"The true painter strives to paint what can only be seen through his world." ~André Malraux

After a year of intermittant "painter's block"  I am working again in my studio, and feeling in a tentative positive state. Painting is a solitary activity, and as artists, we are often working in a vacuum. Unless we have a show hanging, reaction to the work is minimal. With several pieces underway, I decided that perhaps if I write about what I am doing or am attempting to do, it might act somewhat as a muse for me as well as give me some feedback on the work I am creating -- hence the establishment of this blog. 

As for the blog title, traditional, representational painting is a language for expressing what’s visible. But I feel my work is the most successful, and most interesting, when focused on things not entirely visible. I paint what I see but also what I sense and feel by utilizing my interior and unseen world --- in other words, the invisible world. Plein air work or  studio work from photographs are only touchstones or landmarks which guide me to other inner spaces. By so doing, I find that I am pushing the boundaries between representational and abstract work.

You can enlarge the images in this blog by clicking on them.

Mar 23, 2011

New Work and Strafford ARTWORKS

I have been in the studio most days this week, happy that the warm days have caused the snow over my two skylighted windows on the slant of a peaked wall to slide down, giving me more wonderful natural light. Just another sign of spring-- a better lit studio! (We actually had another five inches of snow on Monday -- welcome to spring in Vermont.)  I have begun three new pieces --- a seascape being executed in the very loose, painterly style I am exploring with which I am very happy--- it was almost done alla prima in one session, but I had to have  a second day's work on it. 
The Blue Shore of Silence  oil on canvas  20 x 20

 A second piece done in the same way that is underway is of the sandy roadway and land around the house that we go to every summer in Nantucket. Painting this way is becoming easier for me, and is making me very happy, because it is the way my eyes and heart have wanted to paint for over a year, but my hands would not obey. I have also started a zoomed-in section of yet another very old, tumbling down Vermont building in a style more controlled, like my other buildingscapes. This one requires more exacting work, and I do not have it to a place I like yet at all. My in-house critic agrees. It may not work, and may be painted over.

I hope to have one of them ready for a group show I am in in April with Strafford ARTWORKS, to be held at the Ledyard Gallery at the Howe Library in Hanover, NH. I need two or three paintings, and I have two set aside, but would like a third. This is the 11th year I have been involved with this group, 
formed in 2002 by Nancy Gerlach and me to provide a way for Strafford artists to network, share ideas and skills, hold critiquing sessions of works-in-progress (both in person and recently on line with one another,) hold workshops, and plan and implement shows. Initially, we also hoped to find a space to use a gallery and run it like a co-op, but the logistics of this has proved too costly in terms of both time and money. 

We felt (and still feel) fortunate to be living in such a beautiful and inspirational place, but also were very aware that the Upper Valley was not New York, and not a visual arts epicenter.  It was clear that there were plenty of talented and productive artists here, all with similar struggles, caught in the same traps. We all had something in common: a determination to create our art where we live and to build an art scene out of nothing except sheer desire, determination, and sometimes desperation. In 2002, it just seemed to be the right time for a group of us to band together and create our own community of artists here in our small, rural Vermont village.Good art is produced all over the world, not just in Manhattan or London, and we felt that if we worked hard enough, and continued to connect with ambitious artists who shared the same ideas, we could make life as artists work here.

 Through ARTWORKS, artists from Strafford got to know each other, and allowed many in town who had previously been solitary in their creative pursuits to connect with like-minded people. We were inspired, and began taking this new energy and throwing it back into our work, producing more (and maybe better) work than we had done before. 

While each artist in the group brings a unique vision to his or her body of work, the group shares an approach that includes both the traditional and the edgy and experimental. The only criteria for acceptance in the group (we do a slide or digital image review and resume review) are 1) is strong work that shows professional potential and 2) the dedication of the artist to pursue his or her own voice. Artists who have exhibited with ARTWORKS range from their 30’s to their 80’s! Some, but not all, are or were art school students and graduates, but almost all have studied art in one way or another. Very few of them are primary bread-winning artists, and hold other jobs such as college professors, teachers, a lawyer, designers, illustrators, a writer and a published photographer, lecturers, as well as a roller derby skater, a landscape designer with a lily farm, a peace activist, a dollhouse miniatures enthusiast (that would be MOI!), a musician, a carpenter. Plus we have retirees from the worlds of psychoanalysis, law, public relations, architecture, and plenty of other things.  We are all artists working hard, sacrificing sleep and juggling time to create and exhibit work in lives rich with family, jobs, gardens, and other responsibilities -- and this is a unifying bond. 

In an area not exactly overflowing with galleries, a primary goal of the group was and is to find new, interesting and often alternative public spaces to exhibit our work and help bridge the gap between artists and collectors in the Upper Valley. For the first four years or so, we only showed our work in town; after the initial few shows, we were pleased that the shows were attracting townspeople from all walks of life; people seemed excited and interested in what was going on right in their own backyard. However, in a town as small as Strafford, there is a limited audience and thus limited opportunities to sell our work. We began seeking out-of-town venues in alternative locations in the Upper valley such as hotels and libraries, and this year, in April, at the Ledyard Gallery at the Howe Library in Hanover. 
Today artists have tools and opportunities that would have seemed unbelievable just fifty years ago; we have the ability to connect and communicate with people instantly from anywhere in the world! One of our youngest members ushered us into the digital age by maintaining our first web site, and now curates, along with two others, our presence on an on-line museum gallery on Open Museum which can be seen at  http://www.openmuseum.org/museum/show/29. Here in the Strafford ARTWORK "Museum" our artists each have their own gallery, and as an art collective, we are able to present the work of what we believe is a most talented and eclectic group of artists. In addition, as artists in the 21st century, many of us are also trying our best to jump on the social networking wagon: some of us maintain Facebook pages; maintain personal art websites; and art blogs such as this one in efforts to enlarge our electronic footprint. We post our paintings and art news anywhere we can! 

Fellow artist Andrea Doughtie and me hanging an ARTWORKS show a few years ago .


1 comment:

  1. I like your Blue Shore of Silence very much. The composition really leads me back into the painting and I want to keep looking. It inspires me to try working out some new layouts in my own work. It is probably different for everybody but I am curious about what other people experience when they study paintings. Is it the dark or the light areas that catch your eye?