A few years ago, during The Great Turkey Road Trip, I collected photos of marble carvings and sculptures at early Christian sites near Roman and Greek ruins such as Heirapolis and Ephesus. The Christian church was very much in its infancy then, using architectural motifs and techniques taken from Roman temples. I found the workmanship fascinating, and also was surprised to realize that I was standing in a Turk-less Turkey. There were no Turks for the first few hundred years AD because they didn't exist yet.
Having spent time in Central Asia, where the precursors of modern Turkey hailed from, I wanted to express the overlapping demography of Turkey's history. So I marched myself down to the Grand Bazaar, found my ikat person, and bought some Central Asian silk ikats. This is a traditional style of weaving from Central Asia, which I use here to demonstrate the richness that comes from overlapping these two cultures: the Greco-Roman early Christian church, and the Seljuk settlers who arrived a few centuries later.
Landscape! This isn't abstract! Yes, sometimes I do landscapes. This one terrified me. It made me break out a calculator to calculate the difference in surface area between an 11 x 14 and a 16 x 20 because it took me so long. But I'm really pleased, even though it trends illustrative. More on that later, because I have a project up my sleeve.
This painting was part of an about six week period in which I did something that terrified me every. single. day. This was one of those things. It was a good month and a half. I had a little hiatus and it's time to get back at it because pushing the envelope is where it's at. And if it doesn't work... I may not share it here. Whatever, it's just paint, right?
(And pieces of my soul... gone forever. Right.)
Guys, I got brushes and actually used them. Bryce Canyon and I are having some moments. I'm having difficulty with the color red, so I decided to dial back the hoodoo pressure to go crazy literal with texture, and I picked a more normal-looking landscape and used lighter layers applied with brushes.
It looks illustrative to me, but I'm happy I got the color down. Now, time to be brave with texture for the next one. It's different from what I normally do, but it's trending in a direction I'm taking. What do you think?
Here's my second attempt at this grassy desert plant thing. I'm so into it! I thought this was the weaker composition, but something magical happened on the canvas. Don't ask me to explain it. But, I'm saving this puppy for a show. I'm really excited about showcasing the contrast between my Water Series pieces and the Mojave Desert. Expect more desert-inspired abstracted pieces in the future.
Also, green is fun to play with. I had no idea. Some professor told me, once, "There is no real green in a tube - you have to mix it." Not so, Viridian is magical. I see it, don't you? Viridian begets sage. And yes I mixed it. (insert emoji here)
Here's some more desert inspiration for you. I believe this is Ephedra. That's if my memory serves me right from our nature walk hike in Joshua Tree National Park. It may or may not also be called Mormon Tea? Anyway, don't ask me how I found this original photo colorful. The Mojave rubs off on me.
I'm delving into sales of originals, so this piece is on sale in the shop! This means I'm painting more and using more of my source photos to really get into each piece. I can't wait to offer more and show you more of how this is pushing my practice!
I can't tell you how excited I am about this new direction in my oil painting. I thought I'd be ensconced in a Water Series forever, because I'm an Aquarius who adores blue. And then I found the desert. Now that I live on the ocean, I'm seeking the desert. What is up with that? Whatever it is, it works. Yellow and purple are fun to play with, right?
I'm holding a few of these desert pieces for a show this year. I haven't tried this one yet as a scarf. What do you think? Is this something I should do prints of? Scarves of? Keep it as is and auction it off?
Now I know why I'm doing this. Seeing the reactions people have to my art on display together, along with matching scarves, was so incredible. Thank you to RAW Artists Hollywood for inviting me to participate in your May show in Hollywood! And thank you to your amazing photographers Paul Hebert and Jim Donnelly for these shots. I can't wait to do this again in Milwaukee on September 27th - save the date!
I started this piece as a low-stakes challenge to myself to find the right Bryce color palette. I'd struck out twice before this, on larger surfaces with more grandiose plans. This time I told myself "just play with the watercolor palette and be patient with it." So, I took the three-layer approach as I did with my Yellowstone pieces, and had some fun.
Do you see the small vertical white lines all over the first photo? Those are hoodoos. They are these hoodoos, making up a crazy amphitheater. I used this composition of hoodoos to set the tone, in an oil pastel resist.
This is the middle ground of the painting. Here is where I got to know my earth tones, and exactly how much primary color I could put in them before sending the whole thing out of whack. I love these guys in the foreground. I like to imagine what they are standing around talking about.
Finally, I added this texture from the sandstone in Snow Canyon in the greyest blue mulberry paper I could find in my stash. Did you know that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was filmed here? It's an impressive place that I'm looking forward to exploring more with future pieces.
There is something about the way foothills and mountains look when they are backlit by a good sunset. I've tried painting them multiple times and just haven't been able to pull off my vision. Now that I'm exploring mixed media, I tried something different that came out exactly the way I'd hoped after an inspiring weekend in Joshua Tree.
I took this source photo of sunset in Joshua Tree, put it in 8 x 10, freehand watercolored an 8 x 10 piece of paper using what I assessed were the appropriate daylight colors for the landscape, shaded that in with charcoal, and Krylon'd the whole thing. Then came the tedious part. I traced each section of the design, relying heavily on my source photo, and chose translucent mulberry decor papers to perform the appropriate role in the appropriate space. (Fun Fact: You can get multi-packs of clippings of these fancy papers for about $3 at Blick stores.) I didn't try to match each color exactly, but I tried to ensure that the colors I chose performed the essence of what I experienced while immersed in all that blue dusk. I'm ordering prints, and they'll be for sale soon!
I'd never really spent any time in the desert until March. I do really like having trees above my head. But there is something about the starkness of the desert - what life exists really thrives! It's beautiful and stunning and unique, and each living thing is show-cased. In Joshua Tree the plant life is particularly crazy. There is an entire garden of these cholla cacti, but this one in particular, all on its own outside of the cholla garden, was the first one to impress me. And it was a lot of fun to paint!
As you can see, I took some liberty with the color as usual. If you look closely, though, you will see the purples and yellows even in the original photo. Playing with, and pushing, those lights and darks using color theory is how I'm working with oils these days. I just ordered fabric for a scarf, and can't wait to see how it turns out!