Introducing Artist No. 50 – Dane Eisenbart

Dane Eisenbart is new to the tour this year, and we’re excited to have him on board. He was born and raised in the surrounding forests of the Tualatin Mountains, where he could often be found drawing or exploring outside. It’s here that he developed a fascination with the natural world which continues to inspire his artwork today. He enjoys exploring remote wilderness, hunting for small treasures, sea kayaking, and sharing stories of all kinds.

His work is characterized by anthropomorphic depictions of wildlife, dueling archetypes of light and dark, and an aesthetic of motion. He weaves together visual stories that resemble dream-like scenarios where nature’s laws are bent and new mythologies are born.

I had to ask how he got involved with art, because his art is so unusual. He explained “My mom is an incredible artist and I grew up idolizing her. There was always a variety of art supplies laying around the house and I took to art making really early. It was an intuitive way for me to spend my time and channel my energy. I think I proclaimed I would be a professional artist when I was four or five years old.”

“Every composition begins with the process of brainstorming, research, and stock image collection. I piece my findings together and begin sketching out the idea small before translating it to canvas. I work in multiple layers of oil paint. I rough in the first layer quickly without worrying too much about perfection. The second and third layers are often semi translucent glazes that shift the colors in the right direction and fine-tune the shadows and highlights of the piece. Each subsequent layer focuses more intently on details and my brush tends to get smaller the longer I work on a painting.

If you visit Dane in his studio this weekend or next, he will be showing several paintings in varying stages of progress and many more that are finished. He feels …”it’s is a great opportunity to learn about my process and see my creative space in person. As an added bonus you get to check out the Falcon Art Community which is home to an impressive collection of large format paintings. The space kind of has the feeling of a secret museum / art dungeon”

VISITORS 101 : GUIDE TO PORTLAND OPEN STUDIOS

So you want to experience Portland Open Studios over the next two weekends (Oct 14-15 and 21-22).  You’ve got a choice of 103 artists to visit over four days.  It doesn’t take a mathematician to see that planning for your tour might help.

Start by picking up our tour guide:  You can download a free phone app, or one with more bells and whistles for $5.99.  Or you can buy our commemorative full-color print guide for $15 at New Seasons, most art stores, and other select retail locations.   The guide is organized by communities (there are eight communities this year), and includes maps and addresses of participating artist studios in each community.  You can find artists by location, by medium, or by name!

We talked to two long-time tour goers, Sharee Schreiner and Diane Hunt, to get some advice on how to best do Portland Open Studios.  Some practical tips:

  • Plan ahead. Spend some time deciding which artists you want to visit.   Diane does this by getting familiar with the tour guide during the weeks before the tour (specifically, she keeps it on her passenger seat in the car, and skims the guide while stopped at traffic lights).  Sharee determines whom she might be interested in visiting by perusing the guide, then going online and researching those earmarked artists, and by visiting their personal websites. Once you decide whom you want to visit, mark them on the calendar, and plan your tour around the map itself, maximizing the experience.   You can also buy the phone app for $5.99, and mark favorites (it will automatically give you driving directions).
  • Don’t be shy, ask questions. The artists have been preparing for this tour for months, and they have a lot to share with you.  Just let them know what interests you.
  • Expect a really personal experience. Immerse yourself in the fun of it.  Especially if you buy something.  Says Diane:  If you go into each studio in the right frame of mind, you’re not just buying a piece of art, you are buying the story of your encounter with the artist.  When we visited her house, Diane had a story for each piece of art she bought during the Portland Open Studios tour.
  • If something grabs you, buy it. There’s a good chance that if you don’t, it won’t be there when you come back.  “I have missed things,” says Diane ruefully.  Remember that many of these artists will let you buy a piece in installments if you need it.  Don’t be afraid to ask about an installment plan
  • Follow us on Instagram (pdxopenstudios) and watch for chances to win prizes during the tour.
  • Be respectful to the artist and their space, because in so many cases the studio is their home. You’re going into someone’s private space, so it’s important to be respectful of that.

Introducing Artist No. 21 – Anna Lancaster

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.”

Introducing Artist No. 84 – Alexandria Levin

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.

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. 36 – Susan Harrington

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.”

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. 95 – Kirk Weller

“For me, doing art is always contemplative, sometimes reverential, and occasionally worshipful.

“Imagine—or maybe remember—coming upon some work of art, some creation, in which an ineffable perception of beauty fell upon you. It might be a particular combination of texture, line, hue, value and contrast born upon some degree of realistic imagery, itself symbolic of something a bit beyond words so that by the time you have been pulled away by the mundane, you are nonetheless changed. Now imagine conceiving of that creation before perceiving it, attempting to create it and ending up with something else equally ineffable but still a startling discovery. I experience this in my studio on a frequent basis.

“Having this opportunity makes me blessed. So I paint mainly to paint. In my studio, I give up my hand to something that allows me to create, but which I experience as discovery.

“It is likely that one day not too far away now, humanity–out of an abject and persisting inability to maintain a sustainable co-existence–will find itself without wild vistas. Instead the playas and deserts and plateaus will be festooned with windmills, solar panels, power lines and vats of genetically engineered algae—palatable for the post-modern palate. I presume these landscape paintings might then say something about not only the world—precious beyond redemption–but about humanity. Maybe, in this way, at long last, we will know what our place is, or should have been.”

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.”