Saturday, February 18, 2017

New Work: Looking Up 6 and A Hint!

Looking Up 6
16" x 16" painted papers collage

Looking Up 6
16" x 16" painted papers collage
I am showing two views because they are so different. They are both of the same piece but depending on how they are oriented, the viewer can get some different feelings.

This series is at an end meaning I have used most of the available paper that I originally painted. However! I have a new project that I am working on using the remaining bits of paper that I have left. If all goes well I will show that in a few days. Fingers crossed:)

Hope everyone has a good weekend. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

New Work: Looking Up 4 and 5

Looking Up 4
16" x 16" painted papers collage landscape

Looking Up 5
16" x 16" painted papers collage landscape
I decided to add one more design to this series and to try some different value ideas. The first piece was more an experiment in using a majority of similar hues with just a few spaces of a complimentary color. The second piece is more an experiment using darker, more closely related values and with the larger areas being similar hues and temperatures.  I like them both for the different feelings they evoke (for me). All five pieces remind me of the colors of the landscape on the recent hike that I took at Red Hills in Jamestown, CA.

Hope everyone has a lovely Valentine's Day today, no matter what you choose to do.
Thanks for reading and commenting,

Saturday, February 4, 2017

New Work/ In a Hole and How To Get Out

Looking Up 2
16" x 16" painted papers collage on paper
Looking Up
16" x 16" painted papers collage on paper

Inspired by two recent hikes in an area known for redddish colored serpentine rock formations, I made the above piece this week.  The colors, to me, represent some of what I saw: greenish blue bushes, rocks that were reddish to orange brown, and blue skies. The design is new for me and is something that I worked on as well this week. I had another piece that I was working on first but it was a total loss. I am glad that this piece turned out better, in my opinion. Can't win them all right?

I know that other, more experienced artists have written about this subject but I will share anyway what I learned this week about "creative block" or just plain  muddy thinking.  I make art every week and think about things a lot in the interim between pieces. Even still, it's possible to become disconnected. Suggestions for reconnecting are numerous and varied but are mostly external things that you can do. My experience has taught me (over and over and over again) that the struggle can really be internal. Yes, the right setting and the right tools and no distractions help but it really is knowing yourself that is most critical to getting unblocked. 

As I worked on the piece that failed, I just couldn't figure out why I was making all of the wrong moves. After abandoning things and going to bed, I got up the next morning, sort of thinking about things, and began to write in my sketchbook. Just general writing: what I had seen on my hikes, what I was reading about, and what I thought abut my working process and motivation for making art. I started in with some sketching. After some thought, I hit upon the above idea. It dawned on me (aren't I smart?) that this was what was missing; this routine and practice of writing and reflection. It is actually what drives my creative side. And I had been neglecting it. 

Everybody gets out of the hole in a different way. I get that. It's my feeling though that inner examination is a good way to get out of that hole. Buying new supplies or cleaning your work space or turning off the phone/Internet are all good starts. But, until you know how it is that you make your art, what your actual process is (and why), things still may be difficult.

OK, hope everyone had a good week. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

New Work, My hike, Color Theory and Value Practice

Soft Storm
16" x 16" painted papers collage/landscape

Red Hills Area of Critical Concern, Jamestown CA

Added value!
The above piece was completed last week. It is the final piece in my Storm/Weather series. I say for now because who am I kidding? The rain is coming back! While making the piece though I was thinking about our red/brown dirt here and the gray skies that sometimes appear "bruised" before the storm starts wailing down on us. It's more of a romantic view I guess of what the sky could look like. Certainly the concept of a "soft storm" is fanciful.

The second photo shows where I spent some time this week. I went over to Jamestown which is about an hour southeast of where we live. I walked on those rocks for several hours! It was a perfect day though and as I stood there and looked around, I thought about the colors that I was seeing. It occurred to me that the colors were very "soft", for lack of a better term. The light wasn't so harsh for starters and the contrast between colors wasn't tremendous. I have gotten used to the big contrasts where I live-bright green grasses and hillsides contrasted against deep iron rich reds and dark, wet tree trunks. The light too is particularly stark because of the sun's angle I guess.  Anyway, as I stood there, I thought about how perfect the colors were side by side. Very harmonious. It made me consider color theory which has always baffled me (and kept me back at times). It started to dawn on me (finally) that I could simply think about color theory in other ways rather than of hue relationships. I tend to consider other things anyway: chroma, value, and the proportion of one color to another. I think about placement as well. It's all governed by how I feel about the overall proportion of things. I have kind of had it with opposite colors and worrying about that particular issue anyway. I just want to slide the colors around mentally until I get what I want or get surprised or both. And besides, I believe in the presence of the Almighty Creator in our universe. Looking around at the landscape on Tuesday, I felt that really the colors couldn't be wrong together in an inherent sense. I just had to figure out what was right to me since really, all of it was just fine "as is", if that makes sense.

The last pic shows where I am starting with the next group of pieces. I painted some gray scale papers this afternoon. Tomorrow, I will start to paint the colored papers, matching the colors up to the particular value that I want. I think it helps to keep things consistent. I am trying to learn. Honestly. It's just a painfully slow process!

Hope everyone is having a good weekend.  Thanks for reading and commenting.

Friday, January 20, 2017

New Work and Process Notes/Shots

Soft Skies
16" x 16" Painted papers collage
Gentle Rain
16" x 16" Painted papers collage
Before The Storm 2
16" x 16" Painted papers collage
Before The Storm 1
16" x 16" Painted papers collage

 We have had a lot of rain! The weather has been on my mind which shows in the above pieces. The first piece was inspired by my drive yesterday. The skies were full of these soft looking cotton ball type clouds. They looked so delicate. I tried for some colors that were reminiscent of what I saw as well as values that weren't too contrasty. The second piece is similarly inspired by the rain, sort of what I thought of as a gentle rainfall. The pitter patter type of drops, not the stuff that has actually been slamming our area. The 3rd and 4th pieces have more to do with how things are before a storm. It's just all what I was thinking translated into color. I hope the viewer sees whatever they want to see.

I haven't talked about my process in quite awhile. There are a number of reasons for this but I thought I might share a little bit now if anyone is interested. 

Most of these collages start with a color combination idea based on something I have seen. It could be something I saw in the landscape or a thought I had about a particular subject. Sometimes it is just a phrase like "gentle rain" that prompts me to pick a group of colors that might represent that idea. The inspiration though is definitely something current- something I just saw or thought of.

I have shown my painted papers before. I try for a good range of 5-6 values of each hue. Additionally, I try to limit the hues-just a couple of definite colors and some related neutrals. I also try to keep the chroma for each hue the same (to have things appear balanced). I don't like to balance more than two color relationships at once. My preference is to have only one or two things that are dominant. 

The paint gets mixed one hue at a time, with the values varying from dark to light, and then painted on to plain white artist grade construction paper. Lately I have been adding texture by scraping paint off with a spatula. Once the papers are all painted and dried, I group them into like values. This way things are organized. 

The first process shot above shows how I start a piece.  I start with a newly drawn or printed design (cropped from a previous piece) and transfer that to my painted white watercolor paper. Once the design is transferred, I select my colors and values. I cut little samples and place them on the white paper to see  about color and value distribution. Once things look like they will work, I start measuring and cutting. I glue one shape at a time which can be seen in process shots 3 and 2. Along the way, I check black and white values with my I Phone. The best laid plans can go awry and sometimes I have to adjust what I selected-the chroma, value or hue is wrong. Whatever the piece needs, it gets. I can abandon my original plan in a heartbeat. Each paper shape is placed, glued and measured with a big square ruler. I try to get things straight but accept the "close is good" concept.

Though I often start with an idea of what I think will happen, I am surprised every time by the outcome. Even if it isn't what I expected I embrace whatever has happened. Keeping an open mind, for me anyway, is crucial to continuing. It's too frustrating to get stuck on an idea. Other ideas get overlooked as frustration sets in. 

Lastly, you might notice that there are two designs above but four finished pieces. Lately I have begun using one design that I like to test out color ideas. This is another way to surprise myself, by seeing what one color does next to another or what switching up the value plan produces. 

I like to think of this as painting with paper. Really, I use all of the skills (such as they are) that I acquired when painting directly.  If I ever painted directly again I hope that I might have a better grasp on things because of this collage work.

Anyway, thanks for reading (if you made it) and for those of you being pummeled by the weather, stay dry and warm.

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.

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.