece. (I zoomed in on it and cropped out a section to come up with a composition-thanks Julie!) When the first piece was finished I still had paper left over, a fair amount of it. I re cropped several more sections of the original composition to come up with the other two pieces. My thought here is that there isn't a need to reinvent the wheel. Color and shape can be manipulated endlessly without having to do something new each time. As long as I am interested this is a good way for me to work.

The above pieces were inspired by my ideas of the weather and of my landscape. We have had a lot of gray days here recently. There has been all sorts of weather: winds, rain, cloudy days and lots of cold temperatures.  The landscape here is beautiful at all times of the year but especially so during the winter. The color of the sky accentuates the ochre and red colors of the dirt. The moisture from the rain heightens the colors of the dying oak leaves and other bushes. The water at the lake, reflecting the stormy sky, is a steely gray-blue color. Talk about subtle drama. 

Because I have been out so much or maybe because I have reached for inspiration and come up somewhat empty, I have turned back to the landscape to get things going. There is no going wrong with art when nature's colors are the source of creativity. And while I won't likely turn back to traditional landscape painting, I feel like I can at least draw on something concrete (for me) to create my art. The combination of shape and color allows me to interpret what I see in the landscape. It feels to me like there are some possibilities.

OK, thanks for reading and commenting.
Libby

Sunday, November 27, 2016

New Work: Not One The Same; Thoughts on Arts and Crafts

Not One The Same
collage-painted papers on board
20" x 20"
The title refers to a much less complicated version of the quote by Heraclitus about not being able to step in to the same river twice. I only meant to allude to the fact that this piece follows the same design as the last piece only of course, it isn't the same! I was able to duplicate some of the values and sizes of each shape from the previous piece but as is often the case I couldn't really duplicate things to the letter. I don't seem to be able to make the same design twice I guess. I have tried before and have had issues. And at some point towards the end of the process, it made better sense to change things. It reminded me that each piece calls for its own choices so replicating the last piece didn't work anyway. I had different colors in front of me and different ideas. And that is where the Heraclitus quote came in to the picture! 

As I work I write down ideas or words or whatever it is that comes to mind about what I am doing. I noticed this time that I worked in a very methodical way which was enjoyable to me. One of the things that took time was wrapping some of the edges of the papers around to the sides of the board. I found this process of working with wet and fragile paper to be challenging in a good way. I got to thinking about wrapping paper around 3-dimensional objects and that got me thinking about crafts. What I wrote down in my sketchbook was "The art of craft and the craft of art." After only a short period of time of being creative (9 years) I feel that both art and craft go together. To me, the word "craft" has to do with technical skill or what someone might call a "hard" skill. How well can an artist use their materials? The word "art", in my mind, refers to a less tangible quality, what someone might call a "soft" skill. I think of it as the elusive skill of creativity, the bringing together of disparate ideas to create one unique idea. As I folded the wet paper to the side of the board I felt that for me, neatness and control really counts. I needed to be able to manipulate the fragile wet paper with a fairly deft hand. It could have ripped. To me, that is craft; the handling of materials in a skilled way. It seemed that the "art' part was more about choosing colors and determining size and placement of shapes. Collage really uses both art and craft to great advantage. The medium is very versatile in this way.

Hope everyone had a nice holiday weekend. Thanks for reading and commenting.
Libby