Spiral Jetty Road Trip. Several years ago I was inspired by my son in law Brady who one Sunday afternoon on the spur of the moment jumped in the car with his kids and drove to see the Spiral Jetty. Due to an article I had read many years ago I mistakenly thought there was a lot of hiking involved and possibly rattlesnakes (which by the way the latter of which is true - just ask my daughter Kathryn!) But when I found out you can practically drive there, and more importantly that the lake was at a very low level, it was time for an art pilgrimage. I am lucky that my family love art as much as me so it took no encouraging to pile in the car for a road trip to the northern end of the Great Salt Lake at Rozel Point to visit the site of this iconic earthworks sculpture by Robert Smithson.
Just a bit about Smithson's sculpture before I go on...it is 1500 feet long and is made of black basalt rock, salt crystals, water and sand. Some years when the lake is high it is not even visible unless by boat, but fortunately we were able to see and walk on and around it. Earthworks artists like Smithson, Nancy Holt, and Walter De La Maria and others created sculptures in natural environments, mostly out of the way places. Their vision changed the trajectory and definition of modern sculpture.
I was as impressed as I envisioned I would be as we walked over the ragged black rocks that formed the curving line of the spiral. But what I wasn't prepared for was the stark almost surreal beauty of the the adjoining salt flat and pinkish salt water of the nearby lake front.
It was a perfectly clear day with a blue sky so intense that, if I painted it, no one would believe it was a natural color. The salt sparkled around the edges of salt water pools and in other areas cracked and hard to the point of misery. We explored all over the area and were delighted by the fluffy balls of foam that came from the lake waves and then rolled like tumbleweeds across the salt flat. We found an area that at one time might have been a long wooden dock - the wooden pilings making strident patterns against the soft mud and cloud filled sky.
So yes, the road trip to the Spiral Jetty was everything I hoped for but so much more!
Living near the beach has been a dream of mine for decades and so I have decided to post some paintings of the beach that I did some years ago. I have always been fascinated with the colors, the people, the shadows on the sand, the shapes and sounds of the waves and smell of the ocean. This painting, "Five Umbrellas Too" captures my feelings about lazy days spent enjoying the beach.
I have many memories of my family vacationing at our favorite beach spots: Cardiff by the Sea, Solana Beach, Oceanside and Moonlight. Lots of summer days playing in the warm sand and in the sea. The days were wonderfully sunny and warm especially in July and August. But if we traveled to Southern California in June we had to battle what the locals call June doom. The marine fog rolls in every evening and sometimes doesn't disperse until mid afternoon and only for a few hours, after which the fog comes rolling in again.
You can see more of these beach paintings in my gallery page "Beach", at Saatchiart.com and Artfinder.com. They are all of nice sunny days...but having lived here now through two years of June doom I am beginning to feel a desire to paint some foggy paintings!
I think I am pretty optimistic and friendly but overcoming my fears has always been hard for me. I feel like this has held me back over the years and I wish I were more confident. So, I decided I needed to get out and try to integrate into the art scene here in my new home in CA. I joined the Artist Alliance at the Oceanside Museum of Art and went to their quarterly critique session painting in hand. About 60 people were there and roughly half had work to share for critique. I ended up being the very last one to to brave the critique and I was pretty nervous. But everyone was kind and I received some good and helpful comments. I was able to meet a few people and I hope to get to know them better with time.
I also decided to enter a competition sponsored by the OMA to be held at the Sparks Gallery in San Diego. Happily a piece of mine was accepted and will be exhibited along with some amazing work by fellow artists from the end of April until July 7th. If you are in San Diego you will enjoy the exhibit I'm sure!
After a lengthy project I believe an artist should take some time to play so I have chosen cold wax and oil paint to experiment with. And I am loving the soft buttery consistency, the ability to create transparent and opaque colors, the ability to add layers then scratch into them, scrape away, even sandpaper the heck out of them. Whatever you do it just seems to add more character and more depth to the image.
So far I have tried one figurative piece and one abstract. I was pretty much won over by the consistency when I started blending the wax into the oil paint. I guess I still harken back to my mud pies stage of child hood. I've never got over the wondrous sensation of squishy mud in my hands! Probably never will (hence my incessant desire to plant things in the earth.) I am using Gamblin cold wax that I bought through Dick Blick online. And I purchased a few new tools too; 2 silicone brushes, a couple of silicone scrapers and a new set of palette knives since mine were shot. I dug out an old printmaking brayer as well that is marvelous for moving paint around.
The palette knives are great for applying the oil/wax mixture and the the scrapers and silicone brushes both move paint and remove paint. The process seems to work best when it is both additive and subtractive. The marvelous thing being that as you take a part of the image away there is always a residue or shadow of the lines and colors beneath. The wax creates the most beautiful transparent colors and the process can be enhanced with straight oil paints and R&F oil pigment sticks (which I love!)
I used an old photo I took of my son-in-law Brady as inspiration for the figurative painting. I basically used the gesture and the values but the color was all me. I wanted to use unrealistic color and push the saturation of the color too. I am happy with the result and will try this again soon maybe with a full figure.
The abstract one was inspired by a visit to the salt flats in the northern part of the Great Salt Lake. I planned on starting dark and getting lighter and keeping it fairly monochromatic. Haha! That didn't last long! I worked on it over a couple of days but it just wasn't coming together. Gradually I kept adding more and more color while still trying to keep the value pattern intact. It's interesting how a piece can become something so different than what you had intended in the beginning. What do you think? I'd love it if you let me know by liking and commenting below. Playing with oil paint and cold wax is a definite cure for the winter doldrums!
PS. If you leave a comment you will be entered into a drawing for a free zoie silicone scraper. Comment by February 21 and dm my instagram (fionaphillipsartstudio) with your email so I can let the winner know.
Sometimes the best things happen when you paint over an old painting! There is a history there that I think only enriches the final image. Recently my husband and I got to spend a weekend visiting our daughter and her family in Rio Rancho NM. It was a great weekend hanging out with our grandsons and enjoying their craziness. In the middle of it all my daughter Alison and I redesigned a new 6'x12' mural for her living room and painted over the old one that she wasn't satisfied with.
The mural is a stylized landscape complete with pink New Mexico clouds. Alison loves the skies in Rio Rancho more than anything else there. She says they are constantly changing and as a talented photographer (you can see her work on Instagram at alisonhatchphotography or alisonhatchphoto.com) she appreciates the way the changing light affects everything in the landscape. It was a wonderful mother/daughter creative time together. The new painting covered over the old painting while parts of it can still be seen. Layers of paint, layers of memory.
Remodeling at the best of times can give you the blues...and the reds...and the yellows. It seems like tearing things down only to build them up again can make you run a gamut of emotions. I thought I would go crazy during the demolition stage - all that ear splitting noise and tons of dust. Thankfully that is over and after 12 paint samples finally found just the right shade of soft neutral grey for the walls which are now 7/8 finished! Kitchen cabinets are next but will take a few weeks so everything is slowing to a stand still. We are living in our bedroom (now our apartment) and the laundry room is a makeshift kitchen with microwave and crock pot so we are really doing just fine.
I have enjoyed the creative aspect of the remodel of our outdated and "desperately in need of TLC" kitchen and great room. It has been fun to pick out samples and only slightly stressful trying to merge my husband and my aesthetic sensibilities haha! But we have come up with an awesome plan. I have found amazing Geamenti ceramic tile for the kitchen from Wayfair.com and I'm in love with Arizona Tile's Statuario Nuovo quartz. We are undecided on the hardwood still, but we are impatiently waiting to see the end result:))
One of my least favorite things is doing inventory! But for the last several weeks I have been cataloguing and photographing and entering information about the paintings, drawings and encaustic work I've done and have available for sale. And now I'm very HAPPY to say it is done! Yay!!
Very soon I will have work available for sale both on Facebook (Fiona Phillips Fine Art), Instagram (Fiona Phillips Art Studio) and here on my website. You can also buy my paintings on the incredible Saatchi Art website. Just look for me by name. I will have lesser priced small pieces all the way up to large pieces that would enhance an office or home. I'm excited about this sale because I think it has something for everyone! I will be posting special sales from time to time between now and Christmas so keep checking here and on social media. Enjoy!
Back home after the opening of my show at Dixie State University and enjoying just a little time to reflect and hopefully to play. I have bought some cold wax and tools and am anxious to get in the studio again and begin working - no, rephrase that - playing! Some good advice I got once was that after a big project you need to allow yourself time to play, to experiment and not to worry about making "successful" work. Maybe I'll show you some of my "experiments" in my next post... we'll see.
I'm still trying to get the word out about the importance of mental health and the detrimental affect of the stigma of mental illness. I have uploaded the longer version of my Defacing Stigma video to my Facebook business page: Fiona Phillips Fine Art and encourage everyone to take 11 minutes and view it - the stories are so powerful!
The show runs until November 16th - so lots of time to stop by if you are in Southern Utah!
Over the last two years I have met or reconnected with fifty people and what an amazing experience it has been! I think getting to know them and trying to understand them has been a crucial part of this project and I have loved trying to translate that through paintbrush and color on canvas. I feel like I have made many new friends and in the process have found a deeper understanding of the trials and suffering of those of them who have mental illness. I have also come to realize through the experiences of these wonderful people how mental illness also affects friends, family and caregivers of the mentally ill. One in five of us have to deal with this daily struggle and I hope we can all be more aware and empathetic so that no one need hide their illness or feel ashamed.
I have finally finished the video for my show! Being a little technologically challenged it has taken me way longer than it should have...but that's ok. I did a short version and a longer version so we will see which one the curator will want to show. There is to be a tv and some comfy chairs in the gallery where people can sit and watch. The video has quotes from the people who modeled for the portraits in Fifty Faces: Defacing Stigma. They are touching and revelatory as people with mental illness share their experiences, hopes and thoughts. Also included are quotes from caregivers, family members and other concerned citizens regarding mental illness. The photography in the video was shot by yours truly and I hope it will enhance the viewer experience.
When not in my studio I like to spend time with family, go to nurseries, the beach and farmer's markets, eat really good food and dance in the kitchen. I believe in kindness.