Monday, August 10, 2015

Planned vs Intuitive (Part Two)

When spontaneity drives the process..

By Judy Feldman | www.wildemeyer.com

In my previous blog, I examined the process of creating art by planning, using reference photos and, sometimes recurring images. Joseph Young and I like to plan, but once on the canvas, we work in a different manner.

But what about the intuitive painters? The ones who pick up a brush and get going? How does that work? Here are two Wilde Meyer artists who enjoy spontaneity when painting.

Greg Dye was a professional illustrator for many years, so he had to plan and produce specific images for his clients. When he took up oil painting several years ago, he did a complete reversal of his process, focusing on loose brush strokes and a more physical style. He told me that he wants to convey his emotion and his passion for the landscape, animals and people of the West.


Indian Summer 30" x 30" oil on canvas (left)
Raven and Roses  24" x 30"  oil on canvas (right)
Greg Dye

Morning Mountain Range
16" x 20"  oil on canvas
Greg Dye 
Greg does plan a bit before launching into his intuitive process. He explained, “I start with about 15 thumbnail sketches of ideas I have, and then I select two or three. Once I’ve chosen the image I like, I do a loose sketch on the canvas with my brush to get the composition right. Then, using a palette knife, I start to apply spontaneous strokes of thick color, one on top of the other. I don’t think about it; I just react to the paint and the emotional energy within myself. After applying many layers of paint, new shapes, colors and images appear and a buffalo or rugged mountain landscape starts to emerge through the paint. I sometimes add two or three colors onto the palette knife, just to see what will happen.”

Fearless 48" x 48 "  oil on canvas
Greg Dye 
This artist is very generous with his paint. You can see his vigorous brush strokes and thick paint application in his painting entitled “Morning Mountain Range.” Here, the mountains have a three-dimensional effect. I think that Greg shows his light source very well, and he skillfully conveys the distance between the grass and tree in the foreground, the mountains behind, and the sky still farther away. That shows a good understanding of color and values.

Greg works on each painting for just two days, using a wet on wet technique. He says that he doesn't have set colors or details in mind, since to him, it's not a matter of looking right, it's a matter of "feeling" right. He says. “Each stroke of color is a journey and I embrace the mistakes to find the beauty and live in the moment of every painting created.”

In his large painting called “Fearless,” it seems like Greg has abandoned himself to his process, and let loose. I can picture him painting frenetically, working fast until the image of the fierce buffalo emerges on the canvas. It’s pretty intense!

See more paintings by Greg at Wilde Meyer Gallery.

XO 6" x 6" acrylic on canvas
Dana Hooper
I spoke with another Wilde Meyer artist who said she’s “in the intuitive camp.” Dana Hooper tries to “get away from the literal” by employing several different techniques. One way to loosen up, she suggests, is to turn your painting upside down. “That can tell you if the composition works, and see the basic shapes,” she explained.

Hens & Coop 7 " x 7" oil on canvas
Dana Hooper
Dana, who lives in Colorado, has a background in biology and physiology. She has lived on a ranch, and is familiar with the animals she paints. Her intention is to paint her subjects simply, with an emphasis on color compatibility and strong brushstrokes.

Golden  12" x 15"  oil on canvas
Dana Hooper

You can appreciate Dana’s loose painting style in her work entitled “Golden.” She’s chosen some beautiful, warm colors for the dog’s body, which really pop against the cooler green/blue background. And, it all looks so fresh because of her bold brushstrokes. She doesn’t blend her colors too much; they just live amicably, side by side. Her painting called “Gung Ho” shows the basic shapes of the cow’s heads with blocks of color, in such interesting hues! I really like the contrast of the gold ochre background with the French ultramarine blue and violet shapes, as well as the bursts of red in selected spots.

Gung Ho  9.5" x 16.75"  acrylic on canvas
Dana Hooper
You can see more art by Dana here.

After speaking with Greg and Dana, I realize that applying paint generously is an important part of their technique. That process enables them to paint fluidly, and their brushstrokes are just as important to them as the composition and color choices. I really enjoying speaking with these wonderful artists. It’s so fascinating that we all have such different approaches and styles. It’s our visual language!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Planned vs Intuitive (Part One)

To plan, or not to plan…

By Judy Feldman | www.wildemeyer.com

Are you a planner? Do you like to know what you’re going to do and how you’ll go about it? Or, are you someone who acts impulsively, going by the seat of your pants?

House in Vinales  30" x 40"  oil on canvas
 Judy Feldman
Artists, like other humans, usually fall into one of these two categories, and the way they work is what gives their art its distinct character. I think I fall more into the planner category. I like to think about what I want to paint; then I look through images that inspire me. After that, I sketch a painting to see if the composition works, then go to my canvas. I have a color scheme vaguely in my mind, but once I start painting, the colors seem to evolve as I decide what will work together. I try to create a place where I’ve been, or where I’d like to be, and that usually involves many details, so planning is necessary.

“House in Vinales” is inspired by a trip I took to Cuba. I wanted to convey the warmth and strong colors of the small houses there, but then got involved with the other things: the bicycle (the main means of transportation), the animals (there are many), the shutters, and so on.

Under the Red Umbrella  36" x 48"  oil on canvas 
Judy Feldman
Likewise, while painting “Under the Red Umbrella,” I wanted to show the objects that make a patio setting cozy and inviting. So I had to plan to include things on the table, as well as patterned pillows on comfy chairs. Although I do get into the “zone” of the painting process, I can’t deny that I’m a planner!

What’s it like to be an intuitive painter, who just goes at it, without much of a plan? To find out, I called a few Wilde Meyer artists, and found out that some are planners like me; while others have different ideas. It’s always so interesting for me to hear about their process.

See more paintings at Wilde Meyer Gallery.

Flights of Fancy  30" x 24"  oil on canvas
Judy Feldman
At Home in Fez 30" x 24" oil on canvas
Judy Feldman

Two Horned Cows in a Verticle Landscape
36" x 24" acrylic on canvas
Joseph E. Young
Joseph E. Young is kind of a planner, but he approaches painting in a very different way. He wants to create a dream world, one that’s similar to ours, but with another set of rules about composition and imagery. Like me, Joseph has a plan, and he also likes to work from inspirational photos. He clips things from magazines and newspapers, to use as reference in his paintings. But once he gets started with his first image, he starts wandering around the canvas, adding elements such as flowers, butterflies, trees and animals.

For example, in his painting “Big Horned Cows,” Joseph said he started by painting the two cows, then he kept adding layers of different objects. “As I work, I try to make a home for the image,” he explained. His work is figurative, but very stylized. Joseph told me that he loves pattern, and is especially inspired by 18th century wallpaper. “I’m really a decorative painter,” he said. “I love to make things flat, rather than three dimensional. If I want to suggest depth, I use overlapping planes.

Cowboy and Two Dogs in a Landscape
36" x 36" acrylic on canvas
Joseph E. Young
You can see this skill in his painting entitled “Cowboy and Two Dogs in a Landscape.” Although the work is very flat, he still conveys to us that the young man is sitting on a bed of flowers, and that one of his dogs is trying to reach the fish in the water. There is so much to see in Joseph’s paintings! Looking at this one again, I see small bears climbing a tree, along with his lovely butterflies (he calls them jewelry), his favored orange flowers, tulips and fish. There’s something allegorical about his work. His dream worlds are so pleasant and inviting!

Joseph shared another thought with me. He favors a square canvas, since “you don’t have to think about the composition – it emerges like a genie out of a bottle!” He further explained that when you put your first image on a square, it breaks up the balance. Then, he works to restore that balance by adding his other elements

In my next blog, I'm going to feature two other artists who approach painting in a very intuitive way. I think you'll definitely see how their work reflects this process.

In the meantime, check other paintings by Joseph on our website.

Birds and Pink Flowers  36" x 36" acrylic on canvas
Joseph E. Young


Sunday, May 17, 2015

It’s a Woman’s World (at least in art)

By Judy Feldman | www.wildemeyer.com

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I , by Gustav Klimt
photo source: Wikipedia
Recently, I saw the movie, “The Woman in Gold,” about the painting of Adele Bloch-Bauer by Gustav Klimt. I’m sure most of you know the story behind this amazing painting. If not, see the movie or read the book!

In brief, this glorious painting, was finally returned to Adele Bloch-Bauer’s niece after it had been stolen by the Nazis and kept in Austria. She then sold it to Ronald Lauder for $135 million. It now hangs in the Neue Gallery in New York, where everyone can enjoy it.

Although Klimt knew his subject well, he chose to portray her in his symbolist style. Her beautiful face is dreamy and arresting, but the rest of the painting is an amazing design, rendered exquisitely in oil paint and gold leaf, with many patterns in her dress and on the wall behind her.

I started thinking about how the female figure has always inspired artists, since the very beginning of visual art. While we can appreciate the classical depictions of women, it’s interesting to see how artists have interpreted this subject differently.

In Your Dreams
Jacqueline Rochester
Looking though the works of Wilde Meyer artists, I see that there are just a few who paint the female figure. (Many prefer dogs, horses or cows!) Jacqueline Rochester, one of the gallery’s older artists, is deceased, but several of her paintings are still handled by Wilde Meyer. I’m particularly drawn to them because I see the influence of Matisse, and, like me, she portrays inviting places where you’d like to be. The figure is important, but it’s not the only interesting part of her work.

In her biography, she said, “My paintings are a word of youth, a secret world of leisure and play, of lovely places…It’s a world apart from today’s realism and society’s struggles.” Her painting entitled “In Your Dreams” is a good example. The well-dressed figure is looking out pensively, and behind her are the elements of a cozy home: colorful rugs, part of a chair, dogs and a rocking horse. Although these elements are not arranged in a traditional way, we can understand the story. The open composition style and the way she shows only part of most objects makes the painting more interesting to me.

White Orchids
Jacqueline Rochester

“White Orchids” is another painting that reminds me so much of Matisse because of its flat perspective and the simple rendering of the two women with just solid shapes and no worries about shading or small details. It’s another inviting scene, with many allusions to women: a domestic setting, and the feminine touch of flowers in the bowl, on a pillow, in a woman’s arms and on the wall (a painting which reminds me of Georgia O’Keefe -- a feminist!).

The Good in Everything
Andrea Peterson


Andrea Peterson, a young artist at the gallery, sees painting the female figure as a way of expressing herself. She says that the imagery she presents is an extension of her dreams. “The Good in Everything” is indeed a woman’s story. Andrea explained that the coy fish represent luck and prosperity; the white flowers are purity and goodness. Her loose painting style in this work help to convey the sense of floating through a dream.

Andrea’s women are portrayed in many different ways. The figure in “The Rider” is completely different; she looks determined and commanding as she leads her horse. Her dress is modern, even a little sexy for a horse rider (maybe her pants are in the barn). Then, in another style, Andrea invokes her inner Degas in the painting entitled “Corps de Ballet.”   She said, “In this painting, I was working with composition, focusing on the body poses. I liked showing the back view of the dancers, making them anonymous, and thus asking the viewer to think about their expressions.” The beautiful pastel hues and Andrea’s painterly brushwork for the background give the work great energy. The dancers look as if they just finishing twirling!
Corps de Ballet
Andrea Peterson
The Rider
  Andrea Peterson
The women in Linda Carter Holman’s paintings are stylized, with curvy shapes and glowing, innocent faces. Like Jacqueline Rochester, they are part of a story, a quiet life in the Southwest. Her use of bold color and small details on the objects that complete each painting make her work very appealing. The artist takes a simple act or seemingly mundane task, and makes it interesting. Linda has design elements that are symbolic to her and make their way into many of her works. The Calla lilies in the woman’s arm and the goldfish on the pot in “Little Winds” are an example of recurring themes. The woman in the foreground is touching the soil, but seems to be ready to take off and join her two friends as they fly away.

Little Winds
Linda Carter Holman
 
In “Loving Cup,” a bride offers a cup that has attracted two colorful birds. Her white gown and headdress seem to be carrying her aloft. She almost looks swan-like to me. You can see the goldfish again on the drink sticks in the foreground and on the vase in the background holding the calla lilies. There are other things going on in this painting: one woman shoots an arrow into the sky, while another looks on. There are shooting stars in the sky. These women are telling us a story about an event, something that triggered Linda’s creative mind.

Loving Cup
Linda Carter Holman
 
The female figure is often a thought-provoking focal point in a painting. Not too many are as dramatic as Klimt’s portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer. I plan to have a good look at this famous work, when I visit the Neue Gallery in New York next week!

You can see more art by Jacqueline Rochester, Linda Carter Holman and Andrea Peterson at Wilde Meyer Gallery.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Artists as Storytellers

By Judy Feldman | www.wildemeyer.com

What stimulates the artistic mind to pick up a brush and create a painting, or to produce a beautiful object, or, for that matter, to write a compelling novel? Sometimes we see something that triggers our imagination – whether it’s a beautiful landscape, a bowl of perfect fruit, colors that turn us on, or a story that we’ve overheard.

Airing Out
Ka Fisher
Some artists use many of these stimuli to create their work. Painters can tell the story of what they’ve been thinking about through narrative art. These storytellers don’t use words; they use images and color to inform the viewer.

Ka Fisher’s paintings, which have a lovely, Impressionist style, tell stories about Native Americans – their land and the things they do during their daily lives. She told me that she often visits places like Chinle, Kayenta and Canyon de Chelly for her inspiration. At the Hubbell Trading post, she has taken a “listening tour,” where she overhears conversations among customers.

“I get many ideas from the people I meet as well as places I visit,” Ka said. “In the Town of Tubac, they have open wood structures that are used for events to give shade. They also have the same type of structures on the Navajo reservation.” Ka took this vision and developed a story in her large painting entitled “Airing Out,” where rugs are hung to air, and horses walk between them. “I wanted the narrative to be happy and fun, so I added many animals in the foreground,” she said.

Dreamboat Annie Cruisin'
Ka Fisher
Another painting, “Dreamboat Annie Cruisin’,” combines stories that relate to the Navajo way of life and Ka’s own history. “Here, I’m mixing memory and imagery,” she said. “The vintage cars are embedded in my mind from childhood.” Ka sets the scene in the mountain foothills, where Navajo display their rugs in and among a vintage car show. That may not actually have happened, but it’s Ka’s story to tell! The bright colors of the rugs and the cars create a lively, appealing scene.

Sometimes memories can play a role in narrative painting. In Ka Fisher’s case, she spent her childhood summers in Canada by a river near two Indian villages. The scenes she paints incorporate some of that landscape, along with the Southwest she has adopted as her current home.
My Market
Linda Carter Holman
Over in California, artist Linda Carter Holman tells painted stories about her vision of life. Many of the elements in her paintings have special meanings for her. In her painting entitled “My Market,” she created a scene that’s “how it would be if I had a market.” She said that the sunflower over one woman’s head is symbolic of the sun, which she couldn’t show because of the awning overhead. The lovebird in the cage is another favorite image, as is the goldfish in the bowl under the table on the right side. “Goldfish represent the miracle of discovering the world to me,” she said. Above the goldfish bowl, there is a jug with a small ladder leaning against it. Linda said that image also tells a story of self-discovery.

Lotus
Linda Carter Holman
Even though Linda uses a strong color palette, her painting is serene. The four women in the painting seem to be enjoying themselves as they walk through the market. They are soft-bodied figures, since Linda thinks that curves are more relaxing. You see curved shapes throughout the painting, which is filled in every spot with an image, because, as she says “every inch of our lives is filled with something.”

Her painting entitled “Lotus” tells a different story. It seems more mysterious to me. The solitary figure has her back to the viewer, so we don’t really know what she’s thinking. When I commented to Linda that things didn’t seem to be in scale, she replied that she was just creating a composition – a visual story – which unfolded in that way. “I just painted a moment in this woman’s life.” I asked about the umbrellas, and she said that they symbolize being prepared (that’s more necessary in Northern California than here in Arizona). She chose the image of the lotus because “it comes from the mud and becomes something, just as a person evolves.”


Treats
Judy Feldman
After speaking with these two artists, I started thinking about my own paintings. Do I tell a story, too? I actually think I do, since many of my paintings are about places I’d like to be – cozy settings, with colorful furniture, and, usually, a contented dog. “Treats” is a good example of a typical story I tell. The open book, the slippers and the tea and cupcakes all indicate that a person will soon be coming back into the room. The dog shares its owner’s good life, with treats for him on the table.

Cote D'Azur
Judy Feldman
Another painting, “Afternoon at the Cote D’Azur,” is inspired by a visit to the South of France. Here, again, my story is of an inviting place, with a table set for a possible romantic dinner, observed by the family’s dog and cat.

We all have stories. Some of us are fortunate to be able to tell them visually. But, even if you can’t paint or write, it’s important to share your stories with others. And, don’t forget to embellish them a little!


You can see more art by Judy Feldman, Linda Carter Holman and Ka Fisher at Wilde Meyer Gallery.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Painter’s Emotional Lens

By Judy Feldman | www.wildemeyer.com

We often think of landscape paintings as representational art. But, in fact, many artists are so inspired by the landscape they are experiencing, they prefer to convey these scenes through the lens of their emotions.

I recently attended a lecture by a docent from the Phoenix Art Museum about the Hudson River School. These American painters of the 19th century hiked in uncharted territory of upstate New York, in awe of the wilderness around them. They sketched and wrote their memories on site; then created paintings in their studios that we would call realistic, but which conveyed their fascination with and love of nature.

Dawn Mountain Glow
Fran Larsen
Today, some contemporary painters express their reactions to a landscape in a different way. They choose to ignore local color and instead, use hues that convey their emotions rather than describe what they see. Others prefer to express themselves with more stylized, abstract versions of physical realities. To explore these different concepts of landscape painting, I called two artists from Wilde Meyer whose work I admire.

When she moved to Santa Fe, Fran Larsen was thrilled by the wonderful light there, the amazing landscape and the interesting cultures of its residents. Fran says that her paintings are metaphors of her reaction to these unique New Mexican characteristics.

“I’m inspired by the way the environment here makes me feel,” she says. “Because of the intense light, I see color in entirely different ways. Once color becomes arbitrary – rather than local – shapes can be arbitrary as well.”

Hidden in the Mountains
Fran Larsen
Inspiration for her painting entitled “Dawn Mountain Glow” came as Fran was looking out her window at the canyon below her house. She painted the arroyo that runs through the canyon – a technique she often employs. “Roads and rivers are entry points that take us into things, and I believe that each painting is an exploration for me and the viewer,” she says. As you can see, Fran’s choice of colors is personal, and doesn’t reference the local scene. I sense that her emotional lens was a joyful one – the vivid colors in the canyon and the sky make the painting energetic and pleasing.

Fran departs from realism in other ways. In her painting entitled “Hidden in the Mountains,” she makes no attempt to portray a three-dimensional depth of field. “This painting is about a landscape, but my interest here is design and the use of flat space – a more cubist approach,” she says. Fran explains that she contrasts light and dark areas, using hues that vary in intensity, to give the painting a “feeling of push and pull.” She uses small dots to enliven the shapes and add texture.

There is another unique element in Fran’s paintings – the frames themselves. She designs, constructs and paints each frame to complement the painting. “The frame reasserts that the painting is an object, as opposed to a representation,” she says.


Sunlit Canyon
Sushe Felix
Sushe Felix lives in Colorado. Her southwest landscapes have a distinctive style, which she claims is derived from her interest in American abstract painters from the 1930’s and 40s, as well as the modernist movement. “In particular, I’ve been influenced by Raymond Jonson, who led the Transcendental Painting Group in Santa Fe,” Sushe explained.

Late Night Reflection
Sushe Felix
I looked up the group on Google, and found that the aim of the Transcendental Painting Group was "to defend, validate and promote abstract art. They sought to carry painting beyond the appearance of the physical world, through new expressions of space, color, light and design."

Thomas Hart Benton, who was at the forefront of the Regionalist movement, also influenced Sushe, as did the southwest regionalist painters, who took the local landscape and abstracted it. Sushe does that in her own way, with a strong focus on forms, shapes and color. You can see her unique style in two of her paintings, entitled “Sunlit Canyon” and “Late Night Reflection.” She likes to define the shapes of the mountains and sky with sharp edges, but contrasts that with soft shapes inside the borders. When I asked her how she created the delicate areas of clouds, mountains and trees, she said that she uses old brushes to scrub acrylic paint on her canvas to create a pastel-like effect. “I studied pastel in college, so I know how to blend very well,” she says.

Sushe often includes depictions of wildlife in her paintings. Here, her love of animals lead her to create endearing “critters” with round eyes – as you can see in two beautiful paintings entitled “Nest of Blooms.” and “Full Brood.”


Full Brood
Sushe Felix
Nest of Blooms
Sushe Felix


Many people want a point of reference when they look at a painting. But more importantly, a painting should reflect the artist’s vision – seen through his or her emotional lens.

View more art by Fran Larsen and Sushe Felix at Wilde Meyer Gallery.