Friday, December 10, 2010
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Friday, November 26, 2010
The skies have been really dramatic. Big cauliflower clouds, dark menacing ones with glowing edges of brilliant white, and so on. It's been great fun to watch and paint. I have a passion for dramatic skies, big weather and November in Rome offers both. As I watched one day I realized it was the sky I'd seen before by the great landscape painters then realized it was only the British and Dutch School that came to mind. I got wondering about Italian landscape painters, so went searching and all I could find (albeit not an in-depth search) was Canaletto but his sky or any other nature was clearly secondary to buildings. The skies are so dramatic here I couldn't believe it waited until the 1700's and Canaletto for them to even gingerly enter an Italian painting. Certainly the great frescoes include sky drama but again, the main theme is religion. Since I am at the American Academy in Rome surrounded by breathtaking minds I asked around. Turns out the shift to landscape did not happen until the Barbizon School…hard to imagine it waited until the 1830's! Without a doubt the really great landscape (and for sake of this entry land/sky) painters were hands down the British and Dutch. They had all the dramatic elements to work with and be inspired by but so did the Italians and what were they doing? One brilliant person (and deeply witty)I spoke to, says it began with Turner's visit to Venice followed by Ruskin's incredibly long tome about it which in the end is all about Turner in Venice.
It is precisely the limnal space between artistic movements that drives me crazy. Frankly if I were younger and not so desparately poor I would dash right back into school and study precisely that…the space between artistic movements, the shift between overwrought religious paintings and landscape, or how and why did the leap from prehistoric painting become more considered work - meaning brought indoors to serve a specific purpose. Or my favorite, when did art go from largely king & church supported to commercial. I want to know the politics and everything else about what goes on during those shifts as it's always more than one thing. I will definitely look for all the information I can about this but do not feel as if I can take it on in a scholarly pursuit, not only because I feel too old to do it but more importantly it would entirely consume me and take me away from making art, something I won't allow to happen. Not many people follow my blog but maybe someone will find this entry, be intrigued by the idea and run with it. I firmly believe the limnal spaces in art are an area rich for exploration.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
One might think I'm just gadding about Italy. Well I am but with a purpose...to DRAW. Drawing is the very bones of art and it helps to sit and take in the sights, study an area. Here's a link to the newest work which is basically visual note taking, making a log of things I see and love all the colors of the buildings and angles! The first images in the group (posted at the top) are really strong and I'm very pleased with what's happening. Here's the link to all the new work I wanted to move more towards shape and color and it "seems" to be happening. We'll see when I get back if it holds, heck if it doesn't I'll just have to come back to Italy!!!
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Every time I travel I meet interesting people either in the group I'm with or when I stay places on my own. This time around has been a particularly rich experience. The Visiting Artist Residency in Rome just got a lot deeper and more than about making art or seeing it and beautiful towns. During my time here and in a recent trip to Florence I met people who have stopped me in my tracks, introducing wonder, awe and humor. It hardly gets better than that.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Graffiti! I hate it, really hate it. Lots of people will disagree, that's fine but I don't care...I hate graffiti. Unfortunately the bored "Art" world ever in search of edgy or odd things or the new bad boy (never a bad girl!) has raised this visual grundge to art with jerks like Banksy, who clearly learned how to manipulate the media because he just needs attention, and Shepard Fairy who is now even working in the studio making piles of money by mass producing his images, he's just making a product. Graffiti, in my opinion, is not art. It is, however, the visual equivalent of dogs pissing on lamp posts, building corners, mailboxes etc. to mark territory. And in Rome it is a gruesome visual blight. In many cases it is disastrous for the antiquities. I never understood why people do it, it's so stupid. Is it really all about wanting attention? In Rome it doesn't even come close to being art for those who want to call it such. It's mindless, repetitive scribbles over absolutely everything, cars, vespas, walls of every kind, stairs windows on and on. I was talking with a friend who has lived in Rome a great deal of his life and he said it's never been as bad as in the last 5 or so years. Plus he travels throughout Italy and is seeing it places that have never been defaced before. It doesn't seem like anyone even notices it, but it's not surprising because there is so much of it that it becomes one long visual sour note that just hums across your eyes. There are people in Rome trying hard to combat this but in one interview a graffiti person vowed they will never be defeated...what a dope. You want to be noticed? You want to write? Go write a book, play, music, paint, want to leave your "mark" on the world then do something REALLY creative because if you visually piss on everything you are not an artist.
Friday, November 12, 2010
Leaves on the Sycamores are fully changed to yellow ochres with touches of cadmium yellow light, burnt sienna and the trunks of the massive trees are mottled greys. Fall has clearly come to Rome. At the Villa the ever busy landscapers took away all the lemon & lime trees that line the edges of Villa Aurelia and in an incredible checkerboard pattern in front of the main entrance. Each tree carefully removed to the shed area and they still had so many lemons on them! I wanted to pick them all, I love lemons! Once they were all moved they began on replacing them with the very healthy Holly topiaries that line the path along the walk to my place. The checkerboard of lawn & pea stone in front of the main entrance now has little Holly trees on each green patch.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
I'm living in a dream and I don't want to wake up! Currently I'm in Rome as a Visiting Artist at the American Academy in Rome and I've entered my second week here. I have hopes for this residency one of which is to focus on drawing, the very bones of art and I never spend enough time really drawing so that is a goal. However, as usual everything interests me and I'm painting whatever comes in from of my eyes. I spend a day painting and a day exploring and drawing. I am in Rome after all and there is a very great deal to see. This ancient city is all new and exciting to me and I love history. My god standing in the Parthenon or wandering the Roman Forum you can feel the history, it bubbles up through my feet and takes me over. But today I got to wondering if Italians ever get tired of all the antiquity, all the statues and giant fountains. Every street, every turn reveals new astonishing wonders for me but what is it like for a person who sees the Parthenon every day? I was weak in the knees when I saw it, do they feel that way after years or decade. After 2 weeks here I feel a bit worn out by all the chiesas (churches)! More than likely they are just so sick and tired of all the tourists! Clearly there are a lot of Italians who care deeply for their history or it would not be preserved. Yet every Italian I meet instantly knows I ain't from around here asks where I'm from and then go on about how much they love America, Boston plus the Celtics and Red Sox!
Usually when I go to a city first thing I do is seek out the art galleries and spend as much time in them as possible. Normally US cities architecture just bores the beejesus out of me, one more square bldg of glass and steel. So I seek solace in galleries & museums but in Rome I never ever thought about it until today when I saw a museum and I couldn't bear to go in…there's so much to see outside! Rome is a living museum! I went to the Vatican Museum and had NO idea it was so massive. I could spend days in there. All this history is our history too, a cultural genealogy of sorts and many lessons to be learned…I am walking through time and it's intoxicating. I'm grateful to all those who work so hard to save these Roman treasures, what a tragedy beyond words it would be to not have access to this!
Here are some paintings & drawings I've done so far that I like :) More to come later...enjoy!
Friday, October 29, 2010
It was a cold, damp day in New England - the perfect day for a bookstore and it was an interesting day! First I was looking for a book to take on my travels, of course I headed to Jane Austen but have read all hers so wandered over a couple rows to Bronte and picked up Villette. As I read the back of the book jacket it I thought about how books of that era seem to be mostly about class, money and overcoming great difficulties to survive and win in the end while books of our era are about wounded people and how to heal. Curious.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
I get goosebumps & shivvers every time I say this but I received a Visiting Artist Residency at the esteemed American Academy of Art and the reactions from people when I tell them about it has been most interesting and in two distinct camps. First, all my art buddies and family are excited they get what this is all about. Second is a wide groups of friends & co-workers who always ask "well what do you get with that?" like it's a prize and I should walk away with an object, when I explain it they go blank. The gift of time to paint is not something people understand easily. We are all so pressed for time, plus it all must be done instantly due to our new instant electronic age and so on, a very insidious circle and a residency breaks out of that. A residency breaks all routines and the best ones are in another country which breaks all ties, even momentarily, to known comforts and bad habits. So my dearest friends, what do I get with this residency? I get the great gift of completely uninterrupted, unscheduled time to do what I want to do all day every day....paint. I get to immerse myself in another culture, see lots of things new for the first time, peel the fish scales off my eyes and see, really see, absorb - be a human sponge! Also important is that I hope to make new friends and contacts. Here's a question for you....artist or not....if you had one, two weeks or a month in front of you to do whatever you wanted (and don't say clean your place, change out winter to summer clothes...nothing to do with any kind of chore) what would you do with it?
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Late Spring of this year I took a Master Class with Stuart Shils at the Philadelphia Academy of Art, I'm such a huge fan of him and his work. It was a great experience that months later is finally having a positive effect on my own work. He gave a talk the first night that was simply fantastic the next day we hit the field to paint en plein air. First let me say the last time I was in Philadelphia was when I was about 5-7 years old so I didn't really remember that visit but I fell hard in love with that town on this trip. What a GREAT city and so pretty with tons of art around. Now I've been painting for a long time and have done all kinds of work but our first day out there and being a little intimidated it felt and looked like I'd never painted in my life. I'm not comfortable painting plein air but am drawn to it like a moth to bright lights - it's really about confidence. In my dream en plein air moment I go out to effortlessly whip up a masterpiece while dazed on-lookers ooo and awww frantically searching for their wallets and the bidding war begins - that is certainly not what happens. There are times when it's great and I love talking to people, there are times when people gush on about their Aunt who paints or how they paint and what they would do differently if they could get ahold of my brushes but my favorite is the kids, the best critics in the world! Once in a while someone comes by makes a brief comment then mostly just watches me and during the awkward silence I start blabbering about how it's really just a field sketch blah blah blah and inside my head I'm saying "what are you doing....shut up and paint."
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
I join the many who are utterly distraught over the tragedy happening in the Gulf and to the people who died because of the rig explosion, to all who live and work from the Sea, especially to all the fragile sea life and ecosystems that have been destroyed because of this inexcusable negligence. I am fiercely passionate about and protective of nature. It inspires all the work I do. We live in the Garden of Eden but utterly disrespect it and trash it daily. I cannot find the right word to describe my anger and disgust over this tragedy and the countless other ones that take place around the world because of corporate greed. I cannot get time off from my part time job to go clean the coast, help the wildlife or even hand out information or water to those who are helping. So I did what I love & know how to do best…put it all in a painting, my art is normally inspired by the beauty of nature, this painting is inspired by the stupidity and greed of man.
My hope for this painting is to find a very public way of auctioning it off with ALL the money (minus the shipping…unless I can get that donated) going to some really deserving place in the Gulf, maybe to the families who lost loved ones in the rig blast, maybe to some single mother who tries to make her living by the sea and now cannot, maybe to some school art program that is desperate for funds. I'd love to give to some wildlife organization but only if it helps the animals. I'd really love to get enough from auctioning this off to help all those and more. I do not ever give money to big organizations because it only goes into some CEO's pocket. I've put this all out there to a number of places and hope something will happen. It's all I can think of to do….
Update today 10/14/12 - I contacted tons of people, even Ellen Degeneres, never heard back from anyone. The problem with the Gulf continues, just recently oil was still showing up and was in the news. It still makes me mad.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
And now for some new Still Lifes (and no it's not Still Lives, altho that would make an interesting body of work!). I honestly can't remember the last time I did still life painting, one of the reasons for not doing them is while enjoy other still life paintings I just don't want to do the usual subjects. That being said it I want a still life that is an accidental combination of objects and have been keeping a close eye on my kitchen counter. And as you will see other things caught my eye...stay tuned more coming!