Preparing for Inspired Results

I LOVE to escape into creativity!  it’s why I named my studio “artescape ” Lol. Escape…  Lately… Not a, chance!  I’m sitting at my studio this morning, oh so briefly, wondering when in the world I’m going to spend 3, 4 hours… the whole day, making art! Everything (nothing fun) lately has prevented that from occurring. Sometime or another, life is overwhelming, everything sort of stinks…  Reflecting back to the 80’s of my young adulthood… it’s like Roseanne Roseannadanna says: “like I always say, it’s always something, if it’s not one thing it’s another “.

I’ve decided to embrace preparing for those glorious opportunities to be free,  to be creative! So I’ve been painting papers, again. It’s amazing how much painted paper one needs to create a large mixed media piece, like a cow or a goat or a sea turtle. A lot! So when I don’t have time to fully escape, I enjoy playing around with my art stuff. Paint, rollers, stencils and paper, along with a fairly clean table (sometimes the floor) and I’m happy.  It’s wonderful to turn on some music and just start painting with nothing particular in mind.

Like a lot of creative people, I’m messy… so every so often, when I’m spending too much time looking for the one thing I need but can’t find,  I stop what I’m doing and organize to some degree. This is another way of preparing for future creative opportunities. I find that “thing” that I saved or a scrap of something I painted a while back, and ooooh, it leads to spotting another bit of something that is so perfectly paired with the first thing and so it goes. I start little piles of gathered items and eventually, they will be used together to create a piece of art, like the 2 square pieces in the photo below. (Works in progress) Just imagining the possibilities… I feel better already. Preparing can be creative and often times more enjoyable than finishing a piece of art. Soon, very soon, you’ll find me at my studio :)

 

Working with Teenagers

 

I just finished my “residency” in Dr. Susan West’s classroom at Viera High School. 7 days, 150 students, 5 classes, lots and lots of paint, paper and glue. The plan was for me to teach my mixed-media technique of painting paper and creating a collage incorporating the paper and acrylic paint.

Day one: First of all… school starts early! I’m not really a “morning person” but managed to organize myself and wake up early to get to school on time each day. Time is limited! By the time I explained a little about myself, showed some examples of my work and talked about the project… the bell would ring. Wow… how in the world can we make this project happen within the 2 week plan.

Day two: I went home day one after 5 classes seriously considering a nap. Today was our project start day. I explained the process of painting layers of pattern on paper to provide for materials for collaging. Dr West had pre-cut their work surfaces (watercolor paper) to size. They decided on their subject choosing from a variety of Florida wildlife, sea-life or flora. They sketched 2 thumbnails of their chosen subject in their notebooks.

Day three: Today they prepared their background papers by deciding on their palette to contrast their background and foreground. They applied washes of acrylic to their backgrounds.

Day four: Finally… today we paint paper! Some of them really didn’t understand the necessity of these papers. My instructions were to just layer pattern in paint, fill up the paper eliminating the majority of white. Paint 3 to 5 pieces. We switched from paint brushes to small roller to speed up this part of the process. 30+ students in each class, with rollers and trays and lots of paint… I loved it!

Day five: Some of the students thanked me for coming to their class and teaching them. I really was enjoying this. Most of the students were on board with the project, making changes, thinking forward and being very creative. A few were avoiding eye contact with me… lol. I loved talking with them about their artwork. “Tell me about this”, “and why are you painting a green piece of paper with green paint and your animal is going to be green”?

Day six: We are painting paper and gluing and changing backgrounds. They are realizing now why they needed 5 pieces of painted paper in their different palette colors. It’s quiet. They are really engrossed in their projects.

Day seven: My last day. The goal was to continue with collaging the subject, adding collage elements to the background, correcting, refining etc. They had been required as part of their lesson plan to submit questions pertaining to being an artist, art education, art marketing etc. So today I answered some of the questions while they were cleaning up their spaces. Dr. West also emailed me a list of questions which I answered. They will be using those answers to write an article about the experience of having me work with them as an artist in residence.

They are still working on their projects… for a few more day. A lot of the artwork I saw them producing was excellent! I cannot wait to see all the completed projects. It was so interesting, getting to know them. They had very distinct personalities but were all pleasant and welcoming to me.  I enjoyed working with them and talking with them each day.

I applaud you teachers! So many requirements, restraints… I can also see the appeal of teaching. You have such an impact on young lives.

 

The process took me several years to develop with lots of trial and error. It’s not a one-step thing.

ps.

1. Thanks to the bubbly, positive, kind girl in period one that ask everyone how they were, complimented their outfit and just cheered everyone on, every morning.

2. Thank you to the quiet young woman at the first table on the left who thanked me several times for coming to teach and share my art and helping her with her project.

3. Thank you to the young man doing the turtle who I didn’t think was at all interested in the project because he was working so slow. Thank you for coming up and asking me if I was returning this week to work with the class.

4. Thanks to Dr. West for inviting to come.

 

Selfie

It’s been a busy summer! I like a good thing when I find it… and 16 years ago I heard about a wonderful place to go to in July (when it soooo hot in Florida), up in the mountains of North Carolina and make art.

For the last 16 years, minus the summer I broke my leg, and last summer leaving early, I have spent a week at Wildacres, NC with the continuing education program of Ringling School of Art, located in Sarasota, Fl. I love it there… the location, the tranquility, the comradery, open studios and some years there have been very “memorable” events.

I was so happy to get back there this summer! I spent the week in a mixed-media with beeswax class, taught by Elena De La Ville with 12 other artists, working with paper and wax. I have always loved work with a wax element… it’s such a wonderful tactile medium that is difficult to control but has so many options as to how it is utilized. We had several assignments involving composition and one was to photograph our surrounding looking for examples of good composition, then re-create the image with our materials.

I took lots of photos on my morning walk, but the last one was an elongated shadow of myself standing on the pathway. I liked the design and the emotion of the picture…and used it to create a piece. One of my classmates pushed me to work on a series of “selfies” and I ended up creating 5 pieces.

It’s good to step out of your artistic comfort zone… although my work is definitely “out there” at times. It’s also good… even though I don’t love it, to listen to other artists about my work. I love challenges in all aspects of my life. I never want to be too comfortable in my art, but to push forward and hope to discover and relate more about who I am and what message I want to share.

Piece by Piece

Happy New Year! Wishing you all a fresh beginning filled with hope for a happy and healthy 2016.

2015 was a good year for my art endeavors… most importantly I love the work I am doing. Secondly, a lot of work have found new homes :) , which is very gratifying.

One of my recent sales is “The Visit”, a large mixed-media collage on cradled board. It is the 7th piece of the “Girl Series”; young women who are confident, connected to their environment, feminine and strong. I captured the process of “The Visit”as I worked… starting with a small drawing in my sketch book and translating it to a 36″x 48” cradled board.

For a look at more of my work, go to my website reneedecator.com 

To see more about painting papers go here.

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Crunch Time

November is always a busy month for art show preparation… then comes December when Christmas is the focus of my time and energy. January means organization, creative focus, super productivity, sort of… and always that feeling that “I’ve got all month to get caught up on lots of artwork that needs finishing.” I have absolutely  been working steadily since the new year began, and loving being back in my studio… but I’m still trying to get a few pieces ready for this weekend. I’ll be in IMAGES, a festival of the Arts in New Smyrna Beach this Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Booth 21). It is always a really nice show with wonderful patrons and visitors. If you decide to come, stop by and say hello.  I will (if progress continues as planned) have a new LARGE mixed-media piece to debut. It is a diptych (2 panels) over 6 feet long of an underwater reef with 3 turtles, a shark, jellyfish and lots of little fishes. I am using both hand-painted paper collage and acrylic paint on textured cradled wood panels. Don’t forget… BOOTH 21

Work in Progress:

The Process is Magical

Oh those “lazy days of summer”… they disappeared years ago; It was a very long summer though, broken leg and all.  I have spent much more time making art this summer than usual, due to my limited mobility. I am so excited to be focusing on combining many of the processes I have worked with over the last 5 or 6 years. I prefer using acrylic paint because it allows for a more intuitive approach to the artwork, due to it’s fast drying time. I love printmaking, and paper adds a tactile element to my art. I also love wax… it’s wonderfully fragrant and can enhance the mood of a piece. My current path is leading to a merging of those mediums. I “print” the paper with design using stamps, stencils and found items, then use my painted or printed paper to create the composition and finally finish the piece with acrylic glazes and paint and sometimes a layer of beeswax to tie it all together. The very best thing about this is that I LOVE each step of the complicated process. The finished pieces have wonderful depth, texture and the design draws the viewer to stop and look closer… I hope.  Connecting with the viewer is always my end goal.

The subjects of these new works are varied. Along with adding to my series of strong, confident and feminine women and girls, I re-visit my love of the tropical landscape and the ocean. The latest large pieces combine the figurative work with the landscape. The time involved in completing new pieces is considerably longer than just using paint, but the process is magical for me. It’s like taking a puzzle or image that has not been fully imagined, deconstructing it and piecing it back together with bits of design painted on paper. I love solving problems… and there are many opportunities for that, throughout the process.

Moving forward in an unfamiliar direction is not always easy. It can be scary to present “new work” to a host of critics;  we artists are fragile at times.  Most artists understand that change is inevitable… it’s tied to creativity. All the more reason to enjoy the journey, and the challenges that expose those creative opportunities.

Sitting it Out This Summer

Summer is my favorite season, and strangely enough I love Florida summers. Yes… it gets too hot and humid to breathe some days, but that is what the ocean, the springs and swimming pools are for. This summer has been a unique experience for me. I broke my leg at the end of May and I am still non-weight bearing now in mid August. Other than almost daily swimming pool therapy, I am sitting inside this summer.

After three trips down to my studio to pack up art supplies and bring them back to my house, I am working. The first 6 weeks home recovering, I built houses for the HOME show exhibit I organized for Fifth Avenue Art Gallery. See More About HOME. I built beach houses and bird homes and a mountain cabin diorama… oh, and a chicken house. Now that all the “building” is over, I am back to painting papers and making mixed-media collages.

 

It’s hard to believe that soon… very soon, the fall art show circuit gets into full gear. I only do a few shows in the Fall… especially this year, but lots of new work is needed!  At my studio I have these great tall legged tables that I work at so I can move around to different works in progress. Here, at home I have had to adjust to worker smaller, better planning and rotating artwork and supplies. It’s nice to be home with my pups, Beau and Sweet Pea… they love everything I do :)

Today, just back from physical therapy… I am working with my gelli plates to paint some new papers for collaging with. One benefit to not being able to get out much is that the typical distractions of life are fewer and there is more time to work.

A Very Big THANK-YOU, to all my family and friends who have cared for me in so many amazing ways this summer!

Happy Place

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I found a great sign for my studio; one of those weathered-looking ones with big, bold text: THIS IS MY HAPPY PLACE! I have lots of happy places… my home, my studio,  my garden, my kitchen; blessed with friends and family who  are encouraging and creating art that expresses my view of life… I am pretty much happy in general.

I have been enjoying my studio immensely of late… It looks pretty crazy there, most of the time with stacks of “art stuff”, everywhere. I am doing more and more mixed-media… and you have to have lots of “stuff” to work with!
Essentials of mixed-media: paper, string, wire, old books, wax, resin, bottle-caps (rusty and smashed flat) TREASURES!

Two of my newest pieces sold recently and that is a huge motivator to get busy and start new work with all those ideas that are always popping up in my head. I am starting a new collage/acrylic piece along the same lines as the girl with the octopus. It will incorporate more sea-life; jellyfish and sharks. I am still in the composition stage; drawing and putting textures down. I was so excited to see the reaction to “Nocturne” (the girl with the octopus). I’m always a little nervous when hanging a piece at an outdoor art show for thousands of people to see… and comment on. It was great to see people stop in their tracks and take a long look, then ask what the medium was…

I love the intricate process of painting the layers of design on tissue paper then collaging it onto the board and finishing the piece with more layers of paint. A visitor to my studio asked why I don’t “just paint it”… and yes I could, but I love the combination of mediums and the effect I can achieve.

Painting with Patterns

20140217-232514.jpgWhen I switched from oils to acrylics several years ago the primary reason was the fast drying time. I don’t like waiting, preferring to make changes as I go.
Currently, I am LOVING incorporating collage into my paintings. I keep coming back to the best description I can think of; painting with pattern. Where I would traditionally paint lights and darks and mid-tones… I am collaging with painted paper, or in some cases, applying paint in a pattern directly on to the canvas or board.
I love challenges in my art. I create them to try and keep my work fresh; sometimes with texture applied to the substrate before I have any ideas of subject matter. Most recently with using pattern.

The first step is to paint the papers I will be using to collage with. Some days that is all I concentrate on. I use acrylic paint, stencils, rubber stamps, bubble wrap…etc. on lightweight paper.
I like to first “prime” the paper with either white, black or gray gesso. Then lay out my palette and get started covering each paper with design .

here is a short video at my studio: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCfwfZHEdos
I promise, that next time… I will record footage with the camera rotated to fill the screen properly. Work in progress :)
I would love your feedback.
Interested in a mixed-media workshop at my studio? Follow me on Facebook for artnews or join my mailing list. HERE

Thank you!

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