During March-April 2017, I had the pleasure of teaching an adult art class at the Fuller Creative Learning Center, entitled “Great First Impressionists.” In this class, we’re exploring some of the great artists of the Impressionist & Post-Impressionist painting movements. In class, we’ve covered Claude Monet, Paul Signac & George Seurat, and are finishing up with the thick and expressive impasto paintings of Vincent Van Gogh. The class has really jumped into trying these different painting techniques with an open mind and a paintbrush in hand. With a heavy emphasis on creating and exploring, I have been very impressed with how far many of the students have pushed the concepts, and how much talent is sitting with me in the classroom. As our official classtime draws to a close, I’m a better teacher than I started for having the fortune to have the students in the class that I’ve had this early spring. We’ve had some excellent discussions, questions and some planned art excursions.
I write this as an artist who is very closely attached to my work. That being said, you’ll be reading about this exhibition opening night through the artist’s eyes. If you want to hear about it through others’ eyes, I can refer you to a few who were there that evening.
I’ll start by saying — THANK YOU to everyone who came out to support me and the Samaritans of RI Forget-Me-Not Gallery by attending the opening reception! After making lots of check-lists and crossing of to-do’s on my lists, it was when the first guests of the evening walked in the door of the gallery that this whole event became real.
The gallery put out a simply lovely spread of hors d’oeuvres that was an excellent array of nibbles to keep gallery guests satiated, and a good variety to keep an artist fueled who didn’t have any singular meals that day due to the excitement of preparing for the exhibition. I am deeply appreciative to all the work that the staff and volunteers of the Samaritans Forget-Me-Not Gallery did to make the opening reception a success. Thank you!
Here are the highlights, in no particular order:
- people from the public and from every other facet of my life came to the opening
- I enjoyed talking with people about their questions regarding the process
- My middle school art teacher was in attendance — she’s the one I credit with inspiring me to continue in art
- I gave an art talk about Abstracted Rainy Moments, and there were many thoughtful questions afterwards
- Out of the 14 large paintings in the show, 5 of 14 are sold!
- Many people went out the door with limited edition giclee prints of their favorite Abstracted Rainy Moments painting
- Excellent ambient music to the tune of a “Rainy Day Mixtape,” a selection of songs curated by my husband. Click here to check out his Mixtape Monday tumblr series
- There were lots of smiles throughout the evening
- I had an excellent crew of friends, family and volunteers that made sure that I took breaks with needed, drank water and otherwise kept me alive during the opening
- I learned how to delegate so I could focus on meeting and talking with guests
- There was a good, steady stream of people in the gallery throughout the evening
- At the end of the night, I was exhausted, but so fulfilled
- The next day, I was told how a young couple got engaged shortly after attending my art opening — it was in his plans to propose to her after a classy evening of symphony, art and a beautiful evening. I’m so honored to have had my art participate in their proposal that evening!
In the weeks leading up to the opening reception for my solo exhibition, Abstracted Rainy Moments at the Forget-Me-Not Gallery, I received coverage in several local newspapers. I’m still not quite used to seeing myself out there with so much publicity…but if it helps bring more people to the gallery to experience my art in person, then I’ll put up with it and try to get used to it. I’m not giving out autographs just yet.
So naturally, I now have a big stack of each of these papers to save for posterity.
I’ve been preparing the art for my upcoming solo art exhibition of oil paintings, “Abstracted Rainy Moments.” While one might think that just creating the paintings would be enough to just hand over to the gallery, I was brimming with additional program ideas that could complement and coincide with my art in the gallery, the gallery director and curator have been very receptive and supportive of these ideas to activate the gallery space.
In choosing “Abstracted Rainy Moments” for the theme and title of this new body of work for this exhibition, I also immediately thought of other possibilities and collaborations that could work well with the theme of rainy art.
When I was in college, I double-majored in both art and writing, and writing poetry had been a regular habit. I wanted to bring the ability to tie in writing and poetry with the rain. Some of my most inspiring writing days had been rainy days, or writing after walking for a bit in the rain. I wanted to bring this experience into the gallery. So in talking with the gallery director, she was very supportive of having additional programs up to tie into the exhibition and to draw more people to spend time in the gallery.
We met several times to brainstorm possibilities for tying in poetry with the exhibition. Then we met again to assess what is logistically reasonable and feasible to do. We paired down our biggest ideas into more manageable aspirations, assigned some dates, and determined what our “next steps” are for making each of the programs a reality. After all these meetings, we’ve planned to do the following programs coinciding with the exhibition, which will launch in April, which just happens to be National Poetry Month!:
- Art Inspiring Poetry Workshop (Sun. April 9, 2017, 2:30-4pm): A free workshop in which participants will write and explore poetry through guided exercises, including writing poetry inspired by the art on the walls.
- National Poetry Month Reading (Sun. April 23, 2017, 2:30-4pm): In collaboration with the Galway Kinnell Poetry Contest, and the RI State Poet Laureate, the gallery will host a series of selected readings.
- People’s Poetry Prize Poetry Contest (April 7-May 1): People can submit poems for inclusion in the contest, and voting will be done via the public’s vote on the gallery’s Facebook page.
I will also be offering an artist talk at the opening (April 7) and closing (Jun 23) receptions, and additionally I’ve scheduled a day where I will provide a painting demonstration of my process (May 20, 2:30pm).
In line with these ideas, I’ve also commissioned a friend to curate a Rainy Moments playlist, a selection of top songs associated with rain, or with “rain” in their lyrics to enhance the auditory experience in the gallery.
Behind these additional programs are many logistics — refreshments, timelines, scheduling, staffing, content, coordinating responsibilities, alignment with the gallery’s mission, publicity, promotion, alternate dates/locations, space logistics, and measurements of success. All in all, we’re very excited for the programs that are coming together, and we hope that we have a good turnout for each program. A follow-up blog post down the line will probably entail an evaluation of how all these programs turned out. Sign up for my email newsletter to find out when that is ready to read.
Probably one of the best culminating moments in the process of preparing for my solo art exhibition is the feeling of finally having all the art hanging on the walls for the first time.
But before that happens, this…
Before we have to think about where to put the paintings in the gallery, I had to first transport them. One of the things that I discovered when I bought my first 40″x30″ canvas for this series is that this size fits perfectly square in the cargo area of my SUV. As it was a very windy day (a blizzard forecast to arrive the next day!), I was afraid of my paintings sailing away in the short jaunt between my studio door and my vehicle. We were able to safely put them in the car, very carefully, laying the paintings face-to-face and back-to-back. Fortunately, the gallery is very local to my studio, so I didn’t have far to transport them.
Once we arrived at the gallery, this…
…a blank canvas of unhung gallery walls, lots of tools, and stray paintings on the floor, leaning agains the wall, each waiting for its turn to be called into the spotlight.
After unloading, the curator and I chatted first about what the narrative would be for the exhibition — what would the key anchor pieces be, and what is the visual and thematic relationship between each of the paintings. Before hanging the first nail in the wall, it is essential to map the outline for what the viewer experience will be upon entering and traveling through the gallery space. While the curator was absolutely amazing and asked first for my curatorial preferences, I insisted that his objective eye first take a look at what the relationships were that he saw between the paintings, whereas, I had been staring at these same paintings for month in my studio — I wanted a second opinion to start out this process.
Then, we selected the anchor pieces for the few major viewpoints, and then we filled in the rest of the walls as the vision came into reality. Then we started hanging the paintings with precision.
After we established our hanging height center line, with respect to the gallery’s chair rail and crown molding, we measured the height to the top of the painting, to the top of the hanging wire, and placed the nail mark, accounting for the measurement of left-to-right for the centering of the paintings within the allotted wall.
The importance of a level for both the horizontal and vertical leveling of the hung paintings can not be overstated. I was grateful for the meticulous attention to detail that the curator demonstrated; it gave me reassurance that my exhibition was in good hands.
Eventually the blank walls and the mess of tools on tables yielded to a mess of tools on tables with beautiful accompanying artwork on walls. We were getting closer to having almost all the paintings hung.
Once all the paintings were hung, we focused on the dilemma of the vinyl lettering for the title wall, where my name and the title of the exhibition will appear next to the featured painting that had been the main image for the exhibition postcard and online promotion of the exhibition.
We measured the space remaining on the wall after the painting was hung, and then debated which way we would have the letters laid out on the wall. Fortunately, I have a background in graphic design, including extensive use of Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, so I quickly mocked up some options on my laptop, after snapping a quick photo of the wall so that we could see a “simulation” of what the wall would look like:
After we discussed the final decision for the vinyl lettering, we hung the artist statement, about the artist and placed a binder for the price list. As part of this particular exhibition of “Abstracted Rainy Moments” I’m also including a glimpse into the process of creating the pieces, including descriptions of what was behind the making of each painting accompanied by some in-process photographs of each painting. We put these into a binder where people can view these. Additionally, I will install a demonstration piece, a canvas that shows the different stages of each rain painting in one canvas. After establishing some of these details, it was decided that we would need another day to return to the gallery to install these final details, including the demo pieces, the process wall, and to install the vinyl lettering on the title wall.
At the end of the day, we were pleased to have the experience of having all the paintings up on the wall. So of course, I went around the space and took many photographs for documenting installation shots of the show to be used on my website, in future exhibition proposals, and to help with promoting the show in social media and in my email newsletter.
Here’s one sneak peak installation shot that I can share now. If you’re in the Rhode Island area, the opening for this Abstracted Rainy Moments solo exhibition by me, Rachel Brask, will host the opening reception on Friday, April 7, 6-9pm at the Samaritans of Rhode Island Forget-Me-Not Gallery (67 Park Place, Pawtucket, RI). The exhibition itself will be up April 7 through June 30, 2017.
RACHEL BRASK Abstracted Rainy Moments
EXHIBITION DATES: April 7 – June 30, 2017. Curated by Eric J. Auger, Artist-in-Residence.
OPENING RECEPTION: Friday, April 7, 2017, 6-9pm
ARTIST STATEMENT: When you look out through a window on a rainy day – what do you see? Do you embrace the view or shy away? A rainy window intrigues me; it draws me closer. I study how the sheets of rain pouring down the panes causes distortion of the view outside. The flow of water abstracts the lens through which an observer sees the world outside in that moment. Rain makes the colors brighter and blend together. Lines and shapes become blurred, and the motion of the continuing rain makes the scene even more dynamic. I embrace the rain and all that will be refreshed with hope and possibility. In these moments, I’m reminded of a poem by Abraham Sutzkever, that these colors, these moments, “…all this illuminated by the rain.” – Rachel Brask, artist
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT – ART INSPIRING POETRY EVENTS
Friday, April, 7, 6-9pm – Exhibition Opening Reception: Meet the artist, hear her speak about the artwork, enjoy light refreshments and learn more about the Art Inspiring Poetry Event
Sunday, April 9, 2:30pm – Poetry Workshop: Let Abstracted Rainy Moments inspire your poetry at this FREE interactive poetry workshop. Register online: goo.gl/forms/bJiRJn8UoGW5BJgf1
Sunday, April 23, 2:30pm – Celebrate National Poetry Month: Join Pawtucket’s Galway Kinnell poetry contest winners for selected poetry readings.
April 7-30 – People’s Poetry Prize Contest: Submit a poem inspired by the exhibition. Voting via Facebook. Poems due May 1, 2017. Submission details on samaritansri.org
Saturday, May 20, 2:30pm – Painting Demonstration by Rachel Brask: Watch the artist in motion as she paints live by the gallery. See how the Abstracted Rainy Moments series comes to life.
Friday, June 23, 5-8pm – Exhibition Closing Reception: Come to the closing reception of Abstracted Rainy Moments. People’s Poetry Prize winners honored.
For more information visit http://www.samaritansri.org
The Samaritans of RI Forget-Me-Not Gallery is a state-certified art gallery.
Proceeds benefit suicide prevention education programs.
Gallery Hours: Wednesdays through Friday 11am to 5pm, Saturday 11am to 3pm.
Daily by appointment, call 401.721.5220
During late December/early January I worked on a painting that was commissioned to be in the style of the Abstracted Rainy Moments. Below are a few process photos of this painting commission in progress.
Sometimes the rain paintings drip in just way that I want them to, and at other times, one color or another is more predominant in the dripping pattern. In this case, the top reds were overpowering the rest of the colors on the painting, so I had to tone down the red quite a bit through some subtractive process as well as some blending and re-dripping until it dripped to the effect that I was hoping for myself and for the client.
Starting on March 7, 2017 I’ll be teaching a new adult art class on Tuesday evenings, 5:00-6:30pm at the Fuller Creative Learning Center (260 Dover Ave., East Providence, RI). The class will run for six weeks March 7-April 11, 2017 and is free to registered participants.
This class, “Great First Impressionists,” will explore the various artists, styles and techniques of the impressionism art movement, including artists Claude Monet, Georges Seurat, Vincent Van Gogh and others. Students of this class will create art projects inspired by signature artists of impressionism over the 6 weeks of this class March 7-April 11.
This class will be limited to 12 people, so register early! For registration information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to another installation of “Tools of the Trade Tuesday” in which I feature one of the art supplies, tools and equipment that helps me to create art in my studio. This week’s breakout star is the Mijello Artelier Peel-Off Palette. I discovered this palette during a compulsive buy once at my local Utrecht/Dick-Blick art supply store.
I had often been frustrated with myself for starting a painting, and then getting busy and not being able to return to it for some days or weeks. By then, I was always annoyed that the paint on the palette had already dried, and I’d have to complete re-mix all of my colors. When I saw this, it provided a way to keep the oil paints that I use in an air-tight container that was still easy enough to mix paints in while working. Each of the paints can be placed in a specific well, leaving plenty of space in the center for fresh paint-mixing.
Another neat thing about this palette, is that when the time comes that some of the paint does dry, the non-porous surface of the palette enables the paint to peel right off!
In this edition of Tuesday Tools of the Trade, paint palettes get to be the star player. I wouldn’t be able to paint in much the manner that I paint without paint palettes. While there are many, many different types of palettes, today’s featured tool is the disposable paint palette. Occasionally I like to work with the disposable paint palette because it makes for easier cleanup if I’m feeling lazy, or it enables me to paint plein air a bit easier if I’m packing my gear to paint outside. The thing that I like about using paint palettes is that often if I start a paint project and then finish it but forget to clean the paint off, the paint hardens as a form of documentary evidence of what colors I worked with, how I mixed them and what colors I used the most. Often when I find a palette laying around and dried, I can oft recall which painting I used it on just from the colors.
The disposable palette consists of a pad of wax-lined paper in the shape of a palette, some even include the thumb hole (my preference). When selecting a new palette, merely rip off the top sheet covered in paint, and start afresh, no solvents, scrubbing or sink needed!
Today’s Tools of the Trade Tuesday post features one of the star actors in my painting productions, The Palette Knife. For any unfamiliar with the behind-the-scenes of the painting process, the palette knife is the sharper alternative painting implement to a paintbrush. Instead of using a brush to apply paint to canvas, the palette knife can be used to directly apply thick paint and to shape and mold it on the canvas using palette knives of different “heads.” Each palette knife has a slightly different angle, thickness, and will apply paint differently from the others. Continue reading
I’m starting a blog post on Tuesdays called “Tools of the Trade Tuesday.” Each week I’ll feature a brief glimpse into some of the tools and materials that I use in the studio in the creation of my paintings.
Today’s Tool of the Trade is a paint tube wringer. This is by far the tool that with which I have had the most fun. I bought the tube wringer during an impulsive buy at one of my local art supplies stores. I had previously bought a plastic tube wringer, but it didn’t happen to work out — the plastic tube wringer actually broke while I was using it.
2016 has been an excellent year for my continuing studio practice. A year full of new commissions, renewed focus, and new recognition and professional development have all added up to make 2016 one of my best and favorite years in my studio timeline. So here, without further ado, are what I considered to be the top 8 highlights of 2016.
- Studio Sabbatical
- Artist Residency
- Surprise Commission Reveal
- Received “Founders Award” by Art League Rhode Island
- Pop-up Paintings Poolside Preview Party
- Art Classes of 2016
- Curatorial Mentorship Project
- Guest Speaker at E. Providence Arts Council
Here’s my 2016 Year in Review, in no particular order, of images from the studio over the course of 2016. It was a year of renewed focus, new directions, new commissions, new purchases, new teaching adventures, new opportunities and one of my best art years ever. Continue reading
This is a guest blog post by Jim S. about his perspective and experience commissioning a painting as a gift for his wife.
Every home deserves great art. After living in an apartment we bought our first home and naturally wanted to make it our own. So after a year of settling in and renovating every wall in the building, it was time to put something beautiful on the walls that wasn’t put on with a roller. Continue reading