Monday, August 22, 2016

Making a series


One of the most satisfying ways to work is to develop a series. Working in a series is about enlightenment. If you are struggling with how to go deeper in your work try a series. If you want to push yourself to a new understanding of your intention try a series.

A series can begin without planning. Sometimes it's an infatuation with a place or a study of light.That is exactly what has happened to me. For about 7 years I painted the river. Everyday, no matter what the weather, I did a "vitamin" of the river. Still I love the river, but for the past 5 years my infatuation has been the vibration of the colors in the grasses of an untended field.  I simply can't stop myself when I see one!

When you engage in a series you open up.  Like a brand new relationship, you want to be there all of the time. Seeing your new love in different lights thrills you. Soon after completing many paintings you start to look at your new love a little differently. You get more comfortable and begin to change small things. You start manipulating the colors, size of format and point of view. You try a diptych or an elongated vertical.

I know I have mentioned before but my series that changed my life was when I was in graduate school. I painted a pot of yellow mums for two years!
Staying with a series (or a relationship for that matter) teaches you about painting, and yourself.

Below and above see a sampling of paintings from my years on Whidbey Island.


If you want great ideas about the making of a series do look at Richard McKinley's book Pastel Pointers.  It doesn't matter if you paint in pastel or oil, Richard's book will help you get to a new level.
In brief Richard recommends 6 ways for discovering a series.
1.Try a new surface size.
2. Alter the value or key of your painting
3.Explore different dominance and harmony.
4.Paint in a different format.
5. Change you angle of vision and relationship to the subject.
6.If

Thursday, August 11, 2016

concept and the best tool


Recently I have received two emails asking me how my painting process works. (Thank you Cris and Randall) They have prompted me to write a brief explanation.

First for me, when creating a painting, it is rarely about a specific place. Instead it can be the idea, the emotional response to that place or simply an idea and then I allow the painting to direct me. There is a trust with the painting. It knows what I should do. I just need to slow down and listen...then respond (rather than think). I try not to direct, those are my less successful paintings.  For someone who is a little hyper this has been a serious learning curve in my life.

That's why I am not someone who leans on photographs to guide me. Yes, I take photographs.... but they are to remind me of the beauty I once saw. They spark an idea. I also do numerous plein air paintings and studies. The teach me about the possibilities of light.

The biggest tool in my toolbox is a walk. I paint then when I come to a stopping place I walk for a half hour.  (I take several walks a day.)The walk is a quiet processing time. I don't talk, listen to music or have any other input... just the landscape around me. It's amazing how it can all come together without even "thinking" about the painting.

This particular painting began last year. I was in Skagit County Washington, where the light at sunset can be like  a big cantaloupe filter. I returned home and did drawings that were inspired by my river, the Potomac and the Skagit. Now last week I was back in Skagit County and it was easy to feel what I was missing in the light.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

study the possibilities

There really is nothing that can replace being there, just studying the possibilities.
Exploring and experimenting. It makes me understand so that when I am in the studio I don't need a reference photo to tell me what to do.
I have been traveling to new and old paint spots this summer. No matter how far I go I always look for the same thing. Fields. Not a cultivated field, but one left to sit with long grass. When on my way to Asheville I saw many. In Shepherdstown  I found a new favorite- old apple trees and long grass.  Last week, in Prince Edward Island I was blown away by the flower fields and I can't wait to go back. That could be a full summer destination. On Friday I am off to my old favorite, Washington State. There is a field there I have loved for over ten years.  I see my fields in my dreams. I mix and match attributes of each to make a painting work.
Nothing can replace being there.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The only technique to learn



"It's taken me years to come to the conclusion, or to the belief, that probably the only thing one can really learn, the only technique to learn, is the capacity to be able to change. And it's a very difficult thing. But as modern artists that's our fate, constant change. I don't mean novelty or anything like that. What I mean is serious play, which we call art, can't be stamped. I mean you have to keep learning to play in different ways all of the time. It's always good for the first time. There's a popular Italian song, "Per la Prima" - "For the First Time"  It's about a love affair, but it's the same thing. It's always good for the first time, then somehow that has to be recaptured constantly."
Philip Guston in a talk to Yale Summer students

Words to live by. Constant change and play.

I finished this painting after a weekend trip to Chincoteague. It was stormy and we had a splendid show. The idea came from a small moment of time..one or two seconds...just to watch and describe to myself. Like an amazing blessing.

Monday, June 27, 2016

abstraction and the landscape

36x376 oil
My recent work is about abstraction. I was fortunate to take a workshop with Rebecca Crowell. Her work is all about beautiful ethereal abstraction. While I don't see myself taking the full dive to abstraction I do know that I work abstractly as I alternately decompose and compose a scene. In the end I finish  with "compose" and the essence of the scene is hopefully the strongest part.
A painting is simply the arrangement of lights and darks. My focus is on the quality of the edges.
3x5 oil
One of my small abstracts.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Mountain Maryland Plein Air 2016


8x8 pastel
Wow! What a beautiful place and this year it was coupled with amazing weather. These week long plein air competitions are exhausting and wonderful at the same time. It's always nice to hang out with folks from your "tribe." It's the only place you can talk art 24/7 and not bore your friends. And best of all, your only job is to paint continuously.
The painting above, titled, sunrise in the valley, captured the feel of the moment. It has a watercolor underpainting and light pastel on top.
18x18 pastel
This one, titled exquisite stillness was a 4 day struggle. Finally the feeling I wanted to create evolved. I had to treat it like a studio painting and finish it with the back turned to the scene.  It was a good reminder to me to stop looking for the answers out there. They are in the painting.

skunk
One morning as I was painting and I heard a rustle in the grasses near my feet. Look what popped out not 6 feet away! I stayed as still as I could till he was far enough away to snap this photo. Plein air painting will always surprise you!
By the way........
Boy, was I happy!
Thanks you to my wonderful host family, the arts council of Cumberland, the many kind artists in the group that I got to know and to the judge Jason Sacran for seeing beauty in my work!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Monday, May 9, 2016

the refusal to be habit-ridden





“To be creative,....may mean nothing more than the refusal to be habit-ridden.”
Wolf Kahn
Think about it. To me, and I see WK agreed, to be a painter means that you are an explorer. Never satisfied with what you can do, you are forever searching. That said, you if you are genuinely searching you can't have a technique you rely on to create a certain effect. Even if you paint the same thing every day, the concept is different. 
I learned this long ago. When I was studying for my MFA I spent two full years painting a pot of yellow mums. Yes, I did have to keep buying new yellow mums when the fresh pot withered away completely, but it was always the same size yellow mums.  I can tell you I learned more in those two years painting those mums. I learned about painting and endless possibilities. I continue that work now as I paint the same block of trees, or the same soccer field near my house. Sometimes I feel like Magellan as he rounded Cape Horn and discovered the other side. 
What happens if I do this? 
I wonder......?

Monday, April 11, 2016

getting to the danger point

Like a homing pigeon I return to the beauty of trees, in particular, red trees. I am tempting fate with my new series. How far can I push the beauty of the color and not allow to get too garish or quiet? How close can it come before the tipping point yet stay there and entrance the viewer?  How much light , dark, intense or neutral does a painting need?  This is why I paint.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

when you are uninspired and new show!


pastel, oil paint, gold leaf, marble dust
Do you feel uninspired to paint?
I was recently talking with a close friend, an excellent painter, who expressed this feeling. She explained that house work needed to be done first, saving the tired parts of the day for her creative self.
If I can give you one piece of advice, and only one, it is take care of your creative spirit and feed her regularly. She is an important part of yourself. Schedule her time each day. If you have a full time job, get up at least an hour earlier and do a small piece. (I did this for a years.)
If it is that you feel uninspired by cranking out painting after painting without joy, make joy. Take an old painting that has no hope wash it or scrape it down and then see what you have. It's one of my most fun things to do. You can have no fear and live by, "what happens if I do......?" Use different materials. This painting was a scrape down and add piece. Gold leaf, oil glazes and pastels were part of its recipes.
Change format. I usually love the square. When I need a jump start I go to an elongated rectangle...once even a circle!
And last a technique I learned from Elizabeth Mowry- Have a sit-down talk with 5 paintings that are in your studio that you like. Rank them in order of appeal and then articulate why. This should give you food for thought.

Enjoy the spring! And if you are looking for something to do this weekend come to DC. Flowering trees, warmish temperatures and my new show at the Waverly Street Gallery in Bethesda. Its a couple of miles outside of DC right at the Bethesda Metro stop on the red line.  The reception is April 8th 6-9pm.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

black and white opens up possibilities for color

Planning some cherry tree/apple tree paintings. I'm doing my on location small sketches in black and white only. That way when I am back in the studio I can play with the color, rather than being locked into only pink.
All of my paintings for my next show Intimate Landscapes are at the framer. Now I am just enjoying paintings without pressure. Sweeeeet.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

From plein air study to large oil


Moonset, oil on wood, 36x36
 Plein air and memory studies are exquisite food for thought. They spark ideas. Copying the study rarely, if ever, makes a satisfying large painting. A painting needs its own concept, it's own brand new life. So I share two photos. One is an 8x8" plein air study (below) done at the Sedona plein air festival in October. The Mesa where the small airport sits was a perfect place for me to paint each morning. Quiet. With rabbits skittering every which way and coyotes howling. Planes do not depart till later in the morning so no one is there except the occasional security guard who became used to my presence.
The large painting that found its way from that piece is above. This one titled Moonset started with the Arizona piece but continued with my fascination of the full moon setting at sunrise. Similar, yet different in feel, both share the blue and the trees, but the larger one is full of atmospheric subtlest. I hope you can see them. 
I am preparing for my next show Intimate Landscapes that opens the first week of April. More about that later.
Arizona Blues pastel,8x8

Monday, February 29, 2016

the gray beauty of late winter

After the snow comes the rains and then more rains. The fields are overflowing and it leaves a gray beauty.
Question- how reduced can it be and still create the magic?

Monday, February 22, 2016

distractions and solutions


I am now finishing those last pieces for my upcoming show titled Intimate Landscapes (opening the week of  April 5th.) The problem is I get distracted...distracted by new ideas.
How do I manage this? Solution- I always allow myself time to do more small paintings, just to satisfy those cravings. This small pastel is one I did in the studio when the ground was covered with ice and snow. Heh! So much for winter! Now back to work on a big one.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Plein Air Magazine article




Hi blogger friends,

I have had many requests to show the whole article. Here are pages 2, 3, and 4(see my last post for page one). Once again they are screen shots. If you want to read the article I think you either have to buy the printed form or get it online line. I received the printed magazine today.


Here is a snippet of the article.


“I often work from memory. I will sit and watch what happens in a landscape, record the information in my head and later in my sketchbook.  Sometimes I return to the location a day later to paint the scene,” Signori reveals. “More often I just work from the memory alone. I find that my work from memory is more evocative. The key for me is to remember the moment that made me stop there, and then I paint from that. I grew up in the woods so being part of the outdoors has always influenced my creative work.”

“It is important to begin my work with a clear intention,” Signori emphasizes. “I have to ask myself what I am trying to say with the painting I am about to create. If the message is not clear to me, how will the viewer be able to understand my work? Part of the way I convey the message is to have a clear focal point and a strong understanding of the color relationships I chose to use.

Till later,
Loriann

Saturday, February 6, 2016

woohoo! Plein Air Magazine article about my work is now available!

Great news! Plein Air Magazine has found my work worthy of notice and inclusion in their February/March Issue. Woohoo!!
Thank you Steve Doherty for your wonderful interview ! He was so patient. I learned I need to be more succinct when I speak.
The magazine should be appearing on the news stand any moment now. Get your copy or order the online version.
Thank you Astrid for alerting me of its appearance and sending me screen shots! I have included one here. There are a few other pages.....

Thursday, January 28, 2016

rise above... and have no fear

Be willing to scrape it back....even when it is good. It is only through not being afraid that the painting will speak to you and the mystery will come.

This is a small pastel on gold leaf (8"x8".) It has been sprayed with fixative repeatedly and scratched down with abandon. There was a time it was "pretty" but it was boring. That's the biggest issue...predictability and pretty. Now it is much closer.

The past month I have been working on a large pastel (30x40) and it is suffering the same disease. I think I will just throw some Gamsol on it tomorrow so I have to dig it out again.
Remember if it's not(visually) precious.....it's not precious.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

be brave like vincent van Gogh, Picasso and David Bowie

pastel 30x40 on wood unfinished
"If one wants to be active, one mustn’t be afraid to do something wrong sometimes, not afraid to lapse into some mistakes. To be good — many people think that they’ll achieve it by doing no harm — and that’s a lie… That leads to stagnation, to mediocrity. Just slap something on it when you see a blank canvas staring at you with a sort of imbecility." Vincent Van Gogh
I have been away from my blog for 21 days. Thinking, experimenting, and wondering about possibilities. If you know how to do it, it's already done. Art and creating beauty is about wonder and never being satisfied. What if I do this....?
This large pastel has so much experimentation on it already. After many other smaller trial pieces I was ready to try large. It's 30x40 on wood.
On another note..... I was sad when David Bowie died, he was amazing, like Picasso. He always remaking himself. Both men were unafraid to keep rethinking and adapting. Courage. No method or technique as so wonderful that it needed to be repeated without rethinking.
detail of pastel above

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Ideas and upcoming workshop

9x18 pastel
Have an idea and hold onto it.
This painting was begun a few years ago. I never quite knew how to finish it till now. It took many walks and lots of waiting. Paintings are made, not seen.
This spring I am teaching a new workshop in a brand new place(for me.) Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Ignite Your Painting Process, April 20-22, 2016
This is a three day workshop that will focus on exploring possibilities within landscape painting. First, we will review the techniques and fundamentals necessary to structure a successful pastel landscape painting.  Then we will engage in the exploration of creative ways to ignite your personal process. Depending on the weather, we may do some field sketches outside.
contact Debra Zamperia
idzamperla@gmail.com



Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Walking and creativity.

Each day when I am in the studio I walk. It makes me more productive. I have always felt a slight bit guilty about this "waste of time" but now I have found research that backs up what I have always believed. Walking ignites the brain. It helps you think and be more creative.

Below is an excerpt from the article with a link to the whole piece. I think it was post on November 27th.
PS The pastel above was a memory piece that took many walks to complete.


Walking makes you more creative


If you’ve ever gone on a walk, it can be a surreal experience in terms of how your mind starts to think. The creativity just starts to flow, for one reason or another. In fact, a recent study done at Stanford has proved this theory out. They discovered that walking can boost your creative output by about 60%, not only in the moment, but even a few hours after.
Furthermore, nearly 81% of individuals felt more creative when they were walking. So next time you’re in need of some creative insights, get those legs moving.
Read:   Why the Greatest Minds Take Long Walks

Friday, December 4, 2015

Big Sale on small paintings!

8x8 pastel on Uart
Today is the big day! It's my small painting sale. Please take a moment to pop over to my Facebook artist page to see the 12 yummy small paintings for sale. Each painting will be posted separately with interesting info about its process, location, and or framing possibilities. If you don't have a Facebook account you can still browse and then email me if you want to purchase. Enjoy! Link here. for Loriann Signori's facebook.

PS Art makes a great present!