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Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

In the last six months, I have painted the same canvas numerous times, to reflect on my feelings during this Global Pandemic. It is an old, used canvas that I purchased at Goodwill for a couple of dollars. In the beginning, I painted the entire canvas white with Gesso and then began to use my oils to describe how I feel.

It all started with a celebratory painting filled with color and exploding with light, when things were looking good, the first major surge of COVID illness subsiding,  people standing in long lines to get vaccinated, distances softening and it looked as though the pandemic was coming to a conclusion….but

Early Sunrise

It followed with a shift in color and emphasis based on the fact that there was a significant portion of the population refusing to be vaccinated even when vaccines were offered for free. Ironically, there are numerous individuals in other places eager to be vaccinated, without any access to vaccinations at all. The blues began settling in.

The Blues

Pausing with bright colors to consider whether the fog will ever lift, whether we will ever make it to the other side of this global pandemic, whether it might be better to soften colors and expectations even further.

Fog Settles In

Gliding softly into sadness about what would happens next, darker blues, softer light, yet still appreciating the silence of ever shifting remoteness.

Night of Darkness

Stuck in gloom as reality hits hard, floating in dark waters, far away from realizing the end of the pandemic. Many more lives are unnecessarily lost, years of schooling missed, food sources cut short, distribution systems weakened, life expectancies shortened, quality of living amended again, even farther, bending to the severe isolation and rapid surge of hospitalizations and deaths, mostly of the unvaccinated, during the pandemic.

Doomed

Hope is lost, the painting reflects on shapeless darkness. In some ways, this particular painting was very satisfying, as I lost myself in the darkness covering the entire canvas in dark blacks, reds and blues.

Then, the painting returns to shape and form, but this time, without much sentimentality. This time, it is based on the assumption that life is short, and that today is all there is.

My conclusion? Any painting we may do about this pandemic is true to life, each varied color and mood may be augmented for differential emphasis on our interpretation as to how things are going.

Not a Chance, But Life is Short

These are my ups and downs of painting during a global pandemic.

I hope that you enjoyed this reading these short notes on painting my way through pandemic blues and may consider sharing your own experiences on this notably historical event as well.

We may no longer write long paper letters, but we do know how to blog our way through tough times.

What’s your story?

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A big part of the enjoyment of art for me, is playing with ideas.

Front yard in moonlight, Abaco, personal photo
Edited version, more focused on light

Interpreted scene, oils
Interpreted scene, ink
Interpreted scene, Water color
Personal Photo of our front yard, Abacos

Do I go forward with an oil painting of this, with more vivid colors?

Or should I play with something even more abstract?

What will be gained from taking this to a different concept of artistic thought?

Will anything be learned about its value as a setting?

If I do take such a leap, how can I add to the idea of luminescence?

What is it that lures artists to repeat paintings, differently?

Perhaps life, itself?

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Winter Bridge

Winter Bridge, Oil Painting, 12″ x 16″ birchwood canvas

Here she is, my winter bridge painting. She has gone through a number of transitions, on her way to becoming. Now that she is here, I cannot imagine how she looked before.

I wanted the sky and water to mingle and reflect in this painting.. And I wished the Winter Bridge painting would highlight the Willamette River’s natural beauty while staying real to the sight of industrial pressures that such city rivers also bear.

I hope the viewer enjoys the sky, soft background hills the river flow and water reflections. I also hope the viewer considers the port side, the big buildings, the ominous boats that cover up the natural ridge of this beautiful river, dominating a once pristine cove.

May we never forget how this river flows so naturally under the bridge, the left bank tucked into trees and soft sky. And may we also remain concerned when we see that it flows on the other side, past the industrial messes we make.

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Our Front Garden, July 2021

Part of the beauty of gardens are all the hiding places for baby birds who can’t yet fly, for small animals seeking safety while nibbling at low greenery, protecting busy bees and butterflies settling into cooler places during the hottest part of the day. I find when painting these darker places, that they point like arrows to colorful flowers, often contrasting the showers of light that shoot carefree through grasses, and sometimes pointing straight up to daisies announcing, “over here”, “over here” to thirsty birds in need of the bird bath.

This is an oil painting on canvas, 20″ x 24″. My husband asked for the painting before I even took it off the easel in my art studio. I think that he likes it.

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Landscapes we paint, no matter how big or small, are wondrous moments witnessed through our abstraction.

When thought of this way, there is nothing real about a landscape, other than the fact that light is shifting, objects are reflecting and atmosphere hovering, and we experience constant movement of ideas and thought, while traveling through these variable, natural compositions.

Nature is for painters, our most wild and beautiful challenge. Lucky for us, nature is everything, and we have many opportunities to paint, to write, or simply observe its amazing show.

There is no right or wrong painting or poem as all abstractions are personal.

Knowing this, brings freedom of our own thoughts and choices of shifting moments we remember.

Watercolor

Oils

Oil

Watercolor

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The Bird Won

Alone, oil painting

It wasn’t so long ago, but almost forever and a day, before the sun fully lifted into the sky.

The light broke, and now Freely into Blues.

Together alone

Variations of the same oil painting while playing with glazing and color mixing on birch wood.

Oil painting variations were completed during the period of time that I participated in an art class called Painting on the Edge taught by Michael Orwick, offered through the Oregon Society of Artists.

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There are people whom I carry with me, in my head and my heart.  I am finding the time, through my paintings, to bring them back into view.

Street children  have lingered in my memory for decades.  In this case, I recollect two boys playing cards on a heavily utilized footpath near the dhobi ghats where their parents were working as laundry washers, on the streets of Mumbai, India. I call this painted moment, “Unity.

I took notes describing the scene.

“The boys play their game as though they are alone. Yet, in fact, they are surrounded by people swiftly walking past them. The boy’s feet touch, defining their play area. The sidewalk patterns mimic the shape of their feet and legs, further symbolizing the boys’ sense of land ownership and unity.”

Personal notes
“Unity”, Oil painting

I took a quick photo of the people walking nearby.

Walking area, personal photo

Most likely, the children’s parents were working in the dhobi ghats where laundry workers wash and dry clothing. The urban work space looks like this.

Personal photo of Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat area, Mumbai, India

Each laundry washer, or dhobi, has a small area to work from where clothing and bedding are washed and hung them out to dry.

Clothing drying on lines, Mumbai, India, personal photo

Children are around the scene, and on the streets, as many of their living arrangements are very nearby. In some cases, children are living on the sides of streets, with family members, some under difficult conditions.

Children living on the streets of Mumbai, India, personal photo
Home of mother and son, on the side of a busy street, Mumbai, India, personal photo

Cars and trucks hurriedly stream by some of these tiny home shelters.

Street shelters, Mumbai, India, personal photo

Successfully capturing the surrounding light and colors, depicting the boys’ levels of intimacy, illuminating their likely concerning situation and yet at the same time, highlighting the strength and endurance of these children, abstractly, is the challenge for this painting.

Work developing ideas for this oil painting are showing in an earlier blog, here. This oil painting has been completed during the period of time that I have been taking the art class called Painting on the Edge taught by Michael Orwick, offered through the Oregon Society of Artists.

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Somewhere between the art of tonalism and luminism is a painting of all the colors seen on the horizon at the moment of sunrise. It depicts the time when a night-darkened horizon line breaks loose from the underground with bright light. Colors go from soft grey to white streams of light that allow colors to jettison through the atmosphere, bouncing onto the grounds and waters below.

It is a moment of rainbow color craziness, lasting only a few seconds before the plain morning light breaks, leaving the simpler blues and yellows of breakfast sunshine.

An en plein air painter might have 10 seconds to observe the shifting array of sunrise colors.

Photography and painting alter it, limited by the technology, techniques and mechanisms used to depict it.

I call this painting, Alone Together.

These sketches were completed during the period of time that I have been taking the art class called Painting on the Edge taught by Michael Orwick, offered through the Oregon Society of Artists.

Alone Together, oil painting

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These sketches are notes prepared for planning a future painting.  In the process, I  play with brush marks and edges on cardboard, first in black and white and then adding some more abstract color perspectives. 

I am thinking about a simple painting of a person and a bird on an ocean beach, and am wondering what direction to take. 

Where should the person and the bird be positioned?  Should their lines be hard edged and realistic or might these objects be better depicted in a more  abstract and reflective way?  Should they stand out and burst with color or be more tonal in nature, positioning themselves smoothly between water, sky and beach?  When and where should the sky, and the water erupt into being?  How does light run through this?

These sketches on cardboard are for me, a form of meditation.

They are a kind of warm up where I roam about the gessoed cardboard with ink, some acrylic and finally oils, while playing with shapes and soft edges, varying the texture to see what affect it has on the person and the bird.

Person and Bird, Acrylic on cardboard

How important is this bird?

Water Bird, acrylic on cardboard

What about reflections, and of what?

Water bird with reflection I, acrylic on cardboard

Playing with water reflections and edges.

Water Bird with Reflection II, more abstract, acrylic on cardboard

Let’s try mixing it up a little, who has the sharp edges and who is soft and fuzzy?

Sketches for future painting called Alone Together, acrylic on cardboard

A person and bird on an ocean beach, with greater emphasis on the bird.

How complex should the textures be when sketching the bird and person? How about varying brush strokes and types of edges and how these variations create differential emphases on the sky, beach and ocean? How much color should I add?

There are five parts to this simple painting: bird, person, waves, beach, sky, However, this bird seems to be taking over.

Person and Water Bird, (oil paint on cardboard)

Shifting to color when thinking about the horizon and light, I paint some potential perspectives on the background.

Abstract I, Oils on cardboard, hard horizon
Abstract II, oil paint on cardboard, soft horizon

How to depict with horizontal lines, those beautiful shifts in color, the blended statuses that occur, between sky and the imagined ocean horizon; repeated when ocean waves become still waters and beach sand?

Abstract III Oil Painting on Cardboard

And how would it look if it all turned out in blues?

Abstract IV, oil paint on cardboard, lines upon lines

These are early thoughts about edges and brushwork that I might use while preparing a future oil painting of a person and a bird, positioned on the soft and often merged horizontal lines between water, beach and sky.

Time will tell how this all turns out.

These sketches were completed during the period of time that I have been taking the art class called Painting on the Edge taught by Michael Orwick, offered through the Oregon Society of Artists.

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Calligraphic messages seem to be everywhere in nature. They emerge from our natural surroundings and are etched into our consciousness.

By referring to “nature’s calligraphy”, I refer to a form of art that is inspired by nature, yet looks like handwriting or calligraphy, and has artistic implications that go beyond the written word.

Sauvie Island Calligraphy, oil painting on birch wood

How do I ever know what to paint when standing in such beautiful natural scenery? Where does land end and water begin? What color is the in-between?

I know by my feelings when to start painting. I will sense when that moment is here.

It is when my eyes stop at a point, where I ponder what I see, where I wonder how this place even exists it is so ephemeral. Then it is time to paint.

This quiet moment is in March and occurs while walking off-road at Sauvie Island, near Portland, Oregon We are standing in a field, looking at almost still waters. The scrub bushes and small trees on the other side of the pond are sending what looks like a calligraphic message, punctuated by clouds.

It is our first time out in a long time, owing to COVID constraints. This is also a global pandemic moment for us, an outing free of other people, social-distancing not required.

There is no noise, but for soft sounds of birds. It is a perfect moment.

It is now a painted moment.

In my mind’s eye, I see this same scene in another way, as calligraphy.

I plan to paint this again, but in a much wilder, simpler way, via the style of a notan.

The above painting was completed during the period of time that I have been taking the art classes of Michael Orwick, offered by the Oregon Society of Artists.

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