Welcome to the December issue of
Off the Easel
Thank you all for joining me each month to share in my art practice. A warm welcome to all my new subscribers! I am delighted to have subscribers and readers from around the world -- my heartfelt thanks to everyone for your continued interest and support of my work.
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If you are joining me from the Northern Hemisphere, greetings of the upcoming winter to you! How did it get to be December already? Subscribers from the Southern Hemisphere are gearing up for summer, so perhaps we should all come for an impromptu visit. While I miss the longer days, I do appreciate the symbolic hibernation that winter represents for me, for I plan to spend more time in the studio over the coming months.
In this issue:
Say, One Out of Two Ain't Bad! Tales from my recent art workshops. How did the workshops go that I took last month? Did I make any ugly paintings? How did my experiences help me to come full circle on my artistic quest? Find out in the article below!
Website and Blog Updates. I have made a tremendous amount of progress on my new website recently. Read the details below to learn what has been added, and then please visit my site to see the progress for yourself!
Fall Art Lessons 10-for-9 Special, and other unique gift options! Read details about my private art lessons special in the article One More Month To Go! Remember to take advantage of this punch card-inspired plan by December 31st.
From original works of art at a variety of price points to my greeting card collections, I have your gift list covered. There are many Shop-portunities in my studio, so read on for additional details.
December 4th Gallery Hop: Please join us for the December 4th Downtown Art District Association First Friday Gallery Hop. You will find further details in the article below, but remember that this will be my last open studio Hop event for several months, so be sure to attend!
One thing that each of the various winter holidays seem to share is the symbol of light, whether through the lighting of oil, candles, or a tree. At this time of great unrest and unease in several locations around the world, may the image of returning light piercing the veil of winter be a symbol of peace for all those lost in darkness.
I hope you enjoy the December issue of Off the Easel. I wish you all a peaceful holiday season, and a prosperous upcoming New Year.
All the best,
Say, One Out of Two Ain't Bad!
Tales from my recent art workshops...
...or the story of how one painting was indeed ugly, but one I rather liked. The biggest benefits of taking those weekend workshops last month were less tangible, however.
If you read my article in last month's issue, It's OK to Make Some Ugly Paintings: the Importance of Artistic Exploration, I was prepared to make some not-quite masterpieces, but to learn from playing.
As I am referencing the adjective, to describe art as "ugly" is in the critical eye of the artist as creator, rather than the opinion of another viewer. If the artist fell short of his or her intentions, that artist might call their attempt ugly.
Art is, if nothing else, subjective.
My article sparked wonderful comments from some of my Twitter followers. My favorite came from fellow artist Karin Feickert, who wrote: "I love ugly or non-standard beauty." As artist Alice Neel said, "Nobody knows what makes good art. As an artist, when it happens, you're grateful, and then you get on with it."
Open to new creative experiences and prepared for ugly, I took two workshops that weekend. Making my choices carefully, I had selected topics that I thought would inform future paintings. I came to each class prepared with reference photographs, and can safely say that at least the end result pictured above turned out to be a proper study for the ultimate piece. But that wasn't the true benefit of the weekend.
The first workshop was a full seven hour day on Water: Reflections and Translucence with David Dunlop. His impressive knowledge base in both art history and the Old Masters' methods, as well as the science of seeing and perception, really gave my experience depth.
I found what David shared to both echo and augment my personal exploration of Old Masters' techniques and my theories on how to paint faster, but still have a believable or "realistic" looking end result. One such Old Master technique is to use transparent colors within your dark values so as to give them depth, and save your opaque pigments later for the light.
David stressed "following the paint" rather than the reference photograph, and utilizing a "process of reduction and simplification" so as to exploit the brain's physiological tendency to make sense out of what he called the "tableaux of confusion". In other words, just as my brain easily sees animals in cloud formations, the brain has a tendency to make sense out of textured chaos. Such visual cacophony as you would find in grass or, say, the weathered texture of two life-sized standing stones awaiting completion in my studio, ahem, your mind wants to make sense from that visual information. In this way, the viewer's brain does part of my job for me.
This was great news. Perhaps Edgar Degas was alluding to this phenomenon when he said, "Art is not what you see, but what you make others see."
The other grand pearl of wisdom that David rolled out that I immediately put in my basket was to remove stress for maximum creativity. Apparently, he explained, we have better access to subliminal memory when we are relaxed.
When David mentioned this, I immediately thought of one of my favorite Yogi brand tea tag quotes that inspired my blog post, A Relaxed Mind is a Creative Mind. If we learned nothing else in the workshop, David said, he wanted us to remember to take a deep breath before beginning a painting session.
Whereas David's workshop was perhaps more cerebral, Linda Kemp's three hour acrylic workshop on The Painted Nest was unapologetically my playtime.
In the workshop description, Linda's techniques of concentrating on the negative spaces -- she referred to them as "captured negatives" -- seemed to be in tandem with my own way of thinking while I paint. She also uses glazes masterfully to push areas back in order to bring other shapes forward.
However, trying to replicate her fabulous splishy-splash method of creating an underpainting structure that she had demonstrated step-by-step with both ease and bravado had me feeling quite like Jackson Pollock -- and having a great deal of fun in the process.
There was a bit of a "re-learning curve" for me, as I had not used acrylics at any great length since my college days when I switched to oil. Somewhere between a desire to improve my unfinished, ugly duckling end result from this workshop, and thinking that the faster drying time of acrylics would make them an ideal medium for future studies, I left the trade show with a sack of tubes under my arm.
I confess, I feel the pull to improve on the ugly painting, but upon examination, I find that this drive isn't just habitual. I don't feel the urge to make a would-be masterpiece out of it, but rather, I feel I have more to learn from the process.
Coming Full Circle. Writing a blog is not unlike journaling. Just as it is helpful to read back over old personal journal entries to discover connections -- what Oprah Winfrey memorably calls the "ah ha moments" -- apparently, it's not a bad idea to review your other writings periodically.
As I recently uploaded my previous blog posts to their new home on my website, I found it extraordinary how entries tied into my article from last month about artistic experimentation, and the very concepts David Dunlop was touting in his reflections workshop.
If you will forgive me for quoting myself, in my post Seeking "whelment," I share:
"Forgetting that it is about painting 'the masses, the whole' as one of the Old Masters said is admittedly one of my heavy things to put down. Why not let the viewer's brain and eye fill in some of the blanks? There is no need to paint every blade of grass when the viewer could perceive the holistic massed texture of the grass instead....
"Johannes Vermeer painted in this manner -- his clean style is what I love about his paintings. Everything you need is there; the extraneous is omitted. He may have only completed 35 attributed paintings in his short 43 years, but visually, Vermeer had no weights around his ankles."
"My studio neighbor recently attended a week-long art workshop. Last night he showed me the results -- he'd gotten four new pieces done, and was now applying the concepts in the studio to another new piece. Taking this time away from the large painting he'd been working on for awhile helped him to open a new creative door, as he put it. In his new pieces, I saw an awakening of some dynamic visual breakthroughs. My friend's inspiration, kindled from working quickly and with freedom during this workshop, was infectious.
"So instead of worrying about what we have to DO, why not just BE, and have fun with it? Let's all create something experimental, unexpected, and freeing, and in releasing our Inner Critic's expectation that everything has to be a just-so Masterpiece, who knows? You just might create one."
David was fearless as he demonstrated his techniques in a variety of painting media. As he said in the workshop, "Embrace the accident -- there are no wrong notes. It's what you do next."
I am eager to see what comes next.
David Dunlop is the host of a national Emmy Award-winning series on PBS, writes an art blog, and offers an instructional DVD series. For more about David, visit: http://daviddunlop.com/ and also look for his presentations on You Tube.
Linda Kemp has published several titles for North Light books, and has been featured in various arts publications. Look for Linda on You Tube, and visit her website: http://www.lindakemp.com/
Above image: Workshop painting: Experimental Study for Reflection
oil on gessobord coated with polymer gloss varnish, 9" x 12"
© Amy Funderburk, November 13, 2015 All Rights Reserved
Madron Holy Well, Madron, West Penwith, Cornwall, England
Photography Gallery. My website is really coming along. I am delighted to report that, for the first time ever, I have uploaded all of my extant color photographs to the Photography Gallery!
On the previous incarnation of my site, I only had certain photographic works available on my photography page, Now those who live too far afield to visit my studio can view this entire body of work on my website.
Shopping Cart page. Images of both of my best selling greeting card collections, The Loch Ness Sunrise Suite and The Trees of England and Cornwall are now available to view on the Shopping Cart page -- and of course, you can find larger images of each photograph in the Photography Gallery!
Hopefully before you have a chance to check your list twice, I will be installing the Cart itself on my website, making it more convenient than ever to shop for your favorite art items! In the meantime, you can always contact me to schedule a studio visit or to arrange payment with a credit card for your purchase.
Reminder: please bookmark again. If you visit my website now from a recent bookmark, you might receive a mysterious "redirect loop" notification. Refresh your browser, re-bookmark, then all will be well. I apologize for any inconvenience!
Blog. As I announced last month, my blog is now located exclusively on my website. If you have been kind enough to bookmark my blog, please update it to:
I now have almost all my previous posts uploaded. Visit now to read some of my earlier favorites, including Your Best New Year's Resolution: Sing Like a Bird. Links for certain additional posts are included in the article above.
If you missed the notice last month, for those of you who had originally held a separate subscription to be notified about new blog entries, at least for now, your blog subscription will be combined with your subscription to this newsletter, since I will be announcing new blog posts here.
Above: Beech Tree of Camelot
archival pigment print
12” x 18”, framed to 20” x 27”
© 2012 Amy Funderburk, All Rights Reserved
Cadbury Castle, near South Cadbury, Somerset, England
Above: The Trees of England and Cornwall
Greeting Card Collection
archival pigment prints; each card 5" x 7"
© Amy Funderburk 2013
What better greeting cards for this time of year than trees?
Collection features one card of each composition. Printed on acid-free paper and signed with acid-free ink; suitable for framing or mailing.
December 4th Gallery Hop
Be sure to visit my studio in the Artists On Liberty Building on Friday, December 4th, from 7-10 PM, during the Downtown Art District Association's First Friday Gallery Hop.
This will be my last Hop for several months, so we look forward to seeing you there! Come by and see my progress on the charcoal rubbing drawing, Fictitious Pictish Standing Stone!
Following this Hop, I will be closed during these monthly events at least until spring, and I am not yet sure of my 2016 participation schedule. I will be spending the coming darker months doing a lot of creative work and experimentation so that my artistic ideas will sprout and blossom in the spring! By the time of my next Gallery Hop participation, I should have a lot of progress to share.
Can't make it that Friday? You are always welcome to contact me to arrange an appointment for a studio visit.
Special December Hop events in my studio:
Interactive drawing. Come by to participate in my ongoing interactive drawing project based on the calming effect of tracing a spiral labyrinth.
If you missed the August issue of this newsletter, I invite you to read the full background on this interactive drawing project, and to view the various stages of the first drawing in progress, the Blue Moon Fire Spiral.
In my September issue, you will find additional images of inspiration, as well as photos of the initial stage of the second work, a serpentine double spiral. In the October issue, learn how the Serpent Spiral got its name, and see its current stage of development!
Guest artists. I am also delighted that photographer James C. Williams and Chris Williams of Creations by Chris will have new work on display in my studio during the evening. Please see the article below for more information about Jimmy and Chris, and to see examples of their work.
Please note our location. We are on Liberty Street, not Trade! Head to Liberty between 6th and 5th Streets, and then look for our sign in front of the Artists On Liberty Building at 521 North Liberty Street in downtown Winston-Salem, NC. Please see the photo of the front of the building at the end of this newsletter.
What about a Winter Soirée? In case you didn't see the announcement last month, since this is a busy time for many people, and since I'll be open for the December Gallery Hop, I've decided to focus my energies on that event. We look forward to seeing you during the Spring 2016 Subscribers' Studio Soirée! Please stay tuned to future newsletters for a date once I schedule this event.
Above: Art makes the ideal holiday gift!
photograph © 2014 Amy Funderburk, All Rights Reserved
Gallery Hop Guest Artists
I am delighted to host my husband James C. Williams and my sister-in-law, Chris Williams of Creations by Chris, as guest artists for the December 4th Gallery Hop.
Chris Williams of Creations By Chris. Chris creates her scarves using a variety of stitches, patterns, and types of yarn. She began knitting as a teenager, and shares, "I love the process of knitting, since it allows me to be creative and productive at the same time." She will have a selection of her scarves available for sale during the Hop.
James C. Williams. Jimmy will be debuting three new black and white digital infrared photographs at the Hop. His current work explores the potential of digital infrared as opposed to infrared film photography, which has been the basis of his portfolio for the past eleven years.
Of his subject matter, Williams explains, "I enjoy dramatic imagery and appreciate stories, legends, and myths, as well as history."
You may visit his website and contact him to place any special orders in time for the holidays.
Above: Trees of Green Hill
infrared digital photograph, archival pigment on paper
9" x 13" framed to 17' x 20"
© 2015 James C. Williams, All Rights Reserved
Green Hill Cemetery, Greensboro, NC
Above: Hand-knitted scarves by Chris Williams of Creations by Chris
© 2014 Chris Williams, All Rights Reserved
photograph by Amy Funderburk, 2014
Making your holiday gift list and checking it twice? Original artwork is the ideal gift, especially for that "someone who has everything."
Please note that I have original works available at a variety of price points, and since I accept the new chip credit cards, it is easier than ever to purchase that certain work you have had in mind. I also offer a layaway plan for up to six months; please email me for additional information on any of these payment options.
Greeting Cards. Best sellers like The Loch Ness Sunrise Suite greeting card collection would make the perfect stocking stuffer! Because of the importance of the symbolism of the tree during the winter season, my collection The Trees of England and Cornwall (pictured below the Website Updates article) would be an ideal choice for your holiday greeting card needs.
Each of these five-card collections features one card of each composition as well as envelopes. Printed on acid-free paper and signed with acid-free ink, these cards are suitable for framing or mailing. Single cards and Artist's Proofs are also available.
Other greeting cards currently available include Savasana -- the Release, the first greeting card I have printed of an oil painting from the series Images From the Otherworld. Please see the painting pictured below.
Giclée reproductions. Two of my oil paintings are also available as giclée reproductions: Manifestation of Rabbit (pictured below) and Lakes of Killarney: Michael's View. Both paintings are now available for viewing on my website. For sizing and pricing information, please visit the Shopping Cart page on my site.
Gift Certificates. I am also available by appointment for art lessons at any skill level, from beginner to advanced, as well as critiques and art marketing strategy sessions for professionals.
Now is the perfect time to treat yourself or a loved one to some art lessons, because my Fall Art Lessons 10-for-9 Special is still available through December 31st. Email me for details, rates, and to purchase a gift certificate for a loved one. Please see details in the article below.
Above: Savasana -- the Release
oil on linen, 44" x 32"
© 2008-2011 Amy Funderburk
All Rights Reserved
The greeting card of this painting is printed on acid-free paper and signed with acid-free ink; suitable for framing or mailing.
One More Month To Go!
Fall Art Lessons 10-for-9 Special: December 31st is the deadline to take advantage of my Fall Art Lessons 10-for-9 Special! It would make a great gift for yourself or for a loved one.
Between now and the end of the year, if you purchase nine lessons, critiques,1 or tailored art marketing sessions of at least two hours per lesson at my regular 2015 rate of $35 USD per hour, you'll get a tenth two-hour lesson or session for free! I welcome artists of all skill levels, as well as those working in a variety of media.
As long as you prepay for the bundle of lessons by December 31, they don't have to all take place between now and then -- making this a wonderfully unique gift option. What better gift for a budding or established artist, not to mention that this is a gift that won't take up space!
Email me today to schedule your lessons or for more information. If you or the gift recipient aren't local, I can provide critiques,1 via your website and marketing materials, and we can conduct the session via Skype. Contact me for more information.
1 Critiques that take place in my downtown studio or via Skype may qualify for a minimum of nine one-hour sessions. With the purchase of nine such critiques, you will be awarded a tenth one-hour session.
Due to the set up and clean up times involved, a two-hour minimum is required for hands-on lessons to qualify for the Fall Art Lessons 10-for-9 Special.
Above: Art -- and art lessons -- make the ideal holiday gifts!
photograph © 2014 Amy Funderburk, All Rights Reserved
The Artists On Liberty Building
Be sure to Hop on by during the December 4th Downtown Art District Association First Friday Gallery Hop!
Coming in January....
Who will win, Rabbit or Turtle? Stay tuned for details about my version of this classic race! The exciting action starts next month.
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
Giclée reproductions are available of this painting in several sizes. See the above Shop-portunites! article for more details, or visit the Shopping Cart page on my website.