Idaho!

A much needed and anticipated retirement from teaching and another move west!

This change in location and lifestyle led to more physical contact with nature but  actually caused me to temporarily ignore the studio. But my eye was forever looking at colors of objects mixing virtual colors to recreate, cropping subjects as if they were going to be realized as paintings. I rationalized so that my actual failure to produce canvases was that my studio was smaller, there was lack of storage for new works, no outlet for exhibiting, etc.  So my days were spent in the outdoors, hiking, camping and volunteering for environment organizations.  I kept in contact with art, sketching while travelling, drawing flora during the seasonal changes, and even mundane objects.  

New friends asked what I do, with my answer, "I'm an artist"- always feeling somewhat dishonest.  Family asked if I was painting, and since I was completing watercolor sketches, I would answer, "Yes!"  But I knew something was missing in my life.   So- I decided to begin painting with oil on canvas once again.  With every adventure or camping trip I felt inspired and in awe of nature, so the landscape of Idaho provided me with my new subject matter.  My first experience back in the studio was almost magical, losing track of time, lost in my own choices and experience of applying paint- creating something new.  

My first paintings were completed using a variety of sketches and photos.  I became enamored of the process, beginning with a dark outline and working into wet paint- and couldn't determine when to stop painting.  As a result, I felt the images were overworked and tight- I had to relearn to slow the process and contemplate each brushwork.  As a result, I never finished my first attempts.  Some sketches remained just that.
 

My next few paintings continued with some successes, but even with reflective writing I wasn't realizing the feeling I had for the subjects.  

I began wondering if the planning had assumed too much importance to the detriment of the actual artwork.  So I went back to a more fluid style, beginning with washes of pigment- less preparation, more push and pull in the art increasing spontaneity.  

After only a few paintings, I realized I missed the structure, the planning and I became more determined to make the preliminary drawing on the canvas more important regarding each brushstroke on subsequent layers as final ones.

Florida again

Living in the west was remarkable and inspiring, but time to move back east.  I began teaching at a much larger high school, more responsibilities with less energy for my own art-making. However, the change also provided new opportunities.

 

 During the summer of 2004 I had the honor of being selected to study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the teacher's institute.  Everyday we had studio time with critiques and slide lectures given by various artists currently working with contemporary practices and from the Art:21 series (Lane Relyea, Tracy Miller, Elizabeth Condon, Dike Blair, Harrell Fletcher, Joanne Greenbaum and Shirley Kaneda).   Rika Burnham from the Metropolitan Museum of Art Guided us through the Art Institute, studying techniques  which were then incorporated into our own works in the studio.  The sheer amount of information was overwhelming to the point that when I returned back to my own studio, I no longer was sure what and how I wanted to paint.

During the summer of 2004 I had the honor of being selected to study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the teacher's institute.  Everyday we had studio time with critiques and slide lectures given by various artists currently working with contemporary practices and from the Art:21 series (Lane Relyea, Tracy Miller, Elizabeth Condon, Dike Blair, Harrell Fletcher, Joanne Greenbaum and Shirley Kaneda).   Rika Burnham from the Metropolitan Museum of Art Guided us through the Art Institute, studying techniques  which were then incorporated into our own works in the studio.  The sheer amount of information was overwhelming to the point that when I returned back to my own studio, I no longer was sure what and how I wanted to paint.

I regained a focus in the summer of 2007 while studying contemporary landscape painting at Wild Acres in North Carolina with Cassandra James.  The techniques employed utilized expressive drawing as the basis of the painting, working from dark to light.  "Lay in broad areas of value and color..." bringing in "areas of pigment up to the edge of dark underdrawing..." (from James' Review of Standard Technique)

North Carolina landscapes in particular continued to be the subject and inspiration of the majority of my paintings, as we spent many holidays and summers on our property in the mountains.

With each visit to our cabin, the mixed media images in my sketchbook became the primary means to expressing daily observations.

Moving West

Our family moved to a small town in eastern Montana in 1995. Since I was teaching art in a public school for the first time, I had little time to paint but more time to reflect on the responsibilities of teaching art and the lasting impressions I might possibly have on young minds.

I became very involved with the Custer County Art Center, learning pottery and teaching the younger set various crafts during the summer.  The associated Water Works museum was a wonderful exhibiting space for the annual  local students' show.  I assisted the director with installation of the paintings of Janet Fish.  And I had the honor of being included in several juried exhibitions in the capacity of working artist and as juror.  The work shown below was a part of a travelling exhibit touring communities in eastern Montana. 

 "Rosebud Canyon"  My subjects were always landscapes.  Big sky is not just a nickname for Montana but an emotional experience.

"Rosebud Canyon"

My subjects were always landscapes.  Big sky is not just a nickname for Montana but an emotional experience.

My response to landscape as a subject was powerful, and though the "tools" of  painting techniques were limited, I approached the canvas in a more reverential fashion.  Having an opportunity to experience this special part of our country affected my approach to painting permanently.

 Notes from a 1970 Pachner workshop, words that make an impact on my decisions

Notes from a 1970 Pachner workshop, words that make an impact on my decisions

 "Powderville"- from a sketchbook. Capturing a realistic subject as emotional content was of utmost significance.

"Powderville"- from a sketchbook. Capturing a realistic subject as emotional content was of utmost significance.

 "Clay Butte"

"Clay Butte"

Broadening my Horizons

Although still life as subject provided opportunity to predetermine colors and shapes, much like a photographer frames her subject in the viewfinder, I became more interested in more meaningful subjects to paint, so along with a few landscapes and animal paintings, my family became a frequent subject.  The painting technique remained the same

Beginnings

Beginnings

The tools remain fairly constant since my first great discovery of the magical experience of painting. Exposure to artists as instructors and mentors, changes of location and studio spaces all have affected techniques, processes, and subjects. 

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