This weekend, I watched the bio/documentary of Gloria Vanderbilt and, while I've been fascinated by her history and the whole "robber baron" era of our country, I had no idea she was an artist. It seems that art was the one stable thing in her life and through it she has interpreted and documented decades of memories.
I was particularly moved because the stories are sometimes so sad, but so beautifully rendered. It makes me think about the work I put together. It is definitely not documentary in the same way. I paint scenes from places I've been, but I don't put my memories in them.
The other thing that I have been thinking about a lot is my level of invention. It is something I am struggling with. Gloria was creating things based solely on her memories and drawing without reference it seemed. I really need to push past rendering everything! What am I so afraid of?!
BUT, as I need to keep reminding myself, if I have even half the career she has had, I have a long time to work! Can you believe she is nearly 92?
I'm trying to get motivated. So I set up a still life outside and had a friend (V....) over to lunch with me. We visited and ate al fresco and then I painted the remains of our feast for about an hour. The sun moves surprisingly fast even in that time.
But will I follow through?
I was really very saddened to hear of Ken Auster's passing this weekend. I hadn't known he was sick... of course, I am not closely acquainted, so why would I? The world has lost a great artist - and a generous, inspiring teacher. Luckily we have his videos to continue to learn from him.
I had the opportunity to learn with him in New York City eight years ago. EIGHT years ago. That really got me thinking this weekend. The workshop was wonderful. But how have I incorporated what I learned into my work? How have I grown? Have I painted with passion?
No. Sometimes. I don't know. To be honest, I worry way too much about what galleries want, or what might sell. I worry the paintings into lifeless, "pretty" scenes perhaps, but without allowing myself any expression. Then I worry that I don't have any thing to say after all. Its a vicious cycle.
I think I need to look long and hard at what I want to do with my art. I second guess myself too much. I have a wonderfully supportive husband who encourages me to paint, as much as I can, to become a better painter. But I still feel like painting is a reward when I've done my chores. It has to be the focus of my day and I have to let go of my fears and paint from the heart.
If you can, please look at Ken's work, read his story, watch his videos and learn as much about painting with passion as you can. He inspired me so much, though I was probably just one of thousands of his students. His passing reminds me that I don't want to waste more time with self doubt, worry and too much left brain interference. Wish me luck. Or better yet, peace.
I was very saddened to hear of the great David Bowie's passing on Monday. He was a true artist in every sense of the word and I think we can all take a lesson from him about fear and growth. Why does it seem that those two words are bedmates? Am I the only one? We so often let fear keep us from changing.Over decades Bowie changed his style, his persona, his sound, his discipline... he wanted to try it all and did so with an open heart and without apologizing or explaining himself. Time was all we needed to see his genius.
There are a few fine artists today that I see doing the same thing - embracing change and boldly following their hearts and the urge to live a fully creative life. Quang Ho certainly comes to mind. From highly-rendered classical realism to abstract; animals to still life, he follows his muse. I want to be one of those artists. Time will tell of course.
Now is the time to consider such things as I look back this year at 10 years of blogging. Ten years of committing to work very regularly - which we all know is the only way to really grow as an artist. The miles of canvas on your brush builds skill and confidence, And with confidence you can take the new path and see where it leads.
Maybe at this time of year, it would be a good idea for us all to look back and really consider all we have done and learned. If you are like me, you often forget how you met challenges and changed. I remember the first time I painted a demo for an art club. Now I'm comfortable with that. I used to paint landscapes. That morphed into city and restaurant scenes utilizing photos after my daughter was born. Those subjects are still present but my focus is narrowing in on the figure more specifically and working from life more often. I'm facing some decisions in how I market my work, I'm starting to use new means to communicate and stay au courant and looking for new partners to show my work. Its going to be a fun year. A little scary, but fun. :-)
I am not framing the large pieces now. I hope they are contemporary enough to float on their own and this way can fit into more interiors I think. And if someone wants a frame, then that is always an option they can decide on later.
It was most definitely easier to prepare the work for this show without all the framing. Still, I sanded the wood edges and waxed them to seal out moisture and protect the wood a little. I like the natural wood look so didn't want to paint or stain the edges.
Ampersand is the best product! I tried some cheaper cradled boards Jerry's started carrying, but they were cheaper for a reason. My husband had to fill corners and glue the board down to the wood frame in some cases. I want to put less money into my paintings, but not use inferior materials. Word to the wise.
Both the large gallery painting and the smaller sketch are available at Russell Collection Fine Art in Austin. The 3x3 (Three Women Three Visions) show opens Friday September 4.
On our way back from NOLA, we stopped in Orange, TX to visit the collection at the Stark. Wow. It is so impressive. As is the story of the man who started the collection.
It features a lot of western art, especially from the Taos Society of Artists. I saw two Fechin's in person for the first time in my life. I was bummed that they didn't have more out. But the work I did see was stunning - and so inspiring. I've been working this year a lot on color and values. Trying to lighten my palette. These western artists have a perfect palette to study. They get a lot of contrast by working complements rather than pushing values in their color.
I saw Remington, Russell, Dunton, Moran and Berninghaus among many others. Amazing desert colors, stunning nocturnes and incredible value paintings used for illustrations.
I wish the museum wasn't so far from Austin - I would visit weekly! My plan is to create a few sample palettes of some of the colors so I can reference them for my paintings.
Just got home late last night from New Orleans. It was a whirlwind trip with V....Vaughan. We got in just before sunset on Monday night and hit the streets with our cameras and sketchbooks. V.... created a couple of lovely sketches of a resident trumpeter. I saw him there and painted him two years ago. I had trouble getting my bearings.
I liken New Orleans to riding a horse with a hard mouth and strong will. It should be a pleasant experience, a thing of beauty, but you end up fighting with it and being frustrated and disappointed.
I had better success on Tuesday when we got up early, had beignets and beverages at the Cafe du Monde (they have the best of the three beignet places we tried btw.) We painted some sketches and listened to another musician serenade the crowds. Next we sat along the river front and sketched the mighty Mississippi river. It is truly an amazing river. So wide, such a strong current... carrying all our gew gaws in from China.
Tons more walking. Walked a quieter section, then along Bourbon, then back to our hotel area and got our car and drove to the Garden District. Unfortunately, the cemetery was closed. I had hoped to sketch the tombs in there. But we found a good view on Magazine street and settled in there. Then back to the business district for dinner at Luke. Luck favored me there... they sat us next to the kitchen! We watched the chefs hard at their craft and ate a good dinner and had a delicious cold beer. Much appreciated after the long day! Walked for dessert and then finally a shower and bed!!
I think we crammed three days of stuff into one. The heat wasn't bad really. The sun was too intense tho if you weren't in the shade working. And I probably should eat more than a beignet and a half for breakfast when setting out on such a day!
I think I found it stressful because every where we turned there were homeless people begging or street performers hawking. We were targets - sympathetic looking - and naive, unfortunately. I'm usually more savvy but these people are good at what they do and would have you roped before you knew what happened then you were "obliged" to "donate".
To be continued tomorrow while I put my feet up today. :-)
First, remember I was going to New Orleans this week? Well, we moved it to next week. So MONDAY (Aug 10-12) I will be in NOLA.
Second, I usually think of meaningful things to write on here when I am driving or in bed trying to sleep. Then when I get online, I draw a blank. Such is life and I'm sorry these posts aren't more insightful.
My year dedicated to growth has finally begun to show in my work. Maybe more than a physical change in my palette or application, is a growth in my attitude. And maybe that is the most important thing. I am sort of over trying to please others. Part of me feels my audience has maybe drifted away to look over the shoulders of other artists, and that is ok. Its making me feel more free to experiment and change my style. I paint daily with abandon. When I get tired, I stop. I start at all hours of the day. I paint when an idea strikes me. I work on something until I'm bored, have said what I wanted to say or am tired and then I walk away and start something new the next day. I suppose I will go back over these works before my show in Sept. but I hope I don't do much... the last thing I want to do is whittle the life away.
Above are some close up images of an interior with a dog. I should paint more dogs.
New Orleans Painting Road Trip with V....Vaughan
Three Woman Show - Russell Collection Fine Art
AIS 16th Annual Show
We just visited my inlaws in Fort Wayne, Indiana last week. It was a really nice break and coincided with Castle Gallery's anniversary celebration. Early in the week, we enjoyed an all-American Independence Day with a baseball game and fireworks show. Hiked along the mosquito coast (nearby river and woods) with enough of the buggers to drain us all before we got back. And we picked - and ate - and ate - and ate blueberries.
I came home to my much missed furchild and a seriously overgrown garden. I have an African sunflower (tithonia) that is now 7 feet tall I swear! Cucumber vines are dried but I got the last of the cucs off.
Castle Gallery was hung almost Salon style with so much beautiful art it was hard to take it all in, especially with the crowds in attendance! Many of the artists were there as well. It was a good party and I want to congratulate Mark and Jody Hemphill Smith again on their amazing careers and success with the gallery. Its really a special place for art and I am so happy to have been a part of their family of artists for the last 8 years.
Today I've changed my newsletter email list host to MailChimp. I was using Constant Contact but its a little pricey and I don't want to spend the money every month - esp. considering I am not sending a regular newsletter. MailChimp seems to be a better deal - i.e. free - allowing multiple emails to be sent monthly (up to 21,00!) and not charging for more subscribers, or an archive ,or images. Since my needs are really rather minimal, MailChimp just seems a better choice. I will shortly send my first "campaign" through them to my subscribers to test things out.
Thank you to those who do subscribe and for wanting to keep up with my goings-on!
This is Stella. I did her portrait for the auction winner for a local fundraiser for "No Dog Gets Left Behind"
What a great organization - working to bring home the dogs adopted by our soldiers serving overseas.
Stella gave me a kiss when I delivered this so I think that is all the approval I need.
Such a beautiful day here! I thought I'd go outside and play a little. Just wanted to practice brushwork and values.
The sun moved so fast on the first set up that I moved twice to avoid the shadow creeping across.
Probably will just scrape these so I can reuse the boards. The practice is what's important.
A Painter's Journal
Chasing the light. Capturing life.
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