Paintings, 2014

2015-07-27 22.29.072014 was not a good year for making art. We moved into a new house, with a studio space. A very large studio space, a separate building on the property. We packed (and looked for housing and sold our house) from January to July. We moved July 3 and spent July through November fixing the “new” house. And unpacking. And putting things away. And then rearranging the things that we had put away.

My new space, while huge and functional, was not finished — raw flooring (particle board), raw walls (sheet rock) raw ceiling (insulation). The bathroom, while a great upgrade on my old studio which had no such facility, had no molding around the door. The muck-out sink was a mess from the woodworker who used the place before I got there. The lights were flickering and/or not functioning. In short, from November through February, I worked on the studio.

StudioFeb22015EastEast side of studio, as of February 2.

StudioFeb22015westWest side of the studio as of February 2. Note that this is a 2 dimensional view: the actual imaged space is about 35 feet long. The “east side” (with its floor to be painted) is 15 more feet. A big space.

So, it’s been a long year. However, sandwiched in and around this year of moving and fixing and painting and moving some more, I managed to do a tiny bit of work. Some of it was on canvases with other paintings. The one that was most finished when I started into it in 2014 became an abstract that we put up in our dining room:

AbstractOne2014WLAbstract One 2014, 30 x 40″, oil on canvas, 2014

This was a painting that I had already begun using the color shaper (a kind of spatula) on, and I so enjoyed the ribbon-like marks it made that I’m continuing to find ways to play with that tool. Although my memory is a bit vague, I think this painting originated in the formations around Jerome, Arizona.

The next definitely originated in Jerome imagery, although it was far less developed when I began working on it this fall.

AbstractTwo2014WLAbstract Two 2014, 30 x 40″, oil on canvas, 2014

This oil painting provided a satisfying accompaniment to the first one; it hangs in our new living room. It started as a play on the stairs of Jerome Arizona, which mimic the land formations of that region, including the Mogollon Rim which can be seen across the Verde Valley below Jerome. But it quickly morphed taking on new shapes and movements.

It was about this painting that one of the workmen, walking through the living room, remarked , “Busy, ain’t it.”

I was sitting at the table, and I’m not sure he knew I was there.

“So am I,” I said, just a bit tartly. Jer hastened to add, “She painted it.”

The conversation went on from there.

In late fall, I took a workshop, kind of a masters play time, with Bill Park, a Portland painter. For a number of reasons, I decided to work in acrylics. After doing studies with the medium for a day or two, I brought in a large rolled blank canvas and began on the next painting. It is not quite finished, and in fact, it may not be in its original orientation when I finish with it:

TheGreenGreenHillsOfHome2014WLThe Green Green Hills of Home, about 60 x 60 inches, acrylic on canvas, 2014

My color shaper doesn’t work the same with acrylic paint, but acrylic has other advantages, the principle one being that it’s easier to transport a dry canvas of that size. This one began with a large figure and went on from there. There is one place that I intend to work on further, but I’m not saying where. And I’m thinking it may end up oriented like this:

TheGreenGreenHillsOfHome2014RotateRtWLThe Green Green HIlls of Home, rotated right

Finally, on the easel at this moment, sunk into that pile of furnishings moved so the second half of the floor can be painted, is one more abstract that I’m hoping to get to — soon.

AbstractThree2014-15WLAbstract Three 2015 (in progress), 30 x 40 inches, oil on canvas, 2015

I’m thinking of adding a couple of “bars” of cadmium red, horizontally, in places across the canvas (cadmium red is the red-toward-yellow basic paint, as opposed to alizarin red, which is the red-toward-blue). Until I try that, I’m not sure where this canvas is going. Nor when, for that matter.

But the studio is slowly being civilized, with painted sheet rock and painted floor, and a tamed bathroom, with molding on its door frames. The lights are all functioning and almost perfect. The new storm door can be kept open all day, and even in January, opening the big “garage” doors in the middle of the day was possible. This is a space in which even I can’t feel closed-in. If one is a busy person, one needs lots of space to roam.


Paintings from Pine Creek: Issue 3

Rain on the Pine Creek Gorge: from Bradley Wales

Rain on the Pine Creek Gorge: from Bradley Wales

18 x 24″, oil on Masonite, 2012

It was a long and fraught winter, with annoying bouts of vertigo that often stopped me completely. Earlier, I had committed to a charity auction, so most of my upright time was spent getting a small end table painted and presentable for the Community Warehouse Chair Affair.

However, as the vertigo lifted, I went back to the studio, where I had odd bits and pieces of paintings from Pine Creek left to finish.

The two Pine Creek Gorge paintings (above and below) were begun on a foggy, rainy afternoon, on-site in Pennsylvania, and soothed in the Oregon studio; both were started at the Bradley Wales lookout, just over the hill from where my mother spent some of her most memorable moments of childhood.

from Bradley Wales Lookout

from Bradley Wales Lookout

18 x 24″, oil on Masonite, 2012

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Paintings from the Sandgren Workshop

[Ed. note: this is a re-posting from the southeastmain blog]

By june

I’m finally ready to post the paintings from the Sandgren Workshop, not because they are fascinating and wonderful, but because, well, because it’s time.

I did six paintings in three days, and then I reworked them in the studio. Five of the paintings were single framed views; the sixth was a stab at making ambiguous space. One of the paintings was so bad it’s now face-down in the studio.

Day 1, at Seal Rock State Park, south of  Newport, Oregon, on the coast:

JOU, Seal Rock Park 1, 16 x 12″, oil on masonite, 2011

JOU, Seal Rock Park 2, 12 x 16″, oil on masonite, 2011

For years, I have pondered the difficulty of painting treescapes immersed within brushy, unfocused areas. Perhaps ambiguous, unoriented, fragmented space might do it, but here, it’s “just” a matter of painting the light through the fog. Now I should have known about light through trees long ago, but insights seem to come slowly to me. This was an incidental insight from Eric Sandgren, the workshop instructor. He spoke a lot about layering of planes, but demoed the light, and that  stuck with me.

Day 2, Cummins Creek at Neptune State Park on Cape Perpetua, south of Yachats

JOU, From Cummins Creek Park, 16 x 12″, oil on masonite, 2011

JOU, Cummins Creek Tree, 16 x 12″, oil on masonite, 2011

Day 2 was sunny and bright, unlike day one, when the advantage of painting trees under the trees was that one didn’t get dripped on. The general palettes of the two days were quite different, of course, and Eric got to home in on color intensity as well as value. He nattered on about warm and cool colors, a concept which I theoretically have understood for years, but never worked in nuance before. So I practiced seeing warms and cools where they weren’t obvious, and did as suggested with the intense ultramarine in the ocean on the first painting of the day.

After I got home, I reworked these paintings, and in doing so I lost their freshness. I am disappointed in how they turned out but not in what I learned as I fussed and fretted over getting a rhythm and sequence to the materials. So during and after day 2, I’m thinking “layering, intensity of hue, values, rhythm and sequencing, and planes.”  Well, I tried to think of those things, serially and all at once. Multitasking at its most difficult, particularly as I am supposed to be handling a paint brush at the same time….

Day 3, North Park, Yachats (which isn’t called that anywhere but in Eric’s handouts. But it’s so obvious that misnomer didn’t matter)

JOU, Yachats across the Bay, 24 x 12″, oil on masonite, 2011

I had gone to the Sandgren workshop hoping to deal with the vexed question of painting something more than the framed, monocular perspective, the traditional view of ocean and land. The Yachats painting was my attempt to incorporate larger issues into an ocean painting. It, like the two from the previous day, has a lot of flaws, including serious overworking in the studio. However, it contains all the elements of ambiguous space that I need to do it again, better.

The conditions on Day 3 are the stuff of plein air legend — I had on four layers, a hat and gloves, the wind howled and the rain spat, and it wasn’t until 2 PM that it warmed up enough for me to take off my gloves and undo the top button on my coat. Nevertheless I was pleased to have found one way to work toward capturing the oceanic space as well as the sense of the whole scene as one might view it from various places. Eric’s insistence upon planar composition made sense to me in a way that years of thinking about shapes as a compositional basic never has.

So, while the final products may have been lackluster, my sense of excitement in cementing some ideas that I have circled for years continues. –June