Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Yes, Linda, there is a Santa Claus

       Major stress follows a house fire. I was only inspired to draw after I looked up "hell mouths" in old medieval paintings. I will have to add paint to the sketch below.  But son Jim made our day by taking a 35" x  60"painting I had given him about the Museum School. He removed the frame and stretchers, rolled the linen canvas with the oil side out, drove from NYC a third time to our temporary home to reassemble it and hang. We missed having paintings. Blanche was correct: "Yes, Linda, there is a Santa Claus."

               Eureka, there are more....thus all the angels and saints (thinking of Jeanie) in the hell mouths sketch!

        Paula Brown dropped by with a wonderful portrait she had made of me (my serial selfies were lost in the fire). I was thrilled. Paula's imagination and original works knock my socks off:  She once recommended we draw each other with careful observation. We did many versions using Micron Pigma Graphic pens. My drawings of Paula were in the basement studio and lost along with my selfies. She inspires a Phoenix wannabe.

       Christmas Eve, Neal presented me with his repaired whirligig he made long ago of our house, myself painting and the pets, that was somewhat crumbled and broken apart in the putting out of the fire. Brought tears to my eyes. So heartwarming to have it back home!

       I made sketches of the house flying up as I tried to reach to grab it. I sketched the Charles River walk across the street with its beautiful trees and leaves. But I just can't get started painting. I have a mini projector to hook to my iPhone to make fast the sketching of some other ideas...but you still have to paint. Maybe tomorrow, now that I have gathered my paints and posted this blog. I will have no more excuses. Sebastian Smee's book The Art of Rivalry is also pushing me along. I regret my poor photography. Click to enlarge photos.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

After the fire!

     Life is full of surprises. Who would have thought at age 77 our house, packed with art collections, books and crafts, would catch fire at the fuse box, wiping out my studio and art supplies...smoke ruining most of the rest of the house. A life lost?

      Hopefully life goes on down an unexpected path, one of opportunities. Many stressful challenges and decisions ahead. I am not sure I want to make art about the fire. I bought canvas and paint yesterday. Do I repaint the pic that was vaporized? Or what about the one I found inspired by Bochlin and had not finished. I am thinking about Matisse who said, "What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity, devoid of troubling or depressing subject-matter, an art which could be for every mental worker, for the businessman as well as the man of letters, for example, a soothing, calming influence on the mind, something like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue."

     My present studio for a year is between the dining room area and the living area and the kitchen. Paul Klee painted at his kitchen table. Hopefully I will rise to the occasion. I will have to be neat until the house is restored. The blog posting is one step forward.

Monday, September 19, 2016

RED and Babel

Dr. Colin Bethel MD
     How to post in September when extending the relaxing mode of summer? "I have no ideas?" It is in the doing (painting, writing, movie making) that ideas appear! I made a movie for granddaughter and was shocked how many ideas occurred in the making.That is my lesson this month. Paula Pitman Brown said it, and I found it true! She also said, "Red is your color." (Van Gogh had his sunflower.  :*)) Click on to enlarge photos.

     Back in November 2005 I entered the Cambridge Art Association RED show an encaustic painting with copper leaf, Dr. Colin Bethel MD. At the same time I encouraged Cindy Ryan to enter her huge cups painting which won the prize! RED is a biennial show. This year I found lots of reds in my stash: Misappropriation, The Breakfast Club and Erika Zen-ing Out to enter.

Erika Zen-ing
      The political painting Pen and the Dragon which is up now in Harvard Square's University Place gallery will be coming down from the Fall Salon. This reminds me of my Vanity in Aspic, my redo of Breugel's Tower of Babel,  the babble of the political season...the vanity and breaking of hubris.

The Breakfast Club
Pen and the Dragon

Vanity in Aspic
Pen and the Cashdragon:
The contest of good and evil, saint and demon, hero and villain, liberator and tyrant has long been a favorite of artists and writers. Here Raphael's St. George and the Dragon meets the cyberpen vs. wealthocracy. In the saddle of the white horse, wielding the pen and paintbrush, sits Arianna Huffington, icon of cyberjournalism. In the supporting wing stands Anita Hill, as the Statue of Liberty. The dragon emerges from the cave of the forces of pharmaceutical, petroleum and financial industries. The Supreme Court can be seen far in the background as the ultimate referee.

Vanity in Aspic:
The painting starts with the Flemish painter, Pieter Breugel's Tower of Babel, showing the foolishness of men's social pretensions as they strive to build a tower to God. As I was painting it, the men started to look like ants, and tower to look like aspic which melts or dissolves. The artist falls off the top.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Gathering to Create

       Going to NYC and Maine in the summer is not only a break, but a time to gather ideas. In son's NYC home, I took a photo of my painting relevant to the political season. At the museums I looked for jewelry in ancient Egypt and Rome. (Once I was in a museum when Paloma Picasso wanted to research some jewelry.) I went to the bead stores along 6th Avenue between the NYC Public Library at 5th Ave./42nd all the way to Macy's at 34th to replenish supplies. Before leaving town, we visited the Museum of the American Indian on the tip of Manhattan for more. Of course the paintings always inspire, and this time I focused on beads and Gaugin's still life paintings that nearly always have a person in them. Focus can be good. Click photos to enlarge.
Abandon Sin and Do Good 
oil on shaped canvas
72 3/4” x 32”
  •          At home it is easy to drop in on my bead area to make a necklace or earrings in less than an hour or two. This month I made some more necklaces and wondered how to show my supplies in a post. I some times have trouble parting with a necklace which I did for some birthdays, so I should always make two. Joan in Maine gave me some fish earrings I wore swimming. Jean gave me a leaf necklace from Stray Cat; and I look forward to getting back to polymer clay to make my own leaves (see YouTube for how-to's). That is probably a better activity than baking pies and cookies that I lean toward and have no self-control near.

         Happily, we gathered up 3-year-old clever Harry at the Rhode Island Animal Rescue League! He fills our hearts with happiness.
Tools and findings for simple necklaces and earrings...Click to enlarge.

leaf necklace from StrayCat

Harry and Joe

Drive to Boston MSPCA

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Summer crafting with paint, pipes and pearls

     For vacations in NYC and Maine, I ambitiously pack art equipment, art books, novels, magazines, sewing and bead projects. But on trips, I seldom paint and color. This time I did! One afternoon, before leaving the East Wind Inn in Maine, I took out a .05 pen, water-soluble colored pencils/crayons and sketched three scenes from the upper deck. Dissatisfied and wanting to surprise, I unpacked my mini-watercolor kit, put tape around where I would paint, and threw the colors down from fully packed brushes, little dilution. I shocked my bold and happy self. I think Joe was surprised I finally used what he totes! Sketching first emboldens.

iPad painting by David Hockney
    I have had fun studying three Apps for drawing and sketching. David Hockney uses Brushes. I use it as well. I recently downloaded Procreate Pro (Procreate is free) and Paper 53 (free, click on Sketches). Perhaps one should stick to one App to learn it well. I like exploring and thought these suggestions helpful. Tutorials for apps are at YouTube. We saw Hockney's big Yosemite Suite at the Pace Gallery last month in NYC. Inspiring!  The Apps are to a painter as a Kindle is to reader?

Click to enlarge photos.

    Before the trip, Joe made Emmitt, the granddog, a wheelchair. He found directions at DIY French Bulldog wheelchair. Unfortunately, Emmitt was too weak to use it.

     The night before the girls left for camp and we left for Maine, I quickly strung some beads using magnetic clasps. Erika ended up with Hannah's as well as her own. I have been trying to teach myself again the materials to use for stringing and how to do. Use it or lose it is true, since I have lapsed in my beading efforts.

    Creative Maine excites with galleries, museums and nature to explore. It is almost my birthday. I am hoping to play better :*) with my Fishuku We found this in the Mars Hill Galleries. CEO Timothy Harrington has a clever company with its fish-shaped ukuleles and guitars for children and adults.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Spring into Summer

     Summer hopefully means time to try new things. One thing startled me, however, and makes all time more precious. My new museum badge is good through 2020 and guess how old I will be. OLD! How to spend such precious moments!

     I’m working on a few new paintings. After rereading the Town Musicians of Bremen, a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm about animals past their prime, as well as thinking of a trip back to Texas, I thought I would quickly paint Home on the Range with a longhorn, pig, coyote and roadrunner, buffalo in the fields beyond. I totally forgot the horse! I need to work on the painting a lot more, but I am tempted to do another, bigger. I also have an edgy family portrait to do, based on masks from another culture. I have the sketch, but will save for the moment. I also have continued to attend life drawing classes. But those are nudes and probably not appreciated online.

     We have just returned from NYC and visiting the museums. I came back with a desire to make some prints and layers, inspired by Degas at MOMA. I also saw two necklaces at a museum I was crazy over, so I got Joe to walk 6th Avenue and the bead stores with me. The bead stores run between the NYC Public Library and Macy’s. I had to get out my tools and a beginner stringing necklace book to remind how, but it went fast and I am wearing tonight. I LOVE my Senior Metro Card, I may paint it as I did the dollar bill when we lived in Dallas.

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.

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!