October may be my favorite month of the year, yet I missed posting. Supreme educator Abby (whileshenaps.com) today wrote: "Sometimes having a blog is awesome. And sometimes it feels like a prison sentence." I understood, but/and I decided to get back to the computer to post my less than dazzling accomplishments before another month goes by.
Oversight of Hannah's Hershey Halloween costume was the winner. But looking for ideas, I only started some still lifes in a class. Also, I want to return to the ex voto paintings (on wood shaped as paper prayers) where I show my great gratitude for blessings. I started a painting of son Jim's rowing the grandchildren in Central Park. I haven't gotten anywhere, but I am delighted to get this post up at least. Excitement is that I downloaded an app at the library today to listen to books while I paint. Perhaps I will be more productive and expansive next month!
Summer is over and school began again. I was sorry to miss our long times in Maine, but you know how summers evaporate. I have started to think about what to paint this Fall. I signed up for what I thought would be a class in Dutch painting with a Vanitas twist. In the past, with a smile, I have included in my paintings a typical symbol for the transient nature of earthly pursuits and goods or a memento mori, a reminder of the certainty of death or the shortness of life. Note the skull in the martini glass at the bottom of my huge 33rd anniversary painting, Reverie on a Quilt (Ode to Joe).
I wasn't sure how far I could take the Vanitas theme so I started researching paintings with Vanitas additions, usually found on the fronts of paintings. I read the 12 chapters of Ecclesiastes where you find "Vanity of vanities; all is vanity," suggesting futility. I found it calming. In research on Google, I read that some in the 15th and 16th centuries had painted Vanitas paintings on the verso of portraits, not just the fronts! These might have skulls, books, candles, pipes, flowers, time pieces. I asked everyone if they knew of such paintings. They and I had never heard of such.
Paula Pitman Brown wins the prize because she located Barthel Bruyn, the Elder for me and his 1524 Portrait of a Woman, the wife of Gerhard von Westerburg with the verso painting's comment suggesting death is the destiny of all. Paula found references to the painting after Googling The Vanitas Still Lifes of Harmen Steenwyck: Metaphoric Realism by Kristine Koozin. Koozin wrote that CADUT MORS ULTIMA LINIA RERU is on the verso of the painting and it translates as "everything is destined to perish, death is the final goal of all." She continued, "The composition on the backside or verso as a whole is an excuse for the woman's portrait, as well as a reminder to her that the beauty of her image shown on the front side is only a transient state as indicated on the backside." Please visit the Kroller Muller museum (Otterlow, Holland) link to see this 26-year-old bride and the Vanitas painting as well. Portrait of Gertraude von Leutz – Kröller-Müllermuseum. The Encyclopedia of Iconography: Themes Depicted in Works of Art edited by Helene E. Roberts is where I got my first clue of this interesting painting pursuit.
I still don't know what I will paint this Fall, but I have written my blog a few days early and entered some painting shows. Carpe Beadem will be in two shows. It is fun, however stressful, to paint again. Thanks for stopping by! Note to myself: Check out the tradition of grisaille paintings on the reverse of altarpiece wings and still-life objects in niches in the miniaturist style of Jan van Eyck's 15th C paintings.
Blue is the theme this month. I started a painting of a swimming group that also became a beloved book group, Books 'N Laps. How could I organize eleven people on a canvas. I laid down some blue for the exercise pool and started painting the book lovers without a composition in sight. I am till thinking, but it is the end of the month and time to post. The history of Books 'N Laps: I once asked Martha if she swims. Had I heard of Esther Williams? We went to the pool to find it filled with exercisers. Water aerobics seemed like sissy stuff compared to laps, but we joined the group. It was not limp, but solid exercise. Later in the dressing room, when Edith responded "It is I" to me, I thought: a good English teacher who could lead us in a book group as well. I chose the name Books 'N Laps. Many fine times, celebrations and reading followed.
Hannah came home from camp making The Peruvian Wave friendship bracelet. She had one for each of her siblings and, in the summer, I can't turn down any new craft, especially one resembling macrame. I grabbed photos of the kids' and her bracelet, and asked Hannah to write instructions (she demo'd a video on her phone). Since they were on the way out of town to the other grandparents' house, I received the videos on Messages which I need to learn to transfer to my computer somehow. In the meantime, you can find demonstrations on how to create the waves on YouTube. Get out some embroidery floss, duct tape and scissors. Google how to make friendship bracelet knots, how to read friendship bracelet patterns and a beginner's how to weave The Wave friendship bracelet. Hannah tapes her strings to the floor or her knees and I used a clipboard. My first effort was weak, but I will try again. Thanks for stopping by! (Click to enlarge the photos)
Jumping back into painting, I was shocked to find I had not posted the Early Morning Dog Walk, completed a few weeks ago. Joe framed it and it is hanging in the living room. A simple painting, for me, it relaxes me as I walk by it daily. This month, I also invented a more complicated painting, Carpe Beadem, about The Beadsprouts, a group that got started after Anna taught me to bead crochet, the most difficult craft I ever encountered. The painting was complicated as well, but fun to paint.
The dog walk painting took about two hours for two days before everyone told me to STOP. The Beaders I worked on longer and am fixing even after taking these photos. Hannah is in my lap putting beads on her arms as she did long ago....sort of a carrying on of the craft. When older, she did visit our group to demo her origami bird.
The little banner floating under the crocheting hands is inspired by a Medieval European speech scroll or banderole. It was a precursor of our bubbles in cartoons. Such communication goes back way before the Middle Ages. Click on photos to enlarge, and thanks for looking!
Many celebrations occur around our dining room table from Easter to birthdays. Always crowded and askew, the table is an ideal setting for another family portrait. When Joe asked me how I wanted to frame it, I suggested he invent a solution. He cleverly took hints from the shape of our house so the dining room could be in the house. All I have to do is paint it. I have started to do so.
Family members are crowded around the table, but I wanted some gravitas. I had looked at Van Gogh's favorite group table painting, The Potato Eaters. I put that on my lap to show granddaughter, the reader. I let the horn in grandson's hand echo Max Beckmann's in his self-portrait on the wall by the windows. Beckmann used crowns in paintings, but these are from our poppers honoring the great organizers of our families. I needed one more painting for the wall so I added the Van Gogh flowers since I had recently looked at his irises and roses at the Met in NYC. I replaced the floral centerpiece with a drooping sunflower in my hand as a symbol of Van Gogh's or any painter's challenge to paint. This group portrait effort is/was certainly stressful, although I forgot the pain once I thought of the sunflower centerpiece.
Joe gessoed twice (the saint) and screwed his frame onto the painting. Today, I have started to paint it. The other building and painting this month, was Joe's letting grandson build and paint a car. Joe helped David hammer and drill and they finished it in an evening. Enlarge the photos by clicking; and thanks for visiting!
Many artists have painted picnics on the grass: Manet, Seurat, Picasso, Bonnard. I wanted to create another family portrait and remembered a spontaneous walk to a Hudson River Pier around the time of Hannah's birthday a few years ago. Early spring, the wisteria was in bloom. Click on the photos to enlarge.
I have worked on this painting between trips this May and am setting it aside after more touchups. I took an encaustic painting off my wall in order to take Picnic's photo since the canvas fit exactly in the frame and frankly could use some help!
Everyone has a space on the mix of blankets. I had to invent son and father Bill who was still at the law office as well as add the dogs. Molly, the Beardie, is deceased. I created a new Linda as well, working on Seurat's masterpiece. Seurat, I recently remembered, painted little frames around his paintings, on the canvas. I forgot and added birthday ribbons. I didn't choose to follow Manet and paint a nude in w the children. Picasso did a clever take-off on Manet's painting. You can Google these artists and their Picnics.
Enjoy some of the photos. A good time was had by all. It was cool and windy. I wonder if sleepy David ever got out of the stroller. Jim kept the pizza moving. It took a pediatric surgeon to light the candles and a young mother could enjoy the break. My next goal is a family portrait around a table, maybe at holiday time See you next month! I feel a series coming on.
Moving oil paint around on a canvas is fun. I decided a family portrait would be next. I put Joe driving his sport car facilitating our lives. The grandchildren are on the trunk watching a roadrunner. A southwestern landscape is on my mind because of a reunion I want to attend. I am painting with Farley beside me, wind blowing his ears. David is hanging on to Emmit, his Pug. What to do about the parents and uncles? I decided to pilfer angels from art history, to create guardian angels...not specific persons, but symbols. The license plate notes initials and ages. The flowers have meanings and refer to largesse bestowed. I started out with a toned canvas and added color. Click the photos to enlarge.
Every time the Boston Marathon rolls around, Hannah is another year older. There was her soft quilted birthday card to make and the hard copy for clarity. I always think of Hannah as our prolific reader, so this year I grabbed a literary Paddington (we saw the movie) and added some of my favorite quotations about reading. I hope to stitch better next year. The batting dragged under the needle and I was running out of time.
In the spring, Katie rounds up friends to make blocks for Project Hope, so I whipped up nine. I didn't have enough printed squares, so I took images from the novelty fabrics I did have and painted the blank areas with a Sharpie Rub a Dub laundry marker that doesn't bleed and Jacquard acrylic fabric paints that leave the fabric soft. The four bottom left blocks were embellished this way.
While I paint, Joe insists on building frames. All in the family portrait think he is a special guy to have around!