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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.

Saturday, November 28, 2009
  thoughts on color

I've been experimenting with greater color interaction within my panels and came up with this small panel the other day. While the lower part of the painting seems comfortably earthy to me, the upper part has a range of color--blue, green, orange and even a touch of red. There is a palpable difficulty for me in pushing towards more color variety, but while my overwhelming urge was to edit out about half of these colors, I made myself back off. I'll keep this around to study for awhile, and see if it leads me anywhere I want to go. A few other recent paintings have also veered in this direction, so I feel that there may well be some new color ideas growing in my work.

The last time that I was comfortable with using a variety of colors together in one painting was back in my landscape days, about ten years ago. The subject matter in those paintings called for a palette of everything found in nature--blue sky, green foliage, and other splashes of color in the landscape.

My attraction toward monochromatic color came on as I moved toward greater abstraction in my work, though initially the colors were often quite bright--not terribly subtle. At this point, though, I've refined and developed the use of closely related colors in each panel--or in juxtaposed panels--for years, and these color fields have grown increasingly rich and complex. I love the way they look, and I'm not pushing for radical change (I believe that true and sincere change usually evolves over time) but there comes a point when something you do well becomes habit. For me that causes an itch that I have to scratch, a growing need to break out in however small or subtle a way.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
  new painting

I've been working really hard the past week or so, and until today I haven't thought a lot about about the fact that 15 people are showing up at our house for dinner on Thursday. The main reason for my preoccupation is shown above--a large (66"x30") painting (Shelter) that I wanted to finish as soon as possible to show a collector that was looking for something in this size. When I heard of his interest, several of the panels shown here were underway, and they had started to coalesce into a composition that would meet his size requirements. So, I readily agreed to develop them in a way that would result in a 30" wide, vertical format painting.

Somewhat to my surprise, this straightforward approach turned out to be quite difficult. I'm not sure why I didn't anticipate that--after all, my usual approach to multiple panel paintings is to keep the shape, size and composition of the work in flux as it progresses...panels are substituted, added or removed until the very end--when the final composition emerges and I have the panels bolted together. That's a lot of flexibility that I take for granted.

It was also hard to focus almost exclusively on this one painting for days on end. Normally, I work on a number of paintings throughout the studio day, which keeps my energy up, the paintings fresh, and allows the oil and wax mixture some time to set up between layers.

This isn't the first time I've painted something in a particular size or format for a collector, but it has been awhile, and I've probably become more set in my process and ways of doing things in the meantime. It was good to see that yes, I can do this--but also good to recognize clearly that it is a departure from my normal process. And also to realize that a tight deadline as well is even more stress. In the end, I really like the painting and am also very happy about the collector who was willing to stick with me during this process. But it's been a rather grueling few days.

So--tomorrow I'm going to cook and clean for Thanksgiving, which seems to me like a welcome break! It's actually my favorite holiday and I'm looking forward to the gathering here. Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Friday, November 20, 2009

I've been feeling a lot of energy and freedom in the studio lately--perhaps from watching so many other people applying paint and wax in my workshops. Their countless ways of approaching color and mark-making make me aware of my own need to keep open, keep exploring.

In my most recent work--in progress for for my February exhibit at Circa Gallery in Minneapolis--my palette is shifting away from the very earthy colors of my last show in Santa Fe. That one was all about my residency in a remote area of the Pyrenees, and the year's work that came out of it, so earthiness made perfect sense. The colors also seemed really appropriate for setting of the show, an old adobe building that houses Darnell Fine Art.

Circa, on the other hand, is a big, modern, wide open space, and I sense that I need to command that space with stronger color. No photos yet, though I hope to have some soon. I suspect I'll tone down the color somewhat in the final stages, since subtlety remains important to me. But in several paintings that I'm working on, the color intensity is still holding up after many layers.

I also have several going that are quite the opposite--light, ethereal panels. So I think it will make an interesting mix.

The small painting above is not one of the new ones--it's from a few months ago, but it illustrates the kind of gestural line I've been exploring, in addition to stronger color...Flux, 12"x12" oil and wax on panel.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
  studio workshop

It was a good day in the studio with these three women--Sandy, Karen and Kim. (Sorry that the photo is a bit blurry--I mistakenly had my camera set on close-up.) All three drove considerable distances to come--which I very much appreciate--and all made excellent progress on several panels each throughout the day.

As usual when I teach, I learned a thing or two from them...Karen, who has taught many workshops herself, had some good ideas for the business aspect of teaching (something I've been learning as I go.) Kim Grant came up with a technique for printing a shape--she coated the rim of a small suction cup with wax, then dipped that in powdered charcoal. The circular shape transferred very cleanly onto her panel. Sandy, the third member of the group, achieved an impressive rich color/texture on one panel using a metallic powder/wax mixture. Those are just a few highlights--whenever a group of people get together to explore cold wax and oils, the day is pretty much one visual surprise after another.

The online group Oil and Wax: Exploring Cold Wax Painting that I started a few days ago has taken off very well, with 43 members from ten countries already signed on. The group is open to anyone who is interested in learning more about this process.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
  new site for oil and wax discussion

I've been thinking for quite awhile about starting an online discussion group for people who have taken my Oil and Wax workshops. Most people I've worked with seem eager to carry the ideas forward in their own studios after the class ends, and there is a desire for feedback and continued sharing of information. There's also a social factor--all the people who have taken the class, regardless of where they did so, have a lot in common with each other and I figured they would enjoy "meeting ." A big Oil and Wax party, online!

So--yesterday I signed on with Ning.com and created a site called Oil and Wax: Exploring Cold Wax Painting Techniques. The response has been wonderful, with 25 members and growing, and quite a few posts already. Members include past workshop participants, a few people who are anticipating a workshop in their future, and a few more who are just interested. Membership is open to anyone who is curious about the use of cold wax with oils.

(The painting above, Green Wall, is another in my series of new 12" square paintings.)
Sunday, November 08, 2009
  small paintings

I've spent most of my studio time this weekend on small pieces for several upcoming shows--I have about a dozen 12"x12" or smaller paintings that are either done or in progress. Some are for Darnell Fine Art in Santa Fe where a group show of small work will be hanging from mid-November through the holidays. I'm also sending some to KC Willis in Longmont,Colorado, in order to familiarize people in her area with my work (I have a workshop scheduled there in April--scroll down the linked page for information.) And there are several shows in January and February for which some small work will come in handy.

My small paintings are generally done on a single panel, and I often create some sort of horizontal or vertical division that serves the same function as the juxtaposed panels in my larger, multiple panel work. The painted divisions are less defined than the "seams" between panels--I like to play around with lines and smudges that cross over and blur the edge. This has led recently to some similar effects in the larger work, lines and colors that cross over between panels. I really like how one group of work can influence another--a good reason to keep several series or ways of working going at the same time.

The painting above is Rusty Wall, 12"x12" oil and wax on panel.
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
  the work of lynne haagensen

I was really pleased today to hear from Lynne Haagensen whose artist residency coincided with mine at the Centre D'Art I Natura in Farrera, Catalonia, last year. She emailed several photos of the completed work that she started at CAN. Seeing this brought back memories of our time there, and of coming across her while she was out drawing in the village. I recognize a lot of the images in the drawing, and enjoy the line quality which resonates with the complex textures of the landscape. I found her process quite intriguing--I'd never before met anyone who regarded a photocopy machine as an art tool. Here she explains her working methods:

I started this work by making drawings on transparent plastic. I then developed the drawings into photocopy monoprints using a color copier in unconventional ways: chance variables made every print a little different. The next step was to put the prints together in the larger work; where I felt change was necessary, I used collage. While most of the sections are single sheets of paper, perhaps a dozen have several physical layers.

The photo below is one I took in Lynne's studio at CAN, while Marina Broere (my painter friend who came with me to CAN,) her husband Cor and I were looking at Lynne's many drawings on plastic.



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       Rebecca Crowell