In early April I attended the Art and Soul Kansas City retreat and took two classes. The Abstract Landscape class taught by Jane Davies really shook up my painting world. Working loosely with mixed media and responding to marks made rather than starting with a particular vision is very different from the way I've painted up until now. The paintings I posted for the Minted + West Elm Challenge showcase the type of composition and work with mixed media materials that I learned at the retreat. I was jazzed about this new approach. But, then I started to wonder how I might incorporate the new style and way of working into my Judaica themed artwork. The result is what you see here, and I believe it evokes a more emotional response to the prayers and texts than my previous work has. So far the reaction to the images posted on Instagram and Facebook have been overwhelmingly positive. Having just wrapped up a commission and a busy month of May, I'm now ready to jump back into the mixed media work and see where the path leads.
For quite some time I've considered signing up for an art retreat, but I haven't found one close enough to KC that allowed for driving rather than flying. ;-) Sometime last year I saw that Art and Soul scheduled a retreat for The Elms, a resort hotel up north of KC in Excelsior Springs, MO. I was flabbergasted. Their retreats have always been held in Portland or Vegas or Virginia Beach, or some other far off place, much more exotic than KC, that would involve getting on a airplane, driving for days or hauling a locker full of art supplies half way across the country. So distance was no longer an obstacle, only my fear of painting with other artists in the room. It's been a very long time since those college days back in Lawrence and Ft. Collins.
I signed up and actually eagerly awaited the beginning of April for the retreat date to arrive. I took two classes at Art and Soul: Whimsical Landscapes by Jenni Horne, whose blog I'd been following for quite some time and who was a participant in the Get Your Paint On online workshop I took a while back (in the comfort of my private studio. Jenni's whimsical and uplifting art was attractive to me—her use of color, incorporating words, and I'd read about her black line technique. She's a very energetic, fun teacher, who's probably tried just about every creative outlet I'm interested in under the sun, with a great sense of humor and loves to share her tips with students. I decided to incorporate my Judaic sense to the painting I created in her class. My painting wasn't completed during the class time, so I spent the evening in my hotel room enjoying a quiet evening of painting.
The following day I was enrolled in Jane Davies Abstract Landscape class. A complete departure from the kind of painting I've done, Jane taught us mixed media techniques using handmade collage items, acrylic medium and lots of Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold, her favorite paint color. Wow. So many amazing techniques I took away from that day with another great teacher who's style is very down to earth and giving. I was intimidated at first while we worked on small studies, moving back and forth between pieces, layering on collage and paint and waiting for the layers to dry. Rather than having a plan in mind, we laid down paper or paint spontaneously and then responded to that composition when moving on to the next layer, often completely covering what was put down in the beginning. It was fascinating to see how the images evolved. In the afternoon we moved onto a larger study and we were encouraged to try a larger canvas. I attacked all of those with my typical bright color palette, and even Jane was impressed that I didn't hesitate about working on a cradled canvas any more than I would working on paper. I enjoyed our discussion about that. At the end of the day we had a critique of sorts, where everyone shared their constructive and positive comments after we introduced our work. It was a great experience, and I learned I don't have to be afraid about painting in a room full of talented people. Kansas City and The Elms made for a successful venue for Art and Soul, so they've scheduled for next year already and I'm looking forward to going back.
Several years ago I was asked to paint a piece to honor a wonderful woman and incredible Kansas City Jewish educator, Hillary Lewis Z"L, on the occasion of her retirement. This was my interpretation of "veshinantam levanecha" or "teach them diligently to your children." It's become a popular image in my collection, but lately I've been wanting to paint an updated version with nicer typography. I added the white linework, but I'm not sure about it on the torah scrolls. I'm sharing it anyway and would love to hear your thoughts. At some point I'll add prints to my shop. There's probably another version coming in the future. I'm hoping practice makes perfect.
Inspired by a meeting with a special friend and exceptional educator yesterday, I sat down with a palette of brilliant colors, some of my favorite tunes playing, and set out to create a new Shabbat Shalom illustration. Prints are available in my shop.
Wishing all a very joyful Shabbat Shalom.
This pyrography painting was started several months ago, and it's been sitting on my desk patiently awaiting the remaining painting. I finished it up yesterday and today and I love the wood grain peeking through the paint. It'll be varnished and then listed in my shop, as a print for now. I need to hoard all originals now in hopes of participating in upcoming Jewish art festivals this year. Definitely wanting to do more pyrography! It brings me back to working with wood in a two-dimensional design class I had during the spring semester of my freshman year at Colorado State. Pyrography requires much smaller tools than the band saws and scrolls saws I used back then.
Quite a while ago, over two years ago, in fact, I started a very large painting. I thought it would be nice to hang a new painting in our living room and have it ready before H&D's wedding. So, we loaded up a huge canvas into the car and I began covering it with paint. Well the wedding plans took over life and I never got back to the painting. It's been sitting in the dining room for awhile now and Dann has suggested that it's done because the whole canvas is covered in paint. He's a computer developer. 'Nuf said. :-)
Today I felt the urge to paint, but didn't have a subject in mind. I wanted to be loose and free and just sling paint around. So, I put blobs of paint on paper plates, got out the biggest brush I had and went at that painting. I think I can honestly say that in the several hours I worked on it today I recovered the entire thing—not really thinking or agonizing, just working fast and furious. I'm hoping it doesn't take another two years to call it finished.
Today I delivered this painting to the woman who commissioned it for her very special occasion. I hope she'll be pleased with it, as well as the person who will be the recipient of the gift in honor of the occasion. The Hebrew reads "v'anochi lo yadiati" and translates "And, I, I didn't know." and is from the parashah Vayatze which will be read in a couple of weeks. This painting is based on the painting which was just hanging in the Urban Suburban show at the Epsten Gallery. I enjoyed painting this and it thrills and honors me to have my art used to mark such a great event.
I will be adding print reproductions of the painting to my Etsy shop very soon.
I've just finished a new painting. It's been quite a while since the last. This one is a gift and will be framed, packed up and sent out soon to it's unsuspecting and deserving recipients. Then I'll be starting a new painting—this time a commission I'm doing for a person who's work I admire very much. She'll be giving it as a gift. I love when my art is used and shared for very special events. The sketch has been approved and I'll get out the paints as soon as the surface is prepared. Queue up some good tunes!
For the final week of Get Your Paint On I decided to paint another animal after been successful with the geese last week. I've never painted animals before this, especially in any representational kind of style, so I thought I'd continue in this direction. Princess Pearl Petite is the most amazing dog in the world—made for loving and cuddling, she's a 14.5 year old Maltese who's been through a lot in the last year. This week her arthritic leg is really bothering her and it breaks my heart. I carry her around so she doesn't have to walk on three legs. I've always thought it would be cool to paint a portrait of her and now seemed the perfect time—much better to do it now while she's still around!
I'm having trouble painting the fur and getting the darker areas to receded, particularly on the right front leg where it bends and under the collar. I also tried painting on Gessoboard this time. I found the surface very slick working with acrylics—paint seemed to dry even faster, had troubles blending, and had problems with the paint adhering in some places. Perhaps it would have helped to sand a bit first. Last week I painted on an unprimed cradled board and liked the more absorbent surface better.
I'm not sure it's quite finished yet, but didn't want to wait any longer to post to the class group. I look forward to any comments and suggestions. And, if it changes significantly, I'll repost.
Well, I kept at it after a workout at the gym and a good night's sleep. I spent the better part of today working on the details and I repainted the grey shadows. I also decided to just extend the painting out to the edges without doing any kind of border treatment. This is such a different direction for me, and I'm so pleased with myself for having tried it. I would never have attempted a painting of animals of any kind before and certainly not in a more realistic style. Who knows now what I might try next.
I shot this photo on vacation at the Denver Zoo and was really taken by the composition every time I looked at it. Something about it kept drawing me back, so I thought it would be perfect for the composition week assignment.
This is so totally new for me—this kind of painting—and I'm not sure where to go with it. I never have had the patience (not since back in high school and college classes—a very long time ago!) to paint a lot of detail. This is also the first time I've painting on wood panel, so it feels very new and different, on top of everything else. So I've started out with a pretty realistic rendering of this and now I'm lost on how to finish it up.
I love Karin Jurik's painting style karinjurick.blogspot.com/ where a seemingly few brushstrokes can give so much information about color and light, but it's something I don't know if I can pull off.
And what to do about the texture in the sidewalk?! All that color and detail.
As for the outer edges, I love Michele Maule's paintings: how2drawacupofcoffee.blogspot.com/ and was thinking about trying something like what she does with the borders, but maybe I haven't left enough room!
Oh well, back to the easel to see what happens. If anyone has suggestions, comments, advice... I'd love to hear what you have to share. Here's hoping I get it done before tomorrow evening!!
And, next week I think I'm going back to something more stylized!