I just finished up a very busy weekend participating in the Arts Council Santa Cruz Open Studio event that happens every October. It was my first year being a part of it and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had participated in the San Francisco’s Open Studios for several years in the past when I lived up there but now I am living in the mountains and it’s pretty difficult to get to where I live and paint.
Anyways I went into this with low expectations and was pleasantly surprised. Over the two days I had over 80 visitors come to my studio space! Everyone was very enthusiastic and had many questions and comments. I felt like I managed to interacted with pretty much everyone who stopped by. I was very tired by the end of Sunday night but it was a good tired and I will be participating in this event again next year.
I sold a total of 13 giclee prints and one original drawing so I managed to cover my participation and advertising costs and then some. It also opened a few more doors for me. I have been asked to be a part of Boulder Creek First Friday Art Walk and will get to show my work at the next month’s event taking place on Friday November 4th. And then a gallery in Santa Cruz, the Artisan Gallery on Pacific Ave has asked to show a few of my pieces in November as well.
I am very thankful to all who made it out to see my work. I am also very grateful for the hard work my husband put in to this event and to my two girls. It was a very long and social weekend for them and they were super stars.
The quarterly magazine, Nature Inspired is a published collection of writing and art that explores our deep connection to nature. I’m excited to announce that five of my pieces will be part of the new Animal Edition coming out in late August. Be sure to order yours!
Chalcosoma atlas 2015
In other news I’ve been busy prepping for my busy autumn. I’m going to be a part of Arts Council Open Studios this coming October. My home studio will be open from 11 am t0 5pm on October 8th and 9th. I’ve been working on getting postcards made, getting an ad in my local paper and the long and painful work of updating my website. (It’s not updated yet but will be soon, I promise!)
Corvus brachyrhynchos 2015
Urocyon cinereoargenteus 2016
I just finished this painting of a grey fox yesterday. It has a bit of a mystic or fantasy feel to it. That’s just the way that this animal spoke to me.
I was actually fortunate to have a close interaction with a grey fox a few months ago. We live in a redwood forest and I was walking early in the morning when I came across one. The fox did not act scared or threatening, it just looked at me and I looked at it. The exchange was probably less than a minute but to me it seemed very long and important. So I came home and started planning out this painting. The red geometric shape behind the fox is based on a memory I have of my great grandmother’s garnet ring.
Here’s a few shots of the work in progress. I made some changes along the way, I first painted the garnet more realistic and blended but I decided that I could still show the essence of the garnet with the simple geometric shapes. This way the jewel wouldn’t compete with the fox but rather compliment it. It also relates better to my previous paintings. I also decided to take the green out because it contrasted too much with the red jewel. The last stage of the painting was making many minor adjustments so that everything seem just right. For example I didn’t like how the garnet seemed to have this perfect red triangle pointing right down to the head. It was too obvious and distracting to me so I brought the values closer together in that area so that it doesn’t stand out so much.
Overall I’m very proud of this painting. I’m not sure how to explain it but I feel that I took it up a notch with this one. I always enjoy the creation of my work and usually I’m satisfied with the results but this one was extra pleasurable to create and it looks so freaking awesome.
So I’ve had a little bit of success in actually being accepted into art shows lately. My odds of getting into a show I’ve applied for has increased, I must be doing something right! The first show coming up is at the AnnMarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center in Dowell Maryland. Two of my beetle pieces will be in their up coming show: Swarm! Invasion of the Insects.
Chalcosoma atlas 2015
Goliathus orientalus 2016
The second exciting news is that a few of my pieces will be a part of the summer edition of the Nature Inspired Anthologies . The edition is not out yet but I’ll be sure to send out blog post when it’s available.
The third (and most exciting) is that I’ve been accepted for a solo exhibit at the McKinley Arts & Culture Center! It’s not until May of 2017 but it’s a 7 week exhibition and it’s a whole gallery of JUST MY WORK. So it’s a good thing it’s a year away, it gives me time to complete a whole bunch of drawings and paintings.
Anyways things are looking up!
Junonia coenia 2016
Tamias striatus 2016
Aphelocoma californica 2016
I’ve been trying out a new medium for me, colored pencil. I haven’t work seriously with colored pencil since probably high school and there was a big learning curve. But it’s working out. I like the soft details I can get and then still use the pen and ink for the geometric stark lines. One of the first things I learned was to never use pencils that have been also used by children, even if they are really high quality pencils. I didn’t want to spend the money on getting a brand new set of pencils for the first drawing in case I didn’t like it, so I used the old set from graduate school that I have loaned out to my children a bunch of times. Well, they drop the pencils all the time and each time they drop it the lead breaks inside the pencil. So I would get about two little marks in and the the lead would snap off. Needless to say I decided to cough up the money for a new set of pencils and was much happier.
Like I said before there’s a very nice softness to colored pencil that is good for doing fur and feathers. I also liked that I could stick with the stark sharpness of drawing and still get color. There’s also good deal of layering different colors on top of one and other to get the perfect shade. It’s a really pleasurable experience, slowly seeking out colors and building them up, until it’s exactly right. I do alot of layering while oil painting as well but since there is drying time between each of the layer the build up is very slow. So the relatively fast turn around in colored pencils is a joy.
Aphelocoma californica 2016
I’ve been starting to apply to some show in the hopes of getting my work out there and every show application always has the requirement of THE ARTIST STATEMENT. Which is something that I and most every artist I know dreads doing. It’s worse than going to the dentist but like going to the dentist is actually very good for me. It requires me to take a step back, do some thinking and then try to figure out what it is I am actually trying to accomplish with my work. But, it’s horrible and painful and makes me feel very uncomfortable.
It’s paradoxical that visual artists have to do this because for the most part, artists are better at expressing themselves visually (obviously ) so this written word thing is tricky. And I also find that most artists have a pretty strong tendencies to be introverts. So the fact that they have to explain what their work means and then know that others will actually read it is terrifying.
Also the whole things feels pseudo intellectual to me, there is a tendency for the statements to have very large adjectives and vaguely worded sentences that sound fancier than they actually are. My husband and I have a running joke that every artist statement that we have every read always have the word Juxtaposition sprinkled throughout. (And I have to admit while I was writing my artist statement I kept wanting to use the word Juxtaposition! It would have been perfect!
So without further ado: My latest version of my Artist Statement. Please note it is a work in progress. My goal was to be short, concise and conversational. Feel free to give some feedback.
Jennifer Wildermuth Reyes
The focal point of each of my pieces is an animal, bird or insect. This creature is set against a complex backdrop of geometric design using intersecting lines and shapes. I create my art using either oil paint on wooden panel or black ink on cotton paper.
The living being that I paint or draw is organic and temporary. Yet it is also connected to the universal patterns that design our reality, arrangements that involve all of space and time. These paintings and drawings are my way of creating sacred temples to these fleeting forms of insect, bird and animal. I’m attempting to pause the flow of time, study the form and function of each beast and then create a lasting and celebrated homage. The geometric designs set behind the animal represent the underlying foundations of the world that is tied to the universe at large and is permanent and all encompassing.
I went to a bunch of different art shows last weekend and I looked at all of these lovely finished pieces on the walls and it got me to thinking. What did these artist’s not so lovely and finish pieces look like? I have oodles of half finished and rejected pieces in my past and while they are frustrating they are also important to the whole art making process. In order to now create what I believe is mostly good art I first had to create a whole lot of bad art. So in celebration of the failure, I present to you just a few of my recent pieces which I consider to be lemons.
This one actually looks much better as a digital picture than the real piece. It turns out that perfect circles are really hard to do, even with a compass and then keeping them perfect while painting them in with oil paint is even harder. So the background of this piece has been way overworked and the paint is all lumpy and uneven. The skunk is cute but a little stiff and it looks like its blowing a big blue bubble out of it’s butt. (Which is funny but not what I was going for.) The good thing about paintings is that you can come back and retouch them so there is a chance this one can be rescued but right now it’s just sitting in my art closet.
Which brings me to the pen and ink drawings which can’t be rescued when things go bad. There is no painting over or erasing.
This one was really coming along great and then the line work in the background got all wonky. I tried to save it by trying to make the extra lines thick to hid my errors but I could tell that that wasn’t the way to go pretty fast. So I gave up. I’m going to try this one again and just be super attentive and alert during the line work. I really think it has the potential to be a beautiful piece.
Circles again! They are challenging. In this one I also decided that monarch would be so much better in color. Some creatures are interesting in black and white and some aren’t. Maybe I can try again in oil paint or colored pencil.
This one I made some mistakes in the line work and the body of the beetle got a little chubby. I also decided that even that I like that particular pattern of lines, it didn’t compliment the beetle the way I wanted it to. So I tried again and voila! I got one right! No errors in the line work, and nice svelte beetle body.
Prosopocoilus giraffa 2016
Anyways there are some of my latest mistakes. I try to be zen about them but it’s hard. When a drawing goes bad I feel like it wasted my time. “I just spent ten hours on this piece and now it’s ruined!” But I have to remember the process of making art is very pleasurable and fulfilling and that pleasure and fulfillment still exists even if the piece doesn’t make it. Even if I knew every piece that I made was doomed to failure I think I would still do it because I enjoy the creation so much.