S: Art for Myself by Shana Vanbebber
BC: Always choose art because you love it... never because it matches your sofa. Shana Vanbebber
FC: A journey of discovery by Shana Vanbebber | Art for Myself
1: This book is dedicated to my family: My Husband Glen and my daughters Sevon and Erin. Also: Thank you to everyone who encouraged my work and creativity and to those who have given my paintings a home. Shana
2: The History of My Paintings One day my daughter, Sevon, said I should be writing about my paintings: why I chose the subject and what I was thinking when I was painting each one. She had recently returned from her honeymoon in Europe where she had visited a multitude of art galleries. Her favorite gallery, she said, was the Van Gogh in Amsterdam. It was interesting and informative because there was so much information about the artist and what was going on in his life at the time of each painting. That information showed how events influenced his subject and technique. At first I laughed a little at the thought, because I didn't think those sorts of things applied to me and my painting. I started painting well after my 40th birthday and the reason I started was to have original art on my walls. It was never a calling and I was not driven by it. I remember the day it happened. My husband, Glen, and I had been to several galleries and art fares looking for some painting we liked well enough to hang on our walls and look at every day. We saw many paintings we liked, and by a wide variety of artists. The problem was they were so expensive for originals that we just would not spend the money. We wanted originals not prints or even prints on canvas that have been over painted to look like originals. After several unsuccessful attempts I said to him, "A lot of those paintings I liked were very simple. I think I could paint those types of pictures.” Shortly after making that bold statement I went to the library and checked out a couple of books about painting and painting techniques. I had never painted before nor had I taken any painting classes so I was starting from nothing. I had always been told I was creative and considered myself artistic. I had sewn clothing and tiled floors and walls, been successful at faux painting and creating mosaics. I had great fun creating scrapbooks and designing greeting cards and flyers on the computer. I had worked in my daughter, Erin’s, second grade art class and looked at hundreds of paintings in galleries and museums. With all that experience I thought I could at least give it a good start. We had recently seen some southwest painting in a gallery and I thought I might as well start with a landscape of that type. We live in the desert so I should have a lot of material with which to work. I gathered some materials I had around the house. I found acrylic paints, brushes, sponges, pens and pencils, chalk and anything else I thought would be useful.
3: When I look back on my first paintings I see things I would have done differently. I especially feel that way about my first painting, Saguaro Path, I don't ever go back and redo them because each painting is a reflection of where I was in the learning process at the time. I like to see the progress and change over time. Just as in the journey of life, you can't go back. Both art and life are about moving forward. | I opened the books I had gotten from the library and started reading. After all, this was how I learned to lay tile and that had worked out well. I learned about light and shadows, backgrounds and depth perceptions. Chapter after chapter told about subject choice and color selections, setting a mood and brush strokes. I read and learned and studied the techniques of the great masters for about 4 hours one day. I grew bored with the books and got out the paints. I’m not that patient, sometimes. I always want to get my hands in, discover and create' Reading about painting is informative but nothing teaches like hands on experience. It is the way I have always learned. I practiced brush strokes and color combining and taught myself some of the techniques I had read about. I did some pencil sketches on scratch paper and by the second day I was ready to start. | My first painting Saguaro Path 2003 acrylic on canvas board 12X16
4: Abstract Poppies was the first time I had worked with a stretched canvas, I got the idea after looking through some art books and realizing how attracted I was to subjects that were the artists interpretation. I guess if I wanted realism I would take a photo. This is also my first attempt at mixing an extender glaze with the paint to get a more sheer color. The reason there are two paintings so similar is due to a remark I made one day when I finished the first one. I mentioned to my daughter, Sevon, that the painting was not large enough for the space I had originally planned to hang it. She said, “Well, paint another one and give that one to me”. That is what I did. I got a canvas that was the right size and told Sevon she could have the original after I painted a second. | Abstract Poppies 2003 acrylic on canvas 20X24 (Owner: Sevon Vanbebber-White)
5: Trying to create the exact painting a second time was impossible. I got close but not the same. Abstract Poppies II started on a larger canvas so the spacing was already off to be able to make it the same as the first. I could never quite get the glaze and paint mixture to come out the same on the second try. I could never recreate that glow on the poppies I loved on the first painting. All that being said, there are things I do like about Poppies II. I used an add in texture on the pot and liked the way it turned out. I was also able to use the glaze to achieve a more subtle background the second time. Sevon took Abstract Poppies home with her and has hung it in her living room everywhere she has lived. It was the first painting to leave the house and find a home with someone else. | Abstract Poppies II 2003 acrylic on canvas 24X36
6: On the Flower Garden I learned to always start with a fully painted canvas. This works best for me because I paint all over the place, not top to bottom or side to side. I spent a lot of time on the Flower Garden filling in background around the flowers so there wouldn't be white spaces peeking out everywhere. This is Glen's favorite painting of mine. | Flower Garden 2003 acrylic on canvas board 18X24
7: The signature I use to sign my paintings is not the same as I would use on a check or for signing a document. I felt like I needed a better signature to put on my paintings. The one I came up with is part my doing and partly a tribute to my dad. He did crossword puzzles all the time and always made his E,s, R’s and B’s with no back.. He only did it on the puzzles and I always liked it. Since Vanbebber is such a long name I decided to use only my first initial. Only my first painting is not signed this way. | Signature | Going in Circles 2003 acrylic and sharpie on canvas 12X30 (Owner: Sevon Vanbebber-White) | One day Sevon told me about a type of painting she saw. She said she would like me to try and paint one for her for Christmas. She even had the size of the painting she needed to hang it in a specific place. This turned out to be an odd size so I knew I couldn't just buy a pre-stretched canvas. I decided to try stretching my own. I got a book at the library again and learned how to do it. I bought the wooden stretcher bars and a roll of canvas and went to work. It was actually easier than I thought it would be. I always wet down my stretched canvas and leave it out in the Arizona sun to shrink down tightly on the frame. Going in Circles is my interpretation of what Sevon told me she wanted.
8: My friend, Kim Nelson, saw my paintings and asked me to paint something for her. I asked her what she wanted and she said surprise me. I did three sketches and she chose the one she liked. Kim's Poppies was my first sale and is still one of my favorites. I have considered trying to paint myself one like it but have been reluctant because of my earlier experience trying to reproduce a painting I loved. It solidified my love affair with painting poppies. I still go in to visit it when I’m at her house. | Kim’s Poppies 2003 acrylic on canvas 24X36 (Owner: Kim Nelson)
9: Barbara's Sunflowers is a painting I did as a Christmas gift for my mother-in-law, Barbara Vanbebber. She had a very hard time telling me what she wanted and mostly left it up to me to paint what I liked. I love to paint sunflowers and was very pleased to be given another reason to try them. I am especially happy with the way the copper bucket turned out. This painting lives in Las Cruces, NM and hangs over a sideboard in her dining area. | Barbara's Sunflowers 2003 acrylic on canvas 30X40 (Owner: Barbara Vanbebber)
10: I wanted to use a yellow frame I found at a garage sale. I liked my last sunflower painting very much and thought I would paint one for myself. It hung on my wall awhile and that is where Chelsea Dixon saw it and really liked it. I gave it to her as a gift when she graduated from college in San Louis Obispo, CA in 2008 | Sunflowers and Watering Can 2004 acrylic on canvas board 18X20 (Owner: Chelsea Dixon-Kawashima) | Floral Evolution was just a fun thing to paint. It has a big blue vase and made up blossoms and colors that won't be found anywhere in nature. I like to imagine they are what flowers could become some day. | Floral Evolution 2003 acrylic on canvas 14X26
11: I started trying to get more creative about the type of material I used to paint on. I guess I got bored with stretched canvas and wanted to venture out to something new. I like to go to rummage sales and find frames people are getting rid of, then go to the Home Depot and have them cut hard fiber board to fit in the frame. Poppies by the Fence is my first painting on hard board.. We had just finished putting a master suite addition on our house and had created an art niche at the end of the hall. This painting was sized to fit in that space. Again, I went to my old favorite, poppies. I gave it a white picket fence background that really made the colors stand out. I often use made up flowers to fill in the background, so don't waste a lot of time trying to figure out what kind they are. I had an old gold frame I bought at a garage sale and spray painted it with a flat black. It gives a clean and simple finish. | Poppies by the Fence 2004 acrylic on hardboard 24X38
12: Eggplant and Peppers for Tommy, 2005 acrylic on canvas atop hardboard 20X24 (Owner: Tommy Bruce) | When Tommy Bruce graduated from high school he asked for a painting as his graduation gift. He didn't have a subject in mind and told me to paint what I wanted.Tommy was fond of my cooking and I thought some kind of food would be a good subject. Our family introduced him to green chili so I used it and developed the rest of the painting around it. This was my first stacked canvas painting. The canvas is bolted to the hardwood and the painting is continued to the lower surface. | Hibiscus 2004 acrylic on canvas 17X27 (Owner: Liz Carrasco) | I had seen the hibiscus when we were in Hawaii and was attracted to the bold beautiful colors. I love the subtle fern like background I was able to get on this painting.
13: Rickert's Saguaro 2005 acrylic on canvas 30X40 (Owner: Barbara Rickert) | Barbara Rickert commissioned me to do a southwest painting for over her fireplace. She brought me photos of things she liked in other paintings. I was able to take the cactus idea from one sample and the mountains from another and put them all together to achieve the look she wanted. The clouds have a hidden otter face painted in them. | The idea for this painting came to me on a trip up to Mt. Lemon. There had been a big fire the year before but some of the half burned mesquites were starting to leaf out. I was moved by the way nature always finds a path and moves forward. When we got home I got out some old oak cabinet doors I had saved to re-purpose as a canvas. These panels can be hung close together or up to eight inches apart. | Mesquite at Sunset 2005 acrylic on oak cabinet doors 2 panel set 16X39 each
14: When Erin left home and got a place of her own I painted the Umbrella Procession for her. I wanted to do something different than what I normally did and the bright colors were very attractive to me. I covered hardboard with cheesecloth to give a uniform texture. It is in a simple bright red frame. | Umbrella Procession 2006 acrylic on cheesecloth over hardboard 20X28 (Owner: Erin Vanbebber) | Self Portrait 2007 acrylic on canvas board 12X16 | I liked the idea of painting the human body but was not getting the face the way I wanted it. This is my solution. This is me in a bath tub of bubbles. I gave it to Glen for our 24th anniversary and it hangs in our master bath.
15: I’d Rather be an Engineer 2007 acrylic on canvas 12X12 (Owner: Sevon Vanbebber-White) | This painting was a gift to Sevon when she graduated from the University of Arizona with an engineering management degree. It's her studying and drinking coffee while her cat, Cammi, looks on. The title of the painting comes from a statement she made after attempting to do a painting of her own. This is my only painting in 2007. | Horse of a Different Color 2008 acrylic on canvas 12X12 | While trying to better my technique I heard of an exercise that was meant to improve time and color management. The plan was to choose a subject you never paint, use colors not normally used for that subject and finish the painting in a certain amount of time. T he result was the Horse of a Different Color
16: Zinfandel Grapes 2009 acrylic on hardboard 36X48 | A trip to San Francisco started my love affair with Zinfandel grapes. Maybe it was really my love affair with Zinfandel wine. I took some photos of the vines and loved the bold colors of the leaves in the winter season. When we tore down the old Arizona room and built a new one we placed a niche on the wall just to fit this painting.
17: This painting started out as a training exercise but turned out to be something I really liked . After we put some cabinets in the new Arizona room there were extra doors in several sizes. I did a series of paintings on the doors. This door was already drilled for a handle so I just found an interesting one to use on it. | I love to paint poppies and wanted to try a white flower. This was my first real attempt at a white flower after realizing how difficult it could be while trying them in Floral Evolution. I used a build up medium in this painting so it has lots of texture. | Floating Poppies 2009 acrylic on maple cabinet door 22X39 | Poppies in White 2009 acrylic on maple cabinet door 24X39
18: Blooms of Independence 2010 acrylic on maple cabinet door 22X39 Owner: Erin Vanbebber | I had painted two sunflower paintings and still did not have one to hang in my house. I used a cabinet door and painted this bold painting of sunflowers on a bright blue sky. As soon as Erin saw it she reminded me that I had given three paintings to Sevon and only one to her. She said she would like this one to hang in her house. 2010 was the year Sevon and Ryan were married and it was a very busy time. This is my only painting that year. As of 2011 I still don't have a sunflower painting of my own.
19: A Day at the Beach 2011 acrylic on canvas 20X26 (Owner: Ella Dixon) | A Day at the Beach II 2011 charcoal on linen paper 22X28 | When my friend, Ella, turned 50 I painted this picture for her as a birthday gift. She and I have been friends for almost 30 years. We raised our girls together in Torrance, CA back in the 80's. The sisters holding hands and standing at the edge of the water was taken from any of a number of days we spent with our girls at the beach. | I loved A Day at the Beach so much I wanted one of my own. My experience with trying to recreate a painting, however, was less than stellar. I had been thinking about trying a charcoal and thought this might be the time. The result is unique enough to stand alone and I am very pleased with it. I hope to try it again sometime.
20: I had a space on the wall near the bar and wanted to try to paint a wine bottle. I had an old cabinet door that still had a hole where the knob used to be. I searched through our old corks and found one that had lots of wine stain left and glued it over the hole. I left the cork out of the bottle in the painting so the real cork would look like it was just landed there after it was taken out. | Zinfandel 2011 acrylic on oak cabinet door 15X29 | The Cork | On my birthday in 2011 my friend Kim gave me a big gift bag of different sized canvases and these words of wisdom: "You need to paint more." This is the first in a series of three sunflowers. It might be an attempt to finally have a sunflower painting in my house. I've started the second one and this will be a great place to start book two some day. | Sunflower Series 2011 acrylic, tissue and sharpie on canvas 12X12