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A Sign Painting Workshop | Fall Concentration with Timothy Maddox

hand painted sign by Timothy Maddox

This fall, we’re lucky enough to have Timothy Maddox returning to Penland to teach an 8-week course on sign painting. Part hand lettering, part brushwork, and part graphic art, sign painting mixes a bit of history with a bit of self-expression and projects it on a large scale. It’s a very tactile approach to design that showcases the uniqueness of the human hand. As Tim himself says, “the human quality and the flaws that are inherent in such a direct form of creation are inspiring.” Space is still available to join the workshop, including a limited number of work-study spots. Register here.

 

A Sign Painting Workshop

Timothy Maddox – This workshop will guide students through a vast array of techniques and practices in traditional sign painting. We’ll start with the basics by learning to draft proper letterforms and developing hand skills with lettering brushes. Then we’ll begin to explore many of the essential skills of a qualified sign painter. Through guided practice and individually developed projects, we’ll cover layout and gilding, brush and material choices, patterns and transfers, and much more. Alongside skill development we’ll discuss practicing this art for profit. This history of sign painting, laced with rich cultural development and identity, will be revealed as we work through materials and techniques. All levels. Code F00D

Timothy Maddox is a studio artist and full-time sign painter who owns Mighty Fine Signs (NC). He has taught at Penland and Arrowmont (TN) and is the recipient of a Windgate Fellowship.

mightyfinesigns.com

 

handpainted "Woolly Press" sign

“I want to see more amateur attempts at sign painting instead of computer graphics printed up in minutes,” Tim remarked in an interview with AIGA. “Give me crude letters, bad paint, whatever. . . Creating something by hand connects humanity and puts smiles on faces.”

We’re all for smiles, and we’re certainly keen to join the recent sign painting resurgence after seeing Tim’s work. If you need more inspiration, check out the Sign Painters documentary featured below. What will your sign say?

 

REGISTER NOW FOR FALL CONCENTRATIONS
September 20 – November 13, 2015

 

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Elizabeth Aralia: Artist, Penland Student, Penland Supporter

Although Elizabeth Aralia has been an artist most of her life, she didn’t start coming to Penland until she was fifty: the year her son turned ten. “I came in 1998 for a class with Nick Cave and it was transformative,” she said. “I said to myself, ‘I’m going to come back here every year.’ And so far I have.” Elizabeth and her husband, photographer Nick Graetz, had moved to North Carolina about ten years before that, and Elizabeth says that she heard about Penland “in the air.”

 

Image of Elizabeth Aralia wearing a handmade purple top
Elizabeth Aralia interacting with an art installation based on a ping-pong table. The garment she is wearing is of her own design. Photo by Nick Graetz.

 

Born in Detroit, she got an English degree at Indiana University and then went on to study art at the College of Creative Studies at the University of Santa Barbara in California. “It was a fascinating place,” she said. “The teachers there were all artists, and they just taught whatever they wanted. There was no set curriculum.” After finishing that program, she headed for New York. “I ran out of money near my mother’s house in Indiana, so I stayed there. I got this grant from the NEA where they paid you to do your art and to work with kids in the schools. During that time, I met and married my husband, and eventually we settled in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.”

Elizabeth works in textiles, painting, assemblage, and collage. One of her best-known projects is a tarot deck created through carefully-constructed collage. “I’ve been doing collage since 1978,” she said. “I don’t do it using a computer. I like to use things that there’s only one of; it’s more of a commitment.” Recent Penland workshops have reignited her interest in painting and introduced her to encaustic, which she has been integrating into her work.

 

Collaged image of a tarot card using a variety of found imagery
“Wheel of Fortune,” one of Elizabeth’s series of tarot card collages. Photo by Elizabeth Aralia.

 

In addition to her years of taking Penland workshops, Elizabeth and Nick have been generous annual supporters of the school, and they have recently created a scholarship in honor of Elizabeth’s late sister, Lynn Kerr Azzam. “She’s my half sister and we wouldn’t have known her except for the Internet. We only met her two years ago. We were together a few times and then she suddenly died. I didn’t know her well, but I felt very close to her. I wanted to do something for Penland in her name.”

“My husband and I give to a lot of things,” she continued. “We pick things that are close to our hearts, and Penland is at the top of my list. I want to give people the help I didn’t get when I was struggling financially and needed support as an artist. I imagine what it would have been like if someone had given me time at Penland back then.”

“Penland is magnetic and people who have the right metal get stuck.” Elizabeth said. “It draws me back every year. When the catalog comes, I get excited, and when I first drive in, I just think, ‘There it is.’”  –Robin Dreyer

 

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Ribbon Cutting!

ribbon cutting at Penland

On June 4, Penland had a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newly-opened Samuel L. Phillips Family Foundation Studio, which is the building that now houses our book arts and drawing/painting studios. Among the many folks cutting the ribbon were representatives of the Penland board, the Penland staff, G.E.M. Constructors (who built the building), the committee of artists who consulted on the studio spaces, and the Phillips Family.

 

 

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A walk in the woods with Eleanor Annand

IsolateDetail_Web

Eleanor Annand, detail from “Isolate,” scribed and abraded drawing on paper (see below for image of the whole work).

 

An artist goes for a walk in the woods. One foot, and then another. It’s a form of precision. “You walk with a reasonable, natural rhythm; let it be natural, just as with the breath,” says the Buddhist meditation master and scholar Chögyam Trungpa, describing the practice of walking meditation. The artist walks. She observes her weight, her step, its repetition. She looks at the world around her and notices, also, the interior.

 

This is one way to think about artist Eleanor Annand’s recent body of work, completed at a time when she was researching meditation and walking—and taking many walks and hikes herself. A former Penland core fellow, Annand now lives in Asheville, North Carolina, and sustains a busy life as a full-time graphic designer. And so, to the dreamy image of an artist walking in the woods, we have to add another image to the story of Annand’s process: the artist wakes up early, goes down to her basement with her tea—and creates before the workday begins. “I don’t binge on creative time,” she says. “I prefer more of a slow and steady approach. A couple of quiet hours in the morning are ideal.”

 

Annand’s current work, on view until May 11 at the Penland Gallery, is made up of paintings on steel and works on paper. The steel pieces are coated with approximately four layers of enamel spray paint. The paper, coated with ten to twelve layers of paint on top of a layer of gesso. After the coated field is dry, Ele uses a scribe to make her low-relief mark. Marks, we should say—Annand’s works are often tidal surges of mark making (and abraded marks)–a discipline attached to the precise and generative act of seeing that can be experienced in meditation.

 

Isolate_Web

Eleanor Annand, “Isolate”

 

But Annand does not expect you to approach her painting and be enlightened. (Neither does she expect this as an end-result of her own process.) On this point she is clear-eyed. “I see most things in life as grey,” she says, “not black and white. These works aren’t about an incident but about the general emotion I carry from something.” Annand pauses and takes a sip of chai between thoughts. “There is not an answer in my work, but an acceptance. Not a wanting.”

 

How did Annand, trained in graphic design and letterpress, arrive at this steady point as an artist? Annand took her first workshop—in weaving—at Penland while still in college. Later, after working in graphic design for several years with clients like IBM, Annand took a break from professional life to get back into her hands by taking a fall 2009 workshop in Penland’s print studio. At this point, she applied for and received the two-year Penland core fellowship.

 

This was 2010. Annand’s first eight-week workshop as a core fellow was with printmaker Phil Sanders. “All of my work was figurative at the time,” she remembers. Sanders would open the workshop with an hour or two for individual drawing time, and he would orbit the room, witnessing. She recalls him pointing to a moment of abstraction in one of her figurative drawings, and saying something to the effect of ‘I think you’re more interested in what’s happening here.’ He was right—Annand’s work has moved, over the years, toward the abstract. “I still won’t commit myself to letting go of the figures,” she says. “I think that they are moving toward a different part of what I make, in illustration.”

 

To pay attention to what you’re doing—this is the most important thing I learned from Penland, adds Annand. To pay attention leads to true expression. Having a healthy sense of self-awareness has led me to make work I believe is authentic and honest.

 

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Eleanor Annand, “Pyre,” painting on steel

 

Our conversation wanders back to walking, how the rhythm of walking sharpens and creates an attention to the rich periphery. She mentions her painting, “Pyre” (above).

 

“It’s not like I walked into the woods and found a pyre and decided to recreate it,” Annand smiles. “It’s about introspection, and making honest marks. I’m sure that something on my walks, some kind of distraction, helped bring the form inside.”–Elaine Bleakney

 

 

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Eleanor Annand at the Penland Gallery | April 4 – May 11, 2014

Penland Gallery’s first Focus exhibition of the year opens Friday, April 4, with Eleanor Annand: Drawing and Painting. Working on steel and paper, Annand makes paintings and drawings where the mystery of emotional experience is dispatched and–in keen marks scribed into layers of paint–intensely explored.

 

Eleanor Annand, Pyre,
Pyre, painting on steel, 36 x 30 x 1.5 in.

 

 

My process requires focus, time and presence, three things that in today’s world are not easy to come by. The works in this exhibition employ the use of repetition as a means to clear my mind and allow for focus. My intent is to translate complex emotions into marks on paper and steel that communicate raw honesty. Some of the pieces also use simplified symbols to reinforce these emotions. I believe, that though we do not encounter the same things in life, we do share similar experiences. These common themes create connections we can use to find deeper understanding in one another. In this work I am offering my honesty and rawness of emotion as an extended hand to my audience.–Eleanor Annand

 

Eleanor Annand, Pyre, detail
Pyre, detail

 

All works included in Eleanor Annand: Drawing and Painting are viewable and available for purchase online at the Penland Gallery.

 

Eleanor Annand, Failed Logic,
Failed Logic, painting on steel, 24 x 24 x 1.5 in.

 

eleanorannandEleanor Annand grew up on the southern tip of the coast of North Carolina. She received her Bachelors of Graphic Design from North Carolina State University where she focused on typography and letterpress. After a range of design and letterpress experience from IBM to Yee-Haw Industries, between North Carolina and Colorado, she landed in the Core Fellowship program at Penland School of Crafts. In the Core program Eleanor investigated printed, drawn, carved, and painted lines on paper, metal and enamel. In 2012 she relocated to Asheville, NC where works as an artist and designer. Her work is on display at Blue Spiral 1 Gallery in Asheville and Light Art + Design in Chapel Hill, NC.

 
 

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Studio Visit: Rachel Meginnes

rachel meginnes at penland

In December, Rachel Meginnes’ sewing machine broke. She asked her friend, fellow resident artist Robin Johnston, if she could borrow hers. Nervous about roughing up Robin’s machine by sewing on paint (which is how Rachel broke her own machine), she stopped herself. “I thought about building up texture with more paint instead of by sewing,” she said. “I’m interested in pulling color from the cloth in ways I haven’t before.” From a busted sewing machine, Rachel’s process busted too.

Correction: processes–there are many. Rachel is a relentless pursuer of textures–“texture” having arrived to us from texere in Latin: to weave. Weaving is where Rachel started, and her creation of textures extends from a consideration of fibers, patterns, and their possibilities. How might an artist trained as a weaver accommodate painting methods and material foreign to the loom? Where would that take her? Rachel has gone far, far out with these questions–not unlike the child in the outfield who forgets, the second she looks up and sees all kinds of blue roping through the clouds, about being in a baseball game. Behold the wall of current Rachel Meginnes experiments:

 

rachelmeginnespenland1

 

“If they fail, they fail,” says Rachel, about these ideas: gessoed paint build-ups, magazine transfers on cardboard, abraded surfaces, color behaving and misbehaving, thread and weave, articulate paper folds, that ominous X. Looking at each moment of texture, one begins to see the depths of Rachel’s experiments. “What happens when I can’t sand away?” she says, noting one of her techniques. Rachel’s studio time this past winter has involved voicing her  internalized methods and then veering away–toward discomfort, change, and not knowing what will happen. As a testament to her endurance in this process, check out her bowl of paint-shocked pins:

 

rachelmeginnespenland0

 

Enduring a winter of self-imposed counter-intuitive experimentation might sound, well, painful. Perhaps the pain, for Rachel, is eased by an adherence to the grid–that endless, giving pattern she uses repeatedly. As I entered her studio, Rachel was applying white strokes of gesso to a fabric made from handwoven scarves that she had bought in bulk, cut up, and then re-pieced. She began to talk about the observational part of her work: watching, day to day, how paint affects not only the surface but the stretch of the fabric. I was immediately reminded of Agnes Martin: how the grid is a constant chance for alteration, for something else to happen. Rachel readily cites Martin, Robert Ryman, and Mark Bradford as influences.

The studio isn’t all action. Set away from a table populated with tubes of paint, there’s a small desk next to a well-tended bookshelf. On the desk, quiet arrangements: a draft for a dragonfly, an old issue of American Craft featuring the image of Ruth Asawa, who said once: “An artist is not special. An artist is an ordinary person who can take ordinary things and make them special.”

 

meginnespenland4

 

Photographs by Robin Dreyer and Elaine Bleakney; writing by Elaine Bleakney

Read Kathryn Gremley’s 2014 essay on Rachel Meginnes’s work from Surface Design Journal here

 

 

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Rachel Meginnes: Evolving the Cloth

Rachel Meginnes, Jentel (Sky) detail, Gesso, ink, and acrylic on sanded cloth with drawn thread
Rachel Meginnes, Jentel (Sky) detail, gesso, ink, and acrylic on sanded cloth with drawn thread

In this month’s Surface Design Journal, Penland Gallery director Kathryn Gremley traces the origins and evolution of Penland resident artist Rachel Meginnes’s cloth work, illuminating Meginnes’s process through a consideration of individual pieces like Jentel (2012), seen in detail, above.

Download a pdf of the article or purchase the issue here.