Portrait Of A Story: The Art Of Frances Power Judd

"Goya's Best Night" by Frances Power Judd

“Goya’s Best Night” by Frances Power Judd

The best artists I know draw me into a story. Even if it’s a conceptual or abstract work, the narrative at work captures my interest. Or not, in which case, the work is uninteresting. Sometimes the story is about the medium or materials; it can even be about the history of the piece itself.

Representational art has not always been in vogue, of course. But as my friend, Fran Judd pointed out, one of the great things about being an artist today is that there is not one prevailing style that is dominating the art scene or the affections of the public. So, while materialism and the minimalism and all of those non-representational “isms” have had their day, we artists are now – finally! – free to express ourselves through any visual style we choose. Even portraits are once again an acceptable expression.

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That is good for Fran, who began painting after leaving corporate life, a mere 6 years ago. “I love painting people!” says Fran, “but I’ve never painted an actual person.” Looking around her lovely studio, I did not see a single painting, with the exception of the new abstract she recently began, that did not include a person. Each painting is unique in emotional and visual tone and coloration; each character tells a tale. Some are humorous, some dream-like, some haunting.

During November and December of last year, Fran had a show of her paintings at Artworks Studios here in Loveland. The show was a collaborative effort with poet Lynn Kincanon, who wrote poetry in response to Fran’s images. The two women also put together a book with the same title as the show, “Evocation.” The book was facilitated and assembled by local photographer Bob Campagna. The show featured dozens of portraits – all from the imagination of the artist, all painted in acrylic glazes on sandpaper.

Image from "Evocation" by Fran Judd

Image from “Evocation” by Fran Judd

I attended the opening of that show, and reflected that some of the figures reminded me of Marc Chagal, some of Emil Nolde. But mostly, I found the images transcendent, drawing me into some narrative unknown, leaving me to imagine what had happened or would happen.

"One" by Frances Power Judd

“One” by Frances Power Judd

As I talked with Fran in her studio, I could hardly imagine her as anything but a painter. Surrounded by paintings, including a floor canvas in front of the sofa, the whole room was warmed by the faces and colors I saw. Indeed, Fran was educated in art history and did not begin painting at all until she was living in Loveland. Yet painting had always been her desire.

Inspired by (no surprise here!) Gauguin, van Gogh and the Fauves, Fran began her painting career in our little town, where artists inspire and cooperate with one another every day. “I love having a studio here at Artworks. Even though it can be distracting, it’s so nice having these other artists dropping in. They are really supportive. It’s sad; several people will be leaving soon.”

The artist's studio

The artist’s studio

Even with so much going on in the arts here in town, it’s still tough to make it all work. Loveland is not yet a hot spot for art buyers, so we artists have to figure out how to support ourselves. So, while Fran is excited about the direction of her new work, she’s not sure what the details of her creative future will be.

“I really like working bigger,” says Fran of the 4″ x 5″ abstract piece she is working on. “I’m not sure it will stay abstract, but that’s what I’m trying now.” She told me of her desire to be more linear, fluid and loose – more fun, “not so serious.” Then, Fran told me how she got the large canvas, and also another one, the same size.

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“Early this year, I was in the hospital for a few days. When I got back to my studio, there were these two big canvases, with bows on them. The other artists here had gotten them for me.” She smiled as she recalled the gift that is now a part of her story, that she will use to create another visual story. And so it goes. Thanks for sharing your story, Fran!

photos of Fran Judd taken by Lee Freeman, Freeman Photography

photos of Fran Judd taken by Lee Freeman, Freeman Photography

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Love + Light: Happy Valentine’s Day From Loveland

With a name like “Loveland,” you have to expect something to happen on Valentine’s Day. Artists are on every corner in this town, it seems, so naturally, we have some creative ways to celebrate this day. This “conceptual & contemporary art and light event” lands Loveland squarely in the 21st century, in my opinion, and that’s a fine thing. While I do have a deep respect for the history of our town as a world-famous sculpture center, it does my heart good to see young and innovative artists coming in and doing cool new stuff!

The first annual Love+Light show was in 2012.

The first annual Love+Light show was in 2012.

When I first came here, though, there didn’t seem to be much going on to celebrate Valentine’s Day except that there were lots of red hearts around town. The hearts were made in the image of candy ones, with cute stencils like “MWF + SF.” Then there was the re-mailing program, by which non-Lovelanders could have their Valentines stamped at our post office, so that their cards would bare our auspicious name. No big dances, parades, or romantic gathering places, really, ever drew my attention.

This lovely piece was made for the "65 Roses" show by Mary Schaefer Benke

This lovely piece was made for the “65 Roses” show by Mary Schaefer Benke

“Love + Light” (Love and Light) is fairly new on the scene. This year is the third such show, and it happens at the same time Loveland is also hosting a snow sculpture show, and a local gallery does a fundraiser for Cystic Fibrosis research, in which artists paint roses. “65 Roses for Cystic Fibrosis,” an art show & auction run by my friend Billie Colson, has been raising money for the past several years. So, as a town, we’ve really stepped up our Valentine’s Day art game!

I wanted to show you some images from the Love + Light show because it really is unique and inspired. The artists in the show this year include my friends, Abbie Powers, G.Mark Lewis, Lynn Kincannon and Olivia Lowe. This year, we also have, all the way from Massachusetts, internationally recognized artist Chris Nelson. Nelson has created a site-specific installation.

This giant, breathing fabric piece was created by Abbie R. Powers.

This giant, breathing fabric piece was created by Abbie R. Powers.

It was my hope to publish this post on Valentine’s Day, but, alas, I spent my evening downtown, viewing and participating in the events. It was not as cold as last year, and the fire dancers and hot drinks, provided by Next Door restaurant, helped us warm up a bit. Of course, seeing lots of local artist and art-appreciating friends, and meeting a few new ones helped a lot, too. The show is open this evening for the final time, 6 – 9 p.m. Come on over!

Olivia Lowe and friends made an environment of words and windows for this year's show. Photo by Alana Brake, Lucky Brake Photography

Olivia Lowe and friends made an environment of words and windows for this year’s show. Photo by Alana Brake, Lucky Brake Photography

New Year, New Paintings

9 degrees Fahrenheit – that’s what my phone is currently showing for my town of Loveland, Colorado! And it’s the middle of the day! (The postman, a true Coloradoan, is walking by in his shorts.) It is January, after all, so I’m not surprised or complaining. Neither am I inspired to go out to the studio to work. However, I have been able to do a few pieces elsewhere.

"Hmmm..." by Mollie Walker Freeman

“Hmmm…” by Mollie Walker Freeman

Scott and I had the privilege of giving a demonstration of our painting techniques a couple of weeks ago at the Loveland Museum Gallery here in town. It was really fun to see so many friends turn out to support us that evening! If you were there, thanks again for coming – it just would not be nearly as fun without you! We brought along our camera, so we would be able to document the event. You’re supposed to do that, you know? Unfortunately, we did not remember to shoot any photos until we got back home.

However, I thought I’d show you the painting I did that night. I have to say that I received several great suggestions during the demonstration.That is partly because many of the folks who were there are sculptors, painters, photographers or other artists. Gary Alsum, thanks for your insights! David Boyd, I added the ring at your suggestion after you left. Hope you like it!

"Living Stones" by Mollie Walker Freeman

“Living Stones” by Mollie Walker Freeman

The second piece I will show you is one I did during a church service at Resurrection Fellowship. I am calling it “Living Stones,” which you may recognize from I Peter 2:5. I wanted to paint this concept, but was not very happy with the result. But, this was a perfect example of God using something less-than-great to do great things. Several people commented afterward that the painting was truly meaningful to them, and they had their own interpretations as to the meaning of the picture. (This is why I do this, folks!)

"Waiting" by Mollie Walker Freeman

“Waiting” by Mollie Walker Freeman

The last painting in today’s post is also from a church service. I’m calling it “Waiting.” I don’t know if you can tell from the photo, but the color came out very nicely in this one. There was also good feedback with this piece.  I always love hearing what others see in the images I make. I really consider myself to be just the deliverer of the art that already exists in the mind of the true Creator. Have you ever read “Walking on Water” by Madeleine L’Engle? There are all sorts of wonderful thoughts about art and artists and God in this book, and the aforementioned idea is one I first heard articulated in this book. Check it out!

Just Add Wax – Encaustic

"Blah" - photograph with encaustic by Kimberly Chiaris

“In The Garden” – photograph with encaustic by Kimberly Chiaris

Molten wax is at the heart of one of my favorite techniques. Kimberly Chiaris, my artist photographer friend, employs this process to create some of the most appealing photographs you’d ever want to see! I met up with Kim recently, and she showed me how she makes encaustic photography.

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I had heard that using encaustic can be really smelly. Kim set me straight on this, explaining that she uses bees wax, and never notices a bad smell. She then showed me the damar varnish crystals, electric skillet, and other tools she uses in the process.  “It’s not considered encaustic until the wax is set by heating it a final time after it’s applied,” Kim said.

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She says that she began using this technique partly because it’s a great way to protect her photos without having to use glass & frames. At the same time, the wax helps to diffuse some of the visual edges, creating a softness which reminded her of “Diana” images. For several years, Kim used the small, plastic Diana cameras to shoot black and white photos. I am the proud owner of several of her earlier Diana images, and I especially love the way subjects appear in varied degrees of focus. Encaustic can echo this effect.

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For her recent series of photos, Kim shot pictures in one of her favorite spaces: her flower garden. Using a tilt shift lens, She took close-up images that she enlarged and cut vertically to create a triptych. After applying the first layers of wax, she added bits of gold leaf.

Kimberly Chiaris with one of her photos

Kimberly Chiaris with one of her photos

Kimberly lives in my hometown of Loveland, Colorado. We met over 30 years ago, at the Kansas City Art Institute, and she has been inspiring me and encouraging my creative endeavors ever since.

A Tale Of Two Christmas Paintings

“How long did that take you to paint?” I am often asked this question. Even a painting done in public, during a specified time period, may take more time than it would seem.  I have watched numerous painters working in public who begin the work in their studios, and merely take the work-in-progress with them to the gig and paint a little while there. Usually, the piece is not yet complete when the event is over, so the painting is then taken back to the studio to finish.

painting at x-mas tea

While I do prepare a canvas or board ahead of time, usually with many layers of textured paint, I always aim to finish each piece during the allotted time, so that the audience has the opportunity to see the finished work. Sometimes, someone wants to purchase the finished product, and this usually works out just fine for me. Occasionally, this is not the result. Sometimes, the painting needs just a bit more time. At times, I step back from the picture I have created and see that standing so close has caused me to make an unpleasant drawing error. And, there are times when it’s worse than that.

A couple of weeks ago, I painted for a local holiday gathering. I began with an image of the 3 wise men, situated in a darkened landscape. The famous star was hanging expectantly in the night sky. It was lovely, just the way it was. But the plan was for me to turn the canvas (making it verticle) and then paint the Madonna and Child. I had a good reference and an hour of painting time, so I was optimistic. An hour is longer than I usually have, and I often have just half that amount, so I wasn’t worried.

Those of you who have performed on stage in any capacity know that things happen, things you do not expect, and “the show must go on!” The ladies were late wandering into the room and seating themselves, so the hostess wanted to delay the start of the program. It would be a shame for anyone to miss anything, right? I still wasn’t worried.

With only 45 minutes left to paint,I began. I had trouble pretty much the entire time. I could not seem to get the colors I wanted. The reference was too small, and the details were hard to interpret. Still, I thought I had done okay, and the painting was sold. Half of the money from the sale went to a charitible cause, so I was happy. Until I saw the photo later that day.

"Star of Bethlehem"- painted during service at Resurrection Fellowship by Mollie Walker Freeman

I realized that the drawing was not awesome; I felt terrible about having sold a piece that should have been better executed. I thought about contacting the new owner to see if I could take the painting back and “fix it up.” Yet, this is one of the reasons I charge much less for a painting I do on stage – I spend much less time on it, and it’s not the same kind of piece on which I spend days or weeks. It left me wondering if I should give up live painting altogether…

Fortunately, the season is busy, and I didn’t have time to ponder this too much. I was “back in the saddle” the next  weekend. I had in mind to paint the night scene with the three kings again, but it just didn’t feel right. When the service began, I still didn’t know what I would do. A woman had talked with me just before the service, and had prayed that God would inspire me.

I began with a sort of glowing, round light, as from a street lamp. I was using a technique in which I use pieces of paper, adhering them to the canvas with paint, creating a nice texture. I began to afix triangular pieces, arranging them around the circle of light. It became a large star, and I liked the end result quite a bit. In fact, my husband also liked it, and it became our Christmas card for this year (sort of). We actually decided to make bookmarks to enclose with our annual holiday letters. We were really running short on time, so this was a way of simplifying. And, we thought some people would appreciate something they could use to mark a book.

x-mas letters & bookmarks

Perhaps, in the near future, no one will send paper anything any more. But as long as paper cards are sent at Christmas time, I suppose we two artists will continue to send them. I’m happy that at least one of my Christmas paintings could bring a little cheer. If you are the owner of the other one, just send me a message if the drawing starts to bother you, and we can work something out. I can’t give you a refund, though. The money is already spent.

It’s Show Time!

Loveland has one of the best small-town museums I’ve ever seen. The fine folks at the museum here manage to get wonderful shows featuring the likes of Salvador Dali and Francisco Goya, as well as some great contemporary artists. Imagine my delight, then, when I was asked to do a show there, along with my artist husband, Scott Freeman.

Luneburg, Germany

Luneburg, Germany

Scott and I have been painting like crazy in preparation for this show, which will be called, “Zeitgeist: Paintings Inspired By Germany.” Our studio is overflowing with canvases and containers of paint. It also smells really good, if you like that sort of smell, which I do! We’ve been cranking up the music and keeping late hours so we can put together something that will reflect the intense excitement and connection we have been enjoying ever since our sweet Klara joined our household for a year.

Mollie painting for the Germany show

Mollie painting for the Germany show

Last summer, we were able to journey to Klara’s hometown and stay with her family for 3 weeks. They and their extended family, friends and neighbors won our hearts!

There will be a couple of portraits of Klara, our German exchange student, in the show. There will also be several paintings of the German landscape, or rather, cityscapes. We saw quite a few cool, historic cathedrals. Our hosts related all sorts of history associated with the various places we visited. “Johann Sebastian Bach used to practice playing here.” “The first church in the area stood here in the 800s A.D.” And so on. Our German friends far surpassed us in their knowledge of history. We Americans can get pretty detached from such things and still graduate high school. It was really inspiring to hear people who loved their history and knew so many interesting stories.

Klara and her mom, Katrin, at the North Sea

Klara and her mom, Katrin, at the North Sea

We also were able to visit numerous art attractions, such as museums, former artist residences, and towns known for their artistic focus. The art we saw naturally caused us to want to create, and we knew we’d be coming up with a whole collection of new work after the trip.

"The Prayer of Zinzendorf" - painting by Mollie Walker Freeman, Ramelsloh Cathedral

“The Prayer of Zinzendorf” – painting by Mollie Walker Freeman, Ramelsloh Cathedral

So, if you’re in our area, please join us for our opening on November 8, from 5 to 8 p.m. We will be giving a short talk at 5:30. Or, stop by the museum any time up until February 23. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, with hours varying from day to day. Loveland Museum Gallery is located at 503 N. Lincoln, right in the heart of downtown Loveland. Check lovelandmuseumgallery.org for details.

Paper, Figures, Light: The Art of Olivia Lowe

Olivia Lowe described to me how she was inspired to turn old photos into lamps, and I wasn’t surprised to find it happened quite by accident. That’s pretty much where the best art ideas originate – from so many happy accidents. It doesn’t hurt to have a teeny-tiny budget and a lot of old “junk” lying around your studio, either.

Olivia's studio wall

Olivia’s studio wall – full of inspiration!

“I was working mostly with paper – collaging old photos and found objects. I happened to hold some photos up in front of a light, and noticed the image on the other side of the paper together with the one on the front, and said to myself, ‘aaahhhh.'”

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That was the beginning of the luminous 3 dimensional collages that became lampshades, nightlights, garden lights, and all sorts of wonderful pieces. I first saw one of Olivia’s lamps at the home of a friend. When my friend told me where Olivia lived, I realized it was a house in my neighborhood that Scott and I had considered purchasing ourselves at one time. When I walked by the house, I discovered that the creativity I saw in the lamp was reflected from every corner of the property that was now occupied by Olivia and her family. Found objects had become part of the fence, gate, and general decor of the yard. The house had an addition to the top – a sort of large dormer – that was encased in corrugated metal. And, there were garden plants and chickens, so I was pretty sure I would like these people!

A display of Olivia Lowe's garden lights

A display of Olivia Lowe’s garden lights

Over the past couple of years, I have seen Olivia’s handiwork popping up all over Loveland. Since she uses a lot of re-purposed materials (indeed, that’s nearly all she uses), I am excited to feature her and her art in this post. A few weeks ago, Olivia was part of the Loveland Maker’s Faire. I was able to watch her in action, showing her work to clients. This week, we were able to sit down over tea and share our love of collecting and re-purposing items such as fabrics, metal, and paper, especially photos.

“I find photos all over – thrift store, old books, the internet. You have to be careful; photos taken before the 1920s are copyright free. And, I’m taking a lot of my own photos now. I like using only part of an image, fitting that with other images and sort of layering.”

Olivia showing her handiwork at the Loveland Maker's Faire

Olivia showing her handiwork at the Loveland Maker’s Faire

Earlier this year, I blogged about the Loveland Garden Tour. Olivia teamed up with local artist Sharon Anhorn, with whom she has worked on several occasions. Her garden lamps, which hold candles, were popular items, and added a lovely touch to the repousse (metal) pieces of Sharon’s. I loved this garden (and the art) so much that I toured it both at the start of my tour and at the end. The delicate-looking garden lamps were delightfully distributed among the walkways and plants.

Olivia's booth

Olivia has also been an integral part of a new Loveland tradition, the Love and Light show that has graced the Feed and Grain building for the past 2 years. Her lamps seem right at home among the exposed brick walls of the old building.

Olivia's work in the first annual Love and Light show

Olivia’s work in the first annual Love and Light show

Loveland is bursting at the seams with artists, and I love it! In the 12 or so years I’ve been here, I’ve constantly been blessed to be immersed in a sea of creativity and talent. But the nicest part of all this is that these are real people, the kind you like to have for neighbors, like Sharon Anhorn and Abbie Powers and Olivia Lowe. Thanks for joining our community, Olivia!

 

Abbie R. Powers, Another Loveland Artist

Abbie R. Powers is a delightful young artist who lives in my town, Loveland, Colorado. I can ride my bike to her studio in about a minute, and have visited her there several times.

Abbie does wonderful things with fiber, installations, and performance. When I visited her recently, she was beginning this project. Since she has already blogged about the project, I’m just going to pass it along to you. Enjoy!

A NEW WEAVING – LARGE SCALE WEAVING MADE FROM BED SHEETS

One year after doing a large scale weaving as a performance art piece on the porch of the Historic Feed and Grain in Loveland, I received a commission for a set of wall hung weavings for a house.

So, here’s a photo of my weaving in progress made from bed sheets. This weaving is 5 feet x 8 feet.

large scale weaving by Abbie R PowersAnd here’s a photo of the original weaving that I did as a performance piece – the piece that started it all! It is 11 feet x 12 feet and is woven from bed sheets and repurposed clothing items.

the lack of comfort [all we need]

the lack of comfort [all we need]

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HotSpot of Creativity (or Just A Dump?)- The Art Studio

Back in 1998, Scott & I were living in a cute 2 story brick house in a not-so-nice neighborhood in the city. We were in the thick of raising small children, and we hadn’t spent much time on our fine art “careers” in years. But then, something amazing and wonderful happened.

The smaller room of our current studio

The smaller room of our current studio

For whatever reason, we both were secretly inspired to pick up our brushes again; and without a word to each other, we began to conceive new pieces of art, new paintings. Well, it wasn’t long before word was out. About the next thing I remember was the 2 of us setting up to paint in our dining room, the smell of paints and turpentine wafting through our domestic spaces as we stepped around easels and such.

With 7 of us using that room for eating, school work (our kids were home schooled at the time), and general family time, there really wasn’t room for art to unfold in an ideal manner. But, we were so excited to just be painting again that we overlooked the inconvenience, for the most part. Still, we were dreaming of a real studio space.

Once an unremarkable color, the studio is now orange, which makes it easier for guests to find.

Once an unremarkable color, the studio is now orange, which makes it easier for guests to find.

We were drawn to our current home for that reason: the studio! It was not a studio when we first saw it, though. It had been a garage which would actually hold 5 vehicles- 3 across the south end, and 2, end-to-end, on the north. Since we also have a 2-car garage, and we positively knew we’d never have 7, we felt free to convert the space to an awesome studio and storage shed.

Did I mention the mess?

Did I mention the mess?

Just walking into this space makes me feel like a real artist. It smells of art supplies. There are canvases and paint and messes everywhere (usually). This is part of its beauty: we don’t have to clean up during a project. And although we’ve used this building for everything from slumber parties to Thanksgiving dinner, it’s usually too full of art stuff to use it for anything else.

My latest worship service painting- this is not a great photo, and it's not typical of my usual "style." Still, I kinda like it.

My latest worship service painting- this is not a great photo, and it’s not typical of my usual “style.” Still, I kinda like it.

Another lovely thing about having this studio is that it’s separate from the house. One of us can go out there, crank the music, and be free. No worries about the smell of the paints, the clutter, the noise, or the crazy dancing that might happen!

I thank God regularly for our art studio. I seriously don’t know what we’d do without it.