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Friday, October 30, 2009

Shocking in Columbus...

Shocking   mixed on paper   34.5 x 22
This week I was cleaning Swiss chard for our pumpkin lasagna when I discovered a small snake in among the greens. Shivers. I poked at it for several minutes with the end of a wooden spoon to see if it was still alive. Then the awareness.....a coiled rubber snake that had been put there to send shivers up my spine by my one and only........Rick. Never a dull moment. The whole thing caused lots of giggling. I love it!  'Tis the season for shocking.....and it always surprises me how subjective the notion of shocking is! Don't get me started! In October, I usually have a personal film festival of films of my choosing designed to create shivers. "Shocking" was designed originally for the "Fresh and Spooky" show at Summit Artspace. I thought of how shocking is totally personal. Some are shocked when a toilet seat is left up. And some are still not shocked when watching autopsies on television for entertainment. It was fun to create the appearance of film with linoleum printing under and over the drawing. Models for my work were: friend Concepcion; friend Brian and his two sons Oscar and Casper; friend Cheryl of the Brimfield Post Office, son Seth and myself up in the corner. 
“Shocking” has been included in The Online Visual Artists Registry Juried Show at the Columbus Main Library from Nov. 9 until Jan. 3, 2010. Location for the exhibit is: Columbus Metropolitan Library, Arts and Media Division, 2nd Floor; 96 S. Grant Avenue in Columbus. The exhibit is open during library hours: 10-8 Mon-Thurs; 10-4 Fri & Sat; 1-5 Sun
Call 645-2ASK or visit for further information

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Box is Open...

Sunflower Box entry
Or should I say the boxes are open? All 78 of them! Last night at Summit Artspace was the opening for the "out of the box" auction that will culminate at the Arts Alive! celebration on November 7 at the Portage Country Club. What a wonderful surprise! 78 Akron area artists have created and donated boxes to benefit The Akron Area Arts Alliance. And what a bunch of wild boxes there are! Openings are not the best venue to commune with art of any kind as it kind of goes like this: spend 30 5 minutes....spend 15 seconds heading into someone else.....and on and on. So, needless to say, I plan to spend more time in appreciation of these creative efforts. Miller Horns' tiny and affordable housing boxes are thoughtful. Shannon Casey's box kite is a one-of-a-kind. Linda Nye's assemblage of paper painted flowers made into an upside-down flower pot is positively kookie....that really was a word in the 60's. A large-scale globe box with hands for legs by Candace Bennington is magical and captivating. The list goes on and on. The bidding sheets are attached....bidding has begun and will continue during gallery hours: Thurs-Sun of this week from noon - 5 pm. They are quirky, thought-provoking, humorous and quirky again.

This shoe box drawing was done during my perspective class this past summer. For me, a point of interest and learning is the brand title on the box lid. I purposely turned it upside-down in order to draw the word by the shapes making up the letters. Knowing the word itself (words come from the L-brain) interferes with this process. Not only is the word itself (as one unit) affected by two-point perspective, but the backbones of all of the individual letters are also affected. Those are some of the things you know inside, but are surprised nonetheless to see them spelled out in front of you. I love surprises!

Monday, October 26, 2009


Witch Mask   watercolor
Concoction is a wonderful word that conjures up images of a witch's brew. But, really, it is just a mixture of one's own making. We painters who paint from reality often use that reality as a crutch, I think. Myself included. By making up an image, we are able to pursue art and mark-making with no known precedent....thereby entering the territory of questionable rights and wrongs. Of course, good design principles will hopefully guide us. There are a few artists I know who routinely make things up. Their imaginations seem to be more accessible, closer to the surface. Judy Gaiser and Jana Volkmer are a couple. "Witch" was painted from memory of a mask I had as a child. It was delightfully sculpted and textured, and had an unforgettable smell from the rubber from which it was made. I could actually smell it as I painted. 'Tis the season for concoctions....don't you think?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Is Roy G. Biv a Real Person?

In school we learned in both science and art classes that light filtered through a prism is divided into 7 colors, namely: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. We memorized the Roy G. Biv mantra in order to remember it for the test. And, still, I ask: isn't indigo a shade of blue? I am now realizing how subjective seeing really is. We really do understand that the list of possible colors in infinite. Designers invent and reinvent new colors all the time to keep us buying; i.e. sage, eggplant and butterscotch. Naming and naming. Dividing and further dividing. Yet, in college sociology class, I learned of a primitive tribe that had only two naming words for color. Of course, I cannot recall the exact words, but I would guess that they might have meant warm-ish and cool-ish. Red, orange and yellow are warmish. Blue, indigo and violet are coolish. Green is a swing middle-initial. Even though all hues can be altered to a warm end or a cool end, each has its innate temperature property. I love simplification. And often, I think that the color temperature notion is a better way to approach a painting....that way we don't get caught up in all of those divisions. I think that we should be able to declare either warm-dominance or cool-dominance before we begin....that depending on the subject matter. Dominance is important for harmony and is a key design principle. Using like amounts of warms and cools results in a static feeling...not near as visually interesting! (a clear case for assymmetry of all kinds).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

And speaking of out of the box...

Sunflower Box - Side View
The Out of the Box exhibition is currently being shown at The Summit Artspace Gallery located at 140 E. Market Street in Akron. Local and regional artists create boxes that will be auctioned off to benefit The Akron Area Arts Alliance, an umbrella group that represents 40+ cultural groups in the Akron Area. This event is held every two years and will culminate at the Arts Alive! event Sunday, November 15 at The Portage Country Club. This year I decided to paint a commercially purchased cigar box, simply because painting is what I do best....well, maybe not best, but better than constructing, gluing, and working with hand tools. My "Sunflower Box" is color driven and was inspired by vintage fabrics with, I think, an unusual color palette for! (Sunflowers are almost always set off with cool blue or blue-violet backgrounds). I also wanted to introduce raw umber to the palette, which is a Scandinavian addition which ages and softens. It took a while! All of the surfaces were coated with gesso...several layers....the sides were patterned....then the flowers painted on top and lapping over the patterning. The inside is a solid cadmium yellow. The painting, of course, was the most fun. The hardest part was gripping those teeny weeny screwdrivers to reassemble the hardware....I cursed like a sailor. All in all, it was a fun project. Next time (and that's the way we painters think), I might look for a vintage box with an unusual shape. There are always so many fabulous and funky entries....I can't wait to see them all!

It is always a surprise....the turning of the seasons. Those sunflowers have now now morphed into seed heads for the birds.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Thinking outside the Box...

Brimfield Laundromat...a sketch
This weekend found us braving the rain and cold in Washington D.C. at The Solar Decathlon sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. There were 20 college and university teams represented in a competition to design, build, and operate the most attractive and energy-efficient solar-powered home. What we saw was truly mind-boggling and will cause reality-shifts all over the globe! Our son is an adviser for Team California, a collaboration between California College for the Arts and Santa Clara University. New materials, new aesthetics. All of the teams were able to power their own homes with the sun. Off the energy grid, so to speak. The homes made use of recycled "gray water" (run-off from showers, dishwashers and washing machines) to create peaceful water gardens on decks and porches. Some teams showed the harmony of feng shui by creating indoor and outdoor spaces that were interlaced. Most homes were highly flexible, taking advantage of shades and panels dependent on seasons and lighting conditions. One of my biggest surprises was a combination washer-dryer machine that accomplishes both tasks....apparently already in use in Europe. Saving space and energy. Challenging our very limited notion of a beautiful home. Less being truly very much more. One never knows how these experiences will show up in the visual arts, but tucking them into your brain is a wonderful thing and can only lead to more thinking outside the box.

BTW....The Brimfield Laudromat is no longer in business, and, yes, I have a drawing for just about everything.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Watercolor Impressions...Red

Red Leaf on Green Ground
For me, it is true that, sometimes, even the weight of one quick brushstroke is too much, too direct. I am searching for a visual implication of some objects rather than something more concrete. There are many ways to foster this notion: using lots of medium, whether that is water or turpentine; soaking the paint surface beforehand; blotting or removing some of the paint immediately after applying; layering; selectively destroying the surface; and using printmaking, a more passive application, for some elements. "Red Leaf" was begun as a monoprint using the back of the leaf, with the protruding veins, which was coated with paint and pressed into the surface. Then I came back into the painting softly and slowly to bring it more clearly into suit me. I did several and this one is my favorite. It provides a GIVEN, a design element that is already on the paper when you begin to paint. It is the first piece of the visual puzzle to be solved. This method also eliminates the "white surface syndrome" that can be daunting as well as causing the elements to be painted just too directly for my liking. This resultant work resembles a piece of silk to me. I would think that this would be an amazing exercise for young artists as well.....young in age as well as young in heart. Delighting in autumn. Delighting in simplicity. What could be better?

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Brimfield Post   oil/canvas   20 x 16 x 1.5
The notion of progress is a sticky wick. Sometimes we humans resist change as the simple inertia of the process challenges our comfort zones which I compare to "the body at rest". Last night before falling asleep, we watched an art show where the art was designed on a computer....after that, teams of colorists came in to correctly mix and match colors which were then put into tubes and numbered. Other teams of painters worked for weeks to fill in the huge painting surface which had been greatly magnified....just like a giant paint-by-number. about a mental shift. The notion of solitary artists morphs into a creative team to create giant paintings where the end product becomes all. I am not sure how I feel about all of this....will need a while to think on these things. Paint-by-numbers starting within the realm of craft, for the not-as-creative, and morphing into the highly desirable. Such is change. Our Brimfield post office will be going out of business in November. This small business was a combination sheet metal/gift and card shop/post office for as long as I can remember. Each patron was greeted with a smile and a story. It was personal. It was a feel-good experience. The owner Cheryl Rexrode is an energetic woman with energy to spare and an admirable world view. Talking with her is a pleasure. I regret that I have never drawn or painted her. Sometimes she hires Mark part-time to fill in. He bleaches his long beard at Christmas-time to play Santa and slips outside to puff on his ever-present cigars. This whole scene is how "post office" is defined for me in my brain. That is about to change. I picture a long line of postal patrons anxiously awaiting to hear the word "next". Progress is sometimes hard to swallow.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Linda in Fur Hat   watercolor   16.5 x 10.5
I love the uncommon, the unexpected. Those events are so very memorable. This summer in the eastern Midwest was an uncommon summer...extraordinarily cool and comfortable. The trend continues into autumn. I spent yesterday digging out winter apparel.....put quite simply, we are cold. The temperature last weekend in Chicago for the marathon was in the low 30's. Here in the Akron/Cleveland area, the weather is much the same. No sunny sparkling 70-degree crisp autumn days this year! Just as every person has a story, every painting has a story. "Linda in Fur Hat" is my only watercolor painting done on 100 percent rag mat board. I read about someone doing it so I thought I would give it a try. The results were not nearly as malleable as I am used to. The paint soaked right pushing and pulling it around. I guess those whose work is more akin to preserving detail would appreciate this surface. We had paired up in watercolor class across from each other but were supposed to have a Halloween mask. Linda really didn't seem up for this exercise and came ill-prepared, but was able to rummage up a fur hat from her car. That was many years ago. I am fairly satisfied with the results. Cold weather. Halloween. Fur Hats. I remember that session. I remember Linda.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

That Competition Thing

pre-race...a sketch
I have never enjoyed competition....I don't enjoy being nervous....I don't particularly enjoy the adrenaline rush...and I don't like being singled out, for reasons good or bad. I just enjoy being, creating and solving the visual problems ahead of me. I really do enjoy, however, being part of something bigger, something positive that alters the state of mind to an optimum experience. This weekend past, we experienced The Chicago Marathon where runners compete primarily against themselves, pushing themselves beyond their own pre-established boundaries. We met our runner-son at the airport and proceeded to the registration point, the mandatory pasta/carb meal, the hydration fixes, the stretching and the 8 pm bedtime. Preparation for these events begins years ahead of time. There is definitely a pre-race tension. I am out of my element. For me, nervousness restricts my drawing and painting hand....makes it small. Seeing the 40,000 runners and their support teams was awesome beyond belief. Elevation beyond the mundane. Heroic efforts. Exhaustion. Our runner-son did well. He is inspired to better his performance next time. I am inspired to reach beyond what I already know and do. An elevating experience.

Friday, October 9, 2009

That Apple Time of Year...

Varietal   watercolor   17.5 x 13
The meaning of the word "pagan" has changed over the years. Currently, it has negative religious undertones having to do with one's beliefs, or not. Originally it had more to do with the notion of peasant, rural, of the earth, a following of the natural rhythms of the seasons. The unknowing. Perhaps the illiterate. Intuition. I enjoy painting with the seasons. What excites me personally is affected by the weather, the amount of light and dark, the temperature and the holidays. This is apple season....every year I am quite astonished at the number of new varieties available! Always some never heard of before. I can hear the crunching and smell the sweetness. Apple fritters. Apple Dumplings. Apple Pie. I guess the heart and stomach are definitely related. "Varietal" was painted in the autumn. I studied calligraphy for many years....repetitious line work with lots of rules. Very precise. These days I like to spin off of those rigid letter forms to make my own varieties. In this case, I used them as a design element, some creative line work, to list some of the varieties of apples that can be had. Not meant to be read. Just enjoyed visually.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Parade of Guys...

For the past couple of weeks, we have had a parade of guys going through our home - those guys who fix what needs fixing and who replace what we don't know how to do ourselves. Jeremy the boiler guy. Dasun the countertop and sink guy. Charles the septic guy. These guys help our daily lives move along smoothly and prevent break-downs. I really do appreciate the expertise and knowledge of all of these guys. But waiting for them is another matter. I try to paint, to enter the creative world where minutes swiftly turn into hours. Each stroke is put on in hesitation, with the knowledge that this stroke might be the last before I hear the worker knocking at my door. The stokes become timid and halting and restrictive. It is no use. Either the worker guys work, or I work. There really can be no compromising here. No putting on a stroke in-between checking the thermostat in zone one. Another stroke before making sure the kitchen faucet is open. Very frustrating. Creative work is so very different from other kinds of work that have built in starting and ending points. Being creative requires time with no limits, at least very few. The minutes must be able to become hours if need be. Ah, time.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Standing on the Shoulders of Miller

Miller Horns   a sketch
Congratulations to Miller Horns! He was awarded the outstanding visual artist by Arts Alive! in Akron sponsored by The Akron Area Arts Alliance. This small sketch of Miller was done a few years back as he sat and chatted with Rick during some function-or-other at Summit ArtSpace. For all of these years, I saw a few isolated works by Miller and always enjoyed their hidden complexity. But the power of seeing a lifetime of work is undeniably moving and emotional! A retrospective of his work is currently being shown at the new home of Artists of Rubber City, "The Box", on the third floor of Summit ArtSpace. Seeing this wonderful exhibit is worth the elevator ride fact, several elevator rides up. Patterns from Miller's life form meaningful displays in electrostatic art. The quality he achieves visually is similar to me to a large print. He is able to achieve both attention to detail and the very big picture simultaneously. He is quiet. He is thoughtful. And he is complex. If you are lucky, you will be able to meet Miller and he will be able to further explain his ideas and his process. His is the life of an artist, a life well-spent. Thank you, Miller.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Open Door:Close Door...

The Red Guitar   watercolor/gouache   29 x 20
I am always getting in trouble at my house for leaving doors open....cupboard doors, closet doors and pantry doors. I am making an effort to remedy this as it is terribly bothersome to my husband. I am not sure why I do this, but the notion of an open door (as opposed to a closed door) is very appealing to me. (OK, I really do know why, but choose not to share). Possibilities....things yet to be....things left undone. And so it follows that I also like that "open door notion" in the way I work. If I have already tried it, I would like to do it another way the second time around. When I painted "The Red Guitar", I was pushing the capabilities of watercolor - working large and aggressively and, at the same time, disregarding the quiet and passive qualities for which watercolor is known. The sublime. I have since moved on to other things. That being said, I still kind of admire the gusto in this painting....worked from a model on an easel with big brushes....very few quiet passages. The raw white passages of the paper left trademark. The open doors. Finding a compromise between open doors and closed doors.

Friday, October 2, 2009

As you sow............

Three Daffodils   watercolor   11.5 x 21
Everyone has heard about the positive relationship between sowing and reaping. I like to think of it as an introduction to the notion of possibility. Possibilities make my spirit soar. Sometimes the ideas are totally un-doable, sometimes just a particle to latch onto, and very often discarded after lots of effort has revealed a negative time spent/positive result ratio. Flower gardening is in the last of these for me....I don't really enjoy tending to them, planting them, or even painting them. But, from time to time, I do it anyways. Daffodils are the exception. I LOVE THEM. This weekend I plan to plant more bulbs in our front yard which we are naturalizing in a minimal attempt to keep civilization at bay. Maybe it has to do with that planting and sowing thing, the wait, the possibility, the looking forward to. Maybe it is the bright yellow color that symbolizes sunshine. Maybe it is the memory of treating myself to a fistful at the market when buying them is such a luxury item. Whatever. I paint daffodils yearly and seem to have run the gamut as far as color choices and compositions. "Three Daffodils" was painted in watercolor and restricted in size....I wanted to "paint for the frame", always a bad idea, as I had found a lovely powder-blue shabby frame that was the seed for this year's daffodil painting. Although it did work out after lots of juggling, it is cropped a bit more than I would like. Having boundaries from the get-go of the process is unnatural. Having flowers in a vase is unnatural, as well, to me. Come April, I will be thinking again of painting them.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Wilma...a sketch
Last night was critique at our club, The Akron Society of Artists. Members bring a couple of works that go up on an easel and the members comment on them....good, bad, indifferent. This whole process can make people drain flasks in their vehicles before entering, smoke in dimly-lit alleyways and even retain anger and reluctance to participate for many years. This is a fact. I guess that we all need validation from others. Judging someone else's work is completely subjective. Surely, the design elements and principles are solid and works can be evaluated considering them as guidelines. But how an individual artist combines the principles are as unique as the artist himself/herself. A one-of-a-kind recipe dependent on the ingredients you choose to incorporate, as well as the amounts. I think that something we should strive towards is the release of work, the ability to separate ego from the work itself, and see the big picture of a progressions of works. Process over product. No work will ever be perfect. No work is innately bad. No one ever arrives. As usual, I am quite stimulated by this whole event, and usually end up sleepless. (could also be due to the consumption of 20 oz. of Diet Coke). Images float around my brain for days. ....the memorable ones keep surfacing. For me, last night's adventure was driven by the day lily painting by Wilma Kiser(the colors amazing!); the watercolor portrait by Lynda Rimke; the design-y lotus blossom work by Ann Emmitt; the gnarly trees by Jack Lieberman; the animated march of lemons and peppers by Judith Carducci; the mysterious pastel sky works by Kimberly Moore; and the brushwork and composition of Mina Huang.

Poignant is a quote from a 1992 film called Lorenzo's Oil. The Swahili Warrior Song: "Life has meaning only in the struggle. Triumph or defeat is in the hand of the gods. So let us celebrate the struggle". Amen.

The Akron Society of Artists Studio will be open from 5-9 pm on Saturday night during the Akron ArtWalk. Again on Sunday from noon - 4 pm during the Sunday Sampler at The Akron Art Museum. Come on along. See what you think.

"Wilma" was sketched during the helps relieve the tension.