Tag Archives: abstract

Sunday, 4/17/11: Thérèse Murdza

Thanks to guest writer Cameron Hawkey for today’s post.

Thérèse Murdza’s paintings remind me of whistling: light and playful, simple, yet unexpected; and like all good whistlers, her skill makes it look deceptively easy.

Her skill was quickly made apparent in our conversation: her knowledge of materials is considerable. “Golden acrylic paints have a high pigment load, which is why I water down the paints so much,” she says on the beginning stages of her painting. Sometimes she’ll just use the water from her brush bucket for especially soft effects. Not only does this let her feel out the form that her painting is going to take, it adds nuance as well. She tells me of a recent interview she listened to of Stephen King. “He doesn’t outline a book,” she said excitedly. “He just begins with a vague notion, and builds from there.”

In contrast to her painting, Thérèse likes to incorporate drawing into her work as well. “Drawing gives it a definition that painting doesn’t, and really, it’s just about the elemental nature of making marks,” she explained. Sometimes the pencil doesn’t make a strong enough line for her, and in those cases she uses Aquarelle watercolor crayons and watercolor pencils. They give her the flexibility of making strong marks along with being able to diffuse the line afterwards with a brush if it is too forceful. A dulled utility knife lets her subtract by scraping off the top layers of paint, and letting some of the layers beneath show through.

All the inventive line work adds a lot of physicality to her painting, but the spontaneous look belies the process. She works in the studio, exploring different methods of making marks and techniques, which she then will use later in her work.

The rhythmic nature of her painting owes to her background in music, which she says started at age 3, with an accordion. It should be no surprise, then, that after seeing her work one is left whistling a happy tune.

The last picture shows Thérèse’s piece at the end of the day Sunday.  We’ll post an update with a picture of her finished painting. UPDATE:  The final image shows Thérèse’s finished painting.

Click on thumbnails to see larger pictures.



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See the “An Artist A Day” exhibit live: First Friday, May 7

Muse Art and Design will be open until 8p.m. this Friday, May 7 for First Friday Eastside Gallery Openings.  For a map of other First Friday openings, check out firstfridayguide.com.

A few completed works are still coming in, but by Friday we should have all 30+ pieces from last month on the walls.  The latest to go up was Jason Kappus’ abstract in oils.  See a picture of his finished work at the end of the April 6 post.

Friday, 4/16/10: Amy Stoner

Thanks to guest writer Sally Murdoch King for today’s posting

Watching an encaustic artist work is almost like viewing a performance; there are all sorts of layers and vignettes that keep the process moving in bite-sized episodes. A few minutes of drying here, some scraping there, and you’ve got great entertainment. Watching someone as talented and patient as Amy Stoner is no exception. It’s easy to spot her predilection for teaching, too. On her afternoon of working the wax, she had a nice steady stream of spectators both inside and out. Each one who ventured inside asked questions, many jotted notes, and Amy answered with enthusiastic and articulate explanations.

Amy began her encaustic adventure 4 years ago. A printmaker with plentiful woodblock printmaking experience, she became tired of the regimentation of the process and editions. One day she took one of her woodblock prints and covered it with a clear wax. She immediately liked the effects the wax had over her acrylic paintings and woodblocks and began using pigmented waxes. Today, encaustic is her favorite medium because she can still make use of her first love: drawing, painting and prints. “I love working with all the art supplies,” she says while scraping away shapes with her ceramic carving tools. “Plus there’s so much you can do with wax.”

Amy moved to Oregon with her family at the age of 12. Now with a small family of her own that includes a toddler, finding time to work with wax is a juggling act. Mid afternoon while her little one is napping is often her best time to make art. She finds it easiest to turn on the wax to let it melt, put her daughter down and then go paint. Evenings are also a good time to find Amy working. She spends anywhere from 2 to 3 hours working on her encaustic projects and is largely self-taught. She gained her BFA in art from U of O in 1998 and has since taken courses from artist such as Jef Gunn at PNCA. She also teaches introductory and advanced encaustic courses in textures, patterns, painting and collaging with beeswax.

Today’s artwork began with a 12 x 16 panel. The first layer was pen and ink drawing. Then a clear coat of wax, then blocks of colored wax. Then she adhered her woodblock print with a small bit of glue. Then clear wax, then watercolors and gouache. She fuses the layers together with a torch to remove brushstrokes and air bubbles. She then scrapes back the wax to expose the vibrant orange hues, blacks and greens.

Amy’s artwork is largely influenced by propaganda prints from the 1920’s and 30’s. Her favorite artists include Frida Kahlo and art nouveau painter Alphonse Mucha as well as art, architecture and design from the Bauhaus and Arts and Crafts Movements.

Tuesday, 4/13/10: Linda Womack

Today our guest was encaustic artist, author, and teacher, Linda Womack.  Linda uses a variety of fascinating techniques in her multi-layered art and can effortlessly communicate about everything she is doing while she works.   Her skills as an artist and as a teacher always draw a crowd of people who are curious about the art of painting with beeswax.  Those who came to watch Linda work were treated to a full-afternoon demonstration packed with information.

Before she arrived today, Linda had prepared her wooden panel with a thick layer of joint compound which she had inscribed into and tinted with inks and watercolors.  She explained that the many layers of encaustic painting are difficult to build up in one afternoon, so the joint compound gave her a head start of color and texture that is also absorbent enough and tough enough to serve as a good foundation to hold the wax.

As she built up layers of colored wax paint and clear wax medium, Linda included some drawings in her layers that she had made using tissue paper and walnut ink.  The tissue paper disappeared into the wax, leaving the lines and colors of her drawings to blend into the layers.

In addition to adding colors with encaustic paint made of beeswax, damar resin, and pigment, Linda used india ink to heighten the contrast in certain parts of her painting.  Although water-based ink will not cover the wax solidly and evenly, the ink works almost as a stain when allowed to dry a bit and rubbed into the wax.

Linda’s finished piece is full of texture and translucent depth, qualities that really show off the unique properties of encaustic painting.

Sunday, 4/11/10: Carrie Hardison

Thanks to guest writer Cameron Hawkey for today’s post

The first thing I noticed about Carrie Hardison is the frenetic pace at which she paints. Turning her canvas around often, she flits from section to section like a hummingbird traveling from flower to flower. She works in acrylic, laying thin layers of paint down over and over again, letting her paint at the speed that she does. The looseness of the Graham acrylics she paints in serves her well – her preference for light washes would be more difficult with a heavy-body paint.

An art teacher at Centennial Middle School, Carrie is a warm energetic person that paints contemplative abstract landscapes. Perhaps dreamscapes would be more fitting. “It’s all about investigating color and shape, investigating mood,” she tells me. She starts off each painting by drawing a small value study, which lets her know where the contrast and value is going to be and allowing her to concentrate on the color while she paints. “I keep a simple subject matter that engages the viewer and lets them focus on the large planes of color fragments that develop from it.”

Carrie prefers to mix all her color from the primaries, adding earth tones with burnt or raw sienna. “I’m currently in love with the siennas,” she shares. “They’re just so rich.” Her canvas is a sloping landscape of cerulean and sky blue, of cobalt and ultramarine. The compliments of orange and sienna serves as a very stimulating contrast.

UPDATE: 4/13/10: The last image shows Carrie’s  finished piece.


Tuesday, 4/6/10: Jason Kappus

Jason is an oil painter who takes patterns and textures found in nature as a reference point and transforms them into abstract compositions of color and shape.  With a background in representational, realistic drawing, he brings an exacting eye for detail, color, shape and value to his work.  Starting with his own photographs of natural textures, he manipulates his images digitally until he has a contrast of lights and darks and a balance of shapes that appeal to his eye.  This is the reference and starting point for his painting.  Up to a certain point in the process, Jason recreates his digitally created images with paint, adding the most important element, color, to his shape-and-value studies.  As the painting progresses, he departs from his reference materials and lets his eye and aesthetic sense guide him.  His focus is always on creating a pleasing visual experience for the viewer.

Jason is most concerned with the visual effect his paintings have on the viewer, whether they respond to the colors, shapes, or overall combination of elements.  Whether viewers know exactly what the original visual references were and how the work evolved is not important.  He says that viewers sometimes have their own ideas of imagery that they see in his work, but he does not attach specific pictorial meaning or symbolism to the shapes or colors he uses.

Oil colors are the medium that Jason has become most comfortable with for this style of painting.  He says that working with oil makes the process take longer since he has to wait to let layers dry before he can proceed, but that time also allows him to respond to the work so far and let the work develop visually in a personal and thoughtful way.

Jason brought a sample today that shows some of the stages his paintings follow, from line drawings, to blocking colors in, to the glazes and layers that add richness of color and depth to his work.

Wednesday, April 30: Greg Delapaix

Quite by chance, our last artist of the month painted an abstract piece with acrylics, as did the very first artist this month.
Today, Greg Delapaix built his composition starting with large, angular blocks of color.  Even in the early stages of his work, Greg sat back from his piece to consider how the elements worked together to develop his overall composition.  After he had covered his surface with a first layer of bright, interlocking shapes, Greg took a break from his canvas and went to his sketchbook to work out the details of his next steps.  He proceeded with laying in white curved lines on his canvas that cut across his initial shapes.  Within these lines, he used white to make lighter versions of the colors on his canvas, creating an overlapping effect with the new lighter shapes.
The final stage of Greg’s painting was to place branching structures of fine blue lines into the lighter areas of his composition.  These smaller elements contrast with the flowing lighter shapes that they are placed within, yet their straight lines seem to relate to the angularity of the larger brightly colored shapes.

Thanks to Greg for capping off a month of live art making, and to all our artists this month for contributing their time and talent to this project!  Works will be on display for two more weeks.  The auction to raise funds for art supplies in schools will continue through our reception on the evening of Friday, May 15.