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Canadian Wildlife smallfile

“Canadian Wildlife,” digital painting, Copyright © 2018 Paula Ogier

A couple of summers ago, we visited Quebec City and stayed at L’Hotel Port-Royal in the lower town. I found the view of the street corner in front of the hotel endearing, especially a brick building with a curious mural that had been painted on the side of it. The mural said “Cigarettes Sweet,” or perhaps it meant “Sweet Cigarettes” (as it was probably an ad, the text may have been purposely reordered for effect).

I tinkered with painting one of my photos of this corner for well over a year. It took a while for the image to unfold, both in my mind and on my drawing monitor, partly because I kept putting it away for periods of time and working on other things. When it finally started taking shape, I just wanted to have fun with it and that’s how “Canadian Wildlife” came to be.

I had the first two prints made of it not long ago. They are 16″x20″ giclee prints, printed with archival inks on archival paper. They were printed by local photographer Mark Peterson. It’s hard to believe, but Mark’s been printing my work for at least 9 years now! (Maybe longer…I may be losing track at this point.)

Thanks for reading!

Paula

Paula Ogier Artworks

 

 

 

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Texturing the Landscape

giclee prints digital art

Mist on Birch Hill, 20″x20″ giclée print, mixed media (inked carved impressions, digital paint) Copyright © 2018 Paula Ogier

Mist on Birch Hill (above) has a back layer of purple patterns from a small strip of rubber I carved and then used as a stamp.

patterned stamp

After coating the carved rubber with dark purple ink, I pressed it over and over again onto white paper, forming a loose pattern.

stamp and impressions

After making a pattern a little more than a foot wide, I photographed the design. I transferred this to the birch trees painting as the bottom layer and enlarged it. I created duplicate layers of it to piece together a larger pattern. In some sections duplicate layers were also used to intensify or thicken the pattern and in other areas to create an offset effect. The pink paint was applied in varying degrees of translucency to allow the pattern to show through.

Detail from Mist on Birch Hill, 20"x20" giclée print, mixed media (inked carved impressions, digital paint) Copyright © 2018 Paula Ogier

A close-up detail from Mist on Birch Hill, Paula Ogier

Mist on Birch Hill is the most recent image I’ve made. On first glance the finished print looks to be just two colors (unusual for me!), pink and white. It actually has back layers of deep purple and peach, as well as top layers of pale blue on the shaded side of the trees.

I was quite happy with how the final prints came out. It’s a forest made for a daydreaming stroll.

Thanks for reading!

Paula

Paula Ogier Artworks

A Moonlit Gift

Union Park Boston artwork

“Moon Over Union Park,” Paula Ogier, 16″ x 28″, mixed media (photography, digital paint)

This winter a South End Boston resident named Marisa got in touch with me. Marisa and her husband live near beautiful and stately Union Park. Her husband had commented many times to her how much he loves Union Park, especially walking their dog there in the evenings. But come summer they would be moving to the ‘burbs, and she thought that an artwork featuring Union Park would be the perfect memory to take with them.

I have to agree it’s a pretty charming street, with its mid-1800s Victorian rowhouses, front stoops with wrought iron rails, old-fashioned lamp posts, curved wrought iron park fence, mature trees, and elegant fountains. We talked about aspects of the street that might be included. She liked the idea of including things like a Union Park street sign, local shops or restaurants, street lamps, and of course the brownstone homes. It was important that it was obvious it was Union Park, however, and not just any brownstone-lined street in the South End.

I asked Marisa to look at my cityscapes to give me an idea of the styles and color palettes that appealed to her. She liked the photographs that were painted with some translucency, so that some of the photo was still visible.

My partner Joe drove me to nearby Union Park to take photos. It’s a short walk from where I live and work, but due to my knee injury I was (and still am) walking slowly and with a crutch. It was a chilly February day, with scattered big clumps of hard snow left over from the last storm, making it challenging for me to navigate the street and sidewalks safely. The random clumps of snow also made the photos far from ideal for this purpose. We decided to come back again later in the week when the snow would be melted.

While photographing the street it became apparent that capturing every aspect of it wasn’t going to be possible, and that the scale of it was going to be difficult to capture within the print dimensions we had discussed. After showing Marisa some photos, we agreed to widen the dimensions of the print to capture the full end curve of the wrought iron fence that surrounds the park. There was no street sign to be seen here, but the Union Park plaque is right in the foreground on the fence.

Adding a full moon served two purposes. For one, it enabled it to be a night scene without being too dark. It also gave a light source to the rowhouses on the left side, which were, in the original daytime photograph, brightly illuminated by a setting sun. With a night sky and an appropriately placed moon, that effect could still make sense.

As I painted the photo, it began to dawn on me what an ambitious project it was — the expanded size, for one thing, but also the myriad details. There were what seemed like endless tiny tree branches to be painted and wrought iron fence spires to be painted around, not to mention the windows, doors, and chimneys of the rowhouses (which become increasingly smaller moving down the street).

When I met with my printer Mark Peterson to print the image, I was excited to finally see it on paper. After it emerged from the printer and we laid it on the table, it seemed to me darker and duller than I intended. The forefront’s curved red brick sidewalk in particular didn’t have that deep red clay color I’d envisioned. The midnight blue of the sky seemed too dark and muddy. By now I should know that a digitally painted image on a computer screen doesn’t look exactly the same on paper. The screen illuminates it, while in a sense the paper absorbs it. The more we compared it to the screen, we came to the conclusion that the colors themselves did in fact match the colors on the screen. I had misjudged how it would look on paper. Mark asked if we should try to lighten it up digitally, and print it again. Feeling uncertain at the time, I declined, but I woke up in the middle of the night and thought, “We have to print it again.”

So Mark and I met again. He had the idea to add an adjustment layer to it, and doing that gave it just the right color tone and extra lightness. He tried adding an additional adjustment layer, but that was too much brightness, so we went with just the one. (I actually don’t know exactly what an adjustment layer means, but it worked.) We picked a horizontal slice of the image to print as a proof first:

Union Park Boston artwork

Horizontal proof section of “Moon Over Union Park”

Satisfied with the tone, we printed it. I was so glad we did, as the second printing was what I’d envisioned.

When I’m finally able to walk without a crutch again, I know I’ll be delighted to be out and about in the neighborhood once more. I imagine that Union Park will always look a little more magical to me now.

Thanks for reading!

Paula

Paula Ogier Artworks
 

 

The Old State House

When I was approached last year about doing a commission for Boston Children’s Hospital that would be colorful and fun, feature Boston buildings, and include animals, I thought: Yup, that’s definitely in my wheelhouse.

The Old State House Boston  The Old State House Boston

Above: “The Old State House” (60″ x 30″ 2 piece painting)

The hospital was renovating its imaging floor and looking to bring in art referencing sites along the Freedom Trail. As such, each corridor would be named for a street with a Freedom Trail connection. My street assignment was State Street, and more specifically, the Old State House.

I remember how appealing the look of the Old State House was to me when I first came to Boston 25 years ago. I especially liked the lion and unicorn statues on the upper front corners of the building, so unlike any buildings I’d known in my life in Miami. As I considered this project, I thought it’d be fun to play off the idea of tourists seeing those statues for the first time. But the tourists would be lions and unicorns, rather than humans, and pleased to see their own kind monumentalized.

The Old State House Boston

“The Old State House” (left side of diptych), Copyright © 2017 Paula Ogier

That’s not to say the lions and unicorns in the artwork weren’t humanized — they were.  They were given human forms to a large degree, as well as clothing. I wanted to create a correlating equivalent to tourists one might see walking around Boston taking in the historical sights, so the scene would feel simultaneously normal and surprising.

The Old State House Boston

“The Old State House” (right side of diptych), Copyright © 2017 Paula Ogier

The project began with an afternoon walk from my South End studio down through Downtown Crossing to the Old State House, where I took hundreds of photos of the building from different angles. What I most wanted to get was a straight ahead view, and that was pretty tough due to the configuration of the street in front of it. The best head-on view could really only be obtained while standing in the middle of the street, which I did, very carefully.

Dividing the artwork into two separate paintings, I began with the building itself. The building alone took me about two weeks to paint, mainly because of all the brickwork and mortar. My plan was to have a gathering of lions along the sidewalk nearest the lion statue, and unicorns gathered on the side with the unicorn. Then I added in one unicorn on the lion side, and one lion on the unicorn side for a little balance. To figure out how the pointing poses should look, I had a few friends pose for photos while they pointed up toward the sky.

The surrounding buildings were purposely painted more loosely, highlighting the architectural detail of the Old State House as well as how deceptively tiny it can feel in their looming presence.

This diptych was to be printed on plexiglas and wall mounted. I have to admit I was a little skeptical about the plexiglas, but when I saw it installed at the hospital I appreciated how luminous and sleek it appeared.

Note: I’ve set the two images at the beginning of this post to show side by side, so that you can see the entire diptych image. If you’re looking at it on a mobile device, however, you won’t see them side by side.

If you’d like to know more about the Old State House, here are a few resources:

A 2014 Boston.com story about the refurbishment of the lion and unicorn statues.

The Bostonian Society’s History of the Old State House.

Thanks for reading.

Paula

Paula Ogier Artworks

Painting Special Places

South End Boston

First Date (Franklin Cafe), 18″ x 24″ giclée print, mixed media (photography, digital paint). Copyright © 2017 Paula Ogier

In November, a lovely woman named Maryanne contacted me requesting an artwork based on her very first date with her husband. The auspicious event had taken place in Boston’s South End at the Franklin Cafe on Shawmut Avenue. Several years and two children later, Maryanne wanted to give an artwork featuring the cafe as a gift to her husband.

I loved the idea! The plan was that I would paint a photograph of the Franklin Cafe. She told me which of my city scenes she liked best, and the colors that appealed to her, so I was able to get a sense of what she would like. I went to the Franklin Cafe on several occasions to take photographs, as there were usually parked cars or sidewalk garbage cans interfering with the view. In the end, I opted for a close-up angled shot taken right from the sidewalk, as I felt it was important to show the distinctive martini glass sign.

Maryanne wanted to give the art to her husband as a Christmas gift. When I fell on ice in December and my knee broke, I wondered how in the world I was going to finish the piece in time for Christmas. I had to have surgery to piece my kneecap back together, and I was reliant on my partner Joe for almost everything. The first week home from the hospital, I couldn’t get into or out of bed on my own. But it was important to me that I finish it, so I had to find a way.

Luckily, a few years ago I invested in an additional smaller version of the Cintiq drawing display (13″) to use at home. I remember thinking it would come in handy during snowstorms if I couldn’t get to my studio. Because it is so small, I find it difficult to work on and not exactly time-efficient, but I was able to prop it up on my good leg in bed and slowly (okay, painstakingly!) finish the piece. An added plus was that working with the warm glowing romantic reds, pinks, oranges, and purples actually helped me to feel better during that difficult time. Color therapy!

My trusty printer Mark Peterson had me upload the digital file to him, so that he could print it without my having to be there. My heart ached to not be able to be there for the printing, and to not even see it in print before it went to Maryanne, but Mark and I discussed it enough that I knew it would come out right. Mark was kind enough to serve as the pick-up point for Maryanne, and so she was able to get the artwork in time for Christmas!

I did a painting (below) last fall for a couple who just bought their first home together. I had done a portrait of their cat several years ago, so I made sure to add their kitty boy to the home’s interior. Knowing how excited they were to finally have a home together that belongs to them (and what a darling home it is) made it really fun to create the piece.

Painting of your house

114 Hillcrest (Copyright © 2017 Paula Ogier)

I love this type of project because it’s based on a specific place that is special to someone. For many of us, places can hold great significance and emotion. Creating an artistic image of a meaningful place is such a welcome challenge. In fact, it is the reason I paint so many Boston scenes. In that case, the whole city is my special place!

Thanks so much for reading. If you’re in the Boston area, you might like to know that First Friday is this week, on Feb. 2 from 5-9 at 450 Harrison Avenue. More than 80 artists in my studio building will have their doors open to the public, so come on down, enjoy the art, and meet the artists!

Cheers,
Paula

Paula Ogier Artworks

 

Breaking Formation

Orange cupHi there. I hope you’ve enjoyed the December holidays and look forward to a new year.

In the past 2 weeks, I’ve had what might most positively be described as an unexpected break from routine. It began one evening when I was headed home from my studio, looking forward to a delicious dinner of stew-like chicken soup my partner Joe had made the night before. I had just completed the finishing touches on a Chanukah gift I planned to give a friend at a lunch date the next day. I live about an 8 minute walk from my studio, so as I left the building that crisp evening I knew I’d be home and enjoying dinner in no time.

It was moments later that my feet hit ice, and in a flash I felt my body going down. After hitting the ground, I was stunned and afraid to move. There was nobody around that I could see right away. I remember reaching for my knee, and upon touching it, realizing that something was not right. In fact, it felt like there was a crater there. I’m naturally prone to queasiness, so I tried my hardest to keep my head together and not pass out. I decided not to move. My crossbody purse was still attached to me, and I managed to fish my phone out of it and call Joe. “I fell, and something’s wrong with my bones,” I said as calmly as possible when he answered the phone. He came immediately by car, and after touching my knee, said, “Okay, we’re calling an ambulance.” I tried elevating my mind to another level, to a place disconnected from my body.

The next day I had surgery to repair a broken patella and a ruptured tendon retinaculum. I knew I had no choice but to have the surgery, but I was pretty scared. The surgeon’s optimism about repairing it only calmed me to a point, and afterwards, the pain nearly drove me out of my mind.

A few days later, I was able to leave the hospital and come home. It was a week before I could get in and out of bed by myself, until the glorious moment when my wonderful in-home physical therapist crafted a helpful sling out of my bathrobe belt. That was a tough week. Over time the pain grew less intense, and today, 2 weeks after surgery, I had the 30 staples removed from my knee incision.

Today I became aware of the word “break” floating through my mind. As in: a break in the bone, a break from normalcy, a break in the order of daily priorities, a break in exercise regime, a break in independence, a break in the flow of work and business. I also thought of how the word “break” can have good connotations, as in: break bread, break the silence, break new ground, and “I’m on a break,” or “Let’s break for a while.” I am indeed “on a break,” albeit not of my own choosing. I ponder whether in the midst of this break there are ways to keep my art-making and my business operating right now that I’m not seeing. I’m poking around inside my mind for creative ideas, for ways around my limitations without excessive complication. I want to believe that maybe there are ways, and if there are, that maybe I can recognize and implement them.

I’m slated to be in this straight leg brace 4-6 weeks, followed by physical therapy to work on bending the knee again, with some adjustment in the brace to allow some movement at the knee. I’m told my leg’s eventual prognosis is probably pretty good. I’m happy about that.

I’m using this time to read “Conversations with Tom Petty” by Paul Zollo on my Kindle. It’s been a joy to read, in Tom Petty’s own words, his thoughts and feelings about his creative process. For example, the art of recording songs in contrast to the art of performing songs live. Or the magic (and sometimes the grind) of how lyrics manifest, sometimes alone and sometimes in collaboration. His descriptions of how so many songs and albums came to be is definitely inspiring my own invitation to the muse, whom I’m pretty sure is always somewhere nearby waiting for an open channel.

Right before my fall, I bought some orange coffee cups (pictured above). To me, the color orange is evocative of happiness, sweetness, motivation, and action. It’s such a silly little pleasure, but I savor drinking coffee with a spoonful of honey from one of the beautiful orange cups every morning. I often say that working on my paintings is color therapy for me, and for now these radiant orange cups provide me with a little of that feeling.

So, what I’m apparently not taking a break from is connecting to beauty and inspiration. If anything can help get me through to a better place, that can.

Thanks for reading, and I send you my heartiest “go for it!” for turning your dreams to reality in the new year.

Paula

Paula Ogier Artworks

 

An Airborne Art Adventure

Paula Ogier digital paint

“Afterburner,” 36″ x 22″ (Copyright © 2017 Paula Ogier)

My latest project was creating two artworks for an aerospace consulting firm here in Boston. Fairmont Consulting Group had just moved into their new downtown office space. Their managing director Jay Wynn told me it was not unusual when visiting offices in his industry to see framed photographs on display. He wanted something more unique than that for their offices, though—he envisioned colorful images with artistic flair.

He’d been to one of my First Friday studio events and saw my painted photographs of city streets and buildings, and that style appealed to him.

He knew of a photograph of an F-35 jet taken at the 2017 Paris Air Show by Roelof-Jan Gort that he really liked, so he contacted him about licensing the photograph for me to paint. The photographer (thank you, Roelof-Jan!) was willing to do that.

I had visited Fairmont’s new offices and saw there was a dominant color scheme already in place. There were accent walls of chocolate brown and other accent walls of an orangish-red (a cross between “brick red” and “tomato soup red”). The carpets were patterned in shades of dark brown and red. There was even a deep red tile wall in the kitchen. All around, the color mood was earthy and deep. That gave a definite structure to the painting process from the beginning. My challenge was to complement, not clash, with the environment!

The first piece I made was “Afterburner,” above, which was vertically-oriented using the entire jet’s image in flight. I opted for a slightly retro and graphic look for the background. It will go on a narrow section of wall that juts out from the main wall.

At our first meeting, we had discussed how to approach the second piece. I suggested zooming in on a section of the aircraft—an interesting angle or intersection. We agreed that not everyone would necessarily know what it was, but it would be recognizable to people in the industry. It was going to be in the same conference room with the vertical piece. Piece #2 had a wider section of wall, so it would be horizontally-oriented.

Paula Ogier digital painting

“Aero,” 30.5″ x 22″ giclée print (Copyright © 2017 Paula Ogier)

For Piece #2 (above), I didn’t want to use all the same colors for the jet as in the first piece. I wanted it to stand on its own as a separate artwork, but for the colors in each artwork to speak to each other. The horizontal lines I used for the sky lent a graphic element, but initially they felt a little too clean and crisp, so over time I worked on softening them.

My printer Mark Peterson ran some proof sections of the prints with me the week before we printed the pieces in their entirety. These were somewhat larger pieces than I usually work with, so that was very helpful in clarifying where color and lines might need adjusting.

This project was a wonderful creative adventure. I was surprised how much fun I had working on it. Except for one humorous illustration I’d painted a few years ago of a cat flying a glider plane, I’d never given much thought to painting aircraft! Just as I appreciate the structure and lines of buildings, I realized while working on these images how much I could appreciate the beauty of machinery.

Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend.

Cheers,

Paula

Paula Ogier Artworks