Sunday, November 11, 2012

Honey Salon Showing of New Work

NEW WORK: Nature Reflections

The show is a success...and my work, I think, has reached a new high.  I'm happy with the way one photograph of a reflection taken while walking around Padden Lake inspired me to create many new paintings.  That's the thing with art, if you are stuck, and I was, it could be that there just isn't anything inspiring you right now.  Now I'm inspired, and you could be too.

If you get a chance, please stop at Honey Salon, Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10-7.  The show will run through December 6th.  Honey Salon is at 310 Holly St. in Bellingham, right next to Rocket Donuts and up the street from Old Town Cafe.  Enjoy the show and while you're there, meet the great stylists, my favorite being Marisa Perrault. Please say hello.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

White of Clouds

What is the difference between inspiration and imagination?  I get inspired out in nature, walking around Lake Padden, looking through the clear water to the lake bottom, seeing the reflection of alders on the water surface, and the reflection of clouds from above.  It's amazingly beautiful and that inspires me. 
I'm also inspired by shapes in nature, the way rocks pile next to grass, the carving of Chuckanut sandstone, the patterns of tree branches backlit with sunlight.  Is this imagination or does it inspire my imagination?  Maybe it doesn't matter...but as artists, I believe we must go out and it at the natural elements, or to an antique store, a museums or gallery.  We get to see how art can be made by viewing Picasso's physical forms drawn from different angles, or Chihuly's large paintings he makes into beautiful blown glass. 
It's the same with an author.  We read to learn how other author's form sentences, how they describe a character or place.  The artist must do the same texture, light, shape, flow, compostion. 

Where do you go to get inspired?  Where do you take in information that will grow your imagination into a new painting, a new collage, a new story? 
Please come to my open studio October 21, noon to four.  1000 Harris Ave, #21.  The entrance to the stairs is between Good Earth Pottery and Artwood.  My studio will be open (3rd floor) and so will the jeweler's and potter's on the second floor.  Make it a day in Fairhaven...have some gelato, walk to the dock and back, enjoy the fall weather.

Peace, Nancy  

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Roots...5 Things to Remember About Light

Acrylic on Canvas 3 x 4'

When you paint, you will get to a place in developing your piece where you want to decide on details of light.  If you are working from a drawing, you  probably have established this already.  In this painting, I wanted the light coming from the left and lighting the background more than the foreground.  The painting became somewhat surreal by doing the drawing was of actual roots that I'd photographed in the woods.  Of course, I added details to make this piece look watery.

When working with light:
1.  Find a focal point and make it the brightest place in the painting.
2.  To get more contrast, remember you must have a darkest dark as well as a lightest light.
3.  Observe your painting in different light situations...low light, bright light...etc.  See if you are capturing the effect you want.
4.  Work slowly, especially when adding darkest darks.  It's harder to lighten a dark, than to darken a light.
5.  Correct at the end, bringing back your focal point to the we look there first.

What are you working on in your studio?  Let me know via comment.
Happy Painting,

Friday, August 17, 2012

On Taking a Break, or 5 tips for in-filling.

I had a therapist once...yes, I've had lots of them...who told me that I was in an in-filling period.  She said that artists have in-filling and out-pouring periods.  These two different processes should be respected...flowed with.  So when I'm in what seems like a blocked or dryspell, actually, I'm in-filling.  I can respect this process by giving to myself new experiences: hiking, going to museums, discovering new artists and taking in their work, trying out a new technique, cleaning or painting my studio.  During the in-filling period, I'm actually getting ready for the next out-pouring.  I might liken this to sex...yes, that's what I said.  The tension has to build again...the lust, the want...and then...  Okay, I'll spare you the details.  Did you ever read Natalie Goldberg's description of writing practice in comparison to sex?  Funny!

So there are different aspects of making art that can also come into play during the in-filling period: promotion, making promotional materials, framing, organzing the studio, errands and orders, sketching in nature, swimming.  Since it's summer, the in-filling period is easier to relax into.  I've been going to the bay to swim daily...86 degree weather, water smooth and sparkling.  Lovely.  Also wine tours out on the bay are refreshing and good for laughs and connections with friends.  I always carry my business cards.  Mixing it up with other artists is also reviving.  Sunday, Bellingham artists are organizing a gorilla art gallery down at Boulevard Park.  Artist show up with a piece of art and stand in a line holding up their painting at a certain hour.  Instant art gallery.  Funny...and fun.

During your next in-filling, try these 5 tips:
1.  Set up a regular walking schedule with or without a friend.
2.  Take in art galleries and museums, & books of art at the library.
3.  Fall in love with new colors.
4.  Peruse antique stores, dime stores, hardware stores, garage sales.
5.  Read a good mystery. 

Please share your tips for recharging once the flurry of new work has wound down.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Crinkle Paper Paintings

Whatcom Cottonwoods

Pine Lake Lilies

These paintings are done using a process where the paper is dampened and wrinkled so sizing is broken down. Then values of ink are added. Once dry, the painting is enhanced with watercolor or ink-pencils, or pen and ink...whatever the artist chooses. These two paintings fit nicely with my reflection series. The bottom one is a reflection of the sky on the water at Pine Lake. I hiked in with a friend, about 5 miles, then set up camp on a little island we had to wade to. It was spring and the water flooded the boardwalk between the land and this tiny island off shore. This is a very small lake in the Chuckanuts. It was beautiful that night, clear and calm. The lake reflected everything, the trees, the pinking clouds in the sky. Just fabulous. I may add more to this painting to enhance the lilies, for at the moment, it is abstract. Although, I love it this way. They are approximately 16 x 20, although this photo got cropped slightly in the upload. Contact me at if you are interested in purchasing these.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Art Will Swallow You Whole

Step in and enjoy, just as you might enjoy a binge on chocolate and cake. Drop into the work space...paint morning and night, or wing out a novel, or begin a song. You are not a song writer, you say, but you heard once that songwriting is like any art form...that once you open the conduit to the numinous, ideas flow, brilliance flows, and the excitement you feel is good, almost like sex. The beginning, the pleasurable middle, the note, a breath you exhale, and relax. When you begin a new paintings the first stroke of cadmium yellow can be tenuous, but the canvas eats up buttery yellow paint. You liken it to the slathering of butter on a crisp piece of toast. The scent of paint, oil of course reminding you of the woods where the heat of the sun warms needles and pitch and proclaims the day soluble. The warmth coming off the rocks where you stretch out to day dream...these are the tubes you squease, watching the stream of yellow, like the pastry chefs icing piping along smooth frosting. The canvas is primed. You have built the stretcher frame in the garage, cut the 1x2 lumber, butted pices together like the country quilt. On the back, 4"x4" hard board pieces are tacked over joints for stabilization. It the canvas is large, a cross bar keeps it from wobbling. Then the canvas, a heavier grade is good but not too heavy. You've ordered from Daniel Smith, bought canvas stretchers and a staple gun. You stretched the canvas evenly, taut enough so the outcome is that it rings like a drum when tapped. As you work, you begin singing. Dead Can Dance is on the CD player, just out there enough, just up beat enough to get you going, brushing on thick gesso, nice and white. Use love the crazy motion that leaves brush strokes for the paint to drop into. Some folks sand in-between for a smooth finish. As you paint a feeling of excitement fills your belly. A feeling that anything is possible, that the world is're alive, days are sunny, wild flowers bloom in mountain meadows. The natural world unfolds one moment at a time. You land on your feet as you spread paint with a squirrel-hair brush. And when your work day is done, you'll still be singing that one refrain--the notes as clear to you as the meadow lark's...and the day will end with a a feeling of satisfaction, that you are repleat with art, almost as if you've transcended the everyday world.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

My cat is sitting next to me on the bed this morning. We have a ritual, I eat my soft boiled eggs, he watches. When I'm finished I let him lick the bowl. He likes the leftover yoke. I look at my emails while I do this, and the posts people make at the Artprofile site. One artist has Klimt-like pieces, another artist finger paints...two very differnt syles. I like to paint with acrylics because they dry quickly. I'm always in a hurry it seems. An artist friend suggests oils. Always there's another way to do things.

 This morning I read an excerpt by the writer Samuel Ligon's new book "Drift and Swerve." Edgy...I liked it. I'm wondering how to be more edgy in my own work and feel like I can still show my face in the world. It takes a lot of courage to do art to begin with and then to do art people might not like...or shy away from. At the Phrasings dance concert at the Firehouse, dance and poetry was paired. The piece about bikini waxes was particularly graphic...and again I wondered where we draw the line. Maybe no where, and since we have freedom supposedly to say and think what we wish...we can...unless we come up against boundaries that come into play, for instance, where the government is concerned. But what about the rest of us? What about our responses? I guess we don't have to look or read or watch.

 I don't know the answer to this question...since art is personal and some would like to shock. I am more interested in beauty and harmony in my art. In my writing, I'm interested in telling a good story and in making sure I'm edgy enough to have my audience remains interested. So it's a balance I guess, of what I can tolerate and what the audience can tolerate. I did hear some of the audience members of Phrasings had tight lipped expressions at the intermission. So be it. Life goes on. So let's enjoy taking a risk, making art or writing that which not everyone will like!
Here are two new paintings:

Monday, April 16, 2012

A New Painting: "The Giant's Garden"

Here is my latest painting: "The Giant's Garden." Acylic painting on canvas, 14 x 14".  I've also included a poem from Carolyne Wright's book "Majestic Nights: Love Poems of Bengali Women."

Hope you're having a great poetry month.

Anuradha Mahapatra

You have taken the sky's face.
I take
               the last flower in the giant's garden.
The love-child comes, inspects
my quiet tangle of hair.
My child, or a mistake of nature?
So blooms the flower
of two lowly guiltful lives.

Translated by Carolyne Wright

Monday, April 9, 2012

Value and the Arts

As an artist, I've given a lot of thought to the value of making art.  Since I believe my life's work must have meaning, such as helping others, does making art satisfy this goal?  The process of making art definitely helps others (and the self) to get in touch with a deeper part of self...perhaps we could call this part the dreamer.  The dreamer is at work all the time making associations and metaphor (right hemisphere processes?) synthesizing our experiences and categorizing them.  This happens while we sleep, when we day dream and as we make art.  If there is no value to making art other than this...I believe we've struck gold.

Again, art serves a purpose to our culture: storytelling, reflection of mores, synthesis of collective beliefs.  Perhaps it could be likened to food for the body: fuel and regeneration.  Each action works with each other action to bring sustenance to being.

Ah, well, this all sounds heady.  Although I'm glad to ponder whatever meaning anyone derives from any activity is relevant...still I just like making art.  Do you make art?  Do you want to make art?  Call me...710-7139 and we'll make it happen.  

Monday, April 2, 2012

Focus, focus, focus!!!

As an artist and writer, my biggest stumbling block isn't lack of talent or is distractions. Internet, TV, cleaning, eating, visiting friends, even caffeine...if I drink too much coffee, it is hard to settle down. Did you read the Annie Dillard short essay in The Writer's Life about trying to write...she's on retreat in a cabin on some island around here? She drinks too much coffee and is up and down and up and down from her typewriter...outside chopping wood, etc. I can relate...anything but the creative work. This month, my birthday month...I'm focusing on being fully my artist self, even going out in pubic with paint on my clothes.

The retreat at Artsmith got me refocused. My coach, Laura Todd, continues to help me stay with my of them being...authenticity. Ah, being creative isn't all that it's cracked up to be. There are downfalls to having a creative mind...the upside to following through...happiness.

How is it going with you art? If you ever want to jump start with an evening of collage...let me know.

Friday, March 2, 2012

New Photos

Photos shot out the car window.  I liked the perspective of the power pole against the sky.  The morning was lovely that day with ground fog and beautiful crisp blue sky.  Taking photos out the car window brought back memories of trips with the family, weekend drives, visits to our grandparents at Diamond Lake.  These shots remind me of resting my head against the car window, the sun, counting poles passing by, the loll of the engine.  Something comforting about all that.  The other shots, one of misty ground fog, the other looking back at Mt. Baker from Cougar Divide Road.  A buggy walk ensued, but heck, what beautiful country we live in.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Dry Spell

Skulls found on my walks!
What do you do during a dry spell? I don't believe in blocks, but dry spells, or times of infilling are rich times and shouldn't be thought of as bad. Think of it as artistic weather. We have some languid days where nothing much inspires us. So, do something else instead.

A therapist once told me about infilling and outpouring. These dry spells are a time of infilling. During this time you can go to the library and peruse art books, you can try your hand at a handmade book, you can go to an antique or junk store and dig through boxes looking for interesting junk, or how about galleries and museums. I love the art museum gift shop. Full of art cards and lovely journals. Bead stores, the beach, a hike to a vista, a run. Anything that shakes up your energy for the good. When it settles again, you're ready to roll.

If this doesn't work, try taking an Artist Way class. Through the years, I've discovered ways in which I stop myself from making art...old beliefs about artists or work ethics learned in my family of origin. We can't be artists without self reflection...I don't think. Some therapists specialize in working with artists. Perhaps look one up.

Another helpful tool for breaking through is the dream journal. Buy something that intriques you...cover, shape, paper texture, (or make one)and keep it beside your bed. Write your dream when you awake. You need not analyse it, just give some noticing behavior to yourself. A part of you will wake up. Ah, such richness to follow in the psyche.

Have a creative day!

Monday, January 9, 2012

In Process

The interesting part of the creative process is watching a painting develop, sometimes the artist feels frustrated with the image, even disliking it to the point of painting it out or even slashing the canvas.  Yes, I've heard of this. I believe painting is about decision making--so keep a cool head. One decision after another: Value? Compliment? Composition? Repeat!  And maybe the decision comes to go back to a blank canvas...gesso is good for that.

So, let's say the painting develops in stages. Some of the stages move forward more quickly than others. My favorite stag...Flow. This is when the magic happens. This stage evokes a feeling of excitement, actually excitement in the chest, a buzzing sort of feeling.  And my visual focus becomes acute.  It's one of the in the present moment attributes that Eckhart Tolle talks about.

Here's the beginning of a new painting. This stage is questionable for me...what next is what I'm saying, feeling a push/pull toward the canvas.

The creative process seems to be idiosyncratic with individuals.  What is your process?  Getting to know your own process will help you move past blocks.