Drastic color change!


Laura Gaffke, "Summer Sunshine" 5 x 7 inches mixed media ©the artist

Dear Tina & Friends~

It is interesting to look back at some of my old work and see how drastically my color palette has changed. I just got back from Port Clyde, Maine and spent a night on Monhegan Island while I was there. Monhegan is a quaint little community abundant with artists and alive with color and history (I will share more about my studio visits with the artists in another post). It has been years since this last visit and at the time I was primarily painting landscapes. It feels like a lifetime ago. Although I am still very interested in the landscape I was looking at the island from a very different perspective this time around than I did back then. I had a deeper curiosity and connection to what I was seeing. I remember feeling the history of this magical island but not knowing how to interpret what I was feeling. It took me a long time to understand that I don’t have to have a literal interpretation of what I paint. It comes out in many ways.

Laura Gaffke, 2011 "Hot Summer Day" mixed media, 5 x 7 inches ©the artist

I have been working on a little series of whimsical umbrella paintings. They started out as a carved block but I decided after I printed them, I wanted more color and started to hand embellish them, making each one unique. The splashy colored paint and patterns give them the look I was going for. Even though I felt they could stand on their own I experimented further by painting old book pages which I cut up and used for the backgrounds.

This series believe it or not was originally inspired by the tragedy in Japan. Wanting to find hope during such a sorrowful time, I began thinking about the brightly colored umbrellas Japan is known for. After researching their history I was surprised to learn they became popular in the middle of the 18th century as a way to stimulate the local economy after a series of floods. Each umbrella was handcrafted back then and provided a way to supplement the income of the impoverished lower samurai (warrior elite).  I found this fascinating!

©laura gaffke, 2011

I have always loved the little umbrellas that came in the Shirley Temples of my youth. It was always a special treat to go to the Chinese Restaurant and allowed to order one. I remember many times being there with my grandparents. I had a special connection to my gram and as I worked on this series SO many memories flooded back to me.  Happy times where I learned to just laugh and be myself. She would often say, “let’s laugh for no reason” and we did. I still do! These colorful moments are what I try to translate into my work.

I thought I would share a few pics from Monhegan. Such a MAGICAL place! I would love to know what your favorite places are to visit?

Cheery Smiles, Laura

©Laura Gaffke, 2011


Laura Gaffke, Amy Barstow, Millie Donovan (my traveling buds!)
©laura gaffke, 2011


©laura gaffke, 2011
©laura gaffke, 2011
The artist, Jamie Wyeth's house
You can see the hotel we stayed at in the far right of this picture
©laura gaffke, 2011


©laura gaffke, 2011
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One thought on “Drastic color change!

  1. Laura! I have always enjoyed Maine also. Has anyone ever not liked Maine (in the summer that is)?? You are right that there is some sort of quaint peacefulness there. I enjoyed seeing your photos. I am headed up to Black Mountain, North Carolina today and will take some pictures for you since you asked about favorite places. This is certainly one of mine. It is a place my family has returned to year after year.
    Take care my friend,

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