Join me....

I believe that art enriches and informs our lives everyday in many positive ways. Sharing those experiences, whether as an artist or as an appreciator, is part of the pleasure. I welcome your comments and hope you find something of value: a laugh, an insight, a new idea or just a happy moment. Enjoy art!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Is "Plein Aire" ever a "Still Life"

Can a "Still Life" Qualify as "Plein Aire"

I'll let you be the judge: 

The Mission: to paint plein air for 2-3 days producing 2 "sell-able" pieces, one for a charity auction, the second to sell at same fundraiser.  The Obstacle: several days of "iffy" weather resulting in fast changing light and cloudy skies. The (personal) Solution: to carry props of interest to a place I wanted to spend some time.  

Let me share what happened over the course of a rather relaxing afternoon.

I set up near one of my favorite river spots

got my painting gear together and choose a perspective where I could sit and paint

I like to begin by blocking out the scene in large swaths of value

at this stage it was time to step back, sip some water and
view the results;  the sun was now hot overhead and distorting my view of the
canvas so I moved everything back under the trees, I painted a bit longer, snapped
some photos and called it a day.

back in the studio I added a few touches trying hard not to destroy
that alla prima feel one creates when outdoors.

Signed, framed,'s titled "Destination" because right now I am all about enjoying the destination, the now, the fleeting moments we tend to overlook because we are all caught up in that huge, endless journey from which we are supposed to be learning.  Nah, it is about the destination, so sit down, shut up and enjoy it when you get there. 


Friday, August 14, 2015

Taking a Peek: Post-Opening Impressions

How about a peek?
Here's a quick recap of the wonderful opening of my show
"Seeking Sanctuary: places & spaces that restore the soul"

Two dear friends found the hotel key-card curtain fun to play behind and got caught in the act!  Isn't that just the best: when art can be experienced?  a huge thank you to the many who kindly saved their cards for me as well as to the college aged collector who bought the piece to take home.

A big treat for me was the out of towners who journeyed to the High country to share this night with me.  Pictured here is my sis from the DC area.  She's promised to keep my pre-show anxiety a secret.

I got a wild notion that as music is an important portal to sanctuary we should surprise guests with a "flash mob" of sorts.  Hubs kindly got on board by, unannounced, playing "Amazing Grace" while viewing the art.  Slowly some (pre-planned) guests joined in for a couple of verses that gave the gallery manager a bit of a panic....she came running up the stairs worried she had left a radio on somewhere only to be greeted to a once-in-an-opening treat.  Thanks dear singers, such moxy.

Here's why we do what we do: the pleasure of sharing our work...I think these gals were eyeing my harmonica player but they did plenty of art eyeing on the same evening.  And did I mention red dots??  I had said previously I loved the year of prep whether it ever "opened" or not....and that is still true however, the red dots were additional affirmation.  Nothing like someone choosing to take your work home to live with...and I was complimented over and over again.  Feeling so grateful.

The ultimate?  When another artist takes the time to study what you have done.  Would I love to hear what is going on in his head, yes...and no.  But I am lucky to have several revered artist-friends who came out to support my efforts.  Watching them intensely view something you have done is a real compliment.

The show is up for another two weeks so if you are in the Linville, NC area give the gallery a visit...there's so much there to see you will be glad you stopped in.  Check them out here.

Color me happy,

Friday, August 7, 2015

Anvil Arts Studio

The Anvil Arts Studio in Linville has been on our visual radar for many years.  Annually we would drive by on our sojourn to the High Country and slow down just slightly to enjoy the changing array of large outdoor sculptures in the garden by the red barn-like building.  Unfortunately we never stopped.

So you can imagine our excitement when one night at dinner the sculptor himself, Bill Brown, invited us to join a group of students from the Penland School of Crafts who were scheduled to tour his studio.

My husband and I were early arrivals and thus got a delightful tour of the inside gallery while waiting on the students (who were all studying welding, smithing and iron art at Penland) to arrive.  These sculptures were pedestal sized and unlike wall art, offered 4 (or more)  distinct views
depending on where one stood.  We were enthralled as the artist provided background and titles for each piece.

When the students arrived Bill gave us a tour of the grounds discussing each installation and its significance as well as some of the finishes used and techniques he explored.  To say the students (who ranged from college age to retired) were riveted is an understatement.

While I was busy standing back and taking photos of the overall pieces these folks would bend and stretch for close ups of joints and textures and display methods.  Heck, I didn't even understand half the terms Bill used or the questions that were asked, but I was loving the energy of being in the thick of their collective creative passion.

On to the studio:  fires and anvils and cooling baths and hundreds of tools of all shapes and weights, I can't even begin to describe the array of equipment this place contained.  Keep in mind that pieces constructed here can be as large as a story high (or wide) and weigh hundreds (and hundreds) of pounds.  Installation art, commissions for gates, chandeliers, sculptures, fireplace name it, all have been crafted here in the studio.

One of Bill's part time assistants took the time to demonstrate a few techniques for us.  He proceeded to heat the iron in the fire and shape it against the anvil using different tools.  Bill kept encouraging the students to "watch the left hand" (which holds the piece and turns it), the skill required in the moving of the piece was quite subtle but very important.  I was, of course, fascinated by the constant heavy pounding and the even rhythm he kept even when not hitting the piece (so as not to tire the arm by stopping mid air?!)

Next the master himself demonstrated the electric hammer equipment which he controlled with his foot while manipulating the white hot iron block with tongs.  Amazing...the machinery moved too fast to photograph and I became mesmerized by the intensity of the heat, the weight, and the concentration it took to be certain the square got hit right where desired.  Prior to the demo Bill pointed out that speed was an issue if one wanted to make a living at this craft, as every time the iron got too cold to work with, time (thus $) was eaten up by re-heating it.  Only he said it much more eloquently than I.  And the students nodded solemnly.

Here's Bill with his perfect round ball, note that it is starting to cool a bit.  He then took it to a water bath for final cooling...(all I could think of was how hot and heavy those war cannonballs must have been when blasted in battle...)  It was amazing that heat and pressure plus an eye for the proper application of both, could turn a heavy metal block into a sphere...with one heating.

After watching both men my husband and I looked at the garden pieces with a deeper understanding of what it took to build them.  Sheer size alone commands respect but after observing the physicality of this art form we had a deeper understanding of what the artist goes through to create. Bill's studio is populated by smaller sized models, experiments and drawings which are all an important part of his design process.

I admit to being a "studio junkie".... nothing more fascinating than going behind the scenes to observe where the muse makes the magic.  It was a special opportunity to get a peek into a world I know very little about...enjoy the Anvil Arts Studio website and remember...if you ever drive by a building that is calling to you, don't wait for an invitation to stop.  Go on in because you never know what you will learn.

Ever Curious,

Friday, July 31, 2015

An Invitation or "Accepting the Challenge"

Be Careful What You Wish For...Sometimes You Get It!!

About a year ago the manager of the Crossnore Fine Arts Gallery approached me about doing a solo exhibition.  "Yes!" I shouted, before responding firmly,"No."  "I'd love to,"I amended quickly, and then stuttered, "but...but...but."  "But what?" Heidi asked.  "You'll do great."  Deal closed.

What a loving show of confidence this woman displayed.  I have cherished every minute of preparation: research, painting, experimenting; and if for some reason the exhibit were never to take place I have still had the most adventurous year of work from which I have learned an enormous amount.  (Like never turn down a challenge.)

Here is my official invite to you:

If you are in this neck of the woods, please join us.  I think you will find the exhibit a little different from some because, well, you know: I like words almost as much as I love color. So I have created some narratives to accompany the journey towards sanctuary and a few interactive, non-2D pieces.
You may find an expression that mirrors your own definition of sanctuary.  And if not, at least you'll have an excuse to go out to dinner after a glass of wine with me and my friends.  

Thanks for your continuing support,
Appreciatively yours,

Friday, July 24, 2015

Exploring Sanctuary

Peace in the Valley
oil, 16 x 20, $425.00

You know how it seems that when you learn a new word you "suddenly" see it many times a day?  Something like that happens when you begin to study a subject seriously...suddenly you see references or inputs everywhere you look.

In preparing for "Seeking Sanctuary: places & spaces that restore the soul" I have begun to see potential sanctuaries in myriad places.  Somehow the potential of finding one is on the front of my brain...while others see a wooden and barbed wire fence while hiking, I see a valley of restoration and renewal.

This was fun to paint and I believe the reason is because I had already drawn the line at having "enough" ready for a show; so this would be a bonus IF it fell together nicely.  With no pressure I felt the freedom of experimentation and exploration.

Perhaps we should explore and experiment more often?  What do you think?

Experimentally yours,

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Friday, July 17, 2015

Painting a Personality

I have complained, and whined and worried over the fact that I seem to bounce around a lot in the methods I employ while painting.  "I have no style," I moan to mentors or anyone who will listen.  "No one can ever tell if a painting is mine, I am not consistent."

After a few years of just accepting that fact and riding the train where ever it took me, I suddenly realized that there are some repetitive traits about my work, there is a fingerprint if you will, to what I do.

Fer instance.....I just finished this (for me) gigantic (24" x 48") piece:

I Lift Up My Eyes
oil on gallery wrap canvas, 24 x 48

I tend to drag these pieces around the house as I approach finish so I can judge them in different lights.  My husband saw it and did a "hmmm."  "Hmmm: what?" I asked, "is something wrong?"  "It's just so dark," he explained, "so, so bold."  I 'hmmed' him back and sat down to think about it.  Yes, it is dark, and bingo: bold.  But that is the way I saw this yummy long view of the mountains.  Gentle hills with bold color statements.  

I wandered back in memory to the first adult art lesson I had: the proverbial apple still life.  I finished and the teacher gave it a serious look.  "Have you always been this bold and colorful?" she asked.  I explained that I had not painted in many years.  "No, I mean in life," she clarified, "your personality."

"A Ha" ah ha, I do not think of myself as bold but I do admit to loving color.  Maybe, that's my style?!  More pondering is needed, however...

...think about this story when you next view a body of work by one artist.  WHAT is consistent among the pieces?  What trait or line or technique or.... is repeatedly seen, however obscured, in each thing she or he produces.  Maybe that is the "style", or at least a clue to the personality, of the artist. Styles morph and develop (as do personalities) but hidden on the canvas, or in the clay or on the fabric, is a clue to the creator, how he or she views the world, what they pick out as important, what they emphasize or downplay.  

I guess I have to own it: no soft gentle florals for me, no wispy pastels fading in and out of view, every time I try to emulate that gorgeous misty technique I end up with a dash of hot pink or a streak of violet ruining the effect.  Its inauthentic for me.  I buy it, I hang it, but I cannot paint it.  

So play psychologist the next time you enter an artists' booth.  Ask yourself what they deem important, how do they consistently use a particular technique to portray it and what does that tell you about the rest of the person and their demeanor.  It's just one more way to enjoy art.

Boldly Yours,