Attached to the Vine

she found her way

A page in my art journal..moleskine watercolor journal.  Layers of collage including vintage text, and snippets of paper.  I remember exactly where I was when I created this page, a little casita in Taos, NM.  After a day of painting in a workshop with Gwen Fox, one of my favorite mentors, I came back to the casita and began playing in my art journal.  There is something magical about the light in Taos, it is different than any other place.  It is no wonder why so many artists love going to NM and discovering for themselves what it is all about.  I know I do!  “She found her way” was my response to the workshop and new things I learned about painting.  Each brushstroke of color and how it is placed on a page is an expression, unique to a moment in time.  I was thrilled this page was published in Art Journal magazine, one of Somerset Studios publications.  The beauty of art journaling is the freedom it gives us to explore, play, paint, and be ourselves on a page.  To enjoy mark making, writing words describing our thoughts, painting with the colors we love, accessing our creative expression readily are all the reasons art journaling is so popular.  See for yourself and join me for a class in February 2018!  “A101”  at Bemis Art School – Fine Arts Center – Colorado College.  www.coloradocollege.edu/fac

 

Expressive Florals Re-Cap

Student work from my Expressive Florals class.  Close up of blossoms painted with bold brush strokes, and texture.

The first layer was clear tar gel, applied loosely across a blank white canvas.  You can see slight traces of it in this photograph of a student’s painting.

I taught the class in the painting studio of the historical Bemis Art School at the Fine Arts Center at Colorado College.  You can see the top of the FAC in the window.  Lots of space, individual easels and natural light made for the perfect setting.

Before we start painting, several weeks are spent warming up to the shapes of blossoms.  This exercise was done in an art journal; layers of text, paint glazing, patterned tissues and then completed by painting a flower as the finishing touch.

Each student has a personal style.  As an instructor I aim to encourage discovery and allow a student to develop their unique creative expression.  Each of us is wired with creative intuition, we just need to learn to trust it.  This only occurs by actively engaging our creative muscle.  My class, Expressive Florals is a safe place for students to discover their creative language.  It does take time, but just look at these amazing paintings, some students had never painted before!  When there is no pressure, or focus on perfection, we find our natural FLOW.  And when we move out of our comfort zone…that is when the magic happens.

Text can create a lovely layer in an expressive floral painting.  Take a look at what his student created.  She hand wrote meaningful words on a piece of thin drafting paper and added it as a layer.  It was a beautiful and bold addition to her painting.

To start with a blank canvas can be intimidating no matter how long you have been painting.  With the first layer of tar gel, then a light blue grey underpainting, the canvas is no longer blank.  We also add big blocks of neutral color, and then sketch the blossom image with charcoal on the canvas.  This helps break the ice and eases the pressure of beginning the painting.  Also several weeks of fun and useful warm up exercises in the art journal help set the stage for a successful painting.

 

Pushing and pulling color is part of the process.  In other words, darkening and lightening areas to create pops of color.  Expressive painting is a “loose” process, quite different than a botanical painting or the wonderful floral still life paintings of the Dutch Masters.  In my class we paint from photographs, and also I bring in fresh flowers for inspiration.  We are not trying to paint every nuance of the blossom in Expressive Florals.  It is more about expression, brush strokes that come natural and interpreting the blossom in a personal way.

Stencils….yes!  I love to encourage the use of stencils, a serendipitous layer that adds interest but does not detract from the florals.

My demo painting from a magazine photograph.

Please join me for Expressive Florals (A 41).  Next class starts 3/1/18 to 4/12/18, Thursdays, 10-12pm.  Register at Bemis Art School at Fine Arts Center at Colorado College.

coloradocollege.edu/fac

Bemis@coloradocollege.edu

Hope to see you in class!!!  And even if you have taken it already, come back again, there is always a new expression waiting to be discovered.

Ghost Ranch, NM

It was a “girls get away week-end” and we arrived in the early evening, after spending the day soaking in the mineral waters at Ojo Caliente.  My friend Pam and I just wanted to have some quiet time, away from our normal life routines, and experience the wide open spaces of Ghost Ranch.  The roads from Ojo to the ranch were winding and everywhere the scenery beckoned a closer look.  “…The skies and land are so enormous, and the detail so precise and exquisite that wherever you are, you are isolated in a glowing world between the macro and the micro.”  -Ansel Adams

This was our room, up on the mesa.  At night the quiet was thunderous, a roaring silence unlike anywhere I had ever been.  Not a dog barking or even a cricket could be heard…it was a quiet to contemplate, no noise of any sort, a quiet to allow into the soul and think back upon when life roars all around.  I wanted to save it in a jar, like the lightning bugs we caught as kids, and open it up when I needed a dose of Ghost Ranch!

It was Georgia O’Keeffe’s backyard where she spent years painting and living in this remote land.  I am so captivated by her lifestyle, her art, and the dedication she pursued in painting.  She had a vision, and was true to herself.  The world interpreted her work through their paradigms… she did not intervene or acquiesce to their interpretation.  She remained in her own flow and personal truth.  I read that from the first time she came to New Mexico she stated, “I loved it immediately…from then on I was always on my way back.”

Behold the cerulean blue skies!!

The vast spaces and landscape are beautiful, so many vistas to capture with my camera.

“From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; From his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth – he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.” Ps 33:13-15

Located in a small rustic adobe casita, the Ghost Ranch library is a special place.  Filled with books from floor to ceiling on a variety of subjects, open 24 hours a day, an original card catalog system for keeping track of books which you check out on the honor system, it is a place for seekers.  I am drawn to books and libraries and always seem to find just what I am looking for even though it is serendipitous!  Naturally I discovered an amazing book in this quaint place and wrote down many quotes in my journal. 

“The painting is like a thread that runs through all the reasons for the other things that make one’s life.”  Georgia O’Keeffee

This is how she lived….this is how I want to live.

Ghost Ranch is filled with many gifts.  A place for creativity, reflection, discovery, and contemplation.  There is something sacred about it, not in the religious sense, rather in a raw, unaltered, perfect sense.  I think that is what I found most attractive and perfect.  It is simple. Adobe architecture accompanies the landscape and does not draw attention to itself. It is a place for subtle transformation, quiet reflection, conversations and making art, prayer and laughter, and discovery that can only take place when we step back and open our eyes.

A place I am on my way back to. 

If you like the western landscape and Ms. O’Keeffe’s work, put Ghost Ranch on your bucket list, it surely will not disappoint.

Cherish

art journal page

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Vines and Flowers

mixed media painting

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Art Journal pages

 

Each page tells a little story…reflects a mood….or an inclination….or takes a scrap and makes it new…a bag from a purchase turns into a she dots page….something leftover from a class I taught becomes a she loves page….a clean up wipe becomes part of a cherish the moment page…a new feather stencil becomes the star of a collaged page….discover the beauty of keeping an art journal…try it…I guarantee you will like it!

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Painting “Ingenue”

Take a peek at how “Ingenue” came to life…

My process for “Ingenue” started with an underpainting of clear tar gel and expressive brushstrokes of acrylic paint.  This is truly an intuitive process and I love to paint blocks of color in a pattern.  I also think about analogous and complementary placement of color and let the drips fall in a random fashion.  I particularly like the organic nature of clear tar gel and this application gives just the right texture. The substrate is a 12 x 12 x 1.5  gallery wrapped canvas.

Painting the figure always requires careful observation of proportion.  Though this is an abstract expressive painting I did want the proportions to be correct.  It took me quite a bit of time to iron out some of kinks and I went back and forth on her body type, shape of her torso, and legs.  I loved her stance.  She is ready for what is next…and as the artist, I really had to let her lead the way.  With this type of painting, I did not have a photo for reference since it comes from my imagination.  I rely on letting the painting process bring the image to life.  At times it can be enormously frustrating and I recall many hours of painting and re-painting to get it just right.  At one point I had made a change that was totally wrong and it threw me into a tailspin of emotion.  I pushed forward, changing shapes, pushing and pulling the image to where she needed to be.  This is the agony and ecstasy of being a creative.  It is not an easy process but each time a break through happens I feel the painting achieves a greater depth of expression.

The background always presents a challenge for me.  I love pattern, design and am striving toward the balance of just enough.  At this point I have framed the image and let the square canvas shape dictate my placement of color.  I was not liking this look, too boxed in, too predictable.  Also her short hair was not working.  The vibrant color on her body was good.  I loved the pieces of underpainting that appeared when the negative space is painted and the figure defined.  Still…she is pushing me toward something more.

Quite a bit more!  After seeing Diana Krall in concert at Red Rocks I was inspired to give “Ingenue” longer hair.  During the concert, a slight breeze kept swishing through Diana’s hair.  The movement caused an almost ethereal atmosphere on the stage. Diana kept tossing her head to keep her hair away from her face, it was so beautiful, simple and sensual.  I came home and immediately changed “Ingenue” and gave her hair new dimension.  As I pushed and pulled color, I noticed how the clear tar gel became more evident in the background and I liked seeing it as part of the design. Pops of color around the edges helped to unify the painting and invite a lingering view.  The little surprises of design around the image require a closer look and are part of my signature expression.  “Ingenue” was painted specifically for the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Gala silent auction.

She developed slowly…like a Polaroid photo.  She is engaged, complex, and bold.  Her eyes are covered because she cannot see into the future.  Yet she is eager to step out into the world and make a difference.  Her story is our story…

The Gala was a wonderful success!  “Ingenue” made her debut with over 70 paintings from brilliant and talented artists from the Pikes Peak region.  She was purchased during the silent auction by a patron of the arts.  Someone who has an appreciation for handcrafted works and thankfully someone who likes my style.  As an up and coming artist  I am honored and deeply appreciative “Ingenue” has a new home and can bring joy to those who enter into her presence.  May her story continue to inspire!

Just Imagine

The possibilities for finding our creative voices are endless.  With paint splashed across a page in my art journal, (extra palette paint always finds a way onto a blank page) waiting for something to happen, the process begins.  Usually there is not a plan, at least for me it works that way.  I let the paint, wherever it has been brushed onto the page and the color be my guide.  It is amazing how something so simple can be so much fun and work our creative muscle too.  By starting a page with utter abandon I feel free to paint from an intuitive place.  I think that is why so many of us are drawn to art journaling, we are keenly aware of how making pages enables us to TRUST our unique, one-of-kind, beautiful creative intuition.  This page started with Quin. gold paint, and Pthalo turquoise, layers of text from a  vintage encyclopedia, a rectangle piece from a larger painting that failed, a floral drawing, a couple of stencils and stickers, acrylic glazes and then journaling with a paint pen.  When I look at this page I remember how it felt to let my imagination run free and to let the art just flow.  Learning to trust our creative intuition is the first step to becoming authentic with our work.  Indeed, the tools of the trade such as drawing skills, composition, value, and color are vital…there is no way to side step those skills.  Creative intuition that is cultivated and worked and trusted combined with an understanding of the “must haves” is what makes us whole.  When I look back over history and see the masterpieces of Matisse, O’Keeffe, Monet, and Picasso, each one is so different.  It truly is a visual array of imagery, each one with a different voice, yet trusting what they know to be “theirs” as right, and enough.  I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get stuck right there in a place when I start asking myself is this okay?  Is my art good enough?  Is it unique enough?  How am I going to stand out among the crowd of talented artists and let me just say right here, there are A LOT of talented people in the world!!!  When that starts happening I remind myself to enjoy the process, keep learning, experimenting, doing what I love, read inspiring blogs, stay true to my creative intuition, create more pages in my art journal, and pray.  Before long, I am back at it, having fun, painting, playing, and onto my next art piece.  How do you move over these little bumps in the road on this artistic journey?  Please let me know, and as always….be true to you.

Art Show at Fine Arts Center

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The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center

 

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DSC_0003The Permanent Collection has some beautiful pieces by Dale Chihuly

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The Native American Collection is extensive also..DSC_0015

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And there is a portrait of General Palmer’s daughter painted by the one and only John Singer Sargent.

Arthur Dove’s Foghorn is part of the permanent collection.  He was pals with Georgia O’Keeffe.

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The Bemis Art School Gallery is currently featuring an Instructor show and that is where I come in.  I am so honored to have several of my paintings on display in the Fine Arts Center in the company of other talented instructors.

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TA-DA…here is my  “Land Secrets” and “Mixed Messages”, mixed media paintings.

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A glimpse of the gallery which is on the second floor of the museum.

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Paintings and ceramic pieces by fellow instructors.

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I am literally over the moon to have several of my paintings on display during this show and for them to be in the same building with the likes of those artists I have mentioned and others such as Gustave Baumann, Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams is just plain WOW!!! It is a highlight of my adventure as a creative and a once in a lifetime event.  The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center has been purchased by Colorado College and the future is sure to be exciting and at the same time uncertain.  But at this moment in time I am thrilled with the opportunity to have my paintings on display and look forward to the next chapter of this amazing place. 

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The building is magnificent.  Alice Bemis Taylor, philanthropist and patron of the art complex, chose John Gaw Meem as the architect and it was his crowning achievement.  It was completed in 1936 and for its outstanding design Meem received the silver medal from the Fifth Pan American Congress of Architecture. The Fine Arts Center and The Bemis School of Art, which is housed on the north side of the building, is a jewel for my hometown.  I am over-the-moon ecstatic to have my paintings hanging on the wall of the Fine Arts Center, it is more than a dream come true…literally beyond anything I could have imagined.  Having spent most of my adult life in Colorado Springs, attended numerous exhibitions at the Fine Arts Center, taken classes at Bemis as a child, then later as an adult, taken classes together with my children, taught classes to youth and adults as a Bemis Instructor, it is indeed a rare privilege to be entwined with this institution.  If your travels bring you this way or if you are local, please stop by the Fine Arts Center and see for yourself this incredible arts complex.  And be sure to take a peek at the Bemis Gallery on the second floor where you will be see pieces by folks like me! The show runs until March 13, 2017.

Wings

 

butterflyThis piece has been accepted in the Manitou Springs Commonwheel Artists Co-op show entitled  Recycled Art.   The stubstrate is a vintage piece of sheet music.  When the pages are closed, the title of the music Forest Sketches is visible, when opened the mixed media of Wings appears.  There is a story behind this piece of music!  While poking around an estate sale in Denver I discovered a stack of vintage sheet music and also learned about a woman named Lois.  She had been one of the first medical missionaries to China in the early 1900’s.  Her hands had played this musical piece  as well as skillfully healed the sick.  She was a true ministering angel!  I used a Cathedral themed stencil with acrylic inks and paints as the first layer.  With white acrylic ink I drew the angel and added hand painted pieces of paper as wings.  Words are written on top of the wing and also  around the angel.  The opening reception for the show is October 21 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.  If you are in the neighborhood please stop by and say hello.  To enter a piece in the show, it has to be for sale.  I was reluctant to enter this piece because I love it so much.  Time will tell if someone else loves it too!!!