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Monday, August 31, 2009

A kernel of truth...

Bi Color   oil/canvas   11 x 14
Just what is a kernel of truth anyways? A small bite....practically microscopic? Something easy to digest? Something that we ourselves digest and decide whether or not it is true? I like that one. When I was a young artist, I was always so impressed by paintings, usually watercolor, of corncobs. The ones of multicolored Indian corn were always the most impressive. It was apparent that these artists had extreme patience, a will to survive and extremely small brushes. Therefore, it was many years before I attempted to paint corn, as I had very little of the above......well, maybe a medium-sized brush. As we grow as artists, we come to digest small kernels of our own truths...the qualities that define us as individual artists. And, for me, it was definitely not going to be perfectly-painted kernels of corn. For me, those kernels had to become supporting actors to the entire cobs and their luscious leaves and silks that twist, undulate and protect. There, I did it. One more kernel on my cob.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

White objects + Stacked Objects=Quite a Challenge

Precarious Stack of Vintage Bowls   watercolor   12.5 x 9
I love setting up painting challenges for myself. And I love stacks of things. My husband and I are stackers.....mostly stuff we are studying....books, magazines, reference materials and the like. Simply put, we are "pile people". In fact, when we are having company, we scurry around looking for places to hide our stacks. Stacks are always precarious, moveable, shiftable. And I like white dinnerware.....always have. No fancy patterns for me. I like that clean background look for the palette of food colors. White objects pick up colors from their surrounds that are reflected onto them. Rarely does an object register as pure white.....usually only in a highlight area. So, considering my fondness for stacked things, and white dinnerware, why not combine the two for an ultimate painting challenge? I really like this painting. There is something raw about it. I am usually very disappointed when I go too far with refinement. That is a very very very fine line. The values on the white bowl have been exaggerated a bit. All paintings are autobiographical to some degree, even if we consider just the selection process of the subject matter. "Precarious Stack of Vintage Bowls" is even more so. It has my name written all over it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Have Sketchbook Will Travel...

two gentlemen from Charlottesville

CharloMy handbag weighs a ton. It's true....I travel with a lot of baggage. But I would rather lug this thing around any day and be prepared for drawings that reveal themselves to me than be left sketchbook-less. This past weekend we traveled to Charlottesville, Virginia for a birthday visit with our youngest son who lives, works and runs in this charming community. The old bricked pedestrian mall is a most wonderful place to sip strong coffee, eat raisin scones, people-watch and, most importantly, people-sketch. It makes me deliriously happy to spend time this way. I usually start 2 or 3 drawings and work on them simultaneously. This allows for changes in position from the unsuspecting models that would leave me waiting. After years of drawing in public venues, I have come to realization that said unsuspecting model will return to the same 2 or 3 comfort positions ad infinitum. Although my little drawings are far from complete, I am happy with their spirits. Gentleman 1 was involved in a fairly deep religious and/or philosophical conversation with a friend. They were intense. I don't believe that they noticed me at all. Gentleman 2 was a gentle-looking young man who had stopped to sip some java and peruse the Sunday morning newspaper. I don't think that Gentleman 1 and Gentleman 2 knew how much their mere presence moved me. Gloria.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Trusting Intuition...

Dappled   oil/canvas   30 x 40 x 1.5
Trusting your own intuition is difficult to do. But the more it is trusted, the easier it is the next time around.....and the easier...and the easier. I have learned to trust mine, even if it means the demise of a painting. In other words, I would rather take the painting where my intuition leads me, spending more hours of problem-solving, than play it safe. Whoa......did I just say that? "Dappled" lead me on quite the supreme adventure! The color evolved from bright emerald green to blue-green to turquoise. The background started out as a barn, then suggestions of a barn to nothingness. The cropping of the horse kept returning, even though I thought I was changing it. The dappled horse went from solid to transparent to everything in-between. This painting holds the dubious distinction of being the longest-time-wise-painting-ever for me............over 4 months of facing the canvas with nothing more to guide me than my intuition. I checked and rechecked my original sketch. I made more sketches. Can you feel my desperation? This horse lives down the street from me. There were times that I couldn't even look at her as I passed by....too much frustration. I was ready to give up countless times. Lucky I was using oil paint. I knew then that I had arrived when my intuition told me I had. I felt that the painting said what I needed it to say. The essence of dappled. It works for me. Another notch scratched on my studio wall for the unknown.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Bundt - it's not just for cake anymore

Bundt Pan...a sketch
Yesterday, I spent a wonderful day with my friend Jo wandering through the Medina Antiques Mall. It is a pleasant adventure that we love but, with our busy lives, have not found the time to do for many years. What's not to like? Air plenty of visual stimulation....almost to the point of overload. It is not nostalgia that drives me, but the true visual pleasure of wabi-sabi-one-of-a-kind items, the counterpart to what we see in most market places. I am always drawn to items with visual texture....old architectural elements and cooking utensils. Lots of muffin tins, old boxes and relief carvings. These old pans are a perfect way to learn much about "the nature of things", which improves and refines drawing skills. We have to deal with perspective, two-point and ellipses, as well as the way light describes the many indented surfaces. The pans are rarely perfect, which adds a quirky element to the drawing. Fun. For an interesting drawing problem, then, we need not look any farther than our own kitchens. The rest is just cake.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Wait   mixed/paper   20 x 13.5
No one understands defeat like an athlete. An athlete seems to understand the ebb and flow between victory and defeat and the resultant tenacity that serves him/her well. Everyone experiences defeat. Artists experience defeat when they receive rejection notices from exhibits that have chosen not to include their work. Artists experience defeat as the painting progresses from the deliriously expectant and joyful start to the realization that this work, too, has its flaws and may not be everything they had hoped it would be. But without the polar opposites of victory and defeat, we would not even begin to understand one or the other. Without defeat, success would be devoid of meaning. And I believe a successful athlete learns to gracefully incorporate both victory and defeat into her/his being which leads to a rich and soulful existence. Creative Akron artist Mark Soppeland has a wonderful work at the "Fresh and Witty" exhibit at Summit ArtSpace that is entitled "Obsessing over Other's Successes". This work has been created from old trophies. I can't wait to see it in person! The model for "Wait" posed with a towel around his neck, a dejected look on his face, and a trophy in his hand. I chose to concentrate on the face area, as I hoped that his dejection would have a more generalized influence without a physical trophy. Vertical strokes were used to strengthen the feeling of being "down". As with all sadness and disappointment, the only medicine is time.....the wait is painful.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Six Degrees of Separation...

Marci   oil/canvas   20 x 10 x .5
Six degrees of separation (also referred to as the "Human Web") refers to the idea that, if a person is one step away from each person they know and two steps away from each person who is known by one of the people they know, then everyone is at most six steps away from any other person on Earth. It was made popular by a play written by John Guare. (from Wikipedia)

I guess this notion just might be similar to what is happening on Facebook and like-minded websites. This really is an amazing notion. I just finished reading Wolf Note, a book of short stories by Akron writer Libby Jacobs, who has also directed my friend Jo at Weathervane Playhouse. I loved the stories! They are smart, quirky, and show an amazing understanding of human behavior. The book was an award finalist granted by On the cover, lo and behold, is model Marci Paolucci who also acts. In fact, Marci recently posed for our Akron Society of Artists on a Saturday Art Walk..............I love the web of the creative community! "Marci" is my effort at portraying another amazing woman.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Wabi Sabi Holes

Holes in all kinds of things offer the possibility to learn so much about drawing! Holes are the places where light is gradually denied. Here we can learn about the values of surfaces. In addition, holes are completely wabi sabi....the imperfect quality that offers up the genuine, the used and the loved. Holes can also add a touch of quirkiness to an otherwise staid drawing. Holes in trees, holes in clothing, holes in implements and holes in shoes. What a great drawing experience! Holey moley.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

It's all Relative

Eclipsed   oil/canvas   24 x 8 x .5
Painting The First Merit Bank Building at night from our ASA studios on the 3rd floor of Summit Artspace using only headbands with LCD lights on our foreheads was exciting. Oh, yeah, and it was also the night of a lunar eclipse. Also exciting was sipping cocktails on the top of the 100-story John Hancock Center in Chicago. I also had a chance to visit a few galleries on my visit. There were lots of Chinese and Russian paintings being sold for exorbitant amounts. There were also many slick large-paneled multiples. The images were beautiful....sunlight drops showing through branches of trees that were dripping down to lower edge of the picture plane. Really lovely. And there is yellow. I was told by the gallery owner that it really is the "big city" thing to do in large art markets such as Chicago.....focusing on just one thing....polka dots....whatever. You might as well put pins in my eyes. Doing the same thing again and again. I guess that makes my work pretty regional. For me, moving into the impersonal visual is a step towards the commercial-oneness. One of my hug-to-my-chest books is Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Rilke. He says:
Just as language has no longer anything in common with the thing it names, so the movements of most of the people who live in cities have lost their connexion with the earth; they hang, as it were, in the air, hover in all directions, and find no place where they can settle.
  • Worpswede (1903)
I asked the gallery owner where he was from......Iowa....or was it Idaho?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Peach Pie

Freestone   oil/canvas   6 x 6 x 1.5
This past weekend my friend Peggy Shriner served peach pie at a get-together. Delicious! My mother could never understand my preference for peach-anything. She always said it had no flavor. Flavors of all kinds are very personal, very subjective. Same with artwork. Every person visiting The Chicago Institute of Art will probably come home with different favorites, works that will stay in the mind long after the visit. We might not even know why. Such is the case with "Le Premier Pas" (The First Step), an oil painting by Constantin Brancusi. It latched onto me from across the gallery. Maybe it is the subject matter. The "first step" is and always will be a monumental event for any parent. Perhaps it is the color....neutralized pastels that confuse the it pastel? or is it oil? I love contradictions of all kinds. It may have been the extraordinary use of what appears to be a raw umber line along the perimeter of the small figure. Line work is not that common in paintings. It is bold and demonstrates a sure hand. I love raw umber. Perhaps. I am not sure why. Brancusi and Peaches....what a great combination!

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Great American Pastime

Cubs fan...a sketch
For many people, baseball is the great American pastime. For me, it is sketching. We took an urban vacation this year year to Chicago to join several family members for 4 days of urban adventures. One such adventure was to Wrigley Field where we (?) watched The Chicago Cubs play the Cincinnati Reds. For me, the thrill lies in people watching and learning about the nature of drawing the human face and figure. However, when the crowd rises to its feet and explodes with applause, I follow suit in order to fit in, even though, for the most part, I haven't a clue as to the reason for the excitement. For me, the excitement lies in capturing just the right angle of the nose, or in understanding the jumbled values of masses in the eye/eyeglasses area. As a result, I am never bored. Stick me in a seat anywhere with my sketchbook and I am happy as a clam. The frozen lemonade is just gravy. I know that the Cubs won. I do not know the score. Fine with me.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Water Warrior

Water Warrior   oil/canvas   48 x 24 x 1.5
Our friend Pat is a water warrior, i.e., an expert kayaker in white water. What an interesting concept that is a perfect balance of the yin and the yang! Maneuvering through the fast-moving white frothy stuff requires great intuition and moment-to-moment decision-making. As for me, the notion of a warrior that can prove his strength in a quiet, self-sustained way is an appealing one indeed. No killing. No guns. No squealing tires. No arrogance. When Pat saw the finished work, he seemed moved that the face seemed to be timeless....he saw himself as a 17-year-old and at present, somewhat older. At first I was clueless and thought myself to be the recipient of a happy accident. However, my process involves lots of reductionism, lots of wiping out. Perhaps the details of the present were wiped away. Perhaps an essence of my friend is what remained. My goals were only to render the notion of water without droplets and to show the deep admiration that I hold for the man that he is, and the ways in which he chooses to participate in this life. Amen.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Unraveling Perspective

Stack of Books and a Gourd...a sketch
I love visual problem solving! I think that is why I enjoy facing the easel every day. And that is why I don't like to repeat processes. Setting up new problems is invigorating! I can only hope that the artists in my perspective class feel the same way. This week's problem involves a drawing of a stack of books. Alack and alas.....this problem is definitely more intricate than what it first appears. The three books share a common horizon line as the eye level of the artist remains constant. However, each book has its own two particular vanishing points along that line if each is skewed in a different direction. I advised the artists to do thumbnail sketches first in order to understand what is going on before they jump into the rendering which is infinitely more fun. Stay tuned for the finished drawings. Linda Davis demonstrated that she understands the presented perspective problem. Ahhhhh......satisfaction.

Monday, August 3, 2009


Cyclist   oil/canvas   36 x 24 x 1.5
It is always gratifying to get into a national exhibition and even more gratifying to receive a nod from the juror. "Cyclist" is currently a part of The Cooperstown Art Association's 74th National Exhibition and received a juror's citation from Albert Handell of Santa Fe, NM. The exhibition runs through August 28th in Cooperstown, NY. Fellow artist Tom Campbell posed for this painting in our Akron Society of Artists studio. The grand prize painting "Great Mother" by Erica Hart is amazing! I am proud to be a part of this exhibit.