Monday, February 5, 2018

Big, Bad Begonia

This one is called the Big, Bad, Begonia.  It is oil on canvas 48"x48" .   I spent the beginning part of my MFA journey painting some very large, close-ups of flowers.  Of course I was influenced by Georgia O'Keeffe, but I wanted to paint them using some of the Old Masters' techniques that I had learned prior to embarking on this MFA journey.

My Wilson college instructors encouraged me to "step out of my comfort zone" and do something completely different.  So for a while I played with sculpture using spray foam insulation,plaster and even bras!   I had all sorts of fun!  While I focused on the fun during my residencies, I eventually came back to painting. I realized that I love the practice of painting!

A large part of the Wilson program was working with local mentors during the fall and spring semesters.  I contacted five local artists to mentor me over the two year program.  On such mentor challenged me to do a large flower without any negative space.  This is it!

I bought this begonia in a pot two summers ago.  I thought the flowers were fantastic.  While I  didn't have the time to paint the flowers when the plant was alive,  I did take a few photos.  The photos were from my phone and the quality was not that great. Still I attempted to use my crappy little photo as a reference for this painting.

It was somewhat frustrating that I couldn't see some details.  I could not see the "inside" center of the flower well.  Even though this was accepted into a few juried shows, I was bothered by the unconvincing middle.  I have since updated the painting.  I think it bothered me more than anyone else.  Another interesting note.  I tried to find a similar flower on Google, but I could not find anything that looked at all like mine. I hope to go to the same nursery in the spring and hope they have more plants! 

Monday, January 29, 2018

Above it All

I've been blog absent for too long. Primarily because I spent the last two years working on my MFA in visual art through Wilson College. For the first year and a half, I was teaching art full-time in a Pennsylvania public school.  I took a sabbatical leave of absence to finish my thesis exhibit from January 15th until the end of the school year in June.  I am now back to teaching full time and painting part time.

During my sabbatical leave I completed approximately 28 paintings.  I started nine or ten others that are still in process.   I exhibited 25 paintings at my thesis exhibit in York, Pennsylvania.  I worked with five mentors, local artists, who critiqued my work,  inspired me and shared occasionally shared their "trade" secrets.

I intend to post and write about the paintings I created during this amazing time of creative growth and transformation.   The paintings will not likely be posted in chronological order.  Instead I will choose a painting that I want to write about when it suits me.

I noticed a transformation in my work as I moved from purely representational painting to more non-objective painting.  I still do some representational work but it is more abstract.  I will discuss this and some of the other surprises I've found along the way.

The first piece I'm sharing is entitled, "Above it All".  It is large, 48x36.  I used both acrylic and oil.  The painting started as a forest from memory.  I began to add spirals.  I liked the painting in its early stages but felt it incomplete.  After leaving it alone for a while, I came in and added the winged looking shape.  I painted to music and began thinking more about harmony and balance and composition.  I was making marks.  It was a very joyful experience.    Here is the painting in the earlier phase,   I liked that phase, but it sat, unresolved for many weeks.  Perhaps I will revisit this on another occasion.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

I'm writing about my process in painting in preparation for my MFA thesis.  This paint was one of the first I started in the fall.  It began as en plein air and morphed several times in the studio.  This was the painting about a month ago.  At any rate, I kept fussing with it and it became very over-worked.  I hung it up on the wall for a few weeks and I revisited today.  I have completely changed my style from this.  While I haven't totally abandoned landscape, my landscapes have changed.  I have also been making a lot more non-representational work.  Stay tuned. I'll be updating soon.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Chicago Visit - Journal Entry

I am in Chicago for my nephew's wedding.  I was not really thrilled about spending my Christmas break in Chicago but it is turning out to be a good thing.

Today we visited the famed Art Institute.  I was able to immerse myself in amazing art, visit with family and get lost in the process. The AIC is huge.  Their collection is at least equal to if not better than the MET in my opinion.    I could have spent at least another day there but the family was done.

My focus today was on the structure and composition of the great painters starting from around the mid-19th century.  I was not particularly interested in the Impressionists today although I thoroughly enjoyed Monet's London scenes and Irises.  I wanted to focus primarily on the structures and composition of post-impressionist painters.  I have decided that I want my thesis to more fully explore the lesser known painting movements such as Symbolism along with some of the fie American and Canadian painters that I feel were neglected from the annals of Art History.

I was struck, literally boiled over by the huge canvasses of Vuilliard.  While researching them I learned that they were created to be "painted tapestries".  I am the painting nerd who takes photos of the details to see how they handled foliage.  Vuilliard did lots of foliage.

I am also interested in the symbolists, the Klimts, the Munchs, the art Nouveau of Mucha and the similarity of these artists to the Group of Seven.  There is a stylized method which these artists employ that I think is beautiful.

I will always have a sweet spot for Van Gogh.  I was astonished to find two paintings of his that I had never seen...the Drinkers and the Poet's Garden.

I studied Cezanne's compositions and gradations as well as Inness, under the recommendation of Bob.  I think I get it now.

I am also quite intrigued by the art that is hanging in our little Airbnb.  The textures are great.  Mostly non-representational but they are giving me ideas.  I thought they might be encaustics at first but alas I believe they are acrylic with the help of some texture gels and such.  Something I want to explore when I begin my practice at the studio.

I took photos.  I want to revisit some old paintings with a squeegee or some other such tool.  The oils I will have to top with more oils but I have that great set that Annelise gave me.

I have ordered some acrylics but I was disappointed in the size.  I  am ordering some student grade acrylics in at least quart sizes for quick studies.  I don't think they will be a problem with the integrity of the surface as long as they are the base layers.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Orange and Blue

This is Orange and Blue.  I painted this large 28x28 close-up of marigolds that were growing in my garden.  I am intrigued by marigolds because they are overlooked and considered "common".  I don't think the average person pays much attention to them.  

I planted them because they are a natural type of pest control.  At the time I didn't think they were particularly beautiful until I tried to paint one.  This painting was a labor of love and observation. I started with direct observation in the garden.  I picked them before the first heavy frost.  I photographed them before they wilted.   It took months.  The yellow-orange color was elusive.  I couldn't quite get-it right.  I finished it with a Thio violet glaze. 

I am intrigued by the symbolism and spirituality associated with the humble marigold.  It was named for "Mary's gold", implying most likely the blessed mother.  The Mexican people use them for El dia de los Muertos.  They decorate shrines and graves with marigolds which are in peak season in late October and early November.   They are celebrated in India.  

The exploration of certain flowers and plants has lead to more exploration.  I find myself researching symbolism in flowers and trees.  I think I'm going to continue on this path awhile. 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Giant Ass

So during my summer Intensive I created this giant ass.  It was inspired by a woman I saw at the Dollar General Store.  She had a disproportionate derriere.  I was working with spray foam insulation and it reminded me of cellulite.  I had to experiment with paint as many did not adhere properly.  I finally chose spray enamel.  I entered it in a show called "Instinct".  The dimensions are about 3' wide by 2' high and about 2' deep.

I am back to painting for the moment.

Sunday, November 1, 2015


So I am going to blog again.

This time it is about my MFA.  Yes.  I enrolled in a Master of Fine Arts Program this past summer.   I have been looking for a low residency MFA and one afternoon I heard an ad on my Public Radio Station.   "...Wilson College's new MFA for visual artists and choreographers."  What?   Visual Artists and Choreographers?

I emailed them.

I am a crazy person.

I commuted to a four week summer intensive and I loved it.   I was uncomfortable being a middle aged, chubby mom.    I got torn down.  I was humiliated by the professors.  We all were.  The six of us.  Three visual artists and three dancers.

I was put completely out of my comfort zone.  Most of our classes took place in the dance studio.  We started with body/mind centering or meditation.  We learned about performance, systems theory, abject art, uncanny art.

Then we were set loose in our studios.  We were told to drop the familiar materials and try something completely different.  I did.

I started sculpting.  I created things with spray foam insulation.  I made a giant ass.  I took silk and shredded it, dyed it, draped it, painted it.  I made tits and weird faces out of the spray foam.  I learned how to build armatures out of paper and cardboard.

At the end of the four week intensive, I was all about world domination.  I felt badass.

So I will soldier on.  I only have a few more weeks of the online class.  I have another one in the spring.