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, July 14, 2017

More Flower Power

Sometimes I get on a jag...
better known as "painting a series," where a 
particular subject becomes of great interest
and I just can't seem to get enough.

I'm going to blame it on spring.  After months of grey skies and noble, naked trees we were suddenly treated to bits of color here and there.  A lone bloom became reason to pause and enjoy the sensation. I think that is what started my interest in painting flowers...and, much to my surprise, I am still enjoying them.  

A weekend in Charleston provide some photos of the quintessential southern bloom: the Magnolia.

I painted it twice, two different sizes and both were detailed studies of form and color.

Southern Comfort
oil, 16 x 12, gold floater frame, $250

Sweet Tea
oil, 7 x 5, gold frame, $185

Needing some flowers a bit less constrained, I opted next to paint a "mess of daisies" I found out in the woods.  They looked, and felt, every bit as southern as the magnolias but certainly not as proper or well heeled.  Two sides of spring: dignified and wild.  

On the Wild Side

oil, 7 x 5 painting, frame measures 13 x 11

I don't think I am done with of the many benefits of painting a subject consistently is that you begin to pick up on the small nuances of the subject matter.  In this case there is much to learn about stems and positions (like necks holding up heads), growth patterns, leaf patterns (and making the right leaf believable to the correct plant) and oh, about a thousand other small details that add up to the big picture.

I was advised once not to paint anything I am not intimately familiar with...or someone will call me out on a misplaced detail.  So while the sun is giving us long days and cool evenings I am out to get up close and personal with a lot more flowers.  Here's hoping you find blossoms in your day.

Blooming in Living Color,

Friday, July 7, 2017

Pinching Pots

Not everyone enjoys diving into new art forms...
and this was never meant to be a "how to" blog.
But today's subject takes us all back to childhood play,
and, most importantly, an art form that just
might be a stress reliever!

My sister is learning how to pot.  She leans over a spinning wheel and beneath her fingers there emerges a finely shaped mug, or a bowl or something else magical.  Of course it takes a loooong
time to learn this craft and try as I might, I failed at every attempt I made to learn how.  Still, I long to play in clay and never miss an opportunity to try again (and again and again).  So when she suggested we enjoy the lovely weather by sitting on her deck and "pinching pots" I was all in.

"Pinching" is very similar to what we all did as children with "Play Doh" (and before we knew we had to learn a specific way to do it. And I'm not crazy: Play Doh DID rework its formula not long ago, something I sadly discovered when I sat down to pinch with the grands.)

My sis suggested we all start with a small ball of clay and work from there.  Before I knew it my husband joined in as well and we were all simultaneously pinching and chatting.

My fingers worked and my mind drifted off.  Pretty soon my chat lessened and I stood up to use more muscle and get a better view.  I thought of Paulus Berensohn, the exquisite potter who saw more value in pinch pots than first meets the eye.  I felt like my efforts were, in a small way, a tribute to him. (link is to NY Times story) Especially since he had just, as he liked to call it, "changed addresses," when he passed last week in Asheville.  

My husband finished his piece first, either a shot glass or a vessel for a night cap (we non-techies are not quite sure how to calculate the shrinkage.)  

My sister made a lovely little vessel ready to receive the texture she had in mind pushing into it.

I worked mine into a little ice cream or soup bowl and had fun letting the lip wonk around the edge.
Relaxing?  Yes, the clay really does tell you where it wants to go and there is something very relaxing about using your sense of touch to play in a formula that goes from soft to firm over time.  I had a hard time letting go....which would have been fine if stress release was the plan, but not so if I want to fire and finish the bowl.

And because I can never get too much of a good thing I made another ball and let the clay tell me it wanted to become a cup!  I started painting (I mean "under glazing") this one later in the week and you can tell I was still in my child-mind.

And if I never see these pieces again?  Or if they blow up in the kiln? Or get knocked over and crushed?  Honestly, it will be OK.  It was the first time Clay and I ever had a relaxing, purely tactile, stress-relieving experience together.  I'm now an affirmed "pincher."

So go beg, borrow or buy a hunk of clay, either one you can fire, one that air dries or get a tub of play doh...make a ball, dig a little thumb hole and start shaping and pinching and pulling.  Ball it all back up and start over.  Do it when you have mental work to do, do it when you are sad or blue, do it when you can barely sit still.  Your fingers and hands will thank you, your arms will thank you and I promise you will feel so good.

For another article on the man who declared himself the "fairy godfather" of so many special children  go here.  And U-tube has many wonderful selections in the archives.  Enjoy.  

Proud to be Pinching,

Friday, June 30, 2017

Flower Power

Spring has done funny things to me.
Like now I am painting flowers.  Yep, flowers!
Something I have rarely painted before...never
say never I guess.  You never know, so I guess you do.

I have hundreds of flower photos.  At times I think I want to learn botanical illustration and I get all ready and...nothing.  I have clipped bouquets and brought them to the studio to paint only to find 100 other things that suddenly need doing.  Was I avoiding the subject?  Let me tell you, they are not easy.  So no time like the present to tackle a tough subject.

I cut myself a lovely stash of rhododendron stems and placed them in water in the studio.  I've learned that if I deem a piece "not precious," i.e. "practice," it takes the pressure off, enabling me to play a bit without a fear of wasting expensive materials.  So I grabbed a couple paintings I did not like and decided to paint over them.

Both of these were done from the live bouquet, not a photo.  I experienced all of the challenges that a live model brings: shifting perspective, lighting changes, movement etc.  This model did not need 15 minute breaks to stretch but I assure you, the painter did!

The major problem the model gave was that after several days (I was working so slowly) the flowers began to bloom and get fuller and more beautiful. Even the colors began morphing. Ahhhh, the pain.  But remember: it didn't matter so I played and played, my buds, most of them, blooming along with the model.

Here they are.  Two very different versions of the same gathering.  Two different backgrounds and looks.  Two slightly different sizes.  Do you have a preference?  Let me know because just as I had decided to frame one ($) and not the other (dumpster time) someone came in and oohed and ahhhed over the one I had rejected.  Oops.

So do tell.  And never say never.  Hint: more flowers are on the easel even as I type!


Friday, June 23, 2017

High Country Tour de Art

I love to peek behind the scenes.
To look behind the magic curtain, lift the veil of mystery,
watch how the sausage is made...all terms for
getting to see where something is created.
Observing the mechanics of any process leads to new respect.

So let me invite you to this year's High Country Tour de Art, the 9th annual. On the fourth Saturday of the next six months area artists and galleries will throw open their doors to invite the public into the inner sanctums of creation.  It's a day to ask questions, exchange ideas, wander about and perhaps try something new.  

Wonder what the difference between "wheel thrown" pottery and "coiled" is?  Confused about the choice of acrylic versus oil?  And just where do those off-the-wall ideas come from?  This is your day to load up the car, download a map here (or get one at your first stop) and head out.  Any artist will be happy to recommend the perfect lunch spot.  If you are here all summer, it's a great tour for your guests or one you can do little by little over several months.

I'M EXCITED because I have a new potter in my studio AND a fun community project for you to join.

just a sample of Eric Reichard's great work

Eric is bringing in new work daily and after you check out his website you will want to see the real stuff.  Eric and Maggie Black (my studio neighbor) have worked together and it was her recommendation that brought this beautiful new addition to my work space.  Come check it out.

ALSO, join me as together we create the brightest, happiest painting this side of the Blue Ridge to be donated to the Seby B. Jones Cancer Treatment Center on the Watauga Medical Campus here in Boone.  Many of us know loved ones who have spent hours receiving chemo treatments. It's a tedious, scary length of time and whether you are the patient or the caregiver old magazines don't do much for distracting you from worry. 

Remembering the fun of participating in the Healing Ceilings Project I contacted our own Treatment Center only to discover their Art Committee was currently exploring the idea of how art aids the healing process.  They embraced the project and I have promised them that everyone slapping on some color, outlining an object or adding a design to this 36" x 24" painting will be autographing the back of it with love and good wishes.  

I'll be sharing more on this project as it develops but you don't have to be able to "draw a straight line" to help out.  The lines will be drawn, the colors are out and paint brushes provided.  All you have to do is add your touch, make a mark or paint by number.  Let's make something that takes time to look at, that will be so full of color and lines and designs and objects that anyone sitting down for their treatment will go off into a new world where there is hope and promise.  

Saturday, June 24, that's tomorrow!  Come on by 112 Clubhouse Drive, right off Hwy 105 in Foscoe. We are officially open at 10 am (you know I'm there earlier) and happy to see you until 5 pm.  If you get lost call me at 32-795-0816 and I'll give you a landmark.  

and guess what?  there is no limit to the number of times you can come!!  

See you tomorrow,

Friday, June 16, 2017

Spring ZING!!

99 days out of 100 I enter my studio excited to see what 
I can make happen.  But on some of those days I literally
 rush inside because my mind has been working
 all night on something it can't let go of.
Spring provided several of those wonderful days.

That's the best word.
Spring was mysterious this year.  It peeked out from behind the clouds and then would sneak back behind winter for a bit longer.  Then, zing!, evidence.  Then retreat.  Then out again.  Like a teasing lover it played with us this year preferring to drag out the announcement of its arrival.  Which made it all the more fun to find.

I got a little abstract here as I pulled out a huge support and got to work purely in color and form.  See the gray and brown mountains?  That's what we lived with during the late muddy winter.  Then badda bang, badda boom: color began creeping up the elevation.  Like a time lapse movie, every day presented a new picture as the spring zing began hiking up the elevation.  I would choose a fav color and then, wow, a new one would emerge.  Call this piece a journal, it evolved daily.

And after so many months of seeing the stately trunks of trees marching across the fields it was like an easter egg hunt to spot patches of color here and there.  This is another out-of-my-mind's-eye piece that gave me a zing.  Spring Zing to be specific.  Ok, out of my system...maybe, maybe not.

I know its unconventional to share these without sizes and titles (and prices) but hey, they haven't even made it to the framer's yet and he always sees them first.  A quick spray today and I will take them to him to work his framing magic.  Email me if you need the details or just stop by the studio where they will soon be hanging.  

Whew, that rush was fun.  I hope that whenever I see these paintings I can conjure up that same feeling that spring brings when it tries to sneak up.  Zing! Zing! Like arrows shot out here and there.

Happy Spring to you,

Friday, June 9, 2017

Painting Up Sticks

Sometimes I work so hard on a painting
that my poor brain needs a break...but my hands
want to keep moving.  Times like that I tend to default to an
easy paint project that keeps my brushes moving while my 
brain goes on autopilot.  Here's a task for just that time.

For some reason painted sticks are all the rage now.  Just check out Pinterest (if you can open).  Or try a google search.  I am always coming home from a hike with interesting sticks (and stones) in my pockets so I decided that the next time I needed a low-impact job I would paint some sticks.

plain old sticks...but I did
learn that the wider the diameter, the easier to work with

some of the bark will flip off easily, some will need urging; 
where it won't budge just ease the transition with sandpaper

start going wild....I began really carefully attending to edges but soon
found that it really didn't matter.  I used acrylic paint but found my
leftover or sample wall paints really easy to put on; again, the skinny
sticks were a bit hard to add much decoration to

My grands are still a tad young to be trying this but I think it might be fun to do with kids, you could even do a hiking stick to use later on.  Other ideas are to "plant" in a potted plant for color, put in the garden as a marker or pile up in a glass jar just because.  I did it mostly for mental relaxation but here is what I ended up with:

poised in a kenyan they almost look like dancers

simple colors that might end up in my flower bed

these are my favorite

curtain call for the afternoon

So this gives me just one more reason to gather sticks, and I'm hunting some fatter ones so I can go crazy with designs.  Most likely these will end up in the garden as temporary decor while waiting for the flowers to bloom.  And the fact that they probably won't last will give me another reason to experiment again next spring.  

Whether you do this to make an orchid support, to entertain some young ones or just to occupy your hands: have fun.  There's no way to go wrong!