Category Archives: Presentations

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.”

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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:

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

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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.

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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.

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

My favorite kind of trip: as an art emissary!

 

El Valle demo and workshop

The El Valle Artists Association in Cottonwood, AZ, invited me to do a demo and workshop in November 2015. Here is a picture from the demo.

Photo by Elaine Bomkamp

Photo by Elaine Bomkamp

It is always refreshing to gather with fellow artists! The workshop was held in a school, so during our break we had fun swinging on the swingset. A couple of the older artists hadn’t swung for 7 decades!

Who is this infinite being?

I had gotten a couple boxes of 20″x24″ canvases to make paintings that I could bring on an airplane. It was freeing to have so many canvases to experiment on, do demos, and, in a way, use them as sketchbook pages.

Here’s one that made it into the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh Juried Group Art Exhibition, Nov. 15, 2013-Jan. 11, 2014 at The FrameHouse Gallery in Ice House Studios, Lawrenceville, Pittsburgh, PA.

Who Is This Infinite Being

Who Is This Infinite Being, by Julie Bernstein Engelmann, 20″H x 24″W, Latex and acrylic on canvas, 2013

This was a case of it takes a community to name a painting. I started out with the title, “Am I really still with this man?”

Have you ever looked in awe at your spouse like: who is this person? How odd that after all this time–I’m changing every day, he’s changing every day–we are still together as if it is the same relationship? How is it possible that two beings could evolve so dramatically, in two different minds and world views, yet still enjoy each other, pretend to know each other, work around each other’s life plans, and laugh often? It is beautiful and weird.

So I used that title for the demo painting I did in my residency at IUP. (I’ll write about the residency next.) While my fellow teachers were nodding their heads, I think it alarmed the students, who still had their tender lives ahead of them and might not have felt comfortable attaining this extraneous piece of wisdom from their elders.

So I changed the title to, “Am I really still here?” and posted it on my Facebook page to ask whether this new title still sounded negative (which was the opposite of my intention). It came back with a lot of nodding and suggestions for positive ways to convey my meaning.

Thanks to all the good ideas and some playing around with them, I came up with the right title that suits my painting perfectly: “Who Is This Infinite Being?” Ahh.

 

In Flow and Ease

My recent painting, In Flow and Ease, won the First Place Professional award at the Indiana Art Association Spring Show, Indiana, PA, June 7, 2013.

In Flow and Ease, by Julie Bernstein Engelmann, Acrylic and latex on unprimed canvas, 24"Hx18"W

In Flow and Ease, by Julie Bernstein Engelmann, Acrylic and latex on unprimed canvas, 24″H x 18″W

I used this same painting to create a sheet of flowy stationery that I’m offering as a gift for people to download and print who sign up for my free Beauty & Spirit Note from the studio. If you’re already signed up, I’ll include a link in upcoming newsletters.

Free In Flow and Ease stationery to download and print

Free In Flow and Ease stationery to download and print

In other news…I gave a talk on Abstract Art–my principles and stories — at the Greensburg Art Center, Greensburg, PA, May 13, 2013.

Greensburg Art Center, Greensburg, PA, May 13, 2013

What I learned from the young ones

In May I had the intense experience of a month-long residency teaching abstract painting to K-12th graders in a therapeutic school setting.

I’ve taught Abstract Acrylic Painting dozens of times over the past nine years, refining my methods each time to better help students avoid pitfalls and quickly reach a level of comfort and freedom of expression through their materials.

Teaching a workshop at the East Suburban Artists League, Murrysville, PA, April 13, 2013.

Little did I know the kids would change my game forever. They showed me that the steps I was teaching could be collapsed even further, which has led me to develop a new course called From Beautiful Mess to Strong Composition. I will be teaching this workshop several times in July and August, and then developing it into an online course. To keep informed, sign up for my free Beauty & Spirit Note from the studio.

Student working

Residency final exhibit, May 30, 2013

Residency final exhibit, May 30, 2013

 

Talk about Being Spirit

What a wonderful turnout and enthusiastic audience for my Lunch a l’Art talk for my Being Spirit exhibit at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Altoona, PA. Here are some photos and snippets from my talk on March 13, 2013.

“I found that latex and acrylic complemented one another. The color range was vast, and the variations of fluidity were exciting. I could make what I call a beautiful mess to start with, and then go in with my brushwork and give form to the painting, and add things to create — well, I never know what!

“I pick up on the stories in the paint, and I start adding depth, and make it into shapes, and the vibrations start to come into tune. As some parts come into tune, the other parts–it becomes apparent what needs to happen. And by the time I’ve worked it through, there comes a moment when the entire painting jumps into 3D, like a hologram.”

“I began to take pieces out of my journal and use them for starting points on my paintings. You can see, some of the titles are kind of long and unusual, and I think that they’re fun, because sometimes they’re even a spiritual exercise of their own.

“But once I started working with these ideas, so they were more personal, it became much easier for my intuition to kick in. And I began realizing that I was actually working with the paint as a co-creator, that the paint had a consciousness about it. I began realizing that I wasn’t alone in what I was doing. And it was a huge revelation. I can’t tell you how this turned the corner for me.”

One more special event will take place before my exhibit closes on April 20, and that is my Artist’s Reception on April 13. Guess what! A choreographer who came to my talk got inspired to create a dance, and will be performing it, along with some other dancers, at my reception!

Here is the description:

“Finding My Voice” is a modern dance choreographed by Jennifer Park, based on an exploration of Julie Bernstein Engelmann’s creative life as it transfers from canvas to dancers. Inspired by many of the stories behind Julie’s abstract paintings, the dancers frame the works through movement, stillness, voice, reflection, and energy. Witness as the dancers communicate from painting to body back to painting… and eventually to you. We hope you will feel inspired to join in!

Please click to Exhibit and Event Info for all the details and to RSVP. I hope to see you there!

Abstract Painting Spirit

This summer I was asked to speak to a group about my creative process. I offered to create a video, because my process is in the living color! So this is my first video, showing the process of making two of the paintings for my Lily Pads exhibit. It’s 9 minutes. P.S. The group responded well!

Abstract artist Julie Bernstein Engelmann demonstrates her creative painting process (acrylic and poured latex) and discusses the Spirit in the paint. Beautiful music by composer Bruce Mitchell. 9 minutes.

Lily Pads
I was fortunate to be offered the second-ever exhibit at The Artists Hand Gallery, our new art center in my town of Indiana, PA. Here is the postcard:

Why Lily Pads?
Artist Statement for Lily Pads exhibit (excerpt)

This summer I took my annual sojourn to northern Wisconsin. On a day trip, our pontoon ambled through a chain of lakes and channels to a secluded area strewn with lily pads.

I was struck by the majesty of the water lilies: their confident blooms bursting forth from the impervious, sashaying leaves swaying above the secretive, sinuous stems swishing in the undertow. I took countless pictures.

Back in Indiana, Sandy asked me whether I had come up with a title for my show. In a leap of faith, I decided to create my show around that inspiration, even though I only had three weeks to prepare new paintings. Luckily, many of my current paintings fit the feeling of the theme: bold yet fluid. I set about creating several new pieces.

You may notice some interesting titles. These are taken from my journal. I name my paintings before I paint them. I don’t always keep the titles, but they provide a meaningful starting point for my embarkation from blank white canvas into the land of discovery. They guide me along the way, and they usually turn out to be uncannily suitable.


Color – joy – refreshment – intuition in overdrive – unexpected, thrilling color-texture blends – lush beauty and tactility – childlike freedom – releasing the left brain – being alive to this moment : these are reasons I create art. Can you see them in the paintings?

- Julie Bernstein Engelmann, August 21, 2012

Best of Show
Earlier this summer I was very proud to receive the Best of Show award in the Indiana Art Association 71st Spring Show at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Museum. It was a big surprise, because there were several other pieces that could easily have taken the award. Here is the winner: Saved by Flaw 36″Hx40″W.

Best Art Sales
Thanks to my wonderful patrons and dear fans, I had the best summer ever in painting sales. I sold 17 paintings through my Silent Auction, plus three more after-auction sales. On top of that, two realistic commissions paid for my summer travels to Ontario and Wisconsin–a great way to go.

So I have had a very good summer and am looking forward to a fantastic fall. I hope you are, too!

Yours, Julie