Tag Archives: acrylic painting

Art Works for Robyn Brown

Robyn Brown & her wallFor Robyn Brown, applying her artistic talent to daily life is as simple—and as complex—as building a stone wall.  She’s shown here with just such a wall, which she built recently.  “There’s a creative aspect to everything,” she said.

She should know.  Robyn has designed at least a dozen homes on graph paper and, together with her husband, Chris, carried the design process through to completion for most of those homes.  The two make a team that handles nearly every aspect of construction.  For the stone wall, Robyn said, “We brought four or five loads of stone, hand-picked from Hoadley Quarries, and Chris tumbled the rock, built the scaffolding, mixed the mortar, and hauled it all while I laid the mortar bed and set the stones.”

Robyn is self-taught in nearly everything she does—with the exception of one drawing class and, beginning a year ago, the Partners in Painting class at the Owen County Art Guild.  Most often, she finds her own answers intuitively or at the public library, building an artistic life from a series of thoughtful, self-reliant solutions to questions as diverse as home schooling her children to laying that mortar bed.  Her resourceful nature, in fact, reflects the pioneer spirit of her forebears, the historic Spring Mill State Park Hamer family.

As a child, she learned to love art by watching her older sisters, who exceled in painting.  For Robyn, it was ceramics that caught her interest first, and painting later.  Then, for decades, crafts of all sorts, projects with her children, and building construction kept her easel idle.  Last year, when she began painting again, her experiences in real life paid dividends;  her skills transferred easily from “cutting in” the color of a home’s walls to refining her brush strokes on canvasses.

Her acrylic on canvas, Frog Pond, was created by combiningFrog Pond 2 photos of lily pads, fish, and a frog, for use as subjects.  “I love doing the preliminary backgrounds first,” she said, “because it’s fun and freeing to ease into the details of the painting.  If it doesn’t work, to me, it’s like a wall with an archway that’s too small, or a stone set in place wrong.  You just re-do it.  You need to step back and look at a painting, just as you need to step back and look at a wall.”

DSCN2283The Wave is another example of her acrylic on canvas works.  It was inspired by a double-page photograph by David Miller, in a book titled Oceans.  “I loved it, and I had to own it—it was the moodiest wave I’d ever seen,” she said.  “A friend tried to contact the photographer to purchase a copy of the photograph for my birthday, but she never got a response.  So, I had to buy the book.  I thought it was so perfect!  I didn’t add anything of myself, except my name, when I painted it.  It’s as close as I could come to an artistic representation of the original, and the largest painting I’ve ever done—two feet by four feet—so it was daring, but not difficult.”

Her work on an earlier painting with a fog element, and on Frog Pond, had taught Robyn the technique of using a natural “sea” sponge to create effects, and it helped to build foam on The Wave.  However, when she tried the natural sponge on the walls of the home she and Chris are currently constructing, she was not impressed by its effect.  So, she stepped back, and started over.  Using a synthetic tiling sponge instead, watering down the paint, wringing out the sponge and rubbing it on the walls, she achieved a beautiful muted, old-world effect.

“Art, in my opinion,” Robyn said, “is fluent.  It runs through the fiber of who you are.”

Robyn Brown occasionally shows her artwork at the Owen County Art Guild;  the guild is located at 199 West Cooper Street, Spencer, IN.  Her paintings, as well as those of all the artists featured in this series, can be seen in color online at http://www.lauraleffers.wordpress.com.  The guild’s phone number is  812-829-1877.


Art Works for Edith Decker

Edith Decker & Santa RestingEdith Decker has done creative work—she’s a homemaker, a fine baker and cook and, together with her husband, raised six children.  She’s worn many hats but none, until now, looked like an artist’s beret.

A year ago, she looked up from a table at the Owen County Art Guild, where she was attending a writers’ group meeting, and noticed the paintings on the walls.  She said, “I thought it looked like fun, and decided to try it.”  She started art classes the very next week.

Edith is seen here with her most recent artwork, Santa Resting, an acrylic painting done on a recycled book back.  She admits to having a light-hearted approach to her subject matter, and often tries to find the humor in her work.  “He’s resting up, getting ready for his big sleigh ride,” she said.

Her first painting was In Bloom, an oil on canvas which she In Bloominitially didn’t like.  Barb Bauer, the teacher, insisted that she stand back and look at it from a distance, and Edith found herself seeing the work differently.  The exercise made her want to paint another canvas.

Bear in a Field of FlowersHer second painting was another oil, Bear in a Field of Flowers.  “It was hard,” Edith said, “especially the eyes and nose.  I painted it from a photo of a bear in the wild but, instead of portraying the background realistically I did it intuitively, and it began looking like a field of flowers.  I love flowers, so I used it.  I thought the bright colors worked well in this painting.”

Another light-hearted example of Edith’s work is In MyIn My Dreams Dreams, acrylic on canvas, which was painted from an illustration in a children’s coloring book.  “I thought my grandchildren—or any children—would like it,” she said.  Most of Edith’s work is whimsical, in fact, or humorous.  She often uses subjects close to her heart, like her cat—painted with a wide-brimmed, garden-party hat.

“I didn’t know if I could paint,” she said, “but I wasn’t intimidated.  People—like my kids—seemed surprised when I started painting, but now they think it’s a good thing.  I’m fine with the challenge.  If I don’t like something, or if I make a mistake, I just paint over it.  Barb is really good at helping me learn.  I think a lot of her.

“I can quit painting for a couple of weeks, and then I get the urge to paint again,” she added.  “I just want to go back—I really love to paint!”

Edith Decker will show her artwork at the Owen County Art Guild’s holiday show;  the guild is located at 199 West Cooper Street, Spencer, IN.  Her paintings, as well as those of all the artists featured in this series, can be seen in color online at http://www.lauraleffers.wordpress.com.  The guild’s phone number is  812-829-1877.

Art Works for Nina Pless

Nina Pless & SerenityNina Pless loves noticing the details in the bark of a tree, its leaves, and the shape of its canopy.  She’s a former substitute teacher and values education, so she joined the Partners in Painting class at the Owen County Art Guild in June of 2012. 

She’s seen here with Serenity, the first oil painting she did in class.  “I love listening to water falling over rocks,” she said, “but that’s a hard subject to paint, so this painting—in a serious classroom setting—taught me a lot.

“A friend, Shirley Dean, paints a lot, and gave me the inspiration I needed to get started before going to a painting class.  She invited me to her home and taught me perspective, the appearance of objects as determined by their relative distance and positions.  Trees and rocks were the first two things she showed me how to paint—they’re two of my favorite subjects.”

Home PlaceHome Place, done using acrylic and watercolor, came more easily.  “I put myself into it,” Nina said.  “It’s from a picture in a magazine, but I made it my own.  I added details that weren’t in the original, and I feel good about that.  I like its perspective, and the look into the past it depicts.

Secret Garden was one of my acrylics.  I was working for Secret Gardendepth, with it.  I wanted to make the flowers appear to rise from the sidewalk, to create a peaceful place to go, and just contemplate.  I like to think that my rocking chair is right around the corner, behind that gate.”

View from the DeckView from the Deck is another acrylic painting, and another scene Nina can imagine herself walking into, sitting down, and relaxing.  But, in the spirit of improving her skills, she critiqued it openly, saying, “I like the mountain—but not where it meets the water.  A deeper color there could have given the painting’s middle ground a better sense of distance.

“I’ve tried all types of painting mediums, by now,” she added, “and I think I prefer oils because you can work while the paint is wet.  You can even move the color with your fingers.

“I feel as if my artwork is giving me a sense of accomplishment.  BJ Bennett often inspires me with ideas, and Barb Bauer, the class teacher, helps me get the ideas onto canvas.  I value all their help,” she said.  “I’m not ready to sell my work yet, but I’ve grown from doing it, and I’ve enjoyed the growth.  I can’t believe I’ve done a dozen paintings in just a little over a year!”

Nina Pless shows her artwork at the Owen County Art Guild, located at 199 West Cooper Street, Spencer, IN  47460.  The guild’s phone number is  812-829-1877.

Art Works for Holly Wheeler

Holly WheelerHolly Wheeler has an eye for color and a gift for speed painting.  She is also the young mother of four boys, and slow painting is not an option.

She’s painted on her own—when she found the time—for the past nine years.  Self-taught since her art classes with Mrs. O’Malley at Edgewood, in Ellettsville, Indiana, she joined the Partners in Painting class at the art guild in Spencer, last year.

“They tease me at the guild, because I usually have two or three paintings done by the time class is over,” she said.  “Recently, though, I painted a draped nude, and it took three full studio periods.  I’d never painted a figure—I don’t usually do detail—but I thought it would be good for my artistic growth to slow down and do something different.”

Parrot needed two forty-five minute sessions’ worth of Parrot 2Holly’s limited painting time, because she wanted it to dry between the layers of oil paint.  She often re-purposes what she considers a “failed” painting and, in the case of Parrot, she said, “There’s a lot of texture, because I had to incorporate the brush strokes from the earlier painting.  I’m not happy with it, though.  I think the tail is more decorative than realistic, and it’s too abstract for my taste.”

BearBear, another oil on canvas, was painted in an hour.  Barb Bauer, the class teacher, noted that the photograph in a Western magazine, which Holly used to inspire the painting, was dull.  “Holly used her artistic interpretation,” Barb said.  “She painted asymmetrical eyes, and incorporated purples, teals, and oranges that weren’t in the illustration.”

Bee Balm“I’d been using acrylics to paint,” Holly added, “and Bear was my first oil painting.  I brought the focus onto the bear and changed the colors, and it worked.  So, for my second oil, Bee Balm, I combined inspirations again.  My sister e-mailed the flower picture and asked me if I could paint it for her.  I did, but afterwards thought that it, too, could use some color.  When I saw the bright red bee balm on our family vacation in the Smoky Mountains, on a hike to Clingmans Dome, I decided they would be the perfect addition.  They were everywhere and so pretty!

“I paint as a true amateur,” she said, “because I love it.”

Holly Wheeler’s artwork is available for sale;  she may be contacted at HSWHEELER14@yahoo.com.  The Owen County Art Guild is located at 199 West Cooper Street, Spencer, IN  47460.  The guild’s phone number is  812-829-1877.

Art Works for Connie Luttinen

Connie Luttinen with A SplashConnie Luttinen, shown here with A Splash, done with colored markers on a book back, finds the Owen County Art Guild a pleasant place to work.  “I’ve found congenial friends at the guild, new mediums to explore, and a sociable setting,” she said.  “Everyone’s upbeat—we keep it that way—we’re interested in one another’s work, and open to suggestions.  It’s delightful.

“Our Wednesdays and Thursdays together are the highlights of my week.  People bring snacks and pizzas, and we eat while we work—often straight through dinner.”

A Splash was the result of Connie’s normal process, which sheCandy Counter describes as intuitive rather than laborious.  “I can’t draw a straight line, it would drive me crazy,” she said.  “Instead of drawing a design ahead of time, I simply start.  I join colors, and blend….  I might go from one corner to another.  All of a sudden, it seems, the canvas is covered.”  Her oil on canvas, Candy Counter, represents the first time she tried oil painting, and it followed much the same unpremeditated process.

FloralShe was new to oils when she painted Floral, and still uncomfortable with larger-sized canvases.  She credits the Partners in Painting class teacher, Barb Bauer, for encouraging her to paint larger, and reports that the challenge made her search harder for movement, and to invent her own colors.  “I don’t use the color chart because I love mixing and finding my own blends,” she said.

One of Connie’s latest firsts—completed just weeks ago—wasOriental Dream a painting on a black primed canvas using metallic acrylics, entitled Oriental Dreams.  Barb, she said, provided guidance to create the painting’s distinctive borders.

“Structure has been my life,” Connie said.  “But the point of life is living—the freedom to be natural—and I believe in finding laughter more than anything.  Now, I look at a blank canvas, and just let it rip!”

Connie Luttinen’s work is often shown at the Owen County Art Guild in all-member shows.  The guild is located at 199 West Cooper Street, Spencer, IN.  The guild phone number is 812-829-1877.

Art Works for Dorothy Cumbo

Dorothy CumboDorothy Cumbo’s artwork wears its ribbons as well and proudly as fair queens wear their tiaras.  For artists, recognition from qualified judges is a hard-won measure of their progress, and often the only professional feedback they receive.  Prize ribbons speak clearly, whether for weeks or for years after the county fairs close and summer eases into the fall festival season.

Her Cathedral Windows quilt, shown here with the artist, brought Dorothy reserve grand champion and first premium ribbons at the Owen County Fair in 2012.  Completely hand sewn, she said it took two years to finish, and was the most time consuming quilt she’d ever made.  Its three-dimensional quality is the result of hand appliquéd fabric “windows” in an origami fold “frame,” or backing.  “Each of the finished four-inch squares,” she said, “is then added to the quilt individually, so you can take the work anywhere and sew as you go.”

This year, her mixed media entry in the county fair’s Holy Family under the Palm Treenon-professional artist division again brought in those ribbons:  reserve grand champion and first premium.  Holy Family under the Palm Tree was painted in oils over acrylics, inspired by a photograph of an original painting by Lodovico (1555-1619).  Dorothy has donated it to St. Jude Catholic Church, in Spencer, for the November 23rd church bazaar.  Proceeds from the bazaar will fill Christmas food baskets for those in need.

“The faces were the most challenging to paint in Holy Family,” Dorothy said, “especially Baby Jesus’ mouth.  Barb, at the Owen County Art Guild’s Partners in Painting class, helped me with His mouth.”

Dorothy and her husband, Leonard, moved to Spencer in 2003, and built their retirement home at Locust Lake.  “Our neighbors are lovely, sociable people,” she said, “and one of them, Cindy Conklin, suggested that we take a painting class at the Endwright Center, in Ellettsville.  Well, Cindy was the only one of our Locust Lake group who had experience in painting—we were a little intimidated, and turned her down.

“Cindy asked me to think about it—and it was Lent,” Italian Still LifeDorothy added.  “Since I could neither draw nor paint it seemed like an ideal sacrifice, so I took the class.”  Leonard Cumbo, a former art student himself, raved about her first effort, and Nancy Raper, the teacher, liked the second, Italian Still Life.  Nancy encouraged her to enter Italian Still Life in the 2009 Owen County Fair, and it won Dorothy her first set of reserve grand champion and first premium ribbons.

LucasThe very next year, in 2010, she received her first Grand Champion award for Lucas, an acrylic painting done from a Fourth of July photograph she’d taken of her grandson.  “I’d taken the picture without a flash,” she said, “and the contrast and curves inspired me.  But when it received Grand Champion, it knocked my socks off!

“I’ve always been fascinated by painters, and loved watching them,” she said.  “Now I love to paint, too.  Take a class.  Try it—challenge yourself!  The possibilities can be great.”

Dorothy Cumbo and Cindy Conklin will exhibit their work in a two-man show opening September 8, 2013, with a reception from 2-4 p.m. at the Owen County Art Guild, 199 West Cooper Street, Spencer, Indiana.  Dorothy can be contacted through the guild by calling 812-829-1877.

Art Works for Cindy Conklin

Cindy ConklinCindy Conklin is a former third-grade schoolteacher, and no stranger to the challenges—and benefits—of learning.  Seen here with her small acrylic, Baby Bluebird, she said that the difficulty with this painting was in the bird’s coloration, which she wanted to portray realistically.  “When I first began painting,” she said, “if it didn’t have the realism of a Cynthia Richards’ work, I wasn’t satisfied.

“I admire Owen County artists like Tom Maher and Mae Dene, too,” she added, “who have their own individual styles.  They create ‘out of the box,’ from their own visions.  They’ve contributed to my artistic education, and enhanced my appreciation of other painting styles.”

Cindy has always had an interest in art.  As a young mother, she and her entire family had a tradition of getting out the oil paints on New Year’s Day, and painting pictures together.  By 2009, after many phases of what she referred to as “dabbling,” she and a friend, Dorothy Cumbo, took an acrylics class taught by Nancy Raper at the Endwright Center, in Ellettsville, Indiana.  “Nancy emphasized that we could borrow from other artists, but that we should bring our own ideas to the canvas,” Cindy said.  “And she invited us to attend a meeting at the Owen County Art Guild.”

Now a member of Partners in Painting, Barb Bauer’s DSCN2111class at the guild, Cindy likes things a little off normal perspective, citing as an example her acrylic painting, Spencer Tree.  “Most people,” she said, “would paint the entire tree.  But it was the bark itself that was a challenge, and Barb suggested that I use a ‘brick’ technique.  This simple idea, adapted for my tree, worked well.”

Roses in Art Glass, also acrylic, was done using a print DSCN2118of an original painting—the class often uses prints and photographs to stimulate the artists’ creativity.   It became Cindy’s own original work after she changed the focus and perspective, shortening the vase and adding more definition to the flowers.

DSCN2120Moonlight Bay was painted in a single day, as an exercise Cindy set for herself.  “I wanted to try an impressionistic technique,” she said, “using acrylics en plein air.”

Cindy believes that art is a personal, unique expression of creativity, which can be as simple or as complex as the individual’s vision.  She respects that diversity.

Cindy Conklin and Dorothy Cumbo will exhibit their work in a two-man show opening September 8, 2013, with a reception from 2-4 p.m. at the Owen County Art Guild, 199 West Cooper Street, Spencer, Indiana.  She can be contacted through the guild by calling 812-829-1877.