Painting

Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts

 JILL EHLERT - 12" X 12" - Mineral pigments, oyster shell white, oxidized Japanese silver leaf , pumice ground on cradle board.

JILL EHLERT - 12" X 12" - Mineral pigments, oyster shell white, oxidized Japanese silver leaf , pumice ground on cradle board.

I attended a 5-day workshop July 3-7, 2017 with instructor Judith Kruger at the Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts (MISSA). I had a fabulous experience. The workshop was exciting, challenging, filled with new materials, tools and techniques. Judith has boundless energy, a knowledgeable teacher who is dedicated to Nihonga - "traditional Japanese mineral pigment painting".  Judith amalgamates this ancient form of painting with her contemporary art practice, "exploring the formal and conceptual junctures between historic process and modernity as an ongoing project".

Everything in this workshop was new to me. We made our own paint and ink from organic and inorganic matter like cured oyster shells, minerals, natural ores, pine soot, mica and silica. We made a natural glue from cow cartilage to act as the binder. The materials are ecological, non-toxic and water-based. We worked with Japanese silver leaf and learned methods to oxidize it.  Judith demonstrated how to  mount Washi and stretch watercolour paper onto a cradle board. It was an action-packed week.

THE LOCATION

The Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts has been providing high caliber specialized workshops for artists, teachers and serious adult students since 1984. MISSA has a reputation for hosting  local, national and international instructors who engage with students in an intense multidisciplinary environment. MISSA welcomes students from around the world to participate in an artistic emersion for two weeks every summer. 

Artists from near and far have come together each summer to the Pearson College campus to share in spirited creative exchange. The school is positioned on the sheltered shores of Pedder Bay and looks out to the Straits of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Mountains beyond. The campus setting provides a stimulating natural environment for artistic development and exploration. It’s easy to understand why so many return year after year to be part of the ‘MISSA Magic’!

MISSA takes place every summer on the campus of Pearson College, while the students are away. Participants at MISSA can stay in college style dorms where internationals students have spent their school year. The college campus is designed in a West Coast Modern style and takes the from of a seaside village with buildings of native cedar clustered on 75 acres of old growth rainforest. The simple, low-slung structures are linked by footpaths and stand in harmony with the surrounding landscape.

THE WORKSHOP SPACE - THE FLOATING STUDIO

I was fortunate to attend a 5-day workshop July 3-7 which was held in the "Floating Studio", also known as the marine lab during the regular school year at Pearson College. The Pearson campus is in a fabulous location on Pedder Bay -  truly a magical place. I stayed in residence for the duration of the week. Resident students arrive the day before, on Sunday night and also stay the night of the final day of class, for a total of six nights and leaving on the seventh day. The food is fabulous and all one has to do is art all day with all meals and snacks provided. Students can go back to the studio in the evenings.

Photos by Jill Ehlert unless otherwise stated.

The Floating Studio - aka the Marine Lab.

The Floating Studio

  The Floating Studio in the evening.

The Floating Studio in the evening.

REFLECTIONS AROUND THE FLOATING STUDIO 

THE FLOATING STUDIO/THE MARINE LAB - A view from our workshop space and one of the critters we shared the space with.

THE WORKSHOP -  "ABSTRACT ALCHEMY: BLACK, WHITE AND WARM METALLICS"

A Description of the workshop from the MISSA catalogue "In this course, students will reinterpret nature’s deep imagery and essence with a limited palette using matter from nature itself. Participants will make paint, ink and home-made gesso from inorganic and organic sources including pine soot, shells, and minerals. Natural metallics will be introduced for warmth. These arcane processes have been employed for thousands of years on ancient Asian screens and scrolls. Collage can be added and embedded for depth. A variety of drawing and painting techniques will be introduced to yield meaningful, process-driven, ecological work on varied supports, embedded with individualized expression, heart and spirit."

THE INSTRUCTOR - JUDITH KRUGER

Judith Kruger, is an American visual artist whose paintings, prints and mixed media works address Human-Environment connectivity and their shared vulnerabilities. She is recognized internationally for her advocacy of natural painting materials and historic, ecological processes.

Judith currently resides in Northwest, CT. Her studio is located in an old hosiery mill, 125 miles north of New York City, at the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains. Click here to read Judith's artist statement.

SOME OF THE TOOLS AND MATERIALS IN THE WORKSHOP

DRAWING/PAINTING WITH SUMI-E INK

The Sumi-E ink drawings above were incorporated into the mineral pigment painting below.

Jill Ehlert  ©- 24" x 18" - Sumi-E Ink, Mineral pigments, Japanese silver leaf, antique Japanese pharmacy paper, punched holes on Washi paper mounted on cradle board.

Shadows as inspiration. Photos and work (12" x 12") by Jill Ehlert 

My WORK IN PROGRESS AT MISSA

 Working on a Sumi-E mat - made of wool and polyester felt.

Working on a Sumi-E mat - made of wool and polyester felt.

Water reflections as inspiration. Experimentation with Sumi-E ink, wax relief, Japanese silver leaf and mineral pigments on illustration board - 12" x 9"

I learned so many new techniques and had a good introduction to mineral pigments. This was an excellent workshop that I would recommend. Click here to see Judith Kruger's workshop page for 2018.

NEW EXPRESSIONISM

New Expressionism identifies itself by its use of exaggerated forms,heightened colour, and mixing of mythic, pop cultural and personal imagery. These artists use an expressive approach to personal subject matter.

Artists include: 

Anselm KieferFrancesco ClementeJulian Schnabel,

Susan Rothenberg

Jean Michel-Basquiatand Peter Doig.

Helen Frankenthaler

HELEN FRANKENTHALER

"Mountanins and Sea" 7' X 10"

"Frankenthaler's career was launched in 1952 with the exhibition of Mountains and Sea. This painting is large - measuring seven feet by ten feet - and has the effect of a watercolour though it is painted in oils. In it, she introduced the technique of painting directly onto an unprepared canvas so that the material absorbs the colors. She heavily diluted the oil paint with turpentine so that the color would soak into the canvas. This technique, known as "soak stain" was used by Jackson Pollock and others; and was adopted by other artists (notably Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland) and launched the second generation of the Color Field school of painting. This method would sometimes leave the canvas with a halo effect around each area to which the paint was applied but has a disadvantage in that the oil in the paints will eventually cause the canvas to discolor and rot away".  Quote from Wikipedia

Frankenthaler said "A really good picture looks as if it's happened at once. It's an immediate image. For my own work, when a picture looks labored and overworked, and you can read in it—well, she did this and then she did that, and then she did that—there is something in it that has not got to do with beautiful art to me. And I usually throw these out, though I think very often it takes ten of those over-labored efforts to produce one really beautiful wrist motion that is synchronized with your head and heart, and you have it, and therefore it looks as if it were born in a minute." (In Barbara RoseFrankenthaler (New York:Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 1975, p. 85)

Abstract Expressionism - American Painters

Helen Frankenthaler, Sam Francis and Robert Motherwell

Abstract Expressionism

Check out this link at Wikipedia which has a great article on Abstract Expressionism. 

Scroll down the page to "Major Artists" are those significant artists whose mature work defined Abstract Expressionism. 

The second list "Other Artists" are those significant artists whose work relates to American Abstract Expressionism.

The third list is related styles, trend, schools or movements.

Acrylic applications and techniques

"Bombastic Plastic" by Patti Brady

Acrylic on Plexiglass

While at the Learning & Product Expo in Chicago this summer, GOLDEN Working Artists Program Director Patti Brady, demonstrated the limitless possibilities of GOLDEN Acrylics, specifically Coarse Molding Paste. View the video to get a step-by-step look at her use of this new product and to better understand how you may be able to incorporate Golden Gels & Mediums into your artwork. GOLDEN Gels are the undiscovered and under-utilized secret of acrylic materials. No other medium offers artists the incredible array of options in surfaces, viscosities, transparencies, textures, glazes and extending possibilities, while maintaining great flexibility and a relatively quick drying time.

 Blue Squirt By Patti Brady

Blue Squirt By Patti Brady

Patti Brady

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There is vast  array of applications and techinques on the Golden Paints website, for example:

Gels, Mediums & Additives

"Light Molding Paste", "Gels are cool", "Gel "Skins", "Direct Image Transfers",  "Working with Clear Tar Gel", Sgraffito Effects with Heavy Gel", "Gels as a Drawing Ground"...

Appropriation

Robert Genn's June 15th. letter about appropriation has sparked a lot of interetsing viewpoints. Click appropriation to go to "The Painter's Keys" page with his letter and all of the responses. Be sure to scroll down the entire page to the bottom to read all of the comments. You will see the following response from me there as well.

Memories Lost

(left) collage by Jill Ehlert (right) original image fromWikipedia

I used Photoshop to enhance the contrast of the head and printed it onto transparency film with my Epson printer. The Phrenology image appeared in Wikipedia and stated: This image is in the public domain. Its copyright has expired in the United States and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years or less. I used that transparency to transfer the black ink onto my painting. I took the picture of the trees with my digital camera and again transferred the image/ink with the same technique as the head. I pondered for a time about the ethics of using this appropriated image of the head. I have the ability to draw, but the idea of using this image was more appealing to my artistic process. I feel that this is what the spirit of collage is about - found materials and images that can have a rebirth. I would like to think that the original artist would be delighted to think that the image lives on in a painting in the year 2007.

Windex and Magic Eraser to the rescue

When working with acrylic paints the one product that will remove a layer from your painting or clothing is rubbing alcohol.

Recently I got gesso on my black jeans. I didn't notice this until it was dry - the next day I put them on the counter and puddled rubbing alcohol on top of that area and let it soak in. I used a small crochet hook and kept running that back and forth until all of the gesso was rubbed and scraped away. Success! After washing them I can hardly tell where the white gesso had been.

If I have applied a glaze to a painting and it has dried and I am sorry with the result I can remove most of that layer by spraying that area with rubbing alcohol and scrubbing it off with a paper towel. As well, a really neat burnishing look can come from this technique - while rubbing off an area - with valleys, grooves, textured areas... the colour is pushed into those crevices but taken off the higher points. This gives an aged look to the area and can be appealing. Sometimes this works great and other times areas can look muddied.

When I was working on "Field Notes to myself" and was almost finished I applied a glaze on a group of lighter areas in order to unify the painting Once that was dry I was disappointed with the result - it looked too dark and murky. I had run out of rubbing alcohol and it was late at night so I decided to try Windex, a 3M green scrubby and a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. This worked great. I had used a lot of acrylic medium to adhere all of the collage elements so this gave all those areas flexibility and they could stand up to the scrubbing. I have continued to use Windex this way and it really works great.

Award winning painting

I was delighted to have two of my recent paintings juried into "Through Island Eyes II" with the Federation of Canadian Artists - Nanaimo Chapter Summer show. The following painting received the "Award of Excellence".

"MEMORIES LOST" Jill Ehlert © 2007    30" X 22" MIXED MEDIA ON PAPER

Memories Lost” is a loving memorial to my Mother who had dementia. As her caregiver for many years, this disease had an impact on both of our lives.  

This 30" X 22" mixed media painting on paper has an underlying cruciform structure that is offset to the right hand side. Deliberately positioned in the lower right hand quadrant facing towards the center is a photo transfer of a head in side view. This head from a phrenology chart displays compartments of thought and emotion modules in the brain. Phrenology was promoted as a source of psychological insight and self-knowledge, personality and character. This line drawing was chosen for its symbolism and strong graphic imagery. A photo transfer of long undulating black tree branches like neural pathways and blood vessels rise up out of the head groping and reaching to the top edge of the painting. This graphical union of head and tree branches creates a dominant vertical thrust in the painting.  

The horizontal axis of the cruciform structure crosses behind the tree branches in the top third of the painting. This strata-like division contains successive layers of imagery, a clock hinting at time running out, spirals broken in half, pieces of a crossword puzzle, distressed paper, bits of road maps, the up and down zigzag lines of brain wave patterns are also echoed in corrugated cardboard added for repeated texture and interest. Thought compartments are echoed here as well. 

The photo transfer process was chosen specifically for its graphic and layering qualities. This particular phrenology image is in the public domain and the tree branches are my own photographs.   

Layering is both an intuitive and conscious approach to my art making and be it referential or material, it is a formal element in this work. [1] 

Layered meanings of memory, lost identity, alienation, fear of the unknown and loss are combined with a rich layering process of acrylic paint, mark making, collage, symbols, photo transfer, veils of colour and erasure. 

A sensitive palette of pinks and flesh tone mixes, yellow ochre and unbleached titanium dominate the background and contrasts with the grayed down olive and golden green colour found within the vertical axis.  Veils of colour bridge levels of perception and knowledge. 

Gauze like material adhered to the background on either side of the head was chosen for its texture and psychological impact – creating a hint of interruption to suggest something is not quite right. The delicate weave and lines within the gauze directs the eye upward through this space. Washes of flesh-toned colour are applied, veiling what is underneath, it is foggy and uncertain and we can’t quite tell what lays ahead.