Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Home from the Capitol

A dozen or more paintings arrived at my doorstep yesterday from a "term in office" at the California State Capitol building. They traveled north last May to participate in a show at the Scott Hill Gallery in Dixon and then moved right over to Sacramento where they hung in the offices of Lori SaldaƱa, speaker pro tempore for the State Assembly.

Now home, they have been carefully cataloged and put on to shelves where they await their next adventure.

Point Break 18x36" ©N Strasburg

Refuge I 18x12" ©N Strasburg

Refuge II 18x12" ©N Strasburg

Blue Tide 29.5x19.5" ©N Strasburg

Path to the Sea 30x30" ©N Strasburg

Friday, March 19, 2010


It's really hard to believe that it's only March 19th. The weather has been unabashedly indifferent to the fact winter has not officially ended. Still... Santa Barbara has been in the high 70's and 80+ ranges of the thermometer this week. The garden thinks purely that we are mid dance with spring and pushes out new growth and flowers daily!

Through the writings of Billy Goodnick, (garden coach, landscape architect, garden wise guy) I discovered the amazing Australian nursery owned and run by Jo O'Connell. Australian Native Plants Nursery is tucked into the foothills halfway between Ventura and Ojai in Casitas Springs. What a treasure to visit this oasis, filled with luminous specimens from Australia, New Zealand and South African. It was beyond pleasure to visit and pick out something to grace my studio steps.

One of the picks was this fantastic variety of Leucospermum called Sunrise. It's like watching fire works in slow motion each day I walk out to the studio. Nature always manages to take my breath away.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thank you Carolyn xo


-- written by Max Ehrmann in the 1920s --

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Santa Barbara Seasons

More coverage in the local Seasons magazine {Mar/Apr issue}
featuring the beautiful home of Brian Donohoo.

Air Earth Fire Water represented in the master suite. Beautiful.

Art Ltd Magazine Mar/Apr

Art Ltd.

excerpt from:

Eden Is Burning
by george melrod
Mar 2010

"Another California painter who has found a convincing muse in the state's fires is Santa Barbara painter Nicole Strasburg. Santa Barbara, of course, has suffered its own terrible fires in recent years, including two significant fires in 2008, the Gap Fire, in July, in Goleta, which burned over 8,350 acres, and the Montecito Tea Fire, which burned nearly 2,000 acres in November, tearing through some very pricey real estate and destroying 210 homes. Strasburg, who works out of the more staid tradition of landscape painting, locates the fires within the range of elemental forces inherent to nature. Thus, her autumn 2009 show at Sullivan Goss Gallery, entitled "Air, Earth, Fire, Water," placed her fire paintings among a larger series of works featuring imagery of clouds and waves. In some paintings, the licking flames of fire suggest golden fields of grass, curls of dried brush, or the dynamism of ocean waves. In others, they are ferocious masses of orange and yellow, made all the more dramatic by their contrast to dark backgrounds, or the artist's vigorous brushstrokes. In several of these works, such as Gap Fire, Day One or Omen, the fire in indicated only by its ominous plumes of smoke. As destructive as they are, her fires represent a dynamic transformative energy that is as much as a part of nature as the vegetation they feed on, or the water, clouds and earth that frame them." from Art Ltd. Magazine Mar/Apr issue

Gap Fire, Day One 24x24" oil on birch panel ©2009

See the show again at Sullivan Goss Online HERE
and the amazing video brochure HERE

Friday, March 5, 2010

New to Sundance

The paintings sent to Sundance in January have just appeared in the online catalog. Seven, new to them, paintings added to the already 6 existing... all awaiting homes.

Online promotion to follow in the months ahead.

Creek Birch 24x18" ©2009

Mountain Meadow 12x12" ©2009

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Moku Hanga - you ask?!

This summer I had the pleasure of taking a Japanese woodblock printing course. Moku Hanga ... Moku meaning wood and Hanga, print or graphic. I have been enamored for many years with images from Crown Point Press particularly Wayne Thiebaud's color woodblocks. They look like watercolors and I could not, for the life of me, figure out how it was done... until now.

American or Western style woodblock printing uses brayers to roll a coating of ink onto the block which results in a very solid, opaque color. The paper is dry and often run through a traditional printing press, although not always.

The Japanese style differs because you are working wet on wet... water based ink brushed onto dampened wood and brushed like you were shining your shoes to spread the ink evenly. Then a lightweight Japaneze paper, (Washi, Kozo, Iyo, or the like) which has been dampened and left overnight to evenly moisten, is then placed over the inked plate and transferred to the paper by rubbing with a hand baren. What it gives you is such a beautiful, delicate, transparent quality. Absolutely delicious.

I am only at the beginning of my learning and experimenting. Like most printing techniques, there is a lot of variables to be mastered. How wet should the paper be, how much ink, how hard to press the baren and for how long to get an even distribution on the paper, how much rice paste to add to the ink, how to make sizing glue and size the paper. All this without even considering the design or carving of the block.

Here is my first attempt in class (I know I know I'm always over eager and ambitious on my first try).

carving the blocks

kelp tide

I had done a painting of this image that I really liked and was trying the composition in the graphic medium. I was happy with the image, not so much the color. Since each color was a separate block I am able ink and re-ink to my heart's content. I wasn't totally unhappy with the result.

Here are the many tools of this particular medium....

brushes and inks

assorted brushes, barens and rice paste

My second image in class I still have not perfected. It was another image, first painting, then etching, now woodblock. The etching is the inspiration (upper right hand corner). I did not have great tools, but rather a kindergarten carving set (or what it felt like anyway) so I did not get the line work I wanted. There is still a way to fix the image I just haven't gotten back to it since acquiring my semi professional tools... that are sharp! Key... sharp tools make for fun while working.

I have at last begun carving some images in my studio. It has taken a few months to amass all the accoutrement needed to go from starting point (carving) to finish line (printing). The top image is the key block print for my very first 3 color block print, solo. It is inspired by the painting Canyon View that was shown through the Sundance Catalog.

The top image is the block print and smaller black images are sumi studies for future blocks.

Canyon View

Below is a block finished this morning. The print is the key block, which IF I choose to do more than one color would be used to align the registration marks on the next block. I do like the simple black on white.

Here is the look of the block once the image is transferred from the rice paper to the woodblock. It is first drawn onto a thin washi paper with a dark pencil and then rice paste is applied evenly to the wood surface. The paper with the pencil image is then put face down into the rice paste and slowly, carefully rubbed away until the only thing left is the drawing on the wood. Beautiful.

Here is the sketch which was transferred to the rice paper. A new series? possibly. For some reason I'm drawn to this cavern, cut away, hole in the mountain, feat of man for man, coastal, composition..... okay I'm just talking, I'm not sure what it means yet but I like it.
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