Sunday, February 11, 2018

"Ander's Stick Cantata"

A friend asked me for images of my painting "Ander's Stick Cantata" from 2013 so I thought I would just post them here...little blast from the past!

This photo is a little dark but this is the jist of the painting.  My neighbor "built" the stick beautiful.  I loved the potential energy of it... 60x40" oil on canvas
The wonderful poet Pat Moran helped me carry the painting out each day... we walked from our house down the block and then down the yard.  You can see the stick pile down by the river...It is super hot out but I am wearing my long clothes to prevent being bit up!
Detail...  Milwaukee Art Museum has the "Woodcutter" and even when I was painting abstractly I would go in and look at that painting and my heart would say to me ..."if only you could paint like that".  It is so gratifying to try.

Little tiny pre study I did about 6x8 inches and I did one post study...

Monday, February 5, 2018

Wonderful Students!

I am very moved to have been nominated for a Teaching Excellence Award...I have been nominated a couple of times before but this year I won the College Award.  It makes me feel great!  Here a couple of pictures of my students because without them, I am not a teacher.
Working on our Drawing Awareness Project

Drawing in the studio...drapery and contemporary cast diptychs

Diptychs in the hallway.

Lovely crown!

Look at the skeleton reflected in the silver tray!

Wonderful painting 1 student with her painting of her dog!

The Nick Cave Posse!

The other Nick Cave Posse 

Best audience yet: my work is presented to young children in underserved schools.

I sent this print of my painting (from the La Napoule Residency) to the US foundation and they are going to share it with some of the young students from underserved schools.  The foundation is working to give children greater access to the arts!  I feel 'over the moon happy' that my work has found this audience.  Another way in which this residency just keeps on giving!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Composition and Momento Mori

The great momento mori paintings of the past are wonderful at reminding us of our mortality.  My painting "The Country of Sunlight, The Village of Milkweed" 48x30" oil on panel is in part a momento mori painting composed within a golden rectangle.  I have been talking with my students about composition so I thought I would post a bit about the basic compositional ideas in this one.  
 A beam of light or a partially covered window in the momento mori tradition suggests the sublime light of the heavens.  The window in my painting reflects the trees and sky and is placed at the top of the arc.  The top arc in the golden rectangle was also a signifier for divinity and the heavens.  I simplified the information of the wall of the house in that top arc and as it moves toward the upper corners of the painting to be atmospheric and not quite concrete like a wall... light and air itself instead of something receiving light.
 The composition was intentional in its design and in what it meant.  I placed the hose in the lower left right on the rule of thirds just inside the shadow, like a snake.  How much water we use to suit our pleasure instead of our basic needs.  The pot is empty. Instead the plants are the natural self seeders of our area.  The girl and the milkweed share a relationship.  The girl is intended to be a guardian, holding the milkweed, still planted, like a staff.

 In momento mori paintings there is typically a skull to remind us of the finite corporal reality of our bodies...our mortality.  In my painting I used the top abstract arc to be the "dome of the heavens" and the top of a suggested skull.  The lower window is the eye socket and the plants coming up through the cracks, the teeth.

I have slightly darkened the image:  Can you see the skull as you simultaneously see the life?  With the milkweed plant pointing toward the window with the reflection of sky and trees and the girl standing with the beauty of nature; a guardian for what is good and true and beautiful.

 I attempted to make the girls face communicate an expression that was at once innocent and knowing...Joy is what I was after...not the fleeting expression of happiness but an expression that communicates that even in the midst of difficulty I am loved and have the capability to love.

It is hard to see the surface details in these images.  One area I need to get better at is photographing my work.  For my students who occasionally look at my blog I hope this encourages you to think through your compositions.  By the way this is the third time I was nominated for the teaching excellence award for the College of Communication and the Arts ... a big thank you to the students who wrote letters of support!    I am so grateful to all the young people I have had the pleasure to work with!  Life may end but while we live it there is so much to be grateful for!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Bake King and other paintings

"Garden of Quiet Desire" detail oil on metal baking sheet

I am happy to report that my work will be included in a show at the Crossman Gallery called "Reading Material" Feb 22-March 23...(right after the Nick Cave lecture and show).  The show theme explores that the "media is part of the message".  These works not only in build a pictorial space but conjure meaning from the material itself.   The material can carry meanings beyond language and suggest to our conscious and subconscious mind notions of desire, memory, pain, joy etc.   The works of mine are from a few years ago when I was painting on baking sheets , floor boards and leaves.   In the baking sheet work, I was honoring women's work of serving a family or a community.  Each pan bears a patina of use, brownies made for a funeral, a fudge pan riddled with grid lines from so many Christmas's.  On the pans I painted "visual prayers" and hopes for the women who's stories I came to know by doing this series.   The work was an attempt to go beyond language and make visible what is not perceptual, but felt, and understood spiritually.

  "All the Little Deaths"  oil on metal baking sheet

"Breath" encaustic on maple floor boards

"And This To"  gouache on milkweed leaf

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Remembering La Napoule

As the weather starts to get bitter I am remembering La Napoule where light and warmth are abundant!
link   Remembering La Napoule

Here is an essay response I wrote shortly after I returned to Wisconsin.

My experience: La Napoule Artist Residency

The riches of this residency are not easy to express, nor will I completely understand the fullness of its impact immediately. But to wake each day with only the language of paint and painting in my mind, allowed me to be immersed in a language that is not spoken, but observed and envisioned.

The light in La Napoule bounces from the cliff-face, to the underbelly of the waves, to the air. It is a crisp light, one that saturates color and lets you see into the distance. The light bounced off my painting too and for that matter off of me. I have realized that in the Midwestern United States shadows are cohesive, nearly flat and grounding. But in La Napoule, forms seem to almost levitate with shadows inflected with reflected light. The air shimmers with color. It is a marvel to observe these unique conditions and as importantly, to understand by way of contrast, the conditions of my home. Like the light, the people presented a contrast as well. People on the streets and in the markets ate peaches, let juice run down their chin, and stole a moment to nuzzle their spouses neck. The children were in harmony, as leaves on a tree are in harmony with the whole tree; jostling and blowing, doing just what they are want to do. Bread delivered daily, just enough. Topless bathers of nearly all ages were not sexualized but sensual and natural: at ease. Now home, I see, as if for the first time, the solidity of shadows, the people taking-in nature, but who are not as seamlessly “natural” and the introspective light, singular and soft, filtered through clouds.

I found myself making a portrait of the light and air of La Napoule; the geography, the architecture and the people. Each day, as the sun rose I was out painting. I noticed the rhythm of the beach and the bathers; first the-early-morning-man and his dog, then the older women visiting; their white hair golden in the morning light, the tri-athletes swimming the buoy lines and finally the young ones and mothers splashing and building on the shores a small city of colorful umbrellas. The slowly elongating reflection of the Chateau, the beach and Sempe were unified but changing on the water. After the morning study I moved to a view of a solitary cliff or distant vista. Then a swim and dinner, and finally in the evening more cliffs, rocks, more water; so blue, green violet and grey, more sky. 

The 27 plus paintings I made in the course of 10 days are not just a record or a vignette (although they certainly are just that), they are additionally a relationship with a subject, slowly uncovered through the act of careful observation and mixing of paint.

My memory of the residency is also mingled with the memory of other artists Senga and Savannah, their ideas, methods, and passions. We crossed paths, painted along-side each other, shared poetry and meals. Namely we worked parallel to each other,  primarily immersed in our own quiet preoccupations with moments together to eat, share and celebrate each other’s observations.

Plato wrote: “The power of the Good has taken refuge in the nature of the Beautiful”. The Residency LNAF provides is an extraordinary ‘good’. At a time when the world is rife with turbulence and unrest, the residency brings artists together to contemplate, to work and make manifest the beauty that is a constant, if overlooked, joy of our world.

Finally, I wish for all my artist friends what St. John Paul in his letter to artists said so poignantly; “Artists of the world, may your many different paths all lead to that infinite ocean of beauty where wonder becomes awe, exhilaration, unspeakable joy.” 

A photo of me wearing my #Coolture headband while painting! Thanks Luanne!

yes I brought a bit of UWW with me...

Next two images are nearly all my studies drying in the sun before I depart the next day:

Maybe someday I will be able to go back!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

‘The Country of Sunlight, The Village of Milkweed’

‘The Country of Sunlight, The Village of Milkweed” someone asked if there was any here is the Milkweed.  Still not done...but I can finish when the semester is over.  The last layer will have to come from my minds eye.... really still challenging to invent the girl…
Here is my latest version of her face and a few more…teaching an overload - messy studio....can't wait to get in there and do some winter studies!

I wanted to make her face express both peace and sober awareness.  I know it’s not done yet… it is difficult to invent her face without anything but what is in my minds eye.