In an area about 5” square on a 30x30” panel, this is what I get after building up many layers and scratching through them at various phases. Along with color, texture and depth are qualities I explore in my paintings.
In two weeks, artists, collectors and art-lovers of all types will gather at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art for the Bemis Benefit Art Auction. I'm pleased to have a small framed painting on paper included in the mix. "Fire and Ice #2" was inspired by the M's Pub/Mercer Building fire in January 2016.
I've become much more selective about where I offer artwork to support fundraising activities. In many cases, I choose to simply make a cash donation. Offering discounted artwork depresses prices and undercuts the professionalism of artists who are handling multiple aspects of a complex business. Adam Price, former executive director of the Bemis, wrote a powerful article for The Reader about raising money at the expense of artists. You can read it here.
I believe each of us has an obligation to help one another, and there are so many ways to do that. Everyone I know supports local nonprofits with cash, time and energy. I'd like to live in a city where art-lovers and collectors truly valued the professional artists working alongside them in all these activities by expecting to pay fair prices for artwork.
Full disclosure: I bumped up the price of my painting offered in the Bemis Auction by 30 percent so that if it goes for the minimum bid, I still get a fair cut -- to cover my expenses for materials, professional framing, time and expertise. It's still less than what I'd receive if selling it directly, but I'm also supporting the activities and mission of the Bemis. Adding this cushion is not uncommon, and seems to me a reasonable way to participate in such fundraising efforts while not feeling cheated. And if the piece doesn't sell, I take it back to the studio and offer it at the same price as the others in this series.
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.
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.
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.
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:
And then painted over with looser strokes and a little more color -- purples in the sky, greens and rusts in the foreground.
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!
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.
Many times I've said that I'd like to have the superpower of being in several places at once. With our kids' activities and all the arts events, political meetings and community activities I'm interested in, having the ability to attend several at the same time seems pretty awesome.
While I haven't developed the ability to physically be in several places at once, my artwork is simultaneously representing me this way. Please join me (where my body will actually be!) at the Hot Shops open house this weekend. I'm in Studio #311, where bead jeweler and sculptor Darcy Horn will also have work available. We'll have the door wide open from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. I'll slip down to John Miller's studio on the second floor Saturday evening to play some music, and we'd love to have you join us there, too!
Thirty paintings are displayed at the Shelterbelt Theatre. The prairie-inspired pieces complement the theatre's current production of "Catherland," a Nebraska ghost musical. I was delighted to be at the opening night performance, and the music and acting is very strong. Please go see it. All sales of my artwork there will help support the theatre, which specializes in producing new plays.