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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, July 28, 2009
  dog painting

This is my contribution for the annual Dog Days exhibit at Wilde Meyer Gallery in Scottsdale AZ. Titled Dogs Remembered, it's 12" square, and follows in spirit with many white paintings I've been working on this summer. (Due to their subtlety, all of the white ones hard to photograph...you can get a better view by clicking on the painting.)

Wilde Meyer's request for a dog painting (an option open to all the gallery artists) is my annual reminder to keep my options open when it comes to subject matter. The first time I was asked to do this, I thought in a slight huff, "But I don't DO dog paintings!" But some little voice told me to try it, if only to be a good sport, and it has now become something I look forward to. I've done quite a few at this point, for the gallery and also to donate to the annual Humane Association fundraiser auction in our area.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
  california workshop

I'm back from the San Francisco Bay Area where I taught a three day workshop about techniques using cold wax medium and oils. Thanks to the generosity of my host, Connie Kleinjans, I also had a day before the workshop to spend at the beach, taste fine wines, and take part in other exotic-to-me California activities. After the workshop, I had another day and evening to spend with my old grad school friend Nancy Lewis. We went into San Francisco to see SFMOMA, and also arranged to meet Kimberly Kradel, a Facebook friend, who runs the extraordinarily informative website, Artist-At-Large.com. We wound up that day at the studio of encaustic painter Ally Richter, one of the participants in my workshop.

In between those two days was the workshop itself, which went very well, with each of the eight artists who participated taking the cold wax techniques in a unique direction. It was a friendly, dynamic group of women, a joy to meet and work with. This was the first three day workshop I've taught, and this length of time allowed everyone to come away with some finished or nearly finished work. (Of course, like my other workshops, the emphasis was more on process than finished product, but it was satisfying to see some paintings become fully developed and resolved.) The venue was a beautiful gallery space (Gallery 2611 in Redwood City) with plenty of natural light and space, which we somehow managed to keep fairly clean.

Although I may hold one workshop in my studio in September (just for a day) I don't have any more scheduled until October, which is fine...I need lots of studio time and focus to prepare for fall exhibits. I do find that the workshops invigorate my own painting--not only do I remind myself of all the possibilities of the wax as I teach about and demonstrating them, I also find the work of the other artists inspiring. This particular class came up with quite a few tips and ideas, duly noted, as well as some amazing paintings.
Monday, July 13, 2009

Teaching has re-entered my life after twelve years or so, and I'm happy about it--I'm enjoying it much more than I did in the past when I taught mostly in an academic setting.

I've been thinking about my workshops--specific things like where and when to schedule them, and what to include in the allotted time--but bigger questions too. Like why do I want to teach and how much of my time and focus to devote to it?

The "why" question--well, I get paid of course, and enough to make it worth my time. But it's really not about money--I want to keep things affordable, so I don't make a huge amount. Traveling to places like the San Francisco Bay Area (where I'm heading tomorrow) is a great perk, but I'm also happy with places that lack so much allure, and also to teach in my own studio. So--it's not about jet-setting (though, OK, that does thrill me a bit!)

Curiosity comes into it--a feeling of discovery. It's so interesting to watch what happens when each artist's personal vision mixes with the techniques I teach. I haven't taught very many students yet, but I believe each so far has left the workshop ready to take off in his or her own direction.

But here's the biggest reason "why" ...for years I've wondered if a life centered around painting and selling paintings might be just a wee bit self-centered. Yes the art itself contributes to the world, and apparently I have to do it or suffer extreme anguish (!) Not much choice there.

But especially since entering my 50s I've wanted to contribute something more, and to connect with other artists in a constructive manner. Teaching workshops seems to be a way to do that, to gather up a lot of things I've learned and developed and pass them along. The perk for me is to be in the presence of other artists for a few days, with everyone focused on painting, intensely in the moment and doing what they love. It's very rewarding.

As for how much time and focus to devote to teaching...I'm just feeling this out as I go along. Teaching is definitely a parallel activity, important in its own right, but I can't let it distract me away from painting. The right number seems to be about 4 or 5 outside workshops a year, and a few in my own studio, depending on the number of interested artists. I have also learned the difference between signing on with a well established art-workshop venue, and working things out with someone who wants me to come to a particular area but is starting from scratch. The former is easy, the latter more time-consuming, but in some ways more rewarding--and I remain open to all of it. I've met wonderful people in both kinds of situations. Suggestions from readers for future workshop locations are welcome, and anyone who wants to do the ground work to set things up can probably convince me to go anywhere!

Last weekend was my first in-studio one day workshop, where I took the photo above. Two of the participants were close friends, another was my former painting teacher from college (what an honor to have him in my class...) and the fourth was from Tucson, AZ. She was in the area visiting her sister--and it was her emailed request a few months ago to spend time in my studio that launched the idea of having a small workshop here.
Thursday, July 09, 2009
  white paintings

This photo shows some of the work I have in progress right now. The white paintings are hard to see in this kind of shot, but they all have dense texture and subtle color shifts.

There is a mystery and emotion in these white paintings that keeps me intrigued...I've been working with this idea since my time in Catalonia last fall. The first ones, which I painted in paper while in residency, were validated for me at the end of my stay when I stood in front of the huge white Tapies painting in the Museu d'Art Contemporani in Barcelona. Its spare, expansive quality felt so liberating that it brought tears to my eyes.

As I write all of that, I recognize a desire to explain or defend this work, which I know may be harder to appreciate than my more colorful paintings. Yet the white paintings in my last show were the ones that I received the strongest positive feedback about. So I do believe they are communicating in the way I intend.

As you can see in the photo, I'm not abandoning color....I actually feel drawn to bold color almost as strongly as I do to white right now. But that's another post!
Saturday, July 04, 2009
  new mexico artists

On my recent trip to New Mexico, I spent time with several other artists who live in the Santa Fe area, most of whom I knew previously only through Facebook. To meet in person was a delight.

In the top photo above are Danielle Shelley, Rachel Darnell (the photo is taken in her gallery, where I am represented) Diane McGregor (whom I have known in person for several years...thanks Diane for working out the details of this get-together) Rick Stevens and Michael Kessler.

The bottom photo was taken in the studio of Ted Larsen, where Diane and I visited later in the week. Ted's work manages to be both gorgeous and visually seductive, and ironic and matter-of fact at the same time...owing at least in part to the found objects (such as recycled car body parts) that he uses instead of usual art-making materials. His work strikes an intriguing balance between the conceptual and the visual, with 'found" surfaces and colors as hauntingly beautiful as many minimalist paintings.


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       Rebecca Crowell