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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Day of the Dead Altar IV

The Altar is Almost Complete.

More work on the altar is bringing it close to completion. The cut out shapes of eagles, snakes and lizards have been painted to match those in the painting which is the back drop and focal point of the altar.

Painting the eagle shapes.

An adventure into the desert provided a variety of rocks which now fill the baskets sitting on the altar and symbolize the desert in which these basket weavers lived.

Rock filled baskets.

Additional small canvas board paintings were created and now join the other small cactus paintings on the altar providing symbolism of desert plants.

Altar Cactus
8 x10

Pink Barrels
5 x 7

The altar is almost complete, ready for installation. The various components have been assembled and the altar set up in my studio.  Now it will be deconstructed, boxed, made ready to be moved to the Palm Springs Art Museum.

Photos of Coachella Valley Basket Weavers
Detail of Altar

The Palm Springs Art Museum is hosting a Day of the Dead celebration, Sunday, October 30, 10-5.  This altar, honoring Guadalupe Arenas and other indigenous basket weavers of the Coachella Valley will be on display.  Hope to see you there.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Day of the Dead Altar III

What is Day of the Dead?

Image result for day of the dead

A few nights ago I was asked by a friend, 'what's going on in your studio?"  I launched into an enthusiastic description of the altar I am creating for Day of the Dead at the Palm Springs Art Museum and after quite a monologue she asked another question, " What is Day of the Dead?"

sketch of the altar 

Interesting question, and one I thought I would answer here. Day of the Dead is a multi day, Mexican holiday that focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died.  It is Dia de los Muertos. Among traditions connected with the holiday is the building of private altars honoring the dead, and the Palm Springs Art Museum celebrates the holiday annually with a few altars scattered through out the museum.  I have been asked, by the Artists Council of the museum to construct an altar.  Typically skulls, marigolds, favorite foods and beverages of the deceased are on placed on the altars.  

Image result for day of the dead  A typical altar

If you follow this blog, you know that the altar I am building is not necessarily typical;  no marigolds, no foods. It does, however, have skulls, flowers and decorations that pay homage to Guadalupe Arenas and other native basket weavers who lived mid 1800's to mid 1900's and whose baskets are revered and collected today. The women to whom the altar is dedicated lived in the Coachella Valley, location of Palm Springs.  

Guadalupe Arenas, Snake Weaver
48 x48 original acrylic painting
This painting is the basis, background and inspiration for the altar.

Items on the altar consist of design elements in the painting such as the lizards, eagles and snakes. These are also some of what was used as designs in the baskets created by these women.

Lizards, before they have been painted, crawling up and over the flowers.

Eagles, before they have been painted, flying up the altar and over the baskets.

Snake skins cascading and undulating over the altar.

Small desert plant paintings that will be displayed on the altar to represent the desert environment.

The altar is under construction, and continues to be a creative endeavor for me.  There is more to do to accomplish the completion and install the altar on October 23rd in the Palm Springs Art Museum. There is also a Day of the Dead Celebration in the museum on October 30, 10-4.  Hope to see you there.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Day of the Dead Altar II

This Requires Some Shopping.

Sketch of Proposed Altar

Though I inventory loads of STUFF in my studio, the creation of an altar for Day of the Dead at the Palm Springs Art Museum requires some shopping.  After visualizing and sketching the design it was apparent I needed to make forays into the land of retail. Some of my ideas call for items I just don't keep around, and restrictions required by the museum dictate dried and imitation materials which mean: Retail therapy time!!!

First,  for some on line sourcing of snake skins, because baskets woven by Arenas frequently incorporated snake designs. You remember I am creating an altar to honor and bring homage to Guadalupe Arenas, member of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians who was a basket weaver.

Though this altar will not be typical, it will have skulls which were purchased on line. 

This retail shopping was frequently spontaneous, purchases made on a whim.  I felt like I was being guided, allowing unexpected items to catch my attention and find their place in the shopping cart.  Amazing that I found this bird skeleton to represent the eagle theme found on baskets woven by Guadalupe Arenas.

Second stop....several shops for basket and floral needs. This altar should have plant materials that represent the plants collected and used in the basket weaving process, and I was able to find fabulous paper, dried and imitation floral goods in the desired palette.

An unplanned stop yielded two stately candelabra.

Then back to the computer for frames and photos of women who lived in the Coachella Valley during the late 1800's - mid 1900's, basket weavers.  Oh, these beautiful faces.

Next I begin to assemble the altar in my studio so it can be fine tuned remembering to follow my desire to create, not only an altar to Guadalupe Arenas and her fellow basket weavers but a work of art following ideas of composition, line, texture, color.   Check back to see the progress.

Mark your calendars for the Day of the Dead celebration at the Palm Springs Art Museum on October 30,  10:00 - 4:00.

To contact me click HERE
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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Day of the Dead Altar I

Creating an Altar for Day of the Dead

Image result for day of the dead

When I was approached last year and asked if I would be interested in creating an altar for the Day of the Dead celebration at the Palm Springs Art Museum, I jumped in with both feet.  To begin with, this historically Mexican holiday has always intrigued me,  I could not possibly refuse to represent the Artists' Council , and the opportunity to exhibit in this beautiful museum is always greeted with open arms.   Plus the positive twist on death, honoring the deceased by celebrating their lives year after year holds tremendous appeal for me.

Image result for day of the dead altar
Example of an altar

  The inviter mentioned my Indian Women Portraits and that it might be nice to utilize one of these paintings in the altar.As it turns out, the museum is hosting an exhibition titled Grass Roots: Native American Basketry of the West that opened this month.  Actual baskets woven by Native women of the Coachella Valley are included in the exhibition, including some by Guadalupe Arenas. What a synchronous  connection!  My creative thoughts began to race and explode!

Guadalupe Arenas, Snake Weaver
48 x 48

This was perfect, a bit out of the box thinking, the kind of thing I respond to.  Breaking from the traditional Mexican altar, this altar would honor a deceased basket maker, Guadalupe Arenas,  who was a member of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, local to the Coachella Valley where Palm Springs is located.  It would bring awareness to Arenas and other women of the valley who toiled endlessly to create amazingly spectacular baskets.

Guadalupe Arenas, Snake Weaver
48 x48

I decided to approach this project like a painting, focusing on composition, color, line, texture.  Guadalupe Arenas, Snake Weaver, the painting, would be the focus of the altar. Every other element of the altar would pertain to and relate to this work of art, so I began to visualize and sketch ideas.

Proposed Altar

This altar will have traditional items such as skulls, photographs, flowers, and candles, but they will not be presented in the traditional way.  This altar will follow the palette of the painting using pink, purple, blue, green, golds. Lizard and eagle shapes will be cut out of canvas, rocks and small paintings of cactus will represent the desert, snake skins will festoon and drape to symbolize the snakes woven into baskets created by Guadalupe Arenas.  The work begins:

Cutting eagle shapes from canvas.

Using the stencils used to create the painting.

Canvas lizards.

The altar is beginning to go together in my studio and this is the first of several posts that will document the creation and assembly.  It will then be broken down and reassembled in the Palm Springs Art Museum later in October where it will remain on view into November.  Mark your calendars for the museum celebration October 30 10:00 to 4:00.

Much more work to accomplish and explain which I will do as it happens.

To contact me click HERE
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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Summer's Last Gasp.

Yes, Fall is in the Air.

original acrylic painting by Pamela Hunt Lee
View From The SUP
12 x 12

But there will be a few more days of sun and warmth.  We really will see ourselves enjoying more of those summer days because it's just too hard to let go.  Is this called Indian Summer?

As you know I spend a great deal of time out on Lake Tahoe in my rowing shell & kayak as well as on my stand up paddle board.  The rowing shell is my favorite, but I find I grab the SUP for a quick workout and different view of the lake.  How is it different?  When you are seated in the shell your focus is across the water, looking at the rocks, reflections, and mountains beyond.  When you are standing the focus is frequently down into and through the crystal clear water allowing you to see the submerged boulders.  All summer my creative energies have been haunted by this standing view, however I was too busy with commissions to devote any time turning this inspiration into a work of art.

View From The SUP

After the delivery of this last commission I placed a small canvas on the easel and began to paint.  What you see here, View From The SUP, is what transpired.  The canvas is painted around the edges which gives this small work an interesting feel.  The rocks come to life.

right edge

left edge

top edge

I would like to spend time to work on a larger canvas with this theme, but I have been invited to create an altar for Day of the Dead at the Palm Springs Art Museum,  invited into an all womens' exhibition at the La Quinta Art Museum, and have a new commission (more about all this later).  So now that fall is in the air I will still spend time gathering up inspiration while out on the lake, enjoying the few remaining days of summer weather.  Indian Summer.

View From The SUP
12 x12

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Completion of a Commission

Done And Delivered

original acrylic painting by Pamela Hunt Lee
Tahoe Serenity
32" x 48"

Many hours during several weeks this canvas has been sitting on my easel going through the process of creation. With frequent trips via kayak, stand up paddle board or in my rowing shell I have continually visited the area that inspired this painting.  To be able to do this while working on the painting brings additional depth and feeling to the work. Below you will see a series of photos taken during the process.

original acrylic painting by Pamela Hunt Lee
Tahoe Serenity
32" x 48"
Original Acrylic Painting

Tahoe Serenity completed and delivered today.  A small blank canvas went up on the easel so check back to see what happens.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

End of Summer Commission

We All Love Summer

View from the kayak

Research and painting.  That's what makes up summer for me, and I am in heaven.   Spending time on Lake Tahoe, in kayak and rowing shell or on my SUP, I weave my way through the massive boulders that decorate the shore of Tahoe bringing back to the studio mental images of those granite monoliths that become inspiration for my paintings.  

It has been a summer of commissions and the newest is currently on the easel.

Presented and Selected Palette

Presented and Selected Painted Sketch

The Beginning of the Painting

Under painting some of the shadows

The Rocks begin to take form

More above the water line work

Continuing the work on the rocks

How the painting looks today.

This is the beginning of the commission, with more to accomplish during the daily painting time in the studio.  I am still out on the lake enjoying the never ending research, observing the beauty of Tahoe so that I can bring it back into my studio and interpret what I see.

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