CASA and Marva’s Heart

Marva came up from Tucson for my Luscious Abstractions class last April. She enjoyed the critique so much that afterwards she asked if I would do something similar for her art group. Marva is the program coordinator for the Contemporary Artists of Southern Arizona (CASA). So we came up with a plan, and in October I drove to Tucson with slides, demo, and critique supplies in hand.

My morning presentation was called “Honoring the Paint: Layers and Pouring in Abstract Painting.”

CASABigScreen10-7-2016

CASATalkHoldingUpPtg

CASABigScreenTucson

The program included a pouring demo, but on seeing a CASA show the evening before, I realized that the canvas I had brought was not suitable. The group would benefit more if I used a regular store-bought canvas instead of my hand-stretched one where the paint runs at a much slower speed. So Marva offered a canvas of her own.

This gesture, and Marva’s whole nature, was so generous that when it came time to pour the demo and I needed a title, the first one that popped to mind was “Marva’s Amazing Heart.” Here is the way the painting evolved:

CASAMarvasAmazingHeartPour1

This was the initial pour during the demo. Look at that yummy yellow! Pours are luscious when wet.

CASAMarvasAmazingHeart2

I added a second pour when I got back to my studio. The painting needed more action in the corners, and I wanted a soft, neutral gray to offset the active red.

Marva's Amazing Heart, by Julie Bernstein Engelmann, Latex and acrylic on canvas, 24"H x 20"W

The finished painting: “Marva’s Amazing Heart,” by Julie Bernstein Engelmann, Latex and acrylic on canvas, 24″H x 20″W.  I turned the canvas vertically and completed it in acrylic. First, I seated the diamond shape on the beautiful base. Then, I integrated the corners by modifying the colors and activity. Finally, the center suggested a “story,” which also served to give it definition.

A group of artists stayed for the afternoon Mini-workshop, “Revitalize your abandoned artwork! In-process critique with Julie Bernstein Engelmann.”  Each attendee brought a piece she was stuck on or hadn’t finished in a previous workshop. Using acrylic on glass over the painting, I demonstrated the thought process for enhancing the magic you do see in the paint, rather than letting frustration blind you to it.

CASAMiniWkshPointing

The next day, heading home my daughter and I stopped at the studio of a friend who wanted a private art class. It was a special and sacred time.

PrivateLessonMaryanneMaldonadobyPaulM-Tucson10-9-2016

Maryanne Maldonado and her magical mystery painting. Photo by Paul Maldonado

My favorite kind of trip: as an art emissary!

 

Art Exploration in Charmed Santa Fe

In August 2016, my sister Beth from Tucson had a conference to attend in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I was quick to tag along to check out the art!

Like Sedona, Santa Fe is filled with beautiful adobe structures. Unlike Sedona’s clean, contemporary adobe look, much of Santa Fe’s is rustic and natural. You can feel the evolution of structures over time.

SantaFeAlley

SantaFeCourtyard.sm

As part of her conference, my sister and I took a Healing through Self Portraits workshop with Amy Stein. Actually it was drawing your inner self, as there were no mirrors. I think her quirky humor was the most healing aspect of the workshop!

SantaFeAmySteinPortraitWksh

The galleries on Canyon Road are a fairyland of exploration! Amid much wonderful abstract art, I made some good connections.

SantaFeColorfulSculptureGarden.sm

SantaFeGGallery.sm

Serendipitously, the week before, someone had told me to check out the art of Stan Berning. I was impressed with his work – and excited to learn that he lived in Santa Fe, just where I was going! Right off the main square, his studio has an exhibition space called Art Box  that can be seen through a big window even when he’s not there.

SantaFeStanBerningArtBox

Thrillingly for me, we were able to meet and have a long conversation about abstract painting. Stan showed me a treasure trove of luscious paintings that had not seen the light of day for a long time! Apparently I was so engaged in the moment that it never occurred to me to take a picture of him in his studio to show you.

Another special connection was made in Santa Fe. A Fun Fact from my past is that my sister’s and my high school art teacher in Austin, Texas was a Mexican-American/Native-American who went on to become one of the most highly successful and well-known artists in that arena, Amado Pena. We visited him at his gallery in Santa Fe, plus I managed to find his sprawling studio somewhere in the most convoluted and authentic red-dirt back roads of an Indian reservation.

We paid him one last visit at his booth at the art fair that happened to be held the final day of our trip, and headed home.

Okay, this picture is actually from an art fair in Tucson 2015, but we all looked exactly the same in 2016. Photo by Minda Bernstein

Okay, I neglected to take a pic that day, but this picture is from an art fair in Tucson in April 2015, and hey, we all looked exactly the same in August 2016. Photo by Minda Bernstein

 

The Art of Summer

Summer in the Southwest: hot, dry, timeless freedom. Here is how mine went.

Luscious Abstractions students painted enthusiastically at the Sedona Arts Center, May 2016.

Tracy, Gioia, Stephanie, Brenda

Tracy, Gioia, Stephanie, Brenda

In June a gentle free spirit, Marj Leininger, came from New Mexico for a private workshop. Here she is with our paintings-in-progress (hers on the left, mine at right).

Marj Leininger

The Sedona Summer Colony cast a charmed spell over six weeks of the summer. A new collaborative venture of the Sedona Arts Center, over 100 artists came from all across the USA to the beautiful red rocks of Sedona for inspiration and creation. My daughter was an intern for the Colony, so I led a number of hikes.

Devil’s Bridge Trail wound up through jutting rocks to a spectacular landscape:

Devil's Bridge, Sedona

DevilsBridgeSedonaSummerColony.sm

DevilsBridgeCliffAbove.sm

DevilsBridgeKyleAtop

DevilsBridgeUnderAbstractVert.sm

That last shot is quite abstract! Here is my daughter Amber on Dead Man’s Pass Trail:

DeadMansTrailAmber

We also climbed the heart-stopping Cathedral Rock Trail:

CathedralRockSunAbove.sm

CathedralRockTopJulie.sm

My hat tried to blow away in the gusty wind on those heights. Photo by Wanda Holmes

Summer in Arizona means hummingbirds! I make a practice of trying to photograph them in the sunset.

SunsetHummies SunsetHummy

Meanwhile, my painting “Saved by Flaw” was in the show Of the Earth at the Sedona Arts Center in July (biggest one in photo).

SACOfTheEarth-July2016

“Promontory” was in the Sedona Arts Center’s August show, Blowin’ in the Wind.

Photo by Beth Bernstein

Photo by Beth Bernstein

Local newspaper The Cottonwood Journal gave a cute caption to a photo of my painting. It says, “Gallery 527 artist Julie Bernstein Engelmann will show her work, ‘I May Be All That Exists.’ That is something to think about and discuss at First Saturday Art Walk on July 2 in Jerome.”

Gal527NewsClip.sm

In August my Luscious Abstractions class at the Sedona Arts Center included a joyful and loving combination of deeply spiritual people of different faiths.

Rabbi Alicia and Marj

Flo, Rabbi Alicia, Marj

Here are their fabulous paintings!

SACLuscAbAug2016PtgsFinalPtgsMarjLindaFloAlicia

L to R: Paintings by Marj Leininger, Linda Hogsett, Florence Johns, Alicia Magal

Marj, like summer, stayed for an extra day of pouring.

SACAug2016MarjLeiningerPouring

The summer wasn’t complete without a trip to Santa Fe, but that’s another post!

 

Cheerful painters

I think I am enjoying teaching more and more as I relax into the flow of a class and let the magic unfold. After my March class, cleaning up the brushes, I realized I was so energized I could have taught another one then and there.

Here are some of the bright faces and paintings that brought me so much joy.

SACBmessApr2016AllAtEasels

Jane, Sharon, Marva, Wayne, Sue, Judee

SACBmessApr2016AllDisplayingWork

Sharon, Jane, Julie, Wayne, Marva, Sue. Photo by Christi Slivinski.

Marva invited me to give a presentation and mini-workshop for the Contemporary Artists of Southern Arizona (CASA) in Tucson! So I’m scheduled for Oct. 7, 2016. My presentation will be titled, “Honoring the Paint: Layers and Pouring in Abstract Painting.”

The mini-workshop (3 hours) will be called “In-process critique to revitalize your abandoned abstracts!” Marva had mentioned that the CASA members learn many techniques in their workshops, but often the instructors leave them to finish their paintings on their own. Whereas, my joy is in helping students see their paintings to the end, when they get to witness everything coming together!

 

Sunfire doll and the desert

My sister Beth invited me to Tucson to take a doll workshop with Gretchen Lima, her favorite doll creator, who happens to live nearby in the desert.

It was delightful to learn from taking another artist’s workshop, relax into her instructions, and see her fabulous studio setup. Here is a rare picture of my sister sewing (on the right).

VailGretchenLimaDollWkshBethSewing

And here is my doll creation, called Sunfire, inspired by my sunshiney red-headed daughter Amber.

GretchenLimaWkshSunfireDoll1

Can you see the resemblance?

May2012 329.AmberDreadsNorwCrop

Ha, that’s a funny picture of Amber a few years ago, but it looks closer to the doll than most!

Here is some desert beauty from our hike: a field of prickly pear; ocotillo flowers in the deep blue sky; palo verde branches with a bird’s nest; and…a little prickly pear love!

VailDesertPricklyPear VailOcotilloFlowersInSky

VailDesertPaloVerde+Nest VailDesertHeartCactus

 

Heart-filled group

What a lovely class I had in March, three heart-filled, outflowing artists from the Phoenix area and one from Sedona. Too bad I didn’t take a picture of them, but here are their fascinating artworks.

Acrylic on paper paintings by Julie Chrismer, Perri Skolnick, Mary Ann Turney, Ellen Shell

A kind of self-report card I use for my teaching is, how different are the artworks that my students create in class? The more different they are, the more successful I feel I have been in bringing out the uniqueness of the artist.

 

Dear deer: Creating through desire and allowing

For the Sedona Arts Center 36th Annual Juried Members Show, March 4-28, 2016, I entered two paintings; both got selected. One of them was an odd painting that came out of me after I had moved to Arizona, yet didn’t feel settled yet.

I had been looking at a pink and yellow canvas for quite awhile. The rectangular pink form on the lower half had begun to take on a life of its own.

That’s when my friend Scott, forever passionate about deer, commissioned me to paint a deer portrait.

Quiet, detail, acrylic on canvas, 20"Hx24"W, 2014. Private collection

Quiet, detail, Julie Bernstein Engelmann, acrylic on canvas, 20″Hx24″W, 2014. Private collection

In the course of looking at deer faces and deer paintings I got onto the wavelength. Suddenly it became clear what the vision was on my pink and yellow canvas:

Julie Bernstein Engelmann, Creating Through Desire and Allowing, acrylic on canvas, 25"Hx25"W

Julie Bernstein Engelmann, Creating Through Desire and Allowing, acrylic on canvas, 25″Hx25″W

The force of those antlers was very masculine compared to my usual flowy forms. I may have to return to such imagery one day! The eye needed to remain in transition – an abstraction transition…

The title, “Creating Through Desire and Allowing,” was a subject on my mind. How do you manifest something in your life? The object coming into view between the antlers represents to me the oscillation between desire and allowing that occurs in the process of bringing a creation into being, into reality.

 

Let it be easy

To watch a good artist on a roll is to see ease in motion. Like a trickling brook, the artist cascades from one brushstroke to the next, allowing the gravity of ease to carry them. 

Less experienced artists may struggle. Overthinking and under-observing make it hard to hear the natural voice of ease and flow.

Let it be easy!

For example, does the motion of your brushstroke seem to expand your joy, intrigue, and relief? Or does it contract, like your mind is taking control because it doesn’t trust the muse? Expand or contract: that distinction makes it easy!

Listen richly to life.

See if you have room, right now, to loosen up and let it be easy. Allow the light and sound around you to help you — you are in an ocean of Source!  Each moment is a chance to open to expansion and ease.

LetItBeEasy24x30-3

Let It Be Easy, by Julie Bernstein Engelmann, acrylic and latex on partially primed canvas, 24″H x 30″W

One-day Luscious Abstraction

In February I tried teaching a one-day Luscious Abstraction class at the Sedona Arts Center, curious whether that would attract students who didn’t have time for a longer class. Indeed it did!

Nickie, BJ, and Jennifer painting

Nickie, BJ, and Jennifer painting

It was a dear group, and we had a wonderful time.

The funny thing was, it turned out lucky I had scheduled only one day! Just before lunch I realized I had caught my husband’s cold/flu, and by the end of they day I was practically in an altered state. I hope to goodness I didn’t pass along anything but earnestly helpful art insights. 

 

Luscious Dream Abstraction

The Sedona Arts Center hosted a Sedona Art Retreat in February. As part of the Personal Imagery Path, I taught a spiritual/art workshop called Luscious Dream Abstraction. We took a personal dream and made art out of it, in a layering process.

This one was my demo.

This one was my demo.

The paintings serve as a kind of dream board, embodying each artist’s goals. I was surprised to discover that by using such a personal process, the artists ended up creating pieces that hardly needed any discussion about composition.

I loved how each of the paintings came out. We were having so much fun gushing over them, I forgot to take photos!