When this gorgeous photo of Lake Teedyuskung at Woodloch Pines's appeared on my Facebook News feed recently, I was pulled into the picture and dazzled by the absolute calm and beauty of this gift of nature. While the political world around me is filled with static and unwanted noise, looking at this photograph is a place to find peace and quiet. Spending decades vacationing at this popular resort, I have painted or sketched this lake scene over and over in all seasons. But this photograph by a gifted photographer unknown to me, taken on this winter day, reminded me that I can always find inspiration and solace in my art and in nature. The photo was also a reminder to me that I must work hard to protect that which is cherished, taken for granted or compromised.
Have you ever thought of your artistic inertia as a blessing and not a curse? Many creative types put a negative spin on such dormant episodes, calling these phases of hibernation "ARTISTIC BLOCK". No, no...these are critical relaxation periods for creative types when their pilot light is in reset mode. Shortly after these "breaks in action" the reset will generate a spark which often results in new ideas, turning points or revisions in one's approach to their work. A lot is always going on inside the minds of true artists. Like a sponge, the brains of creative people seem to be soaking up the world inside and around them. even when they are in a so called quiet period. These phases are not symptoms of inertia but rather recharging sessions which are critical to honor and cherish.
Don't feel guilty if you are a Mixed media artist who pokes through bundles targeted for charity . Even though I donate toys, clothes, linens, household items to local organizations, I also keep in mind whether a particular object can be used in my art making projects and I separate it out form the giveaways. Let's call it like it is, Mixed media artists are scavengers. In the photo shown, I saved this blue game part to use to create circular patterns in my Mixed media collages. While it looks like a stencil, it was actually part of a child's game unrelated to art. You can draw into the circles or paint over the circles leaving an impression with the paint.
Next time you come across remnants of ceramic tiles, take a look at the back of the tile. Often there is a very interesting pattern on the backside of the tile which can be used as a printmaking tool in Mixed media art. In the tile shown, I painted orange paint on the underneath side of the tile and then stamped or printed with the tile onto my work. I will use this tile over and over again, adding different colors when needed. You can also over stamp with the same color creating more patterning and textures on your work.
It is very interesting to sit down with a group of artists during a critique session and to discuss one of the student's work. Discussions generally focus on the assignment at hand (printing without a press) and how each participant met the challenge. In the piece shown, there was even more discussion because this abstract evoked so many different images to the group assembled. Some students saw "fingers", others imagined a Snow-scape or Beach-scape. What type of mood and setting did this piece evoke...mysterious, peaceful, eerie etc. What about this piece led some people to think about it being a landscape (or fingers) ....the horizontal applications of paint, a horizen etc? Lines, marks, shapes, smears, blotches , intensity, negative space and how paint is applied are part of the abstract artist's toolbox. Student work shown.
What a treat visiting Rosalie and Ray Gustafson, both artists who have a whimsical gallery and Frame shop called "Ray's" at 53 Poqonock Avenue in Windsor, CT. Rosalie always shares lots of her art tips and makes you feel right at home in her showroom. The shop is small but carefully planned to make to make every nook and cranny count. Rosalie enjoys variety in her work and often mixes her media to create interesting textures. One of her favorite techniques is to cut a landscape or cityscape design into a piece of Styrofoam (the kind found in the meat section of the grocery store) and to coat with paint and print with. She has done many paintings with a city scape theme that she starts out with the technique just mentioned. Than she collages painted or printed papers onto the original painting.
If I am being totally honest I can not remember if I started to doodle and I said, hey this drawing looks like a Conch shell and I ran with it. Or, I was studying the patterns and twists and turns of a Conch shell and incorporated these spirals and textures into my work. Whichever way this drawing happened, it is a reminder how helpful it is to look at the world around you. You will find so many intrinsic marks. lines, shapes and patterns in nature that you can mimic in your own way in your abstract art. This drawing was done with a simple Uniball Vision black pen on a small white sketch pad. The drawing has a nice combination of darks and lights, a repetition of shapes spiral lines and a sense of three dimension or depth because of the way the lines were created.
I'm often asked how do I decide on a palette when i am making my Mixed media collages? The answer is, I like to start with browsing through books about textiles from the 1950s or 1960s. I then begin to practice trying to get a certain color just the way I want it. Some days the color happens quite easily and other days for some reason, I struggle. Yes, I am aware that many artists actually know exactly how to mix colors. But, that is not the way I go about the process. I like to stumble onto the color I am after because along the way I end up making new versions of vintage colors which suit me just fine. Poking through older textile books, is just a starting point. Designer shown is Robert Stewart. This 1954 design is called Macrahanish.
My new Facebook group "The Art Of Mark Making in Abstract Art" is up and running and becoming a popular online meeting place for artists who work in all types of media. Mark making was very much associated with Abstract Expressionists who flourished during the 1950s and were also called Action painters. Moving away from Representational art, Abstract Expressionists were more interested in the immediacy of the work, foregoing careful planning and deliberate sketches and delighting in accidental outcomes and spontaneity. Gestural strokes, dripping paint, accidental marks and outcomes, unconventional painting and drawing tools were all part of the Abstract Expressionist's approach to making art. In the new Facebook group I started, artists from all over the world are posting examples of their work, announcements about shows, relevant articles and more. Just like the work, this is a very dynamic group worth joining. Here is the link to the new group The Art of Mark Making in Abstract Art. www.facebook.com/groups/1770476956535168/
If you are thinking about cleaning out your attic, cabinets or basement and tossing out old children's toys and games...stop! There are plenty of artists who use game parts, tiles, images, puzzle pieces, Legos and more in their work. Many of my art friends are scavengers who are forever looking for your vintage Board games and accessories to use in Assemblages, collages, Mixed Media etc. You will now find many collectibles vendors who bundle up old toy parts and sell. So consider either passing along your collections to an artist who would love to hit the jackpot with your donation or reasonably selling your stash of toy goodies. Image shown was done by Mixed Media artist Carolyn Tertes (see my earlier article (http://cdiannezweig.blogspot.com/2011/11/mixed-media-artist-carolyn-tertes.html)
When I am making Mixed Media artwork I like to keep a pre-cut Mat "window" nearby to help me isolate parts of my work in progress that may actually be more exciting than if I kept the "whole" piece intact. I have been criticized for giving up too soon on "resolving" a whole piece and I understand that comment. I even at times feel a little guilty for reaching for my mat window, but I also appreciate that I respect my visual eye and if cropping is what is called for....that is what my artistic intuition tells me. Some guidelines that I use when I am making this decision to crop or cut up a piece of work is does the section I have highlighted show more composition integrity and or excitement than the piece as a whole? Sometimes eliminating "noise" or complexity is helpful. Are the color relationships keener in the smaller section chosen? Do I get more drama, serenity, mystery, movement etc. in the portion of the artwork that I have chosen to feature. These are some ways to think about should you crop or not.
It really is true that sometimes the palette with a mixture of the day's paint caked on can appear at times to be more interesting than the work in progress. The same can be said for the glorious accidental spills and drips and strokes that appear on the under sheets or table coverings that many of us place down on our workspace before beginning a Mixed Media project. I always encourage new students to intentionally work on top of layers of paper. My favorite paper to use under work is 18 X 24 Drawing paper (which comes in gummed pads at your local art store) or rolls of white paper (Restaurant supply companies). These wonderful painted papers can be torn and used in collages or worked back into later as paintings and drawings without tearing.
Random Acts of Color
Contemporary Abstract Mixed Media
C. Dianne Zweig
Inspired by 1950's colors, shapes, and designs, “Random Acts of Color" features C. Dianne Zweig's Contemporary Mixed Media abstracts which are anything but "random" as Dianne playfully re-works Mid-Century style for today's collector. You will find almost 50 works of art on display assembled in Dianne's first Solo Show. This playful collection showcases Dianne's bold use of color and Mark making.
Opening Reception with the artist:
Sunday, December 11, 2016
December 4, 2016 – January 15, 2017
For more information visit: JCC 860-231-4571
WINTER CLASSES 2016
MAKING YOUR MARK IN CONTEMPORARY ABSTRACT ART AT THE WEST HARTFORD ART LEAGUE
C. Dianne Zweig West Hartford Art League 6 Weeks Level: Beginner to Advanced Abstract artists who would like to add more spontaneity to their artwork will explore a variety of mark making approaches to help reinvigorate and “morph” their contemporary styles into more interesting and finished works of art. Emphasis will be on the language of line and spontaneity, chaos and control, figuration to abstraction, action versus quiet, color, shape using both traditional and unconventional art products, materials and tools. Assignments will integrate the use of wet and dry media, pen and ink products, painting and collage. Emphasis will be on resolving artistic dilemmas in creative ways which incorporate innovation as well as group critiques. All levels of students welcomed. A materials list is available at: http://www.cdiannezweig.com/workshops/ C. Dianne Zweig is a Contemporary Mixed Media abstract artist whose artwork is influenced by the organic shapes and abstract designs of 1950s textiles. She is a member of Connecticut Women Artists and a founding member of Mixus, a group of women artists who work in Mixed media. Dianne is also enjoys teaching art classes and workshops to all ages.
DZ312|Wednesday, January 11th – February 15th|1:00 – 4:00 Clubhouse Classroom Fee: Member $138.00 Non-member $163.00
To register visit the West Hartford Art League
It seemed to me that there needed to be a hub for obsessive and casual mark makers who enjoy adding wonderful lines, symbols, strokes, movement to their work. With that in mind, I started a new Facebook Group called "The Art of Mark Making in Abstract Art". Response to establishing this group has been very exciting ! Artists from all over the world are joining this lively group. To add a wide range of mark makers to the group, I have been scouting my other FB groups and inviting artists to join and spread the word. While, I know that a lot of "doodlers" are also Mark makers, causal doodlers were not my prime audience. my My goal is to bring together Fine Artists who work in as variety of media such as paint, pastels, crayons, ink, Watercolor, digital etc. The art exercise shown is one of my Midcentury inspired Watercolor and ink quickie pieces done on the beach during the summer on a Strathmore Bristol board "Visual Journal".
As an artist I have very little patience, but I have learned over the years to work with that quirky trait. If I absolutely had to sit and render a very carefully executed vase of flowers sitting on a table, I'm betting over time and practice (and some skill building) , I could truly pull that off. But I'm thinking that I would frankly be worn out and not energized while TRYING to create a painting of flowers. In contrast to drawing or painting realistically, when I slop around in my studio experimenting with colors, products and applications in all the "wrong" ways I'm "unglued" but satisfied. I really do like the idea of accidentally falling into a project with little preconceived notions and few expectations (ha ha). I really have to get back to stop trying so hard, that's when my best work appears!
I love Hartford, I love the rhythms, the mix of people of different backgrounds, the energy of the Arts community and my amazing new studio at The Arbor Arts Center which is the same building as Real Art Ways. This weekend (November 12-13) is Open Studio Hartford and my new studio, suite 220 will be open for the first time to the public. Just to keep you up to date, I still have my Mid Century vibe going on and I am still working in my usual 1950s colors ...more or less.
What is new in my 56 Arbor Street studio, besides the sink which is still white and not yet covered with paint or my shiny gorgeous restored hardwood floors which are not yet smothered in splattered paint is my decision to keep my studio a workspace and not a gallery. My fantastic TALL white walls are now reserved for work in progress. Therefore.....I need to move many of my earlier Abstract Mixed Media pieces out the door....time to let go. While I am resisting calling this a "sale"....guess what it is a SALE ! Out with the old, in with the new. http://openstudiohartford.com/artists?artistID=792
Other news to report is that my friend Ginny August a very wonderful potter will be exhibiting her functional and decorative pottery in my studio. Ginny has great gifts for the holiday season.
Mixed Media artists are always using their tools in quirky ways. While the average painter holds their brush upright choosing to paint with the bristles of the brush, others have learned to get very interesting applications by using their brush handle as a roller or brayer, spreading the paint across the paper in accidental and blotting types of layering. Thank you to Peter Ganick for demonstrating this lovely technique during an exercise on Visual poetry.
Just in time for Halloween, some thoughts on our fear of the other, the people in the shadows, or merely those that don't look like us.It's tempting to rile yourself up about the 'other'. But that's not the real challenge. The challenge is inside. It's the self-sabotage. The projects not shipped, the hugs not given, the art not made. The real boogeyman isn't the other. The one we're afraid of is with us all the time. http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2016/10/fear-of-outsiders.html
If you spend a good amount of time in your art studio fussing over and over on a painting that is screaming "cover me with Gesso" or "throw me out" you have probably reached the point where you should just go ahead and "ruin it"! In other words relinquish the "plan" you had for this piece and just "let whatever happens happen".
Below is an excerpt from a five page letter the artist Sol Le Witt wrote to Eva Hesse.
"I have much confidence in you andthough you are tormenting yourself, the work you do is very good. Try to do some BAD work — the worst you can think of and see what happens but mainly relax and let everything go to hell — you are not responsible for the world — you are only responsible for your work — so DO IT. And don’t think that your work has to conform to any preconceived form, idea or flavor. It can be anything you want it to be. But if life would be easier for you if you stopped working — then stop. Don’t punish yourself. However, I think that it is so deeply engrained in you that it would be easier to