Want to get your hands dirty during Portland Open Studios?

Here are a few artists who plan to have something for you to do if you visit their studios: You can go to our website to learn more about the artists and get your Guide to Local Artists.

Shannon Carlson has some great fun in store for you if you visit her studio this October. “I’m hoping I can get our visitors to pick up a paintbrush and take part in making their own marks on my work. I have always loved collaborative art and responding to the ideas of others. This will, hopefully, make the stop more memorable for visitors and give me a start on my next painting.”

If you visit Bob Heath in his studio during the PDXOS tour, you can look forward to a fun, hands-on activity. ”We have on hand some basic glassware, including simple water glasses, wine glasses and beer glasses. For a small fee, visitors can choose a glass then decorate it with vinyl stickers made with a wide variety of punches that we have on hand. Then they can take their glass to the sandblast cabinet and frost everything that isn’t covered by a sticker. After that the stickers can be removed to reveal a permanent design in the glass.

Once or twice a day during the Tour, Alexandria Levin will present a mini-workshop in drawing, composition and/or creativity, which she will announce on her website in early October at www.alexalev.com.

Poppy Dully will set up a work table in the center of her studio for use by her visitors. “I provide instructions on simple books to construct and lots of materials to make these books unique and personalized. The guests can take their books home – all ages enjoy this participatory activity.”

Winifred Martinson plans to have a children’s station for watercolor painting, so bring the family.

Maude May promises “Everyone who visits my studio (aka dining room) will be able to make their own encaustic collage. To me, simply demonstrating my process isn’t as impactful as giving visitors the opportunity to work with wax and experience the joys (and sometime frustrations) of this age old medium. By making a small work my visitors not only get to create but also appreciate the time, effort and skill needed to make art on a daily basis.”

Quire has some fun planned. ”I will … have a box made out of ropes that visitors can pose inside for possible use as source images for some of the pieces in my new series.”

The intern experience

More exciting news from Annamieka Davidson and her intern, Sid.  We are so excited that they are taking full advantage of our intern program.  Here’s her report:  “My PDXOS intern Sid came today. We looked at the mural that just went up across the street, and then we got a studio tour from a ceramic artist in the building, We looked at the sculpture in the Ford gallery, then I had Sid draw for a while in response to what she saw while I worked on a drawing and collage as well. Then she helped me organize a shelf. It was nice intern session.”

Introducing artist No. 92 – Karl Kaiser

Karl Kaiser’s mom was a teacher and so he was always doing art projects growing up. “But it wasn’t until I was older and on my first trip to Europe that I became interested in photography, specifically black and white photography.” During that visit he spent time with his Aunt Wanda, a working artist living in Germany. “On that first trip to Europe many years ago, I visited her and we spent many, many hours in her studio talking about art. From that moment on, she has been an inspiration. She still paints today at 87 and I still visit her as often as I can.” Karl’s training since then has been in the form of observation and from taking classes from talented artists. He continues learning still.

He eventually migrated to acrylic painting in an effort to explore a deeper connection to what he was finding through the lens. “I was exposed to Encaustic in 2005 and now consider it my primary medium because of the unique depth and texture it brings to my subjects. I manipulate the wax through scraping, using impressions and smoothing techniques to evoke the complicated but perfect natural world around me.”

“For the last few years I have been developing a technique that creates an illusion of depth with the wax. It transforms the artwork into a three-dimensional space. This technique consists of layers of color applied one on top of another and then scraping back the sides to reveal lines of color. Typically this means 50 to 100 layers of color. This piece is then embedded on its side into a wax platform of any number of color themes, overlaid with clear wax and then heated with a torch to bring out specific qualities that sometimes take shape as clouds, waves, trees or other nature inspired concepts. I try to capture the play of light and motion I see while I work with the wax. I do not fight against the hot wax; I let it find its own path. My intent is to create landscapes with differing vitalities, vibrancies and mood. My goal for the viewer is to evoke a time in place that is familiar but not easily identified or a memory that sits just outside of the periphery. To transport the viewer away from the distracted present and draw their focus inward to a place of peace and reflection.

As might be expected, Karl’s Aunt Wanda, a working artist living in Germany, is his biggest inspiration. “My Aunt Wanda continues to paint, draw or do something creative every day. She hasn’t told me in so many words, but has shown me by her example that doing something every day is the best thing an artist can do.” He gets his inspiration in part from “daily walks where I see nature, let my mind rest and wander and bring back images of things that catch my eye that inform my work.”

To see Karl in action, visit his studio during Portland Open Studios On October 14-15 or 21-22.

Introducing Artist No. 2 – Sally Squire

Meet Sally Squire.  Walking through Sally Squire’s studio, I am continually amazed by the flights of fancy her imagination takes. She thinks she “wants to get to the point where I call myself an experimental artist.” I think she got there years ago. I see all kinds of things around the studio, some highlighting her artistic history, some giving us a hint at what’s to come. We’re rushing around her home so she can share it all with me. I’m blown away. She shows me a piece that is mounted to a curved piece of wood, reminiscent of a keyboard, called ‘Bell Canto’. It is a very colorful piece (see photo) created in 3 tiers. The inspiration behind this piece is a quote from the book, Bell Canto: “Some people are born to make great art and others are born to appreciate it. … It is a kind of talent in itself, to be an audience, whether you are the spectator in the gallery or you are listening to the voice of the world’s greatest soprano. Not everyone can be the artist. There have to be those who witness the art, who love and appreciate what they have been privileged to see.” But the real genius – each letter of the alphabet is given a different color, and the art piece spells out the quote.

Sally graduated with a degree in architecture and was in facility management for a number of years. Then she took a metalworking class, and just started making things. Since then she has worked making jewelry, then moved on to paper price tags with fabric dye and salt crystals on them. She started working with clay around that time, and took classes with Kristy Lombard. She just kept evolving and working. Polymer clay informs her earth clay period. “Most of my work in polymer was jewelry centered. Jewelry is just small sculpture, and it was a natural progression, as the urge to go larger got stronger, to seek out materials and techniques that supported that expression.” She sees a lot of patterns in things, and texture is really important to her.

Sally showed me a cabinet that contains some of the wealth of materials she has acquired, including strapping, paper price tags, plastic fasteners, coffee stirrers, dryer vent material, ear specula, and more, which she usually finds simply by looking around her. “I get a kick out of figuring out how each piece will go together, and I like to vary the challenge. So while I may produce a series, I move on to new materials fairly rapidly. That’s where my breadth of different art processes, and a background in building things really pays off.”

She admits to me that she doesn’t have a problem with inspiration, only a problem with what to do next. By this time I’m wondering if she has a blog and if I can follow along for the ride. “While I might be inspired by a medium or material, the idea comes first, then I figure out how to make it. It is usually the opposite with earth clay [I usually use a porcelain clay that is infused with paper fibers that are burned out during firing]. Working with clay is sensuous and I coax and caress the sculpture out of the raw clay. It is not unusual for my non-clay work to involve engineering and analytical processes in the design. In clay, and in my recent smoke work, the composition comes out of manipulation of the materials with only high-level planning in the beginning.”

Smoke and Mirrors

Sally’s current work includes a number of new processes, as well as new vistas in her already exciting clay work. “I’m using smoke a lot, both on paper and on porcelain. I have been drawn to fire in the last year for several reasons. The elemental nature is a balancing force to my reliance on electronics; it feels like the world is on fire; and I have had a year of health issues that challenged my outlook on life. With the recent forest fires impacting our lives, the work I do with flame and soot has another layer of meaning.

”The techniques that I use include smoking (fuming), branding, melting, origami, rubbing, mirroring, singeing, toasting, and liquid dropping. My materials include soot, paraffin, candle wax, conte, pigment, and hemp particles. Almost all these different processes involve carbon. Carbon as a mark maker. Most of the wall pieces all involve carbon on paper, and carbon introduced as a finish on the ceramics.”

Sally’s current work on paper includes smoke on origami and paper. A lot of her origami involves crinkling or ‘squishing’ paper, which allows her to find pathways, to which she introduces color and/or smoke, giving the piece depth. For me, these pieces are reminiscent of Tolkien’s maps of Middle Earth.

Her ‘shadow people’ are created using water, candle wax, paraffin, soot and flame scorch on paper. “If we could see people at their core, this is what I imagine it would look like. People – in groups of 2, 3 and 4 – interacting with their crowns of feelings emanating out of their heads.”

At the same time she is working with mirroring, which involves several processes including burning hemp twine, laying it on paper, covering with another sheet, then pulling the twine, creating mirror images.

Mirroring is a common theme for her. ”Often, in my spare time (ha-ha), I work with digital images as an exercise in color and form. I explore mirroring. The reason I often alter the images is to practice ‘seeing’ – that is to see the patterns and shapes and seek a new understanding rooted in imagination rather than ‘reality’. The [greeting] cards let me show off all the creative energy that pours out of me. It’s kind of a good record too!” She will have these cards for sale during the Tour.

Also for the tour, Sally is thinking of demoing the process she has begun using on her ‘Scutes’, which she has scorched with burning hemp twine. This produces a toasted look and the detritus of the burning twine gets incorporated as little black marks. She has also used this process on a wall piece that she will be working on during the tour made from small pieces of clay, cut, then mounted.

Sally Squire is curious, constantly exploring and experimenting. “My art reflects my broad interests and finds its expression through varied materials and mediums. You see the expression of the rhythm of my life – patterns and lines – in clusters and groupings of similar shapes. My non-objective style engages the senses of seeing and touch. Recently, this expression has blended into sensuous curves, peaks and valleys through ceramic and smoke. My work draws you in and invites you to explore its landscape and kinetic stories.”

Introducing Artist No. 6 – Paula Blackwell

Meet Paula Blackwell. Like many artists Paula was an artistic child, but she also excelled in science and physical fitness. Besides winning several Art awards she also won the Presidential Physical Fitness Award, a Science award and several Gold and silver medals as a short distance runner.

Her art education consisted of a college class in encaustic, private lessons in encaustic and professional faux finish and decorative painting classes. Before becoming a full time studio artist she was a professional faux finisher, creating decorative finishes on walls. She also worked creating displays for companies: faux finishing for the Street of Dreams, and creating displays for commercials. She once created a 1500 sq ft. Santa Fe village for an all-natural cigarette company “Natural American Spirit.”

Paula considered teaching faux finishing techniques after the housing market fell sharply. Just as she was envisioning what her studio should look like, a friend asked if she wanted to go on the Portland Open Studios tour. Paula agreed: she wanted to see artists who were teaching classes, so she could take a look at their studio set up. After the tour Paula convinced her friend to show her some of the encaustic techniques she had been learning. As soon as she started experimenting with the medium she fell in love. “I left thinking ‘I’ve got to play with this more – this is fun, it smells good and it’s amazing.”

Paula began watching every YouTube video about the art and trying to get as much information as she could. “I started producing lots of encaustic paintings, showing them to all my friends , and was in galleries after a month; after two months I had a website up and was making sales right away. This lit a flame and encouraged me to do more paintings and invest in a professional Encaustic studio.
Three months later, I was doing some on-line sales, and Jessica Beal Timberlake bought three of my paintings. I thought, “holy cow, that is so awesome” and decided to reinvest in this art and make sure that it was archival while honing my style.” One artist on YouTube turned out to live close to where she and her husband were going for Christmas. She decided to take take private lessons. “I wanted to just bang it out, get good, and make sure I had all the techniques.” And if Paula thought she was amped up before, “After the private lessons she was on fire: a girl on a mission.”

Then Paula got into PDXOS, a couple more galleries and a publishing company. The publishers sell fine art prints of her work, which they sell to designers, hotels, luxury resorts, and stores like Pottery Barn, ZGallery, and Arthaus. Per the publishers Paula is one of their most sought after artists; they are literally selling hundreds of her prints per quarter. And she recently signed her second three year contract with them.

Paula shared with me the history of encaustic art, which I found very interesting. Ancient Greek shipbuilders used wax to seal cracks in their boats; and then someone got the idea to pigment the wax and soon whole fleets of ships were being embellished. Soon a school in the mountains above the town of Faiyum was born where kids could go to school to learn the technique of encaustic. To make spending money, they would go down into the town of Faiyum where all the lords and ladies lived and would ask if they could paint their portraits. The young artists painted with the pigmented wax on wood. They would take an implement and put it in a little bowl that had coal in it to keep it hot. They had 4 colored bars of wax. They would take the tool out of the coal, touch it on the bar of wax, and paint directly on the wood with the tool. They mixed the 4 colored bars of wax & painted the most incredible portraits in beautiful colors. To this day they are in museums and they are as vibrant and colorful as they were then.

To see more of Paula’s art, and soak up her amazing enthusiasm, be sure to visit her during this year’s Portland Open Studios Tour.