Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Power of Suggestion

I begin many paintings simply by wondering what would happen if...and find that there is often, at some point in creating a painting, a suggestion or thought that is outside the original intent of the piece.  That suggestion will often drive the rest of the painting process, like a song going through my head that I cannot get rid of.  It might begin with a small shape or mark or perhaps the feeling a particular color evokes. This week began with the thought that perhaps I would put gesso on paper and then paint with watercolor over the gesso.  I had no other plan than to do that simple thing.

As I began, while the gesso was still wet, I picked up some favorite marking tools and made some gestural lines in the gesso, then impulsively picked up a round plastic container cover and impressed some circles into the gesso.  That small event, and those circles that I made, drove the rest of the painting.  Suddenly it seemed that every brush stroke I made should compliment those circles in some way.  I masked out the circles, then began in watercolor, moved to some fluid acrylics and India ink, then back to watercolor.  The result was "Ruth's Field", named for my friend and instructor, Ruth Armitage, because I made a lovely soft edge that crossed the entire sheet and Ruth is always encouraging me to make more soft edges.

The first painting suggests, beyond those circles, perhaps a winter sun and frozen field, a dormancy waiting in the soil for warmer days.  I thought the process of painting this enjoyable, so I decided to do another painting based on this concept.  Immediately with the first brush strokes, the second painting suggested trees in the way the paint spread across the paper.  So I added the single upper circle, this time using the lid as a stamp, then found a smaller stamp for the lower circles.  I masked some of the tree shapes and the circles, some of the drips I liked.  I decided to reverse the colors.  This time I stayed with watercolor entirely.  Although the composition is the same, the second piece suggests a much different landscape.  I call it "Winter Solstice".

Sandra Neary

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Just A Brief Introduction and Recent Work


This is my very first blog, ever, anywhere.  To more experienced bloggers and readers this may look a little rough around the edges.  I'll get better over time, I'm sure. I can tell you I am composing this "on-the-spot".  

I'm an artist and I live in Central Oregon.  Although painting and drawing was something I always wanted to do, I had to put it off until I was done with corporate American and corporate America was finally done with me.  I began by making simple pencil sketches while we were backpacking or camping.  In 1997 a friend gave me some watercolors and papers that had been her mother's.   I began taking drawing and painting classes at community colleges in the Seattle area, where I lived at the time.  I volunteered time to the Northwest Watercolor Society because I wanted to understand the artist's world and meet other artist, see fresh ideas.

An artist's journey is as individual as the person.  None of us travel identical paths.  When we moved to central Oregon about 10 years ago, I joined the Oregon Watercolor Society and began taking week-long workshops instead of classes.  I find the world of competition in art intriguing and I paint for that arena.  My goal is to have some of those initials after my name and I'm getting close.

Now you know me - and you don't, unless it's possible to know someone by reading three brief paragraphs.

I have spent this past week playing with shapes and symbols and departing from my usual approach, staying as simple as I can and working with suggestive shapes.  I'd like to share these paintings with you.  I called them "Wishes" (II, III and IV) as to me stars are the symbol for wishes.  In the first a figure contemplates a book or magazine (myself looking at a competition show catalog that I'm not in!) and is calling her messenger, Bird (trickster as well as messenger).

In the second, the figure (me) receives Bird (messenger, trickster) who has a chain of stars (wishes) as the figure is wearing.  You take it from here.  Is the bird offering or accepting.  The catalog has been diminished by the figures and perhaps has become a window or door.

In the third, Bird and the figure share a chain of stars.  A waxing moon shines.  The hands now touch a star or part of the chain.  Again, your story takes part here.  

These were fun to create and paint.  It was an exercise in taking shapes to their simplest form and still be recognizable, in keeping the colors to three values and two tones for simplicity, so as not to distract.  My artwork can be seen on my website and on Pinterest.

Let me know how I'm doing.  I understand blogging can be a bit like shouting down an empty tunnel so I'd appreciate (positive) feedback.

Sandra Neary, November 25, 2014