Welcome to the August issue of Amy Funderburk's newsletter, Off the Easel. 

In this issue, you'll find photos of new works in progress, as well as the inspiration behind these pieces; upcoming First Friday Gallery Hops; an update on my website changes and blog; and more!

Welcome to the August issue of
Off the Easel

Happy August, everyone! A warm summer welcome to new subscribers, and thanks so much to everyone for your continued interest and support of my work. I have predominantly dedicated this issue to offering you an insight into my creative process by sharing images of works in progress.

I hope you all enjoyed viewing the recent Blue Moon on July 31st. Rather than a reference to hue, this is the rare occurrence when we have two full moons in one month. As you'll read below, the Blue Moon that ushered us into August bestowed its name to one of my new works in progress.

Seeing this newsletter on Twitter? Why wait to find it there when you could 
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In this issue: Fire and Stone! 

Travel Inspirations. Sometimes, I have to simmer my travel experiences in my subconscious for awhile before they emerge as an artistic idea. In this issue, you'll see several such examples. My early Ireland trips still inspire me over a decade later, as does our most recent trip to Scotland. 
Currently On the Easel. I've been making excellent progress on my new charcoal drawing, inspired by a Pictish standing stone in Aberlemno, Angus, Scotland. Read on to learn more about the rubbing technique I've been using, and to see an in-progress photo of the results so far!

I have also decided which route to take with the new
interactive meditative drawing that began with visitor participation at the June Gallery Hop and Studio Soirée. For this piece, I decided to employ a surprising tool: fire. You may view in-progress shots of several stages of the ongoing development of this work below.
Next Gallery Hop: August 7th. Below, please find more details about this Friday's Downtown Arts District Association's First Friday Gallery Hop, as well as future events.

My Website and Blog: a great metamorphosis is underway! Please read on for updates.

I hope you enjoy the August issue of Off the Easel, and have a lovely remainder of your summer!

All the best,

Currently On the Easel...

If you received the July issue of my newsletter, you will have read about the charcoal drawing I currently have in progress. For this work, I was inspired by one of my very favorite Pictish stones. Sometimes referred to as Aberlemno I or The Aberlemno Serpent Stone, it is one of a set of famous stones in Aberlemno, Angus, Scotland. 

The idea for Fictitious Pictish Standing Stone was born from my inability to create a rubbing from the actual design. At one time, it was commonplace for visitors to do rubbings of these carvings, but now to protect the stones, this is no longer permitted. I wanted to execute a life-sized drawing as if I had actually done a rubbing during my visit. Ultimately, I made the stone just a bit taller than my height of 5'10". 

Most likely a prehistoric megalith repurposed by the Picts, this stone features some very common Pictish symbols. From top to bottom, a snake, the Z-rod (a broken spear with two discs and a rectangle), a mirror, and a small comb were carved around the 7th century C.E. In the in-progress shot above, the snake and the head of the spear are visible. 

Due to the size and fragility of the paper, as you can see in the photograph above, I am working from the top to the bottom of my composition, completing each section as I go, rather than working all over the surface at the same rate of speed. As a result of the scale and my technique, I am working on either a large worktable or on the floor. I rub the textures of my actual items along the guidelines of an initial contour drawing, and using stones from my garden for the overall texture. Before doing the rubbing of the sharp spear head, I had to wrap it carefully in tracing paper so as not to poke a hole through the translucent mulberry paper! 

After testing the efficacy of various media and application methods, I found that both vine and hard charcoal gave me the best definition when rubbing the textures of the various items. Since the mulberry fibers do not permit much if any erasing, I start with vine charcoal, then once I am satisfied with the area, I augment the rubbing technique by darkening the deepest values with either more vine charcoal or the hard charcoal, using traditional drawing methods. I have also found that I can lift the initial layer of the vine charcoal to a certain extent with cotton balls, and gently rub with the cotton to create transitions between the lightest values.

Like the stones themselves, t
he mulberry paper is both strong and delicate. Even by treating it as gently as possible, the paper gets distressed as I work the charcoal into the fibers, lending an interesting textural change.

Had I created an actual rubbing on site, the contours of the symbolic items would have read as the white of the paper since they were carved using incised lines. By using dark values for my contours instead, I am playing with the illusion of a tighter, more traditionally rendered drawing.

To learn a bit more about the Picts and the history of these stones, as well as to read the full origin of this drawing and see my reference photograph of the Aberlemno Serpent Stone, please refer to the article in my July newsletter. 
Above: Fictitious Pictish Standing Stone,
in progress detail

charcoal rubbing drawing on mulberry paper
© Amy Funderburk 2015, All Rights Reserved
Aberlemno Serpent Stone
Aberlemno, Angus, Scotland

Gallery Hops

August Hop. This month's Downtown Art District Association's First Friday Gallery Hop will be held on Friday, August 7th, from 7-10 PM in Winston-Salem, NC. Be sure to visit my studio in the Artists On Liberty Building to participate in my new interactive drawing project (see the Hot Off the Presses: Interactive Work in Progress article), and to view several new works!  

I will be displaying the two new archival pigment prints from our trip to Orkney that I debuted at the June 7th Soirée. At that event, I also unveiled my new greeting card: Savasana -- the Release. This is the first oil painting that I have reproduced in this format. 

September Hop. The next Gallery Hop will be Friday, September 4th, from 7-10 PM. Be sure to come by for one of these events, because I won't have my studio open again until the last Hop of the year on December the 4th!

Merchandise Options. I offer merchandise options at a variety of price points, including original artwork in a variety of media, greeting cards, and giclée reproductions of two works: Manifestation of Rabbit (pictured at the end of this newsletter) and Lakes of Killarney (Michael's View). One of my greeting card collections, The Loch Ness Sunrise Suite, is pictured below. 

Payment methods. I am delighted to offer visitors the convenience of paying by credit card. I accept Master Card, Visa, American Express, and Discover. I also offer a layaway plan for up to six months; please contact me for additional information.

Can't make it this Friday? Contact me to arrange an appointment for a studio visit. 

Above: The Artists On Liberty Building
521 North Liberty Street
Winston-Salem, NC, USA 

Look for our sign out front during Downtown Art District Association's First Friday Gallery Hop nights!

Technical, technical, technical! 

Writers for the Star Trek programs would use some humorous shorthand terminology on their initial scripts. They inserted it during certain scenes, eventually replacing this line with the appropriately researched verbiage in time for filming:

"Technical, technical, technical."

In that spirit, I will now proceed with my website and blog updates for you!

My website. I have indeed made progress towards the sweeping changes in store for my website. Technical technical technical things had to happen first behind the scenes, so I am now poised to make the dramatic shift!

As a result of this upgrade, my website will definitely be down while I am working on it this month. In the event you visit or click on any of the links in this newsletter but you don't reach my site, please check back again very soon. I appreciate your patience, and I hope you are as excited as I am to see the end result of this transformation.

My blog. As I announced last month, my blog recently went through a slight migration. A reminder that if you have been kind enough to bookmark it, please update your link to:

However -- 
Technical technical technical things happened during an automatic software upgrade, and it has recently come to my attention that all the photos on the blog have mysteriously disappeared.

Sigh. Technical technical technical.

I will be working to resolve this issue as soon as I can. In the meantime, I apologize for any inconvenience.

Above: The Loch Ness Sunrise Suite
Greeting Card Collection

archival pigment prints; each card 5" x 7"
© Amy Funderburk 2013

Collection features one card of each composition. Printed on acid-free paper and signed with acid-free ink; suitable for framing or mailing.

Above: Inscribed crosses on stones, The City
© 2005 Amy FunderburkAll Rights Reserved
Cathair Crobh Dearg (The City), Co Kerry, The Republic of Ireland

See the article "Hot Off the Presses: Interactive Work in Progress" to see how these inscribed crosses influenced me when developing a brand new piece.


Above: Inscribed crosses on stone bench by the holy well, The City
© 2005 Amy FunderburkAll Rights Reserved
Cathair Crobh Dearg (The City), Co Kerry, The Republic of Ireland 

See the article "Hot Off the Presses: Interactive Work in Progress" to see how these inscribed crosses influenced me when developing a brand new piece.


Hot Off the Presses:

Interactive Work in Progress

Ever since I experienced a creative dialog with viewers on The Wishing Tree project, I have wanted to create another such interactive work. Just prior to the June 5th Gallery Hop, I arranged the smooth stones I had collected at Topsail Island, NC in May, and ended up building a spiral in a gradation of values.

Spirals are both a simple yet potent symbol found around the world. They are the shape of the most beautiful of galaxies, as well as the chambered nautilus and humble snail shell. The Neolithic peoples of ancient Ireland carved the famous triple spiral, the triskele, into the K1 entrance stone at the Newgrange Megalithic passage tomb, pictured below, as well as on other beautifully decorated kerbstones there. Such spirals were a motif continued by Celtic artisans into their varied works that ranged from gold jewelry to helmets and shields. I painted an energetic triskele beneath the standing stone in my oil Manifestation of Rabbit, below.
The size and surf-polished smoothness of these stones are reminiscent of worry stones, commonly used for stress relief when rubbed between the thumb and index fingers. In addition to the meditative act of repeatedly picking up a glut of these smooth stones on the beach, I was inspired by two other sources. 

Studies have shown that by tracing a labyrinth design with a pencil, the same sense of calm is achieved in your mind as you achieve when physically walking one of these ancient patterns. Labyrinths are a maze with a single path to the center; a famous one is located in the medieval Chartres Cathedral, France.
In Ireland, I have witnessed a certain practice in several sacred locations, including St Gobnait’s monastic settlement in Ballyvourney, Co Cork, and the cashel at the foot of the Paps of Anu called Cathair Crobh Dearg, known as The City, a Penitential station in Co Kerry (see below the article, Technical, technical technical!). At such sites, when practicing the prescribed rounds, visitors use a small rock to trace a cross within the grooves of larger stone slabs, leaving chalk-like marks behind and further deepening the channels that have been incised by countless generations.

Such prescribed movements are designed to inspire a sense of calm and sacredness when entering a site or while participating in the rounds. My desire to somehow artistically incorporate the intention of this practice has simmered for years.
Visitors to both the June 5th First Friday Gallery Hop and my 
Soireé the following Sunday were invited to use a watercolor pencil in the color of their choice to trace within the stone spiral onto the paper. I recommended that participants trace in, then out, of the shape slowly and carefully as many times as they wished without lifting the pencil, until they felt a sense of tranquility was inspired within them. 

From the inception of my idea, I planned to add drawing embellishments around this communal spiral, and to gather several such drawings to make the final collective work. The spiral of this first version turned out looking flame-like to me, so my first thought was to draw curved flames licking around each side.

I debated about whether or not to trace the stones themselves as part of the final design. Once it occurred to me that I could turn these shapes into glowing charcoal briquettes, a clear direction opened up before me. On Friday, July 31st, the night of the Blue Moon, I took some reference photographs of lit coals.

During the first weekend in August, I photographed flames as reference, then later, I carefully singed and burned the bottom corners and edge of the paper with hot coals. I had to execute this in careful stages, because fire, as you can well imagine, is not the most predictable of drawing tools! Above, you can view the current state of this piece, while below, you will see the evolution of the work in several stages. Stay tuned to future newsletters to see how the final version progresses!

Depending on how future projects turn out, I may base three other drawings on the other elements. An artist friend recently gave me the idea that each labyrinth could be a different design, so I'll play with the stones again and see what happens! 

Come by my studio on Friday, August 7th during the Gallery Hop and participate! Be a part of the creative process; trace the labyrinth to feel a sense of calm.

Above: Blue Moon Fire Spiral, in progress
interactive meditative drawing
watercolor pencil on paper with burned edges

17" x 13 1/8"
© 2015 Amy FunderburkAll Rights Reserved
Above: Blue Moon Fire Spiral, in progress
Phase 1: Stone Spiral
interactive meditative drawing template

spiral template: smooth stones gathered from the shore at Topsail Island, NC
9" diameter 
on 17" x 14" paper
June 5th and 7th, 2015
© 2015 Amy FunderburkAll Rights Reserved
Above: Blue Moon Fire Spiral, in progress
Phase 2, interactive meditative drawing 
spiral template: smooth stones gathered from the shore at Topsail Island, NC
9" diameter 
drawing: watercolor pencil on paper, 17" x 14"

June 5th and 7th, 2015
© 2015 Amy FunderburkAll Rights Reserved
Above: Blue Moon Fire Spiral, in progress
Phase 3, interactive meditative drawing 
spiral template: smooth stones gathered from the shore at Topsail Island, NC; 9" diameter 
drawing: watercolor pencil on paper, 17" x 14"

June 5th and 7th, 2015
© 2015 Amy FunderburkAll Rights Reserved


Above: Blue Moon Fire Spiral, in progress
Phase 4, final stage of interactive meditative drawing 
spiral template: smooth stones gathered from the shore at Topsail Island, NC; 9" diameter 
drawing: watercolor pencil on paper, 17" x 14"

June 5th and 7th, 2015
© 2015 Amy FunderburkAll Rights Reserved
Above: Kerbstone K1 Entrance Stone, Newgrange Megalithic Passage Tomb
© 2001 Amy FunderburkAll Rights Reserved
Boyne Valley, Co Meath, The Republic of Ireland

Newgrange was constructed in approximately 3,200 B.C.E., making this site older than either England's Stonehenge or the Egyptian pyramids!
Above: Manifestation of Rabbit
oil on linen, 30" x 36"
© 2007 Amy Funderburk
All Rights Reserved
Standing stone on Cnoc Áine,
Knockainy, Co Limerick, Republic of Ireland

Please note the energetic triskele beneath the standing stone. I was inspired by the Neolithic carved triple spiral on the K1 kerbstone at Newgrange, pictured above. 
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Copyright © 2015 Amy Funderburk. All rights reserved.


Studio 107, Artists on Liberty Building
521 North Liberty Street, Winston-Salem, NC USA 27101

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