Sherri Aytche found her way to clay soon after moving to Portland from New York City. “I am a city girl, born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. I found working with clay to be a bridge to connect me to my new West Coast residence. An education major focused on counseling, clay became a metaphor for life for me. As a clinical specialist, I found myself making vessels and containers to symbolically hold the stories and experiences that we hold inside and sometimes choose to share with the world. I enjoy creating ‘safe’ spaces, whether it’s a vase to hold a beautiful bouquet, or functional dinnerware plates, bowls, and cups to hold memories and experiences. I am drawn to natural colors and simple shapes influenced by culture – earthy, handmade, rustic, elements in contemporary form. Each piece is unique and imperfect which speaks of the human touch.
“I am currently working on a series of wall tiles inspired by African cloth, particularly mud cloth and kuba cloth patterns. I love texture and patterns and while African cloth can sometimes be very busy, I can take an idea or a piece of the pattern and express my cultural heritage in a simple and contemporary way.”
In response to my inquiry about public response to her work, she replied “I was at an event and an artist whose work I admired but had not met, looked at a wall piece and then did a double take and asked me if it was clay? I said yes, and he said “Wow, it’s really nice to see you do that, a simple slab with a simple design, really elegant” completely unexpected.”
If you want to meet Sherri, watch her mold a piece of clay, and maybe pick up a vessel to hold your story, be sure to stop by her studio in October during the Portland Open Studios tour this fall.
Anna Lancaster has been creating art since she was 6 or 7 when her dad and brother started teaching her to draw in grade school. She was self-taught until 1993 when she starting taking lessons from a retired portrait artist, Carol Stone. She’s taken workshops with Scott Christenson, Eric Jacobsen, Eric Bowman, Jennifer Diehl, Za Vue and Thomas Jefferson Kitts. “Being so incredibly right brained, painting and drawing have been the only things I feel that I have really done well, all of my life.”
Anna paints from live observation, starting with a 5×7 or 6×8 achromatic thumbnail in oil, taking 30 to 45 minutes to establish a value and shape design, then executing the painting in color. She is studying design to help her compose more design driven paintings. She’s also been painting daily for the past five months. She creates Plein Air Landscapes, Portrait/Figure and Still Life paintings.
I asked Anna what role the artist plays in society? I loved her answer. “Encouraging people in profoundly discouraging and tragic times. Rejoicing with them in times of blessing. Working to try to help them see the loving face of God”.
Anna has been busy this summer. She participated in the Little Gems exhibit for Washington Plein air painters, the Art and Culture Showcase in Washington County, and received a second place in Tualatin’s 2017 Annual ArtSplash Show. She was also written up in Oregon Art Beat’s feature ‘Pacific Northwest Plein Air Invites Painters to Get Outside’.
If you visit Anna during the PDXOS tour this fall, you will see her painting ‘Alla Prima” which means painting wet over wet. “I was trained in the traditional indirect painting of layers with a high contrast underpainting. I learned the Alla Prima method to be able to paint en plein air quickly from live observation.”
Hey everyone, we’re almost three months away from our annual event!
It was great to see so many people turn out for our Preview event at Oregon Society of Artists on July 28. Tim Mahoney and his staff were wonderful hosts, and we are very happy to be collaborating with them. Look for future events in their lovely space. Thank You OSA!
This month we’ll see our 2017 Guides on the shelves at New Seasons a little earlier than normal. We also have new venues selling guides – Check out our full list here. If your business is interested in stocking our Guides, please contact Ali Schlicting, our Distribution manager.
We’re always looking for volunteers and future board members. We’d love to meet you and help you get to know our organization from the inside out. If you have talent and experience in sales, marketing, working in a mentorship program, or other outreach projects, please contact us!
Stay cool Portland! Visit a gallery, museum, or art opening near you.
Lisa Wiser grew up with art, in the home she and her husband now own. Her dad had a potter’s wheel in the room downstairs and she was always busy doing ‘craft’ things. She started college as a painting major, but in her junior year her mom gave her the advice ‘That’s great you want to be a painter but you might want to think of a way to support yourself, and I don’t know if that’s the best way.’ She agreed and got a degree from the University of Oregon in art education instead. “I liked kids and I’d worked with a lot of people and it was just kind of a natural thing. I did craft things, and I grew up with art. I grew up in a really creative family, so it was easier for me to do that. I couldn’t do math; couldn’t write.”
A pivotal year for her education was a year of study in Perugia Italy. This year affected her style “hugely”. She saw a lot of religious art, not Catholic, but learned a lot about it. “I did a whole series of works that were mostly still lives with gold leaf. Really fun.
“So I taught for three years and couldn’t stand it, ended up getting married and had three kids. Then I ran into my high school art teacher, who needed a sub. So I ended up subbing for about 17 years, in Tigard and Lake Oswego districts. I enjoyed it, and just quit 3 years ago.” She had started to do more painting, would get on a roll, and then have to sub for a couple of days. Going back to her own art then was like “climbing a hill, really hard to get going again. I was having some success with painting and thought that was just getting in my way.
“I have painted in oil, acrylic, newer products which are known as slow acrylics that dry slower for outside, and water soluble oils, which is currently my favorite thing. I have been doing photography for years.” She showed me one of her favorites, which I took for a landscape, maybe a field of wheat. But it turned out to be a close-up photo of a horse’s mane – amazing.
For the last three years she has been working on, showing and selling central Oregon landscapes, typically grasslands with water and background. She frequently leaves home to go painting in eastern Oregon for weeks at a time. Schleps all her stuff over there, like a portable studio. She likes to paint plein air. She works from photos that she takes which is a key piece to her studio work. “I take landscape photos and make adjustments to them, then I copy them almost exactly. True artists say you need to change it up, but the thing is I’m out there hiking, and walking and I take the photo, and I see it as a painting when I’m out there.
“If I could live outside I would live in a tent, because I love to be outside – it’s probably from growing up in this house, because there’s a door in every room and lots of big windows. And that’s why the plein air painting is a natural for me. Because I can be outside. I don’t mind the rain, I have a big umbrella. I typically get up first thing in the morning. At 3 pm I hit that hammock right there.” A lot of her paintings show that she paints in the morning. The bigger pieces are typically studio work and she takes the photos at all times of day.
She works simultaneously on different series. “I also do an abstract series that I show in the Big Five Hundred show.” What she loves about the abstract art is that it frees her completely from copying, “so it’s like a break from my landscape work. Totally manipulating paint with shade and color and, it’s just designing. And I come from the design background so – not all of them turn out – maybe one in five, so I just go back and do something else”
I asked about her process. “I arrive on the scene, scope out what I want to paint. I photograph before I start, so I have that initial look. I’ll set up and paint for a maximum of two and a half to three hours – because then the light changes so much. I take photos throughout so that if I have to come back and work on it I can kind of have a direction to go in adding finishing details to it. My goal however is to complete the painting when I’m out there, because I’m so bad. All those paintings tacked up in my studio wall are all pieces that I did over the course of 4 days, 8 paintings. I did this amazing amount, and then got exhausted. But most of those I was able to complete, not all of them. Some of those paintings I will then, because I have the photo, and if it was a successful painting out of doors, I will do a large studio piece, which are typically more detailed. And I’d say that process is different from when I was not painting as much, but my process is pretty much the same. Even in college I painted outside, even in winter. I have a painting I did in freezing ice. I had the back hatch of the car open, the painting canvas in the back of the car, then I just looked out at the scene and painted it. I didn’t finish it though, I finished it when I got back. I prefer not to do that anymore though.
“I do research. I have a lot of painting books, and I am a ‘researchaholic’. I will look at my subject, and if I have certain trees, or a certain shadow pattern, or if there’s a structure and I want to approach it differently, I will look at examples, and I consider looking at other people’s artwork research as well as reading – there are some famous landscape painters who have published how to books, but they are not really how to, they are basically what to look for and how to pull things off. They do a section on clouds, or a section on trees, and if I get stuck in the middle of a painting I’ll just sit down and read or get on the internet and read or look at demos. That‘s actually one of my favorite parts of working. I do one or two professional workshops a year with professional artists that teach. So that’s another piece of research.”
Best advice –
Simplify. I like to make things complicated. Simplify. Every person I’ve taken anything from has said ‘Simplify.’ Simplify the color, the lines, the pattern, the composition, especially in landscape paintings. And the reason that is the best advice for me is because I’m still trying to figure it out.
Lisa has a dream project. She wants to put together a show. She’s done some curating and has always wanted to collaborate with other people to create a show that has some component that runs between all the participants, so it’s cohesive. She has two friends that she spent some time with last spring and she suggested that they do a show together that they create work for specifically. They are in the process of getting it set up. In fact, they’ve already titled it ‘Three Squared’ and then subtitled, ‘Line, Layers and light’. The one component that will connect it all is the format which will be a square.
Be sure to include Lisa in your tour this fall – you won’t regret it.
Annamieka Davidson recently sent us a report on her intern, Sidney Oster, and we wanted to share it with you all. It’s so exciting to hear from our artists about how they are doing with their interns.”
“I met with my PDXOS intern Sidney Oster (and her dad Mike) today for the first time at my studio We discussed her career goals and interests, her experiences at various art camps, and her art interests in sculpture and ceramics. She showed me examples of her work. We talked about what inspires her work.
“I gave her an assignment to come up with a place that she likes to visit for her creative inspiration – she suggested the metal scrapyard. I suggested that she visit the scrap yard, pay attention to what inspires her while she is there, and then make a reflection of that via writing, recording, video, sculpture, or any creative medium she wants. She will show me that at our next meeting.
“As for our work in the studio together, we discussed the upcoming Portland Open Studios tour and several projects related to that, trying to find something that she was interested in doing, with an emphasis on hands-on work. There are many projects going on in my studio in preparation for the October event. The project that we chose for her to work on felt like the best fit given her experience and interest. She will be learning how to make archival art prints with my large-format printer. We will work on this together over the next two months as we prepare for open studios in October.”
I think what I love most about Maude May is how many different mediums she uses to create her art, and yet is able to bring it together into a cohesive, recognizable whole. She mixes photography, stitching, painting, fabric, wax, and more photography together in her creations so you feel you must touch a piece to actually know what process she has used. As she says “Creating is what gets me going. Curiosity keeps me on the path and assists me in arriving at my final destination which isn’t always where I thought I’d end up. The push/pull “randomness” vs. “structure” of art making and graphic design continues to challenge me and draws me into the studio daily.”
Lately, she’s captivated by the shape of houses, what she calls ‘kid houses’ – the simple house we first learn to draw as children. She collects houses, photographs houses, draws houses, uses them in her encaustic pieces, and makes stitched art works with houses. She’s been thinking a lot about the idea of home – what is home; the safety of home, when people have to leave their homes; tiny houses.
Maude has been making art in one form or another since age three, “when I began drawing bones on the playroom walls – much to my parents’ dismay. Stitching pre-printed samplers, fabricating elaborate collaged drawings and designing tiny dresses for my troll dolls soon followed. With advanced degrees in ceramics, photography and textiles, my passions have led me in many directions and my career has encompassed a wide variety of professions: pastry chef, art director, location scout, miniature golf course designer, event coordinator, photo stylist and paint-color consultant.
“Until 2014 I was the sole proprietor of Spark Art & Design, my graphic design business in Seattle – creating custom invitations and favors and designing logos and related collateral for both corporations and private individuals – winning industry awards with this work. After 12 years, I closed this business and moved with my husband Bob, to Portland.”
A pivotal experience for Maude happened when she worked as an Art Director for a large public relations firm in Washington, DC. “Until this job I had always assumed that I would need to be very proficient in many mediums in order to make a living as an artist. I soon realized that this was not the case. I hired and worked with many nationally known artists – illustrators, calligraphers and photographers – all masters in their chosen field. Through this experience I learned more about artistic passion and choice and it enabled me to winnow down my options and follow my own paths.
“I work in both fiber and paper collage. Books, along with collections of papers, ribbons, stacks of ink-jet, printed IPhone photos and other ephemera clutter my small studio. Hand and machine stitching are integral elements in many pieces and my extensive cache of cotton embroidery floss and two sewing machines are always at the ready. In 2014 I began working with hot beeswax and Demar resin, incorporating photographs, collage, pan pastels and oil paint. These encaustics not only function as stand-alone works but can also be photographed and then transferred to either paper or fabric and incorporated into new pieces. By using these encaustic images as a starting point, I am coming full circle and combining all my favorite mediums and techniques.”
If you visit Maude’s studio on the tour (and I highly recommend that), this is what you can expect: “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.”
Alexandria Levin has lived in various places around the country, and now calls Portland home. She is a native of New York City, and went to high school in New Jersey. She moved to Boston on her own at the age of 17, took a year off, and then attended Massachusetts College of Art. She moved briefly to New Mexico, moved back to Boston, and at this time began painting her first real body of work. Alexandria had her first show in her early 20’s. At 27 she moved to San Francisco, graduating from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1989 with honors in painting. She relocated in 1995 to Albuquerque, and this is where she began to teach at art centers. All this time, she continued to exhibit her work, in community art spaces, galleries, and museums.
Her next stop was Philadelphia, and finally Portland. She’s only been here a little over a year, but she’s been busy. Alexandria moved into a shared studio at the Ford Building last October. She participated in the Southeast Art Walk, and began to show in a café, an art supply store, and at Gallery 360 in Vancouver, to get her feet wet in the local scene. She is now one of the new artists at the Rental Sales Gallery at the Portland Art Museum, and is showing some of her slightly older representative work at the Splendorporium. One of her pieces has been chosen for the card for an Artslandia subscription box scheduled for early next year, and two other paintings were recently chosen for Beaverton Wraps.
Alexandria is currently working on landscapes, many with volcanoes in them. One painting is from a dream, the others feature Mount Hood and two of The Three Sisters. There are also new paintings of caged animals. From her artist statement; “The background scenery from years of still-life portraiture have evolved into my most recent body of work. These landscapes are expressive of something deeper going on below the surface; sometimes narrative, often allegorical. Most of these paintings are based on photos I have taken, for use as reference from which to begin. The work soon takes on a life of its own, and I stop looking at the photo. The painting then tells me what it wants me to do. My job is to listen. I enjoy trying new approaches to handling paint, and I work in layers over time, allowing color and texture to bleed through. In my world, the best possible place to be is lost in creative flow.”
Best advice for beginning artists: “Have fun and don’t worry about what people say about your work. All artists go through an awkward stage. In fact, it’s all an awkward stage, balanced with the gaining of skill and vision over time. If you make a bad painting, and I still do on occasion, then remember that a bad painting makes a wonderful surface to work on, and that which lies underneath will only enrich the final painting.”
For this fall’s tour, Alexandria plans to have a cross-section of her work out for viewing, so visitors can see the evolution of her painting over time. There will also be works in different stages of completion. Once or twice a day she is going to present a mini-workshop in drawing, composition and/or creativity, which she will announce on her website in early October at www.alexalev.com.
A love of color is a driving force behind Melissa Gannon’s art—first in watercolor then acrylic, pastel, mixed media, and oil.
Melissa enjoys painting nature. Her inspiration comes from travel, hiking, and exploring her local area. Her home in the Pacific Northwest provides ready access to the coast, rivers, mountains and desert. She loves painting outdoors—portraying a perfect peaceful place in the woods, a bird surveying the world, or the vibrancy of a bunch of daisies. She finds that observations made in plein air painting enhance her studio work.
Along with creating art, Melissa shares her skills and knowledge through classes and workshops. She began teaching in 2001 and finds that it enhances her work as she strives to find challenging material for the fast-growing skills of her students. Some of her students have attended her classes for over ten years, and she loves seeing their artistic expression grow.
Galleries exhibiting Melissa’s work include Earthworks Gallery in Yachats, Oregon, Infusion Gallery in Troutdale, Oregon, Aurora Gallery in Vancouver, Washington; and Ryrie & Me in Reno, Nevada. She participates in local shows including the Gresham Art Walk and the Oregon City Festival of the Arts.
“Each painting is a journey of discovery. Influenced by the Impressionists, I love to explore layering and arranging colors into vibrant patterns of light and beauty that unfold onto the canvas and reflect the joy inherent in the world around us. Nature is the primary model I paint from. I’m attracted to the shapes formed by light and shadow, the mosaic of sun-dappled leaves, or the visual delight of a meadow of wildflowers seen from a mountainside trail. I seek to share the wonder of these experiences in my work and bring a piece of nature’s bounty indoors for all to enjoy.”
Poppy Dully is a painter, printmaker, and book artist. She has a degree in design and cultural anthropology from UC Berkeley, a Masters in Public Health from UC Los Angeles, and for over 20 years she worked in fundraising and non profit management. “Since 2002, I have devoted myself to my art. I started with pastels on paper. With the guidance of talented mentors, I developed my drawing, painting and print making skills. I paint principally with oils on canvas or wood panels. I recently acquired a 24″x 36″ Ettan etching press for my studio. Book arts evolved out of my interest in printmaking and my love of books.”
“I just completed a major commission for Oregon Health Authority, Center for Health Statistics aka Vital Records, at the Oregon State Office Building in Portland. The CHS representative found me through Portland Open Studios in January. I replied to an inquiry, met with the project manager and staff and worked closely with them for the next five months on creating four works of art for the public lobby of their offices. The work includes three monotypes, a triptych called Life Cycles: Early Years, Middle Years, and Later Years and a 3’x5’ acrylic painting titled Passages of Time. All the work is installed in the 2nd floor lobby and available for public viewing.”
As a printmaker, Poppy’s work begins with research to find books that she is interested in reading and that lend themselves to visual interpretations. “I research the books, related films, information on the author, and film history. I am particularly attracted to older films and those with dramatic cinematography. I print on the pages of the selected book, using monotypes that are created with oil based ink on Plexiglas panels. These monotypes can be printed up to two times, first the original run and the second, the ghost, so the edition (if there is one) is unique and one of a kind. The pages are then adhered to an accordion paper panel which can be pulled out to view the story through the printed page and the related imagery. The printed pages are attached to the original book covers.
the crucial job of artists is to find a way to release materials into the animated middle ground between subjects, and so initiate the difficult but joyful process of human connection.” poet Ann Lauterbach
For the Portland Open Studios fall tour, Poppy 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.”
Susan Harrington grew up in a family that loved to create. With a father that was an engineer and a mother who was a self-taught artist, her developing years were spent in an environment that included all sorts of designing, building and making activities. She discovered her love of art in her teens in the field of ceramics and also worked in textiles, printmaking and drawing before she found her true love – painting.
Born and raised in Oregon, she studied with Douglas Campbell Smith, Nelson Sandgren and James Kirk before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area where she studied with Ralph Borge, Charles Gill and Harry Krell while obtaining her BFA from the California College of Arts and Crafts (now called the California College of Arts – CCA). After graduating, she spent several years painting while working in Membership and Development at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and obtaining her MA in Education.
She currently maintains a studio in a community of artists in the industrial area of northwest Portland and shows her work regionally.
“I see one of the roles of an artist is to share our interpretation and experience of the world to inspire people to feel and encourage people to think. My recent paintings center on my environmental concerns by following two themes, one theme being a dystopian look at our human impact on the planet and the other theme being a utopian vision about the regenerative strength of nature and the interconnectedness of all things. These paintings are about the random, organized chaos that happens when seeds are scattered, rain falls and sun shines. They’re about the Darwinian qualities that are inherent in adapting to survive and the harmony and disharmony between human beings and our natural earth. They’re about creating a space for the viewer to be in, feast upon and visually wander. They’re about hope, because nature is amazingly resilient in spite of the abuse we bring upon her. More than anything they’re about joy, and are my celebration of the beautiful gifts that surround us.”