Wednesday, December 30, 2009
This has been a week of catching up with friends and updating my website. I did find time to work on the baboon and tamarin paintings yesterday and I am quite excited about the direction they are headed. I pick up the work from the Athenaeum on Sunday and it is nice to bring home a lot less than I dropped off. I hope to have a few paintings to add to those for the Caton Merchant show which opens on the 4th of February.
Being an artist who likes to introduce other artists, I leave you with Greg Simkins work today. For me, creativity coupled with technique is the one quality that attracts me to most art. Greg's work is really at the pinnacle of that mountain. Though I don't always connect with his work on an emotional level, I am blown out of the water each time I see one of his new paintings. As someone who works with narrative, I often wish he would share verbal bits of info along with his paintings. Coming from a graffiti background, for descriptive purposes, his work falls under the pop surrealistic category. I am sure your responses will sit along the spectrum, so let me have it.
And, uh, yes that is acrylic paint he uses. Amazing.
c. Greg "Craola" Simkins
Sunday, December 20, 2009
At the close of 2009, a grateful thanks to each of you for encouraging and challenging words, for supporting me in a myriad of ways in my life as a painter, a life I would not have without your presence.
Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, and a blessed New Year to each one of you.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
I have about four of five painting that have been waiting to be addressed. This one is finally coming along and some new ideas are bubbling up....
5" x 7 " oil on panel
(I have had many orders for these small paintings, so if you'd like to get in line for one, just email me.)
Monday, December 14, 2009
Hoping to have at least the baboon painting and maybe one new painting completed for the Caton Merchant Gallery show in February. We will have to see with the commissions and holiday travels.....
Friday, December 11, 2009
Last night I was giving a short talk and signing books at one of our local art clubs. I happened to notice no men were in the hall. The club has many male members, they assured me, but apparently they don't come out on rainy nights. Not to listen to me, anyway. I wasn't crestfallen--I was being sociologically informed. I've always noticed the 80/20 split in these organizations, but I knew the full-female thing was just around the corner. Anyway, it was a combined lecture and holiday-season windup, the shortbread was good, and no one asked me to dance.
If you don't mind, I'm going to lay some statistics on you. Of the 82 new people who signed up for the Twice-Weekly letter yesterday, 56 were women. That's 68%--which pretty well mirrors our current ratio of 67% women subscribers. Maybe this means females might be more willing to listen to males than males are. If true, one wonders what percentage of males is willing to listen to females.
Yesterday, among the people buying my new book on PayPal, 65% were women. Funnily, more men paid by check-in-the-mail than women. One might conclude women are what social scientists are now calling "early adopters."
Fact is, women are more into growth, self-improvement, networking and learning than men. In a recent UNESCO study, more women than men got university degrees in 75 of 98 countries. This goes for most professions with the exception of engineering, computer science and math. Some fields are being overwhelmed with women. The vet school in Guelph, Ontario, for example, reports 80% of current grads are women.
The fact that boys lag behind girls in school is well known and not peculiar to our times. Studies show that as early as grade nine girls crave learning more than boys. Apparently the boys are now lagging later and later. The new statistics might be alarming to some. Roles may be reversing. Are men going to be stay-at-home-daddies while the women go out into the world and slay dragons? Is breeding going to grind to a halt? Are women going to be all the doctors, lawyers and artists? And by the way, do men just not want to listen because they already know it all and need to get on with it?
PS: "It's not ridiculous to say women will have the upper hand in a way they haven't in the past." (Economist Ross Finnie, University of Ottawa)
Esoterica: The "demographic bomb," as it's being called, may have its short term benefits, but the longer picture is not so rosy, particularly for Western cultures. If women are busy building empires, where will the new customers be coming from? One more statistic and I'll shut up and get back to my easel: In my four top galleries it looks like 27% of living artists represented are women. Ten years ago it was 24%."
Thursday, December 10, 2009
After an introduction, the kids spent time choosing a painting and then writing a story. We then had each one read there interpretation and I would read my narrative.
Children have a wonderful ability to see things as they really are. Some of the stories were very concrete, and some were very detailed with great sensitivity. I find many adults don't notice the slight nuances in my work, but most children do see the less obvious. Hearing the interpretations of kids is such an incredible experience because they SEE and see in a unique way. This way of seeing happens before the creativity is all but wrung out of us all by the time we are 13 or so. In some ways, it is sad to think that most probably they will lose that sense over the next five years. But I am glad to have a hand in encouraging the imaginative mind and with the help of the tutors and Twig, the gallery director, hopefully, there were seeds planted that will blossom into a creative life.
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
While cruising around Etsy yesterday, I stumbled across the most brilliant and beautiful sculptures by artist Robin VanValkenburgh. I cannot find much about her process, but I think she uses antique molds to make the sculptures. I have my eye on this one.
c. Robin VanValkenburgh
Thursday, December 03, 2009
It also has been to source of hours of frustration, despair and doubt since I began so long ago. At least one thing I have learned from it is persistence in the presence of pain.
Having loved this baboon from the moment I saw him and I knew somewhere in that image was a character to be created and a story to unfold. The last few days he has become a beacon of creative energy. I am so grateful for that gift today.
Now....what would he sitting on?..........
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
In my own life, I constantly walk a line of joy and pain, as I am sure many of you do. There are moments when we see the triumph of mercy, kindness and goodness, in my fellow humans and then there are great periods of darkness when it seems all the earth is filled up with the pain and misery we inflicted on our fellow creatures human and animal.
The weight of innocence lost or destroyed is a heavy, heavy one.
I painted in the mouse nest and then went back after meditating more and made the hole in the concrete....like they are in the wall.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Remember that J.J, played by Jimmy Walker, was a young aspiring painter? Do you know that the amazing neo-mannerist paintings used on the set and credits were created by Ernie Barnes, the football player turned painter? I didn't realize he passed away this past Spring.
Here is his website and here is a CNN video tribute.
c. Ernie Barnes
"Sugar Shack" (used in the intro of "Good Times")
Monday, November 23, 2009
And special thanks to the lovely and amazing Twig Murray who really is behind all of this and has been such a wonderful encouragement to me.
The Historic Athenaeum
Phil and my husband, Craig.
Eugenia anf Steve Ryner
Mike, my sister, Sarah and Chris
Craig managed a few interior shots before the people arrived.
Friday, November 20, 2009
I will leave you all this Friday with the new project by my favorite photographer, Andrew Zuckerman, called "Bird."
One of my all time favorite images is his photograph of Andrew Wyeth.
c. Andrew Zuckerman
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Those of you who are artist know the pain of writing an artist statement. Those of you who are not artists know the pain of reading those statements. So, here is mine:
"Work of Sub-Art in the Age of Generative Reproduction
The mind creates, the body profligates. In the synoptic hallucination, art objects are resurrections of the creations of the mind -- a mind that uses the body as an organism to materialize ideas, patterns, and emotions. With the evolution of the electronic environment, the mind is conceiving a point where it will be free from the body to transcend immersions into the parameters of the delphic hallucination. Work of Sub-Art in the Age of Generative Reproduction contains 10 minimal "flash engines" (also refered to as "memes") that enable the user to make victorious visual compositions.
measuring chains, constructing realities
putting into place forms
a matrix of illusion and disillusion
a strange attracting force
so that a seduced reality will be able to spontaneously feed on it
Tracey Clarke's work investigates the nuances of modulations through the use of slow motion and close-ups which emphasize the Generative nature of digital media. Clarke explores abstract and heavy scenery as motifs to describe the idea of imaginary hallucination. Using powerful loops, non-linear narratives, and interactive images as patterns, Clarke creates meditative environments which suggest the expansion of space..."
Monday, November 16, 2009
I am back on the self portrait I thought was finished. Every dream I have has animals, and I have recurring dreams particularly about baby animals. As someone who feels strongly about the stewardship, compassion and care of animals (and children) whom I consider innocents in the grand scheme of history, this is the path to follow in bringing the portrait about myself to completion. So, on we go.......back to the blessed easel.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
I reminded of late how much history there is in Northern Virginia area. The historic Silversmith House in Fredericksburg is the location of my current exhibit. The Athenaeum gallery where my next show will be held has quite a history as well.
The photograph of the Athenaeum below was taken by Matthew Brady in 1864 during the Civil War. Located in old town Alexandria, it was a bank building when it opened in 1851. After Alexandria fell to the North during the Civil War, it became a headquarters building of the Union Army. These are Union Army officers standing outside their HQ. Today, it is home to the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association (NVFAA).
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
I spoke with journalist Craig Schulin from the Freelance Star newspaper today about the FCCA show. I will post the story he is writing on the exhibit as soon as I get it from him.I really enjoyed speaking with him and hearing his comments and thoughts on my work.
I deliver the Athenaeum show this Sunday. The inventory will be nine large paintings and ten
5" x 7" panels. Until then, I will keep tying things up, making sure each painting, each word is right, and photographing (which I loathe.) And...(sigh of relief) I will officially be back at the easel on Monday. We will see if I can paint a stick animal or remember color mixing at all........
I leave you with the Latte artist.
Saturday, November 07, 2009
This morning I debriefed the event with my friend Pam who will often walk around listening to comments and talking to people. The painting that by far received the most varied response was the "Shepherdess of the Sea." This painting is the most surrealistic and generally cryptic of all of my paintings thus far. It is interesting to find that from the beginning, it evoked strong response. Many people really loved the idea and encouraged me to pursue it, but some felt otherwise. It seemed that as long as I was painting the lovely fawn, all was well, but as soon as the idea evolved in a directly surrealistic direction, I received some opposition. Originally, the initial drawing utilized some of the ideas of "The Flowering Bull" such as using botanical elements for the legs with the thought that she may be his predecessor. But as I went along in the process I realized she had something to do with the ocean, and followed that leading.
Among the common comments were that some did not feel comfortable with the pairing of land and sea life, and others didn't "get it." Working in this genre requires a non-left brained way of seeing. Many people have a hard time connecting with surrealism most likely because the viewer often has to work harder to "get it" in this genre than any other, maybe with the exception of minimalism. It can appear "nonsensical", odd and often times there may be nothing to "get." In most of us the rational brain, the labeling and compartmentalizing brain is the first to respond. I find even in myself this kind of unconscious habit of trying to explain and make sense of art when I look at it. In my painting, this kind of immediate reaction hinders my creativity, so I work at trying to let the work speak to me.
As the artist, this spectrum of reaction is a fantastic thing and in no way a negative. The more I think about the Shepherdesses' evolution and the volume of reaction, the better I feel about the painting. When everyone likes a painting, you have to wonder how challenging it really is and on the other hand, if people are really being honest. The very worst that can happen is no response. A huge part of why I paint is to evoke a feeling and I feel every individual reaction is valid. So thank you to everyone from sketch to opening night who voiced their thoughts on this painting openly and honestly. You bless, encourage and challenge me when you do...
One woman approached me to say she thought my work is scary and indeed, there are dark undertones and notes to be sure (forbid it that I would ever paint a work that is simply "pleasing" or "enjoyable." It wouldn't be authentic for me to do that). So, another wonderful reaction from someone who took the time to "look", let the work speak and so feel what comes to the surface.
I hope that my work is uniquely creative with a strange beauty that others remember and that in some way it will speak to each individual in a personal manner.
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
See the trailer here.
Monday, November 02, 2009
The Member's Gallery in in the basement of the house. You can see the old beams in the ceiling supporting the main level floor. Because the basement walls are stone, our hanging system consists of a wooden strip all the way around the top of the walls and using fishing line to suspend the works.
Because this is an artist run organization, Anne and I will also be responsible for the food and drink. This is something I really enjoy, so I am looking forward to a trip to Trader Joe's for great unique food and good, inexpensive wine. The upstairs gallery is also opening a juried show and it is First Friday, which means the area galleries are also opening shows, so we should have a lot of traffic.
The gallery is housed in the Silversmith house in densely historic Fredericksburg. Built in 1785, the house sits right on the Rappahannock River in old town. In 1961, in danger of being torn down, it was bought be the Historic Fredericksburg Foundation and eventually became the property of the Fredericksburg Center for the Creative Arts.
Thanks to everyone for sending well wishes for the show.
Sunday, November 01, 2009
As a person who loves animals and as the they are the focus of my work, I cannot turn a blind eye to these issues. I share so we can all be informed.
May we not ever tolerate the cruelty, abuse and neglect of any living being.
Humane Society Blog: October 30th
I am off shortly to hang the FCCA show.......
Friday, October 30, 2009
Going over the paintings for the two upcoming shows has been a little painful. I guess as we progress as artists, though a painting may be quite strong, we still see room for improvement, and a desire to go further along in our craft. I am all for a "natural" way of painting, i.e. going with natural bent in style and method, but sometimes there are weaknesses that need tweaking. I think these are helped along by observing other works, like in my case, a trip to the
High Museum while in Atlanta. We are helped to see different approaches to our medium, new ways of proposing our ideas when we "fill the well" with the work of other artists and, if you are so blessed, to receive the feedback of fellow artists.
So, the framing is done for FCCA. The easel is calling, but I still have a few ends to tie up for the show which we hang on Sunday and then it is on to framing and varnishing for NVFAA which will be hung on November 17th (more about that later)......then comes the Caton Merchant Gallery in February!
I will leave you with one of the paintings I always make a point to see at the High.
"The Blue Mandarin Coat"
oil on canvas, 1922
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
My Uncle went on to tell me how connected he felt to the painting and even showed me a photographic print of a landscape he bought because in his words "it made me want to go be there." It was nice to here one of my relatives speak of connecting to artwork and not merely buying pieces that match the couch.
I did some research on Sowa when I returned home and really fell in love with his work.
Monday, October 26, 2009
In the High courtyard is a re-creation of the 26 foot high Sforza horse made from sketches for the statue honoring the Duke of Milan. Though he worked on sketches and plans for over 17 years, the statue was never realized in Leonardo's day beyond a 26 foot clay model. The model was destroyed by french soldiers who used it for target practice.
I moved to Altanta in 1987 to go to the Atlanta College of Art, which is now part of Savannah College of Art and Design. I am amazed at how much that area between 15th and 17th on Peachtree has changed. Where the ACA dorm was, there is now a parking garage and another wing of the High. So, it is a bittersweet to walk around that block. The High is a division of the Woodruff Arts Center along with the Alliance Theater and the ASO which all reside on the same block.
The building at One Atlantic Center was just being completed when I moved to Atlanta in 1987. A reproduction on Rodin's "The Shade" is in the foreground and was inside the Woodruff Arts Center (which is housed ACA) back when I attended.
Shot of the city from the walkway between two wings of the High.
Monday, October 19, 2009
I will leave you with a cool story about a previously anonymous drawing now confirmed as a da Vinci. Great for us, fantastic for the current owner.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Craig and I went to visit family over the long weekend and by Sunday, I was beginning to mull over the FCCA and NVFAA shows which both open in a few weeks. I have hardware to hunt down, varnishing to do, more promotion as well as working on the reception food and drinks. Some of the paintings are so new that they will get no more than a coat of retouching varnish.
So, all that to say I am pretty much wrapped up with painting and won't be back at it in a focused manner for awhile.
On a very cool note, the Van Gogh museum is displaying Vincent's letters alongside paintings he is speaking about in those letters.