Friday, September 16, 2011

Day four of the Leedy Grange mural... completion!

Ah! After four days of my mural marathon, I have completed the image. I will go back to touch up, and take care of loose ends, but for the most part I think I am done! Working with house paint is very different than working with artist paint. It has a totally different consistency, at once thinner, and yet more gooey.

It was also a very different experience to do art in a public space, with a public purpose. Sometimes people would actually honk and yell encouragement from their cars!

 It was also really great to have locals come by and talk about the neighborhood and how much it has changed over the years. One woman came by and said she was born in a house right across the street where the Walgreen's is now. Al from Al's Barbershop came over to say hello. I used to play outside his shop when I was a little girl, and my friend Melissa's dad used to get his haircut. My mom and dad were founding members of Cedar Mill Community Library, which was also originally housed on that block in about 1973. So it felt good to contribute to that community I grew up in and spent so much time right there in that area, and to feel a part of it again.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Day Three of the Leedy Grange mural

It was a great day to paint a mural! I got a good sleep last night, and got a lot done today. As the painting gets closer and closer to completion, the changes will be less and less noticeable.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Day two of the Leedy Grage mural...

It was misting this morning, so I was a bit nervous that it would start to rain. But it eventually passed. I started on the color today.

Monday, September 12, 2011

First day of the Leedy Grange mural.

  Well it was the first day at the Leedy Grange mural... I arrived at 8am to start drawing, and draw I did! I completed the drawing at 4:30 pm and I am looking forward to busting out some paint tomorrow! Here are some pictures, plus a little video I took at the start of the day.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My First Outdoor Mural

During the week of September 12th, I will be painting an 8 ft. by 16 ft. mural on the Leedy Grange Hall in the neighborhood of Cedar Mill  835 NW Saltzman Rd., Portland OR. It will be based on this photograph, which is of the founding members of Leedy Grange in 1908. 

I was born and raised in Cedar Mill, so my heart is truly in this project. I will be outside painting the mural, so if you are in the neighborhood, come by and say hello. If you can't do that, keep your eyes open for photos documenting my progress on this blog and my facebook page.  Here is a small sketch I have done for the project.

Stay tuned!

Friday I went to pick up my paint. Miller Paint has generously agreed to donate the paint for the mural. I made up a tiny color swatches for them out of my acrylic paint at home, and they have done a beautiful job matching them exactly! Once I picked up the paint and saw how beautiful it is, I started to get excited.

Today I went to the grange hall to set up and draw a grid on the wall. The grid squares on the wall are one foot in size, and corresponds to the photograph I am working from. The grid on the photograph is just under one inch in size.

Tomorrow I am going to get up far too early and drive out to Cornelius to obtain my scaffolding from Grand Rental Station. (cute name, huh?) Then the magic will start. I have bought large, fat sticks of charcoal, and I will start the drawing process (which is my favorite part!)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

"ReCreation" show at Gallery 114

Last June I had my first one person show at my cooperative gallery, Gallery 114. It is a huge and beautiful space, so I had to work hard to fill it with new paintings! I was very happy with how it all looked, the turnout, and even made a few sales! Here is a sampling of what was showing there, and some background information about the images, how and why I painted them.

  "Crater" 40"x48" Acrylic on panel.
This was the largest painting in the show, and occupied a central position in it. This arresting image is based on a photograph taken by an army photographer on a Pacific Island during WWII. These soldiers are bathing, relaxing and washing their clothes in a bomb crater. Just behind the crater, a crashed Japanese fighter plane rests, its wings ripped from its body, tilting up at an extreme angle. The presence of destruction and restoration is presented in the same image. There is also a clever reference to classical nude paintings, such as Manet's "Luncheon on the Grass" Cezanne's "Large Bathers" and of course, "The Swimming Hole" by Thomas Eakins.

This painting has also been chosen to be a part of the All Oregon Art Annual, a statewide competition featured at the Oregon State Fair.
"Blur" 30"x40" Acrylic on panel.

This is a painting I worked very hard on for quite a long time. When I was finally “done” with it, I thought to myself, “Well, I’ve just made an albatross. No one will ever want this painting. It’s no good.” So I put it away and moved on. Several months later, I took it out again and thought, “Well, that’s not so bad, after all”. When I hung it up for this show, it turned out to be one of the most popular paintings there! Doing art is never predictable, always surprising, and I as the artist myself, am not always the best judge of my own work.

“Blur” is based on a snapshot from my stepfather's estate. I believe it is from the neighborhood he grew up in, Parkrose, Portland. A small boy scampers across a sunlit yard at near sunset. The photograph is taken peeping over a picket fence. The angle of the shot is so low it leads me to believe it was taken either by another child, or an adult who is stooped down, concealed behind the fence. The child is moving so fast his arms are blurred into oblivion. In fact, the child's shadow is sharper and crisper than the child himself, lending the shadow a stronger sense of reality and form; the boy is ghostly, his shadow is corporal.

"Firecracker" 30"x40" Acrylic on panel.
Based on a snapshot from the early 20th century, four young boys dash and leap away from a single spot on the pavement, where they have just lit a firecracker. The active movement the boys' bodies create is counter-acted by a very limited palette, only about 4 colors, plus white and black. 

 "Touch" 24"x36" Acrylic on panel.
  This is a snapshot of boys playing touch football at night. A flash lights up the scene like a lightning strike at the moment one boy touches the one carrying the football. If you’ll notice, the size of the “pigskin” is pretty huge compared to what is used today. This painting is done in a looser style than I usually use, to depict the movement and the lack of detail caused by the darkness.

"Please, Please, Sorry, Thank you"  30"x40" Acrylic on panel.
A very young girl with a yellow balloon laughs while riding a horse on a merry-go-round. The horse is brick red, and the sunlight is low and golden. I am captivated by the contrast of the girls happy face and the horrific expression of the horse, carved as if it were galloping and neighing furiously. A friend of mine pointed out that the horse seems more real than the girl. I love to create art that holds contradicting elements in a single, holistic image.

 "Precipice" 30"x40" Acrylic on panel.
Based on a snapshot from the 1950's, a gaggle of happy teenage girls wearing scarves cavort on a beautiful two-toned convertible. In the background the severe drop of a wooden rollercoaster can be seen. I really am excited by the juxtaposition of the light-hearted fun of the girls and the perilous angle of the carnival ride. I am also captivated by the way the angle of the ride is echoed the angle provided by the girls' heads.

 "The Heart Is Just a Muscle" 22"x28" Acrylic on panel.
This is another image that I am compelled to paint again and again. The most beguiling thing for me about this is the arrangement and movement of the objects and elements that make up the image; the women are standing in a circle, echoing the rotating movement of the ride. The gestures of the live children and inanimate horses creating diagonals that reinforce the rotation almost like a spiraling movement.

This image is based on a snapshot from my late stepfather's family. His mother is the woman hidden behind the woman in yellow. The women are presumably waiting for their children while they ride a merry-go-round, a very motherly duty. The women have curiously stern expressions, which, to me, is in distinct contrast to what we usually think of as motherly.

“The Early Universe” 30”x40”. Acrylic on panel.
It is amazing to me that this composition was created by a simple, accidental snapshot. Three boys consult with an adult in a uniform and peaked hat about their special bicycle, all decked out with wooly handlebar tassels, headlight and heavy, pinstriped fenders. The arrangement of the figures, the hose uncoiling across the grass, and the fact that the photo was taken close to the ground, makes for an arresting image. The subject matter demonstrates a combination of sweet nostalgia and the unsentimental world of children at play.

I attempt to accentuate the abstract shapes in the image by altering the colors of the grass slightly from space to space, and to create lay lines across the images, a la Charles Sheeler.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Some are easy, some are hard.

Here is a large (30"x40") painting that I have done THREE versions of and I am still struggling with it.

I love the original image, but it is complicated, especially in the areas of color, light and space. (What else is there in a painting, you may ask?) I decided to "make it easier" and used a small, child's overhead projector to create a loose outline, instead of doing it all by hand like I usually do. Unfortunately, I have found that crime (in this case the crime is the use of a aid, such as a projector) does not always pay. The painting immediately became bogged down with the immense amount of detail. A painting that is merely a collection of details is not usually a great painting. 
This is the finished image of the "Glimmer Rhythm I"

This looks pretty good, but not great, in my view. But the problems presented by this image has got its hooks into me by this time, and so I started a second version. This time I used a white background ( I usually paint on bare wood) thinking that perhaps the bright color of the horses' bridals would be more luminous. Once again, I tried to "make it easier" this time by using a transfer from the original painting. And once again, my artistic sin came back to haunt me.

The color is definitely  brighter, but the confusing space and detail still plagues me.

Here is a finished, or nearly finished version on white, "Glimmer Rhythm II"

I became frustrated and so I went back to the basics and tried to start again with a small, black and white thumbnail sketch. This is something I ought to do with every painting, its something my professors back in college taught me to do. The fact that I rarely do sketches may be attributed to my natural perverse, self-defeating nature, or "I'm only good when I have to be".

So here I go, starting with version #3, and as is the case with many of my paintings, the beginning drawing is always the funnest part. This time I do it all completely freehand. Through the drawing process, I am able to chose which details are included or dropped, and how they are expressed. And its not even all that hard.

 I laid down the color as soon as I could, trying to create large areas of value and color.

 I slowly build up the image organically. 

Here is the latest version of this painting, and I am wondering how much more energy to exert on it.

With every painting, there is a point to it, almost like a plot in a story. This image has a plot that is conflicting and doesn't seem to be gelling for me. Its about bright color and black. Its about a gathering of elements on a shallow plane, sort of like a tapestry. Its about a web of vertical and horizontal elements. Its about childhood innocence, but also childhood fears, like the scary horse face and the sulking child in white.
They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I hope that if this painting doesn't kill me, it will at least make me a better artist!


A few of my fabulous fans commented on my struggles.My friend and fellow artist Bridget Benton suggested this:
"What if this was happening at night? Somehow the black horse might look more . . . suited if that band of blue sky were black . . ."
So I tried it and it seems to be coming together more...