Showing posts with label Rena Vandewater. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rena Vandewater. Show all posts

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. 

Patterns Perk up Paintings!

By Judy Feldman | www.wildemeyer.com

Patterns are all around us. We see them in nature, on clothing, and in any number of decorative items around our homes: wallpapers, rugs, pillows, upholstery, etc. Patterns perk things up. Think how dull it would be if everything were solid! I can’t imagine how plain my painting entitled Fruits, (Mostly) would be without the patterns on the bowl and tablecloth. And, certainly, Spots, Stripes and Squares would be so boring without the spots, stripes or squares!

Patterns have been a big part of artists’ work for a long time. The Japanese wood-block prints influenced many painters, such as Monet, Van Gogh, Gauguin and Toulouse- Lautrec, to name a few. The pointillists created their own form of pattern with small dots of color that become blended in the viewer’s eye to form an image.

Joseph Young is all about patterns. “I’ve always been a decorative painter,” he says Trained as an art historian, Joseph is influenced by many art movements, such as Art Nouveau, Arts and Crafts, and the artists mentioned above. “Even abstract expressionists such as Jackson Pollack were decorative artists in their own way,” he commented.

Joseph likes to paint flat, and uses pattern to give the illusion of three dimensions. He juxtaposes colors that vibrate off each other. “If there’s no vibration, I add another contrasting color, until I get the desired effect. I want the colors to either work with or against each other to create excitement in the painting.”

To achieve patterns such as these requires considerable patience. As you can see in his painting entitled Red and White Cat and a Puppy in a Landscape, there are many different elements, and each has its own pattern. There are so many varieties of butterflies, flowers, fish and birds; yet they are grouped in an organized, thoughtful way. You can tell that Joseph has a very strong sense of design (and an amazing ability to stay focused!).

In his painting Cowboy and Two Dogs in a Landscape, we see similar floral designs and butterflies, but here Joseph has used a pointillist effect of dots and tiny patterns to create a sense of depth against the flatter, more solid elements in the work.

Rena Vandewater also uses lines and dots to give her paintings movement and a three dimensional effect. Woman with Pups is a very stylized work – the woman and her dogs are flat, but everything else vibrates because of the patterns she’s created. Pear Tree would be a pretty uninteresting painting without the textures she’s given to the sky, leaves and patches of ground that together remind me of a quilt and needlework.

“I work intuitively,” she explains. “The painting talks to me the entire time I’m working on it. The patterns and shapes evolve in the process, and although I see the images as a whole, each space has a life of its own.”

Yellow Sun Vineyard also shows the influence of textiles on Rena’s work. The shapes of the hills, each with its own pattern and color scheme, convey the look of a collage piece. The red ground that shows between the patterns and as a border around the shapes makes the colors really pop.

Tracy Miller isn’t afraid of color. She often puts conflicting hues together to give energy to a painting. “People respond to color emotionally,” she says. Tracy lives in the foothills of a mountain area in Colorado, where the wildlife she sees daily inspire her art.

Her method is so different from Joseph and Rena’s, She says she follows a “visual haiku,” meaning that she starts with black lines painted in a free-form way to create forms for a color abstraction. “That movement and pattern informs the animal I create,” she says. “It just evolves from the initial drawing.” If you look at two of her paintings, Horse and Bear, you can see the initial black swirls under the red background.

But that’s just the beginning of the work. As she adds brushstrokes of color, the animal emerges, with its shape and musculature. Tracy uses different colors to show contour, rather than more traditional lights and darks of the same hue.

Other techniques that characterize Tracy’s unique style include switching between opaque and transparent colors. The moose in Lazy Days is portrayed with strikes of transparent hues that give it a luminous glow. Tracy often crops her image to zoom in on her color patterns, as in Longhorn Series II. “It’s more about the design, than a realistic image of the animal,” she explains. And, the flourish of a splatter of paint that flies over most of her paintings is “my, fun, energetic signature.”

So, keep your eye out for patterns. They are everywhere, and they make life so much more interesting!

The Style of Style

By Judy Feldman | www.wildemeyer.com

We often talk about an artist’s style – the way he or she paints that’s easily identifiable. That can apply to realism, abstraction and anything in between. There’s also stylized painting – a technique whereby the artist depicts an image in a unique way – presenting subject matter, forms and color choices that are very distinctive.

The Wilde Meyer artists I spoke to all said that they want to take the viewer beyond the subject by eliminating certain details and adding their own artistic marks.

Loire Valley 35.5" x 35.5" oil on canvas
by Rena Vandewater
Pear Tree 19" x 25" oil on canvas 
by Rena Vandewater
For example, Rena Vandewater, an artist from Idaho, paints scenes from places she has visited, and although some of the elements are identifiable, much of the paintings are about her artistry. As you can see in “Loire Valley,” the chateaux are there, but the orange hills and vibrant green trees are definitely Rena’s invention.

“I work very intuitively,” she explains. “The painting talks to me the whole time I’m working on it. The patterns and shapes evolve in the process, and although I see the image as a whole, each space has a life of its own.”

Rena discovered that the lines and dots of her patterned areas give the paintings a 3-D effect. “By using this technique and vibrant colors I can add movement to the painting.” This 3-D aspect is evident in “Pear Tree,” which also reflects her love of quilts and textiles.

Jaime Ellsworth and companions
Sometimes, stylized painting removes details, focusing more on shapes and color. The work of artists Jaime Ellsworth and Robert Burt fall into this approach. Jaime calls herself a “shape artist” who likes to keep her art “on the lighter side.” She doesn’t work from photos – just “what comes out of my head” – but I think she’s inspired by her family of 4-legged pets, including dogs, a goat and miniature horses. As you can see in her painting entitled “Scent,” she knows just what dogs do when they get together! (Jaime probably gets a lot of laughs from her animals. I just can’t resist including this photo she sent me of a typical car ride for her.)

Scent 24" x 36" acrylic on canvas
by Jaime Ellsworth
 “Waterbowl” is a great example of Jaime’s skill with shape and color. There are basically three shapes in this 30X40 painting – all the details are distilled away, and we can just enjoy the beautiful hues and forms.

Waterbowl 30" x 40" acrylic on canvas
by Jaime Ellsworth
Robert Burt also eliminates most particulars in his lushly colored paintings. He paints what he sees around his home in Mexico, where he lives for part of the year, and in his travels.

Bell Tower 12" x 12" acrylic on canvas
by Robert Burt
“I don’t want to distract the viewer with details, since I think that can be stressful,” he says. “Colors and shapes are more important to me.  I’m trying to tell a story and bring the viewer into my painting. Sometimes, you don’t need a door or a window to know it’s a building.”

She Hears Something 30" x 24" acrylic on canvas
by Robert Burt
You can see Robert’s beautiful simplicity in “Bell Tower.” His use of basic shapes and complimentary colors gives us all the facts we need, and we can just enjoy looking at the small church. Shadow and light also are important elements in his stylized work, as in “She Hears Something” and “Fast Friends.”

Fast Friends 12" x 12" acrylic on canvas
by Robert Burt
Sushe Felix is interested in the natural world of plants and animals. Her stylized work reflects her interest in the American Abstract painters from the 1930’s and 40’s, and modernist painting. She strives to achieve a balance between detail and simplification and uses areas of layered vibrant color.

Quiet Waters 28" x 27.5" acrylic on panel
by Sushe Felix
At first, I thought her work had a folk art quality, but on further inspection, I think it’s much more sophisticated. “Quiet Waters” has all the elements of a southwestern landscape, but its brilliant hues and abstracted shapes (the clouds are so art deco!) make this painting much more interesting.

Cloudburst 21" x 28" acrylic on panel
by Sushe Felix
Other examples of her unique style include “Cloudburst” and “Yellow Headed Blackbird.” In her artist’s statement, Sushe says “I strive to create an orderly composition of both geometric and organic form. Movement is achieved by repeating forms, shapes, and differing directions of line. In essence, I am striving to find new and different ways in which to depict the natural rhythms of life and nature.”

The next time you see a painting that looks “stylized,” just remember that it’s the artist’s unique way of communicating his or her vision of the world!

Yellow Headed Blackbird 21" x 15" acrylic on panel
by Sushe Felix