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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.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009
  opening exhibit in madison

Here are several photos from my opening at Grace Chosy Galley in Madison on Friday night. I was pleased with the work itself, and the opening was a good time.

I've mentioned in previous posts that this show is unusual for me in that the work is united by a theme; it all relates to my residency in Spain in September. Some of it, the small works on paper, were actually painted there, and the rest of it was done in the aftermath.

My artist statement for this show:

The work in this exhibit was inspired by a month (September '08) that I spent in Catalonia , Spain . The first part of the month I was an artist in residence at the Centre D'Art I Natura, followed by several days in Barcelona . For the three weeks I spent at the art center, I was able to focus entirely on my work, and on the environment around me--the rugged landscape of the high Pyrenees, and the tiny, remote, ancient stone village of Farrera in which the Centre is located. I drew, photographed and made watercolors during hikes and walks in the landscape, and also worked in my studio with its amazing mountain view for many hours a day.

During my residency, I used water-based media and drawing materials on paper, instead of my usual oil and wax on panel. These materials were easier to transport, provided a challenge that I enjoyed, and led me to new ways of expressing myself. (Several of the works on paper from my residency are displayed in this exhibit.)

Travel has a way of focusing the eye on the colors, textures and objects in the environment that make it unique, and this is especially true when one stays a while. Once I returned home, a particular memory or visual impression from my time in Catalonia would often come to me as I worked on the oil paintings in this exhibit, and this memory would guide its development and completion. Besides my views every day of the play of light on the mountain sides, the grassy meadows and other aspects of nature, I was also charmed by the houses and old churches in this region. They are an organic part of the landscape, made of slate and other stones taken from the surrounding mountains. Because of this, abstracted buildings and walls found their way into my work, which has always been based in the natural landscape. Even the dark interiors of the older houses, brightened with color on the walls and furnishings, had an atmosphere that influenced my work. I also responded to urban sights in Barcelona --the contrast of the ancient with the new and stylish, and to things I saw in the museums there (particularly the Egyptian and Pre Columbian museums.) All of these sights and visual experiences had an impact on the way my work evolved while I was there, and since coming home.

Other formal issues that I began to explore during my residency in Catalonia have continued to play a part in my work. These include strong visual contrast, more use of lines, and subtle variations in predominantly white panels. These all come from abstracting certain aspects of the landscape, which had a drama that comes through in stark contrasts, and an arid, thin atmosphere that is evoked with lighter colors. The lines are a direct result of using drawing media during my residency, both in realistic sketches and watercolors, and in more developed paintings. I have also continued to develop complex texture in my work, as the rough rock, worn paths, old walls, and rugged mountainsides were some of the most memorable aspects of Catalonia.

Finally, I sense an emotional quality to this work that relates to my time there—a feeling of calm and peace, and also of freedom and spontaneity. To be in a remote, beautiful place for an extended period of time, in the company of other artists, to work--or not work--according to my own rhythms during the day, to walk for hours with my camera and sketching materials, and to be treated every night to great food and conversation—all of this renewed my creative energy and showed me ways of bringing this experience and state of mind into my ongoing work.

Rebecca Crowell, February 2009
What a wonderful experience to taste the sights and smells of Catalonia. It sounds am amazing time which will feed your art for the rest of your life. Can I ask you about the wax you use in your paintings, I have used it before, I use solid beeswax and melt it down but I wonder what proportion of spirits you use? Hope you can help. Good luck with the show, it looks fantastic. Thank you for sharing it with us bloggers.
Thanks for the comment! the wax I use is Dorlands Wax Medium, although there are several other brands such as one from Gamblin that are similar, in that they are all ready to use from the jar. Just scoop out and mix with the oils in whatever proportions you like.
Hi, just stumbled accross your site and I'm impressed with your work. Catalonia is certainly an impressive place to derive inspiration from.
Thank you, and I am happy to find your blog--just bookmarked it--! Have you ever posted anything about the center where I stayed? In Farrera--Centre D'Art I Natura. It is a very special place on this earth! Not just for visual artists, but for anyone with a creative project.
Excellent statement about your time in Catalonia and your inspirations, discoveries, and working process. Your show looks absolutely stunning, and the statement adds clarity and understanding of the visual metamorphoses that took place for you in Spain. Congratulations!
I just got back to my computer. The exhibition looks great. Your statement is poetic -reading through it I began to feel as if I were there walking the streets of Catalonia. Years ago I would drive to Vermont during the fall for inspiration & ideas. Even though I have not gone back there for ten years memories of those trips are an echo in my work. While the echo has grown quieter over time it is amazing how some places can stay with you long after you have visited them. I wish you much success with the show.
Thank you, Diane and njart73. NJ, I like what you say about the echo in your work and how it has grown quieter over time but still there. This is really the value of travel for artists--there is a level that goes beyond tourism to something much deeper, a source of ideas for a long time, and in that sense there is a deep connection with the area visited.
The feeling of calm and peace freedon and spontaneity come through the work. Lovely. Congratulations.
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       Rebecca Crowell