Benefit shows for Laura Dragon; Upcoming Events, Ongoing work

“Hoot!” Acrylic on panel, 12×12 in, done with permission of photographers Archie and Connie Tucker for the ‘Derivatives’ show at the Herberger AZ Center. SOLD

“Hoot” is one of a few paintings I contributed to two benefit art shows to help local gallery owner Laura Dragon who was diagnosed with state 4 cancer this year. The art community quickly rallied to help Laura, as she is an art icon here who has helped many local artists elevate their careers. To show at her venue, {9} The Gallery, has been an honor and an achievement for so many of us. Laura has also gone to Art Bazel in Miami and taken some local artists work with her to great success.

The first event was at the Icehouse in May this year, and the 2nd was in June at {9}. I contributed four paintings and know for sure 3 sold, not sure yet if the 4th has. I was a bit out of commission this month due to my back going out so didn’t get to stay long at any of the art shows, but I did see the first 3 pictured here sold.

“Her Bird,” Acrylic on canvas panel, 10×8 in, SOLD

“His Birds,” Acrylic on canvas panel, 10×8 in., SOLD

“Just Add Worms” is the one I’m not sure yet if it sold.

“Just Add Worms,” Acrylic on canvas panel, 10×10 in., at {9} The Gallery until mid June, have not yet confirmed if it sold or not during the reception.

COMING UP

“Pullet” Acrylic on panel, 9×12 in, unframed so far, $200

“Cockerel,” Acrylic on panel, 9 x 12 in., unframed so far, $200

Two new pieces portray young chickens, at that stage between chick and adult, what we’d think of as teenagers or maybe even tweens. This is a really sweet stage of their growth as they start to get tiny little combs and have all their grown up feathers and are trying to cluck and crow.

The work table is spread with piles of doodles and drawings, words cut out from newspapers, as well as some vintage maps, magazines, and other found treasures. These will be assembled into collages and mixed media pieces over the summer. I have a few paintings that haven’t been shown yet, some not finished yet, and some thrift store finds that will get makeovers as soon as the idea of what to do to them strikes.

Last month, while my husband was at Heat Sync, a “maker space” for computer, electronic, and robotic stuff in Mesa, I spent the afternoon looking at the beautiful shows at the Mesa Arts Center, and then perused several antique stores close by. Though I usually prefer thrift store prices, I did find a vintage toy whose head is now part of a sculpture in progress. Happy to say Gorilla Glue worked very well to adhere the old vinyl to an empty plastic juice bottle that will be its new body. For some reason when I first started using Gorilla Glue it either didn’t suggest to mist the surfaces with water, or I missed it, but that really does help and the directions do say it now. I forgot that and had to poke a hole in the juice bottle and awkwardly spray some water in there, which did cause the glue to start to expand and do its thing. Had it not worked right I could easily have just reglued it, but it did work very well even with the water as an afterthought. Then, I had to poke another hole so it’d dry out, which it quickly did in our arid climate. Under so many pieces of art, there is a “Crap! I forgot to…”

In July, the women’s painting group I’m in, Ladies Who Paint, is having a group show on their wall space at the Artery, 7th Street and Indian School, Phoenix. The gallery also goes by Studio 6, referring to the artists whose studios are in the same building. The theme is “heat.” I don’t have any existing pieces on that theme that are small enough so I’ll be keeping that in mind as I assemble collages in June. Then in Nov, I and Nancy Romanovsky will be sharing our group’s Artery space, no particular theme yet, but they will probably be small pieces. Nancy does beautiful landscapes!

I have not forgotten the plan to do a sequel to last year’s solo show (“Fatal Farm”), but it’s not going to be this year. There’s a growing stack of ideas hastily written or sketched. Just not sure yet what direction it’ll take. I have a couple of artist friends whose work also takes a political or environmental theme, and am not ruling out doing it as part of a broader topic as a two or three person show. Angst over the current administration after last year’s election has impacted what I make. Sometimes I start a political piece and can’t stand to look at it anymore so it doesn’t get finished. I have a feeling that will affect my art for some time going forward. A few pieces have emerged just for fun such as the Pullet and Cockerel portraits though!

Things come up, especially group shows, and I’ll share details as they happen.

Have a great summer!

Plein Air at Papago Park

Mixed media plein air study, Papago Park, March 2017

Much better experience with plein air the second time out! A friend and I went to Papago Park in Phoenix in March, and fought high winds to paint the rounded red rocks and desert scenery that is next to the Phoenix Zoo, as well as the Botanical Gardens. At some point it just got too windy, our stuff was flying all over, but we each did some work. I did two and this was the better of them. Here’s some of the scenery:

“Hole in the rock” is a popular urban hiking trail.

We may revisit this spot another time, where we can see the hole from our painting vantage point. We were off to the side of it this time. I haven’t climbed up to the hole since I was in my teens or maybe early 20’s, but want to check it out again next time.

Panoramic shot of Papago Park.

The little painting was done on a SOHO cardboard painting panel (8×10 in.) that I had coated with thinned down white gesso days before. I wanted the surface to have a little “tooth” because I wasn’t sure in advance if I’d just draw, or mix painting and drawing. This ended up being done with acrylic paint watered down a bit to be more like a watercolor wash, (leaves the surface’s tooth intact), and Inktense colored pencil, (any dark shade should do; I used “bark”). This was a very limited palette of SOHO alizarin crimson, and one of SOHO’s light yellows comparable to cad yellow light, and Golden ultramarine blue, and some kind of sap green I think but didn’t really need it. I also didn’t end up using much of the manganese blue I’d taken.

I painted very quickly and loosely, going for big general shapes and blocks of light and shadow. After the last time at Brown’s Ranch, where I had “information overload” from all the details to see, I had vowed to take off my glasses if necessary, to filter out the noise and just go for the basics!

The Inktense pencil was great for roughly sketching in some of the branchy marks where there were trees and bushes, and I just blobbed some mixed greens where the bulk of the tree forms were in the foreground. Inktense is a richly pigmented water soluble colored pencil brand. With a wet brush you can get ink and wash like effects or tone underpainted washes, besides doing line work.

The sky changed so fast that I didn’t focus on any particular clouds but just put grayish, blue, or white, where I wanted it and didn’t worry about it. Using the paint both transparently, and opaquely, I was able to alter things a bit if I didn’t like it as it went along.

By the end, the whole surface was still pretty toothy and I could’ve continued working on it at home, even with pencils, but decided to just keep it as is and move on. It’s the first plein air study I’m satisfied with, so far.

Because I wasn’t sure if the Inktense would smear, I didn’t seal this with brushed on acrylic like GAC 100 like I normally do with paintings. A spray was called for so I used an archival aerosol satin varnish. I don’t like using that kind of product because of the chemical solvents etc, so a can of it lasts me a LONG time. Now it’s almost gone, so I’ll seek out a more environmentally friendly version soon.

Anyone have any favorite less-toxic spray finishes?

Papago isn’t far from where I live so future trips are pretty likely.

Available works; Shows; Plein Air trip

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“Birds Eating Birds” (Still available from my Fatal Farm solo show in fall 2016.) Acrylic on panel, 11×14 in., $250 © Cindy Schnackel 2016

You can see paintings and sculptures still available, as well as details like size, medium, and price, on my  Current Inventory page. (Note: Fatal Farm show pieces are linked on that page as there were so many!) If you’re in the area, and want to see pieces in person, and the tiny drawings etc, that often don’t get posted online, contact me about a Studio Visit! (artbycindy at Live dot com)

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Commissioned portrait, acrylic, 16 x 20 in. © Cindy Schnackel 2016

I also do Commissions, occasionally. If I don’t think I’m the right artist for your request I’ll just tell you up front; that way neither of us has to be disappointed! So far, bird portraits are what I’ve been doing as commissions and it has been working out well! I’m open to other subjects.

SHOWING RIGHT NOW

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“Love Birds,” 1 through 4, mixed media, each 6 x 6 in., $90 each, at The Artery thru Feb 2017. © Cindy Schnackel 2017

I have four small bird paintings in The Artery, 625 E. Indian School in February. There was a nice crowd at the opening for First Friday in Feb. This gallery is normally only open during art walk nights or by appointment, (602) 997-9339. Artery (aka Studio 6) Gallery Facebook page

See Previous Post for more info on how the Love Birds were made and other details.

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Not a lot of these left, but those that are, are at {9} The Gallery, in Phoenix! Miniatures, mixed media, most priced at $45, some cube shaped and sit on a shelf, others hang. © Cindy Schnackel 2016

Also, I still have work in the gift shop area of {9} The Gallery, 1229 Grand Ave., Phoenix, AZ. If you don’t find them, ask. They are tiny, and things get moved around depending on the current show. Usually, they’re on a shelf; feel free to ask the gallery if they have others not on display. http://9thegallery.com/

Two things are penciled in for March, the Icehouse in Phoenix during Art Detour, and the same time frame, the Mutant Pinata show at Chartreuse, also in Phoenix. Details TBA when I know more.

 

PLEIN AIR TRIP, FEB 2017

 

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Cholla cactus, backlit, photographed as we were leaving the ranch, in late afternoon light.

Last week, I went on my first plein air painting trip! It was good just to get out of the city, even though the spot, Brown’s Ranch, is just a few miles NE of the Valley. I was surprised it seemed as dry and subdued looking as it did, because we’d had pretty good winter rains. Maybe it’s just enough higher than the Valley that things haven’t started to pop yet. I took quite a few reference photos that should come in handy for general desert backgrounds where a giant creature, or errant animated tea pot, happens to be tromping through.

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My awful first plein air “painting.” Must ignore overwhelming details next time!

The term “editing” came to mind when I tried to start painting. My eyes saw every blade of grass, every bit of gravel, thorn, leaf, and rock. I had a really hard time just seeing the basic shapes and making my hand obey, which is not something I normally have difficulty with when I’m in my own little world. It was truly an example of how a person has to be willing to fall on their face to get where they want to go.

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Panoramic shot of Brown’s Ranch, NE of Scottsdale, AZ.

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The rocks looked smooth from a distance but were quite rough up close. You wouldn’t want to slide down one of these rocks on your butt!

 

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Close up of saguaro cactus ribs and thorns.

I had previously worked out a very limited palette so I wouldn’t have to take many tubes of paint. In the end, I also did as many artists do, and added a warmer or cooler version of each ‘primary’ just in case. Plus white and black, but I never got around to using everything. I did kind of miss my favorite colors from home, so since paints didn’t really take up that much room I may add them at some point, (transparent red and yellow iron oxides, and green gold maybe), and perhaps leave home one or two colors I didn’t use much. My stay-wet palette was about like it is at home when I paint out on the patio. It bought me a few minutes of time, but not a miracle worker. I may switch to Golden’s “Open” version, (slower drying paint) just for the plein air kit, but right now I’ll use up what I have. I did take Open mediums and used them and it helped some. When I wanted something to dry instantly, setting it in the sun for a few minutes accomplished that.

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Acrylic paint brands really differed in Alizarin Crimson, but SOHO’s made a good red in this very limited color palette.

What took up room and added weight was water, for drinking and painting. I poured my dirty paint water into an empty bottle at the end of the day and took it back home to dispose of. I didn’t see anyplace there that looked like it’d be ok to dispose of it at the ranch, and would expect that to be the case just about anywhere.

Everything carried pretty well in a small rolling cart: rags, plastic bags for wet things, a small mister bottle of water, sun hat. I took two packs of SOHO cardboard painting panels in 8×10 in size. These worked really well, didn’t warp, and were cheap. A lightweight piece of cardboard, rolled into a cone and secured with rubber bands, kept my brush heads from getting mashed in the cart. The inexpensive travel easel I got worked just great. We were lucky that there was no wind. If it had been windy I’d have probably sat on the ground and held the painting panel in my lap.

Some of my mural/’primitive’ location painting tips came back to me so it looked like I was really organized but it was an illusion. I will do a few things differently next time. Also, I should have brought healthy snacks as my food for the entire day ended up being chips and stuff purchased while waiting for buses. Somehow, “food” entirely escaped my mind until I was well away from home.

All in all, it was a challenging and different experience, and that’s exactly what I was after. I also took up one non art related thing this year, archery. If I could take a selfie of myself shooting an arrow, I’d show you a picture of that, too.

New Colors; Limited Palette; Comments?

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Photoshop Elements doodle, Cindy Schnackel. Gradient tool, brush tool, ‘plastic wrap’ filter.

NEW COLORS

There are some “super-colors” out now, that are more intense than traditional pigments. Availability ranges from No Way, to Out of Stock, so I’ve not tried them, but am curious!

The first is Vantablack , which only one artist, Anish Kapoor, has access to. It is so dark that it makes anything painted with it appear as a black hole, (so I’ve read). Something about nanotubes…

Around the same time as Vantablack hit the news, we learned there was a new blue that was more intense than all others,  YInMn Blue (possibly even more intense that Klein Blue ?). YInmn blue is made with a new process, too, and from some rare minerals. [Edited to add I happened to run across a paint brand that might be offering Yin Min Blue pigment powder eventually: http://www.derivan.com.au/derivan-products/yin-min-blue.html Derivan makes Matisse acrylic paint.]

Recently, I read about the “Pinkest Pink” on Blouin Art Info about artist Stuart Semple’s fluorescent pigments. The artist’s site also offers green, yellow, and a glass glitter. These are available to everyone EXCEPT Kapoor. Though I don’t know if Semple actually expects to enforce the disclaimer that you are not Kapoor, and won’t supply Kapoor with the pigment, it is an interesting statement about Kapoor’s exclusive use of Vantablack.

An artist I know locally has said he has some of the Pinkest Pink and that it is really intense. I’m anxious to see what he does with it. In the meantime, the price is not bad, so I plan to try it when it’s in stock again.

One wonders how different these new colors really are, or if photos online do them justice. It’d be great to see works in person that were created with them, and fun if we could try them out. Seems like they’d be best for artists who use large fields of more or less unsullied color. My work might not show them off to their best advantage, however, artists are inspired by new things, and I could see finding a way to use them.

Do you think you’d like to try these? If you did, would you feel like no other black, blue or pink would satisfy you anymore?

COMMENTS?

I’d love to know what you think about the new colors, so tried to turn Comments back on, but they are not showing up! I’ve been through my dashboard settings for discussion/comments etc, with a fine tooth comb, and checked or unchecked all the appropriate boxes, (the same places I was in when I turned comments OFF a few weeks ago). Still, no Comment option appears on new posts like it should. It says I can turn comments on or off on each post, too, but there’s no option to do that while creating or editing posts, that I can find.

[Edited, the old format apparently wasn’t supporting making changes, but I dared to click the new improved editor and that does have a way to turn on comments on individual posts. Still working on figuring out why turning them back on for everything wasn’t working.]

Of course, no one can leave any thoughts on that, either, because the Comments do not work.

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LIMITED PALETTE

Deciding to go out plein air painting later this month required thinking about a limited palette again, so I don’t have to carry as many paint tubes. (I didn’t want to include fluid acrylics as the lids can pop open.) Away from the house, I didn’t want to be thinking, “Damn, I wish I’d brought _______.”

Often, when painting at home, I end up using a palette that’d be considered “limited,” but the particular colors vary from piece to piece. I like having a lot to choose from. Some become favorites and are in most paintings, like ultramarine blue, whichever yellow makes sense at the time, and red iron oxide. I can always grab a brighter red, or a premixed purple or green, or a cerulean blue if need be. I prefer to mix greens, though Green Gold is a favorite premixed green.

After doing some research on plein air sites about what colors regular plein air painters take with them, there was not just one answer, but quite a few sites/artists mentioned the ones in the photo. They are SOHO’s Alizaron Crimson, Golden’s Ultramarine Blue, and Derivan Matisse Flow Primary Yellow, (which was the closest yellow I had in a tube form to the cadmium light or lemon yellow some plein air sites suggested).  This worked very well to make secondary colors plus a functional “black,” and a range of browns. I’ll also take titanium white.

We’ll be painting in the desert most likely, and there is a lot of color there. By the time our winter rains have made the spring flowers bloom, it will be a riot of color in some areas. The rest of the time, the desert still has plenty of rusty reds, purples, and dusky greens, plus usually brilliant blue sky.

As for an actual palette, I have a Stay Wet plastic kind with a sponge and special paper, but it’s large. I might just take plastic lids from food containers and pitch them in recycling when I get home. I will already have to carry water for painting and drinking, and at least a cursory brush washing, so the Stay Wet Palette may be too cumbersome. We shall see.

I have Golden’s Open gel, so the paint will not dry quite so fast. Wasn’t quite willing to start a whole new kit with Open colors, but maybe if drying is too fast and a problem out there, I might eventually switch over, at least for tube colors.

Some good finds:

A decent tripod type easel for only $20! While the wooden French easels with space for supplies are very tempting, they were kind of expensive for an activity I haven’t even tried yet. And heavy…most were made of wood.

A small, lightweight cart to carry everything, and even if I never use it for art again, it is a stand in for my “old lady cart” when the wheels finally fall off. The new cart has bigger, rubbery wheels, than than my old cart which is only made for use on paved surfaces.

Greed & Envy; Hummingbird; Tiny Works show in Dec.

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A timeless theme!

Greed & Envy was done 5 years ago, with some pieces about timeless human situations. Recently, something reminded me about these closely related emotions.

Greed is usually thought of as an insatiable desire to acquire more and more, and viewed as a problem when it harms others. Who cares if a person ‘greedily’ hoards bottle caps!? But if they engage in crime, it matters, and then it’s everyone’s business. We have laws curtailing unbridled and harmful forms of greed, like theft, fraud, or violence, uncivilized activities which work against the public good.

Envy can be like Greed, because the envious also want something, whether or not they need it. Envy grows darker when it’s about someone they think has it better, lusting after another’s spouse, or making the mistake of thinking people who worked honestly for something only got it arbitrarily through the vagaries of “luck.” It’s at its darkest when it crosses the line into harming others. Greed is often right there when that happens.

Envy can be Greed unfulfilled. Can Envy ever be sated? Can Greed? Is the difference that Greed has found a way to get what it wants, while Envy may not have (yet)?

If the envious aren’t informed and don’t know WHY they have this problem, they can become a shadow form of Greed, acting just as senselessly, and even dangerously. Both probably feel justified.

It’s not hopelessly broken. Not everyone who has stuff was greedy. Not everyone who doesn’t have stuff is envious. One can admire someone without envying them, and learn how to get what’s needed/wanted without making it at the expense of a victim.

Greed and Envy continue to battle it out like twins who do not get along. Civilization hasn’t yet entirely tamed them.

Well, that was deep (or not). Here’s some ‘funner’ stuff:

Update on a happy hummingbird painting I did by invitation of photographer Connie Tucker at the Herberger: it SOLD! I took the train downtown for the show opening and it was already gone, had been there only a day. Yay! Connie invited me to do another from her photos, for the Derivatives exhibit, and I’ve been looking thru her pictures and found many I’d be honored to paint from. Hopefully I’ll have time to do another by early Dec. (In older posts you can read about it, and one I did with her husband Archie, too.)

Tiny Works, a show of all miniatures, affordably priced, opens Friday, Dec 2nd, at {9} The Gallery, 1229 Grand Ave, Phoenix, AZ.

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Available at {9} The Gallery, Phoenix, Dec 2016

I have five small mixed media bird pieces in this. Everything in the show of 100 or so artists is small and priced affordably! Buyers can take their purchase with them right away. The walls are going to be loaded with little artworks! Get there early! If last year was any indication, things go fast. But artists may replace some sold items, not sure. Anyway it appears it’s going to be up most of the month. The gallery owner, Laura Dragon, is participating in a fancy art thing in Miami! That’s quite an honor for a gallery to get a spot there. http://9thegallery.com/

Some of the small pieces I had in 9’s gift shop sold recently, too, a miniature, and Pigeon in a Hoodie, (which was from my solo show there in Sept, ‘Fatal Farm).

Commissions: I have one or two in the pipeline and another will probably be underway by next week. These are all pet portraits of birds of people I’ve met through mutual connections and/or in the local art world. They will keep me busy if they all come through!

Another Gallery Closing in Phoenix

This is so sad. I’ve lost count of the galleries that have closed in the last few years. Chartreuse was very well respected, a must see destination on Grand Ave on first and third Friday art walk nights. We will miss gallerist Nancy Hill’s well chosen shows.

http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/arts/nancy-hill-to-close-chartreuse-gallery-on-grand-avenue-in-downtown-phoenix-8768120

Chartreuse is still open now, and will be through December.

The gallery is in the Bragg’s Pie Factory building. During earlier and current iterations of a gallery in the space, I had participated in some group shows there. Chartreuse is about a block from {9} The Gallery where I had a solo show this Sept.

It’ll be sad to walk Grand during art walks and not see Nancy’s shows after Dec. I hope that the space will be a gallery again after that. Galleries are all struggling, it seems. Even Scottsdale, the upper end of our art world here, has seen galleries close or move to Phoenix, scale back, or rent space. I may be doing a lot more sales from my studio if this keeps happening!

The Price of Art Supplies!

I won’t publish the photo of the painting panels that cost $134 for a pack of 10, 8×10 in., panels, it might not set well with the store or the brand.  The panels were double sided which, since they were marketed as handy for outdoor painting, could be ok. But what if both sides ended up being something you would sell? If they were only for studies, then there are much cheaper panels made of paper, or heck, why not repurpose something like cardboard coated with gesso? For keepers, two sided does not make sense. For disposables, expensive does not make sense. Nonetheless, it speaks to the fact we can’t sell our work for peanuts!

The other panels I looked at had suddenly jumped in price since I last bought a few for work I did this year. Small uncradled panels that used to cost me two-six dollars were now more like six to ten dollars. Cradled ones were insane! One brand of cradled panels in 8×8 in was about $25 and that was the “sale” price! I looked at the labels of at least three or four brands. One that had formerly been all American made now had  “Made in China” on it. So there goes any advantage to paying more for American made.

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My favorite brush cleaner, 24 oz tub, lasts me at least a year!

Usually, I wait until I get a coupon or there is a sale, to buy the large size or really expensive items. Michaels seems to be the only store that carries the large tub of my favorite brush cleaner. Even at half off with a coupon it’s not cheap, but it lasts a long time so over time it’s still economical. Last time I bought a tub, about a year ago, it was in the 20’s or 30s, now it is over $40. It’ll make me consider switching to a liquid that I bought some small bottles of to try, to see whether they are more economical, but I doubt they will be. The solid cake as in the picture has virtually no waste, an important factor in how economical it is to use. Also never evaporates or dries up and can’t spill!

Brushes have always been costly for good ones. Lately, the good ones seem to be of less quality though, making me consider cheaper ones. A number of ‘good’ brushes are also made in countries known for cheap junk. The heads wobble in the store; you know they won’t stay on long at home! Before quality and prices took their last jumps up/down, I had gotten a good varnishing brush. I can tell the construction is kind of shoddy but I’ll glue its head back on if it comes off. The brush itself is really nice, though.

Some of my brushes are from the 1980s! Some of those are still in great shape. I’ve taken good care of them. Any time I think I can’t get all the paint out, I leave the brush cleaning lather in it, shape the tip, and just leave it that way until I use it again. That seems to keep paint from drying permanently in the bristles if you have a tough one. Just rinse it out before you paint with it!

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Some of my brushes drying.

Other brushes, especially round ones that are supposed to have a nice sharp point, may not last long as the intended shape. I just go ahead and use them for scumbling or other rough uses. When they splay really badly, they make great ‘grass’ and ‘hair’ brushes, more random and natural looking IMO than the special effects brushes cut to do the same thing. (Top brush in photo above.)

The cheap replacement for it, (middle), has bristles that aren’t packed very tight, so paint can still be up in there no matter how carefully it’s cleaned. I leave the lather in it to try to keep it from becoming splayed.

Bottom brush is a favorite for applying isolation coats and top coats of acrylic medium, as its fine, soft bristles don’t leave marks and it holds a lot. The head is cheaply attached, but I’ve had good luck simply gorilla-gluing heads back on to brushes, so will do that if/when I have to.

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Green!

GREEN!

A women painters group I recently joined decided we all needed to challenge ourselves with the color green, since so many of us said it was our least favorite color. That prompted me to start something I’ve been putting off; making a sketchbook into a color mixing chart like I did years ago and foolishly threw away in one of my many moves. Just started today, with swatches of all the greens I had on hand. Next, I’ll do some mixing samples with other colors to make my own greens. And so on.

The little painting isn’t done yet, and not sure it’ll end up being my “Green Challenge” piece.

What are YOUR favorite or least favorite colors? Are there any premade greens you like or dislike? My favorite ready made green is Golden’s Green Gold. I have others on hand but that is one I would have a hard time living without. It’s quite transparent. Even though I don’t much like green, I like Green Gold. Sap Green is another I kind of like. And, to do the challenge, I made myself buy a small tube of Chrome Green, a color I haven’t bought since I did oils back in the 80s. I kind of like it, so far, but most of it has been covered up in the little painting.