Sunday, July 24, 2011

TraillWorks Artist to Follow: Karin Lowney-Seed

Thank you to TraillWorks' intern, Ashley Allenfort, for interviewing Karin and putting together this month's "TraillWorks' Artist to Follow."

Karin Lowney-Seed is this month's [TraillWorks Artist to Follow]. Her work is on exhibit at TraillWorks through the end of the summer. Karin is a contemporary painter and interior designer who likes to use bold colors and shapes in her pieces. She uses words, flowers, collages, and a bright color palette to show her eye for beauty. When Jennie asked me to interview Karin I was especially excited about the opportunity. Karin was my professor at the County College of Morris during this past Spring Semester. To say that she was an inspiration would be an understatement. Karin helped our class look at art work and the art world in a different way. It was a great experience to be able to have a conversation with her outside of the classroom.

"Rose Water", Acrylic, 36" x 36", Karin Lowney-Seed, $2250

Ashley: You recently had a faux opening at TraillWorks to film the pilot for a new TV reality show. How did that get started and what will the show be about?

Karin Lowney-Seed: I was approached 8 months ago to film a pilot about my life and what I do. I've been doing interior design for years. I help clients in all aspects of life and guide them in the right direction. I was on another reality show on TLC and they wanted to explore that.

Ashley: What's the progress and when or where will it be available for viewing?

Karin Lowney-Seed: The working title is "Karin Clothes to Home" and it is in the preview stage right now. It will then go into editing in around September or November. So we won't know anything until the end of editing which should be sometime in the fall.
Ashley: How did you know you were meant to be an artist?

Karin Lowney-Seed: I have always been driven by anything creative. It's what gets me up and going. I'm never bored. It's a passion that won't go away.

Ashley: I heard you had an exhibit in Alaska with your sister. How was that? And what is your sister's medium of choice?

Karin Lowney-Seed: It was a great experience. The biggest challenge was getting the work up there and the expense. [My sister] is a sculptor. We were working together helping each other on our projects. I also put together some collages up there.

Ashley: Other than your sister and yourself, are there any other artists in your family?

Karin Lowney-Seed: My father actually was a sculptor and painter. But children and life kind of took him away from it.

Ashley: What artists inspire you?

Karin Lowney-Seed: Every artist inspires me. I am inspired by anybody why thinks outside the box. I am inspired by the classics like Matisse and Picasso. Also Robert Motherwell. There are too many to name.

Ashley: What is your process when beginning a painting? Is it spontaneous, planned, or a little bit of both?

Karin Lowney-Seed: Both, definitely both. I have a tendency to work tight and loose. If I work too tight it comes out too controlled. If I work too loose it's not controlled enough. I try to find a balance between the two.

Ashley: What got you started painting the roses? Do you have a favorite?

Karin Lowney-Seed: I always have a favorite and then the next one I create becomes the favorite. I've done these [circular flower patterns] for over 30 years in my work. It started out that I was working on something and felt instead of it being a part of the [background of the painting] it should be the [subject of the] painting.
"Fish Pond", Acrylic, 36" x 48", Karin Lowney-Seed, $1695

Ashley: Some of the writing in your paintings remind me of graffiti, was that intentional?

Karin Lowney-Seed: Absolutely. For me...I couldn't see a landscape and abstract it [in my mind]. It wasn't my thing. In Florida I was on the beach and wanted to be able to paint the water in a different way. I decided to write what I saw. I did 25 to 30 sketches and then I got it. I knew what I had to do.

Ashley: What inspires your choice of words for these paintings?

Karin Lowney-Seed: I write what I see. Its just words written over and over until it becomes a landscape.

"Believe", collage, 16" x 20", Karin Lowney-Seed, $225

Ashley: Do you create your collages around a single word within the piece?

Karin Lowney-Seed: No, I usually create them, see where they're going...they're thematic...poetic. They take on a poetic sense. Once they're done a word pops out and that's the only word it could be.

Ashley: How do you decide whether to do a collage or a painting to express your ideas?

Karin Lowney-Seed: I wouldn't say "decide"'s usually where I am in the process of thinking. Collages come from wondering where to go next. I'm not going to paint the same thing over and over. A collage will be the in between stage. I use collages to problem solve.

Ashley: What are you reading right now?

Karin Lowney-Seed: I just finished Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. I'm halfway through Sarah's Key by Tatiana be Rosnay.

Ashley: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Karin Lowney-Seed: One thing that's world between interior design and fine arts had collided. I'm interested to see what's happened between the two. What's happening in the art...the materials and how I see things have become one with my interior designs.

Her work is on exhibit at TraillWorks, 214 Spring St. Newton, through the end of the summer. She'll be stopping in soon to swap in some newer work. Stop in a see what the buzz is all about!

"Suck", Acrylic, 36" x 36", Karin Lowney-Seed, $995

Friday, July 15, 2011

Meet artist Brenda A. Decker

Several weeks ago, my associate, Corrie Guddemi, suggested we do a Q & A  profiling the different artists exhibiting at TraillWorks for a monthly feature in our newsletter. So she took it a step further to write as a guest blogger. You might recall her post earlier this month on artist, Martha C. Hall. Without further, adieu, here's her interview with Brenda Decker:

Continuing with my Q & A with TraillWorks' guest artists, this month I'll be speaking with Brenda A. Decker, a very multifaceted artist. I decided to do this interview with Brenda after she brought in two very realistic paintings which were different than the abstract acrylic prints and paintings I was used to seeing from her. I hope you enjoy reading the back story behind this very intriguing artist. Thanks Brenda for satisfying my curiosity!

Corrie: Do you have any formal training in the arts/framing?

Brenda A. Decker: I'm a self taught artist. I've been creating art all of my life. I have studied with a few other artists, always experimenting with different styles and mediums.

Corrie: Do you have a preferred medium?

Brenda A. Decker: I prefer water based mediums like acrylics and inks. The acrylics are very versatile where as you can create with endless possibilities. The quick drying time allows me to paint multiple layers of color and texture.

 Composition 414, acrylic on wood panel, $1200, © 2011 Brenda A. Decker

Corrie: When did you paint “Graceful morning” and “Along the coast”? I couldn’t believe they were yours when I saw them, very different then the gelatin prints I am familiar with! Do you work in both styles at the same time, or do you go through periods where you focus on one way of painting?

Brenda A. Decker: Those traditional style paintings were done about two years ago. I work periodically, switching styles as to where my needs take me. Right now I'm in my
"contemporary phase" painting larger format abstracts with acrylics. I believe that next I will be printing gelatin plate monotypes. Although all of my styles are different, I approach them in a very similar manner. My inspiration for all of my work comes from what I see around me. A peaceful farm scene, colors in nature, an abandoned building, or just a feeling. The painting process starts with multiple layers of carefully chosen color. Then many hours of laboring over the right details, textures or elements, until I'm satisfied with the result. The gelatin prints are slightly different. The colors and design are loosely planned ahead. Since it's a monotype, you print once and marvel at end result.

 Along the coast, acrylic on canvas board, 9.75" x 14.5", $425, © Brenda A. Decker

Graceful Morning, acrylic on canvas board, 8.75" x 14.5", $425,  © Brenda A. Decker

Corrie: I really like “Telephony,” and noticed that the phone book page collaged into that piece is a listing of social service agencies, what was the intent/social message behind that piece?

Brenda A. Decker: "Telephony" of course has a telephone theme that started with the beautiful woman on the phone, collage element. The background is a listing of social services from a phone book. I feel that sometimes help IS just a phone call away. I believe there are people in need of help, and people that are willing to help. I try not to force any specific messages in my art. I would rather the viewer see the art and create their own feelings, making it more personal.

 Telephony, mixed media collage, 10" x 12", $325, © Brenda A.  Decker

Corrie: Is collage a new way of working for you?

Brenda A. Decker: I started collage many years ago with Jonathan Talbot. It's a fun process that simply lets me express myself in a different way. It also lets me recycle and utilize my cool found objects.

Brenda is currently working on creating her own website with the help of artist Jonathan Talbot, which will showcase her artwork. In the mean time, the work pictured here as well as additional pieces can be purchased at TraillWorks. To view more of her work, please continue on to TraillWorks'  Facebook page where Brenda has her own artist's album here.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A really BIG announcement about a really BIG public art commission!

Over the past few months I've been talking behind the scenes with a local private school about the possibility of creating an outdoor mural for their playground space. Jessie Martin, member of the SJRS Enrichment Committee, contacted me back in the beginning of April to inquire if I might be interested in coordinating a collaborative mural to fill the exterior walls of St. Joseph's Regional School in Newton, just up the street from my studio. To say the walls of the school are drab is an understatement. This mural project is part of a playground redevelopment initiative that will occur in phases, mural being Phase 1. Eventually they anticipate ripping up the macadam and replacing it with a brightly colored synthetic rubbery material, with hopscotch game grids, as well as potted plants.

View of the right side of the SJRS courtyard, playground area

View of the short wall on the left side of the larger wall of the SJRS courtyard
Of course, my answer first and foremost was yes. I'm generally one to see an opportunity and snag it; when it comes to my art and career that is. Plus, I've had a secret interest in painting a mural ever since I interned at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1999 and learned about the city's amazing Mural Arts Program. In 2004, I had the honor of designing and painting sets for a New York City modern dance company, ACFD, no longer in operation, which was a great stepping stone to working on a mural. So while I haven't worked at a scale of 40' x 15' (the rough dimensions of the walls at SJRS), I do feel equipped with my background of large scale painting, as well as my experience working with children. The only aspect I'm not been prepared for is climbing up on scaffolding, which I imagine, due to insurance, will be restricted to me, little Jennie. It's a little nerve wracking knowing that I have to ascend to reach heights of 15', when you're only 5' that's pretty high. But, I'm looking forward to experiencing a project which takes me higher and bigger than I'm used to working; I'm reminded of a recent PBS movie on Georgia O'Keeffe which depicted her painting a mural on scaffolding in NYC. I was amazed at that feat and know this commission will stretch me in more ways than just my muscles!

It's taken several months of planning, emailing, putting together a contract, meeting with selected students who spent two sessions brainstorming ideas and sketching with me, and as of today, it is final! I will be working with student and parent volunteers over the course of the summer, in the mornings, when weather permits, to paint a mural that will incorporate, as per Father Brian Sullivan's request, Noah's Ark, The Ascension and The Resurrection, and tie in the students' experiences at school, including, but not limited to, technology, the school mascot, its mission, and more.

Schemata for the SJRS mural, ©2011 Jennie Traill Schaeffer

My intent over the next few days is to design a final sketch of the overall mural that includes some of the students' actual sketches, as well as my own ideas. This will be presented to the school and upon approval, I can begin projecting and outlining the image on the exterior walls. The structure of the mural has been set using the visual armature of stained glass windows to break up the huge walls. This was suggested by Jessie as a way to simplify the space and incorporate references to their stained glass windows in the school. And then when I went to see the courtyard, I noticed the view of neighboring, St. Joseph's Church's bell tower peaking over the short wall. After researching a little bit about Italian architecture from the Middle Ages, I believe, though am not certain, that the design of the church stems from the Lombard Romanesque style and I wanted to tie that into the feel of the school's mural. The design will encompass the schemata of windows, and may in the future, break out of the windows in some areas.

A portion of one of the stained glass windows in the school's art room.

We're working on the possibility of recording the progress of the mural creation, maybe in video. So hopefully along the way, you'll be able to check in and see its development.

I'm looking forward to embarking on this creative endeavor and would like to extend a special thank you to Jessie Martin for thinking of me, reaching out, and pursuing this project with much passion. I'm honored to help St. Joseph's Regional School with such a large-scale and transformative project.

If you're in the Newton area and wish to contribute in any way to this project, we are looking for donations or discounted paint, brushes, lidded plastic containers for paint storage, rags, tarps, and scaffolding. You can contact me at TraillWorks via email or phone,