Introducing Artist No. 20 – Lisa Wiser

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.

2016.40×30.Acryliconcanvas

 

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.

Introducing Artist No. 9 – Melissa Gannon

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.”

Introducing Artist No. 44 – Poppy Dully

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.”

Introducing Artist No. 7 – Ruth Armitage

“I am a painter because I enjoy making beautiful things. More than that, though, my work is a way for me to tell a story. Even though the art is abstract, I think of it as narrative, with each piece telling a personally meaningful tale.”

Ruth’s mom was a painter and always encouraged her creativity. “I had great teachers in high school and after college. I started with community ed classes and have pursed self-directed study with various master classes across the country. I draw inspiration from life, reading, and other artists. I am particularly drawn to work by Diebenkorn, Frida Kahlo, and Emily Carr and Emily Mason.”

Ruth paints in Watercolor, acrylic or oil, depending on her mood and the scale of the work. “I begin

with a general idea or memory, which I narrow to a title or more specific idea. Once I have that, I try to decide on a dominance – maybe mostly warm or cool colors, shapes etc. From that point on, I work very intuitively.” Ruth’s creative process has changed over time. “I have become more abstract in my expression, and have added various media over the years.”

 

Best advice:

Don’t push the river. Start where you are, and work with your natural abilities and tendencies, not against them.

If you stop by her studio during the PDXOS tour in October, she will be giving a couple of demonstrations and will be serving some great snacks and hot cider.

Introducing Artist No. 106 – Wayne Jiang

Wayne Jiang has been painting and drawing since he was about 6 years old. “As a child I drew a lot. When I was 12 years old, I started doing Chinese ink painting. In my teenage years to my early 20s I did a lot of watercolor. In college I started painting with oil and eventually switched to acrylic as my main medium in my mid-20s.

“I have a degree in graphic design with an emphasis in illustration from San Jose State University. Before working as a full-time painter, I worked in the software industry as an interactive designer. The intense attention to detail I gained from working as a graphic and interactive designer helped me become a better painter.

“My painting technique is an acrylic glazing layering technique which I developed from looking at old Baroque master painters like Vermeer and Rembrandt. I paint simple everyday scenes and objects to remind myself to be mindful of the present and appreciate the beauty and meaning of my surroundings.

Currently, Wayne is working on paintings of Southeast Portland: Snow scenes from the past winter, night paintings of houses in his neighborhood, and scenes of the Willamette River and Sellwood Bridge.

I asked Wayne if the artistic life was lonely and, if so, what he did to counteract that. He replied, “The artistic life is not a lonely life but rather often a solitary life. I spend months at a time working by myself in my studio. I counteract this solitude by making sure I go to at least a couple of music jam sessions a week. Painting is listening and expressing my inner thoughts, whereas playing music in groups gives me a chance to interact and listen to others. I go to ukulele, dulcimer, bluegrass, and old time music jams. They are a lot of fun.”

Introducing Artist No. 28 – Annie Salness

Annie Salness charted her own journey to becoming an artist. She attended Cal State Long Beach for illustration, where she studied biomedical illustrations. She took a lot of science like plant zoology, human anatomy, and marine zoology. She went to work making drawings for things like medical books. She remembers being asked to draw before and after pictures for breast augmentation and liposuction surgeries.  She is also very athletic, so she also coached with her husband.

“I moved up here and did volunteer work at the church with my art, but I didn’t produce any art. And I didn’t know any artists. That’s a whole different world. I knew coaches and teachers, but I didn’t know any artists. I started networking and going different places and meeting people, and I would take classes on line. I knew I had the art knowledge, but I didn’t know how to market myself. That’s where I feel there is a big lack in art school. They don’t teach you that side of it. It’s really too bad, because a lot of it is business. Then I had the stroke.”

The stroke was a pivotal experience for Annie. She had to change from painting with her right hand to working with her left hand. She feels the stroke didn’t changed her art, but it did help her become stronger as a person. “Things don’t mean that much. I have a better perspective, which will come out in your art. I guess I don’t fill my days with stuff that really doesn’t matter. It takes me a long time just to move from here to there, so I don’t.”

She is working now on her 2018 calendar, which she is calling ‘Flavors’. “I chose the theme of ‘Flavors’ because it would allow me to paint such a wide variety of things—and it would allow my friends to send in their favorite flavor combinations along with their favorite recipes. I like when there is research to do, especially putting together the flavors – ‘jalapenos – what is a cooler way that I can do this.’ I also like the stories that go with [the recipes]. One girl gave me an Indian recipe, so I’m going to research India. What is it that makes that Indian?” She thinks the research changes the way she paints. When she does a commission of a dog, she wants to meet the dog, see how they react. “I’m also working on a St. John’s bridge so I’m looking at the history of it; the original drawings of it. I like to do the history on it.”

She also likes to personalize her paintings. For instance, one patron asked for a picture of Gerber daisies. So she asked if they had something personal, like a vase that had meaning for them, to put in the picture. “It can be a picture on the wall for others, but for you it’s personal.”
Annie has had many memorable responses to her commissioned work. ”People seem to love it, and when I do a commission sometimes they cry. I do a lot of dogs. When they react that way I feel like I’ve done something for that. Three lemons – they won’t be crying over that.”

For the Portland Open Studios tour, Annie will explain her whole layout and also has an area where visitors can work on a canvas. She gives them a lot of things like credit cards, pallet knifes, squeegees, Q-tips, little things like that so they can work quickly and see how many different things they can use to make marks.

Introducing Artist No. 39 – Kirista Trask

Kirista Trask’s forays into the art world as a child were focused on the performing arts, theatre and band. She didn’t experiment with the visual arts until she was in her 20’s. “Even then, I was primarily a crafter and it was not until I went through divorce that my full potential as an artist came to fruition. I then went to the University of Oregon where I studied Sculpture and Business. When I graduated I started to try and figure out what I needed to do to become a “real artist”. Part of that was really defining a solid creative practice and that was how I discovered painting and mixed media art. It was life changing and really defined my direction as an artist.

“My creative practice has become much more clearly defined over time. Parts of my creative practice have expanded, like what things I use to paint with but the majority of it has become very minimal. I am learning to be consistent with my creation, getting into the studio regularly, having a routine and constantly learning new things. Recently I started using more natural supplies in my painting and it felt like I was really opening the door for my creative practice. The biggest thing that has changed for my creative process has been a commitment to my own self care practices. What I am eating, how I am moving my body, and whether I am balancing all the moving parts of my life make a huge impact on my ability to create the type of work I am trying to produce.

“I think Artists play a vital role in society as we have the ability to bring light and emotion to subjects that are scary and/or controversial. I work with the nonprofit St Johns Center for Opportunity where we use community and arts engagement to bring important conversations to our neighborhood. Not only are we using art to start these conversations but we also use arts engagement for community building. In my work with SJCO I have had to really think about what roles artists can play in important conversations about racism, gentrification, and affordable housing. I think for some artists art is a creative path to their own higher self but I also think for many artists it is platform for greater social change.”

Currently, Kirista is developing a coaching program that helps to line up the business side of art with the creative side of art. “Ultimately it is my goal to work with female artists on creating amazing, valuable, and sustainable art careers. I am also getting ready to do a week long artist residency in which my goal is to create a 44 card deck on self-transformation through the dark times. I have been doing research for my residency over the last six months and am really looking forward to really focusing on my residency and what kind of self-evolution might come from that. I am also working with the St Johns Center for Opportunity to curate quarterly arts events that include a Friday night Art walk and a Saturday morning art fair. It has been incredible to work with local business and artists as a community to really create a platform for artists to engage with the St Johns Community.”

Kirista is one of three artists in her building participating in the Portland Open Studios tour in October. “You will find a huge selection of new work, prints and products that will be released right before the tour. If you are so inclined to get your hands a little dirty I will also be working on a couple of collaborative processes that will allow visitors to get engaged in the artistic process as little or as much as they would like.”

Introducing Artist No. 11 – Rick Wheeler

Rick Wheeler has been a working artist for most of his adult life. “My art career includes working as a ‘commercial’ artist, doing illustrations for clients around the country, as well as being an art instructor to several art organizations and private students for about the last 20 years. This is balanced with my studio work, which includes painting (acrylic and watercolor), drawing (varied media), and mixed media projects (found objects). My work has been jury selected to a number of national and international exhibits, and has been collected by local, regional, and international clientele.

“My style of work also covers a broad range of interests, from tight realism to a looser, more painterly approach to my work, as well as outdoor/plein air work. Subjects range from landscape, wildlife, to figurative. Exploration in media, subjects, and style of work is one of my great pleasures as a visual artist. As a result, I can’t be easily categorized. And I’m okay with that.”

Rick is looking forward to seeing you all at his studio during the PDXOS tour, and he plans to be working on a painting in his studio so he can share his technique with his visitors.  “I find working with the public in this way an enjoyable opportunity to exchange ideas.”

Introducing Artist No. 73 Samyak Yamauchi

Samyak Yamauchi is one of the most interesting artists I’ve ever met, or maybe it’s just because I’ve gotten to know her personally.  Read her blog at https://www.samyakyamauchiart.com/blog and you will have the privilege of seeing directly into her psyche, and learn just what she is thinking and visualizing at any given moment.  And you can immediately see the expression of those thoughts in her paintings. As we all show only part of who we are to the rest of the world, I’m fascinated to know more.  You can learn more too, by visiting her in her studio during this fall’s Portland Open Studios tour.

She describes herself as “Third generation Japanese-American – mostly self-taught painter – native Portlander – partner, parent, grandparent – tree-hugger – color lover – hair enthusiast – retired teacher – friendly introvert – Superpower: big inspiration in a small frame.”

Her art background:  “I am pretty much self-taught.  I’ve always made art, but I was a ‘closet’ artist until 2001 when I started making and showing glass mosaics. Through many years of making mosaics, I learned a lot about color, composition, and ‘seeing’ imagery.”

While she is self-taught, that doesn’t mean she hasn’t been learning.  She has taken figure drawing classes through PCC and from artist Phil Sylvester, who helped her get out her head and draw the way she sees things.  Serena Barton taught her to use her hands and paper towels; Jesse Reno taught her about letting things morph and change. Most recently she took a class from Bill Park who taught her to embrace drips!  “Mostly I have learned to paint by going into my studio almost every day and moving paint around and paying close attention to what the painting has to say and how it feels to paint.”

Her actual process has changed very little over time. The biggest change is her color palette. “When I started I painted dark abstracts. Then I began using mainly primary and very bright colors. My paintings got more and more colorful and bright until suddenly last winter I started using mostly black, grey and pale blue. I think I was feeling sort of overwhelmed by things going on in the world, and the change in my color palette was calming. Getting ready for a recent show at the P 5, I knew I need to have lighter backgrounds to show off the paintings on those dark walls, so I did a series with white backgrounds, bold black lines and little pops of color.  Now, I’m using subtle color and lighter backgrounds. My challenge is to figure out how to get adequate contrast in value with such subtle colors because I really like contrast, so I’m interested in incorporating black lines in interesting ways.”  She’s always growing.  I love that.

She tells me she has had many ‘pivotal’ experiences, but she tells us about three.:

“1. Being featured on Oregon Art Beat gave me more confidence in calling myself an “artist”. At the time I was facilitating painting workshops, and sharing my painting process with others. The Art Beat episode reached a lot of people who wouldn’t have seen my art otherwise. Because so many people started signing up for my workshops, I met lots of really lovely people, so that really opened my world up a lot.

“2. Another really life changing event was the day I met Portland artist, Fred Swan. Fred is one of the most gracious, creative, authentic people I’ve ever known. Meeting Fred, and coming into his orbit has brought me a beautiful sense of grace and gratitude. And

“3. The last experience was not really an art experience, but a recent spiritual retreat from which I returned, surprisingly, without a desire to call myself “artist” anymore. I believe that as I let this settle in, it will probably be the most important experience of my life.”

I asked her what the best piece of advice She’s ever been given was.  She had two: First: “If something in your painting isn’t moving the piece forward, get rid of it.” – Jesse Reno   Second. “Change direction.” – A voice in a dream.

Introducing Artist No. 23 – Rob Sanford

Rob Sanford comes from an artistic background. His Mother was an artist and musician. He entered his first art contest in second grade. “I was hooked after that.” He earned a degree in industrial design and worked as an Engineer, but has always painted.

Rob works in acrylic on canvas. Right now he’s focusing on wildlife art, but he has also won many awards in the science fiction/comic book industry. He is inspired by wildlife and landscape artists Jay Moore, Carl Rungius and Robert Bateman.

While Rob sees the art world changing from digitization and computer generation, he feels that even though the tools change, the inspiration remains.

 

He will be demonstrating his process during the fall PDXOS tour. Before he begins a project he takes photos and sketches ideas, then begins the piece. Before he considers the painting complete, though, he takes advice he has been given and lets the painting rest for a while. His goal is to become better with each new painting.