How to start a visual art band by Amarett Jans

It's easy. Paintbrushes are drumsticks, art tools as instruments, lyrics are paint. A painting is a visual song.

IT STARTED In 2012, when I gathered April Donovan (Blue Collar Agency founder/creative director) and Christine Fisher (Blue Marble Creative founder/creative director) Jessica Levin (Freelance stylist) to collaborate on a project where we each rotated one piece. We each spent a week with it, passing it around. Dealing with the challenges that come with not knowing what you're going to get and also thinking about the next artist, within your decisions. It was a beautiful 3'x3' mixed media piece based on the Universe, Tree of Life and the four elements. It was shown at a private party (ODSY) in Hood River and auctioned off.

IT HAPPENED AGAIN Years later in 2016, April, Christine and myself began a new collab. It was one piece that benefited 3 different local Hood River charities. Again, it was a 3'x3' canvas that represented a social/community aspect of helping hands, Tilly Jane/Mt. Hood and the Columbia River. (Read the story in past blog posts)

THE BAND WAS OFFICIALLY FORMED Last weekend when April, Christine and myself planned a coast trip, which was preparatory for the third collaborative piece. April pointed out the fact that we basically just formed a band. A visual art band. This visual song, is going to be 4'x6' and it's cut into three separate pieces. Which, true to our style, we'll pass it to each artist. The song will be an homage to Summer Solstice. We settled on the oak tree being the focus. The oak tree in folklore and legend is the doorway into the inner realms. It helps the inner world to slip back into perspective, allowing new understanding to grow and decisions to be made from a place of balance. Animals associated with Summer Solstice are the bear, symbolic of fertility (of ideas, plans, etc) Bears also remind us of pleasure and taking advantage of the bounty surrounding us this time of year. Bears, mostly nocturnal are seen more often during the summer months - and this is symbolic of coming out of our metaphorical caves, and embracing the summer-lit brilliance of the day. Also, the eagle being an empowering solar animal.  Eagles represent focus, strength, command, liberation and authority. We want the song or piece to emit these things from nature.

The working title is Inner Wild. Besides collectively deciding to go geometrical in style, Christine getting the oak leaf, April the eagle and me the bear, besides those designations, it's all up in the air. We have no idea how each of us will end up doing what we do. That is the challenge and uniqueness to these projects. Or songs. It's like one artist starting with the bass line, handing it to the next artist and they add the harmony and then the next the vocals. 

Now, a Band's name is most important. And like most band names, come out of nowhere. (I read once in Rollingstone Magazine... 'and then someone busted into a room and saw us sitting on the couch and said 'Now look at this Motely-looking-Crew...) Sneaker Wave became our name on this recent coast trip. It comes with an attitude: Be the Sneaker Wave. It's a wave disproportionately large that can sometimes appear in a wave train without warning. It also reminds us, don't just say you're going to do something- do it with force. And most importantly impossible to predict. Just like these art pieces.

Read Christine's post on her blog here. April's is coming soon.

We plan on showing at the Brooklyn Art Library, Brooklyn in June. Want to come?

The sea is History... by Amarett Jans

Where are your monuments, your battles, martyrs? 
Where is your tribal memory? Sirs,
in that gray vault. The sea. The sea has locked them up. The sea is History...

-Derek Walcott

amarett-octopus-photography

First. The woman in these images is like an energetic gift from the Universe. You know something or someone arrives by the Universe- there is no stopping it, or planning it. It's the mixture of their history and your history combining... Your Universe and theirs. You have a cosmic occurrence. Lessons from the Universe, sting. Gifts, on the other hand, heal. 

The octopus creature has always been a magical thing to me. I've been using them in art for a long time. One never knows which way their body is going to go, which means endless possibilities. They're so clever, curly, curvy, strong, soft and wet. To me, they are more like a woman than any mermaid can be. Or at least, much more interesting.

We shot outside. It was 50 degrees and raining. We found our 8lb octopus at the ABC Seafood Market for $32 on Powell Blvd, in Portland. The wig for $43, the third and last one we tried on. We were on the street outside my house in NE. In between moments of freezing, cars driving by, flashes working and not working, there were these lovely, composed frames that are now frozen for looking at. The trust, rawness, vulnerability and history is as real as it gets.

amarett-octopus-photography
Shanan-octopus-amarett-20.jpg
Shanan-octopus-amarett-57.jpg
Your task is not to seek love, but to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you’ve built against it
— Unknown
2007 Vector printed on paper

2007 Vector printed on paper

2011 Acrylic on wood

2011 Acrylic on wood

2014 Acrylic on canvas

2014 Acrylic on canvas

2016 acrylic and latex on interior wall

2016 acrylic and latex on interior wall

Art Collab Fin! by Amarett Jans

We are proud to announce that the art collab for the 3 charities is finished! The auction begins this evening at Double Mountain brewery in conjunction with the Tilly Jane fundraiser evening.

Christine Fisher, being the final artist to complete the project shares her process here.

The Process

Three artists representing three local charities on one piece of art is both a challenge and a thrill. When I picked up the work from April, my first response was…”oh, it’s big!” For some reason 30 x 30 looks larger in person. My next reaction was excitement because between Amarett’s and April’s works they had put a lot of elements into play that I love, and although I hadn’t a clue what I would do exactly, I knew I would be able to have fun playing off their work.

My Inspiration

Columbia Riverkeeper’s mission is to protect and restore the water quality of the Columbia River and all life connected to it, from the headwaters to the Pacific Ocean. Their work includes education, water quality monitoring, and activism to contain various threats to water quality. As a person who requires water and food to live (like everyone), I can’t think of a more important cause. Beyond that—rivers and nature are themes that never cease to provide awe and wonder.

As I reflected on Riverkeeper and why I am so inspired by their work…one of the things that occurred to me is how much their success results in things we don’t see. It’s the rare event when an oil train blows up and we have a visual reminder of the catastrophic possibilities that are often averted due to the advocacy of groups like Riverkeeper. While rivers and fish are beautiful, the day-to-day work involves understanding a lot of complex policy and science, and being able to navigate through gray areas when issues are not simple black and white. I also admire the way Riverkeeper connects people across political boundaries and honors native communities who hold sacred traditions and connections to the river.

Creativity within Constraints

A blank canvas can be overwhelming. This collaborative format provides a lot of freedom but also the much appreciated constraints from the agreed theme and work of the other artists. When I got the canvas, quite a few things were defined: All the remaining blank areas needed to be covered by me. Both April and Amarett had left watery elements pointing toward that blank area. Amarett used paint and April used collage, so I used a mix of both to unify their works. And while Amarett’s work was mostly pastel colors, April used black, white, and grey with bits of red and blue, so I knew I would stick with this overall palette and add contrast.

From there, the piece evolved as I worked on it. It took numerous layers of painting and collaging to find a point I would call completion. The weather turned rainy as I was working on the piece so I made it rain and the resulting flood incorporated lots of subtle (and not so subtle) references to the various aspects of our beloved Columbia River.

Collab: 2/3 phase done! by Amarett Jans

This art collab project has the feeling of a relay race. There is an exciting pressure and the hand off of trust to your relay partner.  I handed the piece off to April the other week. Seeing her additions were thrilling and below she writes about her process.

April writes:

The Gauntlet


After Amarett dropped the art off, I freed the 30x30" canvas from its brown paper wrapping. I immediately realized how much more difficult this collaboration was going to be than our last go round for the ODYSY party in 2013.

The previous project came with specific inspirational elements from Amarett, but they were pretty abstract, and so was the art. Capturing the symbolism of three charities—Helping Hands, Save Tilly Jane, and River Keepers—is a tough ask, but the biggest challenges is: How do you make three artistic styles work together with a more literal interpretation?

Pick It Up 
 
I decided to work mostly black and white, with a collection of printed images layered on the canvas with clear gesso. Amarett's "walls" made a great backdrop for my mountain scene. I wanted to bring a strong diagonal to the top right part of the art. I kept envisioning Christine's charity, River Keepers, and thinking how water flows downhill, and so it made sense to save the bottom 1/3 of the canvas.

Historic imagery of people summiting Mt Hood and an illustrated map from the 1920s captures the spirit that Tilly Jane represents a legacy greater than us. I made up my process as I went, peeling away the layers to reveal my built-up board, all the way down to Amarett's painted background.

To create continuity from Amarett's piece to mine and to Christine's future layers, I did a few things. First, the climbers at the top of Hood are offering a "helping hand". Second, I added torn paper layers to parts of Amarett's elements, and to the foreground where Christine will play. I tried to capture movement and to create depth.

Fearlessness into the unknown

I thought of Amarett and Christine through my whole process. I didn't want to cover Amarett's work, and also wanted to reserve one third of the blank canvas for Christine. It really is hard to think down the line and envision the piece all pulled together. Will the composition flow? Will the colors play well together? Will there be enough contrast? Will the concepts shine through to the viewer? Will someone want to hang this on their wall? More questions than answers, but that is exciting. Plus, fearlessness into the unknown is one of our specialties.

Collab: Phase 1/3 done! by Amarett Jans

Today I hand the collab piece off to April. It was a creative experience doing the first part of the painting. From the beginning, I was thinking about April and Christine. I didn't want to block their space, or put so much on the canvas that they felt inhibited. I thought, am I giving them enough? What tone am I setting? This was the cool effect of collaboration. You have to think down the line. I have no idea what how their art will affect what I did, but that really is the exciting part.

Because the charity I chose is Helping Hands, I wanted hands helping hands out of a bad situation. A black sink hole and drips represent the bad situation. The hands and arms are made of rope, that form a knot that indicates the rope is used for climbing, up, in this case. The soft trippy 'walls' hopefully alter your perception a little bit. I wanted it to look like a snapshot from inside a room, but not necessary the canvas' 3D room, but a portion of an unidentifiable room, and we don't see the whole thing. The pastel sky is light and has movement.

I really look forward to April adds her magic and message.

Stay tuned!

Collabrative art piece to benefit 3 different charities by Amarett Jans

Three artists are going to work on the same piece. This sounds like the Ego's nightmare, but since the goal is to bring awareness to 3 charities, that focus has purpose beyond just making art that looks good. This creative outlet is meant to actively practice collaboration and community. The artists are April Donovan Partner/Creative Director for Blue Collar Agency (Hood River, Or.) Along with Christine Fisher Partner/Creative Director of Blue Marble Creative (White Salmon, Wa.) and myself.

Each artist selected a charity that they were passionate about. April's love for the outdoors led her to choose the restoration project for Mt. Hood's Tilly-Jane cabin. Christine's passion for all things fish, local and water quality, chose Columbia Riverkeeper. I chose Helping Hands Against Domestic Violence because I'm aware of the help they have given to ones in the community, and I would like to support this kind of work and outreach.

The piece will start with myself, and I'll have it for one week. Beginning today. I'll then be passing the piece onto April, and after a week or so she will pass it onto Christine.

When completed, the piece will show at various locations in the Hood River area with a ongoing auction sheet posted next to it. It will be on show for a couple weeks, the winner on the auction sheet will take home the piece. And the proceeds will go to each of the 3 charities.

Let's do this!

Is it Halloween yet? by Amarett Jans

It's never too early for Halloween in Portland. The long running, and all time favorite party is HOWL. I've been working with one of the coordinators, Eric Steindler for the past few years on the artwork for the event. This year we got an early start. The arts theme was inspired by Dias de los Muertos. Photography was the chosen method and it was a particularly fun shoot. Thanks to Alyicia Reeves for modeling!

Get your tickets to the event here!  (AVAILABLE SOON!)