time to let ‘er rip … working over and working out

Have been thoroughly enjoying having two operating studios lately – the one at home for my play with oils and the studio at Fogue Studios and Gallery, where I can let loose with my acrylics and have the added benefit of immediate feedback from my fellow artists with studio space at the gallery. The result is that I am able to fully adventure in both media without overlapping either in palette or in style. My oils are becoming more focused and object-rich and my acrylics are becoming looser – an unexpected development on both fronts.

“Things that have lost their usefulness” – 30″ x 40″, acrylic on canvas

“Things that have lost their usefulness” was a third-time charmer, whose title fell out of a sentence in the biography on Grace Hartigan that I’ve been working through over the past three weeks or so. The book is fascinating as is the subject and I am feeling her spirit flowing right out of the pages – it’s been an empowering experience all the way around.

Cheers.

Advertisements

Finding my groove with the oils

“Prelude to my groove” – 48″ x 48″, oil on canvas

Still finding myself fully immersed in the play of thick oils in semi-abstract, semi-representational application. It’s clearly the ongoing influence of my new crush, Grace Hartigan, on full display, and I couldn’t be more jazzzzzzzed!

Hence, finding my groove in my “Prelude to my groove”, which was realized within a stone’s throw of the arrival of the annual bluegrass festival “Wintergrass” here in Bellevue. Enjoying the vibe and the inspiration.

Now some time for chillin’!

Diving into acrylics in my new studio

Seattle weather today called for major snow, and it didn’t disappoint. Nevertheless I braved the elements to spend my first day enjoying my new studio space at Fogue Studios in the Georgetown area of South Seattle.

The new studio is a well-equipped space of some 185 square feet, complete with shelf space, a fridge, and a sink for cleaning up. I brought in a cozy corner set of upholstered chairs and a side table for sitting and chatting with visiting friends and other artists, and a table for my paints and brushes – although, as it turns out, I need a larger paint table, but that will also be worked out in time.

With the inclement weather just hours away, I wasn’t surprised to find the gallery fairly empty today. Patti Curtis-Hair, our amazing curator and manager, was in as was Tom Gormally, the guest sculptor for the next two months, whose political pieces occupy the featured artist space. Tom was being interviewed for an upcoming article in Real Change News.

Today was the first day that I was able to bring in all my art supplies, canvases, paints, brushes and miscellaneous creature comforts needed in a studio. The quiet was the perfect accompaniment to my first day in the new space. Around 11 a.m., fellow Fogue artist, Kathleen Demosthenes dropped in with her husband and dog Tilly, and the two of us planned a joint studio paint-in for a future date. Kathleen kindly snapped a couple photos of me in full painting mode for the record books. Thanks Kathleen.

By 12:30, the snow was falling fast and heavy and Patti gave the “all hands abandon ship” call to let me know that I should pack it in and head home while the heading home was still possible. So, after clicking a few photos of the day’s work, I cleaned my brushes and threw out the spent paper towels and gloves. All in all, it was the perfect first day in the studio and I am so excited for the days and weeks and months ahead.

And, I have to say, I’m pretty jazzed with the first day’s art play as well. This has to be a good omen for what lies ahead. Cheers all – hope you’re staying warm and dry, wherever you may be.

“Snake charming 101″ – 30″x40”, acrylic on canvas

In February, look for “In the Abstract” – an exhibit of 2-D Abstract Art at Sammamish City Hall from local artists

“Boredom and the new world order” – 48″ x 36″, oil on canvas

Starting on February 1st and running through April 11th, I will be taking part in an exhibition of local abstract artists at the Sammamish City Hall, in Sammamish, Washington. The exhibit will be highlighting the work of four local abstract 2-D artists – Kristy Swanson, Brett Polonsky, Marne Jensen, and myself – who work in a variety of media, including acrylics, oils, encaustics, resin, and alcohol inks.

I am thrilled to have five of my abstracts from the last three years – including “Boredom and the new world order” shown above – included in this show and look forward to seeing them all hung together in an exhibit for the first time. Also among the paintings I will be showing are:

“Sock puppets on parade” – 48″ x 24″, acrylic on canvas

“Back to Basics: 123-ABC” – 24″ x 30″, acrylic on canvas

I appreciate your spirit (aka the contents of my lunchbox) – 24″x24″, acrylic triptych on canvas

“Sequential equations” – 24″x30″, acrylic on canvas

Sammamish City Hall and the show curator will be hosting an artist reception on Thursday, February 28th from 6-8 p.m. If you travels take you in the general direction, please do stop by to say hello and enjoy a glass of wine while viewing some marvelous local abstract art. I hope to see you there.

When the influence of the greats creeps in, just go along for the ride

“Pet projects and the idle rich” – 55″ x 78″, acrylic on canvas

So as some of you may have guessed, my recent romance with the New York abstract expressionist school of the 1940’s and 1950’s followed along with the narration provided by the amazing book “Ninth Street Women” that I finally was able to set aside last week. (That was one satisfying and lonnnnnng read at over 700 pages with footnotes and attributions! Youza!)

Anyway, I had already been captivated by this American-born movement of incredible creative souls which took over the art scene following the Second World War, first in semi-obscurity, and then bursting onto the art stage with a fury in the late 1950’s. Over the past year, I’d waded through a fantastic biography on Willem de Kooning (Willem de Kooning: An American Master), another on Lee Krasner (Lee Krasner: A Biography), and a short book of episodic remembrances on Joan Mitchell (Blue Territory: a Meditation on the Life and Art of Joan Mitchell), all read with increasing enthusiasm. I am now impatiently waiting on a biography on Grace Hartigan – my latest infatuation. And, predictably some might say, my work of late is definitely reflective of the influences of this movement, with my last few pieces evoking the spirit of Hartigan, Elaine de Kooning, and others.

With my most recent work, I had to face Willem de Kooning peeking back at me from my canvas, or at least his spirit in a whirling dervish of a more flamboyant and pasteled palette. It is with more than a bit of self-conscious contentment that I received positive comments from several artist friends who immediately drew the comparison to de Kooning’s singular and monumental piece “Excavation” from 1950.

“Excavation”, Willem de Kooning, 1950

I have long believed that very few artists consciously set out to paint ‘like’ other artists, and yet it is undeniable that influences spill over from one artist to another. And if I have to have influences spilling visibly over into my work, I can’t think of a greater group of artists whose work I would want to have an impact on the artist journey that I am embarked upon. Thank you Willem, thank you Grace, thank you Elaine … I am tickled to find your spirit smiling back at me from my canvases.

Reaching the end of the line, er um … roll

In the last few days, I unrolled the last of my unstretched canvas, stapled it to the studio wall, and dove into my acrylics.

As some of you may know, I have been fairly engrossed with reading Mary Gabriel’s, Ninth Street Women, a brilliantly researched and captivating read on five women artists who came into their own amidst the abstract expressionist heyday of the New York art wave in the 1940-1950’s. My reading has brought me not only to a brand new appreciation of the work of these amazing women – Elaine de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Grace Hartigan, Helen Frankenthaler, and Joan Mitchell, but it has apparently bled directly into the subconscious influences that come to play on the canvas when I pick up my brushes lately.

In my painting, “The story of the five-star hotel gone bad”, I can see the clear line between my oil musings and the large works of Grace Hartigan, whose work I have come to adore recently.

“The story of the five-star hotel gone bad” – 53″ x 55″, oil on canvas

“Broadway restaurant” by Grace Hartigan, oil on canvas, 1957, on view at the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City

In my newest painting, “All I wanted was blueberry jam on toast”, the dynamic movement from the works of Krasner and Mitchell seems to have found its flow through my brushes – and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I don’t believe that most artists consciously seek to imitate or tap into the artistic energy of other artists, and yet it is indisputable – and probably – unavoidable, that we all find ourselves channeling the language of those we admire. And so, I won’t beat myself up too much for any lack of complete originality that these works might exhibit. After all, there is very little in the world of our creation that isn’t built to some degree upon the language and vision of those who came before. Instead, I choose to bask in the joy of having found myself in some deeper communion with these phenomenal women who blazed an artistic trail before me.

“All I wanted was blueberry jam on toast” – 34″ x 54″, acrylic on unstretched canvas

Starting the new year with a large oil on linen

“My heart’s deserted me” – 60″ x 30″, oil on linen

The new year starts off with a bit of a return to an older painting style and a kick off in a new direction at the same time.

My darling husband surprised me with a beautiful, solid and large new easel that was the perfect way to dive into paitning a special 60″ x 30″, gallery-wrapped linen canvas that I’ve been holding in my storage closet. And so I did.

Linen feels very different from cotton canvas. First off, it’s finer. Secondly, because it’s finer (perhaps) it is also more pliable – it moves under the brush. At first I was a bit leery of this as I had this thought that my forceful strokes would break the canvas – I do get a bit carried away at times. But after a few initial passes, I realized that I wasn’t in immediate danger of punching through the linen and so I eased into the process a bit more.

the opening oil salvo on my linen canvas

The beginning, while tentative, seemed to be heading in the direction of one of my older oil flow pieces. Oil lends itself so easily to the flow style as it blends without hesitation when wet and I am not the most careful brush cleaner between colors when I’m in the zone. But, I really am not interested in retracing old steps at this point, and so I knew I’d either wash the piece entirely or force it into a less flat and flowing direction.

I let the oils set just long enough to become tacky, so that I could paint over them without simply washing the under paint into the higher level colors.

Phase two and the image takes shape

The initial deep green splotch at the upper end of the canvas had been bothering me and in taking that out of the mix, the beginnings of the story started to reveal themselves. I tend to avoid anything that is too suggestive of representational work as I am so seldom satisfied with my efforts in a representational direction. But, this painting lent itself too well to a more representational abstraction, and as I am finding myself completely taken by the work of Grace Hartigan at the moment, and she was one of the pioneers in the movement among abstract expressionists to incorporate representational elements into her abstractions, it seems entirely fitting that this painting would head in that direction as well.

And oddly, even as I’m moving forward, I see traces of where I’ve been in this painting … I only need to look back at two smaller pieces I did a few years back, “I keep your heart in my pocket” and “Origami”.

“I keep your heart in my back pocket”

“Origami”


It’s fascinating to me how one evolves and builds on what has come before.

Happy 2019!