Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Golden Pot

The Golden Pot
Oil on Linen  11"x14"

Just a short note tonight as I post my painting - I think this one is complete now. The composition has changed a bit from the initial setup which I posted earlier. The wine cork is new and the thread and dried rose branch are gone. It was the pleasing shape of the pot inspired me to paint this. I hope you enjoy the it!

Here is the same painting I posted as a WIP (work in progress):

Friday, January 29, 2010

Are You Moved by Art?

Anna's Eyes, Pencil on Paper 3"x6"

Ellen's Eyes, Pencil on Paper 3"x6"

These drawings of my daughters' eyes were done after I attended two portrait drawing in Picard's studio. In the class, we focused on individual features: eyes, lips, noses, and ears.  I found those achievable to a moderately satisfactory degree. But, oh, when we tackled complete faces, I soon realized that lots and lots of practice is required. Slow down and observe is the rule.

Continuing on with my theme from last week about my discoveries on the purpose of art.....
I recently visited the Vancouver Art Gallery to view the show: Expanding Horizons: Painting and Photography of American and Canadian Landscape 1860-1918.

The viewing experience was so delicious that I returned the next day. On both visits, I was moved by some of the paintings to such an extent that I had to blink back tears of joy.  My chest expanded and I wanted to yell out something. Fortunately (or unfortunately) I'm too well-behaved to do that in the gallery. 

It made me wonder how that happens. How can I feel so good by looking at a painting?  Is something happening between the artist and me? Is there a scientific explanation to this?  How did the artist convey something wonderful in what he saw and put it into paint  so 100 years later I feel something  from that? 

Great music does the same thing for many people. For others, it might be a poem, a play or wonderful book that moves them. This deep feeling happens for me when I stand in front of a painting that I love, in the subdued quiet of a gallery space and let myself be. I might step in closer to see the brush strokes or to observe the thickness of the paint, trying to figure out how the magic happens. I might move back further to get the full effect. I want to absorb it, be one with it. The sense is overwhelming.  

I'd like to do that for you, my audience, with my painting and my writing - connect with you, move you. And that is one truly fine purpose of art.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

No Small Topic - The Purpose of Art

Cottage on Corsica
Watercolour - 8" x 11"

This watercolour is a scene from the island of Corsica, France. My inspiration came as I 'virtually' toured the island in Google Street View. I painted it for Bill Guffey’s monthly Virtual Paintout.

The past week has been wonderful for my brain – my head is swimming with concepts about art and its value and about the creative process. What immense topics! Let me explain, at least in part.

Climbing into my WayBack Machine*, I recall a younger, slimmer Shelley, a Fine Arts Major, an earnest idealist about to graduate and puzzled about the value of art. “Perhaps” she said to herself, “my time is better spent on something more tangibly meaningful?” Before she found the answer to that question, her search was usurped by the birth of her first dear daughter and then, awhile later, another one, just as dear. Those babies were certainly tangibly meaningful, no questions there. Her life was busy, raising kids, helping run a family business, and so on (“so on” means divorce). Art was set aside and so was the question about its value.

Cut to today. 

This is the Me now, the older and wiser person and questions are arising again. Based on my past two years of painting workshops, regular drawing, and voracious reading about art and artists, I feel enough grasp on technique that I am freed up to consider the content and meaning of my paintings. My questions are: “Now that I know how to paint, what should I paint? Are beautiful pictures enough? Do I have something to say? What is the purpose? Is there value?”

Hooray for maturity, this time I am able to find the answers. You know that expression “Nothing has power like an idea whose time has come”. I am living that. Since I made the decision to paint and to write, I found that all the information that I need comes to me from all directions. I wonder if the answers were there all along and I just wasn’t listening. No matter, I am listening now. This path of discovery is enthralling.  It will take more posts to tell you about the answers I've found.  Stay tuned.

* The WayBack Machine is a term borrowed from the Internet Archive website.

PS... the Golden Pot is coming along. Still on the easel. I'll post it when finished.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Golden Pot for Thirty-Three

Golden Pot  Oil on Linen 11 x 14

Most of my creative energy has gone into writing for the past ten days. I'm continuing to work on Picard's biography, but I still manage to fit in some painting because I love it. Perhaps you'd be interested to see a work in progress. I think it is fun to see a half-grown painting. Here is the painting so far. The Golden Pot is not yet golden, but you can see a hint of it in the reflection on the bottle.

On the left is a photo of my still life setup.  Credit for this method of painting goes to The Carder Method.  See link on the right.

As of today, my faithful blog readership is at thirty-three regular subscribers and growing, slowly but surely. A couple of you add comments here on the blog and several of you send me email directly. Whatever means you use to reach me is fine.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Tarnished Pot, Blushing Apple, Drying Lemon

Oil on Linen Panel  6" x 8"

One small and insignificant reason that I am glad for this new year is because twenty ten is so easy to say after nine years of tongue twisters. I never did hear a good nickname for the years 2001 to 2009.  The Oh-ohs was about the best but I just read that one somewhere last week. 

Oh Nine was a superbly creative year for me.  Over coffee this morning, my better half listened while I reviewed my year. He tried to chime in a few times, but I dug in my heels and held the floor until I was done. That is tough for me to do in the morning because I take a couple of hours to wake up and he is like a chirpy robin from the moment his feet hit the floor.

Well, I won't put you through the same review; that would be just too self-indulgent. I'll just say that I know I am a better painter and a better writer than I was one year ago. I am thankful to all the artists and writers who share their knowledge in books and workshops and blogs. I will always do the same.

And yes, finally after six weeks of home improvements, ta da, my studio is once again operational.  I am painting again!  But, gosh, I forgot how. I eased back into it with this small painting that feels a bit tight and cramped (the painting, not the studio). I am trying to loosen up, sometimes it is just so hard to stop touching up.  I had to quit because I needed the lemon for our salmon at dinner.

Thanks for taking a look, thanks for reading my blog these past few months. Best wishes to each of you for a fulfilling year in 2010 - that is Twenty Ten.  Give your loved ones a hug.