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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.


Thursday, May 28, 2009
  bordering on overwhelmed


We're in the midst of getting ready for the big outdoor party/potluck that we have here every May, and at the same time launching a remodel of our back porch and bathroom. Along the way, we have done a lot of cleaning up of grounds and studio, taking advantage of the big dumpster that has been parked out front. Add in the normal demands of life, and organizing a workshop or two, and it is a recipe for overload.

Yet I noticed today, when I walked into my (now clean, fairly orderly) studio, the stress of too much going on fell away almost immediately. In fact, I had only meant to drop something off inside, but ended up staying for an hour and emerged feeling quite a bit more calm than when I went in. I feel so grateful to have this space in my life, both the actual studio building, and the time spent there, in that special creative zone. The rest of my world can go a little nuts around me, but in the studio I'm often able to connect with my deepest self, the one that is capable of calm in the face of overload.

The painting above is not exactly recent--it's from March--but I don't think I've posted it before. It is called Indigo, 36" square. I guess it's not too surprising that I haven't found time to photograph my newest work, but I plan on it next week.
 
Saturday, May 23, 2009
  a day in the cities



Yesterday my husband and I braved the pre-holiday traffic to spend a day in St. Paul and Minneapolis. A highlight of the day was the exhibit at the Groveland Gallery of our painter friend Mark Horton. Mark's paintings are striking in color, with strong composition and beautiful, painterly brushwork (the paint sometimes seems about to drip off the canvas.) His work expresses a vibrant energy through images of city life. I'm particularly fond of his aerial views, in which the horizon line disappears and the abstract patterns of the city blocks are emphasized.

We also visited a friend who lives in a really stunning modern home on Lake Harriet in Minneapolis that has been featured in architectural magazines and books. Although its FL Wright-inspired design is grand, and full of striking angles and huge windows, the house also includes intimate and cozy nooks as well. Along a hallway on the first floor are a series of five small oil landscapes that our friend purchased from me about ten years ago.



When she showed us these, my reaction was as usual in this situation--I am really touched that my work has a home where it is loved and appreciated. But there is also a part of me that feels quite removed and separate from my own past work. It seems so strangely unfamiliar--I almost wonder, who did this? My own work from another time, another stage can feel simultaneously unfamiliar and yet without a doubt, deeply a part of me.
 
Monday, May 18, 2009
  mid-may

This is one of the most beautiful times of year where I live--after months of searching the chilly, brown landscape for any sign of green, suddenly we see it everywhere in abundance, and every day there is something new to exclaim over. Our property is called Wildapple, and the apple trees are now in bloom, along with lilacs, bleeding hearts, columbine, and so many others.

I spent the weekend wandering between garden and studio and sitting in the sun. Planting a few flowers and herbs seemed as important as painting. But once I did make to the studio, it was good. I felt myself becoming unstuck in certain ways...the cleaner, more open studio space, the spring air, and the energy I still feel from teaching my last workshop, all seem in sync. I'm not ready to post any photos yet, but there are lots things in the works.
 
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
  new painting, and workshop scheduled


This is Wall #1, a mixed media/acrylic painting on paper, 15" square. There are two more similar ones, in a series--I've been working on these and other mixed media paintings from time to time, now that I have more space in my studio...and I continue to enjoy this diversion from my regular oil/wax process. Because of the quick drying time, it seems more spontaneous--though I am frequently frustrated by the being unable to wipe away layers as I do with the oils. That means adding more and more layers, and as a result the texture does develop nicely.

I have dates and location now for my next workshop--it will be held at Gallery 2611 in Redwood City, CA on July 17-19. Registration is limited and must be completed by June 22, so please let me know if you are interested! (www.crowellart.com) I'm really looking forward to this. It will be three days--a day longer than my previous workshop, and day #3 will be appreciated. Although we packed a lot into the 2-day workshop, there were things I never got around to sharing with the group.

I just received this really nice endorsement from Kathryn Bevier, who was my host and the person who invited me when I did the workshop in Rochester NY last month:

I found Rebecca Crowell's workshop to be very liberating, in that the idea was not to produce, but to be with the process of exploration. Rebecca showed us many techniques and applications throughout the 2 day workshop, each one building on the preceding one. Often, the painting demonstrations were complimented by a brief power point presentation or other visual aids that reinforced what she was sharing. Rebecca ran the workshop with effortless ease, allowing the participants plenty of time to be in touch with their own creative process. What seemed so unique about the whole workshop was that everyone seemed to truly embrace the process oriented approach without the idea of "right and wrong". It was as if we left our egos at the door. Very refreshing!

Thanks, Kathryn--it was definitely enjoyable for me too. If this sounds good to anyone out there, please consider joining me in Redwood City in July!
 
Saturday, May 09, 2009
  new paintings, and studio pix


Two views of my newly cleaned and organized studio above, and below, a painting that I just shipped to Wilde Meyer Gallery in Scottsdale, AZ. Called Copper, it is 42"x36", oil on panel.

It's been a pleasure to work in the studio this week--the ways in which the space has opened up are both obvious and subtle. Plenty of room now to walk around, stack things, spread out--and a more focused inner feeling and sense of calm purpose.

I need that right now, because in the last week, I've added several new things to the calendar for the coming months--through February 2010, I now have four exhibits lined up--two are major, two less demanding--plus two workshops (one for sure, one penciled in.) They are all things I want to do and am looking forward to, so no complaints, just a wee bit of panic. When I'm actually working in the studio (as opposed to writing or talking about my tight schedule) I'm fine, I just move along from one thing to the next, lost in the "zone" and at the end of the day, there is usually progress.

I'm considering the idea that "trust in the process" (my mantra when painting) also applies to getting the work out there on display, achieving goals and being open to opportunities.

 
Monday, May 04, 2009
  new painting, and a clean studio

A new week and a newly cleaned and organized studio--big changes and hard work over the weekend. Piles of trash went out the door, and areas of the studio long cluttered and under-used opened up into interesting new work spaces. It's been years since the job was done--and I'm not quite finished yet so I'm holding off on posting photos--but it is quite a transformation. Anyone who knows my studio will be surprised! Though I did not do much with my rather famously messy painting table (because I like it that way!)

In the midst of sweat and grime, there were revelations, questions and discoveries. A tube of figure drawings from 1980-82 (carefully labeled) that were really very nice..why have I never worked more with the figure? A bunch of acrylic paints, stored away in an old ice cream bucket. (I had not used acrylics in about 20 years, until my recent mixed media work, so this was a mystery--but a happy discovery, since most of it seemed still usable.) Then there was the large bag of floor-sweeping compound, which split and spilled as soon as I tried to move it (it finally served its purpose, I guess, since I then had to sweep it up...) I also discovered a roll of very nice drawing paper, an old bathroom scale that will be useful in my new packaging/boxing area when I want to estimate shipping weight, several tools that had gone missing, and on and on.

Slightly repositioning several pieces of studio furniture made a huge difference in the feeling of energy, flow and purpose in the room. I don't know a thing about fung shei, but perhaps this is what it's about--kind of intriguing! And simply clearing out has left a much larger working area. It is a good time to do this, at the start of what will be five months of intensive work to be ready for two exhibits in the fall.

The painting above, Drawing #1, is one that I delivered on my road trip last week to Woodwalk Gallery in Door County, Wisconsin. I titled it Drawing #1 (there is another so far in the series) because it seemed as much about the lines as the paint.
 
Friday, May 01, 2009
  paintings at health club


Today I hung these paintings (plus five more that don't show up in the photos) at Be Fitness and Wellness Center in Delafield, WI. All are older paintings (going back to 2003.) An exerpt from my the statement that I posted with the work:

The paintings hanging here were painted between 2003 and 2008. They represent various stages of my development in recent years, and they also show aspects of my work that have remained consistent over time. My work has been (and continues to be) an abstract interpretation of nature, guided by an intuitive response to the paint itself, and to memories, emotions and experiences in the landscape...

Landscape:25 Views (in lower photo on the left) Opposite, and Reverie (in upper photo) are the earliest pieces shown here, and represent my initial idea of combining multiple panels together in one painting. (Landscape was my first large painting done in this manner.) Over the past six years, I’ve explored this idea in many ways, in various scales, color ideas and formats. It continues to captivate me, and it’s a pleasure to exhibit again these paintings from the beginning of the series.

When I was first invited to hang my work here, I hesitated a bit, but warmed up to the idea after asking a lot of questions about the walls, and the number of people who would see the work. I really like the idea of people encountering my work outside of the usual gallery settings, but I also am careful about these settings--I want the work to have plenty of space and decent light. I also hesitated because of having enough commitments already for my most current work--but then I hit on the idea of showing older pieces that I had in my studio. The opportunity to display some of this large, colorful work was really very appealing. The work will be on display through the end of June.
 

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