Thursday, November 3, 2016

C is for Challenge

Last month I was invited to participate in  The Big 500, Portland's annual sale of art on 8 inch by 8 inch plywood panels. I was honored to be asked, and eager to begin creating the ten pieces I was asked to provide. It seemed easy-peasy - small squares. I thought about flowers, or faces , or ...

The show, a fundraising event benefiting the Oregon Food Bank, started 7 years ago with 100 artists. Now more than 500 artists make 10 works each, for more than 5000 works of art. All art is sold for $40 a panel. The food collected at the food drive at the opening and a portion of proceeds of art sales from this show provide several shelters with food for a few months over the year. Sales are cash (or credit, debit card) and carry - take the pieces you like as you go then bring them to the checkout.

Admission: free entry with canned food donation

Sounds great, right? And the show is. But for me, working on the  small, square plywood panels has presented a tremendous challenge. After asking for suggestions, I gessoed the boards and the edges, and began experimenting with acrylics. The paint looked terrible, chalky and flat. The images (my images) didn't seem to fit the space, and my fear of failure began to rise. I tried different media, collaging paper images onto the boards, combining paper with paint, painting directly - nothing was working. The one thing that seemed clear was that whatever I did needed to be bright and bold enough to stand out among the 5000 other pieces that will line the gallery walls.

Finally, last week, I decided to lay 9 boards out in a 3 by 3 square and paint a background pattern across all of them at once. I also promised myself that no matter what - I would follow through with this approach. The paint still looks awful, so I began to play with one of my new favorite tools, acrylic paint pens, working over the underpainting and simply playing with the lines and shapes. I have decided that each piece will  be a variation on the same theme and use the same colors.

This is one of the (almost finished) pieces. I have completed 5 so far. They are bright and bold, and I am no longer sick to my stomach whenever I think about them ... so, I guess this is progress.

The Details: The show is December 10th- Saturday. 2pm-9pm. The show reception will be at Ford Building (2505 SE 11th) this year, as part of Ford Gallery (hosted by building curator Ross Blanchard). The show runs through December 23.