Somewhere during the past couple of months, I decided to revisit painting abstracted flowers. I was prompted to do this series when I was looking at paintings that weren’t working for me. That isn’t unusual, I often cover over paintings and create new compositions. But the idea of painting flowers sprang up when I decided to cover the old paintings primarily with black paint, leaving a hint of the underpainting, and creating a wonky vase of long-stemmed flowers.
I have painted flowers in a variety of iterations, and I always enjoyed what I created. These are some of the older paintings that have long since sold.
Fast forward to my current series. Many of these new paintings are 6×6 inches and were created for the Small Works show at Salem on the Edge. They proved to be popular, and most of the flower pieces sold within the first few days of the show. It was such a heartwarming affirmation of doing this new body of work. Here is a peek behind the scenes of my process:
And then photos of some of my new work:
There are a few abstracted flower paintings on my website, which you can find by clicking this LINK.
Because I loved these flowers so much, I had notecards printed so I can write thank you notes to those who purchase my paintings.
The Word and Image show is one of my favorite projects and it took place last month at the Hoffman Center for the Arts in Manzanita (on the Oregon coast). This event occurs biennially, and I was fortunate to have participated in 2020, so I was eager to apply for 2022. The process for the show goes like this:
Artists and writers are invited to submit samples of their work; artists submit three art images and writers submit three poems/short stories. The jury then chooses 12 artists and 12 writers. A pairing event is held where an artist’s name is pulled from a hat, then a writer’s name is pulled from a hat, and voila! those two are partners. The artist choses one of the three writing entries and creates a new piece of art in response to the words, likewise, the writer choses a piece of art from those submitted and writes a poem or short story in response. This new work is submitted electronically so beautiful broadsides can be printed and a book prepared and published.
MY PAINTING PROCESS
I chose to use an 18×28 inch cradled birch panel. I prepared it with acrylic paint, a layer of plaster, more acrylic paint to seal the plaster, and a couple layers of oil and cold wax. This was all the preparation to begin painting in response to the writer I was paired with, Simeon Dreyfuss. I chose Simeon’s poem, Walk Roots the Day as the piece I was using for my responsive painting. When the initial layers of my prepped board were completely dry, I wrote Simeon’s poem across the surface of my board.
I began adding layers of paint, looking for the poem to emerge.
After layers of paint, and scraping off a layer, I worked on this piece when I wasn’t teaching at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology– either early in the morning, or in the evening after my students had left for the day. It seemed appropriate to be painting this piece while I was at Cascade Head on the Oregon coast.
Art was delivered to the gallery, art and broadsides were hung, an online reception was held, and a beautiful book was published.
A HAPPY POSTSCRIPT
As I was working on this blog post, I took a break to welcome Paula Booth into my home. Paula is a professor of art at Western Oregon University and also curates the art at two northwest hotels, The Dundee and The Independence. I am fortunate to have art at both hotels and we had made arrangements for Paula to come to my house to view my available work to change out some of my pieces at The Independence. I had just picked up Storm Mounting from the Hoffman Center for the Arts, and so it was one of my available pieces. Paula was excited to include this painting in the group of paintings she selected.
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.
Last week I was finally back at Sitka in the beautiful Boyden studio, not teaching, but taking a class from Eugene artist Zoe Cohen. The class was titled Abstract Investigations: Color and Composition. What a great class in my one of my favorite locations — on the Oregon coast at Cascade Head.
Zoe’s description of the class:
This four-day workshop is designed specifically for abstract painters to help clarify visual language and bring intentionality to their painting practice. We will make a deep inquiry into what inspires our art through examining contemporary abstract art, informal writing exercises and instructor demos. We will traverse the full range of the spectrum from intuition to deliberate action, from right brain to left brain and from spontaneity to decision, and we will learn to travel back and forth between these polarities.
The class had all the elements that are important and that I love. The first day we focused on value and color mixing, always a good place to start.
The second day we focused on tools and techniques, and we were all off to the races after a couple of demos by Zoe. The day for me was dedicated to initial layers and playing around with leftover paint.
Day 3 was more layers and exploration of abstraction, intuitive versus deliberate actions. We began to look for the composition in our paintings and move our pieces forward. I worked on 10×10-inch pieces of Stonehenge printmaking paper, 12×12-inch wood panels, and 14×14-inch cradled birch panels. I liked jumping between these three substrates.
On the final day, we primarily focused on painting and completing a few pieces. It was a whirlwind of a day, especially since we had to stop a little early to pack up and have a show and tell before class concluded.
These are the pieces that I moved forward to various stages of completion; a few of them I have declared finished and the others, I’ve just stopped at interesting places.
Post script . . . . .
Each morning before heading to class, I read a section from jung pueblo’s Clarity and Connection.When I read something that resonated with me, I jotted the words down in my visual journal–the journal I took to class and where I took notes. On our final day, this was the passage I wrote in my journal: