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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Feeling Left Out?

We artists all revel in taking our duly-earned "artistic license" - whether we are working from life, from photos, or (for the more intrepid among us) from something we dreamed up in our heads.  We constantly edit as we work, leaving things out, adding things that aren't there, changing and rearranging. These edits may be for compositional reasons ("the chair in this photo is at a very awkward angle and is blocking the figure I'm focusing on - leaving it out"); emotional reasons ("this type of flower brings back powerful painful memories of someone in my past...not going to paint it"); or even physical reasons ("I am physically incapable of painting these hands. They are going behind this figure's back!").

For the current juried show at the gallery, aptly titled "Left Out," artists were challenged to submit works of art in which they left out certain aspects of - or added to - the original from which they were working. It made for a very varied and compelling show. Take, for instance, our 2nd Place winner by Mary Ryder, a piece in carbon titled "An Innocent Man" at right. Scary, yes? That was Mary's point. Her edits fell into the "emotional reasons" category.

Says the artist of the piece:  "As this painting progressed, I was deliberate about omitting features and items that would connect us somehow to the figure - forcing the viewer to focus on the face, which is quite obviously haunting. Looking at something 'nice' is easy...looking at something disquieting is more challenging. He is 'an innocent man,' yet some are still quick to presume some sort of maleficence or guilt because of his appearance. Isn't it just as likely that he has suffered some tragedy or injustice? Perhaps it is the viewer's empathy,compassion, and humanity that has also been left out."

Artist Judith Landry left things out of her oil painting "Umbrian Way," at left, for compositional reasons.  Says Judith about her choices: "In this Umbrian street scene, I deleted unnecessary details, such as an unattractive red stop sign and street grates and gutters, in order to simplify the composition. I also eliminated several people standing in doorways, to create the impression of solitude and to draw the viewer's eye into the painting by focusing on the old woman walking down the street."

Most art buyers are probably unaware that the finished piece they have purchased is the result of constant, ongoing decisions on the part of the artist, and may differ significantly from the way the piece started. Leaving out is all part of the creative process!

--Sandi Parker, Gallery Underground Co-Director

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Think You Can Tell What Type of Artist Created a Work? Think Again

This piece is one of 6 pieces that have sold in our current Focus Gallery Show, entitled "Making Their Mark: Art Brut." You may look at this piece, and others in this show, and assume they were done by experienced artists with long careers in the art field. You would be wrong.  This show is in conjunction with "Purple Art," an art therapy program that works with unique cultures with disabilities, as well as military members and their families. Translated as "raw art," Art Brut describes artwork created without the influence of classical art or culture. These artists lack formal training and live outside the cultural mainstream, creating art that is also known as "Outsider Art."

The pieces stand on their own as great art, borne out by the comments of our gallery visitors who notice the art first, and read the description of the show later. One could argue that many of us, as artists, are constrained by our backgrounds - whether we have MFAs or have just taken one class. We all have difficulty getting that voice out of our heads that says "You can't mix this color with that color" or "You must always have your perspective absolutely correct" and on and on. Those teachings stick with us and, many times, hold back our true creativity. 

We have all benefited tremendously from the classes and workshops we have taken, and none of us want to give up that continued growth; but much can be learned from these inexperienced - but talented and unfettered - artists. Bruce Lee (perhaps an unlikely source) said of art: "Art reaches its greatest peak when devoid of self-consciousness. Freedom discovers man the moment he loses concern over what impression he is making or is about to make." 

The artists in this show instinctively know this, and it has made for a very compelling show. The show runs through August 23rd. Come in and have a look. - Sandi Parker, Co-Director, Gallery Underground

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Venetian Laundry Day

Venetian Laundry
by Jane McElvany Coonce
Venetian Laundry is an original watercolor by Jane McElvany Coonce.  It is in the all-media member show for July at the gallery.  Jane took a group of art students to Italy to paint for 2 weeks this spring.  They painted in a lot of the small hill towns of Umbria.  Apparently, Italians don't own dryers, and everyone hangs their laundry out of their windows.   This painting captures  the essence of Italian laundry day!

In watercolor, the artist has to save the white of the paper for the highlights.  So any of the clothing that was to remain white would not have any paint on it until the subtle shadows of the cloth were put in.

There are many interesting pieces of art to see at the gallery in July, but you only have until Friday, July 25 to see the artwork because we change the show on Saturday morning.

We keep a photographic record of all works from each of the monthly shows, so if you ever see anything on the blog from a previous month, don't hesitate to contact the gallery.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Jackie Afram - Newport Seascape Series

Newport Seascape Series

Jackie Afram explains to us the challenges of her series of seascapes.

The challenge of this series was to display the differences and similarities of types of oil paints, their media and tools. I created these three paintings of a Newport Rhode Island seascape to  show the different types of oil media and tools that I have been experimenting with in my paintings. 

For seascape #2, I used oil paint, a large bristle brush and Liquin as the medium. I worked to achieve subtle glazed shadings with minimum detail. 
Newport Seascape #2 by Jackie Afram

For seascape #3, I used oil paint, a palette knife and wax as a medium. A different subtlety of shading is achieved with this method. The wax allows the artist to use less oil paint and gives the painting a softer overall appearance. 

Newport Seascape #3 by Jackie Afram

For seascape #4, I used oil bars and gloved hands to mix the colors and push and pull the color across the canvas. Close control and detail are difficult with this media, but it is a great deal of fun. I do not have a favorite medium and use whatever strikes me will work best for what I am painting.

Newport Seascape #4 by Jackie Afram

Monday, April 21, 2014

Kathy Turner - Temporal Series

Our Works in a Series Highlights continue with this from Kathy Turner - 

Temporal Series Statement:

This series of art works developed from my fascination with the discarded remnants of civilization that I could find in the woods near my home and along the banks of the Pimmit Run stream. The rich texture and patina that metal attains as it ages in a natural environment, and of stone as it wears away, spoke to me of the fragility of humanity. I wanted to emphasize how ephemeral our lives are by contrasting these coarse worn surfaces with depictions of soft naked flesh. Each piece tells a slightly different temporal story.

Courtesan: She was a great French beauty, and she used her looks to live in luxury, but only so long as her looks survived the passage of time.
Courtesan by Kathy Turner

Madonna of the Rock: the name is a play upon the name of the da Vinci painting called the Virgin of the Rocks, but this nude is not so virginal perhaps and she lies nestled within the curve of the stone.
Madonna of the Rock by Kathy Turner

Out of Eden: This naked Eve may have been cast out of Eden for her transgressions, but she does not appear to feel guilt over it as she looks boldly and even confrontationally at the viewer. She has made her bed, and harsh though it may be, she will lie in it.
Fallen Angel by Kathy Turner

Fallen Angel: A naked winged man lies huddled in a fetal position, curled up in a pile of dried leaves. I imagined that he was once high and mighty, but through foolish acts he has fallen in shame, and now is hiding his face. I was recalling all of the recent political figures who have been caught in various dalliances and fallen in shame.  
Fallen Angel by Kathy Turner

Generations: 2 nude women kneel facing each other, one is largely pregnant and her head tips down to her belly. They are depicted in a setting of ancient ruins and glyphs, including turtles – and the form of the metal resembles a turtle shell as well. The American Indian cultures tell a story of how earth was created on the back of a turtle and populated by the offspring of the daughter of the Great Spirit. So this piece represents that creation and the generations that will follow.
Generations 2 by Kathy Turner

Kathy Turner
Studied architecture at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY.
Degree in Fine Art from Towson State University, Towson, MD.
Studied Japanese woodblock printing in Tokyo Japan.
Worked as a decorative painter for Degage in McLean, VA.
Member of Arlington Artist Alliance and Del Ray Artisans.
Has exhibited and won awards for art for Arlington Artists Alliance, Del Ray Artisans, Arlington County Library art  exhibits, Artisans Gallery in Middleburg NY, Capital Hill Art League, Artomatic and more.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Elisabeth Hudgins - Leaf Impressions Series

Elisabeth Hudgins's contribution to this month's selections on painting in a series-

Leaves are part of my artistic vocabulary. To me they embody so much meaning: renewal, life cycles, being part of the elements of the earth. I often revisit this series, whenever I see exciting leaves or leaf shapes and patterns. I start by collecting the leaves. Then, I use the process of monoprinting with the leaves. In this process, I am actually applying paint on the leaf, and laying the leaf on the paper. Sometimes, I will use a watercolor technique and work "wet into wet", and other times I will use a collage technique. The hardest part is for waiting for the painting to dry, so I can pull up the leaves off the paper and see what happened. This is the unknown element that I find very exciting…. and creates the mystery and surprise of not quite knowing what the outcome will be. 

Hemlock by Elisabeth Hudgins

The mediums I use: watercolor and collage, each allow a kind of transparency. After many years of working solely with the leaf shapes and patterns, I began to add layers of figure drawings to my leaf impressions. They appear almost as double exposures. Two unique images melded into one work. 

Fern3 by Elisabeth Hudgins

To see a slide show of my process for making my Leaf Impressions visit:

Fall I by Elisabeth Hudgins

And to see more of my Leaf Impression Series visit:

Spring by Elisabeth  Hudgins