July 30, 2013

Beach Inspired Abstract III

Tangles in the Sky - Tracy Feldman, 14 x 11" watercolor,
pen, and acrylic on canvas
This is the third in my series of beach-inspired abstracts.  I love seeing people fly kites above the sea on a sunny day.

The  independent little kites in Tangles in the Sky are inspired those kites; but in my imagining of them, they are soaring on their own, enjoying the day as they see fit.  

 Like with Zentangles Down to the Beach, my addition of Zentangles as an element in the sun -- as well as on the kites communicates adds a surreal element to the scene -- as does my choice not to include the kite strings.

I hope you enjoy this piece,  and look forward to hearing what you think.  Like with the other small paintings I show on this site, you will be able to buy this piece for a bargain at auction on from my gallery on the paintworks.com website.  If it doesn't sell on auction there, it will go on the "small works page of my website -- where it will sell for my normal asking price.

July 25, 2013

Dipping Into and Out Of Abstraction -- Part 3

Dipping Into and Out Of Abstraction -- Part 3

Although I was selling some work doing the Dailypaintworks paintings, by the end of 2012, I really felt that if I wanted to grow as an artist, I probably should dip my toe back into doing abstraction. And, I fortunately found out that Franklin and Marshall College's   art department was teaching an abstract painting class that I could sit in.  The teacher was, Jun Cheng Liu, a wonderful painter, whose normal painting style is, like mine, grounded in realism. In fact, Jun Cheng's normal painting style is trompe l'oeil -- which Wikipedia describes as "realistic imagery to create the optical illusion that depicted objects 
Me, Jun Cheng and another painter friend,  Jean Scharf
at an show of mine at Mulberry Studios, Lancaster
exist in three dimensions".  Jun Cheng is of the school of trompe l'oeil painters that work on canvas or panel, as opposed to being a muralist.  Jun Cheng doesn't have his own website, but click here,  trompe l'oeil,  to see AskArt's page on trompe l'oeil painting  -- which has some excellent examples of  such works.   

 I loved the idea that I'd be sitting in on the first abstract painting class taught by a realist.  It seemed to me that his efforts to wrap his head around abstraction, so he could teach the course, would help me.  I hoped his insights would help me push past my own realism-grounded parameters. I wasn't disappointed.  He began the course by having us examine on the computer examples of works by famous abstract painters and then use whatever inspired us as a jumping off point for our work.  He talked with us about what he believed made non-representational works compelling to viewers: that they were produced in an effort to communicate something -- a message, and idea, whatever.  

Triptych in Time by Tracy Feldman, acylic on canvas,  14 x 33"
Although I normally have something I'm wanting to communicate/to explore when I do my representational work, it was hard for me to get inspired at first.  Here's an example of my first attempt at integrating what I had observed about abstract art since the last time I dipped my toe into abstraction, and what I was learning in class.

In this piece, I  incorporated the written word, and also worked to push beyond my normal two dimensional plane by using string to attach objects within the work.  This is a technique that Jasper Johns used repeatedly.  The quotes I used were ones that have been important to me as I've worked to free myself from the addiction of compulsive eating.  It is a small triptych with a different color scheme for the background of each panel, designed to communicate different time periods.  I was too timid with my use of the string (notice it disappears against the background)  and I struggled to have the words stand out from the background. When my website is updated, you can go to my A&R (addiction and recovery series) to see how I worked out these issues.  To be continued ...

Beach Inspired Abstract 2

Umbrellas in the Sky by Tracy Feldman, 11 x 14",
acrylic on canvas

Umbrellas in the Sky is the second in series of small abstracts inspired by the shapes that one sees when going to the beach: in this case beach umbrellas.  While this small piece is a finished work by itself, I'm also painting it to see if I want to create a larger work based on it.

Umbrellas in the Sky --
is available through auction in my dailypaintworks gallery.  Check it and my other pieces there.  Also, tell me what you think of this piece.  Do you think it's something I should recreate in a larger format? 

Later today, I'll post the third installment of my series, "Dipping into and out of abstraction". Check it out.

July 23, 2013

Beach Inspired Abstract 1

Zentangles Down To The Beach 1- by Tracy Feldman,
11 x 14", acrylic on canvas 
I've decided to start a series of small abstracts inspired by the shapes that one sees when going to the beach.  While they are finished pieces in and of themselves, painting them will give me an opportunity to explore whether I should use them to create larger works based on them.

Beach Inspired Abstract 1 is inspired first by the sand fences we use on the east coast of the US for erosion control.  I have always loved the way the fence slats divide the space and how they create many different little vignettes between them.  For this work, however, I created a painting by simplifying  the form in general (note the lace of shadows), by playing with the color, and by adding zentangle-like elements to the large linear patterns on the abstracted slats.  I hope you enjoy it.  This piece will available through auction in my dailypaintworks gallery.  Check it and my other pieces there.  Also, tell me what you think of this piece.  Do you think it's something I should recreate in a larger format? 

I'll continue my "Dipping into and out of abstraction" discussion later in the week.

July 16, 2013

Dipping Into and Out of Abstraction, part 2

While in Galway, I had a limited number of supplies because since we were there last, it has become much harder to bring along art supplies in good qualities  and still have enough space for clothes and other necessities of living in a place for a year.  In the post 9/11 world, it's harder to bring solvents and oil paints on a plane.  Also, as the airlines have focused more on cost cutting, the amount of luggage one can bring has been sharply reduced.

You're Doing Great, Son!  by Tracy Feldman
Oil on Canvas, 16 x 20"
Thus I decided I needed to simplify and streamline what I would do, buying much of the supplies I needed when there.  I decided to work in oils, and go back to realism because I had more confidence that when I returned to the States it would be easier to get a show and sell pieces that reflected in recognizable ways that I had been living in a foreign country.  Even so, my foray into abstract had an impact on my painting style.  

The painting to the right, You're Doing Great, Son!, is a good example of what I mean. I took the image for this work while on a trip to the west of Galway.  The man in the picture was probably the child's grandfather, but I wanted the piece to be part of my padonna series -- a series of paintings celebrating the father/child connection. Thus I kept the basic composition of the work, but happily added hair, and took 25 years off the appearance of the "father" to better convey the connection I wanted to explore in this work.

Above Barna  - by Tracy Feldman. Oil on Canvas. 12 x 36"

Even in paintings like  Above Barna,  you can see evidence of a looser paint application and a willingness to simplify images within a representational framework.

When we returned home to Lancaster, I did have a couple of shows featuring these and other works.  As when I was in Galway, I decided to keep following an earlier painting teacher's advice to spend some time painting on my own to help myself develop my own artistic voice better.  However,  I'm a social person whose creative juices flow more when I can interact with other artistic people.  Thus after the excitement of getting ready for the show, I found myself procrastinating around painting.  I remembered a great program that one of my former painting teachers, Andy Smith, did at the The Village Art Association  talking about the daily painting movement.  Thus I decided to join an on-line art community called Daily Paintworks, and produced and sold a number of pieces there.  However,  I realized that needing to produce a small, realistic painting 5 to 7 times a week didn't really fit my life and personality at that time.  I found myself not producing quickly enough, and that the pressure to produce in that way was pushing me back into a more literal and generally tighter painting style, and that no longer fit for me.

Thus, last spring I decided to change focus once again, sitting in on another abstract painting class, but this time at  Franklin and Marshall College.  The teacher,  Jun Cheng Liu,  a wonderful trompe l'oeil painter  whose realistic painting classes I'd sat in on a number of times.   Continued Tomorrow ... 

July 15, 2013

Dipping Into and Out of Abstraction -- part 1

Ever since I started painting, I have thought of myself as being a realistic/representational painter. Like so many self-taught painters, initially my painting style was very tight.  At the time I was painting almost exclusively in watercolor, which is a medium much more dominated by realism and that often values precision. But, even so, I realized that the most compelling pieces often had looser/more abstract parts within them. Thus, while didn't feel much pressure to experiment with abstraction in general,  I came to understand that if I let myself get looser, less literal (at least in parts) my paintings could be more interesting.
Teacup Pineapple, watercolor on
paper by Tracy Feldman 8 x 8", 2004

The little watercolor to the left is currently available on auction in my Daily Paintworks Gallery. It is an example of my  loosening up within a very realistic piece.  I reached past the literal by messing around with placement and how I named the piece.  So, I did a very realistic painting of a mini pineapple and a teacup for which it was named. I also placed the items on a tablecloth decorated with pineapples.  For me, it was an amusing piece of "reality with a twist". But as the years went on, I had a growing feeling that in order to keep growing as a painter, I needed to challenge myself even more by allowing myself to let go of my realism touchstone.

Reef,  by Tracy Feldman,
Acrylic on Canvas, 24 x 36" , 2010/11
Something that helped me loosen up was expanding my painting milieu to include oils and acrylics.  Being easily able to paint over sections of paintings to change the composition and coloration helped me feel safer using a looser painting style.

By 2010, I was willing to take a foray into abstraction.  I took an abstract painting class at the PA College of Art and Design.  During that class, I found that a brother-in-law of mine was ill.  I worried about him, and knew there was nothing direct I could do to help since they lived in another state.  So, I decided to use a number of his underwater photos as the inspiration for  an abstract work and send him good energy while I painted. That one piece grew into a series of figurative abstracts -- which means in my case that while my painting had identifiable "real world" shapes, the objects in the pieces were so simplified, and the color scheme modified in such non-naturalistic ways, that the final pieces became abstracts.  

But, these abstract works clearly didn't signify that I was moving from realism to abstraction.  At the same time, for example, I also was painting a number of very realistic pieces.  Furthermore, the next year, while my husband and I once again went to Galway, Ireland for his sabbatical, I went back to realism. More on this topic in tomorrow's post.