Memorable…

•December 20, 2011 • 3 Comments

There was a surprising gift under the studio tree this week…

John Seed has included my painting, The Beginner…

in his Huffington Post Blog as one of the top 10 Mememorable Paintings of 2011 . The painting is currently on display in the Small Works Exhibition at Gallery 1261 in Denver, CO.

From the depths of my creative hibernation… I thank you John.

Here’s the extended snippet of the comments I sent to John with my thoughts about the work…

I’ve got this friend Ted who just turned 95 and lives on Martha’s Vineyard.
Ted was a high school art teacher and artist and has spent almost a whole century now inspiring and encouraging artists. I met Ted about 10 years ago and he has been “schooling me” ever since. (I’m working right now on a painting of him in an apple orchard which he posed for last fall.)
We talk often over the phone as he lives alone now but when we are on the Vineyard we spend a lot of time with Ted.
His house is chock-a-block full of antiques and stories to go with each one.
I noticed a tin can in his kitchen one day that had a bunch of those old pencils in it.
Wonderful chunky thick lead Dixon pencils that he used to introduce younger students to drawing.
I got up the nerve on our last visit to ask him if I could have one and he said, “Oh, those old things…here take the lot”.
When I got them home to the Pennsylvania studio and took a closer look I saw that they have the word “Beginners” embossed on them. And, since I’ve recently been hammering home the importance of a strong foundation in drawing skills to a couple of our grandsons who have brought their art questions to my studio… the idea of pencil as prop began to congeal.
The pile of rocks which are from the beach in Chilmark brought it full circle back to Ted and the tiny swiss army knife was one of the few items I brought home from Florida where I had to take my father off of life support earlier this year. That experience and it’s wake have been slowly filtering into my work in some quite unexpected ways. So, while I wasn’t aware of this until I just wrote this out for you, I guess it weaves a thread through three generations… with the iconic pencil as talisman.

Still time…

•December 12, 2011 • Leave a Comment

…to order studio prints for the holidays.

Our little studio workshop has been buzzing with print orders this week and Pat has been making daily runs to Fedex in the sleigh…

I’ve just updated the website but if you don’t see the painting that you want a print of…or if you have other questions about the ordering process…please don’t hesitate to contact us… hnartisan@comcast.net

Ho Ho Ho !

Thanksgiving

•December 2, 2011 • 1 Comment

Abstract teaching…

•November 14, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Here’s a response to the last blog post about the painting Finding Abstraction which  I got from Cori, the daughter of my friend Saren and someone who does that noblest of professions for a living…she teaches children about art !

(Cori is the hard working woman at the right, alongside her mom, on the day that the entire Zink family showed up to help us clean up after the flood.)

Hi
Heather,

Love Finding Abstraction!  My 4th graders just read Jackson
in Action in their new reading series.  I just finished a lesson with them
using the children’s book Action Jackson and then let them do their own
Pollock (sometimes I’m down right nuts).  I did not manage the consistency very
well and most of the paintings look like a mess but they had a blast.  I think
they had almost as much fun crawling around with a sponge to clean the floor and
chairs as they did making the mess.  And somehow I managed to not lose one pair
of pants to paint splatters!!!  Their reading about Romare Bearden now – collage
is next.  I’m loving this new reading series.

C.  🙂

I just love Cori’s creative way of putting lessons into action. My brushes are raised to her !

PS – today she sent along a couple examples of the student’s artwork.

They both have nailed the strength of the linear gestures and the resonance of vivid color. Wicked cool as they say where I’m from. These guys are from the Paxtang Elementary School.

J Mattey's Pollock inspired painting

Artwork by J. Mattey

Jeffery Gleiter's Pollock inspired painting

And here’s one by Jeffery Gleiter

Finding Abstraction

•November 10, 2011 • 5 Comments

The Current show at Gallery 1261 features this little play on the theme… Finding Abstraction

The set up for this was crazy. I wanted to use a real Jackson Pollock painting as reference and found one in my old college Art History text book which I scanned and printed out so I could enlarge it and make it look like a postcard with torn edges. Then Pat found me an old paint can from the stash in the garage and after I rigged them up I taped a canvas to an old fedex box and started to drip.

I remembered the scene in the movie Pollock where Ed Harris takes house paint and starts to drip it on the floor. Turns out there is a learning curve which involves refining the dilution of the paint and the movement of the brushwork. More of a slow dripline than a splatter. I was aiming for verisimilitude but my need for immediate gratification left me impatient with the process. Yes, I could fake it… but I eventually found the right consistency and made up four jars of color and then I dribbled one layer at a time with the panel flat on the floor and walked away while it dried (that was the hard part). Since I was using oil paint instead of acrylic, it had to dry completely between colors or else I ended up with an oily blooming mess.

Then there was the fun of trying to get the magnifying glass to stay on that teacup.

I was just about finished with the painting when, sitting at my easel, I felt everything start to shake. When you work with a Bernese Mt. Dog at your feet this occasionally happens so I yelled at Finn to stop. It kept on shaking so I turned around and yelled at her again…but she was asleep. Then my phone beeped and I read the breaking news that there was an earthquake in DC. Yep, that felt about right.

I looked around the studio and a couple of the paintings were hanging off kilter but the only real damage was to this still life… the postcard had fallen off of the brush that I had rigged to hold it up (I did fake that nail and tile background).

So there’s the rest of the story as they say… stop by if you’re in Denver and check it out.

Working on a theme…

•November 5, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Last year I started a series of …well series paintings.

I wanted to work on themes and explore them across several different compositions. There were more ideas than I had time to create and I’ve learned that there is a time, and a season as it were, for each painting. So, as the crisp fall air brings the colors alive, I have been studying apples… anew.

The October before last  I spent a day with our friend Ted in the Tiasquam orchards in West Tisbury…

There are dozens of good painting ideas from that modeling session and I decided to elaborate on the “theme” of apple picking.  Though I started the series last year with some sketches …

and then this painting from my studio yard…

Like I said earlier… last year life took some wicked wild turns … but life ebbs and marches on…and I’m now reaching back and pulling on the thread that started the theme.

I don’t usually put photos of unvarnished paintings up on the web but the new iphone has a good enough camera to  give you a decent representation of what is fresh off the easel.

This painting was inspired by a quote from  NC Wyeth, “I have all this and more, yet how I would like to relax; to be content with a wheelbarrow, a rake, an apple basket, a pipe.” He wrote that in a letter dated September 19, 1910. A hundred years later and that sentiment still resonates.

And what to do with all those apples ?

Well that’s the next painting in the series… Skillet Apple Pie.

You won’t be able to get much out of this shot of the still life set up…because I decided to change it up a bit after moving to the easel…but here’s a peak into the early stages of the creative process…

I’ve gotten this far…

And yes, it’s all about the butter !

Stay tuned…

Memorial

•October 28, 2011 • 2 Comments

Today there will be a memorial service in Naples, Florida in memory of my father. The members of his church, friends and some family, will gather to celebrate his life and bury his ashes along side those of his wife Ann.

Here in Pennsylvania it is the first really cold and frosty day but the October sun is shining strong and lighting up the colors of the season. I’m heading up to the lake to take a walk in my own church.

In my absence, our dear friend Martha Forbes will be reading this passage which I wrote for the service…

 

Growing up as the young children of a minister it was sometimes
be a bit confusing when, sitting in the front pew and trying to follow along,  the congregation would arrived at the point in
the service when it was time to recite the Lord’s Prayer.

“Our Father” was actually not in heaven; he was standing right
there in front of

everybody
and usually winking at us…usually.

Today…for us… that prayer, resonates with new meaning.

 

smile. At his bedside, in those last few hours we had together, I searched the
bookshelf

on
his ipad for something soothing and meaningful to read to him. What I found was

Winnie
the Pooh.

It seems we had come full circle. He had read that to us on our
first days…and I read it to

Bob Good was given the gift of two families of children. The
six of us drew together

as
one family to ease his passing and to celebrate his life.

 

Our father was a scholar and a writer and as fond of fine
literature as he was quick

to

him
on his last. He told me once that I never made it past the first few pages when
it was

my
bedtime. He didn’t either.

So, this then… for the lover of words and pencils… and of
course breakfast… is what

comes
at the end of the story…

 

 

“This party, said Christopher Robin, is a party because of what
someone did, and

we
all know who it was, and it’s his party, because of what he did and I’ve got a
present

for
him and here it is…

 

It’s for Pooh…the best bear in all the world.”

 

When Pooh saw what it was he nearly fell down, he was so
pleased. It was a

Special
Pencil Case. There were pencils in it marked “B” for Bear, and pencils marked

“HB”
for Helping Bear, and pencils marked “BB: for Brave Bear. There was a knife for

sharpening
the pencils, and india-rubber for rubbing out anything which you had spelt

wrong,
and a ruler for ruling lines for the words to walk on, and inches marked on the

ruler
in case you wanted to know how many inches anything was, and Blue Pencils and

Red
Pencils and Green Pencils for saying special things in blue and red and green.
And all

these
lovely things were in little pockets of their own in a Special Case which shut
with a

click
when you clicked it. And they were all for Pooh.

 

“Oh ! “ said Pooh.

 

“Oh, Pooh ! “ said everybody except Eeyore.

“Thank – you, “ growled Pooh.

 

But Eeyore was saying to himself, “This writing business.
Pencils and what-not.

Over-rated,
if you ask me. Silly stuff. Nothing in it.”

 

Later on, when they had all said “Good-bye” and “Thank-you” to
Christopher

Robin,
Pooh and Piglet walked home thoughtfully together in the golden evening, and
for

a
long time they were silent.

 

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last,
“what’s the first thing

you
say to yourself?”

 

“What’s for breakfast,” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”

 

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today ?” said
Piglet.

 

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.

 

“It’s
the same thing,” he said.