Tag Archives: Rasmussen Art Gallery

A Moment in Time: Artist Davis Perkins Exhibits at PUC

By Becky St. Clair

Always drawing as a kid, Davis Perkins doesn’t remember a time when art wasn’t a part of his life. Perkins attended the University of Oregon, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, and he has now made art a career. He has original artwork in a permanent collection at the Smithsonian as well as in the Pentagon and has done one-man shows at the Alaska State Museum and the Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum.

On Nov. 9, Perkins will host an opening reception and artist talk at 7 p.m. in the Rasmussen Art Gallery right here on campus. His exhibit, Landscapes: A Moment in Time, will be on display through December 8 (the gallery will be closed Nov. 23-Dec. 1 for Thanksgiving break). We caught up with Perkins and asked him a few questions to get to know him and his craft better. 

What first sparked your interest in painting?

I was always drawing as a kid. It was something for which I seemed to get a lot of “praise.” I was raised on a farm in rural Oregon and was always outside. It was during my three-year stint in the Army I really started to draw a lot, and when I got out of the service I attended college, initially studying history, but taking more and more drawing and painting classes. I had great support from my professors and they encouraged me to pursue painting seriously. I switched majors to art and began in earnest. I initially started in oil painting, and it’s what I love most to this day.

How did your career start?

While in college, I was a smokejumper (parachute firefighter), and I worked during the summer fire season. After graduation, I moved down to the Bay Area to paint during the winter, going back to Alaska to spend the summers jumping fires. It was a very seasonal lifestyle! When a professor advised me to start a series of paintings of my experiences as a smokejumper, I began jumping fires with a small sketchbook, documenting my work during the slow times. The series ended up being my senior thesis project. I had a lucky break with that final series; first, the Alaska State Museum gave me a one-man show of the work, and the next year, the Smithsonian Institution’s Air and Space Museum gave me a one-year solo exhibition of my work. The Smithsonian has three of my paintings in their permanent collection. I also have a painting in the Pentagon with the Air Force Art Collection.

How does your environment play a role in your art-making?

As you will see in the exhibit at the Rasmussen, I consider myself a traditional landscape painter. Much of my life has been spent outdoors, and the wonders of nature are what inspire me, therefore much of my work is plein air. For larger studio pieces I always work outside for reference studies.

What is one of your favorite pieces you’ve created, and why?

Hmm … that’s a tough one! I’d say some of my favorite pieces are the quick studies done on location. They often seem the freshest and most spontaneous. I am constantly attempting to not overwork a piece; I try and limit an outdoor painting session to no more than two hours. By that time, the light has changed significantly. I will often start a painting in the morning and move on to another in the afternoon. If there’s more work that remains, I can return the next day.

Tell us about your studio. What kind of space have you created in order to be comfortable expressing yourself?

I’ve got a great studio! It’s located in downtown San Rafael and is part of a complex called The ArtWorks Downtown. There are about 35 studios in the building and it is a wonderful complex in which I have many good friends. I have a high ceiling studio with a skylight, as well as good artificial lights. I’ve been in ArtWorks Downtown for about 15 years. Come visit anytime!

What’s something you still want to learn about art-making, and what are you doing to acquire that knowledge?

A good question! I am obviously still learning and it is an ongoing ambition, but I’m focusing on the study of color primarily. For the past three years, I have been on the faculty of the annual Plein Air convention. The four-day convention attracts painters from all over the world, and individuals give wonderful lectures and demonstrations. I gain a great deal from attending these lectures and learning from some of the world’s top artists. I also try and take advantage of living in the Bay Area and travel to museums here as often as I can. We are so fortunate to have access to the de Young, the Oakland Museum, and others; they have wonderful collections!

large-Perkins_Doc's PondWhat makes oil painting different from other kinds of painting?

What is delightful about oil painting is the ability to alter your work: You simply wipe it off! Often when I’m painting a cloud, for example, I will decide to start again. During the process of wiping off the paint, a new shape will emerge that I like and will develop. I especially like the ability to glaze over the dried paint with a translucent layer of color. It’s a technique used by oil painters for hundreds of years. As I mentioned, I am constantly exploring and reading about mixing color. It is an ongoing process!

How do you start a new piece? 

A large white canvas staring you in the face can be intimidating. So I always start a painting with a thin wash, usually in an earth color. I then use a little darker, thin paint to start developing the composition. This is really the most fun time to paint; you’re exploring, wiping out, redrawing with thin paint. You can’t screw it up! I then start to develop the basic values–light and dark. When I’m satisfied I’m on to something, I’ll start applying heavier layers of paint. Then it’s, “Fingers crossed!” Ha!

Who is another artist you admire, and why?

I would have to say Richard Schmid is one of my greatest inspirations. He is nothing less than a National Treasure. I have had the pleasure of meeting him, and I own all of his books. He’s been an inspiration to hundreds of young artists.

 

Sensibilities: Douglas Sandquist at the Rasmussen Art Gallery

By Becky St. Clair

In the early 90s, Douglas Sandquist attended PUC as a bio-chem. Upon being accepted into dental school after his junior year, he left PUC and headed to dental school. He went on to become a dentist back in his hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada, where today he curates the unexpected combination of his dental career and photography. 

In 2016, a photo Sandquist took in Iceland with his iPhone and shared via Instagram was requested by Apple for use in a worldwide marketing campaign. This resulted in mega exposure for this Nevadan dentist-photographer. (More on this in the Q&A—keep reading!)

Some of Sandquist’s photographic art will be displayed in an exhibit in the Rasmussen Art Gallery beginning this Saturday, Oct. 12, with his opening reception at 7 p.m. He will present an artist talk and refreshments will be served. Before you go, though, you may want to learn a bit more about the artist himself. We did, so we asked him a few prodding questions. 

Introducing: Douglas Sandquist.

Where did you grow up, and how did that environment contribute to how you view the physical world? big-image-1

I was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. It’s right in the middle of the Southwest part of the United States. California, Utah, and Arizona, along with their beaches, deserts, and National Parks, gave me the opportunity to get out and see what was out there. I’ve never stopped exploring.

 

 

What sparked your original interest in photography?

I actually dabbled with it even as a child. It wasn’t until I wanted to get better at taking photos for my day job as a dentist that I really started getting serious about it. I wanted to somehow be able to capture what I do. Most dental photography is macro photography, but it’s also portrait photography. I originally wanted to learn how to take better clinical photos, so I delved into learning how to better use a camera, how to compose a shot, and how to work with different lighting. One thing led to another, and I started to enjoy photography outside the office just as much as in it.

What was the first camera you used to start shooting artistic/intentional photography?

I bought a Canon 10D in 2004.

What camera is your instrument of choice now?

I currently use a Canon 5D Mark IV and, of course, an iPhone. 

Where do you learn your photography skills?

I’ve never taken a formal photography class. I am mostly self-taught, but I have also participated in workshops all over the world, and have engaged in online mentorship programs for over 10 years.

Okay, let’s talk about the Apple iPhone ads. (You knew it was coming!) How did this happen?

big-image-4

Crazy as it sounds, I didn’t submit my photo to Apple. In January 2016 I took a photo with my iPhone and posted it on Instagram with a few hashtags—as you do—and a few months later, I was contacted by Apple and their advertising agency, requesting the use of my photo in a campaign. I agreed, and within a matter of months, my photo—taken with an iPhone 6S—was on billboards, in magazines, and on signs around the globe.

 

 

 

Where did your photo show up, that you know of? big-image-3

That photo appeared on over 30 billboards all around the world: L.A., San Francisco, Dallas, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Paris, India, six cities in China—including Shanghai—Korea, Thailand, Mexico, Tokyo, and Turkey, and on the back of magazines all over the world. 

 

What inspires you as a photographer?

I love challenging what I see and then attempting to capture it. It also means I get to get out there and go see the world. 

What are your favorite subjects to photograph?

I particularly enjoy capturing cold landscapes and the stars in the American Southwest. 

How do you think the desert of the American Southwest and the frozen tundra of Iceland are connected for you? What draws you to those environs to shoot? big-image-2

Both of these regions offer plenty of opportunities to ask, “How did this happen?” Whether it’s a massive arch-like Double Window in Arches National Park or the glacier ice that ends up on the black sand beaches of Iceland, there are always unique views and perspectives to capture and ponder. I also love the way the light transforms these elements. Different times of the day or year create different scenes that often catch me off-guard and illuminate my sensibilities.  

We have to ask one completely abstract question, so here goes: If the experience of taking the perfect photo had a color, what would it be? big-image

Sunset Orange 🙂 

 

Halcyon: An Interview with Diana Majdumar

As a child, Diana Majdumar loved watching her father draw. She learned the basics of watercolors from him, and accompanied him to art museums in Estonia (where she grew up), Russia, and Armenia, and was honored to receive as a gift his large set of art books printed in Russian.

After immigrating to the United States, Diana graduated with a Master of Fine Arts degree in drawing and painting from Academy University in San Francisco. There she learned to appreciate and explore different subject matter from traditional landscape paintings and still-life to portraiture. She has studied clay sculpture, charcoal figure drawing, acrylics in mixed media, and, her personal favorite, oil and watercolor painting.

An opening reception for Diana’s show, “Halcyon—Encaustic,” will take place Saturday, Jan. 12, from 7-9 p.m. in PUC’s Rasmussen Art Gallery. The collection of Diana’s encaustic paintings will be on display through Feb. 10, and will be available for viewing every Thursday-Sunday from 2-6:30 p.m. Both the opening reception and admission to the gallery are free and open to the public.

Diana was gracious enough to offer us a glimpse of her world as we prepare to enjoy her work throughout the coming month.

What are encaustic paintings?

Encaustic is basically a beeswax with some damar resin mixed in as a binding element to provide elasticity to the wax, making it less brittle and more long-lasting. In order to apply encaustic, it has to be melted. I use a special electric plate that lets me keep wax melted and hot at a consistent temperature without it getting too hot and smoky or not hot enough. While it is melted it can be applied with brushes one brushstroke at a time like you would with regular paint, except wax starts to harden the second it leaves the hot plate so I have to work fast. After wax is applied it has to be melted on the panel once again; this step is called fusing. This allows for multiple layers of wax to be applied. As long as each layer is fused layer upon layer can be built up.

What is the space like where you work?

My studio is in rural West Petaluma, where we moved six years ago. We fell in love with mature California Coastal oaks and how remote and rustic it feels here, even though we are only few minutes from town. My studio is attached to the back of the garage, away from the house and facing the backyard. I have a few windows and one is very large. My view is of the oaks, a meadow, and a wood stack, but my favorite thing to see out of the window is all the bird activity. In one day, I can easily see up to 20 different kinds of birds: titmice, bushtits, and sparrows in the morning; towhees, crows, and scrub jays later in the day. I usually have my camera handy.

My space is pretty well organized—usually, I know where to find what I need! Though depending on what I’m working on, it can get pretty messy. Especially if I’m just in the collage stages of the process. Lots of boxes and baskets get pulled down from the shelves while I look for the right piece of wallpaper, scrap of fabric, or page from a book.

I’m fortunate to have a studio; not having one for a long time and having to use a corner in the garage instead, I know firsthand what a huge difference it makes to have a special space. And to me it’s not just space for creating art; it’s a refuge—a place I go to first when I get home, a place I go to get away.

What inspired you to become an artist?

It was actually my dad’s dream to become an artist, not mine. In fact, he planned on applying to art school upon graduating high school in Armenia where he grew up, but his parents insisted he pursue a more ‘useful’ profession, and he became an auto mechanic instead. He did some drawing and watercolors, but casually. Years later both my sister and I sat an entrance exam to an art school in Estonia which was the only way to study art with proper instruction. Both of us failed. Only my dad was devastated. From my perspective, getting into that school would mean spending hours with strict, unfriendly teachers (we met few during the exam) after school, coming home in the dark, having to take a couple different trams to get there, and learning art from the basics up, while all I wanted to do is doodle princesses and fairies. My dad’s dreams must have stayed with me, because when I moved to the United States and career choices were in front of me, somehow art was among the options, and I took it.

Every artist has a muse or muses; what inspires your work?

Nature! I know how cliché that sounds, but it’s true! I don’t mean the grandeur of Yosemite Valley or the awesome vistas of the coast. The most mundane and small objects of nature catch my eye and stay with me, like the Queen Anne’s Lace that grows freely on the side of the roads all over Sonoma and Marin. If you slow enough while driving, you will see the white blossoms glowing in the sun in the spring. Now they are brown and have the most interesting shapes.

My painting, “Oak Branch,” (above) was inspired by the impossibly bright leaves on the branch of a fallen oak tree in the Petaluma countryside. It seemed so strange something dead could be so bright, but the saturated yellows and oranges seemed to glow when the sunlight hit them a certain way. I dragged the branch to the side of the road where I was able to take photos of it. The graceful arc of the branch and the colors of the leaves, though dead, is what I tried to capture in the painting.

Who is an artist whose work you enjoy?

My favorite artist is Andrew Wyeth. There are a couple quotes of his that really speak to me; one is, “It’s a moment that I’m after; a fleeting moment, but not a frozen moment.” That captures exactly what I’m trying to achieve in my work. When I paint birds I try and seize a moment in time. How a perfect pair of finches is poised on the branch of the apple tree right outside my window—but just for a second. Of course, I paint from photos—the birds never sit still—but I hope that I can express how lively they are in reality.

In another quote, Wyeth says, “I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape.” Fall and winter and are my favorite seasons as well. I love the sculptural quality of it where you can see shapes more clearly, and the colors are more earthy and intense. Most of my paintings use elements of winter and fall: bare branches of trees in winter, red berries with all the leaves gone, brown leaves of late fall. The color palette of Wyeth’s paintings really resonates with me. At first sight, it might seem limited with its few muddy browns, but if you look longer you see his brushwork—the delicate lines. I especially love his winter landscapes.

What is the meaning of the title of your show, “Halcyon,” and how did you come to choose it?

“Halcyon” has two meanings. First, it denotes a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful, and second, it’s a tropical Asian and African kingfisher.

I love unusual words. English is my second language, and I always feel somewhat lacking in my vocabulary. A few years ago when my son had to study for his SAT, I was more than happy to help him with the 200 words that might show up on the test. I still get excited when I hear words like “boon” and “assuage” on the radio.

I especially love words that have anything to do with nature and often use them for the titles of my paintings. I have most of the books by Robert Macfarlane, who travels the countryside of Great Britain and collects the words and sayings that might be disappearing. Several years ago Oxford Junior Dictionary got rid of many nature words such as willow, pasture, and acorn, replacing them with tech-related words. I find that incredibly sad. I say we need more words like “smeuse” which is a gap in the hedge made by regular passage of wild animals, and “zwer:” the noise of the wings of a flock of birds taking flight.

Studies in Watercolor: Wendy Liang, Guest Artist

By Becky St. Clair

Wendy Liang is the guest artist at PUC’s Rasmussen Art Gallery in November. In 2018, she has won the California Watercolor Association’s 48th National Exhibition, The Artist’s Magazine’s 35th Annual Art Competition, and Southwest Art Magazine’s Artistic Excellence Competition. In 2017 she received the most meaningful recognition yet for her artwork: when she won the competition of Splash 19, The Illusion of Light.

Please join us for Wendy’s opening reception, including an artist talk, on Saturday, Nov. 10, from 7-9 p.m. Her show will remain in the Rasmussen Art Gallery through December 9 (note that the RAG is closed for Thanksgiving Break, Nov. 16-25).

We caught up with Wendy to get to know her as an artist and a person and enjoyed learning more about her inspiration, her passion, and her process.

When did you first feel that spark of desire to create?

I became interested in art as a child when I first noticed colors of objects would change depending on the type of weather and the different time of the day. I’ve taken lots of college-level art courses and private art lessons over the years.

What do you love most about painting?

I enjoy the solitude and the joy of creating something pleasant for others and myself.

Tell us about what inspires you.

My inspiration comes through interesting lighting, water and its reflections, and scenes that feel dreamlike or somehow ethereally familiar.

Once you get inspiration, how do you begin the creation process?

I start by playing with different compositions until I find the ideal. Then, I make a draft. Finally, and most important, I determine the dominant color and mood of the painting.

Okay, we’ve talked about what influences you; now tell us who inspires you.

I’ve been influenced the most by impressionists such as Monet and Degas.

How would you categorize the style of your art?

I usually refer to it as impressionistic realism.

What are some of your typical muses?

I want nothing more than to freeze the moment for eternity whenever I come across a scene that catches my heart, whether it is the first morning rays breaking through the mist or a sunset that turns the sky into a warm color pallet. Any scene that creates otherworldly or mysterious atmosphere remains one of my favorite subjects to paint.

Looking to the future, what kind of goals do you have in your career?

I am a dreamer, and my biggest dream right now is to turn my hobby into a professionI want to teach college-level art eventually. And, perhaps this will surprise you, but I would be a movie director or a writer if I weren’t an artist.

How about when you’re not in the studio? What are some of your hobbies?

When I’m not painting, I enjoy dancing, reading, and cooking for my family.

Resonance: Artist Carla Crawford to Exhibit Work at Rasmussen Art Gallery

By Becky St. Clair

The Rasmussen Art Gallery on the campus of Pacific Union College in Angwin welcomes Carla Crawford as the first visiting artist in the Rasmussen’s 2018-19 season. Crawford holds a double major in art studio and Italian from UC Davis and a teaching degree in art education from San Francisco State University. Her medium of choice being oil paints, visitors to her exhibition in the Rasmussen can expect to enjoy 23 paintings and drawings including portraits, landscapes, interiors, and still lifes.

The community is invited to join Crawford for an opening reception of her show, “Resonance,” at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 13. There will be an artist talk and opportunity to chat with Crawford while enjoying her work.

We had the opportunity to speak with Crawford about her experience as an artist, her inspiration, and her aspirations.

Tell us about your experience with art education.

Well, I completed my undergraduate studies at UC Davis where I studied under the painter Wayne Thiebaud. While I had been painting for years, Dr. Thiebaud introduced me to color theory and composition design for the first time and encouraged me to study abroad through the UC program at the Academy of Art in Bologna, Italy, where I ended up spending two years in exchange, the most formative years of my life. There I was pushed with brutal critiques to work harder than I ever had as a painter.

While the Academy in Bologna is a postmodern-leaning school, in Italy I was surrounded by the rich history of Italian painting, something that completely captivated me. I stayed in Italy after graduating, teaching art and art history, but my love of traditional European painting eventually led me to realize I needed to go back to the States to get the classical training I so wanted as a painter.

Returning home, I moved to New York City to undertake a course of study at the Grand Central Atelier under the direction of Jacob Collins. For four years I spent 8-11 hours a day in front of the figure and the portrait studying drawing, anatomy, and classical painting techniques. I delved into the work. There was and is so much to learn about painting and in the Atelier I was able to immerse myself in rigorous visual training in tradition of mindful observation I so wanted. This is something I continue to explore in my painting practice in the studio today.

Going back even further, when did you first feel the spark of inspiration as an artist?

I have loved drawing and painting since I was little. I have always enjoyed working with my hands, and painting is such a physical and tactile activity. The ability of value, color, and texture to create a three-dimensional illusion on a two-dimensional surface has always been interesting to me.

What are some of your regular artistic inspirations?

I draw my inspiration from the natural world with all of its nuances and variations. As Edouard Manet said, “A painter can say all he wants to with fruits and flowers.” In a culture where we are constantly bombarded with images, I am interested in slowing down and mindfully observing my subject material with all its subtleties until I can really see it. As a painter, my interest is primarily in small scenes of daily intimacy and in the studio I find myself drawn to subjects that capture introspective moments: times of rest, naps, half-eaten food, or the face of a friend absorbed in thought. I work primarily from life which gives me the opportunity to connect in a personal and direct way with my models and subject material.

How does your personal history relate to the art you create?

I always paint subjects I have a connection to and resonate with me on an emotional level. Often this is my family and friends but also objects and places I find meaningful. My work often centers around themes of intimism and memory.

Who are some other artists do you admire, and why?

I am inspired by the work of many great naturalists painters but Vermeer continues to be someone I turn to again and again in the studio to understand light, color, and atmosphere in paint. The emotional connection and the empathy he conveys with his models is also something I deeply respect and aspire to in my own work.

Tell us about an artistic skill you’d like to learn or improve.

Painting is such a complex skill that the painter is never finished studying, the learning is never done, and you never “arrive.” This is one of the reasons why I love it. For me, it is a lifelong pursuit. After years of studying, painting, and teaching I still keep a long list of things I want to understand better and painters with whom I want to study. Currently, I am researching composition design in the studio, something that I believe the painter can devote years of study to.

My Internship at PUC’s Nelson Memorial Library

Ryan and PUC’s archivist Katy at the “Visions of the Holy” exhibit.

By Ryan Chang

My time at Pacific Union College has been one of the most challenging yet informative stages of my life. The funny thing is, I actually started as a biology major when I entered freshman year in 2013, but a year later I made the decision to switch to the history, political studies and ethics major while keeping my pre-medicine program (it is doable, by the way!). One of the main components of my major, also known as a capstone, is an internship for a minimum of 90 hours. Yearning for a worthy place of work, I looked through a variety of options to choose from, such as libraries or museums in Napa Valley. After mulling over my choices, I ultimately chose to intern at PUC’s own Nelson Memorial Library, specifically in the archives. With this decision, I wanted to be able to give back to the campus, and I figured this was a great way to do so. Accomplishing this internship has been one of the highlights of my student career. Yet, it is important to mention just how this can positively benefit prospective students as well.

I interned under Katy Van Arsdale, who is probably the most understanding supervisor I have ever had. The main components of my internship concerned the honored classes that were celebrated during this school year’s Homecoming Weekend and the special “Visions of the Holy” exhibit in the Rasmussen Art Gallery. Putting together slideshows, gathering images of students all the way back to the 1940s, and researching famous artists who taught at PUC are all just a few examples of the work I did for my internship, and it imbued in me a sense of awe at all the accomplished people who have attended Pacific Union College.

A woodcut from a 1519 Latin Bible in PUC’s archival collection.

The “Visions of the Holy” exhibit was a source of immense satisfaction, as being a part of an extremely well-done exhibit is quite exhilarating. Seeing your name as one of the contributors and knowing your thoughts and ideas went into the making of an exhibit seen by hundreds of people is not easily replicated in life, and so I highly recommend all future and current students take a break from their studies and try to be a part of something bigger. Of course, being able to list an internship along with a concrete exhibit will look great on any student’s resume, but the experience that came along with it is, in my opinion, even more important.

As I graduate from PUC this year, my time at this institution has given me many memories and experiences I would not trade for the world. Without a doubt, the internship was a learning experience that was not only educational, but also provided a great work environment. There were some challenging moments, along with some unexpected ones, but overall it has given me a new perspective on how to better myself, and I know for a fact it will be a positive experience to anyone wishing to learn.

Editor’s Note: Many majors at PUC require an internship. Even if your program doesn’t require an internship, it still may be recommended for you to complete one. You can learn more about the benefits of an internship by reading our “What an Internship Can Do For You” blog post, and by browsing through the Internship category on the blog, which features several experiences from biology students who recently completed internships.