Thursday, April 23, 2009

Susan Ogilvie "Old Growth"

I had an opportunity last summer to visit Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland while conducting a pastel workshop.  We were spread out painting, enjoying the beauty of the place -
but there were periodic discussions of what had taken place there.  I found a wonderful old farm house with an assortment of other structures and very large trees.  After painting a demo of the out-buildings, I realized that the field behind me had been the site of one of the bloodiest battles at Antietam.  My thoughts about the farm I had been painting began to turn from activity and farm work, to sadness and loss.  I returned to the farmhouse  with my sketchbook, and decided to find some compositions that made me feel a sense of connection, family and peace.  "Old Growth" was painted about a month later from the sketches I had made that day.  Looking at my sketchbook brought back much of what I felt that day, and allowed me to find a way to convey a sense of unity and completeness with the farmhouse and the old tree.  Cheerful.  In a small way, I was able to create my own sense of place - which uplifted me.
Susan Ogilvie
Age: 59
"Old Growth"
Pastel on panel 24" x 12"
June 2008

Jean Sullivan "Steve and Henry"

I painted this as a Christmas present for my husband's and my cousin, Steve.  I had taken a drawing class last summer and got interested in portraiture, but had done nothing with it for 
months.  We exchange names in our extended family of relatives and friends and I made a deal with the person who made the slips so that I would get Steve's name.  I had taken a photo of Steve and Henry, which I liked quite a bit and thought would make a good painting.  then, when I started on the painting I began to lose confidence.   I spent days sketching and trying to get a good likeness.  I almost gave up, and told myself I could just get Steve a book or CD or something if the painting didn't work out.  Finally, I deliberately told Margaret, Steve's wife, what I was doing.  I knew once I told her, I wouldn't be so likely to bag it.  The painting took about three weeks to finish.  It was during the snow storms just before and after Christmas.  Paul, my husband was home on vacation and told me to just concentrate on the painting; he'd take care of everything else.  He came out to my studio daily and gave me lots of encouragement.  At some point I decided it was going to be okay.  It wasn't until after New Year's day that I finally convinced myself to take the painting off the easel and frame it.  The tears on Steve's eyes when he saw the painting told me all I needed to know.  It was a real turning point for me.  It was the first time I felt I had been able to translate a strong emotion into my art. It gave me the motivation to keep exploring and challenging ,myself.  And it taught me that I had a lot to learn about color.
Jean Sullivan
Age: 68
"Steve and Henry"
Soft Pastel 14" x 20"
December 2008-January 2009

Sandy Byers "Waking Up"

The blessings of each day are not always obvious unless they are the very first thing one looks for when opening your heart's eyes in the morning.  Already being blessed with health and a perfect family seems enough for any one person.  For me, when you add to that the joy of rubbing pastel dust between my fingers, and the sound of the pastel gliding across a sanded surface, that cup begins to spill over onto everything.  this pastel painting of Camano Island, the morning view from my studio on the east side of Whidbey Island, is just one more reason I can't help but put on my happy face when I open my eyes in the morning.  From where I stand, each day is a day to look forward to and that makes my smile
Sandy Byers
Age: 53
"Waking up"
Soft Pastel 11"x 14"
November 2008

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Loriann Signori "Hope and Longing"

After spending two weeks with this beautiful field, including time spent talking the men with the big lawn mowers from mowing it down, I had an idea.  I took all my small paintings back to the studio to begin a big studio painting.  For me, a studio painting is a very different experience from a plein air painting.  The concept is strong and the image is no longer present.  It really is an entirely different process.  
This one was for my Mom who died ten years ago.  I began this painting on her birthday.  Her favorite arias played in the background.  When I first had the idea, I thought it would be about the emotion of 'longing'.  Longing for my Mom's presence.  But, leave it to 'hope'.  Out of the Pandora's box she jumped again and inserted herself into the painting.  So now it is about hope...hope for the future and the beauty of the past.  I guess that is the human state.
Loriann Signori
Age 52
"Hope and Longing"
Pastel and Oil on board 21" x 28"
August,  2008