Artist Carol Fennell demonstrates her work at Art on a Whim in Breckenridge
If you go
What: Artist Carol Fennell demonstrates her work with ceramics
When: Friday, Feb. 7; Saturday, Feb. 8; Friday, Feb. 14, and Saturday, Feb. 15
Where: Art on a Whim Gallery, 100 N. Main St., Breckenridge
Cost: Admission is free and open to the public
More information: Call (970) 547-8399, or visit artonawhim.com.
Artist Carol Fennell is prone to drawing inspiration from her surroundings. Lucky for Fennell and viewers of her work alike, she lives among the dramatic landscapes of Colorado. Fennell strives to capture the innocence of nature in her work. Her three-dimensional ceramic paintings stretch not only our view of our natural surroundings, but also our ideas of how fine art can be presented.
Fennell’s work is on display in the Art on a Whim Gallery in Breckenridge. For the next two weekends, she will be in the gallery demonstrating her work and elaborating on her process. Through the use of bold color and effortless line work, Fennell captures the whimsical essence of our environments. She brings her playful spirit to every piece, rather than depicting exact representations in the landscapes she creates.
“With mountains, aspens and pine in my constant view, I seek to use the strongest, yet simplest form to represent my subject,” Fennell said. “I never tire of drawing the elegant lines of aspen or the whimsical pines that fill my canvas. All these subjects have stories to tell, and I try to bring a bit of the innocence and whimsy that I see in them into the piece.”
Fennell’s work stems from the pure, trouble-free and serene experience of walking through an aspen grove, climbing a peak or discovering a new lake. When inspiration strikes while on a hike, she will either sketch the landscape en plein air or capture the scene on camera. The sketches and photos are transformed into more polished pencil drawings upon Fennell’s return to her studio. Quick and bright strokes of color are added to the drawings to further enhance the reference.
The real work begins when Fennell pulls out slabs of clay and rolls them into canvas-sized blocks. Lines forming rivers, lakes or mountains are carved into the surface of the wet slabs, and her bas-relief work has commenced. By incorporating sculpted clay, she adds layers of texture to the top of the initial block to provide dimension.
From there, pines start twisting toward each other, seemingly lost in conversation. Knots are added to aspen trunks, and items found in nature, such as grass, leaves or bits of wood, are often pressed into the wet clay to leave the impression of their existence in the natural world.
Upon completing her process of carving and sculpting, Fennell allows her work to dry for several weeks. This allows moisture to evaporate from the once-soft clay. Each piece is then carefully placed in a kiln and fired. The bas-relief tiles come out of the kiln bisque ware, as a durable ceramic piece ready to be painted. Fennell’s use of acrylic paints pushes the limits of traditional ceramic work. This choice allows for vibrant colors, helping to enhance the happy, playful look Fennell is striving to create.
“I want the viewer to see what I see — a whimsical innocence of nature,” she said.
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