motivation

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Went to see Loving Vincent this week and it lived up to the accolades it has received. The movie is an animated hand-painted movie about the last days and death of Vincent van Gogh by the movie-making team Dorota Kobiela and High Watchman. They employed 125 artists to recreate van Gogh’s works to create the animation. It is technically brilliant and captivating to watch the works of van Gogh come to life. The plot is a police procedural of the death of Vincent van Gogh with Armand Roulin played by Douglas Booth tasked by his postmaster father, played by Chris O’Dowd to deliver Vincent’s final letter. The story line is simply platform for the mesmerizing animation of the paintings.

I was especially intrigued as part of my own artist path I have recreated famous works of Impressionist artists. Vincent van Gogh was particularly interesting to do in paint as I felt like I had my hand on the paint brush as he was painting and could feel the emotion and tension. So I felt a kinship with the artists who worked on this animated movie and with Vincent van Gogh himself. Here are some of my homage to Vincent.

My rendition of van Gogh’s Starry Night in watercolor.

My rendition of van Gogh’s bedroom in Arles in watercolor

My rendition of van Gogh’s 12 Sunflowers done in watercolor

I’m glad I made the time to see Loving Vincent, definitely worth it and has got me thinking of new ideas for my own art as well. I recommend seeing it. Take a look at the trailer to get a glimpse.

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This year we stayed in Vermont a little longer in order to see the fall foliage which fell short this year of a usual spectacular display.  But here is a view of my last week there.  On the last day of the Craftsbury Farmers Market, the artists of Plein Air Northeast Kingdom exhibited their plein air paintings at the Market (slide 1).  It is a great typical Farmers Market (slide 2) and the area surrounding the common quintessential Vermont (slide 3)   

A few days after the exhibit we were all packed up and ready to go and I took one last picture of the yard (slide 4).  As we headed down the road I  noticed frost on the fields near by where we live (slide 5).  There was also frost on the windshield, something we have not dealt with in quite some time.  We did leave before any snow.  I miss sleeping in the cool nights, now I have to reply on AC.  As we headed out of Barton we saw the mist in the valley  (slide 6).

I had a good season of painting while up in VT, both plein air and studio.  The natural beauty of the NEK so inspires me.  I have updated my website on FAA; it now has all the originals for sale, along with prints and cool merchandise.   I really believe in affordable art and it thrills me to no end when someone wants to live with some of my artwork.  So take a look.

 

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It’s Saturday afternoon and the week is winding down this week… this really wonderful week. I’m so happy to have had this experience, and I’m sure everyone else who is here feels the same way.  I’ve gone around and taken pictures of everyone in their studios.  Perhaps I’ll make some kind of photo collage.

I was completely open when I came here; I didn’t have a plan and brought only blank paper and blank canvases.  I think that worked out to a good thing because it made me completely open to experimentation.  Yesterday afternoon when I was finishing “Awakening,” the one with the rainbow hair and the overt symbolism, I had an epiphany; I felt like I I was free and expressive.  At that point, a few people came by said that they really liked it.

This gave me such a feeling of affirmation… like I really was in touch with something inside of me.

Later, I decided to use a new medium, a watercolor canvas, with the geometric painting I’ve been working on.  I had begun that one very very methodically, and some of it had to do with the readings I’ve been doing on visual intelligence and the way the eye sees and interprets certain objects.

Part of my planning and process was the study of it all.  This, in turn, opened a cognitive door that has brought me in touch with my own process, which tends to break down into a lot of planning and investigating various processes, such as photographing, looking, touching, reading, studying…  all the various sensory approaches I can use to communicate the topic and environment of the painting.

Usually it’s an emotion or a feeling.  It can be quite tricky sometimes, but I now feel that, at least, I’ve identified the process.  An example of this happened when I was working on this geometric painting.  I had begun with the portion I’d planned out methodically in advance, but new ideas began to appear and overwrite what I’d planned to do with each section.  The painting was interacting with me.  It was like being in a Jazz dance with each new move flowing organically from what had come before, but in a living, dynamic and unexpected pattern.

I’m looking forward to trying this with an entirely new image.  Now, that it’s happening there is so much potential and I want to do something different with it.

Of course, I still have the rainbow hair one to finish; I’ll always see it as a treasure because of what it gave me.

I’m going to top off this week by getting a massage.  I noticed one of my studiomates this afternoon strongly resembled toffee in the warm sun.  When I asked her about it, she told me our life model is also a masseuse who is offering a special price to the Vermont Studio Week people.

That is just too good to pass up.

Main Street Johnson, VT

I’ll get the massage, finish up my painting tonight, drop in at the readings being done by the literary arts people, and tomorrow is Open Studio… then back to the real world.

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I’m going to take the opportunity of March being “Women’s History Month” and study a bit about women artists in the past.  The biggest problem with studying that topic is that there just isn’t that much readily available material.

My first group show was in 1956

Women in art seem to have been largely ignored until the 1960s and the Feminist Artists Movement.  Of course, this was a challenge, and I love a challenge.

Some of the findings were real eye-openers.

Women artists had not been unproductive in the past.  However, much of what they did was not defined as “art” by the “artistic community;”  it was “craft.”  To show how this worked, we can look at the output from and the reception of the works by very skilled and productive artist, Faith Ringgold.

An African-American woman, Ms Ringgold grew up with family members who had been held in slavery in their youth.  As an adjunct to keeping oral histories, the women of the family had created what they called “Story Quilts.”  The squares in each quilt depicted incidents in the family history.  Ms Ringgold, a painter, took these images and incorporated them into her work, retaining the form and content of the original in the new medium.

It was, to me, such an exciting concept, a sort of “unbroken chain,” connecting people and generations.

To be honest, male artisans of the Renaissance struggled under much the same ghetto-izaton.  Leonardo Da Vinci did more to create the concept of artist-genius that anyone else.  When he began his campaign, the artist was considered a menial craftsman.  By continually stressing the intellectual aspects of art and creativity, Leonardo transformed the artist’s public status into, as he put it “Lord and God”.

Eventually, the men of the era were able to break through the “snob ceiling;” unfortunately, they weren’t accompanied by their female contemporaries when the history was told.   Until the appearance of revisionist art histories in the 1960’s most information about women artist’s was buried.

This brought about a personal revelation.  I had been thinking that I had begun my quest to be an artist a short time ago, but viewing my life through the new facet of a cognitive prism, I realized that I’ve really been on this road for much of my life.  I had been convinced that the quilts, paint-by-number, macramé and all the crafts I had experimented with weren’t really “creative.”  In fact I used to go out plein air drawing when I did not even know it was considered a genre.  When in Boston, I used to go to Walden Pond to soak in the natural beauty of the place and to draw flowers.

However, with this epiphany, I could see that it had been a real outlet for my creativity.  Such an exciting unearthing!

Just recently, my nephew uncovered evidence that I had had an artistic background early in life.  He had been going through some family photos, and he found a picture of me, with my first-grade class, taking part in a group painting exercise in a storefront.  Seeing the picture triggered a wealth of memories.  It had been great fun.  They actually let me use all the paper I wanted.  Midas at his height could not have felt more privileged.

Floodgates open, I remembered that in the seventh grade I had been the team captain for the winning group of youngsters who painted the Halloween decorations for the town storefronts.  It was amusing to think that this was a foretaste for two of my careers: project manager and artist.

It hadn’t seemed worth of consideration back there, but I was the one that drew all the pictures with the members of my team painting them as I directed afterwards.  Shades of a Renaissance studio.

Now, I’m coming to understand there were a lot of road marks, potential premonitions about which I simply hadn’t taken cognizance.

As another example, when I took electives in college, where my cord studies were hard science, I took art courses.

Studying these women artists has been fascinating, both for the factual information and how it has helped me in personal growth.  I’ve put a lot of addition information about what I’ve found on my FaceBook page for anyone who might be interested.

It has been such an interesting experience.

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/At the Barton FairEquestrian Competition at the fairadvertising the fair
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As the end of my last week in Vermont comes to a close, I’ve been thinking of my approach and motivation as an artist and how my sketch tour has played into that.

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For example, John and I were at the Orleans Country Agricultural Fair, and it was wonderful.  I’ve never been to an event like this and I was delighted to see all the handcrafts, the prize winning vegetables and pies, and to watch the children petting and grooming horses and other livestock.  I was amazed at how inspirational the experience was for the artist in me.  I can’t wait to translate the feelings and images into paintings and share this little piece of Americana, to show others what life is like up here.

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The sketch tour, not to mention my broken ankle, has forced me into a pace, a schedule and rhythm so I have a nice schedule as to when to read, when to paint, when to study as well as ample time to practice which has just been wonderful.  I’ve painted every single day.

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I’ve found that Turner used to do a summer sketch tour every year of his life and that led to an enormous output.   I felt a great nostalgia or connection when I read that.

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The approach I’ve taken is first to master the technique while trying not being a slave to it.  When I go to paint something I want to be able to use technique as a tool and not be frustrated by my inability to do that.

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I’ve focused my attention and practice to water color techniques.  I was reminded of this fact when I recently used acrylic to create postcard for someone who has been wonderful and supportive about the new direction my life is taking.  However, despite the acrylic medium, I found myself painting with water color techniques and aiming for a watercolor feel and look.  Obviously, I couldn’t send an actual watercolor postcard because the image was unlikely to survive to its destination.

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I like to interact with the subject.  Up to now, that has largely been nature.  What I mean by “interacting” in a sense of wonderment, joy or whatever it is I feel when I see my subject.  Even the most mundane things can create this feeling.  For example, Verizon’s cell phone service is extremely spotty in this area.  To put it in their own terms, most of the time they can’t “hear me now.”  Perforce, I regularly find myself in the middle of a cornfield about a half mile from where we are staying in order to keep in touch.  But still, that cornfield is inspirational.

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Also, there are so many butterflies here.  Every time I’m sitting outside there are usually two or three.  To watch them flittering about, gives me, brush in hand, a delightful feeling.

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Once I develop that response, I try to communicate it in my painting.

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I’m still not sure how I would categorize my style.  I was quite young when the modern abstract movement was reaching its crest.  While I didn’t understand it at the time, now, with it as part of my cultural environment, I’m becoming more appreciative.

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However, My style seems largely influenced by the impressionists.  I don’t want to be a “mere recorder” as some of the post-impressionist artists criticized the earlier movement, and tried to move beyond.  I want part of myself to be part of each work.

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Part of me sees the process of creation as much like part of the scientific method, collecting data.  I feel that when I’m studying, photographing or looking at various subjects.  I’m now seeing them in a different way.  The images, even of the minutest object, have an enormity, an immenseness, that calls for a reduction, a distilling, to allow the uncovering of aspects that have been hidden by the sheer mass.

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When I synthesizing a painting and communicate my response, I feel I am summarizing the data in much the same way the report of an experiment or study has a conclusion wherein readers are invited to comment.

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In the final construction, I’m continually amazed that individuals have such different responses.  It’s gratifying to know that there is something intangible yet quite real that goes on in the process of creation.  Being part of the process is one of the major things that has drawn me to art.

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My motivation is related to my approach, responding to the subject and then communicating that response.  The entire work, both seen and unseen, evokes a very mystical and spiritual response, and that is what I’m trying to convey.

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Art of any generation is a reflection of its surroundings and culture.  I see myself as an East Coast Remodernist artist.  I try to paint in a representational manner, but in a manner that creates a spiritual feeling in the work.  These four weeks in Vermont have certainly clarified much of that for me.

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As this stay in Vermont comes to a close, I’m looking forward to the trip home during which I’ll stopping to try to capture some of the Appalachian atmosphere.

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