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Portland Art Center presents:

The Family Dynamic
A family exhibition featuring large scale paintings by Portland Open Studios artist Lorna Nakell, sculptures by her husband Noah Nakell, oil paintings by Noah’s mother Susan Sumimoto, and photographs by his stepfather Chuck Nakell

Sept 6th – Sept 28th, 2007
Portland Art Center
32 NW 5th Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97209

Opening reception Sept 6th, 6 – 10pm

We asked Lorna to tell us a little bit about her working process, and this is what she says:

More Paint – More Water
by Lorna Nakell

Since starting in my new direction as an abstract painter about two years ago, I have gone from creating 22”x30” watercolor and mixed media paintings on paper to making these new 8’ x 12’ acrylic and mixed media paintings on canvas. The change of size and medium has been a challenge, but a rewarding one. Below is a description of my painting process:

My canvases are custom built. After they have been delivered to my studio, they are laid flat on the floor where they receive one coat of gesso and one coat of Golden’s absorbent ground. When they are fully dried, they are leaned upright against the wall where I begin to sketch out the design with pencil. Then charcoal stick is used to develop the lines and shapes creating the final under-drawing.

When the drawing is completed, canvases are laid back on the floor where they are dampened with water from a spray bottle. I then apply colored inks with a dropper and thinned acrylic paint in carefully placed splatters and drips. I alternate applying ink and paint careful to keep the surface constantly wet until the desired colors and blends are achieved. The wet canvases are then lifted carefully to allow the colors to run together in a slightly controlled fashion. Although some aspects of this background process are controlled, the paint tends to have a mind of its own, pooling together in unexpected ways. I never know exactly what it will look like until the entire surface has dried.

When the canvases have dried, they are leaned back against the wall where they are sealed with a fluid coat of acrylic medium to prevent the charcoal from rubbing off. After the medium has dried, the surfaces are ready for me to add painterly shapes and forms with acrylic paint, sparkly shapes with mica or glitter and other layers with tinted acrylic resin. Because my work is so process oriented, even though I might begin with a plan for each painting, I end up having to spontaneously work with the effects created by each step. This is exciting to me because it leads to surprising results. Only when all the colors and shapes seem to balance out and an overall mood is achieved do I consider a painting done. When finished, each painting receives a protective coat of varnish.

Lorna working in her studio

Above, Lorna working in her studio.

To find out more about the Portland Art Center, see http://www.portlandart.org/.

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Portland Open Studios artist Linda Womack met with a reporter for an upcoming article about her and her work. Below is Linda’s write-up about her preparations to meet the press, “reprinted” here with her permission from her blog http://embracingencaustic.wordpress.com where you can see the original article along with images. You can see more of Linda’s work on her web site at http://www.lindawomack.com/.

My Closeup
by Linda Womack

OK, so it wasn’t on film at all but I did get up close and personal with a local reporter. Yesterday I met with Josephine Bridges who writes for numerous papers including a local favorite that covers my neighborhood: The Southeast Examiner. Josephine is writing a story on four Portland Open Studios artists who work with unusual materials, and our resident publicity hound, Bonnie Meltzer, put her in touch with me.

Josephine and I had met before, but last time I was doing demos in my dining room so she was very excited to see my new studio and all of my new work. I was nervous because I don’t usually get to talk with reporters — they usually review my work without any interaction from me — but she put me right at ease. We just sat and had a conversation as if she just stopped in for tea and the time flew by. Of course I did my homework beforehand and had a press kit ready. I haven’t made too many of those either but it’s easy to find advice online on what to include.

My press kit included:

  • A copy of my resume
  • My art statement
  • My two latest press releases (about the HGTV show and my solo show at City Hall)
  • A sheet titled “What is Encaustic?” so she can write knowledgeably about my technique without having to do any additional research
  • Two promotional post cards with images on my work on them, one with a sticker announcing upcoming shows.
  • Two business cards (Someone once told me to always include two so they can give one to a friend or have one at the office and one at home)
  • A CD with high resolution images of 5 recent paintings, an image list with titles and sizes, 2 images of me with my work, 2 images from my book (Embracing Encaustic). After looking over the book she was so enthusiastic that I gave her a copy of that too!
  • What I forgot: Copies of previous press clips (duh!) and a class schedule. It turns out that she wants to take a class!

Josephine was pleasantly surprised when I gave her the folder containing my press kit. Hopefully it will make it that much easier for her to use one of my images in the story. I shamelessly pointed out that I haven’t even done a press release on the book yet, so it’s something she might consider for another story. It seems like it could have a good DIY angle.

She did ask one question that I hadn’t had before: “What’s the one thing you want people to know about your work?” This is a great question! I told her that all the technical aspects of encaustic tend to scare some people off and they should know that it’s really not that hard to get started if you just know a few basic techniques.

Look for the article in the October issue of The Southeast Examiner.

From art to geology and back to art again, Ming Wei‘s life has straddle two fields that, at first glance, seem opposite to each other — ink brush painting and the study of earth’s structure and substance. But before long, you will see that in each, Ming has been conducting a dialog with nature, coming to an understanding of the spirit of the landscape through his study of geology, and then expressing that understanding through his art.

Since immigrating to the Pacific Northwest in 2004 to be with his daughter Susan, Ming has discovered the landscape of the region, going out with a plein air painting group to make impressionistic sketches and finished compositions at places such as Multmomah Falls, and then returning to the studio to paint from memories of the visits. As Ming explains, xuxu-shishi, the contrast between the imagined vs. the real, is an important quality in Chinese painting. Through his plein air painting and studio work, Ming has been able to examine and express both the real and the imagined.

Below, a view of Ming’s studio.

studio wall

While he has immersed himself in the environment of his new home, he continues to work with tools and materials that his daughter brings back from China during her many business trips — brushes made from wolf’s hair (prized for its springiness) and sheep’s hair (prized for its absorbency), xuan paper (also spelled shuen), both in ‘raw’ and ‘cooked’ forms. The different brushes and different papers are used for different styles of painting and calligraphy. Ming practices both the gongbi and the xieyi styles of painting. To someone who is not a practitioner, the two styles can be roughly distinguished as ‘realistic’ (gongbi) vs. ‘impressionistic’ (xieyi). Ming gives a more nuanced explanation of the two:

Xieyi (literally ‘writing ideas’) — brushwork of the Southern school, supple in general appearance, but the individual storkes are firm. Paintings in this style are typically signed by the artist as ‘written by.’

Gongbi (literally ‘fine brushwork’) — style of the Northern school, it is the opposite of xieyi — the individual strokes are supple, but the overall appearance is firm. Artists sign gongbi paintings as ‘made by.’

Below, Ming at this work table, with a few of his plein air sketches.

ming wei at this studio

Just as Ming has lived and worked as both scientist and artist, and his art has spanned both the Southern and Northern schools, his subject matter also crosses boundaries. From landscapes to flora & fauna, Ming combines the observation skills of a scientist with the sensitivity of an artist to depict the xuxu-shishi view of the world around us.

During Portland Open Studios, Ming will be assisted by his daughter Susan, a clothing and textiles engineer. Susan is a gracious host and capable translator who clearly adores her talented father. To witness their warm and loving interactions with each other is an added bonus for any visitor to Ming’s studio.

After Portland Open Studios, Ming has two more exhibits coming up — one March through May and another in August, both 2008. To find out more about these and other coming events, please see Ming’s blog at http://www.mingxwei.blogspot.com.

The Hoffman Gallery at Oregon College of Art & Craft presents:

2007 Craft Biennial
Featuring fine handmade work of the Pacific Northwest, including the paper mosaics of Portland Open Studios artists Mary Wells

August 2 – September 27, 2007
Oregon College of Art & Craft
Hoffman Gallery
8245 SW Barnes Road
Portland, OR 97225

Please also join Mary and other OCAC alumni at the Century Celebration
Art show & sale, live entertainment, free food & beverage
Oregon College of Art & Craft campus
11am – 4pm, Saturday, September 22, 2007

Mary Wells has been exhibiting widely in the past few years and receiving recognition for her work. She has garnered an impressive list of awards:

2007 Merit Award, 2007 Craft Biennial
Hoffman Gallery, Oregon College of Art & Craft, Portland, Oregon
2007 Popular Opinion Artist’s Award, Oregon Visions
ArtCentric, Corvallis, Oregon
2006 Curator’s Choice Award, Parts and Pieces
ArtCentric, Corvallis, Oregon
2006 First Place Mixed Media, Visual Arts Showcase
Beaverton, Oregon

Mary works her paper magic in a light filled main floor studio cum gallery space. Although she’s best known for her paper mosaics — which she has been making since she was a late teen — she’s a versatile artist, trained in both painting and book arts from the Oregon College of Art & Craft. Her studio is well organized to accommodate her many talents, and is a reflection of what is apparent in Mary’s work — fine craftsmanship and elegant simplicity.

To create her award winning mosaics, Mary starts with a well composed image. This can be a photograph, an historic image, or something that she conjures up from her imagination. From there, she prepares her ‘medium’ — searching through discarded paintings, calendars, or magazines (Architectural Digest being a favorite, for the fine quality paper and printing) for the right colors, textures, and imagery for the particular piece.

A long horizontal scroll that hangs in her studio depicts an abstract slice of the American landscape from coast to coast, based on her memories of her many cross country journeys. It was created from Mary’s discarded paintings. The scroll was part of her thesis project that also included painting and artist’s books.

studio view

Above, a portion of the scroll, paintings, and artist’s books from Mary’s thesis project.

A small copy of an historic image of Haystack sits on her desk, next to some small brushes, a bottle of glue, and a pair of scissors, all tools of her craft. An old Ansel Adams calendar will soon be cut into pieces about 1/8″ high and 1/3″ wide, and from this confetti, the haystack image will be reconstructed.

Below, Mary’s work table, all set up to work on her new mosaic.

mary’s work table

Mary’s work has been impressing jurors and audiences through out Oregon. When you visit, don’t forget to bring your glasses!

For more information about Oregon College of Art & Craft, please go to http://ocac.edu/.

To see more of Mary’s work, please go to http://marywells.net/.

Columbia River Gallery presents:

Local Oil Landscapes by
Karen E. Lewis

August 3 – 31, 2007
Columbia River Gallery
305 E Columbia R. Highway
Troutdale, OR

First Friday Artwalk August 3, 5-9

Below, Just Around the River Bend, oil on canvas, by Karen E. Lewis.

just around the river bend

We asked Karen to talk a little about her work, and here’s what she says:

Gathering landscape material is my first step. I find inspiration on hikes and canoe trips, and painting en plein air in favorite places. I sketch directly on small (12 x 9) canvas, using a limited palette to mix all the colors I see. Painting on location forces me to simplify, distilling the scene into its most important elements, because within two hours, the light will have changed dramatically.

Although I take many photographs, my strongest impressions come from the plein air painting. Being there, my eye sees what the camera cannot. Time after time, I’ve painted a scene, putting in colors and shades that I saw. Bringing home sketch and photographs, I find that the camera faithfully recorded detailed shapes–the angles of a building, the multiple leaves on the trees–but all the colors seem to have averaged out into a mere approximation of the sensations I experienced. Being there, you notice the warms within cool shadows, the cools at the tops of trees, the dancing colors in the water. You notice the color of the sky. As you continue to look, you become aware of atmosphere, of a hint of breeze. You put these into the sky, and it becomes more sky-alive.

In the studio, these on-location paintings expand into larger works. Searching through my photos and sketches, I select and design new compositions, using my imagination to freely change the design. I manipulate the digital photographs on the computer, expanding parts, creating composites, emphasizing certain colors, de-emphasizing others. The palette of the plein-air sketch informs the studio choices. On my palette in the studio, I enrich colors even further, juxtapose contrasting hues to enhance atmosphere and mood.

The new composition goes onto the canvas in brush-painted lines, with sketchy shading for the darks. Then I can evaluate the light and dark pattern one last time before I begin actual painting. Each painting develops in a slightly different way. Sometimes I cover the entire canvas alla prima, incorporating all the color and texture the first time around. Other paintings build in layers, enabling me to separate complements and create rougher textures.

My favorite subjects are rivers, lakes, waterfalls, clouds, any form of water.

Karen’s studio will be open October 20-21 through Portland Open Studios, where you can see more of her work and artistic process.

For more information about Columbia River Gallery, see http://www.columbiarivergallery.com.

To see more of Karen’s work and learn about her classes, see http://www.karenlewisstudio.com.