About the Painting, Body of Work, Inspiration for Making Art

The place of ideas

The concept for a new painting often arises out of the piece I am currently working on. Completing a painting that features the very stable, quiet and calming forces of horizontal marks generates thoughts about a more motion-filled and cacophonous design, with criss-crossing and arcing lines. (Click on images to see larger versions.)

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Or it may give birth to ideas on how to push the same concept even further. A painting that in its final stages partially overcomes the background may set me toward thinking of a more open, airy design—or other ways of using the background to influence what happens at the end. A black background creates a completely different experience than a white one, and I like to test them both.

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Color does a lot of heavy lifting in communicating the emotional tone of a work, so I’m sometimes drawn to pulling from a different part of the color spectrum for a subsequent piece. Maybe the last piece I completed incorporated reds and oranges for a hot and fiery mood that generates excitement. The follow-up might be a larger painting with a similar color palette, with the larger canvas encouraging an even bolder approach. But it could also mean that cool, quiet blues and greens form the basis for the next work. I followed Fire Dance, for example, with Tsunami.

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I’m not saying that external stimulation doesn’t generate ideas for paintings—it certainly does. Trips to museums, shows, galleries and even a YouTube video session often create a whirlwind of concepts that might eventually make their way into my work. But even so, they must go through an internal blender—no, not a blender—more of a butter churn–before they feel authentic to me.

Truly, ideas come from a deep and infinite universe, both the observable one of nature, objects and humanity, and the invisible one of the heart, the emotions and the intellect—and ultimately from the Creator who has embedded deep within us the power to create.

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

 

 

 

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Body of Work, New Art

Memory-Jogs and the Year-End Review

Even though I’m not so much a looking backwards individual as I am a looking forward one, I do find a review of the previous year fundamental to goal-setting for the year to come. So for a start, I’ve assembled this slide show of some of my 2017 work.

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Some of these works are still in my studio, but many of them have found themselves in new homes where I hope they provide lasting pleasure. The memory jog was fun for me. The images of work created months ago remind me of how rewarding it is to create something that never existed before, and to pass it along to someone who will find meaning in it for years to come. I appreciate immensely the connections that art makes possible.

Besides a visual review of 2017, I also did a written one. I won’t bore you with details, but I’ll share a few of the highlights, some of which didn’t seem significant until seen from the vantage point of 2018.

  1. Cleared out, renovated and set up the workshop
  2. Began creating assemblages (made possible by #1)
  3. Created 36 works (22 paintings and 14 assemblages).
  4. Accepted into four juried shows

Now, looking forward to the broad expanse of 2018 (doesn’t the year ahead seem big and forever?), yes, I have goals, like creating 40 works, adding the 3D work to my website and increasing my email list of art lovers. But one of my most daunting goals is to focus on consistency of expression, to better establish my style and unique voice–challenges many artists encounter! I’m envious of those who make it look so easy.

My heartfelt thanks goes out to all of you for your encouragement and moral support this past year. It means the world to me, no matter what form it took, whether you gave a social media thumbs up, volunteered your help, joined my patronage program, attended an exhibit, subscribed to my newsletter, read a blog post, shared an event or purchased a piece of art, be assured that I notice and feel your kindness and friendship.

A happy, healthy, and blessed 2018 to all of you.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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Inspiration for Making Art

Barking Up the Right Trees

Texture. Pattern. Color. Surprise. These elements attract and inspire me as I discover any and all of them in my everyday surroundings. Nature, however, serves up the richest assortment of them, often motivating the next idea to be realized in the studio. Vacations and day trips offer opportunities galore. I decided to share some of them with you today, a bit of a departure from my About the Painting series of posts.

I recently looked back through my thoroughly unorganized collection of images, noticing how often I photographed the bark and exposed roots of trees. I often find myself drawn into the mysterious beauty in the details.

I shot all these images with an iPhone 6, then used Photoshop to posterize them. Posterizing pumps up the contrast and draws out the color.

This twisted intertwining of roots and bark below presented itself on a walk through Fort Worth’s Botanic Gardens.

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The posterization of this image of tree bark really drew out the blues and golds against the gray.

Tree trunk

How can you not love the bark of the pine tree! I believe this is a Ponderosa pine, a stalwart thing that rises above the pine needles in my son and daughter-in-law’s Evergreen, Colorado, home.

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My recent road trip with my Portland-residing son took us through Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park near Crescent City, California. Of course, seeing the old growth Coast Redwoods in all their gigantic glory was awesome, but closeups of the bark made for some equally compelling photos. A little Photoshop magic brought out the mossy greens, while the magenta accents were a sweet surprise.

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You can see in my paintings how nature’s textures take a prominent place in my work. Browse through Large Paintings, Mid-Size Paintings, and Small Paintings, and see if you can spot those inspired by trees.

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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.

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

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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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