Macheros Mexico, home of the Monarch Butterflies

This past month I splurged on a yoga retreat (yes fancy )to Macheros Mexico. My creative coach Nancy Cuevas and I had been brainstorming travel ideas and when she told me about this magical idea to visit the mountain forests where crowds of monarchs migrate to from North America AND do yoga….I was SO in!  I’ve added some of my favorite shots to my print shop. I need to a longer write up about my trip but I wanted to quickly give an update:

We did rooftop yoga! Here’s a black and white film shot:

rooftop yoga Macheros Mexico

I love, love the pink bougainvillea that grows in Mexico and California. I wish Oregon was warm enough, I would plant these all over my yard.

Mancheros Mexico- pink bougainvillea

 

Just chillin’ on a hammock with a great view at JM Butterfly BnB. The weather there is perfect nearly all year.

Macheros Mexico- JM Butterfly BnB

A view from the top of  the El Rosario Buttefly Reserve. Yes I galloped on a horse to get there!

El Rosario butterfly reserve

These golden wildflowers grow in meadows near the forests and the butterflies love them.

El Rosario butterfly reserve

 

Art I made in 2016

It’s been a productive year for my art.
Important things I’ve learned:

  • Use more paint, especially with watercolors
  • Figure out what to do with the background
  • Working with transparent oil paint colors

For next year I am going to be ambitious. I’ve already purchased some canvases and they just not to be painted. Hopefully I will also be able to showcase them in public, which means learning how to do things like varnish, mat, and frame my work.  I have so many ideas, I just need time!

Some highlights from 2016:

betsyness.com
work by Betsy Chang, betsyness.com
floral still life by Betsy Chang
floral still life by Betsy Chang
betsyness.com
betsyness.com

Footprint still life oil painting on linen 16x20

Bronze quince still life oil painting on linen 16x20

Ninebark still life

 

 

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

 

Two still life and two landscape oil paintings

I completed another blue painting of quince flowers inspired by the tonalist works of Whistler and Inness. I used thick cobalt blue to mark the petals. Cobalt blue is really pretty and I will have to use it again soon as a standalone color. This was painted on oil primed linen that I got on clearance from Blick. It’s a pricey, but wonderful support to paint on.

Cobalt blue still life

Previously I posted that I loved the look of raw linen and the universe heard me… Nancy Cuevas shared with me this product that Jerry’s Artarama sells of clear primed linen.

Footprint still life

The weave isn’t quite as nice as the first one but it’s an interesting challenge to preserve the beauty of the raw linen as a ground. Here’s one that I’m going to call “Footprint Still Life”. It’s a much quicker study and I accidentally stepped on it. I think I like it as is but stay tuned I may play with it some more.

I finally completed the small oil painting of my trip to Bandon Beach this past summer. These last two paintings are on canvas board, probably the least fun support to paint on but it’s nice to having something that is ready to go to prevent procrastination.

Bandon Beach

This last painting is a gift and inspired by my trip to Lake George in upstate New York. Lake George was immortalized by the great Georgia O’Keeffe. This painting comes nowhere near her genius but I was able to  explore colors that I had not used before and glazing pastels on top of other bright colors without any underpaintings.

Lake George painting

 

Now Offering Fine Art Prints

My print shop is now live via Instaproofs! I’ve uploaded photography from my recent travels.

Long Beach, WA

Eventually I hope to add prints of my paintings. I’m using a professional, high-end film print shop based in Los Angeles, Richard Photo Lab. These guys are wizards at color and are experts in their craft.

You will receive archival quality images on Fuji Crystal Archive Paper or  Kodak Professional Endure Premier Paper. I will be donating a portion of my proceeds to the Nature Conservancy. Thank you in advance for supporting my work.

Deschutes Forest

Ninebark and other fall foliage- mixed media

I love the dark foliage on the copper beech tree but I don’t have a source nearby. I planted the bronze colored ninebark because it was drought tolerant and had the dark foliage that I desired.

Here is a mixed media (watercolor, gouache, ink) painting I did of  a still life I created using the ninebark leaves.

Ninebark still life

Here’s another painting inspired by the trees at the Sunnyside Medical Campus. The leaves are much more brilliantly vivid in real life, I guess I still got the greys of winter on my mind.

Foliage

I’m still obsessed with creating greys and muted maroons and I like how the complimentary colors meet to create these interesting, iridescent stains.

 

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!

 

Garden vignettes

Winter is coming and as Portland gears towards its rainy, gloomy season…I thought I’d inspire myself with these vignettes from my garden.

The trusty grape leaf will hang on usually until around Thanksgiving to early December. It’s cool to see the frost and icicles form on the fading leaves.

grape

Camellias are one of my favorite trees and bloom around February

camelia

 

Later, the garden comes alive with all of the Fruit trees in blossom. It’s so pretty, and deceptively so (all that beauty brings so, so many apples to pick up).

blossom2

I planted this dwarf quince because I loved the delicate pink flowers. But what can I make with quince?

quince

 

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 😉

 

Spella Coffee (Caffe)

I was looking for a place that was less chain store feeling near Pioneer Courthouse, the part of Portland that has the Apple Store, the Nike Store, the Microsoft Store, and the big Nordstroms.  I was pleasantly surprised to find this tiny coffee shop, Spella. They have the best Google website description: single-origin traditional espresso, macchiato and cappuccino.

It is darling. It is a small shop, inside this big impressive downtown building. It is almost on a tiny home / food cart scale. I didn’t know they made stores with this footprint..but it sounds like a great idea to me. Great food businesses can afford the rent and I get to eat the food!

It feels very European. Delicious pastries and the best coffee. In fact, I think I read that they serve the best coffee in Portland. Wow!