Thursday, December 29, 2011

Memories of bohemian New York - I

Willard Bond and Jean Steubing Maggrett share memories of bohemian New York • photo © 2011 Karen Lynn Ingalls
Last week, I spent a wonderful afternoon with Jean Steubing Maggrett, whom I've known for something over nine years, and Willard Bond, the father of my friend Gretchen. They met for the first time last week,  but both of them lived and painted in the heady creative days of Greenwich Village and the Lower East Side in the 1940s, 50s, and early 60s, and Gretchen and I got to listen to them share their memories.

From Jean's memories of Hans Hofmann, the Art Club, and the Abstract Expressionists, to Willard's memories of his studio in an old synagogue in the Lower East Side and playing drums with jazz musicians, to what they've done in the interim, it was a warm and lively conversation. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December already?

Black Stallion Winery Barrel Cellar
Where does the time go? I've been busy everywhere but here for the last month and a half... and I'm now fortunate enough to have a working computer again! I'll post again soon.

In the meantime, here's what I'm currently preparing for - a holiday event at Black Stallion Winery just north of Napa on December 10th....

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Napa Valley Open Studios 2011 – II

My thanks to everyone who came by for a visit during this year's Napa Valley Open Studios! You made it a wonderful success.

Standing surrounded by my paintings • photo by LeeAnn Ho
After all our preparations, the two weekends of Napa Valley Open Studios flew by like a whirlwind! My actual studio is waaay out in the country, where not too many folks would be likely to venture, so I was more than pleased when glass artist Ed Breed invited me to join him at his glass studio in St. Helena.

The main "gallery," as I finally got it arranged by the last weekend
Ed worked hard to create a beautiful, as well as workable, space. I was able to set up just outside, in front of his studio, and to show work all along the driveway to it.

The main "gallery," with visitors!
We had somewhere between 100 to 200 visitors a day. Ed gave glassblowing demonstrations throughout each day, except for a bit on the first Sunday, when the temperature neared 100° outside (and reached 115° in his studio).

Looking back from the main "gallery" area, down the driveway

I was too busy talking with people to give a demonstration, but I did bring an easel (on the left of the photo above) with a work in progress, so I could explain my painting process to anyone who had questions about it.

Drawings, and drawings with acrylic wash, at the entrance to our Open Studio
I particularly appreciated a couple of opportunities to slip in and watch Ed's demonstrations (glassblowing is a fascinating process, and he is particularly good at explaining it).

In the front rack, my original pen-and-ink sketches and block prints. To the left,  greeting cards from  my relief-print-and-stencil paintings.
Since it's an open studio, not a regular show, I love getting to bring lots of different kinds of my work to share. This time, I brought pen-and-ink sketches and block prints, as well as cards I'd made (on the second weekend) of relief-print-and-stencil paintings. I brought graphite drawings with acrylic wash, and graphite drawings, of still lifes, too. I know people come expecting very colorful landscapes, but I like to surprise them with some of the rest of what I do.... (This year I left the collage paintings and the costumed model paintings back in my barn studio.)

A table with matted reproductions of my dragonfly paintings, original drawings with acrylic wash, and a portfolio
It's amazing how much there is to share! Figuring out how to fit things into the space is always interesting. I kept refining and changing it a little as I put things out each new day.

The literature table
What makes it all worthwhile is getting to share my work with my guests. Maybe they're friends, or acquaintances, or students, or collectors, or people who've been following my work, or fellow artists. But at least as often they just stopped by because they've seen the signs, or they found me in the catalog for the first time, or they're really here for the glassblowing and to see Ed, and I get to introduce my work to them for the first time. Chatting, sharing the wonder and passion of artmaking, of creativity, of the creative process and all the stuff we make, is the fun of holding an open studio.

Guests looking at my work
And sometimes people come back to follow my progress, each year or every other year, and we can talk about where I'm going with my work (or what is it with all the old work!). I like seeing what people respond to.

A guest looking at some of my matted reproductions (I print them myself)
County Supervisor Diane Dillon even stopped by between meetings, and graciously talked shop with a friend of mine about a local issue in between looking at paintings and watching Ed blow glass.

With County Supervisor Diane Dillon
My special thanks to all the people who took home a piece of my artwork with them, and to the good folks who helped me hang paintings on the last Sunday (after the rain finally stopped fifteen minutes before we were supposed to open). I appreciate you!

Holding "Hillside Vineyard (Tilted Heart)," my catalog image for this year's open studio  •  photo by Gunter

Monday, September 12, 2011

Napa Valley Open Studios 2011

Napa Valley Open Studios 2011 catalog cover  •  fluted glass bowl  by Ed Breed
It's that time! I've been counting down for months now, but it's hard to believe that Napa Valley Open Studios begins this Saturday.

Map to Studio # 9, 1734 Scott Street, St. Helena

You can find me in St. Helena this year, at Ed Breed's glass studio, at 1734 Scott Street. Ed is this year's catalog cover artist, and he'll be giving glassblowing demonstrations during the weekend, too. (You know, last year I shared space with Yvonne Henry, last year's catalog cover artist – lucky me!)

Ed is also creating a mini-pumpkin patch, made with his glass pumpkins. And I'm bringing sketches and block prints in addition to painting. I considered giving relief printing demonstrations, but I don't think I'll have time! I will, though, have a painting in process, and I'll be glad to explain how my painting process works. We'll be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, Saturday and Sunday, September 17 - 18 and 24 - 25. Will we see you there? I hope so!

Knights Valley View

Knights Valley View II  •  © 2011 Karen Lynn Ingalls  •  11" x 14"  acrylics on canvas
This view looks across Knights Valley from Spence Lane (one of the most beautiful parts of a beautifully scenic valley). I can't tell you how many photographs I've taken along this road.... This is actually the second painting I've done of this view, though it looks quite different from the first – in different colors, and more layered.

Every painting takes its own time – some come more quickly, and others come as slowly as molasses in wintertime. This one came slowly, like a truculent adolescent with its own ideas. Sometimes painting does seem like child raising. After plenty of tugs-of-war and lots of patience, I think it's finally come of age, and I do like how it's turned out.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"My Calistoga" - completed at last!

My Calistoga  •  © 2011 Karen Lynn Ingalls  •  36" x 36" acrylic and collage on canvas
Sometimes it just takes awhile to figure out what a painting needs. I sit and listen, because at this point in the conversation between me and the painting, it needs to tell me what it really wants. And sometimes the painting is quiet. Sometimes they're quiet for months... or years. Sometimes I just say, "Okay - we're done!" and it becomes a moot point.

At last I figured out what My Calistoga needed – it needed gold. So here it is, photographed on the easel, with its added gold (and a little copper). And now it's ready to go out into the world.

And it did – you can see it at the Calistoga Visitor's Center (the Chamber of Commerce) in Calistoga for the next few weeks. Proceeds from its sale will benefit the Calistoga Art Center.

In case you haven't seen the story of its creation, it began as a demonstration piece at the Napa County Fair this summer. Here is its beginning, in my earlier blog posts about it:  Painting Demos at the Napa County Fair  and "My Calistoga" – continued progress.

Pepper sketches for Napa Valley Open Studios

Bell pepper  •  © 2011 Karen Lynn Ingalls

So, of course, I've got sketches of peppers, too. Here are some sketches of bell peppers I'm pulling out of the sketchbooks for Open Studios.... (By the way, the copyright sign, year, and my name I've added digitally to the images for the web – my signature and the title at the bottom of the page are actually on the drawing.)

Bell pepper  •  © 2011 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Aren't peppers lovely?

Bell pepper  •  © 2011 Karen Lynn Ingalls

They're deceptively simple, but if you look closely you'll see within each pepper are curves and planes, concavities and shallows, in a compact architecture.

Bell pepper  •  © 2011 Karen Lynn Ingalls

The next time you hold a bell pepper in your hand, I hope you'll pause just a moment to appreciate the beauty of its form.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pear sketches for Napa Valley Open Studios

Pear sketch  •  © 2011 Karen Lynn Ingalls
Since I seem to be in a little–original mode with the block prints, I thought I'd get out some of my little sketches for Open Studios, too.

Pear sketch  •  © 2011 Karen Lynn Ingalls

I love to draw pears, apples, and peppers – and to use them for painting demonstrations for my classes, too. I think it's because they're so figurative... they take me right back to my figure drawing roots. If you want to learn how to draw people, start with a pear.

Pear sketch  •  © 2011 Karen Lynn Ingalls

You don't believe me? Look at these little sweeties – they have hips, they have attitude, they have saucy little stems....

Pear sketch  •  © 2011 Karen Lynn Ingalls

These pears came from my friend Heidi's tree. They were little, and sweet. And they had such personality!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Songbird block prints for Napa Valley Open Studios

Songbird block print  •  © 2011 Karen Lynn Ingalls
Since I'm bringing out my dragonfly block prints for Open Studios, I thought I'd bring a few of my songbird prints, too.

Songbird block print  •  © 2011 Karen Lynn Ingalls

These were my first experiments with printing on special patterned papers. Some of these have two or three printings, and I was mixing the ink colors as I printed, so the ink colors were constantly changing.

Songbird block print  •  © 2011 Karen Lynn Ingalls

These papers were slightly textured, a texture that was enhanced by the block printing process – not something you would find when you use mulberry or other more traditional block printing papers. Like the dragonfly block prints, they are 4.5" x 6.5" in size. These are three of seven I'll bring out to share.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Dragonfly block prints for Napa Valley Open Studios

Dragonfly block print  •  ©2011 Karen Lynn Ingalls
Last year I experimented with printing soft blocks on special papers, mixing different colors of inks as I went along. Most of these actually have three layers of color, with two printings, and the third layer of color between the printings an iridescent or metallic color.

Dragonfly block print  •  ©2011 Karen Lynn Ingalls
I thought I'd bring them out for Napa Valley Open Studios. There's quite a variety in the papers, in color and pattern, and each one is completely different from the others, even though I was using the same block.

Dragonfly block print  •  ©2011 Karen Lynn Ingalls
I printed these in one of the printmaking sessions a group of us plan every few months or so, depending on our schedules. The others originally took the Soft Block Printing workshop a few years ago; then we did a two-day workshop last year, with multiple color printing. Since then, we gather for wonderful all-day printing sessions, setting up inking stations, comparing prints, and chatting around another table as we carve our blocks.

Dragonfly block print  •  ©2011 Karen Lynn Ingalls
I'll have twenty-two different dragonfly prints at Open Studios – these are four of them.

From the Soft Block Printing workshop...

Sean Scully from the Weekly Calistogan came by just as Franci was about to ink and pull a print, during last week's Soft Block Printing workshop, and he included this photo in this week's paper.

Franci Claudon is a glass artist who is also a part of Napa Valley Open Studios, and she's now experimenting with how she might incorporate block printing into her glass art. This is new – she doesn't know of any other glass artists who use block printing in their work. I'm looking forward to seeing how this turns out!

And thank you to Sean for the press!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

2011 Soft Block Printing workshop

Dragonfly soft block print • © 2003 Karen Lynn Ingalls

This summer has been a whirl of workshops! Now I'm preparing for this Saturday's workshop on Soft Block Printing - a medium I love. I get so focused on painting that scheduling workshops on it gives me the excuses I need to just carve blocks and print for a while....

If you've never done it, block printing is kind of a next step up from stamping. Any purist would be horrified by that description, mind. Block printing has a long and storied tradition, both in the West and the East, beginning with woodcuts, and moving to linoleum blocks, or linocuts, about a hundred years ago. You can also use it to print on textiles – which is actually how it originated in China, and how it is still used in India.

Iridescence, an acrylic painting created using the same dragonfly soft block • © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

But soft blocks are a much more recent invention. They were actually developed when some enthusiastic rubber stampers began carving their own stamps on erasers. In fact, the blocks I generally use are pink, and are basically made of eraser material. I've used them to print cards and art prints, and I have, over the last eight years, periodically worked on a series of paintings combining acrylic paint and soft block printing (such as the painting above). I really want to combine it with relief printing and stencils, too – something I've just begun to experiment with. They work beautifully when you're mixing your media.

Angel of Peace soft block print, printed as a Christmas card • © 2003 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Soft block printing is similar to, but much easier to work with, than either linocuts or woodcuts, because of the softness of the block and its ease in cutting. In the workshop this Saturday, we'll also be using non-toxic, water-soluble inks. We'll also use safety cutters, which actually allow more flexibility of expression than traditional cutters. I'll teach students how to design and cut the block for printing, and how to ink and print greeting cards and fine art prints.

If you're interested in coming, bring along some images you might like to make prints of – drawings? photographs? We'll be carving 4" x 6" blocks.

Songbird soft block prints, with multiple colors • © 2003 Karen Lynn Ingalls

The workshop runs from 10:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, August 27th, at the Calistoga Art Center, 1435 North Oak Street in Calistoga (at the Napa County Fairgrounds). Bring your lunch! You can register online at the Calistoga Art Center's website, at

You can also see photographs of the process from 2010's two-day printmaking workshop in my August 2010 blog post. It's a wonderful process, and a rewarding medium to work with. (If you learn the process, you'll be welcome to join a group of block printers for future occasional all-day, non-instructional printmaking sessions.) I hope you can join us!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Preparing for Napa Valley Open Studios 2011

The Napa Valley Open Studios 2011 catalog cover, featuring the glasswork of Ed Breed • © 2011 Karen Lynn Ingalls

The summer is flying by, and now I'm in countdown mode for Napa Valley Open Studios, only a little more than four weeks away. There is so much still to do!

This year, I'll be in St. Helena, at Ed Breed's studio on 1734 Scott Street (Studio #9). Ed, a wonderful glassblower and all-around great guy (he is this year's featured catalog cover artist, and was also the volunteer director of Open Studios in 2007) will be doing glass demonstrations each weekend, and I'll be right next to the studio with my paintings.

Hillside Vineyard (Tilted Heart) is my catalog image for Open Studios this year • © 2011 Karen Lynn Ingalls

One of those paintings, my catalog image (above), was also chosen for the online slide show at the Napa Valley Open Studios 2011 website. You can download a catalog from the website, if you like, or find out there where you can get your own catalog. You can also find us on Facebook at - I'm one of the folks working behind the scenes to bring you all the newsy posts. In fact, you can find a wonderful photo essay of Ed's glassblowing process, showing how he creates his wonderful, delicately tendriled glass pumpkins.

I hope you'll come visit me at Ed's studio! Open Studios runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the last two weekends of September, September 17–18 and 24–25.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The garden at French Laundry

Easels in the garden at French Laundry

Last week I had the privilege of teaching an afternoon art workshop in the garden of Thomas Keller's French Laundry restaurant in Yountville, California. I'd never been to the garden before – I didn't know it was open to the public.

A view of the garden, looking to the west

It was a beautiful day. The garden sits across the road from the restaurant, with a lovely view toward the western hills.

Empty easels, after the workshop

As the sun leaned further to the west, and the light grew more golden, there seemed to be a bit of magic about this spot of earth. My students had been painting using the shapes and colors of the garden as inspiration, and I wished I had time to sit down and paint something myself.

Artichokes gone to seed, and a view of the greenhouse

I contented myself with taking photographs to paint from later. So it looks as though I'll be doing some garden paintings....

French Laundry in the background

As I was cleaning brushes and packing up after the workshop, cars began to arrive for the dinner hour... a new orange Eclipse convertible, a new white Eclipse convertible, a black limo, a second black limo, another new white convertible. Hmmm. Guess which car belongs to someone who isn't staying for dinner? And who hasn't waited a year for a reservation? Hint: it has easels loaded up in the back....

And, yes, that's a limo driver in the gray suit, under the tree....

Monday, July 18, 2011

"My Calistoga" - continued progress

My Calistoga • © 2011 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Here's My Calistoga in its "final" state (to date). As you could see in the previous post, I had a long way to go with My Calistoga after my demonstration times at the fair ended. Here's the process....

My Calistoga in process • © 2011 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Here, I added a scumbled white frame around the sides of the canvas, between the collaged photographs. I've also developed some parts of the central composition a little further.

My Calistoga in process • © 2011 Karen Lynn Ingalls

You may notice variances of light and warmth in the photographs – not to mention varying bits of easels and background around the edges. The photographs were all taken in changing light, at different times of the day, and in different parts of the art center as I worked on the painting. Here I've continued to develop the central composition, especially the palm trees, the area around them, and their reflections. I've worked a little on the "Calistoga" sign at the top, too.

My Calistoga in process • © 2011 Karen Lynn Ingalls

At this stage, I've begun the process of tinting the collaged photographs. I want them to have a kind of old-timey, tinted photograph look (though they've actually been taken over the course of the last few years). I've developed the reflecting pool area a bit more, too.

My Calistoga in process • © 2011 Karen Lynn Ingalls

The most obvious change is scumbling over the scumbled white, which covered an underpainting of reds. This time I've done it with a mid-value brown, mixed from every color in my palette.

Palm tree detail • © 2011 Karen Lynn Ingalls

I continued to add details to the palm trees, although they're subtle. Throughout the painting, I've used scumbling to give a sense of energy and vibrancy, and a kind of mistiness to the geyser. I love letting colors show from underneath.

Palm trees detail • © 2011 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Although there's some detail to the palm fronds, and the negative spaces between them, I haven't developed them overly much. In this painting, they're not as important as the geyser. The studies I did of fan palms in Palm Springs came in handily as I worked on these....

Collaged photograph details • © 2011 Karen Lynn Ingalls

I continued to work on the little collaged photographs, too. Here are a few of them.... Left to right, downtown facing the Palisades; a sunflower from the Farmer's Market (a prizewinning photo for me); and Tom Atkins' tractor, which pulled last year's Art Center float in the Fourth of July parade.

Collaged photograph details • © 2011 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Here, Eden's bicycle, which she kindly let me photograph at a concert in Calistoga's Pioneer Park a couple of weeks ago....

Collaged photograph details • © 2011 Karen Lynn Ingalls

A wonderful old olive tree across Tubbs Lane and over a bit from Chateau Montelena....

Collaged photograph details • © 2011 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Top to bottom, riders (on beautiful Palominos) in the Calistoga Cinco de Mayo parade a few years ago; the Faunce's barn on Foothill Boulevard; and Calistoga City Hall.

Collaged photograph details • © 2011 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Top to bottom – mustard between the rows of vines; the Calistoga Mineral Water truck sculpture; and Mt. St. Helena rising above mustard and vines (the view next to Faunce's barn).

I'm teaching these collage painting techniques this Saturday at the Calistoga Art Center, too. I'm looking forward to it! You can click here for the workshop information:

I intended the painting to be kind of iconic of Calistoga (represented by the geyser), surrounded with the small images of so many things and places I love around town. Some stand in symbolically for other places, because I just couldn't fit everything in. I still have a little bit yet to do on the painting, but it's mostly finished.