Monday, September 26, 2011

Color your World Red

Gorgeous red pot by Michael Nowack.
Photo by Mary A. Gravelle.

"Artists can color the sky red because they know it's blue." ~ Jules Feiffer[1]

I attended a clay workshop over the weekend on how to achieve the color red in the glazing and firing process using copper reds. Our workshop leader was Michael Nowack of Tucson, Arizona. 

Apparently there is an art to achieving the color red in the world of potters and ceramicists. I’m so new to this field that I had no a clue about this. I was curious to find out more.

Michael shared his technique and his glaze formulas with us that also included beautiful matte colors of black, green, and blue. He also shared how he achieves his personal color of red by layering two different reds. His first glaze layer is a tomato red. Then on top of that glaze he uses a thin coat of a blue red. The combination of these two reds provides a luscious red color that is unique to Michael’s pottery. However, even for Michael, the achievement of these reds is difficult and does not always come out as expected. There are so many variables even when he uses his tried and true method of layering these reds. So when they do come out, it is exciting.
Pottery by Michael Nowack.
Note his beautiful glaze colors of luscious red,
matte blue, and matte green.
Photo by Mary A. Gravelle.

Attendees at the workshop were privileged to use his glazes. Our pots will come out of the kiln right about now (10:00 am mst). I cannot wait to see how my pots came out.

As an artist who loves color, I have my own favorite colors and red is one of them. To me, red is passion and warmth. Many of my landscape paintings use red. Being a painter I use color perhaps a little differently than a potter, but not really. I mix and layer my colors to achieve the desired color just as Michael layers his reds.

How do you use the color red? Is the color red important in your work?

"Purple Mountains Majesty", acrylic on canvas,
36 x 30 inches. Original is available.
Contact Mary at

Here are a couple other sources on using red in your artwork:
  1. Color Theory: Know Your Reds [2]
  2. Use the Hidden Meaning of the Color ‘Red’ in Art & Design
  3. Color Theory: Know Your Reds

[1] “color”.
[2] “Color Theory: Know Your Reds”.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Heal Thyself: The Wisdom of Painting

Reaching Out, approx. 42 x 28
©1998 Mary A. Gravelle
Buy the framed original painting: $400 plus shipping.
Or purchase a fine art giclee print today.

Did you know that everyone benefits from painting? And that everyone can paint? Wisdom Painting for self-discovery teaches this principle. Painting for painting’s sake and painting for self’s sake is what its all about. Learning to release judgment and allow what needs to show up are keys to the process of Wisdom Painting.

How does Wisdom Painting and fine art painting differ? For one, the beginning point to the process. In Wisdom Painting, we begin with a blank sheet of paper, same as in fine art. However, it is from this point forward where the difference lies.

In Wisdom Painting we allow our materials to take the painting to the place it needs to go for our inner healing. Choices of brushes and color are all part of the self-discovery process. Yes, fine art can heal too. But, the difference is that in fine art we plan our paintings out beforehand. We know what we will paint. There is usually a discovery process that goes along with fine art painting as in Wisdom Painting. However, in Wisdom Painting, the discovery process is solely for the Self. The discovery process in fine art painting is generally more about the painting technique. In Wisdom Painting, art world talk does not enter into the equation. This helps keep the painter loose and unrestricted by rules.

You can try this at home. Or if you want more direction I will be offering personal and group Wisdom Painting sessions at my studio. More information on Wisdom Painting for self-discovery can be found on my website, Inquire today about your personal Wisdom Painting session:

Monday, September 12, 2011

New Camera Puts the Focus Where You Want It

August 30, 2011.
Photography by Mary A. Gravelle.
©2011 Mary A. Gravelle
There's a new camera coming out later this year from Lytro. The new technology allows the photographer to worry about the focus later in the studio. What does this mean for the fine art photographer? What does this mean for the visual artist who paints from photographs?

Fun for both, I would say. For the photographer, it means shooting for the fun of it and creatively focusing the shot later in the studio. Knowing good composition and framing are still key. So, this will not change what to shoot in a photograph. It will change how to shoot a photograph, taking the emphasis off of focus.

For the artist using photographs, this brings many options available to them. I'm thinking series of paintings using focus as the main theme. I suppose the photographer could also make a series of photographs out of one photo using different focus / focal points.

Can you think of other ways in which this new camera will change the way we do art? Please leave a comment. I'd love to hear your ideas.

Read more about his new camera at:

Try out the technology at this interactive link:

Monday, September 5, 2011

Movement and Visual Art

Passage, oil on masonite, 20 x 16 inches.
©2006 Mary A. Gravelle. Original is not for sale.
If interested, inquire about a giclee print.
I came across this Video on Moving to Visual Art yesterday and I thought "how cool!” so I thought I would share it with you. Painter, Andrew Purchin, and collage artist, Lisa Hochstein, teamed up in a “day-long artist residency at MAH on Sept 3rd from 11:00AM - 5:00 PM” where they hoped to create a community of dancers to move to their works.[1] Andrew says in his artist statement that his work is about “carving the space” with his paintbrush.[2] He integrates his dance improvisation experience with his painting-in-the-moment experience to provide what he hopes is a moving experience for the viewer.

During my Wisdom Painting sessions, I ask participants to move to their paintings. But, these paintings are purely personal and painted for the spiritual purpose of self-discovery. What about fine art paintings? In the video mentioned in the first paragraph, people are asked to move to fine art paintings and collages in a gallery setting. How very refreshing! People are actually asked to respond to the paintings. What a concept.

With much the same message as the above video, another article I found talks about an exhibit called “MOVE: CHOREOGRAPHING YOU, ART AND DANCE SINCE THE 1960S". During the exhibit, visitors are choreographed inviting them to partake in a more physical experience of the art.[3]

And what about this video: “Art of Moving?” The fluid and sometimes-funky movements of the dancers invoke an abstract painting where the artist utilizes fluid and free brushstrokes. And in another video from Mirabai Ceiba, we see a woman who is moving her body on the landscape to her own song. I class this video along with visual art because the images are beautiful and are fine art themselves. This video is a spiritual and visual treat that any artist could get inspired by. These two videos turn it around on the artist to become inspired by movement in creating their art.

Which is exactly what Hans Moore is doing in his YouTube video. He sets his computer generated art images in motion while a song plays in the background. I found it mesmerizing. At the same time, it was inspiring thought in me of how to integrate movement into my own visual art.[4]

So, the question for you, the dear reader of my blog, is how do you want to move the viewer with your art? Do you want to move them emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, or physically, or any combination of these? How would you need to change your art to meet your desire? Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment here.
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