liz zorn art

Terra Animam

This is the time of year that resets my body clock as well as my soul clock and reconnects me to the land. I love autumn I don't love winter. I love the crisp thin air and unfiltered sun, the shadows the angles of amazing light, the colors, the sounds and the smells.

It is a time for soups and sweaters and deep complicated poetry. It is a time for examining subtext and metaphor.

Terra Animam: oil/cold wax on cradled birch wood. 16x16x2

Terra Animam: oil/cold wax on cradled birch wood. 16x16x2

 

I am still working from home mostly to finish some small paintings, and in the middle of it all I am changing up my palette to one that is warmer, earthy and soulful. The switch back to oils has been a bit of an up and down, but now I am in my groove and feel good about moving on to larger pieces. Going back and forth from canvas to wood has also been a yin yang of indecision. I think with the more washed out paintings I like canvas and for the textured pieces with a lot of wax I am leaning towards the wood. We are in the process of building some large cradled panels for the studio in the city and I am about two weeks away from having all of the smaller in progress pieces finished. This will also get me beyond a deadline that I have for the end of October. After that I will have a nice stretch of time to finally move things back from home to the city and take a few days off before starting on the new work.

 

Winters Work

We are in the second week of September and the temps are still in the 90's here in the little river valley. I had hoped to be back in my downtown studio this week and had already moved a lot of things down there, but the weather has me still in my sun room studio at home. As I am nearing some deadlines I had to go ahead and start work on my oil pieces. Oils are such an adjustment from working with acrylics (and vice versa) that I am still wrapping my head around the drying time. I am taking paintings out to my old studio building to dry. I still need to get things moved around so that I can get back into my old building.Never quite got things back to normal after the rain damage and roof repairs. Hopefully next spring we can do that. I will still keep the space in the city because it has such great light and the energy of that old warehouse is not replaceable. I have looked at other spaces in other arts complexes and nothing has appealed to me.

My work will be featured as Artist of The Month at the art center at the end of the month. For as many years as I have had space in the building this is the first time I put my name in for an artist of the month spot. This is also the month of the buildings 25th Anniversary Silent Auction. Lots going on.

 

Affinity I: oil, cold wax, graphite on textured canvas 12x12x3

But back to the oils, I am really excited to be back to this work. I got distracted last year working on the oils and a couple of other opportunities had me staying with acrylics. Now my path has been cleared to work on these most of the time. I first learned to paint with oils and they are really my first love when it comes to materials. I get anxious working with them after being with acrylics for an extended period, but am starting to find my groove. I also wanted to take some of what I had been doing with acrylics and carry that thru into the oils. In particular with the color field paintings and minimal works. Working with oil and cold wax, I build some under layers with acrylic and clear gesso, so getting the best of both worlds.

The Great Divide

I seem to always be at this place. Dividing line or not. A dividing line often implies landscape, even when this is not the intention at all. I think more in terms of planes and fields. The sort of thing one is taught in beginning painting classes. Not necessarily based in representation or abstraction, but rather a gesture, a thought blip. It can be stark like a complete mood change, or subtle as in casually mulling it over. When it is all said and done, I really don't think about it. I can name it for the outside world, but the outside world usually finds the reference point all on it's own. Based on the experience and circumstance of the viewer, it is futile to put so much energy into how one might be perceived in an unknown future.

Having said all of that I find myself working on a project for mid autumn that has me back to my grid mentality and lines, dividing lines and nebulous ramblings. The kind of work that usually plays out better on paper (for me) than canvas. I am taking from my old playbook with the textures and application of paint and graphite (lots of graphite) and a precise color palette for the entire series. With the smaller ones like this one shown (there are nine). Two of them are finished and two more are in progress. Another large piece, a test run for site specific project that I may or may not get the go ahead on is also in the works. With the color palette chosen for me, I was able to work things around so that I could use the same palette for both projects. This is good because it was chosen based on some other completed works. Keeping me (mostly) in my comfort zone.

So two things: a project for a show and a project for a commercial space. Fingers crossed that it all comes out a win win.

According To Plan

When everything is going right and the stars are in alignment, my work looks something like this.

Building a history that start with a layer of modeling paste, colors and textures, usually ending with a thick layer that is left to partially dry, cut into with a razor blade or the sharp edge of a palette knife. This reveals the layers of color, color that creates a contrast,  a push and pull of energy. Although it may seem so, nothing is really planned. The colors are chosen according to my mood and the lines, pencil marks and gestural color a moment by moment act, carried out more in regards to emotion, sound and smell. Each color has a different smell, and those smells can change or become more intense depending on my ability to focus on the moment. To me it is like a vast microbiome of sensual influences. Having an synesthetic ability that runs through my visual art as well as my work in a scent lab, It is a peculiar set of circumstances that inform me in my work. I embrace it, mostly. Sometimes it drives me crazy, because the overlap and overload can be too distracting. This is why when things do turn out somewhat according to plan, I do my little happy dance and continue on, knowing that it is never, and never will be easy.

Open Studio

Every month the Pendleton Art Center in downtown Cincinnati has an open studio event. I have a studio in the building and try to be there each month if I can. Often times I am in the middle of work and just do not want to move things around and clean up the studio so I do not open. It is strictly voluntary on the part of the artists, yet most do open for the monthly event because it is well attended with crowds of up to 800 or so stopping in during the four hour window. There are eight floor of studios in the main warehouse building (where I am) and more in the annex buildings and galleries within the complex that includes buildings across the street and up the alley. They have live outdoor entertainment in the summer months and people will come from the neighborhood to sit and listen to the band. Food vendors are always on site and each artist has their own mini reception and sometimes big events where galleries in the building or complex coordinate with their own openings.

Yesterday was one of those days where I had a lot of things out and works in progress that I did not really want to move, so to take advantage of the open house, I spent some time yesterday changing out the artwork I had on my outside walls. Artists can hang work on the wall space outside their studios, and I am lucky to have a nice wall for display. If someone were to walk by my studio when I am not there they will see the current long wall with seven paintings, two more on the door and three on the area next to the door. A nice selection of my work. I have a rack with business cards next to the door, so with little effort I can be contacted and make arrangements to meet up at the studio.

This usually works out well, most people are good about keeping their appointments. /Some as I found out last week are not reliable at all, so it is a live and learn experience. Still in all it is a great way to have work on display without having to be there all the time. On several occasions works on the outside walls have been sold on days and nights when I was not there.

I do however love the interaction with the public and try to be there when I can. I am working currently on new things for a fall project and am putting a lot of my focus on the coming months and year. I have finally gotten back into a groove with my work and the only thing to do now os move forward.

Thanks to all who support my work, visit the studio and share your enthusiasm for the creative process.

Little Pistol

When I am painting in my small home studio, located in my sun room I am often surrounded by cats. One of the more ubiquitous of the clan is the Little Pistol. She lives in my office chair and never wants to move to let me sit down. She is a Calico and has very much an attitude of defiance. When I was finishing this painting she was there giving me her "I own You" look.

This is how it happens. Painting with the direction of the wind. This way and that, no mind to anything that is planned.

Working smaller makes it easier to get through a painting in a reasonable amount of time. Larger pieces are difficult because they require, either sustaining a mood or feeling, or letting it go and allowing the work to change over and over until something is achieved. Not necessarily an aesthetic but rather a sense of completion that does not have me wanting to add more paint.

Natural Forms

I was happy to be invited to participate in this show. It's a great space and one of the newer Gallery/studio complexes in Cincinnati. Located in the niche' community of O'Bryonville just off Madison Road. If you are in the area please stop in.

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The Fix Is In

TECH TALK - The past few weeks have me back with my mixed palette of inks, acrylics and graphite. It feels good working with these materials and I can go as abstract expressionist or minimal as I like, depending on the way the piece is moving along. I posted a piece the other day on social media, mentioning that the graphite needed to be fixed before the painting could be varnished. Someone sent me a message asking what I mean by "fix" because they had not heard that term before. I guess if one does not work on paper, use charcoals or pastels, maybe this term would never come up. But even for a painter who creates washes on canvas with watercolors or acrylics, a fix can save the layers from being smudged or compromised. A fix is when one uses a fixative to seal a layer so they can keep building more layers. I use (more often than not) a fixative designed for charcoal and pastels. I will spray a very thin layer over the canvas to set the inks and pencil markings on my painting so they do not wash away or smudge when I add more layers.  I use both aerosol and pump versions. I use Spectrafix; This fixative is non toxic and archival.

In this painting (the one that was featured in the social media post mentioned above) I have added graphite in various stages of the color washing. With some of them I want it to fade and smudge a bit, but for others I want it to remain untouched, and this is where I will give it a little spray. When I get to the final layers and when the painting is finished it will get a light overall fix before it is varnished. I usually wait a few more days to varnish it. I use a satin varnish, Liquitex. For smaller paintings I usually apply the varnish with a brush. For large paintings I use a sponge. A satin varnish will pull the colors up and even out the tones across the canvas. It has a more natural look.

playing fast and loose: acrylic and graphite on linen 48x40

THE BIG FIX - I am packing up a lot of my materials to take back to my larger studio in the city. This painting here is the last large piece painted in my home studio. I feel like the winter was a great teacher for me and I am on my way. I am feeling better overall this past week and hopeful that I will have a few good weeks ahead, or at least before another relapse or super hot weather. The heat really takes a toll, so I am hoping to get a lot of work done before I have to deal with that. It's such a game of Russian Roulette, spinning the wheel each night in hopes of having a good wake up and the ability to walk to the bathroom... I am a tough cookie, so whatever comes my way I will deal with it, and hopefully a good liar when it comes to my work, keeping it on the brighter side of reality and not plunging down into despair or ugliness. or at least most of the time.. Some things do need to be expressed and I am cool with that too.

Minimalist At Heart

I have all but one of the ten studies completed and I find that, with them all in the studio next to each other, there is a clear pattern. Some of the elements, I do not care for (at all) and others just confirm what I have always known. I really love layers. Layers of color, organic shapes, subtle shapes, natural tones and values. What I do not like are the heavy handed colors.

I am thinking of this painting Bulldogs Beach, from last summer. All of the unstretched canvases that I have been painting since summer seem to be moving more in this direction and I am happy with that.

Bulldogs Beach: acrylic on stretched canvas. 30x30x1.5 - 2015

I also find that I work completely different when my surface is a stretched canvas or a canvas tacked to the wall, or when I am working with paper. I work differently when something is laying flat on a table, on an easel or hard surface like the hard board that I use for works on paper. I know this, I have always known this, yet it is the kind of thing that never really gets more than a passing thought. Right now I am thinking about it... a lot. My next move will determine the work that I do for the year. Stretched canvas or unstretched canvas. After spending some time at Fridays open studio, painting.. I have decided to take that canvas off the bars and finish it tacked to the wall. This is where I am with the work. I like what happens when I am working on a surface without resistance. Without having to straighten the canvas on the easel or tighten the cloth because I am pushing too hard into the paint. Every time I go back and forth, from easel to wall, the work changes. That was not really a problem for me before, but now it is. I even have a piece of hard board in my home studio to work on now, so everything will be consistent.

I am always talking about change. Now I can change and stay the same all at the same time.