Sunday, June 25, 2017

New Works: Sunlight and Shadow (Columns); Creekside 2(collage)

Sunlight and Shadow View 1
Small Contemplation Columns
Sizes: 14", 12", 10" x 1.50"

Sunlight and Shadow View 2

Creekside 2
16" x 16" painted papers collage on wc paper 
These two pieces were finished up this week. As my guide for the design on both pieces, I tried to focus on temperature. Trying to balance the proportion of the spaces and of the colors was also a goal. These pieces are like puzzles for me. The idea of trying to put colors together to see what happens continues to interest me. And I really like the sculptural element of those columns. And I like that in my mind, even though the pieces on paper are flat, I tend to think of actual spaces with horizons and sections of the landscape.

This week has been incredibly hot. We have been in the triple digits all week and most evenings things didn't cool down enough really to justify opening the windows and losing the benefit of the air conditioned air. It makes cooking a challenge since I don't like trapping food smells in the house. And I have been starting my walks between 6-6:30 AM. Truthfully, if I could get it together sooner I would start at 5:30! 

I hope everyone is having a lovely weekend. Any observations about these two pieces are welcomed.
Thanks for reading and commenting.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

New Work: Creekside

16" x 16" painted acrylic papers mounted to wc paper
More and more I am starting to notice what element(s) of design another artist may be trying to work with. I really just mean to say that whatever a person may be emphasizing in their work is becoming more obvious to me; easier to spot. (Whether or not I am right is another matter!) It's very subjective, I know, but I feel like I can guess if an artist may be into color relationships or if line and the personal language of line is important instead. Perhaps shape making is the thing. whatever it is, I feel a little more confidant these days in trying to take an educated guess. (And perhaps nothing-the person could just be having a good time!)

I spend some time on Pinterest and Instagram each morning looking at artwork. It's educational and distracting but also helps me to engage actively in a kind of learning. Trying to identify some element of design that may be present in another artist's work helps me to connect in a way. I find other people that seem to share my same aesthetic.

The above piece was finished yesterday. I painted a group of papers that had quite a bit of texture, for me anyway. I intermixed those with other papers I have that are painted more "flatly." I like the mix a lot. It's interesting to note that the yellow at the top and bottom is actually the same yellow paper. It's a little more pronounced in this photo than it should be but that yellow color looks different at the top than it does at the bottom. Stuff like that interests me, keeps me putting colors together when I would like to actually throw in the towel! 

Dreaming about quiet, still creeksides; water and its many colors and mysteries.

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

Saturday, June 3, 2017

New Work: Contemplation Columns and Extra Pics

Change in The Weather
Contemplation Columns 14", 12" and 10" x 2.5"

This new set of columns was completed on Thursday and they took a little trip with me to visit my friend and hairdresser for an evaluation. No one except Rich has seen these in person so I need an opinion. My friend has a discerning nature with a solid aesthetic and so I thought she could help. Plus, she is tactful so I knew it would be fairly painless!

While she liked them, her first reaction wasn't of the "wowza" variety. Her input was that the solid colors weren't as exciting as the more textured papers. I also think she was saying that the uniformity of the pattern itself could have been a little more random. I told her about the clear acrylic bases idea that I have and she seemed enthused about that.  She did think they were well constructed. (I am always super concerned about workmanship.) And though these aren't her colors, she appreciated that they are my color choices.  And finally, she is the second person who has told me that she thought these columns were bigger. 

It was good to see these things in place, somewhere else. It's fine for me to have them in my studio-they belong here because of everything else that is here. But I want to think about the columns in another place too, like in someone's house, on their desk or mantle. 

I think the idea of greater contrast between the solid paper and patterned/textured paper is definitely on the agenda. (She may have liked these columns better.) I like the more regular patterning of the shapes themselves that I chose this time. Sides 1 and 3 are the same and sides 2 and 4 are the same with regard to shape size. 

Now, the bases are another story. Clear acrylic bases would be great but they are cost prohibitive for me. I do think they would elevate the idea and cause the columns to appear to be "floating."  I could probably just try a few and see what happens. 

So, good feedback from a live, in-person person. Online feedback helps too (and is another valid tool for me) but looking at pictures is different from seeing something in person of course.

OK, I am on to the next idea. I have some paper selected and will be working on a composition. Hope everyone's weekend is off to a good start. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

A Little Hike: Big Trees State Park-South Grove

1. Start here in the North Grove Visitor's Center.

2. Starting out on the South Grove trail, headed to the Agassiz tree.

3. Many trees have been altered by fire but are still living.

4. Don't forget to look up...

5. ...and don't forget to look down!

6. Lots of bright green foliage set against darker tree forms.

7. Beautiful formations and colors just below the crystal clear water.
When I am not busy being a housewife, cat mom and artist, I like to hike. Getting outdoors helps me to relax and to refuel for the time when I am at home. We are fortunate to live so close to many great hiking options. My favorite spot (nearly) in the summertime is Big Trees State Park. Oftentimes when it is 100+ degrees where I live, it is much cooler "upcountry". Heading east and north to hike makes total sense, whether you live here or even down in the Bay Area where it can also get quite warm. 

A great example of a "cooler" get away and a wonderful destination spot in Calaveras County is Big Trees State Park in Arnold, CA. The park offers many opportunities for just about any interest, be it walking, hiking, observing nature or having a leisurely picnic. It's very accessible, just up the highway 4 corridor and can be done as a day visit (depending on where you are coming from) or can be turned in to part of a longer trip to this area. The park charges an entrance fee (check the website link above) and there are no dogs allowed on the trails (it is a state park-check the website for regulations).  It also offers camping opportunities and there is limited lodging nearby as well. 

The park is divided into the North Grove and the South Grove. Each section offers something for everyone. For first time visitors, I recommend starting in the North Grove at the Visitor's Center. There are often interpretive talks given right outside-check the schedule. Going inside, bypass the concessions, and head straight back and to the left to see the exhibits. Care has been taken to explain the history of the area and to give a broad outline of the types of animals and plants that can be found in the park. Take some time to learn about the park-it's integral to enjoying your visit. 

Once finished inside, get your map  (given to you at the entrance station) and hop back in your car for a short drive to the South Grove. On the way, stop off to have a look at the Stanislaus River. It's flowing mightily now, filled with runoff snow melt from the mountains. Park your car and walk down the bridge, being careful of course! The river is beautiful and supplies much needed water to our area. 

After viewing the river, continue on to the South Grove parking area. Make a right into the parking lot and grab a spot. On my visit this time, I chose the loop trail to the Agassiz Tree. The trail  is a mix of dirt with some rocks and pine cones. There are bare roots exposed in places so you may want your walking pole and definitely will want sturdy shoes.  There are gentle ups and downs, short inclines and declines that are not taxing. In total, the route I took is about 4.5 miles, give or take.

Start out on the trail , bypassing the turn to the Bradley Grove, and continue on the South Grove Trail. Pic 2 shows the beginning of the trail. As you walk along, you'll both hear and see Big Trees Creek. It's hard to know whether to look up or down but be sure and do both (pics 3 , 4 and 5). You will see all manner of trees, some of which have been affected by fire. For this hike, we had a knowledgeable person in our group who let us know that the trees, though scarred and burned, were still living. Fire, though devastating, is a necessary part of the life cycle of a forest. It clears the way for new tree growth, allowing seeds to implant themselves in the ground. Wildflowers too take hold when the ground is made "clean" by fire. On this visit I was really struck by the duality of things-life and death occurring simultaneously. 

Continuing on, pic 6 shows what is so wonderful about this forest space. The contrast of colors is amazing! Beautiful, bright and vibrant greens are often set against a stunning blue sky. The trees themselves are a study in color. Some have bark that is a wonderful reddish brown while others are more subtly colored but still beautiful. If you are here on a cloudy day, the colors are even more pronounced. There is no bad day in this park! 

Continue on to arrive at the Agassiz tree, named for zoologist Louis Agassiz. This is a nice spot to sit down and have lunch before heading back. It's also the end of this portion of the trail.

On the way back there is a turnoff for the loop section. Take that turnoff to head up and down to the main trail. Once you are back on the main trail, head to the parking lot. If there is time, there are an additional two short loops that you could take, one of which is wheelchair accessible (bumpy but doable). 

The best time, for me anyway, to get to the park is midweek. The benefit is fewer people. If you arrive early enough, say 9 or 10, the park is less crowded and it is possible to have a quiet and peaceful experience, if that is what you are after. Feeling a sense of solitude and experiencing a kind of "companionship" with the natural world is the main draw to hiking here. It's why I visit the park, anyway, as often as I can during the summer. 

Thanks for coming along on the tour. I hope you enjoyed it! Thanks for reading and commenting.

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.