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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

ARTober & Community Events

A couple months ago I mentioned that I will not be holding any more gallery exhibits of my work til the new series is unveiled in February 2012. However, as the holiday season quickly approaches, I have decided to participate in several festivals and art auctions that benefit local Sacramento Schools and Art Programs. I hope that you will be able to attend some of them this month!

October launches a new festival in Sacramento: ARTober. Throughout the entire month, Sacramento will celebrate the arts and humanities throughout the city... in the streets, on the stages, in the galleries, at the museums, and in community parks! I have been invited to participate in their Modern Arts Festival on Saturday Oct 15th. This will be a great opportunity to not only purchase original art, prints and cards directly from me (gallery shows take a huge commission) but to also experience a live portrait drawing session! I will be sketching ink portraits at my booth on 20th street between J and K from noon to 6pm.

This Saturday, October 8th from 2-5pm, the Jesuit Highschool in Carmichael will host their annual fundraiser. The event is an awesome chance to collect work from many talented and prestigious artists AND simultaneously give back to the community! 50% of all sales go directly to the school. Unfortunately I will not be in attendence but I have given several pieces to the exhibit.

October 29th & 30th, the MAIYA Gallery (located at 2220 J Street, where I had my solo show for my Landscapes in June) will host the Silent Auction "What's in a Name?" The pieces up for bid will not have the artists' names visible. You may recognize an artist's style, but you won't know definitely who created the work unless you are the successful bidder! ALL PROCEEDS will fund scholarships for two El Camino High School seniors who will attend a college or university majoring in studio/fine art in the fall of 2012. The auction is from 1-6pm both days, followed by champagne receptions both Saturday and Sunday.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Last Local Exhibit for 2011

Looking back over the past 6 years (since I graduated college and began pursuing a career in painting) I can honestly say that 2011 has been one of the most exhilarating and intense years yet. Segueing into being a full-time artist--researching and planning exhibits every month, teaching painting and collaborating with local artists, and trying to produce new work consistently enough to keep growing--has been a challenge. Not that I ever had any misconceptions of how hard it would be to make a living in this economy/culture as an independent artist. But I've found that the creative freedom that self determination embodies trumps everything. And it makes me realize why it's so important to have artists in a world wrought with acquiescence.

2012 promises to be another spectacular year, with 2 solo gallery exhibitions in Sacramento already planned. After the 2110 Gallery accepted my proposal for a new body of work based on the local, Sacramento music scene, I have decided that my exhibit next week, "Portraits of Place," will be my final local show for 2011 so that I can pour all of my energy into the new series.

"Portraits of Place" will include a collection of about 30 paintings highlighting scenes from South America, France, Japan and Sacramento.

I hope you will all join me at the International House for the opening reception during the Davis Art About artwalk:
Friday, August 12th, from 6-8pm
Located at 10 College Park, Davis, CA.
*Wine and hors d'oeuvres served!

Thank you, as always, for your continued interest in my art. Non of this would be possible without your wonderful encouragement and support!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Painting en plein air

Painting landscapes en plein air is the most liberating artistic experience I have had in years. At first, I characterized it as simply a change in genre. My artistic pursuits up until this point had been focused purely on portrait and figurative painting in a photorealistic style. Because I had no real history in landscape painting, no standard, no tested and tried technique to hold myself up to, the painting process was blown open to experimentation. The studio techniques I had developed to achieve translucent flesh tones (through many layers of glazing) suddenly became not only irrelevant but indeed impossible to utilize in a painting that had to be completed in one sitting. The limited palette I had become accustomed to in my figurative works no longer satisfied the diversity of color found in nature. And even the focus of my attention to accurate proportion (so imperative in portrait painting!) became remote in the grand scheme of a landscape.

But beyond the techniques associated with a genre, painting en plein air demanded something entirely new of me as an artist. It required that I relinquish control. I was no longer in my studio at midnight, painting on my own time from a photographic reference that never moved, with a light source that remained strong and constant.

Out in the open, everything changes moment by moment. Clouds collect and scatter in a matter of seconds, winds gust through grasses, rattle the easel, and threaten to whisk the canvas off into the mud. Pools of light kiss tree tops into neon and then drop them into a deep green umber. “Chasing the Light” became a response to the the kind of spontaneous action that painting en plein air embodies. It demanded that I make strong decisions and stick to them, no matter how different the scene may look 5 minutes later. Every stroke counted. And paint could just paint.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Artwalk Map

Every 2nd Saturday of every month, Sacramento has an artwalk. While most of the galleries in Sacramento county participate, Midtown is the hub, particularly now that it's getting warm. 2nd Saturdays are quite a scene and not the art viewing night of choice by the "purists". No, this Saturday, thousands of people may flood the streets, searching for the delta breeze as they squeeze their way through traffic stalemates around street performers.

Tribal Calling will perform their original Samba Parade and with their primal grooves you can't refuse you may just end up in one of their dance circles! As if there weren't enough art galleries to make the artwalk lively, many alternative venues also support their local artists... restaurants, salons, bars, insurance bureaus, health clinics, and impromptu booths litter every street, making Midtown the perfect 10 square blocks for a night of ecstatic culture.

Unfortunately I very rarely get to explore on 2nd Saturday as I usually have my own reception to attend. And this particular weekend I have 3 exhibits that include my work so obviously I won't be seen in a feathered hat, pulling random strangers into the Samba line. In lieu of hitting the pavement myself, I've created a map of all the exhibits/galleries/spectacles that are a must see and hopefully I can live vicariously through all of you!

This map places just a few of my favorite galleries, all within walking distance. There are many many other destinations worth checking out by bike or car. Visit 2nd Sat. Art Map

Tribal Calling begins their parade at J and 22nd at 6:30/7 and dances along the route indicated by the red dots. You can join them in the parade or wait til they reach 20th street for their community circle! Just listen for those drums...

I will be at the reception for my solo exhibit "An Eclectic Collection" at Active Life Chiropractic 6:30-9:30. Then headed over to Urban Hive where I have a couple paintings in a group show. The Kimberly Trip will be performing an acoustic rock set til 10:30 if you're looking for some live music...

Enjoy your artwalk!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Completing a Painting

In class couple weeks ago, one of my students asked a question that has stuck with me: "How do we know when a painting is done?" My reply, at the time, was something general like... when nothing bothers you about the piece and you can't see where to take it further then it's done. Temperment also plays a part, when you find that you are no longer enjoying the painting (of course everyone goes through creative trials) but when you just look at the piece on your easel and dread picking up a paintbrush to work on it? Then it's time to call it quits, discard it as a work in progress and move onto something else that you can pour yourself into. Of course this is fine to tell students who are just exploring the process. For a professional artist who, for example works on commission and cannot merely abandon a painting, completion must be achieved through a rigorous criteria in aesthetic and intention.

When I approached the final layer on the commission, I evaluated EVERYTHING: perspective, color balance and rhythm, value relationships, drawing proportions, light sources, the balance of detail and non specific passages, and the overall "feel" of the piece.

My first step was to rectify the "collage" issue. Since I had used two separate images for the background and figure, the painting didn't have an accurate sense of space. Immediately I saw that if the girl were to be truly seated in a field of flowers then the flowers directly beside her (on the same plane) would need to be treated with the same amount of detail as her dress. But something else was bothering me about the isolated figure and background... and I couldn't quite put my finger on it. So I started an online hunt for inspiration, looking for more detailed images of lupine and how fields of flowers behave....

As luck (or perhaps tenacity) would have it, I stumbled upon fields that struck the resonant chord. The addition of California poppies was exactly what this painting needed. It not only made the entire field pop in a diversity that is much more natural, but it successfully united the figure within the scene. The burnt oranges and golds of the petals perfectly matched Nicole's dress so the colors became balanced and rhythmical throughout the entire painting. I purposefully painted many of the poppies closed, still in the beginning of their bloom, to symbolize the beginning of this young girls path to womanhood. And of course the poppies had a sweet resonance with me, personally, as I'm a 5th generation Californian and these vibrant little flowers proliferate the memory of my childhood.

As much as the field began to feel like a natural background setting, the light source was still an issue. Nicole was obviously lit with a bright, directional studio light. The dark shadows that cut her neck, nose, and right eye shriek of artifice. Lightening the shadows created subtle transitions and gave the painting its final diffused glow.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Music in the Painting Process

I find myself continually intrigued by how deeply interconnected all art forms are within the creative process. Working primarily in a single artistic field (visual, literary, musical or otherwise) it's easy to become isolated, to create only within a comfort zone. That's not to say that all forms aren't appreciated by artists who have focused their energies into a particular media, just that we are most confident working in a kind of compartmentalized system. I think this is a natural occurrence (not something institutionalized by society, per se) as we all have particular gifts that lend themselves to this kind of division. The product of this compartmentalization is apparent in how we define the art (the painting, the novel, the song) with little regard to how the PROCESS was affected by other genres. It is oftentimes impossible to see this crossover, unless, of course, the artist specifically intends to communicate it. Or you are a film maker. Film is the prefect example of the melding of different artistic categories... visuals with words and music.

When I began filming my painting process the issues of genre crossover became an exhilarating new concept to work with. Up until this point I had worked primarily in a secretive fashion, alone in my studio, only releasing images of works in progress to a select few. But creating films opened it all up... questioning how I express the process rather than just communicate through a completed painting.

Music became the prevailing (and oftentimes frustrating!) focus in my filmmaking. I have always painted with music going in the background. And I have always chosen my music by what emotions it brings forth in me that I want to influence the painting. For example, in the portrait of the young girl I have been commissioned to paint for her Bat-Mitzvah, I created a Pandora station of music I listened to when I was about her age. Ani DiFranco, Tori Amos, Joni Mitchell... strong female artists that speak to the unnerving poetry of misunderstanding. But when it came time to put a soundtrack to my film, the modern day issues of copyright infringement hampered my full artistic expression. The only music I could find (unless I could pay $80 to license a royalty free tune) were educational recordings of classical music written before 1920. I "made do" in the first layer films with Chopin, an obvious choice as a lot of his music deals with subtleties of emotion and introspection, but ideally I would have liked to accurately portray the process (and conscious musical decisions I had made) while painting.

After discussing my musical frustrations with my dear friend Harley White Jr. he proposed a kind of collaboration for part 3 and 4 in the commission series. For the dress details I wanted something upbeat and fun, vibrant like the flowing gauze in orange, red and yellow. And this is what spontaneously erupted from the strings in the first take:

In part 4, with the detail work in the field of flowers in the background, Harley played one of his original compositions "Spring"

Witness the final touches on "Nicole's painting" in Part 5 of the commission process. Film will be posted as soon as a tune comes together. If only I had a musical bone in my body this hunt wouldn't be so difficult...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Commission in Process

I believe artists create for themselves. Of course every artist wants their work to speak to others, but ultimately we paint, sculpt, sing, dance, and write because we HAVE to. So to produce work for someone else is an incredible challenge. Painting on commission allows for an opening of the artistic process. It stretches the artist's solitary pursuit to include others' points of view and creates a new design and purpose for the painting. Ideally this process remains open, allowing the artist to make decisions that best execute the purpose of the painting. However, quite frequently, there are severe limitations....

Most of my commissions are painted from photographs because the subject is unable, for whatever reason, to sit live. Obviously working from life is the preferred approach as the eye can always see three dimensional form better than a camera can render a two dimensional image. But a photo is essential in most cases. Getting a GOOD photo for reference, however, is the greatest challenge I face in commissioned work.

The commission I started yesterday has an intense due date, giving me less than a month to do an oil painting (with all the dry time in between layers) and ship it to the East Coast. Obviously we didn't have time to do a photoshoot (geography and the surprise gift of the painting also rendered this important part of the process impossible) so I had to use photos my client already had.

This is where conflicting artistic visions wreak havoc! I have serious issues with how the professional photographer staged this young girl. Her long, thin limbs create a distraction through the composition, forcing the viewer to spin off through the extensions instead of resonating in the core of her person. And the light is very harsh, creating high contrast shadows with very little subtle variations in value and color. But I did find her "look" intriguing and the orange dress is just fabulous. I could work with this.

My first response was to crop her legs out entirely and to have her peacefully seated. Holding onto the swing rope sexualized the gaze somehow, so eliminating it had to happen. For the background, I wanted something symbolic for her age (this commission is a surprise gift for her Bat-Mitzvah) so a field of flowers seemed appropriate... blooming and feminine. I chose lupine in particular for the complementary color relationship with the orange in her dress and balancing of the lavenders in her skin. Since I am basically collaging photos together, it's up to my own imagination of how the figure and the background would actually relate to each other in real life. This is going to be extremely difficult, as I usually have to SEE it to paint it, but I look forward to the challenge.

I thought it would be interesting to see how a commissioned painting comes to life so I am filming the whole process and will be posting videos throughout the next couple weeks.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Still Life on a Rainy Day

The first day of spring and it feels like the depths of winter. Blustery winds wrack the old growth trees making the neighborhood a war zone with downed limbs. My poor wild yellow-bellied finches desperately cling to their sack as it twirls on its nail, spewing seeds into the large mound of shucked shells on the balcony floor. I've been meaning to sweep up the feastings for days now, but with a storm like this what would be the point?

And besides, a day like this implores me to hole up in the studio... and just paint. Sitting down to my easel was particularly liberating this afternoon. Instead of working on pieces for my 2 upcoming shows, I grappled with a relatively new genre: Still Life. Using the burnt-orange raw, silk curtain from my four-poster bed and selecting a few white cosmos from their colorful bouquet, I went to work setting up the first still life in my Midtown Studio.

I have a bag full of new canvases tucked in the corner, but recycling an old one was a conscious decision to eliminate things from my studio. I've stacks and stacks of canvases with just a couple layers of paint. Today, my abandoned paintings feel like old clothes, dulled inspiration left colorless by years of washing. I held onto them because of the memory of how I used to feel at the moment they were relevant. But today I'm exploring new perceptions and I'm cleaning out the closet. It is the first day of spring after all.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Painting "Winter Bloom"

Back in November (2010) I started a portrait painting to demonstrate my technique for a teaching position at Sun City in Roseville. After digging through my inspirations folder, a collection of magazine clippings and photographs, I decided to paint from an image taken in a Japanese Cherry Orchard. Originally, there was very little weight, or contemporary relevance to the image. I simply found it to be beautiful with its subtle wintry colors and the softness of her person juxtaposed with the gnarled branches.

But after the first coat, the painting just sat in my studio, unfinished. I turned to other projects.... exploring some plein air landscapes, still lifes and several portrait commissions.

Then last week the earthquake in Japan devastated the country and suddenly the unfinished painting took on whole new meanings. I began to see the quiet strength in this woman sitting amongst the flowers. The wintry blues, violets and greens became an emotional entity in and of themselves. Her closed eyes  ignore the scenery and turn inward in meditation.  Even the cleaving of her cheekbone and defined jaw became a representation of her character.

The completed painting "Winter Bloom" will be unveiled in my upcoming exhibit at the Interfaith Service Bureau. A % of the proceeds of the sale of the painting will be donated to earthquake relief efforts in Japan. In the meantime you can enjoy the video of the final push towards completion.

Please join me at my reception Thursday, April 7th, 2011 to see the painting in person! For more information please visit Brooke's events.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Painting "The Fountain"

Brooke Walker-Knoblich begins her New Orleans series with "The Fountain." In the first, 40 minutes she covers the canvas in a grisaille layer of oil paint to establish the value relationships and overall color for the painting.
Music by Bill Douglass and Paul McCandless. Recorded in Banquet Studios.

Brooke continues "The Fountain" with a second layer of flesh tones. To be continued...


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Painting in Big Sur

First painting location: pullout on HWY 1, north of Limekiln

Second painting location: Pfeiffer Cove.

Music: Bach's French Suite no. 4 BWV 815 -III: Sarabande.
Performed by Felipe Sarro.

Midtown Reception at Beatnik Gallery

When Beatnik  asked Brooke to have a solo show in their gallery, she furiously went to work to produce ten large paintings in ten weeks. The resulting series "Midtown" was joined by several paintings from Brooke Walker-Knoblich's portraits/figures body of work at the Beatnik Gallery in April, 2010.

Music by Blvd Park and Musical Charis.