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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

 

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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

Getting Ready for Open Studios

Hi there. After a blogging-free summer, I’m back. This week I wandered around my art studio building to see what some of the other artists were up to. I figured that, like me, most would be preparing for the South End Open Studios, an annual weekend-long event that starts tomorrow in our neighborhood. Here’s what I found here at 450 Harrison Avenue in Boston.

Steve Silver in Studio 211 was donning his purple painting gloves to work on his newest piece. Steve is an abstract painter whose love of nature & landscape influences his work. Steve Silver Studio 211Steve Silver Studio 211 2

 

Painter Anne Harney had just carried a heavy ladder down the hall to Studio 228. She had moved into this space in the summer, and was about to hang her painted canvases. Anne Harney Studio 228Anne Harney Studio 228 2

 

Weaver Mary Mandarino was perfecting displays of her beautifully colored, super-soft looking woven wraparound shawls in Studio 306.Mary Mandarino Studio 306Mary Mandarino Studio 306 2

 

Photographer Sharon Schindler was hanging a camera-shaped neon light on her wall in Studio 412B, where she showcases her vibrant Boston images printed on wood and stone.Sharon Schindler Studio 412BSharon Schindler Studio 412B 2

 

Photographer Mark Peterson was trimming new studio signage in Studio 229, where he’s showing his series of images taken in Arizona, New Mexico, and the Texas panhandle.Mark Peterson 229Mark Peterson Studio 229 2

 

Sandy Belock-Phippen put finishing touch-ups on one of her landscape paintings in Studio 412A, while her husband measured the wall for an art hanging system.S Belock Phippen 412AS belock Phiipen 412A 2

 

Charyl Weissbach was working on some smaller blocks of art when I visited her in her well-organized space. Charyl’s ethereal, abstracted encaustic paintings are in Studio 413.Charyl Weissbach studio 413Charyl Weissbach Studio 413 2

 

Marcia Crumley was moving into Studio 225 from a studio on another floor, and she had a lot to do over the next few days! Marcia paints colorful, textured landscapes.Marcia Crumley 225Marcia Crumley Studio 225 2

 

Jewelry designer Deborah Macfail was setting up displays of some gorgeous, well-constructed pieces in Studio 306. She shares the space with weaver Mary Mandarino. Deborah Macfail Studio 306Deborah Macfail Studio 306 2

 

Modern abstract painter Heather Buechler was adding a layer of varnish to a vivid blue-toned painting. I thought her glossy floor-to-ceiling wall of paintings was breathtaking.Heather Buechler Studio 407 2Heather Buechler Studio 407

 

Patricia Busso had just returned to Boston from her current life in Italy, to be here for the South End Open Studios. She’ll show her landscape and still life paintings in Studio 325.Patricia Busson Studio 325 2Patricia Busso 325

 

Yours truly, bleary-eyed and ready to plotz in Studio 203 after taking inventory, having prints made, rearranging, making labels, and just generally checking off things my list.Paula Ogier in studioPaula Ogier Studio 203

 

In between the studios: I never tire of photographing the stairwells in this old warehouse building. Same with the odd little corners and their window views.

Stairwell at 450Hallway window view at 450

Thanks for exploring the 450 Harrison Avenue artist studio building with me. If you’re in Boston this weekend, put the South End Open Studios on your calendar! It goes from 11 am-6 pm both Saturday and Sunday, September 16 & 17. There are more than 80 artists in this building alone, and more than 200 in the neighborhood.

For 31 years now, the South End Open Studios has given visitors a chance to discover the creative environments of one of Boston’s most exciting community of working artists.

Here is more detailed info about the event.

I hope to see you this weekend,

Paula

Paula Ogier Artworks

 

Feeling the Green

Paula Ogier art studio Boston

While the rain’s been working overtime in Boston making the outdoor world green, I’ve been surrounding myself with indoor greenery. A corner of my art studio has become a leafy haven over the past month.

In addition to these indoor plants, I’m harboring some little cilantro and rosemary plants in the studio until the weather warms up. Not only has the spring season been soggy, but it’s also been one of the consistently coldest ones I can recall.

Paula Ogier art studio

My neighbor Kelly and I picked up these little lettuce and basil plants at the farmers’ market several days ago. They’re for the garden plot we share, but so far it’s been too rainy to get them planted in the ground. Tomorrow’s forecast looks cheerier and drier, so I may get my chance!

garden plants

I’m so looking forward to just picked herbs and arugula from the garden. Lately Joe and I have been making a salad dressing from fresh basil, fresh cilantro, chives, jalapeño pepper, cumin, lime juice, and avocado oil mixed together with an immersion blender. It’s delicious on salads, but also good for sautéing salmon in or poured over smashed potatoes. I look forward to making it with basil, cilantro, and chives freshly picked!

Cheers,

Paula

Paula Ogier Artworks

 

 

Two Artists, One Grand Space

Dimensions: Space & Line art show Boston

An artist friend had a reception last week for an exhibit of her paintings at the St. Botolph Club in Boston. When I attended the reception, I was blown away by how great her paintings looked in this elegant space. I love her deep dark abstract paintings to begin with, but the building’s interior and her paintings looked to me like they were made for each other.

This show, called Dimensions: Space & Line, pairs two artists whose works enjoy easy conversation with one another: painter Elena du Plessis and sculptor Kim Radochia.

The St. Botolph Club occupies a double-wide Victorian brownstone on Commonwealth Avenue in Back Bay. The interior’s lovely period details look meticulously maintained and cared for. I had never set foot in the club before, so it was a treat to experience this grand space for the first time. Its beautiful wide staircase makes a dramatic setting for the artworks of these two talented artists.

Dimensions: Space & Line art show Boston

Elena du Plessis’s painted works are expressionist, drawing from her own experience and memory. She is often inspired by objects such as nests, seed pods, or flowers, many times at the end of their life cycles.

St. Botolph's Club Boston

Kim Radochia’s sculptural work often recalls water currents and lines, murmurations (patterns of flocking birds), and geological formations. Her works range from large site-specific outdoor pieces to small intimate assemblages and room-sized installations.

St. Botolph's Club art show Boston

Kim Radochia. Her wire “Waiting” sculpture is suspended above the staircase, and her “Murmurations” paper sculpture is on the wall between Kim and the wire sculpture.

The paintings begin on the wall at the base of the staircase. They travel up through the second and third floors, along the staircase walls as well as on the walls of the second and third floor. Many of Kim Radochia’s sculptures are suspended in the air between floors.

St. Botolph's Club art show Boston

The artworks and interior complement each other so well that the journey up the staircase feels a bit magical.

St. Botolph's Club art show Boston

Elena du Plessis’ “Sunflower” (2017, charcoal ink on paper, 45″x36″)

I’ve lived in Boston for 24 years and never had any reason to venture inside the St. Botolph Club, so I’d probably never have known about this exhibit if I hadn’t known the artists. This show will be up through May 19, and is open to the public Wednesdays from 2-4 pm. Go see this perfect combination of artworks and interior space!

St. Botolph's Club art show Boston

Kim Radochia (left) and Elena du Plessis (center) respond to questions and comments from reception attendees.  They are joined by the show’s curators, Michael Price (second from left) and Barbara Glee Lucas (far right).

By the way, Elena and Kim are both members of the SoWa Artists Guild and have studios in 450 Harrison Avenue (the same building as mine). One of them is next door to me and one is across the hall! You can visit their studios on the First Friday of each month from 5-9 pm.

Cheers,

Paula

Paula Ogier Artworks

Cats in Space

Star Trek Cats by Jenny Parks

It’s endearing enough to me that someone wondered what the original Star Trek cast would look like if they were cats. But then that someone actually took the time to imagine and paint those feline avatars and put them into real Star Trek scenes. And they’re good — they’re really good!

That someone is scientific illustrator Jenny Parks. I don’t know her, I’m pretty sure I like her. I recently crossed paths with her “Star Trek Cats” book in a museum bookstore. I was in awe of the illustrations and delighted by the book. I bought it for my boyfriend, who was just as amused as I was by it.

Star Trek Cats by Jenny Parks

Star Trek Cats by Jenny Parks

Star Trek Cats by Jenny Parks

Lots of “wow”s and laughs later, I still love looking at the book. Page after page, it’s a joy. The scenes are from the original Star Trek series that featured William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, DeForest Kelly, and James Doohan. I think this would be a really sweet gift for any cat-loving original Star Trek fan.

Star Trek Cats by Jenny Parks

Jenny Parks, you have boldly gone where no illustrator has gone before. Thank you! I’m still laughing.

Cheers,

Paula

Paula Ogier Artworks

 

 

SoWa Artists on WERS Radio Boston

450 Harrison Avenue artist studios

WERS radio’s Jolin Cheng made a surprise visit to our artist studio building recently. It was Salon Sunday, an annual event when many of the artists open their doors to the public. She talked with some of the artists in the SoWa Artists Guild, and WERS aired the piece Sunday morning.

When Jolin introduced herself and asked if she could interview me, I said sure. She pulled out her recorder. “Right now, right here?” I asked. She smiled and nodded.

In a moment of what-the-heckness, I agreed. When I later learned she’d talked with half a dozen of us, gathering selected comments from each, I was relieved.

One of the artists she interviewed made the point that open studios are a place for people to not only see and connect with artwork they like, but to connect with the person behind the work. Yes! Here’s the clip: Listen.

As the narrator says in the intro — To artists, art is language. If you’re in Boston, First Friday happens this week. I invite you to come by and experience this language for yourself.

Cheers,

Paula

Paula Ogier Artworks