Ursula Schneider began drawing the landscape in Petaluma, CA, in 1978, depicting the local oak trees and fields with oil and soft pastels. A series of drawings were made at night in the moonlight. Working in the dark helped Schneider to eliminate details from the subject matter and instead focus on the forms, the main aspects of the subject, and her responses to it. She traveled to Iceland to draw. There she became interested in geology and the landscape devoid of human alteration: the movement in the earth, the forming and the erosion, the weather, the water, and the vegetation. On three visits to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, Schneider completed a series of pastel drawings and paintings representing the free-flowing forms of the rivers and the vastness of the mountain ranges. In 2000, she traveled to the Australian Northern Territories, which inspired the paintings in this exhibition.
Schneider’s paintings begin by drawing on site. She selects an elevated place in the landscape so that she has a wide view of a river or mountain range. For three hours, she studies and draws the form and movement of the nature in front of her. In the changing landscape, there will be a moment when an important dynamic reveals itself. This becomes the artist’s memory, which will be the guiding force in her paintings. Schneider also brings back physical fragments from her travels. The six Wood Studies in this exhibit are based on these objects.
The artist has developed a new technique of painting with pure pigments and a water-based urethane. The painting panels are constructed of laminated nylon and are suspended one inch away from the wall with two brackets. This allows them to be as long as 90 inches.
Schneider is interested in nature, nature as a changing force. Movement is inherent in the mountains, the river, the weather, and in human nature. The process of drawing on site is to see and to learn. She aims to create via painting a landscape with a sense of movement and stillness. Schneider is interested in the healing aspect that can be gained from connecting to nature.
Read more about her works below.
I have been making woodcuts since 1988.
I began by using black and white images and later learned Moku Hanga, a Japanese Woodcut technique, employing many blocks, each of them a different color. The woodcut images I derive from my life experiences and observations, merging reality and imagination. I have traveled to the Arctic Circle in Alaska to draw, and then later created the Landscape woodblocks.
In the woodcuts of the Bears, I represent the interconnectedness of the land and the bear as well as the bears constant presence in the visitors mind. My abstract woodcuts, Counter Clockwise, are a play of irregularity and pattern. They are created by randomly carving marks and printing them twice by turning the block counter clockwise. The woodcut Circle Split was done with one block printed twice, first in red then in green, turning the block upside down. For the Leaf prints I used life size leafs to represent nature and the small heads to represent human nature. TheBeetles are portraits of stink bugs.
Moku Hanga is a Japanese woodcut print technique. The final print is the result of printing several carved blocks, some containing multiple areas of color. The colors are water-based paints and brushed onto the block. Damp paper is laid on the block and hand-rubbed with a barren. Barrens are round, flat disks made of wood, plant fibers, plastic or metal ball bearings. These are used to create different printing effects. I was inspired by Ansei Utchima’s Hanga woodcuts, in particular the luminous colors and their transparency. I learned this technique from Bill Paden, who was an expert and an excellent teacher.
The Bear Woodcuts originated from experiences I had while hiking and drawing in the Arctic Circle in Alaska. The land is vast, fragile, and its life is spread far apart. The bear traverses the land alone in search of food. He walks silently. His moves are measured and swift. His coat is bleached from the sun. My images are a merging of reality and imagination.
The land reveals itself in unexpected ways. It is like an animal observing you, but which you have not yet seen. My paintings are about the Spirit of the Place. I draw the changing landscape on site. There is a moment when a dynamic reveals itself and becomes the guiding force for my paintings.
I began drawing the landscape in Petaluma, CA, in 1978. A series of drawings were made in the moonlight. Working in the dark helped eliminate details from the subject and focus on the core. I traveled to Iceland to draw. There I became interested in geology, movements in the earth, the forming and the erosion, the weather, the water, and the vegetation. On three visits to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. I completed a series of pastel drawings and paintings, 1995-2003. In 2000, I traveled to the Australian Northern Territories, which inspired paintings: Landforms, Termite Mounds, Bottle Trees and Milkyway-Coralbay.
Hudson River Paintings
The paintings are based on observation of the Hudson River. Each painting is specific to time and season. The architecture of Indian Point Nuclear Plant and industrial barges traveling the river are an integral part of these images.
In 1997 I began making my own painting supports made of laminated nylon with urethane, they are strong, flexible and absorbent. The paintings are painted with pure water suspended pigments and urethane. I have attached a sample of the material. The panels are made of four layers of sheer nylon fabric. These are laminated with urethane, a high-grade acrylic binder. I have been painting on these panels since 1998 and I am currently working on large-scale paintings that are four by eight feet. The paintings can be rolled for storage and they can be transported in tubes. Installation: The paintings of long and narrow formats are stretched between two wall mounted metal brackets. The large-scale paintings are mounted with Velcro.
This method and product is unique.
Pies & Ponds
My inspiration to work with geometric images came from watching fireworks. I was inspired by the dimensionality, the movement and the patterns of light arching through space. In trying to paint this, I did not want a naturalistic representation of the fireworks, but the ideal image that had formed in my mind. This led me to explore geometric forms. I was interested in the ways a circle can be represented, such as, three dimensional space with movement, circumscribing pathways, rings of water or as flat radial slices of pie. I use illustrator on the computer to create line drawings which then serve as templates for my paintings.
For each painting I give myself a general direction, such as two circles merging together. To this I add repeating elements which organize the space, like interweaving concentric circles, or the play between the surface and perspective. I create random patterns into which I paint colors, sometimes following one pattern and then deviating into the other one. This I do intuitively. In this process unexpected visual elements emerge.
I am interested in communicating a sense of play and thought. In these geometric templates I am free to find my way, as though walking through a labyrinth.
Gunnera Paintings and Drawings
The Gunnera which is growing in the Stonecrop Gardens in Cold Spring NY, was my inspiration for these named paintings and drawings. It is a plant of gigantic proportions from the rhubarb family home in the tropics.
I was interested how each leaf changes its shape as it progresses through its stages of growth and decay. I made an exact drawing on site, focusing on the differences of forms in each leaf.
Then I translated the studies into a large scale drawing, which in turn served as a template for all the paintings. The paintings are all intrinsically the same but individually different.