A Patchwork Fall

A Patchwork Fall
"A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art." ~Paul Cezanne~

March 23, 2013

UWS Spring Show Here I Come...Woot Woot!!

I had so much fun creating my "Kokopelli Song Woven Through my Dreams" woven painting for the Utah Watercolor Society (UWS) Two Star / Signature Member Show this year that I had to immediately create a new woven painting the next weekend (the process takes about two days). My second foray into the woven painting process, I decided to vary the weave a bit by making different sized strips for the cross sections. The second painting is titled "I Have the Experimental BLUES." Acrylic on 140 lb Arches watercolor paper. (size 13" x 19")

Since "Kokopelli" was already heading to the Two Star / Signature Member Show, I entered "Experimental BLUES" into the UWS Spring Show. This is a highly competitive show that is juried by the guest artist who the UWS brings in for their week-long Spring workshop. These artists are often masters in their respective water-media fields, well-known, and making a living at their craft.

The Spring Show is also one of only three possible shows each year that count towards achieving Signature Membership status in UWS. A Signature Member has been accepted into eight shows (either the UWS Spring Show, UWS Fall Show, or Western Federation of Watercolor Societies Annual Show) and must win a major award for one of the shows. I am currently a Two Star Member, which means I have been accepted to at least two UWS Spring Shows.

Imagine my delight this morning, then, to receive an email informing me that "I Have The Experimental BLUES" was accepted to this year's UWS Spring Show! :)  WOOT WOOT!!

That means I have now been accepted into four of the required eight shows - working towards Signature Membership. I am so excited to be accepted this year! What a great way to end the week! :)

The show will hang at Bountiful Davis Art Center (temporarily located at 28 E State Street in Farmington, UT) from May 9th - June 14th. :)

March 14, 2013

What is Wabi-Sabi?

I just read some commentary on Facebook from a fellow artist about working on a Wabi-Sabi series, and I decided I had to research this thing called Wabi-Sabi. I have some vague recollection of hearing the term in the art world before, but no real understanding of what it is or what it means.

But, I found a great article online that helps explain Wabi Sabi - which basically sums up appreciating things (nature-made things, man-made things, all things) in your environment in exactly their natural state...often a state of wearing down or decay...and understanding the beauty of the natural progression.

"It’s the subtle art of being at peace with yourself and your surroundings."

These days, I think American artists also think of Wabi Sabi in terms of "recyled" or "upcycled" art.

I haven't embarked on a Wabi Sabi art journey myself (yet), and maybe I never will, since I favor bright colors over muted. (I do have the occasional old barn or wagon painting though.) It gives some food for thought. :)

The Watering Can  ©Jennifer Love

Here is the article...

Wabi-Sabi: The Art Of Imperfection

The Japanese tradition of wabi-sabi offers an inspiring new way to look at your home, and your whole life.

by Robyn Griggs Lawrence, from Natural Home
September-October 2001

According to Japanese legend, a young man named Sen no Rikyu sought to learn the elaborate set of customs known as the Way of Tea. He went to tea-master Takeeno Joo, who tested the younger man by asking him to tend the garden. Rikyu cleaned up debris and raked the ground until it was perfect, then scrutinized the immaculate garden. Before presenting his work to the master, he shook a cherry tree, causing a few flowers to spill randomly onto the ground.

To this day, the Japanese revere Rikyu as one who understood to his very core a deep cultural thread known as wabi-sabi. Emerging in the 15th century as a reaction to the prevailing aesthetic of lavishness, ornamentation, and rich materials, wabi-sabi is the art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in earthiness, of revering authenticity above all. In Japan, the concept is now so deeply ingrained that it’s difficult to explain to Westerners; no direct translation exists.

Broadly, wabi-sabi is everything that today’s sleek, mass-produced, technology-saturated culture isn’t. It’s flea markets, not shopping malls; aged wood, not swank floor coverings; one single morning glory, not a dozen red roses. Wabi-sabi understands the tender, raw beauty of a gray December landscape and the aching elegance of an abandoned building or shed. It celebrates cracks and crevices and rot and all the other marks that time and weather and use leave behind. To discover wabi-sabi is to see the singular beauty in something that may first look decrepit and ugly.

Wabi-sabi reminds us that we are all transient beings on this planet—that our bodies, as well as the material world around us, are in the process of returning to dust. Nature’s cycles of growth, decay, and erosion are embodied in frayed edges, rust, liver spots. Through wabi-sabi, we learn to embrace both the glory and the melancholy found in these marks of passing time.

Bringing wabi-sabi into your life doesn’t require money, training, or special skills. It takes a mind quiet enough to appreciate muted beauty, courage not to fear bareness, willingness to accept things as they are—without ornamentation. It depends on the ability to slow down, to shift the balance from doing to being, to appreciating rather than perfecting.

You might ignite your appreciation of wabi-sabi with a single item from the back of a closet: a chipped vase, a faded piece of cloth. Look deeply for the minute details that give it character; explore it with your hands. You don’t have to understand why you’re drawn to it, but you do have to accept it as it is.

Rough textures, minimally processed goods, natural materials, and subtle hues are all wabi-sabi. Consider the musty-oily scene that lingers around an ancient wooden bowl, the mystery behind a tarnished goblet. This patina draws us with a power that the shine of the new doesn’t possess. Our universal longing for wisdom, for genuineness, for shared history manifests in these things.

There’s no right or wrong to creating a wabi-sabi home. It can be as simple as using an old bowl as a receptacle for the day’s mail, letting the paint on an old chair chip, or encouraging the garden to go to seed. Whatever it is, it can’t be bought. Wabi-sabi is a state of mind, a way of being. It’s the subtle art of being at peace with yourself and your surroundings.

March 1, 2013

Experimental Painting part 2 - Kokopelli Song

After the paintings dried, I got out a stamp I had designed and carved several years ago but never used. The stamp is a Kokopelli with some ebellishments. I drew the design on a piece of linoleum (purchased from art supply catalog) and then carved around it with carving tools. It would seem easy, but actually carving the stamp was more difficult than I had expected.  Then, as many of my ideas do, it sat in a drawer for a long time...until I finally decided to pull it out and use it for my "breaking through" painting - six years later! Oh well. Better later than never! :)

Here is the stamp

I applied paint to the stamp with a brush and then stamped the two paintings - trying to apply it in a similar spot and direction on each paper. After the stamp paint had dried, I pulled the bits of tape off and rubbed off the masking fluid to reveal the saved whites.

Then, it was time to cut both paintings into strips and weave together to make one. This is where we have to get brave!  I carefully measured and marked one inch strips on the back of each painting and numbered the strips to set up the weave in the order I wanted it.

I wove the paintings together from the back side so I could keep track of the strips and make sure they were in order. (I forgot to take a picture of this part of the process).

My husband came in while I was weaving and was very interested to see what was happening while I wove the paintings together upside down, but I wouldn't let him look.  "NO PEEKING!!"

After weaving and examining the painting for a while, I decided to crop a little bit off one end...and here is the final result:  "Kokopelli Song Woven Through My Dreams" - a highly experimental "breaking through - something new" painting for me that I have entered into the Utah Watercolor Society (UWS) Two Star/Signature Member show.

I was pleased with the "dreamlike" qualities of the painting - how it is sharp in some areas and a little hazy in others, and how you see hints of the Kokopelli in the weave, but never a full-on, sharp image. The ice patterns from the snow and cold air provide some extra texture as well.

The process was fun and opened a different part of my creative brain. I've decided to try the technique again, and experiment with different sized strips on the weave and different color combinations as well. :)

Thanks for reading along tonight! I am hoping to get some more illustration work done this weekend for the children's book and also finish a painting for entry into the UWS Spring Show. Busy couple of days!

Have a great weekend!