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Thursday, February 15, 2018

A Journey Back in Time

Earlier I had mentioned that I was on a roll and had started all these new pieces. So here is another one of those starts from early January.

Last year about this time, I went through all the old slides my sister had pulled out of our mother's closest when she died 10 years previously. They had been in my basement all these years as I did not quite know what to do with them. Should I just toss or should I take the time to go through them all? Our mother was a traveler and I knew if I took the time to look at what was there I would find some treasures. They were still in the trays from her old slide projector and meticulously documented where they were taken and when.

So, after going through her slides, I also went through MY slide collection. I had quite a collection as well. Once I sorted through both collections, I picked 50 or so to take to Costco and turned into digital images. This is the second image from my mom's slides that I have picked to paint. This one is from France in the mid 60's. She is in the painting with her close French friend, Beatrice at Beatrice's family farm in the countryside outside Orleans, France, where we lived for 5 years. I picked this image to do for a number of reasons. One, it is my mother as I remember her as a preteen. Beatrice was a woman she met at the Franco American Club, a place for women to meet and cross the cultural divide in new friendships formed. Beatrice became part of our family and after we left France and moved to Germany, my mom often went back to visit Beatrice. I know, because I went with her once.

I was asking myself this question the other day? Is it strange to paint from old photos? Are they dated somehow? I am betting this farm house is still standing and hasn't changed all that much. I wish I knew exactly where it was located.

Here is the progression to date:
Peg and Beatrice, 20x30, block in stage
Peg and Beatrice, 20x30, oil, coming together
The slide made digital image is overly purple. I tried putting different filters over it to see what if any improved it or made it more natural looking, but none of them improved it enough for me to want to go that direction. I am enhancing the warm oranges that are already present and graying down the overall purple color. Believe it or not, that is what I have done here and it still appears purple, but I am okay with it.

Thursday, February 1, 2018


Crossroads, 36x48, oil on canvas
This painting has passed the waiting test for now. At this point in time, it is done, and I am ready to move on. A friend of mine and I were talking the other day, so what we were each working on came up. She asked me to share an image of this painting with her. She responded, "I can't wait to see it in person as I can see the layers are very rich and the that there are many layers of meaning, too."

This image is showing a bit dark overall here. And as I look at it here on the screen my old tendencies are rising within me! Even it out! It isn't balanced! AARGH! But no. It is not meant to be evenly balanced and the road is not necessarily straight, either. This was a good painting for me. I am debating whether I want to stare into the layers of thought and emotion that went into it. It is enough to say that it got me through a rough patch and I am on the road again!

I shared the block in and initial stages on this blog post from October.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Block ins!

After a dearth of inspiration, the new year has brought me back to life! It is my favorite part of the whole creative process for me and that is, The Block In phase. In the first week of January I started not one, not two, but FOUR new paintings. It is my habit to have multiple canvas's going at any one time and as it has been so long since I have felt any motivation to work, the ideas kept flowing out of me. I still have 2-3 unfinished pieces from when I left off but I needed a fresh start for the new year. They will find their place in the queue as the spirit moves me. One of them I am thinking will just have to start over a new life just as I am endeavoring to do. I have moved on and it just doesn't work for me anymore.
The first one of the new year is local. Walking Washington Park for the past three decades still brings new things to light. Our winter has been so warm, that fall extended way into December if not early January. I took numerous photos of this one particular view and many of the images clamored to be done until I settled on one that is a challenge for me. It is half graphic and half soft edges. I do not normally share the photograph, but I will this time.
What attracted me to this scene was the symmetry and the very, almost blocky shapes of the houses interspersed with the softening effect of the trees in winter.  But I can also just keep those trees very graphic as well. This stumped me initially, as to what to do, which approach did I want to follow? You will have to stay tuned to discover how the story ends. Here is a foretaste but no necessarily a clue.
Looking for the dark shapes

Working out the rhythms and patterns
In this bottom version I noticed that the cloud in the reflection is a bit too angled, so that will be rectified. A tree does go in front of it but that does not alleviate the need for adjustment. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Women in Paris Exhibit at The Denver Art Museum

I have been remiss in not writing this amazing show up before it closed on Monday. Everyone I know who went has only good things to say about it. Denver Art Museum has done itself proud with this exhibit. It seems we have one good show after another so I want to extend kudos to the curators of this world class exhibition. One of the reasons I really liked about Women In Paris is that there were enough well known artists and their works to feel worth it yet there were lots of new artists to most of us, that were so worth discovering!

I went twice. Both times it was well attended.  As you entered, you were met with self-portraits or portraits of many of the artists in the exhibit. One large painting that took center stage in this area was of an all woman's art class at the Atelier. The male model was discreetly covered.

Cecilia Beaux, one of my favorites; the black kitten is a stroke of genius.
a lovely detail

I loved this little scene with the warm light leaking out under the door; the archway to the right aids and abets

Sometimes a good scream is just what is called for!

A German artist whose graphic style really caught my eye
Mary Cassatt did this lovely jewel of her sister, Lydia
It wasn't all sweetness and light.

And last but not least, I loved this painting because it is so real.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Klimt at the Legion of Honor

Lady with Feathered Hat
The show at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco is a double billing of Klimt/Rodin. For me, it was all about Klimt. Don't get me wrong, I like Rodin's work, but I came to discover and see Klimt's paintings in person. This painting of the Lady with Feathered Hat struck me because it brought to mind one  of Klimt's proteges,  Egon Schiele, whom I happen to really like, more so than what I would think of a typically Klimt piece. But this exhibit was not a show of what most people have in mind when they think of his work. A few pieces, of course, but not overall.

For instance, one usually thinks of females, especially the Kiss or the Woman in Gold. There was one piece that fit that mold, The Maiden, shown below. I took this long view of it to show its size. Klimt painted LARGE! But the size adds to the power of his images. I think there are at least 6 women in this painting, with the virgin in the middle of this menagerie.

My personal favorite works of Gustav are the landscapes. Most people have no idea that he painted landscapes. It said in the exhibit he fit them in around his commissions, but tended to do 3 or 4 per year. They are also quite large, and all of them are square. Below is one of the 4 that were on display. It is of the Schloss were he went for rest and recuperation. You can see the lake to the left where he boated. I took a close up of another painting so you can see the brush work. I was quite surprised to discover how loosely he really painted.

Next up, either Richard Diebenkorn or The Women of Paris from our own Denver Art Museum show...

Thursday, January 4, 2018

A New Year Begins! Welcome 2018

As a follow up to my last post, I will regale you with my take of the museum art shows we went to. To start, my son and I had a time of wonder and discovery together.

Starting with landing in LAX where my sister and her husband picked us up. We drove straight to the Pasadena Museum of California Art as it was 'on the way' home. The exhibit of E. Carlton Fortune was everything and more I could have hoped for. Photos were not allowed, unfortunately, so I did buy the catalog. I have not been impressed with exhibit catalogs of late so it is rare I will buy them.

The show started chronologically, but the first one that took my full attention was of Monterey Bay.
There are many artists who paint the coast, with the rocks, waves and coves, but not always do they take your breath away. Effie's (Effie is what her family and friends called her, but for her professional name she went by Charlton) handling of this subject was pure joy. Despite how many of her paintings I liked and would love to own, this one, for me, was the premier piece. I found this tiny image of The Lonely Shore to post here, but it does not do it justice nor does the image in the catalog.

Even as a thumbnail, I think it still shows it well enough. The colors and the paint application are stunningly luscious and varied.

If my memory serves, the image below is a view Effie painted from the old Santa Barbara Mission which burned down in the 1920's. The second painting below shows that Mission as a sprawling property with a cow grazing.

Charlton moved around quite a bit. She lived and worked all up and down the California coast painting as she went, mostly on site. One reason being, her home burned down in the SF earthquake. Eventually, she and her mother moved to Europe, where again, she moved around quite a bit. They lived and visited relatives in Scotland; they lived in St Ives, and also the south of France. While living in France, she entered the Paris Salon, and 'Mr Charlton Fortune' won an award and critical acclaim. She used her name to her advantage, as well she should!

Needless to say I could go on and on about Effie and this show; The good news is that after it leaves Pasadena in January it is going to the Crocker Museum in Sacramento so there is still plenty of time to pop over to CA to see this amazing painter's work.

Our next museum stop (not counting the Reagan Library, the Hearst Castle and the Monterey Bay Aquarium) was the Legion of Honor in San Francisco where the Klimt/Rodin exhibit is. Stay tuned...

Thursday, December 14, 2017

An Art Expedition!

I am so excited to be flying to California this week despite flying right in the heart of the Thomas fire. It is so sad that California has been hit with so many devastating fires. My sister says the Thomas fire is only 20% contained. It is unfortunately taking the path we were planning on driving so alternative plans will most likely be implemented. ie the interstate vs Hwy 101 along the coast. I so wanted to drive up along the coast, but the fire got there first. We will see where it is on Friday, our expected day to head north.

My son and I are going to see family and art exhibitions. We are flying into LAX; from there we will go directly to the Pasadena Museum of California Art to see The Colorful Spirit: E. Charlton Fortune. I am so excited to see her work. I only found out about her last Spring when I first went to the PMCA. A book in the gift shop of all things. That time there was two great exhibits Joseph Kleitsch and much to my surprise, Gustave Baumann was also there. PMCA does not have its own collection so these are one of kind, borrowed from all over, exhibitions. This time the other two shows look good too. Exciting!

We will stay in Ventura for 2 days where my sister lives. Fortunately in an area that was never evacuated. From Ventura we will rent a car and drive north. We are not sure exactly what we do along the way but our first for sure destination (based on fire...or no fire) will be Monterrey. We have only heard good things about the aquarium there.  From there we will head to San Fransisco. We only have one Museum on our schedule there but it is a big one. Gustave Klimt and Auguste Rodin! I have been to the Rodin Museum in Paris a number of times but I have not seen much Klimt in person, so that is going to be a treat. I hear it has content not suitable for children. I am thinking photos will not be allowed in that case...

Our time in SF is only 2 days, but then we will spend time with family in the area for 2 nights as well. Our last museum stop will be at the Crocker Museum in Sacramento. This will be Richard Diebenkorn's early works. From art school, through being in the Marines and early in his career.  What a fitting end to our road trip. We will fly out from SAC after that. I expect to come back inspired and ready to jump back into my painting.