Jeg Var Her!

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Like so many who sign the guest book, I can hardly believe that "I was here!” ‘Here’ is Ryvingen, the southernmost lighthouse in Norway. This small island is the first stop for wind and waves crashing in from the North Sea. Migrating birds rest and nest here. Visitors come when the weather is good, and it's an overnight destination for every sixth grader in Mandal schools. It has also been my home for the last six weeks as Ryvingen's first artist-in-residence.

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I've spent my time exploring and making paintings of the pink granite, grassy fields, and rocky shores, working en Plein air, mostly on my own, occasionally in the company of friends, and almost always to the tinkling bells of the sheep that graze here in the summer.


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Like waves on the beach, I've experienced this sequence of emotions:

Amazement - that I had this opportunity.
Panic - that I might not be able to meet my goals.
Confidence - once my painting got in the groove.
Surprise - at the energy that infused my work here.
Excitement - at sharing my paintings with others.
Nostalgia - thinking of the experiences I've had here and the people I will remember when I have moved on.


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There will be an opening for a show of my work this Sunday, June 26th, at 12:00 noon in the lighthouse. To my dear friends from home...I know you probably won't be able to come, so please check out my work in the album to the right. To my new dear friends...vi sees snart!


Double Eagles

ImageWhen I made this painting I was thinking only of the eagles; their fierce and joyful presence at Eagle Rock, the retreat built by Ernest and Dorothy Gruening in the early 1950's. Only later did I come to think of the eagles as spirit reminders of Ernest and Dorothy Gruening themselves. They were leaders in national and state politics and the arts, great original thinkers, and strong believers in public service; their legacy is one that has been honored by the creation of Ernest Gruening State Historical Park and the Artist-in-Residence Program that was recently established there.

In June, last summer, I had the opportunity to spend two weeks at Eagle Rock, painting as the AIR Program's first resident artist; my work from that experience will be shown at Kaill's Gallery on Front Street in Juneau next month, with an Opening Reception on Friday, February 5th, from 4:30 to 7:30 pm. I hope you can stop by!


Order and Chaos

ImageAmidst the jumble of vegetation in our fields and forests, individual plants grow in patterns held in common with every member of its species, every species of its genus, and every genus of its order. Alternate leaves or opposite, single or multiple stems, flowering or non-flowering; there is consistency, regularity...order...in the vast and overlapping abundance of Nature.

ImageIn this series of paintings, as in Nature, I search for order in the chaos. I begin with an underpainting that allows pigments to blend and swirl, creating colors and accidental effects that support the detailed forms of plants and flowers, branches and twigs. Paints, applied in color glazes, mix both physically and optically, creating depth and a smooth ceramic-like surface on wood panels.

These paintings are about the search for order in the big chaos of Life; they will be on display this Friday, November 6th, at the Artique Gallery in Anchorage, Alaska, with an opening reception from 6:00 to 8:00 pm.


Artist-In-Residence: Ernest Gruening State Historical Park


ImageI'm in my studio for the first time since my artist-in-residency, where I spent two weeks living in a cabin rich in history, in a setting wild and wonderful. The salmon were jumping, whales were spouting, sea lions feeding, berries ripening, and the wildflowers blooming, all to the regular rise and fall of the tide, the sweep of the sun, and the changes in the moon. Immersed in nature, inspired by the beauty all around me, I spent my time painting, painting, painting.

I'll have more work to show from this experience in the next weeks and months. Meanwhile, many thanks are due to the people who imagined, created, and now support this program. Thank you, Alaska State Parks, for making this opportunity available!


Alaska Pacific University Gallery Opening March 6th

ImageNow that the packing is done, and the shipping arranged, I can really get excited about my first solo show in Anchorage! On Friday, March 6th, there will be an Opening Reception from 5:30 to 7:00pm for my show at the ConocoPhillips Gallery at Alaska Pacific.


ImageIn the spirit of the Academy Awards, I need to thank those who have helped make this show possible: Jannah Atkins, Curator of Exhibits at APU; Andrea Noble-Pelant of the Alaska State Council on the Arts; my amazing dentist who gave me back my smile in time for my opening; and my Art Buddy, Barbara Craver, who is also having a solo show at APU at the Leah J. Peterson Gallery at the same time. Wow...it would have so much harder and not nearly as fun to try to do this without her help!


ImageThese thanks could go on forever, all truly heartfelt, from daily support from my sister, Naomi, all the way back to my daddy, who first put a crayon in my hand, and my mom, who told me I could do anything I set my mind on. Thanks, Mom and Dad!


If you can't make it on Friday, I'll be in the gallery on Saturday as well, from noon to 2:00pm. I'd like to express my appreciation to each and every one of you who have supported my work for so many years... Thank you!


Accidentally On Purpose


ImageIt's a rare painting that doesn't influence the artist during the process of its creation; paint has a way of making itself a key player in the production of art, often nudging the artist off course in unanticipated directions. In these paintings, I've embraced the power of the paint and made use of the accidental and unanticipated effects of colors mixing, swirling, twisting, and traveling. Incorporating these features, unadulterated, while detailing images in and around them, has been both challenging and rewarding.


ImageWhether separated by a clear layer of glazing medium, or applied simultaneously, the colors affect each other in predictable and unpredictable ways, but they were applied with intention and purpose; drawing on nature, memory, and imagination for inspiration, these paintings were made in celebration of the magic and beauty all around us.


Breakthrough


ImageWhat began, for me, as a year of experimentation with larger and multiple panel paintings, evolved into an exploration of making art with free flowing washes, incorporating the accidental effects of color mixing, taking steps toward semi-abstraction, and developing an enthusiasm for interpreting nature in new ways -- beyond the visible landscapes and plant forms to visualizing natural phenomena at the molecular level.

It's been a breakthrough year for me; creating this work has been fun, challenging, and rewarding. I hope these paintings convey my appreciation of the magic and beauty of the world we live in.

My new work will be at the Juneau Douglas City Museum from December 5th through December 27th. Please join me at the Opening Reception on December 5th, from 4:30 to 7:30pm!


Recent Work

Forest Sparkles, Acrylic on Gessoboard, 30" x 40"Image

Blueberry Progression, Acrylic on Gessoboard, 30" x 40"Image

Light in Motion, Acrylic on Gessoboard, 30" x 40"Image

False Helebore, Acrylic on Gessoboard, 36" x 72"Image

Lupine and Fireweed, Acrylic on Gessoboard, 36" x 72"Image

Emergent Spring, Acrylic on Gessoboard, 30" x 40"Image


Think Big!

Think big! It's a phrase that is both exciting and challenging. This year, thanks to support from the Rasmuson Foundation, I am thinking and working BIG. I've just completed my third large painting for a show scheduled for December 2014 at the Juneau Douglas City Museum. When I say big, I'm talking about three by six to four by twelve foot paintings. I have learned so much while doing this work. The most obvious example: to complete a painting three times as big as any I have ever made before will take...three times as long!

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While I'm working on a big painting I have lots of time to dream about and compose the next painting in my head. Inspirations for new paintings are constantly coming to me only to be eclipsed by the next; no matter how great an idea seemed at one point, if it's not the one that's got hold of my imagination when I finish my current work, it is almost certain to be overridden by the idea of the moment.


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I've learned that ideas keep coming; I just can't keep up with them all. The best I can do is capture them with a few words and a small sketch. Sometimes, that sketch will have to wait, tacked to the bulletin board or stored away in an idea file until the time is right. Maybe it's enough just to have those fantastic ideas for paintings. To compose them in your head. To see art all around you, potential all around you, whether or not the ideas ever are transformed into paintings. To experience the art of life.

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Important Primaries

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Remember the color wheel?  Using red, yellow, and blue, you can mix various shades of all other colors and, notoriously, you can mix them all together to get…mud!  But not all reds are equal, nor blues, nor yellows; the combinations that result from mixing different primaries create distinctly different color signatures.

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It's no secret that I love bright colors. My new work reflects that; but, in addition to my favorite primary colors (Quinachridone Magenta, Hansa Yellow, and Pthalo Blue), these paintings also incorporate an important new set of primaries: memory, imagination, and extrapolation.  

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I'll be showing my new work at Annie Kaill's Fine Art Gallery on Front Street in Juneau on Friday, August 2nd, with a reception beginning at 4:30pm.  I hope to see you there!

 


Dreaming In Color

ALASKA STATE LIBRARY- July 1 to August 23, 2013

 

Small Image Bridal CrownThese paintings are from Juneau, Northwest Washington State, Norway, and the color transmogrifier in my head.  That's the same brain center that sometimes kicks in to certain dream-states and works on brilliant backlit days to change the forest into a psychedelic swirl of pure and intense colors.  It happens unconsciously and sometimes against my will; I just follow the colors and enjoy the trip!

If I limited my palette to burnt sienna, yellow ochre, and Prussian blue this kind of thing wouldn't happen; instead, my paint box is bright with Hansa yellow, quinacridone magenta, and phthalo blue, colors that knock your socks off if you don't tame them with a little of their compliment and a touch of white now and then. 

While the colors might stray from their origin, each of these paintings is firmly anchored in reality.  Bridal crowns can be seen in the folk museums in Norway, though bejeweled rather than decked out in wildflowers; Mt. Baker and the empty tulip fields did glow in the evening light; the quarter moon balanced in perfect symmetry over the Hardanger fjord; and visitors everywhere seek solace and inspiration in the face of nature's ever constant and ever changing energy. 

Paintings in this show can be previewed in the photo album at the top right side of this page.  I hope you can come to the opening reception at the Alaska State Library on July 5th, from 4:30 to 6:00 pm.


Celebrate!

Our local radio station, KTOO FM, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.  I have been a fan of KTOO since I first stepped off the state ferry, back when it still docked downtown, in December, 1981.  By Christmas of that year, I was a volunteer at the station, playing old-timey country music in the wee hours of the morning.  It was just a preview of the many opportunities that would become available to me in my new home in Juneau, Alaska.

I am honored to have been selected by the people at KTOO to have my painting, Waterfall, Salmon Creek, featured on their celebration poster.  The giclee process really captures the color and sheen of the original painting; I'm pleased with the quality of my very first print.  I've attached an invitation to the KTOO Celebration event this Friday.  I hope you can come! 

 

Celebration! Invitation


Snakker du Norsk?

In preparation for my big adventure as an Artist-in-Residence in Norway last fall, I studied language tapes and practiced wrapping my mouth around sounds and letters that don't even exist in the English language.  I stayed at an artist's workplace called Kunstnarhuset Messen in the beautiful town of Ålvik, a small community on the magnificent Hardanger Fjord in Western Norway.  At Messen, a municipally sponsored work space for local and international visiting artists, I had a large studio, good company, and a quiet place to stay.  

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I painted, hiked, and toured Norway by bus, ferry, and train, visiting art studios in Bergen and Trondheim, and, just for being an artist, getting free entry to art Museums everywhere I went.  At the Hardanger Folkemuseum, just a short ferry ride over the Fjord, I spent days learning about traditional Norwegian culture.  I was even lucky enough to attend the Cured Sheep's Head Festival in Voss!  Most importantly, I had time to work, think, and reflect.

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I am so grateful to have had this opportunity.  Mange takk (many thanks) to the good people at Messen and my new friends in Ålvik, the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council for help with my ticket to Norway, and to my local language coach and traveling companion, Mr. Bart Watson, who first introduced me to the sounds of the Hardanger fiddle and Norwegian language and folklore.  

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You are invited to the Franklin Street Gallery at the Baranof Hotel on February 1st, from 4:30 to 7:00, for the opening reception for "Snakker du Norsk?: Three Months of Painting in Norway".  Thanks again for your support!  Har de bra (have it good)!


Golden Opportunities


IMG_9419Every now and then, Life offers Adventures that attract and frighten us in equal measure. Often, the temptation is neutralized by limited time, insufficient money, and worst of all, fear...

Last August, the Universe, and some very nice Earthlings, dropped a golden opportunity right into my lap, and, fortunately, I was able to keep all my worries at bay. Even a lifelong dread of bears didn't stop me from signing on as the first Artist-in-Residence at Kobuk Valley National Park.

I joined a team of biologists, orienteers, dog handlers and expert tracking dogs working on the Park's Bear Study Project in the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes, about an hour by small plane northeast of
Kotzebue.

We kept food in bear proof canisters and slept in little tents far from where we ate. The wind never stopped, so sand blew off the dunes into our hair, our clothes, our tents, our sleeping bags, our food, our teeth – everything. No one ever left camp without pepper spray, because of the bears (black AND grizzly).

IMG_9393I’ve never gone so long without changing clothes, washing hair, or sitting on a chair, yet, somehow, the astonishing beauty of the wilderness and the excellent company I kept more than compensated for any inconvenience. It was, in fact, the Adventure of a Lifetime.

Each work day, three teams of two humans and
one dog would head out to walk transits across the Dunes, tracking down evidence of bear populations. I was left on my own to walk into the wilderness and paint, paint, paint until suppertime.


Working in the Dunes, I had to be able to carry all my gear and art supplies in one backpack and that had to weigh no more than 50 pounds; first, because of the bag limit at Alaska Airlines and, second, because I doubted I’d be able to carry any more than that. I knew we’d be moving camp at least three times, carrying all our equipment across the dunes.

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I limited my paint to just three colors: Pthalo Blue, Hansa Yellow, and Quinacridone Magenta. With
those primaries and white, I could mix any
color I needed. I brought loose sheets of canvas to attach to a set of stretcher bars that I assembled at each worksite. I took my super lightweight easel, reduced my brushes to a bare minimum, and used Ziploc backs for water containers. I agonized over how much paint and how many canvases to bring. How horrible it would be to run out, but how useless to carry materials I wouldn’t use. In the end, I got it just right, finishing my last canvas on the last day in the field.

After two weeks of wandering in the desert, I rolled up my canvases, stuffed my gear into my bulging backpack, and headed to Kotzebue to have a long hot shower and and to lead an art workshop at Park Headquarters. About thirty people from the community came to paint, talk about art, and take a look at the field studies I’d done. Because of the generosity of the Park, participants were able to take home a kit with paint, brushes, and extra canvas boards so they could continue to experiment with painting.

IMG_8915Some of my paintings were nearly completed out on the Dunes; others needed more work in the studio. I think of these finished paintings as field studies, work that is complete in itself, but that might also serve as a foundation for more interpretation in the future.

The Great Kobuk Sand Dunes were unbelievably
beautiful and dynamic, and sparkling with life and color, and endlessly fascinating. I'd like to thank Kes Woodward for directing me to this opportunity, Marci Johnson, NPS Team Leader, for giving me this opportunity, and all the members of the Bear Study Team, for making this adventure such an entertaining and unforgettable experience.

Eighteen of my completed works can be seen in the Photo Album at the top of this page.

Photos of the Bear Study Project on the Dunes can be seen at:

http://gallery.me.com/constancebhartle#100094 


Golden Moments

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The snow is coming down outside, but my studio is cozy and warm.  As I finish paintings begun in the Fall and begin work on new pieces, I've had plenty of time to dwell on both the past and the future.  

While still basking in the glory of my show at the Alaska State Museum, I'm also looking forward to more plein aire painting as the weather improves.  Meanwhile, I'm working diligently at my easel, having fun with my friends, and cross-country skiing; above all, I'm loving living in the moment!

I hope you can join me at the Franklin Street Gallery this Friday from 4:30 to 6:30 for February's First Friday at the Baranof Hotel.  I'll have some new paintings and we'll have a wine-tasting from 4:30 to 6:30 pm. 

Happy New Year to all of you! 

 


Thank You! Happy Holidays!

Thanks, everyone, for a really great opening at the Alaska State Museum last month.  As a person who fairly worships museums, the State Museum's purchase of two of my paintings for their permanent collection was one of the proudest moments of my art career.  My show will be at the Museum until January 14th, and the Museum will be open for Gallery Walk, December 2nd.

Also for Gallery Walk, I will have eighteen new paintings from my recent trip to France in a show of  "Small Works" at the Franklin Street GaIlery at the Baranof Hotel.  Tom Locher will be there at the piano and there will be a wine-tasting at the opening reception from 4:30 to 6:30 pm.  I hope you can join in this festive city-wide celebration of art, music, and lights.  Happy Holidays, Everyone!

Holiday House


 

 


A Long and Winding Road


IMG_9890A year ago, when I heard that my art would be featured at the Alaska State Museum in November 2011, I expected to spend the entire next year, nose to the drawing board, diligently preparing.  I did spend the year getting ready, but it takes more than painting to create a show.  It takes being out in the world, open to all its peaks and valleys, harvesting life's scattered treasures, and wrestling them into something that sits handsomely on canvas.  In other words, I had to paint like I always have; at my usual pace, exploring interesting side paths and intriguing byways, always moving forward, but rarely in a straight line.

I began the New Year by moving into a real artist's studio and keeping regular painting hours.  An inspirational workshop with Kes Woodward in June gave me a surge of energy that was sustained by painting outdoors all summer with Barbara Craver.  An incredible Artist-in-Residence experience at Kobuk Valley National Park in the fall rounded off the year.  A visit to Banff and a week of Tango in Portland added spice to the brew! Now, I am pleased to share a busy year's worth of art, travel, and life experiences distilled into one show.  

IMG_8620Please come and join me for the opening reception on Friday, November 4th, from 4:00 to 7:00pm.  Three other shows open at the Museum that night and Tom Locher will lend an air of elegance to the gala event, playing piano in the gallery.  I hope you'll be there, too.  If you can't make it, please check out my November show in the Preview album on this page.

 


Company's Coming!

 

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October is Open Studio Month in Juneau, Alaska.  The Franklin Street Gallery at the Baranof Hotel is featuring the work of more than 30 Juneau Artists.  All month, studio doors will be open to visitors interested in seeing how and where local artists produce their work.  

My favorite workplace is the Great Outdoors.  Using our re-purposed jogger strollers, my friend and fellow artist, Barbara Craver, and I pushed farther down the trails than ever; however, I nearly always complete my paintings in my studio. This Saturday, October 15th, our studios in the Arcticorp Building will be open from 1-4 pm.  

For this special occasion I've not only tidied up my workspace, I've also updated my website, posting nearly 300 paintings from the last six years in my Archives album and a preview of my show that opens November 4th at the Alaska State Museum.

If you would like a postcard notice for my Museum show, please send your mailing address to me as soon as possible at: www.constancebaltuck.com.

Stop by on Saturday, or any time you're in the neighborhood, and thanks, as always, for your interest in my work!  

 


Adventures in the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes

Hauling Gear Sand in everything; tents, shoes, teeth, food...  Hauling and filtering every drop of drinking water...  Hot sun and cold rain...  At one point I counted and found I was wearing seven layers of clothing; everything I had brought with me but a few extra pairs of socks!  Yet, last month, in the Kobuk Valley National Park,  I had one of the best adventures of my life as an Artist-in-Residence painting in the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes.

The Dunes cover an area over 25 miles square and are ever-changing in the constant wind. Bordering the dunes are tributaries to the great Kobuk River, alive with Grayling and surrounded by dense willow shrub and forests of black spruce.  On the dunes, tiny flowers and hummocks of grass stand high on pedestals carved Painting Setup by the scouring wind.  Towering over all, enormous clouds sail across the sky, trailing showers and rainbows, receding into distant horizons all around.  It was a painter's paradise.  If all goes according to plan, I'll present the 18 paintings I began on the Kobuk in a show next March.  Meanwhile, I continue to prepare for a show with the Alaska State Museum, opening this November 4th.  

Thanks for checking in!  

 


Springtime in Juneau

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Spring is roaring in to Juneau like a pride of lions.  Winds gusting through town at 90 mph send the snow into deep drifts.  Snow plumes shoot off the mountain tops while below, on Gastineau Channel, speeding whirlwinds suck icy water far into the sky.  Not a good time to paint outdoors, but lucky me, to have this view framed by my studio window!  

This Friday, March 4th, we are opening a new show in the Franklin Street Gallery at the Baranof Hotel.  The Baranof will offer a wine-tasting and Barbara Craver, Puanani Maunu, Jane Stokes and I will be hosting an open studio in the gallery. 

Come in out of the cold and try your hand at the watercolor, acrylic painting, and pastel work stations that will be set up.  Art activities and wine tasting will be from 4:30 to 7:00 pm.  I hope you can come!