Moody, Minimalist Landscape Painting

Posts tagged “teaching

Art and Life in the Time of Coronavirus, April 17.

April 12: Today is our Dad’s birthday. We had a sweet Zoom party with family, just missing Tessa among the grandkids. Tony is not in this screen shot, but he hung out for the latter half.

 

 

Then Tessa texted a few hours later that she is out of the woods and at Zac’s house. We should get some more detail tomorrow about her plans.

 

I am creating a zoom painting workshop for a few students who are, of course, stuck at home. Like so many others, they thought that there would be so much lovely down time, but the experience may instead present itself as a big void, punctuated only by anxiety-producing details. (Like, for one student, that she is self-quarantined in a small nyc apartment and her immediate neighbors have the virus, with at least one of them being taken to hospital. So this would make her fearful of her own hallway.)

I am looking forward to the challenge of connecting within the technology, which in this case will be much more intricate than with my hour-long yoga classes. But I’m aware that it doesn’t matter how much we have to muddle through. While I am always conscious the of the information I want to share with my students in any workshop that I teach, I think that just now, being together will be the best thing about it.

April 14: Talk is all about how we will come out of this confinement. It is clear that is will be tentative, messy, little-by little, and still involve infections and death. This virus is so very intricate in all of its details. This was clear from my early reading about Wuhan as they were fumbling about trying to get the first handle on it.

It seems that it can spray way beyond 6 or even 10 feet just through conversation. It appears possible that the incubation period is, on outside, more than 14 days. They worry that a vaccine will not be useful due to mutations, so a treatment is vital. They know that infected folks can be contagious while symptom-free or pre-symptomatic, and that tests often are false negative (not that we are doing nearly enough testing).

So, it seems that we cannot open back up again, or even maybe live in the next several years, with any assurance that the virus is gone. Maybe it is now a part of life on earth, going forward?

 

In studio, so busy! This is the edition of my first three color reduction linocut, though they are all inked differently and so technically not an edition.

 

I planned this print for my Atlas/Watershed site map, in progress. It shows the streams’ normal flow, along with flood zones areas and the extreme breach cause by Hurricane Irene in Phoenicia. Shown are the Esopus; north of it the  Stonyclove: Oxclove (which runs through our back yard) and Warner creeks.

I am thinking of one of these for the map, mostly as a color choice:

Still working on the oil-on-board pieces. What makes me happy? How I tweaked the line of the swash multiple times to create that subtle lift and almost vanishing to the right. Just that one thing, the last that I did, took me from liking to loving.

 

“Carrying On”, 6″x12″, oil on board.

 

Diagonal Shoreline, 4″x12″, $650.

It looks like Tessa will stay in Minnesota for the time being. Reentry into her VT community would include her roommate, who works with (essential businesses) farming and food security, self-isolating, and she could not see friends nor work (like all of the rest of us!). So she is better off in Minnesota with Zac and the 5 others with whom she has been in the woods maple sugaring for the past few months.

April 16th:

Trump is becoming more and more unhinged. I am amazed that it is even possible. He does love conflict, and has reverted—after a short spell of acting almost presidential a little bit of the time, due to national outrage at his irresponsibility over the Covid-19 suffering—to fomenting fights among our states and backing demonstrators against stay-at-home restrictions.

He is severely mentally ill and cannot sustain even the appearance of normalcy for more than a few hours. It makes those of us who are rational scared to death for the future of us all.

 

I did some color-mixing and related painting conversation via Zoom today with a few students with whom I am friendly. We worked out some bugs and they were happy to take steps forward in their painting practice, as they shelter in place.

This is a spiffed-up version of our chart for mixing blues, using just three colors and black and white:

 

 

April 17th:

I did a few last tweaks on the new Path painting this morning:

 

“Path over the Headlands”, 48″x40″, available through the Louisa Gould Gallery.

 

I’ll be starting a blog post that will document the process of creating a very large commissioned piece, 6’x8′. This is a multi-step process even for a smaller piece and in normal times, and is involving even more logistics due to the size and the constrictions that we are living with. I’ll  publish the post once the final piece is completed, some time in June.

 


Winter Studio

Snow Fields, 24″x30″.

 

This time of the year always brings of thoughts of change and transition, loss and renewal. As 2019 has rolled over into 2020, these reflections are much more intense, intricate, and prolonged for me, as I recently lost my mother…a major life event; a huge transition.

My father-in-law, not a religious man nor particularly self-reflective, used to have a timely  observation in times of trouble. It went something like this: “The chapters of the good book begin with ‘And it came to pass…’ They don’t begin with ‘And it came to stay…”

The things/people/practices that we love don’t always come to stay, any more than the difficult or painful situations. It is one of the things that is interesting about mindfulness practice, that as we focus on the moment, the moment is gone. And then the next, and the next, and the next…

My understanding of mindfulness is more like riding a wave, the mind following each moment along the way with focused attention. I discussed this form of happiness as it applies to a creative practice in an earlier blog post, “Creativity and Happiness”.

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2014/12/10/creativity-and-happiness/

And this brings us to the winter studio. As life is quieter and the colors less vivid outside of it than  during the warmer months, the potency of the creative life inside intensifies.

Snow cover bounces light into the studio and makes a perfect neutral foil for open color exploration within. Instead of open windows and doors inviting in the sound of the stream and birds, I often play the radio or listen to podcasts or music. The summer feel of expansiveness is replaced by a distillation of energy as focus narrows and intensifies.

 

Embracing Pink, oil on board, 3 panels of 8″x8″/8″x10″/8″x8″.

My winter work often feels sunlit. Without the canopy of leaves covering our hamlet in the central Catskills, the sun streams at a dramatic slant into my house, my studio, and the yoga studio where I practice and teach…and then is gone, as day moves quickly into evening. We count the minutes of returning daylight…

 

Angle of Light, 48″x48″, recently finished.

In December I ordered an enticing assortment of custom-stretched linen for my winter work, and now have, at the ready, this stack of canvases in an array of sizes and formats:

 

 

I started work immediately on the largest one, a 44″x66″, almost finished:

 

 

I am also generating ideas for my next Atlas Project installation, this one focusing on rivers and streams, exploring the ecology of my local watershed. In my Atlas/Forms of Water show I solved several problems that I saw carry over from the previous Atlas Project installation. At issue now are verbal/written components more than visual ones: how to get my “Mapping Memory” stories in a more accessible form; and how to bring more natural history and climate change discussion into the installation.

 

Riverbed Map #3, linocut/monotype on paper, 6″x12″; a map image of the Esopus, Stonyclove, and Warner Creeks; and the Oxclove that runs behind my studio.

I am seeing stream-like formations wherever I go…including places I have been many (for this  image, thousands!) of times. Can you tell what we are looking at?

 

 

And the other day I saw this gorgeous Motherwell painting in a catalogue that I have in my studio. Viewed vertically rather than as the horizontal that it is…another stream…

 

 

A few paint-mixing sessions with my good friend Jenny Nelson in her winter studio have yielded new teaching tools. My color-mixing workshop (next held at the WSA, June 22-23) brings the student back to primaries and how all color evolves from there, which is a very complex undertaking.

Our intention with this collaboration was to pretty much do the opposite of that detailed breaking down of color, instead creating simple, limited palette exercises—using mixtures or primaries from the tube— for new students or those who feel color-blocked.

 

First up: mixing neutrals from just a few tubes of mixtures.

 

I will use some of these prompts in my next workshop at the WSA. Constructing/Deconstructing the Landscape (April 17-19) focuses on compositional strength, so a few structured color shortcuts to augment this emphasis are a welcome tool.

 

Blues, keeping it simple.

 

Mixing a warm palette, just two colors and black and white.

These were the palettes that evolved as we brainstormed and mixed, discarding some earlier versions. Now we will each re-do these on paper in our studios with better placement and clear labeling for sharing with our students.

 

Greens. This more for my students!

 

Our ongoing conversations about our classes and workshops always include the abstract/landscape discussion, since Jenny teaches abstraction. Mixing color is one thing when you are using a reference of any sort, including working from life, even if you will likely want to tweak and adjust. It is quite another when you have not even a  suggestion of a road map and mixing your palette is the first step in figuring out your abstract painting on the easel.

Longtime friends, some cross-mixing, some laughter.

 

The collage exploration continues to fascinate me. I went from earlier just-barely-landscape versions (about 8-10 years ago) with altered papers, book bits, pattern paper, a bit of paint:

 

Wetlands, 6″x6″.

 

To the collaged maps, made with many bits of hand-dyed rice papers and other things (wasp wing, samara, dried leaves, pattern paper, old books, a bit of paint):

 

Hudson Canyon, collage on board, 12″x12″, 2018.

 

To a simplified version of the above, where I am working more with effects created while dying the papers, and then using larger swaths of them. Here are some of my latest:

 

Dancing Trees, 4″x12″.

 

Wrapped up in a Bow, 4″x4″.

 

Lost and Found, 4″x4″.

 

Conga Line, 4″x4″.

 

I am very pleased with this beautifully produced recording of my December interview with audience Q&A at Albert Shahinian Fine Art, by Brett Barry of Silver Hollow Audio.  The discussion ranges from my decades  of contemporary landscape painting to the environmental themes of my Atlas/Forms of Water show to the gallery-artist  relationship.  You can listen here:

 

 

I am doing final updates on the blog post about this Atlas Project show, which was the highlight of my exhibition season for 2019. Here is the link:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2019/08/16/atlas-forms-of-water-2019/

On this day of pouring snow, everything else I had planned has been canceled. And so, I get to be in here:

 

And soon enough, it will look like this:

 


Eagle Above, Fish Below: Summer 2018

The surface of a body of water is a reflective, moving, open expanse. Beneath it, the water roils with life—rooted or crawling or burrowing or swimming, lifeforms going about their business of feeding off of each other and reproducing and eventually dying. Above it, life also carries on.

Sky Meets Water, 18″x24″.

One day last July, while staying on Otsego Lake near Cooperstown, NY, I headed to the dock to sit and gaze at the water for a few moments. Looking down at the dock to find my seat, I heard a throaty, loud honk/squack. We had been enjoying visits all week from a mama duck and her nine ducklings, so my first thought as I turned my head was, “that was not a duck!”.

Nothing behind me, but as I straightened to face the side I was now seated at, I saw an adult eagle taking off from the water about 25 feet in front of me. It had been addressing my intrusion, I think!

Shortly after, I decided to make a call to my friend Jenny, with whom I had been playing phone tag. I got her voicemail, and the message went something like this: “Hi Jenny, we’re playing phone tag but I am around today so give a  OH MY GOD THAT IT THE BIGGEST *#!%ING FISH I HAVE EVER SEEN IN A LAKE GOTTA GO BYE”.

The fish was directly below my dangling feet, at least two feet across, lit up by slanting sunlight. I know there are fish in these waters, despite an altered ecology due to Zebra mussels—my husband has caught some other years from our small boat and I have seen them feeding off of bugs at sunset. And yet, it was as if this big fish had crawled up on land and joined us on the deck for cocktails, such was my sense of worlds colliding.

I am puzzling out, ever since, what was so startling about this fish sighting. After all, I have been among whales in our 16 foot boat off Race Point in Provincetown—including a pod of killer whales; froliked with a mola and some dolphins in the harbor; snorkled off St. Thomas among all sorts and sizes of sea life.

I think that my jolt of surprise was about expectations, so often the case. I had for days been focused on the surface reflections, and I lost track of the awareness of how much is going on underneath and that during my daily swims, I was intruding upon their busy world. Seeing this large fish directly under my feet brought that crashing back.

As artists we are concerned with both surface appearance and deeper function and meaning. The surface is mesmerizing and ever-changing, feeding our visually-linked emotional hunger, and soothing our quotidian bumps and bruises. The complicated churn beneath, however, mirrors life in its day-to-day, demanding a nuanced and dedicated attention.

 

Indigos with Glowing Light, 18″x24″.

 

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This summer has served to remind me of how much I appreciate my galleries. It can be rewarding, sometimes, to hop off that train and do something self-generated like an open studio or studio tour; or an event at a non-gallery venue. But ultimately, a gallery is where people go to view and buy art. It is a business whose purpose is to exhibit and sell art, and therefore all effort is going to that end.

Invitations generally go out in a timely fashion, instead of getting buried in the more pressing things that a non-gallery venue might have to attend to. The galleriest installs the show, with beautiful results based on years of experience. Folks walk in off the streets who are interested in art; search for the local galleries when visiting; respond to invites. A showing of a grouping of selected works in a collector’s home gets on the schedule without delay, follow-ups are done to inquiries as a matter of course…and so on.

Rokeby Meadow, 24″x30″, at Albert Shahinian Fine Art in Rhinebeck, NY.

That said, the mom-and-pop galleries struggle to stay afloat, with many more friends and lookers than buyers. So collectors, please support your favorite galleries!

 

Familiar Reds, 11″X14″, at Butters Gallery in Portland, OR.

And if you are an artist with gallery representation, this is how you can help:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2012/04/06/the-art-ethicist-your-relationship-with-your-gallery/

 

Forms of Water, 30″x36″, at Thompson Giroux Gallery in Chatham, NY.

 

Harbor with Sunset Mists, 24″x36″, at Thomas Henry Gallery, Nantucket.

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I had a lovely time teaching this past June in Woodstock and August on Nantucket, with a full house for my color-mixing workshop in both places.

My Woodstock group.

These are the demo pieces that came out of the two landscape workshops:

 

Summer Haze, pastel on paper, 12″x18″.

 

Saltmarsh with Soft Sky, 24″x36″.

 

Seablues with Brilliant Fog, 16″x20″.

 

Three Posts, 12″x24″.

My week on Nantucket was filled with not only with my wonderful students, but also with salt air and good food and warm friendship.

I organized an informal gathering at Thomas Henry Gallery so that my students could see my work there, all of the sea or the island:

A grouping of my work at Thomas Henry Gallery.

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The Woodstock School of Art invitational Monothon in July was a printmaker’s dream. Imagine having a printing staff at your beck and call, both master printmakers and monitors, facilitating your every move. Master printmaker Anthony Kirk guided and facilitated my hoped-for plan, my first monotype triptych (and then a few more).

 

 

Wave Triptych, three panels of 8″x10″, headed for a show at Albert Shahinian Fine Art.

 

One 8″x10″ was chosen from each participating artist, to be sold at the show there opening September 8th, 3-5pm This is my donation print that will be featured, followed by some of my other wave monotypes.

https://woodstockschoolofart.org/event/woodstock-monoprint-invitational-exhibition-2/

 

8″x10″.

 

10″x16″.

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We will be featuring monotypes and my vintage series, along with oil paintings, in my grouping for the upcoming four-artist show at Albert Shahinian Fine Art in Rhinebeck, NY, their yearly Luminous Landscape exhibition. The show opens on September 29, 5-8pm.

 

 

Cloud over Green Valley, monotype, 8″x10″.

 

Dusk Drive in 12, oil on board in a vintage muffin pan, 18″x11″.

 

Reflected Sun, 32″x48″.

 

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Several of my summer sales:

 

Gleaming, 12″x24″, sold by the Julie Heller Gallery, Provincetown, MA.

 

Swirling Winter Sky, 20″x24″, sold by the Woodstock School of Art.

 

One of my favorite pieces from the past decade, Perceived Acuity pleases me for its simplicity, movement, elegant shapes, and unusual color:

“Perceived Acuity”, 18″x52″, sold by the Louisa Gould Gallery, Vineyard Haven, MV.

 

Serene Sengie, 44″x68″, sold by the Louisa Gould Gallery.

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Link to in-studio available works in oil and on paper:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2015/11/18/available-workstudio/

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2016/11/03/available-workstudioworks-on-paper/

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Coming right up, my teaching week in Provincetown, Sept. 17th for Color Mixing and 18-20th for the Landscape Painting Intensive. If you are feeling inspired and spontaneous, come and join us!

 

Provincetown, 20″X30″, at the Julie Heller Gallery, Provincetown.

 

Also upcoming: another residency on Nantucket in November. My focus there and in my studio will be on Atlas/Forms of Water, from the sky to the land to the ocean, and everywhere in between.

 

Affirmation in Blues, 36″x72″ overall, at Louisa Gould Gallery, MV.

 

 


Spring into Summer 2018: News and Updates

Deep, happy, exhalation—spring is here!

I recently delivered fresh work to Louisa Gould Gallery on the Vineyard. She is currently hanging her first show of the season, including my new work, and then plans a big 15th anniversary show with a reception mid-summer. Here are a few of my additions to the gallery walls:

Brilliant Fog, 24″x36″.

 

Affirmation in Blues, 36″x72″ overall.

 

Meandering, 24″x36″.

 

In other shore news, I am very pleased to announce new representation on Nantucket at the Thomas Henry Gallery. I am still working on the pieces that will be delivered in early June, but here is a sneak preview:

Summer at the Creeks, 36″x24″.

 

Angle of the Cloud, 30″x36″.

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My solo show at Thompson Giroux Gallery in Chatham, NY, Atlas/Hudson River Valley, was very well received. I will continue updating the blog post on the show to label what has been been purchased, as the gallery has kept many pieces for follow-up viewing and acquisition. I have also labeled with a G the pieces still at the gallery.

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2018/03/21/atlas-project-hudson-river-valley-and-catskills/

Most of my spring sales have naturally come from this Chatham show, and have included oils, a pastel, monotypes, and a collage—a nice affirmation for all of these explorations. Here a is a handful of examples:

 

“September Dawn”, 12″x28″, pastel, the first with a red dot.

 

Sweeping Greens, 32″x68″, sold to the Emerson Resort and Spa.

Sold, happily, as a pair:

 

MVroman’s Nose/Green Fields, 8″x10″.

 

MSweeping Sky with Fields, 8″x10″.

 

Atlas/Hudson Valley Collage, 18″x14″, sold to the Emerson Resort and Spa.

This show was a wonderful experience for me from every standpoint. Parting words from them when I was done with pick-up—after expressing my deep appreciation for how well-handled every aspect of our interaction was—“happy artist, happy gallery”.

Those works that have returned to my studio are back on my available work post, as well a number of other pieces:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2015/11/18/available-workstudio/

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Iconic Cloud recently came back to me and I just touched it up, brightening both hillside and sky. I’ve done that a few times recently—must be a shift in my mood.

Iconic Cloud, 20″x40″.

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Here is a schedule of my workshops in Woodstock, Nantucket, and Provincetown. My color-mixing workshop has become very popular with painters of all levels and styles, so some version of that is being offered in the three locales.

JUNE 16-18, WSA: My last landscape painting workshop in Woodstock for 2018 is coming right up in June. Last year we had a really lovely time in this workshop for students with landscape painting experience. It’s a good one to repeat, too:
AUGUST 7-10, Nantucket at the AAN: A full-day color-mixing and 3 short-day Form and Content
SEPTEMBER 17-20, Provincetown at the PAAM: Also a one-day color mixing followed by 3 short days of of Form and Content
This will be followed by my show opening on the 21st at Julie Heller East, across from the PAAM.
My fabulous color-mixing group in Woodstock in April provided the feedback that the class would be even better as a two-day workshop. I also have wanted to extend the information by immediately applying it to painting, mixing and critquing palettes. So I altered the theme of my October WSA workshop to this:
OCTOBER 27-29, WSA: New workshop: Color Mixing and Composition for Painters:
Anyone who has taken my color-mixing workshop can join us for day #3 of this workshop, to explore more deeply the practice of color.
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I will participate in the Shandaken Studio Tour July 21-22. More on this as it approaches—it is such a pleasure for me to set up my studio as a gallery and host visitors both new and known.

Moving forward, a September show at Julie Heller East in Provincetown and the Luminous Landscape at Albert Shahinian Fine Art in Rhinebeck later in the fall. Plus some as yet unknown opportunities will likely arise, as they usually do…

 

Blue Dusk, oil on board in vintage drawer.

 

 


Late Summer 2017 Newsletter

June brought two great-story sales. The first was of this piece, a favorite of mine since I did it a few years back. My husband delivered it to Louisa Gould Gallery on Martha’s Vineyard in early June and a few days later it was headed  to Madrid on a private jet. The collector even helped unwrap it after being drawn into the gallery by my 50″x90″ piece in the window.

Rolling Cloud, 44″x62″.

 

This octych has received a great deal of attention, including a blog post of its own. It was shown and appreciated at Gold Gallery in Boston, and then at Albert Shahinian Fine Art in Rhinebeck this past winter.

Green Waves, 13″x76″ overall, oil on linen.

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2015/03/24/the-evolution-of-a-new-concept/

In May I was contacted by a woman in NC who told me that she wanted to buy it, and had the perfect spot for it. She had read the blog post and loved the story. She had never bought original art before, except for one print. She found me through a google search.

After much back and forth, it turned out that she had seen the price on the small oil-on-paper study that I had done leading up to the final piece, and the actual cost was way beyond what she had anticipated or budgeted for. So I offered her some other, smaller pieces in the green palette that she prefers…and then didn’t hear back from her for a few weeks.

This happens with some frequency. For a discussion of why original art created by a career artist costs what it does, you can read this blog post:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2014/11/02/this-painting-costs-what/

In the end, she could not resist the piece and I could not resist making a price accommodation to enable her to have it, though it was still a huge leap for her both in cost and in faith, as she hadn’t set eyes on the actual piece.

My galleriest Albert Shahinian, who had the piece and is also an expert art handler, did the packing and shipping, and here is Green Waves in its perfect spot:

 

 

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My Atlas Project is gaining momentum and focus. I earlier began a description of the evolution of this  endeavor and got so carried away that I found I needed a separate post, which I will be working on going forward.

In brief, motivated last fall by a number of factors including an upcoming residency on Nantucket and my fears over an acceleration of climate change with the new administration in Washington, I decided I needed to marry more concretely my deep love of the outdoor world and its complexities with my visual expression.

The third and most complex grouping, Atlas/Hudson River Valley had a trial run during a recent studio tour/open studio. Each site map circles closer to what I want, this most recent one being a collaged road map with map pins showing the locations of the paintings in the grouping and monotype thumbnails of the same. Like the earlier versions, this folds up into a small map.

I ran out of time—this was an excruciatingly slow process, with many design elements and much trial and error—and didn’t get any of the written piece figured out, but in discussion during the open studio I figured out how to approach this in a way that has integrity with the map.

This will all coalesce into a large solo show at Thompson Giroux Gallery in Chatham, NY,  March 31-May 6 in 2018, of Atlas/Hudson river Valley and Atlas/Forms of Water. There will be many more paintings and therefore more thumbnails on the map; most likely an off-center extension at top right to show the source of the river in the Adirondacks; and a narrow extension the length of the left side to add written and visual detail about our area. The show will feature monotypes, collages, and pastels as well as oil paintings.

Overlook with River, 24″x36″, the last piece finished before the July Tour.

 

The Studio Tour overall was a sweet weekend with folks from my mailing list coming through as well as those who were new to me. Usually it is a low-pressure event for me and I have a lovely time at the outset setting up my studio for viewing. I had knocked myself out working on the Site Map and printing linocut wall tags for the Atlas Project this time around, but it was well worth it for how the deadline brought the project together enough for me to hone many aspects and trouble-shoot the things that are not yet quite right.

 

Front wall of studio arranged as Atlas/Hudson River Valley, for Studio Tour 2017.

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The day after the Studio Tour ended I was off for a week to teach on Nantucket. So lovely to see the island wearing its summer color, after spending two weeks there in February! I taught my composition workshop, Constructing/Deconstructing the Landscape, to a receptive and able group of six. These are the exercises that they had finished at the end of day #2.

For demo purposes I did several small oil-on-paper pieces, choosing subject matter according to the requests of my students:

Horizontal Wave, 5″x12″.

 

Warm Fall Fields, 5″x12″.

 

Dusk Palms, 5″x5″.

 

After my workshop was over I spent a long afternoon in the print shop, rediscovering what works for my imagery in monotype (there are always a row of failures before some successes). This is my favorite of the batch:

Monotype Sunset over Tidal Flats, 8″x10″.

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In June I had a discussion with some of the artists who I mentor about curating a show of their artwork, and got a very positive response. I contacted what I thought would be the perfect venue for a show of such an eclectic group of artists, the ArtBar in Kingston. The only slot Allie had open in 2017 was for August, so this exhibition of 18 artists had to come together very quickly!

It was interesting switching hats back and forth from mentor to curator, and there will be follow-up in my groups on my experience with the artists as curator. I have heard repeatedly from gallery owners that it is their quality-of-life choice to represent talented artists who are also easy and responsive to work with, so this is a theme that I pass along.

On the card, top to bottom: Betsy Jacaruso, Rebecca Darlington, Elizabeth Panzer, and Sandra Nystrom.

I selected the work and Allie, who owns the venue, hung the show. The opening reception was busy and the the comments very enthusiastic. The list of all of the artists involved: Polly Law, Sandra Nystrom, Rebecca Darlington, Linda Lynton, Linda Puiatti, Al Desetta, Betsy Jacaruso, Patti Gibbons, Lois Linet, Stacie Flint, Elizabeth Panzer, Dave Channon, Karen Schaffel, Julia Santos Solomen, Mary Katz, Loel Barr, Mark Loete, Cathy Metitchecchia.

This is my short description of the work I have done with these, and many other, artists over the years:

My mentoring work began as a way of helping other artists enter or expand their presence in the art market by providing support for both studio practice and exhibiting. The groups are a blend of coaching, support group, and targeted career advice for emerging and mid-level artists.

An article, written by Lynn Woods, will be coming out shortly on the show in the Kingston Times and I will add the link.

 I love two things the most, I think, about working with artists in this way. One is that the artwork is so varied, and as my artistic taste is too, it is a huge pleasure watching and sometimes helping these artists hone their voices into bodies of work that have depth and impact.
The other is that, in our overly busy and complicated lifestyle, I can inform, simplify and advise. So, while every venue, gallery-artist relationship and even many sales have their own unique wrinkles that make generalization difficult, there are guidelines that can help emerging artists streamline their approach and be more decisive in their responses—and feel better about the process.

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Coming up, very soon, this four-person show at the Nantucket Artists Association, a brainchild of Program Coordinator Mary Emery: Due East, 4 Woodstock Artists on Nantucket, featuring the work of Polly Law, Kate McGloughlin, Jenny Nelson, and myself; all artists who teach and/or have done residencies at the AAN. Dates are September 1-22.

https://www.nantucketarts.org/dues-east-woodstock-artists-on-nantucket1.html

A medium-sized oil-on-linen that will be featured in the show:

Color Field/Incoming Tide, 30″x30″.

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Recently finished, my second Atlas/Hudson River Valley mixed-media/collage:

Atlas/HV Collage, 2 panels of 16″x8″/ea.

 

And in oil, an image of the tide coming in over the tidal flats mid-Cape, always a moment of bliss for me:

Sky Meets Water, 18″x24″.

 

This piece fits into the Atlas/Forms of Water segment. It is a different type of category from Atlas/Hudson River Valley, and there will be overlap, making for a more dynamic installation.

______________________________________________________

A few of my other sales so far this season:

 

Calm Crossing, 38″x70″, sold by the Louisa Gould Gallery.

 

Monotype/Wave#5, 8″x10″, sold by the Julie Heller Gallery.

 

Haybales, 8″x24″, pastel on paper, studio sale.

_________________________________________________

Upcoming workshops are at the PAAM September 11-14, the loveliest time of the year to be on the Cape:

https://www.paam.org/workshops/summer-2017/?course_detail=abstraction-and-narrative-in-the-landscape&start_date=9-11-17

And the Woodstock School of Art October 28-30, also a stunning time of year for the locale:

http://woodstockschoolofart.org/course/color-mixing-landscape-painters/

Enjoy your rest of summer season and beginning of fall!


Small Studies in Oil on Primed Paper

I began using small oil-on-primed-paper studies as a teaching tool in my September 2013 workshop at the Provincetown Artists Association and Museum.

At work on one of the studies for

At work on one of the studies for “Blue Above”. (Photo courtesy of Carol Duke.)

As you can see above and below, I did several versions of the same image, moving elements around, encouraging my students to do the same.

Version

Simple version, tidal pool coming off the bottom and corner of the picture plane.

It is not just a question of what is included and what is left out–though that is always a major consideration in my work (see https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2015/06/30/contoursdistillations-a-solo-show/   for more on that conversation). Even in this very reductive composition, there are many variables. What, exactly, is the shape of the tidal pool cutting toward us, and where does it leave the picture plane, both on the left and on the right? How high or low is the horizon line? Cool greens, warm greens, or both? Back shore more compressed and lighter, making it seem further away, or larger and darker, bringing it forward?

Version with suggestion of houses in back land form.

Version #2 with suggestion of houses in back land form, and Long Point lighthouse on the right.  Tidal pool moves off the right side. (Sold)

I decided to go very white with the sky in the large piece, since I love the shore phenomenon of bright blue sky overhead and white at the horizon, which is due to the many miles of atmosphere, denser close to earth, that we are looking through.

Blue Above, 12

Blue Above, 12″x36″ , currently at the Julie Heller Gallery, Provincetown, MA.

None of these versions is any better or worse than the other—they are just different. The choices that I made for the larger oil were largely mood-driven. For example, I opted to emphasize the simplicity of the major shapes by omitting the lighthouse and bits of detail on the back shore. Including them would have made it a more descriptive piece, which I do from time to time. But at heart I am a minimalist, enjoying the open feel that these compositions bring.

First set of small

First set of small studies. (Mostly sold; two are currently at Edgewater Gallery, Middlebury VT.)

I soon saw that the studies function nicely as small paintings in their own right if I finish them the same way I do a larger piece. They look great framed with a mat and under glass, though I have also exhibited and sold a number of them mounted on board, sealed to be airtight, and presented without glass, such as the below.  I did a grouping, example below, for a small works show without any intention to do them larger—some of them are images I already had done as pastels or larger oils. Switching it up!

Tidal Flats at Dusk, 6

Tidal Flats at Dusk, 6″x6″, sold by Thompson Giroux Gallery. (Sold)

 

Study/Triptych in Reds

Study/Triptych in Reds, 3 panels of 5″x5″/ea., private collection.

I decided to leave out the soft water-shape in the larger version, mostly because I knew that I was going to frame each panel separately and I felt that the simpler field dividers would work best, carrying the horizontal sweep of the composition through the strong verticals of the frames and the wall space between.

Triptych in Reds

Triptych in Reds, 3 panels of 24″x24″, currently at Gold Gallery, Boston.

 

 When I do these studies, I don’t do them to copy them later in a big piece, but rather to familiarize myself with some of the elements. I have my students do several of the same image, and until they do they really don’t get the concept. It isn’t to come up with the perfect study to be copied, but to move things around and look at the results to see what sections work best, comparing all of the studies. Having done that, choices will still need to evolve organically with a larger piece–and just the size difference can really influence this process— but you now have the advantage of  having posed key questions to yourself.
Study/Intervening Bay

Study/Intervening Bay, 7″x7″, private collection.

In this recent piece I moved the front tidal pool a bit over toward center in the larger piece and had more room to play with the blues. It became clear that in the 24″x24″ version I needed to clearly differentiate between the three groupings of marsh grasses to indicate far, middle, and close proximity, using color to establish distance. Why? It just didn’t look right to have them all on the same plane in this particular image. This, though, is something that in another painting I might love—allowing all of the shapes to sit right on top of the picture plane, functioning as a color field painting.

Intervening Bay, 24″x24″, private collection.

The study and the large version each ended up where they needed to, and different from each other in subtle ways.
Study/Open Road #1, 4.5

Study/Open Road #1, 4.5″x14″. (Sold)

These two are quite similar, the main difference being the enhanced distance in the road that I created with the larger piece.

Open Road, 20

Open Road, 20″x60″, available at Gallery 901, Santa Fe, NM.

 

Sometimes after both—or all of—the pieces are finished there are things that I prefer about the study. In the following two, it is the differences in size and materials themselves that create a somewhat divergent feel.

Study/Sunset Sea, 5″x5″ (at Thompson Giroux Gallery).
One element to be considered is that the texture of the paper is more assertive in a small piece, and often a bit more matte, even though my linen also has tooth and the paint is applied to the same dark, absorbent ground. Here I feel that the study is more painterly and the oil-on-linen more photographic.

Yellow Band, 36″x36″ (at Julie Heller Gallery).
With the following pair, the study is simpler and more illustrative than the larger piece that came after.
Study/Skyline

Study/Skyline, 7″x7″,  (at Thompson Giroux Gallery).

In the larger size I needed to add more buildings, and I opted to make it more atmospheric. It turned out to be very useful to have established the front detail in the small piece, since I wasn’t at all sure how it was going to work out or even if I wanted to include it. I liked it well enough in the study to follow my own lead in the larger oil.

Skyline with Lifting Rain

Skyline with Lifting Rain, 20″x20″ (sold by Edgewater Gallery).

Here are some pieces from my current collection of studies that I haven’t yet done large. I will do this with some, and others will remain in small format only.
What I choose to paint next is driven by a complex set of considerations, partly mood-driven and partly tending to the needs of my galleries. Yet sometimes I love to not over-think it, changing direction at the spur of the moment. Any of these could be explored in large canvas at any time, and/or my next large piece might be of an image that I did not approach first in small format.
Study/Mountain Contours

Study/Mountain Contours, 4.5″x14″, currently at Albert Shahinian Fine Art in Rhinebeck, NY.

 

Study/View from Little Mountain, 6

Study/View from Little Mountain, 6″x8″, currently at Edgewater Gallery, Middlebury VT.

Study/Lake Mists, 5

Study/Lake Mists, 5″x5″ (currently at the Tenderland Home, Phoenicia, NY).

 

Study?Gleam over Tidal Flats,

Study/Gleam over Tidal Flats, 6″X10″. (Sold.)

 

Study/Green Valley

Study/Green Valley, 6″x10″.

 

Study/Late Summer Light, 5"x7.5".

Study/Late Summer Light, 5″x7.5″.

 

Study/Meadowlands with Mists.

Study/Meadowlands with Mists, 3.5″x10.5″. (Sold.)

I was so enjoying the color on the above that I decided to do a version without the industrial detail in the back landform.

Study/Fall Marsh Mists, 4

Study/Fall Marsh Mists, 4″X8″. (Sold)

And then I wanted to simplify even more and use the soft lavender with greens instead.

Soft Summer Light, 4"x8".

Soft Summer Light, 4″x8″.

Additional pieces (updated since the publication of this post):

 

Study?Yellow Bush, 4"x14.5", Edgewater Gallery.

Study/Yellow Bush, 4″x14.5″ (at the Tenderland Home).

 

Study/Waterspouts, 6"x9".

Study/Waterspouts, 6″x9″ (at Julie Heller Gallery.

 

Study/It Looks Like Rain, 6"x9".

Study/It Looks Like Rain, 6″x9″.

 

Study/Summer Marsh, 5"x12".

Study/Summer Marsh, 5″x12″ .

 

Study/ClusteredCLouds, 5"x12".

Study/ClusteredClouds, 5″x12″. (Sold.)

 

Study/White Fields, 5"x11".

Study/White Fields, 5″x11″ (Sold).

 

Study/Grey Dawn, 5"x7".

Study/Grey Dawn, 5″x7″.

 

Study/Winter Warmth, 7"x7".

Study/Winter Warmth, 7″x7″ (sold).

 

Study/Se.rene Winter, 5"x11"

Study/Serene Winter, 5″x11″ .

 

Study?Reservoir from Little Mountain, 4"x12".

Study/Reservoir from Little Mountain, 4″x12″ (sold).

 

Study/Green Fields, 5"x13".

Study/Green Fields, 5″x13″.

 

Study/Glowing Sky over Fall Marsh, 6"x8".

Study/Glowing Sky over Fall Marsh, 6″x8″ (at Tenderland Home).

 

The study below illustrates another use for the small format, as it was a a study for a commissioned painting (something that I have always done in a small pastel or oil to iron out the imagery that has been chosen by the collector):

 

Study/Resting Clouds, 4"x14".

Study/Resting Clouds, 4.5″x12″ (sold).

 

Lifting Clouds, 18"x42".

Lifting Clouds, 18″x42″, (private collection).

 

You may have noticed that some of the oil-on-paper pieces have a deckled edge and some have a clean edge. This does not translate with the large oil-on-linen work, but instead is something that I’ve been playing with in my pastels for a number of years. Some images have shapes within that relate to the uneven edge, and others have a more linear sweep to the composition. Those that have the deckled edge are framed showing it, and the others have the mat coming right up to the edge of the image.

I never like to over-plan. But even though I got along just fine without these studies for years and years, I have to say that for myself and for my students, they can have a liberating effect. Once you have internalized some aspects of what you are doing, it is much easier to proceed with confidence and an exploratory attitude.

December Newsletter 2014

It has been a busy, fruitful year, but I am not dwelling too much on the past! My sights are set on 2015, when I will have several shows that I am very excited about.

The first will be in March at Gold (Au) Gallery in Boston, my second solo show with the gallery. My solo in fall of 2012 was quite successful, but I am looking forward to this show taking place in a better economy. Below is the piece we have used for advance PR, just finished less than a month ago.

"Rolling Cloud", 44"x68".

“Rolling Cloud”, 44″x68″.

There will be another version of “Trove”, 35 3″x5″ paintings in a divided frame—here is the one that I did and sold in 2007. This second frame is the last that I have been able to find, so only one more of these! The new one will have a weather theme.

"Trove", 30"X48" overall.

“Trove”, 30″X48″ overall.

I am working on a new idea for a multiple-panel piece, waiting for the delivery of canvas to begin work on the final version, which will come in (framed) at something like 14″x82″. A planning stages photo is below.

Studies for "Green Waves".

Studies for “Green Waves”.

 

Some recent highlights have included three blog posts that I quite enjoyed writing. These often generate quite a bit of discussion on FB that I wish was taking place on the blog where more folks could enjoy it, so feel free to jump in.

Most recent, this short one about how grounding a creative process is:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2014/12/10/creativity-and-happiness/

Some stories that I love (and a few of you might recognize them!):

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2014/11/11/sweetest-sales/

And my version of a rant  about the costs, hidden to many, of making an artwork and bringing it to the public eye:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2014/11/02/this-painting-costs-what/

My early fall was well-occupied with this commissioned piece which was challenging in certain ways. My clients–who are also friends–wanted a piece that was most definitely in my signature style, but that also included a fairly large structure.

 

44"x68".

44″x68″.

The small pastel looked great with some loose detail for the building, but when I got to the large oil, there was just too much of it to leave open. So I hunkered down and went after the architectural detail, surrendering to process. Then, however, the building looked too linear and didn’t fit with the rest of the painting. Finally, I made it all sit together by putting a fairly translucent layer of a lighter brown over the whole castle and embedding it with more blend into the white sky.

This is what makes each piece an adventure. I thought that the large Rhododendrons flanking the pond would be difficult to pull off/make interesting, but they fell right into place.

The reflection, however, was always going to be the star of the piece!

One other observation about process is that when it comes to a section that has quite a lot of  of detail, I think of it as an abstract painting within a painting. This slows me down and enables me to focus with pleasure and patience, eventually backing up and scrutinizing how the area is working with the whole.

Below, a few recent pieces.

"Green Horizons", 12"x48", oil on canvas.

“Green Horizons”, 12″x48″, oil on canvas. (Studio.)

 

"Marsh at Dusk", 12"x16". oil on linen.

“Marsh at Dusk”, 12″x16″. oil on linen. (Studio.)

 

Five oil-on-paper paintings of just 3.25"x3"/ea.

Five oil-on-paper paintings of just 3.25″x3″/ea. (Studio.)

 

"Affinity/Sunset Reflected", 12"x36". Oil on linen with frayed edges overlaid with graphite gridding.

“Affinity/Sunset Reflected”, 12″x36″. Oil on linen with frayed edges overlaid with graphite gridding. (At Albert Shahinian Fine Art.)

 

And this piece that I repainted last summer, brightening the color.

"Endless Sky", 36"x72", oil on linen.

“Endless Sky”, 36″x72″, oil on linen. (At Gold Gallery.)

 

Some work that has sold recently through my galleries.

 

"Lifting Rain, 20"x60". Sold by Louisa Gould Gallery.

“Lifting Rain, 20″x60”. Sold by Louisa Gould Gallery.

 

"Mountain Sky with Mists", 24"x30". Sold by Chace-Randall Gallery.

“Mountain Sky with Mists”, 24″x30″. Sold by Chace-Randall Gallery.

 

Seaside Reds, 20"x20". Sold by Edgewater Gallery, to my dear and recently   rediscovered friend from my year in Bolivia as an exchange student!)

“Seaside Reds”, 20″x20″. (Sold by Edgewater Gallery, to my dear and recently rediscovered friend from my year in Bolivia as an exchange student!)

 

"Counterlight BLues, 16"x20". Sold by Albert Shahinian Fine Art.

“Counterlight Blues, 16″x20”. Sold by Albert Shahinian Fine Art.

 

"Sunset Sea with Sailboat", 5"x14", oil on paper. (Sold by the Julie Heller Gallery.)

“Sunset Sea with Sailboat”, 5″x14″, oil on paper. (Sold by the Julie Heller Gallery.)

My other shows coming up in 2015 are with the Louisa Gould Gallery on Martha’s Vineyard and a show exploring my most minimalist, color-field imagery with my gallery of longest-standing, Albert Shahinian Fine Art in Rhinebeck.

My fall workshops on in Provincetown and Woodstock were very focused and great fun. For 2015, I have two new themes on the schedule. (Contact me for a full course description.)

 Constructing/Deconstructing the Landscape, WSAFebruary 14-16 Sat-Mon

Landscapes in Large Scale, WSA, June 20-23, Sat-Tues

Provincetown Artist’s Association and Museum, Sept. September 14-18 Mon-Thurs(Workshop will be similar to Constructing/Deconstructing the Landscape.)

Interpreting the Landscape in Oil or Pastel, WSA, October 17-19 Sat-Mon

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2013/10/02/painting-workshop-considering-composition/

Last comment for now is that I have been doing quite a bit of mentoring/coaching of other artists this past year and especially recently, enjoying working with both early career and experienced artists. I developed my mentoring programs years ago after meeting and conversing with many artists who had so much hope and conviction, but didn’t understand the ropes. The work is satisfying to me because I can clarify and demystify, and thus take some of the emotional weight out of the process of bringing artwork into the marketplace. I am grateful to the many artists who have trusted me to help them rewrite artist’s statements, brainstorm new series, scrutinize resumes for old contacts, and open themselves up to advice.

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2013/01/15/mentoring-for-artists-for-career-and-work-support/

Happy holidays, happy 2015!


So much happening! Summer Season 2014.

Over the top busy this spring and summer, with new galleries, a solo show in place and several other shows coming up between now and August.

We had a lovely, packed opening reception at Chace-Randall Gallery in Andes, NY. I will be updating the blog post I created about the work in the show as pieces continue to sell—but you really should see the show in person, if you couldn’t make the opening! Thank-you to Zoe Randall for the party and especially for a great job hanging the work. The show will be up through July 7th.

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=2657&action=edit

With the largest painting in this show,

With the largest painting in this show, “Interwoven Stories”.

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Host Tom Lavazzi pouring wine…and tons of nice conversation passing around.

Owner/driector Zoe Randall and I in front of the [postcard piece, "Turquoise Light".

Owner/director Zoe Randall and I in front of the postcard piece, “Turquoise Light”.

I am showing again at Butters Gallery in Portland Oregon— and so  pleased to add this reputable gallery in a new locale to my list. I participated in the “Line” show there last winter, curated by Melinda Stickney-Gibson, and have remained on the roster. Opening June 5th is a 4-artsist landscape show, invitation below. For my work in the show, see their website:

http://www.buttersgallery.com/Artist-Detail.cfm?ArtistsID=486&sr=1&ppage=6

eastwest143

BUTTERS GALLERY LTD 520 NW DAVIS PORTLAND OREGON 97209 (503) 248-9378 (800) 544-9171 gallery hours: tuesday-friday 10-5:30 saturday 11-5 http://www.buttersgallery.com

East / West

June 5th – 28th 2014

Opening Reception: Thursday June 5th, 6 – 9 pm

My newest gallery is Edgewater Gallery in Middelbury, VT. This happened the way we artists love it to happen—a phone call offering representation. A beautiful space and locale, I am happy to be on the walls, and look forward to events there, starting with a visit and meet-and-greet in October. I just shipped off this triptych, painted with them in mind. See their website for additional work:

http://www.edgewatergallery-vt.com/scheele-christie.html

"Hill beyond Hill, 3 panels of 24"x20"/ea.

“Hill beyond Hill, 3 panels of 24″x20″/ea.

Up next is my duo show (with  M.J. Levy Dickenson)  at Julie Heller East in Provincetown, July 18-31, with an opening reception on July 19th from 6pm on. That same night we are also hosting a reception through the gallery at the Anchor Inn with larger pieces of mine and the work of Polly Law, 7-9pm. The idea is that viewers can go from East End to West End and see both shows.

Arriving at the Anchor Inn/JHG on June 5th, this new piece.

"Entering Province Lands", 30"X60".

“Entering Province Lands”, 30″X60″.

In August I will be showing with Louisa Gould Gallery on Martha’s Vineyard in a show with Louisa herself and Paul Beebe. Dates are August 7-27. with opening reception August 9th, 5-7pm. I am new to this beautiful gallery in Vineyard Haven, though I have been showing on the island since 1998, beginning with Carol Craven Gallery and most recently with Dragonfly (thank-you, Carol, Don, and Susan!). The show will include several large-formeat pieces of Vineyard locales.

Here are a few pieces hanging now in her Memorial Day show, including several new ones recently delivered.

"Lifting Rain, 20"x60".

“Lifting Rain, 20″x60”.

"Summer Sunset/Tidal Creek", 36"x12".

“Summer Sunset/Tidal Creek”, 36″x12″.

Tucked in among all of these shows with my galleries is a very sweet happening, a show called “Three Generations” at Cano (Community Arts Network of Oneonta) in Oneonta, NY. This show will feature my mother, Gerri Scheele, with the ceramics that she was so well known for and the landscapes that followed; myself; and my daughter and son Tessa and Tony Scheele Morelli. This will be a special family affair staged at the Wilbur mansion, where I did my first oil painting at age 11 and where my mother showed extensively for many years.

Heading next week to Gold Gallery in Boston, this newly repainted piece. I am looking forward to my second solo show there in March of 2015.

"Endless Sky", 36"x72".

“Endless Sky”, 36″x72″.

Some spring sales:

"Bridge Crossing in Violets", 12"X12". (Sold by Butters Gallery.)

“Bridge Crossing in Violets”, 12″X12″. (Sold by Butters Gallery.)

 

Sunset River Expanse", 20"x62". (Sold by Albert Shahinian Fine Art.)

Sunset River Expanse”, 20″x62″. (Sold by Albert Shahinian Fine Art.)

 

"Approach," oil on vintage blackboard, 11"x13.5". (Sold by Chace-Randall Gallery.)

“Approach,” oil on vintage blackboard, 11″x13.5″. (Sold by Chace-Randall Gallery.)

ALL of my galleries have work of mine at all times, so wherever you are or travel to among these locales, check them out!

Workshops are upcoming at the Woodstock School of Art June 23-25  and Provinctown Artists Association and Museum, September 15-18.

Abstraction and Narrative in the Landscape
Working in Oil or Pastel
Using photograhic reference, we will investigate how the elements in a landscape painting serve the whole, accessing the formal qualities of color, shape, edge, and composition to create compelling imagery. The first day we will explore these tools and how they impact the implied narrative of the painting through exercises in oil or pastel on paper. In these studies we will add, subtract, move elements around and change color using our painterly hand. Instead of painting over changes, each study will remain intact while we start a new one so that all variations can be rigorously critiqued and compared before being used as a springboard for a larger painting.
Days 2-4 will include a demo of color-mixing from primaries; more compositional studies, and pursuing fully realized landscape paintings on canvas or larger pastels. Instruction will emphasize the reduction of detail to create a strong, clean composition, along with discussion of both the abstract and the narrative qualities brought out in individual paintings.


Autumn 2013 Newsletter

“Art is not meat. It does not go bad”,  to quote Albert Shahinian.

I was thinking about that comment (again!) while assembling this post because I noticed that some recent sales have been of paintings that are not at all new.

So, why does a much-admired piece hang around, sometimes for years?

Usually the answer to that is that they have had many near-misses, and that something has come up at the last minute that has nixed the sale…each time. Bearing in mind that there is always a ratio of success to failure in every business, often in this one there are more almost-sales than sales. Bringing an object into the home that is not functional or strictly decorative, and that is also not cheap is, rightly, a big decision for potential collectors.

So, to put it another way, if you don’t have lots of nibbles you are unlikely to have lots of sales.

If there are no near-sales on a given piece it could mean that the painting doesn’t have wide appeal (which also doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good piece or that it won’t sell when the right person finds it) or that it is in the wrong gallery.  But all of this is another story.

Here are two pieces that are a bit older and had been nibbled on many times before they recently found their wall in a new home. I will use them as examples of what can happen along the way.

Winter Brilliance just came under discussion in a recent blog post:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2013/09/12/bearing-bad-news-the-emotional-content/

I will quote from that, but before all of the below happened this past year, this piece also was sold and unsold in a day. It went out on approval for three days from my (now closed) gallery in Redbank, NJ, to an NYC apartment. On the second day they called and said that they loved it and were keeping it. On the third day they called and said that they were being transferred by the husband’s job to San Francisco, where a fully furnished and decorated house awaited them, so they had to return the piece. Since this was all within the agreed upon three day approval period, back it came.

Later…

 “…the piece below, recently sold, had quite a busy time of it this year before reaching its new home. In March, it went to Chicago, where it was selected for viewing in a home. Much as they would have liked it, the piece didn’t fit the budget at that time, so a smaller piece was settled upon. Then, it was vetted for a possible swap with one of my dealers for a coveted Milton Avery print. But before I could bring it to her for her to decide, a private dealer asked me to hold it back for a likely sale through a designer. Months later and no word, I let it back out again to my gallery in Rhinebeck, and from there it went out to a home (through an architect, this time) where it looked as if I had painted it for the room in question.”

Winter Brilliance, 40"x50".

Winter Brilliance, 40″x50″. 2004.

River in 5 received a great deal of attention when I first stated showing it 2006. Not so exciting a history as Winter Brilliance, but I kept hearing from gallereists that this person or that couple had it under consideration. That was true also when it arrived at Albert Shahinian Fine art, with one collector of mine admiring both the soft monochromatic palette and the way it evoked the views he enjoyed while kayaking across the Hudson River from this spot.

Then…very quiet. Other work coming and going, but no nibbles on this piece for at least a few years…until last summer, when all at once two collectors spotted it in the gallery or on my website and were planning on buying it the next time they made it to Rhinebeck. First couple fell in love with a different piece and couldn’t manage both, and the second collector was still planning on acquiring the piece when it went out to the same apartment as Winter Brilliance and stayed there.

River in 5, 5 panels of 10"x10"/ea.
River in 5, 5 panels of 10″x10″/ea., 2006.

Below, a few sales of recent pieces.

Affinity/Narrow Road, 48"x12", sold by Gold Gallery.

Affinity/Narrow Road, 48″x12″, sold by Gold Gallery.

Mutable Mists, 20"x20", sold by Chace-Randall Gallery.

Mutable Mists, 20″x20″, sold by Chace-Randall Gallery.

Wave, 24"x48", sold by Van Ward Gallery.

Wave, 24″x48″, sold by Van Ward Gallery.

Mists off the River, 12"X36", $2,600. (CRG)

Mists off the River, 12″X36″, 2013,  sold by Chace-Randall Gallery.

A few newly finished pieces:

Triptych in Reds

Triptych in Reds, 3 panels of 24″x24″/ea., just packed off to Gold Gallery in Boston.

Moving Light, oil on vintage blackboard, 9.5"x5.5".

Moving Light, oil on vintage blackboard, 9.5″x5.5″.

"Blue Above", 12"X36".

“Blue Above”, 12″X36″.

Soft Summer Sky, 30"x36".

Soft Summer Sky, 30″x36″.

I have recently introduced a series of small oil-on-paper compositional/color studies in my painting workshops. I did this preliminary series beforehand, and now have others following—a wonderful way to work out placement of elements, using your painterly hand (instead of photoshop, which is a great tool but doesn’t help with the aforementioned!). I will be offering these small pieces for sale from my studio, tidbits that can be framed/hung individually or as a grouping, and are a great way to come up with an original—for yourself or as a gift—for the price of a print.

Small oil-on-parer studies, 6"x6" or 5"x7" or 3"x8".

Small oil-on-paper studies, 6″x6″ or 5″x7″ or 3″x8″.

My recent workshop at the PAAM in Provincetown, with a wonderful group:

Color-mixing from primaries.

Color-mixing from primaries. (Photo credit Carol Duke.)

Last day.

Last day. (Photo credit Carol Duke.)

 

See my blog post on how the workshop runs, with emphasis on composition:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2013/10/02/painting-workshop-considering-composition/

In other news:

I am sad to announce the closing of my gallery on Martha’s Vineyard, Dragonfly, but happy for Don and Susan as they move onto the next phase for them (more time for artmaking!).

Also happy to have joined the Louisa Gould Gallery, located the next town over in Vineyard Haven. I look forward to a long and successful relationship with my new MV gallery! (And a big thank-you to Don and Susan for connecting us.)

Upcoming:

Boston International Art Fair, with Gold Gallery, Nov. 21-24

2014:

“LINE…”, Butters Gallery, Portland, OR, curated by Melinda Stickney-Gibson, Feb. 6-March 1

Solo show at Chace-Randall Gallery, Andes, NY, May21-July 4th.

Duo show at Julie Heller East, Provincetown, MA, summer or fall, TBA

Workshops at the Woodstock School of Art: Feb. 15-17 & late June: PAAM, Sept., dates TBA

2015:

Solo show at Gold Gallery in Boston, early March.


Painting Workshop: Considering Composition

My recent workshop was themed “Landscape and Mood”. Color pops to mind for most when considering mood, but I emphasize composition, shape, edge, and directionality of shape/shapes even more.  I have observed that many developing artists—even beginners to painting—bring certain things to the easel that seem to be innate. Color preferences and type of line or gesture that a given hand tends to make are often so. Composition, however, generally needs to be fully  brought into the conscious mind to be mastered, with much analysis that comes from moving elements around to see how they serve the whole.

In representational painting, the placement of the components of a piece greatly affect the mood, as well.

I encourage my students to look at the narrative aspect of their composition, but also to examine their work in progress as an abstract painting. Are all of the shapes interesting/pleasing to the eye? Do they relate well to each other even if not touching or near? Are they not repetitive, like the bumpety-bump of a caterpillar? Too regular a curve, like a bowl, rather than a subtle S-curve with lots of variation? Do the shapes create directionality within so that the eye circles around the piece and doesn’t fly off and get lost? Are the edges varied?

In order to better show all of this to my students and have them experience it mindfully, I added some new exercises to my recent workshop at the Provincetown Artist’s Association and Museum. First I demonstrated  and then the group did small color/compositional studies on primed paper designed to be done fairly quickly, with multiple versions of the same image, moving elements around. Instead of repainting the piece until you get things where you like them best, each version is left as is so that they can all be looked at and critiqued as a grouping before beginning a larger piece on canvas. The studies serve not necessarily to pick the most successful one to follow, but as a means of becoming familiar with the variables of the image so that the larger painting can be approached with more confidence and awareness of the choices that it presents.

As vehicles for learning, the small pieces can also stand on their own.

Thanks to my PAAM student Carol Duke—both a painter and a photographer—-I have a nice sequence of photos showing many of the exercises, demos, and steps I currently employ in this workshop.

This group was particularly lovely, though I always get great students (good hand; good eye; great questions; supportive of one another; usually a developed studio practice, sometimes a very open and enthusiastic beginner).

Below, working on small compositional studies with subtle variations in placement to explore these elements before starting the larger piece.

DSC_5196

DSC_5224Showing various ways of handling edges (so important!): embedded; lost and found; wet-on-wet; scumbled; hard over soft.

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Above, my studies and students dark-gessoed paper, ready to begin theirs. Below (my photo), first small studies completed. 

WSPTown2

DSC_5341Beginning my 12″x36″ piece.

WSPTown13Everyone setting up at their easels to begin work on larger paintings.

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Mixing colors from primaries. We all have our tubes of favorite mixtures, so the true derivation a given color we mix on our palette can be confusing—-so many ways to arrive at it!  Going back to mixing from primaries clears away a great deal of confusion, and is way more fun than it sounds. Hue, value, and tone are all covered, and all requests are fulfilled (Naples Yellow! Mars Violet! Olive Green—bring it on!)

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Final critique, which includes suggestions for where to go with unfinished paintings. This time we moved around to the wall behind each artist’s easel. Progress and breakthroughs happened on different days for different students, but everyone had at least one! And epiphanies—well, those often bear fruit later on…

I love what I learn from my students! Agnes, returning for the forth time, had this advice for another artist who wanted to create for herself the silky surface that I developed years ago—“If you can’t hear the brush as you work it across the surface of the dark gesso {with tooth}, you are using too much paint.”

How come I never noticed that?!

On the subject of surface, I do find that this is another aspect of  painting that seems to be innate to the artist. Many students come into my workshop and want to learn how I create my surface. The process is something that I developed years back through trial and error and experimenting with materials. I teach every step of it, but like to encourage an artists with a lovely painterly hand to go with what they already do well. From there, we build, returning to the emphasis on composition and organizing/simplifying detail.

DSC_5573Packing up…till next time.

RichnessofBlue“Richness of Blue”, finished in my studio. So glad that I didn’t include the lighthouse and jetty in this version…just simplicity. The other variables that I explored originally in my studies were placement and angle of the tidal pool and where it goes off the edge of the piece on lower right; size of back shore and strip of water beneath it; and color of sky.

For more on how I develop a piece, see my blog post;

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2011/09/13/painting-demonstration/

And for more discussion of landscape and mood, including analysis of mood in specific paintings of mine:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2012/03/01/landscape-and-mood/

About our emotional experience while painting:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2012/08/24/painting-teaching-and-the-emotive-self/


August Newsletter

At the height of this most lovely summer, things are going beautifully both inside and outside of the studio. I am currently busy replenishing my galleries, with recent deliveries to Chace-Randall in Andes and Albert Shahinian in Rhinebeck, and plans for another one to Gold Gallery in Boston.

During summer, I leave my studio door open and listen to the sound of the creek behind it, using my yard as an extended studio. I wish we could start all over again at the beginning of June…but plan on fully savoring what remains.

"Rare Summer Silence", 20"x30".

“Rare Summer Silence”, 20″x30″.

I recently published a blog post on creating an abstract painting, using three exhibitions that I attended in May-June as the basis for my discussion. I sent this out to my list of artists, but not to my whole list, so be sure and take a look if you think you would be interested. Collectors and friends have sometimes commented on how much they would like some sort of  art historical/art appreciation primer. This discussion would serve that purpose in regard to the formal elements of constructing a painting (any painting, not just an abstract one).

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/three-abstract-artists-ellsworth-kelly-jenny-nelson-and-melinda-stickney-gibson/

The Shandaken Art Studio Tour was busy again this year, with the added bonus for me of my two 21-year-olds participating. We had nearly 100 people coming through, with good conversation, sales, and follow-up, as well. Below, “Rainy Road/Metal Box”, one of the last pieces that I finished before the Tour, was acquired by a friend.

Rainy Road/Metal Box, 4.5"x9".

Rainy Road/Metal Box,4.5″x9″, sold at the Shandaken Art Studio Tour.

Checking out my "Affinity/Waterspout" with a visitor.

Checking out my “Affinity/Waterspout” with a visitor.

These two pastels sold at the Tour to the same couple. Buying pastels unframed is a really nice way to go, since then the collectors can pick frame and mat that look good both on the piece and in their chosen spot. I accompanied them the weekend after the Tour to my fabulous framer, Geoffrey Rogers (since 1990!) to assist in picking out just the right presentation.

"Downriver", 15"x28".

“Downriver”, 15″x28″.

Skyline with Sunset,

Skyline with Sunset, 21″x8″.

Since this is the season when many of my galleries are in full swing, there have been a nice number of sales, each with their own story. As I started putting this post together, there emerged a series of short vignettes about these  acquisitions, so I am running with that. Below, a handful of pieces sold recently and some accompanying stories. (This is one of the reasons that I like to stay in close touch with my galleries—to collect all of this information on what goes on and to impart to them observations of my own. It can also be helpful to share current news from one venue to the next, since they are too busy in their galleries to get much chance to exchange notes.)

Seaview Morning Mists, 12"X12", $1,400, 2013. (DFG)

“Seaview Morning Mists”, 12″X12″, 2013, sold through Dragonfly Gallery.

A fellow fell in love with the below piece in Andes, promising to bring his wife the next weekend.

Mists off the River, 12"X36", $2,600. (CRG)

“Mists off the River”, 12″X36″.

Fortunately, he also liked other work of mine in the gallery, including “Evening Headlights”, since his wife was smitten with it, and they decided that this piece was the one.

Couples work this out in differing ways. Sometimes they feel they need to agree 100% on each acquisition. Other times they take turns selecting the particular piece, but do need to agree on the artist.

Evening Headlights, 10"X30".

“Evening Headlights”, 10″X30″, sold through Chace-Randall Gallery.

I finally managed to get one of my larger Affinities to my Boston gallery and it was the very next thing that they sold. This piece was admired last summer in my studio by another artist as “the darkest landscape I have ever laid eyes on”. (And it WAS meant as a complement!)

Affinity/Seagleams, 12"X48", $3,800.

“Affinity/Seagleams”, 12″X48″, sold through Gold Gallery.

“Still Waters”, below, was finished last week and sold within a few days. I had a lovely time painting it, feeling mesmerized by the fog. It is going to a collector who has long wanted a large piece of mine.

"Still Waters", 20"x60", studio sale/Albert Shahinian Fine Art.

“Still Waters”, 20″x60″, studio sale/Albert Shahinian Fine Art.

Both this triptych and the even larger one sold by Gold Gallery last fall from my solo show there went to first-time buyers. That is quite a leap!

Ongoingness of Summer, 3 panels of 24"X30"/ea., $9,000. (GG)

Ongoingness of Summer, 3 panels of 24″X30″/ea., sold by Gold Gallery.

“Crossing at Dusk” was recently purchased by clients of my Andes, NY gallery. Interested at first in the above “Mists off the River”,  as they weighed their options they discovered a piece on my Boston gallery’s website, and this ended up being their final choice. They knew to work through the original gallery, though, and the sale was a co-broke between the two venues.

Crossing at Dusk, 24"X48", (TGG).

Crossing at Dusk, 24″X48″, sold by Chace-Randall Gallery/Gold Gallery.

A couple visited my studio looking for an over-the-couch sized piece with subtle color. After checking out some possibilities here, they headed over to Albert Shahinan Fine Art to look at a particular piece there. While perusing their ample holdings of my work, they fell in love with this smaller piece, below. So, following their heart (instead of sticking to a strict purpose) they left with “When Autumn Glows Softly”, leaving the larger spot to be worked out in the near future, most likely with a commissioned piece.

When Autumn Glowed Softly, 24"x30", sold through Albert Shahinian Fine Art.

“When Autumn Glowed Softly”, 18″x24″, sold through Albert Shahinian Fine Art.

They were no sooner home than they had it up and sent me a jpeg of the piece installed. So nice!

When Autumn Glowed hanging.

“When Autumn Glowed” hanging.

Two workshops are coming up, at the Provincetown Artists Association and Museum September 16-19, and the Woodstock School of Art October 18-20th  I am planning a different sort of workshop for next year that dials in on issues of composition and color with a series of exercises on primed paper. This should be great with beginners, and also a big help for experienced painters in better understanding decision-making about the formal elements of painting.

I will be scheduling a 1-day intake seminar for mentoring for career support in September or October—see link below for more info. Let me know if you are interested!

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2013/01/15/mentoring-for-artists-for-career-and-work-support/

Happy August!

"Memory's Waters", 16"x20", Cooper Lake in summer blue/greens.

“Memory’s Waters”, 16″x20″, Cooper Lake in summer blue/greens.


Mentoring for Artists for Career and Work Support

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The very idea of functioning in the marketplace often brings up feelings of fear and dread for artists. Add to that the sense of being an outsider and you have an inner construct of resistance and defensiveness (you reject me?—I reject you!). As a result, some artists simply never step out of their studios with their work, while others resign themselves to the effort, but do it sporadically and badly, carrying their baggage of resistance.

As a full time, self-supporting artist, exhibiting in multiple galleries for decades, I have followed my natural curiosity about how things work, consistently gathering information from my galleries, my artist friends, and my collectors about how art and sales are successfully made. Finding myself  frequently passing this information on to fellow artists at openings and other events, I decided to more actively share my knowledge, forming in 2006 my first mentoring group. Blending the modalities of coaching, support groups, and seminars on career development (and designed to be affordable for artists), my groups have been filled through word of mouth.

It pleases me greatly to help other artists mitigate their anxiety about the process of entering or participating in the art marketplace. Many times artists are in isolation, reinventing the wheel, when the information that they need is fairly straightforward. Other times, situations have their own wrinkle and require the targeted advice that comes from experience. In either case, I love sharing what I know, and also enjoy working with the highly diverse bodies of work presented by the artists who I mentor. 

Mentoring support is designed to help artists in any and all areas needed to help them progress on their paths, both artistically and in the marketplace.

The areas in need of support vary from artist to artist, but include:

-Focusing on art-making via a body of work that explores, with consistency and depth, a unique set of interests.

-Learning to network effectively with other artists and developing a collector list; the use of email, social networking, websites and blogs.

-Helping the artist understand the difference between the venues available for exhibiting art: finding those that are appropriate to their work and experience; discussing how these relationships work and how to navigate them.

-Creating all of the written pieces that are a requirement for the exhibiting (and submitting) artist—resume, artist’s statement, bio—and in the process, becoming comfortable with any piece of writing called for in future  relationships and events.

-Pricing: framing, mounting, or 3-di presentation; studio and file organization; selecting work for a show or submission; and open studio or studio tour events.

-Learning to speak about one’s work, which then applies to all of the situations where that not only gives the artist an edge, but also allows them  the confidence and peace of mind that they can conduct these conversations effectively (and even have fun doing it).

-Issues of self-confidence, not getting waylaid by setbacks, and developing a proactive habit of ethical self-advocacy.

My intake workshop is the intro to this work, but can also stand on its own as a way of advancing and inspiring an artist’s career. This is a day-long seminar that includes much information necessary to understanding the functioning of the art world, and an opportunity for each artist to show their work and air their issues, followed by advice from me and feedback from the group.

Monthly meetings are three hours long, and open to all who have attended an intake workshop for new artists or have had a private consult with me. With a current pool of  about 40 artists, each meeting capped at six artists, the mix for any particular meeting is always interesting and invigorating. Each artist brings in work or concerns that are current, with a round-robin discussion that gives the artist time to seek advice for particular or pressing concerns.

Private sessions are in the artist’s studio, when geographically possible, or through a combination of email and phone. All of the above areas are covered, with the targeted focus of one-on-one. I am available to help organize and select work for an upcoming exhibit; sequence the hanging of a show; help prep an artist’s studio for an open studio event; and work with the public if the artist is not prepared to do so.

Phone consults are available as needed, often in conjunction with emailed images or documents requiring feedback, sometimes supplementing studio visits and/or monthly meetings.

“In the six years that I have been working with Christie, her mentoring has opened up a new vocabulary and path of action for approaching art as a vocation, as well as a broader appreciation for what other artists are accomplishing in their practices.  Producing art can be a lonely process, and Christie has provided many opportunities to get feedback on work, find outlets, meet other artists and most importantly, work out the next step.”

 Kari Feuer, 2012

“When I finally bit the bullet and enrolled in my first mentoring session with Christie, one of the other participants was shocked that I was there, asking for help with my career. Well, I was stuck and unsure about what to do next. My work was, and still is, at a good level but my career was stalled. I had always admired Christie’s grasp of the business of art and I wanted to learn, so there I was. I am moving forward now, thanks to working with Christie; and I have peers with whom I can discuss ideas, in a safe, calm, and respectful environment. I now, when finding myself in an art situation that I am unsure how to handle, ask myself “What would Christie do?” And I do it. And it works.”

Polly Law, 2012

 

 


Landscape and Mood

I recently taught a workshop at the Woodstock School of Art emphasizing mood in landscape painting. Since then I have continued to ponder the subject.

The course description.

All painting is about mood, and the landscape as subject matter sublimely so. In this workshop, we will break down what elements of a painting create strong currents of serenity, nostalgia, joy, melancholy, and subtle combinations of these. Color, content, and composition all contribute to the mood of a painting, so we will do exercises in color-mixing and composition, as well as discussing how these elements coalesce into the feel of a landscape in front of reproductions of some of my favorite landscape painters.  In the studio, using photographic reference, we will be free to explore the mood of any palette, season, or time of day, aiming not to manipulate but to be sensitive to the mood we are creating.

Some of my ponderings.

I dislike art (in amy medium, including writing) that is sentimental. So the comment above about not manipulating the mood is key, since that might be a good working definition of artistic sentimentality–art that overtly tugs on the heartstrings. Also, art that sets out to evoke one emotional response, instead of a complex response.

Further, when the artist dials in very specifically on one emotional narrative, the viewer is not given room to project their own feelings, as too many doors have been closed. In my workshop, I observed that in bringing mood into our decision making, we are not setting about, for example, to do a painting that evokes bittersweet-nostalgia-at-the-end-of-a-long-day, but instead something much more open. Since we are working in a visual medium, we can work viscerally in part, and then use our skills in composition and color to enhance the feel that we are developing in a painting.

An analysis of the  mood of eight paintings (as I see it).

The new painting below is clearly a mood piece. Dusk tends to do that, and the headlights imagery is realtively specific within my vocabulary. It is a poigniant time of day to be driving by oneself, and that is what the imagery evokes, so in this case we have a strong narrative, made dramatic by the highly contrasted darks and lights, warmed by the reds. The composition also affirms  the story, since all of the shapes and lines either point to or frame the headlights.

“Crossing at Dusk”, 24″X48″, courtesy Thompson/Giroux Gallery.

“Counterlit Blues” is a mood piece of a different type, dreamier and less specific. Still, no sentimentality! The shapes all glow, and have horizontal/diagonal lines that are inherently elegant and lead the eye gently around the canvas.

“Counterlight Blues”, 16″X20″, courtesy Albert Shahinian Gallery.

A sunny summer day, green/blue palette in the Northeast, does not have the softening effects of mist, nor the mood of dusk or a thunderstorm. The challenge is to capture the sense of joy that such a day can provide, something that can be difficult—and if you fall short, it becomes just a pretty painting.

“Summer Sky over Sesuit” has a certain dreamy quality, but the pointy cloud shapes counterbalance the mood with their incisiveness. Also, anchoring the  soft greens with the blacks of the marsh shapes gives the piece power. The joy of this summer day has a great deal with sense of place, as well as the towering sky.

“Summer Sky over Sesuit”, 48″X24″, courtesy Julie Heller Gallery.

Alternatively, “Divided Fields” is more a color field painting, capturing the universal,  than a moment in time. The movement created by the diagonal lines of the field divisions and the upward movement of the clouds contribute to the feeling that the image extends indefinitely up and out the sides. The sense of activity contributes to the energetic mood.

“Divided Fields”, 24″X72″.

One of my all-time favorite pieces, the older “Dark Cloud” goes beyond moody, flirting with ominous. The feel of stormy dread is counterbalanced by the oddly friendly way that the cloud converses with the silhouetted tree poking up above the hillside.

“Dark Cloud”, 40″X50″, private collection.

The following two pieces were done within a few weeks of each other, are the same size. and of similar subject matter.
“October Saltmarsh” has a a much more intense feel, however, and “Hazy/Lazy Saltmarsh” a dreamier  sensibility, largely due to color. The first creates intrigue by simultaneously providing serenity and incisive moodiness, while the second allows you to relax entirely into the hazy greens and tidal creek shape zigzagging gently toward you.

Both of these pieces have already been much admired…but always with a strong preference for one over the other.

“October Saltmarsh”, 24″X48″.

“Hazy/Lazy Saltmarsh”, 24″X48″, courtesy Gold Gallery.

What is the difference between the sublime and the melodramatic in a landscape painting?

I would go back to the specificity of the story, and perhaps to the number of seductive elements in the piece. So, sun through the clouds is entirely enough, and more does not make for bigger impact.  Not too many colors, no need for a boat or sun flare, and darks running to black or almost black lend contrast and weight to the sublime sun.

SummerStorm

“Summer Storm”, courtesy the Julie Heller Gallery.

Mixed metaphor in art is usually much more interesting than the overt message. Furthermore, all good art should allow for the viewer to project some of their own thoughts and feelings into the mix, as art is about questions as much as answers.

So, feel free to disagree with any of my interpretations!


Mentoring Retreat for Artists

Last month I led a retreat for six artists on Cape Cod, using the cottage where I have been vacationing with my family for 18 years as our base for making art, meetings to discuss the artists bodies of work and career direction and, of course, exploring the tidal flats (see my first post, “Back on the Sandflats”). I also had private discussions with each artist, following up  on their accomplishments and contacts with ideas for further progress in exhibiting and selling their work.

The retreat was modeled on the mentoring groups that I lead in the Catskills, often with a mix of artists in different stages of work and career development. There are many things that the artist likes to think about, and other things that the artist needs to think about. Below, a discussion of our week, and some of the issues that surfaced for the artists in this group, Polly Law, Loel Barr, Sylvia Weinberg, Sue Desanna, Helen Kohler, and Maureen Burr.

Maureen, who took my painting workshop in Provincetown last summer, is returning to making art from a long absence. A pressing question for her: is it all right to be exploring many different things, or should she be narrowing in on one or two?

A recent sculpture of Maureen’s.

Early on, the artist should be following her interests wherever they lead. Being “all over the place” is ideal, much as a young art student will typically try different styles and media for years before finding a mode of working that is of abiding interest. Nothing else matters but the process. Creating one’s own style is partly a function of limiting alternatives, so this should not be forced, but allowed to happen through exploration. As the inner voice and eye hone in on an individual expression, other options drop away naturally.

 

Loel has been sifting through permutations of this question for years. Multi-talented, she has found satisfaction in slices, each media or style scratching a different artistic itch.

With new realist drawings and paintings of subject matter that explores the rhythm of folds and draping fabric, Loel finds satisfaction in the process of a realist technique that has always anchored her.

After years of working with this variety, it would be more satisfying to find one or two directions that focus all of her talents and ways of seeing the world. At this stage, “all over the place” can feel overly scattered. Honing in on a focused direction still should not be forced—ever—but the mind, both conscious and unconscious, can be alert to paths that present themselves that will unify the work.

I also first met Helen in one of my painting workshops. It turns out that she is pursuing two bodies of work, one landscape painting and the other fiber art. In this case, the discussion of multiple directions takes a different turn.

Helen’s landscape in oil.

If you are an artist working happily in two completely different veins, you are lucky indeed! The only challenge in the marketplace is that you will probably have different exhibition venues for the two bodies of work. Years ago, an art consultant told me that when I submit to galleries, I should pick one or the other of the bodies of work I was doing at a time, because galleries would get confused, and then think that I was.

 A little tongue-in-cheek, but good advice. The artist in this position has to research venues with a dual intent, but there is nothing wrong with that. Sometimes, you may find a gallery that likes and establishes you with one body of work, and then takes an interest in what else you do later on.

The fiber piece that Helen was working on during the retreat, with leaves that flutter away from the backing.

“I am just processing all the information I got last week from all of you and it will keep me busy for weeks to come,” observed Helen in a follow-up email.

Artists in the mentoring groups learn from each other. I have observed repeatedly that when a group of artists is discussing a body of work, they might disagree on a particular passage in a painting, for example, but will invariably agree on what is working overall. While looking at Sylvia and Sue’s landscapes, the group unanimously preferred the looser, more open,  interpretations. This meant not that the group all had minimalist taste, but that those were the pieces that stood out within their bodies of work.

Sylvia’s loose, understated plein air watercolor of nearby Paine’s Creek, one of my favorite places to paint on earth.

 

Artists can also be the most important contacts of all for each other. Currently, with so many galleries closing and their artists searching for new ones, the best way to get the attention of a gallery is to have an intro to the owner or director, which one artist can provide for another. Artists can also support each other by sharing information on exhibition opportunities, consulting with each other on thorny questions of conduct, and critiquing each other’s work.

Sylvia, an accomplished watercolorist, has been focusing on finding a technique in oil that is equally satisfying. She is also returning her energies to finding new venues for showing her work after a period of years during which personal matters took up much of her attention.

Aonoher view of Sylvia’s of the salt grasses in front of Paine’s Creek.

Sue was also looking to refocus, and just bump up, in general. An experienced pastelist, she is always honing her voice, and is currently looking for new venues to show her work.

Sue’s plein air pastel of Paine’s Creek.

When looking for a new gallery, make sure that you are a good fit, both stylistically and in terms of resume and pricing. If you are an emerging artist and there is no mention of that in the “about” the gallery, look at the resumes of the other artists. If they are all international art stars, your time would be better spent looking for a more appropriate gallery. On the other end, if the gallery charges artists to show, check to see if they curate, or if it is just “pay to play”—a vanity gallery. Sometimes an artist needs to share expenses with a gallery early on in the resume-building process, but a straight vanity gallery has no collector base, and no prestige.

Stylistically, you don’t want to be too close to any artist already in the gallery, but too far away from anything that they show. Above all, you need to like their aesthetic.

 

Polly has been in a unique and mature voice phase of her work for a good number of years. This can raise the issue of staying fresh, stimulated, and challenged—the opposite problem of following too many paths. “I had closed myself into a box of what was allowable and what was not in the way of my work. Incorporating the bits & bobs of beach combings would not have been allowed before. As you can see I had really been closing down artistic opportunities- egad. Well, just walking out onto the tidal flats that first evening was like opening a window and taking a broom to the dusty, fusty, tired, stale attic my brain had become. I became fascinated by the wabi-sabi of the elements on the beach (wabi-sabi is a Japanese term to describe the reflection of the history of an object onto its self.) Ideas came to me when I picked up objects and held them in my hand- I could see how they could be used. It was very exciting.”

A new piece of Polly’s using some storm-tossed feathers she found on the beach.

Some artists work in quite different series every several years. Others shift a bit from year to year. I tend to work in concurrent series, maintaining bodies of work with small tweaks and changes to interest me from piece to piece, and then every so often bring in a new series when I feel the need for a really new challenge. In any case, change is necessary to stay stimulated, and the mature artist (especially one with an identity and a following) has to find his/her own path to that—looking deeply inside your process can provide clues, as can looking way outside of your habitual references and patterns. Inside/outside—look in, look out. If you have been doing too much of one, try the other.

We also did a gallery crawl in both Wellfleet and Provincetown. The artists split up and made rounds, looking at art, assessing galleries with information that we had discussed beforehand, and chatting with gallery staff and owners. Maureen later observed, “I was really comfortable talking to the gallery owners and feel like I made a couple of good contacts for sometime in the future.  For now, I will plan on popping in again the next few times I am down to continue our conversation”.

This is a good way to get to know a gallery and for them to get to know you—keep showing up. If it is the gallery of your dreams, you might want to do this for years—I know of someone who finally got into the NYC gallery that he coveted after a decade of showing up, and repeated submissions!

I had introduced Polly and another friend, Jenny Nelson, to Julie Heller, my Provincetown gallery, over the summer. During our visit to P’town, Polly met Julie and her staff and brought new work (which drew attention immediately from gallery-goers), and I was able to nail down details of a show I will be co-curating with Julie of my, Jenny’s, and Polly’s work next summer.

I am often asked by artists if they can use my name when approaching a gallery. I have no problem with this, but it will not provide any real connection. The only way to help another artist is to make a strong personal recommendation to your gallery, and that only works if you have a relationship of trust with them. Then, of course, they have to fall in love with the work.

Further, many galleriests have told me that when choosing from the big talent pool out there, they are looking for artists who are professional and easy to work with. I see this as a quality of life issue. So many stresses seem unavoidable, so why wouldn’t a gallery owner or director try to circumvent that of a difficult artist?

I know a great number of artists through my galleries, the community, mentoring, and teaching. The only time I intro them to one of my galleries is when I feel that it is as beneficial to the gallery as it is to the artist to do so. Otherwise, I would lose the ear of my dealers, and thus not be able to help anyone at all.

When I said goodbye to Julie after our day in Provincetown the last thing she said to me was, “thank-you for Polly and Jenny”.

A very new twist for Polly, using beach-combined bits as well.

 

Finally, from Maureen, I will include a lovely commentary on the week. “I think the next retreat should be called, “Things they don’t teach you in Art School”, because I left Brewster armed with so much knowledge. The experience of being able to speak to other women artists who have the same insecurities and similar perspectives was incredibly helpful.  I left the retreat with much more confidence, and between the class I took with you at PAAM and the retreat, I have found that it I have lost that old paralyzing fear of “what if this piece isn’t perfect?”. I am better able to play with ideas and if they work out, then great.  If they don’t, I can try something else.  It’s not the end of the world. That in itself is worth everything to me.”

My very recent version of Paine’s Creek at dusk, wending it’s way out to the sandflats at low tide, where it disappears into the sand.

Me striding up the jetty that runs parallel to the bay at Paine’s Creek, having walked across the tidal flats to meet up with Sue and Sylvia, who were preparing to paint there.

Polly at work in the cottage.

The seven of us enjoying dinner at the Lobster Pot in Provincetown.


Painting Demonstration

Painting Demonstration

In August I did a painting demonstration at my gallery in Rhinebeck, Albert Shahinian Fine Art. I am accustomed to doing these for my students, but a gallery setting posed different challenges.

Since I do not paint a piece in one sitting, I had to plan carefully to give an idea of the entire process. I paint over a dark ground, building up a silky, glowing surface with semi-transparent layers that need to dry in between.

For the demo, I brought in three pieces to work on. The first, Night Drive, had only one layer. The second and third, Iconic Cloud and High Peaks, were nearly finished, but needed some last work on the clouds to achieve the glow that I am after.

Photography by Mark Loete.

The finished "Night Drive", 16"X20".

I am not absolutely methodical with my palette, but I do like to mix it ahead of time with a number of subtle color options so that I can apply the first layer without stopping frequently to mix. Here, small amounts of color for a smallish painting.

Passing the painting with the dry first layer around so that folks could feel the tooth of the dark ground on the sides.

Explaining the process, continual in my studio, that I use to figure out what the painting needs next. One of the biggest pitfalls is to be so in love with a section or element of the painting that you fail to see that another area is not up to snuff. While many important decisions are made viscerally during the development of the painting, this is a stage that requires clear-headed analysis. In this piece, what I needed was fairly straightforward---more glow in the sky and in the lights, and some clarification of the car with the taillights.

Beginning to apply a second layer. The light colors need more layering than the dark and more saturated hues to create luminescence, especially in sky and water. Lights, spots of embedded color, usually have halos of warm color around them with white or almost white in the center. There as many different ways of shaping and blending a set of headlights as there are different kinds of clouds…these often take as much of my time as the whole rest of the painting.

The brush gets used upside down and sideways, to work into the edges that are blended and scumbled, creating my soft-focus surface.

Working…my solo show on the surrounding walls.

Working on the blacks---the blacker the better. Creating a haze of rich, saturated color---deep red in this piece-- along the edges of black shapes makes a lovely transition into the adjoining area.

Working, talking, artist taking notes in foreground. A final decision was how clear to make the streetlight poles—since this piece has a blurred photo-on-the-move look, I left them quite faint.

The final version of "Iconic Cloud", 20"X40".

The composition and shapes of “Iconic Cloud” had been worked out in my studio—I had tweaked and added variation to the shape and edges of the cloud for hours. Now, all I needed to do was add some whites to it to enhance contrast and luminosity.

The cloud, being the star here, requires lots of attention. It is not all white, but has many subtle variations of slightly mauve greys. Here, I am adding the last, whitest whites. The layering of semi-transparent paint and careful scumbling of the edges create the glow, so that the cloud does not look like a solid object stuck on the sky, instead clearly reading as embedded in it.

Sometimes I follow my reference fairly closely, and other times it serves more as inspiration. The foreground photo here illustrates that with “Iconic Cloud”, the latter was the case. I am often asked about working from photographic reference—plein-air painting being so popular these days. Since I love to capture fleeting moments–from a thunderstorm to headlights on a lonely road—I need a reference that fixes the image. My minimalist imagery also involves a great deal of editing, reducing detail, cropping, and rearranging, all of which are easier to do with a photo as a starting point. Finally, my process requires studio time, since it is accomplished over time.

The finished piece, "High Peaks", 20"X60".

Setting up for the final touches on “High Peaks”.

This image had a sky that was hard to capture---a grey-pink approaching thunderstorm look, slightly queasy while also kind of ethereal. The difficult part was going back and forth between the greyer spectrum (somewhat dreary) and the pinks (a tad sweet). It was, in the end, the whites highlights that brought it all together.

Answering questions…like, “How long does it take you to do a painting?” Answer: “Some seem to paint themselves, while others require seemingly endless problem-solving—and I never know at the beginning which way it will go.”

Explaining how important it is to create an elengant, dynamic composition. I prefer varied, interlocking shapes with reverse curves...

…lots of points or triangular forms, and diagonal lines. In a landscape, it is too easy to stick to a series of horizontal bands—but way more interesting to break these up with diagonals and verticals.

Any questions?

September 13, 2011 | Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment