Art and the changes in the economy is addressed in a February 12th article by Holland Cotter in the NY Times, "The Boom is Over. Long Live the Art!" Cotter suggests that art often gets better when artists are left to do it for the sake of doing it, removed from any market driven pressures. He advises artists in this financial climate not to quit their day jobs.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
12" x 12"
oil on panel
I remember a children's book which exemplifies art's true value in society. Frederick is about a mouse who is a dreamer while all the other mice are working to prepare for winter. In the story (spoiler : ) Fredrick is able to tell stories of all he saw and imagined to the other mice while they were waiting for winter to end. While they were storing up provisions, he was immersing his senses, saving them for this collective sharing. I loved this book as a child and remember the colorful illustrations, often with round elements.
My paintings are bits of color and sensation stored up from the observed. Although I make them year-round, the ones made in winter are very much in keeping with the spirit of the book.
Notes on this painting:
It was done from the memory of looking out my bathroom window. The bright blues at the bottom were the color of the shadow of the house, the pale pinks, blues, and whites were the sparkling snow, and the top is the colors of the bare trees as well as some sky. I hope it buoy's you up while you wait for spring.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
both are 24" x 18"
oil on panel
These two paintings contrast stylistically enough that someone might think they were painted by two different artists. They make for an interesting comparison and contrast, although saying so makes me think of high school writing assignments, standards I'm not sure I can uphold at this point. I'll move along anyway.
The top painting, #5, is Expressionist in handling. After painting some more controlled pieces, it is nice to let loose. This was done at the end of a painting day, a memory of taking my son sledding at Highland Park in Rochester at twilight. I love that time of day because everything turns blue. The cobalt upper right corner is different from the more cerulean blue of the snow, but the colors make sense. The trees are somewhat anthropomorphic, seeming like a crowd of people with arms waving. They have a sureness about them, bold and planted despite the tilting slope.
#6 is curvaceous and crystalline, the qualities I like best about it. The shapely center is dictated by the trees. Large areas of clarity meet wood with edginess, saved for the edges. In #5, color is reflected but in #6 the snow is all white. The latter is more frontal & relies on gradation of blue light and contrast to make space while #5 is more atmospheric.
These experiences of looking, feeling, and painting are what I do. At my Unitarian Church, I listened to the beautiful music created by the choir after being told that this was their gift and to receive it as such. Painting here in relative obscurity, it is hard to know to what extent my art will be heard. It is kind of like those balloons people send out with messages to write if found. I came across this quote which I think is an impetus for much art-making.
Dag Hammarskjöld in his diary, Markings, wrote that “Only what you have given is salvaged from the nothing which will some day have been your life.”
Sunday, February 08, 2009
36" x 24"
oil on panel
Okay, you might notice this is a fall painting when we are in winter. I did an oil pastel of the view out one of my studio windows and this is a painting done from the drawing. I think the dots are kind of perky, not in a bubblegum snapping teenager way, but in a playful way. Rather than crunching leaves, one feels as if it is possible to bounce on the treetops like with moonboots. This playfulness is a quality that keeps the work, harkening back to Pointillism, from being dry and redundant. A fellow student in art school complained on our trips to the museum that it was "like going to a cemetery. It is full of dead art by dead artists." Perhaps some artists might agree, maybe those trying to find the cutting edge. For me the art is timeless while of its time, as full of life as Mozart is today.
The neighbors put up a new shed and it creeped into my work. The Post-Impressionists found Impressionism limiting because the short marks didn't lend themselves to clearly defining form. It was almost a focusing problem. Cezanne delineated form, but I think his bathers walked the line. I didn't want to make the thin trees out of dots and used line with dots weaving in and out of them. I see so many variations in the color of what I am looking at that I am not always content to make one or two stand for all, thus this pixelization. This painting makes me think of Pissarro, especially one at the Guggenheim, The Hermitage at Pontoise, where I studied how he handled paint. His work strikes me as quieter than a lot of the other Impressionists, a little less bang, but the paintings are very thoughtful, carefully and beautifully seen and made. If you check out this painting: Landscape at Chaponval, you can see what I admire about his treatment of houses in a landscape. I like the way they are nestled there, part of the patterning of the picture with the greenery coming in front of, behind, and through. Imagine what would have happened if he had heard rock 'n' roll?!
Sunday, February 01, 2009
From Norman's View, 12" x 12", oil on panel
While winter is in full swing here in Western New York and I am fully enjoying it, I confess to having one eye looking ahead to spring. Winter on the Left, Spring on the Right has that duality. The fairly symmetrical composition lends itself to the content. Earlier on in the painting the road was basically paved the same color as the sky. It fell short; the blue sky's compliment, orange, did the trick.
From Norman's View has that blend of what is seen and imagined. The invented, the synthetic can add zing. Picasso said, "Art is a lie." He meant that what is observed as it is in life may not have the right chemistry to turn into kicking art. Hollywood knows it well, as does advertising. Blue and orange also play opposing roles in this painting, creating tension, drama. Their intensity brackets the calm landscape.
This week I came across the work of artist Chris Cook from Georgia. I really like his landscapes which have a Milton Avery flair but are very original. He has a unique way of inventing space with shape and color. I especially like the unselfconsiousness in his portrayal of horses in Two Horses. I'm so excited that we might trade paintings!
I recently traded with artists Rita Baragona and Naomi Nemtzow. It is very encouraging and stimulating to have one's own work as well as the work of other artists in one's living space. Thanks, guys!