Three Hillsborough Gallery Artists Work In The Present Tense
The Hillsborough Gallery of Arts showcases the work of painters Linda Carmel and Chris Graebner and glassblower Pringle Teetor in its September Featured Artist Exhibit.
While each of these three artists has a very different style, for this exhibit they produced work focused on the “present tense.”
For painter Linda Carmel working in the present tense meant rediscovering and revising a theme that has been at the core of her work for some time. Over the last few years Carmel’s work focused on women. For Present Tense she originally planned to move her attention to other subjects that interested her, but every painting she tried was a struggle – and time was ticking by. She finally gave in and started to “play” on a blank canvas without worrying about direction or outcome. Women re-emerged as subjects but they emerged in their “present tense” as queens. Most of the women in this series are single figures who are at the “top of their game.” Although regal, some of the titles and figures have a playful element.
Carmel’s paintings are sculptural, three-dimensional works that she encourages the viewer to touch in order to fully appreciate the intricacies of the surface. She builds up her canvases with acrylic modeling paste using a variety of tools.
Painter Chris Graebner remarks that Present Tense would be an appropriate title for any current show of her art. “My work is constantly moving, changing, evolving. I try new things; some become part of my regular process, some don’t.” Her paintings for this show explore different surfaces and different methods of applying paint. Some of the paintings are on canvas or linen, some are on wood panel and some are done on clayboard. “Each of these surfaces accepts paint differently so that combining their specific properties with different types of brushes, painting knives and painting mediums produces entirely different results. A great deal of thought goes into each piece long before I actually apply paint to surface. After I select the image I want to work with, I must decide the painting’s size, the surface I want to work on, the color palette and the types of brushes and mediums I will use. I then map out a direction and begin, but I find that as I work, the painting finds its own course and often flows in channels I had not anticipated.”
Graebner is a night person. She says, half-jokingly, that the only time she sees the dawn is just before she goes to bed. “My biological clock has always tilted in that direction and my creativity doesn’t usually flow until after 6pm. It’s not surprising, therefore, that I’ve painted dozens of sunsets and night-themed paintings.” This show features a number of both. ‘Under the Moonlight,’ painted on panel, is of the ocean in moonlight. “Last winter my husband and I spent a week in a high-rise on the beach. The moon was full and watching the play of the light on the waves, simply magical. I used mop brushes and many thin layers of paint to capture my sense of that light.”
According to glassblower Pringle Teetor, Present Tense is the perfect title for an exhibit featuring an artist who works with a material that is a liquid at 2100° Fahrenheit. She explains, “You can’t just stop what you are doing, put it aside and come back to it later. You have to work in the moment.”
“I love playing with colloids!” says Teetor “My favorites are colors containing copper, silver and gold. For years I’ve been making pieces containing gold and silver colloids that produce luscious shades of blue and red combined in just the right way to create beautiful hues. At Dana’s suggestion, I researched the chemistry of the various glass colors produced by the two German companies who supply the glassblowing industry. I wound up choosing two colors that are undoubtedly the softest and most difficult colors to work with! It is critical that the piece be heated slowly and carefully because by the time it is hot enough to blow and manipulate, it can easily end up as a puddle on the floor. Another danger is that uncontrolled shifts in temperature can cause changes in oxidation that alter the colloidal coloring. Furthermore, if you let these colors get too hot, the tiny particles of gold will coalesce into large aggregates that take on a disagreeable ‘liver color.’ You must layer the colors in a very particular way in order to get the best results. It required a lot of practice tests, but I am really amazed by the results.”
Teetor underwent cataract surgery in January. “While I had heard from many people that my color vision would be very different after surgery, I was still surprised,” she remarked. “I had no idea how much I had been missing. Since the surgery, colors appear much brighter and more intense than before. One day I noticed the beautiful array of color rods in my supply of glass and decided to try something I’ve wanted to do for many years – a multiple incalmo piece using all hues of the spectrum.” Incalmo is the technique of constructing an object, usually a vessel, by fusing two or more blown glass elements. “It was a long process of designing and blowing each section, cutting, cooling and grinding them until the edges were clean and polished, heating them back up to 1050° F in an oven, and then picking up each section one at a time and fusing them together. The results were thrilling. I made two pieces, one using twelve sections and another using eighteen!”
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