Re­nay Shaf­fer

Wash­ing­ton, USA,

International Artist - - Art Challenge -

My In­spi­ra­tion

I took a photo of this scene while on a storm-watch­ing trip along the re­mote outer coast of the Wash­ing­ton Penin­sula. I stood on this cliff know­ing I would even­tu­ally paint it, hop­ing to con­vey the feel­ing of vast space be­fore me while shel­tered within the co­coon of wind-sculpted trees. I wanted to ex­plore our ten­dency to hold on to what is fa­mil­iar or what we grew up be­liev­ing ver­sus the ex­pand­ing uni­verse and a feel­ing of deep­en­ing aware­ness of the world around us. I’ve al­ways grav­i­tated to­ward rev­er­ently il­lus­trat­ing na­ture as a metaphor for hu­man ex­pe­ri­ence.

My De­sign Strat­egy

In cre­at­ing a vis­ual tug-of-war be­tween that which is close and the dis­tant hori­zon, I knew I needed to keep the ocean and sky light, cool toned and slightly out of fo­cus. I ren­dered the tree fo­liage loosely with a dark and muted pal­ette, re­serv­ing de­tail and warmer col­ors for tree bark and grass. The de­tails on the tree trunks and grass serve to dis­tract and al­most block the view, fur­ther il­lus­trat­ing ten­sion be­tween the known and the un­known.

My Work­ing Process

I work with Uni­son soft pas­tels and Lenox 100 pa­per or Uart 800 sanded pa­per. An­tic­i­pat­ing ex­tra pig­ment lay­ers in this paint­ing, I chose Uart 400 for more grab. I pin the pa­per to the wall and lightly sketch just the ma­jor lines. Even though I work large scale, I pre­fer to ref­er­ence a printed photo ap­prox­i­mately 11 by 14 inches, be­cause the flat­tened im­age and re­duced de­tail al­low me to more freely in­cor­po­rate my own mem­ory and in­tu­ition. I work top to bot­tom, usu­ally com­plet­ing a sec­tion be­fore mov­ing on. Af­ter blend­ing the dis­tant sky/ocean/beach with my fin­gers, I went back in with a light touch and a warm black pas­tel for the base layer of the tree trunks. I turn pas­tel sticks on their sides and drag lightly for cer­tain tex­tures and break sticks with push­pins to cre­ate sharp edges for de­tail. I don’t use fix­a­tive and when fin­ished I very care­fully vac­uum the piece while still on the wall.

I be­lieve that the en­ergy used to cre­ate is tan­gi­ble in fin­ished work. I try to re­main present and pur­pose­ful, min­i­miz­ing dis­trac­tions, play­ing in­spir­ing mu­sic or pod­casts, and tak­ing lots of con­tem­pla­tive breaks (in­clud­ing pet­ting the stu­dio cats).

Con­tact De­tails

Email: re­[email protected]­nayshaf­fer.com Web­site: www.re­nayshaf­fer.com

Com­ing To The Edge Of Ev­ery­thing We Thought We Knew, pas­tel, 26 x 34½" (66 x 88 cm)

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