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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.

Monday, November 24, 2008
  new painting

This is Remembering Catalunya (74"x30" oil on board) which I finsihed a few days ago, and will be delivering to Darnell Fine Art in Santa Fe later in the week. The largest panel has many layers of earth colors and accents of red, and overall the painting is quite textural. The title comes from my enduring impressions of the region in the Pyrenees where I spent the month of September--if I had to pick one word to sum them up, it would be texture--of stone, ancient walls, meadows and rugged paths. The bottom picture is a close up detail shot.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
  quick road trip
I'm just back from a quick run to St. Louis to pick up some paintings. Too much driving for a rather short visit (it did not help that we inadvertently took a detour into the Chicago suburbs) but we had time to see some friends and to spend a few hours at the St. Louis Art Museum and the special exhibit Action/Abstraction: Pollock, deKooning, and American Art 1940-1976. This is a major retrospective of the important early abstract expressionist artists (sculptors included) and a look at some of their influences on subsequent generations (this aspect of the show's premise seemed a bit weak/undeveloped--but the work of the ab-ex painters we know and love are wonderful.)

I went in armed with sketchbook and notebook, expecting--and indeed finding--a wealth of intriguing ideas and information. What I wasn't really anticipating was the emotional impact the work had upon me, from the first room (where several stunning Pollocks and deKoonings were hung) on to the end, I walked through the show initially just feeling and marveling--my left brain pretty much disengaged. It was enough to just take in the range of rich visual textures, stunning color juxtapositions, bold contrasts and incredible subtleties, and expressive lines from thin and sensuous to rough and fast.

The second time through, at my painter friend Mark's urging, I picked out some favorites, including a gorgeous work by Lee Krasner, and we discussed each other's top picks--engaging in one point in a rather heated discussion in front of Barnett Newman's canvas painted flat red with white edges showing. (I was quite drawn to this one, along with a few other extremely minimalist works...which I guess is not something a lot of people relate to. But it was just so powerfully RED--again not a particularly left brain reaction.) Ah, when was the last time I got really heated up in defense of an art idea?? It was wonderful, really. By the time we left, all aspects of the art brain had enjoyed a workout, and there was much to mull over.

This morning, however, my travel-weary brain is too stuck in sensory mode to write a more scholarly or thorough review of this exhibit... I'm sure there are plenty of those online already. For me the real joy in this exhibit was sensory and somehow primal, scratching all of my painterly itches in just the right way...validating many of the things that happen in my studio on a regular basis, and suggesting others that would be worth a try.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
  dogs again
If you're familiar with my work, you know that I'm an abstract painter, but I do enjoy actual subject matter once in a while. For the past three years, I've donated a small dog painting to the fund-raising auction for my local humane association. I'm a bit belated in posting this, but with all the doggy stuff in the news I was reminded of it! It is 6"x12," in mixed media on panel, and was done back in August. It was one of my first attempts at trying out the water based materials that I had bought for my artist residency in September.

Friday, November 07, 2008

I've been reflecting on changes that I see in my work since the month that I spent at the Centre D'Art I Natura in Catalonia, and the few days I had afterwards in Barcelona. Now that I've been home for over a month, the experience has receded a bit into the past, and is getting harder to call up in my mind--but it's all still there, definitely still potent in my imagination and memory.

Although they are as abstract as any of my previous paintings, my current work seems (to me at least) more focused on specific ideas and source material--a departure from my usual intuitive ramblings. Travel has a way of heightening awareness of the colors, textures and objects in the environment that make it unique, and this is especially true when you stay a while. Besides the spectacular landscape, and all the textures of rock and earth, I was also charmed by the houses and old churches in Catalonia. They are an organic part of the landscape, made of slate and other stones taken from the surrounding mountains. And so, abstracted buildings have been showing up in my work...even the dark interiors of the older houses, brightened with color on the walls and furnishings, are having an influence. The urban sights in Barcelona have also stayed with me--the contrast of the ancient with the new and stylish, and things I saw in the museums I visited there (particularly the Egyptian and Pre Columbian museums.)

Other changes in my current work are more white areas, stronger contrasts, and more lines. The landscape in Catalonia has a drama that comes through for me in stark contrasts...and an aridity and a thin atmosphere that is evoked through lighter colors. Lines that I am now drawing on oil and wax surfaces with powdered graphite are a direct result of the drawing that I did during my residency, both in realistic sketches and in more developed paintings. I also find myself using areas of strong color, especially red. And (I have to smile at myself here) I've been using gold and metallic paint and leaf in a slightly more obvious way. (Smiling because I have used these materials for quite some time, but always very subtly...the several of the other artists in residency at CAN encouraged me to go ahead, let it shine.)

The painting above, Village (22"x20") illustrates a few of these ideas--contrast, bold color, and linear elements (though these are a bit hard to see in this photo.)


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       Rebecca Crowell