Showing posts with label Acacia Alder. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Acacia Alder. Show all posts

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Tricks of the Trade

By Judy Feldman | www.wildemeyer.com

Whenever I admire a piece of art, I can’t help but wonder how it was done. How did the artist get that amazing texture? What colors did she or he mix? What type of brush or implement was used? In other words, how did they do that??

I looked at the works of some of the Wilde Meyer artists, and decided to ask them about their artistic process. I wasn’t sure if they would appreciate my questions, or want to divulge their “secrets,” but they did! (I think artists really love to talk about their work.)

Yellow Sun Vinyard, 28 x 30 inches, oil on canvas
Rena Vadewater
Rena Vandewater’s charming paintings are full of color and energy. She combines several techniques: pointillism, patterning and what she calls “scruffling,” which is her way of moving her brush very quickly on the canvas while mixing color. All three combine to create vibrant scenes.

Rena says that she sketches out a plan on paper and then on her canvas. To emphasize an area, she uses a warm color to draw an outline; then she paints inside that shape. “My patterns come from my head,” she says. “They go together like a puzzle. When I don’t know where to go next, I stop for a few days, and wait until I feel inspired to go back to the painting.”

Dingo Dogs, 19 x 23 inches, oil on canvas
Rena Vandewater
Travels often inspire her paintings. “Yellow Sun” is a scene from vineyards Rena saw while visiting France. “I want the viewer to see a real reference, yet enjoy the wonder of the painting,” she says. The red ground behind the vineyard patterns, as well as the red outline of the small buildings and the sun give this painting so much energy! The shapes remind me of quilting.

Rena has worked hard to create and maintain her unique style. Initially, she was self-taught; then she went on and obtained an MFA degree. “Although I’ve studied and learned classical painting, I prefer the na├»ve, primitive style,” she says. “Dingo Dogs” is a good example of Rena’s unique take on a landscape. Here, she employs all of her special techniques: the red outlines, the scruffling for the trees, the patterns in the houses, the flat paint for the dogs, and the wonderful pointillist dots for the land. Her use of the complementary green and red in the dots really makes the painting pop. To top things off, Rena encloses the painting in a patterned frame. It’s busy, but it works!

Desert Garden by Acacia Alder
40 x 30 inches, acrylic on canvas
Acacia Alder loves to hike in the trails around her Tuscon home. She’s inspired by the landscapes she sees, and wants to depict the dynamic energy that exists there. Acacia conveys all this through a technique she employs to give her paintings a sculptural, three dimensional look. I asked her to explain.

“First, I use acrylic gel to sculpt the surface in very particular areas,” she says. “That creates a form for the subject matter, which is somewhat abstracted. Then, I paint over the gel. Each painting has many layers of both gel and paint. It can take quite a while to complete.”

Elan: Palo Verde Musings by Acacia Alder
36 x 36 inches, acrylic on canvas
Acacia uses many different implements, including palette knives, brushes, small spatulas and even hair combs for texture. She says that her technique enables her to impart tonal changes, because the gel textures can more easily highlight the light and the shadows. You can see the sculptural quality of the beautiful tree in her painting entitled “Elan: Palo Verde Musings.” Her excellent use of light and shadow, along with a dark outline, makes the tree emerge from the abstract shapes of the landscape behind it.

“Desert Garden” is one of my favorite paintings by Acacia. The many textural shapes and wonderful color palette create energy, and the smooth, burnt orange path is a great, restful contrast. I really like the foliage shadows she’s created on the path.

Tracy Miller has a very interesting creative process. “I have a specific set of rules for myself when I paint,” she says. “I tone every canvas with a wash of either yellow, orange, red or hot pink to give a warm glow that informs the painting.”

Tracy explains her next step: “I make a visual haiku with black paint to create a balanced design of lines, circles or disjointed forms.”

Roughneck by Tracy Miller
11x 14 inches, acrylic on canvas
Bear by Tracy Miller
5 x 7 inches, acrylic on paper
Then, Tracy paints an abstract design within the black lines, while she finds a shape to help guide her to her final image. “It’s like looking at clouds and seeing distinct shapes,” she says. Certain shapes evoke certain animals to her. She sees bears in circular shapes; cows in more boxy shapes and buffalo in sharp angles. Tracy’s fine art background and familiarity with animals enables her to depict their structure and muscles even in her unconventional style. She purposely doesn’t show the entire animal, since she wants the viewers to finish the picture in their heads. When you look at two of her paintings, entitled “Roughneck” and “Bear,” you can get an idea of how she works.

Blue Mood by Tracy Miller
20 x 10 inches, acrylic on canvas 
After the abstract painting is complete, Tracy draws a simple outline in pencil of the final image she wants. Then she paints the negative space around that shape, which becomes the background. Amazing! When you look at “Blue Mood,” keep in mind how the image of the giraffe emerged. As a final touch, Tracy creates her unique signature of paint splatters across the canvas. “I do this to give additional energy to the painting,” she says. “I’m very mindful of the color I use, and after I’ve splattered, I know the work is done!”

Each of these artists has refined her process over time, and is now completely comfortable with it. What’s interesting to me is how personal these approaches are, and that’s why their work is so unique. Even if we understand the process, we can never paint the same way. Who wants to, anyway?

View more art by Rena VandewaterAcacia Alder  and Tracy Miller at Wilde Meyer Gallery. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

All In the Family


Desert Companions 10"x12"
by Roger Alderman
I’m still thinking about the possibility of an “art gene,” since I discovered that there are two sets of siblings who exhibit their work at Wilde Meyer.

Although their parents were not fine artists, Roger Alderman and Acacia Alder probably do have the art gene. According to Acacia, her family loved “making things” for their 100-year-old home, such as furniture and crafts, and they appreciated beautiful surroundings.

“Our house was always buzzing with a project,” she said. “Our parents felt that you should have a personal relationship with your environment, and a belief in yourself that you could make things. They felt that if you could put trust in your hand and your brain, and if your heart was in it, you could succeed at making something.”

Seen Its Better Day  9" x 12"
by Roger Alderman
Roger remembers visiting the Cleveland Museum of Art as a child, and being “knocked out” by what he saw. He later studied Industrial Design and Fine Art at The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. He’s also studied studio art at the Pima Community College, the Tucson Museum of Art School, and The Drawing Studio, in Tucson, Arizona. Roger has developed his own unique painting style through years of painting and drawing, using bold colors and expressive palette knife work. He often paints outdoors, in the areas around his Tucson home.

“’Cloud Burst’ depicts the summer build up of clouds we get in the Tucson area during the monsoon season,” he says.
Cloud Burst 30"x40" oil on canvas
by Roger Alderman

“Desert Charmer” was inspired by a visit to the Saguaro National Monument during the spring, when the hillsides are carpeted with yellow flowered Brittlebush. 
Desert Charmer 31.75"x 37.5" oil on canvas
by Roger Alderman

Sundown by Roger Alderman
Acacia Alder also has a contemporary view of the landscape, but she prefers to paint in her studio. Although you can appreciate her love of the outdoors, her paintings are quite stylized.

Golden Light by Roger Alderman
For example, “Sundown” and “Golden Light” both depict the Aspen trees, yet Acacia paints their trunks, rather than the leafy tops, focusing on the unique bark of these trees. They’re outlined in red and black, which makes the trees “pop” against their background. In “Sanctuary at Purgatory Chasm,” the trees, rocks and mountains again have that outlined style, which gives the painting a modern, interesting look – and a little like stained glass. Acacia says she has been influenced by Van Gogh and Cezanne. I think you can see that in her work!
Sanctuary at Purgatory Canyon 60" x 40" acrylic on canvas
by Acacia Alder
The Pendleton sisters have a wonderful collaboration going that produces mixed media pieces in paint and glass. Sandy Pendleton says that her father was a carpenter and made a living with his craft. But it was her grandmother who loved art.
Amber Sunset 12" x 36" triptych
by Sandy Pendleton
glass panels

“She did china painting, greenware ceramics, quilting and made dolls,” Sandy said. “Whenever we’d visit her, she’d always have an art project for us to do.”

Celestial Geode 12" x 15" x 2" plus base
by Sandy Pendleton
Sandy liked to make things, but she followed her interest in math and science to have a career as a programmer and project manager with IBM. When she retired, she started working with glass. “I think I like this medium because it requires some technical knowledge, in terms of chemistry and temperature control. And, it’s so much fun to experiment!” “Celestial Geode” looks like it took quite a bit of experimenting to achieve this interesting piece. “Amber Sunset Bowl” almost looks like ceramics, but it has the beautiful iridescence of glass


Nancy Pendleton, Sandy’s sister, has always loved art, drawing as a child, and, later on, obtained a BFA in graphic design. While she was working as an illustrator, she also pursued her interest in fine art, first in figurative images, and now in an abstract style. She loves mixed media, and started using handmade paper, with acrylics and natural objects. Her painting entitled “Studio Recycles Red” is a good example of her skill with different materials.
Sweet Spot 15"x10"
by Nancy Pendleton and Sandy Pendleton


Studio Recycles Red 14" x 18"
by Nancy Pendleton
When her sister became proficient in making art glass, the two decided to work together.

“We’ve worked out a technique,” said Nancy. “I often use a centerpiece in my art, and Sandy came up with glass pieces that work well in my paintings.” You can see examples of this sibling collaboration in “Bursting” and “What You See Is What It Is,” as well as some charming dog paintings such as “Sweet Spot” and “Flirting with Fido.”
 
Bursting 60"x48"
by Nancy Pendleton and Sandy Pendelton


What You See Is What It Is 24"x24"
by Nancy Pendleton and Sandy Pendleton

So, maybe there is an art gene! And, as Acacia said, it can just be that love of making things that’s passed on from one generation to another. What a gift!

Play with Me  15"x10"
by Nancy Pendleton

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Second Time Around…


New Beginnings oil on canvas 48"x48"
by Lawrence Taylor
There was a period in my life when I didn’t mess around with oil paint – or any art materials for that matter.

A good part of my adulthood was spent working as a public relations consultant – a fairly creative field, but mostly marketing ideas and writing. It wasn’t until I moved to Arizona in 1996 that I took up painting. But making art was in my genes: my mother was an artist, and my brother is a professional sculptor. In Arizona, I had more free time, and so I started to learn about painting. Sixteen years later, painting has been a focus of my life!

I asked the staff at Wilde Meyer if there were other gallery artists who also had a previous "artless" career. Here are a few, and in all cases, it seems that the desire to pursue art has always been brewing.

Labra Duo oil on canvas 24"x30"
by Connie Townsend
 As a child, Connie Townsend loved art. Her parents allowed her to paint murals on her walls and build a club house in her back yard. Although these skills would serve her well throughout her life, Connie could be the poster child of non-artistic early careers!

For a short time in the early ‘70s, she worked as a service station attendant, where she learned basic car maintenance. She spent her work breaks sketching the vehicles parked at the shop, with a keen interest in the VW Bugs and Vans.

You can see Connie’s love of cars and dogs in many of her paintings, such as "Labra Duo" and "K9 Taxi."
 
Color Me Lovable oil on canvas 30x30
by Connie Townsend

K9 Taxi oil on canvas 24x36
by Connie Townsend

Then, in 1980, she moved to Flagstaff where Ralston Purina hired her to drive a fork lift, loading trailers and box cars with dog chow. No time for art, I would guess! By 1990, she had enough of hard labor, and took a course in screen printing.  One month after the course, Connie left Purina and opened her own company, "Outrageous Tees Custom Screen Printing". That’s when her artist side began to show.

She started noticing the graphics on t-shirts and began to visit local galleries and art exhibits. She enrolled at the community college and started oil painting and was instantly hooked. A large painting entered in a show at the Coconino Center for the Arts received public acclaim, and the sale of that painting got Connie thinking that perhaps she could make a living as an artist.

By 2001, she had enough confidence to approach galleries both inside and outside of Flagstaff. Her art was well received, and she is now a full-time artist, calling her new business Blue Collar Art Works.

One of her paintings is currently on exhibit at the Sky Harbor Airport in a group show. Arizona became a state 100 yrs ago on Feb 14. In honor of that Centennial, 60 artists from across the state were chosen out of 572 submissions. The show is titled "Arizona Valentine". And my piece is "LUV AZ" 20" x 40" oil on canvas. The show is up 'til June 17 terminal, level 2.
LUV AZ oil on canvas 20"x40"
by Connie Townsend
 
Roses Near the House oil on canvas 42"x72"
by Lawrence Taylor 

Lawrence Taylor spent 20 years as a financial executive for a Fortune 500 gold mining company. "When I was growing up, you were trained to have a career that could earn you a living," he says. Although he studied finance in college, he also took electives in fine art and art history. Whenever he had the time, once he started working, he took classes at the San Francisco Art Academy. 

 Then a series of personal events occurred that motivated Lawrence to make a life change and do what he really wanted to do: create art on a full-time basis.

The Winding Steps oil on canvas 40"x50"
by Lawrence Taylor
In 1980, he took a trip to England and Wales. As a member of the British National Trust, he was able to visit and photograph many private gardens throughout the countryside. "Nothing in North America compares to these gardens," he notes.

Now, Lawrence makes a trip to England every two years to visit more gardens that have been turned over to the Trust. It’s easy to see the influence of these beautiful environments in his paintings: "English Gardens X" is a 42"X72" work that takes the viewer right into the space, ready to walk down the curved path. "Roses Near the House" is another large painting. Here, bright red flowers jump to life against lavender in the foreground and the misty English landscape that recedes. Winding pathways and artful paintings of flowers are recurring themes in Lawrence’s work, seen above in "New Beginnings."

England Gardens X  oil on canvas 42"x72"
by Lawrence Taylor

Sanctuary at Purgatory Chasm 60"x40" acrylic on canvas
by Acacia Alder

The beauty of landscapes also inspired Acacia Alder to change careers. Although she has always been involved in art – she was a jeweler for 10 years - the move from Ohio to Tucson had great visual impact.

Summer Aspen 18"x18"
by Acacia Alder

The large vistas she saw during hikes in the area caught her attention, and she became fascinated with the details and structures of plants as well. "I’m interested in how things weave together – the relationships of the things I see," she says.

Aspen Snow Shadows 18"x18"
by Acacia Alder

Acacia has studied drawing extensively, and that medium comes through in her acrylic paintings, such as "Sanctuary at Purgatory Chasm."

She has a delicate mark making that is very distinctive, and shows her love of the locales she visits. Aspens are a favorite subject at different times of the year.

I think we’ve all been extremely lucky to be able to pursue our passion for art in the second part of our lives. It gives us a new appreciation of our surroundings, lots of energy and a wonderful way to express ourselves. What a gift! 

Aspen Trail acrylic on canvas 48"x60"
by Aacia Alder