New Painting: Hortical Mambo

"Hortical Mambo" Oil on canvas 16" x 20" © 2011 Marilyn Fenn
“Hortical Mambo” Oil on canvas 16″ x 20″ © 2011 Marilyn Fenn

Another little breakthrough!

I worked on this until 2am one night last week, then evaluated and made more changes the next day.  I ventured way out of my comfort zone in this painting, color-wise and otherwise, but in general, I like the direction.

Ostensibly, this is a painting of flowers, but the idea of flowers is really just something to give a bit of shape to the stuff of the painting–the paint, the colors, the shapes, the interactions.

What I love about working abstractly like this is that I cannot know what my painting will look like when I finish.  There’s no way I could make this painting happen except by painting it! I can make a few plans, but something in the work takes over and demands adjustments.  In this case, the adjustments were major. I love all the beautiful little moments and the unexpected, unplanned color mixes that happen when I work this way.

Maybe it’s just because I tend to be so literal when I work representationally.  When I begin a representational work, my aim is to make what I paint look like what I’m painting from. So I sort of know when I start what I expect my finished work to look like, and I know when I’m done.

This, on the other hand, is a journey into an unknown universe for me, and I love it!  Onward and upward in 2012!

*no actual flowers were harmed in the making of this painting

Beili Liu

The Mending Project, Iron scissors, Fabric, thread, needle, mixed-media, dimensions variable
Lure/Forest, Thread, needle, dimensions variable, each coil 2-5” in diameter
Toil, Silk Organza, dimensions variable, each element approximately 3” to 8” long
Affine, Hand cut paper, graphite, on birch panel, set of 3, 36” x 48” x 1” each

About Beili Liu’s Work

I’ve had several opportunities to see Beili Liu’s work up close and personal right here in Austin.  She teaches at the University of Texas and shows from time to time at one or another of Austin’s galleries.  The last show I attended was “The Mending Project” at Women and Their Work in 2011.  A room is filled with a cloud of hundreds of Chinese scissors suspended from the ceiling, points down, just over your head.  The artist sits below those hundreds of sharp points, calmly mending bits of fabric while the threat of danger hovers very close above her.  It’s a very powerful piece, at once menacing and visually stunning.

Lure/Forest” is one of the works that first drew me to Beili Liu’s work.  Thousands of disks made of hand-wound coiled red thread are suspended from the ceiling with a single thread that then drapes onto the floor.  The sight of all these disks slowly swaying in the space is quite enchanting, like standing at the edge of a forest of red flowers slightly disturbed by breezes wafting through.  Like much of Liu’s work, this installation references an ancient Chinese legend.  A related installation, “Lure/Wave” won 3rd Place at Artprize.

Liu creates some very compelling installations and 2D work, and her use of a wide variety of materials is always fascinating, thought-provoking and unexpected.

Artist Statement

“My work depends on a genuine connection to the material. By playing with the material—testing, manipulating, experimenting, and examining, even leaving it for months—I watch for the moment of surprise, when the material responds to one or a series of actions, and leads to an exciting physical or conceptual outcome. That outcome itself sometimes becomes the lead into a new project.

As one who comes from the East and lives in the West, I have experienced two distinct and often contradictory value systems. These experiences constantly influence each other, at times create conflicts in my life, and other times offer great inspirations for my work.”

See more of Beili Liu’s gorgeous and intriguing work, and find out about her full list of awards, shows, and accomplishments at her website.

New Painting: Frogs and Snails and Wiggledy Tails

"Frogs and Snails and Wiggledy Tails" Oil on canvas 18" x 18" © 2011 Marilyn Fenn
“Frogs and Snails and Wiggledy Tails” Oil on canvas 18″ x 18″ © 2011 Marilyn Fenn

My husband brought me flowers for our anniversary a couple weeks ago.  I got enchanted with the idea of using flowers as a way into shape creation for continuing my abstract paintings, but I was seduced by the representation of the irises and alstroemeria.  The vase in this painting is part representation, part abstraction; around the vase are some abstractions of some frog and snail toys (that you may or may not be able to discern), plus some shapes echoed from the abstracted reflections in the vase…and then there’s just some paint jazz. 😉

Abstract Art, colorful, flower paintings

Heather Patterson

Kaleidoscope, mixed media, 36” x 24”
Aquatica, mixed media, 24” x 24”
Climate 1, mixed media, 24” x 24” 
Afloat, mixed media, 18” x 18”

About Heather Patterson’s Work

I love the richness of Heather’s mixed media paintings, her use of color, and her imagery from life and science.  Looking at any of her paintings, I feel as if I could walk into her oddly populated world.  She creates a sense of space and a sense of place that stands in contrast to her use of ornamentation, drips, and flat shapes that reference the language of painting.  It’s both an illusionistic space and the flat space of the surface of the canvas.

Artist Statement

“My work is an intuitive gathering of imagery stemming from the natural world. I recreate geographic patterns and forms and then layer them to make up new systems in the environment. By analyzing the biological and structural phenomena, I find similarities between their elements…I am interested in the imperfections in nature, the complete randomness yet undisturbed instances of subtle perfection.

By layering varied imagery through drawing and painting, a sense of fragmented time emerges, a documentation of events.”

Read Heather’s full statement and see much more of her gorgeous paintings on her website.

What is Abstract Art?

Abstract art uses a visual language of form, color and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world.[1]  It focuses more on the materials and form of art rather than on the rendering of a recognizable object or the illusion of reality.

Abstract art can be a very formal exploration of the elements and principles of design (form, shape, color, value, balance, harmony, variety, movement, rhythm, line, texture, and composition), or it can be a way to visually represent non-visual things, such as emotion, experiences, and music.  It can also refer to work which “abstracts” or simplifies the form of things from the world.

Art that completely eliminates any representation from reality could better be called “non-objective.”

For more detailed information, please see this Wikipedia article.

New Painting: Clobbered by Picasso

"Clobbered by Picasso" Oil on canvas 12" x 12" © 2011 Marilyn Fenn
“Clobbered by Picasso” Oil on canvas 12″ x 12″ © 2011 Marilyn Fenn

After copying a Picasso last week, I started seeing so many things differently! Palette, shapes, composition…my copy of his painting in among my own paintings made my work pale in comparison. 🙁

OK, well, no surprise there.

I tried to return to what I had been doing before the Picasso copy and started using colors from his palette to attack this work that was already in progress. Picasso kept interfering as I struggled with thoughts of the strength of his work.

A few days and many changes later, I finally got back into the rhythm of my own vision and ended up here. FWIW.

New Painting: Beast of Burden

"Beast of Burden" Oil on canvas 6" x 6" © 2011 Marilyn Fenn
“Beast of Burden” Oil on canvas 6″ x 6″ © 2011 Marilyn Fenn

This is kind of a goofy little painting that I was really just noodling around on.  It went through several changes over about a week of occasional noodling, and this is where it ended up.  I gave it that title because it reminds me of the little donkeys I saw in Morocco being led across the desert or in the medinas, stacked practically to the sky with all sorts of household goods, water, cans, people, rugs, etc.  Mighty little fellows!

New Painting: Quest for Magic

"Quest for Magic" Oil on canvas 12" x 12" 2011 Marilyn Fenn
“Quest for Magic” Oil on canvas 12″ x 12″ 2011 Marilyn Fenn

The greatest work of an artist is the history of a painting.
– Alberti

The title of this painting could embody a state of grace that many people seek throughout their lives. It could symbolize the wishes that most artists aspire to obtain through their creations. Or it could represent my recent series of abstract paintings. In this case, it represents another painting in the series through which I am beginning to achieve a long sought after enchantment with my process and pleasure in the final result.

Every painting, and perhaps especially abstract paintings, start out as a journey with the destination unknown. The thrill of exploration is a great part of the goal. What can I make my colors and brushstrokes do? How do I push the paint around in interesting ways? How can I make an intriguing composition out of nothing but colored oil paint and a few shapes?

These first few works in the series are small and slow, and I’m still finding my footing, but I’m really looking forward to more and larger and more confident works. I’m thrilled to have reached this part of my journey, and excited about the rest of the trip. I hope it is a long one!

New Painting: Strange Attractors

"Strange Attractors" Oil on canvas 12" x 12" © 2011 Marilyn Fenn
“Strange Attractors” Oil on canvas 12″ x 12″ © 2011 Marilyn Fenn

This is one of my favorite paintings from my latest series of abstracts; this one is from last weekend. These new works are very process-oriented, though of course, I do aim for a final happy outcome. This series is primarily about paint: pushing it over, around, through, beside, until I’m satisfied with the composition, shapes, colors, brushstrokes, and amount of paint. I do love the soft palette I achieved in this painting!

New Painting: Molecular Vibrations

“Molecular Vibrations” Oil on canvas 12″ x 12″ © 2011 Marilyn Fenn

Of all the paintings I’ve done, this may be my favorite painting so far. I love the colors, the nice thick paint, and the general happiness of this painting. It evolved from the work I did on the last five abstract paintings. I’m really enjoying pushing thicker and slicker paint into, over, around, and through previous brushstrokes, and the wonderful color mixing that happens on the canvas. Working this way is going to be fun!