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   Welcome to my blog! I'll be posting thoughts about art, photos, happenings, and other things that strike me--and hopefully my readers--as interesting. And please visit my website by clicking the link to the right--thanks!

   Also please check out my second blog, The Painting Archives to see older (pre-2004) paintings for sale.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007
  another dog painting, and art on the bus

I dropped off this small (6"x6") painting (Two Dogs: October) at the Eau Claire (WI) Area Humane Association today for their fund raiser auction. I don't do a lot of donations of art, but this cause appeals to me--and I really can't pass up an excuse to paint dogs.

Below is a shot of my contribution to the current Art On the Bus display, a project of my friend Paula Gorski, who for several years has been organizing shows of adult and children's art for the city buses of Eau Claire (WI.) The theme for this bus was photos of animals, and my choices were a frog, butterfly, some other insect, my dog (not visible, behind the pole) and a very sweet cat we had that was lost last year.

Both of these projects were small but refreshing detours from my main work. It also feels good to contribute something to the community other than through the usual art venues. (I love the idea of people getting on the bus and seeing photos or kids' paintings rather than the usual ads. )

Friday, September 21, 2007
  wilde meyer ad

I just received this image by email, an ad for Wilde Meyer Gallery which will be published in the Arizona magazine, Tucson Lifestyle, in their October issue. I was tickled to see that the other two painters featured here happen to both be friends of mine, Tim Chapman and Gregg Rochester--the only other artists in this rather large gallery that I know personally (another Wilde Meyer artist, Patricia Oblack, has recently become an e-pen pal.) I'm looking forward to visiting Wilde Meyer when I am in the Southwest next month. I haven't been in the Scottsdale/Phoenix/Tempe area since 1985, when I graduated from Arizona State with my MFA. Back then it seemed we were almost on the edge of the desert in Tempe. Not so any more, I bet.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
  grooves and ruts
A groove is a creative track in which there is movement forward, energy, direction, an ease to progress. It's being in the creative zone.

A rut is the opposite--progress is impeded, you feel drained and bored. Sometimes forward momentum stops completely...all you can do is rock back and forth.

A groove is formed on a solid base, like rock. It holds up well when you're on it, and when it's time to get off, you just take a sideways step onto something new. A rut happens when the base is not so solid, like mud. Once you're stuck, it's hard to get out.

For me, working with multiple panels is a groove. I've been doing this since 2004 and it still feels fresh, flexible and full of potential. Ruts? Lately, I'm stuck on certain colors...earth colors (see mud analogy above!) I resist bright, saturate colors in my work, while at the same time I'm drawn to them everywhere else (in flowers. fabrics, other people's paintings, even grocery shelves.) Somehow earth colors have become a comfort zone for me. I think I'm good at working with them, but it's becoming automatic. Which ought to be a red (a bright red!) flag--shouldn't we question what starts to become routine?

I guess these thoughts helped to identify the problem, because so far today my palette has been brighter, with bits of intense orange, red and blue showing up here and there in my panels. But I've also been thinking about something my son Ben said when he was really little, like 5..."things change, but slowly, so you don't notice." There may not be a dramatic yank out of this particular rut, but I think I'm hopeful that I am gaining a little traction.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
  new painting
This is Mountain, 60"x36" in oil on board. The title comes from the feeling in the lighter panel of an aerial view of mountains, or perhaps a topographic map. I am also reminded of stones in the colors and textures. Once again (I feel compelled to give this declaimer practically every time I post a painting!) there is quite a lot of subtlety and detail not captured here. You can click on the image for a somewhat better view.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
  darnell reception
When I visit Santa Fe next month, there will be a reception for me at Darnell Fine Art and I'll give a short talk about my work--that's October 18, from 4-6 pm, if any of you are in the area and would like to stop by. This will be my first "official" visit to the gallery--I was inside once before, but that was before joining. So I'm looking forward to meeting the staff and owner, Rachel Darnell, and I was very pleased and honored when Janine, the director, suggested having this informal meet-the-artist event.

Thanks to Gregg Rochester for the photo above--he is one of several friends who have visited and seen my work on display at Darnell before I have!
Saturday, September 08, 2007
  notes on process
From my sketchbook, these are a few notes to myself--things I try to keep in mind as I work. I share them in hopes they might be of use to someone else. Maybe you have something to add?

*Don't get too attached to a certain part of a painting...this leads to wasting way too much time trying to get the rest of the painting to work that around that one area. The whole painting should evolve organically. Nothing is too precious to change. (Also known as "be willing to kill your little darlings.")

*Follow bold impulses.

*When something isn't working, check to see if there is too much or too little going on. Often it is one or the other causing the problem.

*Know when to quit. A new direction or resolution will be a lot more obvious the next day or after a cup of coffee. How many times have I ended up in muddy chaos because I couldn't seem to stop?

*When ending up in muddy chaos, don't despair. Nothing is ever really lost in this game.

*Let one type of tension dominate the painting. More than one and they will compete with each other...if there is a strong dark/light contrast, limit the color or textural contrasts.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
  back to normal (?)
I believe that my blog is fixed now, with many thanks to Arno of Mid County Computer Service in St. Louis, MO and to my St. Louis e-pen pal Patricia Oblack for pointing me in his direction. If anyone is still having problems with the blog, would you please email me at crowellart@yahoo.com? Also, I would very much appreciate a few comments to make sure that function is working. (You don't have to say anything profound, just "test" or "hi" will do fine...
Saturday, September 01, 2007
  looking for inspiration
Yesterday I drove one of my new paintings to Circa Gallery in Minneapolis (I haven't gotten my technical problems solved yet, so I'm not posting a photo.) It was one I struggled with for days, right up until five minutes before it went into my car. (A little last minute touch up that turned into major overhaul.) In the end I was quite happy with it, especially when viewing it in the perfect, soft gallery light at Circa. But I was left feeling rather drained and depleted--not just from the effort to resolve this one painting but the cumulative effect of intense painting all summer. So little time to digest, contemplate, incubate, and all those crucial parts of the creative process that don't involve actual paint.

I spent the rest of the afternoon after Circa enjoying other people's art, and it was a very good thing to do. First, I caught the final day of Christine Herman's show at Bliese Gallery. Her spontaneous approach to mark-making--quick lines, dashes of color--has an energy and boldness that I admire, and sometimes pull back from too readily in my own work. I left with a resolve to be less concerned about covering up my tracks when I paint.

From there I headed to the Minneapolis Institute of Art, and after dutifully walking through the featured exhibit (A Mirror of Nature: Nordic Landscape Painting 1840-1910...nice enough...but for me not terribly inspiring) I spent the rest of my time just wandering through hall after hall of exhibits. I wanted to see what kind of things would catch my eye, what would draw me in. So here are a few of my selections from those vast displays of art and objects from around the world: George Morrison's huge driftwood collage, a Chinese bronze horse, a display of Japanese tea bowls, an Olmec mask, a painting by Agnes Martin, and some elaborate textiles from Uzbekistan.

Definitely a diverse mix. But I think there are visual threads and themes that run through these and other objects that attracted me--rich and complex textures and colors, and strong structure. In some pieces I liked this came through as spare, concise form while in others, it manifested as dense patterning.

It was amazingly refreshing to spend the day looking at art other than my own. The dullness that had begun to settle around me in the studio was lifted, and today was a very good painting day.


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       Rebecca Crowell