Bridging the Gap

I've been tucked into my studio for the last couple months, drawing jade plants, diverse succulents, taking notes and obsessively printing gelli prints. I’ve filled a notebook, and in the process, found a rhythm and perhaps some answers to a problem I've been trying to solve.

For the past couple of years, I've worked on a series called Shift, in which I explored my ecological niche of Davis. As the series progressed, I became more interested in the unusual shapes of plants I found visiting various botanical gardens. I began another series of collage works I called Botanical Dreams, inspired by the 30 paintings in 30 days  challenge presented by Leslie Saeta.

I’ve wanted to continue this series and I wanted to wed the monoprints of Shift with the collage, but after several months of trials and lots of recycled prints, I think I’m trying to make an arranged marriage. Shift needs to be one series and Botanical Dreams another.

As I write this, I realize that actually, I'm the bridge. I think that it's hard to leave the safety of a known series and decamp to another largely unknown territory, but the connection lies simply in my own two hands.

Discovery of a New Series

Sometimes, a project ends with fireworks and celebration, sometimes with the feeling of quiet satisfaction of a challenge met and completed. In the case of 30x30, I found the latter but also, the opening to a new series of work. In Kauai, I was captivated by the foliage and flowers; the variety of colors and the fantastical shapes of the leaves. One day, riding down to the beach, I twisted my head around to stare at a tree whose branches and needle patterns wound around in an elegant spiral. I made the decision to return to the island this fall for an artist's retreat; a time to study, paint and draw the plant life. Until then, I think I'll be spending a lot of time at our local botanical garden, haunting my favorite, the Australian section, the closest cousins we have to tropical plants.

Below you'll find a convening of the 30 days--I was excited to make them into one giant collage; a celebration of the challenge.

 

 

 

 

Day #18, 30x30, Total Immersion

After I've been in Kauai for more than a few days, it's easy to feel like I've been swallowed up, head, heart and hands. Even if I hold back, there are the mountains, the  mist and the sea, beckoning me with their hands out, and slowly drawing me in. Once immersed, I want to stay forever! I'm returning to my sweet home in Davis, California tomorrow, but all of these days will come back in the form of art. And if you'd like to share in the aloha and own one of them yourself, don't hold back! Each piece is $100, mounted on cradleboard, $150 with cradleboard and frame. You can contact me at hkhunterarts.com

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Day #15, 30x30, Talk about blessings!

Attachment-1(5) I'm straying again from my theme of Botanical Dreams, for good reason. This morning our family traveled to one of our favorite beaches to explore. I stopped in front of the crashing waves and offered a short prayer for the day: for protection, for grace and for generosity and walked off towards the lava rocks.

I stopped to put on my Keens, knowing the danger of lava cuts. As I bent to pull on my sandal, a man appeared and began to warn us of the 40 foot waves. My mind took in the information, but as it did, a huge wave flipped me over and dragged me out. There was nothing I could do, but shout for help.

My sister and the gentleman had to wait for the water to go out before they could reach down and pull me to safety. My next thought was for my daughter and her boyfriend who had gone on ahead. I asked the man, who appeared ocean savvy, to go with my husband and find them. Which they did.

But the story wasn't over. My leg was fairly cut up from the lava and my husband also scraped his foot, trying to help. We stopped at a local store for band-aids and Neosporin. My sister, who was still in shock from the incident (as was I) ran in without her wallet. When she got to the cash register, she discovered she'd forgotten her wallet. Another protector emerged in the Australian woman behind her in line, who simply said; "I'll get it." Amy promised to pay it forward.

After two such incidents of grace what can one do but be thankful?

 

Day #14, 30x30, Still Sailing

After a day trip to the south shore of Kauai to visit family (and a delicious meal from my chef cousin), I decided it was time to keep it simple on the 30x30 challenge. A night of aloha can mean a morning of, well, you know! Sometime during the evening, my cousin Mike mentioned that on a clear day, he could see to Oahu. His remark stuck in my mind and manifested in these sailboats that I remember from the Honolulu harbor. FullSizeRender

Day #13, 30x30, Immersed in Blue

I'm fascinated by the way a location alters my approach to collage. The light, landscape and colors all change my choice of images and composition. While this is obvious for a landscape or plein air painter, because so much of my work is studio based, my recent changes in location brought this to my awareness. I began this collage sitting on the airplane, taking pages from the Hawaiian airline magazine. I ripped, folded and politely answered the unspoken question from the passenger seated next to me. A lover and collector of art, he was very understanding.

Yesterday, I made reference to days #9, #10 and #11 of the 30paintingsin30days. For my own vacation sanity, I've decided to create a new page in my portfolio just for the 30x30 challenge. You'll find them there...soon!

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Day #12, 30x30, Flight to Paradise

I took a break from 30x30 over the weekend to begin my Yoga Teacher Training program at Kaya Yoga in Davis. Not making a collage Saturday and Sunday felt like trying to keep my hand out of the proverbial cookie jar. And then, flying to Kauai on Monday, well how can you argue with that? Now, settled in our home away from home, the colors of #12 surround me.

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2015 in Motion!

From the Davis Open Studio Tour 2015 website I feel like someone with a diary--who hasn't made an entry in a looong time. Which usually means lots has been going on. In December I wrote about my fear of preparing for my open studio. Like many things one fears, it turned out to be far easier, much less stressful and a whole lot more fun than I imagined.

So much fun in fact that when my friend, Sara Post, told me about the Davis Art Studio Tour coming in April, I signed right up. I felt like a kid who'd just gone down a slide, saying "Wheee! I want to do that again!"

So here I go, the Studio Tour is a cooperative of 30 artists, and like a well oiled machine, each person has their part to play. I look forward to this collaboration; working with Linda Clark Johnson on the December Open Studio was a huge learning curve and definitely a friendship deepener.

Linda and I caught framing up a print.

Kim Tackett and Linda Clark Johnson at our Open Studio in December

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In order to prepare, I've been making loose plans; plans that will become more detailed in the days ahead.

In the meantime, my family and I just returned from time spent in one of my favorite places; Kauai. I've established the habit of bringing art supplies along with me and I spent all the time, when I wasn't hiking swimming or walking the beaches, immersed in plant materials and nice gooey acrylics. I want to make sure that some of the Studio Tour artwork includes and reflects the richness of this beloved island.

I'll be sharing more about the Davis Art Studio Tour as the next couple months unfold. Now, up to the studio!

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Gelli Plate Printing +

Blue Leaves, ©2014, H. Hunter, 6" x 7.5," monoprint I recently visited Hawaii with my family. It's something we try to do once a year, so, with the aid of  frequent flier miles, we headed off; my husband, my sister, my daughter and my daughter's boyfriend--and me.

I'd taken care to pack my new favorite art medium; a gelli plate; a kind of squishy gel surface that serves as a printing plate and allows people like me who treasure immediacy, to create monoprints using stencils, plant matter, and what have you, together with acrylic paint.

I'd ordered some new acrylics and as I packed, I made sure to put plenty of bubble wrap between them and my swim suit.

Each day at art time, I set up shop on the dining room table, which was spacious, overlooked the mountains and had plenty of light.

View of the pali, Kauai, 2014

Wandering outside, I gathered a number of leaves with interesting shapes and began printing--and printing and printing.

My impromptu studio, Kauai, 2014

Over the next several days, I played with the vagaries of acrylic pigment, strange flora and experimented to find the means to capture the outrageous color and patterns I saw everywhere around me.

Leaves; stacked and printed!

I divided my days into warm colors, cool colors and days when I layered both together. Naturally, my guidelines only lasted  a couple of hours until I threw them over and just started adding color by feel.

Red Leaves on Yellow, ©2014, 6" x 7.5," monoprint

My intent was to enjoy my time in Hawaii and explore the island through paint, paper and leaves. I learned to tolerate the uncooperative elements and to welcome the surprise that the textures of the leaves created when they met the squishy plate.

Turquoise Leaves, ©2014, 6" x 7.5," monoprint

Often there was an extra treat; the print on the cover pages I was using would transfer to the printing paper, adding yet another layer of meaning.

Pink Stem, ©2014, 6" x 7.5," monoprint

I honestly didn't believe that these experiments would lead anywhere. I made a bunch of prints; grist for the collage mill upon my return, I thought.  However, one fine day when the rest of the family was out exploring the island, I found myself exploring the web and discovered the perfect Gelli class.

I'm so excited because starting today, for a week, I'll be exploring Gelli printing in Carla Sonheim's Gelli Print Printmaking course. I'm using some extra professional leave to get a few more hours in the studio and look forward to sharing my progress with you. Gelli ahoy! A hui ho!

New Year Unfolding--Straw into Gold

The other day my sister Amelia and I spent our last morning of vacation exploring a small store in Kauai, which sold beautifully crafted jewelry and sarongs. Brilliant colors and patterns wafted in the temperate air, rivaling the nearby hibiscus. The store was called "Live a Little," ever a good motto for me.

We spoke with the owner, an enthusiastic and friendly man slightly younger than I. We exchanged first impressions of our home states and he told us a story of his first trip to the mainland in 1992.

He'd landed in L.A. during the Rodney King riots of 1992 and he described for us the empty freeways, the closed shopping plazas and the unsettling quiet. I was both surprised by his candidness and embarrassed, hearing about this disturbing welcome to California.

Later on that day we were wandering through a small town when we suddenly heard a man's voice yodeling and looked up to see the same store owner waving to us with the shaka sign, a common greeting gesture in surfer culture. Surf boards were strapped to the top of his car, which was headed for the beach.

When I looked up this greeting, I learned that in Hawai'i, it expresses a spirit of friendship and understanding between the many cultures living in proximity there--in other words, the spirit of aloha.

I did some more looking and found that "aloha" not only means hello and goodbye--but also refers to a means of  solving a problem, accomplishing a goal, or finding a meeting between mind and heart.

This seems like a gentle and ease-filled way to go about meeting my goals; bringing together my mind and heart, finding my way to my Source.

That's what I'm striving for this year. All too often, 'Mind' heads off in the direction of her choosing and 'Heart' sticks around wondering "What just happened here?!?" Or, vice versa.

The collage at the top of this post was made during my time away. I was thinking of the coming year and wanted to express my deep wish to spend as many hours as I can in the studio; making. I chose the hands of this older woman to signify the power that aging brings, the skillfulness brought to bear on materials and the absorption that is possible when you've given yourself over to your heart and mind's desire.

Good Things Come in Threes

Thank you everyone who sent their thoughts and concerns about my dad. Your comments touched my heart and brought ease. I wrote it while waiting with my family for a flight to Kauai, a place that my father had introduced us to seven years ago and to which, paradoxically, we were returning shortly after his diagnosis.

Buddha's Dream, ©2010, Hannah Hunter, Collage

Since I've been here absorbing sun, waves, and floral abundance, I've had time to think about my own art work. Often, when I'm thinking about a post, I'll pick an event or a thought that is clamoring for first place in the forefront of my mind. Pathos, pain, and or redemption claim my attention. Taking a break helps me to focus on quieter voices.

I finished this piece several weeks ago. Originally it was three separate 12" x 24" panels. After studying them out of the corner of my eye (best way so they don't know I'm watching), I decided to connect them. A risk.

For many years I've wanted to create tryptchs, having become enamored of them when I first discovered Jan Van Eyck's "Dresden Tryptych" in an art history class many years ago.

Periodically, I'd give it a try and find that I couldn't extend my attention sequentially over a series of surfaces. Perhaps it was because I was giving most of my attention to my children. Or, perhaps it was because I simply wasn't ready.

Whatever the case, I've discovered that in the last year I've been able to create and sustain a flow of attention across several surfaces. Is it because my children are grown and launched into their own lives? Or is it because I've grown? One of those proverbial chicken and egg questions.

No matter what the reason, I'm delighted and all the more so because this opens up a whole new suite of possibilities which I look forward to exploring in this new year of ours.