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, October 24, 2014

The Gentle Shove of a Deadline

Nothing like flipping over the calendar only to discover one is less than 4 weeks away from a deadline!  Usually I love having specific points of reference for project finishes, it helps to focus on keeping the main thing the main thing!  But yikes....so here we go with a need for speed and a critical look at several unfinished pieces.  Photographing them really helps to see them better for corrections.

Duneside, 11 x 14, underpainting

This little scene is from an area in Ponte Vedra, FL, a cozy little spot tucked in the sand dunes of the ocean...a lovely place to sit and dream.  Of course this is the first of many layers of paint and colors but I do want to stick to a predominately purple-ish tone and feel.  It was the gentle time of day when the sun was sinking and the gold light made everything so soft.  Lots more work to do.

UnNamed, 24 x 18, oil
work in progress

This piece is crying out for a name...suggestions?  There is more work to be done on the tree and its nest of roots as well as raising the sandbar in front of the water.  Roots like this are always so fascinating to me...and always so difficult to paint.  But I am anxious to get back to this one...I feel I have visited this scene many, many times.....

Heron, 30 x 24, oil
work in progress

I found this scene in the Everglades, FL.  There is still much to do on this very large piece but I like the vagueness of it in its present state.  It will be interesting to see where it goes....all this green calls for a little bit of pink dont you think?  and more blue?  hmmmm.  It could use a fancy name as well.

All of these pieces need to be finished and framed before the ArtWorks of Eau Gallie show on November 22.  The festival has added a patrons night before the opening which means that instead of working until the very last minute, putting up your tent and heading home to crash, we will be on site, gracious and smiling at 6 pm to greet the fine folks who make the show possible.

More on the show and my progress over the next week or two.  Meanwhile, if you are near Brevard County, FL mark the dates and come see us.  And cross your fingers I can get these done and dried before I hit the framers!

Colorfully yours,

Friday, October 17, 2014

It May Not Be FOR Your Wall

When people find out I am an artist they assume I have all the answers to the "really big questions." I don't.  But opinionated I am.  And as someone who gets bored easily producing the same thing over and over again I have, inadvertently, created some really ugly things, some total disasters and not a few failures.  But I considered them all "art." Not art for your wall necessarily, but art nonetheless.

Some of us, artists and viewers, have difficulty with "statement pieces." The horror of looking at depictions of war makes us want to turn away and not examine the message which might lie within. But today, 77 years after it was painted,  Picasso's famous "Guernica"  has become a much discussed icon.  At its unveiling it was hardly noticed.  But it was, and is, art -- although not for the living room.

Consider that abstract art also gets short shift.  "My grandkid could do that," is something I hear a lot.  (So maybe she is an artist?!) And the viewer moves on.  But.....abstract art is not a "new" invention.

Artists have long struggled using only the language of shape, color and size to convey something to the world.  Some are successful in communicating, some not so much.  Unfortunately too many people walk by without trying to hear a message. And whether I'd hang it or not, I think I owe the producer at least a try.

So where is this diatribe taking us?  to the Phillips Collection, the museum of modern art in Washington, DC. where an upcoming program will explore the affect/effect that viewing art can have on our bodies.  I'm excited.  

Whether or not you have been as intrigued as I by the "slow movement" crossing our nation lately (admittedly slowly), I think you will be interested in the Phillips program titled "Slow Moving and Mindful Viewing."  Its goal is to teach visitors to view art via mindful meditation.  Breathing emphasis, imagination, curiosity...a new way to "see" what lies within the paint and canvas.  Click on the link and learn more than I could possibly explain.  You may accuse me of being crazy but I applaud anyone willing to teach or try a new method of exploring art appreciation.

From now on you do not need to feel apologetic if  I produce something you'd never hang...but if it makes you think...or feel...or smell....well, that's the ultimate compliment.  And if you run into me at an art festival and I am holding a piece of pottery and chanting....well, give me credit for trying!!

Here's to finding new ways to appreciate art...without having to live with it on our wall!

Experimentally yours,

p.s.    I had difficulty finding the exact dates of the exhibit but this is fair warning to all my relations and friends in DC area: I may be coming!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Building Your Nest

We interrupt this painting to bring you:
                    random thoughts which illustrate how art ideas are born.

Building Your Nest

I stumbled across a tiny bird's nest this week while walking the dog.  It was very little and delicate and felt quite precious to hold in my hands.  The wind has been rough all week so obviously this miniature home had fallen victim to the change of seasons.  As I carried it back to the house I began thinking about the way I build my own "nests," some permanent, others temporary and I wondered if the little bird who built this one had any special flourish or additions (it did have some white string and a bit of black plastic in it) that truly made it hers.

I felt sad that I now had the piece because, after all, it was her sanctuary.  "Sanctuary."  That word I have been chewing on all summer, the word I want to explore and examine as the basis for a series of art works.

So, you guessed it, I am building nests.  I am pretending that I am a mother bird and I have carte blanche to build as I see fit using nature in any way I wish.  I am imaging what it would be like to build a human nest and how I would line it with the finer pieces of flotsam and jettsam from my life. And I am wondering if Ms Bird could call a contractor what embellishments would she add to the place that became her sanctuary, her place of peace and renewal.

Thus the mindset of an artist.  Sometimes people ask me where I find an idea.  I think the ideas find me; it is embarrassing to admit that sometimes a lot of incongruent thoughts suddenly weave themselves together into something that just begs to be tried.  And sometimes I have to admit that the purpose of the creation is not to hang on a wall for decor, but to push my skill boundaries and perhaps, just perhaps, prompt some thought on the part of a viewer.

 Real birds do not use armatures for weaving, somehow they slip it all together and tuck and swirl and tuck some more.  I'd love to watch a film of such.  A pretend bird (me) needs a shape to work with.

Ms Bird went to her roladex and called an adobe-master (yeah, right!) to fashion her an adorned abode that will hang in a very fine neighborhood.  More to come, she is just getting started.

A home says a lot about what we do every day and I want to see if I can build this nest from things that we have laying around...the dregs of our "more important" projects and the leftovers we stuff in drawers.  Here you see plastic, ribbon pieces, tee-shirts and paper bags.

This nest will stand up tall, ready to hold more of the things I collect on my ambles out and about: stones, rusted washers, bits of glass and maybe a feather or two.  Is it art?  Heck, I don't know, I'll let you opine on that one.  But I do know that working like this puts me in a meditative state where time doesn't count.  A day where the crock pot needs to be humming before I start playing or we might never have dinner.

Keep sending me your "sanctuary" ideas....more on everything later.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.....

Friday, October 3, 2014

I Wonder as I Wander

You know that feeling you get when a project is complete? That whoo-o-osh of relief and pride? I am about to roll around in it, as soon as the glue dries and stamps are on the envelope. I am really done!

Last Christmas I received this wonderful package from my eldest son. He had paid my way into "The Sketchbook Project," a traveling library of artists' books created by thousands of people from over 135 different countries.  And what's more, he 'super-sized' it by assuring that the finished product would not only travel around the U.S. but would be "digitized" for others to see on line!  How exciting...what pressure!

While my beautiful little manila covered book sat in my studio for many months, it always occupied a space in my brain.  I kept mentally going through my roladex of 'great ideas' searching for the right topic, style, medium etc.  The word 'wander' kept circulating; I think I may be a professional wanderer....but how to depict?

I Wonder As I Wander  is a favorite hymn of mine.  My research revealed that it was based on an Appalachian song fragment collected by John Jacob Niles in 1933 in the town of Murphy, NC.  A young woman sang this haunting tune at an evangelical fundraiser for 25 cents a performance.  Niles completed the song by composing more melody and adding lyrics.  It was first performed that same year at theJohn C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC.

I got the chills learning this as the Appalachian Mountains, Murphy and the Folk School all hold dear places in my life.  As a wanderer at heart and a lifelong wonderer, the theme of the little book came together quite easily.  I set to work writing the "poetry" and planning the pages.  Here's a sneak peek:

There is a path (hmm, is that the yellow brick road...?) that connects each
page to the next.

Simple? yes, but that is what I like about it.  No angst, no ax to grind, no rant or diatribe.  Just simple, happy thoughts that could appeal to any age, simple easy drawings that share the wistfulness of the original song.

See the barcode on the back?  This is an important part of the entire project.  As soon as I pop this baby in the mail they will match it to my registration and set about photographing it for the on-line viewing.  You can use my name as author to find it (after the Jan 15 deadline).  But wait there's more:
the book will also go "on the road" in a little bookmobile of sorts that travels to different venues across the country.  They camp out in public places for a day and visitors can freely punch in tags or subjects they might enjoy and voila! they get matched with several sketchbooks to "check out."

Someone asked me why in the world would an artist want to pay to send their work to a collection project.  I wanted to ask why wouldn't they?  I suppose that for me the Mission of the project so closely fits my own:
     "We think art should be collaborative.  Using the Sketchbook Project as our vehicle, we have connected tens of thousands of artists from all over the globe.  We are the largest collection of living artists sketchbooks in the world."

Art should be available to everyone, art should contain pieces that appeal to a variety of people, if one is not exposed to real art (as in touching, smelling, connecting with the media) one will never, ever become a collector.  If I can find a way to get "it" out there, I will.  

And besides, it's kind of fun to think that my grandchildren could wander into the Brooklyn Art Library and wonder if grammy has anything in it.

Guess what? She does.

Wondering and Wandering,


Friday, September 26, 2014

Gone Hiking.....

Thought about hanging a sign on my door:

Gone Hikin'
back whenever......
just leave a note.

I decided to take a week off for 'good behavior.'  Headed out to explore the pacific northwest, hike a few gorges, kayak a few waters and return sore but inspired.  Have a grand weekend yourself. We'll pick up where we left off soon!

Friday, September 19, 2014

What I Learned in Play

 "Everything I Need to Know...I Learned in Kindergarten" was a tongue in cheek book but loaded with wisdom.  I decided in that same spirit to make a list of everything I am learning by painting with an abstract surface that evolves from "play."  I was surprised at the list, here is a share:

LOOSEN UP BABY!  a dear friend made the astute observation that in recent years one of my personal goals was to be more flexible and spontaneous with my schedule.  Ouch...the pain of practice but oh, the joy of the results.  She pointed out that this exercise was no different.  Either way I was giving up control (perceived or imagined) and letting the flow carry me along.

UGLY CAN BE MADE BEAUTIFUL!  This is not a quick process, while the beginning play doesn't seem to take much time, making the silk purse certainly does.  Sometimes I think the play part is so ugly I want to trash it.  But.  Still.  Stick with it, problem solve, define the possible options and pursue one carefully.

OBSERVATION IS CRITICAL TO SUCCESS! Ever gotten somewhere and realized you did not see half the things your traveling partner did?  A keen, observing eye is important when translating the play into a recognizable thing.  Since much is painted out of your head (from memory) you have no backup other than your brain on how a root hits the ground or a road turns a corner.  Making mental notes is a prerequisite if you are to paint believably.  Observe and observe and observe.

FREEDOM IS A WONDERFUL THING!  Painters are often slaves to the photograph, terrified to move a tree or change its size.  But photos don't always offer great compositions.  I have a blank slate here, nothing to refer to means I can build a barn or insert a river where ever Mother Cindy decides.  Wowee Zowee......

SLOW DOWN, SMELL SOME ROSES!  Another reason this style of painting takes a while is that many, many decisions have to be made and the fewer strokes of the brush you use to make them the more interesting the final product becomes.  I want to leave some of this delightful "play" for the viewer to experience, but how I do that takes time and effort.  Never a bad thing to slow down, think, muse, contemplate alternatives.  It's not a race; it is a process albeit a sloooow process.

LEARN (COLOR) CHEMISTRY!  Unless I take copious notes in my prep/play time (and that would spoil the play no?) I now have to go back and reproduce the colors and hues I used to start the piece.  While this takes patience it also takes a learning eye for color mixing.  Like when bakers know the cake needs more baking powder or less flour, I have to be able to look at a color and know not only what it was made from but how much of each...or at least a way to get there.  Eighty percent of the time is spent in color mixing...even for a "little dab."  The better my eye gets the faster it will be....the yummiest colors are never those that just pop out of the tube (sorry Mr.s Winsor and Newton).

It's not a bad list...for painting or for life.  In fact, the list drives home to me how much I can gain from this process regardless of the art I choose to do.  I'll be sticking with it for a bit...maybe morphing it into my own brand of beginning and seeing where it takes me.  I don't know what path you are pursuing right now but if it is a struggle try making a list of how far you have come already, it really helps you see the progress.

Enjoy your weekend, slow down and observe something new!