Stumble Trip, Stumble Trip



Hello out there…

It has now been about two years since I last posted, and I am sorry about that.  But not too sorry, because I have very gladly cherished the time I have spent with my daughter.

Was I craving to paint this whole time?  Yes.  But I also know the kind of painter that I am, and it doesn’t seem to function so well when I have a very limited amount of time and space to paint.  I need a block of time, not just half an hour’s here and there.  While painting, I can devour hours as if they are minutes, and I don’t feel like painting if I don’t have that block of time, not to mention the contemplative time afterwards.  So if I knew that I had only an hour to set up and paint, I usually opted not to, as I had this strong feeling that I would only feel terribly frustrated.  I tried a couple of times, and it made me feel that I would never paint again.  Plus, I thought, painting just seems so silly compared to being a mamma.

So I picked up knitting needles and tried to satisfy my creative impulses in yarn in the short spurts of free time I could find.  I think I have now knitted about 50 sweaters and a couple dozen scarves, hats, shawls, cowls, with a very large blanket in the works.  I can now do lace, cables, fair isle, intarsia, slip stitches, top down, bottom up, contiguous sleeves, steeks, write patterns, pretty much you-name-it.  It has been very therapeutic, exciting, and inspiring.

But oil painting is so very different.  And sooner or later I was going to need to start again.  And I have, just at a different pace, maybe getting a block of time once a week.  And my material this time around is my backyard of Napoli, an urban masterpiece of mess.  I can’t go over it, and I can’t go under it – just have to go through it, as the children’s book goes.  So I am including a few images of works in progress as I stumble and trip my way through this forest of Napoli.  I am feeling very rusty, which I think is pretty evident in these sketches, but I somehow feel that I am veering in an interesting direction.  Only time can tell if I will persist on this quest or climb back under the covers and hide.



Condensed Matter of Time

Just did my first mamma painting, within I think literally 5 minutes of time. Took more time to put the board on the easel than to paint quickly what I saw. This is a mixed media piece (drool, oil paint, linseed oil, no turps), and I will try to get back to it tomorrow to work on it some more. Looking forward to getting back into it again, now that we have finished moving.

Pathways to Landscape Exhibition – Curated by Dean Fisher

On a recent trip to the US, I had the enormous privilege to meet and talk at length with the artist Dean Fisher. An accomplished artist and gifted teacher based in Connecticut, Fisher recently put together “Pathways to Landscapes,” an extensive exhibition of landscape paintings by 25 contemporary artists at the Ridgefield Guild of Artists. As a survey of this nature and size is so rare today, I recommend that you run over to visit it before it closes on Saturday, March 26.

Fisher received the request to curate an exhibition after being awarded the Best in Show at the 33rd Annual Juried Show of the Ridgefield Guild of Artists. The artists he selected for inclusion – Robert Bauer, Frank Bruckmann, Hollis Dunlap, Nicholas Evans Cato, Eileen Eder, Dean Fisher, Josh Gaetjen, Christopher Gallego, Israel Hershberg, Diana Horowitz, Alex Kanevsky, Constance LaPalombara, Claire Maury-Curran, William Meddick, Lawrence Morelli, Artie Mihalopolous, Lenny Moskowitz, William Nathans, Josephine S. Robinson, Stuart Shils, E.M. Saniga, Jesus Villareal, Justin Weist, Brian Wendler and Jordan Wolfson – represent his consideration of some of the most cherished paintings available for collecting today: “If I were a collector, these are the works I would own.” Special lending arrangements were made with several galleries such as DFN Gallery, Forum Gallery, Steven Harvey Fine Arts Projects and Marlborough Gallery in New York, as well as with the artists to bring such an extensive exhibition to the public, including two or three representative works per artist. For those who cannot travel to Connecticut to see the exhibition, the following slideshow of photos provided by Fisher will offer a good peek.

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Dean Fisher is a contemporary classically oriented realist painter and has shown at Hirschl & Adler Gallery and Tatistcheff Gallery in New York. A highly respected teacher and exquisite painter of stillife, landscapes and the nude, he is a guild artist and instructor of painting at the Silvermine Arts Center in New Canaan, Connecticut and conducts workshops in Italy during the summer, including the new landscape painting program at the Certosa di Pontignano from August 27 – September 3, 2011, with details of the course yet to be announced.

Fisher, Beach-Windy Day

Fisher, Tide Pool

To view works of the selected artists in the exhibition, websites have been provided here when available:
Robert Bauer
Frank Bruckmann
Hollis Dunlap
Nicholas Evans Cato
Eileen Eder
Dean Fisher
Josh Gaetjen
Christopher Gallego
Israel Hershberg
Diana Horowitz
Alex Kanevsky
Constance LaPalombara
Claire Maury-Curran
William Meddick
Lawrence Morelli
Artie Mihalopolous
Lenny Moskowitz
William Nathans
Josephine S. Robinson
Stuart Shils
E.M. Saniga
Jesus Villareal
Justin Weist
Brian Wendler
Jordan Wolfson

Theory Schmeory

My “art education” apparently started at a very early age. 5 to be exact. I was in kindergarten and once a week we had time set apart to do art. Artsy craftsy is a more appropriate term, but I reveled in it. I remember with sincere fondness the sequins I chose to adorn my paper crown of David, the pipe cleaners for the crown of thorns, and the colored cotton balls I carefully glued down on my lamb of God. (Yes, I was sent to a small private Lutheran school, ugh ugh. During my nine years there, we did many art projects, mostly secular rather than religious though)

One day, however, the teacher decided to give us an introductory Lesson on Real Art Theory. She pulled out the papier mache balloons we had made from the time before, and explained that we were going to pop the balloon inside and cut the form into a flower. I remember trying to carve petals carefully with the scissors. She then pulled out pots of red, yellow and blue paint, and asked us to choose one. I chose yellow.

Egg, painting by Duane Keiser

Then she pulled out pots of green, purple, and orange paint, and assigned each of us the Complementary Color of the Primary Color we first chose. I received purple.

Hole No. 2, painting by Emily Eveleth

She then instructed all eight of us to mix together our primary color with the complementary color and use this mixture to paint our flowers.

I was crushed, I remember it well. I mixed the two together and out came this sludge, this brown bubbling mass that had lost all sense of the beauty of yellow and purple. I wondered how on earth it was fair and right to cover a delicate paper flower with dirty paste. And following the teacher’s orders, I and the others painted our flowers with this fudge which recalled anything but chocolate, though I tried really hard to see it that way. I looked at my brown flower with the greatest sadness, and then looked up. The entire room was filled with brown paint. I was surrounded by shit, and I was deeply upset.

This drawing below is one of the few that I have still have from youth. We had a swingset in our backyard, decorated with overlapping circles and a bit of rust. I loved it (I still go on swingsets when noone is looking), and so I drew it. We did not have a pond, but a kiddie pool, and the colored autumn leaves and dyslexic date show I would have been 6 years old at the time. Not long after the complementary color lesson therefore, and yet there is no sign of that important lesson in Art Theory being applied here. Thank goodness. This was just me looking, trying to get the feeling that the two-seater swing was at an angle, giving each leaf its color and shape, the chain its rings. The part that surprised me, though, is what I found on the back. If you look carefully, you can see through the paper that I had started this drawing on the other side, putting the horizon line right in the middle. I must not have liked it, so I started over. This was a matter of preference, not a learned rule, of something not seeming quite “right,” that the sky was further up and so I needed more space.

Perhaps ever since the brown flower episode, I developed a mistrust of institutional art education. Many years later I tried studying further, in high school, university, privately and at an atelier, but I always felt alone and defiant, knowing that I was committed to drawing and painting what I believed was truthful and not because someone else told me so. I preferred to investigate things myself, to try to see deeply on my own and not because I was supposed to see something. To this day, I have yet to observe a brown and say to myself, “Ah, I see yellow and purple.” Browns are infinitely richer than a formula.