Shades of Change ©Alicia R Peterson, acrylic on panel, 18 x 18 inches,$450 for sale at the Jeanie Tengelsen Gallery, Dix Hills, NY 2017. Photo: Peter Scheer.
The shades of change are upon us. In our world, in our lives. How do we weather change? How do we impact change? How do we find common ground?
I answer, “Through art, the universal language.”
I raise my voice.
Shades of Change was birthed in chaos in 2015. I was immersed in painting on square panels. If you missed the story of how square I am, click here
I rarely use brushes; instead I use mediums to flow the paint across the surface. I mix colors wet-on-wet on the canvas. I drip, sling and flow paint. I paint with my hands, using gestures I have honed for the past 22 years. Square Dream, ©Alicia R Peterson, acrylic on panel, 12x 12,” $350. Photo: Peter Scheer
With squares, instead of my go-to linen, I used canvas panel. Linen has give, there is push back from the material. It is soft and subtle. Panel is hard and solid. There is no movement of the material save when I tip the panel.
Paint flows differently on panel; there is an edge that cannot be crossed, the paint stops.
The back of a linen painting and a canvas panel. In my studio, materials present a constant adventure. Their limitations and advantages push me further in my creative process. ©2017 Alicia R Peterson. Photo: Artist
I was entranced by the challenge from 2015-2106. It stirred me to paint on panels for long stretches of time, ever pushing to create movement where there was none.
Flowing past apparent boundaries and finding expansion is my daily work as an artist. I share this with you in Shades of Change. How do you plant seeds of change? Comment below and let us hear you.
I am doing a happy dance that Shades of Change was selected to be part of the 58th Long Island Artist Exhibition at the Art League of Long Island. Of the 667 images submitted, 60 were selected, so I am feeling special. Please join me for the opening on February 26, 2017 if you are local. If you are afar, you can share the fun visually at our next conversation. I have the best secret admirer who photographs me in all my art adventures.
58th Long Island Artists Exhibition
Jeanie Tengelsen Gallery
February 18 – March 21, 2017
Art League of Long Island
107 East Deer Park Road Dix Hills, NY 11746 p: 631 462-5400 `
Opening Reception: Feb. 26, 2017 1:00-3:00
Free and open to the public.
Elizabeth Denny, Owner and Robert Dimin, Director of the Denny Gallery 261 Broome St., NYC
They stop in their tracks and stare…
What is it?
Look at that BLOB!
No, it’s not a bad horror movie… Welcome to my world as an abstract painter.
Well about that Blob… In 2015, I was honored to be in a juried exhibition at the Art League of Long Island. At the opening of the show, I was near my work… okay, yes I was lurking. I will admit to you that I positioned myself close to my painting and tried to look oh-so nonchalant as I attempted to hear and see what the reactions were to my work Universal Flow.
A couple did indeed stop in their tracks as they approached my painting. They paused in front of it and drat, I could not hear their discussion. So I sauntered up to them and introduced myself as the artist of this work. We had a lovely conversation until they asked why I would leave that BLOB of paint on my work?
NO, I did not kick them in the shins, but I would have liked to.
The painting that was called the blob.
© 2014 Alicia R Peterson, Universal Flow, acrylic on linen, 36 x 24” $1100. Photo: Peter Scheer
I was at a loss as what to say. Every work that I deem complete undergoes a difficult and lengthy vetting. First, my internal critic goes to town and she is one tough cookie. I am then committed to my practice of external critique. I seek eyes on my work from many sources.
I have studied with the eminent painter Stan Brodsky since 2013. My times with Stan are one of my most treasured times as a painter. He and my fellow “Stan Clan” artists had given this painting a big thumbs up.
So what do you say to someone who asks, “Why did you leave that mistake (the BLOB) on your painting?” My answer was to describe my creative process.
So what is inside my head as I paint?
NOTHING! The world falls away as I ponder a blank canvas.
I am outside my studio set up in a wooded area with a bamboo forest. I feel the wind, hear the rustling of the bamboo, and the birds calling. I feel my feet on mother earth and I ground myself. I empty my head and fill with line, color and space. My work pours out of me.
© 2017 Alicia R Peterson. Very scruffy me in my winter painting coat. Photo: Artist
I reject external reality as a painter. I have since I first picked up a paintbrush in 1994. Actually, I haven’t picked up a paintbrush for over 15 years. I paint with my hands, I flow paint across the canvas, I sling paint and I pull and drip paint off the canvas.
© 2017 Alicia R Peterson. I revel in all parts of painting, even the snow drips. Photo: Artist
On canvas, I create a spontaneous expression of the inside story. A story that I hope speaks to you and resonates with your story.
Have you found your story in art? Let us hear your comments below.
Crescent Full Moon,© 2015, Alicia R Peterson, acrylic on linen, 36 x 24 in. $1100. Photo: Peter Scheer
Crescent Full Moon evolved from my kinship with Mother Nature and was painted outside under a cloudy full moon night.
I am waking up in the middle of the night with dread. There is the tinge of stress in all my steps.
I walk into my studio and say to myself, “My paintings are not good enough.”
It must be opening night.
The dichotomy of my life is so clear at this moment. I have just completed an intensive 6 months creative burst. My new work stops me in my tracks. So where is that artist? Where is that voice now?
In 2013 after quitting my 29-year life as Doctor of Audiology, I jumped off the cliff of certainty and into the chaos of artist entrepreneur.
I did not know if my feet would touch the ground. But I was certain I had to jump after 2 decades of keeping my voice silent.
As I wavered on the edge, some of my fellow creatives suggested that I imagine parachutes to break my fall off the cliff. Some reminded me of their support in all my choices to soften my fall. And some put a foot on my butt and tried to push me off the cliff.
I give heartfelt thanks to all those feet nudging me into the great unknown.
This is not my first rodeo, I mean opening. What I have come to realize is that my life as an artist mirrors our lives in many ways and like the seasons, spring will surely come. I have been telling myself to accept this ebb and flow of anxiety and self doubt like the tides. Flow in, flow out…can you tell I have returned to my meditation practice?
Anxiety, uncomplimentary self-talk…. Can I become friends with these?
What if my doubts are universal and like my shadow, part of my make-up? I recently heard a veteran, very successful artist proclaim, “I don’t know if I can create anything worthy again.”
By the time you get near the top that voice of “I can’t” is supposed to stop right?
Well, no I guess.
And the kernel of the idea that I must make friends with all my colors in art and in life started to grow.
Perhaps the conversation with the voice of “I can’t” should go like this: “Hello old friend. What do you have to say? And can you leave now?”
P.S. The opening was grand! Yes, not just the artists came to the opening. Yes, I got prime wall space. Yes, Balance Motion was in motion.
Opening Night at Inspired By, “Balance Motion” © Alicia R Peterson, acrylic on panel, 18 x 18 inches, $450, for sale at the Long Island Museum.
Photo: Long Island Museum
The Show Must Go On!
Open through January 29, 2017
The Long Island Museum
1200 Route 25A
Stony Brook, NY 11790
Info Long Island Museum: 631-751-0066
Are you friends with all the colors in your life? Tell us your story below.
©AliciaRPeterson, Shadow. Acrylic on canvas, 18 x 36 inches, NFS. Photo: Peter Scheer
I have not made one line on my paper in twenty minutes. It is still glaringly blank. I am at the Atelier at Flowerfield in St. James, NY in a lovely studio, on a warm summer night in 2016. Talented artists hard at work surround me. This is my first class with Kevin McEvoy, a renowned realist painter. Kevin is the Director at the Atelier and one of the teachers, and I highly respect him.
So what is wrong with me? I have been painting for 22 years. “Alicia,” I say to myself, “get a grip, and make a mark!” The timer rings for the end of the 20 minutes pose. There is a model in an interesting position, well lit and just waiting for me to capture him on my paper. But no, I feel paralyzed, unable to put pencil to paper. Kevin comes by and says,“Nice work.” After a comedic pause and a sphinx-like grin, he mentions that he says this to the children he teaches to make them laugh. I am thinking this is his gentle way of saying that he understands the freezing up, but is trying to humor me out of my I can’t do this daze. By the way, no one else has blank paper. Maybe I’m in the wrong class.
I am surprised that I am struggling to start again from the beginning. Isn’t that what I expected? As a martial artist, my teachers have always talked about the beginner’s mind. That each time you come to class you empty your cup so you may fill it again. So where is my beginner’s mind? It is overshadowed by the fact that once I started to put lines on paper, they looked like distorted stick figures and I got brain freeze. “Stay the course,” I tell myself like a mantra.
© Alicia R Peterson, Possibilities. Acrylic on linen, 16 x 20 inches, $650. Photo: Peter Scheer
But why am I now studying classical painting techniques? Since my first painting in 1994 of odd colored, barely recognizable flowers, and a larger than life question mark shaped sun. . . I have rejected external reality.
But now I am longing for “three perfect lines.” I want to be able to capture the figure in simplicity and in a form you will recognize. Am I forsaking abstract painting? No! What will the melding of the abstract and representational look like on my canvas? I don’t know. And based on today’s blank paper, it will be a long and, I hope, wondrous journey.
© Alicia R Peterson, Orange Depth. Acrylic on linen, 24 x 36 inches, $1100. Photo: Peter Scheer
I take a deep breath and just start.
Share your stories of new directions with us below.
© 2015 Alicia R Peterson, Diagonal Angsty, acrylic on linen, 20 x 16 inches $650 Photo: Peter Scheer
Before I know what’s happening, the teacher rips my canvas out of my hands, exclaiming, “You are doing it all wrong!”
No, Not Again!
During my first painting class in 1996, I had a stand off with my teacher… I wanted to paint abstractly and she wanted me to paint what I saw with my eyes. Click here if you missed the story and see who won the staring match.
A mere 14 years later, a new class, new teacher, new me.
I thought, “Surely this will work.” But I have another “incident.”I am filled with enthusiasm. I have a list of questions for the teacher and in my usual pose of keener, I am early for the first class. The class starts out viewing some of the teacher’ s work, as he is an accomplished representational painter. I am thinking, “Uh oh, am I the only one here who paints with their ‘ inside eyes’?”
I declare to myself that I will “fit in” this class. The teacher asks us to make a start by painting from photographs. Hum… I have never done this.
© 2015 Alicia R Peterson, Underneath, acrylic on linen, 40 x 30 inches, $1300 Photo: Peter Scheer
Over Painting = MUD
No matter, I am determined to learn. But, since I am so not used to painting in front of people my anxiety leads to a classic painting disaster…. MUD. I know the work I am producing is not good but I keep adding paint…not the best approach. What emerges on my canvas is a putrid color. All the colors congeal into a very distasteful mud color. Before I know what’ s happening, the teacher rips my canvas out of my hands, exclaiming “You are doing it all wrong!”
No, I Don’t Throw Paint (this time) but I Want to
I am stunned and happily do not listen to the urge to throw paint. I sit and try to find my inner peace. I believe that there is knowledge to be gained in this class and I dig my heals in and start again. I spend a morning and afternoon moving paint around to no good results and with nothing new in my art brain except discouragement. I take my all-wrong painting and do not return for the second class. I go back to my studio and paint on the “Mud” canvas. A new work, Art Class Drop-Out, appears and this painting I like. I return to painting in solitude in my studio.
© 2008 Alicia R Peterson, Art School Drop Out. Acrylic on panel, 9 x 12 inches. NFS, Photo: Artist
Tell us your stories of making mud when you tried too hard in the Comments section below.
I am doing a happy dance to music on my canvas. My painting Balance was accepted into the Long Island Museum’s I’ve Got the Music in Me juried art competition.
Painted with gestures and flowing paint while listening to music. What do you hear? What do you see?
© Alicia R Peterson, Balance. Acrylic on linen, 18 x 24 inches. Photo: Peter Scheer
Please join me at the Opening/Awards Reception on Sunday, September 18, 2016 at the Long Island Museum’s Visitors Center from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Admission is free.
I’ve Got the Music in Me
September 17 –October 23, 2016.
The Long Island Museum
1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook NY
Museum Hours: Thursday – Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Sunday 12:00-5:00 p.m.
And don’t miss all the splendor of the rest of the museum.
© Alicia R Peterson, Crazy. Acrylic on linen,
20 x 24 inches. $750 Photo: Peter Scheer.
I was first called to paint in 1994 with no framework and no training. I just put paint on canvas. I was compelled by an inner voice commanding me to paint. Oh, what a wise voice and wise me for listening to myself. I took a leap of faith into line, color and space.
© Alicia R Peterson, Line,Color, & Space. Acrylic, glass bead, fiber on linen, 30×40 inches. $ 1300 Photo: Peter Scheer
So where is the art degree? That’s what I asked myself when I first started painting. Nope, not a single art class.
I have three advanced degrees, well 3 ½. First, I received a BA in Women’s Studies at the State University of NY at Binghamton. Then I changed course to become an Audiologist. I went back to school to take the coursework for a bachelor’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. In 1984, I then earned my master’s degree in Audiology from Northeastern University in Boston, MA. After working 19 years as an Audiologist and ever pushing myself to be the best I could be, I returned to school in 2003 receiving my Doctor of Audiology 3 years later from Salus University.
But when it came to painting, I was so wobbly on my painting feet that I painted in solitude.
© Alicia R Peterson, Copper Landscape. Acrylic on canvas, 12 x 36 inches. $750 Photo: Peter Scheer
Two years into voracious painting alone in my combination home office and painting haven, I declared that I was going to study painting. My touchstone has always been school so I returned. I had admired an artist’s work in a gallery in Tidewater, Virginia, where I was working as an Audiologist at the Virginia School for the Deaf, Blind and Multi-disabled. I signed up for her painting class in 1996.
Now in regards to school, I have often been called (taunted sometimes) “teacher’s pet” and “Miss Goody Two Shoes.” I behaved, I always did my homework (early) and I did every extra credit assignment.
Me in grade school, oh, I was a “keener”
And if you still want to learn more about being a keener, click here for instructions.
In my first class we were presented with a very pleasing arrangement of flowers in a vase and the teacher proceeded to demonstrate painting this arrangement. I was impressed with her skill and when she asked us to attempt our own, I jumped right in.
My first efforts were, of course, awkward. What I realized very quickly was that I did not see the logic in painting the duplicate of what was in front of me. So I painted my next attempt with the flowers upside down. My teacher came by to look and she did not look happy. She asked me to paint right side up.
I did, but I then messed with the colors of the flowers making them unrecognizable from their original form. Again, my teacher came by but this time there was serious frost in her dealings with me. I was feeling bored and uninspired, so I painted the arrangement in various sideways perspectives.
Well, in the third class there was a standoff. I kept getting Dragon Lady looks from my teacher but I steadfastly refused to paint realistically.
One day in class after looking at my work that did not resemble the flowers we were to paint at all, in exasperation, she declared, “Alicia are you a line painter?” I still ponder on this comment when I critique my work and thank her for this gift.
Are you a line fan as well? Click here here to view “Finding Ground” an exploration of lines
© Alicia R Peterson, Earth Flow Transitions. Acrylic on linen, 24 x 36 inches. $1100 Photo: Peter Scheer
After that rather intense staring match with my teacher, I did not finish the semester. For the first time as a student, I misbehaved. Gasp! I dropped out! Where was “Miss Goody Two Shoes? “
I returned to painting alone feeling that I just did not belong in the art world.
I did not know at the time that my passion was abstract art and that my calling was a rejection of external reality. I was to paint the inside story. I also did not have the wisdom and discipline to know that there was much that I could have learned from this teacher if I had stayed the course and painted what I actually saw in front of me.
What stories do you have on “lessons learned”, being a Goody Two Shoes, or being the one who misbehaved? Comment below so we can hear you.
Summer in the Sound, © 2016 Alicia R Peterson, acrylic on canvas, 10 x 30.” Yes, this story has a happy ending. Photo: Jeff Foster
This year I signed up for my second time at Gallery North’s Wet Paint Festival. In short, wet paint means local Long Island and NYC metro artists gather for three days of en plein air painting. Our view was the historic Gamecock cottage on Long Island Sound. The pressure was on as we have only three days to produce a work worthy of hanging on a wall at Gallery North in an exhibition immediately following this event.
I was not feeling inspired and this made me nervous. So I kept repeating to myself, “Easy peasy, I’ve done this. I know what I’m doing. I produced a great painting last time . . . I am home free. I’m just going to enjoy myself and paint my heart out.”
But before long the voice of doubt quietly, insistently wormed its way back into my brain. I fretted to myself . . . “that was beginner’s luck, you can’t do this . . . you are going to freeze.” Then the logistics anxiety started. Creation takes a tremendous amount of energy, could I stay the course painting for three days outside in the summer sun on the north shores of Long Island? How do I get all my stuff there? I always paint outside my studio but I don’t have any of the fancy plein air mobile painting equipment. And since I knew how it went, I could imagine all sorts of things going wrong this time.
Something that makes my spiraling anxiety cycle down is to over prepare. In this case, it also means to over pack. I am so fun to travel with, but . . . ok, I do over pack. I over pack over the top, and oh, did I go overboard with packing up for the Wet Paint Festival. So may I just say, oye did I schlep?
Yes, as a fellow artist remarked, I did bring the whole studio to the outside. Did I need all that art “stuff” . . . no, but did over packing reduce my worry? . . . yes.
The first day is hot and humid as I am staring at a blank canvas for the entire day. I paint in my mind’s eye, trying to soak in the Long Island Sound and convey this with paint. I feel blocked and discouraged and there is much grumping on my part as I head back to my studio to unpack. I stay up way late in my studio percolating on the view from the day, seeking the call to paint. But I am not feeling the paint groove.
Staring at a Blank Canvas
On day two and three I have a friend help and yes, he is still my friend. The festival was to start at 10 am but I have us on a very early detailed schedule and time for all sorts of things to go wrong. There are lists and post it notes all over my studio. . . don’t forget this. . . do this. Of course, we are set up way too early. I have a brand new tent for shade and I feel quite prepared logistically. But it’s just us and other painters. There are no early morning art lookers to distract me from the fact that I am still staring at a blank canvas.
All the artists I see have work on their canvases already and it’s really good. Ok, I have not even mentioned the “I’m an abstract painter where do I fit in” angst. Almost every other artist is representational. What is on their canvas is what you see with your eyes . . . not the inside eyes that I paint with.
Like a breath of fresh air, friends and nice new folks come by later in the morning and I get to talk about yes, my still blank canvas. I have a small curious group all rooting for me under my cool blue tent. My stomach is lead and I am sure I will not produce anything worthy. But I take a deep breath, stand tall into myself, and announce that I am going to paint!
Self Doubt Again?
Oh, they are so watching me. I can just feel their eyeballs on me. I am not ever doing this again. I am not cut out for this. I need solitude! Can I go back to my studio and paint?
Of course, what is happening on my canvas, mirrors what is happening inside my head and it’s not pretty.
I am working on the ground as I often do. I start the work with sections of various blues and greens and then add flow release, a medium that changes the viscosity of the paint. Like the water, my colors start to flow and so do I. While alternating between being lost in my work and thinking “don’t look at me,” there is a struggle on my canvas and beauty won. I have paint all over me, my body is humming with creation and on my canvas is the Long Island Sound. I am very tired, but tentatively pleased.
I step back from my work and in a moment of wanting to share the freedom I feel when I paint, I give blank canvas and paper to the folks under my tent. An impromptu painting class begins. Glory was produced by my new art pals as they too experienced moments of the exhilaration and transformation of abstraction.
P.S. I am still doing a happy dance as this work sold at Gallery North!
What brings you exhilaration and creation? Comment below so we can hear you.
Details from Summer in the Sound, © 2016 Alicia R Peterson, acrylic on canvas, 10 x 30.”
My view for painting. Happy me after completing Summer in the Sound.
Red, Yellow Fireworks, acrylic on 12” diameter oval form,
© 2015 Alicia R Peterson, $350
Photo: Peter Scheer
Recently I have been compelled to return to painting on the ovato tondo form. Painting on this form feels as if I can transpose a slice of the universe onto my canvas. It gives me the ability to capture a moment of infinity.
In fact, the calling to this form is so strong, that when I walked into my studio I declared to myself that I couldn’t possibly paint on a rectangular canvas! They are just too angular opposed to the oval which was an eerie visceral reaction to a shape reflecting my inner journey. It was a longing to work in the deeply feminine experience of creating on ovals.
This series is the most critiqued of all my work. Painter Stan Brodsky my mentor called Green & Black (below) spooky and laughed at me (in the best of way) for taking the creative risk to paint abstractly on a shape traditionally known for portraits.
Green & Black, acrylic on 12 “ diameter oval form,
© 2015 Alicia R Peterson, $350
Photo: Peter Scheer
I have had a few negative comments as well from trusted colleagues. This has given me pause, but I kept on painting inside curves.
I am pondering the comments of many of my scientist friends about the organic nature of my work. I will be writing more on this as the discussion continues.
And still, my most recent ovals feel so close to the bone that I need to sit with them and just be for a spell. Then I can let them go out into the world to you.
I was oh so happy to be classed up … I had not a clue about these lovely sounding Italian names for oval and circle. Well, true confessions, it was my art business coach, Alyson B Stanfield, who made the suggestion and added sophistication to my website portfolio. Yes, I will write ovato tondo and tondo with abandon in this blog … don’t you just want to say them out loud? Go ahead, I won’t tell. I have several ovato tondo paintings and only one tondo (circle) painting but, oh, there will be more. I await a calling to the circle form again.
These new ovato tondo works are not on my site yet … awaiting a readiness within me to share this deep work. Professional photographs by Peter Scheer will be next when I am ripe to emerge in ovalness and then they will be launched out! You will be the first to know. I have been painting up a storm of ovals.
Here are some glimpses:
Yet to be named…acrylic on 24 “ diameter oval form
© 2016 Alicia R Peterson
Also yet to be named…. acrylic on 12 “ diameter oval form
© 2016 Alicia R Peterson
Do you have words about ovato tondos or other works? Let me hear them below in the comments!
I was a student of Sensei Hidy Ochiai and studied Washin-ryu Karate-Do for 12 years. The life lessons I learned and character I built as his student stays with me. Even though I no longer formally study with him, I still consider myself one of his loyal students. I remain a fierce warrior of light.
As a martial artist I was trained to focus beyond the target. If the technique was a punch to the solar plexus, you aimed past the body so you delivered power throughout the strike. My second martial arts teacher, this time in Aiki Jitsu, used to say, ”Look to the mountains, that is your focal point.”
Orange Blue Moving Tru, © 2016, acrylic on canvas, 12 x 12” $350
Photo: Peter Scheer
I aim past the target when I throw paint. Thus, I capture a section of the trajectory bringing you the viewer into a moment of the movement.
When you work with a partner practicing a technique, of course, you don’t want to hurt them. It’s all about control. Being able to put the full movement into the technique, but stopping right before you make contact.
In the beginning I ended the technique way before the focal point, way in front of the body. As my control developed, I was able to get closer and closer without making contact. This applies to my artistic process as well.
At times I want to express a segment of the movement and show the full range of the throw’s trajectory. Here I must use control; it is a focus of wanting the paint to land almost in front of the canvas. And if my control is spot on, I end the movement right before the canvas ends.
Stop and Accelerate © 2015, acrylic and glass bead on linen, 24 x 36 “ $1100
Photo: Peter Scheer
It’s a gloriously messy process; some of my most exhilarating and freeing experiences as an artist are when I throw paint.
Also it’s the patterns outside the canvas that I find fascinating. I am investigating incorporating the painting beyond the canvas into my creations.
Night painting, works in process
Photo of my studio walkway with paint on it, evidently the rain does not wash paint off.
During all sorts of weather I paint outside.
I developed these works as part of a submission to a show on movement in art. And drats! Second rejection of 2016. This time I was caught in a moment of discouragement. Luckily I was headed to class with my teacher and mentor Stan Brodsky at the Art League of Long Island. True confessions — I did mention (ok seriously vent) to some of my art pals about not getting into the show. They kindly laughed at (with) me and basically told me to get over myself. Rejection is the life an artist. A seasoned painter and poet told me she had a stack of NO letters several feet high (from her hand gestures) and that she had made an art piece from them. I am so fortunate to have colleagues that will not let me have even a moment of a “pity party.”
So here’s to rejection and what it teaches me as an artist and human being and here’s to taking risks and making glorious mistakes. This is my daily work as an artist.
Do you focus beyond your target? And what glorious mistakes have you made?