Elliott’s Painting Visit

Elliott, a Vital Abstracts mentoring client from New York City, had an inspiration. Why not take his vacation in Sedona, Arizona and get some private lessons from me in person at the same time? We timed the trip so that he could start with my two-day course, Luscious Abstractions.

Scenes from Luscious Abstractions at the Sedona Arts Center, March 2017:

Then we dove into several days of individual instruction:

We ended with a lovely hike at Sedona’s beautiful Bell Rock vortex. Unfortunately, my photos of the hike seem to have disappeared into the vortex, hopefully to be found at a later date!

Gifts of Soul show

Here are shots from my exhibit, “Gifts of Soul,” at Gallery 527 in Jerome, Arizona, December 2016 through January 2017.

 

The Art of Autumn

Here are highlights from the fall months of 2016:

Such a lovely group of painters from my Luscious Abstractions crash course at the Sedona Arts Center, September 2016. Notice how differently each painting turned out!

Stephanie Watson and her gorgeous painting from my Luscious Abstractions crash course at the Sedona Arts Center, November 2016.

This is my painting “Morning Pages,” 30×24, acrylic on canvas. My student from Luscious Abstractions (Nov 2016), Rosemary Keiser, liked it so much she took this shot as I submitted it to the Sedona Arts Center Holiday Show. She must have added some magic fairy dust, because the painting sold the next day before the show even opened.

These are shots from a show at the Sedona Arts Center Village Annex Gallery, located in a mall in the Village of Oak Creek for the holiday season. Maybe you can spot my paintings on the walls! I painted there often and gained valuable insights about my works-in-progress from customers.

Here are painters Theresa and Jennifer from my Meaningful Abstracts workshop at the Sedona Arts Center, December 2016.

 

 

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!

 

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.

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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!

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

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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.

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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).

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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

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

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We also climbed the heart-stopping Cathedral Rock Trail:

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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.

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

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“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.”

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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!

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

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

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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.

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Jane, Sharon, Marva, Wayne, Sue, Judee

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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).

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

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Can you see the resemblance?

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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!

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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.