About the Painting

Four Things to Look for in My Paintings

The seed for this post was planted recently at a group show where my work was exhibited. I was having a pleasant conversation with an attendee, a woman who seemed to be enjoying her time in the gallery. She wanted to know which paintings were mine, and as we strolled around talking about various works, I began to point out several features, especially those that recurred. As our conversation closed, she thanked me in such a genuine way for increasing her appreciation of my work.

Later reflecting on the conversation, I realized that what is obvious to me can be hidden to the typical art lover. So what do I want people to look for in my work? This is a bit challenging, as so much of what I do is intuitive, but I’ll give it a try. Here are the features I’ve identified as being a part of almost every work I create, and how you might approach it.

Texture

Look for the tactile qualities of the work. Is it bumpy or gritty or fine? Smooth passages next to rough ones? Does the texture sit on the top layer of the painting, or at the very bottom? Does paint skip over the valleys and hit the ridges? Do raised lines define elements in the painting? Is there a passage of paint that looks corroded or worn? Do you want to touch the art? (Go ahead; I don’t mind.)

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Detail from Moon Over Canyon

 

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Detail from Deep Water

Pattern

I am drawn to all kinds of visual rhythm. As we respond to the beat in music, tapping our toes or bobbing our heads, so we can respond to the beat of the painting. Find something that is repeated. Do you notice a linear texture, or a swirl of concentric arcs, or a row of trees on the horizon? Is there a pattern of raised dots forming arcs or squares or lines? Is there an allover pattern, or is it random? What does the beat say to you? Straight lines are calm and serene; squares symbolize strength and stability; diagonals connote action; arcs and circles and spirals speak of energy.

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Detail from Dove in Mourning

 

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Detail from Prevailing Winds

Color

I’m willing to try any color or combination that advances the narrative I have in mind or the emotions I want to evoke. Consider how various colors make you feel. Do oranges and reds excite you? Do blues and greens give a sense of serenity? Do neutrals like white, ecru and tan make you feel quiet and calm? Do the colors tell a story, from reds and oranges in one part of the painting, to blues and purples in another section? Do the colors sing with each other in harmony or dissonance?

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Detail from Elements of Time

 

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Detail from Crosswise

Surprise

If you look closely, I’ll reward you with a small surprise, a little like an Easter egg behind the wildflowers. Are those linear elements made of vintage maps? Are there little gold or silver “pearls” tucked into a crevice of the texture? Does a shiny metallic pattern contrast with a softer earthy background? Viewing the painting from across the room is one experience. Engaging closely deepens it.

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Detail from Elements of Time

 

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Detail from My Jupiter

There are art professors, docents, curators, and art historians more qualified than I to teach art appreciation. This is just my attempt to help you enjoy what arises out of my artistic vision. Even though I had something in mind when I created the painting, please don’t be afraid to insert your own narrative. It’s your response that completes the work.

 

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About the Painting

A tall challenge

I am fortunate to be part of a group of gifted artists that meets monthly to support, encourage, and challenge one another. We’ve structured the “challenge” part of our activities this way: each month a different group member throws out a prompt that everyone responds to during that month. The challenge prompt is usually a word or a phrase, like “flowers” or “water” or “self-portrait.” Once it was a photo of broken shingles. Betsy’s roof was being replaced as the result of a particularly impressive hailstorm that had moved through the North Texas region. You can see how this monthly exercise might stretch one’s imagination a bit.

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Tall Tale was my response to the challenge prompt, “a story told,” dreamed up and tossed out there by Heidi. Since I focus on creating abstract and non-objective work, this might not seem like a fit. Oh, that’s right. That’s why it’s called a “challenge!”

My thinking process went something like this: Story. A story is a tale. Tales are often embellished and exaggerated. Tall. I reach for a tall canvas. (This one’s 12” x 36”.) Next come sketches where I play with symbols and patterns to weave a narrative. Settling on a water/desert/heat theme, I can just hear those haunting Native American flutes in the background.

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I render the patterns and symbols first. I want a progression, a story arc, so to speak, so my paint goes from the cool blues of water at the bottom, through the parched tans and ochres of the desert, up to the heat of the gold and copper sun. Splatters of orange red and blue energize the scene. Are they raindrops? Locusts? Birds? Arrows? You fill in the details, because that’s the viewer’s role and privilege.

Tall Tale is 12” x 36” mixed media on gallery-wrapped canvas. See it in a contextual photo on the Mid-Sized Paintings page. Contact me if you’d like to give it or any of my other paintings a good home.

Join me on Facebook and Instagram for behind-the-scenes peeks and first postings of new work.

All art is copyrighted and may not be reproduced without express written permission. Copyright 2017 Laura Hunt
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About the Painting

Looking Westward

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The visual effects of corrosion fascinate me. The textures of rusty metal, peeling paint and weathered wood are delicious to my eyes. I’ve tried to bring this concept into a number of my paintings, experimenting with different ways to achieve it. (You can see it in Crosswise, for example.)

With Looking Westward, the dominant colors of rust red and turquoise emit a southwestern vibe. I keep the palette limited and the composition simple. To create the random tactile quality of the surface, I use a putty knife and plastic food wrap, two items I keep handy in my studio. A layer of red oxide goes on over the texture first, followed by a complete covering of lightened turquoise.

When the turquoise layer is dry to the touch, I use blue painter’s tape to mask off the areas I want to remain untouched in the next step. I’m about to do some damage here, but remember what I said about corrosion? The exposed areas get a wet sandpaper treatment, leaving a wonderful random pattern that is influenced by the texture. When I remove the tape, I’m pleased to see that the ridges and bumps keep the edges rough and imperfect, achieving a natural, worn effect. To unify the overall painting and to bump up the surface interest, I fling splatters of pale turquoise and dark brown paint on the canvas and call it done.

Looking Westward evokes the feeling in me of looking through what is near toward what is far away. I hope you enjoy looking at it too.

This painting is 12”x12” acrylic on gallery-wrapped canvas. If you need help visualizing how it might look in your home or office, you can see it in context here. Contact me if you’d like to give it or any of my other paintings a good home.

Join me on Facebook and Instagram for behind-the-scenes peeks and first postings of new work.

All art is copyrighted and may not be reproduced without express written permission. Copyright 2016 Laura Hunt
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About the Painting

A Penny’s Worth of Sparrows

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I’ve long been a fan of embossing, a process I used in my graphic design days to raise a logo from the paper’s background on business cards and letterheads. It’s a classy look with a tactile element, one I enjoyed creating for my clients. But how could I achieve a similar effect with paint and canvas?

About a dozen paintings ago, I stumbled onto hot glue as a means to create a raised line or shape. I applied it in My Jupiter, Heartstrings, Prevailing Winds, and a few others. Okay, there was my beloved embossed look! So as I plan this new painting, hot glue raises its sticky hand, volunteering as the go-to medium for rendering the stylized tree that almost fills the large canvas. I plug in the glue gun and start drawing with it. No turning back now!

With the tree complete, I divide the canvas into three unequal sections. At first, each section is well defined, but I don’t want them to stay that way. I blend layers and layers of paint, and with each application, I come closer to the blurry transitions I want. Quinacridone red violet, turquoise, and Pacific blue play well with each other, their coolness contrasting well with the warm ecrus and oranges above the horizon. Metallics play a strong supporting role in this painting, adding not just a silvery surface sheen, but a depth as well.

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My image transfer birds cooperate nicely as I bond them to the canvas. The painting feels almost finished, but a little, well, naked. Splatters in compatible colors do the job and clothe the canvas with its final layer.

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Titles can be challenging, but with a little searching, I found this passage from Matthew 10:19: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.” A comforting message.

A Penny’s Worth of Sparrows was created using acrylic paint, hot glue, and image transfer on a 40” x 40” gallery-wrapped canvas. You can see it in context here, along with the two other paintings in the series thus far.

Contact me if you’d like to give this or any of my other paintings a good home. I can also produce museum-quality gicleé prints of some of my larger pieces. They come at a lower price than the original, and are available in sizes 36” x 36”, 30” x 30”, and 24” x 24”.

Join me on Facebook and Instagram for behind-the-scenes peeks and first postings of new work.

All art is copyrighted and may not be reproduced without express written permission. Copyright 2017 Laura Hunt
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About the Painting

Dove in Mourning

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Second in a series of paintings featuring birds, Dove in Mourning includes a silhouette of, yes, a mourning dove, a bird common to Texas. If I pay attention, I can hear their sweet cooing all day long, but they are especially vocal in the morning. They seem to love the tall bur oak trees next to my house, and sometimes set up residence in the rose arbor sheltering my front gate.

The title of this canvas came when a friend said it looked like the bird was shedding happy tears. True, mourning is not a joyful process, but the tears are a necessary part of grieving, and a step in the journey toward healing and joy.

As with most of my paintings, texture is my starting point. Here I chose to develop tension between the direction of the texture and the direction of the paint. The texture has a horizontal thrust, but as I applied color, the paint took a mostly vertical character. I like how it skips over the grooves, creating a vibrant, unrehearsed surface.

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This painting, like others in the series, has a high horizon line with the bird placed comfortably on that line. Above the horizon, textures disappear, smooth out, and give some respite from the thicket below. Red orange streaks and dots move the eye around the canvas and provide warmth against the cool grays. Splatters in red orange, white, and Payne’s gray animate the surface.

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Dove in Mourning was created using acrylic paint and image transfer on a 40” x 40” deep gallery-wrapped canvas. You can see it in context here, along with the two other paintings in the series thus far.

Contact me if you’re interested in making this or any of my paintings your own. I can also produce museum-quality gicleé prints, available at a lower cost than the original. Prints are available in sizes 36” x 36”, 30” x 30”, and 24” x 24”.

Join me on Facebook and Instagram for behind-the-scenes peeks and first postings of new work.

All art is copyrighted and may not be reproduced without express written permission. Copyright 2017 Laura Hunt


 

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About the Painting

Birds on a Wet Lawn

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Birds on a Wet Lawn is first in a series of large paintings featuring birds on a high horizon line. It’s the first time in a while that I’ve included an objective element in an otherwise non-objective piece. I’ve explored the subject of birds in the past, and you can probably count on a re-appearance from time to time.

There are so many reasons to include birds in a painting—their beauty, their freedom in flight, their uninhibited motion, their oneness with the environment. In this case though, I believe I was expressing a memory.

I’m careful to keep my lawn organic, not wanting chemicals endangering the pets and people who enjoy my yard, or to drain into our soil and water. So one of the organic products used to keep the grass healthy is molasses. Yes, molasses, in a pellet form. When this aromatic product is applied to the lawn, there’s a delightful gathering of neighborhood birds of all kinds, enjoying a fragrant feast. It’s a small memory, but a pleasant one, that is captured here.

Now for my process. As usual, I applied the texture first, with mostly random horizontal grooves, with some concentric arcs interspersed throughout the lower three-quarters of the design. The paint follows the texture in places, but in others, it skips across like a stone across the water. You’ll see the effect when you examine closely.

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The birds themselves were originally created from stamps that I carve out of rubber. For this painting, I took that technique a step farther by stamping the images, scanning them into my computer, printing them out, then using an image transfer method to apply them to the canvas.

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Green shades and tints are predominant, enhanced with deep blues, turquoise, and some yellow and white. The upper portion has a hazy effect, with white raining down over the birds. The entire painting is finished with red, orange, and blue splatters.

Birds on a Wet Lawn is 40” x 40” on deep gallery-wrapped canvas, wired and ready to hang. You can see it in context here, along with the two other paintings currently in the series. I’ll write about them in future posts.

Contact me if you’re interested in owning this or any of my other paintings. I can also make museum quality prints of Birds on a Wet Lawn available at a lower cost, and in several sizes smaller than the original.

Join me on Facebook and Instagram for behind-the-scenes peeks and first postings of new work.

All art is copyrighted and may not be reproduced without express written permission. Copyright 2017 Laura Hunt


 

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About the Painting

Moon Over Canyon

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Canyons are imposing, mysterious, sometimes intimidating spaces that leave me in awe of the power and wonder of nature. Moon Over Canyon is my attempt to express the experience of being deep in the gorge, looking up to see a silvery blue full moon.

I expressed the tactile character of the canyon wall by playing with a variety of textures– smooth against rough, vertical and crisscross against horizontal and curved, strands of twine near raised circles. The red, orange, ocher, and rust hues of the ravine sing next to a hazy orb of a moon hanging in an arc of midnight sky. I finish off the painting with animating splatters, bringing to mind the life that pulses deep in the canyon.

Moon Over Canyon is 48” x 30” on gallery-wrapped canvas. You can see it in a contextual photo here. Check out the FAQ page to learn how you may purchase this or any of my paintings.

Join me on Facebook and Instagram for behind-the-scenes peeks and first postings of new work.

All art is copyrighted and may not be reproduced without express written permission. Copyright 2016 Laura Hunt

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