Monday, June 29, 2009

Art that rivets . . .

and then leaves you depressed.

This is theatrical art I'm speaking of. By chance this morning, this dreary morning, unable to work online because of the weather, and out of the painting frame of mind, I switched on the television. And picked up The Deadly Affair 15 minutes into it.

And, there were James Mason and Simone Signoret in a living room. Minutes of
silence, small movements of making tea, of sitting down, and the halting
beginnings of an awkward conversation.

I was riveted. And, when the scene ended, I came to, and realized that these two were not the people in the living room, but rather artists caught in the act of creation.

And, close upon that realization came the thought, "This is why I rarely care about going to the movies any more." In this world of the 24-hour news cycle and the "next big thing" (which comes about 15 minutes after the "last big thing")--the stature of "greatness" has become quite small indeed.

Friday, June 19, 2009

My Growing Rural Urban Collection

This blog is schizophrenic or bi-polar or whatever, but I just don't want to split it into photography and painting because, for me, it all hangs together. So now I jump to the black and white side of my brain.

And, if I can't afford to get my images printed and framed, at least I can show them here!

On the Edge of Town

This one was a real piece of timing luck with the light. It's in Enosburgh Falls this spring. So now my list of "Urbans" includes, St. Albans, Morrisville, Randolph, and Enosburgh Falls. Slowly but surely it grows. I've been mucking about with my Randolph images that I shot at the end of February, and think there will be a couple of keepers.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Leap Forward - with provenance

I didn't post following Charlie's Art Train #1 because I had to shoot a relative's 80th Birthday Party that same evening (Saturday, June 6, 2009) in Essex--and then recover--and then deal with some 300 images. BUT, there was an undercurrent running swiftly in my sub-conscious.

My attempt at plein air watercolor was an inspiring failure--a big chunk of it was macadam -- and I obviously don't know how to handle that. The hills weren't too bad, but the sky, which I'm usually good at was not so hot -- the sun was hot, and I had not before dealt with very fast-drying paint! Hence the crappy sky.

BUT, back on the train I was able to see Susan Abbott's painting of some industrial buildings and, because it wasn't finished, the underlying rough lines of the sketch. I would have like to have much longer to look at it. (You can see the finished version here of the Warehouse in Bradford, Vermont.)

By Thursday I was desperate for some time with paints. Thursday morning, every Thursday morning, I go to the Bishop Street Artists, a working gathering of painters at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in St. Albans and muck about with colors. And, along with everyone else, look at one another's work. This day Mary Ellen Bushey (no web presence) was there for the second time after returning from her wintering in Virginia near the Chesapeake. I was drawn to her work because it was watercolor. This day she had a small, rough sketch--below--(the kind that is splendid but that only a working artist could appreciate) and was beginning to paint the scene of the sketched marshland. She didn't sketch it larger, just began laying on the paint. She was using a type of brush I actually have and used it for almost the entire painting. I was transfixed the entire time the painting emerged on the paper. What emerged was the kind of watercolor that drew me to watercolor in the first place: free, shimmering, and alive. (I didn't have my camera with me, so I don't have a picture of the painting.)

Inside I was jumping up and down frantically. When she was done, I noticed that the sheet, though still attached to the block, was rippled. I asked about the kind of block it was--Strathmore. I was not impressed. I then went to my workspace and grabbed a 4" x 6" Lanaquarelle block and brought it to her, and suggested she try it. She laid on a few brushstrokes (at right) and then looked at what kind of paper it was. She liked it. I told her where I got it--Black Horse Fine Art Supply in South Burlington and about how wonderful the store is. I also said, because I was learning, I was trying as many different papers as I could and that so far, this one was best of all. As I slowly started to separate the sheet from the block, she said, "You can keep it if you want." And I said, "Whew, I was hoping you'd say that!"

Well, at noon I bolted for my car and broke all speed limits to get home. I mowed down the kitties on the way to my work table, and did this:

MARSH EDGE - 7" x 10"

My painting was not like hers, but the colors were. Lover of words that I am, the word "Chesapeake", and lines from Sidney Lanier's Marshes of Glynn were rolling around in my brain as I worked. (Lanier was a romantic writer of middling verse that I loved as a child.)

When I was done, I thought "My god, those 15 minutes of watching Mary Ellen work, gave me this." Better than any class where you have to stress over trying to do something which the instructor has described in words. There was NOTHING between what I watched her do in silence and what I did when I got home. It was the essence of osmosis. This may not be what people expect when they sign up for an art class, but this is obviously the way I learn best. Just think, how easy for a painter to give a "watching" class! No words, no handouts, no materials, no nothing except the actual act of creation watched. Bring it on!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

My Essence of Tree

The house I live in was built in the very late thirties after the orginal one burned. And that fire gutted a pear apple tree at the south end of the house. The blackness of the burn has slowly been disappearing over the years, but you can see how the injured tree healed itself into two trunks in the left image. On the right is the other side of the trunk.

And I apologize for image of the full tree below, but the tree is closed in by dense growth on the side away from my studio, and the studio is too close to get a distance shot.)
When I wanted a tree that was mine I laid out some dots of color in a tight line and took them up with a brush and drew a trunk. When I looked at it, I realized where it had come from. I am finding out that if you are driven to do something without reason, the source may well be inside you, so ingrained, that its existence is separate from conscious thought.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Network Morning--with Abbott & Hunter

I have a tiny "art network", but it's a damn good one!

This morning, while waiting for paint to dry, I called Susan Abbott and we talked about painting for about 20 minutes--a prep for meeting on Charlie's Art Train #1 this Saturday.

Then I checked out the VAC website and stumbled onto a video of Charlie talking about art and his art. It's a couple of years old, but a real gem. A capsule version, of Charlie's version, of 20th century art and his own. It's only about 10 minutes long and well worth those minutes. (Tech note: the quality is better if you make the video smaller.)