Monday, December 1, 2014

World Blog Hop

I want to thank Christiane Kingsley for inviting me to participate in this Blog Hop Around the World. Christiane lives in Ottawa, Canada, and is a very versatile artist. She had spent more than twenty years doing fiber art, when she fell in love with watercolours about 10 years ago. Now she works more often in mixed media and acrylics, though watercolour remains her first love. Chris is a member of the Ottawa Art Association and the Foyer Gallery. You will have fun checking out her blog and website.

For those who don’t know me, I am a painter and collage artist who grew up in Vermont and has lived many years in San Jose, California. I took up watercolors about 20 years ago, and more recently have moved into mixed media and collage. I am a Past President and current Board Member of the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Association (SCVWS) with 400 members. I host open studios and participate  in several art shows a year. Blogging is a perfect way to share my art, because it combines two of my passions: art and writing. Participating in the blog community has brought me friends and broadened my knowledge of art.  

I have been asked to answer several questions: 
1. What am I working on? 
I am focusing on some torn magazine collage on canvas pieces. At a recent workshop in Taos, NM, Gwen Fox encourage me to do more collage. SCVWS is sponsoring a juried show in March open to all forms of watermedia, including paper on canvas, and we can enter up to three pieces. I am hoping to enter a few pieces and make the cut.

"The City That Never Sleeps"

I just completed "The City That Never Sleeps" which is 36" x 36." I also like to combine paper that I've made with acrylic paint, as I recently did in  "Letters from Home." There are more in my future.
"Letters From Home"

"Fall Rains In the Vineyards"

A week ago I painted at beautiful local winery with the SCVWS plein air group during some fall rains that helped paint my watercolor, "Fall Rains in the Vineyards."   


I am also liking acrylics. "Happiness" is a good representative of my acrylics and close-focused works.


2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

This is a challenging question. I use watermedia and paper, and paint life around me. When I see a subject, I see patterns and shapes, so I express my theme by arranging pleasing shapes and values. My engineering gene surfaces in compositions that are strongly geometric, even without the imposed shapes in "Poppies on the Fault Line." 
"Poppies on the Faultline"

"Marinka's Figs"

My art is influenced by a life filled with travel, ballroom dancing, bicycling, art, and spending time with family and friends. I often paint landscapes, especially painting plein air with like-minded artists. I frequently fill the picture plane with a piece of an architectural feature or plant, as I did when painting "Marinka's Figs" in Croatia, to deliver an unusual view. 

"Hoping We Get Some Wind"

I paint people observed in daily life and travels. My paintings focus on the commonality of mankind, while hinting at the qualities that make the person unique.

3. Why do I create what I do?
Since my childhood, I have expressed my creativity in drawings and making small objects. In my teens and through my middle life,  I sewed clothing for myself and family and did crafts with my sons. After the children left home, I had a strong desire to do fine arts and began taking workshops. Now that I am retired from my corporate career, I devote many hours to my art. I am very visual and tactile, and I have a passion for capturing common experiences and observations that speak to others. 

4. How does my creating process work?
Whatever the medium, the process is similar. Subjects are taken from life and I either paint on location or gather source materials -- sketches, plein air paintings, and photos. When I travel, I bring a small journal, pens, and a compact Koi watercolor set and complete sketches representative of the people, culture, and architecture. These sketches and the plein air work are completed very quickly.  I decide upon a subject, eliminate extraneous elements, and work almost to completion within a few hours. I put the finishing touches on the work in my studio. The results can be fresh and give a wonderful sense of place. "Summer Morn" was painted in nearby Vasona Park.

"Summer Morn"
Subjects are not a problem, they are all around me. I select an appropriate medium and consider size and composition - whatever drew me to this subject is what I want to convey. When painting landscapes, I draw directly on the support. When painting more complex subjects, I do a full-sized drawing and then transfer it to my support. Sometimes, but not always, I lay down an underpainting, and I may combine mediums. I often go for value on my first pass, rather than layering glazes, and enjoy mixing paint on the support.  I come back in the final pass with detail and my darkest darks.

"The Graduate"
My approach to creating torn magazine collage is similar.  My palette is bins of glossy magazine pages sorted by color. I  usually keep the colors to a minimum. Using just black, white, and gray or combining it with just one color is very dramatic. I allow an occasional bit of another color to sneak in.  I start by applying large papers first and then move to finer details using glossy gel medium as an adhesive. I tear the pieces to add beauty to the pages because they contain many hard edges. As I near completion, I can spend several days making small adjustments. I finish the painting with varnish with UV protection. You can check out work by master instructor Derek Gores who taught an SCVWS workshop.

Collage is very challenging and takes many hours, especially for large pieces, such as 36" x 36".  I select pieces of papers and objects that contribute to a recognizable shape. I often include memorabilia to tell a story.  Much of the final result depends upon randomness as there is no way I can plan completely how the work will come together. The viewer is pulled into the painting as they discover unusual images that make up the art -- a stiletto in the hat, a purse in the hair, and words that give hints to the story. 

When I believe I am finished, I place my painting where I pass it frequently during my day. It will tell me if it is done or what it needs.

Upcoming World Blog Hop Participant:

For next week’s post in this  Blog Hop Around the World, I have invited Mary Lemmenes from Jacksonville, Florida, an artist I very much admire. You will understand why after reading this post and visiting Mary's blog. Mary is very adventurous, loves to travel, makes beautiful art, and enjoys writing. In her own words about her blog posts, Mary says, "I know that writing them, editing and polishing them, and choosing appropriate photos has been meaningful for me; writing is a path to discovery, I think--of self and of other things that matter." On her blog you will see her beautiful paintings on silk scarves and in more traditional mediums, and enjoy her stunning photography. Her descriptions of her travels and her art are addictive.

I hope that you will continue to follow this Blog Hop around the World and in the process discover new artists and expand your blogging community!