Season's Greetings to all. May this holiday be filled with peace, love and charity for all. Let us create the New Year with optimism, a respect for the earth and all its creatures, and a renewed allegiance to democracy, freedom, truth and the pursuit of happiness.
With all the work I've been immersed in lately, I've been a bit quiet with updates- but I wanted to share three of the works I finished from the residency at Fire Island last summer. All of the work I did there was painted outdoors looking nature in the eye, so to speak. This winter I'll be finishing all of the paintings from this period.
The Fire Island series, both on paper and canvas, will be exhibited next June on Fire Island in a group show of artists who were in residence at the National Park 2016-2017. I will provide details about the show as it gets closer. I'm very much looking forward to it~ Enjoy this glimpse of warmth as the weather starts to turn cold and grey!
Fire Island-Big Dune, 14 x 11" watercolor and pastel on paper, 2017
I have a small piece in a group show of present and past Gowanus artists at the 313 Butler Gallery. If you are in the area, drop by- there are many nice artworks in the show and it's up for a while. There is a silent auction so bid your heart away if you see a piece you love.
313 Butler Gallery, 313 Butler Street (near Third Avenue) , Brooklyn NY 11217
Artist Jen Ferguson and author John Perrotta are doing a book signing at the National Museum of Racing in Saratoga Springs, NY on August 22, 2017.Read More
Join me for a fun and creative morning at the Catskills Center on Saturday July 8- sketching and watercoloring from nature! all ages are welcome~
Here are the Details:
“Botanicals; Sketching from Nature with artist Jen Ferguson.”
Saturday July 8, 2017
Catskills Center, 43355 State Highway 28, Arkville, NY 12406
All materials will be provided. A donation of $15 to cover supplies is suggested. Pre-registration is requested in order to provide enough supplies. Register by emailing email@example.com or call Katie Palm at 845.586-2611.
FROM Catskill Center for Conservation and Development
43355 State Highway 28, Arkville, NY 12406
CONTACT Katie Palmkpalm@catskillcenter.org845.586.2611
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 8 Painting Workshop with Jen Ferguson at Catskill Center
Arkville, NY – On July 8th, join us at the Catskill Center in Arkville, NY for a painting workshop: “Botanicals; Sketching from Nature with artist Jen Ferguson.” The workshop will begin with a brief walk through the Erpf Gallery’s current exhibition of works by the 2016 artists in residence at the Platte Clove Cabin and discussion of the different interpretations of nature and setting. Then we’ll take a brief walk outside the Catskills Center and find some subjects to draw and paint in watercolor. Plants, trees, branches and flowers are all good options. There will also be some cut flowers and greenery provided. Weather permitting, we’ll spend time sketching outside.
Jen will provide tips on drawing, composition and watercolor painting, along with some artist’s secrets on how to draw trees and flowers. Everyone will have a piece of art to take home, and a new perspective on how to interpret the beauty all around us through their own personal art forms.
This program is recommended for all ages - 4 to adult and will run from 10:30 am to noon. All materials will be provided. A donation of $15 to cover supplies is suggested. Pre-registration is requested in order to provide enough supplies. Register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call Katie at 845.586-2611.
Jen Ferguson is a Brooklyn based artist who participated in the Artist in Residence Program at Platte Clove Cabin in 2016. She specializes in paintings of landscape, place and architecture. She founded an art studio program for children in Brooklyn in 2006 and continues to teach and share her love of creative thinking and art with her students. You can find out more information about her and her work as well as her teaching philosophy at the links below:
This program will take place Saturday, July 8 from 10:30 am - noon at the Catskill Center located at 43355 Route 28, Arkville, NY. All materials are provided with a $15 suggested donation to cover costs. To register contact Katie at email@example.com or 845.586.2611. For more information visit catskillcenter.org/events or call 845.586.2611.
--ABOUT THE CATSKILL CENTER FOR CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT
Our Mission: To protect and foster the environmental, cultural and economic well-being of the Catskill region. Guided by the foundational understanding that conservation creates opportunity, we are the major force advocating for the Catskill region. Since 1969, we have led the effort to protect the Catskill Park and Catskill Forest Preserve, while advancing local and regional economic development initiatives. Our interdisciplinary approach to protecting our ecosystems and creating vibrant communities encompasses four program areas – Arts & Culture, Education, Natural Resources, and Regional Planning.
Connect with us on social media @catskillcenter #catskillcenter
43355 Route 28, Arkville, NY 12406 CatskillCenter.org
I'm thrilled and honored to receive an artist in residency at the Fire Island National Seashore this year: of all the opportunities I dreamed of in 2017, this is the one I wanted the most- and I can't wait to create work in such a uniquely beautiful place.
One of the main themes of my work is the relationship between place and feeling; I am looking forward to expanding this idea while working outside and exploring the natural setting. The ocean and sky will play a large role in setting the mood of the days, and I plan on interpreting the interaction of land, sky and water to reveal the character of the island. I'll be painting in all weather (though it should be pretty darned nice when I'm there) and plan on strapping my easel to a bicycle and setting up where ever I feel inspired. A big difference to my city confinement!
My work is centered around the idea that every place has unique qualities that manifest through its inhabitants, landscape and architecture, and creates special meaning for those who find themselves drawn there. The boardwalks, lighthouse, and natural setting are subjects I will work from to express qualities that characterize and draw people to Fire Island.
I plan to work outside to achieve as much painting from direct observation as possible, and use the evenings to go over sketches, touch up paintings and enjoy the quiet and solitude of being an artist-observer in the park. What an amazing privilege.
Not only will I be staying in the national park, I'll also be presenting my work and/or creating a workshop to share my experience and support the National Park Service. What a treasure this agency is; one of their best programs is supporting artists who gain immense benefit by working in nature and inspiring others through their experiences. Thank you Department of the Interior!
I am honored for my work to be included in a show of "Downtown Legends" featuring prominent local artists' interpretations of historical landmarks in Downtown Brooklyn. The show is organized by the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. The exhibition will take place at the Brooklyn Historical Society from December 9th through the 31st.
The Brooklyn landmark that I chose to paint is the old Dime Savings Bank of Brooklyn, a truly spectacular example of neo-classical architecture built in 1908 by the famous architectural firm Mowbray and Uffinger. Designed to awe its customers, the interior is a vast cavernous space with an imposing rotunda of marble columned, crowned with mercury dimes. The idea behind the Dime Savings Bank was that anyone could open an account with just a dime, and the dime motif is everywhere. I can't imagine a more effective way to be inspired to save than looking up at this majestic sight. Encircled by these marble columns is a giant clock, truly the centerpiece of the room. Normally I don't paint interior views, but this one was too good to pass up.
Myself and the other artist who will work with this subject were given special permission to enter the bank and take photographs. I invited photographer Catherine Talese to join me, as she excels in this type of photography and she was kind enough to share her beautiful photographs with me to use as reference (these here are mine, not at all as good!) We were able to see the vault in the basement- it was the stuff of bank robbery dreams. Naturally we looked in some of the safety deposit boxes to see if anyone forgot their stash; alas- we came away empty-handed.
The painting I'm working on is on the larger side, 45 x 65" approximately. My approach was to get the drawing close to accurate, and then start stripping away until I get at its essence. I'm hoping to hit upon the spiritual feeling you get walking into such a grand space. The bank definitely seems like a "church of money" so to speak. The idea of saving as a moral goal is echoed even further by the quotes about saving and frugality which are literally etched in stone on benches around the rotunda. One of my favorite sayings: "the mind that is anxious about the future is miserable." I couldn't agree more.
Here are a few shots of the painting in progress. It's likely to change a lot before it's completed but these will give an idea of my process and the general feel. I'll post the completed work soon. Enjoy!
Jen Ferguson's monsters and men art at Urban Folk Gallery's Annual Halloween art show, 2016Read More
Gowanus Open Studios is this weekend, and Arts Gowanus helped arrange a donated space for some of us "displaced" artists from the building at 112 Second Avenue. who lost leases last month and were without exhibition space for the festival. We are thrilled to have a space donated by Brooklyn Lofts & Galleries in a space curated by Dylan Bauver; the building is run by Alex Robayo.
In addition to our art, there are over 30 other artists showing in the building. There is also a live mural painting, live music and a food truck!
Here are the details and Facebook event page:
ROOM 12 at Gowanus Loft and Galleries; 61 9th Street Brooklyn
Sat & Sun, noon-6 pm, October 15th and 16th
Featuring: Jen Ferguson, Alex Nero, Mahalia Stines, Alexandra Baye, Sara Galkin, Kiley Ames and Tara Kopp.
It's always hard to move studios, especially when it's unexpected (the building was sold and leases broken) and miss a much needed opportunity to show work; for many artists, the open studio events are a much needed potential source of income. So we owe much gratitude to Abby Subak at Arts Gowanus, as well as Dylan Bauver, Alex Robayo and Gowanus Lofts & Galleries for their generous help- THANK YOU!
Artworks by BOE Label Artists-Part 1
Opening Reception: Thursday, June 30, 7-10pm
Exhibition Dates: June 22 – August 2, 2016
I am participating in a group show of Brooklyn Oenology label artists this month. I created artwork for two BOE wines, a Merlot (sold out) and Riesling (still some bottles available.) I will be exhibiting one painting, which is shown here. It's one of my newer pieces. Below is the official press release for the show- and the wine labels I created. hope to see some of you there!
Williamsburg Brooklyn, NY, June, 2016 —Brooklyn Oenology, the first urban winery in New York and pioneer of “Brooklyn Terroir,” will celebrate its 10th anniversary in June 2016.
The Tasting Room will host two gallery shows during the summer that pay tribute to the artists whom have contributed to BOE labels over the past ten years. The first will be on display June 22 - August 2 and the second show will run August 3 - September 12. In total, 28 artists will participate in the showcase, showing a mix of new and favorite works.
The new releases of the 2014 Chardonnay and 2013 Merlot will feature limited-edition labels, commemorating the past 10 years of BOE. A limited quantity of these uniquely labeled bottles will be available for wine club members and for sale in the tasting room.
The opening reception of Retrospective Art Show: Part 1 is on Thursday June 30th, 7 to 10pm. BOE will feature $2 off glasses of the new releases of the 2014 Chardonnay and 2013 Merlot, which feature limited-edition commemorative labels, 10% off bottles of the wine to go, and complimentary snacks.
Retrospective Exhibition Part 1:
June 22 - August 2, 2016
Opening reception: Thursday June 30, 7-10pm
Fanny Allie, Julie Combal, Sezes Devres, Rob DeOude, Patricia Fabricant, Jen Ferguson, Sonomi Kobayashi, David Kramer, Noah Landfield, Jemal McClary, Chris Smith, Michael Sorgatz, Jeremy Wagner, Sarah Walker
I had a great time participating in Firehouse Gallery's artist talk earlier this month. (I also won "Best in Show," a giant honor given the quality and range of art, and they presented me with a check!) Several of the participating artists were there to speak about their work, as was I. It was informal but informative. A warm group of creative people and interested observers had an interactive tour around the show and we all learned about the unique motivations, inspirations and view points of each artist present. And I was impressed by the strength and quality of the art community in Orange, NJ.
It's hard to communicate in words what is expressly visual; artists spend so much time with their work alone, and at least for me, the running dialogue is never "what does this work mean?" or "how can I connect this piece with my philosophy of existence?' but rather mundane thoughts about what's for dinner, lists of unaccomplished tasks, and scheduling all the other fun things I plan on doing after painting. But I was able to find a few genuine themes to mention briefly:
- The idea of my process being that there is no set process. Each painting begun as if amnesia had set in, and I'm painting for the first time. This sounds fairly implausible, but to large extent that is how I feel, each new work having it's own rules and unknown destination, and requiring a retrofit approach to technique.
- The idea of my paintings having a lot of "pasts" due to the extensive layering. Secrets lie beneath the final surface; whole other worlds, figures, structures etc. have existed, been obliterated or greatly altered. Many changes of mind occur while working. (I mentioned that I thought because of this fact, it might be quite impossible for a forger to try to recreate my style.)
- That in the evolution of a painting, plans are useless. Allowing the paintings to become what they seem to "want" to become, or what my subconscious must want, along a meandering garden path of mental foibles, makes all premeditation folly.
I hope to write extensively on the philosophy of painting someday. I'm constantly writing notes while painting in the hopes that eventually, I'll have organized thoughts about the subject that will be worthy of an essay.
I'll be speaking at Firehouse Gallery in Orange NJ on June 11th, 2016. There is a closing reception of Open Orange, an annual exhibition of regional art hosted by the Valley Arts Organization; my art was chosen "Best in Show" and I'm very honored.
In addition to myself, a few other highly accomplished artists in the show will also speak on their work. Presiding over this year's show were Tricia Bloom, Curator of American Art at the Newark Museum, Diedre Harris-Kelly, Co-Director of the Romare Bearden Foundation, and Marie Samuels, who serves on the acquisitions committee at the Parish Art Museum and is the Executive President of Artadia.
The event is at Firehouse Gallery, 580 Forest Street, Orange NY on Saturday June 11, 3-5 pm.
I will be speaking on non-process, the meaning of place, and how to tell fortunes by the interpretation of random brushstrokes.
My studio is located in the Gowanus area of Brooklyn. Ever since I moved my studio here, I've been astounded by how much support local artist receive from just one organization: Arts Gowanus. Headed by Abby Subak, and aided by a steadfast crew of loyal hardworking and thoroughly involved staff and volunteers, the group is a cornerstone of the arts community in Brooklyn. Running everything from workshops to help artists learn to better their careers to the yearly Arts Gowanus Open Studios, the organization is a huge benefit -directly and personally- to us artists here.
Every year they hold a benefit event- where you get to pick and take home an original artwork by a local artist. Last year it sold out, and was tremendous fun. This year, I am donating a framed watercolor titled " Sauvage." It's a study for a new large painting. The image is 9 x 12" and it will be framed to 16 x 20" I actually have an opening in Williamsburg the same evening, so I won't be able to attend, but I am honored to donate it as a support to Arts Gowanus. Here is a link to the event page where you can register!
I'm so pleased to have one of my paintings included in this superb exhibition at Site Brooklyn. "Landscape: A Sense of Place" is the perfect show for my work, as the idea and feeling of place is central to my work. I walked by the gallery the other day, and the show looks fantastic; a large variety of interpretations of the theme, and excellent quality of work. If you love painting you'll love this show. I believe there are also some great photographs too. The opening is Wed. May 25th, 6-9 pm. I'll be there!
Landscape: A Sense of Place curated by Annette Rose-Shapiro of ARTnews
May 25 - June 26th, 2016
SITE Brooklyn Gallery
165 7th Street, Brooklyn NY (Next to the Bell House)
Exhibition Curated by Annette Rose-Shapiro
How does an artist frame a landscape? Inevitably, it is an act of choosing: what goes in, what goes out? Poussin and Lorraine first brought landscape, which was previously relegated to merely backdrop for other images, into a subject of its own. After the Impressionist revolution, by the 20th century, the definition of "landscape" expanded considerably. Photography became widespread. Also, it included cityscapes and the explosion suburban subjects, conceptualization, abstraction, and gesture. Artists also brought in other materials such as video, collage, or elements earth or city themselves.
Fundamentally, landscape posits the challenge of how we view and engage with the world around us. This exhibition seeks to show how contemporary artists take up this challenge.
I'm participating in Urban Folk Art Gallery's Annual Brooklyn Bridge Show, which opens Friday May 20th and runs through June 20, 2016. The show is a well rounded and diverse example of contemporary Brooklyn artists' interpretation of the our local architectural icon, the Brooklyn Bridge. Urban Folk Art always puts on a smashingly fun opening; there are sure to be lots of friendly people and great art to peruse, so swing by! If you miss the opening, the show runs through June 20th so there's plenty of time to stop by and pick up an affordable, awesome piece of Brooklyn Bridge art.
The Annual Brooklyn Bridge Show, May 20th-June 20th, 2016
Urban Folk Art Gallery, 101 Smith Street near Atlantic (Map Here)
OPENING Friday, May 20th, 7-10 pm
Two paintings of mine will be exhibited at “Open Orange 2016”– an annual exhibition at the Firehouse Gallery , 580 Forest Street Orange NJ which opens this Thursday May 12, 6-9 pm. The exhibition space is a beautifully restored firehouse; the centerpiece of the Valley Arts District in West Orange/Orange NJ. The show runs May 12- June 12, 2016.
I was honored to have my works chosen : the nationally prominent jurors were:
Tricia Bloom, was previously the associate curator of exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum. Bloom is the current curator of American art at New Jersey’s Newark Museum.
Diedre Harris-Kelley, is the co-director of the Romare Bearden Foundation. An accomplished artist, Harris-Kelley is the curatorial lead for the foundation.
Marie Samuels, is the executive president of Artadia, an art and dialogue foundation in NYC. Samuels also serves on the acquisitions committee for the Parrish Art Museum, Long Island, NY.
I'm very pleased to have two paintings included in the 12" x 12" group show at Roig Gallery in Hoboken. The opening is Thursday, April 14th, 6-8 pm; Roig Gallery is located at 252 First Street, Hoboken. The gallery is a short walk from the PATH and ferry terminal and Hoboken is filled with restaurants and bars to enjoy after the opening.
The two paintings I'm showing are both inspired by Hoboken. Hope to see you at the opening; the show runs through May 14th.
12" x 12"
252 First Street, Hoboken NY
When my watercolor paintings need a little "umpf" it's time to break out the farm fresh eggs and stir up a little egg tempera. An almost impermeable substance, egg tempera can add a lot of dimension to a watercolor. Purely speaking, it's not for use on paper- it's more appropriate for sturdy backings like wood. But if you're using massively thick Arches 300 gram paper, it may be used in moderation without causing worry.
As an oil painter who uses paint to build up surfaces and then alter them over and over, adding tempera layers to a watercolor can bring the medium closer to what I prefer. I love seeing light, spontaneous watercolor paintings, ones that showcase transparent effects and ways to use the white of the paper. But I usually revert to my old ways of layering, and so constantly seek for ways to add substance to the paint. Every artist has their tricks, and this is just one of them. I remember seeing Andrew Wyeth watercolors at an exhibition that were heavily worked, scraped and layered and feeling a kindred spirit.
Building up an image bit by bit, paint stroke by stroke, helps to make the painting feel like more than just a flat surface. I'm trying to bring a luminosity to the image, and a past that the upper final layers have to be viewed though.
Gowanus Open Studios went well this year; I enjoyed greeting friends and new acquaintances into my work space. Hearing reactions to new work was interesting and since they were good reactions, a bit of a sorely needed ego stroke.
There were some interesting comments about the work and space but my favorite had to be overhearing someone tell their companion "This studio gets first prize for being the cleanest and most organized."
Funny that a comment about the studio could make me feel so giddy- but I was beaming inside and out when I heard it.
While I appreciate chaos and mess as a part of creativity and imagination, even as a child I liked to create order and a space that exudes calm. When space feels cared for, it feels safe. When the randomness of objects and placement is overwhelming and intrusive, the space indicates that things will not be OK. At the extreme, poorly cared for places hold unseen dangers- floorboards can give way underfoot, ceilings can collapse.
Growing up in rural upstate, I saw the dangers of rotting floorboards, barns torn apart by the elements, grain silos with decayed foundations, abandoned houses falling into the ground, old wells not properly covered. As a kid, every day after school was time to go exploring all of these personal treasured landmarks. The most historic and extreme of these was a place called "Wyndcliff"; a friend's relative's house which is legendary for its interesting past and the fact that to get from room to room one needed to walk across a long unsteady plank spanning the collapsed first floor.
Historic American Buildings Survey, 1979.
First floor parlor, southeast corner section seen from west, showing parlor badly damaged by elements. Wyndcliffe, Mill Road, Rhinebeck vicinity, Dutchess County, NY. Call Number HABS NY,14-RHINB.V,2-40
Library of Congress, Prints and Photograph Division
But as an artist, chaos (or what looks to be chaos to the outside eye) is a vital tool, and one that is integral to my work. My creative mind works in a non-linear fashion and jigsaw puzzle style problem solving is my forte. How can you see a solution until you dump all the elements out on the floor and see where they could go?
With that in mind, I think I'll relegate a clean orderly studio to the in-between times of studio visits and end-of-the day ritual straightening up. I'm careful to clean my brushes, clear off the palette and sweep the studio before leaving for the evening. That way the next morning I'm free to being to let the chaos and creativity flow again.
Recently I remembered something a painting instructor once said to me: "Your painting looks like your palette."Read More