Wednesday, May 24, 2017

New Work/Two Versions: Change in The Weather

Change in the Weather
version 1
16" x 16" painted papers mounted to wc paper

Change in the Weather
version 2
16" x 16" painted papers mounted to wc paper
Some of the hardest colors to photograph well seem to be reds, blues and greens. Hmmm...

This week I have been working on the above two pieces. My goals were to work with proportion of color and temperature and to see what would happen. The red and green together didn't excite me right away until I included that violet blue color. If there is anything about art making that interests me it is the little surprises that happen along the way. The surprises for me have to do with color-what happens when one color is placed next to another, say an orangey red next to a supposedly neutral green. Then place that green next to a red that has a little more blue in it or is almost neutral. What happens when you throw a violet blue into the mix? See what I mean? And it's almost always a surprise for me since I paint these papers individually and have no idea what is going to happen when I start cutting and placing them. Sure, I paint them all at once on a big table. This doesn't really tell you much though. Often times the colors look like they won't play well together at all. Then you start working and lo and behold, everyone gets along!

The offhand, well meant comment is often the one that you continue to consider isn't it? A friend mentioned to me earlier this week that she still really enjoyed some of the earlier landscapes that I painted. That's great isn't it? Positive. But, it's also a little like being misunderstood, for me anyway. probably I am connecting things wrongly like I tend to do. Still. I love my current work and hope I am on the right track.

Hope everyone is having a good week so far. My Monday and Tuesday sort of sucked. Couldn't we just skip directly to Wednesday? I always feel better by Wednesday!

Thanks for reading and commenting.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Biking For Beginners at New Hogan Lake

1. Let's get started with a view of the lake from Wrinkle Cove

2. Just a basic bike-medium sized tires (not skinny and not fat) and just seven gears. It's all you need!

3. Much of the trails look like this-a mix of dirt and small gravel.

4. Lots to see, including wildflowers...

5...and our famous "tombstone" style rocks.

6. The lake is blessedly full and can be seen from many vantage points.
It's been awhile since I have shared where I am on any given day of the week. Much of my mornings are spent at New Hogan Lake (or just plain Hogan).  Normally, I am a walker or hiker but today it was all about biking. Biking is a great activity for Hogan especially as the weather starts to heat up. And it is a great place for beginning bikers since the trails aren't too long and aren't terribly "hilly." For those interested, I thought I would share what I do to have a good time biking at Hogan. Let's get started!

My favorite place to park is at Wrinkle Cove. It's ideally situated in the middle of the long Cameron Trail which runs, end to end, about 3 miles. If you do the entire route in a loop it is about 6 miles, give or take, and is the perfect distance for someone who hasn't biked in awhile or maybe a family with smaller children. (You can start too from the Observation Point parking lot which is where the admin. office is-they have very nice bathrooms also with flush toilets-yippee!) 

The first pic shows a view of the lake from the parking lot. People also launch their kayaks from this spot. As you ride your bike across the parking lot and hop on the trail, you will notice that the trail is comprised of small rocks and dirt (see pic 3). It's why your bike should have the medium sized tires-not a road bike or a mountain bike but somewhere in the middle. And be careful! Don't go too fast since the trail is shared by walkers and people with their dogs. Best to have a bell on the handlebars.  Along the way you will see lots of oak trees of course and the occasional pine tree. The grasses right now are a mix of green and gold, leaning towards the golden color that is so "California." There are even some wildflowers still hanging around (see pic 4). Be sure to look for the "tombstone" style rocks (pic 5) which are so abundant in the foothills. This article describes what these rocks are and is worth a read.

Once you reach the end of this small trail, you can turn around and head back towards the parking lot. Hop back onto the longer section of the Cameron Trail and head towards Inspiration Point and Park Headquarters. There is one steep hill towards the end and I am not ashamed to say that I get off my bike to walk up that hill. Other than that the trail has some fun curves, longer stretches and some very manageable short hills. Be sure to stop for a look at the view-the lake is visible from all points (see pic 6). You could stop at the top to have a picnic (there are some tables in the shade) or find another spot in the park. There are many areas that have picnic tables that are only a short walk from your car (Fiddleneck Boat Launch area). More biking can be done throughout the actual campgrounds. The paths are paved and meant for cars so they are easy on the tires. (There are also restrooms there with flush toilets.)

Being at this lake, on your bike (or even on foot), is a fun way to spend the morning and perfect for beginning cyclists. The routes are well marked and easy to find. Parking is ample and the place is quiet, particularly during the week. The lake is accessible from all points in Calaveras County in anywhere from an hour or so to 15 minutes. From outside town of course it takes a little longer but is a good side trip on your way to wherever you are going. Have fun and be safe!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

New Work: Be Joyful-Small Contemplation Columns

Be Joyful
View 1
Contemplation Columns
Hand painted paper wrapped around poplar wood
14", 12", 10" x 1.50"

Be Joyful
View 2
Contemplation Columns
Hand painted paper wrapped around poplar wood
14", 12", 10" x 1.50"
These have taken a little while to complete but are now finished.  Two views are showing in hopes of getting a better idea of a total view. 

For these three columns I used the same papers as were used in this piece, New Growth.  I had thought to play around with temperature and proportion of that variable.  I feel like temperature is really a subjective thing.  For example, people make associations with color and often have  established expectations about temperature. For example, the color orange is often thought of as a "hot"color. When you start to really look at it closely though, such as looking at a swatch of paint, it can have some cooler undertones. Not expected right? Add some yellow to it though and you are back in business with the warmth. And then depending on what color it is next to, the temperature can vary once more.  As I said, it's subjective (while being objective!).  Blues are particularly tricky I think (as are greens).  Blues that have more of a "red" undertone, meaning no yellow is involved, tend to feel a little cooler to me. But I have read that people find them to be warmer in feeling while blues with a more yellow undertone have a cooler feeling.  For me, blues that have more yellow to them start to feel warmer. Just the opposite of what might be expected! Anyway, people could debate this stuff endlessly and the whole deal could come to fisticuffs! For me, I am not trying to convince anyone but just want to understand what I am seeing as well as what others may see. 

Hope everyone is having a good weekend so far. Thanks for reading and commenting. Happy Mother's Day too to all of you moms out there.

Friday, April 28, 2017

New Work: Garden Party (contemplation columns and collage)

Contemplation Columns
Garden Party
14", 12", and 10" height; 1.5" wide

Garden Party
16" x 16" painted papers collage
Trying to figure out how to photograph these columns has been a challenge! Hopefully the above picture gives a good idea. 

As I was working the tall Peace Pillars shown in an earlier post, I worked also on the above companion pieces. It seemed like the colors I was working with had a lot to do with temperature. Some felt "cool" and some felt "warm" and depending on how I arranged them, some colors switched temperatures. (Or so it seemed to me.) Using the painted papers to cover the small columns was much more satisfying to me than painting the pillars directly. It seems that I have a real affinity for the  tactile nature of the paper, glue, and the wood together. 

The one thing that all of these pieces has in common is the methodical nature of the process. It's impossible to rush or to do two things at one time. The word methodical doesn't necessarily imply slowness but more of a measured and steady way of working. As an example, painting the pillars fell in to a kind of routine. One section at a time, one pillar at a time and then waiting for things  to dry. Using the paper is similar. One section at a time, smoothing down the glued papers, looking at the colors slowly being built side by side.Very purposeful. And there is definitely a sequential nature to the work. Step 1, then step 2, then step 3, etc. I suspect every creative type finds a way to work that reflects their personality.

OK, hope everyone has had a good week. I have been listening to podcasts from On Being, a radio show hosted by Krista Tippett. I started my week listening to the sage wisdom  of Congressman John Lewis. His advice to keep going, to have faith, to believe that things will get better, is very inspiring. I ended my week listening to the words of Rabbi Lawrence Kushner of Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco. His discussion of Kabbalah and the nature of God was uplifting as well. The Divine Presence is in all of us, is all around us and is everything that we know about, past, present and future; the here and now. Truly enlightening.

Thanks for reading and commenting,

Monday, April 24, 2017

New Work: New Growth

New Growth
16" x 16" painted papers collage on wc paper
acrylic and wc paper
Before I started in with the peace pillar project, I completed the above collage. Nearly all of my artistic time in April has been devoted to those pillars so taking photos and other studio stuff has been put aside. I can only do so much.

The above piece is exciting to me for several reasons. First, it was inspired by several hikes that I took where I got to see a lot of beautiful wildflowers. Exuberant nature! It's a wonder that there is so much taking place right in front of us. 

Secondly, the design of the piece is something relatively new for me. Because I started painting under the influence of plein air thinking and everything that comes with that, I have some things that I haven't let go of. The collages that I make, to date, have been inspired by colors that I see while out and about making observations while hiking or walking. I can't get away from color observation which is something that I learned about (and continue to learn about) when I first started painting. My designs though, have not been based on something that I have seen. They are just an arrangement of shapes and proportions. Till now. The above piece is based on some rock formations that I saw while on vacation in Southern California. When you really start to look at things, an arrangement of anything can be broken down into proportions. And so that is what I did with what I was physically seeing in the rock formation. I really enjoyed (and felt artistically safe) making this kind of connection. I am uncomfortable with making process based work or work that is totally non objective. It's the plein air, beginning painter in me that comes out and wants to have work based on something tangible that I have seen.

I have also completed another set of Contemplation Columns. They are a kind of companion piece to the Peace Pillars (they use the same colors). I worked on them at the same time as I was doing the pillars. As soon as the columns are dry, I will be able to get a photo to show.

OK, hope everyone is having a good Monday. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Peace Pillars: Work in Progress and Process

Peace Pillars in process 4', 3.5', 3'

pillars with primer being applied

Ideas about color-using color cards to help get a feel for direction

Book on color to show my friend what palette I have in mind

Painted papers-value range and color matching

Peace pillars with potential color swatches
Peace Pillars is the potential name I have in mind for these larger versions of my Contemplation Columns shown in an earlier post. I have been working away on these  pillars since the beginning of April. There are a lot of steps so I thought I would write a bit about things.

Rich got the pine board for me and cut it to the three sizes: 4', 3.5' and 3'. The columns are called a "4 x 4" but they are actually 3.5" x 3.5". At first, I was very turned off by the wood. It is rougher than what I would have liked-knots, some holes and definitely texture. I was afraid that the finished pieces would look like painted fence posts. After sanding and filling some holes, I still wasn't thrilled but proceeded with the primer (pic 2). What I really envisioned was a greater degree of smoothness, possibly another product altogether. As I was priming though, I decided that I was just going to allow the wood to be itself. It has imperfections. It came from a living entity after all. Why try and hide that? Why not make it part of the finished concept-this imperfection of form? After adjusting my mindset, things went more smoothly.

Pictures 3 and 4 show my color references. They pillars will be installed in my friend's garden (as seen here) in early May (hopefully and God willing!). She and her husband are participating in a garden tour featuring gardens that use native plants. They did a tremendous job on their yard and will be showing it off. I wanted to see if some of these colors appealed to her so I showed her the color book as reference. She approved that second palette along with that red violet color. From my standpoint, what can be wrong with blue and orange? I decided to not highlight the aqua color with the pinkish red. I included a kind of aqua color anyway thinking that I would focus on cooler hues contrasted with a few warmer ones. My thoughts are to highlight one hue relationship and to focus on proportion of color, controlling chroma and value.

Pic 4 shows my painted papers used for color swatches. Since I am painting directly rather than gluing paper, I needed to mix up a lot of paint so the swatches came in handy for color matching. The painted paper is also being used to make a set of contemplation columns which I will show later.

Pic 5 shows the columns with their prospective color swatches. Even after careful preparation, I still ended up adjusting the colors. The blue just wasn't what I wanted. 

I am about halfway done and feel safe enough to show the progress. I am almost certain these will be finished. I learned that gesso is better than white paint for taking the initial coats of paint directly. Even just the primer would have been fine. I also learned that all of the paint needs to be mixed first and that one side of each column need to be worked at the same time. (So, each column has a side number-1,2,3 or 4. It's best to work side 1, for example, of all three columns at the same time. It's akin to working the whole canvas at once.) Lastly, I learned to accept imperfections both in the substrate, the process and myself. As an example, taping off areas and painting leaves a raised line. There isn't any way around this that I can see. So, I am working with it. I am trying to focus on what excites me which is the colors next to one another and shown in such a large and dimensional form. 

OK, off to finish on side 4. (I started with side 2.) Once all of the sides are painted with their initial coats, I will go back and adjust the lines and repaint needed areas. The taping doesn't always leave a clean enough line. I am hoping to finish by the end of April. The pillars will need several coats of a weather friendly varnish. They will also have holes drilled in the bottom for rebar. The rebar goes into the ground and the pillars will rest on a base, protecting them from the moisture of the dirt. If my friend isn't thrilled with them they will come home to live on my porch. I think. Bonfire anyone? LOL:)

Hope everyone had a lovely Easter and a great start to the week. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

New Work-Informal Pics

Informal shot of painted paper covered wood columns-
24" x 2.5" x .75"

I wanted to show what I have been working on for a couple of days now. These are an extension of the small contemplation columns shown earlier in this post.  When finished, they will hang on the wall as one unit. It's just like my collages only they are separated out.

While at Lowes Home Improvement several months ago, I purchased the above boards along with the wood for the columns. I really feel like these boards (and the columns) are a 3-D representation of my collages. I employ the same thought processes regarding proportion and color placement with these as I do with the two dimensional collage work. It just seems like a natural extension to me.

This morning I also began work on some outdoor columns which are much bigger (4', 3.5' and 3') than anything I have done so far. They will be painted as opposed to being covered in paper. I haven't any idea if things will work out. Somehow I have ventured in to some other area of art that is very different from how I started as a painter. And I really don't know why or how. I mean, I sort of do know (I have seen the work of other people doing similar things so my ideas aren't new per se) but honestly I don't know what caused me to make such a big lateral kind of leap. It's big for me anyway. I am not a risk taker. Maybe I will end up having a huge bonfire?

OK, back to work. Did I say that I tried a new varnish from Liquitex? It's new to me anyway and I really like it. It's the satin varnish and it is very liquid-ey. It goes on nicely though and so far it hasn't clouded up on me like the Nova varnish. Fingers crossed.

Thanks for reading and commenting.