Monday, October 20, 2008

Faye Nakamura

Pink Ginger by Faye Nakamura

So often we see art as a monolith of canvas and oil or acrylic possibly paper and watercolor but Faye Nakamura shows the diversity of media and creativity of spirit that sets her apart and virtually in a niche of her own. Ceramics, shells - of her creation, a little fabric, tiles and a beautifully created world of fantastic reality. 

Her work is best seen with a sense of adventure and thought because every piece I've seen has elements that beg the viewer to think about and envision a life both playful and peaceful at the same time. Delicate yet strong, her women in art guide me to understand that gentle beauty is a only a thin cloak over power and wisdom. Faye creates with a beauty from within that exposes a thoughtful and bold spirit hidden behind an engaging smile.

Some of her work can be found at the Karin Clarke gallery in Eugene, Oregon where she was recently featured in a show I absolutely loved. 

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Adam Grosowsky

One of the most interesting artist in the Eugene area is Adam Growsowsky. His art is reminiscent of Rembrandt and Vermeer but with what I consider more sizzle. High contrast and great use of yellow, orange and red against a black void. The works all seem to pop off of the canvas to capture the viewer.

Not only are they bold but for the most part are physically larger than life. I first saw his work at the Karin Clarke Gallery Annex on Willamette and was blown away.

Adam is a professor at Lane Community College where my son just completed his pre-U of O studies and I did get to see him for a brief moment on day I was visiting there.

In preparing for this posting I discovered that Adam is quite an athlete and slackliner. No! Not a slacker. He was one of the pioneers in walking on a slack (the opposite of tight) rope. I found this in an article online:

"Adam and Jeff (a friend) began practicing their balance among the high trees and peaceful valleys of Yosemite in the late seventies, and introduced many people to the sport. They were very good, even by today’s standards, and could do numerous tricks including an impressive juggling routine while both of them were on the line. Adam was an incredible line surfer, and could even do a handstand on the line. These tricks are astounding even among slackliners today."
As a professor there is high praise like the comment below I found also online at a site where students rate their professors.
"Best painting teacher I ever had and I am a 57 yr. old artist; my mentor. A really great teacher who puts his all into it; and a great painter. Hardest I ever worked at any course; quite intense; demands your best and then some. Great exp. that changed how I work for the better."
One of my all time favorite artists Adam's work can be seen at the Karin Clarke Gallery.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Robert Schlegel - Not Bird houses Birds and Houses

I guess we all have favorites and Robert Schlegel was definitely mine one Friday night in May. Robert Schlegel was kind enough to pose with a set of four smaller birds. I was drawn to this one because the birds are the ones we see at our feeders every year [not not the exact same birds but the same species.

Robert's work reminds me of a term used more often for food than art but it is very appropriate here. This is definitely "comfort art" much the same way my mother's home cooking was and Sharyn's is today "comfort food." Art can hit people different ways and these images of birds and homes were very special. It's a little like Deja Vu looking at the soft yet brilliant colors and feeling, well, comfortable.

Just as we find comfort in rural pastoral settings Robert's homes from a city seem to blend into the soul and tickle the mind.

He shows us the beauty in simplicity and it is more than marks of paint on canvas there is detail in the simplicity that transforms the images into thoughtful look back in time, at least for me.

Houses I am sure I've seen in Louisiana, California, Montana or one of the many Midwestern cities and towns I have passed through in my life all start to find their way back to me as I walk slowly through the Karin Clarke Gallery a representative for his work here in Eugene Oregon.

Birds and...

... houses all great - Thank you Robert. You can visit Roberts Personal Web Page by clicking here or typing

Monday, April 07, 2008

Diane Widler Wenzel - Art on the road

"Reed Dragon, the Protector"
© Diane Widler Wenzel

Diane writes a bit about this painting
"Reed Dragon, the Protector" is an acrylic painting on museum wrapped canvas, 16" x 20", started on location at Mittery Lake, Arizona, March, 2008. Then at home seeing a fish-like figure in the reeds I pulled out the image and accented the fish dragon.
As some of you may know I have another blog called Travels with a Muse that started with our first trip from Oregon to the East Coast in our Musemobile a 30 foot Winebago Sightseer. Well it just so happens another RV person who has a Sightseer found that blog and wrote me.

It was then I noticed she was an artist who uses her Sightseer as a traveling Art Studio. That artist is Diane Widler Wenzel. We corresponded a bit and I visited her links and to make a long story short I asked her to allow me to feature her on this blog. I've added her links below so you can visit her sites and enjoy her work and creativity.

She was kind enough to send the image above and more, here is her Artist's Statement:

My outdoor paintings are colored by my captivation with the dragons collected by my paternal family who lived for generations as foreign native merchants in Shanghai. (mid-nineteenth century to 1946)

The outdoors has been a part of my art journey since 1956. I was 13 and we were camping under the redwood trees in Big Sur California when mother gave me her hand made brushes, easel, and wood box of oil paints. Ever since then I have been practicing painting outdoors. Outdoor painting has brought me to a closer relationship with nature on camping, hiking, back packing, boating, and white water rafting trips. Living outdoors gives me time to visualize my place in nature’s mystery. So rather than reproducing the scenery I am more interested in painting my feelings and connections to whimsy.

Then when I am back home and review my outdoor paintings, I often find the reoccurrence of dragons in the “S” curves that I favor. This whimsy I attribute to my exposure to Asian arts as a child. I lived with my father’s few humble household pieces with dragon motifs. One piece in particular has influenced me. It is an early 20th century Milles Fleures Vase now on loan to the Jordan Schniter Museum of Art at the University of Oregon.

My latest adventure is in our Winnebago Sightseer Coach March, 2008. On this first long trip my husband and I explored his interest in fishing holes in warm weather around Yuma, Arizona. One of our stops at Mittery Lake we parked our motor coach between reeds so thick that I could not physically penetrate them. I could hear the young birds in their nest and see the fish jumping in their shadow. I was facing the reeds out on a man made fishing access where time had slowed down as I relaxed. Then the roar came from behind - the Air Force helicopter was getting closer and loader. I felt targeted. Then it just hovered over me. I thought it would leave but I counted the seconds on and on. I had to put my brush down and put my hands over my ears. Still the horrible roar, so I turned around and looked up and waved. The helicopter left then only to return an hour later to make a circle - checking out how my painting was coming. The aviators needed to see. Ours is a changing world and it is an important need to get in touch with the earth’s primal dance.

Diane is a cool person and a wonderful artist who paints from heart and cares about the world we live in today and the world that awaits us in the future.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Bets Cole - Peaceful Animation

I'm going to start this edition of Art for the Soul with a look at Bets Cole's Artists statement I found it informative and inspiring.

"I am an artist because through making art I have found a way to learn, speak, question and record my journey. I draw and paint the time, not just the moment in time. My essential concern and constant struggle is to make visible my strength, energy and passion through the use of form, color and gesture in my work.

Often my images arise from nature or from the subjects that nature provides. I have consciously chosen to live in Oregon, in the country, for it is Oregon’s landscape, atmosphere and color that give me hope, inspire me and bring me calm.

The paper, the media and the process of painting and drawing are as important to me as the subject itself. I use paint (acrylic, gouache and watercolor), pastel and pencil. Each has its own personality and quality of mark, allowing choices and combinations that often challenge and surprise me.

My pieces evolve slowly and I have learned that to succeed, I must be patient and flexible. I continually re-work my surfaces, layer upon layer, which in turn allows the piece to gain depth, a sense of history and a voice of its own." ~ Bets Cole

I also received this wonderful explanation from Bets about Plein air, "painting on site"
A bit about painting on site...

Bets Cole

Plein air painting requires an artist to contend with the difficulties of all the outdoor elements. Subject matter is often dictated by the weather and the seasons. The popularity of painting “en plein air” increased with the development of easily portable painting equipment. In the 1870’s paints packaged in metal tubes were introduced. Previously, each painter made their own paints by grinding and mixing dry pigment powders with linseed oil. The French Box Easel followed. These highly portble easels with telescoping legs and built-in paint box and palette, made treks into the forest and up the hillsides less onerous. Artists continued to develop ways to transport themselves and their supplies to distant and more remote landscapes.

Eventually, this new style of painting made its way across the Atlantic and into the art colony of Old Lyme, Connecticut. Childe Hassam, Willard Metcalf and Matilda Browne were some of the leading American Impressionist artists. The Canadian Group of Seven and California’s Society of Six became legendary. Over time other locations with particular beautiful qualities of light, notably the Pacific Northwest, have became havens for plein air painting.

In the United States today we are seeing a rekindling of interest in painting in the plein air tradition. Painters choose to paint outdoors for many reasons. Many times it is the challenge. Often, it is the delight in listening to the wind while watching the changing light. Many times it is an excuse to be outside; taking the time to observe the natural world. However, the end product (the painting) is not just one moment in time, it is a response to many. It is a record of time, a history of a landscape. ~ Bets Cole

I met Bets Cole at a "Plein Air Art Paintout" on the edge of the Willamette river. She would look up and you could almost see the wheels turning before she put her brush to the piece of art she was creating. I hung around taking pictures and talking to the artists there and as I was leaving Bets told me about a show she was having at the Maude Kerns Art Center the following Friday.

What a treat it was to see her work on display and under proper lighting. There were two of her works I could feel as though they were animated and yet very serene. One was titled "A Walk in the Woods" with soft colors and strongly defined elements was as real as it was a dream of perfection.

The charm in her art is matched by the animated way she talks with people. Her hands never stop moving as she talks and her love of creating sight treasures extends to her smile and conversation. I really enjoyed watching her talk with friends and visitors. Her energy transfers to her art and the other piece (pictured below) I really loved was titled "Pacific Coast Town."

Pacific Coast Town
© Bets Cole

For a real treat I'd suggest visiting the show called Spirited Journey - Women Artists. The show features work of Bets Cole and local artists, Kathleen Caprario, , Annette Gurdjian, Wendy Huhn, and Betsy Wolfston and runs Feb. 22-March 21

Bets works are certainly Art for the Soul.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Bob Keefer - Photography with Style

"Bob Keefer is a writer, photographer and artist in Creswell, Oregon.

I make hand-colored black and white photographs the traditional way, with film cameras and old-fashioned darkroom prints colored entirely with a brush and paint — no PhotoShop involved."

I love the way Bob can emphasize an aspect of a photograph with this technique. From the tuba in a marching band to the eyes of an owl, browsing through Bob's excellent website is like taking a journey into two worlds at the same time.

One is a world of hand colored tintypes drenched in tradition. Time faded and rich looking images that give me the illusion of the past captured by Louis Daguerre on one of the first cameras then given life through Bob's sharp state of the art skill and sense of understated color.

The other world is one of discovery in seeing parts our world for the first time. There is a wonderful image on his site of a simple crude brick wall declaring a religious festival that takes me back to some of the visits I had to Puerto Vallarta in October and image of the Zabriskie Badlands of Death Valley that takes your breath away.

In an excerpt from his page Bob explains
"I’ve been painting and hand coloring black and white photographs for years, enjoying the artistic tenstion between the cool, machine-like precision of photography and the expressiveness of added color. I work with a variety of colored mediums, sometimes coloring an image only lightly and sometimes nearly painting it completely out, so the original photograph barely shows through."

For a real treat visit Bob's Web Site where you may browse or purchase some of his wonderful art. It is a wonderful thing to see the marriage of photography and painting giving birth to art at it's best.



©Paul Viel