Friday, January 27, 2012

Duluth Art Institute Annual Members Show

Last week we attended the opening reception of the Duluth Art Institute's Annual Member Show. Each member was allowed to enter one piece 30"x30" or less in size. I chose to enter 'Twilight Birch Triptych' as it is a nice expression of my current style, and it met the size requirements. The opening was packed to say the least, as we went up to the balcony to view the exhibit at one point as it was almost impossible to move around! I took a photo which shows how many of the pieces are hung, on moveable walls, and it took us about an hour to view everything. The curator mentioned at the opening of the show that there is a 30% increase in artist memberships this year, showing that the art community is doing well and that many people are creating, viewing, enjoying, and purchasing art. A great time was had by all, please stop by the Depot sometime between now and March 18, 2012 to view the exhibit.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sun Dance

Acrylic on 40"w x 30"h x 1.5"d canvas
Click on image above to enlarge.
Please email me at for purchase information.

Another piece from my 'Twilight Maples' series. I've enjoyed exploring this series in the past several months, making subtle changing in color intensity to change the mood of the different pieces. I'd like to make an online portfolio or slide show of the works in this series so they could be viewed in succession, perhaps that's something for the near future. This particular piece features the light source that demands your attention, saying 'look at me! look at me!' I added multiple shades of yellows for the sun, imagining the light dancing around the canvas, keeping it's intensity even as it travels farther from the source. The foreground shadows are crisp, due to the intensity of the light source, and the leaves above are bright. I resisted the urge to brighten the foreground even more, opting to keep the color hue consistent with the leaves, because I didn't want to detract from the sun. I've felt a sense of completion with this piece, like I've shared all that's within me regarding this 'Twilight Maples' series, and I'm ready to explore more landscape subjects. I'm not saying that I won't return to this series in the future as it holds a special place in my heart. But I am feeling that it's time to move on at the same time. What will result I cannot imagine, but perhaps the next painting will give that direction, providing a spark of inspiration, directing me onward. :)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Mossy Maple Ridge

Acrylic on 12"w x 12"h x 1.5"d canvas
Click on image above to enlarge.
One more little 12x12" canvas featuring fall Maples and Evergreens. The deep greens of the Evergreens influenced the background with the multiple shades of green fading off into the distance. I'm happy that the use of green puts special emphasis on the foreground highlights and shadows. I feel so drawn to the way light filters through trees and casts shadows on the ground that I feel that I may explore this even more, delving deeper and deeper into the forest, looking for the early sunrise and late twilight sunsets. I'm already thinking several canvases ahead, when this happens, you need to make a special effort to paint and create, to capture what's in your head and heart. Up next this week is a 36"w x 24" Maple sunrise forest, then some Lester Park Pines ... I'm thinking vertical, but we'll see. :)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Bluestone Birch Group

Acrylic on 12"w x 12"h x 1.5"d canvas
Click on image above to enlarge.
Here's a work I completed recently, a part of a group of paintings on the same size canvas, each taking on a life of their own. I've been spending a lot of time on the rocks in my compositions, working on giving them a depth of color, using many shades of paint to give them the depth and texture I'm desiring them to have. This painting has a nice subtle light hitting the right foreground, reflecting off the rocks and the birch trees. I have one more 12x12 to post tomorrow, then I need to finish off my maple sunrise 30x40" canvas currently on my easel.

I'd be getting more accomplished but I've been fighting off the flu the last few days. No fun, but surrounding myself in colorful paintings helps brighten my spirits. :)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Serene Symmetry

Acrylic on 15"w x 12"h x 1.5"d canvas
Click on image above to enlarge.

As I've been driving around lately I've been enjoying the Birch forests around my house and noticing small underbrush still holding onto their fall colored leaves. There are also many winterberry trees (I call them winterberry trees, but I'm sure they have other names too). I love the complimentary deep cranberry reds and deep greens of the evergreens in the distance. The birch trees and rocks scattered about this colorful backdrop are just too irresistible to paint! I'd love to explore this birch/red/green theme some more ... so many ideas ... so little time! I guess I'd rather have the problem of having too many inspirations versus staring at a blank canvas with no vision. :) I titled this painting 'Serene Symmetry' after a friend observed that my work felt 'serene' to them. The symmetry comes from the composition. Compositions are more interesting when they aren't symmetrical, but sometimes I beg to differ and intentionally center a composition horizontally or vertically. Symmetry can be serene if you know what I mean.
God bless, -A

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

All That Glitters

Acrylic on 12"w x 15"h x 1.5"d canvas
Click on image above to enlarge.

These Birch trees were one of those images I had in mind to paint and finally just got around to painting it. I envisioned featuring several Birch trees with golden leaves, and the bright blue sky showing through the leaves. I used many shades of gold for the leaves, painting in several transparencies, getting the depth I was looking for. The dark gold of the distant tree ridge and gold-leafed foreground anchor the piece, while the sun rises in the sky with it's bright yellows, not to be outdone by the birch trees. I  have a stack of paintings I need to get uploaded to the blog and website, I'll keep posting 'til I have them all finished. Remember all that glitters isn't gold ... unless it's a Birch tree leaf. :)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Festive Fall Forest

Acrylic on 40"w x 30"h x 1.5"d canvas
Click on image above to enlarge.
Please email me at for purchase information.

On a cold weekend, I was feeling the need to paint a warm painting. So the beautiful golds and reds of distant maple tree covered ridges found themselves a home in the background of this painting that I've titled 'Festive Fall Forest'. This painting really nailed an 'optical illusion' I've been trying to accomplish with recent works. The foreground with it's sunset rays and rocks really pop off the canvas and the birches behind them contrast nicely with the background that incorporates complementary colors. The depth all these layers brings really gives me a lift and I'm already thinking of ways to carry the energy from this work onto subsequent works.

This painting just makes me feel warm ... like snuggling up to a nice warm fire with a hot cup of coffee on a cold winter's day. This one will be hard to part with ... I think I'll hang it in my living room and enjoy it a while before I bring it to the gallery. :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2011: A Year In Review

   I'm excited about the latest paintings I've completed: several 12"x12" landscapes with different colors and compositions, and a couple large works, one that is very colorful and vibrant. While I enjoy working in series using the same palette of colors and subjects ... I often find the need to branch out into new ideas and the last several paintings have had a very punchy, colorful feel to them, and I'll be sharing them this week. But before I do, I wanted to share a year in review ... a retrospective of the goals I set for myself and how I accomplished them...

   First of all, I've been a full time artist my entire life, working mainly in the graphic design and commercial art side of the business. But I've always created art for my career and also for fun outside of work, often experimenting with a wide range of styles and subject matters. The commercial art side of my career influenced this, and I enjoyed the range of creative expression, often incorporating my art into commercial projects.

   But I also felt like something was missing. I found myself drawn to creating fine art and establishing myself in the art field as a professional painter. Having gone to art school, I was well versed in artistic styles and the business of fine art, but I also did not have a distinctive direction to pursue, kind of like standing at one of those signs that shows distant cities with an arrow and a mileage. I didn't know who I really was as a fine artist, only who I was as a commercial artist. I was so used to creating art for customers and businesses that I struggled to find clear direction with my art. I worked hard, though, finding the need to set for myself clear boundaries and objectives ... deadlines and goals. The goals are what spurred me on, even when I was unable to meet the deadlines.

   The first goal I established was painting on a regular, even daily basis. I accomplished this by painting small works on 8x10 canvases, keeping things simple, exploring landscape compositions.

   The second goal was selling a painting . The first serious painting I created sold, and I knew I must be onto something. It wasn't about the sale of the painting, more it was about the style ... I found something clicking on the canvas ... something was working.

   The third goal was having an art show at The Vanilla Bean featuring my paintings in the style and subject matter I was focusing on. I felt that the show would give me feedback on my work, helping me find more direction for my work .. and the show was a huge success for me. I sold several paintings and received a lot of helpful feedback. During a slow tourist season, the works sold to people who had never seen or heard of me before confirmed to me again that the direction for my work was sound, that I was identifying with people. Viewing my work all together in one place was so meaningful to me, I can't wait to have another show .. and I have several shows scheduled this year already.

   The fourth goal was finding local gallery representation. That was accomplished right after my show at The Vanilla Bean was complete, and my work now hangs in Lizzard's Gallery in downtown Duluth, and I'm exploring more gallery options ... excited for what the future holds.

   The fifth goal was selling a painting in an art gallery, and my large 60"w x 36"h work titled 'Autumn Equinox' found itself a home. That painting is a nice summary of my recent work with it's familiar brushstrokes on black canvas and twilight shadows stretching across the canvas.

   Another goal I had for myself was starting a blog, which you're now reading, and a website. I accomplished these goals early on, and I'm glad I did, as I can now look back at my work over 2011 and remember all the moments, all the art, the successes, the struggles, the story of finding my creative voice and how it intertwines with my life.

   I've found myself branching out into new websites, like MNArtists, and new opportunities, like exhibitions at Jitter's, Beaner's and the Duluth Art Institute ... and on-demand printing of my paintings.

   So that brings me to 2012. What are my goals for 2012? They are thankfully simple: to create art on a regular basis, keep my galleries stocked with paintings and focus on my upcoming shows.

   The five year plan I've set for myself is to paint full time, moving away from graphic design and commercial art and enjoying creating art full time, doing what I love and loving what I do. May you have a blessed and prosperous 2012!  -A