Introducing Artist No. 96, Rachel Austin

Rachel Austin has always enjoyed making things – art, crafts, furniture, food. “Painting started as a side hobby for me and grew until it became my focus. I think I have a good understanding of materials and what I can do with them – that helps me figure out the best ways to turn my ideas into real pieces. I am a self-taught artist with an education background in management and finance. Art has turned out way more fun for me and I love being able to spend my day painting and creating.”

“I’ve been on the Portland Open Studio tour in past years, but never with this series. The Shadow paintings are a newer body of work that I’m excited to demo and share. The paintings are of plant shadows in watercolor and acrylic. I love the modern and peaceful feel to them.”

Rachel has been a full time artist for the last eleven years and feels very fortunate to be able to create art for a living. “My paintings, cards and prints are found in 40+ shops across the country in addition to my own website. I do a lot of custom paintings for individuals and businesses these days. I recently finished a hotel refresh with the Marriott in Seattle and have my artwork in all the guest rooms. My paintings are also on the sets of The Mindy Project, Portlandia, Grimm, Man with a Plan, and Parenthood.”

She does all this from a simple studio in the basement of her 1925 bungalow, “which is flooded with light and has lots of room to make a mess. My eight year old daughter is able to come down to hang out, create or read whenever she wants. I love getting to work at home and finding a balanced life between art, family and other creative pursuits.”

Her greatest inspiration these days it is gardening. “Gardening is a relatively new hobby for me that I’ve become obsessed with. I volunteer a few hours a week at the Garden at Elk Rock in SW Portland, tend my own garden and help others plan out their spaces. I love reading about gardens and plants and visiting other gardens whenever I can. I think of gardens as an amazing slow growing sculpture. The shadow series is completely inspired from time spent in nature and abstract beauty of the shadow in the garden.”

Introducing Artist No. 37 – Quire

Leah Hugon, artistically known as Quire, is Artist No. 37. She has been creating art since she was a small child. “As an adult I tried and failed at a lot of different professions until I settled on the pure fact that art is the thing I do because an artist is what I am. I can’t really do anything else and also be a happy person.
“I make work that deals with our shared human experience. This is what I am interested in talking about, this discussion of who we truly are as individuals and as a society. I once made a piece with a man in a boat with his dogs out of my interest in who he could possibly be. It ended up selling to two women, a sister and a wife of a man who was a marine biologist and went out in boat with his dogs frequently. The man was terminally ill and the two women were buying it as a going away present for him. I still tear at the thought that my intuitive curiosity led me to create such a personal and meaningful piece for that family.”

She tells us that her latest series is about her experience trying to fit into professional and cultural definitions that didn’t work and that inhibited her growth as an individual. “I feel this is a common human experience, trying out a role to see if it fits, becoming uncomfortable, and then realizing it’s not for you. It’s one way to figure out who we actually are. To communicate this experience I will photograph individuals in poses struggling to get out of a box space defined by ropes. I’m planning on using the photographs as source images for this series.
For the tour I will have work examples in several stages of progress so visitors can get a sense of how my pieces evolve and become. I will also have a box made out of ropes that visitors can pose inside for possible used as source images for some of the pieces in my new series.”

Introducing Artist No. 97 – Joanne Mehl

Joanne Mehl, PDXOS artist No. 97, has been a professional Portraitist and figure painter since the mid 1980’s. She says “I never get tired of creating a sublime depiction of personality and physical form. Nothing is more challenging, entrancing or satisfying to me. If I wasn’t naturally curious about people, I probably wouldn’t be so hell bent on painting them. But I am.”

With the quicker, more gestural figure painting, I focus on that magic alchemy when a brushstroke seems to become human form. I use as few marks as possible in creating a semblance of space and form, with the drawing as a harmonious whole. I am concerned with the effects of light rendering form both in value and in color. I experiment with the many colors that exist in our flesh tone, the warm and cool, the intense and neutral. This allows me to perceptually “push and pull”, creating the illusion of form using the many permutations of value, hue and saturation.

Beyond portraiture and figure painting, I’ve had a pretty successful career painting equestrian themes in the field of “sporting art”. As a lifelong horsewoman it was natural I’d pursue that tangent. I’m represented by Cross Gate Gallery in Kentucky, and among other honors, my large “Keeneland Classics” painting was bought by the State of Kentucky for their governor’s mansion.

So I suppose you could say that people and their pets (including horses) are my greatest inspiration.

I’ve also done more plein aire painting in recent years and enjoy it immensely. For one thing it gets me out of the studio, and presents new and interesting creative and practical challenges. (Like Oregon weather, enough said.)

Art is my main business. I was fortunate enough to have a creative Mother who encouraged my art pursuits. Attending Art Center College of Design in Pasadena at the age of 18 was a pivotal experience for me. I learned about the dedication required to be successful in an art career. I learned a way of seeing things and an approach that still influences me today.

I have just finished a portrait commission of a 96 year old grandmother which was commissioned by her children. I am working on a commission of a rider and her beloved horse who she just recently lost. I am also working on a thoroughbred painting for The Sporting Art Auction, which is an international auction that takes place every winter at Keeneland Racetrack in Lexington, KY. On a longer timeline, I am working on a group of paintings for an exhibition and sale called “ The Hunts of Virginia” that will take place at the Museum of Hounds and Hunting in Morven Park, VA in May of 2018. In addition to these projects I continue to teach portraiture, figure painting and glazing techniques at Oregon Society of Artists.

Introducing Artist No. 10 – Chas Martin

Chas Martin, PDXOS Artist No. 10, is not an artist to be pigeonholed in one medium or another.  When I asked him what he had in store for his visitors this fall during the PDXOS Tour, he replied “Visitors will see the evolution of a story in progress. Visiting my studio is like hanging out backstage at a theater. Some characters are in costume and ready to take the stage. Others are still getting their makeup. Developing a sculpture is like a conversation between director and actor. I explore how each nuance amplifies the character’s story. That exploration can include pencil sketches, a maquette, a few watercolors, a wire frame armature, maybe a few photos for reference or a collage of the stage. I may even paint a specific background for each character to provide additional context to their role.”

He has been an artist since he was about 13, when he started drawing rat finks and funny cars with huge engines and fat tires. He tells me that “art is as important to me as exercise or eating. I think the act of making things, especially things that come from our inner thoughts, makes us balanced and healthy.”

 Chas studied visual communication at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, and has worked as a graphic designer, art director, set designer, wood carver, web designer, and instructor. “Visual communication has remained at the core of everything I’ve done my entire career. I’m inspired by prolific people who have figured out how to support themselves without compromise so their art form can breathe and grow daily.”

He is currently creating a cast of characters “sculptures of archetypes who all play a role in an epic narrative. They are actors in my personal mythology. They are all part of my own epic hero’s  journey.“  His dream project is “to merge imagination and realization into a revelation. I want to create a garden of larger-than-life sculpted characters and translucent panels. Walking through the garden produces a dreamlike experience where archetypal spirits and primal images induce magic. It’s both concrete and ethereal.  It’s an experience that releases your dependence on physical limitations and strengthens your ability to visualize and realize your own dreams.”

 

Introducing Artist No. 3 – Ann Munson

Visual Complexity. Compositional Clarity. Four words which drive PDXOS artist Ann Munson’s artistic pursuit. She says she is “oriented to clarity of composition, clean straightforward shapes and accurate placement. I am smitten with deep, lustrous, layered color. I strive for a push/pull of flat hand-made textures and the depth of rich, layered color. I have been told that my paintings reflect a sense of calm optimism. They are quiet, affirming and interesting. My images describe an experience or location that is physically identifiable; my intent is connection to an inner contemplative place.”

Ann has a BS in Art Education from the University of Oregon and taught art for several years. Her work has been placed in many hospitals and health centers in Southern California, and she considers it a privilege to make images that will soothe, pass the time, or comfort people who are stressed.

Her artistic process is fascinating. “My work is in three parts, all fun. First I carve stamps, cut up rubber combs and mix paint. Then I make my own papers. It’s pretty much finger painting for grownups. I cover the entire floor of the greenhouse with colored patterned sheets. Next I draw, tear paper and glue shapes onto canvas. It looks like a quilt at this stage. Finally I use transparent acrylics to add dimension, light, form, and air. I’m drawn to a push pull of flat shapes and interesting textures vs. subtle color and atmosphere.

I have always loved to draw, translating the things that most capture my attention with line, shape and plane. My current medium, paste paper collage, exploits those elements and more. I love the craft element of making my own combs for particular patterns and mixing my own palette of color. I comb textures into layers of paint utilizing multiple combs and often use multiple colors for additional variation. When I have built a sufficient palette, I indulge in line drawing on canvas, followed by tearing and gluing papers into place. I then layer transparent acrylic to form a complete painting.

Do yourself a favor and visit Ann’s studio during the upcoming Tour.

Introducing Artist No. 61 – Hilary Pfeifer

Hilary Pfeifer, Portland Open Studios Artist No. 61, has been a full-time artist for over 25 years. Her living comes from a variety of arenas, including a studio practice of sculptures and mobiles, a more commercial production line of wood animals, holiday figures, and wedding cake toppers, and many public art pieces in the Portland area. She will have examples from each of these parts of her practice at her studio during the October tour.

“I always have some outside reason for creating my work. One example that will be featured at this year’s open studio is my recent GLEAN residency, where I was allowed to gather art materials from the public area of the dump in 2016. My studio practice focuses on the places where humans and nature battle for power and at that residency I took inspiration from the falconers stationed at the Metro Waste Facility who train their raptors to control the pigeons, crows and seagulls who would otherwise overwhelm the functions of the dump.

During this year’s tour she plans to feature her abstract natural wood sculptures. In which she uses over 75% found wood.  She has created a body of freestanding sculptures and mobiles that are made from scrap donated to her from artists and furniture makers, as well as salvaged materials from her recent residency at the Metro Waste Facility (the Dump) where she pulled a lot of materials destined for the landfill and gave them a second life.

Hilary is currently working on an outdoor sculpture, which will be installed in early August, for the Lake Oswego Arts Council’s ‘Gallery Without Walls’. Her vision is that the piece will be a stack of forms with carved patterns inspired from nature and Moroccan geometrics, and inspired by the outdoor living that was a big part of her childhood in rural Oregon. “It’s exciting to be part of this nationally-acclaimed public art exhibition, which features over seventy permanent and loaned works of art which are placed all around the city.”