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!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Arte Umbria: appetizer for art making

Rubbing my eyes as the sun came gently into my room, I thought for a minute I had woken up in a or bit part? Didn't matter, I snuggled deeper into the covers and looked around: old stone walls, a ceramic chandelier, tile floors, sloping beamed ceilings and, oh my, a canopy bed.  Birds were calling, I heard a rooster, and as I got up to open the shutters on my windows I looked out onto miles and miles of the gently rolling, ancient hills of Umbria.  Below I could see a stone terrace and everywhere  flowers: huge, hand-sized roses of all colors, pots and pots of geraniums, daisy pockets, waist high herbs, yellow broom with fragrance and so many others that have no name to me yet.  If this is a movie, I feel like the star!  If this is a novel then surely I must speak Italian.  If this is really a dream, well, don't wake me up.

Dinner was the best of an out-of-body experience: drinks on the terrace, conversation in small pockets inside when the winds got chilly and then a move to the dining room where, at a table for 12, a four course dinner was leisurely served as the wine and conversation flowed.  Where am I?  I had to strain to understand the language....and it was all English!  (No it was not the wine.) Those Brits sure know how to fancy up a sentence. And add to the fact that we had three from down under (which speaks in its own version of "English,"), plus 2 brave gals from Swedan with a totally different slant on the language, Kelly now speaks American-ese with an Italian accent and then me, the lone American, the only one whose language was fully comprehensible and at times that was even questionable.  We have a Catholic priest, a doctor, and international tech man, a retired college professor, a school teacher, a farmer, a was a lively and fascinating conversation ... if one could keep up with it!

And, and......(be still my heart) we get to paint today.  Please don't wake me up.  


P.s. Did I mention the on-site chef? 3 meals a day?  

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Just another day in paradiso!

It's like a buffet: the sights, the sounds, and the senses are over-fed and yet constantly hungering just the same.  I'm not used to trying to get it all down on paper while still digesting and sorting it all out.  Processing will come later, at a more leisurely pace, time to sit and ponder all I am tasting for the first time.  Then, and only then will I be able to make artistic music with the notes I am trying desperately to capture quickly here.  Meanwhile, odds and ends from the road:

Cappuccino and water colors, perched on a wall over the beach...just me and the sea gulls...

The beach where scenes from "El Postino" was filmed.

My oil paints did not arrive (in my checked and thus lost luggage) so I was using my tiny travel water colors....

Can't wait to paint that sky....

Simplifying....trying to anyway, back side of the church....

Colorful waterfront at the fisherman's marina.....

Enough for one day...time for a vino!

Ciao, ciao,

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Naked Artist? Painting when the luggage goes astray.......

All packed and ready to go!  Here I am at the orlando airport ready to begin my painting trip to Italy.  Minimal clothes and painting supplies are in my backpack...take a good look and let me know if you see it has not yet joined me in either Naples or the island of Procida.  Depending on who I speak to it is either still in Atlanta, visiting Paris or somewhere on the island.  Who knows....burning daylight so Kelly and I decide to get with the painting!

After several days in Naples (where I picked up a few necessities) we took the ferry to the island of Procida.  Thank goodness I had thrown my travel watercolor set into my purse before leaving Florida.  It was not what I came to do but I decided If I had to draw on paper towels, darn it, I would not leave without some art making under my belt.

Procida has gorgeous scenery all over the island.  Since it it small and built on a very steep hill, we could find great views all over.  This is from an evening scouting trip before dinner down at the port.

Here's Kelly from our apartment roof top painting a scene of Mount Vesuvius.  Didn't take me long to climb up and join her for an early morning warm up session.

Really, who is worried about lost luggage with a view like this?

A few warm up sketches and I was ready for a little lunch and a new venue.  We caught a bus (it seems there are two: one up and one down) and headed down to the waterfront where the ferries come in and the fishermen still head out for work.  One story regarding the brightly colored houses on the island is that it made it easy to the fishermen to spot their own home when coming back from sea.  
And I think you could easily pick out most any home you were looking for from the shoreline.

I learned something very important here, sounds obvious but...the boats do not stay still!  Most boats I have rendered have been from photos and it makes it fairly easy to line up landmarks and get a decent drawing.  I had forgotten that the water spins these beautiful subjects around and thus every time I looked up my hull had moved or the lines had tightened....something to make it exceptionally difficult!
I was not far from a gelato stand so when kelly announced she had scouted a new view I was all too eager to get a sweet and move along!

Here's my last scene of the day.  Not having earned my stripes as a "real plein air painter," I like to think of these sketches as studies for larger work to be done in the studio.  Just drawing it several times is a wonderful way to work out the composition as well as get familiar with the shapes.

By the time we found a little outdoor cafe for wine time the sun was dropping so this is a dark photo.  There is a lot wrong with this piece....but there is also a lot right.  Both lists will be enormously helpful when it comes time to review my photos and my sketches and turn this into a larger oil painting. 

Can't wait to get out tomorrow, there is always the excitement of trying something new and making new discoveries artistically, as well as uncovering some new, breathtaking scene.  Kelly has been amazingly patient in having to translate menus etc but has also provided some memorable art discussions and laughs: all part of the sport of plein air work.  Gotta get some shut eye-- we plan to get on the road early tomorrow, and who knows maybe, just maybe, my luggage will arrive and I will have my oil paints back in hand.  Ciao, ciao!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Coloring Books = Tension Relief?

Remember the joy of a new coloring book?  An untouched box of crayons?  Kinda gets my heart beating faster just remembering the smell of those crayons.  And then of course as children we learned about "outlining" and eventually heard those teacher cautions "to color within the lines?"  Talk about a visceral memory.

web found coloring image for adults

Well apparently some brave souls (or entrepreneurs) have come forth to admit that the same thrill we received as kids is readily available to adults via the promotion of Adult Coloring Pages.  Who knew?

One of my fav blogs is put out by Austin Kleon, and not long ago he wrote a piece on the phenomenon of adult coloring books.  This post covers the two top selling books now on Amazon. 
Secret Garden by Johanna Basford has already sold 1.4 million copies.

Why do adults want to color within the lines?  Readers and advocates tout the zen-like meditation that comes over someone who is slowly, methodically applying color to a design.  With the hardest decision being what color to use, the adult can leave the cares and concerns of the work day behind and re-enter a place of joy and relaxation.  For those who find it hard to unwind at the end of the day this certainly sounds like a much healthier approach than scotch or pills.

Paging through my April edition of The Atlantic I came across another article that caught my eye: "Big in France: Coloring Books for Existential Angst."  "My breathing becomes calmer," the article quotes one advocate to claim.  "Relaxation support" was the promise the first books published in France offered, and boom, 2 million copies later many other publishers are jumping on the bandwagon.  One attractive feature for publishers and "readers" alike is that the coloring books don't have to be printed in a specific language for them to have world-wide appeal.  Materials can range from crayons to colored pencils, pens and some even with watercolor.  With no prior experience and no needed instruction, adults can plunge in and reap the healthy benefits for very little investment.  I say, don't knock it til you've tried it.

The end of the article notes that in a study on depression in 2011 the United States ranked second.  Perhaps we should lobby congress to issue coloring sheets with all government communications and encourage local governments to insert such in tax notices etc.  I mean, it can't hurt, right?  and then think of all the starving artists that could offer their designs for use?  Wow...I'm on to something.

Meanwhile, if you want to take a gander, here is a site that offers free downloadables, perhaps you can borrow your kids tools and take a try.

I know that those of us who paint daily really enjoy the zone we find ourselves in on a really good day...try it, you may like it!  let me know.

Coloring Always,

Friday, May 1, 2015

Gone Biking

Studio temporarily closed!



an adventure in NYC!

(I goofed with the scheduling of my post on spring cleaning and there is a chance you will receive it twice.  So sorry, just further proof I am a better painter than computer
geek.  But you knew that!)

with painting adventures in Naples, Italy and beyond.

Color FULLY yours,

Spring Cleaning ... Your Art

I bet this title made you suspect I was going to advise dusting and polishing your art collection this week, correct? (and BTW, never spray glass cleaner onto the glass of your art, spray a soft cloth and then polish, otherwise you run the risk of the liquid dripping and leaching onto the matting...ick)  Wrong!  I know you have already done that task, especially the tops of those dust-collecting frames.

No, I am thinking about culling your art, or ridding yourself of pieces that no longer sing to you.

There's a hot little book making the rounds right now titled: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.  All kinds of testimonies are circulating about the method and I admit it is a motivating book.  I got 2/3 through and ran out of energy, but have promised self to finish.  If you want the condensed version check out this great review Houzz here.

Anyhoo, I was wondering if the same method could be applied to artwork that just doesn't measure up as when purchased.  Objects produced by hands somehow carry a sacred spirit about them and just should not be tossed aside.  But really, why not?  Some pieces are ephemeral in the sense that the joy was in creating, not selling or buying.  When that joy has been spent why not free up space by getting rid of it?

"Investment pieces"  (i.e. you paid a bundle, very large work or you were hoping to resell) are different issues.

Our tastes change.  Admit it.  Something you bought in your twenties does not hold the same cache for you now (unless infused with sentiment).  But what to do with a piece that is still sound in every other way?

Donate it.  I have contacted several places, depending on the piece, about accepting art to hang in their buildings.  Consider a local women's shelter, a children's home, or a nursing home.  I cringe when I see the poster art these places usually hang...shouldn't these residents also have the pleasure of "real art?"  Non-profit offices could use a bit of sprucing up as can certain church spaces and hallways.  Some of these places will give you a receipt for the dollar amount you originally paid.

art I received at no cost from Peter Seibt 

Gift it.  I have a few pieces purchased long ago on my 'don't want' pile that others have expressed interest in. Be my guest.  It's win-win and the art breathes more joy.  (I've often thought of having a "trade" space during art workshops.)  Your children may (mostly may not!) be interested in your cast-off pieces.  Does your doctors office need an uplift?  Waiting rooms are notorious for bad art.  The dentist? Just explain that you are down-sizing, not that the piece is undesired.

happy recipients of a table I painted

Sell it.  This is usually more trouble than money for me.  But if you have a Warhol or Lichtenstein original it would be worth going on-line for a secondary market value. (for fun you can google the value of many others as well.) I can promise you that a charity or benefit art auction will love getting their hands on great pieces of lesser artistes and may be willing to split the take with you.

So as my collection grows, my opinion on "owning for life" changes.  I need space for the pleasure of collecting, and I want to reflect my ever-morphing tastes.  As the author of the "Tidying Up.." book suggests:  Thank the piece for the pleasure it once provided, bow to its spirit and let it go.  What you gain is space for new joy.

Joyfully collecting,

p.s. to my sis if she is reading:  Please feel free to let the semi-nude Modigliani-esque woman on red go....I know I did it, but it is SO "not you" now!!