Inspiration for Making Art

Junk, Castoffs, and Redemption

Painting is a passion for me. So many ideas present themselves, begging to be rendered on canvas. Really, there’s not enough time, canvas, or paint to get them all down. Even so, a break every now and then is a healthy thing. I’m doing that by taking on some personal work and experimenting with some new-to-me media in the process. I’ve set aside works on canvas for a bit and turned my attention to junk. Oh, excuse me. I mean “found objects.” You know. Junk.

The catalyst for delving into this new territory was the recent transformation of what had been a storage space and is now a workshop—my “she-shop.” During the clearing-out process, I discovered a treasure trove of materials. Many of them would be familiar to woodworkers, but I saw art supplies.

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Some items I rediscovered, like rusty metal parts that may have originated from the farm where I spent my childhood. Corrosion, strange shapes, and mysterious tools! What’s not to love! The battered wooden box that held them is waiting for its turn in the spotlight. Its lid, broken and mellowed by time, is already taking on a new life.

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There’s been a quite positive side effect to this recess from painting, by the way. I’ve scavenged the closets, kitchen drawers, and hidden crannies for all the doodads that have little purpose anymore except to be tossed–or turned into art. But I think there’s something deeper here. Something spiritual and redemptive happens when castoffs take on new purpose—or live out a purpose that might have been missed.They just need the opportunity to be what they will be.

Making art is good for the soul. So is cleaning out your junk. Making art from junk? I can’t help but think of Pablo Picasso’s quote: “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”

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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.

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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.

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

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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