Open Studios Profile: Sylvia Dahlgren

Today I’d like to interview you to another Silicon Valley Open Studio artist, Sylvia Dahlgren. Sylvia’s paintings have a good sense of design that give them a graceful yet strong presence.

Describe your artistic journey

My earliest memories are of observing a daisy in front of our apartment building in Germany. I spent my elementary years  drawing in class until my world upended by moving to Japan. When, finally the family got back to the US, I was interested in design. The combinations of European, Asian and US culture and design surrounded me. When I was faced with a choice of career, I decided towards design while continuing my painting on my own.

His Church, Ireland 7" x 10" Oil on linen © Sylvia Dahlgren
His Church, Ireland
7″ x 10″ Oil on linen
© Sylvia Dahlgren

Where has art taken you in life?

Around the world several times, from the corporate board room to cottage. From mountains in Kathmandu to skyscrapers in Manhattan.

What do you think about when you begin painting?

At what point do I stop the planning of the painting and let go? How do I capture the feeling that attracted me to the scene?

Nicasio Road 24" x 18" Oil on linen © 2014 Sylvia Dahlgren
Nicasio Road
24″ x 18″ Oil on linen
© 2014 Sylvia Dahlgren

Tell me about one of your favorite paintings or drawings that you’ve made. Why is it your favorite?

My favorite paintings seem to be effortless, immediate and spontaneous. I have no idea afterwards how I did it.

King Wenceslas 9" x 12" Oil on linen © 2014 Sylvia Dahlgren
King Wenceslas
9″ x 12″ Oil on linen
© 2014 Sylvia Dahlgren

If you could ask one question of an artist you admire, who would it be, and what would you ask?

I’d ask Sargent, Zorn and Sorolla: How much of it was planned before they let go?

Sylvia will be exhibiting on May 10 – 11 at Site 116, 1471 Hollidale Court, Los Altos, CA 94024

Open Studios Profile: Cynthia Riordan

Today I’d like to introduce you to Cynthia Riordan, who will be exhibiting with me during the second weekend of Silicon Valley Open Studios.

Cynthia works in oil and pastels. I love the softness of the lost forms in her paintings, as well as the variety of edges—hard and soft—that make her paintings come alive.

Innocence Pastel © 2014 Cynthia Riordan
Innocence
7″ x 10″ pastel on Wallis paper
© 2014 Cynthia Riordan

Describe your artistic journey
Art has been important since childhood, starting with oil painting lessons when I was 12 to learn about painting still life. Early creations were giant crepe paper flowers, painting on fabric, silk screening, linoleum block prints, producing fired enamel and cloisonné objects and painting on tile. I have designed and built stained glass windows and panels for residential and commercial clients.

 

painting of Coyote Creek
Coyote Creek, Winter
11″ x 14″ oil on canvas panel
© 2014 Cynthia Riordan

Where has art taken you in life?

Part of what I love  to do is plein air painting, so that has taken me to many parks, such as Yosemite, Glacier National Park, Jackson, WY, the Tetons, Pt. Lobos.  Recently, I decided to help meet the need of our country’s Goldstar families and join other artists in painting our fallen heroes from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

English Traveler Oil on canvas © 2014 Cynthia Riordan
English Traveler
11″ x 14″ oil on canvas panel
© 2014 Cynthia Riordan

What do you think about before you begin painting?

I consider both the emotional impact I want the painting to have and the technical aspects that must be considered to accomplish it. A value study or notan is something I always do. The light source and how it informs the subject is another important consideration.

View from Ribera Road, Carmel  Oil on canvas © 2014 Cynthia Riordan
View from Ribera Road, Carmel
9″ x 12″ oil on canvas panel
© 2014 Cynthia Riordan

Tell me about one of your favorite paintings or drawings that you’ve made. Why is it your favorite?

Whichever painting I am currently working on is  my favorite.  There are some plein air pieces that I am very attached to because of the memory they evoke of when and where I painted them and how I felt in the place.

If you could ask one question of an artist you admire, who would it be, and what would you ask?

I would like to ask J. M.W. Turner how he was able to so successfully relinquish control in his seascapes so that the viewer feels the wildness and power of the wind and the waves.

You can see more of Cynthia’s work at www.zhibit.org/cynthiariordanfineart

Cynthia Riordan will be exhibiting May 10-11 at 1471 Hollidale Court, Los Altos, CA 94024

Painting Bob

The month of July was occupied with a portrait class taught by Christian Fagerlund. It was a terrific class (although exhausting). I learned a lot, And I made my first ever oil painting. There it is, at right. I started with a grisaille of blue black and zinc white (I didn’t know about zinc white’s brittleness then. Natural Pigments has a good discussion about this.) I started out with a dead palette of yellow ochre, burnt umber, blue black, and red ochre. After I painted the initial painting, I expanded the palette with alizaron crimson, ultramarine blue, and naples yellow.

I can see a lot wrong with it. And I know there’s a lot wrong with it I can’t see, because I don’t have eyes yet trained for that. But still, I’m pretty happy for my first time painting in oils.

I painted it at home rather than in class, because I didn’t feel confident enough to bring a medium about which I know nothing to class. I needed some time to potter about, fuss and fume, and yes, curse freely when the brush jumped and gave Bob’s eyebrows a Spock-like joie de vivre, or made his mouth a gash of purple red. Which it did. Many times.

I’ve resisted oils for a long time, painting happily in watercolors and pastels. Oils have many drawbacks: There’s the mess, the expense, and the dangerous solvents. But they’ve been courting me all my artistic life, and I think I’ve fallen in love with them. After all this time, I was an easy mark; I lost my watercolor purity with my first time in the buttery charms of oil paint. Now I am no longer an oil painter virgin and I think it’s a pretty good cherry to have lost.