What’s New at State of the Art Gallery for April

“Inner Worlds/Outer Worlds – Two Views,”

Pooling Light on Cascadilla Creek, 20 X 26″, oil on canvas

Painting and Sculpture, Jane Dennis/ Diana Ozolins

Dennis’s metaphorical paintings and sculptures explore the psychological and bureaucratic structures that people create to order or disorder their world, while Ozolins’s realistic landscape paintings celebrate the beauty and wonder of our natural world. Show dates: April 4 – 29, 2018 with a reception for the artists, Friday, April 6, 5-8pm. Hours: Wed., – Fri., 12-6pm and Sat. & Sun., 12-5pm. 120 W. Martin Luther King, Jr./State Street; curbside parking and ADA accessibility. Contact info: 607-277-1626 and www.soagithaca.org


For a few years I have been alternating between abstract color exploration and landscape painting. The paintings in this show use the forms and colors of nature as their reference material and include recent plein air landscape paintings, a cloud series, and a continuation of the Cascadilla Gorge series which includes two larger pieces done in studio this year.

Early Spring, Cornell Arboretum, 14 X 18″, oil on canvas

Early Spring Pines at Cass Park, 11X 14″, oil on canvas

The Fish Pond at Stewart Park, 16 X 20″, oil on canvas

As soon as the weather warms up in early spring, I pack up my portable kit with oil paint, palette knife, and a small canvas. Painting venues last summer were Cass and Stewart Parks, Cascadilla Gorge,

Big Lots, 16 X 20″, oil on canvas

Buttermilk Falls, and the Ithaca Farmer’s Market to name a few. Orchard Park and Lousianna Swamp are larger paintings that I did in Studio from smaller acrylic sketches done on location while traveling in Oregon and Louisianna.

The cloud series came about as a result of traveling through the open countryside of north and western New York State during this past very wet and stormy spring and early summer. I took a lot of photos through the car’s windshield, and from stops along the side of the road. Massive clouds, whispy clouds, all sorts of clouds arranged themselves up there for my inspiration. I painted the cloud-scapes in the studio with the palette knife, brush, and a variety of other materials to apply paint, scrape it off, and blend colors. It was quite a challenge getting the images to appear light and to float instead of looking like ominously heavy objects that would crush the observer. Although, there is always that element of danger in a storm, like the one’s that delivered crushing blows to Texas, Florida, and the Carribean Islands

Rays, 16X20, oil on canvas

Clouds or Mountains, 16X20, oil on canvas

The Cascadilla Gorge series started in 2016, and continued last summer. The Gorge walk had been closed for repairs for several years. It was finally opened up again that summer. Frequent walks up the trail bowled me over with beauty and I painted during the early morning hours. Because of the drought that first summer, I was able to get great vistas, sometimes standing in the very middle of the dry creek. I used palette knife on 14×18 canvas. The trail was closed again in early October when the rains came. The soil was so dry that it was unstable and when the downpour hit, another round of repairs was needed. It was a joyous day when the trail opened up again Spring of 2017. That summer I walked late in the afternoon. There was water in the creek that made enchanting reflections of light. I took photos and painted two large scale versions of Cascadilla creek this past winter. When working from photos it is important to remember that they are only reference material, and the painting is not intended to duplicate the photograph. I used a brush on the rough surface of these canvases, rather than my usual palette knife.

Falls on Cascadilla Creek

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What’s up For January 2018 at SOAG

Yellow #4 Red Yellow Blue 18×18 acrylic

I have five new abstracts in the Member Show Part 1 at the State of the Art Gallery Ithaca. The

Blue Etude #3 with Quadrilaterals 16×20 acrylic

show runs from January 3-28, 2018, with a gallery night reception on Friday, January 12.

The five paintings were chosen from a series of abstracts on which I have been working during the fall of this year. They represent a detour from the landscape paintings that I’ve been doing for an upcoming show in April among others, and represent a complete departure of materials, tools and technique. Previously I’d been doing the landscapes for quite a while, Spring and early summer found me outside with my easel in various gorges and fields, as well as in

Yellow #6 with Three Yellow Rectangles 16 x 20 acrylic

studio with photos of cloud-scapes. Doing representational landscape implies a commitment to reality, yet the physicality of my materials is

Yellow #5 With Three Triangles 16 x 20 acrylic

an important aspect of my art. My preferred palette knife technique results in a highly-textured surface, where seemingly random shapes coalesce into realism at a distance. Being “loose” and real at the same time is a balancing act, depending on a relaxed state of unselfconsciousness. Knowing how something is “supposed to look” and being faithful to its nature after a while began to result in an anxious self-consciousness that was constraining my spontaneous free flow of paint. At times like those, I turn to abstraction as a way to play with color without expectation of outcome. I start with a color premise, and explore it. The painting becomes a puzzle to solve. There is an infinite number of choices, decisions to make, and no set answers. It is play that only becomes serious when the painting is nearing

Blue Etude #2 Hearts of Stone 16 X 20 acryllic

resolution. For this series, I gravitated to brush instead of palette knife, and switched from oils to acrylics. My color premise was to create compositions using color families to create subtlety rather than complementary colors to create high impact drama. The first few were painted with various yellows and orange, and the next were studies with combinations of blue, using yellow and magenta to gently modify them. I indulged in using colors not found in the landscape. The openness of abstraction and the reality of landscape work nicely together as foils for each other. I began working back and forth during this project, with oils at one end of the studio and acrylics at the other end.

Permanent link to this article: http://ozolins.com/whats-january-2018-soag/

What’s up for August 2017?

My submission to State of the Art Gallery for August 2017 are two abstract paintings, Despot and Dames, and Landscape 11/9.

Despot and Dames, 18×24″, oil on canvas, $600

Despot and Dames started with the idea of juxtaposing a large heavy and menacing shape with several smaller, ephemeral, semi transparent slender shapes. It was a struggle to resolve the painting, because at various points it looked very architectural in an industrial sense, and I did not mean for it to represent pipes, bridges or buildings. It stayed in that state for about 6 months, waiting for the answer. Just when I was almost convinced that the yellow horizontal lines needed to be extended and connected, even though I was firmly convinced that would anchor it in architecture irrevocably, I subjected it to one more period of intense scrutiny.  I rotated it left, upside down, etc… and to my surprise I realized that in fact I needed to interrupt the yellow horizontals and instead connect the blue verticals. The painting snapped into accord with my intent. What a great feeling. You may well ask what motivated me to want to paint such an image. I am afraid I have to decline to tell you, I would rather ask what it might mean to you.  One day I was in the gallery  and a visitor expressed her impatience and irritation with the titles of abstract paintings. She said, the titles that indicate the artists intent or emotion strip her of the opportunity to freely engage with the painting. It was more important to her that she be free to react to the painting and enjoy her own thoughts and feelings. With that in mind, I would consider this painting a success if it sparks ideas for you or stirs some kind of emotional response as you look at it.

Landscape 11/9, 16×20″, oil on canvas, $500

Every morning, after I wake up, I look out my window and check out the world. Situated on an east facing hilltop, my bedroom looks out on a large expanse of lawn and gardens bordered by bushes that flower in their various seasons, ending in a wooded area.  Beyond that is Cass Park and the Inlet. The view continues in the distance with East Hill and Cornell, clouds and sunrise. Every so often I am struck by some quirk of season, weather, or circumstance that results in a morning of  sharpened perception and heightened emotion which sparks a retrospective painting. November 9, 2017 presented such an image, and  after breakfast I went down into my studio and painted Landscape 11/9 from memory. It is not intended to be a realistic painting, but the shapes and colors were inspired by the morning light hitting the autumn scenery. I think of it as falling somewhere within the Fauvist tradition of simplified shapes, fantastic colors, flattened perspective.


Permanent link to this article: http://ozolins.com/whats-august-2017/

What’s up for May 2017?

Tuesday Morning at Schoodic, oil on canvas, 45″ x 18″, $900

I had a surprise opportunity to hang paintings in a local business on the Commons. Breathe is a new clothing store in Center Ithaca that has an interesting inventory of fashionable clothing which takes into account comfortable wearability in addition to beautiful design. With soaring walls and a suspended walkway bridging the two sides, it made the

St. Lawrence Sunset, oil on canvas, 26″ x 34″, $1200

perfect setting to show some of my larger landscapes.  I put together a mini-retrospective of favorites from the last 18 years comprised of local scenes and travel in Oregon, Maine, and Ireland. it is not common to find a space large enough to show these paintings with out crowding, and open enough to see them from a distance. These eight paintings will be on display from April 26 to May 30, with a celebration of Fashion Night and First Friday coinciding on May 5 from 5:30 to 7:30. I’ll be there until 7pm, and then I’ll go over to the State of the Art Gallery to catch the last hour of the opening reception for Margy Nelson and Connie Zehr.

The Bathhouse, 12x 16, oil on canvas, $400

At the State of the Art Gallery, I will show a new small landscape in the Salon. It is a flashback to October last year. Autumn 2016 was a long slow end of summer that seemed to last forever. This is a12 X 16 that I did early in the morning on a bright, clear day in Treman Marina near the bathhouse. I was impressed by how the intense sunlight and deep shade under the maple trees made a strong composition. After the initial burst of creative inspiration, it took much reflection and rumination over a period of time to solve the problem of how to make the various greens create the sense of depth and volume.

This is the last week to see a reprise of Color Explorations – Abstract Paintings at Transformations – a lovely Hair and Body Salon located at 222 Elmira Road, in that small mall.

Small Pond in Cornell Arboretum, 14x 18, oil on canvas, $450,

Also last few days at SOAG for a small landscape from Cornell Arboretum that will be on the wall until Sunday, April 30.


Permanent link to this article: http://ozolins.com/whats-may-2017/

What’s up at SOAG January 2017

What’s up in January 2017: Cascadilla Gorge Paintings at SOAG

Cascadilla Gorge #4, 14x 18, oil on canvas, $450

For the month of January, I have 7 new paintings at the State of the Art Gallery in an exhibit called Then and Now. It is in conjunction with the celebration of Tompkins County’s bicentennial taking place this year. This is a group show in two parts – half of the SOAG members are showing now in January, and the other half will show in February. The show runs January 4- 29, with an opening reception January 6, 5-8 pm.

Cascadilla Gorge #3, 14x 18, oil on canvas, $450

The Cascadilla Gorge trail is a place of incomparable beauty. With a 400 foot rise from Linn Street to Campus, it is also a good cardio workout. Right in the heart of the city, it is easily accessible and forms a daily route between downtown Ithaca and Cornell University for many people. The trail had been closed for six years for repairs and it was a joy to be able to walk there again when it reopened this past spring. I went often, and took hundreds, if not thousands of photos. The Gorge remained endlessly fascinating because the hour of day, the weather, or the changing season each time created a new vista. It is not an easy place to do outdoor landscape painting because, narrow as it is, there is no convenient place to set up an easel without inconveniencing the many people who pass along at all hours. However, this was a drought year and soon I realized with the drop in water flow not only was the beauty of the rock more fully exposed, but there were dry places to step down into the creek bed with plenty of room to set up and paint. Beginning on Sept 12, I proceeded with this series of gorge paintings. The drought similarly exposed some other inaccessible places, and, in Taughannock Creek and Sawmills Creek, I happily painted in the middle of what would have been a rushing stream.

Sawill Creek #2, 14x 18, oil on canvas, $450

Cascadilla Gorge #6 – Above the Falls in Drought, 14x 18, oil on canvas, $450

I painted in the morning, from when the light first peeked over the cliff to around noon when the sun was fully overhead and flooded the creek with blinding light. I chatted with tourists from all over the world who wandered by. I observed students in college level ecology classes taking water samples and measuring water flow, and preschool youngsters collecting frogs and water insects. I developed a passing acquaintance with the stone masons who started their work when I came, and were resting their backs and eating lunch when I was leaving eager to see my canvases each day. I was angry and disgusted one Sunday when plastic drink cups rained down and glass beer bottles shattered on the rocks. I had moments of trepidation when the overly dried out walls let go little rock slides, and I had to think very carefully about what was above me so I could paint safely. Unfortunately, my painting season was cut short in early October when Cornell closed the trail for repairs, as overly dried walls were too unstable when the rains came again. All of these paintings were created on site with oil paint on canvas using palette knife. In some of them you can even see bits of windblown organic matter, or small insects. Most of them needed some degree of correction in the studio, such as small adjustments for perspective or light.


Cascadilla Gorge #5, The Stone Bridge, 14×18, oil on canvas, $450

Sawmill Creek #1, 14x 18, oil on canvas, $450

Robert H. Treman donated Cascadilla Gorge to Cornell University in 1909 to support public use, education, and enjoyment. The Cascadilla Gorge Trail system was initially constructed during the Civilian Conservation Corps era. A plan for developing the trail was envisioned in 1915 by Charles N. Lowrie, a landscape architect. He saw great potential for unique scenery with unsurpassed beauty that was at that time unknown to most people because of its inaccessibility among the extremely steep and rugged slopes. Most people could only get a glimpse of the ravine from various bridges that crossed it. His estimate for cost of construction was $21,438. Currently, Cornell Botanical Gardens manages it and is committed to protecting the natural area, providing ongoing educational use, and supporting safe public enjoyment of the gorge. Through the years, the trail suffered erosion and many parts fell into disrepair. Repairs were made in 2009, and in 2011 tropical storm Lee sent devastating torrents and massive boulders crashing down the gorge necessitating extensive rebuilding that cost almost $3 million from Cornell University, Cornell Botanical Gardens, and FEMA.


Cascadilla Gorge #2, View from the Stone Bridge, 14×18, oil on canvas, $450

Cascadilla Creek carves through bedrock – shales, siltstone and sandstone – exposing sedimentary rocks that were deposited 400 million years ago. There are ripple marks on the rock surface indicating it once was the muddy shore of a shallow, tropical sea that covered much of New York State. The Appalachian Mountains are the remnants of a mountain chain the size of the Himalayas which was located to the east of this inland sea. Sediments of sand, gravel and mud flowed down the mountain streams, accumulated over millions of years, and formed the sedimentary rocks that we walk on and are surrounded by on the trail. The actions of the massive two mile thick glaciers gouged a series of rivers, from north to south. As the glacier began melting away over 12,000 years ago, the rivers became lakes in deep valleys. Streams that flowed into these lakes plunged as waterfalls over their steep sides and carved the gorges by cutting into the bedrock, action that continues even today.




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