I believe that art enriches and informs our lives everyday in many postive ways. Sharing those experiences, whether as an artist or as an appreciator, is part of the pleaure. 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 15, 2014

The Gallery in Your Home

Have you noticed?  Gallery Walls are trending big time!  Yes, they are "back," not that all of us abandoned them the last decade but what is old is once again NEW and if you need further proof just search for "gallery walls" on www.Houzz.com or www.pinterest.com.  Really good news for those of us who love to collect and any of you professing "to be out of wall space."

Very simply a gallery wall is a place you hang multiple pieces of art as opposed to one large piece.  There are many categories of such including a "theme wall" (everything related to a specific topic such as horses), a "symmetrical wall" (using the same size and style of frame in multiples, evenly laid out), the "collection wall" (sort of a scrapbook of art, 3d items, letters, clocks etc.) and the new "around the black hole" wall (a way to help the flatscreen tv wall take on new life).

My favorite of course is the collection wall as I love to take my time viewing such a presentation and piecing together the story it tells about the person(s) who hung it.  The symmetrical wall is a fav of decorators and tends to be more formal. (See presentations of botanical prints hung equi-distance apart).  Either way I encourage you, right this minute, to start planning your own gallery wall....if you never took yours down then why not freshen it up a bit.

I won't waste the space here telling you how to perfectly plan and hang your design.  There are many sites on-line with helpful how-tos in making paper templates with guide lines and taping them up to check the layout.  This assumes you have all your pieces collected and ready to go...which is brilliant.

Here is a simple gallery to get you started.  Four pieces actually.  They are not as uncentered as they appear in the photo but I like the addition of table pieces added to the mix of the art on the wall.  Easy enough.

This is my hallway...we traverse it a million times a day as does anyone entering our home.  And it IS as off-centered as it appears.  Why?  Because it is constantly growing!  The wall started as a collection of pear art done by friends.  They were all lined up and neatly hung in a row -  I felt like I was visiting with the artists every time I walked by. But after a few years I had pieces that were not pears and I started moving things around a bit.

I like the way it is growing: different styles, different frames and notice the 3D sneaking in.  This is the happiest wall in my home because I know every single artist and love them dearly.  My life is not all organized and measured and neat as a pin, and I think this wall pretty much shares that.  Who knows what we will add next?

I already hear the practical of you  moaning about too many holes in the wall.  Well, we have discussed that and know that some day, when the mood strikes and the collection grows, we will "frame out" the space with white molding and paint the interior with a close (impossible to match) new coat of paint...after plugging the holes.  And then we start again.

There is no need to cease buying art (did you know I have some hung for viewing in my closet?)...just get creative in hanging it.  This wall may never make it past Interior Design 101 but if it makes us smile it is well worth every single off centered nail hole!

Here's one hot off the easel....something most coastal dwellers paint often....but my first ever:

Rolling In
24 x 12, oil on gallery wrapped canvas
needs no frame

In Living Color,

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Road to Collaboration

This is a work in progress...(taking a photo really helps to pick out the spots that need attention).  I share it because of the road...I love photographing and painting roads and I am certain there is something very revealing about my personality in that.  Most of the roads I paint head off in some windy direction to who knows where?  Yep, that is a great description of the path I am on these days...following the road, to...who knows where.

Here's the latest jaunt.  After one too many glasses of wine my sister and I made a commitment to do a collaborative project; she would write her fabulous poetry and I would paint.  Well, we both like to travel so why not get a trip out of it....one thing lead to another and we landed a residency at "Azule" just outside of Hot Springs, NC.  Please check out their site but most of all give yourself a ten minute treat and watch this video about the place.

Now of course we had to have a creative proposal to present to the selection board so I tossed out the idea of childhood memories and my multi-talented sis ran with it.  In beautiful lawyer language she explained how we would be working from the: 13 pieces that constitute Robert Schumann's Kinderszenen for piano (Scenes from Childhood), Op. 15 (1838) which showcase their creator's musical imagination at the peak of its poetic clarity.  

You can listen to Kinderszenen here played by Horowitz.

Each movement has a title such as "An Important Event," "Pleading Child," "Dreaming," and "Almost Too Serious."  We will somehow end up with 13 creative pieces, 6 from her, 6 by me and one we do together...I believe.  I have been trying not to think about the proposal so that my approach will be fresh and off the cuff and not over-thought as I am wont to do.  Actually, I am a bit timid to even go back to my childhood and reveal for all the world to see what a crummy older sister I was.  Ahem....

Anyhoo. she mesmerized the committee and this Monday we leave for 4 days away from the world to listen to the music (did I mention that my sister will be playing the movements on the piano they have in the listening/dancing room?).  We will recall our shared past while looking for visual and poetic threads with which to weave a collaborative project.  Somehow it seems more daunting in the light of day than when we first noodled around with the idea!

So I will be following that yellow brick road once again with absolutely no idea where it will lead the two of us.  I anticipate a lot of fun (like I said, watch the video!!) as we work our way around the "compound" finding the perfect mix of solitude, inspiration, networking and creation.  I'll look forward to sharing the results with you...

Meanwhile, look out for new and interesting paths....

ART Fully yours,


Friday, August 1, 2014

Flowing Down Stream....

....more notes from a workshop
Andy Braitman had nudged us to begin a painting in a new way, with no regard as to what it might eventually become!  We threw paint onto a dark shape and played with spatters.  We limited our palette and mixed oil and water.  I was not totally comfortable with this lack of structure and I doubted as to whether I would ever do this again.

All I could see was a goat, or perhaps a white unicorn and I was certain I had wasted not only a great deal of paint but a lot of time as well.  Then he challenged us to "find" some interesting parts (of the mess) to "save" as we looked for a subject somewhere in the chaos and energy of the canvas.

I studied the results for days, turning the canvas around each morning with my coffee.  Slowly I began to "see" one of my very favorite subjects: rocks in a stream.  

Little by little I began picking out the stones and rocks with additional paint.  As I studied what was emerging I realized that the painting was much too "cold" and needed some "warmth."

My little stream was starting to take shape even as I tried to preserve a lot of the energy and movement of my earlier work.  Here, the white paint seems a bit sterile and a tad contrived.  So I set it aside to ponder before continuing.

Down Stream
18 x 24, oil on canvas

At the risk of overworking the experiment, I am finally calling it done.  Will I try this again?  Never say never, ever!  It does force you to pull out all the lessons you have learned about painting since there is no reference photo to guide you along.  Stay tuned.

MEANWHILE.....  lend me your thoughts.  I am at the very early stages of a possible series for a gallery under the theme of "Sanctuary."  Do you have a 'sanctuary' or an oasis or a place that calms your heart and fills your soul?  How do you define the word and what do you picture when you think of it?

I would so love your input....regardless of whether it is an ideal painting in your mind.  Please take a moment to think on this and share with me your thoughts.  There is a lot of planning involved in a series that evokes feeling and I hope you can help me put this all together.

thanks a heap.  I remain

Friday, July 18, 2014

Failing is an Art

Last week I gave myself permission to play...play to learn, play to move forward, play to try new things. This week I have been thinking about the permission to fail.  Permission to fail means not always taking the same route home, it is permission to get lost and perhaps, just perhaps discover something new. (It could mean being lost for hours and needing to call for help.)

This has been a hot topic amongst the members of my creative think-tank/inspirants lately.  We have all been facing mountains and have had to decide whether to go big or go home.  Sharing this discussion with like minded artisans has been helpful.  My favorite phrase of the week was coined by Patti the Potter: audacious failure.  She decided that if she ran the risk of failing, then please o please let it be big and audacious; let the failure count for something.  In other words, even the act of failing can be an art.  Savor that thought with your morning coffee.

So, oops, where was I?  Here's an audacious failure:

This is a detail of what happens when you do not allow gesso to dry more than 24 hours!  In a hurry for the workshop I covered the canvas with two layers of gesso and set to work on it 18 hours later.  We were in the middle of layer after layer when instructor Andy Braitman had us mixing oil and WATER and throwing it on.  The water gave me away!  it seeped under the gesso and bubbled up detaching large swatches from the canvas.  Andy barely blinked....pull it back he instructed, open up the bubbles and let it dry.  oh yuck.

This was my canvas after it fully dried: a failure for sure.  Not only was the canvas showing, I had huge peels of gesso rippled all over the place and the water had washed away all of my vibrant color.  Again, the master shrugged, "you can work with it."  I had to push the "audacious failure" button on my mindset.

We were to see something in our beginnings and let the joy sing.  Many cups of coffee and all I could see was this mocking white goat or a unicorn if I were so inclined.  Not my genre.  Turning the canvas each morning I tried some more.  Hey? what did I have to lose?  that's the great part about failing audaciously...as a learning piece there is always more to gain.

Here we go, it is a start and I was hoping to have more to show you but I could not add another layer until this portion dries (learned that lesson the hard way...).  Do you see anything emerging?  Can you see that I really, really wanted to save that interesting turquoise blob slightly to the left of center?  I had to commit to "using" the folded gesso and eliminating some of the fascinating spatters to get this far.  More sacrifice ahead but also more additions.  I hope you can see what I see....if not stay tuned.  Going big or going home!

I leave you with a finished piece.  I seem to have sand dunes on my mind.

Summer Walk
24" x 30", oil on canvas

Enjoy your weekend.  I wish for you the comfort of friends who not only allow, but encourage, you to fail and fail audaciously!  

Boldly yours,

Friday, July 11, 2014

Experiment, Expire, Exhale, Repeat

OR: Do you still let your inner child out to play?

It was a week of experimentation...sometimes to the point of exhaustion, expiring late at night, remembering to exhale; only to rise and repeat it all.  Growth is hard work, it is not always pretty and it is full of highs and lows.  That is the risk we take when we choose to leave our zone of comfort and learn something new.

a play day with clay to warm up the child inside

Then off to class:

Andy Braitman at work, stretching our boundaries

 Work in progress
Stay tuned for resolution ... or not!

I'm thinking I may stop here and sign this one

 pink mountains, purple trees?  ok, now
I'm loose as a goose...

 Starting to make sense of this-
trying to bring  just a little order to the
pink chaos

The four tubes below are all I can use,
color chemistry: please don't fail me now!

Rapt attention while the master leads a critique

meanwhile, back in the studio....

Have you let your inner child out to play this week?  Let him wander around somewhere not worried about getting clothing dirty or spilling the milk?  Have you encouraged that child to take the risk of failing....and having others see that "failure"?
Did you label that flub-up a disaster or a stepping stone?

Here's to a weekend of getting your hands dirty while you still can, of doing something that may not turn out "right" and of totally enjoying the process  - try squirting that whipped cream directly from the can
into a wide open mouth while grinning from ear to ear. Learning and playing are hard work.

Now I understand why children need their naps!

PLAY fully yours,

Friday, July 4, 2014

I Found Value for Free, really FREE!

Happy 4th of July
How has your way of celebrating changed?
Hope you enjoy your day.

If you are thinking of your freedoms this weekend (and we really should take a moment to do so) you may have a moment of cynicism when you wonder if there is anything left in this world that is really FREE.  And whose fault is that?  When was the last time you gave something of any value away...for free!?  I mean, no strings attached, no tit for tat, no expectations of a note....just made someone happy for free and that was enough?  Now that has me thinking.

I recently received something for free, something that made my heart sing with the format and attitude of the givers.  Artists Heidi and Peter Seibt are determined to give away 365 original oil paintings this year to complete and utter strangers.  Really.  

Why? you ask.  At 77 years of age Peter has decided that "hope" is a connective thread between us.  He wants to promote hope and provide hope.  He is doing it with a discussion about art.  In his words:

Yes, that's a lot of work, yes, that is a bit crazy (maybe), yes, instead of earning money we spend it and, yes, it makes us happy.
It makes us happy, because we daily receive so much friendly encouragement, daily listening to the hopes of others, discovering every day how incredibly varied and intense associations, reflections and inspirations of the people of the images are, as directly and effectively they are experienced.

Me and my very own Seibt original, #86
I think it looks like a heart on a piece of toast

When I first read about the project I went to their website, www.paintingsforhope.org and read all about the project.  How they had become disillusioned with the lack of art for common man and the inflated attitudes and prices towards the craft.  

inflated mediocrity and the cynical misinterpretation that the value of art is its price. As a reaction to this we are initiating something simple, natural and necessary. It is our pleasure to give away 365 objects of art, original oil paintings, signed, to people who appreciate them because they find an attraction in them and connect them to their hope. 365 people will connect their hopes with a picture and be connected to the choices and hopes of others.
And that will work.

Again, their words. So I shared a hope based on this painting.  And then all of the hopes shared for one day go into a hat and a lottery drawing determines the winner.  Then fun videos are made of the drawing.  Fun.  Yes, fun and free and artistic.  How could I resist?

arrives beautifully matted and ready to frame

detail with texture

I was thrilled when the 3rd time I entered I won #86.  Just participating made me happy because it reminded me of how strong the word "Hope" is and what an oxymoron the word "hopeless" is.

I received it all free, from their heart.  No postage due, no handling costs, no nothing other than my willingness to write down something that I had hope for, something I longed for or wanted faith and fate to provide.  And I read the hopes of others.

I encourage you to check out the links above and think about the idea.  I know it has me thinking about giving things away, unexpectedly, freely and just for the fun of it.  I am hoping my painting gang will take this idea and morph it into something beautiful we can offer. Peter and Heidi would love to know that their idea is growing in scope.

I'll close with part of their note to me on the painting:
"...We wish you luck and joy with your hopes, with the painting and anyway with everything in your life.  And that each time you look the painting, your hope is stronger and more beautiful."

If you guessed that the Seibts are not native English speakers you would be correct.  They work and post their art from the Cycladic island of Paros.