Summer in the Studio & What Inspires me

I have been plowing through a busy working Summer and decided to take the first sort of rainy day in a while to sit down with my Sunday afternoon coffee and write about the many things I've been up to and some insights I've gained along the way.  Please refer to my Exhibitions Page to catch one of my three Summer group shows and info about my upcoming solo show at Butters Gallery that will coincide with Portland Open Studios in October.


The heat wave in Oregon has broken which has kept me busy and cool with the pets in my thankfully, air-conditioned studio.

We even slept in the studio below the work in progress for a few nights!

We even slept in the studio below the work in progress for a few nights!

Cleo and I have a new studio mate and family member, kitty Rothko who has already found a perfect out of the way spot on my work table for himself. He is named Rothko after artist Mark Rothko (of course) whom I share a birthday with. Rothko also happens to be from Portland where I live. He went to elementary school in the very same building that my college art studio was in which became Shattuck Hall at Portland State University. Cleo loves him and they have become great pals.


Sources of Inspiration 

I wanted to share with you some of the things that inspire and make my artwork manifest itself. Initially my current work was a response to the documentary film Chasing IceMost recently it has been articles I read in the New Yorker, Google alerts of glacier images and books about climate change.  I also follow and read the blog: Artists & Climate Change where I will be interviewed as my solo exhibit draws closer.

Artists have the power to transcend. The narrative that I take with subjects specific to my work combines existing contrasts found in nature and science in an attempt to raise awareness and to distill the unknown, unseen and incomprehensible into visual art. Below are a few things that have inspired me and the work that has resulted from it.

 

Glaciers

I found this article Greenland is Melting by Elizabeth Kolbert in the New Yorker and it's accompanying image, so compelling that I drew it and made a series of large paintings inspired by it. Climate change is something that impacts us all and one of my top concerns in the world. The article was very timely as I had just completed a series of small works addressing the receding glaciers. That and Kolbert's book, Field Notes from a Catastrophe gave me a deeper understanding of the crisis that our planet is in. 

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Two underlying ideas that have always dwelled in my creative consciousness and have motivated me to continue creating art, are the human impulse for order amidst the indifference of nature, and how we as humans have impacted nature and the environment.

During a rare winter ice storm while walking my dog Cleo, I was absolutely astonished to see the image in this ice months after I created the above piece, one in a fifteen piece series.  

During a rare winter ice storm while walking my dog Cleo, I was absolutely astonished to see the image in this ice months after I created the above piece, one in a fifteen piece series.  

Below is a video of the making of one from my Glacier series. You can see more by subscribing to my YouTube Channel

Last Summer, I made graphite rubbings of the texture of my large series of dyptychs; Pluto Atlas and transferred them onto a warm cobalt turquoise wax surface. There are twelve of these each are 11" x 9" and three more that are 12" x 12". The Greenland is Melting article came soon after these were completed. 

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This book Salt Pans: Little Rann of Kutch, Gujarat, India are aerial photographs of the salt mines in India. The scorched earth that results from draining this resource is incomprehensibly beautiful, each photo is an abstract painting, you almost cannot believe your eyes. I most recently watched Burtynsky's film Manufactured Landscapes which I highly recommend. 

Edward Burtynsky

I recently discovered the photographic and film work of Edward Burtynsky through an article in the New Yorker Magazine: Edward Burtynsky's Epic Landscapes and, another in a later issue about his book publisher entitled Gerhard Steidl is Making Books an Art Form.

This so deeply resonated with the underlying motivations of my own work that I immediately felt compelled to create a limited edition of prints on Kozo paper. I mounted them onto panels and created 6 paintings that will also be in my solo exhibit at Butters Gallery.

 

Building the collagraph plate from International Space Station photos and the Salt Pans. Right is my new tjanting tool, a common batik tool. The reservoir is filled with wax for drawing lines.

Building the collagraph plate from International Space Station photos and the Salt Pans. Right is my new tjanting tool, a common batik tool. The reservoir is filled with wax for drawing lines.

The first print on Kozo paper.

The first print on Kozo paper.

The second print done on top of another collagraph print. 

The second print done on top of another collagraph print. 

Prints awaiting panels.

Prints awaiting panels.

Yay panels! 

Yay panels! 


Additional Reading

The mounted prints with a layer of wax over them and the printing plates they were created from.  

The mounted prints with a layer of wax over them and the printing plates they were created from.
 

Below is a time-lapse video mounting a print to a waxed surface. You can see more by subscribing to my YouTube Channel

I have been reading this great book about the creative process The Storm of Creativity by RISD Architecture professor Kyna Leski. The book discusses all the elements that create and make up a storm as a metaphor for the creative process of artists, writers, scientists, engineers and architects. It is a fascinating read that I identify much of my own creative process with.  


Until next time...

I return to finish the work for my upcoming show and meet the slew of deadlines that come along with it. I leave you with some details of the larger 42" x 55" works in progress. More on my Instagram

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Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. My next blog will feature the multitude of events I have coming up in October including a wonderful Concept to Completion Community art project I was selected for, find out more about how you can participate at PDX-CSA.  I welcome your comments and very much appreciate your subscription!  xo-Elise