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.
Libby



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.
Libby


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.
Libby

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Western Skies 5 and New Mounted Piece-Feedback?

Western Skies 5
16" x 16" Painted paper collage landscape

River Song 2
Finished 12/2016
Painted paper collage mounted on 1" board
16" x 16"
 
Border treatment of above mounted work prior to painting being glued down.
Before I went on vacation I was sort of absorbed in getting ready. Posting an image of my last completed piece would have to wait.  It is the last in the Western Skies series and depicts my ideas of Western colors-sky, land, etc. 

In addition to packing and getting the house ready, I was also trying to problem solve. All of my work in this style so far has been done on watercolor paper. My idea was to offer the finished pieces matted and ready for someone to frame themselves. I didn't really like the presentation though. When finished, these pieces feel kind of like a record album cover. They have the same sort of thickness and heft. They look fine but it's hard to envision what they will look like framed. Plus, I sort of thought they didn't look "professional." I felt that it would be better to mount them to a board. No matting, no framing and things would look neat and clean. The board really has some presence all on its own which the matted image lacks. The board and the mat/backing/bag set up are almost the same cost too.

 The problem though that I needed to solve was this: all of my pieces are 16" x 16"with no room to maneuver. The boards are exactly 16" x 16". I was having trouble fitting them properly to the board. What to do? I remembered that when I was making fiber art, I frequently mounted those pieces to canvasses. I simply cut the piece about 1/2" smaller than the finished canvas. The piece went from, say, 16" to 15.5" (leaving a .25" border all the way around) and was then affixed to a canvas painted in a coordinating color. 

I used that solution above which you can see in the 2nd and 3rd pics. The 2nd pic shows the finished piece hanging on the wall and the 3rd pic shows the border treatment. I had some of the same paper from the original piece leftover. I simply glued on papers to make the border. I really like the solution a lot. It adds another dimension to the piece and makes the whole work very presentable, in my opinion.

Feedback on any of the above is welcomed. Just leave a comment. Thanks for reading!
Libby

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Out and About: Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park (shortly upon entering park). This is a very  typical view. 

Looks like a nostril to me!

Joshua Tree in bloom

Notice the fractal qualities of similarity (self-same) from small to large scale.

Flowers at Big Morongo Canyon Preserve

Some type of poppy?

Wildflowers and view across canyon (Big Morongo Canyon Preserve)

A fine example of a Joshua Tree

Not sure but this view may be south and west looking towards Palm Springs
This last week my husband and I took a vacation. I have the hiking bug pretty bad these days so a hiking centered trip made a lot of sense, for me. I am fortunate that my husband is flexible! We drove down to Joshua Tree National Park, where there are a lot of walking trails, and stayed overnight in a VRBO right in the town of Joshua Tree. We were about 10 minutes from the northern entrance of the park, very convenient. 

The photos above are pretty indicative of the general landscape. The mountains are quite close by and there are many, many rounded rock formations. Numerous types of plants grow right out of the rock cracks and of course, there are Joshua Trees scattered everywhere. Except for the mountains and rock formations, everything is pretty low to the ground. There is a sense of being in a "bowl" or in a smallish canyon. This desert is different from what someone might imagine a desert area to be. At least that was my impression. 

Wildflowers are a big draw in the Spring and this year, due to the rainfall, the crop of blooms is supposed to be spectacular. Things were certainly blooming, though not in the profusion that I expected. There was a small scattering of yellow and purple flowers alongside some cactus blooms that were a nice poppy red color. It's always wonderful to see the color and shapes of things, no matter the amount. The grayish greens of some bushes sit right alongside the brighter yellow green leaves of the Joshua trees.  Some bushes have a darker green yellow color to them that is more muted. we even saw some "desert" mistletoe that had reddish berries that were almost translucent looking. 

I included some flower pics too from our day spent at Big Morongo Canyon Preserve. What a gem of a park! It's billed as being a place for bird watchers but we were happy just hiking around. There were actually more blooms at this park than at the other. Wonderful views too since at several points we were quite high above the canyon.

The last two pics are from Joshua Tree park. I included the tree pic because it is so typical of what can be seen. This one was even better than most! Lastly, too, you can get high up. This elevation is about 5000 ft. I think? It was very windy on two of the days that we were there but oddly enough this lookout point was not too bad. Go figure!

During our trip, I kept waiting for something "artistic" to grab my attention. Some feeling I suppose that would transfer to my art making. While I didn't get a particular feeling, I certainly felt a connection to the colors. Not too dissimilar from where I live though, the dirt (which is actually sand) is less red than our dirt here. Many of the greens are similar and the "graying" of the colors is also familiar to me.  What I couldn't discern though was an actual sense of space. I expected more openness but what I found was a more closed in "canyon" setting. And I expected a sense of calm but I actually found the place to be somewhat chaotic due to the wind. There isn't a great sense of scale either as most everything is a similar height. It was still a good experience for me, personally and artistically. Not bad but just unexpected. 

OK, hope everyone had a good week. I hope to get back in to the swing of things, studio-wise, next week. I have fallen out of the habit of having a regular schedule which doesn't work for me really well. So, I am trying to correct that!

Take care and thank you for reading and commenting.
Libby


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

New Work and New Columns

Western Skies 4
16" x 16" Collage Landscape/Painted Papers
libbyfifefineart.com

Contemplation Columns Set 2
14" x 1.5"; 12" x 1.5"; 10" x 1.5"
painted papers on dimensional wood board

Contemplation Columns Set 2
14" x 1.5"; 12" x 1.5"; 10" x 1.5" 
painted papers on dimensional wood board
The collage shown in the first pic has been done for several days. I have been busy screwing around with goodness knows what though and so I am late in posting. I wanted to use a greater proportion of the painted papers this time and I am pleased with the results. Also, I have included both an interior and exterior shot of the "contemplation columns" this time as well as providing their size. My friend, who saw these and liked them, didn't realize that they were smaller in size. 

When actually completed, these columns will have a small base, maybe about 1" tall, and hopefully covered in the same papers as the columns.  I looked into acrylic bases which I thought would give the columns a wonderful contemporary look. Since I don't sell much of my work, the cost for the bases is prohibitive. The wooden bases covered in my papers is a better alternative and will still look consistent. The painted white bases that I was going to use really detracted from the columns and ended up being their own design element. They took away from the columns, in my opinion. 

I'll mention this too. I love the idea of these columns. I have seen some other examples now and I have liked all of them. They are obviously dimensional but they have a different presence than the collage paintings, if that makes sense. My friend, whom I mentioned above, has been helping me to think through doing some larger columns that would go in a garden. Rather than using paper however, the columns would be painted directly and finished appropriately for the outdoors. They would be what I think is termed "functional" art. 

Anyway, I hope to start on a new piece shortly and to finish up these columns. The weather is quite nice this week but we are expecting some clouds for the weekend. No big deal. I have learned over the winter and into Spring that clouds, rain and cooler weather in general are the friends of the avid hikers here in my area. Pretty soon it is going to be quite warm, more than I can stand to be out in hiking. And please, if you are reading and have some thoughts about these columns, let me know.

Thanks for the visit and comments,
Libby

Saturday, March 4, 2017

New work: Poles; Gas is Good

Western Skies 3
16" x 16" painted acrylic papers collage

Western Skies 3
16" x 16" painted acrylic papers collage
It has been helpful for me to view these pieces in each of their 4 orientations so I am showing 2 of those images for this post. The bottom image was my original intention. Despite a bit of heaviness at the bottom for the top one, I like that view also. I get how these can be seen as simple landscapes with a horizon line so I have that on my mind also. I like this layout a lot so I am going to try it again with other colors and values or maybe even tweaking some of the shapes. I have plenty of paper still for one or two more pieces.

In the meantime, I have started on a second set of those pillars/columns/poles.  They are the same size as the first set (14", 12" and 10") but using the current colors shown above. For the past couple of years I have moved away from working on canvas or board, believing that using wc paper as a substrate allows me to store things more easily and to throw things away more readily. These wood columns are a departure I guess. They need to be stored now and will take some space. I am not sure how many I will do. My friend has gotten me on to the idea of painted poles for the garden. I admit that I am interested. Again though, what about storage? These would be 3-4 ft high and about 4" wide. That is some heftiness. I will have to think about things. Plus, there is the added hardware to display them in the garden. Still, I am thinking about it. It is nice that she was thinking expansively about my art. I certainly don't do it for myself.

OK, I had a minor disaster with some varnish this afternoon but I am replete with supplies so I found a substitute that works much better. It pays to try everything doesn't it? We also ran out of propane if that can be believed. (Not our fault either, mind you.) That crisis was solved also. Very lucky:)

Hope everyone is busy with good things this weekend. Thank you for reading and commenting.
Libby