Liz Zorn Paintings

Open Studio - New Work

The fall season at the art center will kick off this friday Oct 30 in full gear. Aside from hosting two charity events,  beer tasting and raffle, this will also be the Halloween art walk. Being an artist in the building I rarely am able to check out what is going on elsewhere at the PAC, and surrounding campus of studios and galleries because I am in my own studio greeting guests and friends throughout the night. I will likely be going solo this week, with family and the like staying home.. So getting down throughout the week to set up and hang my show before Fridays mad dash. Each of the eight floors of studios in the warehouse (my space) will have their own events and set ups. We on the 6th floor will have a treat table in the community area just off the elevator and hopefully lots of open studios for people to visit. Hours are 6-10 Pendleton Art Center OTR Cincinnati. Street parking is free and available to early arrivals, as well as a valet parking service provided by the PAC for a fee. I bought enough candy for an army so please come down and take a handful :)...

I have a new layout in the studio with more wall space and quite a few new pieces. Very excited as well to be getting so much great feedback on the new work. If I can find the time I will go through my art storage, because some of my work from many years ago is very similar to this new work. A really big circle I have been rounding. One that has an arch of well over thirty years. I don't really have a lot of old work, but at least have been able to keep a few things, dating all the way back to my first art instruction classes as a kid.

I think looking back, all those years of doing constructed works and found object art really boxed me in. It has taken me some time to get out of my head and just paint again. I also think that when we are younger we are more insecure about the work and trying to fit into a category. At this stage in my life I just want to be in the moment. If I am thinking about something, listening to certain music, hear a siren in the city, or gunshot... whatever. I am now happy to let all of that be part of the work. I am finished (at least for now) planning my art or thinking ahead. However the paint falls it how it will lay, and stay.

My Heart Belongs to Daddy: In progress 30x30. mixed media on canvas.

This piece in the photo is now finished. I have received more feedback on this than everything else I have done over the past year combined. I know artists like to play it cool and close to the vest, but I feel that if I can stay the course here I will be in good shape. Basically, screw being cool and acting like I have everything under control. I am totally owning my sixth decade on this planet. No excuses, no apologies.

No Plans

Looks like we will get a nice break in the weather tomorrow and be out of the snowy woods by this time next week. It will be good to get back in my studio in the city to finish up some of the larger canvases. Working from home and on paper for the past week have me in a strange mood. With no desire to plan out my days or think about what I will do next, the work has been more to my liking. I also feel like I have worked through some things, and the chaos in some of the work from last year has played itself out. I am very happy for this because it is exhausting to keep that kind of energy going. The unfinished work in the studio is somewhat like the paper work I am doing, and I think that I can finally get everything on the same page, thought and execution wise. Not that I am going to plot a course..As the title of this post says. NO PLANS... No goals, no agenda, no thoughts about where I am going. The last thing I want to do now is get all artsy about my painting. If I could care any less about the psychology and protocol of fine art, I would. It just doesn't mean anything to me anymore.

Untitled; acrylic on paper 2015

Untitled; acrylic on paper 2015

Snow Days

Made it down to the studio on Saturday to pick up some supplies and water my orchids. After being teased with potential blizzards over the past weeks we finally got our boat load of the stuff and as a result I opted for setting up a makeshift studio in the sunroom (at home). There isn't a lot I can do in this space so I have opted to do some works on paper. Moving from palette knives and masonry trowels to essentially finger painting is a bit of a curve, and I am always surprised at what comes out of me when I switch from textured canvas to paper. But with this work I must be channeling my palette switch from last summer when I went from the bright colors and lots of blue to this limited earthy palette.

I don't really have a plan other than just painting, and this is fine with me. In the past I did a lot of paper studies that I would transfer (style wise) to canvas. Not sure where this will go or if I will even continue it once I am back in the studio on a regular basis.

New: acrylic on gesso textured paper. 12.5x19.5

New: acrylic on gesso textured paper. 12.5x19.5

New: acrylic on gesso textured paper. 12.5x19.5

New: acrylic on gesso textured paper. 12.5x19.5

Occasionally I will sneak a landscape in there (hehe..)  but for the most part I am still where I left off with the acrylics on canvas last year. Even the new in progress works in oil and cold wax I have going at the studio are in this limited earthy palette. Funny how consistent color can make a mish mash of half baked ideas look like a cohesive body of work...

Untitled: 2014 acrylic on canvas 12x12

Untitled: 2014 acrylic on canvas 12x12




Looking Ahead

This is already shaping up to be a key year in my quest to return to full time painting. Yesterday I was at the studio bright and early to show my work for a possibly show in the summer. The meeting went well but it is a committee decision so I will have to wait a few weeks to find out if I am going to be included.

I have also been contacted by three different groups looking for large corporate pieces. I wish I had some of the new oil paintings finished to show them. Luckily two of the projects are just in the looking phase and I have time to get some big pieces finished before they come around again to actually select art for the spaces. One space isn't even built yet and this is always a strange situation to be in. I have never created a piece that fits architecturally into a specific space. Would love to do this someday. A project usually reserved for sculptors and stone workers.

IN THE STUDIO - I had been working with pre stretched canvas and now will be doing my own once again as I need some odd sizes not available in pre stretched.  Also need the more sturdy backing to handle the weight of the texture that I apply to my canvases. The larger they are the heavier they are. No brainer, but this really makes a difference when things start getting big.

I have switched up my medium to include oil and cold wax and have been painting with this for the past few weeks. I have finished one piece and have several more in progress. It is nice to finish with the oils as I can take more time to work on each piece.

This painting is the mixed media: begins with an acrylic textured surface and under painting and finished with oil and cold wax. Very similar to the style I have been working in for the past year with the layering and taking off of paint. With the oils I get more bang for my buck and really love how the colors pop. This piece: Sequester: is 36x36 on stretched gallery warp canvas. I can use the canvas (instead of board) for the oil and wax because of the rigid textured surface. I have been building surface on canvas like this for many years and it is very durable.

This painting is the mixed media: begins with an acrylic textured surface and under painting and finished with oil and cold wax. Very similar to the style I have been working in for the past year with the layering and taking off of paint. With the oils I get more bang for my buck and really love how the colors pop. This piece: Sequester: is 36x36 on stretched gallery warp canvas. I can use the canvas (instead of board) for the oil and wax because of the rigid textured surface. I have been building surface on canvas like this for many years and it is very durable.

My space is starting to shrink (it feels smaller) as I have so many things in progress. Looking for a larger studio now. Will also be spending some time this summer getting my home studio back in working order. This is where I do my big constructed pieces. A lot of power sanding involved so ventilation is an important factor. Not able to do this in the rented space in the city. Each has it's own perks though.

PORTFOLIO - I have not done a good job of keeping up with my portfolio. Online or otherwise. This will become a priority for me as things progress. Starting with my next trips to the studio. I have decided not to have a purchase page here on this website, at least not anytime soon. Instead if you follow the links you will be led to two online websites where you may purchase my work. Saatchi art and Zatista. Both are reputable companies and have been very professional with sales and representation.

OPENINGS - I have been out of the studio for the past two Final Friday events at the art center but hope to get back into the swing of things for the February opening on the 27th.  This is really (aside from private appointments) the only time I open my studio. Will post more on openings as the dates get closer.

2015 Back To The Future

As good a time as any I suppose... To once again take a look back and pull those old thoughts out of the attic and revisit unfinished business.

It was almost a year ago that I had some old mixed media paintings on paper hanging in my Middletown studio. I found them while looking for something else in my home studio. They were the last pieces I painted before embarking on an olfactory adventure that pulled me into another world. Now I am teetering back and forth between these two worlds, spending about as much time with one as the other. It's a good fit for now, and then there is this unfinished business.

These paper pieces were done from late 2001 to spring of 2002. They were my last work after 9/11. My last show was in October of 2001 and as the entire country was in shock I, as an artist was trying to wrap my brain around it by pouring my feelings into the work. At the time  9/11 art was popping up everywhere and it seemed odd to me at the time how quickly galleries and art centers jumped on the bandwagon to exhibit this art and in many ways exploit a tragedy for financial gain and attention.

Mixed Media on paper: 2001-2002

Mixed Media on paper: 2001-2002

I never showed this work at the time or had it for sale, I was just working through my feelings and after I completed the last pieces, I tucked them away where they stayed for twelve years. It was a time where I felt like exploring some of the other things that I loved so I spent more time on my music and writing and I launched a small collection of natural perfumes that to my surprise became a huge success.

In the past two months I have had these paintings on paper out in my Cincinnati studio, Out where I can see them everyday and remember how much I love doing this work. Seeing them also brought into contrast the new work that I had been creating. Somewhat angry by comparison with all of the scraping and sharp lines, defiant slashes of color. If I were to analyze myself and this work I would have to wonder what all of the angst is about. Maybe I am angry at myself for not painting all those years, or maybe I am still working things through. The thing is, I like both for different reasons, and at the same time I do feel a bit exhausted and want to incorporate more of the past into the future works.

recent in progress, acrylic on canvas 2014

recent in progress, acrylic on canvas 2014

At the end of the year I was all set to get back into the studio and take the work to that new place, but just as we were saying goodbye to 2014 we were ringing in 2015 in bed, hit by the flu bug. I am the one who rarely gets a cold or flu, so it drives me nuts when I am unable to function. This past Thursday January 15th was my first day driving into the city to my studio. Mr Z. took me down last Sunday, but it was too soon and I was back in bed for another two days. All of my big plans and ideas had to be put on hold while I recovered, and... while I ran it all over and over in my head.

Now I look at the work in the studio with new eyes. My intention is the same but my feelings about this new year have changed. I am thinking about my health and my family and how quickly things can go wrong. A recent death of an acquaintance who was my age, and the recent loss of close family have put me on a path of greater awareness. I am feeling more grateful for the things I have, my health and those close to me. There is a quote by the writer Claudia Black: "Surround yourself with people who respect and treat you well"  This has always resonated with me, so much that I still have it tacked to the wall in my old home studio. The paper yellow with age, but still relevant. In the coming months I wish to honor this quote, and put the important things on the front burner and toss out anything that doesn't live up to that standard. I also feel that it is important to do the same with my work, all of it.

Wish me luck, the month is only half over and I am already working on Plan B....

Less Is More

Today was my first day back working in the studio in well over a week. It felt good to be there and to start on some new paintings. It also gave me the opportunity to look at everything with fresh eyes. All of the work, bits and pieces from the past two years. It wasn't until I started working on some primed paper pieces that I realized how much I enjoy just pushing paint around. Not building layers of texture on canvas, or strategically layering in color for later removal. All of that takes a long time to get to the end, and perhaps I really need to have some things be more immediate, with less worry about the end result.

I had some of my old paper pieces at the studio so was going through them for inspiration. This piece

Mixed Media on paper: acrylic, oil, paint bar 2002, Liz Zorn

and others were from that time period just after 911. Until last year I had not even considered working on paper so it had been about 11-12 years. This is somewhat significant because I did a lot of work on paper in the past, probably more than the work I did on canvas, and now I am feeling like YES, lets do more stuff like this and carry it over to the canvas. Be more intuitive and spontaneous and less premeditated and strategic. Not that I am going to stop working on the scratch paintings, just broaden my scope to include more things and see where it all leads. 

Changing With The Season

I am still in season flux as we have some warm days like today and cooler ones scattered about. The humidity is lower making things much more bearable in the studio. Windows opened and a fan are all I need at the moment. I am settled in to create several new paintings, some with horizon/dividing lines and some not. I am back in my blue mood this week with everything having some aspect or shade of blue in the composition. Not sure what it is but every time I get out of the blue mood something pulls at me to go back in.. Guess there is unfinished business, and that's ok. I will just ride it out.

This is one of the pieces I am working on. Not as many layers, maybe nine or ten. Using more gesso in the build up layers though. This is just a section of the painting, 36x24. The yellow is the bottom. and I am almost finished with this part. Am also leaning towards a cleaner line. Making it less about landscape and more about color.  It is called Flying Without A Net. My homage to being a free spirit in a world of crazy.

This piece is a 36x24 acrylic on canvas. titled Flying without a net.

All summer I have been working to build a cohesive body of work. Not so much a series but at least thirty or so similar works. As I look around my studio these days I am seeing this start to develop; and not because I have been devoted to the idea. I think it has just been a long settling in period for me. People ask me all the time about the work and I generally have the walls hung with earlier work on one end and newer work on the other. It's much easier to see the progression this way. For my visitors and for myself.

In other news it was a great summer for sales. From my first Art Walk in the new space in June to the open house last Friday where I sold three paintings.  I have also had some success with online sales over the summer.  With all of the sales being new and newer works, I am feeling good about the future, and moving on from other less rewarding things.

The October art walk at the art center falls on Halloween this year and I m undecided as to my plans. Nothing is set yet, but I may be taking the night off to do something else. Will keep you posted.

Process In Pictures

How do you do that. Is the question people most ask about this technique of working with a textured surface. How is it created, how do you paint on it, how do you get it so smooth, etc.. Lots of questions in this vein last Friday night at the Open Studio. I also have several of my older works on display so the contrast from those works and the new style were evident. Particularly where color is concerned. 

Here is a progression of a piece that I started yesterday. You can see that things move along quickly. The initial layer is the one with the texture. After it dries overnight I sand down the rough spots before applying additional layers of paint. With this piece I am using earth tones. Two different shades of Ochre, a Buff Titanium, Ivory Black, Burnt Umber. Yellow Oxide and Titanium White. The colors in the texture base are Raw and Burnt Umber and Burnt Sienna and Black.

Process #1 - sanding the base layer before applying more paint.

process #2 adding more layers of paint to the canvas

process #3 - adding more layers of paint and beginning to scrape through to reveal some of the deeper layers.

process #4 detail of the scraping process of  the 'SKIN"  

I missed a couple of the layering stages in the photos, but you get the idea. Now that I am about seven or so layers into the piece I am beginning to scrape through the layers to reveal the initial composition that I laid in with black and ochre paint, as well as cutting into some of the texture layer. The grid element has been part of my work for as long as I can remember and still have no idea why it appeals to me. It just does and I am ok with that being enough. Do not like to over think it.. 

This canvas is 24x18 so not very big at all. Easy to work on a flat surface. People say they see industrial decay in these works as well as ships on the ocean. I do not generally have anything like this in mind, but can see that some of the work does contain structural elements of those things. I am mostly working intuitively and in the moment, so I try not to make it about any particular thing. It isn't until I am well into the work or even finished before I title or not title the piece. Sometimes as with the Vignette paintings of landscapes I just title it with the date finished such as Vignette 4-20. with the new series being called "SKINS" perhaps there will be a lot of Skins: 8-15, etc... 

FOLLOW UP - the painting is now finished and on the website. Titled: Prussian Blue, 24x18.


I know it's rude to have a party but secretly wish it were all over and you were doing other things, but that is exactly how I have been feeling the past few days. when I finished the last paintings in the studio I knew that I had arrived at the place in my evolution with this new technique where it would be advantageous for me to create a series. Series are a tricky thing. They can be very singular and boring, or they can have a common thread that allows for a full exploration of a theme. I thought long and hard about how to move forward with it and decided that I would pull some of my thoughts about the work forward to a more audible pitch. When I am working on one of these paintings the technique is to apply texture and paint in layers over the entire canvas. Once a certain level is achieved the paint is then scraped into to pull off some of the surface paint to reveal the colors underneath. Like the metaphor of peeling an onion. The series will be called "SKINS" it takes from the actual technique as well as the human skin and the layers of thought and emotion that fill our heads, heats and actions. It will be subtle work, exploring the finer aspects of this technique, taking me back a bit to a time when my work was very minimalist with only texture to convey an idea.

Detail: Change In The Weather

More like this detail from the painting Change In The Weather, but with smaller areas of intense color such as this detail from Timbre.

Detail: Timbre

The plan is to work on both paper and canvas. Starting with smaller pieces and moving to large squares. So as much as I enjoyed our open studio last night I am ready to get to work on my future. After almost two years of part time painting and juggling two businesses I am really happy that I have found my footing. I am not sure it would have all happened if not for moving into my new studio. A place where I can concentrate my full attention to art.

Having said all that I am also not that excited about a complete return to series work and this may also just be my way of defining the technique. Because in reality the word "Skins" is just as much about the technique as it is philosophy. Maybe even more so. This is good because it can follow the whole line of progression and not just these beginnings. However it turns out, I know I am very happy with the way it has all evolved.