Our Most Cautiously Optimistic Season: MUD!

Submitted 2 years ago
Created by
ArtisTree/Purple Crayon

Area artists exhibit a variety of works - some anticipating the warmth and color to come; others reflecting on the familiar, spare landscape of recent memory; but especially those works in the here and now - and the...MUD.

On Friday, April 7th, at our annual MUD Season Exhibit Opening Reception in the gallery, I was able to interview three of the local artists about their artwork in the show. It was a rich and insightful experience to be able to peak behind the curtains of the artwork to witness what had inspired the creativity of each artist. Here’s a special insiders peak into inspiration behind the work of Karen Rodis, Jan Salstrom, and Judy Callens. 

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Karen Rodis had beautiful acrylic color study painting on display. This was inspired from her work as an ArtisTree Daily Artist, and being a single mom to two children. She said it was often hard to “find time to be a daily artist” in her busy life, and as a result she has been “trying to find ways to do a little bit of art everyday, without feeling the pressure to create something that feels finished.” Her method is that every evening, after she puts her kids to bed, she goes to her bedroom where she has easel set up and she “puts down some colors and textures” each evening. In the the last few years she’s been “experimenting ways to put down paint without using a brush” and will use anything from a palette knife, credit cards, paper towels and other ways to create texture. This winter, she has been “interested in intense color” with spring and summer approaching she has been exploring and focusing on using green, peach, lavender in her work. This work illustrates this layering of paint each evening for several weeks, and she finds a place where she feels the piece is complete. Here is Karen’s beautiful painting:


Jan Salstrom, has three intricate and unique pieces of ceramic art on display in the exhibit. Jan used a Japanese process of working with colored clay that is called Nerikomi. In this process, you build your clay with “different blocks of colored clay, and you can make them as thin or as thick as you want to use, then you use a thin surgical wire and oscillate it through the clay body to cut through and bring out the different layers and colors.” Then you flatten out the clay, and “you have your slab piece of play to start to build and work with”.  Additionally, Jan explained that there are “multiple steps if you want to make it more intricate, as you can then carve into it and bring up more colors and details, smaller patterns, and then flatten it again and work with it”. Once fired, Jan explains with this technique one either uses a clear glaze, or can actually just add oil like you would a wooden bowl. Check out Jan’s ceramic pieces below: 


Judy Callens had an acrylic painting featuring a beautiful pond reflection. She said that this is the pond outside her home, and she painted the piece from a photograph she had taken when “the air was absolutely still, and when I looked onto into the water it looked like an optical illusion.” This is one her “absolute favorite paintings” because it captures a place she holds dearly, and she has always loved to study and inspired by the reflection in water. Check out Judy’s reflection painting:

To visit these pieces and many more wonderful artwork by local artists, the Mud Season Exhibit is up now through May 6th. The gallery is open Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-4pm.

For more information click here.

Blog Contributed by JJ Overstreet


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