Monday, April 27, 2020

Hidden in Plain Sight

     A call for art in these Pandemic times led me to look around our study where hidden in plain sight were 13 little ceramic figures with masks on. I created them in the early 90s, to express the muzzling of speech, hierarchies and caskets. Today, masks stop social intercourse and droplets, but still suggest freedom attacked such as that of the press. There on the wall in the dining room was Killing the Virus with credit to El Greco whose composition was used in a "paper prayer" at the time of AIDS awareness. Today we are fighting another virus w Dr. Birx who helped control he earlier epidemic.

      I headed on to my overstuffed file of photos and website ( to find even more paintings that would fit in with art in these times. There were The Mouths of Hell from the fire and The Mother in Law holding photos rather than babies in a lockdown. There were piles of wiped dishes and balls of chaos.Amazing. Not only history and times repeat themselves but so does the art we create that we feel strongly about. There are clearly surprises to be discovered in one's own house, hidden in plain sight.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Gathering people in a pandemic

    Artists are known for their imaginations, creating worlds they want on canvas or letting worlds create themselves on canvas or the page. I paint people and my house is full of them.

     When I first arrived in Belmont, I went to a home with a huge Robert Freeman painting of At the Party or one in his Tuxedo series. I wanted one of RF's paintings in my living room since it would be a party around the clock. Beautiful black and white tuxedos, red and blue w dancing figures, life-size or bigger. Instead, I have Linda and the Painting Teachers and a number of Last Supper compositions with modern art themes and artists.But plenty of people, family and others!

    During this Covid-19 pandemic, our lives seem not too different; because although alone, we are surrounded by people in paintings. Joe is retired, we are home a lot with our dog Harry, and both enjoy reading and making things. To mitigate the virus curve we are under orders from our children to stay at home for protection of ourselves and stay alive and not to kill. The only challenge is to find a grocer's time slot when food can be ordered and delivered. We enjoy new recipes for meals. We have no guests; but with paintings and photos, we are surrounded by people, not just in Facetime or Zoom, but on the walls in every room. The other night, I lingered at a painting of the family in a bedroom and the enormity of the pandemic FINALLY hit me.

      All of a sudden I realized life has changed and we won't see our grandchildren in the same way. What about their disrupted lives? Things are very different and the immensity is staggering and poignant. Despite having continuous news, living away from the front lines, we slowly realize the shock and enormity. Looking at the paintings and photos both comfort and disturb. Painting a new world might console and inspire. Art has a way. (Click to enlarge photos.)


Friday, February 28, 2020

It's often a beautiful day in one's own neighborhood

      It's Leap Year; and the armchair traveler knows that leaping high one sees ideas all around the neighborhood. Harry never completely rests. always fearful of missing the action. Check his ears. In troubling days such as these, we want to engage creatively, randomly lifting our spirits from our neighborhood.

          At book club, clever Sally Baker gifted Molly's new grandchild with this adorable practical for dining, Sally let her grands choose some of the trim for the gift, spreading the color and joy through generations. I wish I had another grandchild to make one for! A good size mess could be enjoyed. The gifted grandmother tied one on and it was dazzling. For my gift, I had hoped to find a square yard of off-white Merino wool to bind with satin blanket binding; but I couldn't find where to get the wool. Do you know?

      Joe and I enjoyed a chamber music festival w neighbor Sarah in charge, inspiring me to up my piano practice and find someone for duets. I found Schumann's "Kinderszenen" on-line, printed it and taped it to a book for proper height;  plus, at Staples, I added spiral binding to son Bill's surviving music book which is about my level after many years of little practice. I picked up some more music (and books) at the Bryn Mawr used book store in Cambridge. Making music together is fun; so I am hoping to teach Joe the easier parts on some duets. Crazy, but so far he has been a good sport.

      Last night I went to Quilter's Connection, a resumption of attendance even though I no longer do much quilting. The speaker was a printmaker who won a traveling fellowship to the Middle East and Europe. She mined the patterns in churches, synagogues and mosques for her own museum quality works. Some of the rugs or hangings spoke to my interest in meditative stitchery, big stitch and boro hand stitching that I will enjoy in the Winter Workshops where quilters teach quilters. Also, I want to add some narratives to small pieces that I can carry around with me. 'Twould have been better learning a sampler as a child. In miniature I want to embroider the so-called prayer of St. Francis of Assisi to self-improve in these troubled times.

      Tomorrow I hope to learn more about my granddaughter's leadership week in Israel. I have been enjoying studying Genesis from several angles. I am hoping to read more books about our times of turmoil. I am reading American Dirt that some tried to ban. Cultural appropriation concerns need a careful, not knee-jerk reaction.

       And then there is drawing and painting. Ran into the MFA to see the Lucian Freud self-portrait show. I was struck by his early painting, Man with Feather and the thick oil paint on the older Freud's nose. Was the feather a gift from older girl friend as he said in late interviews or a chicken symbol of not participating in the fighting during the WWs? So many artists create self-portraits and the narratives are moving.There are many stages in lives to perform on canvas.







Sunday, January 26, 2020

Phoning on Your Sketchpad...more ways to draw

     Someone asked David Hockney if he painted on his portable phone. He replied that he phoned on his sketchpad! Painters who once used sketchbooks to make notes for future paintings are sometimes now finding drawing on their smartphones does the job, the technology is so hip.

      I have always had apps on my phone for drawing so that the grandchildren could grab to start sketching...apps like Doodle Buddy, Whiteboard, Paper. and Brushes. Many years ago I heard that David Hockney painted with Brushes. I sat on the floor under the Christmas stockings by the fireplace and painted on my iPhone just using my finger. Then the Brushes app could not be updated and I forgot about it until the Apple Store announced free classes in learning to use the Procreate app.

      $10 Procreate is a professional winner for use on an iPad, but last night I discovered the $5 Procreate Pocket for my iPhone. I downloaded and created many drawings in bed and I can't stop smiling! My MEKO stylus arrived today. 

       At the turn of the new year, I had fun tracing people in photos over which I put a screen in "layers" and drew with a digital stylus. Many were amazed by the results. You can import a photo to use. There are so many brushes and within each category of brushes, more brushes. You can enlarge and reduce the size of brushes and your tracing. You can move what you are working around with fingers on the screen. There is a learning manual on line  for both Procreate and Procreate Pocket, and classes at the Apple Store are also free. Of course free-form sketching for paintings are the main draw to this app! Dive in to be rewarded.
The Apple Store says:
Explore how to start a sketch by tracing with the Procreate app on iPad Pro.  Beginning with a photograph, we'll show you how to follow contours of a portrait with Apple Pencil. You'll practice adding shadows and curves to create depth, adjust opacity and layers, and select a color palette for a portrait sketch to take home. Devices will be provided. Recommended for beginners.

Procreate® Handbook
‎Procreate Pocket Handbook on Apple Books


Saturday, January 4, 2020

Recovering December: Use it or lose it

       A post a month is my goal, although in the beginning, ten years ago in 2010, it was one a day. Life happens and I missed December 1919, but not the art.

      First stop in NYC was the Whitney Museum in Chelsea. Katie alerted me that Liza Lou had a room, an entire kitchen, made of beads. Joe and I favored the 6th floor. The sculpture also grabbed us: some giant animal ceramics and Arneson's striking bust. In the cafe there were pumpkin seeds all over the tops of the oatmeal cookies and a favorite, pimento cheese, was turned into a dip with chips. We walked the High Line for more art.  

The Met was next where we went to see Vallaton's art. His prints and paintings staggered.A revisit to the Christmas tree was a bonus, a creche as I was in pursuit of creches, missing mine lost in the fire. I was inspired to see an elderly man with his stool and mounted paper, sketching ceramic or clay wrestlers in charcoal. If I lived in NYC I would spend many of my days in that building.The subway had a post from Michelle Obama's painter; the street, a peace display; the Mexican food restaurant, murals.The cucumber margarita seemed healthy.

Neue Gallery merited a revisit.This time, I read about Kirchner's paintings, especially  colors, before my visit. I saw a lot more. The Austrian meal and coffee in the best booth underlined our good time. Every evening after dinner  I would draw Joe or the flowers in my sketchbook.

       Joe and I continued to the Met Breur for Vija Celmins, plus a New Year's Eve lovely meal. And why not the Jewish Museum with its honoring a gallery owner who advanced modern art in America?It was a  big show of favorites, from folk art to modern. Then, still pursuing a creche, we headed to the Museum of Natural History, the American Folk Art Museum and the Museum of Art and Design where a self portrait in cactus caught our eye.

      At the French restaurant around the corner, Joe found this brass plaque about the area where so much art is being shown in and out of museums and where we had such a good time. Read about the trees and The Night Before Christmas gift to all children.

       After a week+ we hit the road home. It was only in New Haven at Ten Thousand Villages that I found my creches. Joe then asked at home, as we opened the mail, if I would draw a New Year's card of the two of us and Harry. I tried and quickly experienced "if you don't use it, you lose it!!" Hopefully, some day I wll get back to work.

How did I forget to mention the Frick!!! Super show of Manets and sculpture!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

A Toast to Strong Women. Models for All Ladies

      This week, fearless women spoke truth at the impeachment hearings: Fiona Hill, Marie Yovanovitch, breathtakingly strong and articulate, reminded me of Anita Hill's testimony years ago. Recently we have seen  the strength of Nancy Pelosi, Christine Blasey Ford, Jennifer Williams, and Laura Cooper. I remember watching, without ceasing, the Hill hearings and have found it difficult to overlook Biden's heavy hand at that time.I remember staying up all night to paint Anita and the Ships of Fools for a show at the SMFA the next dayI have awaited the absent muse for a visual idea for today's strong,stirring souls.

       Where to get ideas? A meeting this week at the Quilters Connection last week reminded me of The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. In the book she encourages one's writing, uncensored, three Morning Pages a day, possibly in a notebook. By the end of the week I usually have so many ideas I have to quit writing.Do you need the Muse for a creative project? Try Morning Pages. I purchased and will reread The Artist's Way, it is so good.

        I don't recommend rewarding your creative efforts with the sweets I have been baking: acorn- and leaf-shaped muffins (molds from William Sonoma), buttermilk biscuits while reading Morrison's Beloved, Jen's vanilla buttermilk cookies, and rolling pen-embossed seasonal cookies. Some goodies went to the church fair, but most to Joe and Linda. I am now off sweets and making a myriad of bookmarks for my book club exchange. Fewer calories. Google "fabric book marks" or "embellished fabric bookmarks". A lot of fun awaits.

     Hmm...the title to this post suggests a visual "toast." Maybe the muse is hovering.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Drawing on what interests you

      Recently I ran across a favorite book about Joan Brown, a California artist who painted her life. I LOVE  her catalog and that cover with images drawn from her every day! Many artists paint or draw what is going on in their lives. It is what interests them. It is not necessarily boring, trite, or unimaginative...not just a face as mine often are. That made me study two paintings that flank our king size bed, paintings from 15 years ago. I remember when the target image was hanging in a show in Cambridge, another grandmother walked in and burst out laughing when she saw it, ringing some truth to her experience.

      Another self-portrait hanging in the bedroom in a corner is this one painted on a fabric of brown values. I like to study  the lights to darks, clarity. I also wonder how I painted it so neat! Painting self-portraits is so much fun and I too often avoid doing so because uninformed people think it is a bit narcistic. It is not. The subject is an inexpensive handy model, a vehicle for self exploration. It allows role playing, intimate work, a landscape and media exploration.I encourage grands and friends also. Sometimes they draw me while I draw them.An effective artist shouldn't worry about what people think!

     This week I picked up a couple of books with ideas I am enjoying, both of which had helpful surprises for me and I have read lots of books. See photos below: The Drawing Ideas Book and Find Your Artistic Voice. Enjoy!