Friday, July 31, 2015

July 2015 Wrap Up Post

1. Range of Light 11" x 14"-acrylic on watercolor paper-available

2. Making Connections-20" x 24" acrylic and painted papers on board-available

3. Nestled-11" x 14" acrylic on watercolor paper-available

4. As I See It-11.5" x 15.5" -acrylic and painted papers on watercolor paper-available

5. Above and Beneath-10" x 13" acrylic on watercolor paper-available

6. Release-10" x 13" acrylic and painted papers on watercolor paper-available
July has been a productive month for me and so I want to share some finished work.

1. Range of Light: I have spent some time at Lake Alpine this summer and have been busy making observations! This piece is based on some of the features of the landscape including the light, trees and clouds.

2. Making Connections: This piece is an amalgamation of my ideas about agriculture, water, and the town of nearby Linden. It's a new process for me too: using painted and cut paper to create shapes and lines. Let me know what you think!

3. Nestled: Another Lake Alpine piece inspired by the groupings of rocks that are an important part of the landscape. I took the perceived colors to the extreme to convey some of my feelings about that land.

4. As I See It: More ideas about water and agriculture. For this piece I focused on specific structures such as ladders and the Blue Diamond almond plant that is a fixture of the Linden landscape.

5. Above and Beneath: Inspired by the hot springs at Mt Lassen, a recent trip yielded many new paintings ideas.

6. Release: Our local reservoir, Lake Hogan, is connected with the Calaveras River. The reservoir not only serves a section of our area but is the water source for East Stockton and points beyond. Earlier in the summer I understand that there was a release of water to fulfill contractual obligations to water customers downstream. The dam, the water, rights, obligations, and needs are all things that drove this piece.

Current and Upcoming News:

I currently have two pieces showing at the Arts Council office in San Andreas. If you are local please stop in to have a look. Both pieces displayed go nicely together or separately. 

I will also be participating in the Artists Studio Tour  here in our area in September. The dates are September 26th and 27th. As information becomes available I will pass it along but for now, it's very simple. Just plan on picking up a map at the Arts Council in San Andreas. The map will detail all of the locations that can be visited throughout the county. It's a great opportunity to see a lot of art all at one time plus you can visit with me:)

A Tip:

Much advice is given these days to "connecting", "being present" or simply being aware. Sounds great but where do you start? I'll pass along the advice that I have given before to beginning sketchers. It's the same thing that I do when I am out and about, trying to generate creative ideas and to connect to my favorite environments to gain pleasure and inspiration. Here it is: Tune in to your six senses. It's very easy and will help to center and relax you. Concentrate on one sense at a time in any order that you like: seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, tasting and feeling. Look at your surroundings and mentally note what you see. Listen for sounds like birds, cars, wind, water, etc. Smell the breeze or even the dirt! Touch the bark of a tree and notice how smooth or rough it is. Tasting is a little harder but do what you can. And finally, what feelings are generated? Calmness? Nostalgia? Peacefulness? What memories are triggered by your current environment? You can tune in to all of your senses or just one or two. Regardless, it's a great exercise, it's free and requires no electronic device, and it will leave you feeling connected.

OK, thanks for reading these posts and supporting my art making efforts. Send me an email or leave a comment if you would like to.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Leporello/Accordion Book 3; Design Findings

 I'll be the first to admit that this third set of "sketches" using the accordion book/leporello format got away from me. 

Disorganized thinking can be a real problem when I want to think creatively. For this accordion book, I had several ideas swirling around and no clear color plan. I did want to sort of take a mental tour through my county and select some general images that were representational. In addition to that I had just received some new paper and was being drawn to using those colors. And finally, layered on top of that were some ideas about our water source here, the drought, and a book I just finished reading about John Wesley Powell. As a result of the mental "swirling" my resulting images got a little more complex than I would like. But, I have a few ideas to build on.

The other thing that was questionable for me was the actual cutting and pasting of paper. I kept wondering if I am getting too far away from painting and too close to crafting. (Please don't write in to tell me that I am somehow maligning crafting. I am not.) I always have my ideas about design in the forefront and ostensibly these "sketches" are meant to strengthen and build on those ideas. They are also meant to be a springboard for paintings. (See my post here.) 

Lastly, it occurred to me this morning while on my walk that because of the format I am using ( a small 4" x 6" field) I am automatically using the side of that small page to build my image. The frame in other words. Overall, I think in all of the instances I have used the white space of the page to surround my main images. Additionally I have also used the white of the page itself as part of the composition. This is a function of cutting and pasting paper to be sure but it is also a result of this little format. 

So, now I have the issue of how to construct these images in a larger format. I am thinking on it but first, a nap!

Thanks for reading and commenting. Hope everyone has had a good week.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Lost in Translation?

Lake Alpine Study 1

Lake Alpine Study 2
One of the things that I of course learned as I did these two was that it's possible to lose the original idea (or discover another possibility) of the sketch in translating it to the larger format. 

For the first piece one of the things I liked the most was the curved line of the white cutout paper against the white background paper. In painting the larger piece I lost that idea because there was no cut out paper involved. I did create some textural differences to define that area of division but it is hard to see. At the last minute, as a touch up measure, I inadvertently created some textural crosshatching. It's very subtle though. I'd like to recreate my original "sketch" in a larger format since I think that construction is what is holding my attention. 

The second piece also lost a little in translation. The proximity of the moon to the hills was increased. The actual size of the moon itself was reduced. I also reversed the direction of the hills which created a different overall structure. This is another piece that I think I would do again closer to what I did in my sketch. 

While I don't dislike the above pieces and recognize that there are probably endless outcomes, there is something still that I want to do here. One of the questions I have is about how to get the results that I want. Do I use a mix of painted cut paper shapes and regular painting? Do I just paint straight out what I want? The first piece contains a mix of painted paper and regular painting. This idea is appealing and versatile. I will be thinking about it today.

In the meantime, I am just plugging away today. Preparing paper on a board for painting, sanding existing paintings so that I can gesso over them, and also possibly doing another leporello/accordion book. They are quite fun!

Hope everyone is well. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Encore! Leporello/Accordian Book 2

Over the weekend I worked on a second leporello/accordion book. I had such a good time (eventually) with the first version (see previous post) that I wanted to try a second version. 

For this try, I used watercolor paper that I scored and folded. I kept the two long pieces of paper flat as I worked on all of the images sort of simultaneously. The concurrent composing of the images didn't exactly work out and so I switched midway to working on one image at a time. Everything that I have read about being creative indicates that it's a good idea to use your last piece/sketch/whatever as the starting point for your next piece. I have difficulty with that but tried to keep it in mind. It was easier for me to key in on some specific colors, keeping the proportion of principle as my overarching guideline. while the compositions aren't perfect, I feel that they are just like sketches and that I can build from some of these ideas. I did conclude too that the use of the white both as a color and as space is critical for what I am trying to do with these images. All of the sketches are based on my overall impressions of my visits to Lake Alpine. The quality of light in that area is a real attraction for me. There is just this clarity and crispness, almost a spareness to things. One of the ways that I try to represent this is with the use of the color white and also a use of that color as a space. Maybe this isn't totally clear in writing but in my mind it is clear!

Hope Monday is off to a good start for everyone. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Maestro Please! Concertina Book!

Leporello/Accordion/Concertina Book
"Hey, what did you do all day Libby?"

Yesterday I was sort of at loose ends, creatively speaking, and so in order to corral my thoughts I decided to focus on a project. 

I have written several times about being inspired by the artwork of Etel Adnan. If you follow that link, it will take you to her website where not only can you see her paintings and learn about her writing but you can also see something that she makes. They are called leporellos or concertina books. They are folded, accordion style, and create a complete little story board. Kind of like a folded comic strip. I thought that it would be the perfect way to explore some composition ideas in a small format. 

Using just a few guidelines, I tried to make the compositions cohesive via color and background. I did try and make each piece relevant to the preceding piece which was challenging. It requires actively thinking about both pieces at once, how they relate to each other. Making all of the compositions also required thinking about them collectively as one unit. How would they all fit together? 

I find that when I try something new, I tend to forget some of the guiding ideas that I have regarding compositions. For the past seven months I have been working with just a few principles. The overriding factor is proportion. I apply that concept (domination and subordination) to things like color, line and shape. Within that framework, I try to work with two color relationships such as violet blue and yellow orange along with blue green and red orange. This combo seems to be attractive to me and most often represents the things I see in my landscape. Additionally, I have this crazy idea about throwing in the color green as a "neutral." It seems like it can break up and add interest to the other colors. As I was working yesterday it was as if I was starting from scratch. I had to consciously think about some of my ideas in order to work each composition. 

In the end, I was pleasantly surprised. The whole process was like sketching only with paper and scissors (Enter Matisse...). It was great for "what if" idea generating. I had a much harder time though when I was actively trying to create a scene. It was better when I just started with a large shape and built from there. It also showed me that I tend to build something from the bottom of the frame to the top. I really want to focus more on building the image in an overall way. But, I did end up with several ideas for paintings and I did keep my original inspiration at the forefront. It was a great experience and one that I recommend highly. Just paper, scissors and glue.

Hope everyone has had a good week. Let me know what you think about the above.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

New Work, My Lists, and Water

As I See It
acrylic/mixed media on wc paper-12" x 16" image

acrylic on paper 11" x 14"
The above two pieces were completed within the last week, give or take a day or so. Lately I feel like my art making has a lot to do with problem solving. Here are the various conversations: "I want such-and-such so how do I get that?" "Will this combination of materials give me the look I want? "What happens if...?" "Should I try doing...?" Fill in the blanks! Lots of times it's just this question: "How do I do that?" Whatever that is. I have no way of knowing what other artists do; if they struggle like this and are both repelled and excited by that struggle. In any case, the ultimate test for me is whether or not the finished work survives for any length of time. Do I hang it up, leave it out and want to look at it while I nap on the bed in the studio? Or, does it go in the Closet of Shame right away to malinger for a while before I give it a merciful death?

The first piece is this new idea that I have about what I see. I've thought this out. Here goes. I started out my painting life as a pseudo plein air painter. I learned from reading books by Kevin Macpherson and by watching Peggi Kroll Roberts videos. Can't go wrong with any of that but you walk away with a certain attitude and style. What happens when you want to add to that learning? To go beyond somehow? What if your learning shows you other ways to make art? What if you love paint and paper and Matisse and Shirley Jaffe and Ellsworth Kelly? Then what? Regroup is what. Figure out what you like and what you can do and what else is possible. I am a list maker. A gatherer of images and sketches and ideas. A thought gatherer. I write things down and get a feel for things and look at my surroundings conceptually and broadly. And I am simple and an introvert and I don't do complex or difficult. All of that has to show up in my art making. 

So, the first piece is gathered up images from my travels up and down highway 26 through the town of Linden. There are ladders and the almond plant and the tracks and hills. All of it boiled down into colors and shapes. My list of Linden. 

The second piece is my broad and conceptual idea of our water facility at the base of Hogan Dam. We (CCWD) let out water recently from our reservoir in order to fulfill whatever contractual obligations are owed farmers somewhere else. I think. Ten days I heard of water running out of the lake. I pictured the opening of the pipe and water and fields and a cloudless, non-rainy sky.

Hope everyone is having a good week so far. It's Tuesday!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

New Work: Above and Beneath

Above and Beneath
11" x 14" acrylic on wc paper
While at Lassen Park Visitor Center earlier in June, we had a chance to see some of the underground pools of water. I think they are hot springs and they definitely have a sulfur odor so I am guessing that chemical is their main component. It's a wonder to me to know that this kind of liquid heat is just beneath the surface of where we live. I think sometimes that we forget just how varied the Earth's surface and interior really is. It's extraordinary.

So, the pools weren't precisely swirling around but I added that sort of motion with the brushstrokes. I also thought of the perspective as being of an overhead view rather than the head on view that we actually were seeing. It's probably a disjointed view of things but I enjoy the interpretation of hills and mountains as being both near and far. The flattening of forms appeals to me at the same time as the added texture. There is no shading for form but I used a little bit of contrast of value and temperature to suggest warmth, coolness and distance. It's all part of the general picture making experience for me.

Hope everyone has a safe holiday weekend. Thanks for reading and commenting.