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.

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©Paul Viel