Category Archives: Art I Like

Art I Like: Word Art and some more of my watercolors

It’s flower season here in Portland. I have been doing a lot of fun watercolors.

Here’s one of some geraniums:
Geranium, watercolor on paper, 12x16

Geranium, 2017, watercolor on paper, 12×16

Foxgloves are biennials, which apparently means they bloom every two years. I thought this was a yet another weed in my front yard and recently I got surprised by these lovely blossoms.
Foxgloves, 2017, watercolor on paper, 12x16

Foxgloves, 2017, watercolor on paper, 12×16

I also grew a bunch of wonderful tulips this year. Here’s a view of the tulips when they get all floppy and flattened right before the petals are going to drop.

Spent tulips, 2017x watercolor on paper, 12x16

Spent tulips, 2017, watercolor on paper, 12×16

And I could take pictures of peonies  forever. I have peonies in my garden! Hot pink ones and these pink frilly ones (I think they’re Sarah Bernhardts?) I want to grow tree peonies but they’re like $80 a pot.

Peony bouquet, 2017, watercolor on paper, 12x16

Peony bouquet, 2017, watercolor on paper, 12×16

Last time I mentioned I painted a canvas with a lavender background. I wrote out that dream quote in yellow paint and then smeared it out. Not sure where this is going. I could see this one being used for a landscape eventually or maybe I’ll make it an abstract. This canvas is larger than the ones I’ve been working on.
Work in progress
The canvas is sitting on an unstretched piece of canvas that I found rolled up (my mother had dutifully saved everything of mine). I’m going to paint over it as well with oil. We’ll see how the shapes in the background play out.

I was reminded of an artist  that I like on Pinterest …Jenny Holzer. She writes memorable quotes and they are embedded in all sorts of places: billboards, movie theater signs, etched in marble, projected on a building, etc etc. I love this quote:

This piece is so fitting for today’s politics:

Abuse of Power Comes As No Surprise from the series Truisms T-shirts (1980-)

Untitled Bench, Jenny Holzer, Missing Peace Exhibit

I had a drawing teacher tell me a long time ago, in a place far far away that my charcoal drawings reminded him of Cy Twombly. I was fortunate to see Cy Twombly at a retrospective I think at the Whitney Museum several years ago. He’s amazing. He embeds words in scribbles and gestural marks in a very beautiful and effortless way

Apollo by Cy Twombly

Here’s a recent watercolor of a peony with the word daydream scribbled on top. Nowhere near  as masterful as  Twombly but we’ll see where adding words in my art leads me. Don’t quit your daydream!

Daydream pink peony

Daydream pink peony

Art I Like: Henri Matisse

I already blogged about Matisse, after my trip to the Met Museum a few months ago. I’ve been pinning his work over and over again.

Matisse pinned from ArtStack
Matisse pinned from nevsepic.com.ua
Matisse pinned from plus.google.com

I really like how he is able to abstract his work and ‘flatten’ form into shapes that are reminiscent of pattern. In this book I got from Le Souk Le Souk, it describes how inspired he was from his trip to Morocco– and it shows!

He flattens space but it still makes sense as a cohesive space because the color and the line weight guide you from foreground to background. It’s very skillfully done.  It reminds me of when Web 2.0 came out and everything had a drop shadow on it. There is dimensionality while still being flat….it’s 2.5 D.

He said, “It is the beginning of my expression with color, with blacks and their contrasts.” The painting’s black ground separates the three parts, but black unites them, too, by working its way into various areas of each part. The black, though it serves to depict deep shadow, also refers to light. Matisse wrote of a contemporaneous painting, “I began to use black as a color of light and not as a color of darkness.”

I’m inspired by his skill and am going to explore color, line, and pattern in my work in an abstracted but flattened space…particularly in watercolor.

#crocosmia #lily #watercolor #art #artistsoninstagram

A photo posted by Betsyness Art Studio (@betsynessartstudiocollection) on

 

Fall foliage mixed media on paper 12x16

 

My glowing blue oil painting experiment

 

In my mood/concept mapping, I wrote down the words:

mystical
radiant
patina
residue
subtle, profound
fragile, ephemeral

not really sure where this is going but that’s the experience/aesthetic I’m working towards.

It is partially inspired by James McNeill Whistler’s tonalism paintings (there’s a great book by the Clark Art Museum) and I also saw his work in the National Gallery of Art in DC years ago.

I’m playing with all sorts of oil painting goop- gamsol, stand oil, cold wax, linseed oil. I am eyeing this strangely named medium, Neo-Megilp, although I am really trying to resist buying it to satisfy  my curiousity.  Artists of Portland…let’s meet up and try each other’s art supplies for the sake of our wallets!

I started with a dark transparent color, ultramarine. And wow is it glowing In fact, the painting actually really reminds me of a lot of the digital painting work that is coming out of ipads. Not sure if that’s a good thing, but I do like the texture, layering, and softness that is happening. I think I just need to ground the next one in a less artificial feeling color than ultramarine.

Also, this painting looks awesome in direct sunlight, but not as good in inferior lighting. I’m a little worried that all of my oil paintings are going in that direction…

Oh and I painted this on a prestretched oil primed linen panel that was on a major clearance at Blick. Boy could I get spoiled with this material!

 

Design I Like: Piet Oudulf

I realized that my favorite thing that I saw during my trip to NYC (other than my friends) was the Highline, a public garden built upon an abandoned railroad.

Highline

The fact that the gardens were the most inspiring thing made me realize that I do in fact belong in Portland!

Alison told me that the Highline was designed by garden designer, Piet Oudulf.

gardenista.com

His work is amazing. He uses lots of native plants, perennials, and grasses and he creates these beautiful landscapes that have amazing color in all seasons.

Highline

He uses grasses for color and even the dying seedheads provide textural and color interest in the dead of winter.

http://veronicatsgardens.blogspot.com/
http://www.igpoty.com/ via Pinterest

Highline

Someday I would like to visit the Netherlands and view his private garden. There are so many more beautiful, inspiring garden examples in this pdf I found on the Harvard School of Design course he taught about designing for Mood in the garden:

“Mysticism totally depends on circumstances that are out of your control. Fog, dusk. It makes you feel on your self in a different world.”

“Emotion and mood are vital to the success of a garden…They are qualities, however, that are very difficult to define in hard-and-fast terms. It is always difficult to describe why certain gardens are attractive and not others. It is even more difficult to write prescriptions for creating different moods, for mood is only something that can be planned into a garden to a limited extent.”

Sounds like painting too 😉

 

Textile & ceramics in paintings at the Met

Remember the cool green jug I got from OKO Portland and then painted in this still life study?  Cezanne had a green one too and I got to see his paintings up close at the Met in NYC.

While I left mine pretty transparent, Cezanne painted his with glorious thick paint. I also love the patterned wallpaper. It’s a dirty yellow ochre, but somehow still glowing.

Here’s another still life with the green jug:

Here’s an amazing turquoise and deep blue pitcher in a Van Gogh still life. Isn’t that lime green background so yummy! His work is full of textural painterly brushstrokes but the paintings don’t feel unsettled I think because there is the balance of the thin, delicate dark paint strokes.

Look at these luscious textiles in these paintings by Vermeer.

Inspiration From the new Whitney: Willem de Kooning

Willem de Kooning, Woman and Bicycle @ The Whitney

The new Whitney Museum looks like Boston’s ICA and is similarly situated near the water on Manhattan’s west side near the High Line. I was kind of disappointed by the lack of exhibits for the amount that I paid, but their permanent collection was quite good. It rained when I went but they also have a very nice observation deck and cafe on the top floor.

I really liked this information provided by the Whitney curators:

Willem de Kooning never believed that abstraction and representation were mutually exclusive. As he stated: “I’m not interested in ‘abstracting’ or taking things out or reducing painting to design, form, line, and color. I paint this way because I can keep putting more things in it–drama, anger, pain, love, a figure, a horse, my ideas about space. Through your eyes it again becomes an emotion or idea.”

This de Kooning painting was large at 76 1/2 × 49 1/8 in. Some questions that I ask myself are: how do I know when I’m done, and is this piece professional, museum quality. It’s interesting to see the bare linen exposed at the edges with the staples showing and no frame or glass.

A lot of paintings now will have a solid color painted on the edges to provide a more polished look. I usually think of linen as suitable for fine glazing techniques but de Kooning had no problem with applying his oil paint thick in many locations.

Close snapshots of various parts of the painting look like they could be their own abstract painting.

He also used vivid, saturated pastel colors but the painting is balanced by the black and the grey of the raw linen. I wonder how he  treated his linen. It doesn’t look like used any white gesso, which is normally used to protect the supporting material of canvas or linen from the oil paint. I too like the color of raw linen better than  the very white gesso.

 

 

Painting Inspiration at the Met: Henri Matisse

I was lucky enough to go to one of my favorite museums in NYC, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. When I went there as a kid, I remember being in so much awe, thinking ‘I could never do that!’. Now as an adult, I still am amazed, but I have more ideas on how they were able to create the paintings.

Matisse is known for his bright colors, but I really noticed how thinly he applies his oil paint in some cases letting the “white” show through. You can also see the pencil from his drawing.

One critique I have of my own paintings that show brushwork and a lot of texture is that they can feel too busy or unsettled. Matisse finds the balance.

Matisse

It’s colorful and lively but the painting still feels settled. Even with the brushstrokes being very apparent, he does provide space for the eye to rest with the large swatches of the same color.

What’s really interesting about this Matisse painting of lilacs is the background has three values (dark, medium, light) but the entire painting doesn’t feel too chaotic.

Normally a  painting will have a background that is only dark, or brighter than the subject, or a medium value. I think the fact that he used a true black helps to balance the bright lavender and green that he used.

I love this little guy that he randomly adds to the painting. From the way the black bleeds it does look like he used some kind of solvent like turpentine or gamsol.

 

I LOVE the colors of this still life painting of goldfish.

Again he finds a way to balance the bright pastel colors of the apple and the water glass using more muted, neutral shades like the patterning of the wallpaper. Normally, (like if I was painting using these colors) the  burnt sienna/brown/red shade would look like poop but it’s really beautiful in his application and it balances the blues in the painting quite wonderfully. It almost looks like he went quickly with a layer of burnt sienna and then applied a layer of transparent green on top. Together they blend to make more of a darker brown.

Here’s another pretty lady. Again I think the fact that he uses a liberal amount of true black helps balance the pastel pinks and purples.

Wednesday night oil sketches

AdobePhotoshopExpress_2016_09_28_18:10:35

Here is a oil painting sketch of Moolack beach where I’m trying to capture the wind blowing across the sands while reflecting the sky during low tide. I’m using Arches oil paper which in theory should be awesome. As someone with a full time job outside of art, time for art is always limited. I have been looking and trying  various  supports that will simplify the task of art production (prepping canvases or boards until I win the lottery and can pay for my own studio assistant) and give me more time to paint. Unfortunately the Arches oil paper is as unappealing to me as their watercolor paper. It has the texture of a bounty paper towel and it is WAY too absorbent—it somehow doesn’t let me to remove any paint off the paper which for me is one of the defining characteristics of the oil paint medium—it’s malleability and wiping-off ease. So anyways for this study, I’m not even trying to do much glazing or thin layers. I’m aiming for bold, thick layers which I would never do on a canvas or linen but I almost have to do on this oil paper. I also did an under layer of acrylic. Actually I think this paper should be marketed as acrylic paper because it is thick and it is pretty decent for acrylics. But the paper is way too expensive to use for just that purpose.

So far this painting is too aggressive and chaotic to me. On this paper it’s hard to make the subtle blends that the location really calls for.  This painting just goes to show you how hard it is to paint simply. I’ve been admiring Katherine Bradford‘s oil painting work for a long time. Her work uses the icons and imagery of children’s art….superheroes, boats, and simplified human forms..but the work is decidedly not childish…it’s beautiful and masterfully done. All the haters that look at this type of work and say I could do that…trust me it’s not as easy as it looks.

Katherine Bradford found on hyperallergic.com
Katherine Bradford found on hyperallergic.com
Katherine Bradford found on painters-table.com

I also did another oil painting study of Bandon beach. We went down to the southern Oregon coast earlier this month. I haven’t posted about that trip but stay tuned. It was AWESOME!!!

AdobePhotoshopExpress_2016_09_28_18:09:59

It’s at a stage where I like the looseness and softness (and the maroon color glazes) and I debate if I should continue and risk losing what I’ve already done by potentially overworking it. I’ll probably just keep going.

Emily Henderson, writer of the  design blog I read everyday, says that in the early stage of a creative career, it’s quantity over quality that matters. So in that spirit no point in being a perfectionist and being scared to ruin this painting….right now it’s about learning and exploring.

 

 

Design I Like: Beam & Anchor

I follow Beam & Anchor on Instagram,  they ‘re a cool Portland retailer that has an awesome selection of merchandise.

I want this linen apron.  

Or this linen towel.

Beam and Anchor

Linen is so beautiful. How come art stores don’t carry pre stretched raw linen art panels in these colors?

This simple geometric stand for jewelry is kinda impractical for me since I don’t wear a ton of jewelry. But I love the elegance of its form and it’s not ridiculously expensive.

Beam and Anchor

 

A fun, Scandinavian towel in lovely shades of mustard yellow. Also not ridiculously priced.

Beam and Anchor

Classic Light

I was invited to go to a wedding in Maine a couple of years ago. It was my first time visiting that part of the country ( I had lived in New England but never been to Maine). It was beautiful. I am biased and I believe the Northwest dwarfs even Maine, but make no mistake Maine is quite pretty.

During the summer in the late evening, after the golden hour and before dusk, there is the light that is divine- it is still slightly warm and golden to give everything a glowing look but it’s not harsh and more open shady than the rest of the day to again give everything a glowing look. It starts to get more of the cooler shades of dusk but it is all blended together perfectly together.

Look at these snapshots of the happy couple. While the pictures are fuzzy due to operator error, the colors are perfection. They’re glowing and balanced (warm + cools).

classiclight2

This type of lighting and color will never go out of style.

I remembered another example of classic lighting, from the time when I went to Cooper Mountain with Marilyn and her daughter.

Laura Letinsky may be the queen of color because she pushes the low light to a glowing saturation, but John Dolan is also a master of color and much of his work showcases this kind of wonderful classic light.

John Dolan
John Dolan
John Dolan
John Dolan