Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Winery Shed

© 2014 Hannah Phelps

This little painting was created on the grounds of the LaBelle Winery in Amherst, NH in August 2014. 

Why didn't it get posted before now? Who knows. It is here now, and that is what counts.

That might not seem timely, but consider that 

A) it made it into the 2016 Landscape Calendar, and

B) 2016 Calendars will be available at my booth at the LaBelle Winery's Holiday Bazaar on November 28th and 29th.

Quite topical and current after all then.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Sydney Opera House - AKA January 2016

© 2009 Hannah Phelps

Over 6 years ago, I painted this little piece from a photograph I took on a trip to Sydney. Below, you can see the text from the original post.

Now this image is January 2016 in the Landscape Calendar so that you guys can have a little extra summer.

"Like many artists, I enjoy challenging myself. Now that this painting is complete, I can admit that I wonder what made me attempt a painting of one of the most famous architectural silhouettes in the world.

Along with taking a closer look at the Sydney Opera House, we also visited the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Not much work by Australian artists has made it to the US, and I fully enjoyed viewing the collection. I remember especially the paintings of Margaret Preston, Arthur Streeton and Charles Conder. The Gallery also had a large collection of contemporary Aboriginal art and the patterns and textures of those paintings really fascinated me.
Next stop-Melbourne!"
The Melbourne painting was the reference for February 2016 - you just saw it last month!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Revisiting the Uncertainty Principle

© 2012 Hannah Phelps
Maybe I Should Move My Easel
oil on canvas, 8"x10"

Here is one of my most popular posts of all time. This painting is a little newer than the post, but it fits right in. Enjoy from February 2011:

A couple of weeks ago, fellow artist Dora Ficher interviewed me for her blog.
First off, she asked me to explain how someone who studied physics in college became an artist.  Dora wasn’t the first person to wonder about this.
If you share her curiousity, you will probably enjoy the interview. I know you will like Dora's artwork on her website!

The rest of the story is that I am not a physicist now, but there are some things that I learned while playing with lasers and listening to lectures that I think about all the time - especially when I am creating art.  

One of these things is the Uncertainty Principle.

While I don’t bully my way through complex calculus equations anymore, I am kind of geeky, so I can still refer to the physics texts I have kept from college. Here is a quote:

“...experiment cannot simultaneously determine the exact value of a component  of momentum, px say, of a particle and also the exact value of its corresponding coordinate, x. Instead, our precision of measurement is inherently limited by the measurement process itself such that:
∆px ∆x ≥ hbar/2” *

What this means is that scientists can’t know how fast something is moving and where it is at the same time. 
The act of measuring one of those things changes the other. In this case they are specifically talking about subatomic particles like electrons.

WAIT!! Where are you going?! 

Don’t just assume you won’t get this because it is physics!! You are probably smarter than you give yourself credit for, so bear with me!!

Because this is actually a mind-numbing, reality altering discovery that does affect you even if you think you don’t get it! Everything in the universe is made out of subatomic particles - including the landscape and including you and me. And the teeny tiny things that we are made of cannot be witnessed without being altered.

Haven’t you experienced that? Have you ever felt that while you are observing something, you are actually kind of missing it too?

This is when I feel it: Landscape artists use the phrase “capture a moment” all the time - especially plein air painters. I use it myself. But the truth is that while any of us are painting a scene, that very act prevents us from really looking at the truth all around us.

While I am looking in one direction, I have no idea what is going on behind me at the same time. When I watch one wave breaking, I then can’t paint that exact wave because it is gone. If I take a photo of that wave, I can’t track its motion. This makes our art exactly what our life is - a composite of memories of what we were focusing on one second at a time. 

And this doesn’t just apply to art or electrons: Sometimes at dog agility trials, a fellow competitor will hand me a video camera so I can tape her dog on course. Whenever I am asked to do this, I am shocked at how little I remember from my friend’s run. I obviously saw the whole thing through the camera, but I can’t tell her which bar came down or if the judge called a fault - I have as little idea about what really happened out there as if I wasn’t watching at all. That is because I wasn’t “watching” it. I was making sure the dog was in the shot and playing with the zoom.  

I sacrificed witnessing an event in order to record it.

This knowledge is why I don’t mind when I forget to bring my camera on painting trips. As a matter of fact, I often leave it home on purpose. I know that if I really want to experience the salt air, the warmth of the sun and the good company of my painting buddies, I can’t do it through a lens. I have to see it and feel it. And risk changing it all with my presence.

* Eisberg, Robert and Resnick, Robert. Quantum Physics of Atoms, Molecules, Solids, Nuclei, and Particles. Second Edition. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1985, p. 65

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Sounds like Halloween - Munch and Frankenthaler - not a B-Grade Monster Movie

© 2012 Hannah Phelps

Enjoy another post from the archives. Originally posted on Friday the Thirteenth in 2012.

"What made you think to cut up the blocks?"

I've heard that more than a few times in the last few months.  I wish that I could say that I invented the jigsaw technique, but I did not.

As far as anyone can tell, Edvard Munch did, sometime around 1896. He'd been printing lithographs and black and white woodblock relief prints, and may have been looking for an easier way to use color in his prints. If you would like to see some of his prints, visit the Munch Museum website.

While I knew about Munch's prints, it was the work of a different artist, Helen Frankenthaler, that inspired me to make some jigsaw's of my own.  Last fall, I happened upon a book called Frankenthaler: The Woodcuts by Judith Goldman. Not all of Frankenthaler's woodcuts are blocks cut into multiple pieces, but many of them are.

I was immediately transfixed. The shapes stand bold and distinct and the textures from the woodgrain vibrate with energy. Instead of cutting up one block and reassembling it to print, she cut shapes out of different blocks that fit perfectly together. And she didn't reassemble them after inking to run them through the press together, each one was sent through separately. There were two fascinating reasons for this:

-  She could use different types of wood for each shape and vary the effects from the woodgrain

- The printed shapes could overlap slightly on the paper - AVOIDING THE NORMAL WHITE LINE BORDERS FOR JIGSAW PRINTS

With only two and a half jigsaws under my belt, I haven't yet tackled all the possibilities from those two ideas. So there are going to be more of these. Lots more.

Visually, there is little in my jigsaws from Helen Frankenthaler so far. I am making seascapes while her prints were all non-representational. But the fire to create them ignited the day I picked up that book.
Incidentally, she was alive when I read about her prints, but she died before my first jigsaw was finished, in December. Rest in peace, Ms. Frankenthaler. And thank you.

Monday, October 19, 2015

More Sleeping Dogs - Winter's Nap

© 2011 Hannah Phelps

Little golden puppy is still here and still cute and still making it hard to do much new artwork. She does let me work on the computer when she is napping, so I am catching up on some projects - like the 2016 Calendars. 

This is another print of Hattie - the same dog you saw last week and last month. One day, years ago, I did a contour drawing of her while she slumbered. I then used that image for a stone lithograph.

Ok, puppy is calling - gotta go!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Places to See Prints, Paintings and Presses. And Calendars.

This fall, you can see some paintings and prints live and in person at some events here in New Hampshire. While I appreciate everyone who visits my online sites, studying art in person is always best. There will be framed and unframed pieces, calendars and cards for you to examine and purchase. Also, you can ask me questions about my process and inspiration.

For NH Open Doors, you can see the inner workings of a printmaking studio and watch as a block is run through an etching press, imprinting ink on paper.

Check out the events page for more details, but there is a brief overview below. See you soon!


NH Open Doors

 D.M. Penny Press LLC

at the The Waumbec Mill
250 Commercial Street
Manchester, NH 03101

Saturday, November 7, 10 am - 5 pm
Sunday, November 8, 11 am - 5 pm 
4th Annual Holiday Bazaar Weekend
presented by LaBelle Winery

345 Route 101
Amherst, NH 03031

November 28 & 29
10 am - 5 pm
Memorial Union Building, UNH
83 Main Street
Durham NH

December 3, 4, & 5, 2015

Thursday: 10am - 8pm
Friday: 10am - 4pm
Saturday: 10am - 4pm

Thursday, October 15, 2015

2016 is Ready for You!

Those of you addicted to the annual Landscape Calendar will be happy to know that the 2016 version is here! 

"The Classic" unbound 8.5"x11" filled with reproductions of oil paintings is back, of course. This year it is joined by a Printmaking Calendar too!

Both versions are available in an unbound 5"x7" desktop size.

The absolute latest exciting news? Drumroll please...

New for 2016, the 8.5"x11" calendars are available BOUND and ready to hang!

To see the whole calendar, click here or use the 2016 Calendars tab at the top of the page. 

Or you can get yours at an upcoming event.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Puppy Brain

 © 2009 Hannah Phelps
 Pup Aware, solarplate etching

The model for this print is my Hatrick. She is 8 years old now, but when she was a little puppy, I was able to sketch her inquisitive face very quickly. Then I used that drawing to make a solarplate etching a few years ago. 

Right now, I have a different golden puppy in my house and I am getting this look a lot. But I don't have a lot of getting any new art made. 

That's ok, she's adorable and fun and they don't stay puppies forever. Maybe I'll draw her and add to the puppy collection. More likely, she'll grab my pencil and shred the sketchbook.

**I still have a couple of these prints left. They are available on Etsy!**

Monday, October 12, 2015

Rocks from the Archives - Rock On

© 2010 Hannah Phelps

**This post from 2010 seems to fit right in to the Appledore, York and Kittery Point paintings you've seen here lately so I am re-sharing it with you. Enjoy!**

When most people use the expression “like a rock”, they mean something solid, permanent, unflappable. To most eyes, rocks don’t seem to change at all. Especially when we watch huge waves slam into them during a nor’easter or a hurricane. After the storm is done and the skies have cleared, the rocks are still there. And we are happy to see that - that amidst temporary madness, something has held fast and survived.
The constancy of rocks comforts me too. Every summer as a young kid, I could return to the completely familiar tapestry of rocks and tide pools, marsh grasses and sand bars in Rye, NH.
But I wasn’t that old when I realized that, while most rocks did remain at their stations over the winter, some did not. Huge boulders would be flipped 180 degrees, others would be yards away from their normal spots and still more would have disappeared altogether. Soon, the very first thing I would do when we arrived at “the beach” would be to run across the street to discover what had changed in my absence.

Becoming “like a rock” is staying put only most of the time. It means sometimes feeling a bit pushed around. It can even mean total upheaval at times.
When you find yourself upside down or leagues away from where you expected to be, just make sure to be the same rock you were before the storm hit.


Friday, October 9, 2015

Appledore AM Print

© 2015 Hannah Phelps

In September, you saw a lot of paintings on this blog. About a third of them were from Appledore Island off the coast of southern New Hampshire and Maine.

I didn't pack any wood for white-line woodcuts for the trip, because I didn't think I would have time. The printmaking bug did sneak in to my psyche, though. 

As luck would have it, there was a construction project going on out there. A porch is being added to one of the buildings and there were some scrap pieces of pine in the "bonfire pile." 

Scrap pine is what the original Provincetown Printmakers traditionally used. 

The romance of it all proved too powerful to resist- copying my printmaking heroes by using found materials to create a print on a historic island?! Come on - you can't make this stuff up!

After a brief affair with a special rock formation, I had some pencil drawings as inspiration. One morning, I snuck out to add a color study to my stores of information for a print.

I was able to transfer a drawing to the unusually shaped block, carve it and ink and print one piece while out on the island. 

If there is one thing that is more fun than white-line printing in the studio is white-line printing outdoors in a lovely location!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A Little to the Right

© 2015 Hannah Phelps

If you have been following my love affair with a special rock in York, Maine, then you will like this latest chapter.

Yesterday: Giant waves on a partly cloudy day, but what did I paint? I continued to study my obsession of the season, an interesting rock formation that gets pummeled during high tide. I shifted a little to the right so I could see some of the surf.

By the end of the afternoon, the sunlight reflected warm pinks and ochres off of this beauty.

If you have been following my painting for any length of time, you know seaside rocks appear constantly. But these three little sketches feel different.

These newer pieces include more detail in the rocks then ever before. Treating rocks like portraits has been an amorphous goal for years, but now I see some concrete steps in that direction.

I don't know what I'll paint next time, but it will be more of this formation somehow. I can't seem to stop.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Winter is Coming

 © 2015 Hannah Phelps

This is your 2016 Calendar teaser.

In this post, you learned that there was a special reason for a palm tree painting...

Most of the Calendar addicts are New Englanders. New Englanders, and others in the northern US, survived a rough couple of months last winter. To give you a break from the cursed white stuff, next year's January and February paintings are from summer in Australia.

Yes, we are cheating. But it is for you. So stay warm, my fellow northeastern friends. And stay tuned for the rest of the 2016 Mostly New England Calendar.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Month in Review

© 2015 Hannah Phelps

At the end of the 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge, the host, Leslie Saeta, suggested we make a collage of our paintings using PicMonkey.

It is kind of fun to see most of the work in one place. This collage is really 25 paintings, not 30 - I am sure it is editable, but I didn't do the research.

The program did put Hattie right at the top, where she belongs.

Hmmmm, what should we do with all these paintings? I have a few things in mind....

Monday, October 5, 2015

Relaxed Beach

© 2015 Hannah Phelps

Here is the last of the 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge

Usually my work is a little more detailed. This time, I enjoyed the energy of the large brushstrokes and bold shapes, so I let that guide me. 

This painting, like Remembered Beach, will hopefully serve to help with a jigsaw print very soon. If it doesn't, it did remind me to stay relaxed when I paint and just have a good time. There is a cheerfulness that came through in this picture. Just being a beach scene might be enough for that, but I think the joy I felt while painting it helped.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Grey in the End

© 2015 Hannah Phelps

This is painting two from the same day. Even sketchier, even less solid. Sigh. The clouds swarmed in and the water transformed into undulating swatches of greys.

Painting, especially outside and most especially on the water's edge, is an exercise more than an independent activity. In order to paint, you need to look deeply and decide colors, brushstrokes, values and lines quickly in order to translate the subject to the canvas.

Think of a great sports champion - the sprinter, Usain Bolt, perhaps. He runs countless laps around practice tracks in the middle of the main events we see, maybe once a year. Some of the smaller competitions are practices to him - he doesn't always win them. But when it comes to the World Championships and the Olympic Games, no one else comes close because he ran all those laps the rest of the time.

There aren't a ton of opportunities to win gold medals for painting, but the lifestyle is similar for artists and athletes (though the paychecks are a bit different). Most of the time, you are spending your hours "putting one foot in front of the other" or dabbing the brush in paint and moving it to the canvas. Sometimes, it is just right and others, not so much. But the more you do it - show up and move the brush around - the more likely a successful painting will result the next time.

The one sure thing is that if you don't get out and paint, you'll NEVER create a great piece.

I spend a lot of my time printmaking these days and the quality of my painting suffered. When I saw that Leslie Saeta was offering a free challenge on her blog to paint 30 paintings in 30 days, I signed up. I knew I would have a head start because of my late August trip to Appledore Island and hoped that the challenge would help me keep my painting energy going for a few extra weeks.

It worked! Not just for me. Over 1000 artists participated. On September 30, Leslie wrote this on her blog:

Technically the challenge is over for now. But we all know, of course it's really just the beginning.

This is the time for all of us to build upon what we have accomplished this month. Whether you painted five or thirty paintings, it doesn't matter. We have all learned something from painting more often, from blogging everyday and sharing our art on Facebook. The results have snowballed and have been amazing. Many of you told me that you have already blogged more times this month than the entire year. Most of you have found a way to leave "the stuff" behind so when you enter your studio it's all about painting. A lot of you are painting faster and having little trouble finding inspiration to paint. Most of you are painting better. It's been a great 30 days and I thank you all for joining and inspiring me to paint every day this month.

Tomorrow we will head back in to our studios and paint some more. We will continue to push ourselves out of our comfort zones and take some risks. We don't need to feel rushed and we don't need to ignore our families anymore (haha). Just paint what you want, but take a little more time to build on the momentum you have created these past few weeks.

That pretty much sums up how this felt - committing to the challenge and completing it feels great, of course, but I got all this other stuff too - images for more prints, confidence in my honed skills, an easy-open lid to my well of ideas and creative energy.

If you don't understand what I am talking about, maybe you should challenge yourself to 30 days of painting, drawing, writing, running, singing - whatever you want. Then I think you'll get it.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Chasing Tides

© 2015 Hannah Phelps
Sometimes, I need to follow my own advice when out in the field- "Pick a subject with a strong composition that interests you, quickly get to work and intensely paint that subject for 30 - 90 minutes and then stop."

For this piece, I didn't  really do that. The water was disappearing fast and I knew it and tried it anyway. And then I puttered around. Painting felt like playing catch up the whole time.

I don't hate this piece, but I feel that I missed out on having a better time with it. The painting you will see tomorrow is from later the same day/location and it isn't that great either. I wonder if my attitude while working on the first one affected the results for the second as well. We'll never know

However, I strongly believe that painting NEVER results in failure. Even if the canvas looks ugly at the end of a session, the act of painting has inherent value. That is why I am proud to report that I successfully completed Leslie Saeta’s 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge. This blog is behind by two paintings, but I did upload pictures to Lelsie's blog everyday. It was a great experience and I will tell you more about it tomorrow.
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