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Art Explorations Mini Workshop 10/5 – Acrylic Painting on Grafix Wet Media Film

Central                                                          Art Logo

 

**Art Explorations Mini Workshop**

Acrylic Painting On Wet Media Film!

 

When: Thursday, October 25th, 2018

Where: Central Art classroom

Time: 2:00 – 3:30pm

Fee: $7*

 

Join artist Aaron Hoerber in this unique Art Explorations Mini Workshop, focusing on Grafix Wet Media Dura-Lar Film!

 

Find out just how versatile this amazing product can be as Aaron briefly covers its uses for colored pencil, image transfers, alcohol ink markers and watercolors, then dive right into a step-by-step hands-on acrylic painting project using a unique multi-layered technique!

 

All supplies will be provided.

 

*Pre-registration is required for all workshops. Call 541-773-1444 or visit Central Art to pre-register. Payment is required at time of pre-registration.

 

Space is limited, sign up NOW to get in on this exciting product sampler!

Michael Lynn Adams Speaking at Ashland Art Salon October 28, 2018

Ever meet a new artist in town who so impressed you, you wanted to share them? Well, allow me to introduce to you:

M I C H A E L    L Y N N    A D A M S

Please consider attending this presentation and
get to know Michael in person

Ashland Art Salon
Michael Lynn Adams

October 28, 2-3 pm.
Ashland Public Library
Michael Lynn Adams is the artist speaker at the Ashland Art Salon, held in the Ashland Public Library, October 28, 2-3pm. Adams’ luminous still life and figurative oil paintings reflect his deep appreciation for beauty and simplicity found in everyday life. He will be talking about his background, his life as an artist, and share thoughts about why and how he creates his art. Several of his still life, floral and figurative paintings will be on display at the Salon.

WEBSITE: MichaelLynnAdams.com
FACEBOOK: MichaelLynnAdamsFineArt

Adams’ award-winning paintings have been exhibited in numerous international and national shows including, Salon International, Oil Painters of America National, and California Art Club Gold Medal exhibitions; and are in private and museum collections across the United States. In 2012 Adams co-founded The Representational Art Conference (TRAC), the premier international conference focused on the philosophical foundations of contemporary representational art.

LINKEDIN: MichaelLynnAdams
TWITTER: @michaellynn

Read More

2018 Artoberfest in Kerby This Weekend!

2018 Artoberfest in Kerby This Weekend!




Guild Gallery & Art Center
Hours: 10-4pm, Tue-Sat
541-592-5019
 
Mailing
P.O. Box 1596, Cave Junction, OR 97523

Ashland New Plays Festival Presents 27th Annual Fall Festival Oct. 17 – 21, 2018

ANPF 2018-poster

Now in its 27th year presenting new works for the stage, new play incubator Ashland New Plays Festival will present its flagship Fall Festival, in a weeklong run of dramatic readings of works from award-winning playwrights October 17 through 21. ANPF is proud that many past winning plays and playwrights have received world premieres and won top honors, including 2016 ANPF Women’s Invitational winner Martyna Majok for her play Cost of Living, which won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

This year ANPF features four new plays – chosen from 400 worldwide submissions – that take audiences on unique journeys. The first is through 19th century England and a woman’s struggle to make her scientific work known in The Excavation of Mary Anning by Ian August, directed by Penny Metropulos. Another sees a suburban American community rocked by a sexual assault allegation in Cold Spring by Victor Lesniewski, directed by Terri McMahon. In Primary User by Nate Eppler, directed by Kyle Haden, a technological advancement made in the not too distant future shows the universality of grief. Finally, a contemporary woman’s world is dramatically altered by the long-reaching ramifications of Argentina’s Dirty War from the 1970s and ‘80s in Stephanie Alison Walker’s The Abuelas, directed by Ricardo Gutierrez.

“We like to think of ANPF as an oasis for playwrights,” says ANPF Artistic Director Kyle Haden, “ANPF offers the winning playwrights invaluable time and tools to gain insights and make significant progress on their plays while working alongside world-class actors and directors as well as engaging with audiences at talkbacks following dramatic reading performances of their plays.”

All readings are held in Ashland at the Unitarian Center located at 87 Fourth Street. Tickets are $20 each and can be purchased online and at the door as available. The box office opens one hour before showtime.

A playwriting panel and workshop led by host playwright and award-winning writer Beth Kander will be held on Saturday, October 20, beginning at 9:00 am at the Unitarian Center for $10, cash or check, at the door. Reserve a space by emailing [email protected]. Kander will also be giving a book talk at Medford’s Barnes and Noble on Tuesday, October 16, at 6:00 pm to discuss the first book in her trilogy “Original Syn.”

Continue reading for more Festival details.

The Festival’s opening night is Wednesday, October 17 at 7:30 pm, and will take audiences on a comic, surreal, and tragic journey based on real-life 19th century paleontologist and fossil collector Mary Anning in The Excavation of Mary Anning by Ian August. The story unfolds as Anning makes great scientific discoveries while being shunned by the male-only Geological Society of London. Leading an all-female cast is Alejandra Escalante as the title character alongside Jennie Greenberry, Michele Mais, Shannon R. Davis, Livia Genise, Meghan Nealon, and Marie-Claire Erdynast. Coming to Ashland from New Jersey, playwright August said, “[This is] a play about strong women pushing beyond the expectations of society, which is perhaps more necessary to explore in 2018 than it has been elsewhere in recent history.” This play also has a matinee performance on Saturday, October 20, at 1:30 pm.

The next play to see is Cold Spring by Victor Lesniewski a simply told story about a complex issue: how members of a tight-knit community respond to allegations of sexual assault against a local sports coach. Christine Williams, U. Jonathan Toppo, Jackie Apodaca, and Tiffany Cooper are parents who both confront and avoid the pain and confusion wrought by the event.

“I grew up in a middle class, suburban community much like the one depicted in Cold Spring [that] experienced similar circumstances… While this is in no way that story,” Lesniewski said, “I felt it necessary to explore what my younger self perceived during that time. I hope the play spurs further discussion about how we (as individuals, as families, as communities) deal with the effects of these types of events, and that such a discussion might lead to further understanding of how we can better empathize with each other and better support each other in the most difficult of times.”

Cold Spring performances are Thursday, October 18, at 1:30 pm and Friday, October 19 at 7:30 pm.

On Thursday night at 7:30 pm, playwright Nate Eppler of Nashville, TN, explores the process of grief in a computerized world with his play Primary User. Daniel José Molina is Oz and Esther Chen is Mia, two computer engineers who create a breakthrough piece of technology: a digital assistant named Ozee with near artificial intelligence – which retains the memories, conversations, and voice of one of the creators. After Oz dies and the technology remains, those who are left behind work through reconciling the past and moving forward.

“The play isn’t really about the technology,” said Eppler, “It is far more about how grief unravels us, how it makes us rewrite our histories, how it puts us in competition or cooperation with unexpected rivals or allies, how memories of the dead are tangible things that must be grappled with.”

Also starring Catherine Lynn Davis, Elizabeth Gudenrath, and Scott Ford, Primary User has a second performance on the final day of the Festival, Sunday, October 21, at 3:00 pm.

The fourth play is The Abuelas by second-time ANPF winner Stephanie Alison Walker, whose companion play The Madres won at ANPF 2016. Set in contemporary Chicago, the play illuminates the devastating and far-reaching repercussions of Argentina’s Dirty War in the 1970s and ‘80s. The story centers on an Argentinian concert cellist living in the US who is adjusting to life as a first-time mother when two strangers visit and expose a 37-year-old secret, dramatically altering the woman’s understanding of herself and her life. The play features Nancy Rodriguez, Vilma Silva, and Angela Hernandez with Alina Ceñal, Willem Long, Scott Patrick Ragle, and Nolan Sanchez. Rodriguez, Silva, and Sanchez were also in The Madres at ANPF 2016. ANPF is excited to work with director Ricardo Gutierrez on this play, as he directed the world premiere of The Madres in 2018 and will direct the world premiere of The Abuelas in 2019 at Teatro Vista in Chicago.

“Exactly one year after writing the first draft of The Madres,” Walker said, “I sat down to write its sequel with the intention of exploring the consequences of Argentina’s last dictatorship that reverberate today. In August 2018, after 42 years of searching, the 128th grandchild was identified. This means that over 300 have yet to be found. They’ve lived their entire lives not knowing the truth about their identities. It’s still unfolding, this history. Identities, long ago stolen, are being restored. And it’s not easy. None of it, as the characters in this play discover, is easy.”

The Abuelas is performed on Friday, October 19, at 1:30 pm and Saturday, October 20, at 7:30 pm.

Tickets are $20 available online or at the door. Visit ANPF’s website to learn more: www.ashlandnewplays.org.

For Community Calendars:

Who: Ashland New Plays Festival

What: ANPF 2018 Fall Festival – Four winning playwrights’ new plays presented as dramatic readings with professional actors and directors

When: Wednesday, October 17, through Sunday, October 21, with evening performances Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 pm; matinees at 1:30 pm Thursday through Saturday; and final matinee on Sunday at 3:00 pm

Where: Unitarian Center, 87 Fourth Street, Ashland

Tickets: $20, available online and at the door as available. Box office opens one hour prior to showtime.

Website: www.ashlandnewplays.org

Also: Playwriting panel and workshop Saturday, October 20, from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm ($10, cash or check at the door; email [email protected] to reserve a space)

Additional links:

Click here for pdf of full schedule

Click here for ticket sales window

I love Wisconsin

My two jar paintings at Wausau MOCA last week.

I was honored to have Frank Bernarducci select my work for the Wausau Museum of Contemporary Art’s annual juried exhibition this year. Out of respect and gratitude, I decided to attend the opening last week in a show of support for the fledgling museum. It was founded only a year ago. Its first annual, national show last year was chosen by Alyssa Monks. I hadn’t been aware of this opportunity until Bill Santelli emailed me a notice that Wausau MOCA was accepting entries for the fall. I’d been visiting Bernarducci’s midtown gallery for years on visits to Manhattan, and I welcomed the opportunity, if I got into the show, to exchange a few words with him in this less pressurized setting.

“The City Has Stories to Tell”, John Hylan

Not surprisingly, most of the work was masterful, executed in highly sophisticated ways. When you see the actual work at a show like this, it’s chastening to see, up close, how many individual paths there are toward mastery of a particular medium–it’s always humbling to see how good other painters are. As traditional as some of their methods were, the show felt ahistorical—the work didn’t look as if it had been transported into the present from any point in the past but it also, to its credit, didn’t appear to be striving for any sort of illusory cutting edge. Because Bernarducci has been selling contemporary realist painting for years in Manhattan, I anticipated it would be weighted toward representational and highly realistic work, which it was, but I was surprised at how much the work emphasized the human figure and in ways accessible to most people with or without a grounding in art or art history. You didn’t need critical commentary to love this work, but occasionally it helped, and  slow, repeated observation deepened my appreciation for many of the pieces. The winning oil painting, Cindy Rizza’s Lineage, depicts the artist herself nursing her baby, sitting on a worn quilt—about as far from cosmopolitan hipster ironies as one could get. It’s a beautifully rendered vision of the most fundamental and central relationship in human life, and it served as the touchstone for the entire show. The exhibition offered an astonishing array of technical prowess in the service of a quietly jubilant, affirmative vision of human thriving. The mood was one of warmth and love and intense vitality—with some notable exceptions, including one painting of a protester tossing a Molotov cocktail and a solemn image from Geoffrey Laurence of a seated woman quietly waiting to be transported to Auschwitz.

“Departure,” Geoffrey Laurence

These reminders of social injustice were almost anomalies here. If there’s such a thing as spiritual abundance, this show was an homage to it. Photorealism was well-represented, and hyperrealism, but even in these genres, the feel of the work was affectionate and idiosyncratic—not cool and sleek and impersonal. The show demonstrated that traditional techniques and straightforward representation are firmly established, once again, as a fully contemporary way to make art. Everything in the show felt as vital and new and fresh as anything I could see tomorrow on a drive into Chelsea, maybe because a sophistication about principles of design was so prominent.

David Hummer, the director, is laboring mightily—as so many are having to do now—to find a way, economically, to give the people of his region access to contemporary art from around the country. He spoke about his remarkable and impressive plans for next year, mentioning the involvement of Vincent Desiderio and Bo Bartlett, among others.

“Listening to Silence,” Ali Cavannaugh

The power and honesty of the show Bernarducci selected made me feel slightly abashed about my insistence that art works subconsciously and directly, in ways that don’t depend on subject matter. There was much implied narrative on view in Wausau, and it was powerful. Much of that power derived from the way it was painted, yet content mattered at least as much. One could use a show like this as evidence for an argument that art’s other greatest virtue, beyond the subconscious disclosure of a world, is to make visible what makes us human in the most obvious way possible, by depicting human beings. This show demonstrates you can put aside most of modernism and much of what has come afterward and still get this job done perfectly, without losing anything important in the process, including relevance to the contemporary world.

I did get a few minutes to talk casually with Bernarducci. I’m surprised to say that his manner, his kindness and geniality and unassuming role at the event were endearing. Somehow I’ve never thought to use that adjective to describe an art dealer until now, but it was exactly the impression he made. I suppose I could have arranged to speak with him in the past on a visit to his previous Midtown location, but somehow in that setting I would have felt as if I were getting between him and the ongoing fight to stay afloat that galleries face now in Manhattan. (Something they have in common with museums in Wausau, Wisconsin.) I got to know him a bit between his absorbed bouts of texting–the pressure of his life in New York followed him to the Midwest thanks to his smart phone. He said he’d gotten married in Wisconsin and he enjoyed coming back, though he was a clearly a New Yorker. He talked a bit about the economic battle for gallery owners in Manhattan and his recent new venture downtown, and he said he’d be happy to sit down and speak with me at more length on a visit to the city, with enough notice. (Afterward, I thought I should have assured him I could use a siren to give him time to find shelter, if that helped. Some people might take me up on that.) He won me over with his refusal of the spotlight when it came time to announce the prize winners, along with the look of near-anguish on his face when he said that deciding on the winners was one of the worst experiences of his life. He was not being hyperbolic. It was obvious that he hated having to eliminate all of us who didn’t make the cut for an award. Just mentioning it the way he did seemed to drain him. He struck me as a good man, fighting the good fight from his corner now in Chelsea, with nothing guaranteed, even after his decades in the business.

“Ivet,” Shane Scribner

He came to the right place: Wisconsin itself struck me the same way. It’s a long way from Silicon Valley and Brooklyn, but it’s holding its own. Wausau was a picturesque town that looked surprisingly new—as if a lot of what I saw had been developed within the past ten or twenty years. Wages aren’t quite as high as the national average there, but it had the aura of a small city with a fairly vibrant local economy, in a hilly setting that was even more beautiful with its foliage near peak autumn color.

But what struck me most deeply about the state was a moment on the highway as I drove north to attend the opening. I flew into Chicago and drove to Wausau in a rented Nissan, listening happily to podcasts in a steam of comfortably spaced cars doing around 80 for most of the trip on Interstate 90. About halfway to Wausau, my Google Maps route turned red and traffic slowed dramatically. Here’s what was so marvelous: very quickly, the cars in the right lane began to merge into the left one, as I followed the example of the fellow ahead of me. A couple cars passed and merged ahead of us, but that was all. Soon all the drivers were slowly crawling forward in the left lane—far ahead of the need for any of us to be in one lane. The bottleneck was still well ahead of us and the right lane now was entirely open and free of cars. No one, not a single driver, was speeding down the right lane in order to get up to the most advanced possible spot for the two lanes to merge. In other words, nobody was doing what drivers in every other state seemed to have learned to do—stay in that right lane until the very last moment when you have to merge left in order to shave a minute or two off one’s drive time and cut into line far ahead of all the others who have already politely taken their place in the slow lane. The right lane seems to have become the passing lane, at least where I live, and people roll up to the red light just waiting to engage in a drag race to get ahead of as many people in the left lane after the light turns green—and the same principles seem to apply in most places on the highway when construction is in progress. But not in Wisconsin. They’re actually courteous when they get behind the wheel–more than willing to respect the place of others who have already queued up. A quarter mile of slowly moving forward with absolutely no one cutting out into that empty right lane in order to get ahead—it was almost poignant. This was civility. I’m glad I made this trip, despite the cost and the time involved. It was worth it.

Research: Links to Articles On How to Simplify

Research, that is to say my investigation and study into what it means to “simplify” a design in drawing and painting.

Building A Knowledge Base.

Hi!  Over the past few months, I’ve been looking for articles on the topic of simplification.  That is, I’ve been trying to find out what simplification is all about.  You see, I figure that if I am to lead a class or workshop on the subject, I ought to have a solid foundation of knowledge.

Research on How to Simplify: Cool Kitty - Variation On A Theme

Article Search.

It hasn’t been easy finding articles.  Rather, the research process has been slow, especially at first.  Sometimes, though, one article leads to another relevant article and, eventually, another.  So, the idea, then, is to plod through and keep looking.

That being said, I have found several references that I like.  In other cases, with books, for example, I can see “simplify” in the index.  But, I have yet to read the all documents.

I Like Research!

And, the fun thing?  Yes, research can be fun.  One gets to expand one’s horizons and meet interesting people through their writings.  Also, the artists represented include realism to abstraction; photography, drawing and painting!

Research Into How To Simplify: Spice Kitty - Variation on a Theme

Links To Articles.

One additional note.  Several of these links have books, online classes, etc.  The purpose is not to advocate or promote the books or classes.  Rather, to share bits of insight on simplification.

So, in not any particular order, here are some links and references to articles on how to simplify.

1.  Mitchell Albala.

Mr. Albala is an artist and instructor working in the Pacific Northwest.

From Mitchell Albala’s blog:  “Any good landscape painting I’ve ever done was also simple”, https://blog.mitchalbala.com/the-not-so-simple-art-of-simplification/

Quote:  The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak. – Hans Hoffman

From Mitchell Albala’s book, Landscape Painting.  Simplification and Massing: Learn to reduce nature’s complexity by looking beneath the surface of a subject to discover the form’s basic masses and shapes.

Research: How To Simplify: KittyKitty Simplified Pattern

2.  Website:  Composition Study.

Though the purpose of this website is to be a resource for photographers, I think that the information is relevant to any visual artist.  There is one article specifically on simplification: http://compositionstudy.com/simplification/

The author includes a wonderful example of simplification in a black and white photograph.

3.  Johannes Vloothuis.

Via Artistnetwork.com, “5 Art Composition Tips:  How to Simplify a Busy Painting”; useful tips and examples!

4.  The Virtual Instructor.

This short article and video focusing on simplifying by seeing the underlying shape and form of the subject.

Drawing 101 – Simplify For Success.

5.  John Burton: Organizing Chaos.

From Tucson Art Academy On Line, a short video from artist John Burton.   He discusses how he organizes a complex scene.  Its all about seeing shapes; working large to small, and leaving the details to last.  I recommend this short video:  Three Key Steps to Simplifying A Complex Scene.

6.  Keene Wilson.

Mr. Wilson’s article “Design and Composition: Practical Advice for the Advanced Artist” is compilation of notes from the artist on design and composition.  Embedded in the many of the notes are tips on how to enhance and simplify your design.  And, you are rewarded as you read down the page where you find an entire paragraph titled “Simplify”.  This might be an article you want to book mark and come back to!

Research: Variation On A Theme

7.  Miles G. Batts.

One of my favorite artists is Miles G. Batts.  He has a paragraph specifically on simplification on page 68 of  his book “The Complete Guide to Creative Watercolor”.

8.  Linda Kemp.

Another favorite artist, Linda Kemp has a book available titled “Simplifying Design & Color for Artists”.

9.  Tom Hoffman.

An artist I admire from the Pacific Northwest, Mr. Hoffman has a book out plus teaches.  I have not read his book, but I frequent a blog he uses for some of his watercolor classes.  It seems to me that simplification and how to do it are topics imbedded in his instructions.  I find the blog useful.

10.  Frank Eber.

Artist Frank Eber, another fine artist whose work I admire has a blog with several excellent articles that include the subject of simplification.  All are worthy reads and provide insight to the painting process and simplification in particular.

Research on How To Simplify: Variations On A Theme, KittyKitty Red Alert

11.  Mark Alan Anderson, “Just Sketching” Blog.

I like Mr. Anderson’s articles.  To elaborate, I find the practical, accessible and useful.  Its about the practice of drawing and sketching.  So, I’ll list a couple of articles that apply directly to the topic of simplification.

12.  Stephen Berry.

Tip:  Try smaller reference photos, such as from a cell phone. Helps you see the big shapes!  From “10 Tips to Help You Improve On Your Own”.

13.  Me!

Some of my other articles about simplifying:

About The Paintings.

The paintings shown in this article are part of my “KittyKitty” series started in 2009.  One of my favorite ways of doing research, whether or not I want to simplify, is to do a “variation on a theme”.  Put another way, working in series gives the artist an opportunity to see first hand how changes influence design.  Plus, its great fun!

Research Variation On Theme: Totally Modern Kitty

 

#simplify #simplifyyourpainting #watercolorpainting

The post Research: Links to Articles On How to Simplify appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

Open Studio Tour Weekend

This weekend I’m participating in the Ashland Open Studio Tour, Saturday and Sunday October 13 and 14 from 11 – 5. Location: Project Space 106 Talent Ave #5. Behind Kindred Spirits.

AOST_2018_POSTCARD_front_web

I’m doing a painting demo at noon on Saturday. I’m painting an egg and discussing the difference between values and light effect. I’ll talk about light and shadow and have an instructional handout for participants to take home. The demo will last about 45 minutes to an hour.  Come early to snag a seat and bring your coffee or tea.

In addition I have lots of paintings on display, both new and older.  If you’ve been thinking of buying something this would be a great weekend – there are lots of pieces to compare and all sales are 30% off! Plus there are some secret deals and giveaways and that you have to show up to find out about… I hope to see you this weekend!

Embodiments of life

Still Life, Gillian Pedersen-Krag

There’s a funny and moving scene in Amadeus where Mozart defends his music for The Marriage of Figaro. His monarch cites good reasons for prohibiting a performance of the story: it’s immoral, degenerate and revolutionary in spirit. (The movie suggests that some might have thought of Mozart’s own personal life in those terms, on occasion.) The king fears that a performance of the opera might inspire insurrection.  France is on the verge of political chaos. Austria worries about the contagion. Yet Mozart dismisses all of these considerations, and his fervor about what he’s done in his composition is entirely about the formal brilliance of his work: the libretto may be subversive, disruptive and potentially violent, but his music is the embodiment of harmony and order. He’s living on an entirely different plane from those around him, playing a glass bead game with notes, striving for transcendent harmonies, merging many voices into one melody, with a passion for conveying nothing more than the quick joy of life itself.

The king: “Figaro is a bad play. It stirs up hatred between the classes.”

Mozart: “Sire, there is nothing like that in the piece. I hate politics. The end of the second act for example. It starts out as a simple duet. Just a husband and wife, quarreling. Suddenly, the wife’s scheming little maid comes in, duet turns into trio. Then the husband’s valet comes in. Trio turns into quartet. Then the stupid old gardener comes in. Quartet turns into quintet. On and on. Sextet, septet, octet. How long do you think I can sustain that, your majesty? Twenty minutes. If that many people talk at the same time, it’s noise. Only opera can do this. But with opera, with music, you can have twenty individuals talking at the same time and it’s not noise, it’s a perfect harmony.

For him, it isn’t what anyone in the opera is saying that matters. What matters is the magic of music’s arithmetic, the way layer upon layer of separate sounds can be woven together into a complete whole—how one becomes two and two becomes three. And of course that’s what endures. No one today who gets goose bumps listening to that opera’s overture cares that it might have sparked a revolution. We’re filled with the bliss of Mozart’s genius, not the libretto’s comically subversive message.

For me, Mozart’s struggle is similar to the struggle of representational painters who realize that they are wrestling with physical materials in an effort to create an image that answers to certain entirely formal needs—and therefore to convey, through perception alone, an awareness that has little to do with imparting ideas or thoughts. The formal qualities work in a way that doesn’t depend on what they can be construed to mean. A painting has little or nothing to say about life; instead, it embodies life directly.

Even without the need to mean something that can be extracted through analysis, representational work faces another challenge. Paint’s abstract qualities—color, value, texture—still need to evoke a roughly recognizable world. Color has to serve representation in a way similar to the way Mozart’s music works with the burden and opportunities of his libretto. (In the movie, Mozart couldn’t care less whether or not his story is vaudeville or Greek tragedy or conventionally meaningful at all; the narrative merely gives him an excuse to channel delight and joy through sound in a purely physical way.)

Having rewatched this movie recently, I was reminded of these polarities when I drove down to Village Gallery in Cazenovia this past weekend to listen to Gillian Pederson-Krag speak for an hour about her painting. I was eager to see her paintings and meet her ever since I’d caught a glimpse of her work in Baltimore a few years ago at an exhibition of perceptual painting curated by Matt Klos. In Annapolis, Pederson-Krag’s painting hung appropriately alongside examples from Rackstraw Downes, Edwin Dickenson, Charles Hawthorne, and many other great painters who worked mostly in a perceptual mode.

On view now at Village Gallery are her latest landscapes and still lifes, a genre in which she has made color her primary concern. With landscape, she somehow, marvelously, uses a much more restricted palette to evoke feeling and intuition from scenes that feel like remembered dreams even as they are also precise representations of either enclosed wooded bowers or expansive beaches that serve as the threshold to endless open space. In both still life and landscape, she does what Fairfield Porter strove to do: depict the world just as it is, while seeming to make it slightly more beautiful. That sounds like a cosmetic procedure, but Porter added a stipulation that a painting is beautiful because it contains a mystery, not because it hews to some pre-conceived notion of what’s lovely. The paradox of this aim toward beauty is that every vital painting has to rediscover what the terms are, how beauty can be disclosed in a fresh way. For Pederson-Krag it arrives through the struggle to achieve this with color—often despite the demands of representation. (Porter shrugged off many of those demands as a needless surrender to a work ethic, keeping his brushwork simple and often very loose, turning his shadows sometimes into pure hues; his thesis about Eakins was that the earlier American painter submitted to assiduous realism in an effort to make painting feel more like work than play, trying to convince himself he was actually working for a living rather than indulging himself in art. Porter, on the other hand, was determined to keep his choices more unpredictable, regardless of whether or not he worked just as hard in the end.)

Pederson-Krag’s brief description of her central contest, the tug-of-war between color and representation, for me, was the pivot around which everything else in her talk revolved. She spoke of how every artist has to find his or her own “door” into painting, a foothold from which all of the work springs. She opened a book about Cezanne and walked around showing her little audience the painter’s early, unrecognizable, melodramatic depictions of murder and rape—you could see how he essentially realized who he was when he discovered that the paint mattered more than what it depicted, and thus how he, and only he, could make a painting. As she pointed out: he discovered who he wanted to be as he discovered how to paint. For him the door into painting was the hope of making a field of color evoke geometric form and volume without losing the sense of brilliant open-air light—pushing toward pure abstraction in formal terms, while still evoking a partly recognizable world involuntarily distorted in an individually original way. What’s amazing about Cezanne is that the increased complexity of color in his work, compared to the green and blue world he was rendering, doesn’t feel arbitrary, but has its own inner necessity, in Kandinsky’s phrase.

Countless painters are engaged in that same effort now. This effort to fashion a truce between pure color and the way the world actually looks, when it works, can reveal feelings, moods and intuitions, what used to be called a sensibility, opening up an entire world of visual intelligence that isn’t about intellectual content. In a way, a painting is about nothing but itself, even though when it works it triggers in the viewer a long sequence of insights and experiences, opening up a fresh way to behold a familiar world. A great painting doesn’t mean something; instead it evokes a world. The problem with most of what’s said about painting is that, of necessity, it usually ignores this central work visual art is engaged in and instead tries to translate the work into intellectual terms. Analyzing art, speaking about painting, invariably conceptualizes what’s happening, even though visual art is able to bypass the intellect entirely, and embody, as Porter said, a mystery inaccessible to theory. (Don’t look to Banksy for this, for example: what he’s doing, and so many artists who have something to say, is perfectly clear.) The mystery isn’t something occult or strange or rare: it’s simply an awareness of life so familiar and intimate—and anterior to thought—that it becomes invisible in daily experience until a painting makes it feel new by making it visible again. The point of painting is to manifest what’s there in life from minute to minute but is so omnipresent it’s inaccessible to conscious observation. Peterson-Krag put it this way: the beauty a painting achieves is both surprising and familiar. It’s a slightly different way of saying “surprising and yet inevitable.” And she echoed another of Porter’s observations when she said, “It enables you to see something familiar as if for the first time.”

That’s precisely the paradox at the heart of painting: to enable you to recognize something that feels entirely fresh and new.  If you recognize it, it can’t really be new, and yet that’s how it feels.  Habit falls away and the most ordinary things become fascinating again when represented effectively in paint: looking at a great painting is liberating. The difficulty of painting, and of any creative work, is that there is no way to keep doing this reliably, despite all of the repeatable working methods a painter can master—beauty emerges as a byproduct of the struggle, as unpredictable to the painter as it is to the viewer.

From still life to still life, Pederson-Krag works to establish a varied range of colors that fill the entire visual field established by the painting—nearly every patch of color in the painting serves a purpose, leaving no room for negative space. Even a wall behind a little green end table bears a pattern—a tactic Zoey Frank uses to the same effect in her still lifes. The eye moves around the canvas comfortably but doesn’t fix itself on any particular item as a focal point, but instead apprehends the light, and the entire composition, as a whole. This approach makes the surface of the painting, the paint itself, as important as what it depicts. Her struggle is to compose an image in color, using the hue of various source objects to create a design—balancing the flat design against the challenge of creating a three-dimensional space—while attempting at the same time to unify the image into a coherent whole and a consistent sense of light.

This, for me, is what she meant when I asked her at what point in her life color became her central concern:

I have always struggled with it. I think it’s the most powerful element in the painting. When I’m really moved by a painting it’s usually the color. I’m always looking for color and warmth. Many objects have a character to them, but they don’t have a color opportunity. When I’m painting, the color always diminishes. I’m always diminishing the color so I always exaggerate it (early on) because I know it’s going to disappear. As I work into things, the color diminishes and I tend to resolve things with value. In that landscape (pointing to one of her pieces on the wall), I tried to make it about color but in the end I could only make it work with a value statement, which is the little element of light (shining through at the center of the painting). (The parenthetical remarks are mine.)

What I think she meant was that she designs a painting as a composition of pure color. In a still life, her objects are carefully chosen and arranged, chosen in part for their color, not simply “found” sitting on a surface in her environment. Her intent is to create a pattern of hues on the surface of the canvas by depicting what she has assembled. She begins with a focus on the relationships among the various colors she’s enabled herself to put down on the surface, through her arrangement of objects, but eventually she gets to the point where she can’t ignore the painting’s lack of unity, so she gradually shifts to a concern with lights and darks, in an effort to create a unified whole. And that inevitably dilutes and obscures the color and pulls her away from what prompted her to paint in the first place. When the painting works, even when it works beautifully, as her paintings all do, it’s a wistful truce between color and value. I’ve always considered this contest between value and color the price of perceptual painting, or any sort of representational work whose primary motive is color. There’s a trade-off in how the demands of representation mute a painter’s opportunities with color. At some level, you’re stuck wrestling with how the world actually looks: it’s mostly green and blue and brown, and it’s full of shadows. Anyone who wants to work primarily with color and, at the same time, create an image that looks remotely the way the world actually looks is living under the yoke of conflicting demands. It’s why it’s easy for a representational colorist looks toward Stella or Noland with envy.

What’s remarkable about Pederson-Krag is that she succeeds so impressively and her final colors become subtle, not dull, in a lustrous way. Though Matt Klos suggested to me, on my visit to Baltimore, that perceptual painting descends mostly from Impressionism, Pederson-Krag’s effort ends up creating images that look Tonalist in their disengagement from the immediate present, in the way they hint at loss and memory and the past, a timeless evanescence, as it were, while still feeling entirely alive and unpredictable in the colors that emerge from her tenacious determination not to obscure the fact that she’s fashioning a field of paint, not simply tricking the eye entirely into forgetting the paint in favor of what it depicts. If I were a collector, I would have bought more than one of her still lifes, but her landscapes have taken her to an even more rarified level and in some ways are more amazing. In them, she achieves a remarkable sense of reality, in a severely restricted range of colors, even while, up close, the images are literally layered visibly into a stucco-like surface of paint—a surface I told her reminded me of Braque. I marvel at the landscapes, because though I can conjecture my way, as a painter, from the blank canvas to the final image in some of her still lifes, even repeated viewing of the landscapes left me baffled about how she got from a white stretch of cloth to the painting hanging on the wall: those scenes embodied yet another level of mystery that kept me coming back to look at them in vain for a clue about how she’d made them.

Come Into My Studio! October 13th & 14th, 11-5PM – Dana Feagin Art

 

 

Stop in and see me, and the other amazing artist spaces, during the Ashland Open Studio Tour from 11AM-5PM this Saturday and Sunday. I will be painting, chatting with visitors, and showing off my mini studio remodel which reclaimed a storage space to make room for my expanded bunny family. Yes, I am a frequent foster failure and now share my space with five lagomorphs! Original artwork, prints, cards and Kat’s and my book “Love Rhymes with Everything; animal ruminations through poetry and paintings” will be available for purchase with all proceeds benefitting Sanctuary One. Maps of all artist locations are available online and at all Ashland galleries. This event is free to the public and a fun way to spend the day – even if you just visit a couple studios.If you complete an attendance card and leave it at the last studio you visit, you will be entered to win a raffle for 2 free tickets to A Taste of Ashland in the spring or $100 off local art!

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Fire and Smoke

This year Southern Oregon experienced weeks and weeks of thick, oppressive smoke from wildfires.  We often experience smoke in the summers because we are in a valley surrounded by vast forests.  Thunderstorms in July usually spark wildfire and now, due to drier, hotter years along with decades of fire suppression creating more underbrush to burn and cause bigger, hotter fires we now have regular major conflagrations that burn hundreds of thousands of acres each year.  Our part of Southern Oregon, the Rogue Valley is as it is called – a valley and high pressure weather systems trap the smoke in our  cities causing us to have densely smoky gray days along with hundred degree temperatures.  This will last for days usually and this year lasted WEEKS and WEEKS. I’m trying to find stats for how many days we had what the DEQ calls Unhealthy, Very Unhealthy and Hazardous, because we had A LOT. It’s truly brutal. Our time outdoors during this summer had to be majorly curtailed.  Sore throats, headaches, malaise were the norm for residents.  So, the Ashland Gallery Association (of which I am a board member) decided the cover issue for our Gallery Guide in 2019 would be a collage of art work around the theme of Fire and Smoke.  We had other choices, but the board all felt a cathartic exploration of the topic was needed.  In addition to the physical tribulation of the smoke, our local economy and by extension our local artists and galleries all depend on tourism in the summer.  This year tourism was drastically reduced causing economic hit along with anxiety about the future economic prospects.

All that being said – my contribution is pretty upbeat.  I don’t make dire illustrations but sometime I wish I did! I should try to depict the fuchsia sun during dense smoke sometime.  I’ll probably get a chance next year!  However, I have however always wanted to paint a campfire so the decision to use fire and smoke for the cover motivated me to finally do it.  Here is my cheerful contribution to a very serious subject.  Camp Fire I

This first one had a pretty cute fire and nice representation of smoke, but I wanted to catch the glow in the ring so ……

CampFire II

round two.