Friday, November 28, 2008

My Artist's Statement

Lift Me On Angel Wings
12" x 16"
Mixed media on board
I wrote my artist's statement for my recent Open Studio. I'll write up a report of the event soon.


Gathering and hanging art work that I created has been so interesting and informative, revealing just where I’ve been and hinting at the direction ahead. Seen together on the walls of my home this work from the past 4 years reflects my interests, both in the seen world and in the spiritual. There are works that tell a story of how I look at my environment as well as how I relate to God and his creation.

Artwork like the Pear series and the Flower Vases are practice pieces and yet are among my personal favorites because they are so much fun to make. It doesn’t matter if a line is right or if a shadow is off or if the color just isn’t very realistic. What matters is that I do them, that I get paint onto paper, and in this practice I grow. Like a pianist learning scales before she gets to the melody I paint my little practice pieces so that I will get to the place where I can paint whatever is waiting within me to be expressed. That’s what painting is to me… an expression of who I am and what I’m thinking about.

I started being an artist when I was four years old. My grandmother was teaching me to embroider and I insisted on making the flowers brown and the stems red… present things my own way. I grew to use embroidery to create fiberart, things that hung on the wall rather than pieces that were functional. I still remember the evening I saw embroidered art on display in a gallery setting and recognized that I knew how to make art even though I didn’t know how to use a paint brush. I studied with creative embroidery in London, England and stuck with using the threaded needle, art quilting, surface design, sewing, and pattern design until 1998 when I turned off my sewing machine, put away my embroidery hoops and leapt into fine art making, knowing that there were paintings deep within me that wanted to get out. I refined my drawing skills, took some painting classes, and practiced and practiced. I continue to work at learning by reading, watching DVDs, taking workshops and classes, and talking art with like-minded friends.

My favorite way of working is what I call collage painting. Several times each year I prepare papers to use in my work. I apply dye, ink, watercolor, thinned acrylics, to thin paper working with layers of color to create interesting collage papers that are uniquely mine. Then I collage these papers to heavy paper, canvas, or board and add paint as needed. It’s like my cooking…
I sort of follow recipes but mostly I wing it based on my past experience of what works together.

I love books, reading them and writing in them and I usually create my own sketchbook/art journals in which I make plans, journal about art and life, and often even create art on the pages. When we travel I take along a little sketchbook, paint and pens. Ask me about these journals because I love to share them.

I enjoy painting with acrylic paints. They are water-based and fairly non-toxic, unlike oil paints whose fumes I don’t much like in my home studio. Oil is fun to paint with; smearing buttery oil-based color around on canvas is so satisfying, but the cleanup isn’t as easy for me as with acrylics. I also like to use pastels, both dry and oil. Well, perhaps you’re on to me by now… I love to use anything that will help me put color on a surface, and the more color the better I like it. Many people paint with neutrals, but even when I start painting with umber, sienna, and other neutral colors it isn’t long until the piece has mysteriously turned red or orange. That’s just me. I like to paint happy.

Jo Reimer, November 21, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Open Studio

Sauvies Island Pond
Oil on board
5x7" available

I'm preparing for a party, an Open Studio, a show and sale of my own work here at my home. For years I've visited other artists studios on the Portland Open Studio Tour and have considered joining them as a participating artist, but haven't, not wanting a lot of strangers treking through my home. But friends continue to show interest in my work and where I do it so I decided to throw the front door open for a weekend. Come if you can... Nov. 21 from 5-8pm or Nov. 22, between 10 and 5pm.

I wasn't prepared for the work this has been. I'm been merrily working away, having fun painting and making books and collages without doing all the archival work that a working artist keeps up with such as photographing and cataloging each piece as it's completed. I just add the work to a stack over against the wall and start on the next piece. Now it's all catching up with me and I've spent day after day photographing and scanning work, determining a fair price for each piece, cataloging it in Working Artist software, making labels with Avery. Just when I think I'm nearly finished I complete another painting and have to add that to the mix.

I've taken down my collection of other people's work from my walls and am hanging my own work, and I must confess, I think it looks really good. Even my husband is surprised at how much I've done over the past couple of years. There are a lot of different directions that are revealed when all the work is hung together, abstract, landscape, collage, work done from photographs that I've taken, and work done from my head. It's interesting, to say the least, and I guess that's good enough, to produce interesting work. After the party is over and done with I might just settle down and concentrate on just one way of working for the next few months and see what happens.

Saturday, November 01, 2008


Collage on Paper
It's been over a month since I've posted and this morning I decided that it's high time I wrote a bit to assure you that I have been working and that I intend to continue with this blog. I've just been being myself: housewife, gardener, friend, wife, mother & grandmother, artist, reader, traveler, worshiper... and that all takes up my precious time. And all those roles are important enough that they share pretty much equally with my role as artist and are the reason that I don't pursue a full time art career. I am content and pretty much joyful all the time.

A friend visited my studio last week and noting the piles of paintings adorning every surface in preparation for an Open Studio, commented: "you paint happy". I guess I do. I use intense color, lots of warm colors, and lots of color. I keep trying to paint with quiet neutrals but somehow the stronger colors win out every time. Even back when I was doing contemporary embroidery I turned to hot colors when I chose fabric and thread.

My husband and I spent the better part of a week on Washington's Long Beach peninsula last week while I attended a 3 day workshop with Eric Weigardt in Ocean Park. It was called "Painting Loosely". We worked with watercolor and I learned a lot. I tend to tighten up and go right for the detail whenever I work so I'm on a quest to reverse that tendency with whatever media I'm using. I'm not a watercolorist although I do use watercolors, especially in my journals, and I want to understand it better.

What I got from this workshop was an understanding of the importance of using a planned range of values in my work. Oh, I knew, intellectually, about value studies, about making little sketches of my subject using at least three distinct values, light-medium-dark. But I rarely do the value study and I didn't accept that in order to make good art I must incorporate this notion in every piece, especially if I'm drawing the landscape. Here's an example of a photo I took in France and the value study I did from the photo. I'm really slow but I know that practice will speed up and improve my skills.

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