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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.

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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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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Anatomy of a Commission

The Progression of This Commission.

A few weeks ago I accepted a commission for a painting of a specific group of boulders that sit in Crystal Bay, Lake Tahoe.  After several kayak trips out to this location:

I  started sketches and ended up with this:

The client and I talked about the desired result and after just a few photos sent electronically,  the final sketch along with the colors to be used were approved.  

Next step: I painted a small canvas board with the composition using the approved palette and the client made a studio visit to confirm and approve.  

Small painting to represent the commission.

A perfect 48 x 36" canvas with a 3" gallery wrap was built by Tony Spiker at Vista Gallery in Kings Beach. Because of the tight time line for delivery of the completed painting, Tony was under a strict deadline but he had the canvas in my studio on date requested.  Impressive.

Time to sketch the composition onto the canvas and begin the painting process.  Scroll down through the photos to watch the painting appear.

Sketch onto canvas

In Balance by Pamela Hunt Lee
Completed Painting
In Balance
48 x 36
Acrylic on Canvas

The painting is scheduled for delivery to a beautiful new home in Martis Camp close to Truckee, CA.  where it will be the focal point of the entry to the home.  It was a great project from beginning to end.

To contact me click HERE
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