Direct Observation: Two Approaches, Kathy Gore Fuss & Amy Huddleston


May 7 – June 30, 2016
Reception for the artists: May 7, 2 – 4pm

Both Kathy Gore Fuss and Amy Huddleston work from direct observation, but they use this traditional tool very differently. One would never confuse their two bodies of work.

In a recent artist statement, Amy Huddleston write: “Two years ago I decided to work entirely from observation, with a muted and limited palette.  I learned a great deal through this work; which was based on measuring in order to help me better understand spatial relationships. I felt a strong desire to see what this could bring to my work.”

Huddleston’s passion is for observation detached from narrative. Because she knows how to paint well indeed, her straightforward approach will have its rewards, among them, allowing psychological expression to be a by-product, rather than the intention of her efforts. This compelling subjective expression, while it arrives without invitation, does become a significant aspect of her work. – Norman Lundin

Artist Interview #42: Amy Huddleston, Part 2

Amy participated in our interview series as part of a previous exhibition (artist interview #12).

huddlestonstudio 2016 1
1. In your drawings and paintings, what does it mean for you to succeed?
I must like it.

2. In your recent artist’s statement, you wrote that you are working on small works that help you further refine the “how” of your process. What have you discerned about your process through working on these?
That it changes, attempts at approaching work the exact same way; same support, paint etc., is too rigid for me, at least currently, I see glimpses of future definitiveness, but I tend toward mirages.

3. How do you understand form in relation to expressing your observational experience?
By asking myself, when looking at something, what exists in this particular visual field, and how can I use it to make a visual experience that draws people toward it, for whatever reason. If I can figure out what draws me to a form I can potentially use that information to construct, or rather, reconstruct this information; not in order to get the same viewpoint but to gain another.

4. What can you tell us about the expressive results (the expression) of your observational experience?
That it is determined along the way, as the work moves forward. It is not a preconceived notion. Largely, it is determined by eliminating things I do not like rather than adding things that I do.

5. What is your ideal working environment?
You can never have too much space, light, or music.

Kathy Gore Fuss & Amy Huddleston, Direct Observation: Two Approaches


May 7 – June 30, 2016
Reception for the artists: May 7, 2 – 4pm


Both Kathy Gore Fuss and Amy Huddleston work from direct observation, but they use this traditional tool very differently. One would never confuse their two bodies of work.


Four years ago Kathy Gore Fuss began spending much of her painting time out in the forests around her Olympia home rather than in the studio. She was curious how working from direct observation would change her painting. It has sharpened her eye and guided her hand as well as deepened and expanded her narrative vision of the forest. This is perhaps especially true in the work on view as Gore Fuss has, for the past year, filled the unique role of artist in residence at the Port of Olympia, and as such she has had access to the loading facilities and crews of Chinese and Japanese ships that dominate the shipping of lumber at West Coast ports. Her narrative begins in the forest and follows through to the loading dock. While the narrative content, explicit and implied, is there, her intent is not to document but rather to use the “Industrial Forest” as a vehicle for her ideas about painting. Gore Fuss understands that her narrative serves the painting, not the other way around. These paintings are “stand-alone works” and compelling as the story is, do not require the narrative to find meaning as works of art.
– Norman Lundin


Interview #41: Kathy Gore Fuss
1. Are you a full time artist, if not how do you support your art?
My earlier years as an artist were a juggling act between studio time and part-time employment. In the last six years, I have quit all of my fake jobs and work solely on my art.


2. When did you consider yourself an artist?
It was always my dream to be an artist. I was enormously proud of all of the artwork I produced in Elementary School. Walking home from school I was frequently hassled by some bullies who thought it great fun to rip my artwork out of my hands, toss them in puddles and jump up and down on them while laughing. Being a problem solver at an early age, I figured out that I could fold up my paintings, tuck them in my underwear and transport them home safely, much to my mother’s surprise. My first regular exhibitions were, of course, on the refrigerator.


3. What are your influences?
The Impressionists have had a huge hold on my fascination and passion with nature; Pierre Bonnard, Claude Monet, Pierre Cezanne, and Camille Pissarro. I have also looked to the women in our past who dedicated themselves to their craft; Lois Dodd, Alice Neel & Emily Carr. Some of my current heroes are right here in Seattle, Helen O’Toole and Ann Gale.


4. How big is your studio, what kind of lighting?
In 2010 I designed and became general contractor for the construction of my first official studio. The studio is 24 X 32 feet with a 12 foot covered back porch which I use for messy, dust generating projects. There are three skylights that give me good north light along with several windows that offer me views of my gardens and back yard. The property is a double lot; the house is situated on one parcel and the studio is on the other. I live in Olympia, Washington which is an affordable, arts oriented family supportive community 65 miles south of Seattle. This is the first studio I have had that is under my own supervision and it’s a complete delight to know I will work here the rest of my painting life.


5. What is a typical day in the studio like for you? Do you listen to music, radio or tv in your studio?
I was a studio artist for most of my career, working exclusively in my studio space. Ironically, just after I completed the construction of my new studio (2011), I began aggressively painting outdoors (Plein Air). Initially I thought I was intentionally avoiding my new studio space, but the transition in my painting practice shifted outdoors to be in nature. I spend extended amounts of time on site and then return to the studio to the solitude. I do listen to music in my studio. It includes opera, jazz, show tunes, world music and old classics.


6. What is your preferred medium? Do you work on one project at a time or several?
I have worked in a wide variety of materials over the course of my career, but I have returned to my first love: drawing and painting. Oil paint is my medium for painting and graphite, charcoal and pencil are what I rely on for drawings.


7. How is your process different in the studio compared to when you are out in the landscape?
My painting practice starts with direct observation outdoors. When I select a site, I will often work there for weeks or months while developing a relationship with it. Over the course of a year I will move around to different sites, requiring me to address the questions I have about where we live. Wealth and beauty; how do they affect my relationship to nature? My studio work involves analyzing the technical challenges I started wrestling with outdoors. The state of flux, the sense of urgency I work from outdoors gets to take a back seat to a more analytical approach in the solitude of my studio space.


8. In your drawings & paintings, what does it mean for your work to succeed?
I have a vision in my head of what my painting should be. There have been times with a particular painting where it has seduced me into thinking I have solved the dilemmas, answered my questions and I have become the painter I have always hoped I would be. That’s what my artwork and I would describe as “succeeding”. Then the glow wears off; I am humbled and humiliated by my folly and I start another painting or drawing.


9. How do you understand form in relation to expression? Or, what part does expression play in your work?
My process relies heavily on the tension between direct observation and abstraction. My forms are naturalistic; some more organic, others more heavily rooted in geometry. I am most pleased with my painting when my process of abstraction utilizes intentional and reductive interpretations of an objective image. My hope is that my painting will offer enough of the essence of the site with a strong chord of my interpreting how I see it.


10. Do you have any special or unique tools, devices or process that you use in your art making?
I consider my dog as one of my most unique tools when I am working on a site outdoors. He is hard wired to his senses in a way that I aspire to be, but am not. I think he considers himself at work as much as I am when we are in the field. His awareness is acute and he sees, hears and smells things that I might be too self-absorbed to notice. He is my connection to nature.


11. What do you do outside the studio, aside from a job?
Bicycling, hiking, gardening and listening to old jazz records. I start most of my days with one long walk with my dog at a local park. I also offer a one week painting workshop once a year at my studio.


“Observing Observing (a white cup): Matt Klos”


With each exhibition, we will post interviews with the participating artists along with a photo of said artists in their studios and images of their work. In the future, we will post videos of artist interviews.

“Observing Observing (a white cup)” continues through October 31, 2015

Curated by Eric Elliott, Michael Howard & Norman Lundin. More than twenty artists (both gallery artists and not) accepted the invitation to submit work.

Conversation with curators Michael Howard, Norman Lundin & several of the artists: October 15, 7pm.

Artist Interview #32 Matt Klos


1. How did you respond to the idea of the white cup?

I was thrilled to be asked to participate in “The White Cup” exhibition since the idea of whiteness has interested me for many years. Thirteen years ago I titled my thesis project at the University of Maryland “White Paintings” which dealt with a theme of whiteness that has fascinated me ever since.

White can be understood as blank, untarnished, or void. Whiteness as described in David Batchelor’s Chromophobia (Reaktion Books, 2000) has been understood in Western culture and intellectual thought as being without corruption or contamination. Notions of white in this line of thinking hold to a cerebral and technological baseline.

As someone who spends his time looking at visual phenomena and trying to make sense of it in paint I prefer a messier, and decidedly less aloof, notion of white. As an artist I am interested in white’s receptive qualities. Rather than white being impregnable I think of white as a conduit that is deeply sympathetic to its environment. White is the universal reflector and on its surface all color collides. These colors alternately exchange rank and file. One hue emanates strongest at one moment and another at the next. Rather than white being understood as a non-color I see it as an every-color holding congruency with the scientific properties of light.

Colors as seen on the white surface are reflected almost directly akin to a face reflecting in a mirror. When multiple colors are reflected on the white surface, which is often the case, they take on complex intermingled notes. When painting white we ultimately are painting what the white surface is not, or rather, what the white surface is reflecting. The difficulty in painting white is finding equilibrium between the emergence of color on the white surface and the surface as a whole. If reflected color is underplayed for sake of a surface the iridescence of appearance is lost. If the color notes are overplayed the surface ceases to hold together. As it goes with acting, for an optimal effect the artist must play everything on the line.

As I was working on “Perched” and “Diagonal” for this exhibition I tried to maintain a stance of receptivity to color nuances on the white object. During a painting session color nuances ebb and flow from fluctuations in the light source and based on the artists visual path across the object’s surface. In this way the artist becomes attuned to the environmental situation of the white object itself echoing its own environmental awareness.

2. Are you a full time artist, if not how do you support your art?

Yes, I’m a full time artist in the sense that my life really informs my work. But of course, I work to make a living. I teach full time in the Visual Arts at Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, MD. I also manage a few properties which couples the enjoyment I find in working with my hands and working with people.

3. When did you consider yourself an artist?

I’ve always considered myself an artist or at least someone who was artistic. It wasn’t really a self-knowledge born of the idea that I was making things that were interesting or well done but rather something that other people would say about what I did. So, after a while you sort of pick that up and it becomes your own.

4. What are your influences?

I put together a show, “A Lineage of American Perceptual Painters” which went on view in the Mitchell Gallery at St. John’s College, Annapolis, MD about a years ago. The exhibition includes a number of my favorite painters and greatest contemporary (or near contemporary) influences.

More here,

My work is also really influenced by life in general. I’ll read a book or see a show and it will kind of overwhelm me, like a really catchy song that you want to hear over and over again, and eventually fizzles but is not gone completely. So during the immediate aftermath of exposure I am somewhat possessed by a particular idea and it seeps into everything I do and say. It’s terrible really that I’m so fickle. Right now I’m super obsessed about the Picasso sculpture exhibition at MOMA. The way he married line and form is mind numbing. I mean, I didn’t even think I liked Picasso that much. Nothing was accidental or overlooked and every material he came upon become and artistic statement. I laugh maniacally every time I think about it (which is constantly)!!!

My wife and I love to travel and that always seeps into my work… in the last few years we’ve been with the kids to Barcelona, Athens, Istanbul, Prague, Seattle, and San Diego.

5. How big is your studio, what kind of lighting?


My studio is fairly large. It is the full footprint of my home and in my basement. I guess it’s about 900 sq. feet but it’s fragmented into a “clean room” where I have a cluttered desk and have racks of paintings and a somewhat open space where I have a table saw, drill press, and work tables. Among the “dirty” space I find inspiration for my interior paintings. I work in diffused light during the day which comes in through basement windows and under various artificial lights at night. Paintings occur to me over a long period of time. I’m a quintessential Cezanne painter in the way that good ideas occur to me only after I’ve muddled with ideas that aren’t that good for quite a while. Ideas that come to me which are purely formed bore me or make me extremely wary. I tend to toss them aside.

fort howard

Working outdoors at Fort Howard

6. What is a typical day in the studio like for you? Do you listen to music, radio or tv in your studio?

Typically I get down to the studio late at night during the week. It’s 11:27pm now and as soon as I finish this I’m heading down. By 2am or so I’ll need to wrap it up or will pour a glass of Glenfiddich and go back to it for a couple hours (a decision I’ll regret when my alarm goes off at 6am). Tonight will be a later night than usual. On a good night I’m down there by 9pm. On Fridays and weekends I take a large section of the morning and afternoon to paint and am working on a large painting of my bottles in natural light at the moment from Noon-5pm when the light is right. I also head outside to paint the landscape when I’m fatigued of my interiors or if it’s a particularly beautiful day. Some people golf. I’m a big Spotify listener and I tend to listen to guys with guitars… Ryan Adams, Joshua Ritter, etc. I also love drone or trance music… really I don’t even know the name of the genre… but in the Crystal Castles realm. A close friend, Jeremy Jarvis, makes some of his playlists public and I always glean good music from those lists. Oh, and WTMD, a local Towson University radio station.

7. What is your preferred medium? Do you work on one project at a time or several?

I work primarily in oil but will use acrylic, watercolor, gouache, and all manner of drawing media to keep things exciting. More and more lately, as my family and other responsibilities mount, I’ve been working primarily in oil since some of my studio epics move at a glacial pace and I really want to complete several for upcoming exhibitions. I work on many, many projects at once. When I begin a project or am nearing the end I tend to get tunnel vision and hone in on just that. The middle of a painting, the doldrums, are what I dread!

8. Do you have any special or unique tools, devices or process that you use in your art making?

No. Not really. One technique that is quite common and something I use often is scraping down areas of a painting after a session. The palette knife is used to do this and essentially the paint is lifted off the surface but much of the impression of the mark remains. This is done to resuscitate areas of the painting that have calcified or are overwrought and also helps the subsequent layers of paint to adhere in a manner consistent with “fat over lean.” Although this is a common practice in painting it tends to baffle my new painting students each semester.

9. What do you do outside the studio, aside from a job?

I come from a big family and am close to them. My maternal grandmother has 27 grandkids and a steadily growing number of great-grandkids. I spend time making calls, writing letters, and taking trips and would like to do more of all three! My wife and I had our fourth child, Stella, about two months ago. Lately, in the evening after the other kids are in bed asleep, we just sort of hang out with her and try to communicate. She’s generally really quiet and content but is becoming aware and communicates with us. It’s a trip to see her smile and respond to the crazy antics we put on! I’m assistant coach for my oldest son’s soccer team and am on the PTA which is odd, apparently, since I’m a man. I’ve never felt so out of place! But I hope to be a help.

This summer had a workout with the chair of my department, Chris Mona, who is the most buff artist I know. It was fun (and really painful) and I’ve been weight lifting since then. I’m focusing on leg workouts. I tend to be fanatical about exercise and this type of exercise is my latest fascination.

Lastly, I really love to read. My best days always begin with me reading nonfiction and end with me reading fiction!

“Observing Observing (a white cup): Graham Shutt”

With each exhibition, we will post interviews with the participating artists along with a photo of said artists in their studios and images of their work. In the future, we will post videos of artist interviews.

“Observing Observing (a white cup)” opens September 12th and continues through October 31, 2015

Curated by Eric Elliott, Michael Howard & Norman Lundin. More than twenty artists (both gallery artists and not) accepted the invitation to submit work.

Reception for the artists, Sept. 12, 2 – 4 pm

Artist Interview #24: Graham Shutt


How did you respond to the white cup?

I’ve been enthusiastic about Observing Observing since Michael Howard first mentioned the idea for the exhibition to me. I am particularly interested in the transformation an object undergoes during the process of observation. It could be the transformation a cup undergoes as an artist looks at and represents it, but it could also be the transformation a picture of a cup undergoes as an observer looks at the representation of the cup. The transformation is where the making occurs.

Are you a full-time artist? If not how do you support your art?

I’ve worked as a bookseller for the past 15 years. There are benefits to having a day job. The structure it provides helps me focus on my work when I am in the studio.

When did you consider yourself an artist?

I began to consider myself an artist when artists whose opinions I respect began to refer to me as an artist.

What are your influences?

My undergraduate and graduate education in literature undoubtedly continues to influence my work. One way it does so is that the study of literature is, fundamentally, the study of the history and theory of representation. This includes both symbolic and visual representation. I read widely and I look at images from many different periods.

The movements that have been most influential for me are from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. They range from Impressionism to Bauhaus. They’re modernist movements. I am particularly interested in the break with pictorial tradition and the rise of abstraction during this period.

Amongst photographers born during the postwar period, Hiroshi Sugimoto has been a big influence. His photographs of conceptual forms, in particular those of mathematical models, showed me that it was possible to make photographs of the kind I imagined.

How big is your studio? What kind of lighting do you have?

I work at home where I am fortunate to have windows which face south. I make good use of the indirect — and, at the right time of the year, the direct — sunlight on my west-facing walls. Natural light functions as a kind of conceptual constraint in my work.

What is a typical day in the studio like for you? Do you listen to music, radio, or TV in your studio?

My day depends upon the task at hand. Because I make use of natural light, I pay attention to the sun’s position in the sky and to the way the sun lights objects in my studio. If I’m making photographs I work when the light is right. Earlier this summer I found myself getting up at 5:30 in the morning to make photographs because there was nice light in one of my rooms. For much of the year late afternoon is my most productive time. If I’m developing photographs I work whenever I can. The same holds true for making prints. In general I prefer quiet.

What is your preferred medium? Do you work on one project at a time or several?

I make photographs with a digital 35mm camera and an inkjet printer. I would like to work with a large format camera and develop film and make prints in a traditional darkroom but that is not an option at the moment. However, there are advantages to working in a digital medium. Doing so allows me to experiment in ways working with film would make difficult. I tend to work on one series of photographs at a time.

Do you have any special or unique tools, devices or processes that you use in your art making?

Observation is, of course, central to my work, but my process also involves reading and writing, drawing, making paper constructions and, because I’m interested in combinations, permutations, and production systems, writing computer programs.

What do you do outside the studio, aside from a job?

I go for long walks whenever I can.