N o v e m b e r   2 0 0 3

Sketch Pad

Scrantz Lersch
Enjoying the moment
by Kathy Anderson

crantz Lersch was raised in a small town 40 miles north of New York City, before heading for college in Boulder, Colo. She moved to Worcester, Mass., while her husband went to grad school, then on to Seattle for a stretch before landing in Portland. Along the way, she worked as a biological photographer, a freelance biological illustrator, a graphic artist and a painter. Scrantz and her husband have been in town just shy of two years.

Now and Zen
Not just interested in the finished product, Scrantz Lersch is also fascinated with the actual brushstrokes on the surface – to see or feel the speed of the hand and arm that made them.

"Alhambra from Generalife," watercolor

"I like to think of the 'Zen moment' of painting," she said.

"It takes clarity and concentration to be fully present when painting; to be able to enjoy the moment of putting paint on palette, brush to paint and paint to paper.

"The act of putting paint to paper or canvas is as enjoyable as creating an image that eyes will enjoy when finished."

Letting loose
Because Scrantz has been painting for 32 years, her work includes a variety of different styles and media.

"A person changes and grows and has different interests over time," she said. "But I am not only a painter, I also draw, make monoprints, linoprints and take photographs."

However, painting offers Scrantz the chance to play with colors and images.

"Bente," ink on paper

"When layering colors, heavily or in washes, you never know exactly what you'll get," she said, "so it's exciting every time. I love colors and their interplay and vibrancy. But then I also make prints and drawings that are only black and white."

Most of Scrantz's work is representational, not abstract. She paints the world and people around her, as well as the places she visits.

"Although I appreciate biological illustrations," she said, "I do not paint or draw in that detailed way anymore. I have found that a looser, more impressionistic line is more interesting to me."

Scrantz does not always mix media, nor does she prefer one to another. Most of the time, her choice is based on what is available at the moment.

"Near Eden – Australia," watercolor

"If I'm traveling, I may do an ink drawing or a small watercolor sketch. If I'm really pressed for time, I'll take photos for reference. Then, when I'm back at the studio, I expand the idea into larger acrylic paintings," she said.

"At home, painting still-lifes, I choose a medium that seems comfortable that day," she said.

"Every piece is an experiment that teaches you something."

Time passages
Scrantz has several ongoing projects: a petroglyph series, a still-life series, a landscape series and a portrait series.

"The petroglyph paintings are inspired by images from the distant past, cave paintings, ancient artifacts, petroglyphs and pictographs," she said. "And by an idea that bringing the ancient pictures to contemporary attention is worthwhile."

With watercolor, acrylic and oil crayon on canvas, paper or matte board, Scrantz uses a technique that suggests the passage of time.

"Blue Dancers," oil crayon and acrylic on paper

"An image or artifact is created, and over the centuries wind, water and human contact affect the surface. Layers accumulate and disappear, thereby changing the original," she said.

On canvas, the layering of colors is achieved by painting with opaque color, using washes of paint, and sometimes blotting paint off the surface. With oil crayons, the image is set down and then scraped, blended and added to until the surface is richly covered with layers of color.

"The still-life paintings reflect my everyday life and my focus on the vibrant colors and shapes of commonplace things," she said.

Her latest landscapes are inspired by recent travels to Spain and Australia.

Medium attraction
Scrantz has many favorite artists and is always attracted to those who work in more than one medium.

"Ben Shawn was an illustrator, painter, printmaker and photographer," she said. "Both Miro and Picasso painted, sculpted, painted ceramics and were printmakers."

"John Day River," acrylic on canvas

"I also love the impressionists, who were the first plein-air painters, and Saul Steinberg's work is always fun to look at."

Last month Scrantz took part in the Portland Open Studios weekend.

This month and next, her paintings hang at DIG, a garden shop in Portland's Pearl District, on Northwest 11th between Flanders and Glisan.

Class action
Art was a big part of Scrantz's childhood. Her father was a commercial artist and painter and her mother is a fiber artist and weaver.

"I spent hours drawing, painting, coloring, cutting and pasting. My parents always had all kinds of materials for me to work with," she said.

"My father worked with printing companies and would bring home paper-sample books for me to use for drawing or collage or whatever. Every Christmas I'd get the deluxe, 96-color set of Crayola crayons from one of his clients. He also owned an art-supply store for a few years."

Scrantz was inspired to continue pursuing her interests when a high school teacher read Ben Shawn's "The Education of an Artist" to the class.

"Lauren," acrylic on canvas

College included watercolor, painting, drawing, print-making and photography classes. Scrantz earned her B.A. in biological illustration from the University of Colorado

Deeper than beauty
Scrantz's goal is a big one: To share her belief that in spite of horror, injustice and inequity, the world is a beautiful place.

As she gets more connected in Portland, Scrantz hopes to find more outlets for her art, and possibly an agent.

"I have to convince myself that love, truth and beauty will survive and triumph," she said. "I hope to create paintings that people love and can't live without."

E-mail Scrantz at scrantz@quik.com and check out her Web site. You can reach Kathy at kanderson138@comcast.net, and draw on other Sketch Pads.

site design / management / host: ae
© 2001-2005 nwdrizzle.com / all rights reserved.