Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Drawing and painting from the museum galleries

      Time flies when you are having fun; and I recently rediscovered the joy of oil paints! I didn't want to lug oils and solvent into the museum for a class in drawing and painting. I had been using acrylics or watercolors (mistake) and drawing with fragile charcoal and chalk (mistake) when I rediscovered the fun of moving oils around and sketching with a simple Papermate 2B mechanical pencil.
Click photos to enlarge.

       It was off to the African galleries to sketch a mask or object that we could transform or use in our own art work, much as Picasso and Matisse and Modigliani discovered. I am no P, M, or M;  but I like to draw and I found several objects at the MFA and their on-line collection to sketch.

      At home, I first decided I wanted to repaint the watercolor still life I painted the week before that felt limp without oils. I added a self- portrait to the still life as I noticed Gaugin had done in many of his. My hair matched the bristles on the brush. I like to have the personal in a painting.

       From my sketches in the galleries, I chose a sculpted  lady who stood atop a grave post in Madagascar. I made an absurd quilter self-portrait using her. Then I painted a classmate, a doctor from Kazakhstan using information of her passion for apples. The Kazakh apple DNA shows them to be the earliest of apples we enjoy. I learned there is an effort to save these trees. My friend introduced me foods she enjoys from the Russian grocery stores here in the Boston area. I looked up the Kazakhstan flag and added some of its elements. I didn't have time to do something with Magritte's apple in the face, titled The Son of Man. 

       I drew other masks or sculpture that I related to  and may accomplish more before class meets tomorrow. But it was time for my monthly blog post! Tip for more fun: Prime the canvas with dark green, red, blue or orange acrylics, dry, and then let the oils slip and slide! Such fun.

(watercolor on the right)

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Drawing and Painting to be continued

      Picasso said that painting is just another way of keeping a diary. So is my blog. This past month I report that I have taken up Life Drawing again and a course at the MFA called Across Cultures. I have been in a few juried shows and tried out some old approaches. I always want to be taking a course. It is fun to be with aspiring artists and to try both old and new materials. Of course all of the above are stressful as well...originating new ideas. So is showtime!

       Catherine Kehoe chose Unforgiving Vision for the SELF-ish show at the Cambridge Art Association. When asked for a blurb for the catalog, I submitted:

While painting myself as an exercise on cardboard, a red-tailed hawk dove from on high into the brush outside my window, an almost frightening force of nature following its laser vision to some oblivious creature. It struck me as the perfect metaphor for self-portraiture. Why is it that self-portraits are often unflattering, even at the hand of artists who famously flattered other subjects? In self-painting, the subject is oblivious, barren of artifice, a landscape of color, form and texture. The penetrating eye allows no escape for the quarry. 

         In class, we enjoyed making  contour drawings of the Tang dynasty horses to loosen up. Next we went on to draw the Meissen porcelain sculptures of birds at the museum, in order then to draw a context. I love researching the history of museum objects for surprises such as Augustus II's not only adding to art by commisioning these sculptural gems of birds and animals, but unfortunately hosting wolf toss socials for sport. After visiting the Dutch rooms, we will be working on still lifes and memento moris. Add to that, Paula and I are drawing and painting each other for works to be seen next time. I am keeping a diary for that project in a mixed media notebook where I add photos and materials to inspire me. Click to enlarge photos, and thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Politics is in the air and hits the canvas

      Spring starts March 20 and I have been too busy painting and listening to debates to notice. Today I went into the Chandler Gallery in Cambridge to see my Cacophony hanging (Feb.22, '16 post) Can't wait for the reception to hear Gerry Bergstein talk about this Small Works Salon 2016: Thesis/Antithesis.  Thirty-two pieces are in the show of this small gallery. The works fuse two contradictory ideas such as realism and fantasy, movement and stillness, or sincerity and irony. Bergstein says, "I have always thought that art deals not only with the question What is it?, but also with the question What ELSE is it?. The press release continues to say that the space that separates two opposites is filled with tension, humor and paradoxes. http://maudmorgan.com/gallery/smallworks2016_call.htm

The Pen and the Cash Dragon
      Listening to the news, I painted The Pen and the Cash Dragon for a Truth to Power show. I wanted to submit earlier paintings, Anita and the Ships of Fools and Baptism at Mount Areopagus; but the Cambridge Art Association rule is that paintings must have been created in the last five years. Speaking to power, I say that is fine for photographers, but some paintings take a long time. Also, one may have paintings in storage that were ahead of their time and might be appropriate now. I went on to paint The Pen... in the few days I had in order to be a good sport. One can't win them all. Click to enlarge paintings.

     In The Pen and the Cash Dragon, Raphael's St George and the Dragon meets the contemporary issue of cyberpen vs. wealthocracy. I appropriated the Renaissance artist's imagery to suggest the power of the pen (writing) and paint brush to replace the lance to skewer the evil of misused funds. In the painting are social media icons as brands on the horse, the smart phone, and Mail. Anita Hill as Statue of Liberty receives her award. Cyberjournalist Ariana Huffington leads a charge on the white horse to fight against overwhelming greed by pharmaceuticals (pictured in the cave), petroleum industry (torn icon) and finance, with the Supreme Court in the background lending no aid. I know you aren't supposed to explain your paintings...leave room for mystery and engagement of the audience.  

Anita and the Ships of Fools (after Goya)

Baptism at Mount Areopagus (the censored)

       I look forward to starting the Across Cultures drawing/painting class at the MFA this spring. In the meantime, I am life drawing once a week for 3 hours; and my friend Paula and I have a project drawing/painting each other. Structure is good. Hoping to see Munch, the father of Expressionists, in NYC at Neue Gallery in the near future! Thanks for looking!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Some Blog Updates...

    Blogging is motivating to craft and share. It is also record keeping; and I can return to posts for information. I have some updates here.

     On Valentine's eve, Joe and I attended the reception for Winter Break! at University Place in Cambridge, saw painting friends from years ago and picked up Books 'N Laps (see August 29 post). The book club painting finally goes to a new home this week!

     February 14 is Erika's birthday so I made her a soft card. Previously quilts, this time the "card" is soft sculpture, to go with the chef's birthday gift of marble board and rolling pin. Hooked on a Netflix Spanish movie, VELVET, I could binge watch the show guilt-free while embroidering. There is room for Erika to sew well. She closely examined how I had made the rolling pin which pleased me. I stuffed a stitched rectangle for the tube, gathered little stitches at the ends of the stuffed tube to insert the simple handles which I had distractedly shaped backward

    Assigned the birthday cake for the family party, I Googled an easy vanilla cake with chocolate fudge icing at Errenskitchen.com. Beautiful, it fit Erika's order for vanilla cake/chocolate icing. I had to borrow the 8" cake pans and cake decorating spatula or palette knife. Must get because I will make again. Those sculptural  fudge roses were an easy circular swirl explained by Erren at her blog!
Click to enlarge photos.

     Back to Serial Selfies (see February 5 post) chosen for the juried Unconventional Means with some photo updates here. I learned new techniques from theother entries at the show. I'm pleased that CAA publishes a book at Blurb for documenting the show. I ordered the $15 book on-line, because the Unconventional Means was provocative. Mine was an unconventional presentation.You had to hold and touch the paintings to see them all. Not the usual in museums or art shows.

     Adding chocolate paint (fudge influence) , I focused the "yellow house" on the frame for Cacophony (see June 23, 2015, formerly Family Portrait) The painting was fortunate to get in the juried Small Works at the Chandler Gallery in Cambridge. More on that to come, but I like how the frame improved!...Now to think of a painting for a Truth to Power show and another for the Selfish competition. Time flies!

Friday, February 5, 2016

A box for Serial Selfies, Winter 2015

     A  heavy snow day is a good time to update a blog. This week I entered a show entitled Unconventional Means at the Cambridge Art Association with an unconventional presentation, Serial Selfies, Winter 2015.

Top of box...painting fitted

     I entered 14 self portraits from last winter in a glass-topped box found at Michael's. The price was right and the box is a good storage place to store all those paintings from last year on card and canvas board.

     Of course, things don't always go as planned. In framing the lid underside, I broke the glass on two boxes and gave up on a glass finish. Who wants glass on oils, anyway!  In the second photo, you can see the tiny dowel framing around the top piece (to hold the painting in place wo glass). In the third photo, you'll see the tiny lattice work frame around the underside piece, secured to the top. Twelve loose flat portraits are stacked within. There is room for more!

      My blurb for the show:
During the deep snow winter of 2015, getting back to painting after ten years of art quilting, for lack of a model, I painted myself multiple times. The stacks of portraits on card and canvas board shuffling in the studio did not seem to want separate frames. Where would I put them? Then I found this box to house the flat works —the perfect unconventional frame, like the photo file on an iPhone, where the series can be presented, handled and viewed easily.

Box opened showing painting under lid and stack of 12 inside


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Pochade boxes for portability

Click to enlarge photos
    If you Google "pochade" or "pochade boxes," you will find a reaching for definition. To me, the French word refers to a quick sketch or finished painting that is achieved in the box you can carry around inside the house and out. I have several boxes and many paintings that I have made. You can spend hundreds of dollars or take a bit of time to craft a box and the paintings yourself! I painted Lucy and Arthur in the living room, on the stuffed chair,  pochade box on the cocktail table. There is some invention.

     Think about the wooden cigar boxes that might be converted or the first wooden box you got filled with oils or acrylics. In my versions, all different, I like to have three slots in the top to hold wet canvas boards. I have to have a flip top  or opening on the top so that I can insert the canvas board. One needs a brace of some sort for the side to hold the top open at the proper angle for painting. To make channels for the canvas, I have found plastic pieces in architecture sections of a craft store and glued them next to each other. Joe cut channels on my first one on his big table saw that he won't let me use. He doesn't remember this because it was 30 years ago when I first read about a pochade box in an English art book and none were available (or before I was heavily into Googling). Google "pochade boxes" today to get ideas or see what is available.

     I thought of these boxes because our dear dog Farley had to cross the rainbow bridge day before yesterday, and I wondered if I had ever painted him. Yes, many times, but using an easel, not a pochade box. As the snow falls, you might enjoy the diversion of crafting a pochade box! Bon Pochade!

thinking of Farley

open top version
flip top version 


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Let it Snow...we've a playground inside

    My house is a giant playground to me, my husband and grandchildren. More books than I will ever read, more art supplies than I will use up and wood cutting tools. Nevertheless, I loved trotting into the Museum of Fine Arts on Wednesday evenings. Paula Pitman Brown set up still lifes and we painted in acrylics or oil...or any other subject we wanted to work on. Every so often, I enjoy the structure and routine of a class, camaraderie of students and looking at things in a new way.

    My out-of-class painting happened one night when I forced myself to paint at home. The tv reports of the Paris bombings came on so I just started painting Bones who was hanging by the easel. Then I wanted to add an eiffel tower on canvas with red, white and blue flowers, hopefully growing off the easel canvas. Toward the end of the paint sketching, President Obama was on tv in Antalya, Turkey, addressing the  G20 Summit re the terrorist attacks. I caught in paint, a few days in time. It needs more painting, but I am stopping. I will paint the differently next time in oils.

    Two of my class still lifes are the bird in frame, painted mostly in green,  and houses w violin, painted predominantly in browns made up of colors other than browns or blacks. A good visual exercise!

    In the meantime there was Thanksgiving. I suggested that Hannah paint a tree on poster board and cut out leaves for people to add what they were grateful for. She outdid herself and it was a worthy endeavor. Later when I told Joe she would like a light box (SHHHHHH), he made her one for under the tree. Note: he sprayed clear acrylic we had on hand with white paint for opacity and got a 40 watt specialty long bulb. You don't need wood but could create with a sturdy box.

    And last, but not least, Erika told Joe she wanted to make something and rummaged through his wood strips to shape a birdhouse which he and she built together. She is still painting on it but may now be finished. She painted with nylon brushes and those bottles of liquid acrylic paint one finds at a craft store.