evolution of a painting

Although I posted images of this on my Instagram feed, I thought some viewers might be interested in knowing more of the backstory.

On trips to visit family in Kansas, I drive through the Flint Hills, and it's a landscape I find inspiring and compelling. As a college student at the University of Kansas, I most frequently saw the hills from the turnpike as I drove between campus and the Wichita area. My trips from Omaha may still include a leg on the turnpike, but more miles are spent on county roads, stopping in small town cafes, and appreciating the beauty of the hills with walks in areas such as the National Park Service's Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve or the Nature Conservancy's Konza Prairie.

On one of those trips, I hiked and took photos at the national preserve. After returning to studio, I was eager to start a painting based on the photo. 

photo taken at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. The small building is an old schoolhouse. 

photo taken at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. The small building is an old schoolhouse. 

I had a 12x30" panel that I thought would be fun to paint as a vertical view with all the sky above the old schoolhouse in the prairie. 

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I got the major areas blocked in and set it aside for a few days. While I liked the gradation of blues and golds, I didn't think the cloud shapes were working, so I changed it. 

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It stayed like this for weeks while I worked on other things and yet it nagged at the back of my mind, and I was just completely bored by it. So I covered it up: 

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And then painted over with looser strokes and a little more color -- purples in the sky, greens and rusts in the foreground. 

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it's all a bit looser now and I like it better. There is some subtle variation in the sky where you can see underlying texture. I incised a few more lines into the foreground, smoothed some of the color transitions in the mid ground and buffed the sky portion to give it a bit of sheen and to highlight the visibility of the texture.  I've moved it now from the working side of my studio to the display area. Come on in to see what I think is the now-finished version!

Riverstones and collaboration

Because we had such a good experience collaborating a couple of years ago to create a substantial artwork, Marcia Joffe-Bouska, Tom Quest and I are doing it again. We three continue to explore rivers in this new work. The resulting collaborative work will debut in the Omaha Public Library's Michael Phipps Gallery as part of Omaha's First Friday art celebration in November and will be on display through December. 

The large collaboration will feature an undulating line of "riverstones" made of ceramic, plywood and mixed media and ranging in size from about 4x5" to 5x8". Panels that are each 24" wide and of varying heights will hang above and below this line. We expect the final piece to be complex and interesting, with multiple textures, materials and ideas to consider. Individual works will support and amplify our themes. Here are samples of each of our stones, as well as "Rivers, Roads, Remains," the artwork we made together in 2015. 

Mosaic riverstones by Marcia Joffe-Bouska. 

Mosaic riverstones by Marcia Joffe-Bouska. 

Ceramic riverstones by Tom Quest. 

Ceramic riverstones by Tom Quest. 

Painted riverstones by Lori Elliott-Bartle. 

Painted riverstones by Lori Elliott-Bartle. 

"Rivers, Roads, Remains" was a work and a show we did in 2015 when we all were members of the Artists' Cooperative Gallery. 

"Rivers, Roads, Remains" is a 3-panel (each 20" x 40")  mixed-media artwork, portraying ideas connected to the Missouri River. It includes old maps, found objects and the mosaic path echoes the line of the Bob Kerrey bridge that links Omaha and Council Bluffs. 

"Rivers, Roads, Remains" is a 3-panel (each 20" x 40")  mixed-media artwork, portraying ideas connected to the Missouri River. It includes old maps, found objects and the mosaic path echoes the line of the Bob Kerrey bridge that links Omaha and Council Bluffs. 

The studio at night

I love spending half an hour in the studio after all the visitors have left. Recalling shared conversations or intertwining harmonies in songs fuels inspiration. Open houses are for me both exhilarating and exhausting. I enjoy sharing stories about making my work with curious visitors. Selling pieces is always a thrill. Comparing notes and spending time with fellow artists is lovely. It's quiet now, and we'll welcome visitors again tomorrow from noon to 5 p.m. You might even catch a song or two between studios. Come see work by me and thejadedog.com in studio 311. 

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