Monthly Archives: January 2016

The Art of Layering

I took another pass at my Pears painting in class last Friday by adding more layers to the under-painting.

Working with acrylics is such a different experience than working with textiles. Acrylics dry fast! Rendering them unworkable. The first day of class, our instructor Maureen had supplied us with an acrylic retarder which, when poured on top of and blended into acrylic paint, keeps it from drying out so fast and prolongs its working time. We were on our own for the second class and I thought I had purchased the correct product, a blending medium with the word retardateur in the French translation, but it wasn’t the same at all. So, I was at a disadvantage struggling to keep ahead of the drying paint and mixed the colors as best I could. Despite it all I’m happy with the results…

 Pears under-painting

Pears under-painting

I enjoyed mixing my own colors and layering them to achieve color, shape and texture. It was very interesting. And challenging.

Pears, day 2

Pears, day 2

One of my reasons for embarking on this painting journey is to stretch my abilities in how I work with textiles in my artwork. I’m already accustomed to using textiles as a painter uses paint but instead of blobs of paint, I use bits of fabric to recreate my imagery. But, in past work I’ve used an orderly structure of horizontal strips which is wonderful in creating depth as with my impressionistic landscapes like Tranquil Marsh – Wild Iris. It’s a difficult and meticulous process that, if so desired, can help one develop a galloping case of OCD.

Tranquil Marsh - Wild Iris detail

Tranquil Marsh – Wild Iris detail

Which is why I turned to abstract work as with my Infinity series. It’s still meticulous work but not as exacting. I can improvise more with the color, shapes and lines until it feels right.

Infinity IV detail

Infinity IV detail

So, after my first painting class, I tried a small landscape, 6 x 8 inches, with a looser, semi-abstract feel. I tried layering smaller pieces of fabric in a less structured way, a more painterly way. This piece is Horizon II, the second in a new series which lies somewhere in between my impressionistic landscapes and my Infinity abstracts. I made this one to donate to the upcoming SAQA Spotlight auction during the 2016 SAQA Conference in Philadelphia, PA on April 1st.

Horizon II

Horizon II

I’m liking this direction and want to take it even farther.

How about you? In what ways do you find yourself pushing and stretching yourself and your art?

Posted in New Work, SAQA, The Learning Curve

New Year, New Adventures

Happy New Year! I hope everyone has exciting adventures in store for 2016. I do! I have embarked on a new adventure – painting!

I am a self-taught artist that came to art as a quilter back in the ’90’s at a time when quilting was experiencing a renaissance and quilts were being made for the wall instead of the bed. Quilters began pushing the envelope on materials and techniques while trained artists from other media discovered quilting as a an exciting new medium to explore as a platform for artistic expression. With such a convergence of skills and talent, the current field of quilt art is now inhabited with amazingly gifted artists of diverse backgrounds and skill sets which has inspired me to push my own skill sets and expand my basic knowledge of art.

Soooo…, I am taking a painting class at the Hunterdon Art Museum with the extraordinarily talented Maureen Chatfield who is well-known for her abstracts but has extensive experience in all styles of painting. Since my own work focuses on landscapes, both impressionistic and abstracted, Maureen’s class Painting the Modern Landscape seemed a great fit. I hope to take what I learn in this class and apply it to my current work with textiles.

The class is filled with students from all artistic backgrounds. Some have studied with Maureen many times, others who have always been painting throughout their lives, are taking a class with Maureen for the first time, and those who, like me, are newcomers to painting. I’ve never taken a painting class in my life. I know nothing other than what I have observed on canvases I have admired in galleries, museums, in books and on line. In preparing for this class, I watched a bit of painting tutorials just to familiarize myself with the tools, materials and terminology.

Because of my virgin status, Maureen had me start with a simple piece of fruit using acrylic. I found a few photos on line of pears and picked one to use, Two Pears by photographer Lupen Grainne. I liked the simple shapes, colors and textures.

Two Pears by Lupen Grainne

Class began and the other students, some who had brought in works in progress, began to dive in. I stood there not knowing where to start and, after some guidance and gentle prodding from Maureen, I proceeded to work, tentatively at first but then I dove in head first into my painting. And, this is the result.

Pears underpainting fbThis is just the under-painting, or so I’m told. They look a little funny without their stems, can’t wait to add them. I was just getting the hang of mixing colors and layering while working on the aqua/green foreground when the class started to wrap up and I quickly mixed and through on the pink background. That’s when I discovered the faster you work, the better.

I invite you come along on this adventure into painting and see where it takes me and how it influences my work with textiles. One thing I’ve learned about myself already, when you’re self-taught, sometimes you don’t really know what you know and what you don’t know. Some days I feel there are boat loads I need to learn, but I realize now, maybe I know more than I thought I did and that feels good.

Posted in The Learning Curve, Work In Progress

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