This piece is crazy busy but I do love it. I made it in an original homestead cabin in Joshua Tree, from photos I took in 100 degree heat earlier in the day. The only issue is the mulberry paper I used for the collage is so light it adds depth but it's tough to see! Darnit, I'll have to keep working with this subject matter.
Texture. I was inspired by the endless landscape of spaced trees that you can see from a slightly elevated vantage point in the park.
Color. The vibrancy of this natural landscape, despite the heat, was inspiring. I layered a cropped version of this landscape loosely interpreted with watercolors.
Collage. I like working with overexposures for these mixed media pieces, because they distill the image well. It gives me a clear idea of how my composition will work for the collage portion, and I have them printed onto photo paper so that I can trace the original image. Yes, this is in the piece, but the mulberry paper I used is quite transparent. So, it adds a nice depth but it's less of a compositional element that I had initially thought. I still think it perfectly embodies the desert in all its spirit, though.
Do you like this? It can be yours, here!
I paint with oil. But as I've been experimenting with mixed media on a small scale, primarily with watercolors, I've been introduced to acrylic gel mediums. Also, I have a bunch of pigment from Venice that I'm always looking for a project for. When I was going through my Zion National Park photos, I tried to come up with a way to capture the rock faces and minimal vegetation, and came up with this.
First, I used molding paste and a silicone tool thing that looks like it should be in a kitchen to create the lines in the rock face of the source photo. I used panel for this because I wanted something that could hold a more structural piece. Then, I mixed a drop of water with my raw Venetian pigments and went to town mixing them in with acrylic gel medium to get a paint/glaze on the surface. I had no idea how fun that would be.
I also do not trust those pigments. So I Krylon'd the whole thing with workable fixative as an extra insurance policy. I opted out of tinsel for the trees here and instead used a very light green mulberry paper to add the bushes. Finally, I used pen and ink to add in the trees. This was a very fun process! I'm looking forward to working like this more often.
I bought 1,000 pieces of silver tinsel, and this is what I did with it. A three-part 6 x 9 mixed media piece inspired by Zion National Park, which I am thrilled to send off to its new home with a dear friend. Also, I developed many lessons learned for collaging tinsel, if you ever find yourself in that situation.
Texture. The rock faces at various parts in Zion are crazy. The Earth did that. The first layer of this piece is an oil pastel resist of this rock face's texture.
Color. Zion is famous for the quality of its light. We went in February, which was a surprisingly great idea. The watercolor on this piece is inspired by this mountain river.
Collage. The most striking thing of the whole experience, to me, was how all of the trees looked like shining silver in their February nakedness. They were barely starting to bud, which added to the effect. I've been trying to figure out how to capture this since then, and, well, then came tinsel.
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!