I had an idea for a painting I wanted in my show at Guardino Gallery. I envisioned a grid of smaller paintings hung together to create a large 40×40 inch piece of art. I decided the small paintings would be 8×8 inches. But the initial problem was how to hang 25 paintings in a manner that would allow me to work on all 25 at the same time, as if I was actually painting a 40×40-inch piece of art. My studio assistant came to the rescue. He devised a system using Velcro. He attached Velcro to the back of the 25 8×8-inch cradled panels, then matched up the other piece of Velcro to the wall, allowing all of the paintings to hang together, but could easily be removed for me to 1) paint the edges, and 2) work on each piece individually when it became time to resolve each piece as a single painting.
After I secured the 25 panels (thank you Art Department for ordering so many boards for me), they were primed with fluorescent pink and orange acrylic paint by my studio assistant. I decided to start the painting process using acrylic paint to get lots of layers of color and marks. It was such fun to paint across the surface with grand swaths of paint, and occasionally pull the panels off the wall to wrap paint around and onto the edges.
After a few layers of acrylic, I switched to oil paint mixed with cold wax, and began enhancing and adding more layers, words, and marks.
Last fall, I received the email that always thrills and humbles me: I had been selected by Donna Guardino to have a show in the Main Gallery at Guardino Gallery in June of 2022. I didn’t celebrate too long, but instead studied the schematics of the gallery, the wall spaces to be filled, pulled together a batch of boards, and got to work.
The getting to work initially meant prepping the boards for painting. I knew early on that I wanted to pair art quotes with vivid colors, so right from the beginning these elements were prominent.
After all the boards were prepped (with massive help from my studio assistant), they were ready for paint to be applied.
This part of the process required many layers of oil paint mixed with cold wax. The dominant theme was layers of paint with the writing of quotes in between the layers.
After several months of work, the pieces began to take shape. Some boards got scraped, some were finished, but then I decided they weren’t finished so more layers were applied. Writing was always present, but it was in the last six weeks of working that I began applying the words more boldly on the surface of the painted surfaces, and these turned out to be my favorite pieces.
And before I knew it, it was time to stop painting. The oil and cold wax needed time to dry, cure, and set before applying a final coat of cold wax. For the month of May, the paintings were in my studio, in the hallway, and in our bathroom just resting.
Today as I put together this post, all the paintings have been moved to the main floor of our house. They are being prepared to be wrapped and loaded into a van we had to rent to transport the 44 paintings (yes, 44!) to the gallery in the morning.
The show hangs on Wednesday, May 25, and opens on Thursday, May 26, with the opening reception from 6-9 pm; the show will be up through June 26. An added bonus is you can see (and shop) all the pieces by going to Guardino Gallery’s website.
About ten years ago I discovered this 25×49 inch framed painting on canvas at a local Goodwill; I think I might have paid $25. I didn’t buy it for the painting, but as an inexpensive canvas to repurpose for my own art. The canvas got tucked away in our shed, and I forgot about it. Last year I rediscovered it and took a closer look. It was signed on the back by M. Runyan and it had been painted in 1985. I asked my artist friend Bonnie Hull, who is familiar with many artists in Salem over the years, if she knew of the artist, but the name didn’t ring a bell. So I decided I would give the painting a makeover. And as it turns out, another makeover, and then another until I was finally satisfied. For now, anyway.
I opened a big bucket of gesso and began covering erasing the six starred bottles (I kind of cringed and then cried a bit).
And then I began applying paint.
Life got busy and once again I abandoned this canvas. The bottles were gone, gesso applied, and some bands of color slapped on. Not sure where I stored the canvas, probably in the upstairs hallway, but it got tucked away until last July when I pulled it out again. This time I started adding swaths of black, green, pink, and burgundy.
It was at a stopping point and I hid it away again for many months. Until two weeks ago when we packed it into our car and drove to Astoria. I thought maybe it would look nice in our House of Color since we were in need of a piece of art above our couch.
Nope. It didn’t look good at all and I didn’t even like the painting anymore, so instead of dragging it home, I took it upstairs to my studio and painted some swaths of wild color.
It was fine, kind of fun, definitely colorful, but it lacked any kind of KAPOW, so back upstairs it went. I pulled out more paint, began spreading, scraping, and marking.
It was finally what I had wanted all along (but didn’t know what that was until it appeared). Here is the final painting and some close ups of different areas.
But guess what? I needed a big painting for Fogue Gallery in Seattle, so this finally finished pop of color piece of art will be heading north on Thursday and be on display and for sale just in time for the Georgetown Art Attack on Saturday, April 7.
And the wall above our couch is once again empty and in need of art.
Finally, our long overdue and postponed group show, Traces, is now on view at the Salem Art Association Annex Gallery. During the two-year wait for things to reopen and get our show rescheduled, we changed our name from the Salem Art group to the Band of Artists Collective, but we’re the same group of talented artists. We’ve been plotting and planning for this show over the past few months, and got together in February to make final preparations (and take a very serious group photo).
The title of our show Traces, could be interpreted however we chose, but our group show statement explains it in more detail:
Like messages to the future and from the past, the traces of nine different paths converge here in the Annex Gallery this spring. As mark makers of varying sorts, these nine artists of the Band of Artists Collective use the indications of their existence as persons in their art work. An interest in superimposing experience, idea, image, and color onto canvas, paper, wood, and fabric is the shared language of any group of artists, this group included.
Artists understand the term palimpsest as way of reusing materials and ideas, of scraping an older work away while leaving a trace behind, a shadow, a nuance of an earlier idea. As women, as artists, as gardeners…as daughters and mothers and friends, we find the trace of others stamped on our minds just as we leave a shadow behind.
Although there is always a narrative somewhere buried in an artwork, it is less necessary to know each individual story than to sense the traces that appear in the work. Bring your own eyes to the work displayed here, perhaps finding a trace of communication.
Earlier this week, art work was dropped off. The day I dropped off my work, Kay was dropping off her pieces and Robin was busily hanging Katy’s work, while Kathy was trying to keep track of all of the final details.
Fast forward to Thursday. I was out for my weekly walk with Joni, and we decided to swing by the Art Annex to see the show. It was so nice to walk into the space and have it to ourselves. It’s a stunning show.
The work for each of the nine artists:
Salem Art Association prepared a beautiful color brochure, which includes a photo of everyone’s work along with individual artist statements.
Here is what I wrote for my Artist Statement – even before I had created my body of work.
Mixed media is often a wild goose chase down a twisted rabbit hole. It involves a series of what if questions and actions. What if I glued this down, drew a line over the top, added some paint, glued something else down, and then took a sander to it to reveal the first layer of collage, added more paint, then glued something else down, wrote with a wax crayon, then started over?
It is all a grand experimental mystery, which somehow all comes together one way or another. This project fits perfectly with my 2022 word of the year: RISK. I am taking a risk working in a new way, one I have been intrigued with for several years but somehow fear held me back: How can I cover a beautiful collage with paint? And yet covering it, excavating, concealing, and revealing is what I love doing and something I do in paint all the time.
Creating my mixed media pieces is a messy affair, a wild cacophony of cutting, tearing, drawing, gluing, painting, writing, scraping, sanding, layering, revealing, and varnishing. My pieces reflect my curiosity, playfulness, irreverence, and my love of texture, history, and a touch of surprise.
The opening reception was held tonight, it was a marvelous gathering of artists, art lovers, friends, family, and supporters.
The marriage of paint and collage was much tougher than I imagined. I have been a painter for years, I have been a collagist for even longer, but putting the two together has been a painful labor of love . . . . and finally came together.
I had been moving toward combining paint and collage over the past couple of years, trying to figure out a way of adding paint over collage, and collage over paint, discovering the right balance of revealing and concealing. Adding collage to a board is easy for me, but I never wanted to cover it up with paint. Or I would create a collage, feel brave, add paint, but before I knew it, every bit of the collage was covered up.
My art group, the Band of Artists Collective, has a show opening tonight and I was determined to have my mixed media pieces reflect the successful pairing of collage and paint. I experimented in a small journal, doing quick collages on a series of pages. But I liked the collages and didn’t want to mess them up with paint. Reminding myself that my word for this year is RISK, I spread some paint over a collage. I liked the painting, but the collage was gone. What the hell.
It came time to submit images for our upcoming show. I didn’t have any completed pieces and what if I never found my way to adding paint to collage (or collage to paint). So I submitted photos of two 12×12 inch paintings that were somewhat in the style I hoped to complete, although the work did not have one bit of collage in them.
But the challenge was mine, no one else knew I was attempting to pull off this arduous (to me) task. The fear grew, and I became paralyzed. Until I decided to push through. The opportunity came in the form of spending two weeks in Palm Springs in late January. We had rented a modern condo with a large dining room table (that was my main criteria in choosing our rental). I loaded up 12 12×12 inch flat birch panels, three working journals, two big bags of acrylic paint, a gigantic bag of collage materials, and a satchel of art supplies. I claimed the table (and the kitchen bar, and the kitchen prep counter, and sometimes the floor) as my work space. We were in Palm Springs to celebrate Howard’s birthday and his retirement, so he was there to golf. I was there to paint and collage. It was a beautiful win/win situation.
Daily, I worked in my journals.
I glued down collage onto the 12 boards.
Then I sidetracked myself to create a fresh batch of painted collage papers (that process is worthy of an entire blog post!).
And then I did what I had been hesitant to do. I started combining paint and collage in any way I could think to do it. If I did too much painting, I just added more collage. Sometimes I painted too much on purpose and glued collage on top. Sometimes I painted over the collage, revealing tiny bits of the collage beneath the surface. I sanded, I scraped, I reapplied paint, and added more collage.
I started to find my rhythm and I was having fun.
A body of work came together. I had started with the idea of creating six pieces for the show, and then it grew to nine. At the end of our two weeks in Palm Springs, I had twelve boards with potential. After we got home, I fine tuned a few of the panels and I had 12 that were show worthy – a beautiful grid.
Here are the 12 that are in the show.
Traces opens tonight . . . . next up, my blog about the show.
I’m delighted to share the news that my art is in a new gallery (and in a new state). I was invited by the owner of Fogue Gallery, Kerry Gates, to display my art at this lovely Georgetown gallery, located about four miles south of downtown Seattle. Georgetown is a lively and funky neighborhood, with several art galleries, numerous restaurants, eclectic shops, and the Georgetown Trailer Mall.
Last month, Howard and I made the drive north to the gallery to hang my art on a beautiful, freshly painted white wall, where we hung five of my oil and cold wax paintings.
The second Saturday of every month is Georgetown’s Art Attack, so we got a room at the Georgetown Inn and attended our first art walk. What a blast!
I got to see my friend Kathleen, who has been a longtime artist at the gallery, and she was gracious enough to introduce me to several of the other artists showing their work in the gallery.
Our oldest daughter lives in Tacoma and she drove up to show her support and cheer me on.
What an evening.
A tiny peek at Georgetown in case you’ve never been . . .
And my biggest thanks goes to my husband, Howard, who does ALL of the behind the scenes work like wiring, inventory, cataloging, schlepping, hanging, adjusting lights, and color coordinating his clothes to match my art.
The next Georgetown Art Attack is Saturday, March 12. I’ll be there, so stop by and say hello.
I have too many flippin’ journals all going at once, so what am I thinking starting another one. I am a sucker for journals. At the current time I am actively working in several. Follow me . . . .
Color Journal: A place to keep track of colors I like, the brands of colors because not all colors are the same, what happens when certain colors are mixed together, formulas of colors I like, and the Pantone color of the year (this year it is Very Peri).
A small painting journal where I have combined paintings with art quotes on the opposite page. This has been in process for the past couple of years.
A vintage book where I wipe off excess paint from my palette, clean off my brushes on the pages, glue in leftover tidbits, and experiment with quick ideas that pop into my head.
Visual Journal: This 9×12 inch journal is my hard-working jack of all trades journal. I take notes in it when I take a class, record ideas for a painting or a show, sketch out ideas, and take notes at art meetings. This is my official visual journal and has been a key part of my art practice for many years. The journals are lined up in my studio with little tags indicating the dates covered in each journal.
Collage Journal: An old composition book where a student kept notes and did engineering types of drawing, and also glued in tests and notes. I use this journal to create collage compositions right over the writing and drawings. The glued in papers I have torn out, but gluey residue peeks through on many of the pages.
Junk Journal: I created this big chunky book out of hundreds of pieces of old papers, collage materials, and ephemera, and created three signatures (or was it four? the journal is thick). The junk part was my use of junky papers, but then I have gone back in and embellished the pages, fleshing out more complete collage compositions. I have been working on this one for months!
Covid Journal: When Covid hit in full force in early 2020, I took one of the junk journals I had made and recorded milestones and statistics for the first full year of our lockdown. Every once in a while I will go back in make a note or update the statistics. Sadly, I am entering the third year of entries.
Travel Journal: Anytime we take a biggish trip, I maintain a travel journal. My most recent travel journal was done in September when we spent a couple of weeks in New York. I used a handmade artist journal and cut and glued paper and ephemera from our daily excursions.
Which brings me to January, 2022, and the decision to what I plan to do regarding a journal in the new year. In 2019 I committed to painting a painting a day in a 9×9 inch journal and somehow I pulled it off. Sometimes I was playing catch up, but for the most part keeping that painting journal got me into my studio. Every. Single.Day. (And it took seven journals to get through the year.)
A few of my favorite paintings from my 2019 journals:
In deciding what kind of journal would be most enjoyable, I flashed back to 2012 when I used “The Open Daybook,” a perpetual calendar book, edited by David P. Earle. I remember buying this big book of a journal at Monograph Bookwerks (fine art books, objects, + ephemera), located in NE Portland, and I was so excited to use it to record what I did every day for a year. Each page has original art by 365 artists (actually 371 as some worked in groups), so the imagery and graphics were always a treat.
A few of my pages from 2012. My entries were short and sweet, but really captured in detail how I spent my days.
That year of record keeping got me to thinking about what kind of journal I would keep now, ten years later. I keep a lot of visual journals (obviously, from the list above), and I have a calendar on my desk. But what if I kept my own sort of Daybook, a cross between what I did today, but coupled with a sprinkling of collage, dabs of paint, imagery, ideas, quotes, and what is on my mind (now there’s a scary thought). I liked the sound of this combination and I just happened to have the right journal for the job (cue the dramatic music), a chunky beast of a journal, built by Leather Village craftspeople.
I wrote a private preamble on New Year’s Eve, then jumped in on January 1st.
We laugh and we laugh and there is nothing else like it in the world.
A beautiful opportunity presented itself last June and after giving it some deep thought, I accepted a commission to create a painting in honor of a loved one who had passed. My collector (and friend) knew she wanted the piece to include collage and paint, but was open to how I would incorporate the two. We met at my house a couple of times to look through photos, passports, music, and ephemera, which all represented an interesting and rich life. I got a better idea of what she was thinking and proposed that I include words throughout the process, along with an initial layer of collage. It was agreed that the words and collage would imbue the piece with the spirit of this person, but the next layers would be an abstract landscape to reflect the color and vibrancy of a life lost too soon.
After I had a chance to go through the stacks of materials, we met again to make a few more decisions, giving me clarity of which original documents I would use to energize the painting. I decided I would create two paintings alongside each other so my collector would have a choice between which piece resonated with her the most. I chose to work on cradled panels: 24×36 inches and 30×40 inches.
Over several months, the two boards were painted, writing added, a second layer of paint, bigger and bolder words added, and then a complete layer of collage, with just snippets of the underlying words peeking through.
The process of alternating layers of acrylic paint with words continued, and eventually I began to focus on the composition, moving toward an abstracted landscape. I was pleased, but not satisfied, so in a fit of knowing I wasn’t finished, I took both boards to the back yard and using an electric sander, sanded the surface of both paintings, revealing the various layers as I sanded. Snippets of words, paint, and even some of the earlier layers of collage were revealed.
It was around this time I decided I would switch mediums and move to applying layers of oil paint mixed with cold wax. The vibrancy of oil and cold wax and the rich luminosity of the materials seemed like the right choice. I took the smaller of the two boards with me to Sitka Center for Art and Ecology in early September, where I was teaching a four-day workshop in oil and cold wax. I taught during the day, and then when the students went home for the night, I went into the studio and worked on the 24×36 inch piece, building layers of oil and cold wax.
When I got home, I continued to work on “Trying So Hard to Listen,” with more layers of oil and cold wax.
I completed the 24×36 inch piece on October 4, 2021, and titled it “Trying So Hard to Listen.”
I had also started to add layers of oil and cold wax to the larger piece, “On My Journey Home.”
The larger piece, 30×40 inches, was completed on my birthday, October 14, and I titled it “On My Journey Home.”
My wonderful friend and collector decided she wanted both of the paintings and in mid December, the paintings were delivered and hung. It was such an honor to see them hanging, knowing that they each had multiple layers of images, words, and paint and reflected emotional energy, love, and memories of a life well lived.
A journey of discovering that I love people, I love myself, I love my secrets.
In my last post, Little Paintings, I shared how I painted small oil and cold wax paintings on Arches Oil Paper by taping small squares of the paper to a large piece of newsprint or butcher paper. I briefly mentioned how I remove the tape . . . . this post is what I do with the tape that I removed.
Over the past couple of years, I have saved and collected all of the pieces of tape I have removed from the little taped down paintings. (Do you think I’m a bit compulsive? Or obsessive?)
I am always amazed by the beautiful little abstract paintings on the pieces of tape, sometimes even wishing I could paint a larger painting using the pieces of tape as inspiration. . . . and then inspiration struck. What if I used the strips of tape to create an abstract painting? I like stripes, I like color, I like abstract, and I like recycling and reuse. I started auditioning the strips of tape. Before too long, I had a pleasing arrangement and composition and I started gluing down the strips.
For my first piece, I mounted the tape pieces onto a 4×10 inch cradled panel.
And hung it in our brightly colored kitchen at the House of Color in Astoria.
By then I was smitten so I forged ahead and taped down strips of color onto four 6×6-inch cradled panels.
These four pieces have been added to my online shop and are $100 each (which includes shipping in the US).
It’s that time of year when galleries like to offer smaller pieces of art at a price point that people can purchase original art as gifts — I have always loved this idea, whether for gifts, or for personal collections. I am excited to be sending small pieces of art to my three galleries: Guardino Gallery(in Portland), Salem on the Edge (in Salem), and RiverSea Gallery (in Astoria). I thought that rather than just sharing photos of the art that I have created for these three galleries, I would first share a bit of the background in creating these pieces.
When I teach my Oil and Cold Wax Abstracted Landscapes class at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, we do warm ups throughout the week using Arches Oil Paper, which we tape (using painter’s tape) onto large sheets of butcher paper or newsprint. I give verbal prompts for things to do on these small squares of oil paper and while giving these prompts, I also follow along and do the prompts on my own squares of paper. By the end of the class, we all have several completed paintings as well as several fun starts for finishing in the future. Here are some examples of the taped down pieces of paper at various stages.
This year, I took several of the sheets of taped down paper pieces, and started tackling the small squares one at a time, adding layers, marks, creating compositions, and resolving issues, working on them while they were still taped down with six paintings per sheet of paper.
Once I resolved the paintings, I removed the tape (WATCH FOR MY NEXT BLOG POST WHERE I SHARE WHAT I DID WITH THE PEELED UP TAPE!), trimmed the edges of the paper where the tape had been, and then glued the painting onto a cradled wood panel. I applied a final layer of cold wax and varnished the edges. By the time I had completed this process, I had 26 paintings, six were 5×5 inches, and the rest were 6×6 inches.
Fast forward to today. All of the pieces have been waxed, buffed, varnished, wired, titled, photographed, inventoried, and boxed. Deliveries will begin happening over the next couple of weeks. Whew. Here are some of the completed pieces heading to my three galleries.
In addition to the 21 pieces headed to the galleries, priced at $100 each, I have five of the 5×5 inch pieces available on my website. The 5×5 inch pieces are $70 (and include shipping).
NOTE: The beautiful graphic painting at the beginning of this post, was created by Salem artist, Sloy Nichols.