Monday, June 11, 2012

Works for Summer

It's been a long time since I posted here... things have gone on that have kept me away from most of what I want to do, for quite some time now. I have not been able to use my studio; it's not really even a studio yet - just an unheated cabin up in the hill. My woodstove broke, so I can't use the space in the winter, and in the winter have to evacuate any art supplies that might be spoiled by freezing - paints, gesso, inks, etc. My easels, canvases and brushes stay up there, with no room to set up in the house. It was another long winter...although this winteracted more like a perpetual March than the cold, snowy season we expect and need.

Anyway..... last summer I entered the South Burlington Art Hop, with one piece in the general exhibition, and one entered for consideration to the juried show. "Nectarines on a Green Cloth" went into the open show.

"Nectarines on a Green Cloth"
Oil Pastel on Bristol Paper
This is an oil pastel, which I worked on for quite some time. I love working with oil pastel, never having had much of a hand for soft pastel. When I use the soft variety, I always end up with more color on my hands than on the paper, and make muddy smudges, and in general make a mess of things. Oil pastels are more natural for me, and I love the richness of the color, and the buttery feel as they go onto the paper. I have a good set, too - a Rembrandt 36-color set. I even like the way they smell; though to most people they smell like kerosene or even diesel, I think they have a pleasant odor. (I like the scent of turpentine, too.)

The painting I put up for the juried show was as different from "Nectarines" as could be. This is "Walking With Nick"...I don't think I will tell the story behind the title, just to add a little mystery to it.

"Walking With Nick"
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
"Nick" is an acrylic, done mainly in 2 colors - Payne's Gray and Titanium White. I actually began this painting 3 years before it was finished, then set it aside, less than half-finished, until early last June, when I pulled it out of storage and suddenly HAD to finish it. The background is comprised of Payne's Gray, Titanium White and a touch of Ultramarine Blue, to differentiate it just enough from the circular elements.

The Art Hop juried show was run differently in 2011 than it had been before. In previous shows, anyone and his dog could put a piece of artwork in the juried show, and the the jury would select the "winners" and the Honorable Mentions. My 2008 entry, a pen and ink titled "Orcutt Flats", was an Honorable Mention, which I thought was pretty cool. last year, however, artists were required to submit digital images of the pieces they wanted to be juried, and the juror (only one last year) would pick the ones she thought merited inclusion in the show. No winners or runners-up - just a more exclusive show.

Knowing the new jury process, I didn't think "Walking With Nick" had much of a chance. I know that there are hundreds of really good artists who submitted works to be juried, and I didn't think my little B&W abstract would make the cut. But I received notice that "Nick" was one of only 45 works that the juror selected. I was so thrilled! Very proud.

I want to start work on entries for this summer's show. I have a drawing I completed after Tropical Storm Irene ripped the middle out of Vermont; a graphite drawing of a landscape, half-naturalistic and half-abstract, depicting how our rivers became alien monsters that terrible day. That one I do want to enter into the show.

Last summer, while wandering around the Champlain islands, Ber and I were caught in some breathtaking thunderstorms. I took pictures of the clouds - towering, silver thunderheads, low, ominous wall clouds, charcoal-gray cumulus clouds with gilt edges - as the lines of storms built and crashed and built up again. The weather was thrilling that day, to be sure. Some of the photos I took would make impressive paintings. I will have to do some hand, not Photoshop. I don't know enough about Photoshop to do what I have in mind. I want to convey the heat of the day, the energy and power of the storms, and the sense of vulnerability that storms like that impart.

There is another photo I took down on the Winhall River, about a week after the two storms - Irene and the deluge five days later that caused an even bigger localized flood. The river was unrecognizable, its banks mangled, its bed scoured and transformed. Trees and other greenery had been ripped away, and new gravel beds and sandbars had appeared, altering the course of the river. Many of the sandbars had deep, hard patches of compacted, sandy silt, carved and furrowed with ripples by the water. Many of these silt patches look like fingertip ridges - the very fingerprint of the storm.

I took a photo of one of these furrowed silt-patches, where the course of the flow is evident in the pattern of the ripples. the tip of a stone shows on one spot, and a twig from a willow tree is pressed into the soil. I want to paint this.

I have taken a week off work with the express intent of working on paintings. It remains to be seen whether I get to. I got a start on one today, but didn't get to start until nearly 4pm, so have not got much done. I have to go in and eat supper, and that'll put an end to the day. The light is not good enough to keep working today. If I am fortunate, I will be able to put in several hours tomorrow. I am crossing my fingers.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

PapergirlSF Art

These are images of the 6 pieces I sent to PapergirlSF - mailed them at 2pm today, and hope they get there on time!

These are the first 6 of my "Cells" series.

Cells #1 - Motion
#2 graphite pencil on Strathmore 400 natural paper, 11"x14"

"Cells #1 - Motion" was an experiment; I had intended to shade the individual cells to give it a "cobblestone", 3-dimensional look, but instead was intrigued by the fluidity of the lines - how the undulations draw the eye back and forth.

Cells #2 - Hopscotch
#2 Graphite Pencil on Strathmore 400 Natural paper, 11"x14"

"Cells #2 - Hopscotch" came about after trying to describe to a friend the childhood game of Spiral Hopscotch. When I showed this drawing to him, he said it reminded him of the stones set in rings around ornamental trees planted in the sidewalk.

Cells #3
#2 Graphite pencil on Strathmore 400 Natural paper, 11"x14"

"Cells #3" was my first experiment using the "cells" with negative space, and my first experiment with weaving the lines - interlacing the longer lines with the circular elements. To my eye this gives the work more visual depth.

Cells #4
#2 Graphite Pencil on Strathmore 400 Natural paper, 11"x14"

With "Cells #4" I put in some long filament-like lines that intersected at a few points, breaking the field up into sections of uneven sizes and shapes. These sections I filled with swirling lines, and then shaded the long intersecting filaments to keep them from getting lost in the visual storm.

Cells #5 - Waiting for Word
#1 Graphite Pencil on Strathmore 400 Natural paper, 8"x10"

"Cells #5 - Waiting for Word" is a bit of a departure; it is done on smaller paper, and I went back to weaving the lines in one section, while using the spiral elements again. I also used a softer pencil. The title for this piece derives from the fact that I completed a large section of it while in a hospital waiting room with my sister, while her husband was in the ER.

Cells #6 - Earl and Fiona
#1 Graphite Pencil on Strathmore 400 Natural paper, 8"x10"

"Cells #6" derives its subtitle - "Earl and Fiona" - from the pair of hurricanes that were active in the Atlantic at the time I was working on the drawing. While I did not consciously set out to depict the storms, the dual cyclone images - one neater, the other a little lopsided - do in a general way reflect the two hurricanes, one of which (Earl) was tightly wound and strong, the other (Fiona) never really was well-formed. This drawing also features a lot of interwoven elements.

When I first thought of contributing these pieces to PapergirlSF, I thought it would be good to copy the drawings and add some color - multi:

...or monochromatic, as in browns...

...or grays...

But as I worked on these variations, I found that the pieces looked better to me as black and white. I have started work on a seventh "Cells" drawing; I will post an image of that at a later date.

First of many, I hope

I am contributing some artwork to PapergirlSF ( this week, an art event in San Francisco about which my friend Tony told me. Anyone, anywhere, can send in any art - paintings, drawings, writing, magazines, poetry, even textiles and unframed canvases - as long as it can be rolled up like a newspaper. Volunteers then package the art, mixing the pieces sent by the various contributors, and roll them up in bundles, and hand them out to random people in San Francisco. It's a free distribution of art of many kinds. Some will be appreciated, kept and collected; some will wind up in the trash, or blowing lazily along the dusty city streets.

I am contributing copies of some of my abstract pencil drawings - meditative designs I call "Cells", because they were originally inspired by microphotographs of plant cells. A fellow who saw the drawings yesterday said they looked like paving stones; I have been told they'd make good mosaics or even stained glass designs (if scaled up considerably).

I hope to start an Artspan account in the near future, when I have a chance to take decent photos of my works; in the meantime, this blog will serve as my temporary online gallery. Later today I will post photos of the drawings I am sending to PapergirlSF.