Monday, January 24, 2022

Three Dimensional Paintings: An Experiment

I've been working on trying to develop three dimensional paintings in transparent layers for quite some time now. It seems like a natural extension of my painting style, and in my mind's eye I can see wonderful interplay between the separated layers. I began this work at an artist residency at Playa funded by the Ford Family Foundation.

I love this work. It is beautiful and opens the door for a more sculptural approach. My first attempts are wall hung paintings on glass. They are multiple sheets of glass slid into grooves in a deep frame. But there are some serious technical problems that need solving before I can go forward with them. I've put them on the back burner for quite some time until I can figure out where I want to go from here. They are really too heavy and fragile to be wall hung as I had planned. My first attempt is called Playa Sunrise. I Painted the bird and sky on the rear wooden panel, then monoprinted a ghost image of the bird on the second glass sheet. It is between two sheets of painted tree images from outside my cabin at Playa.




After I encountered the technical problems I mentioned, I decided to begin on my other strategy for 3-D work by making free-standing paintings. This would let me use many more layers and would be totally open to the light and 360 degrees of viewing. I tried one with tempered glass and one on plexi. The challenge on the glass was getting the paint to solidly adhere to the glass. With plexi that wasn't a problem but it scratches so easily. I am finally finishing the glass piece and I am challenged by the right glue to hold the layers permanently in place. It's a glass to wood bond, but I've found a glue and plan to glue today. I have to go forward before I'll see how it will all hold up, so I am plunging into the test. I am hoping to use this technique for a new project I'm working on in relationship to fresh water resources. I call this piece The Heart Of The Matter.






 

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Cadmium: Wet


This painting, Cadmium:Wet, is an homage to the temperate rain forests of the pacific coast range. Although I completed it in 2014, I am thinking of it today as I sink into the slow dormant winter. The rain is falling and the trees are dripping. I am as much a part of this complex ecosystem as a bat, fern or vine maple. I am like a fish in winter cold water lying at the bottom of a stream, perhaps under a bank, inert.

The rains stop in late spring and the dry season begins, stretching out until mid fall. The summer dry season is a riot of propogation and fruiting as every living thing rushes to complete its life cycle. Humans harvest for their needs before the rains come. As a child growing up on a farm, I looked forward to the winter because we didn't have to work all the time. Winter was a time for study and the mind. 

Unlike tropical rain forests, our forest is a mix of conifers, alders and maples. The abundance of water and humidity supports infinite variations of plant and animal life in a timeless cycle. It also supports us. I am continually grateful for this forest that asks so little and offers so much. This time of year I become introspective. It is a time to grow roots, a time to reflect.

In this painting the humans are woven into the rain forest, ghosts in the landscape. We may not realize or remember but this is the habitat in which we live. Urban spaces have displaced the forest but the rains still come, and not far from our doors this rich environment is alive with biodiversity. The fish swimming through are the sea run cutthroat trout, indigenious to the Oregon coast range. This fish relies solely on the purity of the coastal watershed for its propagation.

Cadmium:Wet is now a part of the Southern Oregon University permanent art collection.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Going To The Well

When I am working in my garden many times I feel the vibration or hum of all the plants and animals working together, each at their tasks. It's a kind of cosmic song that always puts things in perspective for me. I like to think that it is a microcosm of the entire planet. building and destroying, mending and creating, flowing and quaking. We are part of an infinite fabric, every thread an essential part of the whole. When we expand our human footprint we must be very very careful. No one really know which species are dispensible. We know we must have the pollinators, but what about fish? Do we really need redwoods or beavers? How important are the birds? And then there are the composters and garbage technicians like ants, sowbugs and cockroaches. Do we need those? Who are we to put a value on all the unique species that share our habitat? It's never as simple as just draining a wetland to build homes or create new agricultural areas. There are long term effects to every decision we make. Migratory birds, amphibians, fish and aquatic plants and animals need ground water and open wetlands to complete their life cycles. Beavers help raise the water table and create aquatic habitat. Bats and frogs feed on the ensuing insects. It is a perfect system.

In this painting, Going To The Well, I have featured the threatened Oregon Spotted Frog. This highly aquatic frog was previously abundant in the Willamette Valley and other wetlands of western Oregon and throughout the state. Now only small isolated populations remain on Forest Service lands mostly in the eastern Cascades and some in the Klamath Basin. 78% of their former range has been lost. They are also vulnerable to non-native predators such as bullfrogs and sport fish, and non-native canary grass has affected the viability of much of their habitat.

I often wonder what the underwater world must be like. It is separated and apart from our human experience for the most part. The closest I have ever been to it was snorkeling a reef in Belize. But the cool darker waters of a rich pond or slough is another thing entirely. It is a secret world filled with moving plants and animals. As a child I took water samples from a nearby pond and I was amazed to see that even the water itself was filled with one celled organisms. No matter how biologists investigate and explore, it is still a powerful place of magic and mystery to me. I like it that way.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Paradigm Shift II: Water

The climate is changing. In fact, it has been changing for quite some time. In the slow, nearly undetectable way of a moving glacier this shift has finally become noticeable. The scope is enormous, it feels terrifying and the problem is vastly complex. We humans have been so successful that we are threatening our very own existence. Our basic needs are water, air, food, shelter, energy. All of these are under threat from climate change. We have grown beyond our resources as we know them. We are facing mass extinctions of plant and animal species and epidemics of disease and blight. But with all this before us, I think water may be the greatest challenge of all. If you think about it, everything depends on clean water. We must have water to drink or we will quickly die. Without it we don't have food and the plants cannot create adequate oxygen for the planet. The perfect ecologic system of the the plant and animal kingdom will not work because all life depends on water. Here in the west, water resources have been fought over for hundreds, perhaps even thousands of years. Water and the lack thereof has always been an inescapable issue, but now it has become a global challenge. Climate change is forcing us into an entire new way of thinking about our resources and land use. Wetlands and rivers have been a focus in my work for quite some time, but lately I have been taking an even closer look at our relationship with our water resources. I give voice to the organisms that depend on pristine wetlands and explore the threats to these habitats.
The first painting is called Real Estate.The second painting is called Chance Encounter. Here I consider the inextricable connection we have to all life. And the final painting of this set is called Going To The Well. This piece shows the aquatic threatened Oregon spotted frog that formerly lived in most of the pacific northwest. It is now lost to California and Oregon's Willamette Valley. Small populations remain in designated critical habitat in the remote upper reaches of some mountain rivers.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Mt Si Artist Guild 2021 Juried Virtual Art Show

I am happy that my large painting Eros was selected by juror Liz Walker for this on-line exhibition. This piece is quintessential summer for me, and it is nice to remember the warm heady ripeness of summer on this dreary and foggy day. I have an enormous heritage rose growing up my studio and partial covering the window. It is absolutely alive with bees when it is in full bloom. It literally hums and vibrates. The flowers are so open and lush, seducing the bees to come move their pollen around. This is summer. A time of regeneration and birth, intensity and gathering energy. It is a very sexy time of year. As usual I painted growth exploding within an urban setting. This primal force cannot be contained by pavement or manmade structures. It is larger than us, and we are bound to it. Here is a link to the exhibition: http://2021artshow.mtsiartistguild.org/index.html

Sunday, November 7, 2021

A Paradigm Shift

As with most people, the pandemic has had a profound effect on my perspective on just about everything. I have found myself questioning things that I always took for granted and reevaluating what is really truly important. Early on, I became more and more worried about the effect covid was having on a whole generation of children. As a former teacher, a mother and grandmother, I have spent a lot of my heart and soul nurturing young humans and helping them grow into adulthood. Kids are a very vulnerable group. Children rely on community to withstand displacement and disruption. When a child enters school they have certain expectations for how things will go. Even when things are rough at home, or perhaps the family falls apart or becomes unhoused, they still can expect the routine of school, the safety of other adults in their lives and the support of their peergroup. Only with them can they be their own age, role play and learn how to be in the world. For a little while they can escape the stresses of the adult world and just be themselves. Of course they have challenges and tragedies in school, but they also find stability, joy, humor and imagination. As much as I know the importance of closing of schools, masking and distancing, I fear the repercussions on our youth. I mourn the loss of trust. I regret the fear that has permeated our lives. These three paintings address the isolation and disruption the pandemic is having on childhood. Deconstructing The Future: Yellow is in a new show called Children 2021 produced by Gallerium at this link: https://www.gallerium.art/p/children-2021.html My exhibition page is at this link: https://www.gallerium.art/children-2021?name=nancy-watterson

Monday, October 11, 2021

Into The Wild

I was pleased to hear that my textured painting of a king snake was accepted into the new on-line show produced by Art Fluent. The theme of this show is what attracted me as it addresses the mystery and otherness of the animal world. I have long been interested in separate perceived realities in which plants, animals and humans exist. My painting is on heavily fibered unryu paper. I created an acrylic "skin" of snake skin pattern and laid it over parts of the painting.
A link to the show: https://www.art-fluent.com/into-the-wild .