Thursday, December 24, 2015

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A snowy road

I wanted a snowy local scene for my Christmas card this year, and I've had this photo for years but not been sure how to deal with all the detail in it. Containing it to a 5"x7" offered the obvious solution—eliminate all the detail. I spent a couple hours studying all my Emily Carr pictures—books, calendars, web sources—for a warm up. I don't think I found a single snow painting, but I have lots of Group of Seven snowy scenes for reference.

It took me a couple sessions to work up a prototype that was simple enough and had a nice balance of colors. I've always loved the swoopy form of the road in this photo, so that had to be the focus. I also had to invent the colors if I wanted anything besides gray and brownish gray.

Snowy Road
I worked up my favorite fir tree colors, added some deep blue and ochre to suggest afternoon shadows and highlights, substituted a blue-violet gray for the muddy parts, and accompanied that with pale yellow for some "pop" in the foreground.

No snow here yet, but that's fine, I can wait. It's really good to have the rain.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Art & Craft Fair this Saturday!

I'll be at the Winter Wonderland Art & Craft Fair this Saturday. I will have my boxable paintings, plus my cards, glass flowers, glass hangers, new glass Christmas ornaments (3 styles), a bit of fun holiday jewelry, and with luck, my two paper mobiles. I think I've figured out a way to hang them above the table!

And for the first time, if their wifi setup is working, I'll be able to take credit cards. And whatever comes back home with me will be going up on my Etsy site next week.

I'd love to see you there!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Playing for play's sake

I've been craving play time for a couple months, after a summer of what felt like work work work. The mobiles were a good start, now I'm taking it further, into playing with stamping inks and markers, just to have fun and try to do something where I'm not thinking about the outcome while I'm working.   Maybe it's not possible to work toward a specific result without thinking about it while you're working, but I'd still like to try. I'm hoping if I can get more used to the feeling of working with complete abandon, that it could become a little bit of a habit.

I really do love the colors! Of course they don't stay rich because the markers soak into the paper and fade, so the photo is really the only permanent result. But I'm going to try it with some acrylics soon.

Of course I had to try it with a design, too:

Monday, October 19, 2015

Another leaf mobile!

I am having more fun with mobilizing my painted leaves! These are two-sided like in the first one, but backed with a made-for-them custom painting with extra-bright inks, and green coated florist's wire and real swivels (which don't do much because the leaves weigh too little to have enough momentum).

Sadly, I'm out of ceiling hooks, so I had to hang it from the ceiling lamp. If I keep doing these, I'm going to have to make some kind of hanging rack, I guess!

Vine Maple Mobile #2 Ink & colored pencil on 2-ply rag paper, with black wire $60
If you'd like to purchase this mobile, please contact me at patriciaryanart.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A leaf mobile

I finally have a use for the leftover parts of failed ink-and-pencil paintings that I've been saving all these years because they were too pretty to throw away—making mobiles out of them. This house has an old hanging lamp hook in one corner that I didn't want to hang anything heavy from because it would bonk me on the head when I'm picking up a guitar off the rack. The now-obvious missing piece is a nice lightweight mobile:

It has a magical turquoise leaf:

This one's as simple as you can get, but I've got plans for bigger ones. More fun!

Vine Maple Mobile #1 Ink & colored pencil on 2-ply art paper with copper wire $60
If you'd like to purchase this mobile, please contact me at patriciaryanart.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A very arty party

If you could do a combined show with any other artists you know, whom would you pick? Ones who like your art as much as you like theirs, whose work is excellent, yet plays so well with yours that the impact of every piece is elevated? Friendly, outgoing artists, articulate and interesting, people you'd want to be friends with no matter what their field is? I am that lucky with this show.

I know because several of the attendees said so, that Leslie's photographs and my paintings showed them a single subject through two very different visions. Roxanne, the gallery owner, had said after we finished hanging the works that she was happy about us combining them, letting the designs and colors rather than authorship dictate the arrangement on each wall, approaching the show as a collaboration. I was beyond happy that the viewers got it, that they saw why we did what we did.

We had a full house of friends most of the night, including a lot of artists, many of whom I'd never met. I had so many great conversations that my head is still spinning. I offer my heartfelt thanks to everyone who came.

I wish I'd taken more pictures!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Light Taking Form show is up!

All ten of my paintings and (if I remember right) sixteen of Leslie Ebert's prints are hung in the gallery! The official opening is Saturday, October 3rd, from 6 to 9 PM, but it will also be open for Oregon City First Friday Night, October 2nd, from 5 to 8PM. Leslie and I will be there both nights, and I think Amelia Armitage will be there as well to present her lovely organic sculptures.

I didn't take any pictures last night when we finished, but I will get some this weekend. We decided to intermix the paintings and photos so they play off against each other, and my impression last night was that it's kind of a mind massage to look at them together. There's a lot of commonality of colors, plus the shared theme of Light and Form, but a very obvious difference in the appearance of the works. Where the mixed media works are very matte and brightly colored in an abstract-painterly way, Leslie's prints glow more subtly, although there is plenty of color in them—where the light hits them they softly shine with iridescence, so it feels as though you're seeing the show outside in a park, with the sunlight playing around you.

If you have a favorite color, it's in this show.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Last painting for the October show is done

22"x30" Ink and colored pencil on archival cotton paper $500
You can purchase this painting HERE.

I just put the last touches on my last new painting for the show next month. Time to put the pencils away for a while. I'll be posting the announcement for the show this week. I wanted to use different colors from the reds of the last two. There was actually another new painting but it took a nose dive a couple weeks ago. I may be able to rescue part of it, but almost half of it is ruined.

It happens. The colored pencils are only so forgiving. I may try it again; I did like the composition. But not right now.

I'm getting ready to embark on the set of illustrations I want to do for my book Take The Wind Up With You. I have a list of about 15 ideas, but I've really got to work on my eagle- and mouse-rendering skills. I haven't done any action drawing since my horse-drawing days, sixty years ago. I'm thinking of doing them digitally, if I can manage that. Wish I could channel N. C. Wyeth.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

A new blog about music

I was going to post a new entry about my first song release on Soundcloud (where you can hear the whole song) and CDBaby (where you can purchase it,) but as soon as I started writing it I knew it was going to turn into a whole blog.

Please go take a look at it!—all about my songs. Thanks!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Ribbons at the Fair!

Fern Lake won 1st in Mixed Media class.

Foggy Fall Morning won 1st in Acrylics class.

Canyon Night won 4th in Mixed Media.

My paintings got three ribbons at the Clackamas County Fair! Two of my watercolorist friends also got prizes this year, one with three and one with four. I was just glad that they had air conditioning units in several places in the building. I bailed out at 11:30 when it was 95º and came home to cool off and start watering the garden.

All the displays will be up through this Sunday. There are hundreds of paintings and photographs, plus many other beautifully made art and craft items.

Thank you, unknown judge at the Fair! And thanks to all the volunteers who staff the exhibits and make the whole event possible. What a fun event!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Villa Catalana Cellars Paint-Out this Saturday, August 22nd

The August Paint-Out at Villa Catalana Cellars is this Saturday, and I'll be there. It will open to the public at 5:30, and there will be live jazz music again, and catered suppers and their award-winning wines to purchase, and a new treat this year, ice cream creations. Admission is $10 per person, and you can reserve your spot online here.

For you gardeners, this is also the home of Rare Plant Research, and you can see many hardy tropical plantings on the grounds.

I've picked out the compositions I'll be working on there, and there will be a lot of different artists working this year. The weather predictions are for sun and mid-to-upper 80's, and probably a light breeze. Watching the sunset from the patio there is tough to beat by itself, but add in a glass of wine,  the lovely strains of talented musicians drifting over the lotus pond, and the chance to watch and talk to a couple dozen local artists, and you've got a memorable evening.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Showing at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds

I'll have five paintings on display at the County Fair in Canby, OR, August 18-23—two mixed media paintings and three acrylic paintings. Some friends who are great watercolorists inspired me to enter. It's a fun fair with an amazing range of art, craft, and hobby displays.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Painting Greeting Cards are now for sale on Etsy!

I make the colors as brilliant as I can
I've just released sixteen of my paintings as 5x7" photo greeting cards on my Etsy web site! These are the same cards I've been selling at art fairs for several years. They include many of my old and new paintings, sold and unsold. I do plan to release more as I get the cards in stock and ready to ship.

Sample Card in an 8x10 Ikea "Ribba" frame
I've been contemplating this action for a while now, as the cards have become more and more popular. But before I went ahead, I wanted to make sure the images are copyrighted. So I submitted forty-four of my original paintings on Copyright dot gov. That took me a few days because I'd never submitted works of visual art before, or submitted work as a collection. But once I figured out their terminology, it really wasn't hard, just a bit arduous getting everything ready. It does feel really good to have them legally protected now.

Our US Copyright service is one of the best things this country has to offer to creators, and the people who do it are doing a great job. I'm sure there are those who would like to eliminate it from government, but I sincerely hope that never happens. It's one of the few art services that artists on fixed or small incomes can actually afford. I'm sure if it were privatized, it wouldn't be nearly as affordable. Those 44 images only cost me $55 (and a few days' work). How much art supplies can you get for $55? Now I can publish the images in any format as long as I live and they'll still be protected.

And speaking of frames, I talked to the floor manager at Ikea two weeks ago, and she said that Ikea is very gradually adding US-sizes to their frames; the 8x10 frame above is actually 8"x10", but it was the only smaller-than-poster-size one (use their handy measuring tapes before you buy). Otherwise, they're great for matted paper works, but not for standard panels. She said the reason it's happening so slowly is that the US market is such a small percentage of their total sales. When expensive frames are so easily damaged in handling and showing, having an inexpensive display option is a really great thing.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Painting a desert morning

I haven't had all that much luck painting detailed landscapes before, especially the mixed textures of dirt and grass, but I was pretty happy with the way this one turned out. I did a lot more glazing than I've been doing lately, putting in every color I could see, and this time it seems to be working. I do feel like I got really lucky with the colors, but this is my third painting of this area so maybe my experience is accumulating.

I think another part of the reason is that I really took my time with this one, almost the whole of the 12 days of heat we've had. And before that I worked longer than that on a still life that I may never finish because I came to detest even the idea of continuing with it. Maybe next year.

I also think—and this is going to sound strange to some—part of it has to do with the additional fish oil I've been taking. After borrowing Grain Brain and reading how important sufficient levels of fats of all kinds, including both HDL and LDL cholesterol, are to the health of the brain, I added fish oil to the flaxseed oil I've been taking, and a couple days later I started seeing visual slideshows of colorful images as I was going to sleep. That only lasted a couple days, but I couldn't help wondering if some small part of my optical brain was working just a teeny bit better. Plus, the acupuncture I've been getting has made me quite a bit more relaxed when I'm working.

Isn't the whole point of being healthy that your body (including brain) feel and work better?

Anyway, it was a fun painting to do. Much more fun than the still life. Guess I need to go back and study that stuff more.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Red Rock Canyons

Red Canyon
22"x30" Ink & colored pencil on archival paper $500
You can purchase this painting HERE.

We're in the second painting season of the year, the one where it's too hot to work outside, and I'm working on inks as well as acrylics. I wanted to try a different theme with the inks, so I decided to try some of my canyon images from Zion National Park. I was hoping the angular nature of the rock cliffs would work well within the limitations of my process. I also wanted to explore some different color schemes than I've used before.

Canyon Night
22"x30" Ink & colored pencil on archival paper $500
You can purchase this painting HERE.

The second one I did, I wanted to make into a night scene. It took me several weeks and a couple different tries to get the colors right, but I'm happy now.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The art becomes a garden

Mother Nature, embraced by Nature

I was out in my garden this morning in the overcast light, mesmerized by the flowers and the colors and how lush everything looks on a cool, calm, summer morning, and I came at last to my only plaster sculpture.

I carved this Nature figure in a sculpture class I took in the winter of 2005, as part of my excuse to retire to do only art. When I arrived at my new home in Oregon, I didn't have a garden as such, just a mishmash of jungle, one camellia and some rhodies, and patches of aggressive groundcovers, so I set it on top of the picnic table. Within a year the birds had taken to landing on it and pecking the top of her head. I thought, "Critics. Hmph," and knew I couldn't do anything about it, so I just left it there.

Now, ten years later, I see that it has become something else entirely, and rather than demeaned by the conscious reworking by the birds, I consider it to be enhanced, both by the unknown service it has provided them, and the discriminating colony of algae that now inhabits its tiny crevices and distress scars from the birds and the weather. Here is Mother Nature in her permanent "in progress" state.

I think it's time to find it a place of honor in the garden that has taken form around it.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Painting the weather

Early Spring Clouds

I just finished two paintings of my local weather. The first one is from a photo I took from a fast moving car on an early spring plant-shopping trip a few years ago. I started working on this one last fall, but just couldn't get the clouds right until a couple weeks ago, when I stopped trying to do the whole sky in one session, and built it up over a few days. Painting clouds is one of the few times I almost miss painting in oils.

Snow Coming

The second one is from a drive home just as a snow shower was starting. I love the gray days and I love clouds and rain, and I hope I can get good at painting them. Wet weather is such a big part of living in western Oregon that to not paint it seems like a missed opportunity.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Painting Zion Canyon

I just finished my first painting of Zion Canyon. I spent a week there in November of 2004 and took about 800 photos. I didn't try painting them sooner because I had no confidence that I could do justice to the rock formations. But I finally decided to try this spring (and hey—it's spring!) so I sorted through them several times and pulled out ten that I think have pretty good compositions. I liked this one for the soft light and the rich colors. This photo was taken in the morning on one of my last days there, when the temperature dropped about 30º and I woke up to a quarter inch of solid ice all over my car.

If you've never been there, it's definitely worth a trip, and as long a stay as you can manage. Going in the off-season was particularly nice. I was entertained by the fact that almost all of the people I saw there, especially early in the day, had cameras, tripods, and varying amounts of other photographic gear. That was the first trip I had ever made where there were more photographers than tourists. I didn't do any real hiking, just followed all the roads I could find. I think a committed visitor could spend 3 months there—or as many years—without running out of new sights.

And I have a special fondness for it because it's the setting for my story book, Take The Wind Up With You.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Finished—after 5 years!

Blue Ridge Railway
Six (I think) years ago, I flew to VA to visit my older brother, and he took me up to some of his favorite photograph-shooting places on the Blue Ridge Parkway. One of them was this old—very old—railroad track, just off the parkway near a tiny creek and pool. I started painting it the next year and worked on it for several weeks until I lost confidence in my ability to finish it the way I wanted it to look. It came off the easel and went into the stacks for later. Much later, as it turned out.

After finishing my latest painting, I finally felt good about picking it up again. I was pleasantly surprised that I could get back into the style I was using then and didn't have to do any repainting, except for the color of the sky I had previously chosen. The foreground leaves that had scared me enough to make me stop turned out to be just a matter of continuing painting on it until I got just the right mix of colors and shading.

My biggest problem was with the overall color scheme, which was so warm that I always felt like I needed a glass of water every time I looked at it. It only took a brief moment of meditation with my color wheel to realize that all I needed was some blue violet and and violet and viridian to balance it out. Ta-da.

I'm pretty happy just to say it's finished, and I'm planning on entering it in the County Fair show this August.

If I were starting it now, I think I would approach it very differently. I did have a fleeting urge to redo the whole thing and make it softer and looser. But, as the saying goes—the urge fled. I want to move on to my Zion photos next, and it's an early gardening season this year, and there's never enough time for everything I want to do, especially during gardening season.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Painting sun and fog

Foggy Sunrise
We get a lot of foggy mornings in the winter, and once in a while there'll be just the right amount of low-level fog to make the woods look foggy but the sun can still come up above it. We had one of those mornings a couple of weeks ago and I happened to see it, and it was calm enough so I went out with my camera and got some photos.

Once I got the trees and foreground blocked in on this, it took me at least five passes to get the light right. I probably repainted the whole thing three times. I think that's just how far off I was in my head about how to get the effect of bright light in a dark garden—repeatedly, the ferns were too big, too bright, too colorful, too attention-grabbing. I kept thinking I had it right, and then I'd look at it for a little while and see that I really didn't have it.

Yesterday I got it really close, and I spent more time last night scrutinizing it, and decided that it needed more darkening. So this morning, still fearful that I was going to have to repaint the whole thing again, I started blacking out more of the foreground, and darkening almost all the fern foliage until it finally—finally—blended into the whole composition and let the sun dominate the painting. Whew!

Leonardo da Vinci reportedly said, "Paintings are never finished, only abandoned." I'm abandoning this one, quickly, while I can get away, and pretend that I won this battle.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Painting isn't about reality

Juniper #2
12"x16" Acrylics on linen panel $90
You can purchase this painting HERE.

I watched my Joan Mitchell video again  yesterday, and wrote down this quote from Elizabeth Murray, a NY painter who knew Joan Mitchell: "Painting isn't about reality, it's about life. There's a level where you cannot explain it with words; it's visual." I was thinking about that a lot yesterday, and also what Joan said in the video: "I don't think when I paint." She was talking about people who ask her what she was thinking when she painted a particular work.

One of the things I really love about painting is except where you're consciously trying to make it look like something in particular, where you're doing a lot of comparing or measuring, the activity of painting is pretty much a thought-free zone. I'm pretty sure that images and thoughts/words come from separate areas of your brain. I use music or old movies to distract my verbal brain so it doesn't think about what I'm doing, so it isn't constantly worrying about whether or not what I'm doing is working. My eyes do the thinking, and that's not verbal thinking.

This juniper is from another photo I took last spring in north central Oregon, like the other juniper I did last summer. This one is purposely painted in a much looser style, except for the bleached "bones" of a shrub in the foreground.

I'm happy because this is the 4th painting I've finished this month! I think that's a record for me! I'm looking forward to my show at the new In Bocca Al Lupo Gallery this October, in its new location in downtown Oregon City. Speaking of which, here's the flyer for the first show there, opening weekend after next, the first weekend in February.

I bought my first plants of the year this morning—perky little primroses for my hanging pots out front. So my new little car does work for carrying plants, as long as they're not too big. That's a good thing. Happy almost-end-of-January!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Villa Catalana at Sunset

Next day update (1/20/15):

As soon as I posted the painting (see below), I realized that it really wasn't showing the "color feel" I saw in my original photo of the scene, nor was it evoking the mood of the twilight. But, the difference was so subtle that my eyes couldn't register it, just looking from the painting to the photo on my computer. So, I took the original photo and the photo of the painting and viewed them side by side on my computer screen, and got this very interesting comparison:

Left: Painting  Right: Original photograph of the scene
The light bulb finally came on.

This morning I took the painting back into the studio and corrected the colors of the sky, the water, and some of the foliage, including taking down the turquoise of the spiky plant in the foreground. And after that round of corrections and yet another photograph, I realized that I had also not conveyed the warmth of the pavilion area and its reflection, and that they were also very important to the color scheme. So now it looks like this:

I may go back to it tomorrow and tried to even out the water. It was so pretty in the too-blue painting; at least the colors are correct now. Maybe I can make it pretty again.

It's all grist for the mill. Must keep grinding. How could I ever learn to see color without my computer?

END of update.

The Too-Blue Painting
This is the other painting I really wanted to do of the Villa Catalana paint out last summer. I took the photo from their patio, looking toward the west, in the long twilight. The lights were on in the pavilion, and although I couldn't see them from that angle, they were reflecting in the water. I was in love with all the colors, and the water, and the trees, and the perfect summer evening.

I'm staking out another desert painting for my next one.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Figures, loosely—an experiment

I've had this panel sitting in a pile with an outline sketch on it for the last seven or eight years, from the last time I worked from a live model. I'm trying to use up all my old panels this winter. I haven't finished a painting of a figure for almost twice that long, and the last one I started got painted over with a sunset. I was curious to see if I even could paint a human, just loosely, and again I started with the texture, just seeing what would happen.

Originally, the panel was to represent the Three Muses. I think it still does, but I don't feel they're talking about work; they don't look as though they're talking about inspiring anyone. I feel they're talking about themselves. Maybe that's what they're doing when you can't find anything to inspire you. But surely even Muses deserve a little time for themselves.

I do think I'm getting the hang of working with drier paint, at least, scumbling and dragging it around.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Winter time is imagination time

It's January, and the perfect time for playing in the studio. I'm back to working with abstraction and lots of color. Outside it's gray, gray-green, gray-brown, and gray-blue, but in here it's all about rich, bright, and stimulating colors.

Still playing with textured surfaces, having fun with that. And I'm planning on making the most of my imagination in my painting, too. Imagination is the best kind of bank account—the more you take out, the bigger and better it gets. Turn on your idea machine and start using it, and you won't believe how great it works. All it needs is for you to not be afraid to use it.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Farewell Moonbeam, 2001-2014

On October 20, 2001, I joined up with Moonbeam, my first van since years before, when I'd given up my super-annuated, oil-leaking, 1964 VW Camper Bus. I've never had any car who could do as many things as Moonbeam could, or who had so many neat electric and electronic gadgets, big windows, and so much room.

For 13 wonderful years he was my courier, my carrier, my boon companion, my portable space, and at times, my refuge. We went up and down the western mountains and the coast, from the bottom of the Sierras up to Mount Hood, through the central valleys from LA to Seattle, and most of Highway 101. We even went to Zion.

He moved me to Oregon in 2005 and lived outside in the cold, rain, and snow for almost a year until I could get a garage built for him, enduring muddy kitty prints and enough fir needles to choke a regular-size car. He was the most obedient, most versatile, most dependable car I ever had. He schlepped paintings, canopies, rocks, bags of leaves, tubs of mulch, trees, shrubs the size of trees, flowers, rebar, lumber, pipes, furniture, food, friends, camping stuff, and me, over, and over, and over.

A few days ago he passed on to his next life, and my love and best wishes go with him.

Farewell, dear friend, I shall never forget you, or all the good times we had together. I could ask for no better.