Category: landscape

Colorado is my recharging place

Colorado landscape painting

Summer is here, and I’ve relocated to Colorado for the season.  The mountains with their wildflowers and quaking aspens have a charm that fills my soul and calls to my heart. Do you have a special summer place you get to visit to recharge your spirit? The beach, a lake, or even a favorite shady bench in a neighborhood park?

My goals for this summer are to:

  • Start a new cold wax artwork series
  • Straighten out my golf drive
  • Sit on my deck and enjoy the beauty around me

What are your plans for the summer? I hope they involve some time out in nature too.  Sending you my warmest wishes for a magical summer season.

P.S. Want a little Colorado landscape magic in your home? The painting Colorado Splendor captures a perfect September moment when the aspens are at their peak and the first snows have covered the distance mountains. Email me (info@kathyferguson.com) if interested.

Using an iPad to create painting studies

landscape water iPad procreate

Figuring out exactly what type of painting a commission client wants is harder than you might think.  I start with having them review my past work and telling me which elements appeal to them.  Then I ask about size, color palette, mood, and more.  

I’m just starting a new commission and I thought it would be fun to share the process.  The client wants the painting for her bedroom in Nantucket.  She likes my “wonky circles”, the botanical elements, and the texture of layering paint and collage elements in my other paintings.  She needs a  30″ x 40″ canvas and is thinking of something with the ocean.  Her color palette is blue, tan, cream, and orange.

I decided to paint some sample ideas to narrow down her preferences even more.  I was traveling last week so I couldn’t whip out paints and canvas on the airplane.  Instead, I tried out the painting app Procreate on my iPad.  Here are three ideas I presented to her.

 

Study One – A soothing, soft painting to enhance the calmness desired in a bedroom.  The painting loosely hints at plants living both under and along the shoreline of the ocean.

 

 

 

 

 

Study Two – A more graphic style with the energy of the crashing waves streaming through the tide pools

 

 

 

 

 

 

Study Three- A more abstract image with lots of layers of collage-paper and paint.  It’s an underwater scene of a reef that teems with life.  The surging currents sweep the elements back and forth with the tides. 

What’s your favorite study and why?  Next steps…to talk more about what she likes, changes to make, additions or subtractions, color tweaks, and more.  Stay tuned!

Refilling my creative well

Chihuly at Biltmore

Summer is a great time to get out of the studio and refill my creative well.  For me, that means getting out into nature, taking hikes, and enjoying the neighborhood flowers.

Currently, I’m on a road trip with my eldest daughter.  While passing through Asheville, we took the opportunity to visit Chihuly at Biltmore, an exhibition featuring multi-media artist Dale Chihuly’s monumental glass sculptures. The exhibition is set throughout areas of the Biltmore House, gardens, and grounds. The gardens, in particular, make the perfect backdrop for Chihuly’s style — it’s organic, flowing, and gorgeous and seems to come from nature itself.

Chihuly at Biltmore 

If you have a chance to see the Chihuly exhibition, it’s well worth the time for just the gardens alone.  Also open at night, the exhibition sparkles with the light from the colored sculptures, reflecting onto the vegetation.  It’s an enchanting sight reminiscent of a magical fairyland. Don’t forget to get your tickets in advance especially for the evening viewings as they limit the number of viewers and it does sell out.

chihuly artWith my creative well filled to the brim, how will I use this inspiration?  In addition to Chihuly’s brilliant sculptures, I was enthralled by the lily pad pond.  All those overlapping oval and circles, and the variety of colors and shapes got my creativity flowing.  I have painted lily pads in the past (Lily Pad Lake, 23″ x 17″, pastel on paper, $800) but my realistic look has changed to a more abstract style. I took some photos and will use their inspiration to develop some new paintings. Stay tuned.
 
What have you done to fill your creative well this summer? Please share your inspirations and stories with me.

water ballet

Be part of the BIG PICTURE

The Big picture

Join me to be part of a 72-foot long collaborative artwork.  The Big Picture is a collective art project where people around the world (that includes us) are collaborating to create a big mosaic picture from thousands of drawings.

This project can be seen as a giant conversation taking place between all the participants through a dynamic and monumental artwork.  See how you can contribute a simple sketch or drawing to be a part of this big panoramic picture. The final picture will be over 6 feet tall and 72 feet long.

What will the project look like?
They are building a big panoramic picture from thousands of little squares that you can design at home and upload on this website. One of the many exciting parts of this project is that you will be able to see a close-up of your art and zoom out to see how it fits as a part of the whole, a poetic metaphor of our interconnected existences. You will also be able to see all the individual art squares that are making up the picture and their individual design, who designed them, in what country they were living and also what the drawing is representing for the artist who made it.

How to participate:
Participation is free and open to anyone from everywhere in the world.
Look here for more details about making and sending in your work.
Please share this opportunity with your friends and family too so they can join in the fun.

I don’t know how to draw!
This project accessible to everyone and with a little bit of help everyone can draw. Look at this page to get ideas about how to participate in the project.  They are more interested in your life journey and locations than your skills as a drawer. You will have the opportunity to share a text with your drawing and explain what you represented.

What is going to happen with the project?
Once the project is completed, we will be looking at exhibiting it in art galleries or museums.

  • Once the project is completed, we will be looking at exhibiting it in art galleries or museums .
  • Monthly prizes by their sponsors to the most interesting contributions.
  • They will publish books with a selection of contributions.
  • Unique opportunity to share the life stories that are important to you with a wide audience

This project originated in Canada and is led by Sandrine Pelisier (visual artist) in collaboration with Sophie Babeanu (Art Therapist).

Be a part of something big!

The joy of spring’s colorful tulips

I love flowers.  All flowers.  And in the springtime, some of my favorites are the colorful tulips.  They are such happy looking flowers and always make me smile.

I was feeling a little envious of my son and his girlfriend who traveled to the Keukenhof tulip gardens in the Netherlands this month.

But today, I walked by my favorite garden in New York City, the Jefferson Market Garden in Greenwich Village; it was filled to the brim with blooming tulips and other bulbs.  The garden is open to the public on Friday’s from 10am-5pm (donations accepted as it is a volunteer garden) and it is well worth the visit, especially in April.  Here are a few snapshots of my favorite flowers there.

Jefferson Market Garden at 70 Greenwich Avenue, New York City

 

I created a world of diversity and tolerance in New York City

Diversity garden subway art

I was recently selected as one of 14 artists to submit work for one of four New York City subway stations.  I submitted my proposal two weeks ago and I am waiting to hear back soon (fingers crossed everyone, and send good karma this way).  The project is quite large requiring 140 horizontal feet of artwork!  I can’t fit the whole work on this page, but here are a few “snippets”. My design illustrates a world where diverse individuals (the flowers) live together without prejudice or intolerance. In this world, every flower is unique and varied, and thrives in harmony with its neighboring blossoms.

Diversity garden subway art
Snippet of “Diversity garden” art for NYC subway art

Neighborhood Influence:
To get my own feel for Astoria, I walked around the 30th Avenue neighborhood.  This community is a true melting pot of humanity.  Stand on a street corner for five minutes, and you’ll hear a half a dozen languages.  Watch the pedestrians, and see headscarves, yarmulkes, turbans, and Mets caps that only hinted at the mélange of different cultures that live in the area. It seems that everyone here has found their place, and that place supports the tolerance of others.

 

Section of "Diversity Garden" for subway art
Snippet of “Diversity Garden” for subway art


Designs and Metaphor
:
The fanciful design of my diversity garden represents the Astoria neighborhood. The wild assortment of flowers pose as the diversity of nationalities, religions, and cultural traditions existing in this community. These differences complement each other and it is the vast variety of the botanical species that make the garden so appealing.  Metaphorically, my garden microcosm celebrates a post racial/bias world where differences and similarities are celebrated and supported by all members of a community.  I believe Astoria is growing into such a community.  The ribbons weaving through the flowers suggest the connectivity of the residents in this urban neighborhood and the many ways they touch each other’s lives.

I created the flowers similar in size to the subway commuters.  As people walk by the blossoms, I hope they feel that they too are part of this colorful garden, just one more welcomed flower in the tolerant landscape of Astoria.

I'm walking on water

I traveled to Italy this week with my husband and some friends to see Christo’s newest work, “Floating Piers” on the beautiful Lake Iseo.  I have always loved Christo’s work and have been fortunate to see his “The Umbrellas” in California in 1993, and “The Gates” in New York City in 2005.

 

Floating Piers web

Our group decided we wanted to view this work in every way we could.  We started the tour by helicoptering from the north end of the lake, flying over the steep mountains that border this lake before swooping down to circle around the various piers and island surrounds created by Jeanne-Claude Christo.  After setting down, we walked the short distance to town to join the thousands of other tourists and walk the 5.5 km of golden fabric covered “floating” piers and walkways that are part of the exhibit.

File Jul 01, 4 11 32 PM

The walkway is assembled from 220,000 high-density polyethylene cubes that form its 53 foot wide walkways. Its surface is covered with a waterproof bright saffron-colored fabric that contrasts beautifully against the deep blue of the lake. I could see the movement of the water under the pier and feel the rocking of the waves under my feet. One of my favorite moments was just sitting on the edge of the pier and feeling the movement made by the water under me and the walkers around me.

image

We finished off the tour with a ride on a stunning 1971 Aqua Riva power boat that carried around the piers and wrapped islands in high style before speeding down to the south end of the lake to finish off our tour.

It was a special day with special friends and I feel lucky to have had them with me to share it with.   Now I have my fingers crossed to see Jeanne-Claude’s next planned installation in Colorado…”Over the River” hopefully installed in the next few years. Except this time, I’ll experience the art on a white water raft!

A visit to Storm King

This weekend, I visited Storm King Art Center with my husband and friends. Widely celebrated as one of the world’s leading sculpture parks, Storm King Art is located only an hour north of New York City and provides the setting for a collection of more than 100 carefully sited sculptures created by some of the most acclaimed artists of our time. I’ve included photos of some of my favorite sculptures with partial descriptions lifted from the Storm King website.

Siah Armajani

IMG_5044
My husband posing as an anarchists

 

“Gazebo for Two Anarchists” is one of several works Siah Armajani has dedicated to twentieth-century anarchists—in this case, brother and sister Alberto and Gabriella Antolini, the latter of whom was imprisoned for transportation of explosives in the Youngstown Affair in 1918. The open lattice, or truss-work, suggests incarceration. The two gazebos at each end of the structure appear to symbolize the brother and sister, who are separated but nonetheless connected by the bridge. Each gazebo encloses a large chair with armrests that recall thrones or electric chairs. They are facing one another, suggesting an act of communication.

Chakaia Booker

IMG_5034Chakaia Booker works almost exclusively with recycled tires—slicing, twisting, stripping, weaving, and riveting rubber and radials to create and exaggerate the textures, prickled edges, and torqued forms of her radical refashioning. Booker transforms tires—iconic symbols of urban waste and blight—into extraordinary compositions of renewal. Discarded and now re-used, the tires are metaphors for the modern cycle of industrial manufacture and waste in an era of global expansion. “A Moment in Time” alludes not only to environmental degradation and decay but also to the possibility of transformation and redemption through the artist’s own brand of environmental spiritualism.

George Cutts

19893581763_10f2474314_oGeorge Cutts’s “Sea Change” is composed of two identical, slender, curving, stainless steel poles that turn slowly in opposite directions. The poles are anchored to motorized disks that are sunk below ground and encased in a concrete box. The slow, synchronized rotations of the poles produce fluid, undulating movement as the poles seem to sway and flex, blending the mechanical with the natural. An experienced deep sea diver, Cutts has noted that he intends this lyrical, kinetic sculpture to evoke the motion of seaweed as it moves with the flow of ocean waves and currents

Zhang Huan

IMG_5031Zhang Huan’s work engages with Buddhist philosophy and rituals and with the artist’s notion that the contemporary condition is continually revitalized through an engagement with the past. Three Legged Buddha—a copper and steel sculpture standing twenty-eight feet high and weighing more than twelve tons—represents the bottom half of a sprawling, three-legged figure, one of whose feet rests on an eight-foot-high human head (a self portrait of the artist) that appears to be either emerging from or sinking into the earth.

Menashe Kadishman

The two simple forms of Menashe Kadishman’s “Suspended” engage in a gravity-defying balance that belies expectation. Seen from a distance, atop one of two adjacent hilltops, the sculpture’s balancing act is surprising. Viewed up close, the massive scale of the steel work becomes apparent and its structural viability even more difficult to comprehend. With no visible evidence of the engineering holding the sculpture up, the mass seemed to float freely in space.

In a second sculpture by Kadishman, he focused on nature, particularly on tree and forest themes, and worked on an environmental scale. “Eight Positive Trees” reveals this ongoing fascination, which harkens back to his youth, when, like many other Israeli children, he planted trees throughout the new country.

IMG_5036
“Suspended”. That’s my husband holding up the sculpture; he’s so strong (wink! wink!)
IMG_5024
“Eight Positive Trees”

Grace Knowlton

IMG_5050Grace Knowlton created “Spheres” out of materials including concrete, clay, copper, steel, and iron. All bear subtle and unique imperfections that evidence their hand-crafted origins. The spheres—of widely varied scale—seem to walk a fine line between natural object and work of art when placed in Storm King’s environment. She initially set out to make ceramic pots, until, as she has said, “I got so interested in closing the pots, in making a secret space closed off forever, that it caught me and I never went back.”

Maya Lin

IMG_5019Viewed from above, the undulating swells of earth forming Storm King “Wavefield” appear to naturally rise from and roll along the grassy terrain. The seven nearly four-hundred-foot-long waves, ranging in height from ten to fifteen feet high, proceed at the same scale as a series of mid-ocean waves. The resulting effect recalls the experience of being at sea, where sight of adjacent waves and land is lost between the swells.

Alyson Shotz

IMG_5033
We used bike to get around the 500 acre property. You can see us reflected in the fence!

The individual pickets of Alyson Shotz’s “Mirror Fence” share their shape and height with picket fences enclosing front and back yards all across the United States, but Shotz’s fence is reflective and extends in a straight line, enclosing nothing.

The artist is interested in making objects that change infinitely, depending on their surroundings. The light at different times of day, the weather … what the viewers are wearing, all these are just some of the variables that will make the piece different every time one comes in contact with it.

Kenneth Snelson

IMG_5053When conceiving of “Free Ride Home”, Kenneth Snelson first created a small maquette of metal tubes and knotted strings, envisioning what it would be like to walk under and through its silvery linear forms. One of the arches began to take on a descending fast plunge and it reminded her of the shape of a bucking horse. So, Free Ride Home, the name of a race horse, became the name of the sculpture. Inspired by anatomy, cables function like muscles and the aluminum tubes like bones.

David Stoltz

IMG_5038“Day Game” slithers, loops, and rises from the ground, its form suggesting an animated quality, as if the steel were electrified by a charge of dynamic energy. Its calligraphic qualities reflect Stoltz’s training as a graphic artist.

You can find out more information and sculptures on the Storm King website.  Which ones are your favorites?

Feeling Blue?  I know just the place for you

Harbor Town

The color blue evokes serenity, spirituality, infinity.  Lay back and look at heaven.  The 5th chakra:  the throat, voice and self-expression.  Deep blues: singing, listening.  Sea and shadow.  Blue symbolizes the Virgin Mary.  Krishna has blue skin.  Fifty-three percent of the world’s flags have blue.  It’s the color most commonly used in corporate identities.  Miles Davis was kind of blue.  What kind of blue are you?

Harbor Town, mixed media on cradled panel, 32″ x 32″, $1800

This painting was inspired by the Boston Harbor which I lived near a few years ago.  The water is made from many layers of translucent mulberry paper which I painted all these wonderful shades of blue.

“BLUE” Exhibition at the Front Street Gallery

I am exhibition my painting title “Harbor Town” in the BLUE exhibition at the Front Street Gallery in Patterson, New York. The show opened on October 18 and runs through December 6.  The gallery has extended hours on October 24 & 25 as part of the ArtEast Open Studio Tour.

See a BLUE slide show at the gallery website http://frontstreetgallery.org.  Front Street Gallery is at 21 Front Street in Patterson, New York, across the street from the Metro North train Station.

Featuring Gretchen Hoffman Abene, Patrick J. Cicalo, Shelley Dell, Andrew Dines, Ken Dreyfack, Kathy Ferguson, Matt Frieburghaus, Sarah K. Gray, Nicole Hughes, Annette Jaret, Lise Kjaer, Sassoon Kosian, Galina Krasskova, Tanya Kukucka, Pamela Lambros, Hannah Raine Brenner-Leonard, Alex Lindquist, Amanda Lynne, Eugene Posolli, Karen Schaffel, Ilona Sirman, Jane Soodalter, Fran Traina, Meaghan Troup, Rosanne Walsh, Dayna Wenzel, Joann Zwolski.