Friday, September 2, 2016

What Fuels our Creativity?

By Judy Feldman |

I just finished reading an amusing book called “Steal Like an Artist,” by Austin Kleon. On one of the first pages, he says “What a good artist understands is that nothing comes from nowhere. All creative work builds on what came before. Nothing is completely original.”

36" x 48" oil on canvas
Judy Feldman
Afternoon at the Cote d'Azur
40" x 30"  oil on canvas
Judy Feldman
Almost all artists have their muses, and I think it’s so interesting to see how artists can take inspiration from work they admire, and then incorporate certain elements into their own uniq...ue style. I also believe that inspiration comes from the subconscious, from experiences we’ve had and places we’ve been during our lives.

For me, it’s always been the post-Impressionists – especially Matisse! I admire his amazing use of color, his disregard for the rules of perspective, and his emphasis on his reactions to what he saw, and how he transmitted those feelings in his paintings. Can you see his influence in my painting called “Treats?” Other painters, such as Bonnard and Gabrielle Munter also have inspired me. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in France, and I think that this, too, shows up in my paintings, such as “Afternoon at the Cote d’Azur.”

Following this theme of influences, I phoned a few Wilde Meyer artists to see who their muses were. Here are their responses:

Ryan Hale said his biggest influence is the work of the abstract expressionist Mark Rothko. “I particularly like his color field paintings, he explained. “I agree with his theory that color can expressfeeling, and admire his technique of painting thin, then building up layers to create soft, as well as defined areas.” You can see Rothko’s influence in Ryan’s painting entitled “Earthbound.”

60" x 48" acrylic on canvas
Ryan Hale
Ryan is very interested in aerial imagery, and he refers to maps to provoke ideas about “where civilization ends and nature takes over.” He likes to play with the contrast of organic, unorganized shapes, contrasted with the geometric restraints of the city grids. He explained, “I’m trying to organize chaos.” I think that “The Elements of Nature” expresses this effort.

Elements of Nature
48" x 48" acrylic on canvas
Ryan Hale

Barnett Newman is another muse to Ryan. He, too, is known for his color field paintings. According to Wikipedia, “His paintings are existential in tone and content, explicitly composed with the intention of communicating a sense of locality, presence and contingency.” Newman’s influence appears to me in Ryan’s painting entitled “The City Sunset.

The City Sunset
60" x 72" acrylic on canvas
Ryan Hale

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 and cubist movements. “In particular, I’ve been influenced by Raymond Jonson, who led the Transcendental Painting Group in Santa Fe,” Sushe explained.

Summer Afternoon 
 20.5 " x 20.5" acrylic on panel
Sushe Felix 
I looked up the group on Google, and discovered 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."

Sunlit Canyon 
29.5" x 35.5" acrylic on panel
Sushe Felix

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. She has her own spin on this inspiration, with a strong focus on forms, shapes and color. You can see her unique style in these paintings, entitled “Summer Afternoon” and “Sunlit Canyon.” Sushe has a favorite color palette, using strong complementary colors to draw attention to areas of interest for her.

Oranges I
30 " x 22" acrylic on paper
Rudie van Brussel
Rudie van Brussel’s artistic inspiration stems from his very interesting background. He grew up in Surinam, originally a Dutch colony in South America. Although he was first educated in a Dutch school, he was greatly affected by the deep colors of the tropics. Imagine Vermeer and Rembrandt in South America! When Surinam became independent, Rudie and his family moved to the United States, and Rudie attended ASU, obtaining a degree in engineering. But, that was not satisfying, and so after traveling the world, he starting painting, recalling the images and memories of his island life.

Fruit Table
 45" x 61" oil on canvas
Rudie van Brussel

“Fruit Table” shows Rudie’s love of color, tempered by a soft layer of shading that reflects the influence of the Dutch masters. In another series, instead of the formal portraits done by the Old Masters, Rudie has chosen to paint animal portraits in a formal, yet whimsical style.  I think Rudie also has been influenced by the magical realism of South America, when I look at his somewhat surreal paintings such as “Feathers” and “Tumbler.” As I said previously, our inspiration often springs from our subconscious – a mix of current and past experiences.

53" x 36" acrylic on canvas
Rudie van Brussel
48" x 36" oil on canvas
Rudie van Brussel

I think we all have muses in our lives – people we admire and who inspire us in our pursuits, artistic or otherwise. And, someday, we may be an inspiration to someone else!

You can see more work by Rudie van Brussel, Sushe Felix, Ryan Hale, and Judy Feldman at Wilde Meyer Gallery.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Collecting for a Cause

By Judy Feldman |

Bruno Waiting
Judy Feldman
In June, Wilde Meyer is hosting its 100 for $100 show. Now in its fourth year as an annual event, the gallery at Marshall Way is displaying the work of many Wilde Meyer artists, and each work of art will sell for $100. In addition to offering original artwork for an amazing price, much of the proceeds will go to several animal charities.

Cinnabar Green
Judy Feldman
“This is a great way to get acquainted with many different artists,” said owner Betty Wilde. “it’s always easy to find a place for a small painting or sculpture, and at this price, you can even make a grouping of several pieces without spending too much.”

I’m excited to be participating again. This time, I’ll have several paintings in the show, including “Cinnabar Green” (I found an awesome new tube of green paint), and “Bruno Waiting.”  And, I’m looking forward to seeing what the other artists are showing. I may collect, too!

Here’s a small sample of some of the works that have been brought in for the show.

Please know that this event has been so successful, that the gallery will be selling more than 100 works of art through a lottery system. The images will be emailed to all of you; you can put your name on a list for a particular painting starting Thursday, June 2, and a name will be drawn for each painting on Friday, June 3. I hope you’ll participate and enjoy some wonderful new art!

Be on the lookout for additional information coming up via email soon!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Where does your eye go?

The power of the horizon line

By Judy Feldman |

A few weeks ago, while driving up to Flagstaff, I felt as if I were enveloped in a mass of fluffy grey clouds. It was pleasant, and yet, disconcerting. Something was a little off, and I realized that it was because from my perspective, the horizon was so low. My view was all about the sky and its atmospheric effect.

Landscape #715
50" x 60" oil on canvas
 Albert Scharf 
Painters use horizon placement as a technique to convey their story. It can orient the viewers to where the artist wants them to be. A low horizon, like the “cloudscape” I saw, suggests a deep, open space; whereas a high horizon places the emphasis on the foreground. If the horizon is basically in the middle of the canvas, then the eye will be drawn more to color and shapes.

Landscape 802
54" x 42" oil on canvas
 Albert Scharf 
When I was pondering the low horizon line, I immediately thought about Albert Scharf, a Wilde Meyer artist who lives in Santa Fe. Looking at Albert Scharf’s beautiful cloud paintings, you can really sense the vastness of the sky I was feeling myself. When I spoke with him, he said that he finds that clouds are an interesting subject because of what they do to the light, and since they have abstract shapes, he’s not bound by form or structure.

“Clouds have an amorphic shape that enable me to pursue my interest in the emotional content of color,” he said.  “Also, the manipulation of their hard and soft edges gives great energy to the paintings.”

At first, Albert just painted clouds, but he then decided to add the thin slice of land below as a counter balance which, he noted, makes the sky look even larger. This is the effect of the low horizon that intrigues me. You can see how this happens in Albert’s painting entitled “Landscape 802.” (Yes, he numbers all his paintings.)  In “Landscape 715,” he has increased the size of the ground and textured it with a palette knife, which separates the land and sky and gives the painting a completely different look.

Landscape 852
60" x 48" oil on canvas
Albert Scharf 
Although he has seen many beautiful Santa Fe skies in the 30 years he has lived there, Albert does not use local color; rather he prefers to present his ”skyscapes” in analogous saturated hues that transcend through the conscious into the subconscious. “I want to take my viewers to a place where they feel good,” he said. A great example of this technique can be seen in “Landscape #852,” where the sky bursts with hues of pink, gold and violet.

On the other hand, Larry Taylor’s interest lies in the beautiful gardens he paints, so he purposely keeps his horizon line high. He says that it’s his personal preference, “just the way I look at the scene.”
The Well Traveled Path
 35" x 35" oil on canvas
Lawrence Taylor

Since the 1980s, Larry has made periodic trips to England and Wales, visiting the gardens of the British National Trust. The photographs he takes on site are used for inspiration in his paintings. In his work entitled “A Quiet Place,” Larry leads the viewer’s eye up the steps to the horizon, and along the way, we are treated to a gorgeous display of red tulips, purple irises and mounds of golden hued flowers. I just want to walk right into the scene!

Quiet Place
40" x 44" oil on canvas
Lawrence Taylor

“The Well-Traveled Path” is another example of Larry’s technique of getting the viewer to travel from the foreground to the end of a path near the high horizon. His clusters of blooms vibrate with color. Although our eyes are initially attracted to the brilliant red flowers in front, we still want to go up the path and see what’s going on at the house in the background.

Is horizon line placement always important to create drama? Not necessarily. Judy Choate is more interested in perspective and balance when painting her stylized landscapes. The excitement in her work comes from the brilliant colors and somewhat abstract shapes she uses to convey her impressions of the mountains of the Southwest. Judy has observed their interesting formations for years, while living in Sedona, on driving trips, and, now near her home in Tucson.

Approaching Storm
 48" x 60" acrylic on canvas
Judy Choate 
In her large (48”X60” painting entitled “Approaching Storm,” the horizon is actually in the middle of the scene. She catches our eye in a different way, by painting dark shapes in the foreground as a foundation, describing the mountains in warm pure hues in front and in more opaque colors behind. The slash of deep blue defines the horizon and adds more depth. Then our eye goes up to the whirling shapes of the sky.

Judy often lets the shape of a canvas determine her design. For example, in “Approaching Sunset,” the 20”X60” format dictates a wide-angle view of the mountains. We see a piece of the horizon line behind the golden shapes, where the sky swirls upward.

Approaching Sunset
20" x 60" acrylic on canvas
Judy Choate 
Some artists do away with a horizon line altogether. But, that’s another story, another blog!

You can see more work by Albert ScharfLawrence Taylor, and  Judy Choate at Wilde Meyer Gallery.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Art treasures for the holidays

By Judy Feldman |

With the holiday season comes the quest for gifts for friends and family. For many people, it’s an overwhelming task, since stores are filled with merchandise, and finding the right present can be difficult. So, how about a gift of art? A hand-crafted glass or ceramic piece, a small painting or sculpture would be a unique way of showing your holiday wishes, and the recipient will enjoy it for a long time.

At this time of year, Wilde Meyer Gallery asks its artists to produce small works that would be appropriate for gifts. It’s a great way to give (or acquire for yourself!) a piece from a favorite artist that you may not have been able to afford in a larger size. It also gives you a chance to get to know most of the artists there, since many small pieces are be displayed at once. This year, the show is called “Treasures,” and it will run in Scottsdale until Christmas, then will open at the Tucson location.

Holiday Nap 12" x 12"
Judy Feldman
Bruno Waiting 14" x 11"
Judy Feldman
I find it fun to do small paintings, since I can work fairly quickly. The two here, “Bruno Waiting” and “Holiday Nap” have an intimate quality that I like. Even though I love details, I tried to keep the images fairly simple.

Sounds Reasonable 10" x 10"
Linda Carter Holman
Crazy Eyes 14" x 11"
Connie Townsend
When I went to the gallery yesterday to look at the wall of small paintings, a few caught my eye. Connie Townsend has a portrait of one of her chickens in her distinctive style called “Crazy Eyes.” Linda Carter Holman has included some of her favorite things in her painting entitled “Sounds Reasonable,” such as the Calla lilies, the goldfish, fruit bowl and a dog with an expression that reminds me of one of her gracious ladies in larger paintings.

Let's Go 12" x 12"
Timothy Chapman

Timothy Capman’s “Let’s Go” painting reflects his whimsical ideas; this time, a blue bird with a saddle is taking flight off a plateau. Great idea for a traveler friend! Trevor Mikula has painted one of his distinctive dogs with a touch of humor, entitled “She’s a Lady.” And, if you like Bill Colt’s cows, you’ll see a few on the wall.

She's a Lady  12" x 12"
Trevor Mikula
So stop by and see the amazing wall of Treasures. There’s really something for everyone’s tastes. The gift of art is a unique and memorable one!

Treasures is on view until January 2, 2016. You can see more work by Judy Feldman, Connie Townsend, Linda Carter Holman, and Trevor Mikula at Wilde Meyer Gallery. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Artists Make their Mark

By Judy Feldman |

Close Red and Yellow Bands 72" x 48"
Ron Russon 
When we look at two-dimensional art, the overall image strikes us first. But then, our eye is usually drawn to the distinctive marks that define an artist’s work. By marks, I mean the brushstrokes, the textures and whether the image is done in a loose, gestural style, or a more controlled, structured way (see my last blogs about the latter).

Artists’ mark making is so personal; it may be deliberately planned at first, but then it becomes part of the flow of creating, an intimate part of their artistic process.

When I interviewed some Wilde Meyer artists about the way they work, quite a few told me that they like to use many layers when they’re painting. Melissa Johnson said that the process of layering “shows the history of the painting.” Melissa’s unique marks are related to the variety of tools she employs – never a paintbrush because she hates cleaning them! Instead, she uses old plastic gift cards; her husband’s old driver’s license, chopsticks and crushed paper, to name a few. “Each tool has a different flexibility, which gives different textures,” she said. If Melissa wants to pull paint away from the canvas, she uses tin foil, waxed paper or tissue paper to achieve different results.

20 " x 20" oil, cold wax & metal leaf
Melissa Johnson 
“It’s not a predictable method, but I’ve learned over time the steps I need to take,” Melissa said. She noted that she begins with a realistic image, and as she builds up layers or takes away paint, the painting gets more abstract. Melissa’s marks are also a product of a medium she uses: cold wax. “By mixing in the wax with my paint, I get a beautiful translucency, even with opaque colors. Plus, I can also carve marks into it, using ceramic and sculptural techniques. When I’m finished, I give the painting a light coat of the wax, polished with a soft cloth.”

You can see an example of Melissa’s strongly textured painting in her work entitled “Structure.” Here, her abstract shapes take the form of a house, and you can decide if she began with a more detailed house, or if that image evolved along with the other geometric shapes.

20" x 40" oil, cold wax & metal leaf
Melissa Johnson 

8" x 10"
oil, cold wax & metal leaf
Melissa Johnson
8" x 8"
oil, cold wax & metal leaf
Melissa Johnson
Melissa said that her art often has a Native American influence. Her painting entitled “Ancestral” is part of a series that reference reservation life. The texture in this painting and many others is also enhanced by the addition of metal leaf. The black and white checks are a recurring element in this series, which includes “Digs” and “Village.”

Brenda Brevik describes her work as “representational, but not highly rendered.” There is definitely recognizable imagery in her paintings, but she is more interested in the physicality of the painting process. “I want to show evidence of the trip,” she said. “I use layering to add depth, and give the viewer some eye candy to explore the painting.”

2 Nudes 
60" x 48"
Brenda Bredvik
Brenda has an array of mark making techniques. In her painting entitled “2 Nudes,” she purposely includes evidence of her line drawing of the two figures, especially the one on the right. For the background, she uses another mark – rough brushwork layered over what appears to be horizontal lines. To me, the figures are very appealing, but it’s the different marks Brenda makes that are so interesting.
Breaking Free
65" x 57"
Brenda Bredvik

Brenda’s layering often takes her painting from one subject to another. She said that “Breaking Free” started out as a painting of Mt. Whitney, then became an abstract, and then she added the horse. Her brushstrokes give the painting great energy, especially the flying mane, and the pop of orange squiggles on either side of the horse and the fuchsia one under its foot. This painting also shows another of Brenda’s marks: areas of dripped paint. “I like the pattern that’s created when I let paint with medium drip from the brush,” she said.

50" x 40"
Brenda Bredvik
“Poetry” also began as an abstract. To add interest and contrast, she painted the vase of flowers in a more realistic, elegant style, using much smaller brushes, and a palette knife, to make the flowers look “yummy.” The paint drips under the slash of white and the dark shadow conform to her mark-making style.

Green Left Foot  
16" x 20"
Ron Russon

Ron Russon has a degree in illustrative design, which is reflected in his stylized depiction of animals. “I used to paint traditionally, but I got bored,” he said. “So, I started to use non-traditional colors. That opened up a whole new world, in which I could make my own rules.”

In addition to his color choices, Ron’s marks also include thinned paint dripping, along with a mix of flat and three-dimensional rendering, all in the same artwork. You can see this technique in his painting entitled “Green Left Foot.” Ron said that he likes playing with planes, crossing back and forth between realism and his imagination.

Like the other artists mentioned above, Ron doesn’t use a paintbrush very much. He’ll use one to draw in the shapes, but then takes up his palette knife to add blocks of color, scrape away areas, and create textures. “Charolais Bull” is a good example of his mark-making process: the horizontal lines are both applied paint, and paint scraped away. Ron explained, “I started with drips of oil paint and turpentine, then I drew in the bull vaguely, then I moved back and forth, like a dance, between realism and abstraction. It’s like a dance: I lead and the painting follows!”

Charolais Bull
48" x 48"
 Ron Russon 

Most of all, Ron said that his style is always evolving, and that he strives to provide his viewers with something interesting to look at and reflect on. I think that his marks, and those of Brenda and Melissa, are successful in doing just that.

See more work by Melissa JohnsonBrenda Bredvik, and Ron Russon at Wilde Meyer Gallery.