Inside the Artist’s Studio with Amy Vena: Process

Art is my life-long passion. I’ve always maintained a connection with art, specifically drawing and painting. However, it wasn’t until graduate school that I really investigated using industrial materials as painting mediums. My relationship with high-gloss epoxy resin began in 2011 and has continued since then. Applying resin to both canvas and panel has taught me about the medium and it’s behavior.

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Amy Vena, In her studio

My painting process is inspired by both contemporary and past artists. Similar to Abstract Expressionist painters of the mid-21st Century (like Helen Frankenthaler), I strive to produce paintings that are active and contain energy. The focus is to achieve expression through tonal variation, depth, and color.

Most importantly, creating artwork is fun and spiritual. When I am in the studio I work through thoughts and problems until everything drifts away. Thoughts about life turn into brushstrokes. Eventually, my mind is quieted by work. Space, healing, and peace are all achieved while painting.

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By Amy Vena

The pieces contributed to Solid Gold were recently created. They are part of a transitional phase coming from a previous series inspired by images of nebulae. These new paintings are not meant to be representational images. They are  abstract, diverging from themed work. They focus on color and movement.

By Amy Vena

By Amy Vena

I often incorporate objects into my artwork prior to applying epoxy resin. Leaf skeletons and gold leaf add subtle detail. The actual process of creative development is pretty standard between pieces:

  1. Lay gesso and modeling paste on canvas to create the foundation texture and organic ambiance
  2. Use Acrylic Inks to develop a composition
  3. Create or enhance depth in certain areas working the entire painting
  4. Apply aerosol spray-paint
  5. Saturate each end of the value spectrum
  6. Allow the paint to dry
  7. Apply the clear or colored resin
  8. Create striations with iridescent acrylic/epoxy resin mixture
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By Amy Vena

Layering is one of the most valuable elements in my creative process. It takes patience and time. The application of epoxy resin bears the heaviest risks. Epoxy resin is toxic, and all precautions must be taken when handling the medium. Mixing must be closely monitored, as the epoxy resin will not cure if mixed incorrectly. Complexity level is something to consider when deciding to work with epoxy resin, but when done correctly the medium is fantastic and exciting.

Painting is a journey, and I am excited to see where each new painting will lead me.

For more information please visit Amy’s website, amycvena.com. You can see Amy’s work in person during our current exhibition, Solid Gold. #amycvenaart

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post, by multimedia artist Jeanne Beck.

Solid Gold

Thank you to everyone who made it to the Solid Gold opening reception! It was a great night viewing golden artwork. We appreciate everyone who came out to support the gallery and our artists.

Solid Gold visitors standing by a work of art by Brian O'Neill

Solid Gold visitors next to a work of art by Brian O’Neill

Solid Gold is an exhibition of shining, glimmering, and glowing works in a variety of media by invited artists who use gold leaf, gold lustre, or gold paint. This exhibit includes paintings, mixed media pieces, ceramics, and sculpture.

Gallery visitors view a series of bird paintings on gold leafed panels by Melissa Huang.

Gallery visitors view a series of bird paintings on gold leafed panels by Melissa Huang.

A series of beautiful cups with gold trim by ceramic artist Katie Carey.

A series of beautiful cups with gold trim by ceramic artist Katie Carey.

Artists include:
Katie Carey, Jeanne Raffer-Beck, Melissa Huang, Mitch Messina, Brian O’Neill, Peter Pincus, John Ruggles, Bill Wolff, and Amy Vena.

Artist Amy Vena discusses her artwork with a gallery visitor.

Artist Amy Vena discusses her artwork with a gallery visitor.

Artist John Ruggles wears gold shades in front of his mixed media gold leafed painting.

Artist John Ruggles wears gold leafed shades in front of his mixed media gold leafed painting.

Stop by before February 28, 2015 to see Solid Gold in person! To see more images of the show, check out our Solid Gold album on Flickr, or see video of the show on Vimeo.

Exhibition Dates: January 10–February 28, 2015

BradleyButler

Atmosphere

Atmosphere. That is what inspires me the most. A fog laden morning, the dark and ominous clouds rolling in before a storm, or mist hovering over a body of water. There is something about the atmosphere that surrounds us, which shrouds everyday life with mystery and electricity. Try laying on your back in a field as a thunder storm rolls in. How can that not be terrifying and inspirational at the same time!?

www.bradleybutler.net

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Travel

I am inspired by travel. Traveling to new countries or new cities is always incredibly exciting, and I love exploring new churches, parks, and museums. Every place has its own unique personality that re-energizes the artwork I make.

I hope that I can keep traveling to new (and old) places, and continue being inspired by the artwork I see, the people I meet, and the delicious food I get to eat!

www.melissahuang.com

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Jeanne Beck: Coming Home Through Creating

www.jeannebeck.com

Jeanne Beck at work in her studio in Rochester, NY’s Hungerford Building

It seems to me my whole life has been a slow, steady evolution of coming home to myself. I suspect a lot of women of my generation feel that way. My earlier life didn’t offer a lot of stimulation or opportunity to study music or dance or art, all of which interested me greatly, but I did read voraciously. I fantasized about writing novels and started writing short stories at age 12, but then I became absorbed in teen-age concerns. I turned to keeping a journal, which I wrote in faithfully from 7-12th grade. I’ve done personal journaling in some form for most of my life and have a storage box filled with composition notebooks and more recently, sketchbooks too.

Book of the Ancients 6, 18" x 18", mixed media collage, gold leaf, acrylic paint. Cut, collaged, screen-printed and stenciled.

Book of the Ancients 6, 18″ x 18″, mixed media collage, gold leaf, acrylic paint. Cut, collaged, screen-printed and stenciled.

When I decided at mid-life to become a visual artist, I made a total commitment to it. Lose, win or draw, I have invested myself fully in my own creative potential. And, as a result, this midlife adventure has become the most passionate, committed period of my life. Since I began exploring visual art, I have been drawn to combine more than one medium or techniques, as well as create multi-layered surfaces.

The Writing in Air pieces utilize a variety of processes and techniques to create a dimensional , cut and manipulated surface that suggests  cursive handwriting. Purchased by SUNY Geneseo for MacVittie Student Union.

The Writing in Air pieces utilize a variety of processes and techniques to create a dimensional , cut and manipulated surface that suggests cursive handwriting. Purchased by SUNY Geneseo for MacVittie Student Union.

Melding media and techniques to express a concept drives most of my choices. So I might stitch thread structures and dip them in paper pulp, for example. Layering and combining materials and methods is a fluid process and varies with each new idea. I like to envision my pieces accumulating layers over time and bearing the marks of use and age to build their own personal history.

Distressing the leafed surface with layers of acrylic paints and screen printed texts creates a patina of aging. Private collection, Boston, MA.

Distressing the leafed surface with layers of acrylic paints and screen printed texts creates a patina of aging. Private collection, Boston, MA.

Seemingly random numbers cut in fiberglass screening punctuate the aged surface of this piece. They are a list of street numbers from the houses where I've lived over the course of my life. They are as I remember them, but I have no idea whether the memories are accurate. Purchased by SUNY Geneseo for MacVittie Student Union.

Seemingly random numbers cut in fiberglass screening punctuate the aged surface of this piece. They are a list of street numbers from the houses where I’ve lived over the course of my life. They are as I remember them, but I have no idea whether the memories are accurate. Purchased by SUNY Geneseo for MacVittie Student Union.

I am drawn to aged surfaces and tend to try to and create them in whatever medium or technique I’m using. Rust, decay, and layers peeling away attract me. They also relate to my interests in memory and aging and what happens to personal histories over time.

Most of the scattered  images on this piece refer to The Palmer Method of Cursive Handwriting instruction. Once  a part of elementary school curriculum, cursive handwriting  has become almost obsolete.

Most of the scattered images on this piece refer to The Palmer Method of Cursive Handwriting instruction. Once a part of elementary school curriculum, cursive handwriting has become almost obsolete.

The earliest concept for my current series of language-inspired pieces started in 2007. I had done extensive research on Etruscan and other forms of ancient writing remnants and the marks  intrigued me as visual elements. Then my focus shifted to an interest in 19th and 20th century found journals, diaries and bits of cursive writing.

This work lists all the names of the teachers I can remember from my elementary school in Pittsburgh, PA. Book of the Ancients 9: Bethel Park Elementary, won a prestigious 2013 Niche Award.

This work lists all the names of the teachers I can remember from my elementary school in Pittsburgh, PA. Book of the Ancients 9: Bethel Park Elementary, won a prestigious 2013 Niche Award.

Green World IIMy metallic leaf series began in 2011 with the idea of “fluttering pages.” The exploration of ancient texts and languages to gather ideas for this series led me to an unexpected realization, “ancient” is a relative term. To someone entering adulthood today, the 1950’s and 60’s seem ancient. Amused by that recognition, the first works in this series focus on remembered bits from my childhood. We often refer to ‘turning a page’, ‘ getting on the same page’, ‘starting a new or closing an old chapter of our lives’ in our everyday conversations. These pieces offer a visual take on such ideas.

Green World II is a new organically-inspired, dimensional  work with layered kozo fibers over a  richly textured, painted surface.

Green World II is a new organically-inspired, dimensional work with layered kozo fibers over a richly textured, painted surface.

The pages series still doesn’t feel finished and I will continue to work on new ideas. However, I am also working on a new series of organic, two and three-dimensional works using handmade paper, pulp and wire armatures.

You can see more of Jeanne’s work in our current exhibition, Solid Gold, or visit her website: www.jeannebeck.com.

Check out our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by artist Colleen Pendry.