Friday, August 30, 2013

almost six

"Now We Are Six"

When I was one,
I had just begun.
When I was two,
I was nearly new.
When I was three,
I was hardly me.
When I was four,
I was not much more.
When I was five,
I was just alive.
But now I am six,
I'm as clever as clever.
So I think I'll be six
now and forever.
 Author: A.A. Milne

Monday, August 26, 2013

flowers bigger than my head

My next big project will be a commissioned painting of sunflowers on a 48 by 36" canvas. 

Yay hooray.
A good friend brought these giant sunflowers over to my house to have for reference. The flowers are bigger than my head, the stalks are thicker than my arms, each one weighed so much I had to drag them around. Finally I trimmed what I wanted and arranged them in the biggest jars I have and set them on my desk.

My work is right before me! I love those great big leaves and all the tendrils and curling shapes.

Friday, August 23, 2013

number four in the series finished and displayed

Long promised, but long time getting back to completion: this sunflower painting. I had started this series in 2009, have sold two of them, and my daughter had asked me to give her this one as a wedding gift, three years ago. I promised, thinking, oh, I started all five of them at the same time, this one can't take but a few days to finish. Well, the years have been going so fast, and the newlyweds still had nothing on the wall. 
I packed up my paints and took the canvas with me when I went to Michigan to visit them.
 (Top photo) I had it set up out on the back patio deck to work on during a long pleasant afternoon while they were still at work. Sometime during the weekend following between lots of beach time, sunsets, and blueberry picking, I was able to paint those finishing touches and leave it with them.  
My son-in-law, the brilliant engineer, figured out what needed to be done to get it in a frame and centered on their wall. (And below) The cat, my grandkitten, is naturally curious and seems to be admiring. 
I must return soon to have another lovely day on a Lake Michigan beach, sign the painting and get a few more photographs for my records.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

White Stone Gallery Summer Group Exhibit and my two works included

If you look at this publicity photo, look at the room and then look way down the hallway to the well-lit tall orange and yellow painting on the far wall. That, my friends, is my sunflower painting titled "We Adore Thee".  And somewhere else, I expect is my other piece, "The Waves of the Sea were Hushed".
I was so pleased to see this invitation and find my work displayed. I must say I am very impressed with this view of Derek and Susan Hook's Gallery. One of these days I will see this place in person and visit Philadelphia myself.
Summer Group Exhibit 2013 (photo credit: Nolan McCants)
Summer Group Exhibit
Reception:  Friday, August 2, 6-9 pm
July 12 - August 2
Dawn Waters Baker

Robert Biesel

Susan Card

Marc D'Agusto

Pattie Ann Hale

Craig Hawkins

Matt Hebert
Glenn Howell
Rochelle Johnson
Melissa Kreisa
Deborah Land
Marianne Lettieri
Nancy Lohmiller
Crystal Neubauer
Elaine Roemen
Janice Skivington
Rachel Soo
Yvonne Valenza
Marissa Voytenko
White Stone Gallery
1817 Frankford Avenue
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19125

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

artists of Faith

Call for Entry "The works submitted should be in accordance with White Stone Gallery's approach to engage the viewer through content and aesthetics. Selected works should not only be well executed, but also from artists whose approach to subject matter is considered intriguing and noble.One of the programs at White Stone Gallery is the Art & Faith program. Works submitted can also fall into this category. The faith expressed in the Art & Faith submissions must be supported by the Tanukh or Bible."

I was invited by Susan Hooks to submit my work to this show under short notice. (Susan and Derek had just met me at the CIVA conference). Here is my submission entry. (The jury result came a few days later, they accepted #2 "We Adore Thee and #3 "The Waves of the Sea were Hushed".)

I submitted three works to the White Stone Gallery in Philadelphia for their summer show featuring artists and faith. It took me all weekend and until almost midnight to get the whole online process done. Writing statements is SO Hard to do. Writing and rewriting and then editing. Not my thing, I am not naturally verbally expressive, I express myself quietly in paint.
Here are the three paintings. 
1. Title: Bride of Christ
Description: Revelation 19:7,8 'the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His Bride has made herself ready;'
Dimensions: 48inx48in
Material: acrylic on canvas

2. Title: We Adore Thee
Description: While listening to the music of Beethoven, I made a series of sunflower paintings and gave them titles from the words to 'Ode to Joy' 
Dimensions: 30inby40in
acrylic on canvas

3.Title: The waves of the sea were hushed...Psalm 107:29
Description: Jesus calms the Sea and gives us peace. This art began as a painting from living Easter lilies and became a quiet moment of contemplation.
Dimensions: 40inby30in
 acrylic on canvas

References: 1. Revelation 19:7,8 2. Beethoven "Ode to Joy" , 3. Psalm 107:29

Monday, August 19, 2013

interview with White Stone Gallery

I met Derek and Susan Hooks at the CIVA conference. They are owners of the White Stone Gallery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. When I saw that they were granting private portfolio consultations to attendees, I was the first to sign myself up. My research showed that these folks represented some very prestigious names, artists whose work I had long admired such as Makoto Fujimura, Bruce Herman, and others I am just now beginning to know.
Derek and Susan are conversant and familiar with the contemporary art world, a scene that I have virtually no introduction to. I read various art journals, and lots of blogs, puzzling to see where I might  fit in to the gallery world as it is now. Here is their press identity line: "White Stone Gallery represents contemporary content-driven fine art by artists who have drawn the attention of media including Art in America, ARTnews, Associated Press, International Herald Tribune, CNN, Los Angeles Times, New York Times and many others. In addition to the gallery's overall program, their Art & Faith program, specializing Christian content and now Judaic, has made them one of the leading commercial galleries in this genre."
Needless to say, their opinion and direction would mean a great deal to me. I prepared 10 digital images, knowing that I had a brief period of time to show them, make an impression and let them move on. They were already being most generous with this offer of portfolio time!

My concern was how I would present myself with a portfolio of flower paintings. I have not been taken seriously in encounters in the past when I show these large florals. most people they are just florals, nothing more. And flowers are loaded with preconceived prejudice! A subject that most art viewers don't "see". It is a subject such as  puppies, kittens, or babies. It has no more meaning than that. If it isn't your favorite flower or puppy, or baby, walk on by. The subject itself sucks up all possibility of meaning.
To my happy surprise, Derek and Susan immediately seemed to "get it". They did not dismiss my large flowers as just something decorative and pretty. I began to explain myself, defend my choice and reasons for exploring flowers not as a subject but as an expression of my devotion to God. The brief story I tell if I get a minute is this: "I began to paint flowers as my personal artistic expression after a Lenten silent retreat at a Catholic convent. A nun who provided me with spiritual direction counseled me to look beyond my very busy life and to use this art as my devotion to Christ."

That explanation doesn't tell even a fraction of my story but in our bit-phrase sound bite world, this is what we are expected to say, and no more than that. An interesting but brief summary that puts you-the-speaker into a convenient peg hole for the listener so that they can categorize and move on.

Derek and Susan Hooks were interested in more of the story however and urged me to keep in touch with them. They were very encouraging in their assessment of my work in terms of future gallery representation. They did stress that I need to paint a lot more, have a much bigger body of work and series to show.
The images scattered through this post are the ones I showed them They seemed most struck with the first two at the top of this page. The large red hibiscus square painting and the horizontal sunflower with the almost flat graphic red background. Those two seemed to carry a fine art sensibility that appealed to them. They used definitions like surrealistic to explain what they saw.
I heard from them soon after the conference was over and was invited to submit my work to a summer show that was soon to be launched right after they moved the gallery to a better location. Unfortunately those two prominently red paintings were sold and out of my possession so I submitted three others to the juried site. I will show the results in my next post.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Burning Bush Gallery art show

When I registered to attend the CIVA conference, I also submitted my work to be included in their official organization art show. This was displayed during the conference week on the campus of Wheaton college. To my disappointment I was not accepted into that show but I did find myself very interested by a talk given by the curator of the collection. Maybe he would have included my work if he had a bit more wall space, it was a squeeze in the facility given.
I got my opportunity on the first day of the conference when I heard about another gallery space in Wheaton soliciting work from the conference go-ers. The Burning Bush Gallery is a space maintained by a local church, on Main Street in Wheaton. I brought this painting over and got it displayed quite nicely in the front room. The curator of that show was happy with the size of my work and how it complimented some of the smaller and less colorful pieces in the room.
The best part of this story happened as I hung around the gallery meeting people that weekend. Ed Knippers with whom I had spent the day in a life drawing class also had his work displayed in a room alone. These were oil paintings of Biblical passages, some of the Life of Christ. His work has such juicy paint handling, truthful reality and gutsy emotion. I had this time to talk, absorb, and ask him questions, I am still thinking about it, and have more questions to ask. Maybe, in this lifetime, I will get the chance to meet with him again. I would love to hang out and paint with him.  (Edward Knippers below)

I  had a golden moment when several people were standing in front of my painting and discussing it. They were not aware that I was nearby until I stepped in. To my surprise, they were saying such great things about my work! I was amazed. One of these kind folks introduced himself as Wayne Forte , an artist who lives in Santa Barbara, California. (His work blew my mind later when I got home and took a look.)
Part of the discussion and questioning that benefited the most resulted in a change in the title of this painting. I had titled it "Angel Wings". I thought of the petals of the white iris as fluttering, I have also seen the swirls as sea foam, but stuck with the angel idea since I thought it would make most sense to a viewer. Wayne Forte said the white shapes and composition made him think of a wedding, of a bridal gown. Then he said, it looked so deeply spiritual to him, how about if I call it "The Bride of Christ' as symbolic of the wedding of Christ and His Church. I loved the idea and immediately changed my little signage.
(I hope I will meet Wayne Forte again too.)

Friday, August 16, 2013

The QU4RTETS art show during the CIVA conference

Makoto Fujimura and Bruce Herman joined together to present a show that has been traveling the country. The poetry of T.S. Eliot was the inspiration for this series of paintings by the two artists. The exhibit will be ongoing until September 22, 2013. It can be seen now at the Billy Graham Museum Sacred Arts Gallery, on the campus of Wheaton College.
I was present for talks given by the two artists, even met and had some chatting time. Makoto signed my copy of the show book, what a fan I am!

I have long admired the work by Makoto Fukimura. It reminds me of one of my other favorite abstract artists, Mark Rothko. Large color fields with evocative swirls of mineral color. This kind of work invites a long sitting on a bench in front of it and silence to absorb.
Bruce Herman also has some abstract works but the four large paintings he had made to stand across from the Fujimura pieces are very realistic. They represent four ages in a human lifespan. The child is modeled after Bruce's own grandson, and the old man in the last work is Mako Fujimura's own father.

The realism as Bruce Herman paints it is absolutely spot-on perfectly rendered. Not done as photo-realism, but realism with soul and heart. Realism as the old masters, as Rembrandt or Raphael could give. I consider this project to be incredibly brave of him, in our contemporary art world where realism with any sentimental quality is sneered at.

Christians in the Visual Arts and the drawing class

The first event at the CIVA conference that I participated in was an all-day figure drawing class led by  a famous figurative artist Edward Knippers.
The greatest benefit for an introverted artist like myself who almost never leaves the studio was that I met some fantastic people,  famous in their work and with broad exposure world-wide and...they talked to me! These are articulate people who can get up in front of a huge audience and speak of the things that matter most to me-our Christian faith. They write and can express clearly what I struggle to say in my own work. I feel much less alone now as I continue to do what it is I vision in my work.
So, here I am at the figure drawing class with this famous man who I did not realize was so famous and accomplished until later that evening when I went home and looked him up. His oil paintings of Biblical figures and subjects are so revealing, so truthful, and beautiful.
Well, I am little cocky about my skills as a figure drawing artist, as I do go to a regular Saturday group of life drawing and keep up the practice.

(I am in the back of the room in this photo, see the white hair and the black t-shirt which turned out to be a good choice since I was soon covered with charcoal dust)
I was taken aback when the class got off to an uncomfortable start, (for me).

 Mr. Knippers specified that we would be drawing on giant sheets of newsprint and using big chunks of the softest charcoal. I usually rely on a contour line drawing and here we were told to go with the broadest sort of silhouette of the figure. Next, our instructions were to find the lightest part of the figure and go into and erase toward the modeling. This approach took me out of my usual practice and soon I was head-to-toe black with charcoal dust. Now I remember why I have not used charcoal  since back in the old Art Center days.
Later in the day, we switched from a female model to a male and were instructed to use charcoal vine as a method of cross hatching, again, modeling the darkest tones first.
Taking me out of my old comfort zone was such a good for me sort of time, I learned and worked, came home exhausted, (drawing is such hard work) and was going to throw these black messy stacks away but took a record for my blog. And then, I threw them all out and took a shower. Whew.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Just Art

I attended a conference in June. The organization hosting the conference is CIVA. Christians In the Visual Arts. 
That definition pretty much describes me too and the location for the bi-annual meeting of this  international organization this year is in my hometown, Wheaton, Illinois. Wheaton College, where my husband teaches, was the venue for everything presented and I only live a few blocks away.
When I first heard about the conference, I was confused. I thought they meant it was just about ART! Nothing else, no agenda, no issues. I was clueless as usual, they meant it was about Justice in ART. What is the role of justice for artists, should we be defending the poor, upholding the law, giving our money to the needy?
The official description in the conference publication is "A conversation about making things and making things right".
Well, I think it was about some of those things but for me, actually more just about ART.
I saw some art exhibits, met new-to-me artists, attended an all day life drawing session, listened to some great voices in contemporary art, met some gallery owners, and absorbed a ton. I will post a couple more bits of experience in the next couple of days. I am now, almost a month later, just beginning to process this time for myself.

I met some famous artists, (name-dropping time right here), these are people who are accomplished and known in the contemporary art world now. Makoto Fujimura, Bruce Herman, Edward Knippers, Tim Lowly, Matthew Milliner, Joel Sheesley, Greg Schreck, a writer David Taylor, and the owners of a gallery in Philadelphia, Susan and Derek Hooks.
I will post some more as I get myself pulled together after such an intense "people" time.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Icons in Transformation art show

This show is officially over now but I am told that the sanctuary still has a few of the works on display. A number of the people who are congregants at this church would like to keep them permanently because of the powerful effect of the art on the worship atmosphere.
Ludmila Pawlowska is an artist educated in Russia who now lives in Sweden. She uses her art to express her faith and spiritual journey.
I was very affected by my viewing of her work. The church has also sponsored a series of lectures by icon historians along with evening of sacred music.
This is how churches should approach the arts! Combining the visual with the other usual worship forms.
The work shown was called "contemporary icons" and came in many sizes including giant slabs of heavily textured materials with a realistic eye (eye-con), painted by the artist, or a precious stone embedded within the abstraction. Some were normal-sized paintings on canvas using jewel like colors or gold leaf, and there were many smaller works, all intriguing in material and composition. Included within the displays were traditional Russian icons.

The influence that I will carry away from my encounter with this woman and her art will certainly affect my approach to the 10 worship paintings that I still need to finish for my church. (Church of the Resurrection) 
My artists team members at church have had the same type of Icon and ancient art forms approach along with exciting uses of texture and a modern sense of abstraction of forms to illuminate the scriptures.

Monday, August 12, 2013

perfect day

I am storing up the warmth and memories for later this year. For now, I just want to go back and enjoy some more summer. Both of these tiny paintings would be good to revisit with my travel easel and a canvas to make a larger version with oils. Maybe I'll get one more chance this summer to go back? I sure didn't want to leave last week.We picked blueberries at a farm in the country, came back and made our own frozen yogurt blueberry cheesecake concoction.