remodernism

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Grassy Waters

Grassy Waters 9 x 12 Acrylic on Canvas Paper .  This one was very well received when I posted it on Facebook.   I have been trying to do some daily painting to implement what I have been learning lately.  In this one I was focusing on the Cape Cod School of Art.

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IMG_9275Well it’s Spring in Delray

Beach, which means it is starting to get hot.  But the weather was great for the opening event for Delray Marketplace: Le Cirque Delray.

I decided it might be a good place to paint-out so I organized an outing for my plein air group.  Although several signed up, only two of us found each other amid the chaos of marching bands and costumed superheroes.

IMG_9279Even before I realized it was going to get hot and muggy, I had staked out spot in the shade by the bounce house.  This turned to be a good idea as my fellow artist succumbed to heat exhaustion and had to be taken to the hospital by the paramedics.  I gathered up all her art supplies, and she came by later in the evening to pick them up.

Many of the people attending the event thought I was part of the entertainment and asked if I were doing caricatures or face painting.  My husband came by and we had lunch at Terra Fiamma.  It was fantastic, and you can see his review of it on TripAdvisor.

I decided to paint some of the architecture.  This is great way to force yourself, as an artist, to get the correct perspective as you can hear the comments of those passing by.  It’s always better to hear “Oh, I see she is painting the building”  rather than “What is the World is that?”

All painting is a very intimate encounter, but painting plein air is even more so. I do find it challenging to work in this manner and often have to do a lot more work on the painting back in the studio, but I love painting outside, even in a mall.

It is like being all by yourself with your subject while at the same time being in the middle of a crowd.  The major difference is once you set up the crowd has to walk around you.

This proved to be a serious problem when our the group was painting at Delray Beach Play House at Lake Ida Park East .  We were having our critique session, and suddenly, three busloads of school kids were having a picnic around us.  The kids were very good but it was still too much for us, so we had to call it quits that day.

Delray Marketplace is a good place to paint, and because of the 911 call, I got to talk with the manager of the complex, Amy Ferguson, who told me she wants to have our group back at another time.  It’s very nice that the businesses are so receptive to artists painting at their locations.


Plein Air Artists are often looking toward the past, in that they document the structures of a town before they are torn down; at Delray Marketplace, we were at the opening.

Can’t wait to see the bougainvillea next year on the archways!  It will give us some nice shade to paint under./

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IMG_8736Getting back to painting more regularly has been good: good for me and good for my work. Painting is a lot like dance.  The muscles don’t forget, but to be good requires constant practice.

One of the directions I have been exploring is a mixed media approach using digitized watercolor combined with photography and digital painting.   The initial step is to complete a watercolor in the conventional manner. To create the initial image, there is nothing that can replace the dynamic and expressive way watercolor develops on paper.   Then, it is converted to a digital image.  It is quite exciting to see the details in an enlarged format in a digital image. This approach reveals a level of exquisiteness inherent in pigment in water that is otherwise invisible.

Once the image has been digitized, I combine it with a digital photograph, usually one of the images from my “nature’s wonders” series.  I, then, break up the photo highlighting design elements of the photograph and integrate them into the watercolor image.  In this way, I create the effect of the complexity multiple layers of nature and, if all works well, reveal a level of beauty that is otherwise unobtainable.

One of the digital paintings I’ve created with this process is Hidden Orchid.  Here, I have used a spider-webbing technique on the original watercolor with colors that incorporate the light and reflections of an orchid I photographed growing on a tree.  The photograph was manipulated also digitally to isolate the blossom and stem.  The background light of the photograph was further broken up and moved to enhance design and to integrate that image with the watercolor.  The watercolor image was also modified for transparency, and several layers of different sections with varieties of transparency were integrated with the blossom to give the effect of the complexity beneath the beauty of the blossoming orchid.

I have been pleased that the work I’ve completed in this Art/Science series has been well received on Fine Art America and my CafePress Store, Donna’s Art for Everyone  As much as I’d love to be seen as the next great artist to collect and have collectors in a bidding war over my work, I truly believe in art being accessible to everyone.  So, the fact that prints and merchandise of this new direction has had recent sales encourages me to believe that people are responding to my art.  The problem is most of the local venues for group exhibits do not allow digital work, so I am looking into finding venues that do allow it.  In my view, this is “the new art” of our time, and resistance to it has to be expected.

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For the last month or so, I’ve been participating in outdoor exhibitions run by The Delray Artist’s League that are called “Artists in the Park.” Usually, it’s a fun and interesting, although particularly unprofitable, experience.  However, on my birthday, February 20th, it got a lot less fun.

Here is where I hit the street to sell my art

I was moving things from the car to my assigned display-spot when my toe was caught by the concrete stop the city had put in place to prevent cars from touching their precious sidewalk.  Because I had my hands full, the first part of my anatomy to reach the ground was my face.  Fortunately, beyond a cut lip, an enormous bruise on my cheek and a broken rib, I was relatively unharmed.

Back in my consulting days, we had the phrase “hit the street running,” this was NOT what we meant; however, it did point out with painful clarity the difference between what I was fearing, “falling flat on my face as an artist” and what had happened, simply “falling flat on my face.”  Obviously, I wasn’t able to vend that weekend, but the next weekend, I was back in my old spot, fired by a new determination.    Up to this,  it had been Sidewalk -1,  No Sales -1,  Donna -0.  It was time for me to get on the scoreboard.

It worked.  I sold a print.  A total stranger walked up, loved my work, and bought it.  The print was of one of my favorite paintings, an underwater view of a coral reef with all the delightful wildlife that is so much a part of it.  What a head trip to be recognized as an artist!

Of course, I haven’t been wasting my time.  While I sat outside of my tent painting, I have been taking careful note what people seemed to like about my work, what things were appealing to them and what my colleagues were selling.

Another thing that takes place quite a bit when I’ve vending is because my sign announces my orientation as a Remodernist Painter.  While I do have a short explanation of what this means as part of my personal display, many people come by and ask me to expand on it.  This has led me to consider creating “an elevator speech,” something that is short, compelling and memorable.

When I asked the assistance of my friends on the artists’ website RedBubble, it spawned what is called “a challenge,” wherein the contributor on a particular board engage in the cooperative effort of refining a statement to its essence.  (You can view all the responses at http://www.redbubble.com/groups/remodernist-painters/challenges )     My personal response is Remodernism is an alternative to the established High Art hegemony, known as Post-Modernism.   The movement  is a response to the distance from meaning, beauty, and emotion that Post-Modernism has traveled and favors instead the intent of the artist communicated through the spirituality or emotional impact of their work.

The other big news is that I’ve been accepted for Vermont Artists Week at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont, and I will be going up there the last week in April through the first week of May for an intensive week of studio work.  All of the participants live at the Studio Center and share time, space and meals.  I will have a private studio and have a chance to meet with other artists.  I’m really excited about the opportunity.

Oh, and another thing, I’ve discovered that Dunkin Donuts and I are celebrating the same number to years, not sure if that is good or not.

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Alter at the Church of Nazareth, Israel. Photo taken 1981 on a tour of the Holy Land. /
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alter at Nazareth

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What does art have to do with spirituality.   Now, I accept the difference between religion and spirituality.   Both are an important part of my life as is art.   I wanted to examine the links.   Scholars have defined art as: “the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way that appeals to the senses or emotions.    Art is a simulation of feelings, expressions, and ideas, communicated to elicit, provoke, inspire, and create those feelings, expressions, and ideas in an observer of the visual art work.”   In short, art seeks to communicate.   Universally, you find symbolism in all art.   In some art, we may have lost the cultural “language,” but even if we don’t understand the message, we can feel it trying to speak to us.   This symbolism often seems to be spiritual in nature.   Spirituality is based on a sense of connection, a sense of connection that goes beyond the physical world and one’s self.   It can include emotional experience, including those of awe or reverence.   If you’ve been reading these blogs, you know that I’ve been long interested in the fusion of art and science.    However, I accept that the scientific method is not well suited to validating either religion or spirituality.   Some of the dichotomy is that while science endeavors to “know;” art endeavors to “express.” Of course, they are not completely things of different planes.    The things at science learns find themselves expressed as art.   This makes me wonder about the purpose of art, especially as it relates to spirituality.   In this, I take my lead from an address by Pope Pius XII to a group of Italian artists received in audience on April 8, 1952: “The function of all art lies in fact in breaking through the narrow and tortuous enclosure of the finite, in which man is immerged while living here below, and in providing a window to the infinite for his hungry soul.”   Obviously, one doesn’t have to buy into the particular flavor of religion that the Pope was representing to recognize that the phrase does carry much of what some artists seek to convey when they are dealing with a spiritual subject.   A more mundane, tripartite breakdown of artistic components could be expressed as physical, social or personal. The most easily defined category is physical.   No one can argue that even today art is an important component of most day to day items, from chairs to clothing to whole buildings to, if people like Paolo Soleri have their way, entire cities.   These categories often overlap in a given piece of art.   A warrior seeking to “stand out from the mob” might well have the image of a martial god carved upon his shield.   This would not only identify him from a distance but would be a statement of from whom he derives his strength and resolve.   Many artists have felt strongly that they have to make a statement about their culture.   This may take the form of idealizing and honoring the culture or of criticizing it by making what is generally invisible, through conditioning or neglect, visible.   Without a personal reason for doing art, I doubt much would be produced.  The incentive may be the sheer joy of producing beauty or of stimulating thought, but bags of gold and silver provide an incentive equally powerful.   Here I’d like to concentrate on the personal component where the artist is trying to some spiritual or symbolic.   The symbols in art reflect a multi-dimensional reality.   We start to see the spiritual aspects of the artist’s intention.   Looking back in the history of art, one can sense the constant presence of this spiritual intention.   Take the earliest art known, the Venus of Willendorf sculpture that was created sometime between 25,000-20,000 BCE.   At first glance, it is a crude female figure much pregnant and lacking detail.    It is likely it was either the representation of a specific fertility goddess or is a general fertility charm.   In any case, it has meaning far beyond its first appearance, being an attempt on the part of humanity to influence powers beyond its ken.   It simply amazes me that this earliest know art has this art-spirituality link.   This concept came to me recently when I visited the African Art Exhibition at the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art.    There was a multitude of masks and other things used in their rituals.    I was struck at the many ways these people used art as an interface to communicate with their gods or as objects of devotion to ease the passage of loved ones into the next world and give them standing and status there. This seems to be consistent over time.   Art and religious were conjoined largely because generally the Church had the kind of money needed to endow artists, and the rich outside the Church were obsessed in being able to transfer their status from this world to the next. As the societies because more worldly, the short lived Metaphysical Art movement of the early 1900’s sprang from the urge to explore the imagined inner life of familiar objects when represented out of their explanatory context.   Also, Surrealism , as defined by the founder, Breton, is based on the belief in the superior reality of certain forms of previously neglected associations, in the omnipotence of dream, in the disinterested play of thought.   It tends to ruin once and for all other psychic mechanisms and to substitute itself for them in solving all the principal problems of life. And so to the present.   One of the artists I’ve been communicating with through FaceBook told me about Vedic art which presents itself as a way to achieve a higher state of consciousness through artistic creativity, to create beyond the demands of technique and result-producing.   Some of their material meshes nicely with my present ponderings about art and creativity.   There have been times when I pined for the “good old days” as in the Renaissance where artists lived in communities and learned from one another, but I have come to the conclusion that I’m in an even better world.    We do have a vibrant artists community here in Southern Florida, but through the Internet I have both direct and indirect contact with tens of thousands of artists all over the world who can expose me to concepts like Vedic art, something that might well not have happened in the more conventional schools of the past.   This brings me back to how I came to be identified with the Remodernists.   First a brief definition from RedBubble, a group that I’ve found to be very valuable in my growth as an artist: “Briefly, Remodernists do not think that Modern Art is rubbish, we do not believe that communication via art is impossible, and we do believe that one of the legitimate goals of an artist can be the sincere expression of an authentic personal spirituality.”   This, of course, resonated with me, and it seems I’ve become a link in a chain for accepting it and passing it on.    I recently received an email through FaceBook saying that the writer hand read about my recognition that I was a Remodernist at heart and from what I had written she found the same feelings in her heart.   I think there is a great desire to find a meaning beyond the everyday, the physical, the mundane, and that desire is what brings spirituality to the fore.   Over the past few years,  I’ve been exploring some of the new thoughts of consciousness and metaphysics; factor in my new, practical interest in art and I can feel a synergy forming.   It’s not yet stable or tangible for me to grasp more than the fascinating outline,  but I do find myself being called to express the spiritual essences that I seem to sense.   So this is where I find myself on this dim and fog shrouded road,  filled with both thrill and unease. Ahead,  I sense wonder but know I have a long way to go before I find what I hope is ahead.

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