Thursday, March 26, 2015

New Art Studio at Studio Unknown

There are a couple of  reasons I haven't posted lately.  The main one is that I now have a new art studio!  Yesterday, Szag and I booked our studios at Studio Unknown at 914 Easley Bridge Rd. (Hwy. 122) in Greenville, SC!  We are so excited.  It's a great place and easy location not far from the main drag at Pendleton in the Village of West Greenville, just a little bit further than Ryan Calloway's blacksmith shop and art gallery studios at Creative Artistry on Andrews St.
The other reason is that I've been insanely painting and framing to get submissions ready for three big juried shows in Anderson, SC, Pickens, SC and Artisphere in Greenville.  Today I deliver "Diana" and "Textile Mill Owner" to Anderson Arts Center. 
I moved in a few things yesterday for my studio, but Bruce Miller, the owner, is building me a new door and wall so I'm not going to bring the big things yet and get in his way.  The place is awesome with four studios and a public space with lots of walls to hang art, two separate seating areas, a dining table and four chairs, a TV, stove refrigerator, stove, sink, microwave, two crockpots, and a coffee maker!  So we can hold events and serve food and chill out with the other artists when we're not working!   There is also an outdoor area with a table, chairs, a fire pit and grill.  So we're all set to really interact with each other, other artists, patrons and visitors.
I'm so excited - it is the coolest place and Bruce, the owner, is an incredible person, a great artist with a background in art and music.  He  was an inker for Marvel Comics, even did Spiderman for years since he was a very young man and also has a lengthy career in the music interests, playing in a number of bands, touring and opening for the likes of Bad Company and Styx. He has lots of cool stories and we think alike about polytheism, synchronicity, loves Jim Morrison like I do.  His favorite artist is Dali, just like Szag. 
I did a thrift store run and found a cool chair for $20.00, a small shelf for $2.00, a wicker medicine cabinet for storing paints for $7.50 and a wastebasket for $1.00.  I painted them all turquoise sea blue to make a short of Jane Coslick look.  I'll be bringing my red futon and chair that I had in my studio at the Village Studios along with a funky styled metal high top chair in seagreen which I can sit on to paint from my table top easel, my two easels, a set of storage drawers, a large standing cabinet that someone was throwing out in my neighborhood so its free, and a crazy table with a lighted top that I found at the side of the road a year ago in my neighborhood. I'll also upcycle and paint these two pieces turquoise sea blue,  And then there are all the paints, frames, canvases, wood boxes and boards I've been hoarding since I recovered from cancer.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Textile Milltowns Oil painting and Encaustic

I grew up in a textile mill town in New England.  Lowell, Mass.  was known for its textiles and was
established to build the textile industry in the 1826 and was known as the cradle of the Industrial Revolution. because it had the Merrimack River flowing through its graceful flatlands, with canals branching off into different direction,. the site was chosen so the textile factories could be powered by waterwheels. The additional introduction of a complex railway system, allowed the raw materials to be shipped to the factories and the finished goods to be shipped all over the north.  The farm girls from what was once just farmlands of Chelmsford, Mass  moved into the mill row houses and worked in the mills.  By the 1860's, Lowell was the largest industrial complex in the United States.   Immigrants form all over the world camne to work in Lowell, over the years, starting with the Irish escaping the potato famine in the early 1800's who came and built the mills.
Everyone in my family worked in the mill, my mother, myself (at the age of fourteen, working in the summers during high school), my ex-husband, and I at Joann Fabrics in Lowell, my son, at J.P. Stevens in Greenville, SCall except for my daughter.  I worked in the office as did my mother of JoAnne Fabrics, enjoyed it and made a good salary for my age.
My then husband who had worked in the mill since 18 years of age, started off as a sweeper and worked his
way up the ladder to become the vice president of a textile company over the years, was offered a job at SACM in Mauldin in the Greenville, SC area.  We moved to the south when I was 29 and my son was 8 and my daughter 10 months old. When we arrived I discovered Greenville was another huge textile town, once again established because of the Reedy River and all its canals.  Greenville and Lowell are about the same size and have a similar historical feeling, although Lowell is a good bit older and has preserved much more of its history due to being on the National Register of Historical cities.
Whereas Lowell housed its workers in row houses, boarding houses and eventually three story Victorian homes where three generations of families lived, Greenville established its mill villages.  I now live in a 1920's mill village house.
So long intro - take a deep breath, when I paint somehow textile buildings, mills and water towers pop up in my backgrounds. 
This happened with textile mill owner, which started out as a figure painting of my ex-boyfriend, Danny Johns of Staines, England.  He came to visit my after two years of courting me in letters and poems for a year, then another year of weekly three hour phone calls.  We became engaged after he came for a visit.  I shot this photo of him wearing a foreign officer;s coat he found at the Army/Navy store.  He stood surveying the Reedy River and the city of Greenville at the time, unknown to me, he was considering whether to move to Greenville or not. Just before he left after we'd been all over Greenville, visited Atlanta and saw Ministry as guest of the band in the sound booth, had a large medieval costume party and fell in love, he asked me to marry him. Unfortunately a few months after he arrived home, he realized he couldn't leave England and he broke off the engagement.
When I painted him in oils, the face came out quite different and quirky, the head too large and too slim for real9ity, but I paint quirky figures, I like them distorted. In the past, artists often distorted features in art, especially of the gods. For example in India, temple sculptors would exaggerate the breasts and buttocks of the female gods to portray her sexuality. I like smart men with good minds, and Danny was one of those so I guess I subconsciously exaggerated the head. I painted this in a five hour session.  It's not finished but is too wet to make any more changes.The background ended up being more mills than stores and upscale hotels.  I thought he looked like a figure form the past and he seemed to be to be a little arrogant, serious and looking like someone from the 1700's-1800's.  So I decided he was a textile magnet who built mills around the city.
Another piece of art that turned into a textile theme a cityscape of mills created on an 11X14 piece of cradled wood in beeswax encaustic paint.  There are two paintings beneath it that didn't work, one that was a cityscape collage in Germany and the other a painting of an old man on a city street.  The texture is very thick and varied on this board since I painted wax over paper and many layers of wax. It has a very abstract effect but I like it because it reminds me of the mill yard on a hot day when we would walk away from the mill to downtown to get lunch in a little diner with the best french fries.    

Diana oil painting completed

I've finally finished my oil painting "Diana."  This piece probably took four-13 hour days over a period of
three weeks.  I allowed a good bit of drying time in between some of the painting sessions because I had responsibilities watching my three year old granddaughter, Deven.

This painting is 36X11 on a wooden board I found at the SOS thrift store.  I love to upcycle when I can, and have found working on wood easier for painting faces than working on canvas. 

To complete the painting, I did some more work on her dress, finished scumbling the zinc white over dioxiide purple and finished her right hand, Rembrandt was known for scumbling  and tthe technique of scumbling is often used for the backgrounds for portraits, allowing the face to stand out more than by being distracted by the details of an interior or landscape background.  Although I've used this technique a good bi in figure's faces, backgrounnds and landscapes, it's a bit hard to describe.

Marion Boddy Evans says on her website -

"Scumbling can be done with opaque or transparent colors, but the effect is greater with an opaque color and with a light color over a dark. When you look at it from a distance the colors mix optically. Up close you'll see the brushwork and texture in the scumbled layer."

The hand is still not quite the way I'd like it, and I decided not to put anything symbolic in her hand, but I decided to stop because it was not as noticeable once I toned down the color.   I'm pretty happy with this piece.  It's more than I expected working on such a large scale for me and working in oils, which I love but which is always a challenge, especially when I tend to paint s many  critical areas wet on wet, as I did the face.

Paul Easton described the effects on his blog -

"It was fun to try the new technique for me of using a wash   I've done it in furniture refinishing and wall painting, but never on my oil paintings. Atmospheric. Translucent. Radiant. Painterly. Chances are if you’ve ever applied these descriptive terms to an oil painting, you were looking at some of the effects scumbling can give you."

Absinthe Night - Radical Changes, Session Two

It always surprising me how much a painting changes during the process.  Even in a painting completed in
one day, painting wet on wet in oils, the painting evolves as the artist acts as critic during the process.  I tend to recognize discrepancies in my work at intervals, sometimes by moving the painting to a different room, where the light is different and not reflecting off the wet paint and sitting at a different perspective.  I'll watch TV or read a book, periodically looking up so I can hope to view the painting as an observer who hasn't been looking at it during the past few hours.  This is the only way I can get perspective and sometimes I realize I'll have to sleep on it and view the painting in the morning in order to see it with news eyes.  That's the only way to view it for, looking at a if fir the first time.
While painting "Absinthe Night", an 18X24 piece in oils on canvas, I am constantly making radical changes.  I changed the round table to square, altered the figure on the far left by enlarging his body and rubbing out what was a decent face of a 9 to 12 year old boy, reshaping the head and starting the face all over to try and make him look over 21 years old. I also scrubbed out the face of the red-haired woman on the right and turned her head more three quarters than side view. I broadened the bodies of the two figures in the middle and started to flesh out their arms more.
Standing back I realized I didn't like the background color so changed it to a different and lighter shade of green than the door.
The room is slowly becoming less and less like my living room and more like a room I've never seen before. This saddens me a bit but what might look good in my house, is not working with the somber colored clothing of the figures.  So far I've left the curtains as they stood at the end of the first day, but now I'm not very happy with them any more and may change them but haven't yet figured out what color and what sort of
atmosphere do I want.  With  brighter color curtains I'll create a more exciting kind of vibe, but I see Absinthe as a drink one would imbibe what one in a dark place, kind of on the sly, and while my living room has copper colored metallic looking fabric, the room is much darker in real life than the palette I used.
On the third session of the next day, I painted the second figure from the left based on a writer friend who is part Cherokee.  Somehow he ended up looking more Middle Eastern or Spanish and I can't quite yet figure out why, so don't know what changes to make.  The second figure on the right who is standing, is based on a female writer friend,  but once I completed her face, she only looks slightly like her.  And the female figure on the far right, which represents a younger self-portait looks more like a Victorian woman.  This is not surprising since I've painted and drawn many Victorian women and love the era in art.
I still have more work to do on the eyes of the two men on the left, and in adding the glasses, bottles, trays, silver spoon, sugar cube and other items related to the Absinthe ritual on the table, as well as items on the shelves. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Absinthe Night, new painting - process

So I took on the challenge of creating a painting including four figures.  Not my usual style.  I used an 18X24 canvas and blocked it out with pencil first.  I didn't follow most of my pencil lines but they gave me a sense of where to place my figures.  The painting is based on actual evening I spent with members of they Reedy River Rats Writers Group based here in Greenville, SC Charleston.   One night after our writers meeting at Coffee Underground, we decided to go back to my house.  I had recently received in the mail a bottle of Swiss Absinthe, this was in 2007 and it was still illegal to sell Absinthe in the United States but you could purchase it from other countries and have it shipped.  I had already found four wonderful absinthe glasses at Goodwill that looked just like the ones in paintings by Degas and  Vuillard, and I had been gifted with a silver slotted spoon upon which you place the sugar cube to produce the louche.  It was a fun experience completing the ritual of achieving the louche talking about writers who wrote about absinthe, as well as artists.  I wished I had taken a photo.
And I'd always wanted a turn of the century painting of Absinthe drinkers, having seen a few, and been fascinated by the concept of the Green Fairy since reading about Absinthe in Poppy Z. Brite's book, Lost Souls.  Her husband now owns the restaurant The Green Goddess in New Orleans where every dish has liquor  I'd even found a chapbook by Alestair Crowley on the subject and was fascinated by the culture.
So when I was scrounging around for ideas for larger paintings, the idea just popped into my head one morning in that zone somewhere between asleep and awake.  Thanks time zone change for this short period of confusion and illumination.  
I started out painting the table in my living from which we served our drinks.  It's heavy wood, kind of
Viking looking and round with studs.  But after painting it in, it had no perspective (not my strong suit).  It looked as if it was standing on the side of the tabletop.
So I looked up lots of absinthe paintings from France for the turn of the century and found cafes and tables and after seeing the way Degas painted a white table in "L", I decided to change the table to a rectangle so I could put a leg on it for perspective. I had to use a lot of paint to make the changeover, and reinforce the wood planks on the top.  But it worked! This also gave me more room for my figures to crowd around.  I blocked in the figures, painted their clothes and then started working on heads.  I completed the far one on the left.  But he ended u[ looking like a 12 year old kid.  I can't have a 12 year old kid drinking absinthe. So I dabbled with the background, put in the green door which sits behind my couch where most of us were sitting back in 2007.  And stared at the painting.  It was now about 11:30 last night. I also put in the face on the figure on the right with red hair that's supposed to be me.  But it was all wrong so I scrubbed it out and will let it dry overnight.  I fiddled a little with it some more started putting in the background and the curtains (Which look more like those at Coffee C nderground in the India-influenced room, so the interior may end up being a blend of Coffee Underground and my living room, since the table looks like on of theirs too.  I ended up going to bed at 1:00 pm.
This morning I.  I started at 7 am and scrubbed out the neck and face of the kid and worked until 10:10.  He's finished, I think. I also worked on the background some more painting the walls a mix of grey and yellow trying to come up with the beige that;s in living room.  Those walls have a base coat of beige but then there are dark greens, dark blues and copper dragged down from the ceiling like the screen set at a NIN concert I went to circa 2008.
So far I've used 15 brushes and a palette consisting of zinc white, lamp black, sienna, yellow ochre, lemon yellow, vermillion, viridian, Payne;s grey, violet and English light red. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Absinthe, Art and Challenges

I'm very excited.  I was able to do a lot if painting over the weekend.  Am close to finishing, "Diana" my oil painting on the 36"X11" wooden panel.  Just need to fix her left hand when the paint dries.  And then I completed a small piece, "Paul,"  a sepia toned oil on wooden panel in three hours (with a few touch ups later in the day) as I left it on my new easel and kept examining it for flaws.
I painted 13 hours on Diana on Saturday with a few breaks to get on Facebook, Blogger and Tumblr.
I like Tumbler because it has so much art to check.  I got the idea from artist, Tim Speaker, of the Art Bomb, who makes posts from his art studio on it.  I love keeping up with his work, because he's one of my favorite artists to collect.  I have a piece of his in my bedroom and love it.
Then I have to start thinking out going larger for two juried shows I'm trying to get into. My son gave me a gift card to Michael's for my birthday do I went planning to get small things like paint.  But they had a clearance section of open back frames on sale for ridiculously low prices and they weren't damaged.  Just the last of their style. I found a gold 18X24, regularly priced at $99.99 for $20.00, a 16X20 gold  frame with carved accents, regularly $49.99  for $10.00 and an 11X14 blue wood frame regularly 39.99 for $6.00.  They also had canvases on sale so I bought three canvases to fit them.  And I'm ready to start the next two paintings.  Can't today because I'm watching my three-year old granddaughter, Deven today.  We're painting on wooden pocket books for her doll today along with a bird feeder for my porch.
I searched for ideas for my large pieces and came up with an image of a past boyfriend, Danny Johns from England, whose photo I took as he overlooked the Reedy River downtown.  It will give me a chance to do some figurative work as well as a cityscape in the background. It's a whole different color palette so I can get out of that rut.  It's moody winter picture because he came to stay with me in November,  and more subtle an some in tone so I won't be painting in my more jewel tone colors.
Then last night, just as I fell to sleep, I thought about all the Absinthe drinker paintings I love from the turn of the century by in Paris by Van Gogh, Degas, Vuillard, Picasso, Lautrec.  So very many and I've always wanted one.  So I'll paint my own from when we had a writer's meeting at my house and I introduced my friends and writing support system, Brian, Becky and Chris to Absinthe.  We did the whole sugar and water ritual to achieve the louche and it was a pivotal meeting.  This attempt will me quite a challenge since I'm used to painting one figure instead of four and I haven't done many paintings of interiors with all the detail requires.  So it will be a lot of fun.  Plus painting glass bottles and glasses is a challenge in its own right.  
I can't wait to start tomorrow although I'll be interrupted to go watch Deven while her mom goes to an appointment.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Inspiration from Munch,Modigliani and Van Gogh

I'm not sure about other artists but I realize that when I paint I subconsciously draw on the works of previousartists.  I know in many studios, young artists were taught to copy the classical paintings, but it may be now that people think of it only as copying someone.  I believe that if a piece of art touches you, makes you feel something, it's a pivotal energy in your subconscious.  So when I go to paint and let the brush and pigments lead me, the result can be a piece that looks like a rip off of a well known artist. sometimes I deliberately use the works of famous artists inspire me, such as Burne-Jones and Waterhouse, knowing that I'll never have the technical skill to paint like them but trying to use some of the effects I observe in their work. But other paintings only end up reminding me of another artist after they're finished.  I have many books on artists that I've found at our local annual library sales over the years.  Nice heavy coffee table books with lots of full color plates that I got really
cheap because they're heavy.
Three of my favorite artists which had a powerful influence on me are Edvard
Munch, Amedeo Modigliani, and Vincent Van Gogh.. Although they're styles and subject matter are very different, they both affect me in some way.  Munch is more of a visceral feeling, whereas I admire Modigliani because of the skin tones of his nudes and I love the long necks. Two of my paintings painted years ago were highly influence on an inner level by these artists. 
For my piece The Red Madonna, I realized later that the tilt of the head, the long neck and even some of the coloring was a similar to Munch's "Madonna" and Modliglian's "Jeanne Harburton with Necklace."  My technique and skill level are very different but it's obvious I was influenced by their works to me, even though at the time I was just trying to paint a red-headed Madonna.  Being brought up as a Catholic as a child and going to Catholic schools, we were Taught, the Madonna. Jesus' mother was who we should pray to as she had great influence over her son. I'm not a Catholic anymore, but a polytheist and Mary is still a strong archetype in my personal mythology.    .
 Another painting, by Munch had a subtle effect on me. "Sunset in Paseo with Karl Johann,"  was a particularly frightening painting to me. Even though there is a crowd,
I felt a feeling of fear and isolation when I first saw it in a book.
While I painted only one figure on a deserted street, the buildings reminded me of Munch's work and the same feeling of isolation was predominant.
Perhaps my subconscious even focused on the dark silhouette of a figure in the background and that's
why in my painting, Alone," I painted the single figure with his back to the viewer.
On the other hand, my painting, "Sleeping on Your Side of the
Bed" was a direct choice to paint my bedroom with a crooked bed after the break up of an important relationship. When  I saw Van Gogh's "Vincent's Bedroom in Arles" I knew I wanted to try and mimic his style and paint my own bedroom just as it was. It was a cathartic experience, the crooked bed representing how wrong if felt to sleep on my ex-lover's side of the bed, alone. While the technique isn't wonderful in this piece it's still one of my favorites after seven or eight years.  The nude on the wall is actually a painting of my ex-lover which
hung in my bedroom at the time. The nude figure looks more like a Munch than anything Van Gogh painted, so I guess I borrowed from all of them.
I'd love to hear from other artists about how you are influenced by artists from the past in either style, subject matter or technique.
I know we're all supposed to be our own person and develop our own style, but I have to wonder, why not be influenced by these people who can touch us over the years and miles through nothing but paint on canvas or wood?

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Step by Step on "Diana" oil painting

I've been working on my painting, "Diana" and thought I would blog about my process step by step.
 She's on a wooden board I found at the local SOS Thrift Store for $10.00. It's a large board 36X11 and it has a built in frame that curves towards the back.  It had a Paragon botanical print on paper glued to the front.   I've been painting on wood lately after nine years painting on canvas.  But I feel in love with working on wood when doing encaustic pieces early 2014.  I like the smoothness of it compared to the cheap canvases I buy at Michael's especially for figures which need fine details, and I really love the idea of upcycling items I find in thrift stores. The wooden pieces often don't need to be framed which can get really expensive when going larger.
 I primed the board wi5th about six layers of beige acrylic paint.
The first day's painting was about six or seven hours and resulted in the completed face and a figure I wanted to underly the garment I would paint later.  I used a palette of Winton and Grumbacher oil paints in dioxyzine purple, Payne's gray, and flake white for the background, sienna, lemon yellow, yellow ochre, vermillion and a touch of sienna for the skin tone, using sienna and Payne's gray for the shadows. I used burgundy and sienna for the hair and allowed the beige of the primer to show through for the highlights.
So far I've used  used eight different size brushes from medium large for the background and body to very small for the eyes and details.  I used round stroke, rake, angular, chisel and liner brushes and I use the cheap white ones filament ones with the natural wooden handles in the blue packages from Michael's because they're hard and I use heavy pigment right out of the tube most of the time.  They cost about
$6.99 a package of twelve varied brushed of different sizes and types. I've had very good sable brushes in the past and they're too soft for the way I paint.  I'm very rough and fast and destroy brushes quickly so the cheap ones are best for me.  I have a Michael's within less than a mile from my house so shop their for most of my art supplies although I will buy oil paint online from Jerry's Artarama from time to time. 
The first attempt left me with a too small body, the left arm too long, unfinished hands and no garment and an unfinished background.  I was also missing a clavicle.  But the hair and the face were complete.  I listened to IAMX while I painted. My daughter said she thought it
looked like a man when she saw it, say8ing the breasts and hips were too small and the face was masculine.  I agreed with her.on the body but disagreed with her opinion of the face.  While I was going more for a Pre-Raphaelite style, similar to that of Burne-Jones or Waterhouse being a huge fan of the brotherhood and having seen the Pre-Raphaelite show at the National Gallery in Washington, DC last April.  I was able to view many by my favorites in real life some of them very large. Rossetti, Burne-Jones and Waterhouse being my favorites. She reminds me a bit of Bottecelli's Birth of Venus for some reason but that was purely by accident.  Her hair is a different color, her head is tilted at a more severe angle, she's dressed as opposed to a nude and the background is plain instead of a landscape. She's not as delicate as a Pre-Raphaelite figure or as detailed and I didn't come close to creating the perfect body as Botticelli did. . 
I let the painting dry for four days and then made the second attempt adding terra verte to my palette for the dress . I mixed it with some zinc white.and thinned it with a mixture of equal parts of  linseed oil, Damar varnish and Turpenoid so that it would be more like a wash and allow some of the flesh to peak through as if it's a slightly sheer summer dress.  
When I finished this session the body was covered, but I felt as if I'd left too much of the flesh on the breasts to show through, the left arm was still too long, the hands still unfinished and the background incomplete. 
I let it dry four more days.
Today I have been working on it since 7:00 this morning and it's now 5:10 pm.  I took breaks here and there to peruse Facebook and Tumbler and to do a few posts and to cook spaghetti for supper. During this session I completed the hands, filled in the dress, shortened the left arm and finished the background. I'm
happy with it except for the right hand which is too small and positioned in an awkward pose but there's a lot of wet paint on the board and I'll have to let it dry before I attempt to fix it.
My usual method is to paint wet on wet and complete an oil painting in a day, but this is the largest medium I've ever worked on and a more difficult figure due to its size for me.  I plan to enter this into either the Anderson or Pickens, South Carolina juried shows depending on when I finish it in relation to their deadlines for entering.

I l

Figure Painting, Jung, the Subconcious and Emotion

While I enjoy all types of painting and collage, I have to say that figure painting is my favorite.  I'm
not quite sure why artists are so fascinated with the human figure but I guess for me it's the act of creating a piece of art that communicates emotion. Because I've had little training in painting, I don't really know techniques for painting faces with emotion.  Most of my work is to paint, sort of letting my subconscious take over, then stand back and see what the painting is telling me.  I examine it and if I see an emotion, I stop painting.  If I don't feel anything, I keep messing with it, often ruining good eyes or faces and having to start over.  Since I paint with heavy oils, untouched my thinning agents, I end up with heavy layers, not the smartest method to capture such a sensitive subject as emotion.
Here is where my studies in Carl Jung help because he  believed that art, as shown in his Red Book, tapped into his subconscious.  Through a highly transformative and prolific period, he discovered that paintings reveal things the artist isn't aware of at the moment, but which is revealed in the painting.  This happens to me all the time.  Not a professional way to paint utilizing proven techniques but the main reason I paint.
I feel as if Edvard Munch painted this way which is one reason he's one of my favorite artists, along with Modigliani,   Sir Edward-Coley Burne Jones, Waterhouse, and. Dante Gabriel Rossetti  I'm also, to my surprise, coming to respect Pablo Picasso more and more.  I'm not into his cubism much, bur love his blue period for the emotional content as much as his talent. 
The piece I'm working on now, "Diana," an oil on wood 36X18, is one of these, but I'm trying to employ better and new techniques, as well as just painting and allowing it to flow once I'm in the zone.  I don't know if it's going to work or not, since I'm trying out new techniques. I'm not sure if  they'll ruin all the work I've already completed.
My art is not what one would call good art.  My figures are not formed in a realistic or accurate manner and portions are often out of proportion.  However, as Carl Jung discovered in his psychoanalytical practice and in his personal life with his creation of The Red Book, , the creative act of producing art is often an act of the transpersonal, taking the personal aspects of the finished piece and adding to it the universal aspect where it raises an emotional reaction in the viewers.  Often this reaction can't be explained,  but the viewer knows immediately whether they are drawn to a piece of art or are not,  The transpersonal arises from the subconscious of the artist and is in communication and collaboration with the subconscious of the viewer. This is a reason art has such an impact, and
paintings we might not fully understand on a conscious level still touch us emotionally. Jung also believed that creating and viewing art was more than just an aesthetic experience relating to beauty, but rather an important transformational opportunity for both artist and viewer.
The artist go into a zone, allowing what Jung called participation mystique, where the artist lets the ego step out of the way, releasing the inner awareness buried in the subconscious and communicating to the viewer via the symbolism found in the art work,
In the paintings I've included on this blog, I actually set out to try and paint more realistic portraits, but my subconscious was more powerful and I ended up with paintings that are combinations of people I know with emotions, I didn't plan to include.  The first one, "Francois Burgogne" is the combination of an ex-boyfriend, an actor and one of the characters in my novel, Shaman  Circus. The second one, "The Philosopher," is the combination of an artist friend and a famous cellist, the third one, "The White
Queen" was supposed to be a self-portrait but ended not even close and appears to me as both a queen and a motorcyclist.  The symbols at the right, were pieces I elaborated on which seemed to appear in the mixture of colors I used in the background.  I just fleshed them out.
The fourth painting of the woman with red hair on the left is my unfinished piece, "Diana."  I'll be painting more on her this weekend. She is a glorified self portrait as me as a much younger woman and the goddess Diana or Artemis has long been a pivotal figure in my personal mythology.  I actually shot archery in high school and then again when I was in my later thirties and was a pretty good shot, winning some competitions using a recurve bow. I plan to paint her dress today and may include a bow. 
I now consider these types of figures to be interpretations.  They are in no way portraits but rather a view of these people and their influence on my work, from the perspective of how my subconscious views reality. I have my personal interpretation of the emotion they evoke, but prefer to leave the interpretation and experience of those emotions to the viewer and how they view their own reality.
These oil paintings were  completed at different times in the past seven years or so but were still painted in the same type of zone where I lose all awareness of anything but applying paint.  As much as I've tried to focus on techniques I've learned about through reading, You Tube videos or art history, all is overshadowed by what my  rush wants to do as it is driven by my subconscious.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Anderson Arts Center Warehouse

My friend Mark and I took a small road trip to Anderson, South Carolina to check out the
Anderson Cultural Arts Center Warehouse. (Shown in this wonderful photo by Gbrill.)
On the way, I stopped in at SOS Thrift store and found a heavy, sturdy dark wood table top easel.  It was marked for $25.00 but I got it at 25% off for senior  citizen Tuesday.  What a great deal and I'm already using it since I've  been  painting in both the kitchen and my studio while I work on "Dianna" and "Tina.  It helps to have at least two pieces going while I'm waiting for drying time to start  next steps.

Anyway, back to Anderson, The Art Center is beautiful, set in what may have been an old mill building right in downtown on Federal Street.  There is a gallery downstairs and two very large galleries with huge windows upstairs.  The mill is restored but with much of the industrial look intact including machinery. It was the first day of their annual youth exhibit showcasing thee work of students from kindergarten to high school.  When I learned this I was disappointed because I wanted to see adult art and get some inspiration and idea of what the artists producing Anderson.  But it only took a few minutes to be happily wowed by the talented works of these young people.  It was an amazing show, all the way up from four year olds.  The creativity was amazing and the  technical skill often rivalling that of adults.  We spent more then and hour and a half there, enjoyed talking to the young artist and  teacher  manning the gift store and viewing the works.  What a great experience for the community and the artists who will never forget seeing their work hanging on those beautiful walls.
It just shows what a progressive group of artists and curators they have in Anderson and I hope the Greenville Center for the Arts has visited Anderson's center to get ideas.
Mark and I walked around downtown which has really cool architecture from the turn of the century1920's, and art in public spaces such as their fish and art-covered trash and recycling receptacles.  We visited Gallery 313 and Pazzazz Consignment a cool clothing consignment shop Braddy and Blake, a fashion store,  as well as a small grocer, the Village Store which had very low prices on their wine.  We stopped and ate at Dolittle's, a cool pub with a great, menu an delicious reasonably priced food.  It was a great day with lots of high points and the first time I've been out of town since I goy sick.

Going Large in Oil Painting

Three Nudes Under Two MoonsIt was a busy weekend devoted to painting since I was home, but also spending time with my family for my birthday.  I completed small pieces called Thee Nudes un Two Full Moons."  It's acrylic on wood,11X6.
 I hardly ever paint with acrylics but they were at hand and I had the time while my granddaughter, Deven, worked on painting a bird house.
Over the weekend  I started the largest painting I've ever attempted 36X21.  It's on a wood panel I found at the SOS thrift store, I primed it and then started a large solitary figure of a woman.  I'm using oil on this one and have it  halfway finished.  I did the face, hair and figure but want to add a summery dress because she's at the beach.  /I had to lay it flat on my kitchen island to paint it because its too heavy for my easel. Then I had to keep hauling it into the living room, stand it against the fireplace and sit on the couch to examine areas I needed to accent of fix.  It was pretty tiring.  Finally I ended leaving it against the fireplace in  an upright position and sat on the floor to work on the bottom section.  I painted a good  bit wet on wet, my usual method but pretty soon I had so many layers that when I went to make adjustments I was just moving paint around.  So I'm having to let it dry so I can add the dress as a wash.  I want it to be slightly sheer like a summer dress and show a subtle bit of the body beneath it like Sir Edward Burne Jones painted his clothing on his figures, such as "Hope" or "Spes," "The Golden Stairs and "The Garden Court." .
This will only be the second time I've tried working with a wash so I'll have to test it out first. .I'm using equal parts Turpenoid, Damar Varnish and Linseed oil to mix with the oil paint to we'll see how it works.  It has to be painted over a completely dry surface, so it will be a test of my patience.  I'm an immediate gratification woman when it comes to my paintings.
So I started on another smaller piece head and shoulders, on wood working with oils of a red head.  At first I was basin g it on Raphael's "Hypatia" but she came out looking very contemporary and reminds me of a friend.  That may have been my subconscious at work. She's almost finished but I have to do some more detailing on the face and shoulders.
As a break, my daughter ,Beth, and my granddaughters, Kendall and Deven  and I went out to the SOS thrift store, then Michael's.  I didn't find any art supplies this time but found a few things for the girls and a carry all bag for Aldi's. After Michael's  we went to eat at Stax Omega and had a great supper with an amazing waiter. Sunday, Jeff and the girls took me out to Cheddars for my birthday and it was a huge disappointment.  The service was bad and I was the only one happy with my meal.   It was also so loud we could hardly carry on a conversation. 
That's about it for now.  I'll post photos of the two new pieces once they're finished.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Surviving Cancer to Celebrate a Meaningful Birthday

This is a particularly meaningful birthday for me since I was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer last
June.  I ended up in the ICU with a collapsed lung after fluid built up in my body cavity.  But thanks to the brilliant cancer team at St. Francis Bon Secour Hospital here I am in remission and cancer free.  Dr. David Griffin and his nurse practioner, Jacqueline, saved my life a number of times as I went through weekly chemotherapy, side effects, surgery, a blood clot in my lung and I have to admit a couple of times when I was ready to stop chemo and just let what was going to occur happen.
I could not have made it without the constant care of my daughter, Beth, a CNA at Roger C. Peace Hospital who was also going to college for nursing, my son, Jeff and my best friend, Mark.  They dealt with my medical issues with love, support, humor and encouragement.  I decided not to tell too many people, first

of all because the chemo made me too sick to want to do much, but also because I didn't want to be a burden.  In ICU Dr. Griffin told me he was going to be very aggressive and that he would put me in remission within nine months.  He did better than his promise, I was in remission after only six months of chemo and surgery.
It was a difficult time and I spent much of my time in bed or on the couch because of exhaustion and an inability to eat.  I lost 42 pounds and could not drive or walk to the car unassisted.  For months I was in a wheelchair.  I lived at my daughter's and only went out to the hospital or doctor's office.  I didn't step in a grocery store, thrift store or Michael's for six months and was in a wheelchair for more than three months. When I got the blood clot, I could not walk to the room next door, because I put off going to the emergency room thinking it a side effect of the chemo.
I'm only writing all this because I want others who have cancer, have friends or family with cancer, o9r may get cancer to let you know - yes, it is very rough to endure treatment.  You lose the life you know and substitute it with one that seems made up of suffering.  But don't give up.  There are so many new cures now and knowledgeable doctors that the suffering is worth it.  My family, Mark and I did not think I'd see last Christmas, but here I am, back in my life, gaining more energy each day, eating like normal and wanting to paint.  I'm still not too goo on socializing, don't quite have all my social skills back, but I do drive myself now, go to Michael's and coffee shops, art galleries and thrift stores and I enjoy the company of my family instead of needing their constant care. I'm back attending my women's group and going out to eat once in a while.
Never in a million years would I have believed I would go into remission in six months. My daughter keeps reminding me, when I complain about losing my hair and how slowly its growing back, that I should take my hat off and wear my short cut proudly since it's a sign of how I survived terminal cancer.  
I won't write amount cancer much because I don't want to be a downer and my life is getting too busy.  But if anyone has questions and needs answers or a pep talk feel free to contact me.  I want people to know there is life after cancer - an even better life because you learn to appreciate every little nuance of each moment and realize there are miracles in this world. 
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