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Posts Tagged ‘Oregon Society of Artists’

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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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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When I was a child, some of the first things I thought to draw were pictures of the sky. It would seem that clouds were the easiest thing to draw in the world. I took my crayon, put up a white oblong shape, perhaps with the yellow sun peeking out, and was done. Voila! I had painted a cloud.

Clouds over Water, oil painting

Now that I am an adult, painting clouds as part of a painting exercise for an art course, I am amazed how elusive, expressive and complicated they are. Where does a cloud begin, and when does it end? How does the sky manage to peek through the clouds in such soft and unimaginably subtle ways? Do I ever really paint a cloud, or rather an allusion to one?

The more I paint them, the more amazed I am with the ephemeral nature of clouds.

Clouds over Island Sunrise, Oil painting

It is a challenge to use less and less color in a painting, yet still have the colors of the atmosphere roaring through, bouncing everywhere, not respecting boundaries. I think this happens often because of our focus on light streams and reflection, in addition to shape.

This seems to be true, even when painting clouds from the light of the moon.

Clouds in Moon Light, Oil Painting
Clouds in Moon Light, Water Color, Ink and Gesso

Now that this idea of painting clouds has become part of my daily art routine, I expect to see many new ways to relate to them with canvas, brushes and paint. Once discovered, never forgotten.

The above paintings were completed this year, during the period of time that I have been taking the art classes of Michael Orwick, offered through the Oregon Society of Artists.

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My Collage

Recently, I took a challenging course offered by the Oregon Society of Artists via Zoom called Mind Boggling – 2D Collage offered by Poca Kim. The strategy of the art course is to learn how to take an artist’s earlier paintings and artwork and make them into new art by cutting them up and designing a collage. Poca Kim brings excitement and humor into the room while she works with us to develop our collages.

For the class, I chose to cut up several watercolors of nature scenes that I had completed and then reshaped them into a collage of a child playing an instrument.

I chose this theme for my collage because owing to the coronavirus pandemic, children are staying home. School is often canceled, or attended only on-line. Children’s play is built around what they can find in their homes to play with, as they cannot play with others so easily owing to social-distancing. I wanted to build a collage based on this idea, using several watercolors that I had earlier painted of nature scenes.

Having prepared the collage of the dancing child, I then decided to have the child be a type of “Pied Piper”.

Sketching over the rough collage
Pandemic Home School Child
Pied Piper Child

Looking at what happened during this class, I personally prefer the painting that I have called “Pandemic Home School Child” to the final painting that I did for the course called “Pied Piper Child.” I prefer the roughness and chaos of the “Home School” painting which is more in line with the chaos and playfulness of kids. This does not mean that I needed to stop at one point in this class project rather than going to the next. Each stopping point is providing a kind of wonder of its own. Classes are supposed to make us think, and consider new options to our art goals.

Here are some of the things that I learned from this very interesting collage class.

First, the technique of using my old painting for collage pieces was very different than cutting and using other artist’s work or magazine art to make a collage. There was a personal touch to cutting up my own paintings as I remembered making the marks.

Second, while cutting up my art pieces and moving them into the collage, I also considered my previous work as it related to color, shape, brush marks and line choices, without thought to the final illustration for which they were originally used. It amused me that even after the paintings were cut up and moved around, they still looked like my personal work to me. I liked the idea that these earlier works resulted in useful images for the collage. It taught me that the lines themselves, the color choices, the movements of the brush across the paper all had subtle meanings that reached beyond the simple original illustration.

Third, using the collage as a starting point made up of pre-constructed materials encouraged me to creatively move beyond old paintings and discover new value in their colors, lines and brushwork.

Fourth, I focused very steadily on the composition for a considerable amount of time, freely moving pieces about to fashion my idea, before moving on to the painting itself. The activity of working through my compositional ideas via a collage left everything open and optional, shifting the composition again and again, as long as I did not glue anything down.

I think the concept of abstract art is starting to take shape in my mind more clearly through this collage and I want to work on it further.

Having completed this first assignment for the class, I am thinking of doing this collage-painting again, but this time even more abstractly, using acrylics.

This new goal is leaving me a bit stumped at the moment, but with time, I think that I will figure it out.

Taking this course with Poca Kim has made me ask, how does one’s mindset shift meaningfully from the art of illustration to that of abstract art, or vice versa? What role does structure and composition play in all of this?

I am finding that physically moving the composition around meaningfully via the collage is one way to consider this important question.

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