Art Adventures

Posts from the ‘Encouragement’ category

What does the word game Bananagrams share with an artistic journey? Bananagrams can be like art (or life?) in that sometimes you have to re-scramble what you have and create something new. The goal in the word game is to use every letter tile in your possession and assemble them into interconnecting words. At times, in order to use every last tile, you need to take apart the words you’ve connected and assemble them differently. Other times, you may need to discard a tile back into the drawing pile in the hopes of drawing a better letter. I’ve played plenty of Bananagrams lately, both with my boys over the holiday season, and with art.

How do you play Bananagrams with art, you ask? Experimenting, then selectively choosing what works and what doesn’t. Discarding techniques that don’t feel right, and re-evaluating/re-assembling those that do. Let’s say you’ve been painting in a realistic style for a while, when it becomes apparent you need to change things up. Realistic styles may be better suited to some artists, but maybe you are needing a different message. Impressionistic work, with vibrant colors might fit. So you try it out and experience an exhilarating “aha!” moment. This, THIS is what you’ve been waiting for!

My artwork has gone through major changes. For many years, my transparent watercolor paintings were traditional, realistic portraits on 140# cold-pressed paper. Every eyelash, hair, wrinkle, and detail was depicted on a muted, deeply washed background.

Why would I change the above style? It works, doesn’t it? It did, but as time and circumstances change, so does a person’s art, or reason for creating art.

Creating art is a continuing journey, and artists find themselves through experimentation of styles, media, themes, and technique, ideally narrowing these down to a bounty of work that speaks the artist’s message clearly and cohesively. It is a natural, tried and true method of becoming a successful artist.

In 2013, because of changing circumstances in my life, I no longer chose to paint in a realistic manner. Although I still painted with watercolors, I changed my surface on which I painted, along with my style, my theme, and my palette. An abrupt change like this is not for the faint-hearted. Sure, it’s invigorating and challenging, but can be frustrating, scary, and takes time.

During the resulting three-year experimentation, I tried several styles.

Wishes, 20x16, $750

Impressionistic style with vibrant hues

I enjoyed painting almost all of them, and liked them initially, but eventually noticed they didn’t fit what I was trying to say. The painting above, for instance, is bright and impressionistic, but felt jarring and didn’t convey the serene beauty of the connection between the girls. I knew I needed to try something different. After many months and many more paintings, I stumbled upon semi-abstract landscapes. I taught myself the technique.

Soon after, I realized my recent paintings had been about inner strength and power. True grit, introspection, steeling yourself for battle, having tenacity, and calming the soul with those inner powers. These themes reoccur frequently in my life and I feel they resonate with many people. I decided to focus on that idea as a central theme in my new work.

In 2017, I’m challenging myself to build a solid, cohesive body of work, necessary to becoming a successful artist. In that vein, I’m working hard to develop artwork that collectors can easily identify, central around the theme of inner strength. To do so, I’m focusing on the following 6 criteria, on the advice of renowned gallery owner and writer, Jason Horejs:

  1. Subject Matter: Landscapes
  2. Style: Semi-Abstract
  3. Theme: Strength, Serenity, and Inner Power
  4. Palette: Neutrals with areas of saturated hue
  5. Medium: Watercolor and Gouache on Plexiglas
  6. Presentation: Float frames, wax coating

Since September, 2016, you have seen the new direction in my work. The choice I’ve made to paint landscapes in a semi-abstract manner feeds a theme of inner strength and calm more appropriately than does a literal, realistic painting. Strangely enough, it’s much more difficult for me to paint in a semi-abstract manner than it is to paint realistically. There are so many decisions to make on how to fill the space. The process is challenging, intuitive, and engaging.

Here is an example of my new direction, and, coincidentally, my first painting of 2017:

The Source, 16x32, watercolor and mixed media on Plexiglas

The Source, 16×32, original watercolor and mixed media on Plexiglas

What is SO COOL about this painting is that the mountains are created around a long strand of netting, which flows down into the foreground, creating a gully or river. There is a feeling of power, strength, and fortitude through use of color and composition. “The Source” implies both the source of water, and an inner source of strength.

Choices, detail

The Source, detail

Paper squares, string, and tissue are layered into the gesso base to give the painting an amazing texture. Plus, look at those COLORS! Yum. Neutral with a pop of saturated blues and oranges. This is what I love about my “new” style. It has more imagination, more power, freedom, and suggestion. I feel like I can sit and look at the work for days, seeing something new every time.

Playing Bananagrams with my artwork, i.e., completely changing my style in 2014, then tossing out what didn’t work, keeping what did, and embracing semi-abstract neutral landscapes, has proven to be a challenging, meaningful change. Follow me this year and see where I go!!

Enjoy the new work, and check it out at Tumalo Art Company, Hood Avenue Art, and other venues. The Source and other new work is currently installed at North Soles Footwear in downtown Bend, OR.

Follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram and follow this blog to be informed of amazing new paintings and events! Contact me to receive my newsletter so that we can meet at showings and to receive notifications about classes. I am planning an upcoming workshop on Textured Watercolors in February, 2017. Let me know if you would be interested in the 2-day class. Every one of my paintings is available as a print, and I sell signed greeting cards of all my images.

 

 

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Creating art can be a messy business. As an artist, I can personally vouch that we need a lot of stuff. We need stuff to paint on, stuff to paint with, objects to paint, scraping tools, masking stuff, taping supplies, drawing stuff, pencils, paper, glue, cutting tools, frames, wire, hanging supplies, books, magazines, cameras, and computers, just to name a few! Do we organize it? Rarely. Right, artists?

I went through my studio this summer, in preparation for upcoming classes and to make space for new work. I cannot tell you how much of my so-called “precious” art stuff was just trash. Okay, look. Do I REALLY need art supplies from Interior Design school circa 1988? Yellowed paper? Glue that had hardened in its container from ’05? Nope. But I had it. In spades. I pulled everything (almost…) off the shelves and out of drawers and proceeded to make an even larger mess on all available surfaces in the room. It takes making chaos to create organization, though, right? Ok, I just made that up. But I managed to fill several large bags for recycling and trash of miscellaneous items I no longer needed. My kitten, of course, was involved in all the decisions. This was her kind of day. She helped so much.;)

My cat, "helping" organize

In the drafting drawer, my cat, “helping” me organize. Hmmm…you should definitely keep this stuff…

Then I had the huge task of organizing what was left. I purchased a few plastic tubs and tried to fill them according to use or subject. Pretty difficult, given that I use many items for different end products. But organize I did, as best I could, and ended up with class tubs, greeting card supplies, and collage bins grouped and easily accessible. All my notebooks for contacts, galleries, licensing, and exhibitions line the top shelf for quick reference. Show supplies are on the bottom shelf.

Studio shelving organized. For now.

Studio shelving organized. For now. Not bad, huh?

At last, I got down to my day-to-day stuff; the supplies that I used every time I went into the studio to paint. That would be tubes of paint, paint brushes, and other supplies needed close at hand.

My boys had each taken a ceramics class in high school. I inherited their self-made vases. They make perfect holders for brushes, and remind me of their high school days. The little boots were given to me as a gift. Instead of holding flowers, I use them for brushes and pencils. The little nifty ceramic thing to the right is something my son made me to allow my brushes to dry on a slant. Pretty cool, huh? These items always sit on top of my drafting table.

Random ceramic containers for paint brushes and pencils

Random ceramic containers for paint brushes and pencils

I had been storing my tubes of paint in Safeway nut containers (handy little things) and old plastic tubs. This, I decided, just would not do. They were all different sizes and varieties. They didn’t stack, and, more importantly, didn’t look pretty. Right? Am I really that concerned with container beauty? In my studio? I guess so.

I ended up at a craft store nearby and came home with a prize for organizing my tubes of paint. It is a wooden box with four small drawers and a top lid. It feels old-fashioned, antique-like, and I cannot tell you how thrilled I am each time I reach for a tube of paint, to pull open a cute little drawer and select a tube of paint. It feels…I don’t know…somehow more rich and authentic!!

Organized paint tubes in a wooden drawer box!

Organized paint tubes in a wooden drawer box! Neat, huh?

After all this, I was curious. What did my artist friends use? Did they grab any container available? Or did they carefully select an “artsy” container that gave them joy to use? So I put out an email to them. What do you use to organize your paints?

Most of my friends were reluctant. They felt that the messiness of their studios were a stain on their beautiful paintings, I think. My friend, Janice, though, Druian Studios, was generous enough to send me a photo of her paints:

Janice's tubes of paint

Janice’s tubes of paint

Look at all those yummy tubes of paint. Just waiting for fabulous creations of landscapes by Janice! She complains that it’s messy. But it works! Here they are, in all their glory. Organized by color in plastic containers. I mean, in the throes of creativity, does it matter from which your paint tubes come? Here is her studio:

Janice's studio. Beautiful, isn't it!!

Janice’s studio. Beautiful, isn’t it!!

What a beautiful studio. Ah, Janice. Amazing.

Another artist friend, Susan Higdon www.susanluckeyhigdon.com, sent me this photo of her workspace:

Susan Higdon's work space

Susan Higdon’s work space

See? That’s what I’m talking about. We artists use anything and everything we can. We are usually big into recycling, and as you can see by Susie’s space, she has boxes, recycled food containers, and maybe just a couple of purchased items specific for organizing. She produces amazingly creative work in this delicious studio of art supplies. It begs to be used. There is no fear here. As are her paintings: Fearless and beautiful.

My friend Cindy Briggs, cindybriggs.com, an accomplished watercolor artist and instructor, has a special way of organizing her watercolor tubes. I first noticed it when we had a workshop together. The small mesh plastic bags provide an easy-to-see, organized method for traveling with your paints. Out of these plain, unpretentious and simple plastic bags of paint arise Cindy’s gorgeous watercolors.

Cindy Briggs organizes her paint tubes in plastic bags

Cindy Briggs organizes her paint tubes in plastic bags

Does it make a difference to have a beautiful organizer for tubes of paint? I can assure you that it does not, as far as painting creatively. Reaching for that tube and squeezing out the juicy color for a luscious application of pigment on a canvas is all that matters. But there is a little something that goes “ping!!” when I have depleted cobalt blue on my palette, reach for it, but instead, pull open a cute little drawer full of blues (hah…pun), and select my cobalt. It’s pleasure, people. Pleasure for beauty.

What do you use? Does it make a diffence how you store your tubes or other supplies? Have you recently changed or organized? Does it work? Do you hate it/love it? I’d love to hear about your system.

In the end, it seems I wore out my little cat. Next time, little one? My clothes closet, I promise.

Exhausted from all the organizing.

Exhausted from all the organizing.

Cheers, everyone! Keep creating to Feed the Beast! And thank you so much to the artists who sent me photos of their studio paints.

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Sometimes you just have to throw down the paint brush(or place it neatly on the table, since they are so spendy…).

This weekend was one of those times. After a miserably-failed painting(yep, I actually wiped off all the paint and then globbed gesso over it…it was THAT bad), I ended up spear-heading an impromptu camping trip. My middle son had returned from his first year of college, my youngest finished his sophomore year at high school. My husband wrapped up a crazy work week. It was time.

We had a blast.

Kayaking with the boys and Sheba

Kayaking with the boys and Sheba

We camped at Hosmer Lake in nearby Cascade Range. With our campsite right next to the lake, we kayaked a-plenty.

Kayaking with the boys and hubby. South Sister in the background

Kayaking with the boys and hubby. South Sister in the background

Sheba enjoyed a little down-time.

Sheba, watching her crazy humans.

Sheba, watching her crazy humans.

Warm, sunny days filled with relaxation. And a comfy lawn chair.

Hubby relaxing at the campsite. Mt Bachelor in the background.

Hubby relaxing at the campsite. Mt Bachelor in the background.

I talked my husband into a selfie…

Selfie at the campsite. Yep. That's a cold beer.

Selfie at the campsite. Yep. That’s a cold beer.

On Sunday, amid crazy bird cacophony, we scrambled out of our tent in the early morning and went for another kayak trip to see if we could scout out some otters. To our surprise, ice had formed overnight on the kayaks! Brrr!! But it was beautiful that morning. I took so many photos my fingers are sore. Just kidding.

Early morning kayak trip with South Sister in the background.

Early morning kayak trip with South Sister in the background.

Okay, okay. I’ll admit to a little bit of painting. Just a quick sketch to remember the moment.

Watercolor journal painting on Sunday.

Watercolor journal painting on Sunday.

Now, I’m filled with energy and can’t wait to pick up the paint brush. I took photos of a man fishing with a dog for my dog series, took some pics of our wine with Mt. B in the background (I know, right? Another wine painting for my friends!!), set up flip flops with lake and dock backgrounds for my flip flop series (thanks to my peeps for loaning me your flip flops) and took GREAT up-close photos of a mama duck and her ducklings. Can’t wait, can’t wait to paint! Next plan, draw all these out for my annual Colorado Paint Retreat!!

All images taken by and copyrighted by Sarah B Hansen.

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Sometimes we all need a little creative boost. That could come in many forms, such as taking a class in a different media, gallery-hopping, looking through magazines of innovative artwork. It could also take on the form of doing something completely different, like hiking, taking photos, gardening, going to a concert, or even cleaning toilets. Ha. Not so sure on that last one.

Last week I took one such creative break. But unlike the usual stuff, I went instead with a friend to Cave B Inn for a few days. We try to go on a yearly vacation and call it our “Mommy’s Weekend Away”. Which has always just been an excuse to let the hubbies take care of the kids and for us to have a weekend off. Anyway, this year, we stayed in a yurt. That’s right. A yurt. Whaaaattt? Honestly, it was one of the most enjoyable trips I’ve taken and it completely revitalized my creative juices. We hiked, talked non-stop (seriously), had massages, and simply relaxed.

Here is a pic of our yurt, with another in the background. The surrounding clouds were a little stormy, but we didn’t have any crazy weather except wind. Wait. I mean WIND. More on that later.

Yurt at Cave B Winery in Washington

Yurt at Cave B Winery in Washington

I didn’t dwell in artistic thoughts all weekend, and I didn’t paint, but did take some pretty cool photos. Here I am, in my typical photo-mode, laughing as usual.

Me, taking photos mid-laugh

Me, taking photos mid-laugh

The view outside our yurt encompassed a portion of the winery as well as the resort and the Columbia River Basin. This was when it WASN’T windy.

Grape vines just outside our door.

Grape vines just outside our door, with the resort and Columbia Basin in the distance.

We ate very well. The photo below was a Sunday Brunch, with amazing wild salmon, salads, fruits, quinoa, and bacon. Yum.

Yummy Sunday Brunch at Cave B

Yummy Sunday Brunch at Cave B

I loved the yurt! A house-tent, it was calm and comfy inside, with a real bed, but we could hear night sounds and tent sides shifting. At night, the frogs “sang” a HUGE NOISY SONG that kept us both awake at times, listening to their cadences.

Oh yeah. About the wind. It blew. Hard. A lot. Note to self. Next time, bring a pony-tail holder. My hair ended up a tangled nightmare. One night, we had an extremely ferocious wind storm, causing the tent walls to flap wildly. I thought the yurt might do a Dorothy’s House!

Inside the yurt

Inside the yurt, all calm and peaceful before the wind

Before we arrived, we had each grocery shopped and ate most of our meals in the yurt with this view:

Inside the yurt with our food and wine!

Inside the yurt with our food and wine!

Of course, we had to do a tasting and partake of their wine. Just doing our job as guests at a winery. Probably it is even required of guests. Right?

As I said, no painting, but I took plenty of photos. Here is another one of my photo-mode postures. What I love most about this pic is that it makes me look about fourteen years old. Or at least, I thought so. HA. Had to post it.

Me, taking up-close shots of a wildflower

Me, taking up-close shots of a wildflower

We hiked the trails down into the basin every day. I don’t look 14 in the next photo, but oh well. The illusion is off now and you all know. I’m no longer fourteen. Yep. Truth.

View from the Columbia Basin hike

View from the Columbia Basin hike

Travel always inspires me. I enjoy traveling and go as often as I can. It energizes, revitalizes, and relaxes me back into a creative-painting mode. So while this is not my typical step-by-step painting blog post, it is important nonetheless in that it illustrates what inspires me most and gets me in my creative spot.

Cave B Winery Merlot sign

Cave B Winery Merlot sign

Maybe it’s not travel that inspires you. Maybe it is something else. But find that something that gives you a creative boost, or just a boost to revitalize you to life. We all need it.

What is your boost? Let me know. I’ll be in the studio, studying photos from my trip, then happily painting away…

All images copyrighted by Sarah B Hansen.

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Keep creating to Feed the Beast! Support each other, people!:)

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I am honored to be invited as not only a guest blogger, but now a regular writer for Artist Scribbles, a blog about art, with guest artists and wonderful writings on Art History, Art Therapy, Art Diaries, and Art Shows. Thank you to Beck, art historian, author, and owner of this blog, for inviting me. My first post is here.

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A couple of weeks ago, my husband, son and I managed to get away for our annual anniversary vacation. We usually go camping, and typically at the coast. However, this time, we thought we’d try Mt. Adams in Washington, about 3 hours from Bend. Beautiful! Gorgeous! And WET…

August 2014 031

My son and I near the base of Mt. Adams. Yep, those are some scary clouds building in the background.

The day after we arrived at our campsite, we took a hike heading up to the base of Mt. Adams, near Adams Glacier. Though it was the middle of August, the wildflowers were blooming like crazy! Indian paintbrush, Lupine, Asters, and Penstemon in large fields of pink, red, and purple gave me fits of color-happiness throughout the hike.

It was quite a steep trail, but not terribly difficult. We only packed the essentials for a quick picnic at the top and a little travel painting for me.

Two hours later, we arrived at the top of Killen Creek. We could see Mt. Saint Helens and Rainier in the distance…along with some nasty-looking clouds. Clouds being those serious thunderheads you see in the photos, not the clouds of MILLIONS of super-hungry mosquitoes looking for some extra-sweet (ahem…) blood. Ours.

Near the top. Uhmmm...does anyone notice some you know...clouds?

Near the top. Uhmmm…does anyone notice some you know…clouds?

Let me tell you, those skeeds were, well, let’s just say crazed with hunger. Once we reached the top, my husband and son explored around while I sat down to paint. I usually plan a focal point and a color scheme in my journal paintings. When I sat down, I had a beautiful spot and perfect layout for a horizon line, with the focal point at the juncture of thunderheads and crippled high-alpine trees.

Here's the area I wanted to paint

Here’s the area I wanted to paint. Isn’t it gorgeous?

Anyway, I sat down to paint the journal painting and Wham! Wham! Wham Bam Wham….well, you get the idea. Mosquitoes from their leafy lairs were landing and screaming for blood. I whacked and slapped and, as in my son’s terms for killing bugs that lbite him…we needed lots of body bags. I spent about 5 minutes? Maybe? Seemed like 2 hours, trying to paint. I think I have mosquito parts smooshed into my painting.

Mt Adams Killen Creek 08122014

Hurried painting at the top of our hike.

I’m serious when I say it was VERY rushed. I usually take a lot more time. But the mosquitoes were just SO BAD!

Anyway, I gave up, packed the paints away and stood to go check on my guys. That’s about the time the first threat of thunder ka-boomed at us. Yikes! We were on top of an exposed meadow, above timberline! Head on down, folks! Head on down! We beat feet to get out of the area as soon as we could. Thunder began to rumble around us like a mad monster as we hurried down the hillside. We received a few sprinkles, a scattering of hail, but nothing too bad until we got about 30 minutes from the truck at the trailhead. Now…NOW the rain really began. This was a crushing blow of a bucket of water dumped with force. Within seconds, we were completely drenched. I’ve been in many storms while hiking in the forest, but this one was one for the record books. I don’t think I’ve ever been so wet with clothes on. We walked/ran/stumbled and could barely see, in a 6 inch river down the trail until we came to the truck. We ended up just laughing at how incredibly hard it rained on us. We drove slowly back to our campsite in the deluge. We sat for hours in the truck. We ate cold tuna in our truck. It rained all night. And we were TENT CAMPING. Ugh.

The next morning threatened more storms so we packed up and changed location. I managed to get two (better) paintings done in my journal during the rest of the trip. Without the rain and mosquitoes!

Laurence Lake 08142014

Laurence Lake near Mt. Hood, Oregon. Journal entry.

Mt Hood from Laurence Lake 08142014

Mt. Hood, Oregon, from Laurence Lake. Journal entry.

 And even managed a beautiful and peaceful kayak float one morning.

August 2014 058

Kayaking at Laurence Lake in the morning.

A few days later, back to Bend and work. But what an incredible trip. Full of laughs, water, hiking, kayaking, painting, and even a dinner in the truck when it rained so hard. Love the outdoors. Wouldn’t change a thing.

Feed the beast, people. Keep creating and enjoying life!

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