Art Adventures

Posts tagged ‘gesso’

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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Artists see life differently.

I recently traveled to Colorado to visit my folks and take a mini-vacation. I grew up in Colorado and LOVE, LOVE, Love it.. I still consider it my home. We drove several times into the mountains to see fall colors. I think I took around 500 reference photos…just of trees, mountains, and landscape. Crazy, huh?

On one drive, we drove from Montrose towards Telluride to see broad views of the San Juan Mountain Range, along with several (or what seemed like thousands) of people pulling off the road and taking pictures of magnificent peaks. As we pulled out of a forest access road, facing the opposite (read: boring) direction from the mountains, I stopped our Subaru and hopped out, taking photos of a ridge across the road. My parents didn’t see anything amazing in the general direction of my camera focus. But I popped back inside, all excited, proclaiming, “THAT will become a painting!”.

Here is the “inspiring” ridge photo that so sparked my interest:

Ridge of trees in Colorado

Ridge of trees in Colorado

Now, MOST people look at that picture and think, “meh…”. Am I right? Do you see the potential? When I showed the picture to my husband, he could not believe I would be inspired by such a bland scene.

I, on the other hand, could not wait to get into the studio and begin the process of translating it into beauty I saw in my eyes and imagination. This, I think, is the magic of being an artist; the ability to translate and re-interpret daily scenes from life. We can explain it through a title or inject it with colors; perhaps with a feeling of emptiness in space around the focal point, or nostalgia with color choices, maybe impact with composition and value. In fact, I could take this picture and pull completely different emotions from my viewers with several different paintings.

Seeing a lone tree, a bottle, a slice of fruit, or a mundane landscape can provide an artist with an opportunity to speak about issues we all face in our lives and our world. Artists see life differently and give us a chance to join in that view.

That ridgeline? NOT boring. Instead, beautiful and metaphorical. Here is how I interpreted that very mundane ridge in Colorado:

The Ridge, original watercolor and mixed media on Plexiglas, 30x22

The Ridge, original watercolor and mixed media on Plexiglas, 30×22

Texture, ridgeline placement, empty space, color, and a sense of being on the edge introduce a thought of past and future with this painting. I am at a turning point in my life right now. I’m in the space between raising my children (one left…a senior in high school) and choosing my next step. Metaphorically, I’m looking at the ridgeline as a point of view, a destination to see the goal. Once I get up there, I can view past and future paths from the same point. I must work towards that ridge, though, and getting there might be rough, as you can see the landscape is tangled with roots, sand, and textural challenges.

Like I said…Artists see life differently. Would you be inspired by the photo of the junipers on the cliff? What type of connection would you have drawn between that photo and your life? Have you taken photos that you find meaning in, not necessarily just in the subject matter?

To see this painting, go to Hood Avenue Art in Sisters, Oregon later this week, where I will be featured artist during the rest of October and most of November. Make sure to come by the gallery and see me and visit about the new landscape work. I’ll be there Fourth Friday, this Friday, October 28th from 4-8pm.

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 SB Hansen Watercolor & Wine Painting Classes. I am planning an upcoming workshop on Textured Watercolors in January. 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.

Cheers, people! And Feed the Beast!

 

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As part of my recent relationship series, the new painting, “Fishing Bug”, takes a closer look at the bond between fathers and kids.

Raised on a farm in Colorado, my sister and I were not afraid to get outside and get dirty. We were outside ALL the time, it seemed. Our dad was a big part of this picture, as he has always loved working on the fields or hiking the hills. He taught us how to appreciate nature through camping, backpacking, hiking, and picnics. Every weekend during the summer, I would ask, “Can we go camping this weekend, Dad?” or, perhaps more accurately, “Daddy, can we PLLLEEEAAASSSEE go camping?”, usually while sitting on his lap, looking as sweet as I possibly could. I would pull out all the stops to get him to say yes, it was my favorite family activity. Dad always tried to make it happen, if possible. We spent days lounging at the campsite, cooking s’mores, and going for critter walks. Once in a while, we would get lucky and spot a weasel, pika, muskrat, beaver, bighorn sheep, deer, elk, or even a bear. Dad loved to sit and admire wild animals in their environment, and would involve us in his quiet observations. He gifted us with the love of nature.

I have been fortunate to have the most wonderful fathers in my life: My dad, my husband, and my father-in-law. All are kind, strong, and loving, with a bonus of living life to the fullest and passing those gifts on to their children. In the joyful “Fishing Bug”, I work to express those ideas on canvas.

Fishing Bug, 12x20 original watercolor and collage on Plexiglas

Fishing Bug, 12×20 original watercolor and collage on Plexiglas

It’s the moment of excitement when everyone in the boat realizes that, “Fish on!”, a fish has caught the lure and the fisherman is reeling to bring him in. Half-turned to us, a girl in her red hat stands up, her own fishing pole ignored and off to the side, as she giggles and shouts in happy jubilation that her sibling is wrestling in a wild beast. Dad calmly teaches the youngest child exactly what to do and how to do it. A bent rod next to a net gives us an anticipation of dinner by the young hunter. Both kids are hooked. They have caught the fishing bug.

Notice string threading throughout the painting. This string signifies unity and connection between the father and his kids, and a passing on of tradition, as well as the movement of fishing line through water and air. Grids of texture reproduce net patterns, symbolizing the capture of both kid’s attention and their new love of the sport. The boat is old, not in the best shape, but no one cares. It’s all about fun and experience and time together; not material wealth or possessions. Small squares of red color from the girl’s shorts transfer her energy of the moment into the air. Her red hat tells us she lives life to the fullest, just like her dad. A dark treeline in the background give us a sense of the place, and an area to highlight the energy around her hair and further enhance this exciting moment. Sharing white of a sundrenched shirt and hat, the father and young child illustrate closeness while both of their hands are on the rod and their focus is on the goal of nabbing a fish. A number 9 smudged on the boat side tells us how many fish the crew will catch that day.

“Fishing Bug” symbolizes tradition, fun, excitement, and a sharing of family values that fathers pass on to their children. Did you have special traditions your father passed on to you? Does this painting remind you of those traditions? Message me your thoughts below. I’d love to hear about them.

If you are in Central Oregon in August, make sure to go check out “Fishing Bug” at Tumalo Art Company, as this painting should be seen up close and personal.

Follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram and follow this blog to be informed of amazing new paintings and deals! Contact me to receive my newsletter so that you see me at showings and receive notifications about SB Hansen Watercolor & Wine Painting Classes. Every one of my paintings is available as a print, and I sell signed greeting cards of all my images.

 

 

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Last week, I looked at relationships between sisters with my blog post and painting, “Wishes”. This week, I take a closer look at another relationship, mothers and daughters.

I don’t have a daughter, but I am a daughter. My mother is still alive, in all her glorious 84 years! She went to Italy with me this spring, during our Paint Tuscany trip.

Mom and I in Tuscany

Mom and I in Tuscany

My mom and I and my sister formed an interesting triangle growing up. I was caught mediating battles between two of them. Although unpleasant at the time, it taught me valuable skills of negotiation, compromise, and an ability to see both sides of every argument. After my sister left for college, Mom and I grew closer and enjoyed many activities and conversations together. Our relationship bloomed further after I married and started a family. Even though we lived 1,300 miles apart, we talked every week and saw each other as often as we could. Through the past 30 years, my mom and I continue to grow our relationship as she experiences the downfalls of true age and shares with me what it was like for her to go through her 40’s and 50’s and the challenges that each age brings. She has always been there for advice with parenting, marriage, and friendship. She gives me incredible encouragement and drive to go after my dreams of being an artist. She went to college and obtained a degree in her 50’s and has written and published 2 books. One of which she just published last year at age 84!

During my childhood, there were many times when I believed she “didn’t love me”, didn’t understand my troubles, or just didn’t care. What I couldn’t grasp at the time, was how much she really did care, and sometimes that care resulted in actions just the opposite of what I wanted to happen!

In painting “Going Home”, I wanted to capture a moment in a day when, after several attempts to rally her daughter, Mom finally grabs the daughter’s hand and says, “Yes, it is really time to go. Now.” It’s the end of a fun day and the daughter is tired and sad to leave. She feels her mom just doesn’t understand, or care about her feelings. The mother is tired as well, and both trudge off for dinner and possibly a bath before bedtime. Mom imposed her rule and her authority and daughter is feeling the brunt of it. But the mother has only the well being of her daughter in mind.

Going Home, 14x11 Original Watercolor and Collage on Plexiglas

“Going Home”, 14×11 Original Watercolor and Collage on Plexiglas

In this painting, I bring up a conversation about the relationship between mother and daughter. They are joined at their hands and in their communing shadows on the ground. Although you can feel the disappointment in the daughter, there is acceptance in her posturing, and a love and connection both will feel their entire lives. The colors are joyful, promising a bright future.

 

“Going Home” is available at Tumalo Art Company in Bend, Oregon. When you go to see it, notice the explosions of square colors radiating off the girl’s skirt. Her emotions cannot be contained. The shadows mingle and their hands are connected to illustrate the lifelong connection between the two. Trees are in the background, softly suggesting a promising future. Notice that the girl has rubber boots on. This brings up a conversation that morning about shoe wear. The mother probably didn’t want her daughter to wear the boots, but gave up on the argument, acknowledging her daughter’s ability to choose her clothes and giving her that choice., further illustrating the balance of authority, choices, friendship and love in their relationship.

Follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram and follow this blog to be informed of amazing new paintings and deals! Contact me to receive my newsletter so that you see me at showings and receive notifications about SB Hansen Watercolor & Wine Painting Classes. Every one of my paintings is available as a print, and I sell signed greeting cards of all my images.

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While in Colorado this summer, my sister sent me some amazing photos of her chickens. She’s a chicken-girl, my sis(love you, sis). She LOVES her chickens, names them, breeds them, and probably spoils them rotten. Out of all these photos, this one sang to me…or, more like, cock-a-doodle-doo-ed to me? He puffed out his poof-poof chest and looked like he was crowing with all his might:  “See all these ladies here? These ladies are MINE!”

He’s a Silkie, a type of Banty chicken. A perfect name, since they have super-soft feathers that look like fine fur, and because they are from Siberia, they have black skin under their soft feathers…just like polar bears.

Top O' the Morning, 8x8 on gessoed 140# watercolor painting

Top O’ the Morning, 8×8 watercolor on gessoed 140# paper.

Isn’t he awesome? Super fun to paint, this guy, whose name is Heckle. I especially enjoy painting white critters, having fun with all the reflective lighting in the shadow side of their fur/feathers. White isn’t just white, you know! In the shadow side of a white object, there is warm and cool light that can add structure to your form. Have fun with it, I say!

Let me know if you want this little painting! He’s $30 today, on Thursday! Don’t forget to follow this blog (scroll to the bottom and click follow) and follow me on Facebook! Enjoy your day, everyone!! Top O’ the Morning to ya!

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Challenge…accepted. As I walked past a salsify plant, I asked myself, “Could you paint that, Sarah? How? What would it look like?” And so the challenge was made and accepted. First step, let’s take a quick photo with my IPhone and print the photo in the detective lab, do some DNA testing and see where we’re at (just kidding…too many detective shows for me).

Salsify plant for reference

Salsify plant for reference

How the heck am I going to do this?! But, since I had accepted my own challenge, there would be no going back. I call this plant a “wish” plant (maybe, as in, I wish I could paint it?). Which, if you were a tiny fly buzzing around my childhood, you would have known that we would blow on the plant and make a wish as the little poofy seed-heads floated off on the breeze. Don’t ask me why or how, but the wish was supposed to come true if all the seed heads came off during the lung-induced gale. Maybe that’s why I never got my pink mustang? You know, the car? Or…maybe it was my breath?  Oh, but I do digress.

So, as I was contemplating how on earth I would try to convey the airy-ness, the shadows and highlights, the seed heads, and still convey the wishy-wish aspect of the plant, I had a brain storm.

Ooooo! Insert SEED HEADS!! Since the plant was still somewhat intact when I began this painting, I was able to go outside and gather the little buggers. You got it…the painting has seed heads from the wish plant IN THE GESSO! I love it!

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Seed heads in the gesso

I carefully chose perfect little seed heads, but when I put them into the wet gesso, they mushed together and didn’t spread out like I wanted them too. Since the little seed part was too pronounced, I plucked the seed and the stem off, and used just the “parachute” part. I also worked on  keeping the individual parachute parts spread out. If some weren’t perfect, that was fine. In fact, preferred. I let it dry.

Now, I just needed to transfer my image onto the prepared Plexiglass.Here it is:

Drawing with Seed Heads

Drawing on prepared plexiglass

Up close and personal:

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Seed head detail

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Seed head detail

You can see from the photos above that the seed heads retain their original color. Even after the gesso covered them completely, once it dried, the yellow tint remained true.

Then, I went to Colorado with my prepared Plexiglass. Read: Painting BONANZA!!

At home, I had used my 1.5 circular die cut press to create some circles out of paper and had placed them around the painting. Now, when I began to paint, I used Daniel Smith’s Cobalt Violet, Cobalt Teal, Quinacridone Burnt Orange to establish the circular wishy-shape plant. When I went into the upper LH corner with some of the deeper, darker color, the circular shapes reminded me of moonlight. Hence the title.

Finished. Moonlight Wishes. 11x14 Watercolor on Plexiglass

Finished. Moonlight Wishes. 11×14 Watercolor on Plexiglass $250

What do ya’ll think? I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out. I was aiming for explosive poofs everywhere, and like the background color. Overall it’s pretty fun.

Want it? Let me know. And follow my blog (scroll down and click follow) and my Facebook page to keep up to date on all the happenings. Take care everyone. Feed the beast!

 

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Think unplugged. Quiet. Peace. Unscheduled days. Time to paint. Colorado.

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View from Art Studio

Sounds nice, doesn’t it? I spent the first week in July this year in Colorado, near where I grew up. It was a place of rejuvenation and feeding my beast. No Wi-Fi! Being unplugged, I spent a good amount of time walking, painting, and reading. The views were open and unhindered by other homes. I could see the San Juan Range to the South, and Grand Mesa to the North. In between lay the area in which I grew up. These were my stomping grounds! My parent’s place is amazingly quiet. At night, all I could hear was the occasional cricket. Maybe a coyote or two. Seriously! Nothing. The silence whooshes in the ears like a pulse. I LOVE it. I crave it every year.

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Painting in the Colorado Studio

I usually take some painting projects when I go, and this year was no exception. I had prepared many drawings on plexiglass and paper, which, along with photos, provided hours of work in the lazy, hot afternoons.

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My painting desk inside the Art Studio in Colorado

This was no luxury retreat. We are talking bare-bones, back-to-the-basics stuff here. In fact, as hot as it was in the studio in the afternoon, I perched the door open to establish a (hot) cross breeze every day. I did not, however, invite the lizard in to run across my feet. Eeek! I love lizards, but COME ON! No running across the flip-flop feet!! I guess he wanted to take a peek at the paintings and offer up a critique? How ’bout a glass of iced tea, Mr. Lizard?

Anyway, as you can see in the studio photo, I worked hard at a few small paintings and a couple of 11×14 paintings on plexiglass. When I took a break, driving around the country inspired me to take photos of…mailboxes! Future painting alert! Do you realize how utterly beautiful rural mailboxes are? Seriously, they are amazing and poetic in all their rural-ness. When I lived here, I didn’t appreciate the simple beauty that surrounded me.

 

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Artistic Retreat Studio

My mom and I also took a drive down to a friend/neighbor who owns Mattics Orchards. They were generous enough to allow me to walk their orchards (a guided tour by their two young sons, who ended up shoving each other into the sprinklers) and take photos of pears, apples, crab apples, and apricots, as well as some zucchini, cabbage, and peppers. I am SO EXCITED to begin some amazing paintings from all the photos taken during my retreat. Such inspiring, nostalgic photos. Check my blog again soon (or better yet, follow me!) to see my Colorado work.

 

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