Category Archives: Muse

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!

 

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.

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

Local Color

Our new home lies among the ruins of the Sinagua Indians, a name given to the ancestors of the Hopi (and other tribes) who thrived in the Verde River Valley from 1100-1250 A.D. We live near three national monuments…and one lesser known landmark:

Here is Montezuma Well, just two miles from our home. The well is a seemingly endless source of fresh water in the desert: 1,500,000 gallons per day has been coming out of this limestone sinkhole spring for thousands of years. The Sinagua lived in the dwellings you can see in the rock face. Our drinking water comes from this well, and while it tastes pretty bad, I like knowing it will always be there.

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Montezuma Castle is another ancient Sinagua dwelling 11 miles south.

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Tuzigoot National Monument is about 20 miles northwest, in Clarkdale.

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All pictures are by me, except this one of me, which was taken by my daughter Amber Engelmann

More importantly, one must not overlook the lesser-known tourist attraction pictured below, which greets any visitor to our exit off the freeway between Phoenix and Flagstaff. As you can see by the sign — and especially important to an artist like me — a home for fine art is right in my neighborhood!

And honestly, tell me. Are you greeted by an alien every time you drive home?

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Um, don’t answer that.

Home Sweet Home

I love beginning a new life. But reinstating the dozens of working systems that comprise a home makes me appreciate the efficiency of regular daily life.

As I was busy unpacking in the bedroom, I asked my daughter to unpack paintings in the living room. I was unprepared for what I would see two hours later when I re-emerged for air!

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But eventually it came together.

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Here’s our view.

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Sedona is just over there!

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