Thursday, April 24, 2014


acrylic on canvas

I have completed the painting from the previous post.  You can see that I changed the orientation and developed it quite a lot more.  I would like to end up somewhere in between both of these images.  My goal is for a broad sweep of color and spontaneity and further development.  I titled this one Recollection.  Recollection has to do with personal feelings about many things like nature, relationship to the earth and life.  

Saturday, April 19, 2014

In a Frenzy

New Painting in process 48x36
I've been in a state of frenzy today.  This is a big canvas.  I've actually flipped it upside down and may keep this orientation.  Had a small sketch I was going by but nothing ever stays like the sketch.  I'm leaving it for today because it is 70 degrees outside and I need a bike ride.  I may end up darkening the upper right corner with some deep reddish brown and then adding some deep ultramarine in certain areas.  My main objective with this was to work large and in more earth colors.  I've also been trying to combine a mixture of mark making with broader application of paint.  I am also trying to keep things simple in composition and structure while combining more detailed mark making.  I had fun and will continue tomorrow.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Time for Green

Untitled abstraction with green(  Time for Green)
20x20x1.5 acrylic on canvas

A small painting that I worked on yesterday and today gearing up for working on a larger painting.  Green is coming into play much more often than it used to in my work.  Why?  Who knows why we need certain colors in our lives.  It was red last year when I needed to feel more power to make decisions.  Now it is green for some reason.  Colors can mean many things.  I enjoyed getting back to painting.  I have many "irons in the fire" right now and a lot to get accomplished.  It was nice to just get lost in mixing colors and making marks for this small painting.  Therapy.  

Monday, April 7, 2014

Abstraction and Mixed Media by Debora L. Stewart

Brittany VanSnepson 

Photo Studio set up with Brittany

Christine  Polomsky, F&W Media photographer
At F&W Media  Photo Studio

I spent last week in Cincinnati, Ohio at the photo studio of F&W Media.  It turned out to be a great experience for me.  My writing is nearly finished with a few more additions and editing on my part.  I have also taken a lot of photos of my own artwork for the book.  The week entailed me working on some "step by step" photos for different chapters of the book.  The challenge was working on larger pieces and talking at the same time.  I needed to describe everything that I was doing and what materials I was using so that Brittany V. could type it all into her laptop.  You can see the laptop in the photo.  As I was working the photographer, Christine P. stood over my shoulder taking photos and telling me where to place my hand.  She was great and encouraging through this process.  I also work with editor Tonia Jenny who oversees the process and is my primary contact.  They treated me so well.  I put on a little more weight!  I'm getting more excited about my book now which I am sure will look great after all the work others will do with it.  Working with F&W Media has become a more regular part of my life.  I really value my relationship with this company.   So, I'm in the process of wrapping up my book which I also refer to as "How I survived the Polar Vortex of 2014".  Of course that is not the actual title!  But working on it did give me something to do when it was 20 below in Iowa.  The book should be out April 2015 and I hope to have some available at the next IAPS convention in Albuquerque in June 2015!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Art Is Not Easy

Green and Yellow Abstract
acrylic on canvas

I've been thinking more today about progress.  How do you make progress in your art?  Its frustrating because you can visualize what you want and not be able to make it happen.  Or you don't know what you even want but you know what you are doing isn't it.  I've been spending more time painting with acrylics than my pastels right now because I'm trying to make progress.  Trying to get to a new level with them.  I feel like I am finally getting there.  I hope six months or a year from now I'm at an even better place than I am now.  Progress certainly does not come over night.  I have had to make ten or twenty mediocre paintings to try and get one good one.  I think you have to work at it even when you feel you are getting nowhere.  You have to think long term.  Know you are working things out and that you will improve if you hang in there.  Visualize what you want to create.  Journal about it and try to envision your artwork the way you want to see it.  Know that you will go through periods where you will feel absolutely stuck and frustrated.  Then you throw caution to the wind and you make a jump ahead.  Art is not easy.  Art is hard work and it should be.  If it was easy anyone could do it.  

Friday, March 21, 2014

Progress Over Time

Winter's Garden
14x24 pastel on Wallis paper
I decided to post some of my earliest abstract pastels along with one of my most recent.  The pastels above are from 2006 and 2007.  I've been searching for awhile now.  I wanted to post some older works of mine for people to see where I started.  It has not been an easy journey.  I think sometimes it might look easier than it has been.  I haven't had a clue as to where I was going many times.  I didn't like what I was doing.  I wanted to do better work but I wasn't sure how to go about it.  I looked at abstract work by other artists and wondered what it was that I liked.  What were they doing that I could try?  I had so much to learn.  Sometimes I just quit out of frustration, took out big paper, black paint and a big brush and just painted wild random marks to get it out of my system.  I washed off a lot of pastel down the sink.  I wasted a lot of pastel.  Looking for my style, a direction or a clue.  I don't think I will ever have it "figured out" but I am closer to getting what I am after - now.  All that time in the past of frustrating efforts, trial and error was a good thing.  None of it was a wasted effort.  Its like uncovering something or peeling away the layers of an onion.

Winter's Garden will be on its way to Vose Gallery in Boston for the next International Association of Pastel Societies exhibit in May.  It was also chosen to be one of nine to be in American Art Collector magazine for an article about the exhibit.  

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Contrary Colors

Untitled Abstraction in acrylic

These are not my "go to" colors but I told someone I would try to create some abstractions in earth tones.  This is the result.  I have to tear myself away from using ultramarine blue violet or red violet in this.  I wanted so bad to put that in there but did not.  Is it a good thing to work somewhat contrary to your natural instinct?  Can something be learned from this?  Probably.  I read a book years ago that had an exercise about choosing a color that repelled you.  At that time it was yellow green.  I did not like it at all.  I picked it up to use it and could not figure out what to do with it.  Now it is one of my favorite colors.  Someone also asked me many years ago if I ever used red.  I said "No".  I could not even think about using red.  Now that, too, is one of my favorite colors.  I think there is something to be learned from  using colors that are not those immediate color choices.  I will do a few more of these and see where it leads.  Soon I will be ready to return to pastels and see how all this painting will influence the pastels.  I have so much going on right now that I have had to make a schedule for myself for the coming three months.  Book to finish, photo shoot for book, workshops to prepare for and works that have to be completed for six different galleries I am in now.  And some people think I'm retired!